Low Passage & Low Berths

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E.T.Smith
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Low Passage & Low Berths

Postby E.T.Smith » Thu Jul 03, 2008 5:06 pm

The main book has surprisingly little information about the operation of Low Berths, ubiquitous though they be in space-faring society implied by the rules. Especially when it comes to their harsh treatment of passengers. All that's said is that upon thawing, a Medic roll must be made for the passenger, modified by the passenger's End DM, failure being fatal. So, assuming that the passenger is lucky enough to rate someone popping the lid with Medic-1 and an average End, they've got a 42% of dying on the slab. 58% if the Tech just took the weekend seminar on Low Berth ops, 92% if the guy cracking the hatch unfortunately happens to be a random untrained dockworker stuck with the job. Yikes. Even assuming a full doctor (Medic-2) and extra time taken on the thawing (though its not stated how long the task is, so how much leeway exists here is unclear), there's still about a one in five chance of not surviving the trip.

That's ridiculous for a widespread means of travel, especially when its realized that, on an extended voyage, the Medic roll has to be made each time the low passenger changes vessels. No sane person, no matter how desperate they are to hop worlds, will accept those odds. As a player, I'm sure as hell not going to pointlessly risk my character that way. Even merchant characters who never travel low berth but ship such passengers may get sick of dealing with so many corpses every landfall. And it turns into farce the described tactic of keeping Marines in low berth storage until needed: "Reporting 42% casualties, sir. Er, no, the fight was actually quick and easy, those losses were strictly incurred in the berths."

Here's one quick fix. Instead of failure of the Medic roll leading directly to death, I've put together the following D6 table. This keeps Low Passage travel a daunting and often unpleasant experience, but much less deadly.

6: Freezer Shock
5: Freezer Shock
4: Freezer Shock, Effect as Damage Dice
3: Freezer Shock, Effect as Damage Dice
2: Freezer Shock, Effect as Damage Dice, Aging Roll with Effect as DM
1: Freezer Shock, Effect as Damage Dice, Aging Roll with Effect as DM

Freezer Shock: the passenger is sickened by the freezing and thawing process. They are completely immobile and incapacitated with pain and nausea for 1D6 hours, and suffer a -1 DM to all actions for 1D6 days thereafter (Referees may allow the character's End DM to modify these rolls)

Effect as Damage Dice: The passenger suffers a wound delivering damage dice equal to the effect value of the failed Medic roll.

Aging Roll with Effect as DM: The passenger's nervous system is at risk of permanent damage from the freezing and thawing process. Make a roll on the Aging table with both the character's total number of terms and the effect value of the failed Medic roll as negative DM's. (More dire-minded referees can substitute the Injury Table for the Aging Table)
Last edited by E.T.Smith on Fri Jul 04, 2008 4:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
Warlock32
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Postby Warlock32 » Thu Jul 03, 2008 5:38 pm

I agree. Who in their right mind would EVER take Low passage unless they were desperate.
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far-trader
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Postby far-trader » Thu Jul 03, 2008 6:05 pm

Nobody would at those odds! Desperate or not.

I still haven't pulled the trigger on getting the rules, and this case isn't a convincer for yes. Either the rules are in error, or some interpretation of them or your calculation of the odds is if those are the percentages.

I say this because CT was accused of being cruel in this area and it's nowhere near as lethal.

In CT without a medic the average lowberth passenger only has a 16.7% chance of dying (roll of 2-4 on 2D6). Only the infirm (END 6 or less) suffer a penalty and die 27.8% of the time. And if you have a Medic-2 or better (which should be the case most of the time) then your odds of dying are only 8.4% if you're average or 16.7% if you're infirm.

