Ships cost an Insane Amount

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
justacaveman
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Postby justacaveman » Tue Jul 20, 2010 1:39 pm

I agree that giving the characters a ship is breaking the balance. PCs do need to be more mobile than NPCs, and if I want the PCs to be immobile, that's usually easy to arrange (Breakdowns, lost paperwork etc..).

It's your game. If you want balance, go for balance. If you don't care about balance, that's just fine also.

Most PCs are better equipped, better trained, and have better stats than NPC's. I balance this out by usually having more NPCs than PCs, this will eventually wear the PC's down.

Life isn't fair, I just want it unfair in my favor! :lol:
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atpollard
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Postby atpollard » Tue Jul 20, 2010 1:49 pm

rust wrote:
Ector wrote: Giving players a free ship just because they were whining about the mortgage is breaking the balance.
The players could always settle for one of those 300 years old starships,
which according to the core rules should be had for a smile (- 1d6 ship
shares per 10 years, average result of a 1d6 is 3.5, 30 x 3.5 is sufficient
for 100 % of the ship ...).
With 30 rolls on the Old Ships table most of these ships will be permanent-
ly grounded as severe dangers to interstellar traffic, but at least some of
them may turn out to be even better than most new ships.
And what are 300 years among friends in an Imperium that has hardly
improved its technology during this time ...
Although it has of course never happened to me :) , I have heard that automobiles can get into accidents and even a new vehicle can sustain sufficient damage that the cost to restore it to 'original condition' exceeds its current market value. In such a circumstance, the owner is paid the full price (in a perfect world) of the automobile and the insurance company now owns a vehicle that it has no use for and requires repairs to be functional. However, the cost of 'do it yourself' repairs with used parts could restore the automobile to 'useable' condition for far less than the cost of buying a new automobile.

Could the same thing work for a starship and the 'shares' system? Buy a damaged ship for scrap value, finance minimum repair costs, operate a less than 100% tramp freighter for an affordable monthly payment.

The engineering rolls to maintain jury-rigged repairs would be priceless.
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Postby DFW » Tue Jul 20, 2010 2:02 pm

Ector wrote:Don't mix adventuring for life and survival with safari. Your friends just want new feelings, and I really doubt they would be happy if the safari would become really dangerous
Good thing you don't bet money. You'd be poorer this morning.
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Postby Somebody » Tue Jul 20, 2010 2:07 pm

@atpollard

One might even hire a female engineer, lease a shuttle to a "lady of negotiabel affection" and name the ship "Gelassenheit" or something like that :)
rust
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Postby rust » Tue Jul 20, 2010 2:12 pm

atpollard wrote: Could the same thing work for a starship and the 'shares' system? Buy a damaged ship for scrap value, finance minimum repair costs, operate a less than 100% tramp freighter for an affordable monthly payment.
In my settings this works perfectly well, in fact it is probably the way most
of the frontier traders aquired their first starships. :)

Starships which would require major costly repairs at a shipyard of the co-
re worlds are often sold to small yards along the frontier, where "junkyard
engineers" do not look too closely at all those annoying safety regulations
and just do what is necessary to bring the ships back into interstellar spa-
ce - and free traders willing to take a little more risk than usual buy these
ships in the hope that a couple of profitable trade runs will enable them to
improve the ships over time, spare part by spare part.

I introduced this mainly because I find it far more "adventurous" to travel
the trade routes with a ship that needs a lot of skill to keep it going than
to stare at that mortgage coming due once per month.
To tell the player that his character has five minutes to prevent the reac-
tor from overheating and toasting the crew creates a bit more tension than
to tell him that he has five days to get the money for the mortgage ... :twisted:
Somebody
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Postby Somebody » Tue Jul 20, 2010 3:54 pm

Well, it depends on the person telling him the mortgage is due and how often he skipped on it. Being told so by a Bankdroid in a nice, clima-controlled bank is boring.

