passenger and freight table inconsistencies

katta

Mongoose
Hello all! I recently acquired the latest version of the core rulebook for travellers (2022 update) and I have found a few strange things. Here I will limit my investigation on the "passage and freight" table at page 239.

My original assumptions:
- the bigger the jump the higher the premium. Everybody can go 6 parsecs in 6 jumps. Only a few, expensive ships can do 6 parsecs in 1 jump. The passenger pays a premium for the speed since it takes 6 weeks at jump 1 and 1 week at jump 6. The price of the fuel is linear with ship size and max jump distance. It makes sense: with better technology you get better earnings. The difficulty is to get the ship built in a TL 15 starport and it costs more.
- passengers require life support and should, IMHO, more valuable than freight.

It is easier to explain what I find strange about this table with a few examples. They will all collide with the assumptions done before:
- I am a high passenger that wants to go to another hex at distance 3. If I take 3 jump 1 passages I pay 27k. 1 jump 2, 1 jump 1 23k, 1 jump 3 I pay 21k. Thus, if I get a jump 3 I pay less AND I arrive earlier. (breaking the first assumption).
- There is written that basic passage can also go in the cargo bay taking 2 tons per passenger. That space is better invested with just cargo (any jump distance). For example, basic, jump 2 is 3k. Freight, (per ton) is 1.6k (x2) = 3.2k. Cargo is better. This is even more relevant at jump 6. In fact, considering that every stateroom takes 4 tons of hull, we can say that freight, at jump 6, pays almost (32k*4 = 128k) as much as middle passage (130k)! In other words, if I were to build a spaceship to optimize earnings, I would have only high passage rooms and freight, doing only jump 6s.

What did not I understand? In what my assumptions are wrong?
 

Geir

Cosmic Mongoose
Short answer: Your assumptions seem correct.

Longer answer: Taking the examples backwards,

#2: It's always going to be better to have High passengers (than middle, or even basic), but the problem is one of supply and demand - they have to be available to fill the staterooms and you have to have the steward(s) to support it. I did a whole spreadsheet with 'mock starships' of various jump capacities for this ( buried somewhere I can't get to right now), but you're basically correct. There needs to be a premium for high jump numbers, because the ships are more expensive to operate, or else no one would build them. But there is a limited market for J6 and you need to fill your ship or you'll lose money.

#1: I took a ship operator's view for pricing and cost, and you're taking a passenger's view for price. What I didn't do was compare the two, so you may be right. I did an accounting model, not an econ model. Maybe we should have upped the price to what the market could bear - but it's not necessarily that easy, though, because if you end up not filling your staterooms on the J3 liner, then you start losing money.

I'd need to look back at the place I squirreled away the spreadsheet, but spreadsheet math is no substitute for a detailed economic model (which is likely outside my skill set). So not saying it's perfectly correct as is, but hopefully workable in an RPG.
 

katta

Mongoose
#1 ok
#2 This example was for comparing how efficient are passengers (not high passengers) compared to freight. My point is that it should be more trouble (and so, more reward) to have passengers than freight. Any passenger type (maybe except low eheh). However, given the pricing it is not the case. The best it is to have just enough staterooms for the high passengers and the rest as cargo. I understand that at that point building a ship becomes a high-risk high-reward situation where if you do not fill up your high passengers you are going to lose money but that is orthogonal to the point. Ok, in the rules it is not explained exactly how but it becomes convenient to not fill up your staterooms and instead fill it with freight. If a room does not offer 4 tons of space (because of furniture and amenities) it depends on the % of room that remains free. It is still strange to me that freight is more efficient (on a ton to equivalent ton based comparison) than passengers. Another example: imagine that I do not have any steward that can handle high passengers. I cannot really load high passengers. In this case the best spaceship is indeed only cargo and the bare minimum for crew! This has the double advantage of not requiring steward and not having surprises from the passengers (no passenger, no surprise). To me it should be a choice: do you want low-earning freight that does not annoy you but is safe and reliable or "high" risk high reward passengers (that are needier). With this pricing there is no choice: I always want freight.

Thx for the reply!
 

DickTurpin

Banded Mongoose
You make more per ton with a Jump-6 ship, but there is far less room for passengers and cargo. A quick example: Two bare-bones 200 ton ships, one J-1 and the other J-6.

