Have you ever been to a jumble sale or bazaar in real life and felt that itch when you see something you really need but lack the funds to buy it?
Ever put someone on the spot and watched them hem and haw as you both haggle over the price of that item?
When you managed to barter a great deal, did you walk away with a huge grin on your face?
These scenarios can occur easily in roleplay too. Trading scenarios like the ones mentioned above will allow you to legally gain IC items, hints for quests or information on running storylines for further use in your RP.
Unlike the former Realm of Mystara, Mysts of Eyr's culture doesn't depend on coin. With the city of Shalan'ti being a day’s sail around the opposite side of the island, those who live in the tiny settlements along the winding Kuvari river and elsewhere in the deep jungles have cut out a living through trade exclusively. This article’s aim is to help teach you roleplay bartering skills or sharpen your existing ones.
Keeping the Fun Factor Alive in RP Trading
There is a knack for making trade fun and interesting. Boredom in roleplay bartering usually comes from players not considering all of the possibilities one can haggle over. Putting only minimal effort into your roleplay, not only causes your personal enjoyment to suffer, but your fellow RPers as well.
For example, the purchase of a pony can either be roleplayed very fast and possibly result in boring RP or lead to an exciting story.
I want A Pony!
Let’s use a white-brown Shetland pony as your desired purchase. You approach a farm, a stable, a bazaar or somewhere else around the lands and see this lovely creature in a wayward stall. There’s absolutely no way you can be talked out of this purchase. You simply must have that pony!
The first question everyone will ask is, “How much does this pony cost?” It's a question we will naturally ask in real life. However, keep in mind we are playing in a medieval setting and the more appropriate question most likely should be, “What do you want in exchange for this pony?”
The simplest answer you can get is the amount of coins you will need to pay, which you do. Then you wander off with your newly purchased pony. No further questions asked. This is an example of a very fast, but likely very boring roleplayed scene. You won't get to know the character who sold you the pony, nor will you get to know the pony before you buy it.
Here in Eyr, there’s a high likelihood you won’t have coin to barter with and also just as likely that your trader won’t accept them either even if you did. Coin is rare enough to come by and is only as valuable as the metal itself, should your trader be in need of metal. So what can you do to add a bit of intrigue or nuance to the trade instead?
Let’s reexamine our pony trade:
- Is the pony healthy? Is it an old or young pony?
- Is the pony really a Shetland pony or is it a goat with a funny wig and fake-tail thrown over top it?
- Is the pony really as valuable as the trader claims?
- Will the trader consider alternative payments, exchanges, favors or loans?
- What can your character offer in exchange?
- Would your character try to trick the trader, try to roll him to gain an advantage?
- Is the trader trying to just roll your character?
- What would your character do if they found out the trader is trying to trick them and vice versa?
This is by no means an exhaustive list of possible questions one could ask in a trade scenario. You’re only limited by your imagination and what you and your scene partners would find fun to roleplay out.
Keeping True to Your Character
In the middle of the dense Eyranese jungle, its very common to not have two coins to rub together. Has your character a job? Can they craft? Do they have a marketable skill to offer? Is your character poor or rich? While nobody needs to keep an exhaustive record of their inventory gained during RP, it's always good and respectful to at least attempt to keep things realistic. Nothing will earn you an eyeroll faster from your fellow RPer than pulling out legendary treasures, coins and precious stones seemingly out of thin air.
So your character doesn't possess coin. Don't fret, bargain!
Selling The Shirt Off Your Back
Let’s say you have a hat you are wearing that a trader has taken an interest in. You trade your hat in exchange for some other goods but neglect to mention you’re afflicted by fleas. You give the hat away and the luckless trader now has fleas hassling him too! Maybe you meet each other later on at the bathhouse while trying to get rid of said fleas and hilarity ensues!
But What I Do Have are a Very Particular Set of Skills...
Perhaps your character has some skills he could offer in exchange? Is your character one who would try to use magic/illusions/demonic or other racial abilities to get the previously desired pony? Such things will add nuances to character’s storylines. It will give you the chance to interact with even more people and lead you towards your next adventure. Does trade still sound boring now?
Get a Job!
Let’s assume your character doesn't have the coins, the skills, and nothing else worth for exchange. But Oh! That pony is so gosh darn pretty! Why not use this opportunity to get an IC job for a limited time? Work at the tavern and tell people about the beautiful shetland pony which is starving somewhere and needs to be rescued! Go plotting against the greedy trader and try to steal the pony! Write a post in the Rumour Mill and advertise your own skills to gain some barter (don't forget to mention you are poor and the pony is starving)! Play a beggar for some time to try and gain some items you could trade for the pony. Maybe your pursuit for your pony will entice you to work with the dark side of the jungle? Become a dealer or a cultist while trying to reach your goal (the pony... right?). Maybe you get drawn into another storyline and your character turns out to be a criminal in the end?
As you can see, the opportunities are endless. Trading RP is in fact a tool that we can use to make roleplay more interesting and exciting. It's there for you to make it easier to get to know people and places and let your character learn about its environment and local customs.
There are many businesses here at Eyr where you can start up trade roleplay. You can find them on our Groups Page and clicking on the tab for 'Businesses'.
Some of you may have already tried to get some wares at a business and found yourself unable to obtain what you wanted. This is part of the trading RP and can have many IC and some OOC reasons.
While you can easily get a bowl of fish stew at The Salty Swallow, it will be difficult to purchase one at the Crafters’ Corner (Don’t come in between a Craftsmen and their lunch, you’re likely to lose a hand). Likewise, the Crafters will happily trade with you for a new quiver, while the tavern staff will simply shake their heads on a similar request. This is an obvious example about where to buy and trade the wares you want to get in RP.
Sometimes it isn’t obvious where to find an item sold, which means you’ll need to ask around from the local populace. This is, again, where you are given the chance for gaining RP letting your character learn and get to know new people. Sometimes the shops will send you away to gain the desired item at another shop or they will decline to sell the wares you want at all. That's not because the business owner doesn't like you OOC, but because they simply don't sell the items you want OR there are other ways to gain them. Maybe they are sending you on a little quest, which will lead to further RP too!
Sometimes a fellow trader will give an IC hint to go to the bookshop to learn about the natural resources of the land instead of selling the wares you would like directly. Your character’s travels may take them to gain further knowledge and then trade for a shovel to dig out roots or get an axe to chop wood. These are the natural resources of Eyr and you can read about them Here.
Still have more questions regarding trade after reading this guide? Please feel free to page one of our Mentors at the Welcome Center. We are always happy to help!