Being told so Bjorne and Olay in a seedy Regina Backstreet after you missed your third payment to "Jarl Erik" is .... interesting
kristof65
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Postby kristof65 » Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:26 pm

rust wrote: I introduced this mainly because I find it far more "adventurous" to travel the trade routes with a ship that needs a lot of skill to keep it going than to stare at that mortgage coming due once per month. To tell the player that his character has five minutes to prevent the reactor from overheating and toasting the crew creates a bit more tension than to tell him that he has five days to get the money for the mortgage ... :twisted:
This tension is why I tend to give my players ships. Oh, technically, they're on the hook for mortgages and such, but I typically make sure they've got enough coming in to cover their costs on that regard. Where I have fun is in the reliability of their ships. Think Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive failing as Star Destroyers are closing in or Serenity's power plant failing and the life support only giving them so long to fix it.

Of course, I come from a technician's background. I have a lot of experience in dealing with things breaking and trying to get them running again. So I play to my strengths, and it works for the type of campaigns I run.

Of course, Traveller was my first RPG, and I tended to be a little monty haul in those days. My friends and I were so excited when High Guard first came out that I just had run campaigns where they could use the 20k ton cruiser ships they designed using HG and drew deckplans for. And when Trillion Credit Squadron came out, those cruisers became fleets. After those experiences, a party with a Subsidized Merchant is far more rewarding, yet quite doable.
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Postby Egil Skallagrimsson » Tue Jul 20, 2010 5:24 pm

Somebody wrote:@atpollard

One might even hire a female engineer, lease a shuttle to a "lady of negotiabel affection" and name the ship "Gelassenheit" or something like that :)
Ho ho !
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Ector
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Postby Ector » Wed Jul 21, 2010 9:07 am

Let me summarize the different options for ship ownership, for Referee's reference. If you have something to add, please do!

Ship Ownership Methods:
---------------------
1). Bank Loan (the default). The PCs have some shares of the ship, and the rest of the cost is covered by the load. PCs are free to do everything they want with the ship, but have to pay a monthly mortgage. This is the default scheme since it motivates the PCs for adventuring and enables ALL sorts of adventures (excluding only non-profitable ones).
2). Joint Stock Company. The PCs must prove themselves worthy to attract some funds - a good reputation is crucial here. Joint Stock bears less responsibilities than a bank loan: nobody is going to grab your ship if you are temporarily out of money. On the other hand, if the party would amass a vast wealth, the majority of it wouldn't be theirs. This scheme is preferable if you want to give your players more freedom, and it's much better than just giving them a free ship. You can also combine both schemes - if your PCs failed to amass enough money for a ship, the rest can be covered by a loan.
3). Subsidized Ship. A government (or some other power) is interested in having more ships for some purpose, so it offers much better conditions than the bank loan (the interest rate is very low or even zero), but PCs are limited in ship usage. For instance, if a Duke wants to speed up the development of a new world, he may issue a subsidy for the traders willing to regularly deliver goods to that world. Lab ships are often subsidized, as they aren't meant to bring much profit.
4). Formally Not Owned Ship. The ship is formally owned by some power or individual who allows PCs to use it as they want, but can require a service sometimes. This is normal for non-profitable ships like Scouts and Lab Ships. Remember that a retired Scout can get a Scout ship for free, but it can be comissioned for service any time.
5). Actually Not Owned Ship. The PCs are just a crew, working for the ship owner. What's wrong with it?

Ways of Decreasing Ship Cost:
------------------------------------
1). Used/broken ship. This can require great engineering skills and spare parts, but the ship can be several times cheaper.
2). Low-TL ship. It can consume significantly more fuel and have other technical problems.
3). Unusual ship. This one is my favorite: imagine you've discovered an old Aslan ship that was cheap just because nobody could find the spare parts for it!
4). Stolen/missed ship. The ship has its legitimate owners, who will eventually appear, but for now PCs can use the ship - probably with fake documents.
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Postby BP » Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:27 am

Inheritance - especially likely with nobles; the captain/owner dies with a will leaving the ship to his crew.

Payment - patron 'pays' for services with a ship (probably one they 'acquired' themselves at little to no cost).

Indefinite loan - loan of the use of the ship, that is.

