Selling Captured Starships


Homebrew


The Core rules don't have prices (in credits) for starships and I kind of understand why, but what do you do with captured starships? The rules kind of encourage capturing them rather than destroying them, so what are the characters expected to do with them? I'm thinking of having them be able to sell them, not for credits, but instead for build points that they could add to their own ship. Thinking of having the going rate be 10% of the build points it would cost to build the captured ship.

Anyone see any potential problems with going this route?


if the ship they capture is better than the one they got, they might want to sell their old ship and keep the better one. They could sell their old ship for build points to repair the starship they just captured, as it is highly likely that they may do some damage to it in the process of capturing it, ship to ship combat will do that. It may be necessary to incapacitate the opponent's starship in order to capture it somewhat intact rather than blown to smithereens. So the damage the PCs did to it, in order to capture it, will have to be repaired in order for the PCs to use it. They will probably have to tow it with their current ship, to a port where starship repairs may be effected.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Okay, to put it simply. . . sure, you can give the PCs a quantity of build points for use on upgrading their ship. . .as long as the amount of BP the party has remains the correct amount for their average party level. Which means giving them just the right number of ship battles between levels.

The system is *not* designed to account for random sources of BP, nor is it built around the idea that players will get random BP.


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Just say no.

There have been multiple threads dealing with BP-Credit conversions and salvaging ships.

My suggestion, expanded on in other threads, is that the BP you get at each level comes from the salvage of ships you capture or report locations of. Let's say you capture a tier 4 pirate ship. You lay a claim on it and report it to your favorite salvage yard. They handle the recovery and either scrap it or find a buyer. In either case the funds do not come instantly. That ship could provide BP for 4 levels as they sell components or use the to modify your ship.


Spelljammer had this exact problem back in the nineties. Glad to see not much has changed.


Metaphysician wrote:

Okay, to put it simply. . . sure, you can give the PCs a quantity of build points for use on upgrading their ship. . .as long as the amount of BP the party has remains the correct amount for their average party level. Which means giving them just the right number of ship battles between levels.

The system is *not* designed to account for random sources of BP, nor is it built around the idea that players will get random BP.

I mean that isn't really any different that wealth by level. Everything players get is somewhat arbitrary. So long as it makes sense story wise they won't bat an eyelid. We are used to WBL its just that BP, while being functionally the same, is new and thus seems weird.


I don't see anything wrong with giving your engineer the option to salvage a starship for parts which gives them 10% BP which they can then apply to their own ships (if they have the ranks equal to or greater then the tier of the ship). But I would have some extra stuff to add to it. Salvaging a ship is a long process about 10 times longer than crafting and yes you can have the extra BP which may be more than your ship can hold but you can only use up to your ships max until you level up and have more room to add the new parts in which fall back to the 10 time longer process to craft/add them to the ship. So when you have more BP parts available then the ships tier can hold then guess what it becomes a "house in a box" issue you are going to need to store the parts in a cargo hold or something to be used later.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

5%(rounded to the nearest whole number) of the BP if space battles are relatively rare or you plan to reset BP each level anyway. 2% (again rounded) if space battles are common and you don't want to reset BP so they will accumulate it over time.

(If rare or BP resets when level up happens)
So if they are say level 3 and defeat another level 3 ship in such a way they can salvage it then they will have their base 95 BP and a bonus 5. Not a huge amount and once they level to 4 their BP is reset to 115 anyway so at any level with only 1 or 2 space combats they are never overly powerful as the BP will reset at each level up the party has.

(If common or you don't reset when level up)
This way again the same 3rd level party ends up with 95+2 BP for their star ship victory and will get an extra 1-2 BP per ship they defeat (though i'd rule here that anything less than tier 1 gives no BP) It will take 10-20 ships defeated in such a way they are salvageable to "jump" tiers. And I'd argue if they are engaging in 10-20 star ship combats per level then they probably need the extra BP for sheer survival. Even this you can treat like weapons and never let them get a ship more than level +2 (so 20-40 perfect victories leading perfect salvage of a ship


So could a starting party of first levels have a Kevolari Venture or would they have to start with a ringworks wanderer and basically be the away team for a larger ship? When they gain a larger ship could they convert a cargo bay into a shuttle bay and park the smaller ship there?


I think the problem emerges from the "The ship levels with the player" idea.
Didn't understood why they did it this way. With the Kingdom Building Rules in PF they already had a nice framework for ship-leveling, why not using this for SF?

I think they just tried to get it to much to the "PC Game" system...


Tryn wrote:

I think the problem emerges from the "The ship levels with the player" idea.

Didn't understood why they did it this way. With the Kingdom Building Rules in PF they already had a nice framework for ship-leveling, why not using this for SF?

I think they just tried to get it to much to the "PC Game" system...

