The original games did not involve trading for the most part; Privateer and Privateer 2 were notable exceptions and in those games, trading was a means through which a player could make a profit and ultimately improve their craft to its maximum capabilities. "Trading" as used in WCRPG encompasses all business transactions; this includes not only the purchase and sale of commodities but also includes personal equipment, spare parts for capital ships and vehicles, full working craft and so forth.
Trading in WCRPG uses a fairly simple economic model, which is designed to roughly emulate day-to-day market forces. Each item in the game that has monetary value has a listed base cost in credits (represented in WCRPG by the generic currency symbol, ¤). Some items have a range of values associated with them; this range represents the potential price of one unit of that item and is associated with a very specific die roll. It is up to the GM to set the final price of these items when a character may enters a trading post, store or Commodity Exchange. NOTE: for purposes of this discussion, the term "trading post" will be used to encompass any venue wherein the potential for trading exists. Also, this sub-Chapter is written from the merchant's point of view; when the discussion talks about "selling", it is the merchant selling to the characters (i.e. the characters buying from them) and vice versa when the discussion talks about "purchasing".
When a GM knows that the characters are going to enter into a trading situation during the course of an adventure or if the potential for them to do so exists, they should prepare a list of goods that will be available for sale at a given trading post along with a list of goods in the characters' possession that the traders are willing to buy. The types of goods available for sale and purchase will be dependent upon the type of planet or base at which the characters are located (for example, Agricultural Worlds and Mining Bases will both accept Luxury Foods in trade but only the Agricultural World will sell those goods). Trade lists take a fair amount of work in order to create; like many things in the game, they should preferably be built between gaming sessions.
Building Trade Lists
The basic procedure for compiling a trade list is as follows:
- Determine the disposition of the trader.
- Find the data for the particular type of trading post in question.
- Select a list of items for sale and set their value.
- Determine the list of items for purchase and set their value.
Determine the disposition of the trader
The first concept to understand when it comes to trading is that it is an interaction between at least two sapient beings, the character doing the negotiating and the trader. The trader is always a character in their own right; they should have all the stats that a normal character should have. Creating a generic trader is a relatively simple task that can be done with one of the rapid character creation routines in Chapter 2.3. Of particular concern to trading is the trader's Communications Discipline score, their Negotiate Skill score, any applicable Reputation Trait and their Temper Trait. A GM may choose the archetype they feel best suits the type of trader the character group will encounter; the main archetypes usually encountered in trading posts are Business Owner, Clerk, Merchant and (of course) Trader.
In addition to their normal character stats, traders may have one of three categorical disposition types based on how tolerant they are to the notion of haggling (i.e. how willing they are to negotiate over an item's price). Traders will Bargain a Lot, Bargain a Little or Not Bargain at All. Before trade takes place, it is important that the GM determine which of these three dispositions the trader will display. A trader's disposition is somewhat dependent upon the type of trading post involved; there are some types of trading posts wherein a trader simply isn't allowed to do any bargaining (most retail stores in the United States fall under this category) and so their disposition will always have to be Not Bargain at All. In the cases where a trader has a choice in the matter, it will be more of a function of their personality than anything else. The GM may look at the generated statistics for the trader and pick the disposition they think best suits them or they may roll 1d10 and use the table below:
|1d10 Result||Disposition||Maximum Negotiation Count|
|0-2||Not Bargain at All||0|
|3-6||Bargain a Little||1-2 (1d2)|
|7-9||Bargain a Lot||1-5 (1d5)|
Coming up with a trade list can take a lot of work; it seems appropriate that an example be provided.
Let's say the current adventure involves the characters paying a visit to Nephele II. There's not a great deal of information available about it: a moderately-populated desert planet where most of the colonists make a living as farmers. It plays a small role in agriculture.
So the first step in creating a trade list is generating a trader and determining his disposition. We'll be dealing with a Terran character. For the sake of example, let's make our trader a generic Clerk with no hero points; that will give him a Communications score of 55 and a Negotiate score of 15. His die roll for Traits ultimately doesn't affect his Reputation or Temper scores, leaving them both at zero.
With the trader's scores in hand, we just need to determine his disposition. A roll of 1d10 results in a nine, so our trader will like to Bargain a Lot (provided we place the trader somewhere where he's free to cut deals, of course.)
Find the data for the particular type of trading post in question
The next step in making a trade list is to search for any existing data on a particular type of trading post. In the case of a general Commodity Exchange, this data is listed out in Chapter 5.5 for the main types of bases that exist in the Wing Commander Universe. All the GM needs to do is record what goods are associated with that type of base; specifically, the highlighted commodities are ones the Exchange will sell and any others with a listed price are ones the Exchange will purchase. In most cases, it's sufficient to note the goods in which the Exchange will not want to trade. For the sake of simplicity, any Sector Capital can use the lists for either New Constantinople or Janus IV, any Industrial World can use the lists for New Detroit, Athos or Desolia, any Naval Base can use the Perry or Hades lists, any Agricultural World may use the standard list or the lists from Bex, Destinas or Terrel and any non-explicitly listed world can use the Oxford list or any of the Tri-System lists. Any other type of trading post (one not covered by these options) will require the generation of a unique list. Finally, a GM always has the option of generating a unique list for any given trading post if they so choose.
