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Less intricate method of purchases and acquisitions

Introduction

tldr.txt

This less intricate method of purchases and acquisitions, or Limpa for short, stays out of your way until you need it.

You don’t need to do anything on a monthly basis or before campaign starts.

You only need a price list for bulk goods with prices per pounds, suitable for your campaign.

One such list is provided with Limpa.

The list should be a global “base” price list, without any specific, local variations applied.

You need a place to take notes and record things for every city. A paper notebook, a wiki, index cards… The records can start out blank. You don’t need to upkeep them on a monthly basis, just be able to refer back to them if there are further transactions in the same city. You might need a calculator; there’s nothing fancy but multiplications like “14 × 260” can come up.

You also need to keep track of what day it is in the game.

You don’t need to read Limpa from start to finish, just jump to the questions you want answered. Some answers will raise further questions, in which case just jump to them.

Working with pre-existing prep

Pre-existing prep means prep that existed before campaign start (whether homebrew or a purchased module), or prep that existed before you started using Limpa, if that was in an already running campaign.

The symbol Δ means that if you have pre-existing prep, please follow the instructions after the Δ to match.

You can also come up with your own Δ principles ahead of time, like “This region doesn’t have any coffee. If a coffee result is rolled, I’m going to treat that as if I had rolled beer.”

An Δ isn’t meant as an opportunity for you to use your own whim on the fly—”hmm, I feel like this it would be fun if this place would have more merchants than normal”. It’s only for compatibility with pre-existing, pre-committed prep. Otherwise, please just use Limpa’s default.

Prep and Limpa both serve the same purpose: to give answers. Limpa is designed to work with your prep, not fight it, but, it can’t work if you are second guessing it with your own on-the-fly whim. This is a core rule. Changing it is a hack or house rule, and you’re no longer using Limpa as intended. Hopefully you can still find things in it to inspire you.

What does “population class” mean?

The world’s capital is 7, each region’s biggest city is 6, most cities are 5, most villages are 4, castles and strongholds are 3, and tiny hamlets are 2.

Δ
The population class is the number of digits in the population of a city. So a city where 15260 people live, the population class is five.
Δ
Bump the population class up or down by 1 for regions explicitly described as trade hubs or as unusually inactive.

Please record the population class number for cities as you go, so you don’t have to figure it out anew every time.

How much does each merchant want to buy or sell?

The “ceiling factor” is the population class multiplied by itself, and then that by ten. For example 250 for a population class 5 city. Please record it for cities as you go so you don’t have to recalculate it.

Each merchant want to buy and sell only up to a 2d6×the local ceiling factor GP per transaction. Please make separate 2d6 rolls for each transaction.

For example, Sharwin, an NPC merchant in a population class 5 city where gp are dinars, might want to sell salt for up to 2d6×250 = 2500 dinars (if you rolled 10) and she wants to buy grain for up to 2d6×250 = 2250 dinars (if you rolled 9).

Merchants are OK with buying and selling less than their ceilings, it’s just a maximum they want to deal with per transaction.

What does “broker points” mean?

DM, you don’t need to know about the broker point stuff in advance. It’s not part of required prep. Just keep track of it from when it becomes necessary (i.e. when the players are looking for passengers, goods etc), and onwards.♥

The player character’s broker points is different for each merchant so keep records. It’s a measure of the relationship.

If the party is a whole is involved with this business venture, they use their “face” character’s stats.

If you are using 3e/4e/5e style ability modifers, use the lowest of int mod and cha mod. Proficiency or a suitable background adds one to this, not the full proficiency bonus.

If you are using B/X / OSR style modifiers, use the highest of int mod, cha mod, or any suitable background, proficiency or skill.

Suitable numbers are from between -1 to +1 typically, with the occasional outlier.

(Record this number for the player as a starting point for all relationships.)

Then, they can earn more by doing favors to the particular merchant, or to the merchant’s faction or city.

This is a good way to connect adventures with trading.

There’s a cap of +5 broker points.

What does “friction” mean?

Friction is normally two.

Δ
If a town is specifically described a trading hub, it can be one. If there is trouble, bureaucracy, local killing sprees etc, it can be higher. The friction will decrease when that trouble is resolved.

What is a bag?

A bag, a.k.a. a sack, is a miserable pile of 30 pounds. Two stones if you’re using stone encumbrance.

Some things are better described as being shipped in crates or barrels, or rolls. But that’s fine. Use tiny crates, and smaller-than-normal barrels, to keep the same two-stone encumbrance.

Each roll of cloth, you also can think of as one bag; each square yard is a “pound” (not literally, just for the purposes of each and every single one of the formula and rules in Limpa).

Crate = barrel = bag = roll. Keep it simple.

How much does each bag cost?

First, find out the local friction (default 2), and the broker points (default in 5e the lowest of the player character’s int and cha mods, for B/X style games c.f broker points above).

