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Author Topic: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)  (Read 19351 times)

AlphaMirage

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Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« 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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"We come in peace, please ignore the bloodstains."

"Greetings, Mechwarrior. You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the Frontier against Daoshen and the Capellan armada."

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
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?
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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
Clan Invasion Backer #149, Leviathans #104

"We come in peace, please ignore the bloodstains."

"Greetings, Mechwarrior. You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the Frontier against Daoshen and the Capellan armada."

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
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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
Clan Invasion Backer #149, Leviathans #104

"We come in peace, please ignore the bloodstains."

"Greetings, Mechwarrior. You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the Frontier against Daoshen and the Capellan armada."

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).

Colt Ward

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #30 on: 04 February 2021, 19:49:51 »
The actual named DroST IIa model might not be, but the fluff indicates it had plenty of knock off makers and was floating around in the thousands IIRC.

Not a big critique, but yeah my head canon has a lot of 'missing' freighters out there to make the universe work- like the 3 civvie converted ones I mentioned.
Colt Ward
Clan Invasion Backer #149, Leviathans #104

"We come in peace, please ignore the bloodstains."

"Greetings, Mechwarrior. You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the Frontier against Daoshen and the Capellan armada."

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #31 on: 05 February 2021, 09:03:07 »
I am at a bit of loss now about what to talk about. Any requests?

If not will likely do something concerning warships pocket and otherwise all the way up to Fleet logistics in a different thread. Likely with many fan designs in their appropriate place. If jumpships were this expensive to operate then it is no wonder that the Clans are constantly just barely scrapping by with their huge fleets. Lum and Hellgate probably have huge factory moons just dedicated to spare parts.

truetanker

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #32 on: 05 February 2021, 09:10:43 »
Recharge stations and various other niche units that are suppose to be, but never really talked about?

Factories
Yards
Habitats
Tugs?

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 #33 on: 05 February 2021, 10:24:31 »
I am at a bit of loss now about what to talk about. Any requests?

If not will likely do something concerning warships pocket and otherwise all the way up to Fleet logistics in a different thread. Likely with many fan designs in their appropriate place. If jumpships were this expensive to operate then it is no wonder that the Clans are constantly just barely scrapping by with their huge fleets. Lum and Hellgate probably have huge factory moons just dedicated to spare parts.

I always liked WEG Star Wars' rating spaceports . . . BT would/should have something like this but that gets into RP and more of the naval/support story and it was just never something developed for BTU b/c it is not a story of smugglers.  But with how often spaceports were objectives of ground armies you think we would have at least gotten a bit of a classification system.
Colt Ward
Clan Invasion Backer #149, Leviathans #104

"We come in peace, please ignore the bloodstains."

"Greetings, Mechwarrior. You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the Frontier against Daoshen and the Capellan armada."

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #34 on: 05 February 2021, 13:47:39 »
Depths of Black
Space comes in two depths, shallow and deep. Shallow Black is less than two months away from a populated world. This includes planet-moon systems, orbital facilities, and most of the dropships and jumpships that ply these areas.

Deep Black is beyond that. Truly massive star systems exist around Blue-White Giants and other large stars with stable jump points and planets above these stars that far away from one another. The space between stars is rife with conspiracy theory concerning Secret SLDF or Word of Blake facilities and House military bases, lost colonies, private and experimental science stations, HPG and dead drop satellites, black sites, and bolt-holes can be anywhere in space completely inaccessible without the right jump coordinates.

Space Stations and Closed Habitats
Once these were thought of as the future of humanity until the invention of the KF FTL Drive and the resulting planetary colonization of the Inner Sphere and Periphery. They come in a limitless variety but boil down to several different classes. Closed Habitats are often built underground to protect their inhabitants from debris and radiation. Space Stations use water and ‘storm shelters’ for security and health as well.

Their operations are very similar to any other spacecraft. Someone has to make sure air, water, food, and power keep flowing while keeping people and equipment healthy. The Reactor is often of a Nuclear Fission type (typically Gas Cooled) rather than Fusion as a space station doesn’t need the extra power for thrust or require much fuel bunkerage. Fuel Cells provide backup power and in some very small versions are the primary source of energy.

While the Inner Sphere is full of habitable worlds (or close enough for Star League era terraforming to work) there are enough that are outright hostile to permanent habitation. Whether it is an icy moon, inside a rocky asteroid, or a remote station far in the Deep Black there are people that want or need to live there. As you go further from the primary population center the drop off is however exponential as costs increase dramatically as more resilience needs to be built in.

Modern Habitats rarely have more than 15,000 people aboard and these are only to support truly massive undertakings. The old Star League’s DoME made extensive use of these for its megaprojects and even created some that could be transported aboard a docking collar like an overgrown dropship (folded up). Only the Clans retain the ability and desire to create these. Most are instead assembled from in-system resources for in-system needs and abandoned or scrapped when their useful lives end.

These Habitats are well-equipped to care for and maintain their populations with grav decks, aeroponic gardens, and everything one might expect to find in a small town. Most are closed to outsiders and treated as corporate or government property. Those that do allow outsiders to come in subject them to extensive searches, often an interview, medical tests, and assign a security minder ensuring they are not ill or arrive with ill intent. Cleanliness is taken incredibly seriously as any disease will rapidly overtake the station and has potential to become a serious issue.

Often a system inhabited only by orbitals is to small for COMSTAR, or before and after it The Star League (1st or 2nd), to note on maps. These are effectively remote mining operations based out of a more populous world nearby. Jumpships are thus their only link to the outside world and corporations pay to put them on a circuit hoping that whatever they yield is worth it in the end. When the operations go bust the stations are left behind while the people return to their homeworld. There is no census as they are regularly shifted but assume that these small operations number in the thousands.

While space is open fortresses still have a place protecting planets like Gibraltor protected the Mediterranean. In the modern era they are more widespread as capital and sub-capital weapons become more available increasing their capabilities. A fortress station is either equipped with these weapons or used as a launch platform for aerospace fighters and gunships rarely both. They are located around state and regional capitals along with major industrial worlds always in close orbits.

Capable of mounting thick armor (or being deep underground) they are still relatively fragile and immobile limiting tactical options. They are however strategic assets potentially allowing a world or facility to resist a small invasion force long enough for relief to arrive unless the enemy brings overwhelming firepower. Many shipyards are protected by these platforms ensuring the many billions spent to modernize them from raiders were not wasted.

Aphrodite Station, the last M-9 Pavise, was one of the largest of this type and took the combined efforts of the Hellions and 2SLDF to bring down costing the clan almost all their Warships in order to compromise the Sol SDS network.

Jump Ports are the most common station a Free Trader will find themselves on, located above (or below) a medium income planet they provide essential services that incentivize travel to their world. These range from the standard triple R (Repair, Resupply, Rest) to communication, accommodation, and representation for corporate officers and shipping brokers. Often these services are subsidized by the planetary government to drum up trade volume and it always seems to work. The largest of these the one megaton Olympus Recharge stations are always hopping with business (and pleasure).

Factory stations are uncommon while industrial closed habitats are more so. This is particularly true in Clanspace where the worlds were less hospitable to human life.

Major aerospace industrial worlds still use ground-based facilities for almost all major construction, shuttling the components up in sub-kiloton transporters (SKiTTers) before conducting final assembly in space. Of the few that require stations are the Core Forge which manufactures compact or regular cores for Warships or Jumpships respectively and an Endo-Steel Foundry which uses microgravity to create a unique crystal structure into the metal which is then formed into shapes. Vessels are constructed (and repaired) in a facility known as The Cage, a metal cage with high tensile fabric around it. This protects the workers from outside harm and the space around from stray parts.

The most common is a Refinery/Smelter Station processing ice, gases, and ore gathered from asteroids and moons into more concentrated and economically useful forms. Many orbital version are copies of the Taurian Concordat’s Snowden Mining Station and operated by huge industrial firms within the same system. Closed Habitats use rovers and temporary camps to harvest materials taking them back to a central facility for processing just like the orbital version.

Oddballs
SKiTTers (Sub-Kiloton Transporters) – These small dropships are uncommon outside of specialized roles as they are limited in payload and not worthwhile to transit. Small craft are more widely produced, less expensive to maintain and operate, and easier to transport, but cannot carry more than 70 tons in payload. SKiTTers fill the void between a K-1 and a Manatee or the similarly ancient Saturn. This class is becoming more interesting as planets look toward new threats above and sub-capital weapons that can be mounted aboard become more widespread. Despite being dropships, they are relatively quick and easy to assemble and comparably inexpensive to operate.

Almost all however are produced and used internally by Shipyards transporting components from ground stations to orbital assembly platforms or as small tugs and working platforms in space. This typically means they are aerodyne to increase safety for the crew and make it easier to load oversized pieces.

Tugs – There are a number of Tugs in service throughout the Inner Sphere. Most operate with fleet supply ships to rescue crews and salvage damaged military vessels. Civilian ships operate in Jumpship yards and aboard recharge stations pushing much lighter civilian vessels or space stations around.

What all three types in common use have are large engines, ample fuel, a solid pushing plate, reinforced nose, and grapple attachment to disperse the force. Like all dropships Tugs dock nose to nose with their target, unlike all dropships though they have thrust vectoring for more complex turnovers rather than relying on RCS which they also have lots of.

