Powers and Perils


NOTE - The following is a derived work that was forced to come about due to a new game where one character is a spy for the elves whose front is as a merchant roaming about Donara. There are presently NO rules with regards to average cost of living for merchants, how much they make, etc, etc.

My merchant EL's are leveled, not "or 80". Divide my ELs noted by 5 to fit with the skill in "Heroes" magazine.

Food and clothing prices

After looking over the food prices and clothing prices, I felt that they were really out of tune. After grinding some numbers from Harn with various foods, fudging a FP value for the various items, and correcting prices to P&P I have cranked out the following:

Travel Ration(3BB)1FP of non-perishable, dried meat and fruit, bread and grain. Good for up to 2 weeks in normal climates.
Tavern Meal(2-4BB)1FP of food prepared in taverns or inns. 1BB for scraps.
Home Meal(1-4BB)1FP of food prepared at home, using fresh or stored materials. Cut cost in HALF for cheap materials.
Grain(1CC)TEN Food points of grain, bagged. Usable for mounts or herbavores.
Fresh Meat(3-6BB)1FP of perishable meat, good for 1/2 a week. Usable for Character or Carnivore needs.
Preserved Meat(6-10BB)1FP of smoked, dried or salted meat, good for 1 month under temperate conditions.
Fresh Fish(1-4BB)1FP of fresh fish, good for 1/2 a week. Usable for Character or Carnivore needs. Only available in coastal or riverine areas.
Preserved Fish(2-6BB)1FP of smoked, dried or salted fish, good for 1 month under temperate conditions.
Fruit & Vegetables(1-3BB)1FB of fresh fruit or vegetables, good for 1-2 weeks, depending on climate.
Cheese(1-2BB)1FP of cheese, good for one week in temperate climates.
Bread(2-4BB)1FP of baked bread, good for 1-2 weeks under normal conditions.

The cost for travel rations was figured by taking the average of bread, cheese, cheap dried meats and cheap veggies.

Clothing was a similar problem -- Given food costs, how could Joe peasant afford clothing? Again, I grinded through the Harm list of clothing, producing a complex set for each type of clothing. Then I tried to use it and said "screw it" and converted to a simpler composite (like Runequest uses). The results are as follows:

Sandals(2BB)Basic leather (or rope & wood) sandels.
Shoes(8BB)Durable Leather shoes
Boots(15BB)Calf-high leather boots for travel
High Boots(2CC)Knee-high leather boots for travel or winter use.
Cheap Clothes(1CC)Simple tunic and leggings. No frills, low quality cloth.
Common Clothes(2CC)Simple linen tunic & leggings. 3CC with over-tunic.
Good Clothes(4CC)More durable tunic & leggings, more ornate as well. 5CC with over-tunic. DOUBLE if fine quality.
Winter Wear(5CC)Heavy wool cloak, wool hat and mittens. 1SC if fine quality.
Winter Furs(1SC)Fine fur coat, hat and mittens. 3SC if Superior quality.
Leather Clothing(6CC)Durable leather tunic, leggings and vest.
Silk Clothing(5SC)Ornate silk clothing, price for the west. In the East and south, cost is 3SC. In Katai cost is 2SC.
Slave Silks(x0.4)For pleasure slaves. Multiplied by silk clothing costs.
Accessories(x0.1)Belts, sashes, Trim, etc. Mutiplied by basic clothing cost.

Now that we have that, let's produce a standard "week". Working at the bottom, we have a Station 1 tradesman.

  1. Assuming 3FP/day, and assuming he either gets his own food (in town, average value of 1.5BB/FP) or eats at inns (on the road at 2BB/FP), his food costs will be about 5.6BB per day on average, assuming that he will stop and sell 1 day for every day on the road, Add 1BB per day in extra food expenses (ale, snacks, etc). One week's food costs 4.64CC
  2. Assume a standard wardrobe is 2 sets of common clothes and 1 set of winter clothing, with boots. This is a cost of 105BB. Assume a replacement rate of 3x per year to cover wear and tear. Factored over the year, this is 0.6CC per week.
  3. Assume he lives in a slightly better peasant house (3GC) Further assume that what he is used to living in normally is what sort of establishment he will frequent (house cost/300). For simplicity, assume his housing costs are the same no matter where he is. This produces an average cost of 7CC per week.
  4. There is an additional security cost to guard his wares -- this will be covered later, but if you know the product assume it is equal to 0.7 TIMES the cost of the average item. (this sort of stuff makes excell a wonderful tool -- endless tweaking). For the moment, assume that the coin type, x2.5, is the average goods cost -- this will be 5CC for us.

So his weekly living expenses are at least 15.74CC per week. He needs to make at least this much (and hopefully a bit more to cover a rainy day fund or for extras) to survive at "station 1" living. (station 1 living for non-travelling craftsmen would be about 14.95CC)

Okay, we know he needs to make at least 15.74CC per week to stay afloat -- let's even that out to 15.8CC.

  1. What are the taxes like? I have decided to go with a rough rule of thumb of 25% -- 10% to the crown, 10% to his religion, and 5% for other fees. Factoring out the 25% (divide Cash by (1-tax)) to get 21CC.
  2. Purchase Margin -- Playing around with numbers in Excell, it seems that a 25% margin works out pretty good. You can assume that this is a base level when the merchant deals with other merchants -- PC merchants alter their margin by (EL-5) [assume -10 for non-merchants]. To determine his gross profits divide his pre-tax cash by his margin. Thus, a merchant with a 30% margin divides his pre-tax cash figured in (A) above by 0.3. For the average merchant, this comes to 21/(0.25), or about 84CC per week.
  3. We now have a weekly value, and now we have to determine what he is peddling and how fast he is doing it to generate that revenue. How you go about this depends on what you know. If he is selling wooden goods with an average value of 1-10CC each (5CC average), he is selling about 5 of these items per day (5CC, x5 per day, x3.5 selling days per week equals 87.5CC. This gives him a 0.7CC (7BB) extra per week. Not a hell of a lot, mind you, but it does add up a bit. Since we would like a station 1 merchant to have a little extra cash, make it 6 items per day. This produces an excess of 4CC per week. Having a skill of 8 (3 over the average supplier) provides an excess of 6.3CC a week.

6 items a day does seem a bit low -- if the profit margin is bumped down to 20% he needs to sell about 8 items per day. At 15% it becomes about 10 items a day. How many a day is "realistic"? I'm not even bothering to consider market saturation (but could simulated it by tweaking down their sales per day after a while on the fly.

Burton Choinski