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Psullie put together this really good list of Glorantha trade goods.

Campaigns where merchanting is a thing - whether you're doing it with Our Heroes are paid caravan guards, or where every player, each with their own cargo, has come together and hired a captain and their ship - need goods to trade.

From a rules perspective, I'd suggest using that list, with a roll against Evaluate with Homeland Lore (Source) to identify a sales opportunity, and a roll against Evaluate with Homeland Lore (Destination) to know who to sell it to on the other end. A normal success indicates a probable 20% profit. Special successes indicate more opportunity for profit (50%), with criticals indicating even more opportunity.(100%) You then get Bargain rolls at each end to get a good buying or selling price(normal, 5% better price, special 10% and critical 20%).

Additionally, as a quick and dirty method I'd suggest that for every "culture" you go through between source and market, you get a 50% bonus to your skill - for example, sourcing Esrolian goods to sell in the Lunar Empire's Heartlands has Sartar and then Tarsh between them, so you'd add 100% to your skill.

Of course, this means you have to get the goods from Esrolia to the Heartlands, which presumably wont be either easy or cheap :)

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12 hours ago, Ian_W said:

 

Psullie put together this really good list of Glorantha trade goods.

Campaigns where merchanting is a thing - whether you're doing it with Our Heroes are paid caravan guards, or where every player, each with their own cargo, has come together and hired a captain and their ship - need goods to trade.

Absolutely. And apart from the risk of losing all your cargo to bandits/pirates/disasters, ancient trade well into the 19th century usually had quite big profit margins. Many trades paid off the initial cost for a trading vessel on their first return, with profits to spare. The trick was to get it to return at all.

12 hours ago, Ian_W said:

From a rules perspective, I'd suggest using that list, with a roll against Evaluate with Homeland Lore (Source) to identify a sales opportunity, and a roll against Evaluate with Homeland Lore (Destination) to know who to sell it to on the other end. A normal success indicates a probable 20% profit. Special successes indicate more opportunity for profit (50%), with criticals indicating even more opportunity.(100%) You then get Bargain rolls at each end to get a good buying or selling price(normal, 5% better price, special 10% and critical 20%).

So, with a good enough roll, you could trade grain profitably to grain-exporting Esrolia (outside of the calamity of the Windstop)? (Other than magical seeds for the priestesses of Ezel, or something likewise quest-worthy.)

Some trades just shouldn't work out, and a successful roll on these skills should do nothing but tell you that.

 

12 hours ago, Ian_W said:

Additionally, as a quick and dirty method I'd suggest that for every "culture" you go through between source and market, you get a 50% bonus to your skill - for example, sourcing Esrolian goods to sell in the Lunar Empire's Heartlands has Sartar and then Tarsh between them, so you'd add 100% to your skill.

Of course, this means you have to get the goods from Esrolia to the Heartlands, which presumably wont be either easy or cheap :)

While it can be fun once in a while to be given a logistical problem, sooner or later it shouldn't be the focus of player activity. Occasional troubleshooting doubling a way to seed as plot hooks is fine, and getting deeper into the network behind your original trade contacts is a different kind of activity, but much of that could fall under "between seasons activity". No different from Njal's Saga's "that summer he went a-Viking in the western islands. When he returned..."

A lot of this activity has been described as Issaries feats in HeroQuest. The Spare Grain myth basically is about this kind of finding supply and demand in your homeland, and the Garzeen and Silvertongue branches of the cult deal with long distance exchanges and other mythic roles.

These activities can be made into cult duties, and it can be interesting to play them through a few times, once in order to learn about the role and the myth, and other times when something is wrong and interferes with these processes and their magic.

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1 hour ago, Joerg said:

While it can be fun once in a while to be given a logistical problem, sooner or later it shouldn't be the focus of player activity. Occasional troubleshooting doubling a way to seed as plot hooks is fine, and getting deeper into the network behind your original trade contacts is a different kind of activity, but much of that could fall under "between seasons activity".

Why not, for heaven's sake, if the players find it enjoyable?

Hell, a goodly chunk of the game Traveller is BASED on that driving much of the characters' peripatetic habits.

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35 minutes ago, PhilHibbs said:

Do they? Many players, most in my experience, don't.

Chicken and egg, perhaps.

