Venturer Questions

I’ve finally handed off ownership of my campaign, because the urge to play ACKS finally overwhelmed me. I rolled a character with an exceptional charisma, so the venturer class naturally appealed, not to mention that it seemed like the most ACKSy class of the lot. (I mean, in what other system would a merchant-centric class be anything but a joke?)

There are just a few things I’m unclear on. Can Venturers cast ritual spells? On one hand, it seems odd to give them 6th level spells but not 4th, but on the other hand, the “Casting Ritual Spells” entry in the corebook says that any arcane caster who hits 11th level can do it.

How does a Venturer’s guild work? It says it works as a thieves guild except as noted, but I don’t actually see any notes. Since you’re not using thieves, are you just relying on your venturers to carouse? I guess if they hear noise as thieves they’re making fairly safe money, but it seems kinda underwhelming.

Or is the implication that they just START with some venturers to give a safe base, and can expand by hiring thieves? Can the low-level venturers be used for anything more interesting than insider trading rumors? I know that if they’re hired for caravans, they’re earning XP only for themselves (Although I suppose mercantile gold would still be solid.)

IANAA, but I think Venturers with the right proficiencies can undertake some of the other hijinks. For example… Smuggling seems like a particularly Venturer-esque thing to do.

IAANAA, but:

  • Venturers do not gain the ability to cast ritual spells. As they start out as 1st level mages at 8th, they’re the equivalent of a 7th level mage at 14th. At 12th (5th level mage) they do get the research spells/scrolls/potions ability.

  • I believe the “except as noted” refers to the earlier text where they get venturers as apprentices rather than thieves. And yes, they’d need to hire on syndicate members with the right skills to be able to run all types of hijinks.

That being said…my looking into a Pirate Stronghold has morphed into a requirement to break down the trade rules into something a little more chunkable. How long before you hit the point where you’re wanting to establish a stronghold?

I’ve got this idea where instead of having the full thieves’ hideout that the Venturer would establish a Company, and would establish Branches rather than sub-syndicates in other markets, and by doing so, would gain themselves a Monopoly on some percentage of the trade between those markets.

Sadly I don’t have a player currently willing to try out the Venturer…but, I’d love to whip something up that could be opined on. I’m at the point now where I’m going to write something up demonstrating my idea on Dwimmermount’s trade routes, though it may still be a few weeks.

It’ll probably be at least two or three sessions before my character is ready to do stronghold stuff, and maybe as many as six or seven sessions, and we run two games a month, so… early April is a reasonable guess?

I’d love to playtest a more interesting Venturer hideout, and the new GM is famously accepting of homebrew.

Your comment about partial monopolies sounds exactly what I’d EXPECT a Venturer to have; some kind of “Business Hijinks” so that those low-level Venturers have something to do.

I might allow Venturers (and Venturers only) to gain XP from caravans run by their NPC syndicate members. It didn’t occur to me when I structured the class with a Syndicate that caravan activity wouldn’t generate XP.

Ah. That would make a lot of sense then, to have caravan revenue generating XP and to control a web of caravans using the same organizational structure as thieves.

That’s essentially where I’m going with it.

→ Venturer pays some small stronghold cost to have an “Company”. (may or may not impose Warehouse costs)
→ Remainder of “stronghold costs” are actually the startup costs for the various types of merchants on the MS&C table.

There’s an ongoing ‘stronghold upkeep’ for the above, fixing up your ships and wagons and such from wear and tear.

Then, for any give trade route going out of the market where the Venturer established his Company, the Venturer’s apprentices can be assigned a Business Hijink based on Hear Noise, their roll indicating success, and an amount of income based on the MS&C values, or various forms of hilarious failure if the roll is low, building off the Crime & Punishment rules. Things like loss of ship and life, theft of cargo reducing profits, capture and ransom of your merchants.

If the Venturer establishes a Branch at the other end of that trade route, he’s captured that trade, and gets a 15% bonus to the MS&C profit values (as stated elsewhere by Alex as a decent value for an established monopoly)

What I’m trying to see if I can figure out is volume of trade - we kind of care about where things are going, since we’re establishing cross-market strongholds.

Alex has stated elsewhere that a minimum Class I moves around 900K stone in trade. I’m attempting to see, say, for a given Class I, which has trade routes to two Class IIs and three other Class Is, and a single Class V, how much trade in stone goes where?

So if there’s 90K stone moving in between some random Class II and Class I market, I know the Venturer can capture that trade with 3 Large Sailing Ships.

If his stronghold (Office/Branch) values are large enough at each end, he can monopolize all of that trade with those 3 merchant Large Ship caravans.

