Jump to content

Thoughts on long distance trade in Glorantha


Recommended Posts

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?

 

Edited by Squaredeal Sten
  • Like 4
  • Thanks 5
Link to post
Share on other sites

Love it. Truly badass. Let's get a little crazy when we should be populating our powerpoint. All of this is just IMG of course.

I suspect that the 10% annualized ROC is just what we can reasonably charge for minimum risk activities: peddling penny candy to children, bankrolling other traders and providing liquidity to the Credit Network when we can't think of anything more interesting to do. The starting initiate has a little more than 600L in cash and carry so can reasonably generate Free standard of living indefinitely.

Of course the magic happens when carry converts to cash and cash converts to carry. You are going to want to keep the capital rolling, finding cheap stuff to buy when you're flush and finding motivated shoppers when you want to cash out. I think a rule of 10 is easy accounting in a fantasy bronze age environment, so if I can easily source a thing for 9 clacks I'm going to charge the public 10, restock and keep the extra copper. Keep the money moving. Turn it more than once a year, it will compound.  That's how you get big and start running into big problems like paying people.

You can get too big for the local market. In that scenario, you need to fall back on the 10% yield on passive cash or take on something riskier and more ambitious like what Mr and Mrs Mith have built in Votankiland. They are easily richer than any two of the citadel kings put together (Treasure Factor 300) and they do it all on just four mules in every year and four mules out. At this point I wouldn't be surprised if most of the incoming cargo is stuff to furnish the trade mission and keep Skilfil and his women happy. Maybe they bring 30 Things of bronze military hardware, some medical supplies for the hospital, religious artifacts for the temple, but the rest is geegaws that only the citadel courts can really afford and even their demand is limited. As long as Skilfil is happy you can take your pick of another 40-50 Things of dwarf munitions back to Mother Sartar padded out with luxury furs, exotic artifacts for specialists and a few precious envelopes of the wildest elf shit they will share.

He's earned his payout for the year and probably helped advance some personal philanthropic objectives besides. Once in a blue moon he goes up to confer with the giant. He loves it out here. In theory he can even run the bar at a loss as long as he keeps this route open, or simply retire by 40. Cool story.

But we aren't all Joh Mith with what amounts to a monopoly of two thirds of the howling wilderness. Time is money so while he's waiting for that big once-a-year turn, he and his people are happy to keep shorter-term cash working in lower-return commodities. This is more where middle-level merchants can operate. Djimm has the Trilus trading post mostly covered: incentivize the local population to hand you stuff that's worth money, then offer them things they want so they give you the money back too. Junior merchants on any given caravan will trade their own shingles along the way while finding ways to earn their spot at the chuckwagon. Fancy ones will simply rent a piece of the overhead, which Mith appreciates.

And unfortunately the route really only scales to four mules because otherwise he'd be running more in and out. Most of his money at this point is sunk into inventory at the bar. He wants to keep it working so he goes on the road a couple weeks a year. Within Balazar his markup is as simple as it gets: if I'm the only guy around who can reliably get it for you, I'm going to charge you roughly double it would cost back home. The only competition is capricious and a little arbitrary because they're government funded, but even with then, double wholesale is the base. (They'll go up to 5X list price in the right greedy mood. Seller's market.) This is the kind of return junior merchants on the caravan get . . . but it's a risky and annoying venture. You only get one turn a year and if your mule gets eaten or whatever, you've blown out your shot to make money that year. On the other hand, come into a string of luck and you end up running your own route.

I think the breakpoints are interesting. Standard beginner merchant has to keep moving just to keep eating and it's risky business out there. Take that starting stake on a seasonal trading adventure and you can double it. Then pay your bills and try it again. When you've got 1200 L in play, you can hire a friend full time. Maybe this person runs the store back home or comes with you so you can do more dangerous runs. 1200 can turn into 1800, then 2400. And you can always just hire freelancers for seasonal work along the way. 

The funny thing is that someone who compulsively Bargains every transaction will end up losing money until skill level hits 80%. That's okay. God likes it when you simply charge list with standard markup. Don't get cute. This is where we explain the slight wobble between 1:9 and 10% profit, by the way. The merchant inevitably tries to get cute or has a twinge and ends up overpaying / undercharging. It's okay.

