Magical items and economics


General Discussion


So i just read this article: https://theangrygm.com/theorycrafting-an-unsummary/ and it made me think about buying, selling, crafting and economics in general. I just looked briefly in the index in how to sell items, and there isn't anything there. First edition i know you sell things for half price. And apparently D&D 5th is the same except you can't sell magic items, and if you do, well you lose.

If that's the case, who in their right mind would ever make a magical item, except one that they needed??? I mean, wizard makes a staff, and wizard has no more use for the staff, so he sells it for half price to merchant. Merchant then sells it to adventures for full price. Who wins? The merchant. The cost for making the staff is half the cost of buying it, plus the skill needed to actually make it. So the person who makes out is the middleman, and all he did was facilitate the transaction. The wizard made nothing at all, and the adventures spent money.

This means that all your scrolls, potions, and other single-use magical items are either created by you, or - because of the economics of buying and selling - don't exist. They're is no magic store you can go into to buy things you want because no wizard will make anything. In fact, for rules-as-written, am ex-adventurer wizard would still make nothing because they can only sell their magical thingy at half price, and you can only buy at full price, so the other half goes... Nowhere!

This is stupid, and IMHO should be fixed. If my players want to open a magical item shop to support their adventuring they should be able to, but rules as written for first edition would mean they make no money. I know most groups may not like this, but i think it should be addressed.


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Put simply, Pathfinder (and pretty much all games in the genre) are not fantasy world simulators, they're games of grand adventure and are designed around that. Players are supposed to get their money and experience by grand adventure, not sitting in town making +1 daggers or whatever.

Why do npcs do this even if it makes no economic sense? Because it facilitates the players doing the main thrust of the game. No more no less.

I personally prefer things that way rather than bloating the rulebook with a pile of weeds that ultimately have minimal value to most groups.


Not that it makes a huge difference but in the playtest they have a sidebar in the crafting section (p149) which explains that if you make an item on commission you can sell it at full price which would net you some profit, though less than previous editions since it costs more than half price to make an item. Ends up you can practice crafting as a trade and make about as much money as you would spending downtime doing any other trade. Assuming you are in a place where you can find appropriately leveled work.


Yep, the game doesn't try to have an economy in it. The rules are written to stop players from accumulating too much wealth because wealth is basically like a second XP track for how powerful character is.

A first level character with 20th level wealth has access to magic items and things that would make them substantially more powerful than they should be.

Basically the game breaks down if you accumulate too much or too little wealth for you level. So they have to prevent you from doing so.


Honestly, it's pretty easy. So easy I'll write something for the PF2 team they can use verbatim for the low-low price of: add my name to the "these people added stuff" list (Paizo ppl, pm me for my info)

me wrote:


Selling items is usually done at half the listed price through merchants who buy and sell those kinds of goods. Occasionally you may have a guild shop or the like that can get you better prices if you sell to them. This can get you upward of 75% of the price of the item. If you own a permanent shop that sells these kinds of items you can sell them at whatever price you choose. Just know that owning a shop comes with it's own expenses: taxes, rent, employees, etc. Discuss this with your GM to figure out the details of running your business.

Something like that in the core rulebook would be all i need as GM to be ok with the economics of the world.


R0b0tBadgr wrote:

Honestly, it's pretty easy. So easy I'll write something for the PF2 team they can use verbatim for the low-low price of: add my name to the "these people added stuff" list (Paizo ppl, pm me for my info)

me wrote:


Selling items is usually done at half the listed price through merchants who buy and sell those kinds of goods. Occasionally you may have a guild shop or the like that can get you better prices if you sell to them. This can get you upward of 75% of the price of the item. If you own a permanent shop that sells these kinds of items you can sell them at whatever price you choose. Just know that owning a shop comes with it's own expenses: taxes, rent, employees, etc. Discuss this with your GM to figure out the details of running your business.
Something like that in the core rulebook would be all i need as GM to be ok with the economics of the world.

I recommend you reading what you wrote again... Just the non-quoted parts.