The description of Nephele II would suggest that it could be considered an Agricultural World (albeit a minor one). We could go with a list from one of the Tri-System Worlds if we wanted to (Destinas, perhaps), but to keep things simple and our list short, we'll just go with the standard Agricultural World. From the list of commodities in Chapter 5.5, we see that the Commodity Exchange will trade in everything besides Plutonium, Uranium and Mining Equipment. Commodities for sale are Grain, Generic Foods, Luxury Foods, Furs, Liquor, Pets and Wood.
Of course, these examples won't help much if we went with just that ... so let's assume that while the characters might go to the local Commodities Exchange, they almost definitely will wind up at a local general store...
Select a list of items for sale and set their value
Selecting a list of items for sale at a trading post is a reasonably straight-forward process, though it is highly dependent upon the type of business in which the trading post engages primarily. For example, it's highly unlikely that a trading post specializing in the sale of communications equipment would also have robotic workers for sale, though it's not entirely impossible. The GM may begin by rolling 1d5 if the trading post is a Commodity Exchange, or 1d10 for any other type of trading post; the result of this roll is the number of types of items that will be available for sale.
Once a GM has the number of item types for sale, they need to select the specific items. If the trading post is a Commodity Exchange, the GM may either make their selections at random based on the tables in Chapter 5.5 or make a number of d% rolls equal to the number of indicated items and compare the results to the tables to determine the corresponding commodities. Note that in all cases when selecting commodities, the GM is limited in their selections to those that are highlighted on the tables (for example, Perry Naval Base may only have Space Salvage and Weaponry on its list of items for sale; it will never have any other commodities available).
If the trading post is not a Commodity Exchange, the GM has more work to do. Non-commodity items are grouped into several different categories depending upon their in-game purpose. General Equipment (see Chapter 5.4) is grouped into seven distinct categories: Clothing and Container Objects, Tools and Wilderness Gear, Comestibles, Scanners and Computer Technologies, Communications Technologies, Medicine and Medical Technologies and Weapon Accessories, Ammunition and Batteries. Items can also be Weapons, Armor or Vehicles. GMs can make selections of items from one or more of these categories at random (if dealing with a general store type of trading post) or from a single category (if dealing with a specialty trading post - for example, a medical supply store will likely sell only Medicine and Medical Technologies). Alternatively, they may roll 1d10 and select an item from the resultant category indicated on the table below.
|1d10 Result||Item Category|
|0||Clothing and Container Objects|
|1||Tools and Wilderness Gear|
|3||Scanners and Computer Technologies|
|5||Medicine and Medical Technologies|
|6||Weapon Accessories, Ammunition and Batteries|
Note that die rolls made on this table only selects the type of item, not specific items; the GM will still need to go to the appropriate list and make a selection at random. Finally, GMs may always choose to add items with no distinguishable in-game purpose (so called "Mundane" items) to their list if they so choose.
As a final note, it is recommended that the GM not select items that are more advanced than the technological level of the trading post in question (see Chapter 10.2.7); less advanced items may be selected, however. If items are being selected at random, the GM may completely ignore any repeat instances of a particular good and may choose to ignore any instances of a good more advanced than technological level of the trading post.
Once the item list has been finalized, the GM needs to set the price of each item at that particular trading post. Again, there's a difference in how this is handled between commodity and non-commodity items. Most commodity items have a range of possible prices associated with them as well as an average value and an associated die roll for the range. A few commodities have a single price listed; this should be assumed as their average value. The GM may set the price of the item at the average value, select a price at random within the range of given values or make the indicated die roll and set the price of the item equal to the amount indicated by the result. All non-commodity items will have only a single price listed for them; the GM may either go with that price or roll 2d10 and use the table below to find a price multiplier, which can then be used to set the price of the item (round any decimal remainder to the closest integer).
Items that are being sold at trading posts located in communities may further have the prices of all commodities adjusted depending upon the community's Qualities; Depressed communities should subtract 25% off the indicated price of all items, while Prosperous communities should add 25%. In both cases, the resultant amounts should be rounded to the closest integer. For more information on community Qualities, see Chapter 10.2.5.
Once the prices of all goods on the trade list have been determined, the final step is to determine the number of units of each item the trader has for sale. Again, this is determined differently for commodities versus non-commodities. Trading posts may or may not already have a quantity of goods set, depending if the GM is using items from the Privateer 2 commodities lists or not. Commodities on the Privateer 2 list already have a quantity value listed with them; the GM may either use the indicated quantity or not. For all other commodities, quantities are set with a d% roll, with the final number of units of the given item equal to the result. For all other items, the die roll depends on the type of trading post involved and the category of the involved item. For all trading posts that specialize in the item's category, a d% roll can be used as with commodities. For general stores, different die rolls are used: Weapons and Armor will use a d10 roll, Vehicles will use a d5 roll, Weapon Accessories and Medical Technologies will use 2d10 and all other items will use a simple d10 roll (with any zero counting as ten in this case).