Likely true. They could have just given an "expected BP by level table" and given guidelines for gaining BP from salvage or as quest rewards, and how many ship battles / miscellaneous BP rewards a party should encounter per level.


Fuzzypaws: like your idea, maybe someone will come up with a system for this. :)


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

They didn't use such for reasons they've explicitly stated many a time: if you allow players to buy or sell ships ( or ship parts ), you break the economy in half.

They might provide some more complex systems for handling weirder cases ( like wanting to have smaller ships on your main ship ), but the other side of the "more complex" coin is "doesn't suit the core rules book".

Sovereign Court

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Quote:
They didn't use such for reasons they've explicitly stated many a time: if you allow players to buy or sell ships ( or ship parts ), you break the economy in half.

If that's the case, then I would suggest that it is the economy that should have been fixed and not the money sink treadmill that they actually put into Starfinder.

The default assumption of Starfinder is that the PCs will be independent adventurers and not part of any formal state's military. So, where a Star Trek game could ignore the taking of prizes by saying simply "Starfleet doesn't do that." there is no narrative reason that a group of Starfinder adventurers wouldn't do so... Except that the game's mechanics make it impossible. As a general rule, I do not like when game mechanics don't have a narrative explanation.

Maritime law regarding the taking of prizes has been, more or less, standardized since since De Iure Praedae Commentarius was written in 1604, with significant refinements during the mid-18th Century. Maritime law happens to be what I do for a living and maritime history is an area that I am especially prone to "geeking out" over, but I recognize that its something 99.999999999% of the human race has no interest in. Hell, most people don't realize (and don't care) that "ship" and "boat" mean different things... Nevertheless, given how prominent pirates and privateers are in role-playing games and how prominent space-pirates are in sci-fi RPGs, I find it mind boggling that Starfinder's designers wouldn't think that PCs would be taking prizes.

Prize law is very well-developed and has been for centuries, but it is to put it plainly complicated as hell. Prize cases are handled by the admiralty court of whatever nation the prize taker sails the prize to, but its international law and a byzantine web of treaties, accords, common law, and (shudder) diplomatic relations that actually apply and not necessarily the laws of the country that is hearing the case. If the prize ship was flagged by one nation, owned by someone in a second, but carrying goods belonging to an owner in a third (and a fourth, fifth, ... fiftieth) then you get even more complicated cases.

Now, we haven't really see prize taking as a common activity since the 19th Century. But during the Age of Sail and the Age of Steam, prize taking was serious business. Capturing only one prize could be enough to set a ship's master and commander for life... Prizes, collectively, actually impacted the global economy. During the American Revolution the combined American naval and privateering prizes totaled somewhere north of $25 million, during the War of 1812 the Americans captured something like $40-50 million... and that is in 1800s dollars.

Here's the thing though, the legal cases would take years sometimes decades to work their way through the courts. In September, 1778 British sloop Active was captured by an American privateer, the case would spend the next three decades working its way through the court*. This was one ship and two nations that shared virtually the exact same legal precedents for how to resolve prize cases (mostly because the Americans had only been independent for two years at that point), and during an active shooting war.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that Starfinder heroes should be allowed to take prizes. But if they want it to be legal and above-board, the GM should feel justified in making the process a long and drawn-out one. If the PCs don't want to wait months or years to get their money (and don't want to role-play the thrilling and exciting months of depositions and administrative hearings) then maybe we can have a NPC run "Admiralty Prize Corporation" award them a tiny percentage of the prize's assessed value... and then the corporation goes through the years of long and boring legal work. The PC's capture a prize worth $1,000,000. They turn it over and walk away with $100,000... But its all legal and proper.

Alternatively, the PCs can to spit upon their hands, hoist the black flag, and begin keeping prizes for their own personal use. This is naked piracy and should render the PCs outlaws within the Pact Worlds and other civilized star systems. Which makes for a wholly different kind of campaign than the default Starfinder game... But no less fun.

* United States v. Peters, 9 U.S. 115 (1809) for any of you nerdy enough to care.


Badly handled in good ol' Skull and Shackles too.

In my IRL Skull and Shackles game, the PC's handed all their captured ships over to their underlings and started creating a fleet well before book 5. :-)

Sovereign Court

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In my Savage Worlds/Pirates of the Spanish Main campaign, where the players have explicitly turned piratical, I have the heroes make a Streetwise skill check to auction off prizes and captured cargo. A single success finds a buyer willing to give 10% of the "retail" price for a ship, with every Raise getting them +5% (up to a max of 25%).

So a $25,000 cromsteven might get them $2,500 to $6,250, plus whatever they can get for the cargo. This then all has to be divided amongst the ship's company according to the ship's Articles of Agreement.

