The Hidden Truth

Galactic Trade Basics

The PCs will earn most of their Build Points by hauling cargo from one world to another. See Running the System on page 55 for other ways the PCs can receive BP.
A cargo job boils down into several steps.

Find Cargo

You look for suitable cargo to purchase with the hopes of selling it elsewhere.
Activity: You spend the day searching the infosphere, talking with contacts, and visiting warehouses or the local starport. You must be within a settlement, though the GM might allow you to find cargo in other locations. At the end of the day, attempt a Diplomacy or Profession (merchant) check (DC = 10 + 1-1/2 × your character level). You take a cumulative –1 penalty to this roll for every find cargo activity you or your allies have previously attempted in this settlement within the last week.
Results: On a success, you find 1d4 lots of cargo that you can buy. The cargo can’t be split up; all of the lots must be bought together. The cargo’s total buy price equals 1d4 BP × the number of lots. For every 5 by which the result of your check exceeds the DC, you can increase or decrease the amount of cargo by 1 lot.
The GM determines the type of cargo and might even tell you where you can sell it for a reasonable price. All of the cargo must be transported and sold together; you and your allies must load the cargo onto your starship yourselves. You might have to deliver some cargoes within a certain time frame. When you’re told the type of cargo, its buy price, and (if applicable) its destination and its sell price, you can choose not to purchase that cargo. However, when you purchase the cargo, you decide what to do with it, though you might want to perform the find buyer downtime activity (page 54) at another settlement to sell it.
Special: If multiple allies perform this downtime activity on the same day, only one of them attempts the check, but with a cumulative +1 circumstance bonus for each aiding ally (not including the one attempting the check).

Find Buyer

You look for someone interested in buying your cargo.
Activity: You spend a day researching markets on the infosphere, checking with union or guild representatives, meeting with local contacts, and haggling. You must be within a settlement, though the GM might allow you to find a buyer in other locations. At the end of the day, attempt a Diplomacy or Profession (merchant) check (DC = 15 + 1-1/2 × your level).
Results: On a success, you find someone willing to buy your cargo for the sell price (as determined by the GM). For every 5 by which your check exceeds the DC, increase the sell price of the cargo by 1 BP per lot. If you fail, you still find a buyer, but the sell price of the cargo is reduced by 1 BP per lot.
Special: If multiple allies perform this downtime activity on the same day, only one of them attempts the check, but with a cumulative +1 circumstance bonus for each aiding ally (not including the one attempting the check).

Find Cargo

Cargo in the Starfinder setting is standardized into lots, each massing 25 tons. A single lot of cargo fits into one of a starship’s cargo holds, so the PCs can transport a number of lots equal to the number of cargo holds on their vessel. Finding cargo to buy is a downtime activity as detailed in the sidebar on page 52. For more on downtime activities, see page 150 of the Starfinder Character Operations Manual.

Cargo Type

When the PCs successfully find cargo to purchase, you determine the type of cargo, usually to match the needs of your campaign. Alternatively, you can randomly determine the type of cargo by rolling a d20 on the table below.

D20 Cargo
1 Art or antiques
2 Base metals
3 Ceramics or glassware
4 Chemicals
5 Furniture
6 Hides or leather
7 Live animals
8 Machinery or electronics
9 Minerals or byproducts
10 Paper products or books
11 Plastics
12 Precision equipment
13 Precious metals
14 Prepared food
15 Textiles
16 Toys or games
17 Vegetable products
18 Vehicles
19 Weapons or ammo
20 Wood

Shipping or Speculation?

When the PCs purchase cargo, they generally have to find a place to sell it themselves. After all, transport drivers who earn flat rates usually cover established shipping routes; as galactic traders, the PCs typically do more than that. However, at your discretion, the seller can give the PCs a tip as to where they might offload the cargo they just bought. This tactic can benefit players who’ve just started interacting with this system or for groups who only want to dip their toes into the trading game. In such cases, the PCs don’t need to use the find buyer downtime activity (see sidebar above), and they receive an amount of BP of your choosing per cargo lot.

Destination

If you’ve decided that the cargo’s seller gives the PCs an idea of where to sell those goods, you can choose that destination based on the needs of your campaign (especially if the players have expressed interest in going to a specific place). Alternatively, you can randomly determine the general destination by rolling a d10 on the table below.

D10 Destination
1 Absalom Station. If the PCs are already on Absalom Station, reroll.
2–4 A different world in the same star system where the PCs bought the cargo.
5–7 A world in Near Space.
8–10 A world in the Vast.