I think this means a Free artisan can pay the bills producing about 540 L worth of wholesale product a year but that piece bears further reflection.

  • Like 4
  • Thanks 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, John Biles said:

Heroquesting is an important part of the most lucrative trading, as getting things from the Elder Races often requires it.  At least to make it work right.

So that's a way to link it to adventuring.

You've lost me.  Can you provide examples?

 

 

Edited by Squaredeal Sten
spelling
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

You've lost me.  Ca you provide examples?

 

 

Leaving aside a lot of the Issaries quests which enable people to trade better, a lot of locations have some kind of ritual component and ritual limits on trading, where, say, the Dwarves always come to the same place and offer the same deal, but you have to basically duplicate some deal from the Silver Age to make it work.

The way the Castle Coast flourishes on the deals it has from the past which have to be periodically renewed.

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

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.

You are being conservative in your estimates, I believe, by not calculating in the occasional total loss of investment that traders in the not even that ancient world had to face. Ok, for Joh Mith who is a hands-on trader, a total loss of his expedition may be the total loss of life and company, although Djimm might step up to rebuild on the network his father created.

 

9 hours ago, John Biles said:

Heroquesting is an important part of the most lucrative trading, as getting things from the Elder Races often requires it.  At least to make it work right.

Finding routes and establishing them as trade routes are a form of Issaries quest, IMO. Joh Mith's success hinges on his discovery and subsequent treaties for High Wyrm Pass, which requires acceptance (i.e. tarriffs) by the uz tribes of Dagori Inkarth, the giants of the region, and even a nod to Inora and her Hollri ice demon minions.

Look at what Sartar (the hero) underwent to create perhaps the most lucrative trade network of all of Glorantha, with his dynasty getting a cut of a good percentage.

 

The dutch spice trade was so lucrative that a single ship returning was enough to finance two ships sailing off and still give the financers a lot of wealth to live on and to spend on stuff like artwork, tulips and similar fripperies. The Hanseatic merchants routinely made a 30-40% increase of value at each trade, both with the producers (like the fur hunters of Karelia or the Lofoten fishermen trading in Bergen). Not really to the detriment of their trading partners, who received wealth and an increase of resources perhaps half as high, too.

The trick of long distance trade is to bring stuff that is hard to obtain where you go, and to bring it safely. Looking at Biturian, he is exchanging goods of astronomic value.

 

Trade like this lends itself easily to way overpowered empire building by players applying modern approaches to such an economy, without all the downsides that modern entrepeneurs have to deal with. The kind of losses Gloranthan trade brings is total loss of expeditions, and lives, or recovery of those lives for huge ransom (which you then earn back by selling "overpriced" goods to the recipients of those ransoms).

Getting your less civilized trading partners to accept that "farming" the trade will benefit them more than just robbing stuff is part of the initial investment, and that may very well be the heroic bit.

 

I  think that many GMs shy away from their players' characters getting filthy rich, powerful and influential. So maybe loot isn't sufficient as a reward for risking their lives any more? More powerful magic or powerful political fall-out is always a draw, too. Push the management of those resources to the players who want them.

 

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Joerg said:

You are being conservative in your estimates, I believe, by not calculating in the occasional total loss of investment that traders in the not even that ancient world had to face. ..

The dutch spice trade was so lucrative that a single ship returning was enough to finance two ships sailing off ...

I  think that many GMs shy away from their players' characters getting filthy rich, powerful and influential. .... Push the management of those resources to the players who want them.

 

Joerg, you are probably right about my estimate being too conservativeNot only because of the risk premium - how would you calculate the risk premium?  It is only partly compensated by my bullet point " The GM should also allow further price increases for places that can only be reached with unusual danger.", it is also conservative because because I have not proposed a standard risk premium for usual danger. 

