Diplomacy Loophole


Advice


I was discussing with my GM about my character, the Leadership feat and the Downtime system when I realized this loophole that it makes somewhat sense but seems very powerful.

My character is heavily Diplomacy based and at 9th level has a flat +20 bonus.

This means that at any given time he can walk in a magic shop and start talking with the wizard in charge. A little chit-chat and the wizard goes from indifferent to (at least) friendly (unless the wiz has +6 charisma is an automatic success), for 1d4 hours.

Nothing strange, my character can sweet talk everybody.

Then my character asks for a very personal favor, you know, he really needs it, and only someone with the wizard's knowledge can help him. So he sweet talks again the wizard to do him a "lengthy and complicated task". The friendly wizard, even with the +5 for the task has no way to refuse such favor to such likable person.

My character has brought materials to craft a magic weapon, leaves them in the hand of the wizard and leaves. The wizard will work on the item until he reverts to indifferent and then stop and go his usual business.

The next day my character passes by the wizard's shop. He greets the old friend and the wizard is back to friendly. Casually he will ask if, by any chance, the wizard had had any time to look into his little favor. If it is not finished is not a problem, the wizard is surely a busy man, but, if he would be just so kind to spare a little time ...

And the story goes on, a +1 swords takes from 2 to 8 days, half price and a little chit chat on your way to work every morning.
It takes time I know, and the character must stay in a big city for a while, but, during downtime, or even in a campaign like "Council of Thieves" this could be a pretty strong option.


If you sell cars for a living, you won't just give one to your bestest buddy ever. You may give him a really sweet deal, but that's about it.
The task may be "lengthy and complicated", but it's not free.


Pathfinder and the economy. Don't look too deep into it, or it makes no sense.

See, when you set yourself up as a magic item merchant, you only get the GP from your profession check each day. Why ? I don't know, maybe taxes. Whatever the reason, there are somehow huge costs involved that offset the profits. So if the wizard sells you something at half price, even if you gave him the components, he's not just wasting time, he's actually losing a huge amount of money.

I know, it doesn't make sense. But it's just how it is.


VRMH wrote:

If you sell cars for a living, you won't just give one to your bestest buddy ever. You may give him a really sweet deal, but that's about it.

The task may be "lengthy and complicated", but it's not free.

Indeed. You can talk him into doing the job. You can get a discount. You will not get it all for nothing.


A 25% discount seems fair, I think, but free labor? Nah--there's a limit to what "diplomacy" can achieve.

50% cost for the materials + 25% cost for the labor = 75% of normal price.


It's arguable that the Profession check-based 'profit' is ALL of his profit. So your Diplomacy MIGHT get it at his 'cost', which is full price minus profession checks for how long you wait for it.

And at that point, you really are taking advantage of the guy.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

If profession checks represent anything it's the difficulty of getting customers at retail prices for something as expensive as a magic item.

If it were rents or taxes you wouldn't keep a non-thaumatocratic government. Anywhere with enough wizards to justify a higher tax rate than mundane crafters (who make the same profit selling much cheaper goods) has enough wizards to overthrow the government and institute a tax code that either doesn't discriminate or favors wizards.

You're therefore taking time your new friend has in excess due to an insufficiency of demand for his particular specialty.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

To be honest in Ultimate Campaign->Campaign Systems->Magic Item Creation it says

Quote:
A typical magic shop earns about 3 gp per day, or perhaps 4—5 gp per day if a skilled owner PC directly participates in running the business. Because magic items are very expensive (with the most common potions costing 50 gp or more, far higher than what most commoners can afford), this income represents many days where the business sells nothing, followed by selling one or two high-priced items, which averages out to a few gp of profit per day. In other words, just because you can craft one +1 longsword each day doesn't mean you're likely to sell one each day in your shop.

We can deduct a whole set of information from such description; for example a good wizard is likely to sell the equivalent of one +1 longsword in a year.

