Feedback on the Merchants' Guild

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Mon Dec 10, 2018 11:58 am

Hey guys,

So as folks may have noticed, the Merchants Guild has had more than its share of turnover of late. I thought it might be good to feel the pulse of the game in terms of what needs to be changed and what doesn't. This is for both Merchants and non-Merchants to comment on.

What are we doing right? What are we doing wrong? How should we change?

TPB Geras/Ardan/Zash

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Mon Dec 10, 2018 11:36 pm

Overall I think the first thought is ... what is the Merchant's Guild meant to be? What is meant to set apart membership in the Merchant's Guild versus not joining? Because overall I am not sure for a while there's been a strong sense of what that meant ICly or RP wise beside everyone OOCly knowing that codedly you have to join to get certain skills above 36.

What does being a Merchant mean now with assets allowing non-Merchants special access to things like imports or money earning potential?

Because I think a core question in how to "fix" issue with the Merchant's Guild is first identifying ... what is the Merchant's Guild meant to be?

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Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:07 am

The problem seems to be a vast amalgamation of things.
First and foremost because the Merchants - and many other guilds, at this moment - cannot maintain stable or effective leadership. You will see that with effective, charismatic, and present leadership, the Merchants will flourish. Ineffective leadership sees the Merchants, like any other guild, die off for lack of interest and in-game obscurity.
Secondly, as with far too many real-world businesses, the Merchants lack direction. This lack of direction leads to meandering goals and unclear motives, which befuddles the support of allies and membership itself and also causes aimlessness in both leadership roles and entry-level members that leads to impotent frustration. The Merchants must establish a goal that they wish to accomplish that benefits and involves all members, and is able to be reproduced over time (IE : Taking over Lithmore is not a repeatable goal. Establishing a comfortable profit margin via public events is.).
Third, the Merchants must establish a reason for existing. At the moment, there is more or less no reason for the Merchants to exist as a guild, as many roles are unfulfilled, and those that are filled are typically being done so by non-merchant roles. In example, the Order exists to purify Lithmore and hunt Mages for cleansing. The Reeves exist to establish lawful order within Lithmore. The Physicians exist to look after the health and education of Lithmore. What do the Merchants do? Without a strong reason to exist within the City, the Merchants might as well not exist.

In my opinion, basically everything that the Merchants could do wrong, is currently going wrong. Leadership has only just picked up after roughly half a year of just not being around. Members are generally either not around, or are mail-order crafters that generally only show up to fill orders. The Merchants themselves have no clear goals or qualifiers, and have absolutely no reason to currently exist in the City of Lithmore other than to simply serve as a soft cap on skills, and as a minor annoyance to those who hope to do work in lieu of them. You're, quite literally, by all accounts, better off completely ignoring the Merchants and doing your own work on your own time, and I think that speaks volumes.

I look forward to seeing what others do for the Merchants, but in my humble opinion, barring any immediate requirements, I think we should take a serious look at liquidating the Guild and rethinking it entirely.
Rothgar Astartes, Fyurii Rynnya, Nils 'Smith' Mattias, Edward Darson, Curos Arents.

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Tue Dec 11, 2018 9:19 am

I mostly agree with all of Rothgar's points. The merchants are, to me, after nearly 3 years of play, difficult to interact with presently. I've had 3 real life months of wait for some items that I can't go to anywhere else for, and unanswered mail. Unfortunately some merchants rarely are around for any public RP. Many just log in for filling orders. They almost never hold parties or events any more. Some don't interact with other guilds. GLs don't do public works. Merchants don't feel united.
So yeah, it'd seem important to:
1) have an active leadership: this is dealbreaker, really, and it can improve things so much and incentivise players.
2) have an involved leader: regularly check on the guild, send collective mail, reach to other guilds and nobles, promote intra-guild cooperation and teaching instead of competition (the guild is specifically about merchants cartelising!) arrange physical guild meetigs, perhaps even run merchant STs.
3) reinforce guild benefits: exclusive workshops and materials, guild loans at preferable rates, unique contracts with other guilds, guild backed publicity, crush non-guilded merchants, and so on.
4) make people want to deal with the merchants again: regularly send out mail to people (or rumors) with the current roster of crafters and their specialties, offer deals, offer loans, promote public works, host events and parties, publicly donate money to other guilds.
Last edited by Kuzco on Tue May 14, 2019 7:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Tue Dec 11, 2018 3:37 pm

My knee-jerk reaction to this post is: boy, I hope you're asking this question ICly, too!

Assuming that you are, then here's my advice, which overlaps some with what has already been suggested:

1) Be present. This doesn't mean doing all the OOCly time-consuming work yourself, as you can and probably should delegate where possible, but just being around to answer mail and messengers can make a world of difference in improving people's feelings and perceptions about your leadership and the guild itself. You might also consider sending out a monthly (OOC monthly, not IC monthly) guild newsletter or report to keep the guild apprised of business/changes/upcoming events.

