Low passage


What is the deal with low passage? What's the risk? Is there anything we should be aware of when it comes to this technology?

Everyone knows that LP is dangerous, but have you worked out how dangerous? With a DM of +3 on the Medic roll there is a 17% chance of failing. A standard Free Trader has 20 low berths, but is TL12 which comes with a +1 DM bringing the total DM up to +4 and giving a failure rate of 8%. If you manage to fill these every trip you are having to get rid of two corpses on an average jump. That is outrageously deadly in my opinion, more like "refugees putting to sea in an inflatable dinghy" than "sensible cost saving".

Note that (using the revised passage costs from AKAramis here) you are saving around 50% of the price of a Basic Passage ticket by doing this. If you absolutely must leave the planet and can't afford the extra one or two thousand credits then maybe you are willing to take such a risk but how many people like that are out there?

Space travel is regulated by the Imperium so I think it is reasonable to assume that they would keep some sort of records on how many deaths occur in low berths and how many people are dying in the care of specific crews. After all if there are no standards then you can just get any untrained person to operate your low berths and 92% of passengers in them will die, but so what. If you are doing things completely above board you should have to record the names of the passengers, the medic responsible along with their credentials and the outcome. Any crew killing more than about 5% of their low berth passengers would likely be investigated for negligence. Even at this you are still having to deal with a corpse on an average trip.

So if we say that 95% survival or better is the goal then what do we need to do to get to this. A DM of +4 is 92% success and +5 is 97%. Since it's not nice to skimp when people's lives are on the line let's say that +5 is the goal. You get +1 for being TL12+. A very good medic could have a +4 DM but it is not all that likely that a random trader will have a medic that good. The easy way to get to the magic number is to have an ok medic take their time. I don't see a task template for overseeing a low passage but I think it is reasonable to assume the normal time increment is 1Dx10 minutes, a 'complex technical task'. So going slowly will increase this to 1D Hours.

The starship operations section states that the medic makes the roll when they are bringing the passengers around but that doesn't have to mean all the time gets used up at that point. You can say that the time is spent initiating the suspended animation, bringing the passenger around and also checking on their life signs during the suspension. You could rule that a cautious approach requires 1Dx10 Minutes to put them under, 1D minutes every day for monitoring and 1Dx10 Minutes to bring them around again. A normal approach might just be 1Dx10 Minutes to put them under and hope for the best when you wake them up.

I quite like the idea of all the low passengers gathering in the lounge and being called on one by one to get put in their low berths, a bit like going to the dentist. The reverse situation at the destination, except probably a lot more happy, and the regular passengers have probably already debarked.

A Boon might be having a trained assistant (a secondary medic) to help out. Having a Boon significantly improves the odds. The 92% success rate at DM +4 goes to 98%. The 97% chance at DM +5 goes to 99.5%. If you wanted you could cut your DM to +3, by going at normal speed for example, and almost hit the 95%% survival goal.

The passengers END DM is ignored in all this. Someone that is infirm has a higher chance of a negative outcome and I think that's fair enough. Perhaps it would be reasonable to refuse low passage to people in ill health (ie: they have an negative END DM) similar to the way patients today will be refused voluntary procedures in hospitals if they can't pass the medical exam. After all you don't want to be investigated by the Imperium for running a death ship just because you took on a bunch of very overweight passengers. Your medic may want to screen passengers in advance to determine their END DM and perhaps get them to sign a waiver. In fact the waiver is probably a good idea for everyone.

One final thing to think about is whether the survive or die result needs to be completely binary. A marginal success may result in temporary medical issues for the passengers. Nerve damage resulting in severe weakness that "should clear up in a few hours". Temporary befuddlement or memory loss (anyone seen Dark Matter?). With an overall success rate of 97% there is a 5% chance of a marginal success. A marginal failure (Effect -1) does not have to mean death. It could result in a permanent effect like the temporary ones described above, -1D to a stat seems bad enough to me. If you had a 97% success rate then any fails would just be marginal failures and they wouldn't die (unless the stat loss killed them).

At the other end of the scale, as an example of a bad situation, if you are in trouble and you need to be put in to an emergency low berth, by a medic who is rushing and having a hard time due to random acceleration changes (ie: a Bane) then, even if the medic is good with a DM of +3 you still have more than a 50% chance of dying and a 15% chance of a permanent injury.