Additionally, if I know our Venturer has 30K of that, and he or she wants the other 60K, then if I think the stakes are big enough, that’s asking me to generate NPC venturers that our PC Venturer will have to go against to steal that route from them, building off the Change In Management thought for criminal guilds.

And we can either make that a full-fledged adventure encounter, or in the small, dinky markets at the bottom rungs of the Venturer’s Company, some sort of die-resolved roll for the month.

It may end up being too complicated to set up and keep track of. I may back off from wanting to know a volume of trade between two markets, if I can’t get anything to pop out to me as ‘correct’.

But, looking at the sorts of shenanigans the East India Company got up to, for example, makes me feel it might be a valid stronghold type, in that it’s a type that generates trouble for the owner. Even if it’s in a somewhat simplified form.

I think it would be incredibly awesome if a set of rules existed that could allow players to experience the rivalry between, for example, the British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company.

That’s my contribution to this topic.

This is why we need an ACKS equivalent of Dragon magazine, as a place to house all of this forum’s fantastic rules supplements.

Heck… just do it as a POD quarterly. I’m sure there’s ALREADY enough info on the boards so far to keep it going and reasonably sized for the value for a few years.

In other words… TAKE MY FILTHY MONEY!!!

We’ve all flirted back and forth on the idea in a few different threads, even going as far as to start collecting a “best of” thread.

I’d say it’s all sitting there ripe for the picking, but I really don’t want to tempt you off the currently expected 2015 products :slight_smile:

Maybe 2016 can be the year of Unearthed ACKScana!

Please actually call it that

I got bored.

Okay let’s do pretendsies mercantile adventure: I want to buy all of Redgate’s salt and sell it. We’ll say, for the sake of argument, that Redgate has a -2 Salt modifier and Riverfall has a +0.

We’ll also say for the sake of argument that I’m familiar with both markets so my bonuses apply.

Note:Salt has a base price of 100 gp per Load, each Load being 80 stone.

First, I pay the market toll of 1d3- I roll a 3! Damn.

Now I know that are 1d4-1 merchants; I roll a 3! That means there are two merchants. I roll to see what the first one sells-

17! He’s a salt merchant. Well I’ll be damned. Roll 1d4- 4! He has 4 loads of salt (That’s 320 stone. Over a ton of salt!)

Since he’s a salt merchant, he’ll buy and sell salt by default. I roll 4d4 and get… 1, 2, 1, 2: 6! I then subtract 2 for the demand modifier, since Redgate exports salt, for 4. I then subtract another one for my bargaining. 3! 3 times 10 means he’s selling salt at 30% base price.

Holy shit, this is a fortunate first run. I should’ve waited to do this ingame.

So I buy his 4 loads at 30 gp each, having spent 120 gp. I then wait a week for a second merchant.

He’s a… 47… common metal merchant! This must be one of Hematite’s friends. I ask him what his metals are going for. I roll 4d4 and get 15!

By the Seeker, dude is selling metal at 150% of base price. I don’t know Redgate’s metal demand modifier, but even if the demand modifier were -3, he’d still be selling at 120%. This is crazy. I don’t want that!

I ask him if he’d like to sell me salt. Reaction roll! I roll a 5, +3 for my CHA, for a total of 8. In order to succeed, I need a 9, plus or minus the demand modifier, so in this case, since salt is cheap around here, the -2 works in my favor, and I only needed a 7. He’s willing!

I roll 1d4. He has two loads of salt he could be persuaded to mess with. Unfortunately, the little goblinoid swine has bargaining! WE BARGAIN OFF!

I roll 2d6+5! 5+3 for 8 total, because these dice hate me. He rolls a 7 because he is average and boring. I win! Thank the Divines for my enormous face that gives +3 charisma.

I buy two more loads of salt at 30 gp each; I now have six loads and I’m down 180 gold. I also need to haul 480 stone of salt. I’ll assume Magnar and co let me borrow their wagons as a sign of goodwill.

I then mosey on down to riverfall. Since riverfall is more than 4 hexes away, there’s no trade route connecting them (villages default to a 4 hex trade radius), so the salt market won’t have stablized yet and prices might still be high there.

I pay a 6 gp toll (189 gp total expenses) and enter. I pretend it’s class 3 even though it’s class 4; I roll 2d4 and find that there are 4 merchants hanging around. Two show up on day one.

I roll to see what they want: 94 and 39. 94 is precious! There’s a fur trader and a… MONSTER PART GUY!

