Cheap ships, expensive to run.

simonh

Mongoose
I'm a big fan of this, but the one niggle is that it makes space navys dirt cheap. I like the idea of a small ship universe, but this would make huge ships free with a packet of cereal compared to planetary navy budgets. Suddenly a Tigris class dreadnaughts become quite affordable. Also 'Hunderd Billion Credit Squadron' doesn't quite trip off the tongue.

Not that I particularly care. Planetary naval budgets aren't a frequent topic of conversation at my gaming table, but there are those who will care.

Simon Hibbs
 

tolcreator

Mongoose
One Hundred Billion Credit Squadron?
doctor-evil.jpg


The fact that naval ships are cheaper too, was in the back of my mind. They don't haul cargo and don't pay berthing costs... or DO THEY? After all, you have to pay for the infrastructure. I haven't read Trillion Credit Squadron, but is the naval base part of that Trillion? They still have to pay the now inflated maintenance and fuel costs (well unless they scoop). But yeah, total cost of ownership, as it were, is totally reduced.

I'm more than willing to sweep that under the rug tho, and just hand-wave it away. If it was a space navy campaign maybe then I'd switch back, but it's (hypothetically) a scruffy looking nerf herder campaign.
 

Saladman

Banded Mongoose
Tolcreator, I think this is awesome and I plan to try it out at my next opportunity. Although that might be a solo play trading game, since I'm running something else entirely at the moment.

What I like about it for campaign play though is it's a lot easier to just give out a ship without instantly changing the game too much. Maybe start a campaign with someone knowing the location of a salvageable ship, or increase ship shares to something like 10%.
 

Mytholder

Banded Mongoose
You could boost the costs of military-grade weapons and components, to make the disparity bigger (which has the nice side benefit of making military-grade weapons something the PCs need to steal/acquire through back channels/lust after, as opposed to just buying with petty cash).

One of the biggest issues with Traveller is the cost of ships. PCs can make more money on one benefit roll than they ever will adventuring :)
 

simonh

Mongoose
Mytholder said:
You could boost the costs of military-grade weapons and components, to make the disparity bigger...

I know tolcreator wants to scale weaponry costs down as well, but I agree. Keep the turret scale weapon costs as-is, and if anything ramp up the costs of heavier weaponry and ship mods such as armour.

Simon Hibbs
 

Condottiere

Emperor Mongoose
Penalizing ship systems' performances by multiplying costs between each factor increase would make it prohibitively expensive to have cutting edge starships, which I believe should be the immediate goal.
 

tolcreator

Mongoose
The immediate thought I had would be to say, multiply the purchase and maintenance of a jump drive or maneuver drive by its jump or thrust rating.

This Jump-drive D in a 800 ton ship is a jump-1 workhorse, that barely ticks over and is based on old fashioned TL-9 technology. Every starport has a few of them up on bricks and spare parts can be found in every junk yard.
But THIS Jump-drive D in this 200 ton suped up free trader, is a Jump-4 TL-13 hot rod that needs expensive parts, boutique coolants, love, care, and just a little magic.

I do notice that jump-2 ships get off a bit light in my scheme, that should close the gap... and make military ships more expensive. Would need to do a few back-of-the-envelope calculations to see how *much* more expensive.

Modifying individual components like that makes it messier tho, would have to stat up my own ships... even more than I do now I mean :p

Edit: Or the *square* of the thrust rating, *gasp*.
 

tolcreator

Mongoose
Ok even a linear price * rating is very harsh on the likes of scout, far trader.

However, multiplying far trader jdrive by 1.5 brings it back in line with the by-the-book cost.

So something like:
Rating 1: x 1 (1 + 0)
Rating 2: x 1.5 (1 + 0.5)
Rating 3: x 2 (1 + 1)
Rating 4: x 3 (1 + 2)
Rating 5: x 5 (1 + 4)
Rating 6: x 9 (1 + 8 )

Makes that 10 ton fighter suuuper expensive (compared to the other ships), but maybe you can buy it with lower performance engines for half nothing, and aspire to thrust-6 one day.

Note: A much more affordable (lower performance) 10 ton fighter makes the cowboy bebop type setup more doable.
 

Nobby-W

Mongoose
tolcreator said:
Ships in Traveller are expensive to buy, but cheap to run.

While yes the average Traveller crew is struggling to meet payments every month...
It seems very, very hard for me to square this with a firefly-esque "keep her flying" type theme, when the ship is worth tens of millions.

...

I handled this a bit differently - make the ships cheap to buy and cheap-ish to run, but keep the total amount of money available to the PCs low.

I've assumed a market for secondhand starships such as free traders, the price of which is largely driven by the condition of the ship and the revenue generating potential in a frontier region where such a ship might be operated profitably. Thus, you could buy a used trading ship for a few million credits and there is a grey market for used, refurbished and off-brand parts where the maintenance history and actual hours on the part might not be quite as presented.

This keeps the total monies in the campaign relatively low but allows the party to buy and operate a starship. This has the effect of reducing the gap between the costs of outfitting for adventuring and the finances involved in running the starship.

As an analogy, there are (or were until recently) routes on which it it was still economical to run Boeing 707s, which are obsolete by most modern standards. At one point the market value for an airworthy 707 was about 2 million USD. Similarly, there was quite a substantial market in third party parts and maintenance services for DC3's , which were widely used in third world countries right into the 1980s and later. These services went as far as upgrade kits to fit turboprop engines to the airframe.

If you take this analogy, you can have a market for folks buying and running used trading ships where the purchase price is a small fraction - perhaps 5-20% of the new value - of the craft. The price is driven not by the cost of constructing the ship but by the revenue generating potential.