We'll do a couple of examples here, one for Nephele II's Commodity Exchange and one for a local general store located in the main spaceport.
Let's start with the Commodity Exchange. We're dealing with an Agricultural World and we'll be using the standard Agricultural World list of commodities from Privateer. Our first job is to determine how many items will wind up on our sale list; this is done with a 1d5 roll, since we're working with a Commodity Exchange. The die is cast and comes up as a five, so there will be five different commodities on our sale list. To select them, we'll let the dice decide. We need five d% rolls; the results are 21, 60, 66, 12 and 29. Checking the tables in Chapter 5.5, this corresponds to Factory Equipment, Furs, Furs, Factory Equipment, and Generic Foods. Since Factory Equipment and Furs both appear twice, we'll toss out the second instances. For the sake of example, we'll go ahead and throw in Grain, even though it doesn't correspond to a die roll. This will leave our sale list with four commodities instead of five, but we can do that so we will. The final sale list will be Grain, Generic Foods, Factory Equipment, and Furs.
Now that we have our items, we need to set their prices; we'll use Grain as an example. According to the Comestibles table in Chapter 5.5 for an Agricultural World, Grain can have a value from six to sixty credits with an average value of twenty-six credits. The corresponding die roll for the price is 6+6d10; we'll go ahead and make this roll to set the price of Grain. The result of the roll is twenty-five, so we'll set the price of Grain at ¤31 (25 + 6 = 31). Doing likewise for the remaining commodities gives us values of ¤59 for Generic Foods, ¤112 for Factory Equipment and ¤282 for Furs.
Finally, we need to set the quantities of each commodity. Since we don't have set commodities, we can determine their quantities through d% rolls. Doing this for each commodity in turn gives us 12 units of Grain, 35 units of Generic Foods, 78 units of Factory Equipment and 25 units of Furs.
Now we'll set up the trade list for our general store. Since we're not dealing with a Commodity Exchange, we'll begin with a 1d10 roll to determine the number of items being sold; the result is an eight, so we'll need to populate our list with eight items. Rather than making random selections, we'll let the dice decide the categories of our items. We need to make eight d10 rolls; the results are 0, 0, 5, 1, 4, 0, 6 and 5. This corresponds to three Clothing and Container Objects, one Tool, one Communication Technology, two Medical Technologies and one Weapon Accessory/Battery. We'll need to flip to the equipment lists in Chapter 5.4 to make specific selections. For the sake of this example, let's say the list will consist of Backpacks (Wilderness), Satchels, Civilian Casual Outfits, Canteens, Short-Range Communicators, Vita Kits, Bandages and Small Batteries.
Since all of these are non-commodity items, we can either go with their listed prices or roll for price multipliers. Let's go ahead and roll for the sake of example. We'll need to roll 2d10 eight times, once for each item on the list; the results are 8, 12, 4, 6, 12, 18, 6 and 11. According to the table above, this corresponds to multipliers of .95, 1.15, 0.75, 0.85, 1.15, 1.50, 0.85 and 1.10. We'll apply the multipliers to the prices of each item in turn. This gives us prices of ¤21.47 for the Backpacks, ¤9.20 for the Satchels, ¤18.75 for the Civilian Casual Outfits, ¤1.70 for the Canteens, ¤28.75 for the Short-Range Communicators, ¤48.38 for the Vita Kits, ¤2.76 for the Bandages and ¤7.15 for the Small Batteries.
Finally, we need to set the quantities. Since we're dealing with a general store and non-commodities, the rolls will be slightly different for some of our goods; specifically, the Vita Kits, Bandages and Small Batteries will use a 2d10 roll instead of a 1d10 roll. Rolling for quantities gives us four Backpacks, four Satchels, one Civilian Casual Outfit, three Canteens, nine Short-Range Communicators, ten Vita Kits, nine Bandages and ten Small Batteries.
For those who think Nephele II is a more rough-and-tumble locale, a police outfitter specializing in Weapons and Armor may be present somewhere (though we won't be putting together a trade list for it...)
