Author Topic: Alchemists and Magic Items Question (mainly cost-related) - RMSS  (Read 326 times)

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Offline Frewfrux

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I created a Mentalist-based Alchemist (High-man race) to test a few things out with, and I'd like to know if I'm interpreting the rules correctly with regards to the cost to produce, and the cost to sell, and if I am then I would love to hear how others have dealt with this.

First, the base cost. Work out how many weeks it take to make the item, then multiply that by the total number of levels of spells involved in the creation of the item and that, in gp, is the base cost, or the cost to produce. Here's why I think that's right:

From Treasure Companion, page 45, section 9.1.3 I see the following:

Quote
The cost to produce the item is as follows:
Base Cost = (Total levels of all spells necessary for the item) x (Total time in weeks needed to create the item) in gold.

That's great. I think I interpreted that correctly. Except...the next paragraph says, in part (this is unthe the heading “The Selling Price”)...

Quote
It is assumed that half of the selling price goes to pay for the exotic materials necessary to produce the item, and the other half goes to pay the Alchemist.

That works okay once you get past Apprentice level alchemy, but at Apprentice level, the sale price is equal to the base price. This means that the sale price is NOT half materials cost and half income, at least not for the Apprentice Alchemist.

Honestly, I'm actually fine with that part. I don't think Apprentice level Alchemists should be making money, but rather trying to go out of their way (even to the point of losing money) to prove themselves as quality Alchemists. So, this means my own house rule will be that the Selling Price  is NOT half materials and half income at this level, it's 100% materials. Unfortunately, that's not the only hiccough I came across.

Section 6.0 of the same tome has a guideline on buying and selling magic items. Excellent! Looking it over I see table 6.2 specifically for the selling of magic items. On this table you see that a successful static maneuver to sell said item will net you 40% of the item's selling price, and an Absolute Success will net you 50% of it.

Hmmm. If 50% of an items selling price is materials (at higher, more profitable, levels), and the most you can get from selling a magic item is 50% of the selling price, then it is not possible to make any money off of Alchemy at all, and Alchemists better not give up their day job for this (expensive!) hobby.

Now, I've come up with a house rule to handle this, but I was wondering what everyone else's take on it might be. How do you handle the buying and selling of magic items in your RM universe?

Offline jdale

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Re: Alchemists and Magic Items Question (mainly cost-related) - RMSS
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2021, 04:57:43 PM »
I would assume table 6.2 is specifically for the case of people with no connection to the local guild, no place of business, etc trying to unload a handful of excess goods they picked up somewhere, preferably on short notice. In other words, it's intended for PCs who are selling things. If you are the local guild or a local business, you can just stock the items in your store and charge 100%. Maybe you won't sell them today but you will eventually sell them at that price.
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Offline Frewfrux

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Re: Alchemists and Magic Items Question (mainly cost-related) - RMSS
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2021, 06:03:12 PM »
Table 6.2 actually includes modifies for when there's guilds available, and mentions them in the text. So no, I don't think it's for case where there aren't guilds.

(Plus it lines up nicely with the resale tables in Gamemasters Law.)

Offline Frewfrux

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Re: Alchemists and Magic Items Question (mainly cost-related) - RMSS
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2021, 07:13:29 PM »
Actually, looking over the purchase price and resale values as presented in the Gamemasters Law (page 100) I think this is more intentional than I initially thought. Not only does table 6.2 line up with this table in GL (assuming a guild would fall under the category of a supplied, regulated merchant) but the GL tables give options for creative players to increase their take by trying to find un-supplied or unregulated markets.

It all does make you second guess trying to be an Alchemist for profit though. You need an awful lot of gold up front for the raw materials, and you don't start breaking even until Journeyman, and making a profit at Master level. No wonder even talented individuals who don't have a patron would find it a difficult 'business' to get into.

Offline jdale

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Re: Alchemists and Magic Items Question (mainly cost-related) - RMSS
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2021, 09:02:56 PM »
The text describes the case when you are trying to sell alchemical items to a guild, or selling alchemical items when guilds control sales. The text does not talk about the case when you are a guild. And that is the distinction I am drawing.

That this lines up with Gamemaster Law only reinforces that point, because the rules in GM Law are specifically about PCs selling things. They are not general purpose mercantile rules. You'll note those rules draw a distinction when the other party is a Regulated Merchant vs Individual Transaction. But only for the NPC side of the transaction. The PCs are always treated as individuals, there's no way on those tables to represent that the PCs are a Regulated Merchant themselves.

If you interpret 6.2 as applying to anyone selling items, no one would ever pay the actual price of any item, and that clearly would make no sense.

I think that's also clear if you compare the range of results for 6.1 vs 6.2. For purchases, items are sold at 75-150% of the list price. For sales, items are sold at 20-50% of the list price. It's impossible to achieve a result on the purchase table that corresponds to any price on the sale table. So clearly these tables cannot model normal mercantile exchanges. They are just about people like typical PCs buying and selling things. Not merchants, professional craftsmen, stores, or guilds doing their ordinary business.

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Offline Frewfrux

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Re: Alchemists and Magic Items Question (mainly cost-related) - RMSS
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2021, 11:09:45 PM »
Oh sorry, I guess I misread your initial reply. I was talking about Alchemists, as characters or in general, trying to make money off of plying their trade. I thought that, because that was what I was talking about, it was also what you were talking about. But I see now that you were talking about how a guild itself might operate, not the adventuring alchemist.

Yes, if an alchemist wants to join a guild and have their work displayed in the guild shop, then I guess they have the luxury of time and can just wait until a prospective buyer comes along and rolls on the buyers side of the table. In which case you get 150% - 200% of the selling price (or whatever it is, I dont have it in front of me) and in THAT case you make a nice profit.

For an independent alchemist, or one unable to afford the guild's dues, or one in an area without a guild at all, it may be harder to make an income.

So yes, now that I understand what you're saying, I agree. Although, I'm not sure a guild (or any business) would spend the great expense to acquire an item just because they *might* be able to resell it one day. That seems like a good way to go bankrupt. Maybe a powerful guild might be immune to market forces, but a small business surely wouldn't be.

Offline jdale

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Re: Alchemists and Magic Items Question (mainly cost-related) - RMSS
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2021, 12:13:09 AM »
Yes, that's exactly why the guild will never pay more than 50% of the value to the PCs. If they expect that they will be able to resell it -- which presumably is part of what the PCs are trying to persuade them of during their price negotiations -- that leaves them a reasonable margin for profit. And if they only manage to resell half of what they bought, they at least don't come out behind.
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Offline Frewfrux

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Re: Alchemists and Magic Items Question (mainly cost-related) - RMSS
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2021, 02:29:42 PM »
Yes, and if the guild never pays more than 50% of the selling price, and 50% of the selling price is the same as the cost to produce the item, then there is never any reason to sell to the guild, except for random loot you've found and not the stuff you've spent your hard-earned money and time to create.

But, that's probably intentional too - if the guild is trying to price potential competitors out of the market.