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Author Topic: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere  (Read 5857 times)

AlphaMirage

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Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« on: 28 January 2021, 11:59:00 »
Was bored so decided to spend a night crunching FASAnomics. Will combine it with some in character stuff (for my AU but broadly applicable) but first an intro to Jumpships.

Author Disclaimer – This essay will kill many catgirls as it consists of FASAnomics. Please do not continue or their innocent blood will be on your hands.



The following is an excerpt from an essay on the economics of interstellar and interplanetary trade.

Concerning Jumpships at large
Since the initial colonization of Mars, mankind has engaged in interplanetary trade. Despite the vast difference between points the fundamentals are the same. Space is mostly empty so any goods need to come from somewhere and go to somewhere else often passing through several way stations along the way. Jumpships and the HPGs enable the Imperial Great Houses and Clans without them mankind would be in a benighted and isolated species.

The creation of jumpships meant that mankind was no longer confined to Sol. Now humanity occupies more than two thousand worlds worthy of being marked on maps with a hundred or so in the deep periphery. Innovation over the years created the collar system enabling even larger dropships to be carried from system to system. Like any piece of transport infrastructure if it is not moving its not making money.

A jump core's basic charge cycle is dependent on star type but the average is 178 hours when using a sail or roughly more than a standard week. Thus a jumpship can execute 49 jumps per standard year traversing up to 1470 LY, slightly less than the distance from Luthien to the Pentagon Worlds. This is using the standard method and it works well enough but is rather slow and thus not very economical under present conditions for all but the most expensive cargos.

During the Star League era many recharge stations of various sizes were created to speed along jumpships, some were built around dim stars, others above major hubs sometimes in both standard points. These were expanded during the FEDCOM era but the Jihad has damaged many of them. With access to a recharge station a Jumpship's safe cycle time can be reduced to 123 hours. This enables a normal jumpship to move 2130 LY, enough to go from Terra to Strana Mechty with time left over to go to the Pentagon Worlds twice.

Most Jumpships run something called a burner combining the best of both worlds. Recharge stations are only located on high volume routes and charge a steep price per collar even if you get a slot. So while more jumps are conducted they cost more and are limited to certain routes and times. It is possible for an experienced crew to bring the cycle time down to 150 hours with an increase in fuel consumption, by 50% for a normal jumpship and doubling for Swift jumpships, using their on-board reactors. Thus the standard calendar for free traders becomes 58 jumps per year regardless of stellar type. While this method uses a great deal of fuel hydrogen is ubiquitous and with cheap fusion power abundant while jump collars are neither.

Jumpships themselves are amazing feats of engineering. Each is precision crafted to almost impossible to imagine standards only legible in scientific notation. Some have survived into the modern era but when built are given a century of useful life. With careful maintenance some endured the Succession Wars as there was no other option at the time to replace them, Clan Sea Fox still operates Leviathan jumpships dating back to the Exodus Fleet for bulk transport.

In this present Quatre Belle Naval Yards and Syrstat Shipwrights leverage technology thought lost to restart production and reconnect planets lost during the Jihad. The Clan Cageworks and jumpships operate closer to the former Draconis Combine and Capellan Confederation. Now only the Trinity States follow this model of total government control.

These ships are expensive pieces of state hardware but they rarely stay so although they all can be impressed into national service in a dire emergency. The Great Houses commission their creation at a 25% markup with bond issues. It may seem small but a lowly Merchant nets the Shipyard hundreds of millions in profit. There they remain for the first 30 years of their operational life, most often in military service where they are worked hard and abused more than a little. After that they are leased to shipping syndicates or large well-connected corporations like Defiance or Irian where they serve another 30 years. After this lease ends their owners sell them off for half what the Great Houses paid and take another lease as age starts to take its toll and operating costs increase (by 5%).

This second lease is either a 20 or 40 year term to a smaller shipping group, corporation, or group of nobles. These frequently run high volume routes in safe spaces as the terms are more demanding. The most popular one is the Terran Transfer Route from Chesterton to Solaris through Tikonov servicing the FEDCOM trade. Another is the FWL and Draconis Combine trade through the Irian-Dieron Axis through Talitha.

Losing the Grand Republic was one of the biggest body blows to the Capellan Confederation as this corridor produced the majority of their foreign income. Sun-Tzu Liao and The Word of Blake's campaign to reclaim this corridor had some of the fiercest fighting during the Jihad. Despite all of this the Grand Republic had mostly returned to its pre-Jihad state after a mere two years and continues to fiercely defend its independence from its former Capellan masters.

At the end of the century of service a jumpship is often resold a third (or fourth if a 20 year term) time to non-profits, lesser nobles, mercenaries, or periphery states. The proceeds reinvested by their former owners into another ship. Maintenance costs are elevated (to 7.5%) but the jump collar cost is competitive. In fact the standard 'slow' calendar is less expensive thus these jumpmasters principally service the further reaches of the Great Houses and Periphery far from any recharge stations.

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #1 on: 29 January 2021, 01:26:39 »
While there are many types of jumpships this regards commercial vessels. These are sub-divided into three main categories based on intended use, Express, Circuit/Cycler, and Direct/Liner.

The Executive, formerly known as Explorer class, Jumpship is a VIP transport. These vessels principally move nobles around capital worlds or high value individuals to Solaris. Each of these areas has wealthy customers visiting many properties relatively close by that can pay for premium service or privacy. Its 10 First Class Cabins and private shuttle bay provide that in spades.

Swift class dropships, formerly known as the Scout class, are almost always found in service to the Great Houses. Their fast charge (80% normal) and low emergence signature makes them ideal for covert deployments and a single dropship is enough for raids. Larger corporations use them for emergencies (or at high charters) and as backup to more profitable vessels. Smaller groups survive by running high profit routes. The Magistracy of Canopus’ Radiance Starliner combines a Princess dropship with a Swift Jumpship taking well to do tourists on unforgettable vacations on major tourist worlds inside state owned resorts.

Circuit ships visit each once per circuit. These are often centered on a pair of regional capitals. Four Jumpships typically run this route ensuring quarterly visits to each world. Reducing or increasing the number of ships can alter the period but rarely below 2 months where more direct methods with larger jumpships start becoming competitive.

The Liberty, formerly known as Invader, Class is not only the most common jumpship it is also a marvelous Circuit trader. It's three collars and relative light weight provides maximum efficiency for a low volume vessel. Most basic bulk cargoes carried aboard smaller transports become unprofitable past 3 jumps so the Invader will often release and pick up a new dropship at each stop.

A venerable classic the Tramp’s four collars provide incredible versatility and volume but at higher cost. Indeed, it is one of the most expensive jump vessels to operate losing out to all but the Swift class throughout its lifetime. Despite that it is a reliable design and almost all of them are old enough to be paid in full. These private traders typically service a tighter Circuit of fewer than 12 worlds taking advantage of the rule of three.

Direct or Line vessels operate between several planets shuttling dropships between them as they pass. These ships will transit between world twice or more during the circuit. Suspected traffic and overall length will determine how many or of what type of jumpship is used. Normally at least two vessels run these routes meeting in the middle and exchanging any dropships going opposite directions with space stations providing transloading services. Traffic needs to be heavy to be worthwhile, at least monthly, often biweekly.

