Oolite Trading

From Elite Wiki
A "TC" (Tonne Cannister)


This page focuses on the in-game skill of trading. For a wider overview of the issues, see Economics.

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.

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.

(The Space Traders Flight Training Manual, p.38)


Warning: these average ₢ values can be changed by various .oxp's
More detail (ie maximum & minimun prices) is given on the OoliteRS sheet which came with your original game download.

Produced by agricultural systems

Food             4.4₢      Simple organic products, see below 
Textiles         6.4₢      Unprocessed fabrics  
Liquor/Wines    25.2₢      Exotic spirits from unearthy flora 
Furs            56.0₢      Includes leathers, Millennium Wompom Pelts  

Produced by Rock Hermits (and probably also a mix of agricultural & industrial systems)

Minerals         8.0₢      Unrefined rock containing trace elements  
Radioactives    21.2₢      Ores and by-products 

Produced by Rock Hermits and of minimal volume (and probably also a mix of agricultural & industrial systems)

Gold            37.2₢/kg   
Platinum        65.2₢/kg   
Gem-stones      16.4₢/g    Includes jewelry 

Produced by industrial systems

Luxuries        91.2₢      Perfumes, Spices, Coffee 
Computers       84.0₢      Intelligent machinery  
Machinery       56.4₢      Factory and farm equipment  
Alloys          32.8₢      Industrial Metals   

Sellable when you scoop up the robotic Thargons

Alien Items     27.0₢      Artifacts, Weapons, etc

These items are defined as illegal by the Galactic Government, so trading in them is risky.

Slaves           8.0₢      Usually humanoid   
Narcotics      114.8₢      Tobacco, Arcturan Megaweed  
Firearms        70.4₢      Small-scale artillery, sidearms, etc  

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. Almost all are sold in TC (Tonne Cannister) quantities ie come in individual cannisters (easy for Dumping Cargo if needed). Kg & g goods (ie gems, gold & platinum) are kept in the on-board safe.

The prices shown at the time of trading represent an offer to you and will be guaranteed while you are at the station.

Using the F8 Trading screen

F8/8 Trading Screen
The long list of commodities can be filtered & sorted
F8/8: summons the screen. The prices shown (anywhere in the system) are those of the main orbital station only.
Arrows - up & down: select one of the 17 commodities
Arrows - left & Right: buy or sell the selected commodity
Enter: sells your entire inventory of the current item or buys as much as your hold (and Credits) will allow
F8/8 repeated - toggles between more detail on selected commodity & main market screen (eg if you have some in your hold: purchase price records for cargo hold contents)
?: toggles between 6 filters for the commodities
  • all 17 commodities
  • only goods carried in station or in stock in cargo hold
  • goods carried in station only
  • goods in stock in ship's cargo hold only
  • legal goods: just the 14 legal commodities
  • prohibited goods: just slaves, narcotics & firearms
/: toggles between 6 sorted orders for the listed commodities
  • default order: the original order from Classic Elite
  • alphabetical order
  • order of price
  • order of quantity in stock in station
  • order of quantity in ship's cargo hold
  • order of unit mass: ie TC/kg/g

  • This information is also on the OoliteRS (Reference Sheets) which came as a .pdf in your original game download. Probably worth printing out!
  • autoSCAM modules will immediately transfer your transaction between your cargo bay and the station. Most ships must dock with a Coriolis space station or other similarly equipped outpost before buying or selling cargo.
  • The only other way of transferring cargo in and out of your hold is in flight by either dumping it or by scooping it.
  • For more detail see F8 page (commodity market) which explores the effects of various oxps on the Vanilla game