When the characters are trying to buy or sell something that no local merchant has requested, add four to friction.

When selling, friction is negative, and when buying, friction is positive.

For selling, roll 8d6 minus friction plus broker points. For buying, roll 8d6 plus friction minus broker points.

Δ
If some goods are explicitly mentioned in your prep as locally produced, or especially desired, add two or subtract two to the roll. This is regardless of if whether it’s buying or selling — local goods are cheaper to deal with both selling and buying.

Please be mindful to have all these mods figured out before these 8d6 hit the table. The fireball of shopping♥

That’s the number you multiply with the pound cost in your price list to find out each bag costs.

DMs, you might want to roll this secretly, otherwise the players will be tipped off that the character is getting an amazing deal. There are some ways to roll secretly but still accountably. Rolling under a cup, or dice cards, and revealing them after the transaction is final is a way. Online, you can PM them to a player who promises to stay out of the decision process.

Otherwise, one idea is to roll prices for the merchants own solicited offers secretly (but don’t fudge them), while openly rolling the prices with extra four friction for when the character wants to sell or buy something unsolicited.

Buying and selling personal gear

For each equipment item valued one gp or lower, each merchant has a bag full them. So fewer of big items but up to thirty of small things like torches.

For each non-magical equipment item valued 100 gp or more, every fourth merchant will have one.

For items in between those two price thresholds, every merchant will have one.

Healing potions and alchemists fire are as easily available as if they weren’t magical items.

Δ
Prep can override this, but if prep doesn’t provide a limit on how many items there are, use the suggested defaults here.

Merchants leave on the 28th of each month and return on the following 1st with refreshed supplies.

Optional: roll 1d20 for each merchant and record it as the day (instead of the 1st) that that particular merchant likes to return with fresh supplies, and they leave three days earlier. Don’t bother with this unless each merchant’s li’l refresh journey becomes focus of the party’s shenanigans & highway robbery. It’s strictly extra detail for when you absolutely need it.

How many merchants are here?

Roll 1d6, add population class, subtract five, and note that number. (A negative means zero.) Half of that number rounded up are here when the characters first arrive.

Use commoner stats for them. Feel free to roll up names, traits, even quests for them.

Δ
Specific merchant citizens listed in your prep do count among these, and they might have different stats, as listed.

Each merchant wants to buy something and sell something; make one roll on the price list for each (as needed), and they also have an upper limit on each transaction.

If the player characters hang around longer in the same city

The number you noted before halving is the total amount of merchants active. The second week, half of the remainder (rounded up) arrive, and then similarly on the third or fourth week.

Examples:

On the fifth, thirteenth, eighteenth week etc reroll but subtract 1. (It’s not cumulative—it’s -1 on week 5, and on week 13, etc, not a bigger and bigger subtraction.)

However, as these new people arrive, old people leave at a similar rate.

Optionally, instead of replacing the people, replace the deals they are offering instead.

In big cities

In big cities you don’t have to have merchants physically leave and arrive. It’s more that the players and their characters become familiar with more merchants as they spend time there. When using this option, don’t replace the people, just add more as long as there is physical space for them, addresses and such. Also, with this option, the “clock” only increases those weeks when the character are actively looking for more merchants to become familiar with.

If the players leave

This incrementing is only when the players are hanging around in the same place. If they leave, “time freezes.” (Well, the merchants that they already know about are still trying to get their goods sold, and they aren’t making any effort to get to know new ones, is what’s happening diegetically.)

But if they are gone for a month or more, just start over.

I quickly just want to see the WTS/WTB here!

Roll 1d6, add population class, subtract five, record that number. (Negative becomes zero in which case nothing is available to buy here.)

Halve it rounded up.

Roll that many times on the price list to see what people wanna sell. And as many times again to see what people wanna buy.

You can try to buy or sell unsolicited things. It adds a 4 to friction, as described under How much does each bag cost?.

Looking for spellcasting services

Max spell level available is population class, and one spell of that level is available daily. It doesn’t save up, each day you can start fresh.

Amount of lower-level spells available every day is what one caster that could cast one spell of that highest level daily could cast.

You can divide these spell castings up among different NPC casters as you wish.

The price is spell level squared times 20 for divine spells, or times 200 for arcane spells. Components cost extra.

Actively looking for passengers

If the players have a next destination set and are looking for passengers to go there, it’s this many:

1d6 + population classses of both current city and destination + broker points - 10.

Specific destination

There is a one in twenty chance that 1d6 people travelling together as one group wants to go to a specific destination. They want to go to the furthest port within 2d20×100 miles.

Δ
Prepping another way of rolling random destinations can save time at the table later.

If the player characters agree, then set that as the destination and also roll on the above table to see if anyone else is interested to join in.

Travel Fees

Food is not included in either of the two price structures here. The passengers need to pay for that in addition, or bring their own food.

For just hopping on if you’re going to that destination anyway, it 20 gp per 500 miles and passenger.