Nebula, formerly Merchant, class ships are the smallest of their type. Two docking collars makes it expensive to transit on but are just large enough where older ones often operate as Charters. Their cost per collar is competitive with the larger but less efficient Tramp. This limits profitable routes to around five planets capable of exporting (or importing) small volumes of high value goods to one another. These are similar to Circuits and a Nebula Line often feeds into or connects higher volume routes that need regular trade.

The Star Lord’s six collars make it among the most competitive freighter class. Its hanger bay and luxurious passenger accommodations make them popular for less affluent nobles or businessmen that still want to travel in comfort and style rather than packed in steerage quarters on higher capacity vessels. With the collar capacity of two Liberty class vessels and a similar cost per collar they regularly collect and distribute dropships to more distant thus less competitive Hubs. Their rarity is being corrected as SelaSys Inc repairs its yards post-Jihad and Boeing Interstellar builds up capacity to expand production as trade volume increases.

Leviathans have plied the space between worlds for centuries and show no sign of stopping. Spared the destruction of the Reunification War most of these vessels left with Kerensky’s Exodus Fleet although some remained in private hands. Completely unsuited for military service the design was further spared destruction during the Succession Wars. However, none were built during that time so the class fell into near extinction after being stripped for spares. Clan Diamond Shark and Snow Raven brought many of these with them from the Homeworlds. Syrstart Shipwrights have decided to begin building them once adding to their already brisk parts business. Eight collars provide twice the moving rate of a Tramp but at much lower cost due to better initial design. A 2% better maintenance efficiency and no debt certainly help.

Mighty Monolith transports, the largest of the standard core jumpships, serve as the prime mover of space traffic. With nine collars they move immense amounts of cargo relatively inexpensively only beaten by the Star Lord for cost. This scale allows goods that normally would not be profitable to become so. However, they are incredibly expensive to maintain and thus need every collar full or will rapidly hemorrhage money. This dependence limits routing and most remain in government service or mothballed. Idled yards like those of Rashpur-Owens Interstellar have been tasked with producing parts for export.

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #2 on: 29 January 2021, 21:11:57 »
No discussion of jumpships would be complete without dropships whose job it is to take cargo to market. Everything from the tiny KR-71 to lumbering Behemoths move cargo through space the same way. For easy discussion these are divided into four types, Shuttles, Lighters, Exchange, and Bulk.

Shuttlecraft are very tiny for larger spacecraft most are the size of an Aerospace fighter. Typically used in trade between small stations within a system. The majority never jump beyond their initial transit to a location. Those that do are used to transport miscellaneous goods to ship’s crews.

KR-71 and ST-46 shuttles are functionally similar but mechanically different. The ST has more passenger capacity while the KR has more fuel and cargo. Either can land on a planet and lift off again making them the primary transport to moon bases or orbiting platforms. More commonly they are used as a fast way to move long distances on a planet through a sub-orbital hop.
 
S-7A are entirely space-bound, their weak structure, lack of lifting surfaces, and small engines make room for a larger cargo bay. These are the most efficient shuttle by cargo weight and frequently used as refueling and replenishment ships.

K-1 shuttles are used as larger version of the KR and ST series. Indeed, a K-1 combines cargo and passenger capacity so well that most jumpships and space stations use it in lieu of smaller shuttles.

Lighters are defined as ships with fewer than 5 kilotons of cargo capacity. Their small volume limits the types of cargo hauled to only valuable goods for short trips. However, they can very cheaply transport goods from a planet to a jump point. There they transfer cargo to or from a space station or larger dropship freighter. This cargo is taken to its final destination leaving the larger freighter to continue its trek while the Lighter returns to base.

Aging Manatees still serve in the Inner Sphere centuries after its creation. With slightly more than a kiloton of cargo it is typically used as a freighter for orbital mining concerns. As its weekly cargo burden is comparable to market rates for hydrogen it often serves light duty as a fuel tanker and resupply ship. Unless carrying an unusually valuable cargo it is just not profitable to transit on a collar.

Danais dropships while comparable in size, shape, and cargo capacity to the Union Cargo variant are slightly more expensive to operate. This is principally due to the huge surplus market in Union parts and added shuttle bays and weapons in a Danais. Both ships are just large enough to profit from a jump if carrying valuable cargos or on a discounted collar. Many, particularly the Danais, operate as small factory ships providing essential skilled labor and limited shuttle freight to remote areas.

Buccaneers or Beacon are quick and handy dropships often operated from fixed planetary star ports further driving costs down. When not transferring goods to a jump point, they transport cargos around a planet taking full advantage of their aerodyne construction. This versatility ensures they are very common sights at a jump point although rarely occupying a collar unless being moved to a new home.

Exchange dropships are those with between 5 and 20 kilotons of cargo. This also includes passenger ships which often carry cargo secondary to their ticket fees. They are so named because these are frequently exchanged from jump collars while Bulk transports are more likely to go one way. Their cargo volume allows diverse selection of goods while still being small enough for the circuit market.

Monarch dropships are the first-class star liners of the Inner Sphere providing comfortable long duration quarters for up to 266 passengers. Their small passenger capacity makes the tickets very expensive but most Great Houses subsidize transit for less well to do citizens seeking fortune abroad. Due to high operating costs a Monarch Captain has to supplement their income with the onboard casino, entertainment, and premium products from the hold.

Demilitarized Condors see regular use as second-class star liners of the Inner Sphere. These are often House surplus as large infantry formations rarely deploy in the modern era. Even lightly used ones are more affordable to purchase and operate than a well-used Monarch. With 450 passengers in steerage quarters and only 7 stewards comfort and service are at best tertiary concerns. Small rooms, sparse facilities, poor food, and almost no space for luggage are expected during the trip.

Mules are as ubiquitous as they are usable, with almost 8 kilotons of cargo capacity the added burden of jumping is spread out more evenly. While not as efficient as larger vessels they are competitive due to lower expenses. More importantly they almost always travel full and ‘Mule-loads’ are jargon for accumulator station masters along a Circuit.

Jumbos were the former standard for cargo transport during the Ages of Exploration and War. Few have been constructed over the past several centuries but many still remain in service as they share parts with their modern cousin, the Mule, and nearly all are paid off. These vessels skirt the line between exchange and bulk carriers as many transport large quantities of cheap goods but rarely raw materials.

Until the Clans return there were no Colossus dropships in use throughout the Inner Sphere. These ancient troop carriers were demilitarized during the Exodus and served as the Clan’s heavy lifters. Massive and robustly constructed they are expensive to operate but with a 1000 passenger capacity and more than 8 kilotons of cargo the cost is spread to a more acceptable level. Clan Diamond Shark operates the majority of these vessels with at most two dozen and the Nova Cats operate fewer than a half dozen from their once large merchant fleet.

Bulk dropships are those with more than 20 kilotons of cargo and are the most efficient way to transport large volumes of goods assuming they are filled. Their sheer size however precludes their use for most planetary transits. Most end up serving as temporary commercial or industrial hubs on their own serving a similar role as space stations though retain their jump mobility.

Mammoth dropships are the most cost-effective way to transport large masses of cargo. With up to 37 kilotons of cargo some serve as a home station for orbital construction and mining projects. The rest move large volumes of cargo picking up and dropping loads at space stations where it is then ferried down the gravity well to a planet by Lighters. These are often paired with Nebula jump lines to reduce costs and ensure plentiful cargo.

