Low passage

hivemindx

Mongoose
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.
 

phavoc

Cosmic Mongoose
Yup, you are right. That sort of chancery for life would never be allowed in reality - not at least in an Imperium eschewing the standards it does for life that is.
 

rust2

Banded Mongoose
phavoc said:
Yup, you are right. That sort of chancery for life would never be allowed in reality - not at least in an Imperium eschewing the standards it does for life that is.
Looking at the total number of low passengers on all starships in the Imperium each day and the percentage of those passengers who get killed each day the low berth could well be considered a slow working weapon of mass destruction.
 

Reynard

Cosmic Mongoose
Just like today, you only need the right lawyers. Risk is there but very low. People willingly sign wavers saying they know the risks

"But the risk is sooo low and you're saving soo much and more people die from smoking! Besides, low berths are used in medicine all the time and we have medical personnel on board for your safety!"

Today, we eat things we know have dangerous additives or come from places that contaminate it. Alcohol.... enough said. We drive vehicles in areas that allow highly excessive speeds or themselves dangerous to drive, fly and boat. 5000 years from now won't be any different if a credit can be made.
 

hivemindx

Mongoose
rust2 said:
phavoc said:
Yup, you are right. That sort of chancery for life would never be allowed in reality - not at least in an Imperium eschewing the standards it does for life that is.
Looking at the total number of low passengers on all starships in the Imperium each day and the percentage of those passengers who get killed each day the low berth could well be considered a slow working weapon of mass destruction.

I think the idea is that the vast majority of people never travel to another star. So compared to the overall population the numbers of low berth fatalities is tiny. This allows people to say things like "more people die in air raft accidents every single day than die as a result of low berth failure in an entire year". This may be true but is misleading, which makes it an awesome thing for someone trying to sell low passages to say.

However the statistically sound thing to do, as you suggest, it to use starship travellers as your base line. The passenger ships in the core book have about a 50/50 split taken as a whole. If low berths are killing 10% of their occupants that seems like a very high number because I think you would have to be truly desperate to get in to one. I have no idea how many people are supposed to be taking jump ships in a year but across the entire Imperium it must be in the millions. A single Free Trader doing a regular run is transporting a couple of hundred passengers a year. A Subsidised Liner is maybe five hundred. I think we could easily be talking about a million people dying in low berths every year. That might not be much compared to the population total but I think it qualifies as 'mass destruction' alright, in the same way that personal cars do today (which is to say, in a way people don't care about :) ). I'd be very interested to read any estimates of economic activity across the entire Imperium if anyone has any. For example, how many Subsidised Liners are there etc.

This brings me back to my original thought which is that while clearly low berths can be very deadly there should be an acceptable risk level more or less enforced by the Imperium. People should be able to have an idea of what their chances are and if your ship regularly kills more people than they should then you would be investigated. What level of risk would be acceptable to fill all those low berths in traders and liners? 3% actually seems quite high, but does fit in with the characterisation of low berths as being risky. I'd say that's the minimum target so a DM of +5 or +4 with a Boon. I was going to say that this pretty much means a medic is an essential crew member on a passenger ship since they are all stuffed with low berths now but I checked and I see Medic is already on the crew roster for those ships which is great.

To answer the point raised while I was writing this, we certainly do take risks today, but very few are as dangerous as getting in a low berth with a mere +4 DM. I had a quick look at the stats of sky diving and the death rate is give as 1 in 100,000 by the British Parachute Association (the first link I found) and I bet they still make you sign a waiver. The risks for going under general anaesthesia is given as 11-16 per 100,000 at this link. These are orders of magnitude safer than getting in a low berth even with a +5 DM. I think it is safe to consider a 3% chance of death as "very risky" already, letting the risk increase to 10% or 20% is just criminal negligence!
 

Condottiere

Emperor Mongoose
We can resolve or at least ameliorate chronic conditions. Speaking of which, what's the long term effects of constant popsicling and depopsicling?

But here the game goes into sudden death.

For an emergency situation, it's better than asphyxiation, starvation, or natural popsicling.

What we want would be the Alien variant.
 

legozhodani

Mongoose
Well as a standard commercial ship I would expect them to take 10x4 hrs (assuming basic defrost task was 1x10 mins) so a basic modifier of +4 plus the tech bonus of +1 at tech 12 and then your medical skill (lets so a good commercial ship has Medic-2). So a quality ship would advertise that is takes utmost care and 'takes its time and effort to ensure your comfort and safety'. So a modifier of +7. So some of those shonky ships may rush it a bit with +5. And 'people trafficers' would wake you up at the basic time and dump you out, with a +3 if your lucky.
I agree that a marginal miss may cause a few dice of damage/problems. I might suggest 1d to random physical stat and 1d to either INT or EDU TO represent some memory loss which could take a week or so to recover! A good time to get passengers to sign paper work while they have a low INT. Some who go to 0 or less may have dropped in to a coma.
 

phavoc

Cosmic Mongoose
Look at how safety rules have evolved on Earth over time. In the days of sail there was very little concept of passenger or crew safety. Then they started adding lifeboats, but it took the Titanic disaster to formalize the rule to have enough lifeboats for all passengers and crew.

