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This article was originally posted to the TerraSol Games blog at http://terrasolgames.com on May 18, 2011 and was reprinted in the October 2011 issue of Freelance Traveller with the author’s permission.

Gloop is the 30th century staff of life. It is the stuff that goes into feeding the cell culture that becomes your synth meat or into the food synthesizers to directly become your ham or potatoes. Gloop is made from organic materials; the most common one in the Twilight Sector is Krill foodpaste from Argos. It is the raw material that your food synthesizer uses to create your meal. It comes both in a liquid form and a dried brick form. As a liquid the stuff just looks like “gloop”, hence the name.

On the grand 30th century food pyramid, gloop is firmly entrenched at the bottom. Synthetic products like synth meat, vegetables or fruits are regarded more highly, and above everything are natural foods. But just because it sits at the bottom of consumer preference doesn’t diminish its importance. For space travel, space habitats, and sealed environmental habitats, where storage is at a premium, gloop is a godsend.

The problem with gloop has always been taste, and with good reason. Early versions of the stuff were simply awful but with time and consumer demand more palatable versions of gloop came onto the market. Like any consumer product, from carpet to gauss weapons, there are endless quality levels of gloop. The quality of taste that is experienced by the consumer is based on two factors: the quality of the gloop and the fidelity level of the food synthesizer that ultimately converts the gloop into a food item or recipe.

The quality of gloop is usually described as being in one of three tiers, low, moderate or high. For purposes of determining the quality of what you are consuming the factor assigned to each level is 75% for low, 90% for moderate and 99% for high. The costs for the three tiers per meal equivalent is 2, 4 or 8 credits. Clearly as stated above there is room in each tier for higher and lower quality gloop with corresponding incremental price adjustments.

The second factor is the quality of the food synthesizer that ultimately converts the gloop into a meal. These are rated as a fidelity factor to the recipe program used by the processor, the range is 91 to 99%. So an example of the worst quality meal would be low quality gloop (75%) and a low quality (economy) synthesizer (91%). Food produced by this combination would result in a meal that tasted 68% like a meal using natural ingredients. It doesn’t sound too appetizing, but that is what many starship crews must put up with besides whatever real food they can sneak on board and keep out of the hands of their shipmates. On the other end, though, gloop can be quite good; high quality gloop with a state of the art synthesizer (99% 99%) would produce a meal that tasted 98% like a natural one. The average person would have a hard time telling the difference.

Gloop Cost Per Meal
Quality Price per meal-equivalent
Low Cr 2
Moderate Cr 4
High Cr 8


Food Synthesizer Quality and Cost1
  Low (75%) Moderate (90%) High (99%) Cost2
Economy (91%) 68% 81% 90% Cr 2,000
Standard (95%) 71% 85% 94% Cr 5,000
Advanced (99%) 74% 89% 98% Cr 10,000
  1. This is a cross-matrix of synthesizer quality (left column) with gloop quality (top row). The value at the intersection of the two quality values represents the taste similarity to an all-natural-ingredients meal.

  2. Other factors, including the size and recipe range, also affects the cost. See the following tables. These costs are the baseline for further adjustments


Synthesizer Size Effects on Cost
Size Number of meals
per ten minutes
Cost Multiplier Mass/Volume* of Unit
Personal 1 0.5 5 kg
Compact 2 0.75 15 kg
Small 5 1 50 kg
Medium 10 2 0.1 dton
Large 20 5 0.5 dton
Industrial 50 10 1.0 dton

* Once the unit reaches Medium size, it must be a fixed installation, and mass is less important than volume. This table thus switches to volume rather than weight. Personal through Small units may be portable.

So, a starship with a Medium unit does a crew meal and a passenger meal; a liner with 2 large units sits 40 at a meal.

Recipes includes the number of recipes that can be prepared and the range of general flavors and styles that can be mixed and matched for example grilled, fried, BBQ etc and food types such as beef, pork, bacon, lamb, chicken, fish, shellfish. So a limited unit could have beef, bacon, chicken and then have a total of 20 ways of preparing or cooking said food. BBQ chicken strips, beef burger, steak, crispy bacon strips etc.

Recipe Range Effect on Size and Cost
Range Recipes Size Multiplier Cost Multiplier
Limited 20/3 0.5 0.5
Good 100/5 1.0 1.0
Excellent 500/unlimited 2.0 2.0

“Recipes” is expressed as number of ways that foods can be prepared/number of basic food types that can be prepared.

Cost SSE RRE is the cost of any single unit, where: Cost is the cost from the Food Synthesizer Quality and Cost table; SSE is the cost multiplier from the Synthesizer Size Effect On Cost table; and RRE is the cost multiplier from the Recipe Range Effect On Size and Cost table

How does this affect my game?

Well, once again it’s is mostly background info but it is important info if you are trying to feed your crew or your crew plus the 10 lucky souls you just plucked from lifeboats after that pirate attack.