Aqueduct dropships are unique creatures, originally designed as massive fuel tankers for the vast fleets of SLDF warships they still perform that role however they do it for recharge stations. An Olympus recharge station will burn through immense amounts of fuel when operating at maximum output not counting any they sell from their bunkers. Over a year the reactors will burn nearly 26 kilotons of hydrogen or 2k less than a full Aqueduct’s hold. When not transiting recharge stations Aqueducts serve as mini-accumulation station refueling Burner jumpships and dropships while providing a small amount of excess cargo capacity for planetary trade. On busy routes it is possible to make a healthy profit without paying jump collar costs.

Behemoths, the largest dropship in existence are hideously expensive to maintain and thus very limited. Its approximately 76 kiloton cargo hold could completely consume many lesser ships. It is in fact so large that when docked to a jumpship it blocks a second dropship collar. This incredible volume penalizes it on a cost per collar basis.

However, no other vessel is quite as capable as a Behemoth. One can become a crucial part in major merchant or industrial operations using their fleet of shuttlecraft to service whole developed worlds, even systems as a roaming space station. While there are more Mammoths a Behemoth gives its operators greater flexibility to remain in remote corners of a star system longer with regular resupplies so they can make more money.

Since the bulk carriers operate as space stations, we will move the discussion on to them and what purpose they can serve in the transport network.

Accumulator stations are low cost space stations often found partway through distant Circuits. The basic design is like that of the Snowden Mining Station. These serve as cargo warehouses, rest areas, and resupply depots providing ship’s crews with goods but more importantly access to information. Many worlds still lack HPG access but any world with a space station certainly is large enough for one. These small outposts are lifelines for a jumpship in need of spare parts, fuel, food, or fresh crew and often have a detachment of House military or police on call to investigate unusual sightings or piracy. More than 40 kilotons of mass is unclaimed and is just as likely to be a local business as a warehouse or grav deck giving the station a small-town feel.

Lighthouse class stations (Small Habitat) are located at mildly industrial worlds. They mass the same as a Nebula jumpship but have a pressurized yard for maintaining dropships up to Mammoth size with a ready stock of spare parts although lack onboard fabrication facilities. They carry 50% more cargo than the Accumulator station so are often located at the start or end of smaller circuits. As a light industrial center, they lack some of the comforts of home, but a dropship crew can berth comfortable aboard them while their vessel is being serviced, have plenty to do, and enjoy some R&R or privacy. These often carry a garrison or at least have a unit passing through.

Canal class stations (Large Habitat) are relatively uncommon but incredibly useful. These stations serve as jumpship repair depots with their own workshops and access to a heavily industrialized planet. Often located above regional capitals and on a large Line their unpressurized yards are large enough to service a Tramp. The Succession Wars were very costly to Canal class stations as they are strategic assets, but many are in the process of being rebuilt or replaced. One of the station collars is typically occupied by an assault dropship for protection.

Small jumpship crews can only do so much maintenance while on the move the majority of their time is spent patching and jury-rigging systems enough to complete the loop before putting the ship in the yard for a time. Thousands of shipyard crew live aboard in spacious quarters and the transient population can reach up to thirty thousand waiting for the next outbound vessel. A Canal station also carries two hundred thousand or so tons of cargo mixing fabrication with parts and containers to be loaded on incoming transports.

Olympus class recharge stations are the largest space stations costing more than 12 billon and represent a massive investment and liability for a Great House. It is an investment that pays off quickly however if managed properly. The Olympus combines an unpressurized jumpship yard with two pressurized dropship yards which are always occupied and have long waiting lists. Eight energy storage batteries consume immense amounts of power to fast charge jump drives. Spared aggression during the Succession Wars many nevertheless succumb to disrepair as spare parts, skilled technicians, and money became scarce. The ones that remain are often above major capitals or along narrow trade routes.

Unlike smaller yards though these are high throughput low comfort operations more akin to airports. Crews are worked hard to ensure maximum efficiency and the batteries along with their associated infrastructure leave little space for creature comforts. Monarch or Princess dropships often dock to them however providing their services as floating hotels for transient populations, more comfortable space for the crews, and making money off the spread.

marauder648

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #3 on: 30 January 2021, 08:04:18 »
This was a really good read and I prefer the names you chose for the smaller droppers too! Bravo!
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AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #4 on: 30 January 2021, 14:43:14 »
This was a really good read and I prefer the names you chose for the smaller droppers too! Bravo!

There is more to come

Now we move to the mind boggling art of logistics. The Inner Sphere during the Star League era relied on a series of interconnected and dependent supply chains protected by vast fleets of SLDF warships. In the wake of the Succession Wars these were shredded and for a long time interstellar trade became the domain of military operations and dire need rather than trade.

Following the rediscovery of the Helm memory core that changed dramatically. Factories once idled for lack of parts or knowledge could be restarted. Their outputs once more flowed up and across the stars. Fleets of mothballed spacecraft kept for irreplaceable spares could once more be reactivated delivering vital goods to places that had regressed to the 20th century in their absence.

The Clan Invasion spurred a massive increase in interstellar trade between the Successor States and a new Star League. The Free Worlds League was the largest beneficiary revitalizing a moribund state riven by discord. It is no surprise then that they were the largest supporters of the Second Star League becoming the arsenal and fleet both of war and trade for the Inner Sphere against the Clans. FEDCOM's fracture and the falling out of Katherine and Victor Steiner-Davion threw much of this into disarray as crucial Terran adjacent worlds were separated and fought over for most of a decade.

Presently the Inner Sphere has almost completely returned to Star League standards for transport. No longer are Great Houses hoarding jumpships, using them as political bludgeons against upstart nobles or to carry out raids for scraps. Post-Jihad Warships have fallen out of favor as anything other than vanity projects. Modern powers find assault and carrier dropships or sub-capital armed arsenal ships more effective and reinvested in jumpship construction to replace losses sustained during the Jihad.

The Clans retain the largest active warship fleet although many were mauled during the Jihad and mothballed, deemed too expensive to repair but irreplaceable. Such was the case with most of the House Fleets. The Asta Accords post-Jihad limit the active fleet for each House and Council of Clans. No one has reached that limit yet but it is in place.

Atrocities committed by the Eriynes to Taurus and Alshain and other Blakist Warships during that time left a bitter taste in even the most hawkish League spacer. Diamond Shark Potemkins now carry dropships from Sol's Titan Yards, mostly repaired a decade after the invasion, to the Chainlaines or customers throughout the Inner Sphere rather than Warriors bent on its conquest.

It is important to remember the history of these events as they continue to have ripple effects on the whole Inner Sphere and as a free trader being aware of your surroundings is key. Opportunity is everywhere out there if you are looking and you should be cause military cargo is the most profitable kind but that is detailed later.

We will start with how you make money as a Jumpship Captain.
Step 1 – Have all your collars full
Step 2 – Show up on time
Step 3 – Get on the best routes
Step 4 – Don't blow out the core cause you failed any of the above and try to make it up on volume

We will start with defining a term that I will use later on when we discuss cargo in detail. Burden is the most important. It is basically how much work your collars or cargo have to do in order to break even.

