Test Page 3
- 1 Merchant
- 2 Ventures
- 2.1 Credit: Death and Dying in Business
- 2.2 Assets: Where Business is Done
- 2.3 Stock: The Meat of the Thing
- 2.4 Scale: One Merchant Against the World
- 2.5 Loot: Get Your Money for Nothing
- 2.6 Summary So Far: Basic Concepts at Play
- 2.7 Quality: The Other White Meat
- 2.8 Base Prices: Market Forces and Stuff
- "Capitalism, ho!"
So basically this class lives in a weird place. They are, essentially, a pet class - or at least that's how I'm envisioning it. The idea is that the merchant runs a business - be it an actual brick-and-mortar shop, or their "business" of being a traveling merchant wandering around selling shit - and that business has a mechanical chassis to it, which makes it effectively a character of its own.
I don't have a good handle on how this will all go down, though, so... bear with me.
Also kind of underlying this whole thing is going to be the notion of a "business turn." Basically we're going to take combat time and ramp up the concept so that we have a number of ways to slice time. If we run a game where a bunch of people are merchants and artisans, it makes sense to me that we would have a timekeeping framework that is sensible for that idea.
Game Rule Information
Merchants have the following game statistics.
Force Alignment: None.
Force Resistances: None.
Abilities: I honestly have no idea right now.
Defenses: Will +2, Determination +4.
Hit Points at 1st Level: 5 + Con score.
Hit Points at Each Additional Level: 5 + Con modifier.
Healing Surges: 6 + Con modifier.
Starting Age: Simple.
All of the following are class features of the merchant.
Merchants engage in merchantry, with individual tasks or abilities referred to as skills which are grouped into knacks, specializations that exist under the umbrella of merchantry as a whole.
The merchant can make use of any of his skills at any time; when he does, he usually makes a merchantry check, which is d20 + his trick's knack's secondary ability modifier (plus his level modifier, as appropriate). If the merchant has a kit implement, he can add his attunement bonus to the check, if any. Some skills are constantly active, provided you meet their conditions, while others have additional requirements you must meet in order to use them.
If the merchant is not stressed, he can take 10 on his merchantry checks, acting as though he had rolled a 10 on the d20 and adding his normal bonuses.
Regardless of their focus or wares they carry, all merchants engage in the venture, the means by which money is made from the art of the deal.
You automatically gain one venture. You can start up new ventures as your money and time allow.
These rules will be written up, honest.
Oh god, lots of random notes are going to go here as we hash out this concept. This will not be pretty.
Credit: Death and Dying in Business
So, here's the thing. Unlike combat, you can't die by failing at running a business. But there still need to be ramifications, because (1) that makes it more interesting, and (2) it should roughly mirror how combat works, in a vague and general sense.
I'm going to start using a lot of financial and economic terms, and most of them probably incorrectly. However, for right now, I don't care, I just need a separate set of terms that are sensible.
Ventures do not have hit points; instead, they have credit, a vague measure of their current solvency and cash flow. When you do your initial capitalization, which is how you create a venture, you invest some amount of money into the venture. That shit turns into credit using some kind of formula that will be sensible.
We'll call it "CP," and that stands for credit points. This is a combination of money and other weird financial instruments like actual credit and shit, and it is intentionally abstract. As a merchant, you will probably want to take money out of the venture for yourself at times, but rather than track money into the crazy places (like forcing you to track hundreds of thousands of gp), we're going to reduce the numbers and come up with formulae that make this sensible. Hopefully that also handle breakpoints reasonably, so there isn't a time at which it is obvious to pull money out for mechanical reasons.
If your CP hits 0, your venture is insolvent. This is a bad place to be. Basically at the beginning of each uh... "business turn" (BT) you have to make some kind of check to see if your situation is better somehow. This is like the death saves in combat. If you fail three of these, your venture becomes bankrupt: it goes away, and you lose everything associated with it.
Ventures don't have a max CP, they really can just go off into infinity.
During your BT, you can take a cash injection action, which basically turns your merchant character's cash into credit at some horrible, not awesome ratio. This sort of thing is a quick fix to a bad situation, not something you want to do on a regular basis. I think actual business works that way, too, so that might be a cool thing.
Assets: Where Business is Done
In addition to your credit, a venture has assets. Assets aren't shit you sell, they're the tools of the trade. If you own a shop, the physical building itself is an asset, as are the counters and shelves and shit inside. I don't know how deep into detail we want to get with this.
