Posted: 21 June 2011 in Reflections

As you may remember, I intend to drop CT-style trading entirely, as it’s too much like the day job.

For face-to-face play, I eventually came to the conclusion that like space combat, trading wasn’t much fun for most of the group, as they had no direct involvement in it. My final ruling was that trading happened in the background, and the profits it generated exactly balanced the ship’s upkeep – life-changing amounts of money could only be acquired through adventuring.

However, trading serves another function, in that the goods the PCs buy direct them to their next stop. You look for the place where your cargo will get the best resale DMs, and head that way.

In Stars Without Number, the activities of the factions should replace that; but if not, I will need to find some way of turning Stars Without Number world descriptions into Classic Traveller ones, to determine trade classifications.Shouldn’t be too hard; if it turns out to be necessary, I’ll give it some thought and post my findings.

  1. Higgipedia says:

    We ran into the same issue when we ran Death on the Reik. They just hired a captain to take care of the ship and handle the trading, giving him a share of each sale.

  2. thetailrace says:

    The Comstar Games adventure ‘Golden Age Starships: Fast Courier’ gave 3 trading scenarios to take care of the day to day trading aspect if desired. They were described as:- ‘It’s bread and water time’. ‘At least the bills are getting paid’ and ‘We’ll soon be richer than God , if our lethal biotoxin cargo doesn’t kill us first.’

  3. Sine Nomine says:

    I’ve been swamped lately with getting the MongSWN additions ready for print, but on my list of projects to do, I’ve got a merchant campaign supplement in the same vein as Skyward Steel. While I was doing prep for it, I came to much the same conclusion as you infer- the actual nuts and bolts of profit and loss aren’t terribly interesting to a lot of people. In the source texts for the genre, the actual cargo or profit is more a macguffin than anything else. The characters sweat and bleed and engage in feats of derring-do for it, but once they have it, well, on to the next adventure.

    I haven’t had a lot of time to work on it lately, but I think the key to making it all work is to link commercial success mechanically with adventuring. Any commercial system needs to both generate hooks for the players and GM and involve minimal bookkeeping. Success is something that brings qualitative benefits in influence, increasing amounts of assumed resources, and greater importance to trading partners rather than a simple increment of a credit total.

    • andyslack says:

      I like your thinking, sir. Look forward to seeing what you do with merchants, it’s always a popular campaign style.

      In honesty, another factor for me is that trading is too much like my day job to be relaxing. The epiphany for me was the last time I ran Twilight’s Peak; one of my best players piped up with “Interesting though the trading is, can we just get on with the adventure please?” How right he was.

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