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Building a Business Empire: A Guide to Trade and Commerce In Mongoose Traveller RPG

Building a Business Empire: A Guide to Trade and Commerce In Mongoose Traveller RPG

This guide provides an overview of the various ways characters can make money through trade and commerce in Mongoose Traveller, such as chartered passengers, hauling freight and mail, speculative trading, and smuggling.

 (Part 8 of the 11-part series, "The Ultimate Guide to Playing Mongoose Traveller RPG")

Introduction

Mongoose Traveller is a science fiction tabletop role-playing game that allows players to immerse themselves into a vast and diverse universe full of adventure, danger, and opportunity.

One aspect of the game that many players find intriguing is trade and commerce.  The ability to build a business empire and become a powerful merchant prince is a popular goal for many Traveller players.

This guide will provide an overview of trade and commerce in the Mongoose Traveller RPG and offer tips and strategies for building a successful business empire.

Building a star-spanning interstellar business as a trader or merchant can be an exciting and challenging endeavor, with numerous ways to make money and achieve financial independence.

We will talk about the most common ways your character can make money as a trader in Mongoose Traveller, including chartered passengers, hauling freight and mail, speculative trading, and smuggling.

Chartered Passengers

Transportation of passengers is one of the easiest and most profitable ways to make money as a Trader in Traveller.  Players can own and operate their ships, offering chartered passenger services to NPC characters, such as businessmen, sightseers, or refugees.  Players can also sell charter services to other players in the party, as part of the campaign.  Maybe one player is a Noble and pays another player to be their space chauffeur or take them on a sightseeing tour of the subsector. 

The key to success in this line of work is finding the right balance between passenger comfort and cost, as well as offering convenient, safe, and reliable services.  It is also important to have a Steward and Medic onboard to ensure passenger comfort and safety and to build a reputation as a reliable and trustworthy chartered passenger service provider.  Characters with both Steward and Medic skills are often sought as valuable crew on passenger ships.

The Steward skill can be found in the following Careers:

  • Citizen
  • Entertainer
  • Merchant
  • Noble

The Medic skill can be found in the following Careers:

  • Background Skills
  • University
  • Agent
  • Army
  • Citizen
  • Marine
  • Navy
  • Rogue
  • Scholar (most likely to give Medic skill)
  • Scout

Skills normally used to help find passengers (and the Careers where the skills can commonly be found):
Careers in bold are the ones most likely to give the skill indicated.

  • Broker (Citizen, Entertainer, Merchant, Noble, Rogue)
  • Carouse (Background, Agent, Citizen, Drifter, Entertainer, Merchant, Noble, Rogue)
  • Streetwise (Background, Agent, Citizen, Drifter, Entertainer, Merchant, Noble, Rogue, Scout)

Things that can improve your chances of finding passengers:

  • A skilled Steward on the crew
  • Offering Low Passage
  • If either origin or destination world has a population of 6 or more
  • If either origin or destination world has a Starport A or B
  • If either origin or destination world is an Amber Zone

Things that can decrease your chances of finding passengers:

  • Offering High Passage
  • Passengers destined for distant locations
  • If either origin or destination world has a population of 1 or less
  • If either origin or destination world has a Starport E or X
  • If either origin or destination world is a Red Zone

 Keep in mind you will need to allocate cargo space for luggage and living/sleeping accommodations for each passenger.

Moving Freight And Mail

Transporting goods and mail is another way to make money as a Trader in Mongoose Traveller. Players who own and operate their ships can offer shipping services to NPC Merchants or the Imperial Mail Services.

Hauling Freight

Major, minor, and incidental cargo loads might be available to haul from one place to another for profit.  Often, ships with spare cargo space can load up with freight that happens to be going to the same destination the party has decided to go to next.  Payment is determined by how much freight there is and how far it is being taken, using the shortest route.  A typical scout ship with Jump 2 and 12 tons of cargo space could make over 19,000 Credits every time they jump.  Take a load of freight 2 full jumps (4 parsecs) and make over 52,000 Credits.

One way to thrive in this line of work is by finding the right goods for transport, negotiating the best deals, and then getting the freight or mail to their destination quickly and efficiently.    

Players with certain skills can use them to find the best routes and make better decisions about what goods to transport and how to transport them.

Skills normally used to help find freight (and the Careers where the skills can commonly be found):

Skills normally used to help find passengers (and the Careers where the skills can commonly be found):
Careers in bold are the ones most likely to give the skill indicated.

  • Broker (Citizen, Entertainer, Merchant, Noble, Rogue)
  • Streetwise (Background, Agent, Citizen, Drifter, Entertainer, Merchant, Noble, Rogue, Scout)

Things that can improve your chances of finding freight:

  • Shipping incidental cargo
  • If either origin or destination world has a population of 6 or more
  • If either origin or destination world has a Starport A or B
  • If either origin or destination world has a Tech Level of 9 or more

Things that can decrease your chances of finding freight:

  • Shipping major cargo
  • Cargo destined for distant locations
  • If either origin or destination world has a population of 1 or less
  • If either origin or destination world has a Starport E or X
  • If either origin or destination world has a Tech Level of 6 or less
  • If either origin or destination world is a Red Zone or Amber Zone

Keep in mind your ship must be equipped with mechanisms to keep cargo safe, secure, and undamaged during transit.  This type of business is more akin to modern long-haul semi-trucks, cargo planes, and cargo ships.