Military Tugs are principally attack ships when not serving tender duty their job is to close with enemy spacecraft latch on and take control. The Clans have modernized versions of the Type 96 Elephant while 2SLDF and Inner Sphere House Fleets uses the Type 97 Octopus. Both mass 15 kilotons and can push a destroyer sized craft at decent fractional gees.

The most common civilian type is the Burro, a Mule variant whose cargo is replaced with a tug adaptor, more powerful engines (to 4/6), and shop space. Normally at least one Burro is available at an Olympus recharge station to push ships toward a recharge station for a cable charge (or docking) or for servicing a vessel in distress. For larger jumpships like the Monolith and Leviathan two are needed to make much progress but they are handy enough for Liberty(or Invader) ships.

To service the massive Mjolnir Battlecruisers Archon Katherine Steiner-Davion commissioned the Gargantuan class of super tugs. Gargantuans are Behemoths with massive engines (an extra Mjolnir engine actually), big fuel bunkers, and a reinforced structure capable of wrestling with the 1.25 megaton ship. With the loss of all megaton plus Warships post Jihad and no plans to restart production on the crushingly expensive Mjolnirs the class is mothballed and looking for a purpose. Several investment groups were looking into the viability of using them to push asteroids around for mining but after the Eriynes’ bombardment of Taurus and Alshain with an asteroid the risk is simply to great that no one was willing to underwrite them.

idea weenie

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #35 on: 06 February 2021, 12:43:40 »
I always liked WEG Star Wars' rating spaceports . . . BT would/should have something like this but that gets into RP and more of the naval/support story and it was just never something developed for BTU b/c it is not a story of smugglers.  But with how often spaceports were objectives of ground armies you think we would have at least gotten a bit of a classification system.

The Spaceport guide from Traveller could also have details.

Each system could have a rating for each of the following:
* total tonnage it can handle
* number of landing sites/storage sites
* available recharge slots (previously booked recharge slots are not counted, so even if the system has 16 recharge slots, if 15 of them are always booked then only 1 would be listed)
* Passenger throughput capacity
* Refueling types (process your own, spaceport process, full tank inspections, etc)
* Orbital station/surface station/both/neither (Orbital station means you often have Behemoths docking at the station to transfer cargo, with Unions/Leopards/Mules shuttling cargo up and down)
* Repair capacity (armor patches all the way to reactor replacement
* Refit Capacity (change out the Mech Bays for cargo bays, or able to add on extra weapons)
* armament allowed for arrivals (i.e. no more than X tons of weapon per Y kilotons of vessel, all the way to peace-bonded gunships parked next to you), plus fees depending on how much you exceed the limits

Even more fun, these codes can change based on your allegiance/purpose.  A free Trading ship might only be allowed at the ultra-safe port where few weapons are allowed, and there are few/no recharge slots available in their database.  A House-owned Trading vessel in that House's territory might be allowed to park at the more restricted locations while fees are waived, since they are trusted.  A mercenary unit working for that House might be able to see that there are more recharge slots available, since some of them are allocated to help move troops around.

The codes can also change if your neighbor decides to park a can of instant sunshine on the landing pads

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #36 on: 06 February 2021, 15:58:56 »
Feel free to add on if you'd like. Having crunched the numbers I doubt that outside of State Capitals there is any shortage of spaces available on world. Perhaps major hiring hall worlds, other than that it is likely a short ferry or plane ride to the capital city

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #37 on: 10 February 2021, 22:32:43 »
Found out I messed up some of the numbers. Multiplied by 1.2 rather than 1.2%. Will update sheets tomorrow. The preliminary numbers are far closer to canon now and begin to honestly approach real life cost of shipping.

Sheets now updated to reflect the actual numbers according to Campaign Ops

DOC_Agren

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #38 on: 30 March 2021, 22:23:42 »
Thank you a very interesting read
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #39 on: 16 May 2021, 18:54:43 »
Astrogation
Do you ever look up at the black velvety darkness and wonder what all the stars are doing?

Of course you do. We all do. It is hard not to be amazed at the size of the universe from the observation deck of your jumpship or dropship.

Our little slice of the universe known as the Inner Sphere is but one of many sectors in the Milky Way, even Clanspace is relatively close and it takes almost a year to get there via jumpship. To get from the former Rim World’s Republic world of Megiddo, among the most Anti-Spinward worlds on a map, to the world of Randis on the edge of the Orion Rift, and very Spinward, is a distance of 1321 Light years. Almost 44 jumps which would also require almost a year to traverse in a single jump ship. We mentioned before the Exodus Road to Earth is almost 2100 Light Years from the Clan Homeworlds but from Earth to Hellespont the furthest Rimward colony of the principal Taurian Concordat, not including some of the Far Looker colonies beyond, is another 560 Light Years or nearly 19 more jumps.

Beyond these points you fall off the map and into ‘here there be dragons territory.’ The Deep Periphery is a realm of mystery, wonder, and danger. Signs of human colonization, viable colonies, and even small nations outside the HPG network exist thousands of light years beyond the furthest extent of the Inner Sphere. Some such as the Delphi Compact, Hanseatic League, and Jarnfolk maintain contact through intermediaries. Each is reliant on tramp freighters running routes far beyond the border for vast amounts of wealth. The life of a Deep Periphery free trader can be worth it but going out that far is not for everyone. You need a sharp mind, quick trigger finger, and backup to survive out there, not that those aren't nice to have anywhere you go.

You don't have to range very far outside the core worlds to notice that some jump routes are rather sparse. Big pockets of empty space exist in every Successor State according to COMSTAR maps. Many abandoned worlds settled during the Star League era still exist and some even having thriving yet isolated communities. Being removed from the map doesn't mean they are unoccupied, off-limits, or otherwise but be very careful if there are satellite beacons in place to warn off visitors, many of those are there for good reason. The Order leaves off many worlds too small for regular HPG service or off the routes of its chartered carriers. Still it provides the best value for its navigational data subscription.

Other sources such as government archives, navigator guilds, or organizations specializing in such works, such as Interstellar Expeditions, can help fill out your jump computer's catalog with new potential customers. Some particularly enterprising trade groups buy and jointly operate small dropships, often a Manatee or Danais/Unity, to serve as a resupply node giving out the coordinates to friends willing to take a shortcut through such voids of settled space.

Speaking of the jump computer the mathematics behind KF jumps is simply baffling to the outsider and even some crew. It a decade for a gifted individual to become proficient in the multidimensional equations that the computer does for you. Of course you don't want to rely on the computer as they limit it to the Zenith and Nadir points and any computer can be fickle, particularly if you haven't maintained or updated it in a while. If you want to use pirate or non-standard points, you need to do it long hand then check it through the jump computer. These non-standard procedures are where the navigator really earns their healthy salary.

Pirate points are very interesting, formed when gravitational forces neutralize one another at Lagrange points. This neutralization allows for a brief window to execute a successful jump translation but can be very dangerous to jump into. You are at the very least looking at a military patrol sent out to board your ship at worse; you enter a trojan asteroid cluster. Pirate points are thus too high risk for an average free trader unless you know the system well and clear it with the orbital protection teams ahead of time.

Non-Standard points are far more useful for an average free trader. These points are any valid jump point outside of the standard Zenith and Nadir and form a sphere beyond the stellar proximity limit. Many of these fall where gas giants are common in solar systems at least on the planetary horizon. However, they put you out of position for common services and spaceborne infrastructure. I would only recommend you only use them if you are meeting someone there to conduct 'legitimate business' in private or are seeking out icy colonies or mining concerns in these areas.

Stellar Classes
There are six main star types that are occupied in the Inner Sphere. Astronomers subdivided them into colors based on their surface heat despite all looking white in visible light they are M–Red, K–Orange, G–Yellow, F–Yellow-White, A–Blue-White, and B-Blue. There are others such as neutron stars, pulsars, and other oddities along with multi-star system but none of these interests a Free Trader as most are uninhabitable. Therefore, unless you have a group of Niops Astronomers or Interstellar Expeditions onboard, avoid them as they are a greater liability than asset. These stars are further divided into different sizes and intensities identified by numbers with 0 being the hottest and frequently largest stars and 9 being cooler, smaller ones.

These roughly break the distinct classes of stars with a G0 yellow star closer to an F9 yellow-white star than a G9. As stars increase in size their jump proximity limit and thus dropship transit time increases dramatically from two days for a tiny M9 to months for a giant B0. The most habitable stars are from K3 to F8 taking from 5 to 12 days in transit from the standard points.

M-type stars often have tidally locked worlds or large belts of planetoids that might make for viable subterranean colonies. What they often do have is a fuel station as the weak light from these small stars slows the jump core recharge cycle when using a sail. So you have to use the power plant or wait several more days until the core recharges when transiting.

Lower F, A, and B-type stars often have high radiation flux that makes for a greater number of non-habitable planets with long transit times. These stars often serve as resupply and rally points with many House military or Exodus Road staging areas positioned around such stars. Their higher light intensity allows a jumpship to recharge faster than it normally would. A stop at a lower order B class star can achieve the same efficiency as using your engines to recharge the jump core at no cost of fuel. At the proximety limit there is a reduced exposure to the flux and intense solar winds but still they are elevated and be certain your radiation shelter is stocked in the even of a solar storm.

This sometimes leads to colonies forming on the outer edges of these systems beyond their proximity limit so that non-standard points become the usual rather than the normal Zenith and Nadir which are used for transiting vessels. Of course the inhabitants likely only share this information with those they trust as they could easily see their moon colonies invaded by pirates hoping to prey on unsuspecting merchant ships.