Advice to Traders

 From the Bulletin Boards:
  Money-making tips: well, buy low and sell high, so much so obvious. Raw materials and general biological produce (food, textiles, ores, furs, etc.) come from Agricultural worlds; finished goods and technological stuff (Luxuries, Computers, Machinery etc) come from Industrial worlds.
  The Rich/Poor overlay adjusts the buying and selling prices differently depending on whether the world in question is Agricultural or Industrial. Rich Industrial worlds provide the cheapest finished goods: they have the most efficient industrial plants and can undercut their competitors. Their industries and populations are also hungry (not to say greedy) and will pay top whack for raw materials. Poor Agricultural worlds have the lowest standards of living and produce the cheapest raw materials. They're also the most desperate for finished goods, and pay the highest prices for them. Therefore, the best trade run is between a Rich Industrial and a Poor Agricultural. The least promising is between a Poor Mostly Industrial and a Rich Mostly Agricultural (I think). Well, unless you start trying to ship Industrial goods to Industrial planets, obviously (although even here you might make a bit of money, if you're buying from a Rich Industrial and selling to a Poor Industrial).
  The highest profit margins, on legitimate goods anyway, tend to be on Computers, Luxuries and Machinery on the Industrial side, and on Furs and Liquor & Wines on the Agricultural side. Running precious metals and gemstones is also worthwhile as a long-term investment. If you see them cheap anywhere (mid- to high teens per gram for gemstones, 36-38  ₢/kg for gold and anything under 70 ₢/kg for platinum) buy up what you can afford and hang onto it until you find a high selling price. It doesn't take up any cargo space as you keep it in a safe in the cabin. Agricultural planets usually sell precious stones and metals slightly cheaper than Industrial ones do, but a big money payoff can happen pretty much anywhere.
  Government type and Tech Level don't make any difference to trade prices -- at least, not in the unmodified game. Some of the OXPs, such as Dictatorships and Your Ad here, add extra trading possibilities based on other factors, e.g. population size (which is linked to wealth), government type and so on. Government type does make a difference as to how much trouble you might run into on your way in, though, with Anarchies the worst, moving up through Feudal, Multi-Government, Dictatorship, Communist, Confederacy and Democracy, with Corporate State being the most peaceful (or cop-infested, depending on your point of view). Disembodied (2008).
  More from the Bulletin Boards:

Starting out, you won’t have enough money to fill your holds with the real winning commodities like furs and computers. With less than 100cr in the bank you’ll need to maximise your profit percentages rather than aim for large cash payouts. Trading in cheap but profitable goods like food and radioactives is a good way to start, before moving onto alloys, machinery and liquors and wines.

Once you have sufficient money to be able to fill your holds with any one commodity, it’s time to focus on absolute profit. Food bought at 2 ₢ per ton can easily be sold off for a 300% margin at 8 ₢ per ton, but that only amounts to 6 ₢ absolute profit; for a 35t trip this amounts to a profit of only 210 ₢. Furs can be bought at 50 ₢ and sold for 90 ₢; while only providing a margin of 80%, it’s a 40 ₢ per ton profit, amounting to 1240 ₢ for a full load. Although you need to make a greater investment in order to reap these rewards, there is no real increase in risk: so long as you’re in a stable system and you’re dealing in legal goods, there’s no more danger of your ship being attacked whether you’re carrying food or computers. The satisfaction of making a 300% profit will be outweighed by the fact that one more trip just might be enough to get you a docking computer.

As revenues increase you may be temped to trade in illegal commodities. Generally speaking, the only profitable commodities of this type are narcotics. Firearms can be sold off to rich agricultural states but typically with less profit than computers; conversely slaves may be sold to industrial states but with far less profit than furs. Narcotics usually have a profit margin similar to that of computers and so are not usually worth your time, however prices fluctuate wildly and if you happen to be in the right place at the right time you can make massive gains. If you ever see narcotics on the market for less than around 30 ₢, buy them up. It may be that there has been a slump in the local market, making it difficult to make a significant profit at nearby systems, but if you hold on to them and shop around you should find an agricultural system with prices around the 90 ₢ mark.