As a free trader breaking even is the bare minimum I expect of you. Anything more than that is profit and cash in the bank for a slow period or yard time, most jumpships need to go in the yard for 2 months every year fixing things that break along the way. While you should pay your crews well, and I'm serious it is literally the lowest expense you have, fuel costs far more, giving them a share of any extra will incentivize them to work harder or complain less along the way, either works for me.

Step 1 – Empty collars are dead weight and you have either eat it or pass it along to your dropship. Good business says you should sell out your slots ahead of time along whatever route you are running. If you are serving as a charter that is part of the negotiation.

Sometimes a dropship is not where it is supposed to be however. With any luck its Captain contacts you ahead of time and pays a small late fee from escrow funds often 10%. This sucks but it gives you an opportunity to pick up a different ship along the way. Don't let these Captains sucker you by waiting until jump time but some money is better than none so if you have to give them a discount do it. Often you can come to some arrangement between businessmen but get it in writing in case you end up in arbitration.

Step 2 – This is the second most important thing to know as a Captain. Show up on time, terms allow some flexibility if you encounter difficulty but time is money and you can throw off a schedule by not being where you need to be when you say you will be. Dropship Captains are counting on you to arrive as agreed and be ready to depart on time, and they talk to each other. If you get a reputation as unreliable you might see your cost per collar take a hit. Schedules can be altered but this is one of the strongest cases for a mixed sail-burner route as it gives you options.

Step 3 – The best routes come in two shapes but they share the same thing profit. A remote Circuit is just as likely to be profitable as a short Line. It all comes down to who is hanging on and what they are carrying. Chartering for a time will earn you more on average as they can typically make up for volume with a premium. Charters are highly competitive though and make sure to do some research on the client and ask for a large down payment. Once they are on your collar they are your responsibility and Admiralty Court is not somewhere you want to end up.

Step 4 – DO NOT CRACK THE FRAKIN CORE. Core damage is every Jump Captain's nightmare, the thing makes up most of your dead-weight and is a large portion of your maintenance. It is literally the reason your ship exists, treat it with respect.

KF cores are incredibly expensive and hard to repair, trying to eke out a fast charge route with the reactor sounds tempting right up until you fry the hyper-delicate electronics that transit you through space almost instantly. Shipwrights give each Jumpship a century of useful life and while they can run more than that maintenance increases as it ages.

This is why there are three distinct periods of life for a Jumpship, the first 60 years are the most profitable with it going down over time as things break down. Aged jumpships still operate because they have been treated well. Nothing except the nearly LosTech Newgrange Yardships operated by the Clans can bail you out if you break down that way. The best you can hope for is selling it for salvage but the germanium requires so much processing to transport you will be lucky to make back a thousandth of the purchase price.

Collar Costs per jump are detailed below. I have also attached a far to in depth breakdown of how I figured the number out.

The next entry will be on dropships and how they interact with jumpships.

truetanker

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #5 on: 31 January 2021, 00:42:01 »
Where would Alliance-class Stations locate among your collection AlphaMirage?

TT
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AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #6 on: 31 January 2021, 01:28:54 »
Where would Alliance-class Stations locate among your collection AlphaMirage?

TT

They are equivalent to the Lighthouse class (a super generic name not reflective of anything and using the generic small habitat record sheet + yard) massing 120,000 tons. I didn't use it since the large amount of yard space precludes having a docking collar.

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #7 on: 31 January 2021, 19:18:36 »
Dropships, as much as some Jumpships Captains might look down on them, are more than just mobile shipping containers. Numerous, politically connected, and with better PR their Captains are the ones hustling cargo and dealing with customers. Failing to respect that will find a jumpship put off a Circuit and into the unpredictable world of Charters unless they repair their reputation.

Friendly rivalry and jibes are thus limited to off-channel chatter in wardrooms and mess halls. Some Dropship Captains are modern renaissance men and women in the same league as famous mariners of ancient Terra, others ruthless businessmen akin to mafiosas, or simply reliable upper middle class professionals. Everything moves with them and many end up in civilian leadership positions upon retirement so building a relationship early on could pay dividends.

They are the ones that deal with all the paperwork and tariffs when the day is done and funds settled. Jump Captains and Station Masters exist to service droppers not the other way around, and they know it. The interface with space and planet has a massive tome of arcane laws dating back to the early 22nd century and beyond. Keep reading up on this in your off time as it has some useful loopholes that you can argue in arbitration or court during a dispute.

Basically all spacecraft are subject to the laws of their flag state just like any prior naval vessel. Their Captains do not need to be citizens of said state and all citizens aboard are subject to the law of their home states. Additionally all must adhere to the 26th Century Law of Occupation which boils down to this, within a 50,000 kilometer radius sphere to a station all craft follow the rules of that station's flag. These almost always fly the flag of their respective planetary government although there are exceptions, typically in border areas with a long history of changing hands.

Obviously Great Houses and their toadie Zaibatsus and shipping cartels proudly fly the flag of their respective state. Were it not expressly forbidden they would be broadcasting patriotic messages across every jump point extolling their own virtues and crowding out useful frequencies. Fortunately the Signals Neutrality Act of 2717 and professionalism between spacers prevents that from happening everywhere but the Trinity Alliance.

Smaller groups and Free Traders register their ship with whomever they like. Many with COMSTAR during the Succession Wars seeking their neutral status, lucrative contracts, and importantly parts and yard time. This worked perfectly well for spacer crews with little affinity for planetary government. Post-REVIVAL the Order took major hits on all fronts until it became nothing but ashes on Terra.

Modern Free Traders often flag with the Outworld's Alliance (OAS), Clan Diamond Shark (CDS), or go straight to the Second Star League (SSL). Each asks for a modest registration fee, the occasional discounted collar, low taxes, and maintain legal diplomatic contact with all five Successor States.

The Magistracy of Canopus (MOC) and St Ives Compact (SIC) were also popular Flags of Convenience for anyone expecting to do business in the Combine which refused to honor Outworld's neutrality treating Alliance flagged vessels as 'hostile' for most of its history. St Ives with its large financial industry and backing of the Federated Suns was a prime choice during its short existence but since the Trinity Alliance solidified both have become less...understanding.

Before we continue we will go back to basics. Since the mid-20th century nearly all cargo has been transported in intermodal containers. These are standardized among all transport types and measures enforced throughout the Star League era, tradition and ease of use keep it in service.

Containers come in three sizes; each referred to as 'ergonomic units;' because they are easy to handle and simple to construct. Widely available they are constructed of a variety of materials but aluminum and hard plastics with steel frames are the most common type. Their weight is typically somewhere between 2 and 5% of the total rated mass with larger containers having smaller percentages thanks to the square cube law

L(ight)EUs mass 10 tons, M(edium)EUs mass 30 tons, H(eavy)EUs mass 60 tons. One of each is referred to as a 'hundred-weight' and ships are classed based on how many of these they carry. Any cargo larger than an HEU is billed a full 'hundred-weight' even if it is merely 65 tons due to stacking problems in those bays precluding additional containers. This is one of the many reasons the Successor States prized 55-ton battlemechs, they are more cost efficient to ship.

The exact details of how many of each type don't matter to anyone but your Loadmaster, whose job it is to keep your ship in trim. Liquids are stored in buffered tank boxes protecting them from damage and providing a means to transfer its contents while remaining just as easy to handle.