One thing that is clear is that an item-selling-wizard works a few days a year actually crafting or scribing, around 90% of the time he is instead studying, researching or doing plain nothing. So to him the cost of the sword he is crafting for my character is simply 8 hours per 1k gp. No added cost, no taxes, no vat, no risk.
This is what I would call a "lengthly or complicated task"

Is that hard to admit that somebody would use his specific skills for a couple of days just to help a friend? I mean, last year a friend of mine got married, I spent a week (not continuously) to build a website for the occasion. With a couple of friends we also spent 3 weekend brewing a few batches of beer to be opened on the day. That was skilled craft, done for free (actually I even paid the raw material but they werent that expensive). Am I the only one that would do so?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Ok, you want a +1 Longsword, lets say.

MW Longsword: 315 GP
+1 Enchantment: 2k GP

If the Wizard is also making the Longsword, he'd normally spend 1157.5 gp to craft the item. If he purchases the Longsword from someone else, he'd spending 1315 gp. If he sells it for 2315 GP, he's making a profit of either 1157.5 or 1k depending on whether he's also a weapon forger or not. That's his gross profit. Lets say, for simplicity, that he's buying MW Longswords from the local smith to enchant and resell. His gross profit from 2 days work on this is 1k gold or 500 gold/day (presuming he can sell them all). That's more than enough to cover even a Wealthy lifestyle based on Cost of Living rules. Lets say we instead go by a Craft check, earning half your check in GP per week. We'll say his check is d20+20 and he takes 10 each week, earning 15 GP gross profit per week just making general magic goods and that magic swords are "special orders"; he'll have one or two in stock because spending 2 days working on one costs him about 4 GP worth of gross profit but a sale every now and then gets him about 996 GP more. So about 26 GP per month and lets say someone buys one magic sword per 5 months meaning 226 GP per month is his gross profit, from which he deducts 100 GP per month for Wealthy lifestyle and he nets 126 to savings each month on average. Then, you come along and say, I want you to take this MW Longsword and 1k gp worth of materials and make me a +1 Longsword. 2 days worth of labor is essentially costing him 8.4 gp worth of net profit for the month; that's 8.4 gp directly from his savings. And that's not even considering that you're an aberration in the normal profit schedule and not actually a person who would otherwise be the once/5mo buyer of a +1 Longsword, but in addition to that normal profit projection. So you're essentially asking him, every 2 days, to do 8.4 GP worth of free labor for you if you're providing both the sword and crafting costs. You're paying 1315 GP for a sword that would otherwise cost you 2315 (44% discount) and the Wizard is losing 6.7% of his monthly savings because of it. I'd say he charges you that 8.4 GP labor fee (since you're providing the capitol in the form of raw materials) for it and takes the sword, 1k in materials, and the 8.4 GP and just gives you a +1 Longsword he has in stock, at which point he can simply start working on a replacement at his leisure. So he won't do it completely for free but for far less than just selling you a +1 Longsword he happens to have in stock.


Quote:
Is that hard to admit that somebody would use his specific skills for a couple of days just to help a friend? I mean, last year a friend of mine got married, I spent a week (not continuously) to build a website for the occasion. With a couple of friends we also spent 3 weekend brewing a few batches of beer to be opened on the day. That was skilled craft, done for free (actually I even paid the raw material but they werent that expensive). Am I the only one that would do so?

Friendly attitude != "Friend"

He's a business owner. You went in and (quite successfully) schmoozed him. Doesn't mean he's going to give away his services for free.

Quote:
We can deduct a whole set of information from such description; for example a good wizard is likely to sell the equivalent of one +1 longsword in a year.

So you're asking him to forgo a *major* sale. One of the few of its sort he might make in a year. Maybe your DM will let if fly. I certainly wouldn't.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

At my table this wouldn't work.
Even if it's possible to convince the Wizard in the first place, once his attitude reverts, he'll be sitting there and staring at his workbench and asking himself why the hell he has been doing this for a random stranger, no matter how nice he seemed. Then when you walk into his place the next time, he'll have huge bonuses against being sweet-talked again.

See, this is P&P, with actual thinking, learning, "living" NPCs, not a computer game where the guy you attacked will be all like "hm, I guess it was the wind" and return to business-as-usual with an arrow still sicking in his head.


Well, congratulations. You've found an easily abusable exploit. Since there's nothing in the rules to prevent such behaviour, feel free to go ahead.

