Low Passage

For reasons explained in the "Design Notes" section below I don't care for how Low Passage travel is handled in the main rules. Thus, I present the following alternate system.

Shipping a passenger by a Low Berth is resolved by a Task Chain.

The first roll is made upon departure to secure the passenger in the low berth, administer rudimentary hibernation drugs and initiate the freezing process. This is a Routine (+2) Medic check with the passenger's End DM as a modifier and a time increment of 1-6 minutes, performed separately for each passenger. The passenger is to all appearances properly berthed regardless of the success or failure of this roll (a sloppy job doesn't become an issue until the next step).

The second roll is made at the destination to revive the passenger, return them to functional body temperature and purge their systems of accumulated toxins. This is another Routine (+2) Medic check with both the passenger's End DM and the task chain DM determined by the first roll's effect as modifiers. The time increment here is 10-60 minutes, again separately for each passenger.

The first thing to be determined by this roll is how severely the passenger is afflicted by Freezer Shock, an unpleasant period of adjustment as the body recovers from hibernation. Roll 1D6 twice, both rolls modified by the Effect of the revival Medic roll (positive Effect subtracted, negative Effect added). The first roll indicates how many hours the passenger will be rendered immobile by incapacitating pain and nausea as their body reels from deep shock. The second roll indicates how many days after revival the passenger still continues to suffer aches, shakes and disorientation, resulting in a -1 DM to all actions. On a result of 0 or less on either 1D6 roll, the passenger avoids those particular symptoms entirely.

If the Medic roll to revive the passenger was a success, then their troubles end with potential Freezer Shock. If failed, other difficulties arise; circulatory collapse, muscle atrophy and nerve damage are all potentially dire consequences. First, the passenger suffers a wound delivering damage dice equal to the effect value of the failed Medic roll. Second, the passenger must immediately make a roll on the Aging Table with both the character's total number of terms and the effect value of the failed Medic roll as negative DM's. (More dire-minded referees can substitute the Injury Table for the Aging Table).

Danny Drifter (a man of 30 years and average Endurance) is taking a low passage between worlds. He's managed to find a discount ticket, but unknown to him that's because the ship can't afford a real doctor. The initialization of Danny's low berth is handled by a scarred steward with only some battlefield medical experience (Medic-0). After gulping down a bitter cocktail of serums and hearing the definitive *shump* of the closing lid, Danny drifts into drugged unconsciousness, his last sight the steward cursing as he pounds the controls in frustration. The steward rolls a total of 6 (4 + 2 for Routine Task, no other DM's), failing by 2.

Two weeks later, the ship has arrived and docked and its time to wake up Danny Drifter. The steward has managed to find a local medical student willing to do the job for a couple hundred credits and a crate of off-world tobacco, so Danny will at least benefit from a Medic-1 skill. The total roll is 7 (6 + 2 for Routine Task, -2 for the first roll's failure, +1 for Medic skill), failing by 1. Danny opens his eyes, sits up … then doubles over in dry-heaves. He'll suffer 4 hours of this deep Freezer Shock (rolled 3, added 1 for effect) but need only deal with 2 days of lingering sickness afterward (rolled 1, plus 1 for effect). And though the freeze job was botched, he manages to avoid a serious wound (1D6 to his Endurance, costing him 3 points that'll heal by the time the last of his Freezer Shock has passed) or permanent damage (2 on the Aging table, rolled 6, -3 for terms, -1 for effect).

The Lottery
To accommodate the decreased chance of death but continue the tradition of the jump lottery, it can be assumed that if no passenger dies upon revival, it is customary for the lottery funds to be donated to a charity that provides medical assistance to those maimed by low passage and aid to families who lose members due to such.

Extended Hibernation
An occasional theme in old Traveller materials are passengers who either by choice or accident are left in low berth hibernation for extended periods, asleep but unaging. Assuming the referee simply doesn't handle the revival of such persons by plot fiat (its a bit of a letdown to have a three-century old frozen galactic princess show up, only to have her croak on the slab), the following DM's are suggested for the second Medic roll:

Span of Hibernation Roll DM
months -1
years -2
decades -3
centuries -4
millenia -5

I'd also add an extra die to both the hours and days rolls of Freezer Shock with each step up the time scale. That three-century princess mentioned above will return to the world to face 5D6 hours of deep shock and 5D6 days of lingering illness.

Design Notes
The main Traveller rulebook has surprisingly little information about the operation of Low Berths, ubiquitous though they be in space-faring society implied by the rules. Especially when it comes to their harsh treatment of passengers. All that's said is that upon thawing, a Medic roll must be made for the passenger, modified by the passenger's End DM, failure being fatal. So, assuming that the passenger is lucky enough to rate someone popping the lid with Medic-1 and an average End, they've got a 42% of dying on the slab. 58% if the Tech just took the weekend seminar on Low Berth ops, 92% if the guy cracking the hatch unfortunately happens to be a random untrained dockworker stuck with the job. Yikes. Even assuming a full doctor (Medic-2) and extra time taken on the thawing (though its not stated how long the task is, so how much leeway exists here is unclear), there's still about a one in five chance of not surviving the trip.

That's ridiculous for a widespread means of travel, especially when its realized that, on an extended voyage, the Medic roll has to be made each time the low passenger changes vessels. No sane person, no matter how desperate they are to hop worlds, will accept those odds. As a player, I'm sure not going to pointlessly risk my character that way, no matter how badly he needs to get to Iota Hydra III. Even merchant characters who never travel low berth but ship such passengers may get sick of dealing with so many corpses every landfall. And it turns into farce the described tactic of keeping Naval crew in low berth storage until needed: "Reporting 42% casualties, sir. Er, no, the fight was actually quick and easy, those losses were strictly incurred in the berths."

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