How do you handle shopping in your games?


Advice


My last trip into Golarion was a sandbox game that ended up drawing a nice big plot arc, which for this particular game I was trying to steer away from. One of my goals for the game was to make the game feel more like a realistic world, not a video game scenario with merchants who have endless pockets, and the players would have to pick and choose what loot was worth carrying with them, and whether it was worth holding onto until they could find somewhere to offload the goods.

I had visions in my head of the players funding merchant fleets with their adventuring profits in order to make more money, and I had even begun development of my own shopkeeper system where the players would own a business, and fund it in whatever way they saw fit. My GMing power ran out of juice, and we've put the campaign on pause while I recharge my batteries(luckily, they seem to be recharging quite well). I couldn't help but feel as though there wasn't a good enough system in place to give the game a sort of random and yet believable economic feel.

The players started off in Ustalav(after a brief venture in hell), then decided that they would make their way through Lastwall to Varisia. A couple of adventures later, they found themselves in Vigil, resupplying. I wanted to make certain locations unique as far as the economic side of the gameplay was concerned. Vigil was essentially a military city, so I decided that Vigil would buy any and all arms and armor equipment, but at 40% instead of the usual 50. It had the advantage that Vigil was truly an inexhaustible amount of income, but at less than normal. Most other weapon shops can't afford to give out more than say, 300-500 gold a month, but at least you could haggle with the shop owners.

TLDR - Don't worry about it. Just tell me how you handle the economic side of your games. Thanks :D


Frankly, I don't think that PF is built to support economy and trade as you envision it. At least not without adding substantial homebrew content. In my games, I usually stick to the advice given in the Gamemastery Guide (town wealth, etc...) and let the players sell/buy whatever they want if it is within those limits.

Personally, I think adding full-fledged economic considerations on top of the game does pretty much overload it with bookkeeping and isn't worth the bother. (Same with players crafting stuff to make a living. It just breaks down pretty quickly because the game isn't built to support it, really.)

That said, I'd still be interested to see if somebody has come up with a light-weight system for this purpose.


Hmmm... might work for an E6 campaign. I say this since once you start getting high enough in level, you are dealing in sums of cash that are worth more than entire villages. and the only reliable stores of that much value would be very high level magical items. Keeping it low level would allow real trade goods to become profitable: wheat, spices, ore, etc.

I could see a game based around the players owning and transporting a small caravan of goods between regions. It would require a lot of flexibility and problem solving. If you were transporting food, for example, than goblins armed with flaming arrows suddenly become a major threat. In contrast, if you were transporting ore, then you would only be out a wagon (which might be salvaged with a mending spell, perhaps). Simple mundane spells like Create Water suddenly would become vital tools the players relied upon.

Lantern Lodge

I play and host homebrew games were i dont really deal with the economics side much since i keep my players poor for the most part. I dont give out magic items unless they are smart enough to search the BBEG's dead body and even then the little gear on it is tailored for it not the players. If the players want items they craft it them selves or get leadership to have them craft for them while there out, further dipping in there loose pockets to keep the followers following. I dont know much about the Adventure Paths/Modules that u all use but i dont have magic shops and loaded armories for public access let alone on every corner of the main city. I do how ever allow for those with the proper craft feats to deconstruct magic items turning them into enchanting components for magic gear they do wish to create with the components roughly equal to 50% of the created value of the item they deconstructed. So in short i usaly dont have to deal with economics since it does not come up in the games i run or am running in since we all use the same rule set to avoid misunderstanding.

Also it does not happen since the time our DM forced us to go grocery shopping i literally role played 2 entire 5 hour secessions just shopping and haggling with merchants over the cost of chickens and cattle to feed our party since i was there cook and went through the hells of acquiring a local brothel going under turning it into a very profitable inn named The Dirty Goblin. After that it became an unspoken law amongst our group to say "hey we go buy x amount of rations and just leave it at that" type of deal. I will have to say it was quite amusing though do the RP for that since ost of them were astonished that i actually knew how to. Though after that they asked me never to do it again lol.


Hiya.

What I've used in the past (and present, actually), is that I use a rough "Availability/Quality" rating for towns and other settlements vs. various trade type good. For example, a town may have:


    * Silver (Gd)
    * Woodwork (Av)
    * Ironwork (Pr)

When someone wants to sell something made of Silver, they get a lower price because the settlement has a "good" amount/quality of silver, so less demand. If someone wants to sell a suit of plate mail, they get a higher price because the settlement has a "poor" amount/quality of iron, so more demand.