But besides that, i can agree with everyone. Making goods and selling them tends to not make good adventures, i tend to give my players materials(100 gold in mythril, 50 gold in pieces of wood) that can only be used on crafting or sell them with a discount so that selling magic items by half price won't bother them as much. But giving rules of making a house of crafting might be something that is just too complex for players and current crafting rules work well for adventurers even if not for shops.


I'm not saying that having a group that simply sells stuff is exciting. But what if a player wanted to open a shop, hire some people to generally run it, and then adventure when they feel like it and craft in their downtime to support their adventuring? Honestly as GM I can houserule this but I prefer to houserule as little as possible so people don't get confused with rules they can't look up, or ornery because they disagree with it.

I agree that Elhezer the Black Mage who is known for his powerful magic opening a shop in town doesn't sound all that exciting... But it would give me the opportunity to plant some adventure seeds by having people come in (or teach my kids how economics works, but that's a different story).


R0b0tBadgr wrote:
I'm not saying that having a group that simply sells stuff is exciting. But what if a player wanted to open a shop, hire some people to generally run it, and then adventure when they feel like it and craft in their downtime to support their adventuring?

Then you would use the practice a trade rules already written in the skills section including the sidebar on p 149 that explains how you would do it with craft skill.


R0b0tBadgr wrote:

I'm not saying that having a group that simply sells stuff is exciting. But what if a player wanted to open a shop, hire some people to generally run it, and then adventure when they feel like it and craft in their downtime to support their adventuring? Honestly as GM I can houserule this but I prefer to houserule as little as possible so people don't get confused with rules they can't look up, or ornery because they disagree with it.

I agree that Elhezer the Black Mage who is known for his powerful magic opening a shop in town doesn't sound all that exciting... But it would give me the opportunity to plant some adventure seeds by having people come in (or teach my kids how economics works, but that's a different story).

Problem is... There's not a functional economy in Pathfinder or any rpg,mmorpg and etc. As it requires a load of work to make it not break easily and even more work on the GM to maintain it. If you find it cool probably some third party will end up making it or you can houserule it.

But i doubt it's worth to put it in, especially in the core rule book, we barely need craft as a core mechanic in game, putting it as a forefront when such a heavy lifting is needed is just too much. I can only imagine making a shop as making a ship in starfinder with extra steps and even more simple yet annoying book-keeping and math.

Bardarok wrote:
R0b0tBadgr wrote:
I'm not saying that having a group that simply sells stuff is exciting. But what if a player wanted to open a shop, hire some people to generally run it, and then adventure when they feel like it and craft in their downtime to support their adventuring?
Then you would use the practice a trade rules already written in the skills section including the sidebar on p 149 that explains how you would do it with craft skill.

And just saying this generates a huge problem... Cause you will be generating free income in a game where wealth is a form of power in itself. So having a bunch of slaves/hirelings/shopworkers might make a player reach end-game weapons by the point where other people is still struggling to buy midgame ones. Or turn into a managing sim what is even more annoying.

Simple rules will break too easily for this and like i said bigger rules generate too much book-keeping.


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I tell my players that Pathfinder is not meant to be an economics game. A roleplaying game has to leave out many everyday details in order to focus on the adventuring. The adventurers get filthy rich even with the economics stacked against them, so they usually don't complain.

However, the players in my Iron Gods campaign wanted some of the ecomonics. Their characters were interested in advanced mechanics inspired by the alien technology found scattered around Numeria and they wanted to spread their knowledge despite the monopoly of the Numerian Technic League. For example, they created three workshops in the city of Torch: the Waterfall Workshop powered by the rapid stream that became the waterfall off of Torch's bluff, B&B Alchemical Smelting that was mostly a cover for the skymetals they found while adventuring (the Technic League was suspicious of anyone with a supply of skymetals), and Dinvaya Lanalei's workshop after she moved from Scrapwall to Torch. They also purchased the local gambling hall and converted it to a dance hall.

I used the downtime rules from Ultimate Campaign for constructing those workshops and running them as businesses. The same rules gave me the worth of the gambling hall when it went up for sale.

