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Colonies can trade with orbital trade ships (via a comms console) or with other factions by using caravans. Tradeable commodities include slaves/prisoners, furniture, gear, resources, food, drugs, and works of art.

The trade interface shows what commodities are available to trade, the colony's stock, the trader's stock, and the prices to buy and sell.

ALL ONE positive = buy
negative = sell
<< < may type # here > >>
  • Prices listed in green are cheap (does not appear with base-game traders), while prices listed in red are expensive.
  • Items that the foreign trader has no interest in are shown grayed out at the bottom of the list; other traders may want them instead.
  • Animals that have been downed (whether due to starvation or injury) are not listed for trade.

Early Game Trading

Caravans consist of one or more faction members often with pack animals and/or tamed animals in tow. Players can either form their own caravan or wait for others to visit their own colony. To trade with a foreign passing caravan, direct a colonist (preferably with high social skill as he/she can get better prices) to speak with the caravan member who has a yellow question mark above the head. Stored items will be eligible to sell and appear in the trade window. Purchased items will be dropped in the location where the trader was standing and will need to be hauled.

Sometimes, foreign caravan members may fight each other and accidentally drop items from their gear inventory.

Later Game Trading

After finishing the required research, a comms console and an orbital trade beacon can be built, which allow:

  • Satellite calls to request caravans to friendly faction at the costs of 1100 silver, which can be reduced to 700 silver if goodwill is above 40. You can only call for a caravan from a given friendly faction once every four days.
  • Interaction with orbital trade ships which will stay around for a limited time. A blue notification will appear at the right of your screen to announce the trade ship and its type. After it's gone, a simple notice at the top of the screen will note when the same vessel leaves comms range and can no longer be traded with. Each trade ship varies in type, which determines its inventory.

To trade, order a colonist to interact with the comms console. Only items located within range of an orbital trade beacon can be traded. Purchases will be sent via drop pods to a beacon's open-air tiles, drop pods will phase through constructed roofs otherwise. If all beacon tiles are covered, drop pods will land at the nearest eligible tile.

Prisoners can be sold directly from their cell even if not in range of a beacon and tamed animals can be sold from anywhere on the map. The trade value of a prisoner or animal is based on their capabilities, injuries and skills.

Trade Prices

Hovering over an item's price opens a tooltip that displays price modifiers.

Usually, goods from the colony are sold at 50% market value, and bought at 150% market value.

Certain difficulty levels modify trade prices. See Challenge Scale.

Trade prices may also be modified by the Trade Price Improvement stat of chosen colonist, listed on the tooltip as "Your negotiator bonus: -x%".

Some traders will charge 2x the price of a good, in addition to the 150% multiplier on buying. Selling remains at normal price.

Faction bases don't have any goods-specific price penalties and will even offer a 4% discount when trading at a base.

Types of Traders

Land Convoy

  • Visitors are small groups that carry all of their goods on their person. They may or may not have items for trade; even if they do, they often have few items and little silver to trade with.
  • Trade caravans are large groups that carry their goods on pack muffalo or dromedaries, depending on climate. They have a moderate amount of items and silver to buy trade with.

Land convoys will leave the area if the temperature is deemed too dangerous for them to continue trading.

Visitors but not traders, no character with (?) sign overhead


Technological Level

  • Neolithic traders are tribal in nature and will be limited to selling neolithic level items.
    • Bulk goods traders
    • Slavers sell slaves, and some other miscellaneous items at a high price.
    • War merchants are essentially combat suppliers.
    • Shaman merchants are essentially renamed pirate merchants (see above), except they only sell neolithic items.
  • Outlander traders come from other faction settlements and are not restricted to a specific technology level of items.

Faction Bases

Large faction settlements that engage in trading. They buy/sell everything within their technology level, have the most extensive stocks and offer a 4% discount.

Outlander or Orbital

  • Outlander traders have a physical presence on the map and offer a small to medium amount of items and silver.
  • Orbital traders have no physical presence. They have large amounts of items and silver to trade with, and have the same trader types as outlanders.
  • Bulk goods traders buy and sell basic materials such as steel, wood, components, gold, textiles, and food.
  • Combat suppliers buy and sell melee weapons, ranged weapons, armor, medicine, and implants.
  • Exotic goods traders buy and sell artifacts, apparel, non-craftable joy items, furniture, and some other exotic items.
  • Pirate merchants buy and sell slaves, armor, implants, medicine, and rare animals.

While the game does not specify where orbital traders hail from, the technologically advanced nature of items that they carry generally indicates that they are from midworlds, urbworlds or glitterworlds.

Trader Inventories

Combat Supplier

Combat Suppliers deal in weapons, armor, mortar shells, and medicine.

Exotic Goods Trader

Exotic Goods Traders deal in rare and valuable items such as AI persona cores, sculptures, televisions, telescopes, apparel, bionic body parts, neurotrainers, some furniture, gold, uranium, and glitterworld medicine. The may also carry animals of the wilder variety.

Orbital Bulk Goods Trader

Orbital bulk goods traders deal in foods, textiles, and materials.

Orbital bulk goods trader

Pirate Merchant

Pirate Merchants and its derivatives deal in slaves/prisoners, weapons, body parts, medicine, and beer. The chance of a trade ship carrying prisoners should go down as colony population goes up.

Trading tips

  • Colonists with a higher social skill using the comms console will negotiate lower buying prices for everything but the commodities (1.5% per social skill point).
  • Likewise, colonists with a higher social skill will negotiate for higher selling prices for everything but the commodities (1.5% per social skill point).
  • Trade is influenced by your trader's ability to speak and hear. Damage to any such parts will ruin trade prices, and conversely bionic enhancements (no such enhancements exist as of vanilla Alpha 16) will improve trade.
  • Selling a prisoner is profitable, but has a negative impact on the happiness of all colonists (excludes psychopaths). To prevent exploiting a recruiting loophole, you cannot buy back a prisoner you just sold.
  • Food and textiles can be quickly grown on hydroponics basins, or in large amounts from large growing zones, which makes farming a viable income source, provided there's enough manpower to tend to the crops.
  • It is recommended to put your comms console in or near the bedroom of the colonist with the highest social skill for convenient trading.
  • All traders carry a limited amount of silver, so they may not be able to buy everything you wish to sell. You can still give them things but everything they receive will be for free, as they cannot afford to pay.
  • Sculptures can be created with a sculptor's table and sold to traders. Since trade ships carry a limited amount of silver, though, you may find that you cannot sell a very expensive sculpture while obtaining the full value in silver.
  • You can trade your expensive items (weapons, sculptures) for other desirable items if the trade ship doesn't have enough silver to complete the transaction. Of course, the amount of silver you can gain is lower, but it is usually better to have a lot of cheap items than an expensive one in your store (sometimes you have items so expensive that no trader can buy them, or when you try the sell bunch tip above).