I use this for the chances to find an item as well.

It's a fast and loose type system, but makes it REALLY easy to jot down during game play and remain consistent for the next time the PC's come through.

^_^

Paul L. Ming


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In the campaign I am running the party is a special team of Eagle Knights, and funded by the government of Andoran. I simply tell the players to equip themselves according to the WBL guidelines and let it go at that. Any items they do not want or need are turned over to the Eagle Knights without having to worry about buying or selling items. The player can request any item they want, but if it is over the WBL they are turned down, or the item is not in stock, or still being built.

I did this because I wanted the players to be able to concentrate on playing their character instead of finding the loot. It took the players a while to overcome the find it, kill it, loot the body mentality. The first mission the party won a battle the old loot the body reflex kicked in, but then they realized they did not need to worry about carrying a crap load of equipment to sell they started getting into character more.

Pathfinder assumes that the characters will be equipped with level appropriate gear. This kind of forces the players to be more concerned with economics than is really good for role playing. When the paladin is more concerned with figuring out how to haul away the loot instead of how to help the village role playing is sacrificed.


Hmm. Okay, I did some work in Magic item shops that might be helpful. Sadly, I'm in meeting and my phone isn't cooperative. Do a search under my name "Aristin76". Search for the "magicitem shop.....critique please "heading. Some rules I expanded upon after reading Earthdawn's PF ruleset. Hopefully that will help.


In any large town, I basically let players buy and sell whatever they want, at the usual 100% / 50% price. I don't want to waste table time on role-playing the shopping experience.


Matthew Downie wrote:
I don't want to waste table time on role-playing the shopping experience.

No to mention that the "Ye olde shoppekeeper stands behind his counter..." routine gets old very quickly.

BTW, Skyrim tried to implement this semi-realistic economy system where the shopkeepers had a rather realistic (=low) amount of gold which would respawn slowly so players had to decide what to sell where. End of story: People were annoyed that they had to carry the looted heavy armor across half of Skyrim just to sell it and quickly some mods appeared that gave shopkeepers deeper pockets.

I think some people don't really care about certain aspacts of reality that they try to escape by playing RPGs ;-) .


I let them roleplay the shopping if they want to, but if they don't, I'm not going to force them to do so for anything except the largest trades.

If you want to buy something that the town literally can't afford, for example, then yeah you're going to have to work something else out (and I've had players do this, ordering an item from Magnimar that was too pricey for Sandpoint's market, for example).

When it's a road-trip "lets dump all this dungeon treasure into a city's economy" type of situation the players don't usually care enough to roleplay it. They'd prefer to get things over with and move on back to plots and people they do care about. When it's a shopping trip in their own hometown area where they know people on the other hand, they often like to meet up with merchants and other NPCs they know to catch up while they search for new stuff to spend their gold on.


I'd have to agree with other posters about generally preferring to keep shopping quick and abstract so you can get back to the game. While I've had a couple fun experiences with DMs who roleplayed out shopping, more often than not shopping got boring fast. Shopfinder is not a fun game to play.

That said, if you want shopping to be an interesting experience, my advice is to throw lots of interesting custom items in, to make it more of an actual shopping experience. Going into a shop and needing to pick between three bizarre weapons with unique abilites is a lot more fun is a lot more fun than having to spend half an hour looking for someone willing to sell a +1 longsword.


Gluttony wrote:

I let them roleplay the shopping if they want to, but if they don't, I'm not going to force them to do so for anything except the largest trades.

If you want to buy something that the town literally can't afford, for example, then yeah you're going to have to work something else out (and I've had players do this, ordering an item from Magnimar that was too pricey for Sandpoint's market, for example).

When it's a road-trip "lets dump all this dungeon treasure into a city's economy" type of situation the players don't usually care enough to roleplay it. They'd prefer to get things over with and move on back to plots and people they do care about. When it's a shopping trip in their own hometown area where they know people on the other hand, they often like to meet up with merchants and other NPCs they know to catch up while they search for new stuff to spend their gold on.

This has been my experience as well.


Okay, thanks for the advice everyone. I'll probably phase out at least half of this idea, maybe just make it so that the players can only sell massive amounts of loot at big cities. Villages simply won't be able to afford all the stuff they may bring with them.


You might consider enforcing purchase limits and the mechanics found here, at the very least.