And the player who constructed the Waterfall Workshop was disappointed at the income from that workshop. It would take a year to create as much wealth as a single dungeon delve. And the Iron Gods campaign, from 1st level to 17th level, took about 8 Golarion calendar months (it took 2 and a half years in real time). That player's character owned an 2-million-gold-piece artifact by the end, power armor with enhanced flight capabilities.

I don't see Paizo adding business economics to Pathfinder 2nd Edition before they publish the 2nd-Edition version of Ultimate Campaign. Business economics would be a major subsystem that has such marginal interest that it does not merit space in the Core Rulebook. However, it would be easy to adapt Ultimate Campaign, 1st Edition, to Pathfinder 2nd Edition, because downtime mechanics are light on rules.

Those business economics, however, don't make selling magic items any easier. You would not need a commonplace local business, like Ultimate Campaign covers. You would need a national or international auction house, like used in the real world for selling million-dollar works of art. I recommend setting up a special organization, the Golarion Auction House, similar to the Pathfinder Society but devoted to buying and selling magic items rather than exploring the world. Your players could work to gain membership in the Golarion Auction House and attend its auctions and sell their magic items at full price.


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R0b0tBadgr wrote:

So i just read this article: https://theangrygm.com/theorycrafting-an-unsummary/ and it made me think about buying, selling, crafting and economics in general. I just looked briefly in the index in how to sell items, and there isn't anything there. First edition i know you sell things for half price. And apparently D&D 5th is the same except you can't sell magic items, and if you do, well you lose.

If that's the case, who in their right mind would ever make a magical item, except one that they needed???

You are making a classic error here: The "sell stuff for half price" rule is no more and no less than a game convention for how to quickly handle non-businesspeople who want to quickly convert valuable items into spendable cash. It's the discount the merchant gets for reducing liquidity and/or needing to transport it to where he can sell it. People who make things to order or who are able to have it sit in their stock for a year aren't covered by the "half price selling" rule.

If you have players who want more, and you are all willing to add the detail and work to the game, nothing is stopping you from doing things like making a 'demand' roll to see if there is someone who wants to buy their magical whatsit. Or rather, at what price will someone buy it.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Chakat Firepaw wrote:
R0b0tBadgr wrote:

So i just read this article: https://theangrygm.com/theorycrafting-an-unsummary/ and it made me think about buying, selling, crafting and economics in general. I just looked briefly in the index in how to sell items, and there isn't anything there. First edition i know you sell things for half price. And apparently D&D 5th is the same except you can't sell magic items, and if you do, well you lose.

If that's the case, who in their right mind would ever make a magical item, except one that they needed???

You are making a classic error here: The "sell stuff for half price" rule is no more and no less than a game convention for how to quickly handle non-businesspeople who want to quickly convert valuable items into spendable cash. It's the discount the merchant gets for reducing liquidity and/or needing to transport it to where he can sell it. People who make things to order or who are able to have it sit in their stock for a year aren't covered by the "half price selling" rule.

If you have players who want more, and you are all willing to add the detail and work to the game, nothing is stopping you from doing things like making a 'demand' roll to see if there is someone who wants to buy their magical whatsit. Or rather, at what price will someone buy it.

Exactly, half price, is when someone wants to sell something specific, quickly to get cash. When you define a particular item, and define the timeframe of the sale as ASAP, the price you get for it will be less than the item might otherwise be worth. That is just the nature of it, if it isn't a Trade Good.

Specifically Trade goods are said to sell for value, when you sell them. They are basically treated like cash, because there is always someone willing to pay market price for it.

People who complain their character can't sell 'Item X' at the market the day they come back from the dungeon for full price, but the alchemist down the street where they buy their healing potion from, they have to pay full price to, is missing the point, like you pointed.

The alchemist is selling something 'YOU want/need' In reality, they probably have a supply of several items for sale as well, that you wouldn't even be willing to pay half price for too, but since you need several healing potions, you're going to pay list price for as many as you can afford/need. So they have a whole inventory of things, and they have the reputation to get people to come and buy from them. That reputation even brings people there to trade with them, providing them with potions they may not even be able to make themselves, but they have the skill to be able to verify and identify such potions.

You can't just build a magic shop and put a single magic +1 dagger in it, and expect it to sell immediately. Especially when no-one is there to conduct business on a day to day basis.

