The Blackraven’s First Haul

Note the date of this post. In our 1:1 time game of Traveller, the Free Trader known as the Blackraven sets forth on February 22nd.  With each jump taking roughly two weeks to complete, it won’t take long until we have to shift the camera back to that rascal, Chad Solo.  But for today, it’s all about Cobalt and crew.

Cobalt-15 had to hire a medic (Paul Stanley), a steward (Peter Hamden), and an engineer (Bryce Byerly) to comply with local regulations. After running the numbers, at the usual two jumps per month, his break even point is to gross 201,200 credits per month.  That’s assuming 9k/month for his hired crew, 20k for jump cassettes, 30k for fuel (he might save a little when forced to use unrefined fuel), and 21k for stateroom upkeep.  The 100k mortgage payment to VCD double that, and he needs to clear 100k per trip to make this work.


In a normal game, a player would look over the subsector with a keen eye toward starting his career in the choice, meaning heavily populated systems right next door to each other, haul routes. By starting out in unexplored space, I’ve set myself a more difficult task, which becomes obvious when you consider that the jumping off point is a nearly useless rock named Hawkwind.  With a well populated neighbor, we could make this work, but the nearest reachable system is Blaine’s World and it’s not exactly filled with high value customers either.


Blaine’s World is an earth sized planet with half the water, balkanized government, and gun control so strict it would give AOC a girl boner. The atmosphere is breathable when it isn’t filled with acid rain, and the harsh conditions mean that only a million souls are daft enough to call this miserable dump home. We’ll talk about what all that means ams later.

For now, we only really care about the market. Cobalt was only able to scrounge up a few excess crates of body armor, probably skimmed off the top by Major Dren, which he cannot afford. Being such a backwater means that plenty of export items are warehoused on Harkwind, ready for loading. It’s all VDc gear that needs to get back to Blaine’s World for one reason or another.  We can’t take all of it, hut we can put a big dent in it, as a thank you for the retrofit.  The bill we can charge for eighty tons of cargo ain’t nothing, so Cobalt takes everything he can pack and makes the jump to Blaine’s World without issue.
The rando roll indicates a passing Free Trader, but its captain answers Cobalt’s hails with only an unprintable expletive. Most be a robophobe.

Delivering the goods to the local VDC rep, Major General Angel Jolly…

Brings Cobalt 80k closer to making his first loan payment. Oh, but after deducting 34.1 kilocreds for expenses that’s only a net profit of 45.9 kilocreds and at that rate we’ll never make a go of things.  We are 145,100 credits shy of making our first payment, due March 1, which is after the next haul?  It has to be a big one!

And that’s when the role-playing kicks in.  Major General Jolly, knowing full well the predicament we’re in, makes us an offer we can’t refuse.  As the duly designated VDC representative in-system, she has the authority to defer the first payment to April 1, which she won’t do out of the kindness of her heart.  She expects a bit of quid pro quo here.

Remember that big pile of cargo languishing at Harkwind?  She is getting all kinds of pressure from her higher-up to get it dealt with, and now we see why a mercenary company would bankroll a humble freight hauler.  Not only are they making a considerable markup on the loan, which will keep the stockholders happy, they can twist the mechanical arm of its Captain and get some logistic relief on the outer margins.

This is the price of having a patron with a lot of work.  The Blackraven can delay that first payment, but it has to make a barely-break-even round trip to BFE.  To soften the blow, and acknowledgement of the hassle, she guarantees at least one medium-passage ticket, and a double-load  of tonnage out to Harkwind at 150% the going rate.

That means 1d6x10 tons of cargo, and income of between 15k and 90k credits, plus passengers – which won’t amount to much.

If we can break even on the outbound run, and make another 45 kilocreds coming back, we’ll still have enough time for one last run before the end of March.  If we can clear a gross tonnage of 40 tons outbiund, we’ll net another 15k or more and be well on our way to having finance as in the black as the skies we fly.

Of course, this all assumes we don’t run into trouble on Blaine’s World while we secure the cargo for the outbound run.  And the crew of the Blackraven being the PC’s that they are, that’s never a safe assumption.