On the other hand, there's nothing in the rules that specifies that every combat has to be a level-appropiate encounter. So while you're almost doubling your wealth by level by using the diplomacy-skill for all it's worth, your GM is absolutely at liberty to drop 8 Great Wyrm Gold Dragons on you.

At my table, I'd kindly ask any player trying to do this to stop.


That such thing won't be easily accepted is clear, it is a loophole, is stated in the title.

@Kalridian
The wizard would resent the character after the effect had faded, if he had used Intimidate, and the rules take that into account too. Diplomacy can't be used in combat but in social situations is more powerful.
If you want to to add an house rule that's another matter.

@Kazaan
I don't agree with the numbers.
A magic shop is not going to sell one +1 longsword every 5 months.
Following the numbers given in "Ultimate Campaign" (already quoted above), the revenue of a magic shop is, when very lucky, 5 gp a day (if a skilled owner works there, no matter the level). I can't remember how many days there are in a Golarion year, but in 365 days (that means working saturdays and sundays) the income would be 1825 gp. It doesn't matter how you earn them, how much you can craft or how good you are, that is the market share you are going to have. It could be that the settlement is too little to have more or better customers, or the settlement is big enough to give you competitors.
Basically if you don't adventure you don't get rich.

The wizard can either be lucky and make one big sell, for 1825 gp, and have 363 days where he can study, research and relax. Or he can be very unlucky and be able to sell only 0-level potions (the worst cost/time magic item), that means he needs 73 working days, the remaining 292 days are left for him to research, study or relax. And this if they land the maximum amount of work.
On average an item-crafting wizard has a more than 300 days a year of spare time, where he is basically in between jobs. He is an artisan that lives on very few sales with a limited market. Now, if I bring the masterwork sword and the magical components needed, there is no other cost for him. Plain and simple.

@BzAli
I'm not happy to have found this loophole because I'm going to exploit it, I'm happy because I thought out of the box. And I'm sure I won't be able to exploit such loophole, because as you can see above, all GMs will cry "game breaker!" as soon as they hear it.

Besides, are you sure it is that a powerful loop? You don't take in account the game time and commitment that would be needed to do such thing. First I have a character that, at ninth level, has his diplomacy maxed out, the persuasive feat and a circlet of persuasion. He invested quite a bit, not everybody is going to be able to pull it out. Then, for this combo to work, he needs to live in the same city and pay daily visits to the wizard from twice to eight times the normal crafting time. How often do players get that?
For a +2 longsword it would mean a 4k gp save and an average of eighteen days of waiting. My character is lucky and following the "Council of Thieves" adventure path. To get from seventh to ninth level it took our party nine days. I haven't finished counting how much money we landed our hand on yet! Objects would get obsolete before they are even finished.

I would like to point out that diplomacy is a very ill treated skill, it can be used to gather information, but a bardic knowledge check is just plain better. A character as no real reason to have it, and when somebody tries to use to it full potential, everybody stars crying. or throwing Great Wyrms at you : ).


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I have a number of friends who I also deal with on a business level. They might give me a discount, maybe a free consult, and sure, I can call them outside regular hours, but none of them are going to work for free. That's not what "friendly" means. And, you're hardly original -this point has been brought up repeatedly since 3.0 came out. Thus you didn't ‘find' anything and it's not a loophole, either. Tell ya what- call up any of your friends and say "Hey Bob, gimme your paycheck, wilya? We're friends, right?"

Indeed there are rules for bargaining:
http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/ultimateCampaign/campaignSystems/bargain ing.html#_bargaining-rules

Just reverse them. Basically, you can get a 10% discount with a DC 20 diplomacy check, a 50% discount is rejected out of hand. The devs saw this coming & the rules cover it. Your "charming" character gets a 10% discount. Which isn't too bad, either, and is realistic.


Quote:
The wizard can either be lucky and make one big sell, for 1825 gp, and have 363 days where he can study, research and relax. Or he can be very unlucky and be able to sell only 0-level potions (the worst cost/time magic item), that means he needs 73 working days, the remaining 292 days are left for him to research, study or relax. And this if they land the maximum amount of work.

