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spequlator

Side activity for a merchant character in Garhound, Sun County

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Hello, everyone!

Our group with me as their GM have started going through the harvest festival related (trying to avoid any spoilers here) scenario from the old RQ Sun County book using HQ rules, as described in this thread:

There are three players, all Orlanthi characters, two of which are taking part to the festival activities. The third one, a female Issaries merchant, can not participate, but has been asked by a local town leader to investigate some Lunar activities in the town. However, the player also clearly was interested in doing some merchant business, too, which makes total sense and is something I absolutely want to encourage.

Unfortunately there was a lot going on during the first session and I came up short with providing her some trading related leads for her to follow and I would like to do better next time. However, I'm drawing a bit blank here. I would like to tell her that "oh, you also notice there is this and that going on" without too much forward planning and see where it goes, so that she would have something small but interesting going on during the festivities (lasting a week). Also, if possible, I would like it to be something, that teaches the players something about Glorantha, which they are not very familiar with.

Any ideas, oh you wise people? Garhound is not a very big city, only less than 1000 people, but it is the time of the most important event of the year, so there are lots of people visiting the town, including those trying to make some business there, legally or maybe planning something shadier. Governor Sor-Eel from Pavis and Count Solanthos from Sun Dome are both also present, with their delegations and soldiers, and things may be heating up...

 

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If you look at the Biturian tale in Cults of Prax (part of the Cults Compendium available as pdf from the Chaosium webshop), a lot of his wares are revealed only when a certain station requires mentioning them. I don't know how you have equipped your trader character - does she have a few mules with more or less unspecified trade goods? If yes, have her player describe how she presents her wares. Bring up prospective customers pointing out an item the player may or may not have described, "yes, that bluish glazed pottery there", and come up with a story of origin and function. Even if this turns out as no deal for this customer, it might spur some other possible lead to trade away.

Biturian has gambled on a number of goods, and he sells a few with temporarily high profit (for Truestone, no less), only to yield up much in the Chalana Arroy, Yelmalio and Zorak Zoran encounters. Without the bison tribe wedding gifts to Norayeep, his journey would have been a disaster. With them, he was a made man.

Your trader probably will have gambled on a few leading items, too, and may carry a mish-mash of odds from previous "better than a loss" bargains.

What does the player of your trader really want from this trading? Detailed exchange of wares or coins? "A few of your previous oasis trades turn out to be quite the sellers, but the cloth that you thought would be sought after by the Yelmalians has a wrong shade of color, and turns out to be taboo"-style description of the trade outcome?

Have the trader check some offers of other traders, there might be a hidden gem among their wares that her appraisal could discern. Or it might be a fake pretending to be such a hidden gem. Either way, a minor story hook results.

One of those other traders might have already gone through one of these variants with your trader, and now he feels wronged by having been taken advantage of, or he may be accused of not having traded in good practice. Again, potential for conflict and or further stories.

A rival trader is looking for a specific item, your trader learns about this, and might manage to buy it before the rival can, making a nice profit as intermediate, or even finding the customer of that rival and take him out of that trade.

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as a priestess of Issaries she could be asked to help negotiate a dispute between two parties, which may result in a conflict with your wider plot by finding in favour of 'the bad guys'

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14 hours ago, scott-martin said:

They have Storm Apples there. Any negotiated access would be a tremendous feather in her commercial career. 

 

Good point, the Apples already played a small part in the previous session, but I don't think the players are aware how special they are. I'll keep this in mind.

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@Joerg Lots of good ideas and stuff to think about, thank you! I forgot to mention, that the player has specified that her character specialises in wool and cloth products made of wool, including those made of wool of exotic animals. The Proximity of Prax of course presents opportunities with the nomads and their herds.

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13 hours ago, Psullie said:

as a priestess of Issaries she could be asked to help negotiate a dispute between two parties, which may result in a conflict with your wider plot by finding in favour of 'the bad guys'

Good point, illuminating the communication aspect of Issaries. I'll need to keep this in mind.

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Spotting dodgy/illegal trade goods coming to market from Lunars, Sun Dome Worshippers or unscrupulous locals.

Does she bring it to light, blackmail, or watch and investigate?

You want something big enough to  be of interest but not to distract from the main story.

If you want something bigger it could be lead into the story/scenario after this one. 

Which could be disease tainted produce, pushed by some valley based Malia priestess trying to disrupt or taint the rituals. 

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She could spot a local product (e.g., a smooth stone used for door stops) and realize that it is actually in high demand elsewhere (e.g., it is white jade used in Kralori religious ceremonies).  Her task would then be to corner the market without letting the locals know how valuable it really is.    

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On ‎5‎/‎30‎/‎2018 at 2:05 PM, spequlator said:

Unfortunately there was a lot going on during the first session and I came up short with providing her some trading related leads for her to follow

Don't forget the rumors of hyena skins!  That may be something she strongly wishes to avoid (and would teach her something about Glorantha, too).