Air and rail and auto safety has similarly been upgraded and enhanced over time. There's no logical reason to assume the future would go back on this because it's cheap and people can just take their chances if they are looking to save a few credits. That's not reasoning. That's just being silly, and doesn't jive with the other stated protections that the Imperium has. It's not a monolithically evil entity. While it does want to give people the widest latitude in making their own choices, it's also looking out for the greater good and protections for those that need them. If routinely killing off the poorest of its travellig population was the norm, I don't think it would care that people got enslaved or governments used weapons of mass destruction on planetary populaces. It would just be part of the norm.
 

Mithras

Mongoose
The answer lies in the way that MgT takes the same survival chances as classic Traveller, and they were written in by Marc Miller who took them or was inspired by the Dumarest (?) books. There the shipless hero traverses the universes by low berth - it was cheap but dangerous. It was a plot device, and so in that vein, I've never rolled the dice for that, ever.
 

PsiTraveller

Cosmic Mongoose
The chance of death seems pretty outrageous to me, but I've had to deal irl with paperwork and regulations that make walking into a 30 foot wide 20 foot tall concrete bunker be considered "confined entry" so I am a little jaded. I cannot imagine the 52nd Century equivalent of OSHA signing off on a low berth.

Look at the Frozen Watch for a large ship. Millions of Credits in training and experience will die every tour because of the odds. The 1st edition High Guard pgs 69 - 72 example has a ship with 1178 crew. No Frozen Watch in the example, but lets change that up to make an example. A Frozen Watch needs 50 percent of crew capacity in low berths. (pg 67) Lets say they have 600 crew in Low berth. (150 tons of low berths)

At an 8% death rate that would be 48 Crew dying just from going into the reserves for the ship, forget about replacing battle losses. They will need extra training academies just to keep up with the weekly wastage. 'Decimate; was a punishment to every 10th man in a group ( http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2012/09/does-decimate-mean-destroy-one-tenth/ ) So a ship will be doing close to that to the Frozen Watch just on the averages.

Losing that many trained personnel would be intolerable to a military. They spend too much time and money getting good people trained up. Imagine if all they best pilots have a bad run of luck in the low berths. All that training gone, just fodder for the Soylent Green or the CHON processing machines. (Frederick Pohl in "Beyond the Blue Event Horizon" )(gotta love the classics)

I think the risk of the low berth is at odds with the use of them as the super healing process with the fast heal drug. Why not thaw someone out and dose them with the Medicinal Slow drug for an extra 500 and give them a month of healing as they come out of things?
Would an Autodoc be able to sustain them? The passenger does not survive. Can they be saved with a new medical check? revived in some way? If everything starts to go wrong can they be re-frozen in an emergency type way and shipped off to an advanced facility? (assuming they had insurance for that)

When you look at the numbers of ships supposed to be jumping there would be an industry in handling all the corpses coming in from all the ships. Every ship would need a biopod.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-zAbzRx29I
 

legozhodani

Mongoose
I totally agree with you on the casualty rate, however if you use the formula I gave then the risk is removed. It's in the rule if you want it to be. Espec' with the Navy. Taking proper time to defrost is +4 tech12 is +1 and med skill a bonus of between +1 (basic) maybe +3 (actual medic who's meant to be doing it) so +6 to +8 plus any health your marine may have. Pretty safe! As I said just don't trust 'Trotter Inc' to be your transport method with Del boy as your medic :shock: :lol:
 

hivemindx

Mongoose
It took me a while to get around to checking but the 2nd Ed Core Rulebook states you can only move up or down one level on the timeframe table so the maximum benefit you can get from taking your time is +2. However unless someone has a bad END DM you never need to get higher than +6, which gives no chance of failure.
 

legozhodani

Mongoose
Ok, just checked, and yes you can only go up or down one level :oops: . I still may allow more if it fits the game. Still means you can make it fairly safe if you follow procedure. Dangerous if done by muppets like most PCs :lol:
 

rust2

Banded Mongoose
There are ways to save credits on low passage ...

http://www.maskottchen-kostume.de/images/3/black-and-white-adult-plsch-kuh-kostm17403931.jpg
 
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