So what do you think the chance is of the merchant taking a total loss and maybe having to pay ransom?  If you were invited to be a Name in a Nochet Lloyds, what would you want to insure Joh Mith's caravan agaisnt loss of cargo and ransom?  To insure a non-traveling merchant adventurer?  Those answers would imply a range for standard risk premium.  It's too bad we can't exchange Lunars between campaigns and go into the Gloranthan insurance business.

I do note that Joh Mith's caravan is pretty large and includes capable rune levels and a tough troll, so he seems to have protected himself pretty well against robbery.  And protected himself politically as well by working with the Lunars and for some of the royalty.  So his setup actually seems low risk to me, at least in a Gloranthan context where we expect at least one encounter per game session.

But there's a third reason my estimate above is too conservative: Reviewing my original step 2 calculation (which I originally did at about 3AM), I realize that Joh Mith needs to get the 50% annual return that I advocate over only four seasons, since as I wrote Dark Season is not usable caravan time.  So 50%/4= 12.5% (simple) return per season on the road, not 10%, and that is before risk premium.  Thanks for the opportunity to recheck my work.

GMs, please increase prices of well-selected  goods by at least 12.5% per season on the road, not 10%.. 

---- ----

About the Dutch spice trade - If I recall correctly the Dutch sailed half way around a bigger world than Glorantha, and allowed about an Earth year to do it.  Earth years are longer than Gloranthan years -  24% longer -  so figure it's effectively 6.5 Gloranthan seasons one way, so 13 seasons both ways.

Up until now I haven't been using compounding or exponents because the math will turn some folks off.  But that time frame begs for them, so -  if the  Dutch doubled their capital in 2 years, hell call it triple because they have overhead too, wages to pay and depreciation on a wooden ship -     1.083 to the 13th power is 3.00.  So the Dutch East India Company were getting a  return of 8.3% per Gloranthan season of transport, compounded.  Roughly, and with a big WAG for their wage and depreciation cost. 

(And the 17th century Dutch used "factories", permanent trading posts, which reduced the  dwell time for their ships and so increased the rate of return because the ships didn't have to stay anchored while the goods were sold This was a real non-Bronze-Age advance in commercial methods, one which helped them replace the Portuguese who sailed that route first.  They also did occasional piracy against the Portuguese, which is a method of competition not taught in business school but which does have Bronze Age and also Viking antecedents.)    

Edited by Squaredeal Sten
typo
  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, Joerg said:

I  think that many GMs shy away from their players' characters getting filthy rich, powerful and influential. So maybe loot isn't sufficient as a reward for risking their lives any more? More powerful magic or powerful political fall-out is always a draw, too. Push the management of those resources to the players who want them.

Probably true.  And Runequest itself shies away from it:  Since RQ2 Rune level characters are supposed to devote 90% of their time to the cult. Most rune priests get tied to a temple job.  But what's our long term goal as players?  To get our characters to be rune level.    This has always seemed to me to be a recipe for retiring successful characters.  Unless as you note the GM has the flexibility to plan the game events so they go more to politics and power, relationships and loyalties, less to munchkins knocking around the woods and ruins encountering whatever.

Edited by Squaredeal Sten
clarify
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

Earth years are longer than Gloranthan years -  24% longer -  so figure it's effectively 6.5 Gloranthan seasons one way, so 13 seasons both ways

While in terms of day count this is true, in reality I believe it's been said that they're approximately the same, so a 16 year old on glorantha is about the same as a 16 year old here. I think the explanation was "longer days" or something like that.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Richard S. said:

While in terms of day count this is true, in reality I believe it's been said that they're approximately the same, so a 16 year old on glorantha is about the same as a 16 year old here. I think the explanation was "longer days" or something like that.

I have never seen that discrepancy discussed.  Always just assumed that people grew up in time to be grown.

But if a Gloranthan year is the same as an earth year then the Dutch East India Company calculation based on 10 Gloranthan seasons instead of 13, comes to an 11.6% return per Gloranthan season.  Within 1% of what I got for Joh Mith on re-calculation.

Edited by Squaredeal Sten
Name.
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Here are my thoughts on Joh Mith specifically, and Issaries merchant caravans in general.