Say, for argument's sake, that the revenue generating potential of a type A2 trader is Cr60,000 for cargo and Cr40,000 for passengers, giving a revenue of Cr100,000 per jump or Cr2.4 million per annum. Each jump uses Cr22,000 worth of refined fuel and the maintenance cost is Cr500,000 per annum and Cr1000 landing fees per jump for 24 jumps per annum. Crew salaries are (say) Cr250,000 per annum.

Assuming you've got 2.4 million of revenue and 1.3m of costs per annum your ship can bring in a profit of (say) Cr1.1m P/A. If you assume this is a somewhat risky venture and insist on a 20% ROI then this means you can justify investing Cr5.5 million in total, which defines the market value of the ship as Cr5.5 million less the cost of any work that needs doing. A bank might insist on a 20% down payment of 1.1 million, which is a figure that could be achieved by a party of adventurers without making them so wealthy as to cause issues with game balance.

This keeps the finances a bit more tame, so you can go with a party of adventurers running their ship on a shoestring without having to write in a third party stumping up 50-100 million for the purchase of the ship.
 

simonh

Mongoose
Nobby-W said:
I handled this a bit differently - make the ships cheap to buy and cheap-ish to run, but keep the total amount of money available to the PCs low.

How have you modified the trading system to achieve this? If operating costs and repayments are low, using the standard trading system would mean the PCs would make an absolute killing, but you haven't mentioned any adjustments to it to ballance things out.

Simon Hibbs
 

Reynard

Cosmic Mongoose
Maybe, just maybe the system is not that broken. Player willingly have starships and take one mortgages in the game then set put to find funds to pay for it while having adventures.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Or you could up the costs and frequency of repairs based on the age of the ship. I'm posting from my phone so it's too awkward to add a table of suggested changes but I'm sure you get the idea... And I'm sure there are one or two GMs out there who'd not think twice about calculating repair costs versus income to keep it all in, err, balance
 

Saladman

Banded Mongoose
Nobby-W said:
I handled this a bit differently - make the ships cheap to buy and cheap-ish to run, but keep the total amount of money available to the PCs low.

I've assumed a market for secondhand starships such as free traders, the price of which is largely driven by the condition of the ship and the revenue generating potential in a frontier region where such a ship might be operated profitably. Thus, you could buy a used trading ship for a few million credits and there is a grey market for used, refurbished and off-brand parts where the maintenance history and actual hours on the part might not be quite as presented.

This keeps the total monies in the campaign relatively low but allows the party to buy and operate a starship. This has the effect of reducing the gap between the costs of outfitting for adventuring and the finances involved in running the starship.

As an analogy, there are (or were until recently) routes on which it it was still economical to run Boeing 707s, which are obsolete by most modern standards. At one point the market value for an airworthy 707 was about 2 million USD. Similarly, there was quite a substantial market in third party parts and maintenance services for DC3's , which were widely used in third world countries right into the 1980s and later. These services went as far as upgrade kits to fit turboprop engines to the airframe.

If you take this analogy, you can have a market for folks buying and running used trading ships where the purchase price is perhaps 10-20% of the new value of the craft. This keeps the finances a bit more tame, so you can go with a party of adventurers running their ship on a shoestring without having to write in a third party stumping up 50-100 million for the purchase of the ship.

This helps keep the overall level of finances in the campaign to a more tame level, which is useful for game balance.

Fair enough... but did you have a system or a guideline you could share with us, or were you eyeballing it? Also, does "keeping available money low" mean quest rewards and no trading game, or including the trade system?

Reynard said:
Maybe, just maybe the system is not that broken. Player willingly have starships and take one mortgages in the game then set put to find funds to pay for it while having adventures.

OP never said the system was broken, he said he had an aesthetic or genre objection to it. Unless you want anyone looking for a Firefly-esque game to run with Cortex Plus over Traveller I don't see the problem.

Too, I've met a few gamers who don't even want to hear the word "mortgage" in relation to their campaigns. I don't share that bias myself, but it's a real consideration if you want to expand your player base.
 

Condottiere

Emperor Mongoose
You could take a hundred tonne container, make it air tight, and you have a space habitation. Or even just hack out a planetoid.

The real expense is engineering, which essentially, within the time scope of the game, you can't around. The issue of the command module/bridge in my opinion is more nebulous.

You could outfit engineering, living quarters and the bridge with some cheap, low performance artificial gravity plates.

It's quite possible that jump drives and power plants can't perform any more as rated, which effectively halves their performance and factor for a given tonnage, though how that would translate as sales price, anywhere from seventy to twenty percent of base cost, I couldn't say.
 

Reynard

Cosmic Mongoose
"Too, I've met a few gamers who don't even want to hear the word "mortgage" in relation to their campaigns. I don't share that bias myself, but it's a real consideration if you want to expand your player base."

Oh, well that's easy. You give them the ship of their choice and send them on their way like getting a scout (with less strings attached). Just have them pay for gas or make sure they know to skim GGs. Drop maintenance because it's another headache for players just wanting a ship to adventure in. You really don't need to create all new trade and economic systems. A lot of players HATE space combat so that becomes a no-brainer function too. The ship becomes a plot device to get from scene to scene like ships in very popular tv shows and movies.

Traveller is that kind of flexible. Nothing in the rules say a game MUST follow the game mechanics to the letter.
 

AndrewW

Cosmic Mongoose
Nothing says the players even have to have their own ship.

Besides the Scout possibility, there's always the patron who gives the players the use of a ship in exchange for doing some jobs here and there.

Relative passes away and the players get the ship fully paid off.

Plenty of options out there to avoid this if needed.
 
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