If a game functionally has no mechanics, no rules, no encouragement of that sort of "Merchant Prince" style of play, why would people who DO enjoy that be interested in getting into such a game.

I'm not saying its a giant group of people, I'm just taking issue withe categorical statement of "it shouldn't be the focus of player activity".  If the players want to do something and the GM enjoys it as well, who cares what is the focus of player activity?  I had two players that liked to roleplay the taking of coins from their pouch, and laying them on the table in front of the vendor, and other minutiae of just plain-old-normal transactions in an inn; I found it dull as dirt but since they enjoyed it, I as the GM and the other player (who didn't really care) played along.

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8 hours ago, Joerg said:

 

So, with a good enough roll, you could trade grain profitably to grain-exporting Esrolia (outside of the calamity of the Windstop)? (Other than magical seeds for the priestesses of Ezel, or something likewise quest-worthy.)

 

Absolutely. The grandmother of a certain family always liked black rye bread, and the black rye bread made locally just doesn't work for her. So you know a guy who wants four tons of Jonstown dark rye, delivered to Nochet, because his wife wants get in on her good side.

Alternatively, it's for some specialty beer. And so on.

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6 hours ago, styopa said:

Why not, for heaven's sake, if the players find it enjoyable?

Hell, a goodly chunk of the game Traveller is BASED on that driving much of the characters' peripatetic habits.

Back when Trav was a thing, there was also a game called Runequest that had a supplement called Cults of Prax, that had fluff based around a guy going around buying and selling. A party could either be that guy, or be hired by that guy, or be trying to rob that guy.

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17 minutes ago, Ian_W said:

Back when Trav was a thing, there was also a game called Runequest that had a supplement called Cults of Prax, that had fluff based around a guy going around buying and selling. A party could either be that guy, or be hired by that guy, or be trying to rob that guy.

As a GM there are few thing less satisfying than watching thieves become merchants after telling a bunch of PC's after a hard won fight that the 'treasure' amounts to sacks of grain, bolts of silk or some other bulky trade items, ah the gaming potential.

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14 minutes ago, Psullie said:

As a GM there are few thing less satisfying than watching thieves become merchants after telling a bunch of PC's after a hard won fight that the 'treasure' amounts to sacks of grain, bolts of silk or some other bulky trade items, ah the gaming potential.

https://wikisaga.hi.is/index.php?title=Egla,_10

 

Good old Egilsaga ... guy goes to collect tribute and trade and then loots some other merchants/raiders, and gets so much loot he needs to build a boat :)

 

Chapter 10

Thorolf in Finmark

In the winter Thorolf took his way up to the fells with a large force of not less than ninety men, whereas before it had been the wont of the king's stewards to have thirty men, and sometimes fewer. He took with him plenty of wares for trading. At once he appointed a meeting with the Finns, took of them the tribute, and held a fair with them. All was managed with goodwill and friendship, though not without fear on the Finns' side.

Far and wide about Finmark did he travel; but when he reached the fells eastward, he heard that the Kylfings were come from the east, and were there for trading with the Finns, but in some places for plunder also. Thorolf set Finns to spy out the movements of the Kylfings, and he followed after to search for them, and came upon thirty men in one den, all of whom he slew, letting none escape. Afterwards he found together fifteen or twenty. In all they slew near upon a hundred, and took immense booty, and returned in the spring after doing this. Thorolf then went to his estates at Sandness, and remained there through the spring. He had a long-ship built, large, and with a dragon's head, fitted out in the best style; this he took with him from the north.

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1 hour ago, Ian_W said:

 

Absolutely. The grandmother of a certain family always liked black rye bread, and the black rye bread made locally just doesn't work for her. So you know a guy who wants four tons of Jonstown dark rye, delivered to Nochet, because his wife wants get in on her good side.

Alternatively, it's for some specialty beer. And so on.

One of the oldest extant texts is...a customer service complaint (http://www.openculture.com/2015/03/the-first-recorded-customer-service-complaint-from-1750-b-c.html) from 1750 BC that reads exactly like it was written on Yelp:

Tell Ea-nasir: Nanni sends the following message:

When you came, you said to me as follows : “I will give Gimil-Sin (when he comes) fine quality copper ingots.” You left then but you did not do what you promised me. You put ingots which were not good before my messenger (Sit-Sin) and said: “If you want to take them, take them; if you do not want to take them, go away!”