They're not great, but they're generally good enough if you haven't worked out your own system.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Mundane stuff and low-order magic items I usually just handwave the shopping. If they're looking for something special I might play it out. And then there's some merchants that are encounters in their own right.

minor STAP spoiler:
Like the mercanes in STAP. They could get you basically anything, with no gp limit, given enough lead time. You also had to be able to meet them where they were for delivery, which could be anywhere across the planes. You placed your order via sending. So every transaction with them was pretty significant--you didn't call these guys if you needed a wand of cure light, you called them if you needed to buy something like a holy avenger or a ring of elemental command.

I had a drow merchant in an old FR game I ran that was sort of the same principle. The players had to overcome their distaste for dealing with this guy, who was clearly evil enough to trade slaves as well as magical goods, but he had effectively unlimited purchasing power, a great selection of stock magic items, and took commissions on special stuff. He was powerful and security paranoid enough that there was not really any chance that they'd be able to just gank him for his inventory--as you'd expect from a merchant who regularly dealt with powerful adventurers.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Also, check out the caravan mechanics in the Jade Regent Player's Guide (free download) for rules for moving and trading trade goods.


Da'ath wrote:

You might consider enforcing purchase limits and the mechanics found here, at the very least.

They're not great, but they're generally good enough if you haven't worked out your own system.

I use these mechanics myself. When it comes to finding things, I have my players roll a Gather Information (Diplomacy) check against a DC based on what they are trying to find.

I don't like to map out my cities in homebrew games, since it takes too long and really detracts from the experience having to treat everyday traversing as if it was combat. Once you put something on the grid players will start planning battle strategies and I'm not okay with that. Usually my cities have ambiguous amounts of small thrift shops for common and mundane goods, and I don't bother creating NPCs for those trips. When they start asking about magical items, I have a list of NPC shopkeepers and tradesmen and after they roll I decide which one of them had the item and where about in the city they are. It sounds complicated, and it does require a lot of organization, but as a DM that's my job. It actually goes by a lot faster and has actual mechanics behind it rather than me saying "DM says no you can't find it," or "Sure, whatever, DM doesn't care you find it." I like incorporating skills into actual game play OOC, makes rogues less worthless.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Generally, I look up the GP limit for the size town that the PCs are in and 1 size category below. Anything with a market value of the smaller sized category is readily available. Anything falling into the difference between the category for a town of that size and the size below depends on a roll of the dice (plus I'll randomly roll for s a few items to see if anyone's interested in piqued). Anything over the GP is unavailable. If the PCs want something crafted, it will depend on the spellcasting services available for a community of the correct size. If they want anything whacky, it's a judgement call.

-Skeld


Sometimes the shopping experience strains credibility more than at other times, but in these situations it's best to shrug and treat it as just another abstraction like hit points. Makes no sense when viewed though a "real world" lens, but you do it anyway because anything else brings the game to a slow crawl.

My group is currently playing an AP that has us working out of a base camp we and our backers set up in a hidden valley in the Mwangi Expanse. Per the AP rules, at the base camp, established only days ago, we can try to purchase anything with a value of 2500gp or less. Our backers have proven to be remarkably well stocked and well connected, considering how long ordinary resupply should take given our remote location.

But we either use no restrictions (other than price) on what we can shop for, and a straight die roll for determining availability, or we have to get into complex regional economics, trade routes, travel time (and travel safety) at the expense of moving the story along. Not ideal, but there it is.

The Exchange

The simplest way to deal with any economic venture (wagon caravans, merchant fleets, etc.) that the PCs invest in is to determine a modest (and not game-breaking) monthly profit that they can expect, and then roll 2d10 on a table that looks something like this:

20 - Double the usual income and offer the PCs a chance to purchase one randomly generated minor magical item at half the book price.
18-19 - Double the usual income.
12-17 - Standard income.
10-11 - A situation requiring the PCs' intervention has come up. If the side adventure is resolved, standard income: if the PCs ignore the situation, no income this month.
5-9 - No income.
3-4 - Unexpected costs - the company requires another investment from the PCs equal to their usual monthly income.
2 - Natural disaster or bandit attack. Repairing gear and hiring replacement workers costs the PCs three times their usual monthly income.

Every month there's a profit, the PCs should be given the opportunity to take the profits or reinvest it in the company (which increases the usual monthly income by a small amount).

This sort of table could probably be improved, of course: this is just a general idea of how to integrate the idea of PCs as landlords, merchant princes, etc. without taking a lot of out-of-game time away from their more heroic exploits.

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