Now on the other hand, if you have a stock of 100 magical items, and the reputation to have the types of things that adventurers might need, you very well may sell a magic item for full price every so often, like other such businesses. If you are willing to trade profitably for things, it might open up even more option for profit, but may tie up some of that profit in extra capital/inventory.

My suggestion for those wanting to 'sell' their magic items for 'full price', was to use the Investing option in Ultimate Campaign. And you would make a deal with a local shop owner. They would hold on to your stuff for you and act as a broker, for your stuff. After a year, you could come back and see how much value the merchant had been able to turn your item into. [perhaps they traded it for a couple of items of individually less value, but more total, then sold one of the items and traded the remaining thing for more value] Then when you come back after the year, you get to either cash out for that value in items that are available, or take your income, and continue letting him hold your principal capital, or capitalize all of it and let it grow. That option grew slower than doing dungeon delves, but did reflect the idea of waiting properly to sell the item for its full price.

Second edition basically did deal with the economy. It makes crafting of magical items a process that if done by a single person alone, without shortcut or pre-made components, take about the same amount of time as it would take someone to earn enough money to make the item in question. It used to be that a mage could make a 1000gp of magic things in a day, but you had to artificially short how much things could be sold for, to keep this extreme amount from breaking the area's economy. Now, the more skilled and powerful you become, you can end up earning more money. That income can be used to pay someone else to make something for you, or you can effectively use it to make it yourself. Really, this closes up a lot of issues that the old rules for crafting left causing some 'economic' issues in first edition. I can see some people, used to the old way either being confused, or feeling a little limited by the new rules, but I think in general, they are a definite move in the right direction.

As someone mentioned, you absolutely should be able to have adventurers discover supplies that could be used as the starting Raw Materials for constructing things. The raw materials being valid 'payment' for the materials you are crafting. That way it doesn't have to be Gold, but the adventurers can basically turn it into the full value, of something they want/need by using their crafting skill. Something that can add to the story, in my view.


oholoko wrote:


Bardarok wrote:
R0b0tBadgr wrote:
I'm not saying that having a group that simply sells stuff is exciting. But what if a player wanted to open a shop, hire some people to generally run it, and then adventure when they feel like it and craft in their downtime to support their adventuring?
Then you would use the practice a trade rules already written in the skills section including the sidebar on p 149 that explains how you would do it with craft skill.
And just saying this generates a huge problem... Cause you will be generating free income in a game where wealth is a form of power in itself. So having a bunch of slaves/hirelings/shopworkers might make a player reach end-game weapons by the point where other people is still struggling to buy midgame ones. Or turn into a managing sim what is even more annoying.

I was referring to the section where OP said the character spends some downtime to craft and make some money. There is a RAW way to do that in PF2 which there wasn't in PF1.

Even OP didn't suggest that the NPCs are the ones doing the crafting they were just trying to find a way to sell the items at better than half price.


Bardarok wrote:
oholoko wrote:


Bardarok wrote:
R0b0tBadgr wrote:
I'm not saying that having a group that simply sells stuff is exciting. But what if a player wanted to open a shop, hire some people to generally run it, and then adventure when they feel like it and craft in their downtime to support their adventuring?
Then you would use the practice a trade rules already written in the skills section including the sidebar on p 149 that explains how you would do it with craft skill.
And just saying this generates a huge problem... Cause you will be generating free income in a game where wealth is a form of power in itself. So having a bunch of slaves/hirelings/shopworkers might make a player reach end-game weapons by the point where other people is still struggling to buy midgame ones. Or turn into a managing sim what is even more annoying.

I was referring to the section where OP said the character spends some downtime to craft and make some money. There is a RAW way to do that in PF2 which there wasn't in PF1.

Even OP didn't suggest that the NPCs are the ones doing the crafting they were just trying to find a way to sell the items at better than half price.

Oh sorry i was supporting your point.


oholoko wrote:
Oh sorry i was supporting your point.

No worries. And I of course agree any sort of "infinite money trick" would be a terrible problem for a game where gp is essentially another form of xp.

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