As part of my conversion of the AD&D Dark Sun setting to the Sword of Cepheus rules, I recently made a merchant career. It sort of inspired me to take the Cepheus Engine trading rules and modify them to be used in the Dark Sun setting. The idea being that the players could make money through speculative trading between the city-states and villages of Athas.
Note: This is an initial, alpha version of the Dark Sun/SoC trade rules. I haven’t playtested any of it yet, and will certainly tweak it over time. The Athasian Trade Goods table still needs a bit of work. I’m open to any suggestions or corrections anyone might have.
Concerning the Slave Trade: Those of you familiar with the Dark Sun setting will know that slavery is a big part of the setting. I have deliberately not included rules for the slave trade. Honestly, I find the whole subject a little too unpleasant to gamify into a rule system. The slave trade is not something I’d want my players to have any involvement in, except to overthrow it.
Speculative Trade Rules
Here are the steps needed to carry out a trade:
- Find a supplier
- Determine goods available
- Determine purchase price
- Take goods to new world or market
- Find a buyer
- Determine sales price
Find a supplier
Make an Average (0+) Broker roll to find a supplier. It will take 1d6 days.
If the players are part of a merchant house that has an emporium in the location, no roll is necessary.
In a city state +3 DM, Village -1 DM, Tribe -2 DM
Determine goods available
The GM can choose what goods are available or can decide there are 1d6 randomly determined goods available to buy. The GM can roll D66 on the Athasian Trade Goods table below.
Each kind of location has trade code, listed on the Trade Codes table below. Some goods are easier to buy or sell in different locations. For example, it’s harder to buy finished goods in villages or tribes. Each item of the Athasian Trade Goods table will list various DMs to purchase and sale rolls for different trade code types.
Determine purchase price
To determine the actual purchase price for each item, roll 2d6 on the Modified Price Table. Add the Broker skill to the roll. Also add any purchase DMs if there’s an entry in the Purchase DMs column for that location. The final price will be the item price modified by the purchase column. If the buyer declines this deal, they cannot deal with that supplier for one week.
Transporting goods to new market
It’s assumed the players have access to a wagon and mounts. The trip across Athas to the new market is presumably when all of the actual adventuring happens.
Find a buyer
When the players arrive at the new location, they can try and find a buyer. This uses the same rules as finding a supplier. If the players are trading multiple items, the GM may optionally ask them to make a separate buyer roll for each type of item.
Determine sales price
This uses the same rules as determining a purchase price, except you use the Sale column on the Modified Price Table, and you use the Sales DMs column on the Athasian Trade Goods table.
Athasian Trade Goods
|D66||Trade Goods||Base Price (cp)||Trade Amount||Amount||Purchase DMs||Sale DMs|
|13||Ceramics||10||lb||1d6||CS+1, Balic+3||NT+1, SV+1|
|34||Fruit, Dried||3||lb||1d6||NT+1, CS+2, SV+1|
|36||Steel goods||2000||lb||1d6||SV+1, DV+1|
|46||Tools||10||lb||2d6||CS+1||NT+2, SV+1, DV+1|
|56||Faro needles||5||lb||4d6||NT-2, ET-2, TT-2|
Modified Price Table: 2d6 + Broker + Purchase/Sale DMs