Is this investment opportunity a scam?

My quest to be the ultimate dwarf has led me to construct warehouses to store ore and trade goods prior to their sale. However, a human aquaintence of mine recently approached me with a strange proposition to use them for something different.

He has, he explains, knowledge of two obscure magics that could make him fabulously rich - but also that his plan requires the use of my warehouses and financial resources to get started. I was immediately suspicious, of course - but when I investigated, I could find no obvious flaw in his plans.

The first magic is the ability to summon a djinni. He could research the relevant spell, he says, for a mere 6,000 gold pieces to cover his costs, assuming he succeeds on the first attempt; He would then be able to summon a djinni that obeys his orders without question for a full day each week. (There are rare and powerful magical rings that can do the same thing, he informs me, but they cost a great deal more and are exceedingly rare.)

The second magic is a power that all genies posess: Specifically, the ability to create up to ten stone of permanent soft goods, three times per day. A single use of this power, he says, is sufficient to create two and a half rolls of fine silk, or two bundles of rare ermine fur - in either case, a quantity of trade goods worth 1,000 gold pieces.

By using these two abilities in conjunction, he believes he could make create trade goods weghing 120 stone and worth 12,000 gp each month - which seems like an absurdly high return on investment.

My first thought was that he was mad, or at least misinformed - but after consuling certain sages, I was forced to admit his knowledge of both djinni powers and djinni-summoning spells seems to be correct. Worse, many tales specifically described djinn causing fine silks and other valuables to appear in the twinkling of an eye, and of those who controlled such djinni gaining wealth beyond measure in very short order.

Even so, this plan of his seems too good to be true. Please, Autarchs, tell me the flaw I've overlooked in this scheme!

My thoughts (not an Autarch):

Summon Djinni is a 6th level spell. An 11th level character has a GP threshold of 40,000.

This tells us that a 11th level character is expected to be able to make 40k gp/month, outside of looting, without even really exerting all that much effort, because they don’t even get a single XP from it until they crack 40k.

Given that, yeah, letting them make 12k/month by summoning djinni seems acceptable to me. He’s an 11th level mage, he could be doing a lot of things to make money, and if he were willing to assume some risk he could make much more than the 12k/month.

Honestly, I'm not concerned about the extra wealth breaking the game so much as I am about it apparently breaking the 33:1 investment ratio that a lot of ACKS investments use. According to my calculations, a ring of djinni calling costs 36,000 on the open market and pays for itself within three months - and is considerably more portable and easier to hide and protect than the equivilent value of land or slaves. Given that ACKS generally has a very sound economic model, it seems more likely that I've missed something.

I could easily solve the problem with a houserule (perhaps "the genie can create no more than 1000 gp worth of permanant valuable goods each month"), but if there's a solution already built into the game I'd prefer to use that.

This is not about economics, you are using magic to create/shape things. Its like building something with the various move earth/stone to mud spells.

I am not sure if these goods would even survive a dispel magic...

By the examples of create permanent goods (wood and rope) i will rule that you cant create high quality goods like silk. I will limit the power to soft common merchandise.


(Not an Autarch) By RAW I think the ability to create 12,000 gp worth of goods each month is valid with the method you described. Potentially, couldn't this be increased to 84,000 gp per month (or more) as an 11th level caster could cast this spell each day?

I would not grant any xp from the selling of said goods as he's not actually engaged in Arbitrage Trading. He's producing goods, but he's not engaged in any of the risks and troubles of actually trading these goods. Granting xp in this case would be like granting xp to a character (to borrow an AD&D magic item) who had Bucknard's Everfull Purse. Even if he transports the silk to another market this isn't actual arbitrage trading.

Then there's the matter of whether or not he can actually sell all of that silk. A single roll of silk has a base cost of 400 gp. In even a Class I market he could only sell 7 rolls each week for 2,800 gp.

There could be other unintended consequences as well. Such as existing silk merchants hiring assassins and nightblades to take the mage out. Or the Djinn, tired of such constant enslavement making an effort to do away with the mage. However, these aren't part of the mechanics of ACKS.

[quote="wmarshal"] There could be other unintended consequences as well. Such as existing silk merchants hiring assassins and nightblades to take the mage out. Or the Djinn, tired of such constant enslavement making an effort to do away with the mage. However, these aren't part of the mechanics of ACKS. [/quote]

Do they need to be part of the mechanics? This kind of thing is the reason there's a Judge. The players play their characters, and the Judge plays the world.

Also, props to GMJoe! I've popped in to every one of his threads because, by the titles, I thought they were spam.

There doesn't need to be, I agree, but the OP was asking if there was anything laid out in the rules to mitigate this scenario.

This is delightful! I don't see any issue with it. If an 11th level mage can't live a life of luxury and ease on the backs of his enslaved genie, what's the point of being an 11th level mage!

I would rule that the permanent goods can be dispelled by a dispel magic in the same way that a wall of stone can be dispelled. In that sense the goods are "counterfeit" and so they likely would not command the top value that genuine goods would. I imagine a mage would be more easily able to make his own surroundings bedecked with luxurious soft goods then he would be able to create an emporium of dispellable goods.

I agree that 36,000gp rings of djinni summoning are potentially problematic. My own solution has been to demand "fragments of the tablet of destiny" as the special component for various ritual spells and magic items that I think have setting-wide impact, such as rings of wishes, rings of djinni summoning, etc. "Fragments of the tablet" are arbitrarily rare special components (more or less the leftover detritus of the gods) that serve to keep the Auran Empire at a level of magic that I deem acceptable. If you're playing in a more high magic world, like a Forgotten Realms or Eberron, then this might not be a problem. 

