Life Support

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
Hans Rancke
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Re: Life Support

Postby Hans Rancke » Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:52 pm

dlpulver wrote:What I get from this is that "supplies for the Life Support" system mean something other than food or water, and presumably oxygen as it is trivial to crack water for air. I think that could break down into two elements:

* Replacement of filters, rapidly wearing-out parts or specialized catalysts that are in addition to the generalized MNT cost and specific to manned ships.
* General cleaning agents and fresher stock (not likely to be more than $200/month, though).
The problem is that life support in closed environments is something we have a pretty solid knowledge about. There are no fudge factor available for our Traveler spaceships. Life support cost is the same whether you make a jump or not, so you can't invoke jumpspace wear and tear. You're stuck with plain old Real Universe physics, and once you've covered food, air, and water, you're pretty much out of things to pay for.

And anything you can come up with is likely to be per occupant rather than per stateroom.
The argument that Maintenance already covers all repairs and parts is compelling but not entirely certain. MNT cost is, after all, strictly based on a percentage of ship cost.
That's most likely a simplification for game purposes. And I don't think maintenance covers all repairs. Just minor, routine ones.
A possibly justifiable argument would be that certain components, specifically staterooms, impose a far higher maintenance burden then their purchase cost indicates. (Consider a stray cat: it's free, but you keep paying and paying... sorry. Just had to visit a vet and got the bill...)
But wood is cheaper than high quality metal, but it can cost more to maintain a wooden ship.
All very well, but unless you can explain just what causes that higher cost, you're not explaining anything; you're essentally saying "Because I said so!"
Is there anything in Traveller that would explain why the cost per stateroom is high?
Not to my knowledge. If there had been, it wouldn't be a problem.
Perhaps there is a semi-ablative radiation shielding grid included in each stateroom and low berth.

Perhaps the artificial gravity generation - based on corridor length slices and rooms included in each stateroom - has an unusually high wear-out rate and replacement cost.
You really don't want to introduce expenses that would also apply to space habitats. That would muck up a different part of the setting.
My major concern, however, is not the cost - I've lived with Cr 2000/stateroom for a long time - but the question of how the life support can be replenished for trips out from civilization and how much extra supplies take up. "Spartan" food, water, etc. should be about 0.01 ton per month, I think, but I don't know about the other material.
There's a rule in one of the early issues of JTAS. The one with the article about asteroid mining IIRC. But I can't recall how compatible it was with the CT life support rules.


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IanW
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Re: Life Support

Postby IanW » Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:56 pm

dlpulver wrote:"Spartan" food, water, etc. should be about 0.01 ton per month, I think, but I don't know about the other material.
0.01 tons a month is 10 kilos a month is 300 grams a day - IMO you're off by a factor of 3.

A liter of water, a kilo of food and a kilo of LOx and other supplies per day - assume decent but not perfect water and air recycling and you're good. 0.1 dtons per person per month.

Outside Imperial space, or with the appropriate paperwork, you dont need to pay the 1500 credits of taxes on top of the 500 credits of costs for this.

Therefore, Long Range Supplies. 0.1 dtons, Cr 500 per person per month.
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Re: Life Support

Postby F33D » Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:22 am

IanW wrote:[

Outside Imperial space, or with the appropriate paperwork, you dont need to pay the 1500 credits of taxes on top of the 500 credits of costs for this.

Therefore, Long Range Supplies. 0.1 dtons, Cr 500 per person per month.
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Re: Life Support

Postby FreeTrav » Sun Aug 19, 2012 2:54 am

One of the things that occurs to me in this thread is that while the "life support" cost is quoted PER STATEROOM, it's not really for what one would visualize as "the stateroom" alone - remember that when you're constructing a ship, half of the allocation for a stateroom is actually for public areas - corridors, common areas, and so on. These are areas that can't be closed off if some of the staterooms are empty, so they're still incurring some costs - whether the Cr2000 is realistic is irrelevant for this discussion; substitute whatever figure you feel is appropriate - and those costs will still need to be accounted for. A closed stateroom doesn't cost you Cr2000, but it doesn't cost you Cr0, either - maybe Cr500? Cr1000?