When they were privateers, I handled things a bit differently, in keeping with the historical practice the crew of a privateer vessel receives no pay unless a prize is captured. Then their ship's NPC owner received the largest share – 40 to 70% of the captured vessel's "retail" price – and the king/queen/governor took 10 to 20%. The rest got divvied up amongst the PCs and NPCs actually crewing the ship.

The potential for individual profit by being pirates incited them over to the dark side, much as it did for real pirate crews. Of course, now they lack the protection of a Letter of Marque and will dance the hempen jig should they be caught.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Shipmaster Dave wrote:

Badly handled in good ol' Skull and Shackles too.

In my IRL Skull and Shackles game, the PC's handed all their captured ships over to their underlings and started creating a fleet well before book 5. :-)

Ours did the same.

The books before #5 weren't even written like they expected the players to do exactly that. I mean come on! Obvious!


Considering the pact worlds, disposition of various parts of the ship and crew can vary.

Aballon might consider the ships robots to be liberated slaves to be deprogrammed more than reprogrammed and certainly not sold for parts if intact.

Likewise a druid from Catrovel might see the monsters held in a floating arena like the victims of a dog fighting ring.

Eoxians might want the deceased captain for interrogation. It becomes a matter for bounty hunters and gives new meaning to the concept of Dead or Alive.


The rules don't really take into account things like "What if the party has a CR 15 ship, but they also have a CR 12 ship?" its more of a 'if you're only supposed to have a 300 BP total ship, that means you can't have a 300 total ship AND a 200 total ship.

As for capturing ships, given the general notions of 'resale value' as already designed in the rules, at best you'd get what...10 percent? And that's assuming full function/used but near pristine.

If you're capturing some pirate raider you shot the f#!+ out of, unless you're spending the time to repair it first and refit it to full working, you should never get anything near that 10 percent to start with.

I'd consider there to be a lot of 'administrative' costs associated with turning a salvage or capture into profit. We also have to consider our concepts of salvage and prize only deals with in-real-life law just involving human nations. Imagine how ridiculously complicated things can get with multiple pact worlds and cultures and different rules and regulations based on what and where you take something.

Thus we roll back to 10 percent. 10 percent is the quick and dirty, don't want to get slogged in bureaucracy nightmare for decades.

Otherwise for a narrative perspective, I'd say 'in the background' yes, the PCs captured the ship, and that capture contributed to whatever their next round of BP increase represents. Instead of direct credits, the captured starship contributes to the BP behind the scenes.

In this same line, its why APL 15 player chars can't just then take their CR 15 ship and go mop up and sell a bunch of CR 3 ships, which would still presumably be rather expensive credits-wise.


That's like taking all your gold nuggets to the assayer's office and taking their first offer.

Merchant is a profession. A merchant could put the parts of the ship up on SBuy(Ebay in space) and sell them off separately. Every ship style has an engine that won't work in any other ship style. Then sell the frame with only what would not sell still on it. Meet your customers with space suits on so you can't tell if it's a dread pirate devil you're selling a ship to.

Another good ploy is to meet anyone who wants to get off planet or base, and bluff them. You are the only one selling a ship right now, and for all they know there could be other buyers.

You could sell the ship to two different crews. They'll just have to learn to get along and share.


Goth Guru wrote:

That's like taking all your gold nuggets to the assayer's office and taking their first offer.

Merchant is a profession. A merchant could put the parts of the ship up on SBuy(Ebay in space) and sell them off separately. Every ship style has an engine that won't work in any other ship style. Then sell the frame with only what would not sell still on it. Meet your customers with space suits on so you can't tell if it's a dread pirate devil you're selling a ship to.

Another good ploy is to meet anyone who wants to get off planet or base, and bluff them. You are the only one selling a ship right now, and for all they know there could be other buyers.

You could sell the ship to two different crews. They'll just have to learn to get along and share.

And that's what the merchant you sell your ship to does. You sell it quick and get back to adventuring.

Sovereign Court

Quote:
If you're capturing some pirate raider you shot the f@!+ out of, unless you're spending the time to repair it first and refit it to full working, you should never get anything near that 10 percent to start with.

Why would you want a pirate raider as a prize? You go after the fat merchantmen, not the skinny pirates that feed off them...

And why are you “[shooting] the f@!+ out of” your prize? You go after the fat merchantmen because (a) they have stuff worth stealing, (b) they’re weaker than you in a fight, and (c) you can intimidate them into surrendering.

It also recently occurred to me that Starfinder defaults to a universe of widely divergent technology levels, widely divergent magic levels, and absolutely nothing like a Prime Directive or other law against such contact. So, what’s to stop someone from selling a Tier III gunboat to the Wizard-Kings of Medievalon IV in exchange for a crate of Wands?


Fix up that stone circle and you can land a saucer on it.