Planing your route is thus fraught with quandaries. Sticking to bright stars ensures you don't have to use fuel to recharge your engines and can make better time but at the cost of potential customers. This may be worth it if you are in a hurry or operating an older poorly maintained jumpship in the Deep Periphery.

However, the smart move is to follow the map drawing as close to a line between your destinations as possible. This may leave you slowed occasionally but as long as you have fuel you can use the engines to recharge around some dim star. What you will be doing however is working a route with cargo to be picked up and delivered, and that is the goal of a Free Trader.

Daryk

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #40 on: 16 May 2021, 19:25:50 »
Hmmm... looks like a straight line calculator, not that that's a bad thing...

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #41 on: 18 May 2021, 10:44:23 »
Hmmm... looks like a straight line calculator, not that that's a bad thing...

Yeah its a relatively simple design but it works for fanfic.

Think I am going to write something about the people you meet along the way. Any requests for mildly made up or researched groups?

zulf

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #42 on: 11 September 2021, 21:19:05 »
I'd like to hear your opinion on Command Circuits. I've been doing some thinking about them and want to try to model them.  Since I think a well constructed set of Circuits could massively simplify IS logistics.

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #43 on: 11 September 2021, 22:57:15 »
I'd like to hear your opinion on Command Circuits. I've been doing some thinking about them and want to try to model them.  Since I think a well constructed set of Circuits could massively simplify IS logistics.

I'm curious why you think that way. The ideas expressed actually show a reasonably simple, efficient, and predictable logistics chain with contingencies for unforeseen events.

My opinion on Command Circuits is that unless a dropship needs to be on a planet within a month they wouldn't be done for non-military traffic. Command Circuits are a high level military strategy. They wouldn't be used by common military or merchant traffic. The factions within the Inner Sphere are rarely in a hurry to tie up more of their precious Jumpships.

Speed of delivery is at best a tertiary concern compared to Jumpship availability at a certain time and cost per collar. Time critical supplies (combat equipment, food, ammo, water purification, fuel, etc...) would be regularly dispersed during peacetime by military Jumpships who would then be operating in a fairly small area of concern (PDZ, Province, etc...) unless something big was being planned.

During a war these would be replenished and moved around by regular merchant traffic who are likely paid some kind of war reserve bonus. Military jumpships would be carrying combat troop transports and supplies drawn from a strategic stockpile closer to the enemy which would be refilled from nearby reserves. However, this is getting into more of a combat planning treatise and I already have one of those (Second Star League Fleet, link below). We will eventually go into more detail there

zulf

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #44 on: 12 September 2021, 02:03:41 »
So there's many questions that need to get answered such as what's getting shipped, where ,why, how much, and lots of questions about ownership. The answers to those questions can radically change how interstellar transport is structured.

I think the shipping container is the primary unit to concern ourselves with. There are other things to worry about but 90% of cargo probably fits in a standard box. I think you likely agree with that.

So if we look at current logistics chains we see hub and spoke is dominant. Either with major online retailers, airfreight/passenger travel,  or large container shipping ports/train lines for long distance then moving to trucks for regional. And I think the right analogy is JS = container ships and DS = trucks. Also just in time manufacturing probably hasn't died out in 1000 years....

For dropships most probably never leave the system they operate in simply moving cargo to and from jump points. And the dropships that do jump are probably constantly jumping.

As for the command circuits it's not just about speed. You have a known fixed path with regular traffic. For example the round trip from Robinson to New Avalon to New Syrtis is aprox 30 jumps.  So with 30 jumpships you have a once a week round trip conveyer between the 3 most important worlds (plus12 others) in the FedSuns and many others are only one jump from that main artery. Most of the time you aren't rapidly sending a dropship anywhere it would be normal slow movement with the addition of centralized hubs to move  containers between dropships for faster movement on the container level.

Now if you want or need rapid movement it's already set up and the premium can be paid. Your crews are ploting the same jumps with know return dates for leave. you have an alternative communication path that doesn't need comstar reading your mail or data caps. Then if you increase the JS per route the volume and speed goes up. And if you add secondary lines off the main you bring the benefits to more world's, which grows your economy.

Small craft could be major players in moving people, info, and critical supplies rapidly.

From a military standpoint your military jumpships can be closer to your borders and localized waiting for troopships that can be fast tracked, your supply lines are in place and can be surged.  Your communication is as secure as a BattleTaxi with a flash drive. And If you need extra jumpships you know how many are in a given region.

This is totally against the setting of BT but if interstellar movement or commerce are actually a big driver I think it would wind up looking more like this than just ships plotting their own course.
« Last Edit: 12 September 2021, 02:55:03 by zulf »

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #45 on: 12 September 2021, 07:33:33 »
I think you misunderstand what a command circuit is in the fiction compared to my previous mention of defined Lines and Circuit in the second entry where I described jumpships that would likely do that duty. Hub and spoke is already the optimal way of arranging interstellar trade. Direct Lines will run along heavily trafficked routes. Space stations would be used as hubs to store and allow transloading between dropships

A command circuit in the fiction is a line of Jumpships specifically positioned to transport one or more dropships as rapidly as possible. The only delay should be how long it takes the dropships to undock and dock to the next Jumpship.

This can potentially reduce the time to target to a number of hours = jumps needed, assuming everyone is charged up.

This requires an incredible number of Jumpships staying idle with empty collars and on station for potentially a long (relative) time. This ties up a huge amount of shipping potential. Even a relatively short Circuit of five jumps assuming it was on Invaders (the most common jumpship) would tie up 15 collars for that recharge period for those 3 dropships. There will always be a few weeks of delay to a planet as the dropship still takes around two weeks to transit to and from the jump point. Unless it was stationed aboard a space station near that point already with a Jumpship immediately available.

However Interstellar just in time manufacturing is almost certainly dead. The Succession Wars were not kind to such vulnerable supply chains. Factories probably maintain healthy inventories of goods that must be shipped interstellar for months of continued production. Just the efficiencies of scale due to reduction in cost per jump for a larger dropship make it reasonable

Daryk

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #46 on: 12 September 2021, 08:59:07 »
At what point does transloading at the lump point become more profitable than sending the DropShip to the planet?  Unless there are DropShips on standby to receive the cargo directly, you're handling it twice more than necessary before it gets to the planet.

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #47 on: 12 September 2021, 09:29:41 »
Since each Circuit can be run in reverse, my definition of Lines already goes both ways, transloading would be used to change the direction of travel. Dropships aboard two jumpships heading in opposite directions can leave behind and pick up some cargo meant to go in the opposite direction. The breakpoint on that would be a moving target but it would be time efficient. The five or so days a dropship is waiting for a jumpship's recharge cycle provide plenty of time to transfer some cargo between space stations (which hold them at a minor cost) or other dropships while picking up routine supplies.

Additionally a smaller dropship, say a Buccaneer, can come and pick up cargo meant for a planet from a jump point station. This allows a larger more cost/cargo effective dropship, like a Mule or Mammoth, to continue on a jumpship's collar. Its the difference between a tractor trailer and a box truck.

Daryk

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #48 on: 12 September 2021, 10:33:38 »
No argument on there being time to do it, it's just that the labor to make it happen isn't free.  With Behemoths that have to transload anyway in the mix, it certainly makes sense for them.  But with DropShips that can land on a planet, it would seem to be more cost efficient to just unload once (on planet).

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #49 on: 12 September 2021, 10:58:51 »
No argument on there being time to do it, it's just that the labor to make it happen isn't free.  With Behemoths that have to transload anyway in the mix, it certainly makes sense for them.  But with DropShips that can land on a planet, it would seem to be more cost efficient to just unload once (on planet).

Which would be true if you intended to unload the whole cargo bay or establish services on a world and had another dropship in place or en route to take over an empty jumpship collar. The time for a dropship to transit to a planet, unload its cargo, load additional cargo, and return to a jump point far exceeds any recharge cycle so that jumpship would have exited the system by that time, assuming they were constantly in motion and there were no problems of course.

By transloading portions of their cargo bays to a space station you cut out planetary transit times while reducing maintenance costs on larger dropships as they don't need to be under acceleration as often. Smaller planet based dropships then make those transits taking a portion of the larger dropship's cargo with each trip and dropping off whatever the planet intends to trade next as it is made.

Labor costs are relatively small in comparison to the capital and ongoing costs of maintaining interstellar shipping. Check my excel sheets, sending stuff across the stars can be incredibly expensive. Keeping that machine oiled and in motion is necessary to ensure it is even viable. We are talking fifty to three hundred c-bills of extra costs per week for each ton of cargo sent via jumpship (including the dropship).

Daryk

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #50 on: 12 September 2021, 11:05:33 »
Hmmm.... seems that Behemoths are overengineered at 2/3, then.  Heck, it would seem to be better to have 100,000 ton Space Stations with drop collars at that rate.

Paladin1

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #51 on: 12 September 2021, 13:02:58 »
This is incredibly interesting and I'm glad to see someone put this kind of thought into the logistics side of things.  Well done!

DOC_Agren

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #52 on: 12 September 2021, 17:36:35 »
Hmmm.... seems that Behemoths are overengineered at 2/3, then.  Heck, it would seem to be better to have 100,000 ton Space Stations with drop collars at that rate.
Yes but that what happens when in the "good old days" rules were "fast and loose" and now we have structure for Aerospace designs....  It one thing to change sizes to make the rules work..Leopard and Unions but full redesign so Behemoth are nothing but a space station...  Besides this way in a bad bad day they can land and become the center of a new colony....  :thumbsup:  Don't recall space station having the ability.

