Feedback on the Merchants' Guild

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Wed May 15, 2019 5:09 am

Maybe that some of the difficulties could be solved by the code or staff decision?

- should'nt characters having a roster shop be part of the merchant guild? That would make sense ICly and could help vitalize the guild.
- As a result, 'guildlist merchants' would provide the full list of active crafters allowed to sell, and would free the guildleader from that task.

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Wed May 15, 2019 6:34 am

- should'nt characters having a roster shop be part of the merchant guild? That would make sense ICly and could help vitalize the guild.
It would make sense ICly, arguably, but we don't really have the regular numbers to require any and all folks who might want to craft or sell anything to join the Merchants versus every other Guild. That would mean for example the Hospital couldn't have its pharmacy (which clearly makes sense to have IC and is pretty vital) because Physicians are not Merchants.

Also "roster jobs" (IE being the manager of an NPC shop for a weekly asset pay day) are specifically designed for folks to be able to do without joining the Merchants for a number of reasons.
Smithers wrote:
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.
This is awesome. :D

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Thu May 16, 2019 2:03 am

Hi! Long-time former Merchant GL here. I know things are different economy-wise pre- and post-assets, but I think some of the tricks to a successful Merchant Guild are pretty immune to the lack of bottomless banks of silver. Keep in mind I say this with love and please don't kill me.

Cohesiveness: If the Merchants want to be a cohesive guild, they need to behave cohesively. The Merchants have one of the best-documented systems for handling promotions and ascension to high places like Mastery. Run scenes or events around these things and create an in-guild community by doing so. Make it about the creations - the guild can be about forming a cartel, but it can also be about market competitiveness, whether it's friendly or no. If you've got two woodworkers? Encourage a rivalry by asking them both to submit their best table, and give the promotion to whichever makes the best one. Place the items out in the guildhall and have the guild judge it/send in their votes. You could even sell the best one at a public auction. Money-making, community building, crafter-promoting, and RP-generating. Once you start doing one thing the rest kind of spiral out of it.

Markets: Merchant shops are wonderful, but they don't sell anywhere near as much at one time as Merchants do at market events, and these events are really easy to organize from up top. Tap your guildmembers to put together 5-10 (or more!) unique, especially well-designed and fully-described pieces from their trade. Get Staff to set up some Merchant stalls in your preferred location (this is free for a public event up to 20QP worth of aid), have the crafters put their things into the stalls. Send out a messenger to everybody that there's a Merchant market going on at X location, let your Merchants pitch their wares in real-time. Chill, sell in live RP, profit (also community-build!).

Visibility: If the Merchants want to be visible, they need to do things that make them visible. Advertise for your guild with signage, public meet-ups, events, run recruitment drives, and either encourage or require your guildmembers to publicly promote themselves and their work. Require Merchants of a certain rank to open a shop and keep it stocked. You can even fine them if it drops below a certain inventory threshold, if you want to go that route. Don't be wary of taking a strong hand. Providing direction and clear-cut expectations which benefit the guild are almost always good for it.

Tacked onto the visibility point, work with other guilds. Advertise that the Merchants offer loans and facilitate the contracts through the Reeves. In this day and age I'd bet high-interest phousing loans could be a major source of income for the guild, since people don't tend to have large bulk amounts of silver on hand as often. Put together agreements for discounts on bulk rations to guilds that use a lot of them. Make yourself available to accept commissions from fellow guildleaders and delegate the requests to an appropriate crafter. Send out liaisons from the Merchants to gauge the needs of other guilds and worm your way into being who they view as the easiest supplier.

The Need/Desire Factor: If the Merchants want their stuff to be needed and desired, they need to create things that are needed or desired. 'Need' is pretty limited on TI, so I tend to lean toward 'desired' as the easier goal. Put together guides and run workshop scenes for 'better crafting practices' to help people get a sense for what's likely to sell. The items most likely to sell are, in my experience, attractive and well-written, whether it's a painting, outfit, chair, or packet of fine spices. You can even come up with guidelines on what is or isn't considered a baseline quality check for a Merchant-produced good - should a product from a Merchant always have an ed description, for example? Use guidelines and structure to encourage crafters to make more of what people will be tempted to buy.

Merchant Classism: The Merchants can be one of the most inherently classist groups in the game lore, just by nature of what they are. Nobles are an annoyance you are definitely more skilled than and absolutely have more money than, but have to bend the knee to because society says so; Freemen are good for grunt work but aren't usually viewed as capable of the same high-quality, artisan skill your hands are. The Merchants Guild is the domain of the old-school 'Merchant Princes' who ran off to Vavard and founded Nimrock rather than be compelled by the Crown to pay taxes to the new Holy Order, and the Gentry-supremacist overlay can be pretty strong. Not every character has to buy into it, but being aware of the guild's roots and keeping that classist air in the back of your mind can be a very natural conflict-creator, both inside and outside the guild. Conflict is good for maintaining interest.

My way more than two cents. Happy Merchanting!

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Thu May 16, 2019 2:08 am

Pixie wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 2:03 am
My way more than two cents.
^ Inflation!

A few posts actually touch upon some points I'd like to explore, too - as a former Merchant GL and dusty old crafter - and I'll edit this when I've got my thoughts together.

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Thu May 16, 2019 9:03 am

Excellent post, Pixie. Nailed it.

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Fri May 17, 2019 5:34 pm

Not a Merchant player, but I'd like to echo Pixie's point about need vs. desire: If you have a shop stocked full of items that let me feel like a fancy lass to own I will want your items that make me feel like a fancy lass, especially if (and maybe this is just because of my generation,) they make me feel cool and unique. Yes, this includes your things that other people will probably literally never see, like consumables.

It also isn't the end of the world if you don't, but I just don't like stringing and won't do it unless there's something I really want or need. Having spiffy pre-strung luxury items then is a huge plus, because then otherwise I have to go out of my way ordering things with my mediocre-at-best string-writing abilities and instead can just order something you put in a catalogue or shop list somewhere. It also encourages casual browsing, window shopping and impulse buys, which are, like, fun? Maybe that's just me.

But I don't want to ramble too much on this, because I think the question is more 'how do we make the Merchants an interesting engine for RP and get players relying on them more?' and not strictly 'how can crafters sell stuff for money?' even if the two can be closely linked.

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