Thursday, September 15, 2016

random cargos

Back in February, someone asked what the rough cost per ton would be to ship bulk cargo in BattleTech, and requested suggestions for semi-interesting cargoes to inflict on player characters.

As a quick rule, DropShips and JumpShips (hereafter DS&JS) suggests that a commercial ship makes about 2d6x10% of its usual revenue per mission.

Based on the revenues-per-mission and the cargo capacities listed in FASA's TR:3057, shipping should cost about 105 to 111 C-Bills per ton of cargo. (The per-mission revenues look like they were taken from a chart in DS&JS, which has a more complex system, and I suspect uses a base cost of 100 per ton). That matches up well with MW1e's comments that transportation can cost from 500 C-Bills for a single person (which is about five tons worth of cargo - I wonder if that's where BattleSpace got the mass of steerage quarters?) up to "several thousand" C-Bills to ship a BattleMech. And of course, transport into a combat zone can cost up to 10x higher.

The price should be per jump, which means any DropShip which can find customers for 500 tons of cargo space can make enough to pay for passage on a jump collar.

Here's all the cargoes I came up with:
  • a herd of cattle
  • whatever Han Solo was hauling in Episode 7
  • one deadly and unpredictable midget (the man loves fire)
  • enormous hallucinogenic fungi
  • industrial sand
  • petroleum sludge
  • soylent (capellan) green
  • quadrotriticale and/or tribbles
  • agrimechs or mining mechs
  • aquaculture farms
  • computer chips and/or fiberoptic components
  • fiberoptic cable too large to have any known use
  • a stack of enormous polished mirrors
  • antique weaponry or wines (for Kurita space)
  • copies of the most recent season of Solaris VII bouts
  • high art filled with drug stashes
  • drugs stashes filled with corporate espionage
  • corporate espionage team with several ten-ton cargo containers they refuse to explain or open
  • metal nets filled with mysteriously irradiated space debris
  • a smaller dropship
  • a thruster or engine part for a larger dropship
  • precursor metals or components for weapon manufacture
  • a rare isotope of water
  • a library of Vogon poetry
  • refugees
  • spare filters for a water filtration plant
  • medical and/or disaster relief supplies
The 1987 House Sourcebooks all have sections discussing what they trade with other states, and some of their corporate and planetary profiles mention imports and exports too.


  1. As a player, I'd be happy finding most of these cargoes.

    1. Yeah, most of them aren't actively trying to kill you.

    2. And you can argue with other PCs for hours about how to properly monetize/weaponize them all. Especially the Vogon poetry.

    3. "Jeff, you gotta shave your head, wear the tribble as a wig and slip it into their food supplies during the parley."

    4. Hah! Maybe I should try pitching a merchant campaign to my group instead of a 'Mech one.

    5. Every campaign is a merchant campaign if your players are greedy enough.