The Wing Commander universe is not a static place; there's usually something going on somewhere whether good or bad for those involved. Some of these events can easily affect the prices of goods where they occur, affecting their supply or demand as a result and causing a corresponding change in their price. If a GM doesn't want to muck about with altering the prices of goods based upon die rolls, they might want to consider using dynamic events. To use dynamic events in an adventure, the GM makes their trade lists for a specific site as normal, but always sets the prices to the average value. When an adventure begins, the GM will need to roll d% and use the table below to see what has taken place.
|d% Roll||Event||Planet Type Affected||Commodity Bought At Percentage Rate||Commodity Sold At Percentage Rate|
|00-03||Crop Failure||Agricultural||Fertilite (+20%)||All Comestibles (+30%)|
|04-07||Plague||Any||Medical Equipment / All Medical Commodities (+50%)||All Commodities (-25%)|
|08-11||Rebellion||Any||Weaponry (+50%)||All Commodities (+60%)|
|12-15||Solar Flares||Any||Communications Equipment/Units (+25%)||Medical Equipment / All Medical Commodities (+40%)|
|16-19||Miner Strike||Mining||All Luxury Goods/Commodities (+50%)||All Commodities (+50%)|
|20-23||Worker Strike||Industrial||All Contraband / Weaponry (+20%)||All Commodities (+50%)|
|24-27||Computer Virus||Any||Software (+30%)||All Commodities (-10%)|
|28-31||Famine||Any||All Comestibles (+50%)||No effect|
|32-35||War (Local)||Any||Weaponry, Communications Equipment/Units (+50%)||All Commodities (+40%)|
|36-39||Infestation||Any||Weaponry, Medical Equipment / All Medical Commodities (+90%)||All Commodities (-30%)|
|40-43||Mining Accident||Mining||Mining Equipment / Atomic Chisels (+25%)||All Ore Commodities / All Raw Materials (+20%)|
|44-47||Industrial Accident||Industry||All Industrial Commodities / Capital Goods (+20%)||No effect|
|48-51||Tourists Kidnapped||Pleasure/Pirate||Slaves / Pleasure Borgs (Pirate Only; -15%)||Slaves / Pleasure Borgs (Pleasure Only; -10%)|
|52-55||Flood||Agricultural||Fresh Water (-25%)||All Comestibles (+50%)|
|56-59||Stock Market Crash||Everywhere||All Commodities (-20%)||All Commodities (+30%)|
|60-63||Drought||Agricultural||Fresh Water (+25%)||All Comestibles (+50%)|
|64-67||Pirate Base Destroyed||Any||All Contraband (+50%)||No Effect|
|68-71||Bountiful Harvest||Agricultural||No Effect||All Comestibles (-10%)|
|72-75||Blood Banks Depleted||Any||Blood / Medical Equipment (+25%)||No Effect|
|76-79||Holiday (Local)||Any||No effect||All Commodities (-5%)|
|80-83||New Field Opens||Mining||No Effect||All Raw Materials, Gems, Cerulean Gemstones, All Ore Commodities (-10%)|
|84-87||Cyber Virus||Any||Robotic Workers/Servants, Cybernetic Limbs, Pleasure Borgs (+20%)||All Commodities (+15%)|
|88-91||Mutiny||Military||Weaponry (+20%)||All Commodities (+20%)|
|92-95||Worldwide Power Failure||Any||Advanced Fuels, Solar Generators (+25%)||All Commodities (+30%)|
|96-99||Earthquake||Any||Construction Equipment, Pre Fabs, All Industrial Commodities (+25%)||All Commodities (+15%)|
A GM may, at their discretion combine the use of dynamic events with the normal methods employed for determining the price of goods; if they do this, they will need to make any price adjustments based upon the current value of the affected goods instead of its average value.
Once an event has taken place, the GM will need to see if the prices of any items sold at the trading post have been affected; if any have, they will need to adjust their prices as indicated (round any decimal remainders to the closest integer). Note that some of these events affect all of the items at the post while a few only affect a specific commodity. The GM will roll for new events once every 1d5 days as the adventure continues; once a dynamic event has taken place, the price changes go into effect immediately and remain at their new levels due to the event for the next 2d10 days.
Here's an example of how this works. Let's say we have a GM who is using the same trade list we generated above and wants to incorporate dynamic events into their campaign. On the first day of the campaign, the GM rolls d%; the result is 52. Checking the chart, this corresponds to a Flood, which will reduce the price of Fresh Water for purchase by 25% and increase the price of all other Comestibles for sale by 50%. Checking the Commodity Exchange trade list, we see that there are two Comestible commodities on it - Grain and Generic Foods. The initial prices on the list are ¤31 for Grain and ¤59 for Generic Foods. A 50% increase in those prices (with rounding) will increase the price of Grain to ¤47 and Generic Foods to ¤89. The GM rolls 2d10 to see how long the prices will remain that way; the result is eleven, so the prices will remain elevated for eleven days (during which time, the character group may want to steer clear of Nephele II for purposes of buying food items). Finally, the GM makes a 1d5 roll to see when they will need to generate a new dynamic event; it'll be three days before something else happens.
Supply, Demand and Quantity Levels
A GM may want to set up the economics of an adventure or campaign such that the quantities of items available at a given trading post are dependent upon the level of trade that has already taken place there. This can be emulated rather easily, though it does involve bookkeeping on the part of the GM. First, trade lists for all the trading posts involved must be generated. Every seven in-game days and for any trading post wherein production of a given commodity may occur, the GM must roll d% and subtract 50 from the result for each applicable item; the final result is the quantity produced. For non-commodities, the roll is a standard d10 roll with five subtracted from the result. Items produced that were not originally part of the base's sale list have their price set at the average value. If the net production of a commodity is positive (i.e. if items are created), the price of those items goes down by one credit per ten of those commodities created (round up), and vice versa. For non-commodities, the price drops by one credit per unit of items produced.