2) Poll your membership ICly. Find out what they want ICly, so you can respond to their needs ICly. Asking on the forums is great and all, but the bulk of the change needs to happen IC, and to do that, you need to make the IC inquiries that can lead to meaningful IC decisions.

3) Post the current guild list + ranks and crafts on the board in the guildhall (or delegate this job to someone else who can keep up with it). Then, (maybe with the Troubadours' help?) spread the news that it's there. You will cut down on your incoming mail if you enable the pbase to find the info they need themselves.

4) Be active around city metrics. For example, the economics metric is taking a nosedive, which is bad for everyone but also for crafters. If you need a raison d'etre or two for the Merchants (other than, you know, making huge profits and flaunting the wealth through public works), make this one of them. It's practically in HELP MERCHANTS already.

5) Organize, sponsor, or support guild events like auctions, markets, and faires. Ask your guild members ICly what sort of events would interest them, and make sure they're adequately compensated for their individual contributions. Co-sponsored events are great because the other guild can help do half of the work to prep for and advertise the event.

6) The crafting wing has a shop for selling discounted crafting supplies. Find a use for it? For example, you could make deals to buy asset resources from other PCs at wholesale prices and then put those resources up for sale, or put them up on display and hang a sign that says, "If you're a merchant, and you want some of these things, come see me."

7) Wheel and deal. We have a regrettably small pbase, so the more you can do to foster business, help meet market demands, and bring the economy to life, the better. You can involve the Reeves to witness and sign off on any business agreements, too, and add collateral to ensure that if a deal goes south, someone's held accountable. I personally suggest well-defined but flexible rules that can accommodate a small, ever-changing pbase. I don't see the point in creating rigid rules where NO ONE gets what they want because everyone's hobbled by strict set of rules that would only work if we had some "ideal" number of active master craftsmen -- which we never do.

8) Give people more reasons to play and/or interact with Merchants. Sign-on bonuses? Recruitment faires? Free resources? A newsletter featuring the up-and-coming craftsman of the season? Find nobles who are willing to support/be patrons for serious new tradesmen? Find nobles to serve as patrons to the guild? Sky's the limit here. Ask around IC and you're bound to get a lot of great ideas.

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Mon May 13, 2019 5:04 pm

Bumping this for visibility, given the turnover we've had.

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Tue May 14, 2019 4:14 pm

I'm a new player, but I was directed to the forums to post this idea, since I asked it of an existing player that has oocly been helping me with the systems and things:

There should be an in-character directory, notice board, or otherwise a way for characters to know which characters are merchants/what they craft, without having to learn it through the grapevine of other characters, particularly if they are newer or don't have as much time to be social (like me!)

I absolutely have several things that i would WANT to pay a merchant to do for me, VS trying to learn to do it myself (which, I think causes problems because if players can't find a merchant to pay to do it FOR them, they're going to learn the skill themselves, thus making the merchants more or less useless save for the rarer things) But I have 0 direction on WHO to contact aside from rumors, which are not a reliable way to find things. Especially since, most of the player owned shops I have looked into are mostly empty.

In the setting, it would absolutely make sense for the Merchant's Guild to have a directory, or job-board for their craftsmen to post on/customers to submit requests to for custom items outside of shops.

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Tue May 14, 2019 4:16 pm

Satoshi wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 4:14 pm
There should be an in-character directory, notice board, or otherwise a way for characters to know which characters are merchants/what they craft, without having to learn it through the grapevine of other characters, particularly if they are newer or don't have as much time to be social (like me!)
As far as I understand, 'guildlist merchant' should be "public information", and should be able to be used by your character. It has what they are (Tailor, Smith, Brewer, etc.), their names, etc.
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Discord Handle: Starstarfish#4572

Tue May 14, 2019 5:27 pm

The difficulty is that a large number of our crafters are not indeed coded members of the Merchant's Guild and thus will not show up on that list. IE - we currently have 22 player owned shops listed on the roster. To my working knowledge, only two or three of those shops are owned by currently coded members of the Merchants. I personally preferred it when the roster list with names was available to non-Merchants for this reason. We also have a number of crafter types who aren't often "active" as they tend to login mostly to do commissions and thus they don't show up on lists either.

So some kind of way to opt in to a listing of some kind might be super helpful.

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Wed May 15, 2019 1:25 am

Re: IC rosters, I'm working on bringing back the public list of active sanctioned crafters that's posted on various boards around the city! Hopefully that will help with some of the issue surrounding where to go or who to go to, at least.

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