Spaceroad Truckers


General Discussion


Each cargo mod holds 25 tons. The maximum weight limit for a truck in the US is 40 tons (truck and cargo), but 25 tons of cargo is about right for a smaller modern shipping container. A modern Panamax ship carries 5000 of these containers and some of the largest container ship carry over 15,000 of them.

For comparison, a Caravel had between 50 to 60 tons.

Roman ships had a cargo capacity between 100 and 150 tons with the largest going up to 600 tons of cargo.

A Cog, probably, had a cargo capacity of around 100 tons.

A Spanish Galleon had a cargo capacity of around 500 tons.

The largest cargo ship in starfinder has ten expansion bays, which you could fit with 5 shuttle bays bring the total number of cargo holds to 15 or 375 tons.

By contrast, pathfinder ships are very fast. 1d6+2 days in system or 1d6 day for a basic drift drive. With an advanced drift drive you could pull 1d6/2 in system or even 1d6/4 (though limited to large ship). Given the speed of shipping, it might make sense to simply swap docked shuttles so that the ship does not need to hand around to load and unload cargo.

Put another way, maybe cargo hold capacity should scale with the size of the ship.


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This reminds me of the old Marvel Comic U.S. 1, the 1st ever space trucker comic...


Scrapper wrote:
This reminds me of the old Marvel Comic U.S. 1, the 1st ever space trucker comic...

Wasn't he just a normal trucker with a metal plate in his head that cought CB radio signals?


All those expansion bays are just internal. I'd say slapping on a couple 100 shipping boxes on some tow cables in 0g is totally feasible. Just amp up the Piloting checks for slowing down and turning at all.

Not sure if spoiler from AP:
The ship in the AP towed an entire asteroid.


Nicola The Necromancer wrote:

Each cargo mod holds 25 tons. The maximum weight limit for a truck in the US is 40 tons (truck and cargo), but 25 tons of cargo is about right for a smaller modern shipping container. A modern Panamax ship carries 5000 of these containers and some of the largest container ship carry over 15,000 of them.

For comparison, a Caravel had between 50 to 60 tons.

Roman ships had a cargo capacity between 100 and 150 tons with the largest going up to 600 tons of cargo.

A Cog, probably, had a cargo capacity of around 100 tons.

A Spanish Galleon had a cargo capacity of around 500 tons.

The largest cargo ship in starfinder has ten expansion bays, which you could fit with 5 shuttle bays bring the total number of cargo holds to 15 or 375 tons.

By contrast, pathfinder ships are very fast. 1d6+2 days in system or 1d6 day for a basic drift drive. With an advanced drift drive you could pull 1d6/2 in system or even 1d6/4 (though limited to large ship). Given the speed of shipping, it might make sense to simply swap docked shuttles so that the ship does not need to hand around to load and unload cargo.

Put another way, maybe cargo hold capacity should scale with the size of the ship.

Also given the way the manufacturing works most cargo players are carrying would likely be of the low volume high value category. It would rarely make sense to transport bulk goods in the tramp freighters like what the players would be using. I would assume most bulk transport is basically hauld by giant tugs through space.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Expansion slots probably *should* scale with ship size. I suspect that will be a rules change/addition in the inevitable ship supplement. Right now, its not a priority because PCs will seldom be operating ships much bigger than Medium, for practical reasons.

My own kitbashed rule of thumb would be, standard capacity of an expansion slot is for a Small ship ( Tiny ships don't have them anyway ). Each size larger doubles their capacity. In the case of cargo, this means tonnage. In the case of most other expansion options, it means doubling the number of people they can handle ( number of escape pods, number of passenger seats, etc ). For stuff like Tech Workshops and Labs, it doubles the number of people who can meaningfully use the facility at the same time; the baseline can only be used for one task at a time, while larger ones could support multiple people repairing multiple different devices simultaneously, for example. For stuff like hangars, it doubles their craft capacity. . . but note, the doubling is only for each size beyond the minimum.


I don't know how much bulk transport trade there would really be. Technology would seem able to provide for the basic needs of most worlds, so interplanetary / interstellar trade is probably focused more on some mixture of UPB's and of rarities and luxuries that can't be synthesised. Cargo holds probably should scale with the ship's size but cargo is likely not necessary to the basic infrastructure, so big-volume haulers might be relatively rare.


CeeJay wrote:
I don't know how much bulk transport trade there would really be. Technology would seem able to provide for the basic needs of most worlds, so interplanetary / interstellar trade is probably focused more on some mixture of UPB's and of rarities and luxuries that can't be synthesised. Cargo holds probably should scale with the ship's size but cargo is likely not necessary to the basic infrastructure, so big-volume haulers might be relatively rare.

