Becoming a (good) trader

Most things in larp are understandable for me, and yet trading games remain an alien language to me. I suspect that some others feel the same.
So, how does one become a (successful) trader? Not everyone can con a Bourse seat holder so what is your game like?

This game is all hard skill. You can use the same skills as RL negotiators, stock traders, and business professionals. So I’d say research sources that teach how to make good deals and how to network well. Then get out on the field, meet people, find out what’s in demand, and start buying and selling commodities.

I tried having a go at this, and found that yes, it’s mostly the hard skills.

A lot of footwork, building up contacts, talking to folk finding out who has what to sell at what, raising funds, making contracts…

…there are no character skills for this.

A few things you could do:

Find a group willing to bankroll you to an extent.

Make a few things and sell them at the public auctions.

If nothing else, find the “trader” for your group (Seneschals, Stewards, Brokers, depending on nation) and ask them how they work. Or do it yourself.

Oh, and the IC newspapers often print the prices of the materials, possibly slightly biased, as a useful guideline.

An important note (supplied by my wife in passing) is to know what you want out of it. Are you doing it for your own entertainment (ALL the little tokens), for the benefit of your group (“I have bargained hard and got us these magic weapons…”), for the reknown of yourself or your nation (“You want some of that? Go to Michael of X…”), or for another reason.

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Tbh contacts are nice but really its a case of walking around talking to people, find the ones who just want quick cash and go sell their stuff to the desperate and wealthy

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Another quick note; learn the currency; at my first event, I got swindled by a fast-talking Navarr. She must have been all of ten, but saw an easy mark and pounced. I forgot that it is twenty rings to a crown instead of ten, allowing her to pay me a little over half what my goods were worth.

In fact, as a secondary thing; never trade with kids. The kids in Empire are ruthless, driven and smart. My own daughter will empty your coin-purse faster than you can ask ‘what flavour cookies?’

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Of course, if you keep your wits, you can make a lot of cash OFF the kids… the amount of money I got selling Gingerbread Druj to small Wintermarkers…

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I have experienced this! My kids took my money for sweets and the like.
They made their money back though selling their birthday cake that was a bit big… Now they have more money than me!

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Read the inherent political resource biases and then use the run-off. The Marchers get votes for farms which produce money, but presumably have the same mined-resource requirements as everyone else. So find out which nation gets votes for mines…

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The trading game can be quite ruthless. I had several people laugh in my face and jeer me out of their camps for wanting 2 rings “over the going price”. Keep at it and a stiff upper lip. It also helps if you can spook them into a respectable first impression.

“The going price” doesnt really exists (as frustratingly unhelpful as that is). Everyone will have a good reason why your wrong and they’re right and your lucky to only be losing as much as you are. (“Those newsletters are untrustworthy, no one in thier right mind would pay what your asking”. “The Bourse auction prices are wrong, they purposefully over bid to inflate the percieved value of the goods”. Ect)
Its a bit like pricing in the real world. It doesnt matter how much something is worth, it matters how much you can get away with.

Always make a profit. Its not worth the time to reacquire a lost coin or resources just to make a trade. Other traders will understand your need to make profit when you turn them down.

Regarding kids, i just scream incoherently until they leave. This only works with a suitable edgy backstory/being Varushkan.

I know i may sound discouraging, but its better to know about these things beforehand so your prepared (i wish i had know personally, all of these are from hard won experience). Once you hit your stride though, and find an angle that works for you it more than makes up for the hard bits.

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One thing I discovered is that there are really two, maybe three, different trading games. You have the personal-level trading versus the wholesale-level trading and you have the special Bourse-resource market.

As a newbie, you will start with a personal resource; it should be about 9 crowns-worth of stuff or just 9 crowns in cash; and about 18 rings for pocket-money. It takes a few people putting their cash or resources together to do any real trading. Essentially, you can make a small profit buying and selling in-demand items; it’s not much, but it’s profit.

When you have some more money or pool your cash, you can buy large quantities of resources from the public auction and then sell them on to people who only need a smaller amount. If you buy 100 mana crystals, you might sell those to five covens of ritual magicians in bunches of 20. If there’s a big market for rituals, you can even sit down next to the regio and sell them to the ritual magicians as and when they need them. This is much more profitable per unit and you sell more units; very Prosperous and Prosperity is a virtue.

After that, you start buying the special Bourse resources (or buy a Bourse seat, which means you just get handed them every season) and those sell for a lot more; a basic ingredient like Orichalcum sold for 20r (a crown) last time I looked, while the cheapest Bourse resource (Weirwood) went for 580r (29x the price) each. At times, the prices of these go through the roof because White Granite is needed for building military resources.

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Id never rely on buying the public auction to make money, its mostly significantly more expensive than field trading no matter the quantity in my experience, its more useful for selling, or for folks who need things and dont want to field trade paying a small mark up for convenience, and thats before some of the mad bidding wars!