Let's say this is true. In that case, as far as that wizard knows, you are his big sale. You need a magic sword and you have the money to pay for it. You are a golden opportunity that will not come again for a long time.

If he lets you have your sword without getting anything for it, he loses not just a few days of work, but also his entire yearly salary, by passing on that opportunity.


I wouldn't call Diplomacy ill-treated, allthough I suspect it varies from table to table. I like to reward creative use of skills, and diplomacy is a very powerfull tool for a creative player. This one is just a bit too creative for me. :)

I'd easily accept bypassing the usual 75% chance for a given magic item being in town, since you've just ordered it to your specifications. I'd proparbly also accept going a bit above buy limit.

I call it a powerfull loophole, because you're effectively using a single skill to emulate all Item Creation feats. If this is allowed, there's nothing stopping you from pulling the same trick on 4 different magic shops, and going in circles, visiting each of them once pr. hour. That way, you'll not only have access to all the item creation feats you want, but are also able to craft 4 (or more, depending on the number of magic shops in town) items at the same time. At full speed, even, since an hourly visit meaks that each shop owner continues to be your friend. That's easily a couple of skill points, a single feat (and why not make it skill focus:diplomacy for added effect) and a single magical item worth. In every campaign where the adventure pace allows for crafting, this trick is far the superior option.


There is an equipment trait called 'Dealmaker' which allows you to access 'hard to reach' items and in effect it increases the settlement size with regard to item acquisition.

Now compared to spending a trait to acquire an ability I would argue that your interpretation of the rules is too powerful. I would also reference BzAli's response too regarding item creation feats.

So it wouldn't fly at my table but nice spot nonetheless.

G


2 people marked this as a favorite.

The rules say it doesn't work. Pretty much RAW. Right there in ultimate Campaign.


I see your point guys.
The problem is that for everybody else, two days of work are worth few bucks, the wizard's are 1k gp.

If I know a plumber and I call him for a quick fix, he might make me pay just for the raw materials, hoping that, when I have a big job, I will call him. But for the wizard there is no quick job, they are fundamentally a very lazy bunch, with a strong cartel. No one of them is going to move a finger for less than the contract price.

But you see, this conversation alone has sprung in my mind three different plot hooks.
The first time, with a +1 item I would the player have it. If he keeps a low profile and is happy with the achievement, ok.
If he gets greedy and asks for a very big item, that needs a long crafting time, the GM could make something happen that requires the player attention else where. Nothing major, but enough to have the character decide what to do, going away and loose the money, or stay and loose something else. A "Good" character that has to decide between a friend or money, with a possible alignment shift in play? Never grows old.
If the character goes around trying to pull the same trick over a few shops at the same time, he would probably gain a bad reputation: somebody that makes friends just to exploit them. After all, wizards in the same town are likely to talk to each other, so they will soon find out the whole story. At that point they will become unfriendly to the character and maybe curse the object.
If the character goes around bragging his accomplishment, other wizards might hear it. "A wizard working for free? That is bad for business, if that gets public people will start to ask for cheap potions. This has to stop!" Besides, no one fools the wizard lobby and get away with it.

The character reached too far, bet with the devil, sooner or later he will face consequences.
As many have said before me, the better way to GM is to always say "Yes, but…"

Thanks for the stimulating conversation guys, it has been a pleasure.


Why not simply play it by RAW?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I would prefer to roleplay out the transaction. Sure, you get a +20 on the roll, you and the wizard bond on some level, but at the end of the day he has a familiar to feed, and he knows his profit margin BECAUSE HE IS ALL BRAIN. He may get asked on day 2 for the item, and in return say, sure, Ill work on that for you, but I need you to solve a little street gang issue we have in the neighborhood thats distracting me from my work, a Good Friend like you could do that right?. He is getting something in addition to coins spent in the form of barter.
Why do people insist on turning the social aspects of this game into a MMO cha-ching that they hope to monetize into a repeatable formula?