Now don't mind me, I'm going to go sit on my porch in a rocking chair and yell at the kids to get off my lawn and turn down their music   ;D
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zulf

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #53 on: 12 September 2021, 21:36:49 »
Well aware of the cannon use of the term Command Circuit. I used it because I didn't want to add extra jargon. I  have read your posts another time and I still can't find where you define LINE so thats on me. But it's awesome you are possibly considering the same thing as I.

My reasoning is that the cost per/ton is around 2-100 CBills per jump. Just for the collar and the true cost with the dropship and profits worked in is 3x to 10x that price (6-1000  CBills per ton per jump). The numbers in your sheets suggest that as well. To minimize that cost you would want to funnel the cargo through central arteries as you have economys of scale. So you can subsidize the less profititable routes or routes that are mostly one way.

But the fact that you have fixed routes that can act like a command circuit allows you the option of up selling the service. A dropship has a critical cargo well just drop one other the big bulk DS off and take it on for the big surcharge.
Also mostly command circuits are used to move VIPs well that can be done with a small craft for the jumps then board a dropship once in system.

As for bulk cargo I agree you want to do as much bulk shipping as possible. But look at something like a Vlar 300 it's 20 tons if you ship 100 of them that's only 2000 tons maybe you'll  get a bit of a discount. But the real problem is the factory probably only produces 100 mechs a year so now you are sitting on a years worth of inventory..plus  how long did it take to make those engines and most were sitting around waiting for the shipment to be filled before they could start moving. And you are paying 120- 20,000 cBills per jump per engine. So at some point you may have to consider just building them on site.

Personally I think interstellar transport is either mostly non existent or at massive volumes (potentially localized) the middle ground would only be temporary. If there isn't the economic need for millions of tons of  cargo a year through my example route then what really are jumpships doing besides just moving troops. Which is fine but then interstellar trade isn't a thing.

« Last Edit: 12 September 2021, 22:56:17 by zulf »

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #54 on: 12 September 2021, 23:26:08 »
NOTE - Since this has come back to the top I looked over my numbers and found terrible mistakes in the crew salary and maintenance calculations for space stations and dropships. Now that is fixed and with some formatting changed more options become apparent. I have changed the calculator to give just the cost per ton and passenger of each jump. They are now fixed and a new table has been added detailing the cargo transfer rates for some popular options. Additionally the jump point calculator has been added to the first jumpship spreadsheet.

The 300cb/ton was really more of a worst case scenario such as all the collars not being filled. The least efficient cargo dropship, a Manatee, on the least effective jumpship, a new Merchant utilizing fast recharge stations, adds roughly 200cb/ton of shipping cost per jump. A Mule on a normal Invader using its jump-sail adds around 30/ton which is low enough to keep a collar open for incoming dropships. Heck with how cheap a space station tonnage is now I'd advise making the Accumulator station even smaller its cost per ton each week is only 1cb.

Adjusting for faster service is actually built in, jumpships would normally use their sails around decent stars but they can accelerate the recharge cycle by using the reactor instead at a minor premium in fuel usage. I agree that small craft would be used to fast shuttle VIPs or precious cargo if sufficient jumpships were available.

Wereling

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #55 on: 13 September 2021, 07:35:42 »
Has anyone incorporated this into their fiction? This is fantastic.

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere
« Reply #56 on: 10 December 2021, 23:24:03 »
Has anyone incorporated this into their fiction? This is fantastic.

I very much appreciate it but as far as I know no. Except for me of course.

The History and Traits of the Belters
Since the 20th century humanity has had at least a transient population of people who choose not to live their whole lives on a habitable rock. Since the late 21st century there have been permanent populations living in the narrow passages of spacecraft, rendering megatons of asteroid rock into space stations, or burrowing deep into ice to make it their home. The life of a Spacer (for those that live aboard spaceships obviously) or Belter (those that live within asteroid habitats or distant, dark space stations) is not an easy one but like any niche people and their organisms have exploited it to their own benefit. Centuries of divergence, isolation, and no small amount of genetic engineering has created a population that has adapted to this alien environment as much as any of the Clan phenotypes but so much more.

Many of the original Belters were recruited from populations on Earth with promises of hazardous but high paying jobs by the Terran Alliance. The ones from high altitude areas as diverse as the South American Andes, Swiss Alps, and the Himalayas of Southern Asia thrived through a complex series of cultural and biological factors. Although these are the oldest populations, they are not alone, and others were or have been supplemented by the same germ line genetic engineering first employed in the 23rd century. Some were even incorporated into the Clan’s Aerofighter phenotype and found in the native Tanite populations prior to the Clan’s conquest of them.

This engineering increased resistance to radiation induced cancers and reconfigured some genes related to vitamin and salt processing, reduced hair formation, better cardiac and blood health, and fine-tuned muscle, and bone formation for zero-g. Belters ingest a wide variety of supplements to augment their otherwise very healthy diet of aquaponically grown fish, fruit, algae, and vegetables and mandated exercise. Some of which is shared with the fruit bats they keep as pets and to trigger proper immune development in an otherwise very clean environment. Among these is a bioavailable form of strontium which replaces some of the calcium, also heavily supplemented, in their bones artificially increasing their density and reducing the risk of breaks.

Artificial selection on such a wide scale and some engineered solutions such as the expanded use of grav decks for pregnant women dramatically improved the viable birthrate and lifespan among Belter populations. The Belter population rapidly expanded, increasing the manpower their TA sponsors could call upon. Other supplements are used in their small security forces to ensure the small but mighty Belters, who maintained the Warrior traditions of their native populations particularly the Gurkha, can serve as an equal to the ‘Common Dirtbag.’

Some Belters served in the Terran Alliance’s Colonial Marines and alongside their Spacer counterparts in Alliance Global Navy. They were rarely incorporated into the feudal mostly ground-bound militaries of the Great Houses. With the Free World League’s Clan related expansion of Aerospace production, they found a place as pilots and marines equal to any among the Clans. Though none fought the Clans directly instead fighting alongside the Nova Cats and 2SLDF in limited numbers. Post-Jihad the 2SLDF prefers the more reliable Belters and Clanners for operations finding the new groups of Post-Warlord era Great House soldiers ‘troublesome.’

The Age of Exploration was not kind to the Belter populations as new virgin worlds were constantly being settled and their resources exploited at lower cost. With access to so many resources their mineral extraction and processing industries suffered. The engineering and artisan craftsmanship they would later be known for were still restricted by the Terran Alliance.

The Ryan Ice Ship Cartel, formed by a Spacer entrepreneur, grew rich and cut into the Belter’s profitable ice mining operations that fueled colonization and terraforming drive. Spacers enjoyed the advantage of gravity and natural sunlight and required no major adjustments to retain normal human function. Spacers ferried colonists and soldiers throughout the ever-expanding Human Sphere growing rich enough to begin purchasing their own ships and investing in shipyards to expand their number.

When the Terran Alliance fell to be replaced by the Terran Hegemony Belters were further reduced in prominence as Hegemony troops were more numerous than even the growing population of Belters. Belter crews served on the early Warships of the Hegemony but rapidly found themselves sidelined by higher prestige colonies.

With little need for terrestrial resources or a drive for growth with all of space at their fingertips Belter populations faded into the background forming Communities among themselves while the Star League rose to power aided by its vast fleet of Warships. These Communities formed greater Confederations that existed principally as medium to exchange culture, information, and ‘genes’ and lacked any kind of supreme executive. This was particularly true in the Outworlds Alliance that resisted Star League aggression only to be occupied by AFFS troops under the orders of the SLDF.

Stephan Amaris’ coup created a crisis for the Hegemony’s Belter Confederation. Amaris had been working with groups of Belters in the Periphery. These would interestingly form the nucleus of what would later become the Canopian Pleasure Circus and contribute to the Taurian Far Looker movement principally among the Adaptor, Inheritor, and Arcologist faction. However, there was no mistaking his intentions were not in their Communities interest. Lacking any kind of native defense industry or a large military they remained neutral and hiding along the system edges far from the recently activated Caspar SDSs.

When Kerensky liberated Terra and cut a deal with the Minister of Communication Jerome Blake to form COMSTAR there was finally some hope for the Terran Belters. It was only during this period when Terra was restricted but before it was fully locked down that the Confederation covertly acquired and spread its engineering skills.

With the breakdown of the Star League and its associated industries the Scavenger Days and Succession Wars came. Interstellar and Interplanetary craft were abandoned or mothballed in droves more valuable as sources of spares than functioning machines. Planetary industries were destroyed along with the once great shipyards that had enabled humanity’s expansion beyond its initial pale blue dot. This suited the Belters just fine who were mostly self-sufficient and with their support of the Blessed Order safe from ROM.

Many Belters served COMSTAR over the centuries of its existence although few fully brought into the Toyama mysticism that gradually expanded among its ranks. It is likely, though unconfirmed, that they operate a limited but parallel HPG network to communicate among themselves as they rarely come within thirty light minutes of a settled world. Whether this was disabled during the Blackout is equally unknown and Belter Captains are not forthcoming with any answers. Much Belter history among the Succession Wars is unknown as no one bothered to travel out to the outer planets they congregated at and those that did often reported that Belter’s were uncharacteristically unwelcoming.

