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A lot of interstellar travel is going to be about trade, and this book is filled with resources to help those groups who want at least part of their game to be about furthering that trade - presumably as small-scale independents, given that the game is centred around individual spacecraft. With spacecraft ownership proposed on the scale that we own cars, these are probably the van-men of space in the equivalent of a step-van or small truck. It's also something that can be modelled well for someone wanting a solo game.
First up, Advanced Trading. If you are a role-playing group, a lot of trade will be relegated to the Between Adventures phase. Let's face it, commerce - however necessary and valuable - isn't really the stuff of adventure. However the rules as laid out in the core rulebook make for quite a lot of work, especially for the GM. Unless your GM has unlimited prep time, you probably want him to be creating exciting adventures not writing out price lists. So a more flexible system for working out prices in a given system based on what they specialise in and a bit of die rolling for that random element is provided, with the intention that (provided you like it) it will repace the version in the core rules. Interestingly, this includes an element to model a place that is good for trade being over-exploited, ensuring that the characters move on and don't just run a single profitable route without exploring anywhere else. You can make things more complex, but that really defeats the purpose of using this system.
Next comes New Spaceships. Everyone is always ready for a few more... and the ones presented include large bulk carriers - think 'container ship' rather than 'truck' - for those who want to take cargo-hauling seriously. There requite multiple-person crews, but come with 'hangers' for personal vessels, so characters won't have to abandon their pride and joy if they take service on one of these big boys (the price tag is likely too much for most characters to contemplate owning one). There are also smaller one- or two-man ships optimised to carry cargo at, of course, the expense of speed, manoeuvrability or weaponry.
This section is followed by another on Fighter Escorts - as the big cargo haulers are not able to fight well, they need to have escorts to defend them. The concept here is the small specialist fighting craft, carried aboard a larger vessel and loosed when the need arises. They are smaller than the regular personal vessels previously discussed in this game, basically a flying weapons platform - some are even controlled remotely rather than having a pilot aboard. They have limited life support even if designed to be piloted, and no Frame Shift drives.
Next up is It Takes All Sorts, a selection of backgrounds suitable for people who want to specialise in trade. People have all sorts of reasons for becoming independent traders, these provide some of them - often involving a desire (or a need) to escape the past. Additional Karma Capabilities round out this section.
The Eternal Foe comes next. This section talks a little about pirates before provided a selection of adversaries at spaceship, vehicle and individual scales... mostly pirates but also some other traders to provide a bit of competition!
Finally, this is all linked in to the Random Gemeration System (RGS). There's an explanation of how to use it to create a solo game - this dupliates notes in the Military and Espionage supplements, as you may not have them - of course if you do you can have a very varied solo game indeed! It then moves on to creating encounters suitable for a trading game, as useful for the GM wanting to create appropriate challenges as to the solo gamer, including pirate attacks, police boarding actions and general spaceway encounters. There's a selection of trade missions - all of which could be developed into full-blown adventures, with plenty of supporting notes. In places the other sourcebooks are mentioned, but alternatives are given for those who don't possess them.
There's a lot of good stuff here, particularly if you are on your own or want to run a game in which trading and commerce provides the background to the adventures you want to run. A lot would be useful whatever science-fiction game you run, even if it's not Elite Dangerous, but if you do it captures the very essence of the video game well.
Game develoer John Krajewski pens a fascinating blog post about how the creation and growth of an economy as a tool for achieving your goals forms the backbone of multiplayer play in his game Eco. ...