Any leftover tonnage is scattered about as break bulk (non-containerized) and often left for crew use. Freight forwarders deal with all the details of how things make it into the container and back out again. Unless you are looking for more headaches stick to moving EUs through space, it's simpler.

There are three places you pick up and drop off cargo, in space, within a bay, or on a planet. Each has their own complexities.

Space to Space transfers are common but always awkward. If you can imagine whales mating you are most of the way there. The larger vessel be it station or ship maintains a steady course with no thrusters. The smaller vessel, lets call her its 'mate,' will actively move around them to the collar. Once the ships are within ten meters docking collars from both sides will extend and meet in the middle. Space Stations have large grappling arms helping to stabilize the ship to the station.

If no collar is available containers do come in a type known as 'Null-G modified.' This effectively turns it into a satellite with its own RCS thrusters for adjustment and propulsion. These are then reeled in slowly after a cable is attached or piloted remotely until it is grappled under a shuttle, on the back of a rover, by a station's robotic arms, or Zero-G modified Loadermechs.

On Spheroid ships the docking collar is on the nose, on Aerodynes it is in the Dorsal (Top) plane. Once joined cargo is transferred in a safe pressurized environment right into the holds along a cable way that functions much like an elevator car. Unfortunately the largest holds are often opposite the collar as most ships are optimized for ground offloading.

All ships maintain a nose hold capable of carrying a tenth of their cargo mass with elevators for internal transfer for just this use. It's primary purpose is as a crumple zone in the event that you screw up and 'bump' into something. Don't do that always have a spotter!

Within a shuttle bay (or on truly massive asteroid bases a dropship can fit in) the transfer process is just as easy. Most occur like regular StS transfer but at the same time a shuttle can just wait and have the ship burn slowly till they match speeds and intersect. They always dock nose out, as their main thrusters only work in one direction. This conveniently puts the cargo ramp closest to the ship or station. Crew using industrial exoskeletons then off-load the break bulk and transfer it to the holds.

On a planet there are two types of planetary facilities you will encounter, with any luck you will land at a well appointed starport with comprehensive facilities. The staff will then take over after the Captain signs on the dotted line although they have likely done so already prior to touching down.

These comprehensive facilities include a wide range of specialty vehicles loaded right from the ship's cranes or their own forklifts. Small trucks will then move containers to warehouses for further shipping. These are common on any industrial world and interface directly into regional infrastructure.

Industrial Transfer Stations are found within industrial zones where they handle that area's elevated need for planetary and interplanetary shipping. While not as comprehensive as a planetary starport servicing an entire world they are capable of more than the ship's crew or those with less equipment.

If neither of these are available you will have to unload your own holds with whatever is at hand, including maybe your hands. Less industrialized worlds or remote facilities rarely have an established starport beyond a patch of desolate likely disintegrating ferrocrete stable enough to land on. These will require your crew or the locals (hopefully you having a shipping agent worth their salt on-world) to take containers out and establish a temporary hub.

Shipboard overhead cranes take containers to the deckplates. From there I have seen everything from steel frames bolted together pulled by teams of oxen or tractors to modern Battlemechs carry them down ramps to the surface. Once outside these are unloaded, turning into break bulk, and carried to their final destination.

Unloaded containers can be refilled and stowed again or sold off to the locals to prevent carrying deadweight or replace worn out containers. A reasonable market price is 100/ton of capacity but a mostly new one (or desperate folk) can go for almost twice that. Most prefab colonies are made of these, LEUs serve as silos, sheds, or stables, MEUs as workshops and offices, and HEUs can be adapted into adequate family residences.

Now we conclude this part with a discussion on maintaining that dropship. There are two ways to calculate maintenance costs, first is Deadweight (the standard way) and the second Liveweight (or modified). Deadweight is a measure of the dropship's total tonnage, Liveweight is a measure of the dropship's tonnage minus its cargo capacity (that is everything else).

These two metrics are vastly different for a simple reason, money. The SLDF in its infinite wisdom and bigger budget defined maintenance based on Deadweight. Think of it as Federated Boeing Interstellar wants to sell you that precision engineered gasket with a life cycle of three years every year 'just in case'. In reality those three years can probably be extended to five or you can use a lesser part without that FBI logo on it.

Indeed during the scarce times of the Succession Wars the same part could last a decade or more with little loss of function. Those times changed the measurement out of necessity, instead spare parts were allotted on Liveweight effectively acknowledging that cargo bays don't really need spare parts. Since most of a freighter's mass is in its cargo that means that you really need to prioritize everything else. Things like the engine, life support, hull integrity, and the like are a higher priority for parts.

Modern Dropship Captains don't want to go all the way back to those desperate times. Times where the atmosphere smelled funky and you were afraid a loose bolt on a cargo door could change trim and cause a tumble into oblivion. So the real answer is somewhere in the middle but like many other things this is determined on a ship to ship basis. Top end ships carrying expensive cargo can keep it factory new for decades but then there are some less concerned with comfort than cash.

Attached is a breakdown of the dropships covered above and some examples for prime movers. The next segment will be on the cargo itself, what is worth carrying how far and in what way.

idea weenie

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #8 on: 31 January 2021, 19:33:38 »
These are good notes, ideas, and in-universe reflections.  Thank you for putting all of this together

Daryk

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #9 on: 31 January 2021, 19:36:52 »
I LOVE the idea of the Outworlds Alliance as "Space Liberia"... it's just TOO perfect!  :thumbsup:

I will plead my deck plans for the Manatee pre-dating your idea of all cargo transfer through the nose.  I was looking at using the "main" air lock for both terrestrial and DropShip to JumpShip transfers.  The other point I'll raise is that the nose is where you want your main radar and avionics (ALWAYS be able to see where you're going!).  A significant cargo bay in the nose makes that kind of hard...

Overall, this thread is awesome!  Please keep it going!  :thumbsup:

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #10 on: 01 February 2021, 14:32:19 »
I LOVE the idea of the Outworlds Alliance as "Space Liberia"... it's just TOO perfect!  :thumbsup:

The other point I'll raise is that the nose is where you want your main radar and avionics (ALWAYS be able to see where you're going!).  A significant cargo bay in the nose makes that kind of hard...


I appreciate the above, I always figured that the docking collars are in the nose as there is often an opening of some kind drawn at the top of each. Also since it is the most likely spot to be impacted by stuff while in transit the avionics are probably already well protected. I might do something on the construction of spacecraft as I see it later on.

USIIR (Universal Social-Industrial Index Rating) Codes

The First Star League loved its acronyms as much as its giant Warships and tyranny. Its Successors are little different and with minor exception still follow its lead. This is true with the USIIR code of planetary classification which have been preserved as tradition and for ease of use.

Defined by five different factors within a range of A-F with A being the highest, F being the lowest. They are
Technological Sophistication (TS) – This measure determines the likelihood of encountering advanced technology among the locals. An A class world is awash in the latest and greatest technologies while an F class world gets by on inferior artisan goods.

Industrial Density (ID) - Ever since the Industrial Revolution industrialization has enabled humanity to accomplish tasks once thought impossible. An A rated world is intensely industrialized with modern production capabilities while an F rated world still have artisans practicing rediscovered handicrafts.

Raw Material Dependence (RMD) - Many elements are difficult to find or refine requiring advanced techniques and expensive equipment to obtain. This is particularly true with anything over Iron in the Periodic Table. Noble gases and metals, specialty materials for advanced alloys, and radioactive minerals enriched or otherwise are all included in this chart.

