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Thread: Trade Routes

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    Member Rond0017's Avatar
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    Trade Routes

    I have some of my own ideas, but I would love the hive-minds take on Trade Routes, and why it would be a bad thing to run trade routes from one province to another province within the same realm.

    Game Rules wise; a character can connect a trade route from a guild, to another guild, and all that needs to be different is terrain type. So a 3 province realm, with three different terrain types, could run three different trade routes all within it's own border. Which is tempting for a guilder because that's GB in their pocket, but I'm looking for reasons why it would be a bad thing.

    Thoughts?

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    It's bad only in a game mechanics way. It makes a guilder/ruler amazingly strong rather quickly. But this can lead to adventures and domain actions. As other rulers and guilders would do their best to break up such an economical advantage. Even temple/source holders could/would have reasons to do so.

    If you allow it, and I don't see why you wouldn't, just be ready for the players influx in cash. Have a plan ahead of time for this issue.

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    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    I would expect the landed regent / law holders to expect a cut, but in practice those are the most obvious trade routes for a guild holder to do.

    As noted the influx of cash will be noted and responded to by others so be ready with some ideas for responses.

    Best of luck.

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    I thought there used to be a game rule that the provinces also had to be separated by some distance -- at least 3 provinces apart.

    That makes sense, because in BR, provinces are small, geographically. Original game assumes 25-30 miles across, though I and some here have favored at least 50 miles scale.

    This matters because areas that are so close should be assumed to already be conducting diverse trade with each other, organically grown, among the commonfolk. Either peddlers or small time merchants, wagoneers, or just farmers moving their goods just a day or a few days' walk away, or a relay changing some hands in the process.

    In real world economics, that just makes sense. There can't be much price differential or competitive advantage in such a small area, because organic competition creates local commodity pricing. On the scale of trade routes among provinces representing the produce of many tense of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people, to register as a distinct "Trade Route" apart from that general commerce, you'd really need to go further abroad to find that difference in price, product, and comparative advantage upon which trade depends.

    So I think the 3 province distance rule, at a minimum, should be enforced. It also greatly encourages game play interaction and diplomacy, and meddling in each others' business.

    A "different realm" or even "different guild" rule would go further. Tax and regulation regimes and minor cultural/lifestyle differences among realms enhance differences between markets, and depending on what you're calling a "guild," if they are various meta-groupings of artisans, trade among the same artisans would be less worthwhile than different (and since real world guilds often set uniform prices and introduced similar regulation, trade from one guild in one city to another controlled by the same wouldn't net much of anything, except shifting inventories).

    There are other deficiencies of the Trade Route rules set.
    Are you wanting to consider altering the rules to improve them?

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    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    Page 59/60 of the rulebook say that the terrain types must be different, a road/river must link the two, a seaport can connect with any.

    If a law holder has higher law holding than the guild holding they can suppress the trade route a will, if the guild holding at either end is contested the trade route is neutralised, and that certain random events can suppress it.

    A 3 province rule sounds like a good idea, but I suspect that the terrain type is intended to do the same job - a port can export fish, plains land foodstuffs, forests wood, furs hills & mountains mining products and the like so a swamp next to a mountain could trade as they produce and require different products. It does however make sense that small scale trading would deal with the local variation so overall I would support a 3 province rule.

    I had in mind that in addition to different terrain, different races (or different human tribes) could trade but that was presumably a house rule.

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    Member Rond0017's Avatar
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    I totally understand that the GB will start piling up, but ending the game with the most gold gets you nothing.

    The other issue is that this character is a regent/guilder. So they run the country and the guilds. I'm trying to have the NPC regents in nearby realms try to press for trade routes into the realm. Hope is that they will spread the wealth instead of just gaming the rules for the GBs.

    I like the province distance idea, but I feel that would be unfair to throw in after-the-fact.

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    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    One option is to make it so that longer distance trade routes are more resilient, so you can do short trade routes but being less 'exotic' the trade route is more vulnerable to competition or whatnot.

    In practice though the old 'seaport to nowhere' rule worked so close provinces are ok. Do you use the ruleing that the GB created is spread between the 2 provinces, or entirely at the start end of the trade route?

    If you have the income at both ends then you halve the potential income of the system, but also have some diplomatic bonuses - a rival kingdom might well not wish to risk its trade income/incur the cost of rebuilding the routes by attacking you.

    Trading with your own provinces under the income spreading approach also denies anyone else a chance to trade with them which can be important with rare terrain, or where a particular type of good is required for some reason.

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    If retconning is not an option, AndrewTall's suggestion could work. Let close trade routes, and/or those controlled on both ends by the same regent, and/or those within the same realm, be more susceptible to disruption. Maybe higher incidences of Random Events that at least partially disrupt the route -- local squabbles, or anything that would impact supply and demand (and thus price and margin), being that there is so little difference locally to justify the high margin of income that minor fluctuations can have major impacts on profitability.

    Maybe the local suppliers and artisans feel continually squeezed to provide the trade route owners with those high margins, leaving little profit for themselves -- where they often think they'd be better off selling outside the organized structure to keep higher profits. Cut out the merchant middle man. This may have an impact on Loyalty/Attitude.

