Pirate Cats in Space

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We were down to two players this evening, but that was enough for a game of Traveller. Since Sochi 2 was a moon around a gas giant in the Colchis System, they decided to refuel first with a bit of atmosphere skimming before landing.

One thing I’m realising is that the ability to skim fuel, and process it, seems too easy given the 500Cr/T price tag for buying refined fuel. So fuel can be skimmed from a gas giant, or picked up from any convenient lake or sea. A ship with fuel processors can then refine it, so there’s little downside to doing this instead of buying it.

In some circumstances there may be a time cost to flying out to a gas giant, but on a world with plenty of water, landing on a deserted beach and sucking up water for conversion seems to have few downsides, plus the crew get some sea-side R&R for a few days. I don’t know whether things are different in other rule sets (we’re using Mongoose Traveller), or if I’m missing something that would encourage people to buy fuel more often. I’m considering whether fuel processors should be needed to allow you to make unrefined fuel, which might increase the need for buying fuel.

1105-191: Arrival at Sochi City

The spaceport here is a rough place, with a non-trivial proportion of the population carrying guns and even wearing armour. Though the system law level is reasonable, I figured that since Sochi City is a small settlement far from the main world, it would have a much lower law level.

Colchis, Old Islands Subsector, Reft 2026

There is the question of how to get the radioactives they are smuggling through customs, but their contact here tells them that he will sort everything out, and to meet him at a hotel in the spaceport.

So they dock, gear up with armour and weapons, and head off to meet Jacquard Rubin with their two passengers. He is a somewhat large, grey haired man with a big personality, who is happy to see them – especially the passengers whom he knows (which is why he’s trusting these complete strangers).

After a little bit of planning, and explaining the rules of the city, they split up to get some R&R. Getting the radioactives off the ship and past customs was easy – the customs inspector was being chatted to by a good looking woman who wasn’t working in customs but had the right uniform when they suddenly get a call from their school that their child had been in a fight and needed to be picked up. So he hands the job over to her and runs off to deal with the fake call – something I may have stolen from one of the Ocean’s films. I only noticed whilst roleplaying him that Rubin was also the name of a character from those films.

So they get paid their 100,000 Cr, for what turned out to be a relatively easy job.

Stressed out after two plus weeks cooped up in a small space ship, Zanobia finds the local hospital and offers her services for free – something they are very grateful for, and it gives her a chance to meet strange men with odd puncture wounds.

Shinzaro finds a small conclave of Vargr here, so takes some time off to spend time amongst her own kind.

Khadashi does some partying, during which time he is approached by some young ladies looking to get off world. They can pay up-front, and want to go to Colchis Prime – not too far to go. He figures that they are probably sex workers looking to get away from their life, so though they can’t afford the full normal fair the crew are willing to help.

He also finds someone offering to sell some Feakhefourar (Aslan fighting cats) for Cr10K apiece. He’s told that they can be sold for Cr20K on New Colchis, and that he has 9 of them (all in cold sleep containers). This was an introduction to some speculative trade for the group, but with no Broker skill, they had no real way of finding out if this was a sensible deal or not.

It was then that they remembered that one of their previous passengers, Madeleine, was good at this sort of thing, so he tracks her down and offers to pay her Cr500 to look into it. The result is that it looks like a valid deal, though they’re more likely to get Cr15K rather than Cr20K, but that’s still a profit, and New Colchis is sort of in the direction they are going. This particular trade deals came from the 101 Cargos books from BITS (British Isles Traveller Support). I purchased a set of these about twenty years ago, and seem to have lost them, so bought them again on PDF since they might turn out to be useful.

She also found another possible cargo – someone wanting to ship 50T of ‘machine parts’ to Besancon. Cr7,700 per displacement tonne, but no questions asked. It’s a dodgy deal, but guaranteed income. They’ll have to go the long way around to get to Herzenslust, but that will more breaks for R&R.

Journey to Besancon

The next day Khadashi is told by the barman at the nightclub that the women he was talking to are pulling a trick they’ve done before. They tell a sob story about needing to get off-world, then hijack the ship during transit. This was actually completely and utterly false – a rumour spread by those who don’t want the women leaving. I was sort of surprised that the party immediately believed the warning, and became very paranoid. It wasn’t until some time later that the motives of the barman were questioned.

They offered the women a discount as long as they went in cold berths, and much time was spent figuring out how to stop them waking up and breaking out during the voyage.

During the week, it was realised that Madeleine was actually quite useful, so they offered her a job about the ship. For Cr2,000/month, she’d already earned her pay in the deals she’d done for them. Unfortunately she didn’t have a Steward skill, which meant that the crew were still missing this, but she was happy to sign on.

Another issue I found with the Mongoose rules around this point was the costs for shipping cargo and passengers across interstellar distances. The chart they have makes absolutely no sense to me:

ParsecsLow PassageFreight
1Cr700Cr1000
2Cr1,300Cr1,600
3Cr2,200Cr3,000
4Cr4,300Cr7,000
5Cr13,000Cr7,700
6Cr96,000Cr86,000

The cost roughly doubles each parsec up to 4 parsecs, then diverges strangely. I’ve shown just two of the columns here, but High, Middle and Basic passage have similar inconsistencies. Freight goes up only 10% from 4 to 5 parsecs, but more than 10 times from 5 to 6 parsecs. Low Passage triples from 4 to 5 parsecs, then up 7 times from 5 to 6 parsecs.

Given most ships seem to have Jump-1 or Jump-2 drives, I’d have expected a bigger increase after 2 parsecs and getting increasingly more expensive after that – not the strange wobbly curve that they actually have. I don’t know whether this is a mistake, or whether there’s some cunning reasoning behind it.

After a week of resting, they leave Sochi City and head to Colchis Prime, which took 6 days in normal space before docking at the high port. The women are woken from their cold sleep and are very grateful to have made it safely to their destination. Because they really were perfectly innocent and not actually pirates.

212-1105: Colchis Prime

So all is good, until they are hit with a Grounding Order coming directly from the Director of Space Port Operations. Apparently they are to expect a full inspection within a few hours.

Samuel Penn

Samuel Penn