Your maximum monthly cost is going to be that monthly LS figure times the number of staterooms; you've got to be prepared to incur that cost in any given month even if you don't normally run at full capacity. So, you budget pessimistically - figure that you're going to incur the full cost, but you will only collect revenue for half of your average utilization, and set prices (and allocate costs in your books) accordingly. If you've pulled down more than you've spent, it's profit that can be used to offset an unexpected loss elsewhere (like at least partially covering the cost of that new gravitic potrzebie that you finally had to replace when the old one failed from being patched so often, or maybe it was that magnetic field three-phasor from the Jump drive that was summarily downrated because the manufacturer recalled the entire production run, or...).

Or maybe it IS taxes, fees, surcharges, and bribes...
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Hans Rancke
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Re: Life Support

Postby Hans Rancke » Sun Aug 19, 2012 8:56 am

IanW wrote:
dlpulver wrote:A liter of water, a kilo of food and a kilo of LOx and other supplies per day - assume decent but not perfect water and air recycling and you're good. 0.1 dtons per person per month.
Actually, you'd better assume very efficient water recycling. Human metabolism generates water. If you don't extract that from the environment and store it away somewhere, it builds up in the spaceship. Eventually that would result in all sorts of damage.
Outside Imperial space, or with the appropriate paperwork, you dont need to pay the 1500 credits of taxes on top of the 500 credits of costs for this.
Except the rules say it costs Cr2000 everywhere, in AND out of the Imperium.


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Re: Life Support

Postby Hans Rancke » Sun Aug 19, 2012 9:03 am

FreeTrav wrote:One of the things that occurs to me in this thread is that while the "life support" cost is quoted PER STATEROOM, it's not really for what one would visualize as "the stateroom" alone - remember that when you're constructing a ship, half of the allocation for a stateroom is actually for public areas - corridors, common areas, and so on. These are areas that can't be closed off if some of the staterooms are empty, so they're still incurring some costs - whether the Cr2000 is realistic is irrelevant for this discussion; substitute whatever figure you feel is appropriate - and those costs will still need to be accounted for. A closed stateroom doesn't cost you Cr2000, but it doesn't cost you Cr0, either - maybe Cr500? Cr1000?
And we're back to the unanswered question of just what you're paying for. What is it you're paying for that is proportional to the number of staterooms rather than the number of living people aboard or the size of the ship? Remember, life support for a freighter and a passenger liner of exactly the same size will differ markedly.
Your maximum monthly cost is going to be that monthly LS figure times the number of staterooms; you've got to be prepared to incur that cost in any given month even if you don't normally run at full capacity.
Except that if you can't explain what it is that the monthly life support pays for, you can't explain why the cost isn't lower with fewer people aboard. People use up resources, no argument there. But staterooms that use up resources whether they occupied or not? How does that actually come about?

The explanation "Because I say so!" is not acceptable.
Or maybe it IS taxes, fees, surcharges, and bribes...
In which case players are entitled to know the risks of trying to evade those taxes, fees, surcharges, and bribes and to decide for themselves whether they want to try or not. And, of course, when and where those taxes, etc. do not apply.


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Re: Life Support

Postby F33D » Sun Aug 19, 2012 6:11 pm

FreeTrav wrote: A closed stateroom doesn't cost you Cr2000, but it doesn't cost you Cr0, either - maybe Cr500? Cr1000?
Nope. It isn't consuming anything.
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Re: Life Support

Postby Ishmael » Sun Aug 19, 2012 7:24 pm

The ship's environment isn't controlled on a stateroom by stateroom basis, but it is controlled by sections enclosed within structural bulkheads. Partition walls and doors are not airtight; pressure, humidity, heating/cooling, etc. cannot be controlled per stateroom.

