Given the assumption that the produce of agricultural worlds, especially the unique and rare items such as wines, spices, and drugs, will be viable commodities in the STAR FRONTIERS milieu, then a trade table for agricultural goods, similar to those appearing on p. 45 of the Knight Hawks Campaign Book, is needed.
The brief table on the Frontier Sector in the Alpha Dawn Expanded Rules lists eight worlds as agro-planets: Yast, Inner Reach, Rupert's Hole, Groth, Ken'zah Kit, Kidikit, New Pale, and Hakosoar. These planets are the primary sources for agricultural cargos, entitling the prospective trader to roll on the "Cargo Acquired at Agricultural Centers" table. Such cargos can be marketed at industrial and resource centers.
Players will note that these colonies represent each of the four Federation member races. Presumably the colonies offer a wide variety of agro-goods, many of them unique. Agricultural production methods in the Frontier need not follow the Terran pattern. Farming can take place underwater or in subterranean caverns. Animal husbandry can be practiced on flocks of balloon-like creatures on high-gravity worlds with a dense atmosphere.
Similarly, star color might affect the nature of crops and herds raised on planets. What sort of strange plants might flourish under the red-orange sun of Hakosoar's star, Scree Fron? For simplicity's sake, only one table of cargos is provided, but the referee is encouraged to modify the description of individual cargos to reflect the unique nature of a world, for both the sake of variety and the feeling of local color.
|Price per unit
Notes on the chart
The types of cargos on the chart are intended to be generic, stressing general types of goods over specific items. Hence, "grain" might refer to wheat, rice, or corn, but could be constructed to include any sort of mass-harvested staple, perhaps even algae harvested from the sea. The referee should use imagination in describing the cargo obtained. For example, a roll of 30 on the chart indicates a cargo of meat - but what sort of meat, from what sort of creature? A load of textiles could represent a sort of plant fiber analogous to cotton, or the "wool" of some strange star beast.
The rare and exotic categories were included to denote special cargos of exceptional quality, value, and rarity; they offer the opportunity to trade in high-value cargos, something that agricultural-produce charts tend to lack. The "rare liquor" and "rare spice" categories might include substances with medicinal, hallucinogenic, or age-prolonging properties. "Medicinals" represent organic materials used purely for health-care purposes or in pharmaceutical production, and might include items such as buds, flowers, pollens, and animal or plant extracts.
Some colonies offer a wide variety of unique agro-goods.
The prices used in the charts were set arbitrarily, using the existing Knight Hawks commodity tables as guidelines and extrapolating from modern-day pricing structures. The profit-to-cost ratios are in line with the resource and industrial cargo tables, but tend toward the lower end of the scale for most of the goods. Hence, most agricultural goods are pretty cheap, especially compared with other cargos. No one is going to get rich dealing exclusively in grain or vegetables. The upper end of the table is the exception: herbs, spices, liquors, and furs are luxuries and are priced as such.
The Knight Hawks rules provide guidelines for hydroponic farming aboard Ag ships. Given the information provided on the agricultural cargo table, a few modifications are in order. The kinds of crops that can be farmed aboard Ag ships should be limited to things such as grain, vegetables, fruit, and coffee. Meat and lumber can be raised, but the time required to "harvest" the produce would have to be lengthened considerably.
Liquors, wines, herbs, and medicinals should be limited to planetary cultivation; one can safely assume that singular planetary conditions create the value of these goods, and these conditions are too difficult and expensive to replicate aboard ship. Allowing characters to grow high-value crops on ships could also upset the economic balance of campaign.
Rules for on-planet farming have been omitted from this article for several reasons. First, devising a system to portray such an enterprise with even moderate accuracy is beyond the scope of this piece. More importantly, the players shouldn't be encouraged to take on the roles of farmers - after all, they're supposed to be adventures!
The prices, guidelines and commodities presented here are just suggestions. Referees should let their imaginations run free, changing things in order to derive the most in their role-playing sessions.