Purchases and sales of commodities and other items affect the price of those items on a daily basis. Every time a commodity is bought at a specific trading post, its price there goes up by one credit per ten units bought (round up) at the end of the current day and vice versa. Similarly, every time a non-commodity is bought, the price of that item goes up by one credit per unit bought and down by one credit per unit sold at the end of the current day.
GMs are welcome to tinker with the amounts the prices go up and down as they wish (particularly for more expensive items where a credit here or there isn't going to make that big of a difference). A suggested level of tinkering is to keep the change in price within two orders of magnitude of the normal price of the item (i.e. for items with values in the thousands the price can fluctuate by ten credits, items with values in the tens of thousands can fluctuate by one hundred credits, etc.). GMs may also ignore the normal item price limits if they so choose. The net effect of this process is that trade routes the characters are utilizing may become less and less profitable as time passes and the value of a commodity go up at the source and down at the destination.
Note that a clever set of players may be able to use this system of quantity and price fluctuations to create arbitrage opportunities for themselves. GMs should be on the lookout for this kind of activity and (if they so choose) should implement whatever limiting factors they feel are necessary to curtail it. In general, it is best to combine this system with one of the other methods for adjusting the price of goods.
Let's say our GM also decides to incorporate fluctuating commodity prices based on supply and demand into their campaign. We have our Commodity Exchange sale list for Nephele II; 12 units of Grain at ¤47, 35 units of Generic Foods at ¤89, 78 units of Factory Equipment at ¤112 and 25 units of Furs at ¤282. The General Store on Nephele II has four Wilderness Backpacks at ¤21.47, four Satchels at ¤9.20, a Civilian Casual Outfit at ¤18.75, three Canteens at ¤1.70, nine Short-Range Communicators at ¤28.75, ten Vita Kits at ¤48.38, nine Bandages at ¤2.76 and ten Small Batteries at ¤7.15.
Let's say a Tarsus crew stops by the Nephele II Commodity Exchange. Unaware of the recent flooding, they purchase the Exchange's entire stock of Generic Foods. Since they bought 35 units, the price of Generic Foods at Nephele II will increase by four credits to ¤93 at the end of the day. The crew also buys two Satchels at the General Store; the price of the remaining two will go up to ¤11.20 at the end of the day.
Production occurs a week later. Nephele II is an Agricultural World, so it can produce up to nine unique commodities (Construction, Factory Equipment, Generic Foods, Grain, Luxury Foods, Furs, Liquors, Pets and Wood). A total of nine d% rolls (one for each commodity) will be needed to check for production; the roll results are 10, 65, 18, 97, 45, 1, 68, 59, and 67 and subtracting 50 from each result gives final values of -40, 15, -32, 47, -5, -49, 18, 9 and 17. We'll assign each result to each commodity in the order they're listed above. This means that Nephele II has offloaded forty units of Construction in the past week; since there were none to begin with, Construction will remain at zero and the result is ignored. Fifteen units of Factory Equipment are produced. This one is on the trade list; fifteen units of production will drop the price of the Factory Equipment by two credits to ¤110 and increase the stock from 78 to 93 units. The next result, -32, corresponds to Generic Foods. All the Generic Foods have been bought, so there is no stock. However, we do have a price and a drop of 32 units will still raise the price by four credits to ¤97. 47 units of Grain production lowers its price to ¤42 and increases the stock to 59. Luxury Foods are not in stock and have no price, so the -5 result may be ignored. 49 units of Furs are sold; this will deplete Nephele's stock and raise the price to ¤287. Finally, the last three results will all generate new commodities; each of these is set at their respective average prices. In addition to what it already had for sale, the Nephele II Commodity Exchange now has 18 units of Liquor at ¤41, 9 units of Pets at ¤86 and 17 units of Wood at ¤83 available.
We are considering some of the combined effects from dynamic events in these examples. After four more days have passed since production, the price effect from the Flood event ends; eleven days have elapsed, the time indicated in the prior sub-section example for the length of the Flood event. The price of all Comestibles would therefore drop by 50%; Grain goes from ¤42 to ¤28 and Generic Foods drops from ¤97 to ¤65. Luxury Foods, which it still is not on our trade list, is not affected by the change.
Determine the list of items for purchase and set their value
With the list of items for sale complete, the last thing that needs to be done is to determine what goods the trader would like to purchase. This is done in largely the same manner as creating a list of items for sale, with the principle exception being that the quantities of items available for purchase never need to be randomly determined; the amount always equals the quantity currently in the character group's possession. If the item is a commodity and has a value listed for the type of world/base at which the trading post is located, the trader will be interested in purchasing it. A trader's interest in non-commodity items may be determined in the same way as for the sale of such items outlined above, though in this case the trader's interest will be limited to items strictly in the possession of the characters. In both cases, the value at which a trader will want to buy the item is determined in the same manner as for items the trader is selling. Any item appearing on the purchase list that happens to also be on the sale list will automatically have its value set to the same amount. As with goods for sale, it is recommended that a GM not allow the purchase of goods above the trader's technological level.