Sporadic reports of diseases spread from and hostilities with fellow scavengers turned them off to outsiders. That is not to say that Spacers were not rescued and treated well by their Belter counterparts if they suffered a system failure in the deep black. This mutual respect is observed between those in extreme environments throughout history regardless of ethnic or national differences. Those cultures and the Belters are not exempt and often share gifts between groups even something as small as new holovids is greatly appreciated.

Belter craftsmen create the finest specimens of precision metalwork (the Hyades Community) and delicate jewelry (the Trznadel Community) in the Inner Sphere due to sheer access and to gain foreign currency enabling further expansion. The liquidity crisis post-Jihad was a huge boon to the Terran Community as large stores of silver, gold, and platinum rounds stockpiled over centuries and hidden from Amaris and ROM could be quickly made available to the Second Star League.

What they received in exchange remains unknown, but because of this the Second Star League was able to prevent the complete collapse of the Inner Sphere’s economy. With the future of the C-bill (now Communications) in doubt until every HPG can be brought online other Belter communities have been providing banking services with their very secure and increasingly well-guarded, by surplus Power Armor, Assault Dropships, Aerospace Fighters, and curiously a few Celestial LAMs, metal stores.

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #57 on: 31 March 2022, 12:51:21 »
Touring and Traveling among the Stars, Passenger Transport in the Inner Sphere and beyond

Although less common than its height during the 3060s the Inner Sphere is once more on the move in the 3080s. The Word of Blake’s Jihad, resultant HPG system collapse, along with local and regional instability caused the economic depression of the 3070s. This in turn disrupted commercial transport due to wartime demands and then during the winddown commercial trade could not resume while clean up and rebuilding operations were underway.

However, except for most of the Trinity Alliance and the Clan Home Worlds travelers once more ply the space lanes alongside freight. Since many HPGs are still inoperable and local COMSTAR Adepts are absent there has been a massive increase in demand for in person travel needs for technical experts and businesspeople. Additionally planetary emigration is at an all-time high and even a decade after the war demobilized soldiers are still being returned to their home worlds.

Many of these needs, particularly to more remote worlds, are settled with onboard “Coach” accommodations aboard dropship freighters already plying trade lanes. Freighters happily charge the premium rates these fares can generate and can easily carry an equal number of fares to crew (hardly more than a few dozen) without worry. Any idle rooms merely provide extra space for the onboard crew when not in use. These barebones tickets don’t offer any additional accommodations but are very quiet and good for more introverted or slower paced travelers. Because of this it is recommended you bring your own entertainment, catch up on your reading list, or find work to stay out of the crew’s way.

Passenger Liners operate on normal trade lanes where they can reliably generate enough fares to remain profitable. Five different dropship types are typically used to this task, but their standard configuration is the only one presented below. No two liners are configurated the same, crew per passenger and passenger class distribution are highly variable depending on local needs. This uniqueness is part of their inherent charm and important for ship branding. Like most Free Traders passenger liners are often flagged in the Outworlds Alliance or if traveling within the Trinity Alliance The Magistracy of Canopus. Commercial interests within the Successor States will often pay for the right to brand themselves as one of that realm’s Flagship lines.

The Magistracy of Canopus along with the Free World’s League produce most commercial passenger liners used in the Inner Sphere. The Federated Suns has been muscling into their territory leveraging Federated Boeing’s technical prowess to begin serial production of the Cargo King inspired CK-800 Super-Liner. While not widely distributed have attracted rave reviews from those that have traveled along the Federation Riveria. Super-Liners were recently sold to Isesaki Lines in the Draconis Combine who are using them to expand access to their Core-ward worlds.

There are three common types of passenger classes, the distribution of which help determine final ticket cost. Liner operators assign weighted values to the ticket price with small numbers of First Class (or “Premier”) passengers being responsible for the majority (often 45-50%) of operating expenses. This premium ensures they enjoy a privileged stay with unfettered access to every accommodation because of it.

Second (or “Coach”) and Third (or “Steerage”) Class passengers enjoy roughly the same experience with the principal difference being the crowding of their assigned decks, included luggage space, and whether they can access some high-end accommodations without additional charges. Typically, a fifth of Steerage or Coach quarters are reserved for double occupancy with Children, Youths, and Single men and women (although never mixed unless family) occupying these more economical rooms.

Since ticket fares maintain the vessel, its operators can use any leftover cargo space for premium (and up-charged) goods and accommodations.

Malls and high-volume commercial interests are beyond the scope of these vessels which must charge a premium for their enlarged crews and distribute the high cost of Jumpship travel to the passengers. These are instead the purview of the space stations they frequent while waiting for said Jumpships to recharge. Space Stations along common passenger routes are filled to the brim with experiences that would be cost prohibitive to integrate into the smaller mobile vessel. Certain ones exclusively cater to tourists with expansive hydroponic gardens, large open chambers for spacewalking, and other thrilling experiences making themselves as destination worth traveling to for intra and interplanetary tourists.

Due to long travel durations along the Exodus Road The Clans particularly Diamond Shark, Snow Raven, and Goliath Scorpion, have added large numbers of passenger berths to the Carrack, Potemkin, and Volga Warship Auxiliaries that commonly use that route. These are almost entirely Coach accommodations and require frequent transfers between different way stations en route to the Home Worlds like any other piece of cargo.

Individuals can be rapidly transferred via shuttle trips from Jumpship to Jumpship as necessary and this means of travel is common throughout the Inner Sphere, for Successor States and Clans alike as it is cheaper though less comfortable overall.

Since Liners typically operate on a standard trade lane such layovers rarely last more than a few days. This heterogeneous jump traffic forces Operator’s to charge the average and pocket any difference. Since most trade lanes have been reconnected via HPG Jumpship collars for a Passenger Liner might even be partly or fully paid for by a space station in exchange for a longer duration port call.

Meals are served four times every 24 hours with Breakfast and Dinner being the largest meals for passengers. Each Class maintains their own dining space, but all share a common Galley. The food differs mostly in quantity and options between classes with Premier Class having more courses available. Leftovers and simpler fare such as soup, cereals, and sandwiches are served to passengers during Lunch and Supper (midnight meal). Lunch and Supper are also the crew’s largest meals ensuring the Galley is evenly utilized throughout the day. Coach and Steerage passengers attend meal service in anywhere between three to five waves which are rotated every other day. Vending machines are distributed throughout the ship for those unwilling or able to attend dining service.

Onboard accommodations are highly variable, but we will focus on some of the common ones. All Liners operate semi-automated entertainment such as arcades, casinos, and movie theaters continuously though their voyage as they provide some of the best return on investment, are reasonable compact, and do not require anything but maintenance from the crew. Crew often engineer talent or game shows are common in larger multi-purpose rooms with the winners given a chance to perform to the Class above them (and all of it recorded and broadcast on the ship’s internal TV station). Performers can even be extended a contract and nicer suite (although rarely better than a Double Occupancy Coach) becoming “resident artists” for as long as they can offset their (steeply discounted) ticket price with revenue.

Additionally every passenger liner has some kind of bar or lounge which is often integrated into their mess or entertainment deck. These are staffed at all hours or employ robots or other machines capable of serving drinks to customers if a Crew member isn’t present. Shower and Toilet (or Head) facilities are normally shared between passengers in a similar class (<5 for 1st, <10 for 2nd, <20 for 3rd) but are kept clean and tidy by Crew members. Abundant hot water is available as a side effect of the vessel’s thermonuclear power plant although it is typically limited by crew to prevent excess humidity buildup in the compartment.

Security will intervene if someone has too much to drink or engages in an altercation with another passenger. All personal weapons are kept in a safe and being caught with a weapon will result in ‘cooler’ time (so named because it is typically near the ship’s heat exchangers) in the brig or expulsion at the next port of call for the local authorities to deal with. The Ship’s Surgeon and their staff are responsible for any health problems among the passengers or crew.

Some models are renowned for certain accommodations. The Monarch’s sauna and spa facilities are widely regarded as top notch. Meanwhile the Princess Class has its famous Earth and Pool decks with larger rooms than even normal Premier Class for its exclusive passengers. A Princess’ crew are squeezed into smaller quarters than usual. Although they don’t seem to mind as serving aboard a Princess is highly desirable and profitable enough to offset personal discomfort.

Unfortunately, the military surplus nature of the Condor and Colossus Liner conversions don’t provide the same level of experience for their passengers. The Condor is infamous for its unpleasant passenger accommodations with many of the steerage quarters being subdivided into double occupancy berths to combat high ticket prices at further cost in service and comfort.

Federated-Boeing’s Super-Liner has yet to decide which accommodation it is going to specialize in. The fuselage’s internal diversity and Federated-Boeing’s marketing have encouraged open floorplans (with appropriate bulkheads) allowing independent operators flexibility to respond to customer demand. This has attracted the attention of the Outworld’s Alliance and Clan Snow Raven who sense an opportunity to build relations with First Prince Peter through non-military means.

If you would like to book your next interstellar adventure, contact your planetary HPG representative or a licensed travel agent for more information.

Get out there and explore!

The Inner Sphere is a big place, and you can’t see it all in one lifetime so don’t waste any of it.


The preceding message was published along with a collection of other marketing materials by Gold Star Travel inc., a joint venture between Interconnectedness Unlimited and Interstellar Explorations. All views and opinions expressed are those of Gold Star Travel Inc and its affiliates and do not necessarily reflect those of IU or IS Unlimited or associated individuals and trusts.