This measure is limited to planet access only so these might be found in system and traded interplanetary rather than interstellar ensuring plentiful work for bulk carriers. Powerful industrial worlds like Hesperus II have to import many of their raw materials as their own supplies become less economical to extract while their factories continue to churn out immense volumes of finished goods

An A rated world is entirely self-sufficient at its current consumption and possibly even trades the excess while an F rated world is heavily reliant on imports. Either are likely on a major trade Line or will be shortly.

Industrial Output (IO) – The IO measure determines how much the planet’s industry produces based on their sophistication and industrialization. These goods can then be traded or remain on world. An A rated planet produces an abundance of goods while an F rated world cannot keep pace with local demand.

These goods are not necessarily high value however and market forces keep either of these in line unless they are ordered to overproduce for some reason. With recovered technology and less demand for military hardware on Great House budgets capital is becoming available to finance more factories built where there is a shortage. Areas once heavily reliant on common goods are investing in tooling for higher quality goods to make up the difference in lost trade.

Agricultural Dependence (AD) – Much like industrial output this is a measure of the abundance of agricultural commodities on world. A rated worlds export produce (in a stabilized and concentrated form) across the stars while an F rated world is reliant on food imports. Any world so reliant on interstellar trade for food died out during the Succession Wars and commodity crops are not very profitable to ship (thus waste resources growing) so a low and high score in this rating is very unusual.

With a general idea of what a world is like now we look deeper into what is reasonable to ship across the stars. These are divided into four basic categories.

Information is the simplest thing to move. In areas lacking regular HPG access jumpships bring news and media to the people. You can beam these down or take the shuttle (or dropship) and sell the media directly to the people in a physical or digital form. The Captain typically assigns the youngest crewman to figure out what the latest trend is going to be and source it for them in a digital form before undergoing a Circuit. They will also send out the Navigator, Chief Engineer, and/or First Officer (all typically the oldest and most experienced Spacers) to find media of greater interest to more ‘mature’ customers.

Line operations are often on well-trodden paths with HPG access so this is rarely an option except with large files that would be expensive or impossible to transmit that way (or with only niche interest). However, running a Line gives a Captain and crew a better idea for the tastes of their customers so they can curate their offerings better. With shorter trips the media can also be much newer and constantly changing.

Cutting deals with media distributors is easy money for a ship’s crew, as is advertising. Since these goods are effectively weightless, they are highly profitable. Executive crews regularly ink deals with these companies during the slow season as their wealthy customers are highly desired by major retail chains.

Information is refreshed as often as possible throughout the trip as you don’t want to show up when a fad is already faded. Selling market information to the next ship in line or a broker brings in some extra cash or is a nice way to build a good reputation.

Goods have been discussed at some length already, the goal of any seller is to add no more than 25% of the cost of a good in shipping. This limits many options for profit but like all rules there are exceptions, direly needed (or highly controlled) goods can fetch up to 200% their value in shipping costs.

Stock and trade of a freighter cargo is going to be factory produced goods, commercial or industrial vehicles, and rare minerals. Base commodity materials are just not profitable to ship and don’t make it to the jump point. Oddball cargos like art, exotic animals, LosTech artifacts, and personal watercraft are out there but require a certain eye to realize profit.

The most profitable goods have always been military equipment as they are both high tech and lightweight. Gun running remains a viable if risky business to be in, particularly with higher end equipment. Spare parts are always in high demand as are fusion engines of all sizes. Consumables such as ammo and armor regularly flow out to remote supply depots on civilian ships mixed in with other cargos.

New Mechs and combat equipment are always transported aboard a factory owned and escorted vessel to a distribution point where a military transport takes it to its new unit. Don’t try to muscle into that business you will get hurt.

Mercenary mechs do however often ship on freighters as do IndustrialMechs of all kinds (even SecurityMechs) so these are good cargos to have. They will be accompanied by a marine or police detail hanging out in the bay for a time ensuring it gets to its destination.

People are the next thing that moves across the stars but are honestly the worst cargo. They get in the way of regular operations for your crew, smell, and use up valuable water and food while looking completely stupid while translating in microgravity. Plus, someone has to watch them, make sure they eat and drink, and importantly keep out of the Engineering decks.

There is always a passenger demanding to speak to the Captain about some inane issue only they have that the Chief Steward, whose job it is to deal with them, is not high enough for their liking. It takes a special dropship Captain to deal with the interpersonal issues of so many people confined and bored.

That said don’t let them do that, run a casino, hire a good chef, bring on premium goods and sell them at inflated prices, and give them microgravity experiences. You have a captive audience which you can make a lot of money off of during their transit so do that and it might be worth the headache.

Businesses combine all of the above. Some worlds lack the basic infrastructure to progress or have only temporary need for some special service. This could be anything from vehicle mechanics to agricultural consultants to engineers, teachers, lawyers, and doctors. A dropship is a self-contained nomadic vessel already moving along a predictable path and arrangements can be made in advance which is something every businessperson dreams of.

Importantly unlike common passengers businesspeople are more likely to follow the Captain’s orders. They do after all have their own affairs to attend to rather than hampering your ship’s operations. Once groundside (or in space) they engage in whatever business they can find. Almost always they have their own vehicles or prefab structures (if they don’t contract with locals) to operate out of until it is time to leave and move on.

Another excellent thing to do is to set up a factory within the dropship itself. There are already personnel accommodations, warehouse space, fusion power plant, and other utilities onboard. Why not turn it into a production center?

The most famous of these were deployed during operations BULLDOG and SERPENT to support the SLDF’s invasion of Huntress where they served as mobile repair deports. However, there have always been vessels capable of building prefab towns, operating as sawmills, refineries, and smelters, or constructing major utilities on worlds that the locals would not be able to accomplish natively.

Many bulk carriers operate in this fashion. Their immense volume allows for a variety of complex processes to be built in and the cheap operating costs allow greater profitability. This is particularly useful for space mining or construction operations where a station might not be feasible due to lack of apparent gravity for processes that require it or the transient nature of its occupation.

Attached is a list of the market price for a variety of goods as well as a way to calculate the added expense of shipping it one jump on every type of jumpship.

idea weenie

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #11 on: 01 February 2021, 17:00:57 »
One thing I wish would be re-done is the USIIR codes.  Let 'A' indicate no development in an area, and 'E' or 'F' indicate better development.  Otherwise you get into a situation (Terra) where the writers had to go with A(Advanced) to show that Terra was that much better than 'A' rated worlds.

Using Raw Materials as an example, a world cannot be any worse than 'Heavily Dependent' (unless there is a code for 'Completely Dependent'), so that level should be the minimum.  From there, as better Raw Material extraction occurs, the world's rating goes from 'A' to 'B', etc, until you get 'F' as Fully Sustaining, and even 'G' where it is outputting to other worlds (each further letter reflects additional planets it outputs to).


It would be similar to existing Tech levels, where 'A' indicates low tech, and 'F' represent Clan-tech

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #12 on: 01 February 2021, 17:12:44 »
Yeah I never got the need for inversion either better to keep things consistent. Would rather have a numbering system with greater fidelity but alas that is the system we have.