14 hours ago, spequlator said:

her character specialises in wool and cloth products made of wool, including those made of wool of exotic animals.

In thinking about who might want her products:

1) Yelmalions - but only if the 'right' colors.  But they also have weavers, so the demand may be low unless somehow exotic (and I don't think the Yelmalions will go for their women wearing the latest Esrolian fashions, but might go for new Lunar/DH styles).

2) Orlanthi at Garhound - same issue as Yelmalions in that they have weavers.  However, they might well go for Esrolian styles (think Minoan-like - some good examples in The Coming Storm).

3) Morocanth! - they lack thumbs for weaving, and I doubt they can train their herd men to do that.  I'm not sure why the Morocanth want such goods, but maybe they need them as offerings at the Paps (ritual items for Eiritha).  Maybe they are looking for Morocanth thumbs too.  And maybe they are offering slaves, maybe even someone interesting/important to the characters.

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Spequlator:

While at Garhound the aspiring Issaries merchant hears stories of a lost tribe of Praxian Oasis Folk sheep herders far out in the wastes to the east. The rumors include mention of the very rare "silver sheep" whose fleece are an iridescent silvery grey. Such wool is extremely rare and is highly prized and if a source of the animals could be secured a fortune could be made. But is the rumor true? Fortunately the high concentration of knowledgeable and connected people attending the fair offers the merchant a rare opportunity to research the story and maybe get some firmer confirmation of the tales being told.

Meanwhile, a jaded and somewhat corrupt Lokarnos merchant is looking for a non-Sun County mercantile agent to secretly represent him in some rather iffy transactions with Orlanthi rebels. He has an array of "agricultural products" which the Orlanthi can sell on the down-low for hard cash easily but which is illegal to possess or sell in Sun County. The Orlanthi may have captured loot, weapons and armour of Lunar origin which they cannot openly sell, wear or use. The Lokarnos merchant sees this a possible trade opportunity and is looking for a partner at the Orlanthi end of the arangement. He himself will not initiate contact but his factotum, an equally bent and handsome young man, will seek out likely candidates and check them over before approaching them with an offer. The merchant hears that someone is asking people about herself and her reputation. If she approaches him he will be very circumspect and not divulge the true nature of the Sun County products on offer and if caught by Garhound or Lunar authorities he will protect his employer claiming he was acting alone. His employer has promised to protect him should things go wrong. If the offer is made and accepted then the Orlanthi get his product which they can easily sell for cash under the table and he gets weapons and armour which can be sold to either the Lunars or to his own Sun County leadership to be used as gifts to curry Lunar favour or pay tribute.

Cheers. 

Evilroddy.

Edited by Evilroddy
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18 hours ago, Iskallor said:

What are storm apples?

They're in the Garhound Contest in Sun County. They're highly magical apples that give you heightened awareness and perception.

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On 5/31/2018 at 4:05 AM, spequlator said:

Unfortunately there was a lot going on during the first session and I came up short with providing her some trading related leads for her to follow and I would like to do better next time. However, I'm drawing a bit blank here. I would like to tell her that "oh, you also notice there is this and that going on" without too much forward planning and see where it goes, so that she would have something small but interesting going on during the festivities (lasting a week). Also, if possible, I would like it to be something, that teaches the players something about Glorantha, which they are not very familiar with.

Here are a few suggestions:

1)  Hazia.  While illegal, the frontier is a good place to plant a hazia field in among legitimate crops.  While you could take the opportunity to launch the "Rabbit Hat Farm" scenario by getting the characters involved with some shady type offering them lucrative drug opportunities in return for terrible risks.  On the other hand, the players might try to bust the ring and claim the credit, but that involves butting heads with the likes of Gimgim the Grim and the Blackfang cult who are Krarsht allies.

2)  A Tarnished Silver Coin.  When someone pays for goods with tarnished silver, you can tell the player that this is a sign of the Cult of Thanatar.  Of course when the first person the catch is questioned about their transaction, they show that they have untarnished silver, so they are not a Thanatari.  This leads the players on a quest to find out who is spending tarnished silver.  This leads back to pretty much anyone you like.  It could be an illuminated Yelmalio who is also a Thanatari and hides his status by pretending to always pay in wheels.  It could lead to a Lunar military official who is supposed to be overseeing security for visiting lunar officials, but has been paid off with Thanatari silver to turn a blind eye as a head full of Rune Magic is harvested.  It could even lead to the "Black Broo of Dyskund" scenario.