@DrDeth
Is not true that rules say it doesn't work. The "Ultimate Campaign" bargain rules start with the saying
"An item is worth only what someone will pay for it." That's already a strong point by itself. Then, before even starting to explain the rule it says

Quote:


"For rare or unique items, or in certain cases, the GM might allow or encourage bargaining. Keep in mind that bargaining usually involves one PC talking with an NPC while the other players wait, and watching someone else bargain is rarely interesting. Bargaining should be infrequent, and should happen only when it's important to the story."

Is a +1 longsword an unique item? Is it important to the story?

No on both cases, so the bargaining system doesn't apply. Therefore…

Even if you want to use the bargaining system don't forget that the trick here is based on the loophole that the character is not buying a magical sword, he is asking for 8 hours of a friendly wizard's time.
What is the wizard's perception of the worth of that? Is it worth working 8 hours for free for a ninth level character? Probably. If I were a fifth level wizard I probably would, hoping in further jobs, or maybe some fame due to the association to such a persona.

So basically the bargaining system you address would work this way: the wizard (seller) will set a price (free), well below the 75% actual value and the character (buyer) will automatically accept.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Simon Hayes wrote:

To be honest in Ultimate Campaign->Campaign Systems->Magic Item Creation it says

Quote:
A typical magic shop earns about 3 gp per day, or perhaps 4—5 gp per day if a skilled owner PC directly participates in running the business. Because magic items are very expensive (with the most common potions costing 50 gp or more, far higher than what most commoners can afford), this income represents many days where the business sells nothing, followed by selling one or two high-priced items, which averages out to a few gp of profit per day. In other words, just because you can craft one +1 longsword each day doesn't mean you're likely to sell one each day in your shop.
We can deduct a whole set of information from such description; for example a good wizard is likely to sell the equivalent of one +1 longsword in a year.

You could, IF Pathfinder economics made any sense, but they don't, and IF a magic item "shop" is a typical shop - and it certainly isn't. A wizard running a magic item "shop" - and I put the word in inverted commas for a reason, that it is probably not a walk-in magic-mart - is by far and away not typical. Plus, this is a pseudo-medieval society, not an industrial one. In this kind of economy you do not find a shop save for very common goods; you go out and find someone able to make something and commission it. Anything he has for sale is likely an example of what he can do.

I'll also point out that your typical wizard has costs a normal commoner does not have. That money he makes is likely going not to fund his lifestyle but to fund his research. Odds are he takes a break from his research only to make items in order to fund more research. That kid in the shop, that's his apprentice. Congrats, you made chums with a the kid who can just about scribe a first-level scroll.

Simon Hayes wrote:
One thing that is clear is that an item-selling-wizard works a few days a year actually crafting or scribing, around 90% of the time he is instead studying, researching or doing plain nothing.

I agree about studying and researching, I think it very unlikely that a wizard that powerful is just sitting around doing nothing all day. So why would he want to STOP studying and researching to invest his valuable time on your behalf? That time is MORE valuable to him than making 500gp per day crafting; it's his passion, his lifeblood. You'll be lucky if he drops it for long enough to talk to you.

Simon Hayes wrote:
So to him the cost of the sword he is crafting for my character is simply 8 hours per 1k gp.

No, it's costing him time away from studying and researching as well. Valuable time worth thousands of gold in financial terms if you could put it in those terms.

Simon Hayes wrote:

No added cost, no taxes, no vat, no risk.

This is what I would call a "lengthly or complicated task"

Can it be achieved in 1d4 hours? Because that is as long as he is prepared to invest, because that is as long as "friendly" lasts. It's not magic like a charm person spell, where it switches on and off and the person suddenly stops what they are doing until tomorrow, it's a case of he likes you enough to do something that might take a few hours but no more. If he knows he isn't going to finish the job, he almost certainly won't agree to start it.

Simon Hayes wrote:
Is that hard to admit that somebody would use his specific skills for a couple of days just to help a friend?

You are not his friend. He is "friendly" toward you, but you are still both total strangers - there is a BIG difference.

Simon Hayes wrote:
I mean, last year a friend of mine got married, I spent a week (not continuously) to build a website for the occasion. With a couple of friends we also spent 3 weekend brewing a few batches of beer to be opened on the day. That was skilled craft, done for free (actually I even paid the raw material but they werent that expensive). Am I the only one that would do so?

