- Until the development of the J-2 Jump Engine, they are synonymous with mains, clusters, traces, and related astronomical formations.
- They are also called jump routes, space-lanes, star lanes, star ways, trade mains, trade runs, Xboat routes, postal routes, or communication routes.
- Jump Bridge
A Trade Route is, generally speaking, a series of stars used as transit points for interstellar travel.
- Jump Bridges and related installations sometimes bridge the gaps where stars are not located.
Within the subsector, local governments will have established communications or trade routes connecting some (but not all) worlds. These routes serve as a conduit for messages between businesses and between governments as well as between people. The also serve as the basic routes that liners and large freighters travel. Key worlds are connected by communications routes. Star Maps show the distribution of star systems in space, and show their relationships to each other in terms of relative distance (parsecs) and commercial space-lane connections.
Limited Accessibility to Trade Routes
Trade routes directly serve fewer than a tenth of the worlds of the Imperium.
- The other 90 percent of the Third Imperium's worlds are served by feeder lines, tramp freighters, and free traders.
- These smaller companies and unscheduled ships carry passengers and cargo between worlds off the main trade routes.
Trade Route Traffic
Trade Routes are travel routes which jump-capable starships travel between major worlds and which connect vital suppliers with essential markets, important government worlds with high population worlds, and strategic resources with exploiting industry.
- Trade routes are a natural outgrowth of economic and market pressures.
- When a market is no longer profitable, the trade routes bypass it.
|Slow FTL Traffic||These routes are affordable to travel:||J:1-2||J:1-2 routes and traders are very efficient and affordable.|
|Moderate FTL Traffic||These routes are moderately expensive to travel:||J:3-4||The higher cost of interstellar portage for J:3-4 ships limits them to more profitable markets with higher value goods.|
|Fast FTL Traffic||These routes are expensive to travel:||J:5-6||Only Military Ships tend to possess these capabilities. The cost inefficiencies of these expensive ships limit them to the yachts of the rich or very specialized economic markets.|
| Breakneck FTL Traffic
|Unrealized||J-7+|| Hop Drive technology is maturing and may eventually become operational.
The trade routes are typically the territory of the Imperium's largest trading companies.
- They maintain fleets of commercial transports and merchants who serve these tradeworlds, and they reap large profits in doing so.
Astrographic, Sociographic or Economic Routes?
A venerated astronomer such as Tomasii Dzones-Arkuledii might argue that there is no such thing as a sociographic trade route. The stars and the distance between them were created billions of years before the current interstellar order. Trade Routes are clearly astrographic features, not sophontic ones. Perhaps much longer ago if current scientific theory holds mistaken theory. In this view, a cluster or trace is synonymous with a grouping of stars, which is in turn synonymous with a trade route.
A scientifically educated interstellar merchant, perhaps a former scout, might counter that the naturally occurring trade routes have been enhanced through the use of jump bridges, waystations, and what are certainly sophontic creations. These are clearly more than star formations. Therefore a trade route is most certainly sociographic in nature.
Similar arguments with similarly minded sophonts have been occurring across Charted Space for millennia. It's probably just as true that a trade route contains astrographic, astronomical, and sophontic socioeconomic aspects. The Travellers don't care. They simply know that the Jump Drive works...
Trade Routes & Anomalies
These mysteries defy the laws of physics and spacetime. Some anomalies increase fuel consumption, cause increased wear on drives, or even cause misjumps. One thing is for sure, any wise starship captain is very careful to pay great attention to anomalies and avoid them when ever possible... expect speculators, risk-takers, and those with the fabled Traveller Gene.
- Marc Miller. Worlds and Adventures (Game Designers Workshop, 1977), 5-6. (Classic Traveller Book 3)
- Marc Miller. Imperial Encyclopedia (Game Designers Workshop, 1987), TBD.
- Martin Dougherty. The Great Rift (Mongoose Publishing, 2018), TBD.
- Traveller Wiki Editorial Team
- Author & Contributor: Lord (Marquis) and Master of Sophontology Maksim-Smelchak of the Ministry of Science