In the previous example, a Tarsus paid a visit to Nephele II. Tarsi have a cargo hold area of 100 cubic meters - enough to haul 100 units of commodities - so let's say it was hauling 27 units of Iron, 19 units of Tungsten and 54 units of Uranium its crew bought had previously bought from a nearby mining base. This gives us our commodities and quantities for the purchase list; all we have to do is come up with the prices. For Iron and Tungsten, we'll just make the indicated die rolls; the value of Iron at Nephele II will be ¤52 and the price of Tungsten will be ¤102. The commodities lists for Uranium at an Agricultural World indicate a price of zero, so we automatically know the Nephele Commodity Exchange is not interested in purchasing it; Uranium will remain off of the purchase list. The final purchase list for Nephele's Commodity Exchange is 27 units of Iron at ¤52 and 19 units of Tungsten at ¤102.
The actual trading process is a great deal easier to do than building trade lists. To trade an item, the characters first indicate the item they would like to trade; the GM will then look up that item on their prepared trade lists. If the item is not there, the trader simply is not interested in the item or doesn't have it for sale. If it is there, then a transaction may take place; the GM will need to note the item's value. Knowing this value becomes particularly important in case the characters decide they want to haggle (negotiate the price by making one or more counter offers).
Whether or not a character can haggle is entirely dependent on their location. For example, a big chain market advertising "everyday low prices" usually won’t allow any haggling to take place. If the trader’s trading disposition is "Not Bargain At All", no haggling over the price will be tolerated. The GM gives the characters the value of them item indicated on their trade lists as their initial offer; the characters must accept the price as given and go on to indicate how many units of the item in particular they’d like to trade or just refuse the offer (which automatically causes the trader to break off the trade and raises their Frustration Level (see below) by two points). An attempt to haggle in this instance will result in the trader's refusal to bargain (i.e. the same price will be offered again) and an increase of their Frustration Level by one point.
When a trader’s location/disposition allows for bargaining, characters are allowed to haggle over the price. The GM gives the characters the value indicated on their trade list as their opening price. At this point, the character who is conducting the actual negotiations makes a Negotiate Check which is opposed by the trader's own Negotiate Check (GMs should keep the result of the trader's check secret during the negotiation process). If either party to the negotiations has earned a reputation in trading circles, subtract any applicable Reputation Trait modifier from the result of the roll; any Temper modifier they have is also subtracted from the result of the roll. This opposed Check determines if trading will go in the character’s favor (if their final result is lower than the trader's) or in the trader’s. It's generally recommended that haggling be attempted by characters that are strong in the Communications Discipline (particularly by those who are strong in Negotiate); of course, any character may attempt to conduct trade negotiations for a group.
After the Negotiate Check has been made, the character has three options: they can either accept the price as is, they may make a counter offer or they may refuse the offer. If the character refuses the offer or makes a counter offer, the trader's next action depends on who had the better Check as well as the degrees of success or failure involved; see the table below for specifics. If the trader's next action as prescribed by the table is a counter offer but the indicated new price would make a deal worse for the trader than simply accepting the character's last offer (i.e. a higher price than offered while selling or a lower price than offered while purchasing), the trader will accept the current offer instead.
|Character's Action||Negotiate Check Result...|
|Trader Selling Item||Trader Buying Item||...favors the Character||...favors the Trader|
|Character's Offer is Greater than the Current Price.||Character's Offer is Less than the Current Price.||Trader Agrees to the Character's offer. -2 points to the Trader's Frustration Level.||Trader Agrees to the Character's offer. -1 point to the Trader's Frustration Level.|
|Character's Offer is Less than the Current Price but above the Minimum Value for the item.||Character's Offer is Greater than the Current Price but below the Maximum Value for the item.||Trader Counters the Current offer, lowering the price by two credits per ten points in the difference between the Character's and Trader's degrees of success/failure (if the Trader is Selling) or raising it by the same amount (if the Trader is Buying).||Trader Counters the Current offer, lowering the Offer Price by 1d10 credits (if the Trader is Selling) or raising it by the same amount (if the Trader is Buying). Zero counts as ten in this case.|
|Character's Offer is Less than the Minimum Value for the item.||Character's Offer is Greater than the Maximum Value for the item.||Trader Counters the Current offer, lowering the price by one credit per ten points in the difference between the Character's and Trader's degrees of success/failure (if the Trader is Selling) or raising it by the same amount (if the Trader is Buying).||Trader Refuses the Character's Current Offer. +1 to the Trader's Frustration Level.|
|Character Refuses the Current Offer.||Trader Counters the Current offer, lowering the Offer price by 1d10 credits (if the Trader is Selling) or raising it by the same amount (if the Trader is Buying). Zero counts as ten in this case. An extra point is added to the Trader's Frustration Level.||Trader also Refuses and no transaction will take place. +2 to the Trader's Frustration Level.|
Should the trader make a counter offer, the character may choose to either make a fresh opposed Negotiate Check or just use the same result of the previous Check (whether it was in their favor or not). Taking a fresh Check may give the negotiating character more chances to increase their Skill score in Negotiate at the risk of failing the Check and making life harder on their group. Not re-rolling the Check speeds up the trading process a lot but sticks the group with whatever result they got from the initial Check, which may not work out in their favor. The whole process of offer/counter-offer repeats until either one side accepts the other's offer or both sides refuse to deal any further.
