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Elaborating on Trading rules

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One of the PCs in the campaign I run has a background as a merchant, and also 'knower of secrets'. When the party travel any notable distance, he likes to engage in a bit of mercantyling, pretty much as a sideline. So I would like some rules that are pretty streamlined, but support that type of character.


In the 'bulk trading' rules as written (~P83), some very simple guidelines are given, and these are ALMOST enough, I think, but perhaps not quite.... Or maybe it is my understanding. 

My interpretation of the rules as written is that he acquires goods at list price in location A. He then sells in location B using normal selling rules, but with a 'list price' multiplier for change in rarity applied. So if the multiplier for rarity is x2, but he only rolls a success (i.e. quarter of price), he has lost out quite heavily. If he rolls two successes he breaks even  etc. Of course, I could decide that the purchase price in location A is not full list, due to buying in bulk etc, but then I might want some structure to that..


So.. has anybody done anything with this? Am I applying the RAW correctly (I like to check these things before starting to fiddle.)


If I start to fiddle, I'm inclined to go along the lines of..

In Location A make a negotiation check. as normal for buying, but ...

  • Each success in the location A 'acquisition' roll  increases value of goods actually acquired by (say) 10%, or reduce by 10% for failures.
  • Allow advantages to be used to influence how good the stock is in terms of rarity at location B.  So say rarity at location B is +1 per advantage, -1 per disadvantage or something like that.
  • Then at location B
    • start with the value of goods acquired in location A (which may be more or less than you actually invested depending on how successful your acquisition roll was).
    • Multiply that according to the change in rarity, remembering that  that too is influenced by how 'advantageous' your  acquisition roll was.
    • then as per RAW, i..e  roll negotiation/streetwise. But we assume that rare items are highly desirable and this overrides 'difficulty of finding a buyer. So difficulty of roll is set to the same rarity the item had at the source location A. This prevents an issue where you use advantages on your location A roll to get items that have rarity in location B, but are penalised for that!!!
    • Then success is 25% of this value, 2 successes = 50%, etc., as per RAW.

Can't help feeling this is over-engineered. But you can see the idea, I hope.

Thoughts welcome.. I have a tendency to over-engineer at this stage, and eventually realise that's wrong and it can all be much more streamlined or even just done using core rules... but that always takes me ages, so hopefully you can fast-path me through that process!!!


(yes, I have read the FAQ item on trading, but it is not so applicable to this topic, I think)  



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Some of the buying stuff rules may be quite tough- it can be very expensive to buy new kit for a character due to the rarity modifiers- I looked at some armor and figured it's gonna be a few months of games before my character can buy it! Does seem a lot harder to improve what a character wears vs their skills and talents time-wise.


I've not looked too deeply at the balance of this- if the armour's really beneficial then it may justify a long wait to have the coin to get it, if it's only a minor gain the various cost multipliers may be quite harsh. Wonder if trading may be somewhere for a bit of tweaking for a future update? It may be fine and I've just not looked into it much, plus the other logic for making upgrading gear a slow process may be that there's only so far you can go with it (Unlike talents/skills where there's lots to play with) so maybe there's a need to slow it down for that reason.


A bit off topic I know but you got me to thinking of trading, from such points there may be scope to adjust trading for characters who do it as something of a business to make coin, the CRB covers this a bit, if you're tweaking it considering fairness and balance is key, you could work with the dice to up the range of possible success/failure and play with encumbrance aspects- a trader needs to be able to carry/store their wares and has the risk of the likes of bandits or pirates maybe wanting to get their hands on valuables!

Edited by Watercolour Dragon
a bit ot

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So, I can only talk from experience, and I don't know how helpful this will be, but this is how I usually do it:

Firstly, I'm not really a fan Negotiation being used to find a merchant, especially when wanting to sell stuff (Do I base the difficulty on rarity? Trying to sell a rare item should not be hard, because the rareness means lot of demand, on the other hand if it is so rare, not many know what to do with such a curiosity). Instead, I try to have multiple merchants per town, that can (and should somehow) also be interweaved into the story. To buy or sell, the PC must know a merchant (or through RP etc. has found out about them), and I make sure that there are plenty of opportunities to discover the local merchants.

Then, when buying from one such vendor, each success simply gives a 5% discount (can be increased to 10% per success at your leisure). The difficulty when buying is based off of rarity as normal (with maybe a boost or setback, depending on previous interactions).

