• Welcome to the new COTI server. We've moved the Citizens to a new server. Please let us know in the COTI Website issue forum if you find any problems.

Paying the Mortgage - problem solved


SOC-14 1K
OK, there's been much handwringing and hairtearing over trying to actually not go bust running a trading ship.

It's possible to make a small profit and make the mortgage payment with a free or fat trader, more or less impossible with a far trader, and downright unlikely for any other kind of ship.

That is, by just using the trading rules.

However, there is a much underused skill that has the potential to end these woes.


In the regular rules, Gambling only has any effect on cash benefits on mustering out roles. Pity the poor character that ended up with Gambling 3 in CT chargen. In T20 there is no incentive to get more than 1 rank in the Gambling Skill.

However, if a ship's captain was able to locate a high stakes poker style game in each port, and they have enough skill, then it's a valid way of paying the bills.

When I say high stakes game I mean one where the ante is 1000Cr. These shouldn't be actually that hard to find. Most class A and even lesser starports will probably have a casino where such a game may take place. There may be entrance fees, and a minimum stake, and they may be selective as to the type of person who can enter; these are not that hard to overcome by a (high status) starship captain with a modicum of cashflow.

You can expect at least half a dozen players at such a game, with perhaps between 20Kcr and 100Kcr each. If the character is good at gambling, and the player reasonably canny, then a decent profit is highly possible.

Even lower stakes games will be profitable: your opponents will have less skill and they'd be easier to find.

I've been playing a bit of solitaire, and came across this solution when I discovered it would be impossible to ever make the mortgage payments on my traveller's scoutship. I've roughed up some rules to 'simulate' a poker style game in T20, and I think it is easily possible to do such for CT too. She was able to win between 100kcr - 400kcr at each port she visited, given that she'd maxed her gambling skill and I luckily rolled only average or less opponents. She was very busy though locating the games (gather info to find, liaison or bluff to be let in), and it paid to dally at ports with easy high stakes games to build up a warchest.

Also, locating and participating in such a high stakes game would be good role playing fun.

Obviously high stakes card playing is a risky business, but so is speculative trade. All free traders are gamblers really.
Also, if the captain loses his/her mortgage fund, then here's the opportunity to spring the risky, dangerous, and probably illegal job the ref's been hankering to subject the players to.
But then gambling in port isn't making money with the ship... it's just making money. You could do just as well buying passage from world to world. Much cheaper than a ship mortgage.
She was able to win between 100kcr - 400kcr at each port she visited, given that she'd maxed her gambling skill ...
to recover their 400kCr I'm sure the losers can hire mercs who have maxed their gun, brawling, and interrogation skills.
You could do just as well buying passage from world to world.
I think she'll need the ship to get away.
Unless the game is a floating game on the ship, and the ship IS a casino... Type M fitted out as a casino...
Do free traders own a ship to make money? Or do they make money to own a ship?.

And of course big wins are dangerous! Makes it more fun that way.

Helps to have good stealth and bluffing skills too, and a bit of good old dumb luck.

Having a ship with cargo space that can engage in speculative trade is equivalent to gambling - the captain just resorts to card sharking when the trade dries up and the payments are due, or if they need seed money for the big score.

And also, being captain/owner of a starship, no matter how decrepit, is still something of a status-winner. A mere traveller may not have the kudos to get in to the big games, or at least it may be much much harder.

Give a few days to write up my house-rules (T20). They seem to abstract poker nicely while retaining the drama of bet and counter bet, all while being able to run solitaire.
I looked at mortgages from a different angle.

Since when have mortgages been so straightforward that there is only one type, with one repayment schedule??

IRL today, Japanese homebuyers are taking on 100yr+ mortgages that will be paid off by their children (or grandchildren). Different types of mortgage; interest-only, endowment, etc; and longer repayment schedules can solve the mortgage crisis - or at least postpone it.
The best part of an interstellar casino is the complete lack of law enforcement to interfere with the "House" removing card sharks and cheats so the loosing customers can loose without being disturbed.

The down side would be the people who think you need a "partner" to help you run things and keep you "safe". Space can be a very dangerous place, you know. ;)
Actually using the regular T20 Gambling rules in the THB you can get big bucks too, if your skill is big enough.

The character has a skill rating of 15.

With an initial stake of 4500 after several goes this became 75000.

And these are the 'regular', legal type games found in reputable casinos.

So in T20 terms, at least, it is a very handy skill for a fre trader captain to have, even if only to top up a shortfall.

To quote an acquaintence of mine whose name ends in a vowel and who is a member of a certain ethnic community from a certain Mediterranean penninsular in Europe:

I've never seen a fat gambler or a thin bookie.

It's called gambling for a reason and every game of 'chance' is constructed to favor the fellow hosting said game of chance.

As someone with a high skill in gambling, your captain will know all this already. He'll also know that it will be far more lucrative to host games for a cut of the pot rather than play in them. With his presence at the game, less skilled players can be assured that someone won't be cheating. (Another of the skill's uses described in CT is detecting rigged games.)

Have you captain arrange 'floating' high stakes card games at each of his port calls. He'll meet a better type of people that way and he'll be more sure to keep his earnings.

Have fun,
The fastest way it seems to me to make money in the Imperium is to ship Data and Messages. Anything off an X-Boat route is going to need someone to bring them Messages and I would think Information would be a hot commodity - hence the breakdown after the Assassination of Strephon. Information manipulation in that timeframe would be interesting, to say the least...