As much as I have played Classic Traveller and now Mongoose Traveller over the years I have never really tried the trade rules. So today I changed that. Looking at the online forums, there are many voices in the internet wilderness that proclaim the trade rules are broken. The rules are a bit clunky but with the help of a simple spreadsheet it actually makes the accounting easy. For my sample, I created a random map using SignalGK and had a Far Trader (Pocket Rulebook p. 117-118) commanded by the sample character, Jamison who is found on page 40 of the core rulebook. I also made the assumption that Jamison and his crew had pooled their money for initial start-up costs (unlimited bank account).
Looking over the subsector, I started out at what was the obvious capital. Leaving from this A-Starport, Low Population, Non-Industrial but High Tech world Jamison and his crew took on a cargo of Machine Parts, Manufactured Goods, and Textiles. The destination world was a A-Starport, Non-Agricultural, Non-Industrial, Vacuum world. After all the trading was done, Jamison looked at a profit on only Cr158,200; barely half of his ship’s mortgage payment alone. Worried already about meeting his financial obligations, Jamison worked harder to find a broker and get a more profitable cargo for his next run.
Working his way down a Jump-1 line, the next world was a B-Starport, Low Population, Non-Industrial planet. Fortunately for Jamison, there was a load of Biochemicals needing to be shipped. Buying low (85% of value) and selling very high (175% of value) netted a profit for this run of Cr1,840,000. After paying the monthly dues, Jamison’s net profit for the month was a very healthy Cr1,702,210.
Feeling like he was getting the hang of things, Jamison decided to take a bit of a risk and chose a C-Starport, Low Population, Non-Industrial world as his next port. Apparently, there was some sort of a medical crisis at hand because there were 30 tons of medical supplies needing to be shipped. The medicine and textiles brought in Cr546,000 for the trip.
Jamison now had a choice to make. He was at the end of a communications route and could go back the way he came. So far, all his trips had been Jump-1 travel. Jamison resolved to take advantage of his Jump-2 Far Trader and so he left the communications route and struck out for a B-Starport, Asteroid, High Tech, Industrial, Non-Agricultural, Vacuum world. Gambling, he took on a cargo of Raw Materials and Radioactives. Amazingly, he was able to turn a hefty profit on the Radioactives. He also took on a full load of High Passage passengers. Total profit for his gamble – Cr1,932,000. This brought his second months profit to Cr2,182,010.
In two months Jamison and his crew made a total of Cr3,884,221. Assuming Jamison splits the profits into 19 shares, his crew would get the following:
- Captain (Jamison) – 6 Shares or Cr1,226,596
- Navigator – 5 Shares or Cr1,022,163
- Engineer – 4 Shares or Cr817,730
- Steward and Gunner – 2 Shares each or Cr408,865
At this point, even the Gunner and Steward could retire to a very comfortable life. They could live a Luxuriously Rich life for almost 2-years, or have a High standard of living for the next 20 years.
So, do I think the trade rules are broken? Well, after two months Jamison has certainly made a hefty profit. Looking back, I probably should have limited the start-up costs to something like Cr250,000. This would have limited Jamison and not allowed him to buy the large Biochemical shipment or the Medical Supplies or Radioactives that made the greatest profit. I think Jamison would have eventually got to this level, but not as fast.
All told, a very interesting experiment!