A trader will not negotiate with a character forever; all trades have a "negotiations count", which increases as trading goes on and has a maximum score based upon the trader's disposition. Prior to each individual transaction, the GM may select a maximum negotiations count score based upon the trader's disposition or simply make the indicated die roll. The trader's current Frustration Level sets the initial value of the count in every trade; frustrated traders are going to be much less forgiving to characters who have already tried their patience. Every time the trader makes a counter offer, the negotiations count increases by one point; it goes up by two points when the trader refuses an offer. Traders will automatically refuse all further counter offers once their negotiations count score meets or exceeds the maximum; each such refusal increases the trader's Frustration Level by one point. It is possible for a character to start a transaction with a score so high that the trader will automatically refuse all counter offers.
In all successful trades (i.e. ones in which a final price is settled), characters are limited in the number of units of the item they can purchase by the amount of free storage space currently available to them, the amount of cash they have on hand and the number of units the trader has available. They are limited in the amount they can sell to a trader by the number of units they have available and in many cases by the amount of cash the trader has on hand. It's generally assumed that traders at Commodity Exchanges have access to unlimited amounts of cash. Trades in specific communities may be limited by their buy-back limit; for details, see Chapter 10.2.5.
Some of the actions listed above refer to a trader’s Frustration Level, which is a measure of how angry the trader has become towards the character since they walked into the trading post. A trader usually begins trading with a Frustration Level count of zero. This is modified based on the Reputation level of the character who will be conducting the negotiations; for every five points of an applicable Reputation Trait they have as a Complication, the starting Frustration Level is increased by one point and vice versa. Note that if a trader has a low enough maximum Frustration Level and if the character has a large enough Reputation Complication, it is possible that the trader will already be fed up with the character before they even enter the trading post; if this is the case, they will be denied entry to the trading post altogether. Leaving a trading post with the trader in a good mood (a negative Frustration Level) will earn the character who conducted the negotiations a point in Reputation as a Talent for the next time they conduct negotiations at that specific trading post.
A trader’s Frustration Level can only be so high before they become totally fed up; the maximum level is determined by the trader’s disposition. Traders that like to Bargain a Lot are fed up when the Frustration Level count reaches seven or after the character performs four actions in a row that increase the trader's Frustration Level. Those that only like to Bargain a Little are fed up at a count of six or three actions in a row, while those that do Not Bargain at All are fed up at a count of five or two consecutive actions. The maximum count may be raised by one point for every ten points in the character's Negotiate Skill DC. Once a trader is fed up, the next action that raises their Frustration Level will cause the trader to stop all trade; they will force the character group to leave the trading post and the character who conducted the negotiations must take a point in Reputation as a Complication for the next time they conduct negotiations at that specific trading post.
The trader’s Temper Trait can also be a factor in how their Frustration Level increases. If the trader’s Temper is a Complication, their Frustration Level will increase by an extra point for every ten points in their Temper Trait. Conversely, if the trader’s Temper is a Talent, then their Frustration Level is decreased by an extra point for every ten points in their Temper Trait.
An Example of Trade
Trade in WCRPG is not a particularly difficult concept to grasp. Nevertheless, it seems fair to offer up one final example on how the whole process works.
We'll go ahead and use our previous set of examples to set up an example trade scenario. The character group has a Tarsus Merchant Scout without the cargo expansion module installed; it thus has a maximum cargo capacity of 100 cubic meters, which translates to 100 units of goods. Having visited a nearby mining base, the ship is hauling 27 units of Iron, 19 units of Tungsten and 54 units of Uranium when its crew puts in at Nephele II. The local Commodity Exchange has 12 units of Grain at ¤31, 35 units of Generic Foods at ¤59, 78 units of Factory Equipment at ¤112 and 25 units of Furs at ¤282. The Commodity Exchange offers ¤52 for the crew's Iron and ¤102 for their Tungsten, and indicates they are not interested in their Uranium. The GM knows the Commodity Exchange's Clerk has a Communications score of 55 and a Negotiate score of 16 (a DC of 21) with no Reputation or Temper scores. His disposition is Bargain a Lot.