Rich Agriculturals do indeed seem rather useless from a trading point of view. They remind me of organic farms in that they can afford to sell their goods at elevated prices and aren't bothered about losing out to the lower end of the market. At the same time, they seem less prepared to pay over the odds for industrial goods. Conversely, Poor Agriculturals need all the money they can get, so will happily let their exports go at below-average prices, while they will pay handsomely for thinks like computers, luxuries and machinery.

Piracy is always an option as a way to make some quick cash, but it's probably best to wait until your ship is kitted out a bit more before going down that route.

(Ramirez (2006))
Yet more from the Bulletin Boards: Core game money earning (2019)

And older: Rookie Help - Missions and Money (2009)

Profitability (Career Opportunities) (2007) has some tips for trading with massive ships like Boas/Pythons.

"No Money" problems

There are a number of options.

  • Shooting asteroids at 1₢/asteroid until you have enough money to do something!
  • Sell or downgrade your laser/missiles (but remember, your missiles can be used to stop other missiles!)
  • Sell your ship to buy a cheaper one (you will lose c. 2/3 of your current ship value).
  • See Financial Advice (2013) for more advice
  • And see Help... (2007-12) for advice including cheats

Other Links

"Too much money" problems

A nice problem to have!

Advanced Trading: Changing the Markets

... Oolite is not "just a shooter" game. But it would be very interesting someday to see what it could be like if even half of the attention and effort that has gone into the combat related functions was expended on the economic and cultural possibilities
(Ganelon (2011))

Since Ganelon's comment in 2011, much has been done. While some OXPs such as BlOomberg Markets, In-System trader, Risk based economy & Risky Business make trading more realistic in various ways, several wonderful OXPs have been written which totally rejig aspects of the Trading system. They all make trading much more complicated!

  • Demand Driven Economy: breaks up the fur-luxuries profit monopoly. Creates a reliable profitable demand for (eg) luxuries in Rich Agriculturals, computers in Average Agriculturals & alloys in Poor Agriculturals. His oxp includes tweaks for population, economy size & tech level.
  • SW Economy‎: introduces a much needed shot of realism to the trading side of the game! 3 new commodities (water, oxygen & medicine), a trading triad (agricultural-mining-industrial) & factors such as atmosphere, TL & GDP are now relevant in determining what each planet produces. One needs to know much more about the planets one is trading with to make better profits. The old Xexedi-Laenin milk run is such no longer, as Laenin is too small to have the atmosphere needed to grow food, wines or furs and is now merely a mining station. This oxp has issues.
  • New Cargoes: Introduces 100 sub-variants of the regular commodities: mud hockey sticks! zero-gravity hockey sticks! Excellent profits only at one or two planets - but get your hockey variety right! Uses the lore and culture to generate new markets. Subscribe to a trade magazine with tips! Go on the Advanced Trading course at your alma mater, the Lave Academy! This oxp has issues.
  • Real-Life Economics - by Phasted (2012-4). Fluctuating markets which also react to your actions. Local solar systems also affect prices. This oxp has issues.
  • Smugglers introduces trade embargoes on export & import of various commodities . This leads to wide fluctuations in price and a resultant rise in black markets, bribes & smuggling compartments - all of which this OXP introduces.
Note that Smugglers currently conflicts with New Cargoes (2021).

Economics OXP comparisons

Risk-based Economy New Cargoes Risky Business SW Economy Real-Life Economics Demand Driven Economy
Author Cim Cim Phkb Stranger Phasted Redspear
Functionability v.1.81+ v.1.90+ v.1.81+ v.1.82+ needs fixing v.1.79+
Redefines systems economically No No No Yes Yes No
Adds new commodities No Yes No Yes No No
Breaks away from Furs/Computers as most profitable trades No Yes Yes No No Yes
Piracy (government type) affects prices Yes No Yes No? No No
Hub connectedness affects prices Yes No No No Yes No
Economy size affects prices/quantities No No No Yes No Yes
Planet geography affects prices/quantities No Yes-ish No Yes No No
Prices/Quantities vary dynamically No Yes No No Price only No

Note: Phkb has updated New Cargoes (v.2.0) and it is finally compatible with Smugglers. New Cargoes dovetails with the information given to you on the F7 screen by the Famous Planets OXP. And there is also a tutorial for it (New Cargoes Trading Advice).