What do you take me for, that you treat somebody like me with such contempt? I have sent as messengers gentlemen like ourselves to collect the bag with my money (deposited with you) but you have treated me with contempt by sending them back to me empty-handed several times, and that through enemy territory. Is there anyone among the merchants who trade with Telmun who has treated me in this way? You alone treat my messenger with contempt! On account of that one (trifling) mina of silver which I owe(?) you, you feel free to speak in such a way, while I have given to the palace on your behalf 1,080 pounds of copper, and umi-abum has likewise given 1,080 pounds of copper, apart from what we both have had written on a sealed tablet to be kept in the temple of Samas.

How have you treated me for that copper? You have withheld my money bag from me in enemy territory; it is now up to you to restore (my money) to me in full.

Take cognizance that (from now on) I will not accept here any copper from you that is not of fine quality. I shall (from now on) select and take the ingots individually in my own yard, and I shall exercise against you my right of rejection because you have treated me with contempt.

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7 hours ago, styopa said:

Chicken and egg, perhaps.

If a game functionally has no mechanics, no rules, no encouragement of that sort of "Merchant Prince" style of play, why would people who DO enjoy that be interested in getting into such a game.

I'm not saying its a giant group of people, I'm just taking issue withe categorical statement of "it shouldn't be the focus of player activity".  If the players want to do something and the GM enjoys it as well, who cares what is the focus of player activity?  I had two players that liked to roleplay the taking of coins from their pouch, and laying them on the table in front of the vendor, and other minutiae of just plain-old-normal transactions in an inn; I found it dull as dirt but since they enjoyed it, I as the GM and the other player (who didn't really care) played along.

And I said that because I like building games where you trade to become a tycoon (among other things), and where the act of gaining wealth through this activity dulls through repetition. wi

RuneQuest doesn't provide the engine for such a trade simulation, and I cannot think of any rpg which really does. And it puts a huge burden on the GM who can easily ruin the consistence of the economic system by unbalancingly high (or low) rewards for a trade. When the trading becomes the main focus of the game, then you need a solid system to provide a good backdrop for that activity, and it had better be a responsive system (unlike some I have seen in games which have fixed prices for luxuries no matter how crazy quantities you would deliver). In these games, sooner or later the trade will concentrate on the goods that break the system, taking out the enjoyment or thrill.

Normally, you would have a computer game or a board game as the backdrop for such roleplaying activities, ideally interlinked with the outcome of your roleplaying. (In a computer game, the GM would be "allowed" to "cheat" the outcome of the roleplayed extra deals, or something like that, potentially unbalancing that game.)

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9 hours ago, Joerg said:

RuneQuest doesn't provide the engine for such a trade simulation, and I cannot think of any rpg which really does.

Again: Traveller.

There was quite a bit about trade in the LBB, and then when Book 7 came along (Merchant Prince) it became rather interesting and substantive.

 

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1 hour ago, styopa said:

Again: Traveller.

There was quite a bit about trade in the LBB, and then when Book 7 came along (Merchant Prince) it became rather interesting and substantive.

I encountered Traveller in the German edition of the classic Traveller rules, and there the Traveller ship system with its enormous fuel cost made interstellar trade harder than naval trade with India in the 16th century. There was little chance for retired merchant navy personnel to be able to compete with the merchant navy as independent trader, and cargo capacity was too low to act as a tramp steamer e.g. in the Polynesian archipelagoes.

The Traveller setting as I encountered it never managed to allow players to play independent traders like in C.J. Cherryh's Alliance-Union or Chanur settings. It never had standardized cargo containers or pods other than the modular 50t skiff, and no player-available ships to carry such cargo modules. No exterior bulk container ships like Ripley's Nostromo, either.

I never got a working version of Elite for my computers, so I made do with Elite-inspired games like Wing Commander Privateer or the X series by Egosoft, where trading and even production of (a very limited set of) wares with an adaptive market has at least a resemblance of an (quite unbalanced, but sort of believable) economy. I love those games, and I can play them for days, with a little bit of space combat or solo-roleplaying on the side.