We need to know something about the character conducting the negotiations on behalf for the Tarsus crew. Let's go ahead and create a generic Terran character using the Mercenary archetype with 200 hero points. The point distribution will give him 55 points in Communications and a Negotiate Score of 5 (a DC of only 10). To make things even more interesting, we'll give the merc a Reputation Talent of +5 in trade circles and a Temper Complication of -10. This will have the net effect of adding five points to the result of the mercenary's haggling rolls.
After being welcomed to the Commodity Exchange by the trader, the mercenary has an opportunity to look at what's available and what the prices are. The merc has no available scratch, so the first thing they would like to do is offload their own goods. They picked up the Iron at the mining base for ¤44 and the Tungsten for ¤76. The merc thinks the price being offered for the Tungsten is fair, so they agree and sell off all they have; the trader takes possession of all 19 units at ¤102, earning the merc a fast ¤1,938 (for a profit of a little less than ¤500).
The price offered for the Iron is a little low for the merc, seeing as he'd only make eight credits per unit in profit with the offered price. So, he decides to haggle and makes a counter-offer of ¤75 - a dangerously high counter-offer for an Agricultural World. The GM rolls 1d5 for the trader (since he likes to Bargain a Lot) and comes up with a three; the trader will therefore make no more than three counter-offers. An opposed Negotiate Check takes place; the trader's roll comes up as 99 and the merc's roll comes up as 84, both failures (technically a critical failure for the trader, but the Negotiate Check has no critical potential, so it has no other effects). The merc adds five points to their roll for a final result of 89. The trader's degree of failure is 78 and the merc's is 74, so the Check favors the merc. In this case, the trader will make a counter offer; since there's only four points difference between the degrees of failure, the trader will simply raise their offer by one credit to ¤53. The trader has made a counter offer and so their negotiation counter increases by one. The merc is still not thrilled with the offer, so he makes a new counter-offer: ¤74. Same situation as before; the trader rolls 98 with the merc rolling 63 this time for a total of 68. This time, there are exactly twenty points difference between the degrees of failure, so the trader will go up on their offer to ¤55. The trader's negotiate counter is now two.
The merc decides to press his luck and counters with ¤72. The dice are cast with the trader rolling 34 and the merc a 02 (adjusted to 07, a success). There's 27 points difference in the degrees of success/failure, so the trader goes up on their offer to ¤58, which is now about the normal maximum price one would ordinarily expect for Iron at an Agricultural World. The trader's negotiation count is now at three, its maximum; the trader automatically refuses the merc's new counter offer of ¤69, increasing their Frustration Level to one. The merc knows it will be fruitless to haggle further and accepts the offer of ¤58, earning ¤1,566. While the profit margin may not have been as high as the merc had hoped, they still wind up earning a little over ¤375 in profit.
The merc now has a total of ¤3,504 and nothing else to offer the trader. The merc's next intended stop is an Industrial World to offload the Uranium that's tied up all their cash. While they might want to do something else with the money they've made so far, the merc also doesn't want to head out with a hold that's nearly half-empty, so they decide to look at what the trader has for purchase.
The merc is smart enough to consider their potential profit margin at their destination from the Goods being offered. Of what's being offered, the Furs are a good buy; there's a comparatively low chance of taking a loss there, though they don't offer a particularly high profit margin and they're expensive - at the listed price, the merc only has enough scratch for twelve units. Grain is the next best buy available; while the potential for loss is a little higher, it's cheap and could potentially offer a decent profit margin. The trader only has twelve units available, so the merc would have to team it up with something else to turn a reasonable profit. Generic Foods at the current price is potentially risky but it also offers the highest potential profit margin of any of the items available. Moreover, there are enough units available that the merc could leave with a decent quantity in tow and still have scratch left over. The merc doesn't even bother considering the Factory Equipment; there's practically no chance of making a profit there considering his next destination.
The merc decides to try his luck haggling over the Generic Foods. The GM makes their d5 roll; it comes up as a five but the trader's Frustration Level is one, so they will make no more than four counter offers. Again, the GM keeps this information secret. The merc's counter offer is ¤25. The checks are made; the trader rolls 02, while the merc rolls 92. Clearly the trader is favored here (by a margin of 95); fortunately, the offer is above the Minimum Value for the item, so the trader rolls 1d10. The result is zero, so they trader will lower the offer by ten credits to ¤49, with their negotiate count going up by one. The merc goes up to ¤29 and a new Check is made; the trader rolls 11 and the merc rolls 89. Again, the trader is favored with a margin of 93. 1d10 is rolled; the trader comes down by nine points to ¤40. The merc makes one last offer of ¤30. The trader rolls 01 and the merc rolls 43, for a margin of success of 47. 1d10 is rolled again and a six results, bringing the trader's counter offer to ¤34. The merc decides to accept that offer rather than risk upsetting the trader and buys all 35 units of Generic Foods.
This leaves the merc with ¤2,314, enough left for them to go ahead and buy the Grain outright, filling their hold to its maximum and leaving them with ¤1,942. At the end of trading, the mercenary has made nearly two thousand credits in profit; enough to conduct repairs, refuel and make preparations to visit their next port of call.