18 January 2013

Low Passage

  • A point to consider in line with my revision of travel classes is the role of low passage. Back in my early blogging days Isocahedron and Tinker123 came up with, and elaborated on, an interesting idea. And by the way: I don't want to start a war on survival rates across various ruleset; IMTU freezing people is a routine operation and under decent circumstances everyone survives.
  • "Passengers are not frozen/thawed by the ship's medic, but by the local hospital, then loaded aboard like cargo. If they are travelling long distance they are simply transferred ship to ship without thawing." The idea there was to avoid most of the survival checks and to make only one  at the end of the entire trip. Now, with my take on survival rates, that point is kind of moot. But wait...
You had it coming when you asked Apple to design your low berths. Picture from Prometheus.
  • "I presume that all the cooling and health-monitor equipment is packaged in some sort of packing-crate with the passenger in it, so the fitting-out cost for the cold berths is essentially a storage rack. Maybe with some interfaces in it to supply power the crates and collect the readouts off the berths that have been filled. The crates could have independent power for transfer and for emergencies. If you follow that approach, then there's no freezing-gear for the crew to use in an emergency. Unless they keep a couple of spare empty crates around. Maybe the fitting-out cost for the low berth includes the crate? Then the rack would start by being full, and the crew would have to pull out an empty crate every time they load a full one aboard. Do they hand over the empty to the starport crew, or stick it in the hold? If they stick it in the hold, can they still use it in an emergency, or do they have to pull one out of the rack first? Lots of lovely questions to hassle the players with..."
Not really space efficient, isn't it? Picture from the original quadrilogy...
  • Even if there is no significant risk to low berths IMTU, it make sense: by remaining frozen between jumps, you spare (that's all low berths are about, after all) on accommodation and food while waiting for your next jump. Beside, the freezing/thawing can be conducted much more comfortably (both for the personnel and the passenger) in a roomy land based facility than on board a cramped ship. The low berths proper are 2m x 1m x 1m  (around 7' x 3' x 3') integrated units including the berth proper, cooling and monitoring equipment and a battery (feeding the berth while it's moved from one mode of transportation to the other), and a small trunk for passenger belongings (think carry-on luggage).
That's more like it... Make each cell removable, hand a couple of handles
to pull it out, and a small monitor to check on the occupant status...
  • The low berths bay of a starship is thus no more than a collection of rack with power and data feeds, a 'crew station' (ranging from a simple screen in the wall, to a full fledged manned around the clock crew station, depending on the size of the bay), and a first aid station (ranging from a locker with some equipment to a full fledged infirmary). And emergency low berth are not standard on private ships. Again, I don't care to go in a fight over compared misjump probabilities. IMTU it's a quite unlikely event. Think plane crash unlikely. Now if the PC want to buy some...


  1. I for one am also in favour of self-contained low berth units that slot inside racks aboard starships.
    Lo-Berths costs aboard include these racks, power suplies, monitoring instruments and software and an emergency locker with specific 1st aid eqt and supplies (including a fully automated portable CPR system).
    Lo-Berths "modules" also provide locker/safebox storage for the passengers' personal belongings, at least what they'd need if, for some reason, they had to be waken up before reaching their destination (for exemple, some toiletries, a fleece, a kid's comfort blanket or favourite teddy virushi).

  2. OTU also mentions supersize Lo-Berths for cattle and livestock. These don't fit the std racks and need special racks installed (for more info, a good source is your local branch of the Ministry of Colonization).

    Starting from that, MTU has smaller racks for pets (fits two in a std rack). The market for these products and services is surprisingly lively.

    More controversial: Smaller Lo-Berths, fitting 2/1 or 3/1 in a std rack, and meant for infants or small children also exist.

    Gruesome? Cheap and greedy? Maybe. But in several cases, this becomes interesting, especially when the "charterer's" budget is very tight. For instance, a merch ship belonging to Twin Suns, a company operating in the rimward Marches and coreward Extents, evacuated an orphanage from a war-torn system.

  3. They've even had to leave the starport pad under heavy artillery shelling (spot the Buck Danny influence).

  4. The recent controversy round these parts about the size of crematorium doors can be applied ITU to low-berths access doors.
    Some potential for a scenario complication there if your typical Traveller tramp trader crew goes into the cryo-passenger business.