You can buy assets with real money, or you can buy it with venture credit. Using actual money is more expensive; using credit is less expensive. Why? The relationship between people who supply shit to businesses and the business owners is way different from the one between vendor and random asshole on the street trying to buy stuff. This is an actual thing. If you're buying stuff as a business, you can get it for cheaper, but then it is also intrinsically part of that venture. As with credit, you can use your merchant character money to buy the assets of a venture and turn them into "your" stuff (as opposed to the venture's stuff, which is still yours, but a step removed), but its expensive and annoying to do. Why? Because it has to be.
If you're a traveling merchant guy and all you have is a bag of stuff, you don't have assets. The venture itself is basically a vague notion that you're a business-person, and maybe have some renown as such ("hey look, Mark the traveling merchant is here again"). But once you do shit like have a donkey and a wagon and other nonsense, your venture has assets.
Assets also turn into an operational cost. This is basic upkeep and making sure things don't look like shit. You buy feed for the donkey, nails to fix the broken wagon wheel, replace the creaky hinge on the front door of the shop... entropy is a thing, and shit breaks down over time. We gloss over the minutiae and just say "fuck it, this thing costs X upfront and has a Y upkeep, deal with it." This does not mean that more catastrophic shit can't happen, this merely prevents things from breaking down over time. You don't have to pay the operational cost, but that will probably result in negatives to rolls or some shit like that.
How are we going to handle these? They're... basically equipment. I don't know.
Stock: The Meat of the Thing
So we have credit which represents money flow and supply, we have assets which are shit that supposedly make your life easier or whatever somehow, and now we have stock, the stuff you actually sell.
...I need to ponder more.
Okay, ... nope I lied, need a smoke first. But I do have an idea.
Much as with money, your venture's inventory has to be abstract. We don't want "accurate adventures in accounting," here; for the time being, I don't think that being forced to track every single item in your shop's inventory is useful. Remember that there are multiple people at the table - we can't be sucking up time screwing around with minutiae.
So I think stock is a scale. It's not a number, but it has a qualitative value that might translate into a number for purposes of interacting with ... other things. So you might have "adequate" as a stock value, or "overstocked," or "understocked," or "sold out."
Your ability to do business - to generate more credit - is based on how much stock you have. Remember that as a merchant, your job is to sell stuff - not services, not intangible things, but honest-to-goodness physical objects. So if you have no stock, you cannot generate credit.
You can purchase stock with credit. Again, you can use real money for this job, but it is inefficient to do so.
Hmm... and I think this is where descriptors come in.
Okay, so for combat, we have things like [fire] and [lightning], descriptors that change how certain game mechanics interact. They are essentially flavor? But they're important flavor. They make things distinct from one another in a way that pure numbers don't.
Merchantry needs this, as well - as do other things related to various other minigames, so I suppose now we should start talking about this crap.
Stock descriptors are [mox], [metals], [skins], [bones], [flora], [timber], [philtres], [cloth]. We may need to expand this... [wares], [gear], [furnishings]... hmm.
- [Mox] is anything to do with the mox economy. So weird mox economy things (like souls) go here.
- [Metals] is anything metal, obviously.
- [Skins] are things like leather and whatnot.
- [Bones] are... well, obviously bone.
- [Flora] are plants that are not trees.
- [Timber] are tree bits.
- [Philtres] are liquids and crap, like glue, sap, oil, water, etc.
- [Cloth] is, obviously, cloth.
- [Wares] are finished goods that aren't furniture or used in other minigames. So... shit like forks, watches, that sort of deal. But also things like backpacks and such that are useful even for adventurers, but don't necessarily have entrenched mechanical interaction with minigames.
- [Gear] is equipment used in other minigames. So something like a pickaxe would be [gear], because it's used in harvesting, as would any weapons or armor.
- [Furnishings] are things like chairs and shit.
Descriptors do not overlap. That is, if you are a merchant who deals in metals, you don't deal with finished products, you're a guy supplying ore or random bits of things like gears and such that could be turned into a finished product, but haven't been. That doesn't mean you have to specialize, but you can.
Hmm... maybe the idea of "well you don't track how much you actually have, you just have a vague description" is kind of crappy. You should be able to stockpile stuff if you want, whereas the system I laid out before says "okay once you hit overstock, you no longer care." Which... I see where I was going with that, but might be too abstract.
So we have two broad categories of stock here, materials and goods (I would say "finished goods," but I wanted it to be one word). Goods are going to be more expensive to buy, but can be sold for more, as well.