When wanting to sell your wares, you simply visit a merchant you know and sell as usual (1 success sells for 25% of base price, not counting discounts from successes from buying, 2 success for 50% and so on, as normal). The difficulty is just the Negotiation skill of the merchant in question.

The clou is that I try to give each merchant some wares they have high supply or demand for, and this can be found out through interaction with the merchant, other NPCs, Knowledge checks, advantages/triumphs, story in general, you name it. When buying from a merchant with high supply, count the rarity as one lower, when selling to a merchant with high demand for an item, count the rarity as one higher. For example, Tony has lots of laser rifles, while John has high demand for them. Buying rifles from Tony and selling them to John automatically induces a rarity difference of 2 (i.e. you can sell for double the price), in addition to the usual rarity increase.

Now that I have it all in written form, I have to admit it's more complicated than I thought (talk about overengineering), but the gist of it is this: I create merchants with different supply and demand that further influences the rarity of specific wares, which can be found out about through different means. It is a bit more work (though one could easily make a random table to quickly roll up merchants), but also very engaging for players that want to focus on trading (or at least my one player that always wants to do business), since with time they build a network of merchants and create their own trading routes based on the preference of these merchants.

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Your interpretation of the trading rules are correct as far as I can tell. I’d say to bring in the Wheel and Deal (ranked starting at tier 1: Gain 10% more when selling to a reputable merhant or business) and Master Merchant (non-ranked at probably tier 4: suffer 2 strain to decrease or increase the price of something being bought or sold by 25%) from Star Wars and if that proves unsatisfying then maybe look at the trading mechanics. 

I suggest this because a lot of activities require talents for true mastery of their field (defense, piloting, social interaction, etc.); a character would do fine with skill ranks, but one with talents really shines. As far as I remember, the only commerce talent Genesys core included was Know Somebody. Why not start by giving a few more options to the merchant character?


Ending thought: If your campaign doesn’t have trade as a theme, why spend more time at the table then you need to on it? Keep the simple system so it resolves quickly and the group can get back to the action.

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Many thanks for all your thoughts...Watercolour dragon raised tangential questions I hadn't thought of but are very interesting.. Klort was thinking along very similar lines to myself, I think. And Hinklemar, I do agree with the sentiment of 'why bother if it is a sideline'? I do have the option of just sticking with RAW, but it is a strong enough element of that PC’s background and nature that I felt it worthwhile trying to understand if there is something slightly more satisfying but only slightly more complex within reach... or not.


I'll come back to this...


If I were going to go down this line (but not as far as Klort in terms of fleshing out NPCs, I think), I might up up with..


  • A knowledge (people/places) roll to know about what items are common on place A and rarer in place B. GM to set difficulty. For example, two big markets close to each other would be hard to find types of goods with a significantly different rarity, I guess. Items a long way apart or of different natures might be easier. So Straight success means you identify and locate items with rarity potential x2. Each success increases rarity delta by 1, failure means rarity modifier of 1. Advantages/threats  can be used to help in subsequent negotiation (boosts etc), along the lines of using advantages/threats in social encounters.
  • Or can use other social skills if narrative plays out in that way .
  • Then a negotiation over price. Assume typical merchant has attribute 2 proficiency 1. But GM can make more difficult for rarer items. Each success/failure effects cost price by +/- 5% (say). Advantages/threats can be used as normal, but can also be used to affect portage/storage charges (less bulky items etc). And/or 2 advantages can be used to get another 'batch' of the same size on the same deal if you have the cash.
  • Assume default storage/haulage charge of 5% of book price of goods. +/- 1 per advantage/threat spent from negotiation role (assume you got higher value, lower bulk goods in the deal )
  • Then at location B we know 'book price' (not the same as what you paid). We know rarity delta. We just use Rules as Written, but I am with Klort that rare items should not be hard to sell unless demand is also  rare/unusual. So just say GM to set level of difficulty based on basic merchants being {2 ability, 1 proficiency], and increasing this if he sees fit, perhaps because there is only one hard-nosed merchant interested...  


Or something like that..


But I may hold this on my back pocket and try to just use Rules as Written, and offer the players the option of trying out a more complex route if they express dissatisfaction and want to try something more elaborate out, in which case I'd trot this out as a draft suggestion... thus revealing my awesome ability to make up rules on the spot <grin>.

Edited by DavidJDance

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