Daryk

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #13 on: 01 February 2021, 18:35:51 »
I appreciate the above, I always figured that the docking collars are in the nose as there is often an opening of some kind drawn at the top of each. Also since it is the most likely spot to be impacted by stuff while in transit the avionics are probably already well protected. I might do something on the construction of spacecraft as I see it later on.
*snip*
I just figured it was easier to re-orient docked DropShips so their "terrestrial" main air locks were aimed at the JumpShip.  Of course, I was working with smaller ships of both kinds...

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #14 on: 02 February 2021, 13:07:25 »
No Free Trader will make it if he fails to manage his crew, ship, and organization correctly. The majority of dropships have fewer than 6 major officers. The Jumbo and Behemoth have more as an artifact of the Star League era where the SLDF ordered observers be berthed in prime quarters on Free Trader ships for 'accounting' purposes. Not only that but they had the audacity to charge the ship for their services. Today those berths are mostly occupied by the Captain's guests or businessmen either traveling or operating out of that ship as both the Jumbo and Behemoth often have renters.

Standard space operations are conducted on a 12-hour clock with 6-hour duty shifts off-set to one another by two hours. This schedule ensures new personnel are always rotating in and others can get adequate rest.

There are five major departments on any freighter overseen by an officer, on smaller ships these roles are held solely by petty officers overseeing ratings and often combined.

The Captain obviously commands the ship and the buck stops with them. Ultimately nothing goes on without them knowing about it, but their attention is focused on the actual business and everything outside. This leads to a lot of paperwork as the Captain manages what is going to happen next for the ship. On smaller ships they also are in charge of Astrogation and Piloting.

First Mates or Executive Officers (depending on Great House) controls everything aboard the ship. They manage departments and ensure that everything and everyone is getting what they need and doing what they are supposed to. Captain and First Mate work intimately together. On a small vessel they are often the Loadmaster.
 
Astrogation and Piloting are often shared between two individuals, but on smaller vessels are one or absent. On a Jumpship with its meager thrusters the Navigator is the Second Mate, behind only the First Mate in importance, as accurate calculations are crucial to the ship. On a dropship this is frequently reversed many lack Navigators at all relying on automated systems and beacons for directions.

Most vessels are equipped with capable automated systems for either, but no spaceman should trust the computer implicitly and humans always remain in control. Machines are good for plotting options but are always isolated from flight control for security reasons.

A Chief Engineer's job is ensuring the power plant and utilities operate within acceptable levels. They often supervise the largest number of ratings and on smaller vessels might be the only certified Fusion Tech in the crew. They work with other Officers to ensure parts and manpower are available and warn them when something is looking odd that could affect operations.

The Loadmaster is responsible for all cargo and transfer machines ensuring that trim is maintained particularly before liftoff. Often they also manage the ship's chest of premium items, foodstuffs, and vital life support supplies. If this ship is not a passenger liner, they are also the Chief Steward in charge of crew comfort.

On passenger liners the Chief Steward and their staff are responsible for their care and deal with any issues that arise between passengers and/or crew. These are typically jolly folk, always willing to hand out a coupon to ease over something problematic, or capable of the great feat of mass misdirection to keep the passengers out of the crew’s way.

Aboard many vessels that are not owner operated there is a Shipmaster’s Agent. These individuals are representatives of the Ship’s Owner, that is the group oo individual that holds the Vessel Register. While it would be suspected that the Agent and Captain wouldn’t get along that is rarely the case. Captains can demand a new agent if they find their current one…unsuitable. While Captains are often well versed in legal terms an Agent is often more so and will serve as their Advocate.

The Agent’s employer can be anyone from a noble, often a Baron for a Dropship, or Count for a Jumpship, or the shipping group or co-op that holds the Ship’s Register. They make themselves useful by coordinating cargoes and yard space, paying the vendors and crew even bailing them out of a Station’s brig after too much partying, ensuring no illegal cargo is being carried that might attract attention, and otherwise being helpful and unobtrusive while looking out for the owner’s economic and legal interests.

Finally, there is the Flight Surgeon, ensuring the crew stays in good condition. Ships can call in for medical support to locals but sometimes they are in the middle of space with no one around but their own medics. Smaller ships have a Paramedic for their needs, large passenger liners often have a few to deal with any unforeseen issues in addition to the Surgeon and their assistant. Often a Jumpship Captain will ensure that at least one of their dropships has a Flight Surgeon should one be needed. All Stations have an onboard one as well for regular checkups and prescriptions in addition the station’s needs.

Below these Department Officers are Petty Officers helping manage the ship. These are less needed on a civilian ship than a military one as crew size is smaller and needs less intense. However, studies show that with more than 3 dedicated reports efficiency drops dramatically so with larger crews Petty Officers fill the void. Experienced Petty Officers oversee specific sub-systems, often holding certificates in at least two which they alternate with another during a standard day (2 Watch Cycles).

Below them are Ratings coming in five grades with 1 (Able Spaceman) being the least experienced. Besides providing general labor they cross-train between departments until they find what their own talent is. All Ratings are familiar enough with the equipment on board to recognize hazards and take immediate corrective action. Once they choose a track, they can continue to specialize ultimately becoming Petty Officers or Specialists.

Specialists typically leave mobile service to take up residence at a Cageworks (for Jumpships) or Shipyard (for Dropships) repairing or constructing new vessels. Pay is better and hours more regular with a greater chance to have a ‘normal’ relationship with the world. While it may seem like a loss for a Ship’s Captain to lose a Specialist it is ultimately a gain. You can always visit them when you need yard-time knowing they will keep you flying on.

Presently there are four major Free Trade Guilds throughout the Inner Sphere

United Outworlders Corporation manages the Alliance Aerospace Registry Board, a private cooperative that organizes the largest collection of Free Traders besides Clan Diamond Shark. Since they brokered a deal with the Snow Ravens (who the Sharks are oddly hostile too) the AARB has grown into the most diverse organization of its type running a large portion of Circuit Trades in Anti-Spinward Space. With greater security thanks to the Raven’s agreement with the Avellars UOC are at the forefront of trade between the Star League member states, although Alpheratz has no interest in joining the Second Star League due to lingering resentment for its originator. The Snow Ravens have also declined the invitation extended to them for membership in the new Clan Council on Kerensky’s Vision.

Sea Fox Ventures controls the Clan Council’s largest Merchant Fleet, their claim to fame is access to the Potemkins and Titan Yards giving them immense Line capabilities. With an almost complete stranglehold on the high volume Terran Transfer Corridor they run service from Chesterton all the way to Kerensky’s Vision servicing the most industrialized corridor of planets along the way and Clan Council Space. Based out of the Chainelaine colony of Far Reach the Diamond Sharks are making waves in the Inner Sphere but few friends.

Spinward Shipping is a consolidation of former Lyran Commonwealth and Free Worlds League shipping interests. Damaged during the Jihad they have found a new calling and service their respective states down into the growing Marian Hegemony, a client state of the Commonwealth. This greatly irritates the Trinity State of The Magistracy of Canopus, its long simmering rival on the Rim whom it has accused of many crimes against humanity. Thus far nothing has come of it, but formal protests have been lodged to Atreus and Tharkad. Trinity State refusal to ratify the Second Star League after the Jihad has complicated matters.