For chartering a ship for a custom destination, as long as the ship is carrying no cargo, the price per 500 miles (in this case shared among all passengers) is 1 gp per bag the ship is capable of transporting.

How many bags can we carry?

Two stone is one bag.
Three tons is 200 bags.
A hundred tons is around 6667 bags.

For wagons, double the animals’ carrying capacity but subtract the weight of the wagon itself.

Looking for cargo transports

Make a DC 16 check using your local broker points as the modifier to see if anyone wants to charter the ship to ship cargo to a specific destination.

The fee is not related to the cargo, it’s as above, 1 gp per bag the ship is capable of transporting for every 500 miles.

To know what they want to transport, roll the cargo type as if you were rolling up a merchant, and roll a ceiling for them to know how much. Many customers do not like to divulge what they are transporting, but the can DM roll it up, in case the player characters snoop around in there or if they want to know how much unfilled cargo space there is so they can fill it up with some cargo of their own.

Price list

Δ
You can use other goods list or price lists that suit your campaign better, this is just a default.

If you roll doubles, look on precious merchandize table.

d12+d20 Type Cost per LB
3 Wheat 1 cp
4 Flour 2 cp
5 Salt 5 cp
6 Iron 1 sp
7 Canvas 1 sp
8 Cotton cloth 5 sp
9 Ginger 1 gp
10 Cinnamon or pepper 2 gp
11 Cloves 3 gp
12 Linen 5 gp
13 Rope, 1 feet 2 cp
14 Precious wood 6 sp
15 Common wood 7 cp
16 Oil 1 sp
17 Salted fish 2 sp
18 Hides 4 sp
19 Pottery 2 gp
20 Dye & pigments 1 gp
21 Glassware 4 gp
22 Butter 2 sp
23 Coconuts 1 sp
24 Coarse sugar 1 gp
25 Dates 2 sp
26 Honeycombs 1 gp
27 Nuts 1 gp
28 Olives 8 sp
29 Raisins 2 sp
30 Rice 1 sp
31 Tanned skins 1 sp
32 Wine 2 cp

Precious merchandize (doubles)

The merchant’s ceilings are five times higher when dealing with precious merchandize.

Roll Type Cost
1 Orichalcum 1 gp
2 Find Familiar spell components 10 gp
3 Teleportation Circle spell components 50 gp
4 Porcelain 10 gp
5 Rare books 30 gp
6 Silk 10 gp
7 Saffron 15 gp
8 Potion of healing 50 gp
9 Ruby* 17 gp
10 Adamantine* 17 gp
11 Agate* 33 gp
12 Diamonds* 17 gp

No asterisk: listed price is per pound, and a bag is 30 pounds.
One asterisk: listed price is one thirtieth of a tiny little item. They’re just that precious.

Animals

Type Cost
Chicken 2 cp
Goat 1 gp
Sheep 2 gp
Pig 3 gp
Cow 10 gp
Ox 15 gp
Camel 50 gp
Donkey or mule 8 gp
Elephant 200 gp
Draft horse 50 gp
Riding horse 75 gp
Mastiff 25 gp
Pony 30 gp
Warhorse 400 gp
Monsters, various kinds ??? gp

Animals won’t get rolled up accidentally, but in case you wonder about their pricing, here they are. Roll on the 30 thing as usual for 30 and then divide if you need to. Yeah, I know…

Appendix

Space games

Limpa uses “pounds” and “bags” — a bag is 30 pounds. For space games, feel free to use bigger units. You don’t go across space for just a couple of bags.

Making scripts and apps

If you make a script, spreadsheet, or app to use this economy to print out random selling or buying offers, here are some things I encourage you to do that are easy to do in an app but difficult to do at the table.

For example, please print

Sharwin wants to sell nine rolls of cotton cloth for 720 silver, or for 80 silver for each roll.

instead of what this tabletop version of Limpa provides you, which is more like

Sharwin wants to sell bags of cotton cloth for 80 silver per bag. She doesn’t want to sell for more than 750 silver.

It’s a compromise to make this system easier to use at the table.

Inspiration

Limpa is copyright 2020 Idiomdrottning and you can use it under your choice of CC-BY-SA 4.0, GPL 3.0 or later, or the OGL.

For a git repo, which includes this text in markdown format, please clone https://idiomdrottning.org/limpa

Limpa is inspired by, unaffiliated with, and technically and legally distinct from two wonderful non–open-licensed games. GAZ9 The Minrothad Guilds by Deborah Christian and Kimber Eastland, and Suns of Gold by Kevin Crawford. Their trademarks used without permission.

Those games are great compliments to Limpa if you want more trading shenanigans. Suns of Gold in particular has systems to establish holdings that help you do better deals, to have trouble that adds time instead of just friction to deals, to create adventures to resolve trouble or to establish the aforementioned holdings etc. Fun fun fun♥