I think you are supposed to make money escorting the freaking merchants . Before you take the job, get them to agree to pay you 20% for the salvage. :)


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

With 20% of the salvage coincidentally turning out to be just about exactly the CR-appropriate credit value for beating the ship in a fight. ;)


Batgirl_III wrote:
Quote:
If you're capturing some pirate raider you shot the f@!+ out of, unless you're spending the time to repair it first and refit it to full working, you should never get anything near that 10 percent to start with.

Why would you want a pirate raider as a prize? You go after the fat merchantmen, not the skinny pirates that feed off them...

And why are you “[shooting] the f@!+ out of” your prize? You go after the fat merchantmen because (a) they have stuff worth stealing, (b) they’re weaker than you in a fight, and (c) you can intimidate them into surrendering.

Um, you are shooting the f+$+ out of them because they attacked you, hence them being a pirate raider. So you shoot them, you wreck them, you then have the power to decide what to do with them. Note that the original topic didn't mandate the PCs are in the role of pirates, they could be the targets of pirates that happen to win. As pointed out, the rules mechanics lend to 'even a total wrecked ship can still fly and limp back to base' and only if you take a ship beyond 2x hull is it actually destroyed.

Good guys can take prizes too. You don't have to be a pirate hunting merchants. You can be a pirate hunter hunting pirates.

Silver Crusade

The capture of Starships strikes me as being like the collecting of weapons and armor:

It's just CONVENIENT.
But I agree, they should be sellable.


Batgirl_III wrote:
Quote:
They didn't use such for reasons they've explicitly stated many a time: if you allow players to buy or sell ships ( or ship parts ), you break the economy in half.

If that's the case, then I would suggest that it is the economy that should have been fixed and not the money sink treadmill that they actually put into Starfinder.

How?

How do you balance being able to sell a ship which should be worth millions, with character-sized gear and economy, in a game which primarly focuses on character size encounters?

In Mechwarrior, you could sell a single mech (the worst one), and buy literally the whole list of personal gear, twice (or thrice, just for fun). In Mechwarrior, it didn't matter much, because personal gear was not very useful to begin with, and most combat was done in mechs anyway.

But in pathfinder, personal gear DO matter. A single Plasma Torpedo Launcher from a starship would cost probably more than all the gear you would need from lvl 1 to lvl 20.

So, again, please provide a solution. How do you allow to sell ships (for credits), and not ruin the whole level-based gear the game is built on.


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gustavo iglesias wrote:
Batgirl_III wrote:
Quote:
They didn't use such for reasons they've explicitly stated many a time: if you allow players to buy or sell ships ( or ship parts ), you break the economy in half.

If that's the case, then I would suggest that it is the economy that should have been fixed and not the money sink treadmill that they actually put into Starfinder.

How?

How do you balance being able to sell a ship which should be worth millions, with character-sized gear and economy, in a game which primarly focuses on character size encounters?

In Mechwarrior, you could sell a single mech (the worst one), and buy literally the whole list of personal gear, twice (or thrice, just for fun). In Mechwarrior, it didn't matter much, because personal gear was not very useful to begin with, and most combat was done in mechs anyway.

But in pathfinder, personal gear DO matter. A single Plasma Torpedo Launcher from a starship would cost probably more than all the gear you would need from lvl 1 to lvl 20.

So, again, please provide a solution. How do you allow to sell ships (for credits), and not ruin the whole level-based gear the game is built on.

I have to disagree with you here, why does everyone believe that ships should be worth millions? In Starfinder, spacefaring is as common as seafaring is now. Should a tier 1 ship be worth millions? No, just like a zodiac isn't. Sure, you can purchase luxury yachts and cruise ships are worth millions to hundreds of millions of dollars, but purpose built fishing vessels and leisure craft (speedboats at the like) range from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Does that address the PCs getting the equivalent of an Arliegh Burke class destroyer or a Nimitz or Ford class aircraft carrier? No, but these require funding on a national level to produce and maintain.

Since there is no set price on ships, why not set one? It need not break the economy of the game (considering that level 20 armor, weapons, and grenades can run 932,000c, 935,000 and, 216,000 respectively) many things tend to be ludicrously expensive. I am aware that this is a balance thing, but if ship price for a fully functioning ship is based on it's tier and challenge rank, it isn't economy breaking.

A tier 1 ship is either small like a speed boat with a mounted machine gun or a junker held together by duct tape and hate, is that worth tens of thousands? Nope, call it a CR 1 and it becomes 4,600c. Try to sell it and you get your 10% worth at 460 if someone is willing to buy it.

Manage to disable and board a CR 20 naval frigate? That bad boy is worth 7,820,000c! Again, worth 1/10th considering attempting to resell/ransom/part out the vessel.