Lottery - hey, its your lucky day!
Ector
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Postby Ector » Wed Jul 21, 2010 12:38 pm

BP wrote:Inheritance - especially likely with nobles; the captain/owner dies with a will leaving the ship to his crew.
Lottery - hey, its your lucky day!
I probably wasn't clear enough, but these ways are just giving them a ship for free, which isn't balanced IMHO. I believe that balanced ways produce the most interesting adventures.
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Postby Somebody » Wed Jul 21, 2010 12:43 pm

Ector wrote:
BP wrote:Inheritance - especially likely with nobles; the captain/owner dies with a will leaving the ship to his crew.
Lottery - hey, its your lucky day!
I probably wasn't clear enough, but these ways are just giving them a ship for free, which isn't balanced IMHO. I believe that balanced ways produce the most interesting adventures.
What do you mean with BALANCED? Balanced against what? Balanced for what purpose?
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Postby superc0ntra » Wed Jul 21, 2010 12:47 pm

Ector wrote:I probably wasn't clear enough, but these ways are just giving them a ship for free, which isn't balanced IMHO. I believe that balanced ways produce the most interesting adventures.
Balanced against what? If they need a starship for the adventure I usually make some way for them to acquire it. It can always be taken away when the plot requires it. Breakdown, hostile takeover, the legitimate owner shows up etc.
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Postby Chuckhazard » Wed Jul 21, 2010 1:04 pm

BP wrote:Lottery - hey, its your lucky day!
And behind door number 3, a NEW STARSHIP! Unfortunately contestant, you chose door number 2, enjoy your six-legged abraxan goat!
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Postby Captain Jonah » Wed Jul 21, 2010 1:11 pm

Wasn't there a world in the 3I OTU that had no tax, instead every citizen was required to buy lottery tickets and one a day bacome an instant multi millionaire.
Traveller: Nonsense, those rumours about me and crashes, no truth in them at all. I never had a landing I didn't walk away from!

ACTA-SF: Who are we, GORN. What do we want, Cruisers that can turn.... Wait, OK Escorts... Wait. I'll get back to you !
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Postby Ector » Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:42 pm

Somebody wrote:What do you mean with BALANCED? Balanced against what? Balanced for what purpose?
Balanced against PCs' duties, risks and possibilities. For purpose of realism and motivation.

Bank Loan: No duties, high risks (a bank can grab your ship if you won't pay in time), everything is possible (you can become RICH in a few months if you find the right goods and right customers).
Joint Stock: Light duties (if PCs are leading the company), medium risks, medium possible gains (even if you earn a lot of money, you will get only your percent of it).
Subsidy: Medium duties, low risks, low-medium possible gains.

Free ship: No duties, no risks, immediate huge gain (a starship!) Where is the balance?
justacaveman
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Postby justacaveman » Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:54 pm

A starship is usually just convenient transportation that gets the PCs around the Imperium so that they can be where the adventures actually are.

Unless you're running a Merchant or Military campaign, the type of ship is generally irrelevant (A faster ship is more efficient.). Even a scout ship is quite large enough to transport your typical group of PCs (Up to 8.).
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DFW
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Postby DFW » Wed Jul 21, 2010 3:29 pm

justacaveman wrote: Even a scout ship is quite large enough to transport your typical group of PCs (Up to 8.).
Especially, if it left in working order as it would be for detached duty personnel and not stripped down in preparation for civilian sale.
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Postby Somebody » Wed Jul 21, 2010 4:01 pm

Okay, now I understand your problem. Your only idea of a scenario seems to be to "play businessman". Well in that case your "balance" may be needed, depending on the personality of your players.

For many groups that is the least interesting scenario to play. And those groups don't need the balance. For them the ship is a prop like that funny ring from the british fantasy books. They work on different motivations. Some are not merchants (Scouts, Noble travellers etc) and others are motivated by rebelling against an evil empire / supporting a new republic (In the post Endor Han OWNS the Falcon and gets repairs for free), using the ship as tools (Talon Kadres smuggler ships in the Trawn-Trilogy are fully payed) to an end.

Even trader scenarios don't need the balance. David Falcayn and NickVanRyn never cared about mortgage and payment yet they are THE space traders. Their motivations where different, their adventures had a motivation other than "pay the mortgage"
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Postby Captain Jonah » Wed Jul 21, 2010 4:14 pm

justacaveman wrote:Even a scout ship is quite large enough to transport your typical group of PCs (Up to 8.).
:shock:

Bet these guys land on planets a lot just to get some fresh air in and let the smell out :D
Traveller: Nonsense, those rumours about me and crashes, no truth in them at all. I never had a landing I didn't walk away from!

ACTA-SF: Who are we, GORN. What do we want, Cruisers that can turn.... Wait, OK Escorts... Wait. I'll get back to you !

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