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Interstellar Trading

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 6 months ago

Trade in 5150

To keep these rules simple, it is assumed that you will get the best bargain you can in the system where you buy your cargo and it is the profit on that purchase that is being measured. If you fail to achieve a profit, it might be because you paid too much for the cargo or simply because you have not negotiated well. This means that you will always pay the same for a cargo when buying it (1 point per tonne of cargo) but you may not be able to sell the cargo for that amount. This simplifies things and keeps the game moving. After all, 5150 is about combat not trading. The trading is only a means to an end; a larger force with bigger guns so that you can stomp all over your opponents.


To take part in trading, a player’s group must have points in the bank. These points represent the group’s liquid assets that can be used to buy trade goods. One point will buy one tonne of goods. The group may buy as many tonnes of goods as they can afford up to the cargo capacity of the group’s ship.


The basic process for trading is as follows:

1. Work out how much cargo your ship will carry and how much you have to spend.

2. Buy your cargo, not exceeding your ship’s cargo capacity.

3. Travel to a new system.

4. Attempt to sell your cargo there by rolling on the tables below.


It is envisaged that trade will add an extra dimension to the campaign and will not unbalance it, because the campaign is not based around conflict between players. Instead, the players’ groups are operating within the post-Fifth Frontier War environment and their stories are part of the story of District 268 at that time. Occasionally the groups may come into conflict but this is the exception rather than the rule.



All players are assumed to have a ship in our campaign. This was a common mustering out benefit in Traveller, and it fits the basic paradigm of this type of science fiction. In our campaign, the players all start with a 100 ton Type J Seeker with a maximum cargo capacity of 20 tonnes. This ship can achieve Jump-2 (i.e. move two hexes on the map per week) if it only carries 10 tonnes of cargo, or it can achieve Jump-1 (i.e. move one hex on the map per week) with a cargo of greater than 10 tonnes.


Type J Seeker

Passengers (inc crew)4
PerformanceJump 1 (Jump 2 if using optional drop tanks instead of carrying cargo)
Cargo20 Tonnes at Jump 1, 10 tonnes at Jump-2
Armament1 Pulse Laser
EquipmentG-Carrier, Fuel Scoops, Fuel Purification Unit


Although the Type J Seeker has been configured for 20 tonnes of cargo space, and only 4 berths, it is possible to re-jig the space within it and use it differently. This means that you could use the ship to carry more figures or different equipment, etc. Each extra passenger above the standard complement of 4 requires 2 tonnes of cargo space.


Equipment Notes

The G-Carrier is an enclosed pressurised vehicle designed for working in a vacuum or hostile atmosphere.

Fuel Scoops are required if a ship is to refuel from a gas giant. Ships without fuel scoops must refuel at a starport.

Fuel Purification Units are required to use unrefined fuel. Any ship without these will need to refuel at a Type A or B starport (see Traveller Supplement 3 Spinward Marches for further details about starports in the systems).


Buying a New Ship

There is nothing to stop people buying larger ships later in their career. Ships cost 2 points per MegaCredit that it would cost you to buy them. Thus a Type J Seeker would normally cost 30MCr and therefore would cost 60 points in our campaign. If you later choose to sell your ship, you will get half its points value back.


Trade Classifications

Traveller rates worlds by trade classification amongst other things. These classifications determine what goods are available on a particular world and also affect the value of those goods when you come to sell them. E.G. goods bought on an agricultural world will sell well on an industrial world and vice versa.


The following classifications are used in this trading system. See the section on Selling Goods for how they are applied.


Industrial (I)

Non-industrial (NI)

Agricultural (A)

Non-agricultural (NA)


Tech Level

This refers to the Traveller Tech Level and not the 5150 Tech Level. Generally speaking, higher tech goods will sell well on lower tech planets. Therefore, when importing goods from a higher tech world, the player may roll one extra die on the test to see how much they get for the goods


Selling Goods

To sell goods, you must take them to a different system from that in which you bought them. When trying to sell goods, roll 2 or more dice against your Star’s REP on the following table:


2 SuccessesSell cargo for twice its normal value
1 SuccessSell cargo for its normal value
0 SuccessesYou cannot find a buyer in this system


There are a number of modifiers to the Selling Goods table. Each of the modifiers detailed below is a bonus die to be rolled when testing to see if you can find a buyer. You may roll one extra die for each of the following conditions that applies:


  • Goods are from a higher TL world
  • Selling goods from an Agricultural world on a Non-agricultural world
  • Selling goods from an Industrial World on a Non-industrial world
  • Selling illegal goods


On any result of 1 success or less, you will have to take your cargo to a different system if you wish to roll again on the above table.


E.G. You bought your cargo on TL11 Industrial world and are planning to sell it on a TL6 Non-industrial world. You get 2 dice as standard and may roll one extra die for the Hi-tech goods, and one extra die for selling the goods on a Non-industrial world. Thus the final result will be that you roll 4 dice.



You can make a larger profit from selling goods that are illegal on a particular world. This usually means selling weaponry, but it could be drugs or pot noodles, depending upon the system you are selling to. You will need to buy the cargo in a system where it is not illegal. However, when you come to sell the cargo, you must first test to see if you can avoid the local law enforcement people before you can attempt to sell your goods. Roll 2 dice versus your own REP and 2 dice versus the Law Level of the system. Then consult the following table.


You score

2 dice more than the LawSell goods as normal and add half again to the final value of the cargo
1 die more than the LawSell cargo as normal
0 dice more than the LawYou have no opportunity to sell anything because you are too busy avoiding the law
1 die less than the LawYou have been caught and must fight a stand up battle
2 dice less than the LawYou have been caught and the Law have ambushed you


In any situation where the Law catches you, you may still try to Talk the Talk because the Law will always negotiate before shooting. When you are ambushed, that means that your group begins the game at a disadvantage and surrounded.


If you surrender, you will lose your cargo and be fined 10 points per figure in your group. If the Law beats you in a fight then you will lose the cargo and be fined as above, but you may also get shot to pieces. You are always fined on the basis of the number of characters in your group at the start of the fight and not on the number that survive it.

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