I don't see any way to support something like this with RuneQuest without adding a serious overhead, though. I can see myself developing something approaching this for an M-Space setting. I was tempted to use Men of the Seas concept for a space game, and may still build on that. I see great potential for a game like this set in Kethaela and partner ports 1583-1616, too, or on Lake Felster and the main rivers. Heck, I have a Pelaskite character in 1617 Karse who would jump at something like this besides his (and his Redaldan wife's) efforts to breed a superior light cavalry horse from mares and stallions he has seen in Kralorela and Peloria. But not as his main pastime, more like running a family business. And I don't see any GM to run that kind of game...

I am far less confident that a game with a Joh Mith-like party would be sustainable over more than a few sessions. The game would surely deviate into citadel intrigues, hostage hunting etc. And all players need to buy in wholeheartedly in a trade-dominated game. Or even a smuggling-themed game, Tattoine-style.

Biturian's trading in Cults of Prax never quite made sense to me, but then his story wasn't about trading, it was about presenting Prax as a place to game in. A serious trader should have returned from the Block as soon as he had those Truestones, and then trade for Kethaelan artifacts or wealth. Pavis could have been the object of a second trip, fishing for artifacts from the Rubble.

 

 

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9 hours ago, styopa said:

Again: Traveller.

There was quite a bit about trade in the LBB, and then when Book 7 came along (Merchant Prince) it became rather interesting and substantive.

 

Trav didnt do trade right until Gurps Traveller: Far Trader :)

That product was the first one to actually try and answer the question "How much trade is there, from where and to where".

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2 hours ago, Joerg said:

Biturian's trading in Cults of Prax never quite made sense to me

 

 

He has a regular circuit, and that means his trading partners know where he will be at what time of the year, which means they can be there to trade with him.

 

 

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7 hours ago, Ian_W said:

He has a regular circuit, and that means his trading partners know where he will be at what time of the year, which means they can be there to trade with him.

Biturian's travelogue makes it soumd like his marriage run was the first. It is possible that he and Norayeep now have established a routine, but the Cults of Prax trip was meeting new people at every stop.

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  • 2 years later...

I must confess I hadn't looked at Traveller Book 7 - Merchant Prince since the late 1980's. I love those little black books. The Merchant Prince trade system spans about 10 pages (little pages at that). I chuckled when I remembered how the trade identification abbreviations sound like items found on a Thai restaurant menu ("Lo Ni Po Ba" for example, is short for Low population, Non-industrial, Poor, and Barren). Anyway, adapting the Merchant Prince system to Glorantha would be fairly easy. If anything it could be even simpler, while also being more granular. By granular, I mean that in traveller you were basically shipping X tons of generic "goods" while in Glorantha we might as well just start with the standard price tables, which deal with specific items.

The Trade and Commerce process has to two main activities: calculating the buying cost when you are buying goods, and calculating the selling price when you sell those goods. They have the same modifiers for both calculations. Of note is that with a base buying cost of 4,000 credits, and a base selling price of 5,000 credits, you have a base profit of 25% prior to any buying and/or selling modifiers being applied. The modifiers are basically the tech level, market level, and your personal skills. None of those three things would be difficult to adapt to Glorantha, or RuneQuest in general.

  

Edited by Rick Meints
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I have recently noticed that in Volume II of Guide to Glorantha, page 470, there is a table of "Important trade goods' by region (imports and exports).  This is at the end of the "The oceans" chapter.  It is at the level of "Dragon Pass", "Holy country", "Lunar Empire", "Teshnos", so is pretty macro.  It is an inset in a larger section that has paragraphs discussing various trade goods.

So it's not as if there is NO canon attention to trade.

I applaud Ian_W's opening post, which does point to " Campaigns where merchanting is a thing ".  He's not trying to force it on you if you don't like that in your campaign.  But I tell you it's hard to run an Issaries in a hack and slash campaign.

And I like the  suggestion about skill rolls to discover tradeable goods

However I have misgivings about using rolls against Homeland Lore on both ends, because that would indicate that a really long distance trade route is almost impossible to set up.  Why?  How can the merchant from thousands of miles away have any Lore % for a place he has never been before?  Wouldn't it make sense to rule that the more exotic the goods are, the easier it is to recognize something that will sell back home?  Lore is a hard item to increase, you evidently have to be taught, though I'd think that every season you spend in a new environment you will learn a little more about it unless you have a very low INT.  Why not run the recognition on the far and as an INT roll?  Or as Jajagappa suggested a couple of months ago, test against Evaluate skill.