I ask the monster part guy what he’s selling, and for how much. He wants 120% of base price so he can die in a fire. Since this conversation has increased my salt, I ask if he wants some. I roll very well! 14 total! He will buy salt. Specifically, 3d4 loads: 5!

How much will he buy it for though? I roll 4d4… BY ALL MY STARS AND GARTERS, 14! The monster part guy has bargaining though, so we roll off… I get a 13, I am unstoppable with these dice! He will buy salt for 150 percent of its base value.

I sell him 5 loads of salt for 150 gp each, 750 total. I then swivel to the fur trader, drunk on victory. “FURS. HOW MUCH?” He is selling them at exactly base price. Eat poop and die, fair trade! I ONLY BUY LOW, ONLY SELL HIGH.

I roll another 5 on my reaction roll to convince him to buy salt though; cha boosts that to 8. My mania has offended him, and he will not do business with me. Bastard!

I wait another week. Another merchant appears! 38! Another fur trader. Hopefully this one is not lying scum like his friend. He agrees to trade in salt with me! I sell him my last load for 150.

I walk away with 900 coins in my purse! I turned 189 gp into 900. That’s 711 profit for a little over a month’s work. Not really a good end sum; 711’s barely a day’s work. On the other hand, I got a little under 5 times my original investment. That suggests that I could’ve spent 4k and walked away with almost 20, if I’d just bought more salt to start with and sold more. That seems pretty rad!

Also, is it just me, or could I have theoretically purchased one fur trader’s entire load of furs at 90% of base cost thanks to bargaining, and then sold it to the other fur trader for 110% of base cost thanks to bargaining, yielding me a 20% profit per load simply for hauling them across the street?

“Also, is it just me, or could I have theoretically purchased one fur trader’s entire load of furs at 90% of base cost thanks to bargaining, and then sold it to the other fur trader for 110% of base cost thanks to bargaining, yielding me a 20% profit per load simply for hauling them across the street?”

For the sake of not turning all the economists into gibbering wrecks, I would argue that #6 under Mercantile Ventures (page 144) should be interpreted strictly - you must travel to a new market to sell. Otherwise, you get into an unfettered arbitrage situation and…Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!


Also, you need to pay another 3 gp for labor to load the salt, per #5 (1 gp per 200 stone or portion thereof for loading goods). There’s also the 2d10% customs duty when you sell the goods, unless you’re smuggling. Note that it’s 2d10% of the sale price, not the purchase price or base price. Assuming an average roll of 11%, that’ll reduce your 900 gp to 801, so your total expenses will be 189 + 3 (labor) + 99 (customs duty), for a total of 291 gp, and a profit of 609.

Well caught!

Re: Unrestrained arbitrage: Well, you’d actually be restrained by the amount the merchants were willing to buy/sell, and you’d have to pick the lower number, so it’s unlikely you’d ever actually get more than a handful of gold out of it. Congrats, you sold 10 loads of furs for a 20 gp profit each! 200 gp! That also assumes you can out-bargain both merchants.

That said, you’re probably right that inner-city trading is silly.

Additional question: One of the other PCs has raised the question of having my Venturer sell trade goods the party already has. What happens if a PC comes to me and says “Hey, while I was hex clearing I found this sack of diamonds worth 10k. Do you wanna look around, try to sell it more, and then we’ll split anything over 10k fifty-fifty?”

Like, can I treat that as a mercantile venture? If XP is equal to profit, how is that determined when I didn’t really “buy” the emeralds?

No risk was assumed if you didn’t buy it. Therefore, no XP is gained.

This is alluded to in the book; page 136 ACKS core.

Oh, that does make sense.

Although this does lead to an interesting conundrum.

Adventurer A claims 10k of diamonds as their share of the loot from an adventure. They sell it to Venturer B (in the same party) for 10k gp and a 50/50 split of any proceeds over 10k. Now that the the Venturer has assumed risk, would they gain XP, even though the risk is intraparty sales?

This is really more about the greater question; whether or not it is possible to gain XP based off transactions between other PCs.

Personally, my blanket ruling is no; I would not allow a PC to gain XP off any sort of transaction with another PC.

(In the case of the diamonds, note that I award XP for recovering treasure and bringing it back to town safely, not necessarily for how much money you have at the end of it. So the PC whose share of loot was 10k GP worth of diamonds would still get the XP for bringing it back to town. However, he would not get any additional XP for selling it to the venturer.)

Overall, the answer to this particular question will depend on where you come down on the question of transactions with other PCs. My goal is for the PCs to think of themselves as a team, or a single business entity, and so moving money around within the party doesn’t do anything no matter what shenanigans you’ve come up with.