Determine Complication

Once a PC finds the cargo, but before they commit to purchasing it, you should determine what makes this particular job unusual. You decide the complication, and the PCs decide how to deal with it—if they even become aware of the problem, that is!
To randomly determine a complication, roll a d10 on the table below, keeping the result a secret. You can tweak the result as needed for your campaign; once you’ve rolled the same result from the table a couple of times, consider throwing out that entry and substituting one of your own! If a complication requires a skill check, the DC for that check equals 15 + 1-1/2 × the party’s APL. Usually, only one PC should attempt this check. An asterisk (*) marks a complication that the PCs can be made aware of before purchasing the cargo, and some complications modify the buy or sell price of the cargo.

D10 Complication
1 Competition
2 Expiration Date*
3 Handling Problems
4 High Demand*
5 Imitation*
6 Regulated*
7 Stolen
8 Stowaway
9 Strange Customs
10 Tough Sell

Competition: Once the PCs have loaded their cargo and determined their destination, a rival crew contacts them and declares they’re selling similar cargo at that location. Determine how long the rival crew takes to reach the destination (usually assuming average time in the Drift); if the PCs don’t beat the rival crew to the destination, the sell price is reduced by 2 BP per lot.
Expiration Date*: This cargo is perishable. If the PCs don’t deliver it in 2d8 days, they can sell it for a maximum of 1 BP per lot.
Handling Problems: There’s a potential accident while loading or unloading the cargo. Treat this complication as a trap with a CR equal to the party’s APL. The exact nature of the trap and the skills necessary to disable it are up to you.
High Demand*: This cargo is trending. The buy price is increased by 1 BP per lot, and the sell price is increased by 2 BP per lot.
Imitation*: These goods are actually cheap knockoffs. A PC can detect this fact with a successful Perception check, reducing the buy and sell prices by 2 BP per lot. If the PCs want to try to sell the goods at the unreduced price, they must succeed at a Bluff check or else attract the attention of law enforcement.
Regulated*: Exhaustive laws govern this cargo at the point of purchase. A PC must succeed at a Computers or Profession (merchant) check, or the crew members must spend 1 day navigating customs and filling out forms before they can load the cargo on their ship.
Stolen: This cargo was stolen from another crew, and they’re coming to get it back! This complication represents a hard encounter, but the PCs can pacify the NPCs by surrendering the cargo.
Stowaway: An NPC with a CR equal to the party’s APL hides among the cargo, revealing themself after takeoff. A PC who succeeds at a Perception check can detect the stowaway during the cargo-loading process.
Strange Customs: The buyer comes from an unfamiliar culture or has unusual traditions. A PC must attempt a Culture check to maintain proper etiquette. If they succeed, the sell price increases by 1 BP per lot. If they fail, the sell price decreases by 1 BP per lot.
Tough Sell: The buyer tries to strong-arm the PCs, reducing the sell price by 2 BP per lot. A PC can negate this reduction with a successful Intimidate check.

Transport

Next, the PCs must get the cargo onto their starship and transport it to a place where they can sell it. In general, the farther the PCs take the cargo, the more it’s worth (see Table 4 below).

Cargo Handling

Loading or unloading a single lot into a starship cargo hold takes 1 hour for one person using a cargo lifter (Core Rulebook 204) or similar equipment. Without such equipment, loading the same lot takes 8 hours of labor; multiple people can work together to reduce this time. For example, it takes 4 hours for two people without major equipment to load a single lot into a cargo hold. While the PCs can usually take their time, a complication might mean that every hour counts!
The PCs must also unload the cargo once they reach the world where they want to sell it, but unloading generally occurs while at least one of the crew engages in the find buyer downtime activity (page 54).

Make the Sale

Once the PCs have reached the area where they want to try to sell their cargo, finding a buyer is a downtime activity detailed in the sidebar on page 54. Certain complications might make this activity more difficult, but once a PC finds a buyer, you need to determine the sale price.

Cargo Sell Price

First, determine the base sell price of a cargo by rolling a d8; if you roll an 8, roll again once, and add the new result to 8. This result is modified by the distance traveled (as noted on the table below) and any complications, in that order; the total results in a sale price per lot (minimum 1 BP per lot). Finally, the results of the PCs’ find buyer downtime activity can also alter this price.

Travel Time Destination Base Sell Price Modifier
1d6 days Another world in the system or Absalom Station –2 BP /lot
2d6 days One of the Pact Worlds other than Absalom Station from outside the system –1 BP/lot
3d6 days A Near Space world No change
5d6 days A Vast world +1 BP/lot

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