Was this friend getting married some random guy who walked into your web-design business premises out of the blue one day asking to speak to the guy in charge (you) disturbing your valuable work, then struck up a conversation with you turning on the charm offensive and within ten minutes got you to agree to make him a complete website, with illustrations, FOR FREE, costing you a couple of days' work and a couple of thousand of lost income for the work you could have been doing for someone else? No? Well fancy that. And if one did, would you? No, I thought not.


I agree, he is not a wall-mart or an factory, I already defined him a "artisan that lives on very few sales with a limited market" and I too believe that he is not getting rich, he spends most of his money researching, otherwise, after the first +1 longsword sale he would retire in a nice cottage in the outskirts of the city. And I don't even think pathfinder economy is that unreasonable.

Personally, in real life, I am a free lancer that is also getting his second university degree, and by the standards of where I live, I'm a person that studies and works a lot. But I can't study and work without pauses 365 days a year.
My calculations suppose he was working seven days a week just to simplify. I bet he takes a few days off every now and then (the rules actually state people work five days a week). And he can only work 8 hours a day, so, in a common work day, he has from six to eight hours of off time. I reckon, he has time to talk to a living legend like a ninth level character, especially if he is so charming to have +20 Diplomacy. Spells aren't probably his only passion, maybe he is a fan of the local polo team. "Man, I have a couple of spare tickets for the next game, first line seat. you should definitely come!"
Besides, wizards are the geeks of the fantasy world, give them the chance to speak about their spells and they will go on for hours like rpg-players do when talking about their characters. And they will love you, because you are the first person listening to them in ten years.

Yes the effect lasts only 1d4 hours, that's why it takes, on average, a week to have a +1 longsword done. It's all be taken in account for in the first post.

No my friend wasn't a stranger, and has surely not +20 in diplomacy, nor he is famous or a bigger-than-life celebrity. But I did the job nontheless.
If the local hero/actor/top model would ask me a big favor I doubt I would refuse.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

I've removed a post. Do not attack other posters. Remember the most important rule of the Paizo boards.

Sczarni

@Simon
NPC's aren't mechanic beings. The +20 would give you plenty of leeway in "sweet talking" but even if shopkeeper liked you, chances that you would receive special privileges or discounts are still fairly small. He only needs a single good DC 20 Sense Motive to get a hunch that you are false friend or he might not need any at all due to experience.


If dragonomics weren't more farcical than fasanomics you'd probably be able to get the rack cost instead of the bespoke cost, but D&D has no gap between those prices.

The economics system really needs to be overhauled as soon as Paizo feels free to abandon backwards compatibility on item pricing.


Simon Hayes wrote:
Yes the effect lasts only 1d4 hours, that's why it takes, on average, a week to have a +1 longsword done. It's all be taken in account for in the first post.

No, you miss my point: if he can't do the job in 1d4 hours, he won't even start it. Each time you do the roll it is done in isolation from the rest, there is no assumption that you will be back to persuade him to up-tools again the next day. So you are in effect asking him to do 1d4 hours worth of work enchanting a sword, and what's the point in that? It doesn't matter how many blocks of 1d4 hours you can in theory persuade him to do, because each time you persuade him it is not enough time to do the job, therefore it's too much for Diplomacy to achieve.

Simon Hayes wrote:
No my friend wasn't a stranger, and has surely not +20 in diplomacy, nor he is famous or a bigger-than-life celebrity. But I did the job nontheless.

I agree, I'd do the job for a close friend, too. But for a close friend only, not some guy I just met no matter how nice he is. Now if the guy proves himself to be a friend by doing some deed for me - like saving the city I live in, or defeating the dragon ravening the countryside - then I might well do it, but that's not mentioned in your model.

Simon Hayes wrote:
If the local hero/actor/top model would ask me a big favor I doubt I would refuse.

Neither would I - but if they are a big celebrity I would expect to get paid for the job! After all, they can clearly afford to pay me and do not need a freebie, do they? What they get for their awesome Diplomacy/fame is prioritising over any other work I have on at the time.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Advice / Diplomacy Loophole All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.