As you can see, I have never traded at that level; I will correct my post…

Speaking as a person who sells and buys a bunch of things for my own use, what else can you do for me? The broker I usually trade with gave me shelter when it was cold and a free cookie because they befriend new players, usually has something amusing going on around them, is near a weapons checker for convenience, is near one of the covens I deal with and where I’m likely to need mana in a rush, supports a cause I consider worthy and doesn’t cheat me. If you could facilitate an introduction to Senators or influential people, I’d also consider putting some business your way. Things like convenience count for a lot. You could try being a refill point for water.

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Good point, location can be crucial!

Be near the hub and able to give directions! Be where the paths diverge and people stop anyway!

I’m intending to be outside the Senate selling roasted corn…

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The Bourse Auction can be profitable, you just need to have a firm grip on how much you’ll willing to pay for anything and not bid any higher.

Also pay attention to the Trade Winds Winds of Fortune, https://www.profounddecisions.co.uk/empire-wiki/Large_but_far_away they help shape what happens in the downtime and then on the field the following game.

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If you’re staying in one place, rather than wandering, then have a blackboard! It can be hard, especially for new players, to just wander up to groups asking if anyone is trading. If you have a blackboard or some kind of sign outside your tent, even if it just says “trading post” or something non-specific, it can make it easier for people to approach you.

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There are two ways to go about it -
Stay where you are or Walk around.

If you go with option 1 - Best to have a group behind you. Have an in-character Tent, and spend the majority of your time there. As Triska says, set up a blackboard and be welcoming.

Option 2 - As the other say. Visit camps, talk to people. Find out what big projects are happening and what materials are in demand. Buy from one, sell to another.

In preparation - Know how the money works. It’s fine to stay in rings. If you are selling 5 things for 11 rings, it’s fine to say ‘55 Rings’, then figure out that its 2 crowns 15 when you are actually working out moneys.
It might seem weird that is 20rings to a crown, but on the field it is easier as there are 5ring coins, so 4 of those are a crown.
Have a think about your downtime resource. Might be tempting to go ‘Business’ straight away for the cash, but sometimes you can make a little more money from having a resource plus there may be some game-wide situations where your resource produces more.
Don’t ever set out to double your money straight away. Chances are you’ll buy at a price, then sell for 1 or 2 rings more. Doesn’t seem like much, but as the game progresses, you could be shifting 20 or 30 at time in a single transaction, and thats an easy crown or two.

There is a newsletter that circulates with ‘current prices’ on it, and I’ll let you find that on-field (Hint: Brass Coast) from a trader point of view, it’s totally wrong :stuck_out_tongue: BUT it’s an alright guide. Bear in mind, other people will be reading it and basing their prices on it.
Remember what you paid for stuff and know that you have a minimum ‘Need to sell at this price to make 1 ring per’. Write it down if you have to.

Now the other side of it. Be nice. Be personable. Listen, Smile. Be willing to negotiate. There are a couple of other traders that I don’t even bother talking to because I know that they have a price in their mind, and nothing will shift. On the other side, there are a few groups or traders that I will visit multiple times over an event. I’m even willing to lose out on a few rings if they need help, and I know they would (And sometimes have) done the same for me. Lookin’ at Triskas crew as one of those :wink:
It’d be a mistake if you set out to totally rip someone off. No-one wants to stop you making a few coins, but trying to scam someone while making change - Although technically you can physically do it, you can ruin your reputation in a single trade. And maybe even get stabbed.

If you want to hit the bourse stuff, you either need to be really good at the small trading, build up a decent group of people who are decent traders and/or combine resources with another group.
Having a seat is a large cost, high-yield investment and if you went it alone would take you a year to make a profit. Actually buying and selling the bourse resources can be a slow game. You could sit on a few wains for a couple of events and sell them to make 4 crowns. An ok trader can easily make that in an event, including buying a few drinks and stuff through their travels.

Information is also a resource aswell, but that requires trust and knowing what info people need and what it’s worth…

Skills - There aren’t too many that are actually needed, and remember that you don’t need spend all, or even any, of your points before going on the field. I knew a few traders that regret their skill choices, I know a couple that focused on survivability in case of random shanking and others (like me) that have a skillset that opens up another part of the game. y’know, to keep it interesting!

Anyway, Good luck :slight_smile:

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Thought you might have been! :stuck_out_tongue:

@Esqulax is right though - being friendly can sometimes be worth more than making a few rings profit. Which yes, isn’t to say you should let yourself be ripped off in order to make friends, just that once you have reliable traders that you get on with it can become a more interesting game; you have people you know you can go to should you need something in particular, who might be willing to do you a good turn, etc.

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…and who’ll feed you drinks when you visit :smiley:

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Oh oh oh, Another HUGE point, I can’t believe I missed it on my post -

Consider a scheme or plot to gain initial capital. Many people make cakes, sweets, brew beer etc and sell it for cold-hard cash.
It is OC stuff for IC money, which is fine - Even though it feels a little like cheating!
Gives you a decent excuse to go into camps to get to know people. If your food/drink is unique and delicious enough, you might even be known as ‘The person/group with that thing’. Like the Drunken Goose in Navaar have homemade Coffee Liqueur which is lovely. The dude in the Marches who sells hotdogs IC.
Stuff like that has the potential to raise seed-money really quickly, especially if you use your noggin and sell the right thing at the right time through the event.

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