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Cargo / Galactic Trade Basics

Determine Complication

Source Ports of Call pg. 167
Once the PCs find cargo, but before they commit to purchasing it, you should determine what makes this particular job unusual. This complication is up to you and can range from the seller trying to unload vermin-infested cargo on the PCs to a buyer who wants the goods for illegal purposes. How the PCs deal with each complication—if they discover it at all—is up to them.
To randomly determine a complication, roll a d20 on the table below, keeping the result a secret. You can tweak a result for the needs of your campaign, and if you’ve rolled the same result from the table a few 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 be given the chance to attempt this check. A complication that the PCs can be made aware of before purchasing the cargo is marked with an asterisk (*), and some complications modify the cargo’s buy or sell price.

Table 3-3: Random Complications

1Blockade Running
3Expiration Date*
4Fire Sale*
5Friendly Discount*
6Handling Problems
7Hiding Something*
8High Demand*
13Rush Job*
16Strange Customs
18Tough Sell
19Uncommon Tongue
Blockade Running: When the PCs reach the destination, they find it blockaded. With a successful Piloting check, the PCs can slip through the blockade. Otherwise, they must engage in starship combat of average difficulty (Starfinder Core Rulebook 326).
Competition: Once the PCs have loaded their cargo and determined their destination, they discover a rival crew that’s selling the same cargo at that location. Determine how long the rival crew will take 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 it isn’t delivered in 2d8 days, the PCs can sell it for a maximum of 1 BP per lot.Fire Sale*: Everything must go. The size of the cargo increases to the maximum number of lots the PCs’ ship can carry. Reduce the buy price by 1 BP per lot.
Friendly Discount*: The seller has something in common with one of the PCs (for example, they both fought in the same military campaign or have the same prosthetic limb). If that PC succeeds at a Diplomacy check, reduce the buy price by 1 BP per lot.
Handling Problems: There is a potential accident while loading or unloading the cargo. Treat this 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.
Hiding Something*: The seller is aware of a problem with the cargo (roll again on this table), but they’re not telling the PCs. A PC who succeeds at a Sense Motive check deduces the problem before purchase.
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.
Illegal*: Possession of this material is against the law. Law enforcement can detect the illegal cargo with a successful scan that identifies the ship’s load (Core Rulebook 325). If inspectors board, any cargo not in a smuggler’s compartment is automatically detected. If the PCs give up the seller to law enforcement, their punishment might be reduced.
Imitation*: These goods are actually cheap knockoffs. A PC can detect this with a successful Perception check, reducing the buy price and sell price by 2 BP per lot. If the PCs want to try to sell the goods at the initial price, they must succeed at a Bluff check or else attract the attention of law enforcement.
Radioactive*: The cargo is radioactive and not properly shielded. A PC who succeeds at a Physical Sciences check detects this before the transport is underway; the cargo can be safely stowed with 1 day of work, or by spending 1 BP per lot. Otherwise, the crew is exposed to constant low radiation beginning 1d6 days into the journey.
Regulated*: Exhaustive regulations 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.
Rush Job*: This cargo must be delivered to a specific destination in 1d8 days. If it is, increase the sell price by 2 BP per lot. If not delivered on time, the PCs must find a new buyer.
Stolen: This cargo was stolen from another crew, and they’re coming to get it back! This represents a hard encounter, but the crew can be pacified if the PCs surrender 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 is 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 is increased by 1 BP per lot. If they fail, the sell price is reduced by 1 BP per lot.Telepathic: The buyer is telepathic. If none of the PCs have telepathy or limited telepathy, and the PCs can’t succeed at a Diplomacy check, the buyer doesn’t trust them and reduces the buy price by 1 BP per lot.
Tough Sell: The buyer tries to strongarm the PCs, reducing the sell price by 2 BP per lot. A PC can negate this reduction with a successful Intimidate check.
Uncommon Tongue*: The seller of the cargo speaks an unusual language, chosen by the GM or determined randomly from “Other Languages” (Core Rulebook 41). If the PCs can’t find a way to communicate with them, no sale.
Vermin*: The cargo is infested with tiny or smaller creatures. A PC discovers them with a successful Life Sciences check. If found before purchase, reduce the buy price by 2 BP per lot and spend 1 day fumigating. If found after purchase, reduce sell price by 2 BP per lot; additionally, the vermin may infest the ship.