Info Trading , So many questions, so little time... in Rules & Errata
LastMaxim Dec 10 2003, 01:20 Group: Heroes, Soldier for Christ Quote Post
Howdy,

I came across these old questions I was going to send to 'Sage Advice' once, but never got around to it (atleast i don't think so blink.gif ) before alternity went away...err..so-to-speak... dry.gif ...they all deal with a star-spanning info trading campaign, and how it would work (game mechanics wise):

Info Trading

-How much 'data' can be in 'stored memory'?

-Is a special system required for 'Info Trading'? If so, what would be it's cost (in $ and durability/hull)? Would it perhaps require a separate computer system to be installed in the ship?

-What are some general guidelines regarding the profit of buying and selling information? I'm not looking for hard and fast rules figures, just some ideas to bring info trading into the campaign, and keep a slightly burntout GM functioning smile.gif ...
bri_aitsya Dec 10 2003, 02:47 Group: Heroes, Master of the Dread Tome Quote Post
The Sage (from Action Check, bka Neil Spicer) hasn't gotten to your questions, I presume, but I'll give them a shot:
QUOTE
-How much 'data' can be in 'stored memory'?

Depends on your Progress Level. For simplicity, things like a single document of the size of an Encarta Encyclopdia would be something like 1/2 a slot. Probably less. The higher in Progress level, the more programs take up the space available & become more complex. (The whole "Nature abhors a vaccuum" thing.) Whole programs as listed in PHB & Dataware are the sizes listed.

It also depends on the media that you are storing the data. On a computer? again, it depends on the progress level. By I think PL6-7, "stored memory for things like supercomputers and desktops become infinite, or damned near. Others such as data slates, guantlets will vary, per thier listings.

QUOTE
-Is a special system required for 'Info Trading'? If so, what would be it's cost (in $ and durability/hull)? Would it perhaps require a separate computer system to be installed in the ship?
Yeah. A computer and a way to get data from computer A to cmputer B. This can be via modems, diskettes, 3Ds X3D's, wireess, etc. I don't have the exact figures, but you can find that informatio in the PHB, Dataware, Starships and/or Warships ESD.

QUOTE
-What are some general guidelines regarding the profit of buying and selling information? I'm not looking for hard and fast rules figures, just some ideas to bring info trading into the campaign, and keep a slightly burntout GM functioning
"Whatever the market will bear". Things like planetary survey data, for instance can be found in S*D's Outbound: An Explorer's Guidebook, Everything else will depend on the whim & generosity of the GM.

Hope that helps,
-Bri' wink.gif
uncle_jimbo Dec 11 2003, 08:21 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
Probably the best basic unit of information is the Reference program, which would be your Encarta. Reference takes 3 slots when active (maybe less in a compressed format when closed down). Now compare that to the default storage devices, the 3D (2 slots) and X3D (5 slots).

Continuing with the Encarta example, it looks like an X3D is comparable to the full capacity of a CD, considering the vastly more extensive range of knowledge and more complex data formats of the future.

So how many CDs in a workstation's stored memory? That's extremely variable because removable and fixed data media have not developed in lockstep. It could be anything from 5 to 50 or more times as large for a personal machine, and expanded more or less at will.

So, my best guess, typical stored memory is 5-50 x 5 slots = 25 to 250 slots. The lower end would be less than the functional equivalent of a PC today, but could be understood as a new type of pervasive device that bridges between the PDAs, high-end game boxes and low-end PCs of our time.

A data slate would have smaller stored memory again, since its storage is "extremely limited", so much so that it makes sense to store most of the software on 3D. I'd place a data slate's stored memory at 5 to 10 slots.
Spicer Dec 11 2003, 13:20 Group: Grid Cop, Researcher for the College of Justice Ethics Quote Post
QUOTE
The Sage (from Action Check, bka Neil Spicer) hasn't gotten to your questions, I presume...

Actually, the Sage works for Dragon magazine. At Action Check, Jeff and Jim asked me to be the Oracle. And I don't recall if they came up with that nickname before or after the Matrix came out... smile.gif

QUOTE
-How much 'data' can be in 'stored memory'?

I think this depends on the nature of the data and the overriding software that administers it. Steering away from how many 'slots' a dataslate, X3D, or other computer system provides, I would point you to the Harbinger Trilogy of Star*Drive books written by Diane Duane for a general sense of what an infotrading system is like. In her story, Gabriel Connor and his fraal supporter financed a starship by going into the infotrading business. In terms of how much data they could actually carry in those systems, they never really bothered to define it. But keep in mind that infotraders aren't just carrying text messages from one person to another. In PL7, holographic files and data would also be a part of the payload. Many would be advertisements, entertainment, as well as basic correspondence...all carried from one system to another with the same care attributed to the Pony Express that once served the Old West here in America. So, my bottom line advice would be not to worry about how much an infotrading system can store. That's irrelevant in the long run. I don't think an infotrader gets paid based simply on the sheer amount of data that he carries. Instead, it's more likely he gets compensated for the number of runs he makes and the number of drops he manages at each remote star system. Keeping the lines of communication open (no matter how much data is being sent or received) is the more important job.