3) Weird Praxian Macrame.  Among bundles of other items the merchant finds a basket full of leather thong macrame with odd items tied into it.  If the vendor is questioned, they will explain that they found it when cleaning out their grandfather's shed after he died recently, explaining that their GP used to be a man of action who raided the rubble and fought Praxians and so forth.  The macrame is of course Praxian knot-writing and it can be used as a jumping off point for pretty much any sort of scenario if they can find someone to read it.  There could, for example be tantalizing map clues to Lassiter's Reef, or a contract of ownership whereby the bearer may claim a certain number of herd beasts from a specific Praxian tribe if they belong to another Praxian Tribe.  There could be a scandalous love letter correspondence between a Waha Chieftain and his homosexual lover who is an enemy Yelmalion that could lead to an opportunity for blackmail or the quiet gaining of a powerful new friend, depending on how it is handled.  Optionally these knotted arrangements could make for an interesting thing to hand over one's doorway to deter flies... until someone who can read the knots sees the love letter... Hilarity ensues as the reader assumes the property is the site of a brothel for a very specific sort of client and word gets around...

4) A Trampled Silver Trumpet.  Worth perhaps 50L in raw metal, the trumpet comes from a company of 100 Lunars sent out during the first years of the Lunar Occupation on a sensitive secret mission.  It has recently been recovered by the vendor from where it lay, and brings many old ghosts and questions back to life.  What was the purpose of the mission?  Were there survivors who have built their reputation on a certain story that the location of the lost bugle proves cannot be true?  Does this wake up the interest of local resistance cells?  Does this unleash a plot of desperate intrigue and danger?  Well yes... Of course...And it all plays out as yet another intrigue behind the "Melisande's Hand" scenario.

5)  A Marvelous Carpet.  Dusty and unsightly at first glance, a good beating and a wash will reveal rich colors and vibrant patterns that resonate with mystical significance.  This carpet has come across the Waste from Teshnos, and what was once a beautiful work of art is now a filthy blanket for a riding animal.  The carpet will fetch a fine price, well in excess of its purchase price, and may be used to encourage the merchant to find a way to Teshnos, to purchase more of these carpets, whether by sea or in the company of Praxians.

6) A Scrap of Hyena Skin.  Commonly known as a "GM Dick Move", to be given a piece of Hyena Skin is a bane to all Issaries merchants as it means they have to become Desert Trackers if they are from the Garzeen or Etyries Sect.  It's the Issaries equivalent of being tricked into watching the video tape from the horror movie "Ring".  The player now has to trade away the Hyena Skin to another merchant who will take up the path within a set time period or they must take up the Desert Tracker's path.  Stolen from Cults of Prax, but still a good one.

7) Commercial Opportunity.  Local farmers come to Garhound for the contest and trade in product X (Porcelain clay, wool, fruit, nuts?  Your choice).  The Etyries merchants also come to Garhound and scoop up X for a song and then trade it to artisans in Pavis or further afield where it commands ten times the price, which is completely unreasonable given the poverty of the farmers and the artisans.  When the farmers are questioned, they say they suspected as much but can't really do anything about it.  If the Issaries player is able to convince the locals to trust the scheme and puts up the money, they could potentially create a lucrative regular trade with the locals by creating a local trade cartel where they are not so ruthlessly ripped off.  Conditions to be negotiated.  Of course the local Etyries merchants won't necessarily take this situation passively.

8) Diseased Blankets.  Muriah the Broo has hit on a dirty trick.  Selling disease laden blankets at the Garhound Festival.  The victim of the trade is an Orlanthi who regularly attracts impests due to his impious nature, and doesn't realize how sick he is.  Of course, he trades the good quality blankets with the Issaries player, who examines the merchandise.  The PC is exposed to the disease, and who knows how many other people?  If they track the source back to the Orlanthi, he incriminates another source who in turn leads to the various Muriah scenarios.  

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On 6/5/2018 at 6:16 PM, Darius West said:

Here are a few suggestions:

A few? So many interesting ideas there. Thank you for writing all that down!

We had another session last week, things progressed quite slowly, but they have now heard a bunch of rumors and have learned about people attending the festival and now there has even been a murder...

The merchant put up a stall for selling stuff and witnessed a young and stupid assistant of a Lunar merchant trying to put a red cloak on a Yelmalio Templar, which ended badly. The merchant tried to calm things down and now knows about a business opportunity, we'll see if she can do something about it. At least I was able to sneak in some details about Yelmalio losing the power over fire and the taboo of red color, which I was happy about.

I have not been GMing for many, many years before this group and while I it is fun, I constantly feel I'm not doing very good job and I'm really stressed before every session. I just hope my players are having fun and it gets easier for me over time. 😥

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It gets easier with practice. As long as you are focussed on ensuring that the players are engaged, you should be on the right path.

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On 6/7/2018 at 6:28 PM, spequlator said:

I have not been GMing for many, many years before this group and while I it is fun, I constantly feel I'm not doing very good job and I'm really stressed before every session. I just hope my players are having fun and it gets easier for me over time. 😥

Welcome to the world of GMing. 

You always feel stressed, worry that everyone is having a good time and feel you mess up the sessions.

If players keep coming back for more, seem excited about the game and seem to be having fun, then you are probably doing it right.

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