The J-1 ship has 8 standard staterooms for passenger, 10 low berths, and 82 tons of cargo space. It costs MCr. 44.603 and had a mortgage (after 20% down) of Cr. 148,677. Running full, it would generate Cr. 306,000 in revenue against Cr. 268,846 in expenses (Mortgage, maintenance, Crew salaries, fuel), for a profit of Cr. 37,154 per month.

The J-6 ship needs an extra Engineer for the bigger drive and the only way to make it work is by making the crew double bunk. Even so, it only has room for 2 passenger staterooms, no low berths, and (after passenger cargo allowance) no cargo hold. It costs MCr. 199.8 to buy, With a mortgage after down payment of Cr. 341,000. If full, it generates Cr. 420,000 with expenses of Cr. 679,00, giving a net loss of Cr. -259,500 per month. It is a recipe for bankruptcy.
 

AnotherDilbert

Cosmic Mongoose
It is easier to explain what I find strange about this table with a few examples. They will all collide with the assumptions done before:
- I am a high passenger that wants to go to another hex at distance 3. If I take 3 jump 1 passages I pay 27k. 1 jump 2, 1 jump 1 23k, 1 jump 3 I pay 21k. Thus, if I get a jump 3 I pay less AND I arrive earlier. (breaking the first assumption).
Ticket price is based on someones estimate of cost. It is cheaper for the shipping line to do one J-3 than three J-1.


- There is written that basic passage can also go in the cargo bay taking 2 tons per passenger. That space is better invested with just cargo (any jump distance). For example, basic, jump 2 is 3k. Freight, (per ton) is 1.6k (x2) = 3.2k. Cargo is better.
Basic passage is for emergencies, evacuations and the like.
 

katta

Mongoose
obviously a 200t j6 ship does not make much sense. I think you missinterpreted my statement. I am not comparing J1 to J6 ships. I meant that, iso-jumping potential, I make more using the free tonnage as freight than as staterooms. The spaceship even costs less as every stateroom requires 0.5M cr to equip.
Imagine I have a spaceship with jump n. and m tons of unallocated space. A more concrete example: a far trader-like spaceship where I still need to allocate the staterooms and the cargo (the rest is the same as a fartrader). I have 106 tons available. How many staterooms do I want given that I do not have a steward? The optimal choice is to get the bare minimum for crew (3 with bunk beds, 12t). The remaining free space 94 should be cargo since:
- it costs less
- it requires less maintenance (no steward AND no life support)
- no surprises since there cannot be "rogue freights" or any special encounters
- it generates more money than basic passenger iso-tonnage
I only give up on the middle passengers but, since they require a lvl of steward every 100 (and my DM rounds up) they are still out of reach (in my example I do not have a steward to exacerbate my point)
on jump 6 it even breaks even with middle passengers and the problem is even more evident. I am arguing that freight is always a better choice for basic passage and, on jump 6, equivalent to middle passage.
I do not think this was the inteded outcome. IMHO passengers require more attentions (are more needy) and, in turn, should provide higher reward. I understand maybe for low passengers but for all the others I do not think they should be less efficient from a "money per free ton" point of view.


BTW, I just noticed that lowberth consume only 0.5 t making them the most lucrative use of free cargo space! lol. Even more than high passengers at J6. Every high passenger "consumes" 4t for a stateroom. Lowberth consumes 0.5t so, at J6 27k*8 = 216k while a high passage is 210k. Given the hypothesis that I can find all this lowberth people it is by far the best investment of free cargo space.
 

katta

Mongoose
Ticket price is based on someones estimate of cost. It is cheaper for the shipping line to do one J-3 than three J-1.



Basic passage is for emergencies, evacuations and the like.
- following the first reasoning a J6 should be cheaper than 6xJ1 (which is not the case). I mean, only a few ships can do J4 or higher. Why should they charge less (per parsec)? I invested in a stronger j drive, I harvest the dividends. Who wants to go faster (because is in a hurry) pays premium. In real life it is similar to concorde prices compared to normal flights. You payed a premium to arrive ultra fast somewhere.
- The rules (as in the book) do not state that. Basic passage is rolled like all the other passages, not only in special cases. Are all the worlds under emergency, all the time? I do not think so.
 