Left in last place is the Second Star League’s own Free Trade Guild. Without a large fleet of its own thanks to the Word of Blake’s negligent residency the 2nd Star League FTG is relying on smaller independent Charters to remain afloat. They provide supplemental trade to Draconis Combine space whose state-owned fleet was heavily damaged during the Black Dragon Uprising. The Combine Government considers the Snow Ravens possibly hostile and perilously close to New Samarkand, Franklin Sakamoto’s new capital, so has once more flagged Alliance vessels ‘of great interest’.

Terrace

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #15 on: 02 February 2021, 16:00:22 »
Is the Accumulator class space station a re-named canon design, like the Lighthouse and Canal, or something new that doesn't have a record sheet?

Daryk

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #16 on: 02 February 2021, 16:56:49 »
Quick nitpick: that's not what Quartermasters do aboard ships: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartermaster

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #17 on: 02 February 2021, 18:02:33 »
Is the Accumulator class space station a re-named canon design, like the Lighthouse and Canal, or something new that doesn't have a record sheet?

Its basically a Snowden with most of the stuff turned to cargo

Quick nitpick: that's not what Quartermasters do aboard ships: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartermaster

I never really like the Purser designation. Will have to look into what the Air Force calls them. Apparently they call them Logistics Readiness Officers it suits but doesn't really have any romance to it.

Daryk

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #18 on: 02 February 2021, 18:31:35 »
Loadmaster is a fine term!  Just stick with that... :thumbsup:

Terrace

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #19 on: 02 February 2021, 22:33:38 »
Its basically a Snowden with most of the stuff turned to cargo

Huh. I was able to make that work by stripping all the weapons, 60% of the passenger capacity, all the internal pressurized repair yards, and much of the Small Craft (12 Small Craft is adequate for what's essentially a cargo transfer point, right?).

Is that basically right?

drakensis

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #20 on: 03 February 2021, 03:02:31 »
You list a first mate and a third mate but no second mate, at least as far as I can tell.
"It's national writing month, not national writing week and a half you jerk" - Consequences, 9th November 2018

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #21 on: 03 February 2021, 08:54:01 »
Huh. I was able to make that work by stripping all the weapons, 60% of the passenger capacity, all the internal pressurized repair yards, and much of the Small Craft (12 Small Craft is adequate for what's essentially a cargo transfer point, right?).

Is that basically right?

Basically, the cargo mass can be of any type, shops, restaurants, warehouses, fueling station, hotels, etc... The standard stuff you would expect for a truck stop in space.

Daryk

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #22 on: 03 February 2021, 18:34:54 »
It also just struck me you basically proposed a six section rotation.  And that's if you have everyone on Port and Starboard rotation (6 on, 6 off).  That's pretty rough.  There's a reason it's called "Port and Stupid" in the Navy.  A three section rotation (6 on, 12 off) is sustainable for a while (say, a 6-10 month deployment).  Four sections (6 on, 18 off) is sustainable indefinitely.

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #23 on: 03 February 2021, 22:12:41 »
It also just struck me you basically proposed a six section rotation.  And that's if you have everyone on Port and Starboard rotation (6 on, 6 off).  That's pretty rough.  There's a reason it's called "Port and Stupid" in the Navy.  A three section rotation (6 on, 12 off) is sustainable for a while (say, a 6-10 month deployment).  Four sections (6 on, 18 off) is sustainable indefinitely.

I figure both jumpship and dropship free traders have frequent port calls or rest time aboard a station along the way, at least every 2 or 3 months for jumpships. Also the dropships should only need that extensive crewing while underway which takes a week maybe two. Planet-side or at their destination they probably drop into the standard 8 hour workday or whatever is appropriate for locals. Orbital mining and construction concerns likely rotate crews in and out with resupply (and delivery) ships like oil rigs do today.

Colt Ward

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #24 on: 04 February 2021, 16:42:59 »
Did you leave the DroST IIa off for a reason?

Also, do we have a canon citation for them having Colossus and being De-Mil'd?

I mean, I am all for it and think the IS should have Colossus, Lee, and Excalibur should have civilian counterparts- for economies of scale in production and maintenance if nothing else.  Aqueduct should also have a cargo carrier version too.
Colt Ward

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truetanker

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #25 on: 04 February 2021, 16:51:18 »
Aqueduct should also have a cargo carrier version too.

Shouldn't be too hard to knock out Bays # ( X ) and ( X ) to make the 14, 286 extra tons for standard cargo... and still leave enough liquid storage to transport.

TT
Khan, Clan Iron Dolphin
Azeroth Pocketverse
That is, if true tanker doesn't beat me to it. He makes truly evil units.Col.Hengist on 31 May 2013
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Colt Ward

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #26 on: 04 February 2021, 17:00:54 »
Shouldn't be too hard to knock out Bays # ( X ) and ( X ) to make the 14, 286 extra tons for standard cargo... and still leave enough liquid storage to transport.

TT

Not talking about converting a Aqueduct . . . I am saying that should have pumped out a cargo DS version at that range w/o ever having liquid containment installed due economies of scale.
Colt Ward

Beware the vengeance of a patient man.
Clan Invasion Backer #149

truetanker

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #27 on: 04 February 2021, 17:11:32 »
If you remove a sealed tank wall... it now becomes a bulk hold.

You don't need to pull the full tank, just a hole in the wall to place cargo.

It's that simple.

TT
Khan, Clan Iron Dolphin
Azeroth Pocketverse
That is, if true tanker doesn't beat me to it. He makes truly evil units.Col.Hengist on 31 May 2013
TT, we know you are the master of nasty  O0 ~ Fletch on 22 June 2013
If I'm attacking you, conventional wisom says to bring 3x your force.  I want extra insurance, so I'll bring 4 for every 1 of what you have :D ~ Tai Dai Cultist on 21 April 2016
Me: Would you rather fight my Epithymía Thanátou from the Whispers of Blake?
Nav_Alpha: That THING... that is horrid
~ Nav_Alpha on 10 October 2016

Colt Ward

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #28 on: 04 February 2021, 17:35:18 »
If you remove a sealed tank wall... it now becomes a bulk hold.

You don't need to pull the full tank, just a hole in the wall to place cargo.

It's that simple.

TT

 . . . and you do not need to build it to that standard, which is the point, if you build them at the same production facility using the same engines, avionics, etc . . . they just are not finished out the same way.
Colt Ward

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Clan Invasion Backer #149

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #29 on: 04 February 2021, 17:58:45 »
Did you leave the DroST IIa off for a reason?

Also, do we have a canon citation for them having Colossus and being De-Mil'd?

I mean, I am all for it and think the IS should have Colossus, Lee, and Excalibur should have civilian counterparts- for economies of scale in production and maintenance if nothing else.  Aqueduct should also have a cargo carrier version too.

I left the Drost IIA off because the Buccaneer is the logical evolution, comparable, and more widespread in the IC post-Jihad era. I wanted to have a wide variety of freighter types and this is by no means a comprehensive document. Colossus are mentioned as joining the Exodus Fleet in even smaller numbers than I've mentioned, which is a pity as it is a good ship. The Exodus had Lees but it is mentioned that they were lost in the Pentagon Worlds, there is no mention of either being demilitarized. Mammoths fill the need for bulk cargo better than an Aqueduct and are more common (at least four shipyards make them) so its better to leave the Aqueduct as a specialist (it still carries almost a Buccaneer's worth of cargo in its secondary hold).

 

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