I also like the idea Batgirl_III has about going through the courts to do everything by the books, taking years at times for things to be cleared. The PCs can turn it over to whatever legal body does the work in turn for a percentage of its value now.

This is how we will be running starship capture in our game anyway.


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A zodiac is, literally, the equivalent of an escape pod for larger ships.
A very old, non-armed, freighter ship can cost as much as 350.000 euros:
Small freighter
That's half a million dollars, roughly, and does not include any ship to ship weapons.
A bigger freighter (still unarmed, not military, old, and used) cost 35 millions:
tanker. This is still very much in the ballpark of what a pirate-style group of PC can attack.

A tier 1 starship is, for example, a Kevolari Venture ship. It's about 200 feet long, and 100 ton (and that's with Starfinder incredibly low weights for ships. Adding a zero gives you a more realistic weight). It has a laser cannon which does the equivalent of 20d4 and a missile launcher which does 40d8, both would be top tier weapons compared to normal sized guns. It can carry 6 people flying in atmosphere at much higher speeds (and carrying more cargo) than a 15000 hover pod does. It has a physical science lab (which is probably worth more than 10.000 credits by itself, seeing how a operation station is worth 7000 credits) and the equivalent of a 200hp shield, which is twice as much as the prismatic force field which cost 1 million. Plus the drift engine, whatever you think that might cost. It's the equivalent of a teleporting device or planar shifting device.

I don't know you, but selling that for 460 credits (the cost of a low tier laser rifle or armor), breaks my inmersion way more than just keeping them separated. IfYMMV, more power to you. The idea that selling a flying, armed, force-fielded, drift-capable ships of 200' size and 100 ton of weight, with several labs, computers, and long range sensors, gives you enough to roughly pay for a motorcycle made of junk, doesn't sound well in my head. I'd rather have it abstract and separated from the economy, that integrated in the economy but in a way that makes zero sense, because if it made sense, it would break the economy.


Absolute agreement with all of Gustavo's points. I still think it's entirely workable to come up with a system for converting captured ships and quest rewards into BP rather than just going with flat automatic BP by level, but the BP needs to stay entirely separated from the normal credits-based player economy.


Fuzzypaws wrote:
Absolute agreement with all of Gustavo's points. I still think it's entirely workable to come up with a system for converting captured ships and quest rewards into BP rather than just going with flat automatic BP by level, but the BP needs to stay entirely separated from the normal credits-based player economy.

Honestly having one track for converting loot into what is essentially a separate experience track causes enough trouble, with people trying to use various tricks to surpass the WBL expectations, having yet a third one for ships is just bound to double headaches.

Not only will GMs need to make sure gear and loot is handed out in the right proportions, but they'd also need to make sure enough ships are available for capture to keep every group on the right track there as well.

Sovereign Court

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As I've mentioned elsewhere, I actually work in the maritime industry as a legal investigator. I mostly deal with labor issues, but I try to keep abreast of the field generally. Exact prices for specific vessels will vary quite a bit (specialized equipment, tax breaks, sweetheart loans, bulk purchasing, etc.) but as a very rough figure your looking at $25 million USD and up for any serious cargo ship.

Typical Neopanamax bulk carriers (60-80,000 DWT; the biggest that can fir through the Panama Canal) sell for $35-40 million newly constructed and about $25-30 million used.

A Capesize bulk carrier (80,000 DWT and up; too big for either the Panama or Suez Canals, thus having to sail around the Cape) are pretty much the biggest things on the ocean and start at about $60 million.

China's OOCL Hong Kong is currently the largest container ship active today. She was the first of six vessels in her class and the contract to build all six was worth a reported $950 million. So doing very crude "back of the napkin math" that puts her at about $108 million dollars.

How do you handle Player Characters having that sort of money?

Very simple. You make the universe's economy work like an actual economy. A $35 million dollar cargo ship isn't going to be cheap to operate, even "parking" the thing in a port is going to cost thousands of dollars a day... Operating it will cost millions of dollars in fuel alone. Not to mention maintenance, tariffs, taxes, licenses, regulatory compliance. Oh, and you gotta pay the crew. You'll need to keep the ship moving cargo if you don't want to loose your shirt. If you are lucky you might break even. If you are very lucky, you might turn a modest profit.

In short, for the typical group of players interested in adventure and exploration, bulk cargo ships are far more trouble than they're worth. A smaller tramp freighter that deals in luxury goods and/or express delivery of sensitive materials (and/or running contraband) is far more profitable, doesn't require crew beyond the size of the typical party, and has the freedom to venture away from established trade runs. Hence, their ubiquity in fiction (e.g., Millennium Falcon, Serenity, or the African Queen).