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #58 on: 18 April 2022, 22:44:50 »
The Tale of Two Condors – False Economies of Scale?
The following is an excerpt from the internal training video ‘False Economies of Scale?’ by Isesaki Shipping

OOC - The Skylark has 200 Steerage quarters and the Condor IQ has the 12 Troop Bays of the normal type. Both have removed the tank deck with the Skylark turning it into the quarters while the IQ returned it to general cargo.

Two well-dressed businessmen sit cross-legged around a comfortably upholstered table. One of them an Azami by his traditional robes and Yatagan sword at his side studies the other dark skinned and gray suited man across from him with a wakizashi at his.

“Sheik the IQ model of our Condor series is what you need to cycle crews to your mining outposts. It can transport two hundred and forty workers or even up to two hundred and eighty while carrying twenty-six hundred tons of cargo.”

“In sardine cans perhaps. I will not have my workers crowded together like the Eta of Luthien’s slums. Breathing air that smells like soap from the cee-oh two scrubbers and sponging themselves with water from the jugs with no privacy.”


Sheik Mamoud took a sip of his tea, “Irian has pitched their own (Condor) Skylark equipped with proper quarters and an enhanced life support system. It’s far more comfortable”

A graph appeared behind the businessman, “You will transport twenty percent fewer workers and thirty six percent less cargo on average.”

“But I will save quite a bit of money by operating the closed life support and my cargo is valuable I don't need to worry about cheap goods costing more to ship to the core.”

“But you will lose out on all that cargo space that could be making you even more money. If you only take the same number of people; Yes, they will be a little crammed, but they have a big cargo deck to stretch their legs and you will save a few percent each trip per ton and passenger.”


“I do not worry about a few thousand c-bills like your Okurasho do. I consider that difference a false economy.”

“But it is a very real economy. Our Condor has more cargo capacity than a Beacon (Buccaneer) and can compete in interplanetary cargo markets with those Outworlder Free Traders.”


“It is a passenger transport though?”

“Yes, but ours is a far more versatile one. The Skylark can only transport people economically not cargo. Ours can do both, the Burden of that design is almost fifty percent higher.”


“And the Condor IQ is almost fifty percent higher than a Beacon. My berths are easily serviced with passengers. Shogun Sakamoto is opening the Draconis Combine to business again, and people are on the move. I will not have trouble filling them and catering to my customers for added services beyond the essentials to make up the difference.

I want more discerning passengers than ones looking for the lowest fare.”


Mahmoud rose followed by the salesman and off-screen attendant businesspeople joined in as both sides bowed slightly to one another before exchanging cards.

“I have closely listened to your pitch however Hiraski and you will get my final decision before I reach Hachiman in three weeks’ time. Arigato”

“Arigato Sheik”


EDIT: Updated the spreadsheet with small craft and a better UI

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #59 on: 23 November 2022, 09:04:11 »
The Terran Transfer Trunk, Great Circle, and the Jump Routes that connect the Inner Sphere

Term Definitions
Circuit – Visit each world on a circuit only once before returning ‘home’
Line – Visit each world more than once alternating between two ‘homes’
Trunk – A high-capacity Line which efficiently accumulates many intersecting ones
Coreward - 'North' on the Map | Rimward - 'South' on the Map
Spinward - 'East' on the Map | Anti-Spinward - 'West' on the Map

Even through the dark days of the Succession Wars the Great Houses engaged in trade with other realms. Typically, this was under COMSTAR’s neutral banner but with their fall other powers have begun to rebuild trade routes ravaged by the Jihad. The most crucial link between the five Successor States remains the Terran Transfer Trunk and the Core-Rim Trunks that branch from it.

It was through this vital route hat the Word of Blake rose to prominence and control of which was so hardly fought over during the Succession Wars. Throughout the Jihad the FEDCOM Third Fleet and Tikonov Republican Guard endlessly fought the Capellan Confederation and Word of Blake leaving many worlds devastated. Tikonov’s prominent role along this route is only equaled by Solaris, the control of which has been fiercely contested between the Lyran Commonwealth and Free World’s League throughout their existence.

Solaris and Tikonov serve as anchors to the Terran Transfer Trunk and its Core-Rim equivalents facilitating trade in all directions throughout the Inner Sphere. During the Federated Commonwealth’s dominion of these worlds each saw massive investments in jumpship repair and service facilities, recharge stations, and technical training for their population. It is because of this that the Tikonov Free Republic’s referendum on whether to stay a Star League Protectorate or join either the Trinity Alliance or Federated Suns is so consequential.

However, there are other worlds that serve a similar purpose. Retired Commanding-General of the 2SLDF Photon Brett’s home world of Tamarind occupies such a position in the Free World’s League as does the capital Atreus. Andurien anchors two major routes servicing trade from the Federated Suns and all three Trinity Alliance partners. Kalidasa home of Kali Yama Weapons and many other industrial concerns exports nearly as much materiel as Hesperus II and has for decades. It was particularly important to the Draconis Combine during the Clan Invasion era. Although highly developed trade links proved disastrous during the latest Civil War/Jihad Corine Marik continues to invest in them to rebuild the economy and trust within the League. She remains rightfully wary of the Trinity Alliance's ability to interdict trade and has grown increasingly interventionist particularly along the Andurien front fearing that realm might fall under Trinity's sway.

The Federated Suns world of Marlette functions as the main customs and transshipment point within that realm. New Avalon, seat of First Prince Peter Davion’s Federated Suns, has continued his sisters’ legacy by spending billions of Pounds to increase the trade links between the Crucis March and Suns’ Outback. This investment paid off during the Jihad as these robust links prevented interdiction of supplies by hostiles , ensured timely resupply to all three fronts, and allowed a fast response to the Hellions’ Offensive during that time resulting in the return of Crofton to Federal control.

Gram, a small world in the Draconis Combine, possesses the most modern and high capacity Starport in the realm as it collected core-ward trade from the Free World’s League during the Clan Invasion. New Samarkand, the Draconis Combine’s original and present capital, is a crucial link in the transfer of information and materiel throughout the realm and always has been.

Similarly, Sian, the capital of the Trinity Alliance and Capellan Confederation before it, anchors trade routes in all directions allowing Chancellor Sun-Tzu incredible control over the network just as it did his ancestors.

Zanzibar, a backwater world in the Capellan Confederation, remains a popular stopping point for illicit trade and espionage due to lax enforcement by the planetary authorities and its location on the Trinity-Suns border. For similar reasons the same is true on Lapida on the Combine-Suns border.

To better understand The Great Wheel and other jump routes the attached document includes a selection of worlds most commonly associate with each route. Many of these planets once possessed or continue to possess jumpship recharge stations. Underlined planets are those that often serve as homeports for Lines and frequently have Circuits branching off to other locations. Bolded worlds house transshipment facilities to direct traffic along at least one other common route. Following these routes allow a dropship to visit each of the Successor State capitals and many others as well.

Daryk

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #60 on: 23 November 2022, 16:37:44 »
Are you familiar with the https://www.gruese.de/innersphere/ site?  They might give you a way to display those routes graphically...  ^-^

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #61 on: 21 January 2023, 00:08:05 »
Piracy and Privateering in the Age of the Jump Sail
‘Space Pirates’ these words evoke a series of emotional reactions in the hearts of the space going public of the Inner Sphere. The reality is far more banal, during the First Star League era the Terran Hegemony’s Fleet ensured that piracy was little more than a fanciful idea fit only for speculative fiction. During the Succession Wars things took a turn for the worse as Hegemony warship fleets faded into distant memories. During this scavenger age everything was up for grabs and pirates flourished seeking out enemy jumpships for the prize money or ‘recovering’ lost technology from ill-defended lost colonies.

The Free World’s League was infamous for the skill of their privateers which exacted a heavy toll on the Lyran Commonwealth and a Capellan Confederation otherwise distracted by their better equipped adversaries, the Federated Suns and Draconis Combine. Until the 30th century the only protection free traders could obtain was operating under COMSTAR’s Aegis. Piracy tapered off until it mostly ended in the 30th Century as the Third Succession War dragged on and what little interstellar trade was conducted occurred mostly on COMSTAR vessels or with a military escort. There were still pirates but for the most part they operated as bandits attacking settlements with their jury-rigged gear and robbing them rather than taking Jumpships.

Before we continue the terms ‘pirate’ and ‘privateer’ need to be more thoroughly defined. A ‘pirate’ is a space combatant operating unofficially as a criminal while a ‘privateer’ is a mercenary operating under a Letter of Marque with defined targets and prize terms however we will stick with ‘pirate’ for this essay. This duty is often not the vessel’s primary business with many operating as independent cargo, mining, or salvage vessels. Due to this, detection of pirates is difficult as the crews operate opportunistically and have contacts capable of laundering the loot alongside legitimate or smuggled cargoes.

Now your next question is likely when and how do pirates operate? Due to the extraordinary velocity of a system transit it is almost impossible to intercept except at the very beginning or end of a the trip. Thus there are three targets favored by pirates that move slow enough. Ground attack will not be discussed as these are basically smash and grab raids.

First, asteroid or dropship based mines and isolated space stations orbiting outer planets are relatively stationary and filled with either valuable refined minerals or difficult to source and expensive tech. A single platoon of skilled Espatiers and some armed dropships can subdue the crew and security teams long enough to loot their cargo and escape.