Recycling and filtration of water and ventilation will still continue even if one or two staterooms are unoccupied.
Grav and inertial compensation as well.
----------------------------

Incidentally, 2000cr per month is the cost of normal upkeep for a soc-8 character which covers everyday expenses, such as food, clothing upkeep, and incidentals without covering ordinary purchases, such as equipment or passage.
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Re: Life Support

Postby Hans Rancke » Sun Aug 19, 2012 8:11 pm

Ishmael wrote:The ship's environment isn't controlled on a stateroom by stateroom basis, but it is controlled by sections enclosed within structural bulkheads. Partition walls and doors are not airtight; pressure, humidity, heating/cooling, etc. cannot be controlled per stateroom.

Recycling and filtration of water and ventilation will still continue even if one or two staterooms are unoccupied.
Yes, and that is covered by power consumption. The amount of consumables that are consumed, however, is less when there are less people to consume them. So basing the cost of consumables consumed on the number of staterooms Does. Not. Make. Sense.


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Re: Life Support

Postby CosmicGamer » Sun Aug 19, 2012 9:11 pm

Maybe staterooms are not individually maintained. The size of the central air/heat/water and other systems is dependent on max occupancy and components in these systems needs proper maintenance no matter how many people are occupying the staterooms.

EDIT
General concept: General maintenance costs are based on the cost of the ship (1/1000th). Perhaps a stateroom (500,000cr) costs more to maintain than other spaces.

At 1/1000th of 500,000 = 500cr per year for normal ships maintenance. 2000cr per month = 24,000cr/year = 48/1000th = almost 50 times the cost to maintain a stateroom. Are my numbers right?
/EDIT


When I was in the military, inspections of systems were done on an interval. It didn't matter if the system was used between intervals or not. Testing systems may require certain supplies. You'd get in big trouble if systems were not properly inspected and tested.

In the commercial world, if a restaurant is spot checked by officials and safety equipment has not been properly maintained they might be shut down. In the star faring world, you might loose your certification to carry passengers, or worse, be grounded until systems are in compliance.
Last edited by CosmicGamer on Sun Aug 19, 2012 9:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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It's Life Support Jim, but not as we know it...

Postby far-trader » Sun Aug 19, 2012 9:22 pm

Little Known Facts of Starship Travel #117:

Staterooms are in fact sentient alien lifeforms that make interstellar travel safe for other sentient beings by shielding them from disturbing emanations of jump space. Staterooms themselves are uniquely immune. Usually travelling in family groups aboard starships Staterooms are contracted for life at a price of MCr0.5 plus a flat rate of Cr2000 per month for their services thereafter. The initial contract fees are managed by a trust of retired Staterooms on worlds across charted space. Each individual Stateroom manages their own salary. Little is known about Stateroom reproduction but Lowberths appear to be a juvenile form and are provided by Staterooms under a similar contractual basis.

Staterooms can reconfigure their body to suit the Traveller, providing various furnishings, lighting, temperature, etc. to make the journey comfortable. Staterooms appear to be empathic as conditions will often change without the Traveller vocalizing a desire, simply feeling uncomfortably chilled will induce a temperature rise to comfortable levels.

Interstellar jump space travel before contacting Staterooms was very often fatal and nobody risks insanity or worse by not employing Staterooms. Lowberths are not 100% safe. Presumably juveniles are less adept at shielding lifeforms, even when induced into a very low level of life functions by the Lowbeth's special psionic talent, a talent they outgrow when they mature to full Staterooms. Lowberth experience is a very necessary step in the growth of a Stateroom, and the initial contract and monthly fees are low because it is partly subsidized by the Lowberth/Stateroom society. The final maturation process is also shrouded in mystery as it never happens outside the Stateroom/Lowberth settlements and no aliens are able to enter or observe, even by remote sensors.

There is some debate as to whether Staterooms are in fact a biological lifeform, or just a very advanced mechanical mimicry of biology. No dead Staterooms or Lowberths have even been studied. Once killed they convert rapidly into energy and disappear spreading outward at the speed of light.

;)
Last edited by far-trader on Sun Aug 19, 2012 9:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: It's Life Support Jim, but not as we know it...