Those numbers for MongTrav if accurate are poorly thought out imo.
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Re: Low Passage & Low Berths

Postby rust » Thu Jul 03, 2008 6:08 pm

E.T.Smith wrote: Even assuming a full doctor (Medic-2) and extra time taken on the thawing (though its not stated how long the task is, so how much leeway exists here is unclear), there's still about a one in five chance of not surviving the trip.
I had to develop a similar system when I realized that - according to the
rules - many of the carefully chosen 50,000 colonists for my setting's
new colony would die because of the low passage's risks. The first thing
the survivors would have had to do on their new homeworld would have
been to construct some mass graves ... :shock:

In my system the low berth passengers whose medics failed their rolls
had a 75 % chance to be incapacitated and hospitalized for 1d6 weeks,
a 20 % chance to have an additional permanent -1 CON and a 5 % chan-
ce for a permanent -2 CON.
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daryen
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Postby daryen » Thu Jul 03, 2008 6:23 pm

Well, before you lambast MGT for making low travel so lethal, remember that this is taken out of CT. With CT, the base roll to survive low travel is 5+. And failing doesn't mean you got hurt; it meant you were dead.

So, while I completely agree such odds are stupid for a system that is that wide of use (and will always house-rule it), MGT is simply being faithful to its sources.
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Postby E.T.Smith » Thu Jul 03, 2008 6:33 pm

far-trader wrote:Nobody would at those odds! Desperate or not. I still haven't pulled the trigger on getting the rules, and this case isn't a convincer for yes. Either the rules are in error, or some interpretation of them or your calculation of the odds is if those are the percentages.

I say this because CT was accused of being cruel in this area and it's nowhere near as lethal. In CT without a medic the average lowberth passenger only has a 16.7% chance of dying (roll of 2-4 on 2D6). Only the infirm (END 6 or less) suffer a penalty and die 27.8% of the time. And if you have a Medic-2 or better (which should be the case most of the time) then your odds of dying are only 8.4% if you're average or 16.7% if you're infirm.
I think you're being unfair to the Mongoose book, since even by the CT percentages you give there's still a unacceptable risk of death; the problem isn't degrees, its the basic assumption that failed low passage leads to death. To present a real world example, would you get on a airliner if it was guaranteed that several random passengers wouldn't survive the trip, maybe you among them? Maybe the death toll is 2-3, or 5-10, but in either case I highly doubt it, and imagine air travel wouldn't survive long as an industry if such was the case.

EDIT: In other words, what Daryen said.
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Congratulations!

Postby Xoph » Thu Jul 03, 2008 6:53 pm

You have the first house rule I whole heartedly agree with! I don't think budget travel should be that dangerous. Does make me wonder, why there are no sick bay rules for ship design? And almost no standard ships have one either. You'd think if they're going to force you to have a 200 dton Bridge they'd make you have a sick bay; I can't even think of a Sci-Fi ship out there without one.
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Postby AKAmra » Thu Jul 03, 2008 7:04 pm

Nice house rule E.T. Smith. Copied and pasted. The chance to suffer mild to sever freezer burn is quite enough to get across the idea that low berth passage is not the way to go if you have any other opition.
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Postby -Daniel- » Thu Jul 03, 2008 7:20 pm

I have a question, what Difficulty did you use?

I can not find where the book gives one, but that will make a major difference wouldn’t it.

For example, let’s say the task is an “Easy” task for anyone with Medic 0 or better. So that means the target is now a 4 or better. Or success 91.67% of the time. The Medic -1 person, now they succeed 97.22% of the time. This assumes no other DMs are being triggered of course. I want to have my Marines in Low Birth and have then brought out by a MedTech with Medic-1 and using a computer running a medical expert software package.... I am not loosing very many people ever.

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Postby Stryker-Merc » Thu Jul 03, 2008 7:21 pm

I agree with this house-rule too, makes better sense, especially if your law enforcement / bounty hunter - then again it would save on court expenses and prison overcrowding....

Going to include this in my campaigns n the future :wink:
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Easy task indeed

Postby Xoph » Thu Jul 03, 2008 7:34 pm

Yes it should probably be an Easy task.