I'd look to Traveler as the benchmark for how to make a sci-fi roleplaying game with a realistic-ish economy. The game does do away with a lot of the "boring bits" but still allows for the PCs to engage in mercantile adventures. You can be a Mal Solo / Han Reynolds tramp freighter captain dealing in a mix of legit jobs as contraband running in a smaller ship or even become an independent yankee trader in a bulk freighter competing with the major corporate powers... Heck, if you really want to, you can work for one of the big corporations.


That said, if you want to add more book keeping to your game, I imagine that's your groups decision. But if the attempt is to move beyond the established BP per level stuff and give your crew a ship several tiers above what you should be running just because you now spend your time being salvage operators, thats a whole new game intention.

For me, I already believe the BP between levels is already pretty clear/open on how it increases. Its all the stuff like looting/salvaging ships or its stuff like having a patron that does it for you, or some other non-credit direct rewards you get from quests/adventuring/etc.

But just like how levels work, you don't get to normally get layaway access to new level abilities until you actually hit than new level, you don't get to 'buy' your level 16 hitpoints early when you're still level 15. And just like having above recommended WBL gear, if you're running at better than the recommended BP levels, then by nature the existing CR of threats encountered are less than they would be and as such you should get less rewards.

If you're running around in a tier 20 ship when you should only have a tier 15 one, then either the GM should be throwing tier 20 stuff at you, even if that means skillwise you're still level 15, or all the normal CR 15 stuff being thrown at you should be considered less because you're overpowered/overleveled for the challenge.

I figure we have to remember that the ship stuff is by nature separate from the WBL stuff because otherwise you'd get stuff like, "I should be able to sell this for tens of millions and then we'll just turn that into above our level personal gear!" Even at level 5 we can have level 20 gear!

Sovereign Court

I've decided to knock together a quick draft of a house rule for selling starships. This is based on my prior experience in Savage Worlds/Pirates of the Carribean, 7th Sea, and a "Star Wars" game using the Mutants & Masterminds rules with the D20 Modern Wealth System tacked on. I have not used these in Starfinder, but I think they should work out okay.

Using these rules will result in your PCs having a lot more cash on hand than the default rules assume and the GM will need to adjust his campaign plans to suit. If you don't plan on having piracy, naval combat, and prize taking as a feature of your campaign then I suggest you skip these. If, however, you do want to inject some pirates and privateers into your campaign, these should work fine.

I also haven't come up with monetary values for the ships yet. But its safe to say they will be expensive.

Selling Starships House Rule

Simple Method
If you want a "quick and dirty" way of handling it, then Player Characters can sell ships for a flat 10% of its listed purchase price. The GM may change this based on market conditions or whatever other factors he feels reasonable by whatever amount he deems fair.

Advanced Method
If you are willing to put in a little more complexity, use the following system. Essentially, any ship the Player Characters are selling will fall into three categories: wholly owned, prizes, and salvage. A wholly owned ship is one that the PCs have purchased outright; Prizes are vessels captured in battle; and salvage refers to recovered wrecks.

When selling a wholly owned vessel, PCs must make a Profession (Politician, Corporate Professional, or Dockworker) check with a (DC = 10 + 1.5 × the starship’s tier). Success gets you 10% of its listed purchase price. For every ten full points by you exceed the DC, you get an extra 5%. Selling a vessle this way takes 2d4 weeks in an appropriatly large port, the GM has the decression to increase this time if her feels the port is too small (or even decresase it if he feels the port is especially bustling).

When selling a prize or salvage vessel, PCs must decide if they want to sell it on the "Black Market" or turn it over legally to the Admirality Prize Corporation.

If selling a prize on the Black Market, which is a criminal act, PCs must first make a Culture check DC 15 to recall the name of a fence willing to deal with them. Finding a contact takes 2d6 weeks. Then they must make a Profession (Con Artist, Lawyer, or Smuggler) check (DC = 10 + 1.5 × the starship’s tier). Success gets you 5% of its listed purchase price. For every five full points by you exceed the DC, you get an extra 5%.

Selling salvage on the Black Market works similarly, but the negotiation DC is (DC = 15 + 1.5 × the starship’s tier). You cannot earn an extra with higher successes.

If you turn it over to the Admirality Prize Corporation everything is legal and abover board. Representives of the APC can be found in any large port, but it takes 2d4 weeks to get an appointment. PCs must make a Profession (Politician, Lawyer, or Merchant) check with a (DC = 10 + 1.5 × the starship’s tier). Success gets you 10% of its listed purchase price. For every ten full points by you exceed the DC, you get an extra 5%.

Turning salvage over to the APC works similarly, but the negotiation DC is (DC = 15 + 1.5 × the starship’s tier). You cannot earn an extra with higher successes.


This has all gotten very confusing. How about you sell to any merchant available for 10% of worth or do the ship level rebuild ritual.

