2300AD - Large Scale Trade question


Banded Mongoose
Is anyone here aware of a discussion anywhere of the volume of interstellar trade in the long history of the 2300 AD? I’m thinking about fleshing out what the 20,000 * 10% = 2,000 starships in the setting are moving* in the setting. I wanted to know if either the designers or the fans had ever made the internal logic of the interstellar trade clear. I see that:
-many colonies are about prestige nor economics
-tantalum 180m availability may mean there is actually a serious shipping shortage
-the material, particularly the Mongoose stuff, often mentions colonies exporting high value density material like rare earths or tantalum.
-the new core rules do point out that a trade campaign is going to have smaller margins than other Traveller campaigns.

Just looking for more along those lines for this or any other 2300 AD edition.

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!

*Mongoose 2e 2300 AD Core Rules Book 3 pg 32 if there are 20,000 spacecraft of which 90% are “non-stutterwarp”.


Banded Mongoose
Ummm...just to be sure...I haven't asked a flame-war-inducing question, have I?

I'm quite new to the Traveller community and saw many threads going deeper into the background in other areas.

Sorry if my first community activity was throwing a live grenade into the community...

Big differences between Classic Traveller and 2300
1) Ships are more expensive and rarer
2) The colonies are fairly young
3) There is no antigrav so the cost of lifting cargo out of a planatery grav well is huge

This means that most colonies are going to aim to be capable of feeding themselves as food shipping will be hugely expensive. For all but the most complicated manufacturing it is going to be cheaper to ship in the manufacturing tools than the goods.
So generalist colonies like Beta Canum, Beowulf etc will be as self sufficient as practical and acceptable to the colonial power. For all but the most valuable raw materials (Tantalum) extraction is going to be in asteroid belts to avoid lifting it out of the grav well and if you want to export the manufactured goods there is a huge cost advantage to manufacturing in orbit. IIRC there are a few worlds which export complicated biochemicals which also works as thats low mass high value.
King for instance will export only Tantalum as the high g makes any other export from its surface vastly overpriced compared to mining an nice zero-g asteroid,
Frontier colonies will still need to import everything but will try very hard not to need much stuff until they can bring in a manufacturing node. Presumably the Colonial power will subsidise exports to these worlds as most of them will have few imports.
Beta Canum with a Bean stalk will also export more than most worlds. On other worlds goods which can withstand mass driver acceleration will also be much cheaper to export. This means passanger travel will be expensive with an awful lot of colonists whose travel was sponsored by the government being stuck on the colony as they will not be able to leave .

Most trade is going to go to and from the Sol system as the orbital factories there have huge scale advantages and IIRC almost all the shipyards are at Earth Orbit


Banded Mongoose
That’s a great reply and I’m wondering if anyone else has a rough “trade model” they could point me to to establish what’s going and coming in those holds. Simplifying it I’m thinking:

Inbound to Core:
Rare earth elements (REE)
Unique bio chemicals they can not synthesize yet.

The books mention these but also some pretty mundane “ores” which I assume are for intrasystem or intra-colonial trade

To colonies:
Manufactured goods needed or desired on frontier

Is there anything else anyone can think of?

Reason I’m asking is overall trade fleet and cargo lift to the core looks small to my eye to justify the colonies existence economically. That’s fine. Tantalum and REE are strategic materials and don’t need to payoff economically to be worth the trip. I’m just trying to make sure I’m aware of all the different high value things in the ships.
If we assume that the best parts of the Asteroid belts in Sol are mined out then shipping materials from mines in rich asteroid belts is quite cheap , particularly if the ship is returning to earth anyway with either small amounts of Tantalum or having carried cargo to a colony. I don't think the shipping costs are high unless you have to lift out of a gravity well.
You are also going to have the transport of the necessary supplies to maintain colonial navy garrisons and warships and those ships may be free to return cargo's.
I don't see much in the way of tramp traders.


Banded Mongoose
Ok. I follow you. I guess it was the part where we assumed that we mined out the exploitable resources of the Belt in less than 300 years. But the setting material says the Belters got sick of Core culture and left or where forced out. I guess PGM and U/Th ores in the Belt might be exhausted by now. Given that nearly everyone uses fuel cells and or fission. And that stutterwarp maybe the most energy efficient form of fast interstellar travel in science fiction.