    So more vulnerable to interference, more vulnerable to random events, more vulnerable to negative Attitude shifts and black/gray market competition/smuggling. By contrast, greater distance/diversity creates greater profit and so greater durability of those margins.

    You could also increase incentives to have those more distant and diverse trade routes. Aside from less vulnerability/more durability the greater the distance, it could actually be easier (lower DC, lower cost) to set up more distant TRs.

    At the risk of too much cash, maybe the more distant trade routes get bonuses, ranging from:
    1. Instead of half guild level income, these get half Province Level income (unless you're already doing the latter)

    2. Bonus GB (to be shared across both ends) for adding distance or diversity, such as: +1GB for >3 Provinces distant AND different Realm, +1 different culture, +1 different guild.

    3. If that's too much GB, possibly grant a bonus 1RP for trade routes with these others, or a mixture -- prestige and influence gained by those more exotic routes and diplomatic agreements

    4. Bonuses to Rule Province and/or Rule Holding if you connect to more distant/diverse lands

    5. Extra GB income as automatic taxation bonus for the Province/Law holder for distant/diverse TRs (gives other regents a stake directly); say, .25 per level, or .25 for each province passed through, max 1/2 TR level

    6. Extra TR slots if you fill all other slots with exotic ones.

    Granting those above bonuses to GB/RP could have less imbalancing impact to Guilders and encourage more player interaction if they are actually spread out among all domains, giving everyone a stake. For example:

    A. Some of those extra GBs come as taxation/legal fees to Province/law holders

    B. Some prosperity comes to temples in the form of other tithes, rents on Temple lands and produce (which in medieval/renaissance times was considerable economic output on its own), and letting Temples influence (modify actions, contest, etc) TRs would reflect that, too, give them a stake, and reflect any preaching for or against wealth (possibly creating a dichotomy between money-friendly temples and suspicious ones, the Sarimie/WITs vs those that like to cast Honest Dealings)

    C. Even let Sources influence TRs, positively or negatively, reflecting the battling of nature vs. industry, or the sale of exotic natural goods

    Perhaps these could be put into a running game under the auspices of encouraging interaction. Bonuses usually go over well, if they have such a purpose.

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    Member Rond0017's Avatar
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    I've started to explore the bonus idea for longer trade routes, different guilds, different cultures, etc...

    I'm hoping the players bite on the idea and start to have more conversations with the different NPCs in the game to diversify their trade.

    In the meantime I have also had a few random events that have affected the existing trade routes.

    Thanks everyone for the great ideas!!

    Glad to see there are still some of us playing this old relic of a game!!

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    Late to the party but Rowan covered most of what I'd say.

    Having a party with money and RP isn't a bad thing and you should not only explore the cons, but the pros as well.

    Bonus GB (to be shared across both ends) for adding distance or diversity, such as: +1GB for >3 Provinces distant AND different Realm, +1 different culture, +1 different guild.
    I love this idea. However, you also have to understand that historically (as in medieval times not BR historically which can be completely different) it wasn't so uncommon for someone to grow up and die without having seen a place over 10 miles away. City folk might encounter people from "far off" places, but they themselves would never be personally subjected to foreign ideas or ideologies or the sights of another city. This lends weight to the fact that two towns 50 miles apart could have vastly different resources and there be a market at both ends for those resources for anyone willing to put in the work.

    This also means that YOUR HOLDINGS CAN ALWAYS BE UNDER ATTACK! There is always someone out there trying to undercut you or backstab you or even kill you to gain what you have built. Time and energy and money will have to be dedicated to fending off rivals. The clock is always ticking. You want to go off and try to establish a new trade route or do a favor for this Jarl or Baron? That's fine, but who is manning the store to make sure you keep the bandits at bay or stopping an upstart rival with an unknown benefactor from usurping your business? Plot hooks abound.

    Extra GB income as automatic taxation bonus for the Province/Law holder for distant/diverse TRs (gives other regents a stake directly); say, .25 per level, or .25 for each province passed through, max 1/2 TR level
    Here is another one I like. However, I would up this to say that if the player owns both ends of the trade route and they are under the Law Holdings of the same person, then they only receive 50% of the income, the other half going the regent in taxes. BUT, the law holder LIKES this income and with a big enough holding, will help defend the players holdings. More stability, but less money. Then again, not having to worry about hiring a group of mercenaries to fend off bandits saves money too. That is the trade off.

    A new one is, does the Law Holder LIKE the players? Is he trying to suppress the trade routes to bankrupt/disrupt them? Maybe the ruler has cousin or nephew in the business and is trying to help him get a foot in the door. Maybe this trade is leading to "unwholesome" ideas crossing province/domain borders that anger/undermine the current ruler. Taxes could rise. Fees could be levied for ships in port. Tariffs could be enacted. Embargos could be placed in strategic and valued places. Roads could be tolled. Basically, the Law Holder can willingly be a dick.... or he could just be a puppet of someone behind the scenes... and whose to say that person isn't a puppet?

    Simple rule of thumb is error on the side of the players, but never be afraid to challenge what the players have earned. The bad guys and their rivals want to win too.
    --Give me ambiguity or give me something else!--

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