Thursday, July 03, 2008

From Macro to Micro a Moment

So, as I've been hammering this all out, I've been running a solitaire merchant game. It's taken place in the spinward-coreward corner of the Festrian Main, just touching on Festeria's neighboring subsectors but not yet leaving her borders. It's been a fairly traditional Free-Trader-Buy-Sell game, and has been *mostly* fairly uneventful. One merchant captain with a mortgaged standard free trader, a salaried crew (offered the option to buy shares of ship's equity, and awarded a share each from the captain in the event of facing deadly force: danger money.) As tends to happen, things were tight for a few months, and then The Cap'n got a lucky break with spec cargo. From then on, it's been a booming enterprise. The ship's always been about a year ahead in payments since then, so she has had freedom to move. There's a cluster of seven or eight worlds linked by J-1 with A and B class ports, and though most are non industrial a few are bigger and a few are agricultural, so there's usually some good opportunities, and travel has (mostly) been safe. Partially to keep lively and partially to keep true to reaction rolls, there have been a few dust-ups with competing merchant craft and the occasional armed yacht, but the Cap'n's been both lucky and smart, avoiding anywhere without a B or A port apart from rare trips to one C-world (they're rich, so there's a market for some stuff there.)

Long story short, they're loaded now, to the point that the crew (if the Captain sold out) could buy his interest in the ship with the value of their shares in it. And the Captain has sufficient shares that if he them in cash, he can buy a much nicer ship, outright, no loans.

He's had a ship designed and laid down: the architect's been paid, and the down payment as well. There's sufficient funds set aside so that there are no worries about paying the remaining 80% when the ship's complete, and there's almost a year's merchanting left to do before that happens. Plenty of time to build up operating capital, both for the Captain and his crew.

What'll probably happen is that the Captain will retain a controlling interest in the Free Trader, but relinquish direct control of the ship to its remaining shareholders, who will take over operations. Meanwhile, he'll set off on this boat, into the frontier and beyond:

Frontier Trader
400 tons, standard, Streamlined hull. TL B, Festrian Commercial Specs
D-class drives, allowing J-2, 2G acceleration, and an appropriate power supply.
100 tons fuel, allowing 1 J2 or 2 J1 and 1 month ops.
One computer Model/2 off the bridge. 4 hardpoints and 4 tons for fire control, armament to be determined upon delivery.
16 staterooms; four emergency low berths.
1 Air/Raft
1 Ship's Boat, 2 tons fuel, 9 passenger couches . 1 ton set aside for computer, 8 tons cargo.
122 tons cargo.

MCr 144.4

Built specifically to handle the vagaries of speculative trade and operations outside the Festrian Main, the Frontier Trader - built using an economical 400 ton standard hull - is capable of reaching most worlds in the immediate Festrian Frontier, and is expected to be able to range beyond. While restricted to refined fuel use, the Frontier Trader's range should allow it to minimize risk by skipping many C-class ports while allowing it to visit such locations that are accessible by J-1 without refueling. The ship's powerful maneuver drives give it access to worlds whose size would prevent landfall by standard Free and Fat Traders. The combination of hull and drives results in five tons of waste tonnage in the engineering section: actually a boon to the engineering staff, since it amounts to almost a stateroom's worth of workshop space, making it easier to service the plant and drives while underway.

Despite the ship's large complement of Staterooms, the ship is not focused on passenger service: the extra space allows for a full complement of gunners as well as other security personnel, or for the transport of factors to develop markets on promising worlds. The emergency low berths provide for long-term survival in the event of drive failure in the frontier, or misjump.

There are four hardpoints with fire control. The Captain is awaiting a clearer idea on the quality of his next crew before he commits to his specific armament, but is partial to the idea of two forward port & starboard triple turrets housing pulse lasers, manned by master gunners- he likes the punch the pulse lasers give. The dorsal and ventral aft turrets are likely to be mixed Sand/Missile/Beam turrets. (The arrangement on the Free Trader has been, until recently, one triple pulse backed by a double turret mounting a missile rack and a sandcaster. The pulse lasers have since been upgraded to beam.)

The Air/Raft provides utility transport when making landfall, and can be used to run minor surface-orbit errands.

The Ship's Boat allows for more transport of crew and small cargo while the Trader remains secure in orbit; with the addition of weaponry and an optional shipboard computer, the Boat can perform as a defensive fighter. Overall, the ship's boat gives the Frontier Trader a standoff capability unavailable to most merchant craft.


Financing would not typically be available for a vessel of this design: bank loans would more than double the final price of the ship, and payments would be all but impossible to guarantee, even were the craft to enter mass production.


Blogger Festeria said...

Incidentally, everything went fine until I got greedy and did a Jump-2 run to a world with a C class port. Stoopid. Had to refuel with unrefined - first time the ship tried it - and misjumped into an empty hex twenty parsecs away.

So it goes.

Looking at this, then, in a broader perspective: either one has to decide on a way to nerf the refined/unrefined fuel rules, or take them very seriously.

If the ship had been built outside Festeria at tech 13+, I'd have waived the fuel requirements... but I couldn't see the Cap'n being able to just waltz over to the Pannonian extents as a Festrian citizen and being allowed to buy a ship there. So I shouldn't have played as recklessly...

There was no real good reason to. He had plenty of access to good brokers - it's almost impossible not to turn a quick profit if you use them exclusively.

10:02 AM  

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