Although, I'm tempted to make it simpler just always use Freezer Shock(without the -DM on actions for 1D6 days), Effect as Damage Dice. option.
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Postby far-trader » Thu Jul 03, 2008 7:47 pm

And there you go. As an Easy task it looks to actually fit the CT model quite well*, maybe even a small improvement in the odds. Problem solved. Issue null and void :) (well, except maybe for the lack of stating the difficulty ;) )

*CT 91.6% success vs MongTrav 91.67% success (.67? probably a rounding difference)
Last edited by far-trader on Thu Jul 03, 2008 7:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Easy task indeed

Postby -Daniel- » Thu Jul 03, 2008 7:52 pm

Xoph wrote:Yes it should probably be an Easy task.

Although, I'm tempted to make it simpler just always use Freezer Shock(without the -DM on actions for 1D6 days), Effect as Damage Dice. option.
Oh I like the idea of some chance of Freezer Shock even if the success is minor, but all I wanted to point out is the odds change very much if you use the Difficulty part of the task system.

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Re: Easy task indeed

Postby far-trader » Thu Jul 03, 2008 7:54 pm

dafrca wrote:...Oh I like the idea of some chance of Freezer Shock even if the success is minor, but all I wanted to point out is the odds change very much if you use the Difficulty part of the task system.

Daniel
I'll second that, even to the name ;)
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Postby Myrm » Thu Jul 03, 2008 8:55 pm

The table is nice - could you make those 6 options tied to the Effect of a failed medic roll on thawing?
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far-trader
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Another optional rule...

Postby far-trader » Thu Jul 03, 2008 10:41 pm

...from a thought rattling around my head inspired in part by a Challenge article for MegaTraveller on lowberths.

How about making the difficulty based on the TL of the lowberth and/or attending medical gear?

Easy for High Tech and progressively riskier from there down.

So the top of the line MegaCorp Liners rarely have casualties while the bottom feeding tramp traders of questionable means are serious risk.
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Postby far-trader » Thu Jul 03, 2008 10:45 pm

Oh, and in reference to the pondering of where is the sickbay? The same place as the galley and stores (both kinds) and laundry and...

...it's wrapped up into the stateroom and lowberth volume. At least imo and in MTU (and hinted at as such in most of the rules).

So if your ship has a Medic on the crew it's a safe bet that there is a small place (even if it's just the second bunk in the Medic's stateroom) that could be called a sickbay.

If your ship carries more than a few passengers/crew there might even be a dedicated room as an infirmary suitable for minor treatment.

And if your ship is large enough it could well rate a full hospital aboard.

It's all in how you colour inside the lines :D
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Postby DPSteve » Fri Jul 04, 2008 12:02 am

far-trader wrote:Oh, and in reference to the pondering of where is the sickbay? The same place as the galley and stores (both kinds) and laundry and...

...it's wrapped up into the stateroom and lowberth volume. At least imo and in MTU (and hinted at as such in most of the rules).

So if your ship has a Medic on the crew it's a safe bet that there is a small place (even if it's just the second bunk in the Medic's stateroom) that could be called a sickbay.

If your ship carries more than a few passengers/crew there might even be a dedicated room as an infirmary suitable for minor treatment.

And if your ship is large enough it could well rate a full hospital aboard.

It's all in how you colour inside the lines :D
Indeed. And considering that some of the OTU designs in the MGT book use full state rooms as "offices", I see no reason you can't just turn a "state room" into "x other sundry item". 1 State room makes for a basic med bay. Figure it can "hold" a number of patients as if it were stocked with low-berths, or about 8 people. Assume, say, 1 ton of the state room is used for the doctor to move around in and hold equipment, and you're left with 3 tons or 6 people. I noticed that the book designs made state rooms 3 tons in size, so I assume the extra ton goes to corridors and common area. Figure half goes to each, so you're essentially working with 2.5 tons of patient area, or 5 patients at a time.