AnotherDilbert

Cosmic Mongoose
- following the first reasoning a J6 should be cheaper than 6xJ1 (which is not the case). I mean, only a few ships can do J4 or higher. Why should they charge less (per parsec)? I invested in a stronger j drive, I harvest the dividends. Who wants to go faster (because is in a hurry) pays premium. In real life it is similar to concorde prices compared to normal flights. You payed a premium to arrive ultra fast somewhere.
No, that does not follow.

Build a ship and calculate operating expenses, that is how the fares are calculated.

A J-3 route is cheaper than three J-1, but a J-6 is more expensive than six J-1. Build the ships to see for yourself.
If you don't lower the price down to cost + reasonable profit, some competitor presumably will.

J-3 is cheaper than three J-1 because you use the expensive machinery (starship) much less time, but the ship is not that much more expensive, hence less capital cost (mortgage).
J-6 is vastly more expensive per Dt payload, since very little of the ship is available for payload after drives and fuel are accounted for. You use the ship less time, but it is much, much more expensive, hence higher capital cost (mortgage).


- The rules (as in the book) do not state that. Basic passage is rolled like all the other passages, not only in special cases. Are all the worlds under emergency, all the time? I do not think so.

Basic Passage: Also called steerage, this is where a ship’s captain tries to fill all available space with low-paying passengers. It is generally considered more trouble than it is worth, but there is nearly always someone desperate enough to use basic passage.
"more trouble than it is worth", "someone desperate enough" means not normal, but possible.
 

Arkathan

Cosmic Mongoose
A 200 ton jump-6 passenger liner makes no sense. That's a courier for people who can afford it. Small payloads or a scientist/noble/corporate exec that needs to be there yesterday. Even a 600 ton J-6 passenger ship will be limited to 2 High and 4 medium passenger staterooms, assuming crew double occupancy in their 4 rooms, with a bit over three tons for cargo after the passenger allowance.
 

katta

Mongoose
1- ok this explains why it is not linear nor exponential but polynomial
2- there is literally written "almost always" which to me it sounds like it is normal to encounter these passengers. They also roll in the passenger table "normally" like the others so it sounds strange when you say that they are not "normal".

Anyway, my point was another one. Still, ISO jump and ISO free tonnage is best to load lowberths. In case they are not available freight is always better than basic passage and at j6 is the same as middle passage. Even if we exclude basic passage because it is "exceptional" (worse than freight in fact and used to fill up empty spots, ok) the fact that at j6 middle passage and freight give the same returns sounds strange. Cargo is also "easier" to fill since you get 3 rolls that pay the same per ton while passengers rolls pay less and less for each successive roll (middle pays less than high for example).
 

katta

Mongoose
A 200 ton jump-6 passenger liner makes no sense. That's a courier for people who can afford it. Small payloads or a scientist/noble/corporate exec that needs to be there yesterday. Even a 600 ton J-6 passenger ship will be limited to 2 High and 4 medium passenger staterooms, assuming crew double occupancy in their 4 rooms, with a bit over three tons for cargo after the passenger allowance.
So you agree with me? I literally wrote this as my first sentence:
"obviously a 200t j6 ship does not make much sense". I am not sure, are you arguing against my view or pro it?
 

Arkathan

Cosmic Mongoose
So you agree with me? I literally wrote this as my first sentence:
"obviously a 200t j6 ship does not make much sense". I am not sure, are you arguing against my view or pro it?
Statement of fact. Whatever that supports, it supports.
For ships with the same number of staterooms and the same cargo space, the J-6 cargo/passenger services should be more profitable than the slower ships. Now, a 6x J-1 trip is going to factor in 1.5 months of crew pay and half that in life support and berthing fees. Whereas the J-6 route has a two week turn around.
 

agentwigggles

Banded Mongoose
Its not inconstistent.
J5 and J6 ships are just that more expensive to run. J5 is 62.5 percent Jump drive & fuel. J6 is 75 percent jump drive and fuel.
It doesn't need any justification. Those ships, made with the same profit margin as a J1, require a lot more money to run.
J5 and J6 are not just a little bit more expensive than J4 and lower, its a lot more expensive. For a J5 to match a J1 200 freighter, it needs to be 650 tons. Its maintenance close to 20k, a month, its mortgage is almost 100k. It needs 400 tons of fuel per jump.
Yes. I am aware that players can make the most optimal barely rules legal ship but not how a lot of ships OTU are made. I am aware that they can cloud dive to get free gas. Though I imagine most captains of 220m ship wouldn't be enthused to risk their ship to pirates or bad weather.
 
