Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Gamemaster's Guidepost: A Matter of Price



Dungeon Fantasy has a rather simplified haggling system for selling based on a combination of your wealth, a Merchant skill roll, and your reaction modifier. It rather cautiously omits rules for buying at a reduced price (even though that's part of the RAW) that's lower than 10%. After all, if adventurers can get cheap goods at home why adventure? That said, it may be suitable for some games where the bard can get goods cheaper than the listed price.


"I Wouldn't Sell This to a One-Eyed Camel!"
When buying a given item, you can opt to haggle with the merchant. Assume a skill of 15 for any seller and add a penalty to the buyer's roll as per the following: -0 for anything of $500 or less, -1 for $1,000 or less, -2 for $2,000 or less, and so on, with another -1 per doubling, Success gives a reduction in price: -5% per point by which the character succeeds. Failure has the opposite effect and the delver can always choose not to pay the inflated price - but he can't find a deal better than what he was offered until he leaves town and comes back. Use these rules instead of Bargain Hunting (GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 2: Dungeons, p. 4).


DungeonCo Lets you Buy in Bulk
If you end up buying multiple items at the same time (at least five), the GM might let you claim a automatic 10% price reduction (doubled if you can make a successful Merchant roll vs. the seller). This reduction in price can stack with other sources, but price can never drop below 40% of the market value.


Selling in Lots
In the opposite direction, you can liquidate loot in lots (say that three times fast!), getting a single price for the whole of it put together. To do this, simply reduce your Wealth level by one for this single transaction. For example, a Wealthy bard could sell a bunch of weapons and gear your party stripped off the orc raiders for 60% of the price or 80% of the price if they make their Merchant roll or reaction roll or 100% of the price if they make their Merchant roll and a reaction roll. This can quickly speed along play as long as the GM is willing to ignore instances where item lots seem odd or improbably. He could even rule that the items must be thematically or dramatically linked. For example, in the previous example the orc gear is dramatically linked - the PCs got it from the same place. Another example might be a lot of manuals and maps because they are thematically linked.


Merchant's Guild
Sean Punch's Traits for Town (Pyramid #3/58: Urban Fantasy II, p. 12) is a pretty interesting article - one I'm currently using in my Dungeon Fantasy campaign. In it, he presents rules for rank and how they might be used, with each template having its own Rank and giving its own special advantages. So what about that mysterious "merchant's guild" we keep hearing about? Use the rules listed for that except you cannot get a reduction for training costs or hirelings. Instead, every two levels of Merchant Rank give a blanket reduction of -5% (or -2.5% if the GM wishes more granularity) or one step in effective Wealth. This reduction doesn't stack with those from other types of Rank. It also gives a fantastic reason to be in areas where delvers might not otherwise be permitted "I know I look like a Zandarian Battlemage, but I am in fact a poor lowly merchant who has come seeking his fortune." This might even help delvers who have a chance of not being admitted to town because they are a monster (see Dungeon Fantasy 2, p. 11). In such cases subtract your Merchant's Guild rank from the roll you must make to see if you are denied entrance into a city where you could lawfully and legally hawk your wares. The GM may even allow delvers to cover their allies "Oh, the ogre is my manservant, I take full responsibility for him." In such cases add half your rank (rounded down) to the roll that they have to make. GMs should be viscous to merchant-delvers who cause trouble under the aegis of their guild and either temporarily give reaction penalties or even cause a permanent loss of rank (Rank 0 means he's on probation for 1d months; negative levels means he gets kicked out!)


Custom-Work and Surcharges
As a balance to the above, the GM may wish to add a surcharge for wares that have been custom ordered. If the item is of good or fine quality add a additional cost to the item of +10%. For armor, shields, or oversized items which must be fit to the bearer add +20% instead. GMs could even charge extra for some things, but not others. He might also set a surcharge on magical items or similiar exotic paraphernalia. For example, if all magic items in the campaign comes from dusty old tombs or dungeons and the enchanter's guild is small (and thus rare) then custom made magical items might care a surcharge of +50% (or more!).


Picking Over the Bones
Most of this post actually came from one of my players asking "Can I join the Merchant's Guild?" It does make thing a bit more in-depth on the "disposing of the loot" end of things. When it's all said and done, the GM can just ignore all of the above and say "No, we're doing it by the book!" which is fine - but my personal tastes run towards the more complicated in some areas and this is one of them. My own campaign is very much a "serious" DF campaign. I don't think I could run Dungeon Fantasy as it's presented - it's just too silly. Instead I seem to be running the game like I did my old DnD campaigns, that is I took something super hack'n'slash-y and made it more than just killing the monsters and taking their stuff. Considering my players seem to be taking a real shine to the game I'll take that as a sign that I'm doing something right. It's sort of like running a high fantasy campaign using Dungeon Fantasy as the framework for templates, magic, etc.

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