Plotting a jump takes 10 hours of calculation per light year of distance between systems; these calculations must be made before the ship starts boosting towards its destination and are intended to me used at a particular time, which is not necessarily when they are completed (i.e. They could be made so that the jump window is months away).
These calculations have a practical duration of approximately 1 hour per light year plotted (i.e. a 4 LY jump’s calculations are good for 4 hours), before the relative motion of the two stars and the relative positions of the departing ship and the target world begin diverge to the point where new calculations are required. This is called the "jump window". These additional calculations require one hour of plotting for every hour the calculation has expired (round down). Ship acceleration can mitigate some of this degradation
- Example: a 4 LY jump's coordinates take 40 hours to calculate and provide a launch window of 4 hours, starting at "T -0". If the ship has not reached its jump window within the correct timeframe, then during the 5th hour it is considered to be risk-jumping with nine hours of plotting per light year (since the total rounds down) and would require an hour of calculations per light year plotted to return to standard, and so forth for additional hourly delays. Once the recalculations begin, the old window's clock is effectively stopped, so that it does not accumulate additional calculation requirements.
Commonly, plotting is done by Astrogators aboard the jumping ship; contrary to popular belief, it’s not so they can perform calculations at the ship transits to jump velocity (though they are necessary if the ship needs to go faster or slower than 1g in order to attain jump velocity at within the jump window); it is to guarantee that the calculations are correct, confirm correct point of arrival and confirm proper end-over and deceleration procedures and course.
As more ships entered service, it became clear that quality (i.e. high level) freelance astrogators were becoming the exception, rather than the rule, meaning that ships of smaller companies trying to edge out competition had to rely on younger, less experienced astrogators, or pay a premium for increasingly aging experienced astrogators.
To address this issue, several independent astrogators in Hargut Station (Gruna Garu) established a cooperative that allowed them to remain at Hargut after making the required calculations on a ship; the ship’s master would make an escrow payment to a third party at the destination through subspace communication; the payment would be transmitted back to the astrogator once the ship safely arrived at its destination. The concept became popular, since ship owners did not have to keep an astrogator on their payroll throughout the journey and the astrogator could be ensured of a steady source of clients. The concept spread to other space stations and in short order the economic benefits of the system became apparent to astrogators, ship owners, and bankers.
It soon became obvious that two similar ships could easily share the data with minimal modification, allowing the same set of calculations to be shared by multiple ships. In time, sophisticated computer programs could adapt the base calculations to a wide range of ship types and sizes, meaning that the calculations could be made beforehand and adapted to individual ships prior to sale; with this final step, spacer guilds throughout the Frontier were able to certify that the coordinates were true (by cross-checking against older jump calculations still on file) and standardize prices.
The possibility of simply buying jump coordinates “off-the_shelf” (as it were) and travel without waiting days for the calculations to be completed or even without an on-board astrogator significantly reduces costs to ship owners, but is not without its drawbacks.
- The primary drawback is that jump coordinates are available only for established routes and only one-way to the next system.
- No astrogator will make calculations for sale to a ship jumping into an uncharted system, even if it has an astrogator on board.
- Purchasing a plotted course can often be expensive, as the primary source is fixed (this can be alleviated with secondary sources, as detailed below).
- The travel route plan is registered and available to anyone at either end of the transit jump.
Pre-Plotted Jump Price Formula
The basic formula for determining the price of a pre-plotted route is detailed in this section.
Step 1: Base Wage Calculation
The Base Wage is based on the astrogator’s skill level. In order to make the required fine tuning to match a given ship, they need access to a level 6 analysis program to program the necessary calculations.
- ((Astrogator Wage per level) + (Comp 6 secondary wage)) / 2 = Base Wage
Base Wage Table:
- 120 + 60 = 180 / 2 = 90
- 175 + 60 = 235 / 2 = 117.5
- 200 + 60 = 260 / 2 = 130
- 225 + 60 = 285 / 2 = 142.5
- 250 + 60 = 310 / 2 = 155
- 300 + 60 = 360 / 2 = 180
Step 2: Base Price Calculation
This is the meat of the calculation, which justifies the payment for days of pay equal to the distance in light years plotted.
- Base Wage x Distance (in LY) = Base Price
Step 3: Retail Price Calculation
The Retail Price is determined by the hull size of the jumping ship and by the number of engines on the ship. The type of engine; atomic or ion, is irrelevant, as this is calculated by the ship’s computer in response to the astrogation computer’s requirements.
- Base Price x ((Ship Hull Size) x (Number of Engines)) x Engine Size Modifier = Retail Price
Engine Size Modifier Table:
- Engine Size A: 0.1
- Engine Size B: 0.2
- Engine Size C: 0.3
Step 4: Point of Sale Price
The Point of Sale Price is determined by the Primary Source; usually a Commercial Station orbiting a primary world in the system.
Note that fully plotted routes (10 hours per LY) are always sold as if plotted by a Level 6 astrogator, regardless of who did the actual calculations.
Ship owners unwilling to pay full price must find an independent contractor of the desired level, but this may imply a wait for calculations to be completed (roll 1d10: this is the number of hours per light year remaining for calculations to be complete. If the ship owner is unwilling or unable to wait that long, they may look for a Bargain Bin price.
- Retail Price x Source Modifier = Final Price
- Type I Ship Construction Center: 0.8
- Type II Ship Construction Center: 0.9
- Type III Ship Construction Center: 1.0
- Commercial Station in Primary System: 1.0
- Commercial Station in Secondary System: 1.5
- Commercial Station in Tertiary System: 2.0
- Other Space Station type: 2.5
- Surface-based: 3.0
Step 5: Bargain Bin Price
Often called “the Black Market” (a misnomer), “bargain bin pricing” results when the plotting calculations have not been completed (10 hours per LY) or when an astrogator sells a ship owner calculations that have started to degrade. This may be legally done only if the purchaser is certified as an astrogator (under the assumption that the buyer will complete the calculations him- or herself – Risk jumping in this manner is calculated using the astrogation skill level of the lower-level astrogator, regardless of how much or how little calculation he or she made).
Bargain Bin plotted jumps are always paid up front and still are subject to Point of Sale modifier.
- Final Price x Time Degradation = Bargain Bin Price
Time Degradation Table:
- – 1 hour per LY = 0.9
- – 2 hours per LY = 0.8
- – 3 hours per LY = 0.7
- – 4 hours per LY = 0.6
- – 5 hours per LY = 0.5
- – 6 hours per LY = 0.4
- – 7 hours per LY = 0.3
- – 8 hours per LY = 0.2