Let's talk about this.   My own thoughts in another thread don't contradict this approach, did not discuss the mechanics of identifying tradeable goods.  Perhaps we can flesh out an adequate, un-complicated method for GMing trade.

I also like Joerg's idea that " Finding routes and establishing them as trade routes are a form of Issaries quest, IMO"

 

Edited by Squaredeal Sten
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24 minutes ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

But I tell you it's hard to run an Issaries in a hack and slash campaign.

I've played an Issaries Priest most of the my "RQ career", and that includes some VERY old-school hack-and-slash campaigns. Issaries is a cult that has a lot of flexibility as to how you can spend your time. I suppose if all you want to do is sit in a market stall, then yes, you might get a lot of push back and get left behind. On the other hand, my Issaries PC was happy to fight for the team, use my bargaining skills when it was time to parlay, and sell the loot at a greater profit after the killing was done. I also spoke a number of languages, which came in handy as we hit the road. My magic helped guard the camp at night when we thought the heavy stuff might come down. Having someone who is from a cult that "negotiates from a more neutral position" is not a bad thing to have in your back pocket. In my last gaming sessions I played an Issaries merchant enslaved by the Lunars to help build the newest Temple to the Reaching Moon. I didn't just twiddle my thumbs. I put my skills to use. It was a lot of fun.

If you have an "issaries" situation you'd like to talk through how best to solve through roleplaying, I'm happy to help. Issaries isn't the greatest cult in the game to play (since I am forced to say that), but it is way up there in the pantheons of legend. Issaries is a Lightbringer, after all. Issaries was there when it mattered the most, and helped get the job done. There's that little thing called "the dawn" that Issaries helped make happen, despite all of Orlanth's screwups.

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31 minutes ago, Rick Meints said:

I've played an Issaries Priest most of the my "RQ career", and that includes some VERY old-school hack-and-slash campaigns. Issaries is a cult that has a lot of flexibility as to how you can spend your time.....

If you have an "issaries" situation you'd like to talk through how best to solve through roleplaying, I'm happy to help. Issaries isn't the greatest cult in the game to play (since I am forced to say that), but it is way up there in the pantheons of legend. I

Oh, I had no problem roleplaying it.  But the GM just couldn't stand it and found it a distraction from what he wanted to do, got angry.   It wasn't a "solve though roleplaying" issue.   I'm no longer in that campaign. 

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8 hours ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

However I have misgivings about using rolls against Homeland Lore on both ends, because that would indicate that a really long distance trade route is almost impossible to set up.  Why?  How can the merchant from thousands of miles away have any Lore % for a place he has never been before?  Wouldn't it make sense to rule that the more exotic the goods are, the easier it is to recognize something that will sell back home?  Lore is a hard item to increase, you evidently have to be taught, though I'd think that every season you spend in a new environment you will learn a little more about it unless you have a very low INT.  Why not run the recognition on the far and as an INT roll?  Or as Jajagappa suggested a couple of months ago, test against Evaluate skill.

My interpretation is "if nobody (or a book) tells you something, the only way to know something is skill roll"

then of course if another merchant, or traveller, told you that you can find blablabla in Teshnos, you can imagine (evaluate or something else)  but if no one tells you what is from Teshnos  or what is expected in Tehsnos, you have to discover it

 

same IRL, I am not sure that a mayan merchant was able to know the polynesian market without external information or experience.

and same for the origin : let's say a viking learned that Ivory is from Africa... It s ok but... Africa is very large, the information is not enough accurate to plan a successfull expedition. Of course the viking will plan an expedition, believing it is "there" or just because it is an adventure, and, maybe, with luck this "there" is the good one, but probably not.

 

that's why I like the "country lore" test but of course i use it if the information is not already known, by any mean (because the pc were there and saw the product is also a mean, you have no skill or very little % but you know exactly this) . Same to search a plant in the area (plant lore or description already known)

 

a table of price items (with offer and demand ratio) should be a great data to help any gm, I m fine to rule how determine if a pc knows or not, but I have no idea of the knowledge I could give ^^

What is the price of an iron sword in the west ? in boldhome ? in sartar ? what about war dog, war horse, book, clearwine, coconut ... ? Is there any interest for these items in sartar, kralorela, safelster ?

Edited by French Desperate WindChild
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