That was sort of my thought as well. With UPB most manufacturing stuff is not getting shipped around. You ship around the UPB if anything so easier to contain and pretty lightweight and less bulky than finished products.

Other stuff you would be transporting would basically be stuff you can't make with UPB for some reason or rare art's and resources.

The only real major bulk thing to transport may be food/air/water for space stations but this is unlikely to be a trade player adventurers do much with.


Really in thinking about this probably the most common thing you will wind up shipping as a player would be information. Given that it generally is not much faster to try to transmit information to far flung solar systems than it is to bring in person a lot of small scale courier work is probably available.

Taking an adventure out to some star system check to see if there is mail that needs to get hiked over there and pick up some extra cash on the way out and on the way back with any message replies.


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Do keep in mind that while using UPB's is a fast and simple way to build things, I don't think it's been stated that it's the most efficiënt. I wouldn't be too surprised if it turned out that it's far cheaper to build things in a more 'conventional' way than by using UPB's, but that it's just not feasable to do so outside of large-scale manufacturing operations. This'd also handilly explain why it's impossible for players to make a profit turning UPB's into consumer goods at all. It's just an inherently inefficiënt process.

Not saying that's how it is, but it's something that sprang to mind and makes a lot of sense to me personally. YMMV.


I am guessing large factories making their UPB's to begin are making them at a discount so they are not spending full retail costs of UPB. So they could use them to make items at a profit whereas boutique hobbyists really can't since they have to pay full price on the UPB so there basically is no profit there to be had. But you do gain the convenience of making exactly what you want when you want it.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I tend to assume that bulk shipping does occur, simply because bulk shipping existing makes for a better adventure setting. It means freighters subject to interdiction and piracy, which PCs can be involved in by either stopping it or performing it. It also means there are valuable resources people would want to move around, thus giving grounds for conflict and warfare.


Food/drink/materials for such get transported a lot in RL. 375 tons is a ridiculously small amount to/from an agricultural settlement with a million+ people. Towing extra pods or containers is almost necessary, and if NPCs can do it some PC somewhere will want to, though maybe not for trade purposes.


Metaphysician wrote:
I tend to assume that bulk shipping does occur, simply because bulk shipping existing makes for a better adventure setting. It means freighters subject to interdiction and piracy, which PCs can be involved in by either stopping it or performing it. It also means there are valuable resources people would want to move around, thus giving grounds for conflict and warfare.

Well, you can do all that with shipping at a great many scales. Pirate stories of the Spanish Main revolve around it without needing bulk shipping comparable to present-day Earth. What matters is the value of the goods. It can be something as simple as one crucial hostage, which is the McGuffin in The Usual Suspects.

What you'd want extremely large-scale bulk shipping for is stories that revolve around interdicts that threaten the fabric of civilisation itself. I don't know that the Starfinder setting is particularly built for it, but you could probably find an angle.


kaid wrote:
CeeJay wrote:
I don't know how much bulk transport trade there would really be. Technology would seem able to provide for the basic needs of most worlds, so interplanetary / interstellar trade is probably focused more on some mixture of UPB's and of rarities and luxuries that can't be synthesised. Cargo holds probably should scale with the ship's size but cargo is likely not necessary to the basic infrastructure, so big-volume haulers might be relatively rare.

That was sort of my thought as well. With UPB most manufacturing stuff is not getting shipped around. You ship around the UPB if anything so easier to contain and pretty lightweight and less bulky than finished products.

Other stuff you would be transporting would basically be stuff you can't make with UPB for some reason or rare art's and resources.

The only real major bulk thing to transport may be food/air/water for space stations but this is unlikely to be a trade player adventurers do much with.

Billantrix (the Silver Dragon), like many other extraordinarily wealthy beings, has "exotic" tastes in food. And since she's a dragon, when she wants to have something specific to eat she'll want a lot of it. And since she's being hunted off-and-on by the Chromatics, she has to be discreet about how she gets it. She will sometimes hire a freighter crew to bring her whatever large herbivore whose flesh she wants to have and bring them to her Lair. The crew usually won't know they were hired by a dragon.

This topic also reminds me to ask this question -- a lot of significant places in the Pact Worlds have large populations with no explicit means of feeding them. How much of Absalom Station would need to be devoted to hydroponic farming to keep its millions of inhabitants alive?


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Probably much less than you'd think, thanks to advanced in technomagic. ;)

That said, I'd be inclined to say that Absalom Station gets most of its food from off-station. It probably *could* produce enough food, via technomagical industry, but its normally not worth it compared with other uses for its space and energy.


Metaphysician wrote:

Probably much less than you'd think, thanks to advanced in technomagic. ;)

That said, I'd be inclined to say that Absalom Station gets most of its food from off-station. It probably *could* produce enough food, via technomagical industry, but its normally not worth it compared with other uses for its space and energy.