Some final thoughts:

- In a low magic world, the 11th level mage will have more success in selling his goods, as there will be fewer casters around to cast dispel magic on the material, and people may not even think to do this. The 11th level mage will be wealthy from his djinni, but there will be very few 11th level mages around, and rings of djinni summong will be quite rate to boot.

- In a high magic world, a merchant's guild could retain a 5th level mage (or high level venturer) to cast dispel magic on the warehouse every day or so, in order to make sure they aren't being duped by magic. Major buyers might do the same.




I'm considering a house rule that "permament" objects created by spells become immune to Dispel Magic after they're in existance for a significant (a month? a year?) amount of time. It just seems weird to me that something could be kind of permament, but not really after a while. Someone playing the long game could process a lot of lumber from Walls of Wood for sale to a community he intended to attack after a few years, and then might be able to cause excessive havoc casting Dispel Magic on a fleet of enemy wooden ships. The entire ship doesn't have to be made from the lumber from the Walls of Wood. Just a few peices could cause serious problems to a ship. I don't think an economy could survive if they had to pay the overhead of constantly casting Dispel Magic on even common goods to make sure they're all genuine.

So this is a little bit off topic, but are there any unintended consequences if a GM allows "permament" items to become truly "permament" after some time that anyone can see?

I think that it would have a dramatic effect on the value of quarries and the cost of constructing stone structures. Domains at War has some discussion of the impact of Wall of Stone on construction cost if it's just used to create temporary molds for poured concrete and so on. If the stone itself were permanent then the impact would be vastly greater.



What would happen to the silk if it got used to make clothes, and then a Dispel Magic was cast on it? If only part of a clothing item was created using the magically created silk, and the rest with mundane silk, would only part of the clothing disappear or become thin? Seems like a pain to worry about.

However, that is a very good point about Walls of Stone impacting quarries and the building of strongholds. Maybe there's a point where I'll need to remind players that we're playing an adventure game, and not a full-on sim of an alternate reality with 100% consistency. Just 80% consistency.

I believe that selling magically generated buiding materials to a domain you intended to one day attack would be a truly brilliant strategem within your world's history - the first time it was carried out.  After that, I think certain countermeasures would become standard protocol amongst builders of ships and fortifications in a relative hurry.  Apart from simply casting Dispel Magic on the materials as a test, it seems quite likely that magically created materials have a certain uniformity to them that could be identified by a skilled eye (any engineer, carpenter, or mason of journeyman level or greater should be trained in recognizing such patterns).

If a Judge were inclined to rule that magically created materials attain true reality after a certain period of time, a year and a day is pretty traditional for such things.

a world like this has likely commodified magic to the point where a very localized, very limited version of dispel magic could be cast by 1st level mages, as well as a 1st level spell "Detect Conjured Permanent Goods" to be employed by warehouse employees.

Other possible solutions: 

1) The goods slowly turn permanent over the course of 20 years, starting with the most structually important parts. A dispelled piece of timber is indistinguishable from a rotted piece of timber. a dispelled silk dress looks like it was set upon by moths.

2) the goods, while permanet, decay substantially quicker than similar regular goods.  nobody would necessarily know you sold them imitation lumber or silk, but the product will mysteriously need replacing much sooner than any other similar piece. the odds of someone using/wearing materials just as you dispel them is substantially lower

3) This trick is well known to merchants and they fear the power of a high level mage deeply.  If a mage does not take great strides to hide this activity, the merchant guilds of the town will pool their resources and hire assassins to kill the mage and burn that particular formula, selling off the other formula to mages that promise to never attempt such research.  Some of the most successful mages leave a town rich just before the merchants guilds found out, and go to great lengths to not be found out in the next town they visit.


I would rule that the permanent goods can be dispelled by a dispel magic in the same way that a wall of stone can be dispelled.

[/quote] Well, I'm going to need to re-write one of my BECMI conversion ideas now. Probably a good thing, though, since this may drive me back to the writing table.

I don't think merchants/buyers et. al. need magic of their own to combat against magically created material subject to dispel magic.

In a world fraught with magic material prone to disappearing by simply being dispelled, merchants/buyers would naturally become quite wary and can simply require verification of the point of origin of any given material. This probably happens regardless I would imagine. After all, a ruler who wants to build a fleet of ships is probably going to arrange where the lumber is forested and would naturally become suspicious if lumber just appeared from no where.

Well, the djinni not rebelling is actually specified in both the spell and the magic item; I could declare the djinni rebells anyway, but I kow my players would distrust and avoid all summoning spells from then on, which is something I'd like to avoid. The assassins idea is a great one, though.

I'm not sure how I ended up with spam-themed thread titles, but I'm glad you like them.

I'll have to remember that assassins idea.

The summon djinni spell specifies in its description that it can't be cast more than once per week, which is why the once-a-week limitation exists. You could design a custom version of the spell that lacks that limit, but it'd push its level above sixth, making it a ritual spell. I guess you could add other limitations to the spell to compensate, though.

Absolutely! I've read all your threads because of it.

Oh, and I wasn't referring to the Genie rebelling, more to the idea of someone else taking umbrage and responding (e.g., Dispels, assassins, etc.).

Your approach of limiting the number of *rings of djinni summoning* that can be purchased or made seems like a good one; It allows players to engage in djinn-related shennannigans without utterly breaking the setting. Hmm, maybe the explanation could be that there's only so many djinn in the universe, and that the majority were magically bound into service by ancient sorcerers in the past - meaning that they must be freed before they are bound again...

Oh, and 'detect magic' is a first level spell, and generally available even in class VI markets - paying 5 gp every few weeks to detect magical goods seems like an entirely plausible precaution for merchants to take.

Thanks for the response!

EDIT: Whoops, this was supposed to be a reply to #12, Alex's comment.