Note: Phkb has come up with a brand-new version of Risky Business which includes Risk-based Economy (you can choose to activate either or both using Library OXP). It also needs his auxiliary oxp - Market Script Interface - to operate.

This table also ignores some brilliant oxps which introduce a focus on just one aspect of economics.

Black Markets

This table currently excludes Phkb's Black Market & Smugglers OXPs. They too have a major affect on trade and economics, but are not directly comparable with the above, since they work on prohibiting trade (thus encouraging smuggling and a black market) which then impacts massively on pricing.

  • Black Market - Adds black markets to most Rock Hermits and some other stations (contains much of what was in the original Smugglers OXP)
  • Smugglers - Makes any commodity potentially illegal to import in various systems, and adds equipment and contracts for those interested in smuggling goods outside normal legal channels.


  • BlOomberg Markets creates sudden changes in commodity prices which are geographic & time-limited in effect.
  • Darkside Moonshine Distillery introduces distance from production as an affect on price. This is done with more subtlety than BlOomberg Markets' affects.

Dynamic trade

  • In System Trader makes in-system trading more realistic, with changing prices and quantities depending on local traffic.






  • Market Script Interface - Phkb's auxiliary OXP to sort out conflicts between other market-script OXPs
  • New Deal - an unfinished OXP with a new trading model for Oolite


Captain Beatnik's analysis of Anaconda size vs 750 cargo cannisters

OXP's to help with or enhance trading


  • XenonUI: vital reminders of what the numerous keyboard options are for the F8 market GUI screen (as well as the F5/F6/F7 screens)
  • Market Observer enhances the F8 market screen with vital data: average prices, % differences & what price you bought your goods at.
  • Market Inquirer adds an interface screen (f4) that shows the distances in system and an interface screen that shows the markets (prices and quantities) of the main station and selected oxp stations closest to the player.
  • Ship's Accountant OXP - alpha version - for devotees of double-entry book-keeping
  • Useful MFDs provides a free MFD with a list of your cargo and its current value in the system's main station.
  • Manifest MFD lists your hold's contents.
  • Display Current Course adds your currently plotted course to any mission map screen, so you can tell whether the destination for the new mission is close to where you are currently heading.


Tweaking the markets

  • BlOomberg Markets allows the markets to react to news events (needs GNN for the news events)
  • In-System trader introduces a "living market" inside solar systems with rewards and risks for in-system trading.
  • Risk based economy - by Cim. Makes trade prices depend on government as well as economy (1.77).
  • Risky business - by Phkb. As above. See linked BB discussion for comparison with Cim's Risk based economy

Changing the markets

  • SW Economy‎: Realism! 3 new commodities, a trading triad (agricultural-mining-industrial) & factors such as atmosphere, TL & GDP are now relevant.
  • New Cargoes - by Cim 2014. Introduces 100 sub-variants of the regular commodities. Profits only at one or two planets!
  • New Cargoes Trading Advice - transcript of the Advanced Trading course at Lave Academy.
  • Real-Life Economics: Realism! Markets that change as you look at them - and react to your trades. More realistic implementation of market effects. Slightly buggy. By Phasted (2014).

The Law

  • Smugglers - by Phkb (2019): embargoes, black markets, bribes & smuggling compartments!
  • Illegal Goods Tweak OXP - you are now interrogated on arrival at a GalCop station with slaves etc in your cargo


Other advice pages

  • How do I ... dock / succeed in trading / win a fight / configure my controller/joystick etc.
  • See also the OoliteRS (Reference Sheets) and AdviceforNewCommanders which came as .pdfs in your original game download. Probably worth printing out!