Search the Community
Showing results for tags 'prices'.
Thoughts on GMing Gloranthan long distance trade: I previously posted links I had found showing various GMs’ work on Gloranthan long distance trade. These references include two approaches: (1) considerable work on defining regional exports and imports, and on trade routes; (2) alternatively, work on a formula for applying bargaining & evaluate skills and distance to produce profits or losses. Today I’d like to suggest approaching it from another direction, in two steps: Given what’s written in the RQG rules and supplements, what scale of reward is appropriate for successful long distance trade? From this, derive the price differences necessary to make merchant trade pay and make sense in the game. Basic information: We are told (p. 425 of RQG) in the calculation of annual income and standard of living, that in the course of ordinary business a merchant can expect a net 10% annual return on his stock of trade goods. For a starting initiate with a stock valued at 500L and decent Bargaining skill, that stock should produce a Free standard of living. We are also told in general terms (p.425) that the (annual) return on long distance trade can be “sometimes”100% or more. Long distance not defined, and overhead is referred to but not quantified. I note that this return is before applying the annual bonuses and penalties for omens, raids, harvests (should harvests even count when you move between regions?), and effect of Bargaining or Evaluate skill rolls. So STEP 1: What rate of return does the GM have to allow to make this come true on average for the adventuring merchant? Let’s assume that : ●There are at most four caravaning seasons a year, because Dark Season is unusable due to weather and Sacred Time is more than likely occupied by worship and celebration. ●The true long distance merchant will not be alone, but instead be running a caravan, with several guards, and will need to make enough on his capital to support the guards and probably replace a pack beast or two: That’s his overhead. My canon example of a long distance merchant is Joh Mith, running an annual caravan from Jonstown to and from Balazar. (Griffin Mountain pp. 91-104+) This caravan appears to be annual, requiring at least a season – plus going out and a season-plus coming back and some dwell time in Balazar, more time restocking and selling the return cargo after return to Sartar. Joh makes a profit both ways, going and coming. What is Joh Mith’s overhead? ●He employs 16 assistants and/or guards and animal handlers (Griffin Mountain p.99), who should be making a Free standard of living or better, see RQG p.423 for income for a Warrior = 60L/year. Cost of those guards: 16x60= 960L/year, part of which will be their living on the road and part will be in goods or cash. ●Once in Balazar Joh also employs 18 (Griffin Mountain p.99) seasonal Balazaring porters and guards who earn 1L/day per group of six (p.93) , so 3L/day for 2 seasons (112 days) = 336L payroll but that’s RQ2 prices: 168L converting to RQG (see p.432). ● As I said, Joh needs to provide for replacing a couple of mules per trip, standard cost 35 L at Sartar prices (but 350L a mule in Balazar!?), total 70L at RQG prices. Sum these three for Total Overhead: 1366L. We are not told what Joh Mith’s capital in Trade Goods is, but about 12 mules carry the caravan’s stuff. An average mule pointed up out of the Bestiary is STR21, SIZ15, so can carry 18 Things, and depending on stage of the trip 4 to 9 mules carry trade goods while the rest carry provisions, tents, bedrolls, cooking gear, and other necessities. So on average 7 Trade goods cargo mules. That allows 126 Things for Trade Goods. Let’s assume the heaviest cargo, worked bronze goods at 20L a Thing, that implies a value of about 2520L. That’s my minimum estimate for Joh’s capital, though we know he carries lighter luxury goods too. Let’s say his actual trade goods capital is 4000L! How much gross profit should Joh Mith be making, minimum, to continue this lifestyle? Joh has a wife (included in his own standard of living, also Rune level) and since he is rune level even if he stayed home instead of caravaning he should be making at least a thane’s or priest’s level of income, 200L/year. 1366 overhead + 200 income = 1566. CONCLUSION of Step One: Joh needs to take in at least a gross 1566L on his 4000L of capital, a 39% annual return. Say 40% and deal in round numbers. In my opinion Joh Mith must really be making a higher return than just his class’s base standard of living because he needs an incentive to not stay home. I advocate 50%, even before he makes his Bargaining skill roll. Your Glorantha will vary. This return doesn’t include what Joh Mith makes at the shop in Jonstown, or what his son and other family and retainers there cost to employ. This is the suggested model for profit on trading from one region to an adjacent region, Sartar to Balazar. Presumably trade with even more distant and/or more dangerous regions would come closer to the “long distance” 100% per year. (Historical Real World non-bronze age example: Marco Polo and his family came back from China with a lot of gems sewn into their clothes. But they were gone from Venice for about 20 years, and no one else they knew had made the trip.) STEP 2: How to apply this to the merchant adventuring on a less-than-annual time scale, considering the usual one adventure per season? 50% return over the year of 5 seasons = 10% return per season without compounding. At one “adventure” per season, roughly 10% gross return on capital per season in similar region to region trade. So this is where I suggest starting as a standard price level increase on Trade Goods, during an adventure, before applying Bargaining : ● For every season’s travel, properly chosen goods should get an increase in price of 10%. ● And “properly chosen” means goods that are not produced in or are in short supply in the destination region (such as trading bronze weapons into Prax), or at least novelties (pottery is made all over, but superior painted pottery of a foreign style can be a status symbol), or goods of superior quality and beauty. (Two examples: •Clothing is not rare in Sartar, but Esrolian fashions cost more there, which you will find in the price lists in RQG p.408. An ordinary set of linen clothes will cost 2L. I expect the 15L Esrolian dress costs less than 15L at the source in Esrolia, since the basic books are Sartar-centered.) •Wine is produced in a lot of places but only Clearwine produces Clearwine.) “Properly chosen” doesn’t include taking wheat and barley to Esrolia or generic furs to Balazar, nor fish to the waterfront in Nochet, nor pine trees to the Aldryami. ● The GM should reward role-played effort to find specific goods that will be in demand: In contrast to a generic “I buy 500 Lunars worth of trade goods”, you want to hear the player say “I buy spices and Esrolian fashions”. Maybe you give feedback and tell the player what sold well. And the second trip to an area, after the merchant has found out what sells well there and makes an effort to provide it, should pay off more than the first trip. ●The GM should also allow further price increases for places that can only be reached with unusual danger. (For example, trading into Dorastor counts a lot. Smuggling into the Lunar empire probably counts less. Since the GM controls the scale of danger in the campaign, the GM is the only one who can scale this price differential.) ●The GM should also reward monopolies and special access, such as being the only person who trades with the Mostali in X place for bronze or gems, or the only person who trades with the Uz in Y place for spider silk or for a SIZ increasing potion unique to the Uz, because the trader has a special relationship. It should take significant role play to achieve that special relationship: Coming from Nochet isn’t so special when trading there, though I will advocate for an augment to Evaluate if someone who grew up there is buying well known products of Nochet and makes an appropriate local knowledge roll. Merely speaking Darktongue does not establish a special relationship with trolls. But for a human to become an elf friend should require considerable role play plus having done an unusual service for the Aldryami of a certain grove. Once that is achieved that is a special relationship with those specific Aldryami, and the adventurer might find out that those Aldryami can make special plant products, also what they may want in return. Your thoughts?