Postby Hans Rancke » Sun Aug 19, 2012 9:29 pm

far-trader wrote:Little Known Facts of Starship Travel #117:
Well-known fact of space travel: Life support in real space cost exactly the same as life support in jumpspace.


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Re: It's Life Support Jim, but not as we know it...

Postby far-trader » Sun Aug 19, 2012 9:35 pm

Hans Rancke wrote:
far-trader wrote:Little Known Facts of Starship Travel #117:
Well-known fact of space travel: Life support in real space cost exactly the same as life support in jumpspace.


Hans
No, Stateroom (and Lowberth) support costs the same. It's a business expense for the Starship and a wage for the Stateroom/Lowberth. Actual Life Support for travellers is inconsequential...

...hey, the rule is stupid, I think we can all agree on that. I think calling it a Tax is equally idiotic. My tongue-in-cheek response is above. Take it for whatever you care to. It was just a flirtatious bit of sci-fi sarcasm... scicasm?
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Re: It's Life Support Jim, but not as we know it...

Postby Hans Rancke » Sun Aug 19, 2012 9:50 pm

far-trader wrote:...hey, the rule is stupid, I think we can all agree on that. I think calling it a Tax is equally idiotic.
So do I. I don't think either explanation work. I doubt any explanation will work (though I'd be delighted to be proven wrong). That's why I advocate changing the rule. Just as my approach to canon is always[*], if it works, don't change it; if it doesn't work, do change it.

[*] Well, almost always.[/size]


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Re: It's Life Support Jim, but not as we know it...

Postby far-trader » Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:00 pm

Hans Rancke wrote:
far-trader wrote:...hey, the rule is stupid, I think we can all agree on that. I think calling it a Tax is equally idiotic.
So do I. I don't think either explanation work. I doubt any explanation will work (though I'd be delighted to be proven wrong). That's why I advocate changing the rule. Just as my approach to canon is always[*], if it works, don't change it; if it doesn't work, do change it.

[*] Well, almost always.[/size]


Hans
Agreed, though I prefer to give a good try at making the rule work before chucking it. And I think the ALF (Alien Life Form) idea works. Granted I haven't been terribly verbose above, just the barest outline of the idea. And there may be issues with it but off hand I think they're covered. It removes the cost of consumables issue and addresses the constant cost regardless of occupancy.

Presumably I've not convinced you :)

What issues do you see not addressed by it?

EDIT: For the record, I'm sure that's not what the rule intends, and if it was they should have said as much. In fact they really should have spelled out just what that Cr2000 per month IS buying. If they'd tried that when writing it I'm sure they'd have said "Hmm, that just doesn't work, we need to change it." At least that's what I would hope the response would be.

Would we even be having this discussion if the cost was Cr200 per month? Even without any explanation/breakdown of what that is buying? I seriously doubt it.
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Re: Life Support

Postby Ishmael » Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:11 pm

Hans Rancke wrote:Yes, and that is covered by power consumption. The amount of consumables that are consumed, however, is less when there are less people to consume them. So basing the cost of consumables consumed on the number of staterooms Does. Not. Make. Sense.
There may be costs involved that are not related to power consumption... or does no one change filters or use cleaning agents with life support equipment. Even air fresheners or scented candles? Chemical treatments for water tanks to keep bacteria growth low?

Besides, the rule does not mention consumables anyway; people just make that assumption.
And even then, it would be a mistake to assume that cost per unit volume remains the same always. Perhaps some places cost more for the required 'consumables', but the game simplifies this as an average amount per trip.

Just like changing shipping costs, etc.... if you change it, you change the setting's assumptions and thus, the setting itself. Just accept the rule as part of the setting for play balance/effect and move on.

If we change every rule that Does. Not. Make. Sense. then there are many rules concerning world generation, economics, and other stuff that would need changing before worrying about this lil snippet.
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Re: Life Support

Postby CosmicGamer » Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:38 pm

I saw no comments and thought it may have got overlooked with all the alien stateroom posts and such. So I thought I'd repost it.
CosmicGamer wrote:Maybe staterooms are not individually maintained. The size of the central air/heat/water and other systems is dependent on max occupancy and components in these systems needs proper maintenance no matter how many people are occupying the staterooms.

