Ruins of Adventure
- Races: Any
- Sub-Classes: Any
- Ability Requirements: Knowledge 11, Leadership 11
- Alignments: Any
- Starting Cash: By class
- Weapon Slots: By class
- Bonus Weapon Proficiencies: none
- Required Weapon Proficiencies: none
- Allowed Weapons: By class
- Allowed Armors: By class
- Non-weapon Slots: By class
- Available Categories: By class
- Bonus Non-weapon Proficiencies: Appraising, Haggling, Literacy, Navigation
- Required Proficiencies: none
- Recommended Proficiencies: Alertness, Animal Handling, Animal Lore, Animal Training, Artistic Ability, Bureaucracy, Cartography, Debate, Direction Sense, Disguise, Etiquette, Fast Talking, Forgery, Gaming, Gem Cutting, Hunting, Land-based Riding, Local History, Looting, Modern Languages, Reading Lips, Survival, Weather Sense
- Forbidden Proficiencies: none
Overview: All manner of adventurers turn to mercantile activities, and all manner of merchants may find themselves forced into an adventure. He may be a thief fencing stolen goods for his guild, a wizard selling alchemical wares, a priest of Lliira or Shaundakul, or a warrior who leads trade caravans. Whether selling goods of their own manufacture or buying and trading on the open market, regardless of their background, the lure of greater profits draws all manner of merchants out of their shops and onto the road.
Not all merchants are out-and-out thieves (despite the protestations of many cash-poor adventurers to the contrary). Many, however, are rogues, and they exemplify the social nature of the thief class: they are friendly, willing to do business, and try not to steal too much from their targets (after all, poor targets don’t have that much to steal the next time).
Description: In a world where many are in poverty, governments caution frugality, and religions encourage asceticism, merchants are very conspicuous consumers. On a personal level, they flaunt their wealth with rich robes, gem-studded rings, and homes that stretch their funds to the limit. In business, they strive to boast the finest ships, the best camels, the most trusted mercenaries, and the greatest profits. Specialty items, such as works of art or magic with specific histories, are highly valued.
Role-Playing: Most adventuring merchants tread a fine line between honest trade and swindling, and their definition of both is quite loose. Ultimately, however, trade is their lifeblood. Success in the marketplace may cover up a multitude of smaller sins, but if those sins get out of hand, they stifle the very trade that makes them possible. Merchants are as honest as they have to be; if they obviously cheat their customers and fellow businessmen, they’ll soon have no trade left. Further, the forces of law and order tend to frown on wholesale gouging, the diluting of goods, and cheating the public. Therefore, such manners are to be avoided (except, of course, when a really juicy profit can be made).
While there are some upstanding lawful and good individuals in the mercantile trades, the motto of many merchants is this: “It’s legitimate as long you don’t get caught.” Many have few qualms about dealing in stolen (or, rather, “previously owned”) merchandise, provided the original owners cannot trace the sale. If a powerful or wealthy patron quietly requests a special item, merchants may even engage in a little thievery themselves.
While there are good profits to be made in sales, there are even better fortunes to be made in the company of brave adventurers who slay monsters and have first dibs on treasure. Indeed, for the merchant sufficiently protected by these brave souls, a great amount of wealth is waiting to be acquired. They are often willing to travel vast distances in search of bargains. Entire campaigns may be based around the activities of a merchant and his companions, transporting goods through hostile lands or in search of lost treasure.
By the nature of his or her business, the merchant has the chance to make many friends and become acquainted with the problems in many different areas. Some merchants, motivated by a strong sense of right and wrong, together with the strength of his or her influence, will often take a leadership role in situations that call for dramatic and decisive action.
- A merchant begins his career with a single mule with a pack saddle and saddle bags for carrying goods, in addition to any other equipment he purchases.
- A merchant gains a +1 to attack and damage only when protecting his goods or animals.
- A merchant gains a +1 reaction bonus from merchants and other traders. This bonus is based on his reputation as a fair and honest Trader. If he cheats on a deal and is later discovered, the bonus changes to a -2 penalty.
- Buy in Bulk: This is the ability to “buy in bulk” at rock-bottom prices from other merchants. Merchants may buy any common item in 1,000-unit lots if the item’s price is listed in copper or silver pieces. If the price is listed in gold pieces, merchant-rogues can buy the item in 100-unit lots. In either case, the merchant is able to purchase the items for a discount of 10%, +2% per level off of the total cost of the goods (thus a 20th level merchant receives a 50% discount for buying in bulk). This bulk discount is factored in before any Haggling or Bargain checks.
- Running a Business: The merchant also has the ability to establish a self-sustaining business. For 5,000 gp, a merchant can set up a trading company that operates while he or she is away on other business or adventures. That amount pays for business space, stock, and an employee (often a relative or friend). The merchant may invest more money-either his own or that of other interested investors (such as the other PCs). A merchant may only run one business at a time, however. If, for whatever reason, the value of that business drops below 2,000 gp, it folds, and all investments are lost.
It takes a month to inaugurate a trading business. Each month thereafter, roll 1d10 and consult the Table below to determine the results of that month’s business. Round up to the nearest gold piece. Merchants may withdraw any profit or investment money from their trading company as they see fit. It’s their prerogative as proprietors (Other investors may wish to “look at the books” from time to time, however). If an owner siphons off enough to reduce the business’s value below 2,000 gp, it folds, and all investments are lost.
Once a year, the local government collects a tax for operating within the city, town, or province. The tax covers all tariffs, fees for paperwork, permits, and the like. The amount normally equals 10 to 20 percent of the net worth of the business and is assessed at the start of the year. Draconian and corrupt (or progressive and forward thinking) governments may increase this to as much as 80 percent, as do rulers who feel that a particular merchant has been less than forthcoming with an honest payment.
As a general rule, most trading companies with a value of 10,000 gp or less are considered small. Those with a value around 100,000 gp are still modest. When a company’s assets have climbed to 500,000 gp or more, it is a mighty trading empire, and is accorded the attention of those of import.
Establishing and running a trading company is a background activity, which is not meant to overwhelm the high adventure of merchant PCs. They can still discover new trade routes, bring back gems and rich fabrics, and bear tales of how bravely their employees have fought for them. The business makes such adventures possible; it doesn’t displace them.
|d10 Roll||Monthly Trading Results|
|1||Disaster! 30% of the money currently invested in the business is lost!|
|2||Malady and poor business decisions made in your stead have hurt the firm! 20% of the value of investments is lost!|
|3||A slow season, nothing to panic about, but 10% of all money invested is lost.|
|4-5||Business is as business always is, with a regular turnover of funds but little advancement. No money is lost this month, but no profits are gained. The faithful among your employees promise to redouble their efforts.|
|6-7||Business is livelier. The funds invested in the company increase by 10%.|
|8-9||Business is quite good. The funds invested in the company increase by 20%.|
|10||Business is excellent! The gods smile upon your endeavor, and your goods are delivered into the hands of the needy at the exact moment that they are willing to pay for them! Money invested in the company increases by 30%!|
- The biggest disadvantage of being a merchant is the inherent uncertainty of business dealings. All disadvantages associated with the kit are role-playing problems, but they can be substantial (and also provide interesting adventure hooks).
- Also, in a word, Thieves. Merchants are their natural prey.
Return to Universal Kits.