Hauling Mail

Mail cargoes consist of digital mail stored in a data container as well as physical items and packages, such as personal correspondence, mail order items, and so forth.

Think of this as space-Fedex, space-UPS, or just like your regular mail carrier, except as an independent contractor.  Just like freight, you can just go where the profits take you, or you can take a shipment of mail along to a destination you were going to go to anyway.

No special skill is required for finding mail to haul. The directions in the rulebook aren't clear on this, but you calculate a Freight Traffic Modifier based on the characteristics of the source and destination worlds using the Freight rules as a guide.  

Things that can improve your chances of finding mail:

  • If either origin or destination world has a population of 6 or more
  • If either origin or destination world has a Starport A or B
  • If either origin or destination world has a Tech Level of 9 or more
  • If the ship is armed
  • If there are any high-ranking Scout or Navy personnel aboard
  • The highest SOC modifier in the party
  • Having a high Freight Traffic Modifier

Things that can decrease your chances of finding mail:

  • If either origin or destination world has a population of 1 or less
  • If either origin or destination world has a Starport E or X
  • If either origin or destination world has a Tech Level of 6 or less
  • If either origin or destination world is a Red Zone or Amber Zone
  • Having a low Freight Traffic Modifier

It's important to consider that you will be offered 5-30 tons of mail, you must take it all, and a flat rate of 25,000 Credits per container will be paid, regardless of the distance traveled.

Speculative Trading And Smuggling

A more complex and risky way to make money as a Trader in Mongoose Traveller is through speculative trading.  This involves buying goods at one location and then selling them at a higher price in another location.  The key to success in speculative trading is finding the right goods, understanding the market, and predicting market trends.  Players with high appraisal and negotiation skills can use these skills to make better decisions about what goods to buy and sell, and how to get the best prices.

Finding A Supplier

The skill you use to find a supplier depends on the type of goods you are trying to speculate on.  You can find a supplier at your local starport, you can find one online, or you can find one on the black market.

Locating a supplier at a starport generally relies on the Broker skill, while finding one online requires the Admin skill.  Finding a supplier of illegal goods on the black market requires Streetwise skill.  The quality of starport also plays a factor in finding a supplier.

Skills normally used to help find suppliers (and the Careers where the skills can commonly be found):
Careers in bold are the ones more likely to give the skill indicated.

  • Admin (Background, University, Army, Citizen, Marine, Merchant, Navy, Noble, Scholar)
  • Broker (Citizen, Entertainer, Merchant, Noble, Rogue)
  • Streetwise (Background, Agent, Citizen, Drifter, Entertainer, Merchant, Noble, Rogue, Scout)

Things that can improve your chances of finding a supplier:

  • Starport Class C or better

Determining Goods Available

The availability of goods depends on the market size.  Goods are harder to find on planets with low populations but are easier to find on planets with high populations.  The amount of population present also influences how many goods are available for trade.

Consult the charts in the Mongoose Traveller Core Rulebook section on Trade for detailed information about the types of goods available.

Determine Purchase Price

Skills normally used to help find determine Purchase Price (and the Careers where the skills can commonly be found):
Careers in bold are the ones more likely to give the skill indicated.

  • Broker (Citizen, Entertainer, Merchant, Noble, Rogue)

Things that can improve your chances of finding a good Purchase Price:

  • Positive modifiers from the Purchase DM column on the Trade Goods chart

Things that can decrease your chances of finding a good Purchase Price:

  • The Supplier's Broker skill
  • Negative modifiers from the Purchase DM column on the Trade Goods chart

Selling the Goods

 When selling the goods, the character must find a buyer using the same rules as finding a supplier.  Once a buyer is found, the actual selling price is determined using a formula based on te world's Trade Codes, the character's Broker skill, and the purchaser's Broker skill.

If the character does not accept the price, they can wait for a time period and try again.

Conclusion

In conclusion, trade and commerce play a significant role in Mongoose Traveller, offering players numerous opportunities for wealth and power.

Whether your characters are chartered passenger service providers, a shipper, speculative traders, or a smuggler, the opportunities for success are there for those who are willing to work hard and take advantage of the opportunities available.  

With the right skills, knowledge, and a bit of luck, anyone can become a successful Trader, Merchant, or Rogue in the Mongoose Traveller RPG.

Your Turn.  What Do You Do?

What are the most important aspects of building a successful business empire in Mongoose Traveller RPG?

Please share with us in the Comments section below.

Want More?

Enjoyed these insights on trade and commerce? Discover more advanced techniques and in-depth advice in our booklet 'Beyond the Horizon: The Ultimate Guide to Playing Mongoose Traveller.' [Explore the Guide].

If you found this article helpful, please give it a good rating at the top, thanks!


 

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