According to the Absalom Station chapter in Dead Suns, the station has near infinite amounts of energy. Given than I 'd say everything that can be grown in hydroponics is grown in Absalom.

That includes most vegetables and some fruits.

That is without the slightest amount of magic.

The issue of space [as in cubic whateverons] may arise though.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Its not the energy that's the limiting factor, its the space and staff. Every giant bay spent on hydroponic farming for food supply, is a giant bay of space not being spent on something with a much higher profit margin that benefits much more from "limitless energy". Its also people doing what amounts to basic agricultural work, when they could be doing something else.

Its not that there wouldn't be any agriculture, since "not being 100% dependent" has value. However, I think the tradeoff where people will stop thinking it worthwhile will happen *well* before the 100% independent point.

Liberty's Edge

The majority of people on Absalom Station are probably not eating fresh-grown food anyway. Most of them would be eating Bachelor Chow or Soylent, or whatever generic foodstuffs exist.

Fresh food would be at a premium, since it either has to be imported, or takes up valuable space.

Meat would be transported to Absalom from elsewhere, probably already butchered and packaged, but what if some rich guy on the station is having a dinner party, and wants to serve freshly butchered meat?


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In a hyper-tech setting you can probably synthesise both plant matter and equivalents of meat, fish and poultry using cloning or culturing tanks, without having to butcher any real animals or kill any real plants. Just harvest a few cells as catalyst, so maybe catalyst would itself be a valuable commodity, though it wouldn't have to be shipped in huge amounts. We have the beginnings of that tech now.

It would be easy enough to do that in a setting like Absalom Station, where you have "clear" cosmic good and evil and access to the best tech, butchering real animals for your dinner table should probably be evil-aligned and possibly even illegal. Those who do it probably would have to have the animals shipped in, and butchering them on the station (or in orbit around the station) would probably be a highly secretive process, or one partly-sheltered sheltered by exemptions for the cultural protocols of some recently-primitive species.

(... aaand there's your Maraquoi meat-smuggling adventure hook, peeps! Who loves ya? ;) )


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Why exactly would butchering animals be evil? They are animals, not people, and the setting makes it objectively clear that there is a difference.


I'm assuming killing things gratuitously when you don't need to (and can't technologically justify it) would be evil whether or not they're the same as people.

(But it would be contextual. If you came from a tribal hunting culture, for instance, not so much.)

Liberty's Edge

I think it's a big stretch to say that killing all animals would be evil. I think you could suggest that it might be socially unacceptable, but that's a far cry from evil.

Personally, I'd say that financial and logistical limitations, coupled with the fact that alternatives are easily available means that real meat would be a rare treat.


LordRiffington wrote:
I think it's a big stretch to say that killing all animals would be evil.

I don't think that's what I said.


Well a standard size cargo container could be cool 3d terrain.


It's a setting where killing Space Goblins (barely sentient beings) is perfectly acceptable. Killing animals for food is unlikely to be an issue.


Space Goblins try to kill and rob you. It's not about slaughtering helpless creatures for food. If in a setting it's not "evil" to pointlessly kill things that present no threat, "evil" is kind of meaningless.


You contradicted yourself, it's either "slaughtering for food" or "pointlessly killing" not both. You sound like the kind of person that would put a "sin tax" on meat and use climate change as an excuse, all so you could impose your views on others. I consider that to be "evil".

Liberty's Edge

I think it's safe to say that regardless of whether it's considered "evil" or not, there are always people going to be people who eat animals, so there will always be an opportunity for PCs to transport them, even if it's for black markets/private buyers.

Even if you have a moral issue with that, there's always the option of transporting them for a zoo, or conversely, rescuing them from said zoo and returning them to their original habitat.

One thing I'd expect PCs to be needed to transport on a regular basis is information. Given that information transfer tends to be at normal drift travel speeds anyway, it'd be preferable to hand any remotely sensitive information to a courier. Obviously the precautions taken would vary depending on the nature of the information, but any party travelling from one station/planet to another would at least be carrying a small locked box containing a data crystal. Even if you're already carrying cargo, the local job board probably has a dozen requests for information to be transported to your destination.


LordRiffington wrote:
I think it's safe to say that regardless of whether it's considered "evil" or not, there are always people going to be people who eat animals, so there will always be an opportunity for PCs to transport them, even if it's for black markets/private buyers.

That is literally what I said.

Lane_S wrote:
You contradicted yourself, it's either "slaughtering for food" or "pointlessly killing" not both. You sound like the kind of person . . .

*eyeroll activated* There's a very specific context to my comments, please be a dear and read the thread before getting personal.

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