Extended Trade System

After having a few conversations with Eric about speculative trade, I have come up with an extended trade system which I believe is more interesting than the generic cargo trade rules in Book 7, but gives more scope than the original trading scheme from Book 2.

I have gone through the best part of half a dozen different variants on the trading models from various different sources (most notably an article from the online JTAS since from 2001) to come up with a more interesting system which will fit in with what Eric wanted to do – which was to search harder for profitable cargos rather than simply checking what is available for shipment at the starport. While not going all the way to allowing characters to pick and choose any cargo they want on any world, it will allow party members more choice as to what cargos they want to take, in reward for more effort in looking at options.

There are six steps involved in the process:

1. Locating potential cargos

Characters can search for a number of cargos each week up to the maximum number of levels they have in the following skills:


They can also use the following skills at one level less than their total:


All of these skills can be added together for the purpose of finding cargos (i.e. if a character had Broker-2, Trader-2 and Carousing-2 he could attempt to locate a maximum of five cargos in the course of a week).

The formula for determining how long it takes to locate each individual interesting and potentially profitable cargo is:

4d6 +15 –TL –Pop – the skill that the character is using at that time

For example, let’s say the player is on a TL7 Pop7 world and is currently using his Broker-2 skill. He rolls a 14. This would give the following:

14 + 15 -7 -7 -2 = 13

It therefore takes the character 13 hours to locate the first interesting cargo.

If the character passes on the first available cargo, he could try again and again until he either runs out of skills or out of time.

If a character has Admin, Streetwise, Carousing or J-o-T -1, he is still allowed to search for cargo, but it will take him double the regular amount of time to do so.

Any number of characters can try to find cargo simultaneously.

2. Determining the goods

There are five different tables containing different types of trade goods:

Primary Agriculture
Primary Extraction
Low-Tech (TL 2-6)
Mid-Tech (TL7-A)
Hi-Tech (TLB+)

The tables can be downloaded from:


Note that each of the five different tables is on a different sheet of the workbook.

Deciding which tables should be available on a particular world should be decided by the GM based upon the characteristics of the world they are currently on.

Let’s take Forboldn as an example. It has a reasonable sized population (Pop6) and has been established for a while. It is relatively fertile and has small scale primitive industry (TL4). The GM decides to randomize the table as so:

Roll Table
1 Primary Extraction
2-3 Primary Agriculture
4-6 Low-Tech

If the world had no gravity or it was a desert world, then only Primary Extraction would be available. Conversely, if a world had a high TL and a high Pop, then only the Mid-Tech and High-Tech tables would be included (assuming that the world needs all its extraction and agriculture and low-tech items for its own industry and population).

Roll a d20 on the first three tables and a half a d6 and half a d20 on the other two tables to randomize a number between 1 and 30.

Rolling on the simple table we just made for Forboldn, we roll a 3 – meaning that we should roll again on the Primary Agriculture table.

Rolling a 17 on our d20 we get – Wild Animals Pets. Forboldn has some small, cuddly native creatures that are currently popular for people to keep as pets – let’s call them Red Lemurs. Rolling again, we see that the base price for these pets is (4 × 1000 = Cr4000 per ton) and there are (1 × 5 =) 5 tons of them available.

3. Determining the price

Demand for some types of goods varies more than others and so each category of goods is assigned a volatility rating:

A = Stable – common commodities like steel and grain don’t vary much from world to world and time to time and so they have a low volatility

B = Standard – the majority of goods vary a degree in terms of buying and selling price

C = Volatile – fashion items can go through fads of popularity. Very rare and expensive items can only fetch top prices when an appropriate buyer can be found.

There are different tables for each category of volatility:

Actual-Value Tables

The chart can be downloaded at:


Pets are in the volatile category. If a celebrity on one of the major worlds is seen with one, then everyone wants one. But next month everyone could realize that they are all a lot more trouble than they are worth.

There is also a list of modifiers which are used for both buying and selling depending on the characteristics of each world, as indicated on the charts (see Book 7 for the full list).

Forboldn is a Non-Industrial world and so we can deduct 2 from our roll to determine the final price.

Unfortunately we roll an 11. Even deducting 2 to give us a modified roll of 9 means that the pets are coming out at 140% of the base price. 4000 × 140% = Cr5600 per ton

It’s a very risky deal at this price. If the character had more time, he would probably be better off forgetting the deal and trying to locate a better cargo. But he is short of time and one of the female members of his crew fancies a Red Lemur for herself and so he decides to buy the whole stock of them, for a total of Cr28,000.

Buyers only get one chance to buy or not. If the character had passed on the pets and looked for a different cargo, only to find he got an even worse offer, he could not go back and decide to buy the pets after all – someone else would have bought them by the time he got back to them.

4. Determining the location/problems

Not all goods are sat at the starport waiting to be transported to a different world. And not all deals are what they seem to be at face value. Roll a d6 to find out more information about them:

6 = At the starport
5 = In the city
4 = In the region
3 = Far away
2 = Adventure/Favour
1 = Cheated/Swindled

The GM secretly rolls a 4. The cargo is some distance away from the starport, but at least it is in the same country or on the same continent. The character could take the Ship’s Boat over there to pick them up, rent a truck to go and get them, or try and get the seller to deliver them to the starport (which could either cost extra or take a while).

If the GM had rolled a 1 or 2, then he would either roll again or make up the result. If he had thrown a 2, then perhaps the seller had failed to mention that the party had to catch the creatures for themselves. If he had thrown a 1, then perhaps they turned out to be something quite different from the cuddly Red Lemurs they were sold as. Perhaps Forboldn has a creature that might look like a Red Lemur, but is actually a very vicious predator which is very adept at getting out of the cheap cages that the seller put them in while they are in the middle of a jump.

5. Finding a Buyer

The system for finding a buyer is the same as finding a seller. Again, several party members could be searching for buyers simultaneously.

The character’s ship heads off for his next destination, which is Knorbes – TL2, Pop 8.

He rolls a 13 on 4d6 giving us 13+15-2-8-2 = 16 hours of searching for a buyer.

6. Determining the selling price

The base price is the unmodified selling price.

From this we add or subtract any modifiers as given on the tables, plus the character’s Broker still (or the character could hire one as per the standard Book 2 or Book 7 rules).

The base price for the Red Lemurs we remember is Cr4000 and pets are a volatile commodity, so we will be rolling on that table. Fortunately Knorbes is a Rich planet and so there are plenty of people around who can afford them (+4 mod). However, Knorbes is an agricultural planet, so they have plenty of cuddly animals of their own (-5 mod). The character hopes that his negotiating skills will tip the balance in his favour though (Broker -2)

He rolls a lousy 6 (+4 -5 +2) which gives a modified 7. This is 100% of the cargo value, or just Cr4000, – a loss of Cr1600 per ton. The character curses the female crew member for talking him into the lousy deal in the first place.

Not wanting to lose that much on the deal, he decides to search for another buyer, rolling again to see how much time it takes him and determining a new price from that potential buyer.

Extended Trade System

Mustered Out on Regina NickPendrell