Traveller: Don’t Fear Low Passage

Since my first Traveller game, I’ve heard nothing but jokes about low berth passengers. “Why would anyone take that? You might die.” “It’s the way to go for those that don’t like their lives.” While there is a chance, I no longer think it is the ludicrous option that I use to.

Background: for those not familiar, Traveller has a standard mode of transit known as low passage. Here, a person climbs on an Alien/Aliens-like cryo tube (called a low berth unit) where the person is frozen and is thawed again when the whole trip is over. There’s a catch, however. Thawing a person required a Medic check and failing that, the person does.

Dice Math: the Traveller Core Rulebook states that it is a Medic check. Since no difficulty is given and no characteristic states, I think it is fine to go with 8+ and EDU, respectively. If you’re going to use low berths on a regular basis, it is reasonable to assume that the character operating them will have an EDU of 9 (+1) or higher and a Medic of 1 or more. Let’s assume these minimum scores are the case. Then the medical person is taking their time, reducing the difficulty to 6+. If the person possesses a computer running Expect Medic and only gain a DM+1, that means I get dice roll only has to be a 3 to pass. Add in another DM+1 as the END for the passenger and the check can’t fail. Having an assist from someone else or an autodoc also helps. At my table, if the person makes this check often enough, I’d drop the difficulty from Average to Routine, before they take their time. So unless you roll like only a handful of players I’ve ever known, low passage becomes a very low risk option.

In universe reasons: “But you might not wake up,” sounds bad, but then you compare it to, “you could get into a car accident and die on your way to work,” and it sounds much more reasonable. We all know that people die on highways, but we all do it (or did it, before the pandemic) on a daily basis. Here, the risk is similar.

“But why would you do that?” Well, it costs 1/10 the price of a small cabin with bare minimum food for a solid week. Going low passage means you take a nap, and you arrive. Truth be told, it’s not a bad deal.

“How do you know if the person waking you up is any good?” When you go to a doctor’s office, their degrees are on the wall. There are reviews available online. You can search to see if they are involved in any malpractice lawsuits. That would be available in the future. Heck, there’s probably a Yelp-like service that keeps tracks of all thawing survivals-vs-fatalities. If that number is bad, you just don’t do sign up with that crew.

Thinking of it like this, low passage is not as crazy as the book makes it sound. Consider adding it to your game if you routinely leave it off, like how I use to.

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2 thoughts on “Traveller: Don’t Fear Low Passage

  1. You can use it as an easy way to make steady money. With the low berth passengers being generic NPCs. I can also be used for prisoner / bounty transport. ( for bounty I’d say payment is based on live or dead)

  2. The numbers in Mongoose Traveller make sense due to the ability to reduce the required goal with taking time and using assistance from a computer or assistant Well written, and thanks!

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