While some care was taken to have Joh Mith's caravans make basic economic sense, Joh Mith, Zix Porub, Xigxag, and the rest of his crew were mostly written up to be interesting. They mainly provide opportunities for player characters to travel around Balazar and encounter lots of interesting things while working for Joh. My character for the Griffin Mountain campaign is called Ruhklar. He and his fellow adventurer friends worked for Joh Mith and ultimately travelled with him to Gonn Orta's castle before journeying on to Pavis. Joh travels once per year from Trilus (home base) to Dykene, which is a 75 mile journey each way. He covers that 75 miles in 4 days. Joh also travels from Trilus to Dykene, which is a 120 mile journey he makes in 6 days. Joh hires a group of 6 tribespeople and pays them the princely sum of 1L per day for the whole group. The best hunter in that group is usually the leader, and they hunt to feed their group while the other 5 carry bundles of trade goods or supplies. Joh mainly buys and sells goods that are not common amongst the people he is dealing with. He sells Balazaring goods like pelts, spices and feathers to his Lunar and Dragon Pass customers, and he sells imported goods the Balazarings can't make for themselves. Most of what he sells has three qualities: light, useful, and scarce. He generally only buys at half price, so when he sells something he usually doubles his money. Of course that is BEFORE taking into account his skill in Bargaining, which is 105%. He has a very good chance of buying low and selling high. In short, most Issaries merchants like Joh plan on doubling their money before costs. To cover his staff costs on his 8 days of travel time to/from Elkoi he needs to bring in 6L of profit, which is what he would make selling one bear skin or a couple of Sable pelts. His twelve days of staff costs for his Dykene trip can be covered with the profit from the sale of one Dwarven weapon. I also wouldn't be surprised if Joh makes money buying mules in Dragon Pass and selling them in Balazar, where the price is doubled.

In general, I believe most merchant caravans work with that same basic "at least double your money" principle. Life on the merchant path is dangerous.

SIDE NOTE: Mules in the RQ2 edition of Griffin Mountain cost 700L. Balazar, being rather remote, the prices of most things are doubled, or even tripled.

When I played an adventuring Issaries merchant back in the day I had several additional beneficial sources of trade goods. If we killed people/creatures I was the one who would sell off their armor and weapons and such, often beating the prices in the rulebook. The same went for any creatures we killed if they had an exotic pelt.

I'd love to analyze the economics of Biturian Varosh's caravan some day, but I don't want to ruin the magic that was Greg's wonderful storytelling.

SIDE NOTE: A lot of the prices of certain goods and services in RuneQuest are intentionally high to help adventurers spend their loot. 

  • Like 5
  • Thanks 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Rick Meints said:

Here are my thoughts on Joh Mith specifically, and Issaries merchant caravans in general.

While some care was taken to have Joh Mith's caravans make basic economic sense, Joh Mith, Zix Porub, Xigxag, and the rest of his crew were mostly written up to be interesting. ....Joh mainly buys and sells goods that are not common amongst the people he is dealing with. ..... He generally only buys at half price, so when he sells something he usually doubles his money. Of course that is BEFORE taking into account his skill in Bargaining, ...In short, most Issaries merchants like Joh plan on doubling their money before costs. ...  In general, I believe most merchant caravans work with that same basic "at least double your money" principle. Life on the merchant path is dangerous. ...  When I played an adventuring Issaries merchant back in the day I had several additional beneficial sources of trade goods. If we killed people/creatures I was the one who would sell off their armor and weapons and such, often beating the prices in the rulebook. The same went for any creatures we killed if they had an exotic pelt....

SIDE NOTE: A lot of the prices of certain goods and services in RuneQuest are intentionally high to help adventurers spend their loot. 

Thanks, Rick.    I suppose what I am after is a paradigm shift:  Rather than most of the merchant's profit being accounted for by his or her Bargaining skill, in long distance trade most should be accounted for by differences between regions in  in price levels and scarcity.  While Bargaining is the icing on the cake, not the cake itself.  Because Bargaining can be applied anywhere, so why will a sane merchant go on the road unless he can find a systematic difference between locations?

