Trading is the primary way for the honest spacefarer to earn his, her, or its credits. Every ship sold within the GalCop has an integrated trading computer which hooks into the current systems' trading Market (F8 Screen).
(The following is largely taken from the original Elite Space Traders' Manual on Ian Bell's website.)
Most space stations have made the process of trading very simple, in order to facilitate a fast turnover in goods and ships. Import and export tariffs - which are high on some worlds - are automatically added or deducted and this is reflected in the prices shown. The auto-trader system does not allow for more specific trading deals to be performed.
Once docked you are linked directly with the CorCom Trade System. At your request you can obtain a list of basic trade items available for purchase.
Slaves are measured by the TC in galactic trading. This may seem a little strange, but it includes the cryogenic suspension system necessary to keep them alive during space travel. The slave trade, once almost eliminated by the Galactic government is now returning, despite the efforts of the Galactic Police Force to suppress it.
|Food||Simple organic products, see below||4.4||TC|
|Radioactives||Ores and by-products||21.2||TC|
|* Slaves||Usually humanoid||8.0||TC|
|Liquor/Wines||Exotic spirits from unearthy flora||25.2||TC|
|Luxuries||Perfumes, Spices, Coffee||91.2||TC|
|* Narcotics||Tobacco, Arcturan Megaweed||114.8||TC|
|Machinery||Factory and farm equipment||56.4||TC|
|* Firearms||Small-scale artillery, sidearms, etc||70.4||TC|
|Furs||Includes leathers, Millennium Wompom Pelts||56.0||TC|
|Minerals||Unrefined rock containing trace elements||8.0||kg|
|Alien Items||Artifacts, Weapons, etc||27.0||TC|
(*) These items are defined as illegal by the Galactic Government, so trading in them is risky.
F8 activates a list of basic trade items at current market prices.
Shown on this list are the quantities of each item available and the current market price per unit. Most CorCom Trade Systems deal exclusively under blanket categories, including Food, Machinery, Minerals and Gemstones.
The prices shown at the time of trading represent an offer to you and will be guaranteed while you are in Trading Mode.
If you wish to trade, indicate the amount you wish to buy or sell using +/-; <Enter> sells your entire inventory of the current item or buys as much as your hold (and Credits) will allow if you have no inventory. autoSCAM modules will immediately transfer your transaction between your cargo bay and the station. Your screen will be updated to indicate your new inventory and remaining credit facility.
Most ships must dock with a Coriolis space station or other similarly equipped outpost before buying or selling cargo. It has no Free Space trade facility, apart from routine jettisoning and scooping of cannisters.
Advice to Traders
The Cobra trade ship can be fitted with four lasers, four missiles and one energy bomb. This should be sufficient to make trade possible within the System Space of even heavily piratised worlds. But it is strongly recommended that pilots achieve a combat of at least "Deadly" before any worlds designated "Anarchy" or "Feudal" are approached, especially if the cargo is high tech machinery or luxury goods.
To make money as a trader is no easy task. Unless you have backing capital you would be well advised to start with foodstuffs, textiles, minerals and alloys.
Demand for goods varies widely and prices within planets fluctuate, but GalCop regulations prohibit planets from advertising their requirements or announcing their market prices beyond their own System Space. Any trader, therefore, approaches all transactions with a certain financial risk.
Trade depends upon demand, and selling prices depend upon the level of demand on the planet, and its available money. None of these factors can be assessed before entering the system.
Agricultural planets invariably have excess produce at reasonable purchase prices, and such food sells well at industrialised, middle- to high- technology worlds. Raw materials, and ores, will sell well to middle-tech worlds, which are usually able to refine them, and the refined product can fetch excellent prices at worlds of very high tech status.
The rules are complex, and anarchy and piracy has its effect on causing the rules to change.
In trading with a planet, consider its economic profile:
AGRICULTURAL WORLDS need specialist food and raw materials, but mostly basic machinery and spare parts. If they are rich, they need luxuries and high tech industrial machines. They produce food in quantity, raw materials and specialized "organic" items, like some textiles.
INDUSTRIAL WORLDS need agricultural produce; raw materials (for refining); resource exploitation machinery; (if rich) high tech goods. They produce basic items of need for civilized worlds: beds, seals and gaskets, power storage units, basic weapons, mass produced chemicals such as fertilizer and medicines, etc.
Think about a planet's needs. Think what might make the society function. Don't trade expensive trivia to a hungry world.
If the profit isn't worth it, trade it somewhere else.