Heh, the below began simply as a proof of concept but kind of ran away from me. Take what you like, ditch the rest. The final values probably need tweaking. I eye-balled the prices to represent a basic stateroom with additional medical features and to take into account the usefulness of a 'med-locker'. Feed back is appreciated :)
TL | Module | Tons | MCr

7 | Med-Bay, Basic | 4 | 1.5
10 | Med-Bay, Standard | 4 | 3
13 | Med-Bay, Full | 4 | 5

A med-bay contains general medical equipment and sufficient area to care for 5 patients. Med-bays are treated similar to a ship's locker in that the GM can reasonably assume a med-bay is stocked with most common medical utilities and drugs (medicinal slow should always be available in a stocked med-bay).

Equipment in a Med-bay is at the closest tech level to the med-bay (e.g. a basic med-bay will carry TL 8 medkits). GMs should limit what is available (initially) based on the TL of the med-bay. A basic med-bay probably isn't going to have Anagathics, for example.

Restocking a med-bay with supplies costs 1% of the med-bay's cost every month (used or not; this simplifies record keeping and can be attributed to "shelf life" of drugs). For every week after a missed restock the GM should roll 2d6 and add the number of previous rolls (one month without restock would be 2d6+3). On a 10+, the item the players were trying to use is out and will be out until they restock the med-bay. Players may spend 10% of the next best med-bay's cost to gain access to better meds and gear (based on bought TL, not actual med-bay TL), but a med-bay can only support gear of one type higher (i.e. a basic med-bay cannot carry the TL 13 gear of a full med-bay).

Standard and Full med-bays can convert patient space into cryoberths at listed cost (50 KCr). One cryoberth replaces one patient. For example, a med-bay can generally care for five patients at a time. One could install two cryoberths and still be able to care for three patients.
So, for example, a Merc cruiser has 25 state rooms. One could convert five of those into med-bays, providing care for twenty-five injured people, more than there would be staterooms for (ignoring double-bunks) by five. So, have five cryoberths installed. Assuming all the med-bay modules are standard med-bays, it will cost 7.5 mil for the bays + 0.25 mil for the berths; MCr 7.75. Assuming you're converting staterooms you can deduct the cost of those (5*0.5 = MCr 2.5); total cost is MCr 5.25.
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Re: Low Passage & Low Berths

Postby serene_muse » Fri Jul 04, 2008 1:26 am

If you haven't already, read a book from E.C. Tubb's pulpy fun Dumarest of Terra series. That's where Low Berth, slow drug and fast drug come from and one source for random worlds with a tendency towards nobles, use of swords, and the week or so jump comes from for Traveller.

Low Berth is intended for mass transport of things like livestock. Only space-hobos of the 'verse with nothing else to lose risk getting doped up for Low Berth. Like Dumarest of Terra. :P Usually they get in on the sly and accept the risks. The rich passengers are on slow drug.

The Dumarest saga books are usually slim fast reads and the early books in the series should be easy enough to find cheap used or in reprint (Wildside Books). The Winds of Gath is the first book.

The Dumarest Companion

As for the OP's suggestion, if it fits your campaign better, that's alright.
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Postby E.T.Smith » Fri Jul 04, 2008 4:02 am

dafrca wrote:I have a question, what Difficulty did you use?

I can not find where the book gives one, but that will make a major difference wouldn’t it.
The book doesn't give any Difficulty either way for the Medic roll, so I assumed an unmodified roll for 8+. Assuming an Easy task does indeed help a lot. Even better would be a relatively quick time interval, (say 10-60 minutes), allowing a reasonable chance for a positive DM for extra time.

Still and all, I remain wary of the blunt binary outcomes of Low Berth travel, and even with a far lessened chance of failure will probably stick to the alternate failure possibilities presented above.
Last edited by E.T.Smith on Fri Jul 04, 2008 4:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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