So what's my new paradigm? I am after getting past the idea of a single "standard price" and the merchant buying at half of it due to strong Bargaining.    Instead there should be regional price differences, and the merchant's Bargaining skill is on top of that.  I am for the list prices in the rules being Sartar prices, and applying time & distance = region differences. 

It doesn't really shake me up too much to know that the original campaign was done without carefully building a shadow economy, just by postulating that certain things were not produced in Balazar and other things were local exports and role playing it from there.  I will settle for building a GM's rule of thumb so GMs don't really have to detail a shadow economy more than the original GM of the campaign did.  I just want my rule of thumb to be compatible with the world-building already done, and also not to lead to foolish results like making money by bringing barley to Esrolia.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would suggest checking out the trading rules for Mystara (the BECMI D&D World) because it implements a lot of your thinking about you want trading to work.

Every major city has some goods which can be bought cheaply and others which fetch a higher price than normal.

So Darokin (think Renaissance Italian Cities) is a cheap place to buy common metals, common woods, grain, ivory, and textiles and a good place to sell gems, monsters, mounts, precious metals, and weapons.  Soderfjord (think 12th century Scandanavia) is a good place to buy woods and grain, and a good place to sell armor and wine.  And so on.

The Republic of Darokin and Minrothad Guilds (for sea trade) are both pretty cheap PDFs.

Then you can build similar tables for Glorantha, so that scrolls are cheaper in Pelorian cities and sell well in Esrolia, which provides plentiful grain and meat, and so on.  

Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

I am after getting past the idea of a single "standard price" and the merchant buying at half of it due to strong Bargaining.    Instead there should be regional price differences, and the merchant's Bargaining skill is on top of that.

Actually, I suspect you may have misinterpreted what I was trying to describe. I was trying to say that Joh Mith doesn't really use his Bargaining skill to achieve the "buy at half cost" results. When he is talking to hunters and such for pelts it's more a simple "take it or leave it" situation, and there are plenty of hunters willing to take the deal. That aspect of economics is pretty universal. In our world, game stores, for example, basically pay half price for the games they usually sell to customers at retail price. It's not down to any special bargaining power. It's the same in glorantha. Joh has a high bargaining skill, but that mainly gets deployed on big, high value transactions like buying a magic item, not his "here's a Lunar for that stack of pelts" deals.

It reminds me of most episodes of the tv show "pawn stars" and the interesting deals made in their pawn shop. Lots of people come in and say "I want $1000 for this watch because it's worth $1000". The store staff politely point out that they mainly buy stuff to resell it. Thus, they can't pay $1000 for a $1000 item since there is no profit in that. They then offer maybe $500 and usually make the deal. If the seller wants way more, they usually end up with no deal. It's obvious some of the staff are quite good at "bargaining", but they still pretty much follow the half price rule most of the time and don't rely on their bargaining skill to talk down the price.

I wholly support regional price differences. After all, I quoted them as existing for Balazar, where non-local goods are usually 2 or 3 times the prices they would be elsewhere, like in Dragon Pass, Tarsh, or the Lunar Empire. The rule of thumb I would adopt for any distinct region is to simply make a short list of which goods categories are plentiful (and thus cheaper) and which are rare (and thus more expensive) for that region. Joh Mith figured it out for Balazar. I'm sure Biturian did as well for Prax and Dragon Pass. I'd be tempted to just let any player character merchants do likewise. 

  • Like 7
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I have nothing to add yet, but thank you, this is great.  All of it.

 

I will be citing all of this as I try to think through more about Maniria, especially the time before Dormal where the Manirian Road was at its most profitable.

Edited by Nevermet
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I would model long distance trade in the same way that we model steads. So, you have Sacred Time activity modified by different events. The events would differ from farming events, so bad weather is not going to affect long-distance trade, but bandits might. You could work out the Income based on the Merchant's main skill, combined with how well Trading has gone.

It abstracts things slightly but makes it easier to work out how well caravans do.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, soltakss said:

It abstracts things slightly but makes it easier to work out how well caravans do.