Alright I can work off that. Thanks!


Banded Mongoose
It is unlikely in the extreme that the Solar Asteroid Belt would be mined out in three hundred years - three thousand, maybe, but even that would take a huge investment of time, effort, and resources. Now, I could see three centuries of accelerating industrial expansion depleting the easily found and exploitable resources in the Belt, but that would primarily mean that the cost of continuing operations would be higher.

In addition, should the costs of Main Belt mining go high enough, it will become economically viable to begin exploiting other asteroid resources - the Jupiter Trojans, the Trojan asteroids of other gas giants, and the Kuiper Belt objects, primarily. Overall, the Solar System probably has a mass somewhere between that of Mars and the Earth in asteroidal resources, although much of that will be either not particularly industrially valuable or expensive to access.


Banded Mongoose
Yeah. That’s the bit I’m trying to reconcile for myself. I can waive my hands and say “economical extraction” all I want but my problem is thinking that the post Twilight civilization could’ve mined out the Belt that fast. Of course that depends a lot on what we find when me do more in situ sampling … but current odds are pretty good that a spacefaring civilization like the on depicted in 2300AD won’t “run out” of anything anytime soon. Even if they declare Earth completely off limits to mining.
I also do not believe the resources of any Solar system are going to be mined out. Further I suspect the amount of Tantalum found in asteroid far exceeds that you are going to be able to dig out or any dirtball gravwell. Further the population of earth in 2300 AD is based on current trends going to be slowly shrinking or at best stable. All of this invalidates pretty mich every sci-fi setting let along 2300ad
We know in the 2300 AD setting the following are true
1) There is population for colonisation
2) Trade with these colonies is economically viable
3) Tantalum is valuable to mine so valuabel horrible hell worlds (King) are worth colonising despite killing any colonist who is not massively rebuilt

So we know that in the 2300ad universe minerals are less available in the Solar system than they are in reality. So it is viable to ship raw materials from colony worlds to earth if this is the case there is some reason why the same materials cannot be got from lower cost in Sol. Specifically asteroid mining in Nyotkendu is profitable even when shipping to earth.

So to my earlier posts are based around trying to make the 2300AD planatery model work. Bear in mind that the 2300 AD world is created largely based on the Great powers of the late 19th to early 20th century with changes not a realistic scientific and economic model of space exploration, I can't think of a good game for that.
Therefore you must either rebuild the world to match current realistic expectations or invent reasons why the economic and exploratory model of the game works. There are more problematic questions out there, such as why no one scouted signifigantly past Aurora is is unlikely that colony worlds are literally on the edge of known space and have been for decades. If you go more than 2 or 3 systems beyond Aurora you encounter the Kafers making the suprise of their appearance unlikely and then not doing any such scouting after that first attack makes me thing the strategic planners for the French and German fleets are somwhat incompetent but it created 3 interesting gaming scenarios.

You have to balance realism with the theme of the game universe and the facts we have in the writings available on that universe

Bryn the 2300AD guy

Banded Mongoose
There were 3,300 starships in GDW 2300AD, of which about 2,000 were commercial trade ships.

By the Nyotekundu SB, 12 ships per day entered the system, which sets the rate at which starships from the French Arm reached Earth, ca. 4 per day. Given the much smaller economic weighting of the other arms, probably on the order of 5-6 ships per day call at Earth from the colonies.

If these were all (GDW) Anjous, then about 165 million metric tons on imports per year is coming into Earth. If the average long-range trade ship is larger (bigger than a Metal, which is an old ship) then a billion tons is imports and exports is quite possible.

In 1975, global trade excluding oil was about 1.4 billion tons shipped annually. The volume of trade is thus fine. It just doesn't resemble globalised trade, because there are gravity wells involved.

If you want more trade, the economical way is to up the size of the transports. Bigger and slower transports work better, and we can easily move a million tons on one*, and 10 million tons on a fusion reactor driven ship. We can easily carry high trade volumes on relatively small numbers of ships.