You have your ship, and the wreck you are salvaging. You do the ritual, the ship you own goes up to your level, heals all damage, and gains any desired systems and weapons the wreck had. The wreck disappears even down to the frame.

The ritual is 1-4 hours depending on how drastic the results will be. There's no chance of ritual backfire as long as you only use it to level your own ship.


Lane_S wrote:
My suggestion, expanded on in other threads, is that the BP you get at each level comes from the salvage of ships you capture or report locations of. Let's say you capture a tier 4 pirate ship. You lay a claim on it and report it to your favorite salvage yard. They handle the recovery and either scrap it or find a buyer. In either case the funds do not come instantly. That ship could provide BP for 4 levels as they sell components or use the to modify your ship.

^^^^ THIS!! ^^^^

This is how I will be handling it in my game.


Batgirl_III wrote:

How do you handle Player Characters having that sort of money?

Very simple. You make the universe's economy work like an actual economy. A $35 million dollar cargo ship isn't going to be cheap to operate, even "parking" the thing in a port is going to cost thousands of dollars a day... Operating it will cost millions of dollars in fuel alone. Not to mention maintenance, tariffs, taxes, licenses, regulatory compliance. Oh, and you gotta pay the crew. You'll need to keep the ship moving cargo if you don't want to loose your shirt. If you are lucky you might break even. If you are very lucky, you might turn a modest profit.

In short, for the typical group of players interested in adventure and exploration, bulk cargo ships are far more trouble than they're worth. A smaller tramp freighter that deals in luxury goods and/or express delivery of sensitive materials (and/or running contraband) is far more profitable, doesn't require crew...

I think you are misjudging the PC goals here.

They don't want to operate the 35 million dollar cargo ship. They want to sell it as fast as possible, for 3.5 million dollars, and then buy every bit of personal gear the book has to offer. Rinse and repeat, because any starship encounter, even selling at 10%, will give them waaaaaaaaaaaaaay more credits than the equivalent CR encounter in personal combat.

I think however, there's a sentence I can agree with:
for the typical group of players interested in adventure and exploration, bulk cargo ships are far more trouble than they're worth
I'd add to that "and the economy that comes with that, including selling salvage" between "cargo ships" and "are far more trouble".

Liberty's Edge

I think part of the reason selling ships is discouraged in the CRB is that 90% of the content and mechanics are centered around the characters and their personal adventures, rather than the ships and their shipbound activities. The point about even the cheapest ship netting enough credits to fully deck out a party is a valid one, though a vigilant GM should have safeguards on hand to prevent such an occurrence (time needed to sell, to get paid, limited availability of such fancy personal gear, hungry eyes watching the players who are now flush with cash, etc etc.) If your game happens to focus more on the ship-to-ship stellar activities, however, you'll probably find a bit less of that particular gambit and more spending their money to work on their ship instead. A good balance between on foot and shipboard gameplay is called for here.

The concept of ship maintenance costs is a very good one in my eyes. Fuel/power, general tuning, repairs, supplies, computer maintenance, news and update downloads--none of that should be free. Assigning a reliable and not-inconsiderable upkeep cost, in money, time or both, should be enough to make most players think twice about trying to game the economy for a quick score. That endgame ship does a LV2 party little good if they have to give it up for wrecked because they can't pay the (for their level) exorbitant upkeep after a single drift jump. Let's just pole vault over the impressions that should make on local NPCs...(hint hint: not all good.)

Another possible mechanic that may dissuade, but not necessarily completely punish, such shenanigans is an increase in difficulty for piloting/gunning/interacting with larger, more advanced ships. Officers probably don't just get put on the most advanced, most expensive dreadnought in the fleet right out of the academy; one should reasonably have to demonstrate aptitude and competency in spades before being allowed to touch such an expensive vessel. Newbie PC's at low levels might not have such experience or training if all they're flown is a Venture; if they were never the pilots or engineers, then even less so. Perhaps assigning some circumstantial penalties to handling higher tier ships in most ways might stymie some such acts??


Daynen wrote:

I think part of the reason selling ships is discouraged in the CRB is that 90% of the content and mechanics are centered around the characters and their personal adventures, rather than the ships and their shipbound activities. The point about even the cheapest ship netting enough credits to fully deck out a party is a valid one, though a vigilant GM should have safeguards on hand to prevent such an occurrence (time needed to sell, to get paid, limited availability of such fancy personal gear, hungry eyes watching the players who are now flush with cash, etc etc.) If your game happens to focus more on the ship-to-ship stellar activities, however, you'll probably find a bit less of that particular gambit and more spending their money to work on their ship instead. A good balance between on foot and shipboard gameplay is called for here.

