I’ve been searching for a decent in-system ship travel time calculator for some time now, and someone finally posted a link to an existing site. Obviously, I need to step up my Google-fu, as it is seriously lacking…
Anyway, the site is Traveller RPG Ship Travel Time Calculator, over at Cyborg Prime Games.
I’ve tried it out a couple times, and it seems to work very well.
I was searching for such a calculator because of some of the systems I have generated for my System of The Day project. One system for example, Bazepra, is “77 AUs” inside its massive primary star’s jump limit. Yes, you read that correctly, 77 AU. Obviously, being inside the star’s jump limit, jumping directly to the world is impossible.
Using the calculator above [I’ll be darned if I was going to calculate that by hand, and I don’t have time to relearn spreadsheet layouts right now] I was able to determine that a 6G ship would make the trip from Bazepra to the jump limit in TEN DAYS while a 1G merchant (your typical free trader, for instance) would require TWENTY FOUR DAYS for the same journey.
These travel times are insane, and they don’t even account for the added delays of the ship being far outside the 10G effective range limit for Maneuver (Gravitic) drives. No self respecting merchant will spend so long merely in travel to a world, especially if they are running speculative cargoes. (A charter is another story, of course).
So how does a world government deal with these travel delays, and encourage merchants to visit such a distant world? The merchants aren’t going to put up with such delays, for the most part; they’d go out of business.
Option 1: I’ve already mentioned ship charters, but those are rare, and expensive. Not cost effective at all for standard freight.
Option 2: Subsidized ships. A standard option from Traveller. However, the delays involved would make it very difficult for a government to have merchants agree to this contract, unless HEAVILY subsidized.
Option 3: Fast merchants and freighters. These would cut down the travel times, but would still be ineffective. In addition, all the added drive space (maneuver drive and added power plant) reduces cargo space, and the ship’s overall economic effectiveness.
Option 4: Jump Stations. The government (or an enterprising local/regional corporation) could construct space stations out near the jump limit. Visiting ships would only be required to travel the short time/distance to the station, transfer cargoes and passengers, restock, and gain new passengers and cargoes. Much more efficient, though it would still require extra cost and/or government subsidy to be effective, long term. Local small craft, or non-jump capable in system ships, would make the lengthy trips between the station and world.
These are the only options which have entered my mind this early on a Sunday morning. Feel free to add more ideas in the comments.
So for my Doldrums campaign setting (which I will get back to soon), I may institute a house rule: any world with such uneconomic travel times will either be reduced in tech level and population, or will have a chance of having had Option #4, Jump Stations, being built – assuming the world has sufficient technology, and/or another corporation or local government willing to subsidize the construction of such a station.
That, or I may just trash that system and start over…