Except if you want to play said caravans, yes. And this economic model abstraction is one of the great points of RQG, removing part of the micromanagement.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you seen the trade stuff done by Tao of D&D: http://tao-dnd.blogspot.com/ and http://taoswork.blogspot.com/ and apparently drawn together here: https://tao-dndwiki.blogspot.com/2018/04/trade-system.html

It would be cool to apply his methods to Glorantha if they make sense to folks. If they did, perhaps a bunch of folks could divvy up the task and make much shorter work of it than he did for Earth.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, ffilz said:

Have you seen the trade stuff done by Tao of D&D: http://tao-dnd.blogspot.com/ and http://taoswork.blogspot.com/ and apparently drawn together here: https://tao-dndwiki.blogspot.com/2018/04/trade-system.html

It would be cool to apply his methods to Glorantha if they make sense to folks. If they did, perhaps a bunch of folks could divvy up the task and make much shorter work of it than he did for Earth.

I looked at it.  He is accurate when he says  " It is extraordinarily complex and often overwhelms me. To explain this system to others would be difficult......  "       I didn't really want to start building a trade matrix in such detail as this: " This is then compared by the total number of times I have found 'gold' associated with places and geographical regions in my source material (an encyclopedia, examined page by page): the number of gold references being 236. "  And that's just one step out of seven.

Why not?  Because while I'm up for reading through the canon Gloranthan material, I don't want to have to do all that reading beginning with the two volumes of The Guide to Glorantha in detail and build that world-size matrix before I can even start play.  And I think very few other people will want to play along in that. 

Do you think it's simple enough  and yet has enough realistic feel,  to run on these four rules?

1. For every season’s travel, / travel to a neighboring region properly chosen goods should get an increase in price of 12.5% (one-eighth).  If you travel two seasons / two regions you get an increase of 25%, three gives 37.5%, and so on.

2. The GM should reward role-played effort to find specific goods that will be in demand. 

3. The GM should also allow further price increases for places that can only be reached with unusual danger.   This can only be scaled by the GM, who controls the riskiness of the campaign.

4. The GM should also reward monopolies and special access.

and then  let the players discover ( or generate by rectal extraction ) the particular regions' import and export goods,  (that's what I mean by properly chosen goods) with the GM making brief tables in the style of jajagappa's May 24, 2016 table in my third referenced link,  https://basicroleplaying.org/topic/4624-trade-and-markets-in-glorantha/    and then recording such a table for the GM's future reference.  Just list  the starting and ending region for the trip being played, and half a dozen of each region's major exports and major imports.

To me, the beauty of this is that the adventurers only operate between two areas at a time, so at any one time the clerical task of making the table is small:   Sartar and neighboring regions can fit on a page and most of that page doesn't have to be filled in until your adventurers go to each region.  And some of the work has already been thought through in the linked discussions.

I wouldn't object to someone writing a labor saving booklet of such tables, especially if they had a reasonable rationale.  But it wouldn't be necessary to play.  And on the other hand your Glorantha may vary.  Who is to say it's wrong when your Pamaltela exports chile peppers and mine exports cardamom instead?

 

Edited by Squaredeal Sten
bolding and italicizing phrases
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I might have PC's use (XX) Lore or Customs (XX) to identify goods for trade (import/export to XX).  That's probably good to gauge some basics of the markets. 

To determine success in a venture, rather than Bargain, I'd use Evaluate.  That would represent the quality of goods to either buy or sell.  Depending on the primary (high volume) goods in the trade, you could augment that with Animal/Mineral/Plant Lore for relevant items or Insight (humans/etc.) for slaves.  

I'd probably identify some chance of Random or Known Events affecting trade to some targeted region.  The Regional Encounter tables in GtG could certainly be used for that (maybe 75% chance of Common; 20% Uncommon; 5% Rare).  Or add in Weather events for a season (floods, unexpected storms, etc.) that could delay caravan.  Then there are bandits and raiders - do you pay for more guards (reducing profit, but also reducing likelihood of being targeted)? or take the risk.

 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Is there some kind of "management" skill in RQ, for downtime stuff when players are supposed to be at home? If so, that could be used for logistical checks, like how much of the stuff perishes, wagons broken, time lost, etc., etc. Mostly mundane stuff.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...