The concept of ship maintenance costs is a very good one in my eyes. Fuel/power, general tuning, repairs, supplies, computer maintenance, news and update downloads--none of that should be free. Assigning a reliable and not-inconsiderable upkeep cost, in money, time or both, should be enough to make most players think twice about trying to game the economy for a quick score. That endgame ship does a LV2 party little good if they have to give it up for wrecked because they can't pay the (for their level) exorbitant upkeep after a single drift jump. Let's just pole vault over the impressions that should make on local NPCs...(hint hint: not all good.)

Another possible mechanic that may dissuade, but not necessarily completely punish, such shenanigans is an increase in difficulty for piloting/gunning/interacting with larger, more advanced ships. Officers probably don't just get put on the most advanced, most expensive dreadnought in the fleet right out of the academy; one should reasonably have to demonstrate aptitude and competency in spades before being allowed to touch such an expensive vessel. Newbie PC's at low levels might not have such experience or training if...

Except the suggested shenanigans are selling captured ships to fund personal gear, not getting more advanced ships. Selling captured ships to fund upgrades and purchases of ship stuff seems perfectly reasonable and hard to game.

Assigning a cost to ship maintenance means it comes out of the PC's regular gear budget, pushing them into going around capturing and selling ships just to stay even.


I think there isn't really as large a problem as many take it to be. So long as the group knows that selling captured star ships is to fund their own ship, upgrades, replacement, repairs and the like, there isn't that big a problem.

Our current GM has a +3 limit set on the level of gear we can purchase, no matter how many credits we have. This is pretty in line with quest rewards that I have seen so far (level 4 cryo rifle for a level 1 party in the AP?).

Come to the understanding that the game is scaled based on equipment, and if you outright try to break the game it won't fly.


The main reason why this is a problem is the broken economy of Pathfinder /D&D 3.5 which is not meant to support a game where player buy their equipment, but more one where they find/loot it.

Just take a look at the weapon costs in SF:
The cheapest/worst small arm costs 350 credits and does 1d4+1 (Average 4).
The most expensive/best small arm costs 715.800 and does 5d12+20 (Average 55) damage.
So over 20 levels we have a damage increase of factor 13 while the cost increase is x2045. (while the s/hp increase by the factor ~18)

For the armor the cost increase is around x3700 while the AC increase is only ~x20.

At the same time the average WBL increases by the factor 3375.

Just by a look of this numbers and the fact that the relation isn't linear but exponential, you have to see that this system is not really well balanced per se.
If you then throw in another resource (ships) which, to be believable, must have a higher cost then the most expensive item, it can't really work.

I would really love to see that Paizo get a step back and revise the complete progression reward (s+hp, damage, credits) system and build one from scratch for this system instead of simply copy/paste a system which was never designed to work for a scifi game (which is per definition more equipment driven then a fantasy game).


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/239322/Starships-Stations-and-Salvage-G uide we have salvage rules and several critical tools for salvagers and salvage NPC stations. One of the main faction in the one shot is a salvager ship.


Aside from the obvious, if you could get what a salvaged ship is worth, that might be millions of credits, which would break the game as now the PCs can buy anything they want, including the most powerful weapons, armor and devices.

So either go with the 10% rules, which is still lots of money or consider other monkey wrenches thrown in.

There are legal salvage companies. You could get a finder's fee to pass the derelict the PCs find. In my recently released Starships, Stations and Salvage Guide, some items found on a ship as treasure are purely for the PCs. But a salvage operation is an expensive endeavor unto itself, that may cost millions of credits to have the ships, equipment, salvage devices to make it practical to do.

In the Salvage rules we include, PCs are forced to work with the legal/illegal salvage companies (the latter hardly different than pirates). Requiring help to repair or dismantle a ship for salvage. Part of the issue is getting a legal salvage rights license which isn't cheap, and may get into legal entanglements if you don't have one, or you just repair a derelict and make your own ship. You cannot just dock anywhere, the license issue will catch up to you, and the authorities might have you arrested or pursued for arrest, because you don't have the legal rights to possess such a ship.

So working with a legal salvage company provides an ongoing royalty payment, equivalent to 20% bonus to normal wealth by level standards in the game.

We designed our salvage rules to be usable and somewhat profitable, at the same time is designed so you cannot break the game.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I always feel that the answer to this question is "the amount of treasure your PCs were going to be rewarded for that encounter". I'm not saying it has to be wealth by level, but as you design the encounters for the adventure you have some metric that you are going to award rewards to the players based on how you play. Just treat the salvage or the selling of the ship based on that metric and that just comes out of the other way you were going to reward them.

There are many ways for the PCs to profit off of the taking of the ship depending on how they are acquiring it, from pirates to salvagers. Just use the economy guidelines provided, or if you have made your own just use that and treat the ship/salvage as a large chunk of the reward.

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