Scale: One Merchant Against the World
Okay, so here's the thing. If we have tick-marks for stock types, then we need to address the fact that one tick mark probably means less to a multinational than it does to one dude carrying his wares in a bag.
So we need to decide how to handle this. Does a tick for a stock indicate the same amount regardless of your shop size, or is it dependent upon the shop size?
I think that... in order to interact properly with other subsystems, it has to be a static amount. Your shop size gives you an absolute limit on your inventory size, and that's how that's going to play out.
So a first level merchant with a sack is going to have like... 5, max. While at lower levels, I could probably see that going to like... 20. And then at higher levels, it just becomes absolutely insane, as you buy warehouses and shit.
So in this way, stock becomes ... oh. Stock is your resource, like MP or flux or quanta. Credit is your HP, stock is your MP. Huzzah. That's a good way to think about it. So having another set of numbers you need to worry about and manipulate shouldn't be too horrible.
Loot: Get Your Money for Nothing
So here's the thing. Let's say you're a merchant, and you see these adventurer putzes come in and try to sell things. One, they're dumb because they don't know economics, and two, you realize that if you were an adventurer, you could totally make bank by selling whatever stuff you find. That would be a pretty sweet gig.
The problem here is that you are a merchant, not an adventurer. So you will probably get stabbed and die. Since you have no weapon proficiencies and no real armor proficiencies, either. But hey - let's live a little, eh?
So you kill a band of orcs. These pricks are all using weapons and wearing armor. Stuff you can totally loot. So because adventurers are dumb, don't do economics, and sell shit at half its value, you say, "no wait guys, it's totally cool, let me take this stuff and set up shop for a week, and you will get way more money."
Do you see the problem? The problem is absolute items turning into an abstract notion of quantity of goods. The gear you throw into your venture will lose any and all data tagged onto it, because it's being thrown onto an abstract pile. As it should: you don't want to have to remember five weeks later that three of those ticks under "gear" are "orc armor."
Yeah... I think we just have to say, once an item goes into the pile, it's gone. Basically there's a wall between the merchant and the venture, and once an item goes into the venture, you can't say "wait but I want that back." At least not on the PC side. Why? Because there's just no way to do it.
Summary So Far: Basic Concepts at Play
Okay, let's try to put it together.
Recette has a venture with 10 CP and 20 inventory: 5 metals, 5 timber, 5 cloth, 5 wares. He's some kind of wholesale guy for a couple harvesting operations. Alright, cool.
Recette wants to sell shit. That's how he makes a living. So he makes a merchantry attack against the local economy, using... some skill or other, whatever. Ignore the details. So let's say he hits, and the skill he's using gives him his Expertise die + his Wisdom modifier in CP. He rolls a 4, has a +2 Wisdom mod, so gets 6 CP. Nice!
However, the nature of the skill is such that the economy counterattacks by hitting his stock. The economy hits him, and he loses 2 metal, 1 timber.
His venture now looks like this: 16 CP, 17 inv (3 metal, 4 timber, 5 cloth, 5 wares).
He wants to restock, so he goes to his supplier, and makes a merchantry attack against the supplier. He hits, and gets 4 metal, 2 lumber, 1 wares. (How did that happen? Magic, for now.)
The supplier counterattacks, going for his CP. The supplier hits and deals 5 damage to his CP.
His venture now looks like this: 11 CP, 24 inv (7 metal, 6 timber, 5 cloth, 6 wares).
At the end of the week, Recette turns the 1 CP profit he made this week into cash so he can pay rent.
Quality: The Other White Meat
So we've talked about quantity of stock; but I'm thinking that there should probably be another dimension to it, and that is quality. This is so that we can tie into the artisan and harvester classes later, who should be able to make higher quality stuff so they can get more money and/or make better stuff.
Each stock category has, in addition to being a number, quality ratings. We're going to be all weeaboo about it, and so the qualities are E, D, C, B, A, and S, in that order.
There is also the whole "how does the market actually hit your stock" thing, which for the moment is all magic, but we need to figure it out.
So basically you can do things like say you just want to sell all your C metals or something, because it's hot or garbage and you want to off-load it right now.
I'm thinking that higher quality stuff - anything D or higher - gives you bonuses. What I'm thinking is that for each skill, it will specify how it relates to quality.
Base Prices: Market Forces and Stuff
One thing that I forgot to go over, and is probably important, is the idea of a base price.So floating around in my head right now is the idea of going through the world and doing this crazy thing ... sorry, got massively distracted by the blog on economics that I found awhile ago, which I still need to work through and do to Trinity... once the world map is done, and... ugh, there is just so much work to be done.