EDIT
General concept: General maintenance costs are based on the cost of the ship (1/1000th). Perhaps a stateroom (500,000cr) costs more to maintain than other spaces.

At 1/1000th of 500,000 = 500cr per year for normal ships maintenance. 2000cr per month = 24,000cr/year = 48/1000th = almost 50 times the cost to maintain a stateroom. Are my numbers right?
/EDIT


When I was in the military, inspections of systems were done on an interval. It didn't matter if the system was used between intervals or not. Testing systems may require certain supplies. You'd get in big trouble if systems were not properly inspected and tested.

In the commercial world, if a restaurant is spot checked by officials and safety equipment has not been properly maintained they might be shut down. In the star faring world, you might loose your certification to carry passengers, or worse, be grounded until systems are in compliance.
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Re: Life Support

Postby dlpulver » Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:51 am

IanW wrote:
dlpulver wrote:"Spartan" food, water, etc. should be about 0.01 ton per month, I think, but I don't know about the other material.
0.01 tons a month is 10 kilos a month is 300 grams a day - IMO you're off by a factor of 3.
No, I think I was correct. I think you confused metric tons and displacement tons (14x the volume).

0.01 dtons = 0.14 cubic meters, 40% more than you're thinking, and plenty of room for storing 50+ kg of supplies.
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Re: Life Support

Postby dlpulver » Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:03 am

CosmicGamer wrote:Maybe staterooms are not individually maintained. The size of the central air/heat/water and other systems is dependent on max occupancy and components in these systems needs proper maintenance no matter how many people are occupying the staterooms.

EDIT
General concept: General maintenance costs are based on the cost of the ship (1/1000th). Perhaps a stateroom (500,000cr) costs more to maintain than other spaces. /EDIT
I agree that "a higher maintenance cost for stateroom life support" seems to fit some MGT facts.

These are:

(a) Ships have no separate life support system, so this is included with the staterooms (given the Cr. 500,000 each cost). It would inefficient to assume all staterooms have independent life support, so the stateroom volume presumably includes a slice of a larger LS system, most likely depicted on deck plans, etc. as part of the engineering spaces, or as under the floors.

(b) Mongoose Traveller indicates the cost is paid regardless of occupancy and supports spartan living. It is up to the Steward or the luxury option to turn basic ingredients into quality food.

(c) Failure to pay for regular maintenance in MGT cannot damage life support - the failure of mnt will damage a random system on the combat table, and staterooms are not listed (people are, though.)

One problem with the MNT cost argument, however, is that MGT states the cost is for *supplies* rather preventive repairs.
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Re: Life Support

Postby dlpulver » Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:16 am

The good suggestion to check Marc Miller's "Mining the Asteroids" in JTAS #3 which are canon (if not MGT) does produce some interesting figures for "any ship" for long term in-system operations and apparently is directly from Miller. We therefore learn that in order for a ship to operate for the lengthy periods needed for asteroid mining:

* "It must have staterooms and storage space for food and other supplies."

* 1 person requires 1 kg of food and other essentials per day costing Cr 25 per kg

* 1 ton of such supplies will support 2000 person/days at a cost of Cr 50,000.

* That translates into 285 person/weeks at Cr 175 per week.

* Before an expedition the crew should "invest in a safety inspection (Cr 500), a complete recharge of the ship's oxygen system (Cr 1000) and water system (Cr 500)."

It is not stated if this is per ship or per stateroom (per ship is illogical if applied to all ships: I'm sure it costs more for a 5000 tonner than a 100 tonner). If it is per stateroom, rather than per ship, then 500 + 1000 + 500 = 2000, a figure that may seem oddly familiar, albeit one stated as not covering food (30 days would add Cr 750 based on Miller's other prices).

Note, however, that the figure is listed as "per expedition" rather than "per month" with each block on the asteroid mining flow chart a week there's nothing mentioned about running out of air on a monthly basis.

Any thoughts on how this relates?

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