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Ian_W

Quick and dirty Trade rules

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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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