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AndrewW

Emperor Mongoose
I am aware that they can cloud dive to get free gas. Though I imagine most captains of 220m ship wouldn't be enthused to risk their ship to pirates or bad weather.
Not to mention time factor, that isn't paid time to run out to the gas giant and refuel.
 

agentwigggles

Banded Mongoose
Not to mention time factor, that isn't paid time to run out to the gas giant and refuel.
I was making a J5 with the equiv of of a tramp freighter.
And I couldn't figure out how much fuel conversation to give it.
It needs something like 400 tons of fuel. So in my demo ship it only does 20 tons a day
 

AnotherDilbert

Cosmic Mongoose
Anyway, my point was another one. Still, ISO jump and ISO free tonnage is best to load lowberths. In case they are not available freight is always better than basic passage and at j6 is the same as middle passage. Even if we exclude basic passage because it is "exceptional" (worse than freight in fact and used to fill up empty spots, ok) the fact that at j6 middle passage and freight give the same returns sounds strange. Cargo is also "easier" to fill since you get 3 rolls that pay the same per ton while passengers rolls pay less and less for each successive roll (middle pays less than high for example).
Agreed, some types of payload is more profitable that others, but the trick is to fill the ship as often as possible. To do that it's better to have many rolls on the availability chart, i.e. many types of payload, and no more slots than you can reliably fill. Hence limited low berths, despite the profitability.

Agreed, you can fill a lot more cargo space than passenger space from the tables.

And that's where basic passages can come into play: to fill otherwise empty payload (staterooms/cargo). It's better than going empty with no income...
 

katta

Mongoose
I am not comparing J1 to J6. I got that the computation is based on running costs and not availability and convenience of the passengers (strange but ok). I think that, on the same jump ship, if I do not have a steward and if I need to allocate space among cargo, staterooms and lowberth the optimal choice is:
- lowberth up to ceiling due to being unable to fill the spots. I can compute the probability given the words I want to visit
- freight. here I have 3 rolls to fill it up and the payment is equivalent: high probability of filling everything up
- staterooms only for crew
In other words, it is never profitable (except for jump 1) to have staterooms. The discussion changes if you can reliably get high passage ok. In any case I find strange that middle passengers lose vs lowberth (if you can get enough lowberth to fill all the spots).
It is also funny that basic passage is the "filler". less efficient than everything else. To me it sounds like it should be lowberth but ok, it is a choice. In addition there should be a middle ground, maybe another class between: "you share a room" and "you are worth less than freight, sleep on the ground in the cargo area"
 

Reisender

Cosmic Mongoose
Transporting passengers is not just about profit. It is about adventure hooks as well. Same can be said about cargo as well.
 

Gavain

Mongoose
Here is my breakdown of the revenue from the various options. The numbers are per dT per parsec jumped.
ParsecsHighMiddleBasicLowFreight
1​
1,800​
1,625​
1,000​
1,400​
1,000​
2​
1,400​
1,250​
750​
1,300​
800​
3​
1,400​
1,167​
833​
1,467​
867​
4​
1,700​
1,438​
1,000​
1,950​
1,100​
5​
2,400​
2,000​
1,400​
2,880​
1,700​
6​
7,000​
5,417​
4,583​
9,000​
5,333​

Space requirements:
High = 5 dT (Stateroom + 1 dT baggage)
Middle = 4 dT (Stateroom)
Basic = 2 dT (Shared stateroom)
Low = 0.5 dT
Freight = 1 dT

So from this the Basic passage yields the worst returns followed by Freight then Middle then High. Low passage goes from 3rd best at J1 to best at J6.

Interestingly, there is no indication that there is a premium charged for high passengers using more luxurious accomodation than the standard stateroom a High Stateroom is 6dT and a Luxury Stateroom is 10 dT. Keeping the price fixed would make the High passage in better accommodation the worst yield. I would prorata the cost and add a premium for these types of accommodation.
 
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