QUOTE
-Is a special system required for 'Info Trading'? If so, what would be it's cost (in $ and durability/hull)? Would it perhaps require a separate computer system to be installed in the ship?

The way Diane Duane described the necessary onboard computing systems and software to store, protect, and administer the data...it came off as something roughly equivalent to 2 hull points of dedicated systems and computer cores. That's just an estimate on my part. The cost was described as very significant. It set back Gabriel and his fraal companion a large amount, and at one point they were concerned that they might never make back enough money to pay off the infotrading system, because the money that business generated was barely enough to cover the operating expenses of their ship. Infotraders have to be really on top of that aspect. Reaching the remote star systems that don't have access to a real-time drivesat means a ship has to finance a fairly long journey...which comes with a whole host of arbitrary maintenance and upkeep costs in life support, repairs, and so on. And that's assuming the infotraders don't get shot up by a marauding pirate or External menace.

QUOTE
-What are some general guidelines regarding the profit of buying and selling information? I'm not looking for hard and fast rules figures, just some ideas to bring info trading into the campaign, and keep a slightly burntout GM functioning.

Well, using the Harbinger Trilogy as a guideline, I would point you to pgs. 252-253 of the Star*Drive Campaign Manual where it discusses not only the purchase price of starships, but also their maintenance and upkeep costs. They're different for a new ship vs. a used one. Then, look at the "Communication" paragraphs on pg. 20 where it states, "The profit margins in message traffic generally aren't exceptional, so most merchants use it only to supplement their normal trading." Lastly, you'll also want to read pg. 27 under "Economy & Commerce" for both the paragraphs concerning "Information" and the "Trade Basics" sidebar. None of these give you any direct numbers for the profit margins of infotrading, but if you have an idea of the typical maintenance and upkeep costs of a starship that routinely engages in infotrading...and then realize that most data merchants aren't able to generate enough money with infotrading to cover that entire cost...and then use the trade basics information regarding commodities trading, I think you'll be able to ballpark it pretty well. Finally, if you want at least a comparative number commodity-wise, you could examine Table S2 on pg. 26. The "Entertainment" commodity could be used to refer to message-traffic that includes news and entertainment broadcasts ferried in an infotrader's ship. But I'm sure "Entertainment" was also meant to represent games, literature, movies and other computer programs that would come on X3D's, too. So it's probably not the definitive number you'd want to go with. Still, it should give you an idea, I think...

My two-cents,
--Neil
bri_aitsya Dec 11 2003, 14:49 Group: Heroes, Master of the Dread Tome Quote Post
QUOTE
QUOTE  
The Sage (from Action Check, bka Neil Spicer) hasn't gotten to your questions, I presume...

Actually, the Sage works for Dragon magazine. At Action Check, Jeff and Jim asked me to be the Oracle.
Either way, Neil, thou art a guru, regardless of title. wink.gif
Spicer Dec 11 2003, 18:32 Group: Grid Cop, Researcher for the College of Justice Ethics Quote Post
I'm not really comfortable with either title. There's other Alternity and Star*Drive fans out there that know just as much about these topics as I do. And in fact, they quite often have better and more complete answers, in my opinion.

Just my two-cents,
--Neil
bri_aitsya Dec 11 2003, 19:02 Group: Heroes, Master of the Dread Tome Quote Post
Your modesty shows clearly here. The titles are intended as compliments, and if it offends your modesty, I'll refrain. You are generous and kind in your appreciation of other fans' knowledge of both the system & the S*D setting and the level of respect that you confer to them.


Hopefully between all of those replies that you recieved, LastMaxim, that you found an answer that works for you.
Starbrat Dec 11 2003, 21:37 Group: Grid Cop, Moderator AI Quote Post
Don't worry about it, Neil. It probably just means you're good at baking.
LastMaxim Dec 13 2003, 13:14 Group: Heroes, Soldier for Christ Quote Post
Thanks guys...much appreciated. Those first three posts were a nice spread, covering most of what I was thinking of when I originally wrote the questions, quite some time ago (longer than I care to admit dry.gif ). Also, I should have noted down that they were inspired after I began reading the Harbinger Trilogy. Good guess there Neil!! I just came across the page with the questions written down when I was cleaning out my file cabinet ( blink.gif you know it's time when stuff starts hanging out every drawer), and posted them before I finished cleaning, and lost the page again tongue.gif!!
uncle_jimbo Sep 8 2010, 00:23 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
6 1/2 years later, this has come up fairly often for my "Legacy of War" conversion, though from the other direction, so to speak. Quite a few events require sending messages between star systems in the Verge.

Tendril, Aegis, Hammer's Star and the Lighthouse have drivespace relays and in some cases it made sense to send the information from there. Elsewhere I've hand-waved it as "you/they sent it via infotrader", but in one instance the heroes have to send a (large) message and receive a reply for achievement points, so it really would be better to have firm numbers.

Some details I might look at, in approximate order of importance to my needs:
  • How long does it take for a message to reach the interstellar Grid, or to pass from a drivespace relay to an isolated system, via data merchant?
  • How much does it cost? Does it vary by message size?
  • Previous posts here have developed some details about infotrading requirements. I have some more thoughts on it.


This post has been edited by uncle_jimbo on Sep 8 2010, 00:25
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