* French Ville (City) class Nuclear Modular Carrier
Original date of design: 2251
First example laid down: 2252
First example completed: 2254
Fleets in service: France (mainly French government registry)
Number in service: ca. 50, named after French cities (Ville de Maestricht, Ville de Eindhoven, Ville de Bonn, Ville de Gand, Ville de Geneve etc.)

The Metal class modular carrier was a huge success, but the conventional MHD turbine meant the vessel had to make halts at essentially every outpost or colony on her route. This was fine for exports from Tirane, but exports from the French Arm were not as efficient as possible. Thus a nuclear powered vessel was desirable.

The question was whether to make the vessel faster or carry more. Whilst for some goods, faster delivery was an advantage, for ore and grain, there was no advantage. A deep load speed of 0.4 was acceptable, that being the deep load speed of a Metal. Given this speed, 432 standard modules of ore or grain could be carried, with nearly a million tons of deadweight. The modules have been designed to stack in rings of 9, and upto 48 rings were thus carried in the aft stack.

Ville ‘s were designed to go from Earth to BCV-4, a logistical hub, and return. A round trip, carrying less dense manufactured goods on the outbound leg, and deep loaded with grain and ore on the return leg, takes around six or seven months, and so a hamster wheel spin habitat was installed. Loading and unloading is relatively quick, due to the modular system. At the logistics centres at both ends, modules are prepared and loaded onto the stack by both the manipulators at the logistics centres, and the pair of grabbers carried. The grabbers also facilitate cargo manipulation outside ports.

From BCV-4, modules for further up-arm are transferred to smaller vessels, and modules containing good from further up-arm are loaded.

With not quite a million tons of deadweight, the Ville is now regarded as a relatively small modular carrier, and the earliest ships are being retired at the end of their reactor lives, and the lead vessel, the Ville de Maestricht, was officially retired in 2299. The Ville de Eindhoven, Ville de Bonn and Ville de Gand are due to decommission in 2300. The latest ships being built have fusion reactors and can carry 10 million tons of deadweight.

Notes: In combat, when hit the shot may hit the “tug” or the stack. If the shot is from the forward aspect, it automatically hits the tug, and for the aft, it automatically hits the stack. For lateral fire, role d10, on a role of 10 it hits the tug, and for all others it hits the stack. Stack hits destroy one module and its’ cargo.

Crew: 29 (10 bridge, 14 engineers, 4 cargo specialists/ grabber operators and a medic)
Performance Characteristics
Warp Efficiency: 0.40 deep load (432 modules with sg3 ore/grain), 0.82 light load (432 modules with sg0.3 manufactured goods), 1.52 unloaded (432 empty modules) and 3.58 bare (no modules)
Power Plant: 15 MW fission
Fuel: nil (incidental fuel carried for the grabbers)
Range 7.7 ly
Mass: 1,350 tons bare, 17,550 tons empty
Cargo Capacity: 742.5 m3 per module (upto 432 carried)
Comfort: 0
Life Support: 30 for 180 days
Construction Cost: MLv28.19 bare (i.e. exclusive of modules and grabbers)
Hangars: for 2 15m3 grabbers (launch 1 per 3 turns)
Ship Status Sheet
Movement: 1 (loaded)
Screens: nil
Radiated Signature: 5
Reflected Signature: lateral = 14, radial = 6 (with 432 modules)
Profile: lateral = +4, radial = 0
Targeting Computer: 0
Armour: 0
Hull hits: main “tug” 6/3/2
Power plant hits: 20/5
Armament: none


Banded Mongoose
Bryn the 2300AD guy said:
There were 3,300 starships in GDW 2300AD, of which about 2,000 were commercial trade ships.

Where is that figure in GDW’s canon? I’ve looked but could not find.

Bryn the 2300AD guy

Banded Mongoose
The canonical number of starships is in the 2300AD Resource.

To be clear, 3W's next product would have been a Starship manual, and the authors discussed starship numbers on gENIE in 1989 or 1990, and came to the 3,300 number there. However, 2300AD production was halted ca. 1990.