Mothballed fleets of Jumpships also pose a tempting target for ‘scrappers’ and thus were often protected by civilian law enforcement or military patrols. Any flotilla left unguarded was rapidly stripped of anything valuable and often sold back to the original power or their rivals at a tidy profit.

Secondly, shuttles and dropships traveling to moon bases or around orbital space are lucrative targets with a low startup cost. Orbiting space stations are as protected as terrestrial starports and moon bases have all the disadvantages of attacking a spaceship added to taking a terrestrial fortress. These pirates are often based on the world they are victimizing, and their activities benefit rebels or criminal elements on world. This method of piracy is the most common type as it only requires armed shuttlecraft, small teams, and some decent intelligence.

This is also going to be the only mention of waterborne piracy we will discuss. Inexpensive fast boats, hovercraft, or helicopters give a daring force the ability to rapidly overwhelm the ship’s crew and take control of it. Typically, the crew is ransomed or some cargo is stolen by pirate vessels as large freighters are difficult to protect from planetary authorities constantly trying to snuff out this type of piracy. Nevertheless, it is lucrative enough and there is almost always enough corruption or isolation to protect the perpetrators.

Finally, the most impactful form of piracy occurs at the Zenith and Nadir Jump Points, here Jumpships and Transshipment space stations are the preferred target as they are large, slow, and valuable. Since most ‘pirates’ are only part-times they don’t typically want to kill people they might do business with or who might come to their rescue in the future.

Due to this understanding most of these encounters result in an extortion payment in the form of spare parts or precious metals, the most valuable and fungible trade goods among Void-dwellers already stocked in high volumes. Some choice cargo containers typically carrying high tech goods are also transferred to the ‘pirate’ vessel as well.

This will ultimately translate into slightly higher operating costs for dropship cargoes and jumpship insurance. Sometimes Jumpships, never personal legacy vessels, are seized but the prize crew will transfer the previous crew to a neutral port in the future and treat them decently in the interim. Most will also give the crew enough money to make it home or find a new job prior to being dropped off.

The fragile and fast nature of spacecraft complicates the pirates task in taking control of it. While each pirate vessel might use a different method two have risen to prominence with two more for those less scrupulous outlaws. Preferred pirate vessels are those under 5 kilotons and mounting a tug adaptor as these are handier at the helm. Most are modified versions of the Unity or Trojan craft with additional quarters for their Espatiers (‘For paying passengers’) and armed with weapons (for self-defense). Pirate ships still must maintain large cargo volumes for their principal role as freighter and to transport their loot they are unable to pose any real threat to anything more than a few fighters or assault shuttles and must flee if a real system patrol vessel threatens.

‘Tamer’ pirates utilize armed spacecraft, either a small flight of fighters or assault shuttles to threaten the thrusters of a target vessel, this is an expensive and time-consuming repair but not typically life threatening although there are exceptions. This coercion is often enough to force a target to ‘heave to’ and subject themselves to boarding.

A more daring option is to directly or through deception force a boarding action with Espatiers against a Jumpship, Space Station, or immobilized Dropship. These Espatiers are often equipped with reinforced space suits and lightweight weapons ranging from micro grenade launchers and automatic shotguns to ‘Buster’ forced entry tools. Unless there is a similarly equipped force on the target vessel a platoon is sufficient to seize the flight and engineering decks.

For the more unscrupulous Pirates such as those that operate out of the Marian Hegemony and Circinus Federation additional options are available. The most sinister is the use of an emergency broadcast beacon to lure in prey before pouncing. Standard procedure for any recovery operation leads with a security team in an independent shuttle. Bloodthirsty pirates can overpower these individuals holding them for ransom back to their home vessel on threat of execution or enslavement.

The other option is to lay remote controlled traps, these will broadcast irregular radio signals mimicking a defective locator beacon loud enough that they can be detected at a distance. These come in two forms, an attack satellite that will automatically engage curious vessels with heavy weapons at point blank range inflicting serious damage or damaging the vessel bad enough that it needs to be abandoned. Then the pirates come in to ‘rescue’ the survivors to the nearest slave market and claim the damaged vessel as their prize.

Another option is that a bomb is attached to the inside of a container which broadcasts either an old spoofed SLDF signal or easily decrypted signal stating that it contains something valuable. Once the bomb is taken onboard the trap is sprung and the pirates make it clear that they control the device and will detonate it unless the vessel stops moving and allows itself to be boarded.

Due to this distasteful behavior the Outworlds Alliance and Magistracy of Canopus maintain an ongoing ‘dead or alive’ bounty on Marian and Circinian pirates. Planetary governments will also reward bounty hunters for the verifiable destruction or capture of pirates or information regarding their hiding places.

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #62 on: 24 September 2023, 18:49:54 »
Colony in a CONEX
The starter home of former space dwellers or military personnel


Ever since the Age of Exploration humanity has continued the development of their colonies. Initial settlement has colonists living on their landed spaceships and indeed this continues to be the norm for resource colonies or nomadic factory ships. The next step toward colonization requires prefabricated buildings built into EU containers. These semi-permanent facilities provide expanded capabilities and more comfortable living beyond what a normal spacecraft could offer.

The three types of Colony Ergonomic units (CEU or ‘Coos’) are used for a variety of purposes. They consist of a number of prefabricated and flat packed components combined with inflatable or tent like panels. MCEUs (30 ton cap) are often used as workspaces/garages, the largest (60 ton cap) as housing, while the smallest (10 ton cap) are typically utilities.

We will start with the utilities. When applicable Solar Power is preferred with the day’s production stored in large external batteries to provide uninterrupted power. While uncommon throughout the Inner Sphere and unheard of for new colonies solar power satellites can transmit power via microwaves.

On oxygen rich worlds internal combustion power plants (with either electric generators or steam boilers) are used as they are cheap, easily serviced, and effective. These are powered by liquid (oil, alcohol, ammonia, natural gas) or solid (biomass and coal) fuels that must be regularly resupplied. Transporting these commodities interplanetary is expensive so they are sourced locally when possible.

Higher tech colonies without access to these sources or who are pollution averse use high temperature fuel cells (alcohol or hydrogen). Remote, barren colonies or those on airless worlds use fission or fusion power plants despite the higher acquisition and maintenance cost.

Fuel Storage is achieved by putting the LCEU vertical and this is typically true for Water and Granaries as well. These cylindrical silos and tanks require some assembly compared to the more common horizonal towed liquid or bulk storage tanks towed by trucks. However, this assembly enables triple the capacity giving it the same storage capacity as a MEU of that type. Just as often though water is stored in lined ponds or impounded lakes when possible. LCEU’s frequently also nicely serve as independent shops with the shopkeeper living in the back or above.

MCEU’s can also be used for this type of storage but are more commonly used for workspaces and garages. Common Medium Prefabricated (CoMPs) structures can be built with a light vehicle bay and some extra storage capacity for its crew, spare parts, and maintenance facilities. Often, they serve more general functions, such as smaller dormitories, livestock barns, workshops, and form the core working parts of many settlements.

HCEUs can be expanded out to serve as berthing for colonists although the number they can berth depends on the life support needs of the colony. Temperate breathable worlds just need shelter and supplemental heating or cooling. A more hostile world will require substantial investment in Closed Ecological Life Support more like Ship’s Quarters.

Tent tunnels will sometimes be erected between these structures for weather protection. On more hostile environments these will be reinforced with more resilient textiles capable of withstanding the environment.

Once colonies establish themselves or the campaign is over these CONEX colonies will transform these old containers into warehouses or storage. Although they are weather resistant these are not meant to be permanent settlements, merely a transitory step to a full colony.

You can judge a colony’s success on whether they are digging firm foundations or living out of a fancy box with some brand name emblazoned on it. Its tough work being a pioneer but fortunately the human spirit is inexhaustible in its quest to leave a legacy on the Universe. Dedicating a bronze statue or plague memorializing you, that your great-grandchildren will be proud of is just a nice bonus.

Daryk

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #63 on: 24 September 2023, 19:16:49 »
Interesting idea, but the minimal tonnage of Fusion Rechargers and the infamous 25-rated Fusion Engine would seem to tilt more towards fusion power for the majority of these...

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #64 on: 24 September 2023, 19:26:34 »
Interesting idea, but the minimal tonnage of Fusion Rechargers and the infamous 25-rated Fusion Engine would seem to tilt more towards fusion power for the majority of these...

Perhaps but all of these are made according to the construction rules for buildings (with some modifications, mostly presuming CF=tonnage and some cribbed numbers for sustainment). Vehicular power plants and small rechargers (with solar and fusion being explicitly uncommon or rare) apparently aren't rated for utility grade power since the generator building's mass apparently includes all transformers and other infrastructure for transmission.

Daryk

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #65 on: 24 September 2023, 19:42:10 »
I'm looking at page 132 of TO:AR, and Fusion seems to have the smallest multiplier of all self-contained generators.  What am I missing? ???

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #66 on: 24 September 2023, 19:52:44 »
I'm looking at page 132 of TO:AR, and Fusion seems to have the smallest multiplier of all self-contained generators.  What am I missing? ???

It can support 10 (hex*levels) without a fuel supply. The others cannot, except solar but that is a hanger built structure so it can support 30t of Solar and it costs it. That said you need someone capable of maintaining a fusion reactor.

Daryk

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #67 on: 24 September 2023, 19:55:30 »
Isn't a Tech Team a Tech Team?  It seems if you're supporting 7 people for your power generation anyway, why not fusion? ???

AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #68 on: 24 September 2023, 20:20:49 »
Isn't a Tech Team a Tech Team?  It seems if you're supporting 7 people for your power generation anyway, why not fusion? ???

Because it might make you a target for some raiders (its basically a 220/225 Fusion engine plus structure) or they are difficult to find. Also Fusion, Fission, and Solar are C class technologies while Steam and ICE are A and B respectively (for some reason batteries are C as well although I think for the mass it should be B) and thus can be maintained by some local mechanics familiar with industrial equipment.

Fusion rated techs I imagine would prefer to make more money elsewhere than some starter colony (say ever eager Mercenaries or shanghaied by Pirates). Maybe when they get more established they could draw or train some up. That said there is nothing rules-wise on building maintenance in the rules so how often techs need to visit or if there needs to be operators on site. Presumably one *could* hire in some dropship or shuttle crew to service them, but that vessel would have to be present in system.

Wrangler

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #69 on: 24 September 2023, 21:58:21 »
Better Late than Never, I've added the missing section of this publication to the wiki.
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truetanker

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #70 on: 24 September 2023, 22:46:12 »
Wouldn't wind be a better ergonomic solution if wind power was available? Back it up with waterpower?

TT
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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
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AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #71 on: 25 September 2023, 03:46:08 »
Wouldn't wind be a better ergonomic solution if wind power was available? Back it up with waterpower?

TT

Perhaps but both of those types 1. Have no rules associated with them, 2. Require specific site placement, and 3. Are the next step after the CONEX colony. I imagine that once the little semi-permanent colony grows up it will start to build dams and windmills in addition to highways and starports.

truetanker

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #72 on: 25 September 2023, 10:07:40 »
So a stationary bike is prebuilt into every unit along with a set of batteries.

Gotcha...  :wink:

TT
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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
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idea weenie

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #73 on: 25 September 2023, 21:52:10 »
Isn't a Tech Team a Tech Team?  It seems if you're supporting 7 people for your power generation anyway, why not fusion? ???

It is a Tech Team specializing in industrial fusion reactors vs military-grade reactors, Solar, large ICE, hydroelectric, wind power, Fuel Cell, or something else?

Similar to a mainframe programmer not providing PC support for family & friends:
"Sure I'll look at your computer.  For the operating system do you use VSE, z/OS, z/VM, z/TPF, or?"
"Um, Windows."
"Sorry, for that I call tech support."

truetanker

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #74 on: 26 September 2023, 13:20:07 »
It is a Tech Team specializing in industrial fusion reactors vs military-grade reactors, Solar, large ICE, hydroelectric, wind power, Fuel Cell, or something else?

Similar to a mainframe programmer not providing PC support for family & friends:
"Sure I'll look at your computer.  For the operating system do you use VSE, z/OS, z/VM, z/TPF, or?"
"Um, Windows."
"Sorry, for that I call tech support."

You sound like Knightmare... Narf! Squad...

TT
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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
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AlphaMirage

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Re: Free Trader's Guide to the Inner Sphere (K-Verse)
« Reply #75 on: 30 November 2023, 14:06:23 »
Monetary Theory and Interstellar Markets

We have discussed many topics of interest to Free Traders and have moved onto one of the most important ones.

Money

Specifically, what it is, who uses it, and why?

Since the first formal markets were invented in pre-history humanity has been exchanging something for something else. Typically, this revolved around some kind of standard that could be set to a commodity, ancient civilizations used grain and more advanced ones used precious metals. This caused no end of trouble and wars. These types of commodities backed currencies still exist on many underdeveloped planets within the Inner Sphere. It wasn’t until the 20th Century that monetary theory, global trade, and international services really took off and consumed humanity’s attention.

Throughout humanity’s early days of spaceflight and planetary governments this trend continued starting with the Terran Alliance, humanity’s first planetary government. With the Outer Reaches Rebellion, subsequent coup by James McKenna and foundation of the Terran Hegemony, then subsequent Star League, many of the foundations for the Inner Sphere’s modern economies were formalized.

The modern interstellar standard exchange truly crystallized with the first Hyperpulse Generator signal in 2630. Finally, there was a low cost, high throughput manner of transmitting information between inhabited planets. The Great Houses rejoiced because they had been reliant on courier ships jumping between far flung worlds within their empires for almost 300 years. A process that took a very long time and made interstellar trade difficult. Interstellar trade is still difficult but for different reasons now.

First Lord of the Star League, Nicholas Cameron, thus created the first C(ameron)-Bill which would be used for accessing this HPG technology and upon which all other currencies within the Star League could be exchanged. As the HPG system began to develop and more systems were deployed throughout the Inner Sphere ground rules and its rate were established by the Ministry of Communication.

It’s successor COMSTAR retained most of these and added a few of their own. Phi Branch refusing to wire any money but the C(OMSTAR)-bill through their network was the most contentious. This meant that interstellar trade was easiest to conduct in C-bills as House Bills required a fee to be turned into and returned as House Bills.

However, Imperial Authorities would only accept their taxes in House Bills thus they had to pay COMSTAR to get access to their own taxes in their own bills. The only other option was transferring physical bills or commodities across the stars. That however still would have earned COMSTAR money as they owned the largest interstellar shipping fleet in the Inner Sphere and were the financier for almost every jumpship in existence. As a supposed infringement on Imperial Sovereignty this earned COMSTAR the ire of the Great Houses, but what else could they do but accept it?

Having a standard exchange to all currencies and ample physical currency/commodities on hand COMSTAR’s C-bill was an incredibly soft power advantage for the Order. While they could manipulate markets that would damage their trustworthiness and neutrality making them less desirable partners. Thus, the Order mostly preferred arbitrage, buying low and selling high. By doing this COMSTAR provided a massive buffering effect on interstellar trade while helping stabilize planetary markets. With local information on planetary conditions and close relationships with leaders the Precentors could leverage the futures markets of a thousand worlds and redistribute commodities where they were needed most, at a profit. Holding onto warehouses of goods also kept their (or friendly) freighter holds as full as possible plus the fact that they could do so without being taxed on their property and capital gains helped as well.

Although the C-Bill [now (Clan) Council] is the gold standard of exchange there are numerous other types of money in circulation throughout the Inner Sphere. House Bills are commonly used for interplanetary or internal trade within an empire with many people never even seeing a ‘blueback’ as the C-bill is known. For this they serve perfectly well as regional (in the several planet sense) or planetary banks can operate where COMSTAR choses not to, at a consumer level as their fees are high and terms onerous.

Keeping a world in even Imperial currency is sometimes difficult though unless you have regular interstellar trade coming to your world. Planetary governments will issue their own currency (P-bills) for internal trade if they have a shortage of off-world currency coming in or would prefer to incentivize (or trap) local spending. COMSTAR does not normally accept P-bills beyond what it can use locally so these worlds must sell commodities to them or acquire House bills to transmit their taxes or pay for imports that are priced in C-bill equivalents. P-bills can only be used on that world or for things from it while having a typically unfavorable exchange rate set by agreement between Treasuries. These are rated from D to AAA based on how well the planetary economy is doing and whether they are paying their debts to off-world bankers.

Major corporations do the same in the places they have authority, circulating something known as ‘scrip’ which can only be used internally within that company to purchase goods or services they provide. Scrip is normally distributed in company towns and is a sort of non-voting stock coupon/credit. Some of the larger interstellar corporate scrip such as Irian, LAW, or Nashan can even draw a favorable exchange rate on par with AAA P-bills.

The Clans utilize the Purchase of Goods and Services (POGS) voucher which also acted as a type of scrip. Commonly known as ‘Work Credits’ this standardized, time-dependent, and codex linked, credit entitled the individual access to a certain value of goods produced by the centrally planned economy and available from a central exchange.

However, the value of these goods was never truly fixed and often subject to wild fluctuations within the Enclave or over time. Meanwhile an individual’s ‘work credit’ remained consistent and non-transferable outside the issuing Clan Enclave and subject to review for any reason. Thus, commodity and inter-Clan trading was conducted ‘awkwardly’ by an abstract ‘K’ (for Kerensky) value agreed upon by both parties.

While it was not discovered until the Wars of Reaving the Merchant Caste of several Homeworld Clans had been engaged in market manipulation and ‘cooking the books.’ Slight imbalances put supply and demand out of balance to maximize an enclave’s economic output while concealing this fact from Warrior oversight through arcane accounting practices. This unfortunately left most Clanners short of some less ‘profitable’ goods such as food or clothing, while more ‘profitable’ ones such as refined metals or complex manufactured goods were incentivized.

Any created beyond the centrally planned (and often very manipulated) allotment or which ‘failed’ quality control remained with the Merchants. These were in turn exchanged through Dark Caste or Society contacts with Deep Periphery groups such as the Hanseatic League and Jarnfolk or with the Second SLDF’s Huntress garrison for luxury goods or other contraband. Lootera quickly became a major smuggler’s port as Great House and other well-heeled enterprises were willing to pay big money for Clan manufactured goods even if they had to wait a long time for shipment. Some of the product was also used to pay Dark Caste to silence opposition from the Scientists and Technicians who could bring this manipulation to their Warrior superiors while rewarding those that cooperated.

When this was discovered, there was a massive purge in the Homeworlds that exacerbated the already fragile post-Reaving economy. To this day almost ten years after those events they have still not recovered while the Sphere Clans are thriving despite suffering massive damage during the Jihad after abandoning the ‘old ways’ in favor of greater integration with the Second Star League and Inner Sphere.