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Proposing the "Merchant" class

Fanndis Goldbraid
There are a number of players who love to manage inventories, gather materials and buy and sell things all day. They are a critical element to the success of companies and settlements and there should be features and skills these players can invest in to enhance their merchant skills.

Here are a few assumptions that would make a Merchant Class/Role viable

1) A Merchant would appear to best fit under the Freeholder class/role

2) Auction Houses (AH) should have a limited capacity for accepting items for sale. Theoretically there are personnel managing the inventories listed in an AH and storing and keeping them in good order whilst waiting for these items to sell. Since space is limited, listing per character should be limited as well.

3) Several of the listed benefits are for mechanics and tech that are not yet in game.

4) Individuals without a settlement or company could be merchants up the level an NPC city could support. A Merchant in a company that has no settlement could perform well for that company up to the training max that company could offer. A Merchant would really come into their own in a settlement as part of a company that focused on finance, trade, and other related skills, and would be expected to be the managers of facilities that needed financial expertise (Auction Houses, Merchant Caravans, Gambling Halls, Trading Post Holdings and Outposts, Wainwright shops, etc).

Here is a starting list to prime the well, and other posters can criticize, add proposed merchant skills, or change what is below.

When a Merchant is buying from another settlements AH, the cost to do business is decreased if the buyer's skill is higher than the merchant skill of the Merchant managing the selling AH.

-Auction House slots are increased if the AH is managed by a Merchant. The managing Merchant can greatly increase the available slots for other players to list items for sale as they level, thereby increasing tax revenue, or sales revenue, or both (once those features are implemented).

-Merchants can list goods for sales at other AHs above the limits for other players regardless of the wishes of the owning settlement. There could be a mechanic in place to compare the selling Merchant's skill against the managing Merchant's skill TBD.

-Auction House revenue per listing is increased if the AH is managed by a Merchant (not paid by seller).

-Caravan carrying capacity is enhanced when traveling with a merchant in the role as "Caravan Master" or Caravan speed is increased when traveling with a merchant in the role as "Caravan Master" but not both. Includes both pack animals and wagons, as the Merchant knows how to encourage and cajole both animals and drovers into either increased capacity or speed.

-Merchants could manage shops that construct wagons of all types, as wagons are used to move all sorts of goods be they raw, refined, finished, bulk, or even humanoid (proposed fast travel by coach has been mentioned in the forums in the past). Therefore it would make sense for a Merchant to manage the facility that focuses on capacity, transportation, and trade. Merchants would also be the obvious facility managers for the structures that handle the fast travel locations in settlements, once implemented.

-Certain buildable wagon types could be used as portable shops. Once the caravan stopped anywhere with room for the conversion process, the convertible wagons could be set up as shops and sell any of their wares they are carrying or obtained en route. This would be the seed of future gypsy merchant caravans. The wagons would be destroyable with siege equipment, so the caravan would need to choose its location carefully and have friends nearby to aid in defense if need be.

These are just a few proposals. Please feel free to comment.
Duffy Swiftshadow
I think the big problem with your outline is assumption #2. Depending on your scaling a random adventurer might not be able to sell his random loot in an AH. That's prohibits more than it helps. I'm sure there are other fringe cases where it becomes unusable, I would prefer if the game did not do that particular type of thing. Instead of locking down universal type features like the AH that a merchant instead got bonuses to make them more efficient either for the settlement's benefit or the merchants. (Somewhat like parts of your suggestions)

I like the rest of your ideas a lot, especially the wagon shop thing.
Fanndis Goldbraid
I think settlements having controls on who does what is a critical element of settlement management. It would certainly make the sellers think about what they are selling, or sell things in the most efficient manner. A stack would be one item, so preventing 25 listings for single salvage items. Those could be stored until accumulated, trader as barter, or sold/given directly to the settlement merchant who would have a larger presence in the AH.

I understand the concern about having limits in the AH, but there are limits on everything in the game. I find it strange AHs have no listing limit at all. There will be crafting limits in the future if Lee and Stephen do as previously suggested, as in, settlements being to control access to higher level crafting so settlement members get preference or even excluding outsiders completely.
Duffy Swiftshadow
I'm sure Thannon will show up and give you a better answer but I'm pretty sure the Canis AH is currently listing most of it's auctions from a single character right now being made by a dozen supporting characters across half a dozen or so players. We're talking almost every T2 weapon, armor, and implement at various +s along with a selection of resources. Not even getting into things like recipes or refined components. I feel limiting the number of auctions available either to individuals or the auction house itself would just create boring and bad feedback loops, anyone with an AH is just gonna have a maxed out 'Merchant' alt on somebody's account to get the best result and it makes it awkward for new players to get how the AH works. It doesn't seem like that aspect of it would make it an interesting choice for a specific player's choice.

I think the difference between using my trainers or crafting facilities and using the AH which is designed to sell things to random people is very big difference in limitations.
Fanndis Goldbraid
Having unlimited shelf space or warehouse storage is not feasible. Auction Houses should have some sort of maximum capacity for selling, as well as storing goods. It only makes sense. Sure, there is a cost to limited space. Thannon is a merchant (I should know, as Forgeholm has done business with him, and expect to do so again in the future), so he knows no shop has unlimited space. Thannon will want to sell goods…either a wide variety of goods with a lower margin (Wal-martish) or a narrower selection of a higher quality (Sotheby's) (sadly, all armor is the same, there currently is nothing to differentiate a Dwarf made suit if armor from those low quality human made shells).

Either way, I am sure Thannon would jump at the chance to improve his AH by increasing the income per unit sold, having a larger warehouse, or more shelf space. With Merchant skill those could be improved with each level, making the Canis Castrum Market on the Plains stand out from the other Auction Houses (at least until they increased their Merchant skills as well).
Thannon Forsworn
I cannot say that I agree with the idea of limiting the number of auctions at the character level or at the auction house level. It smacks far too much of a system rife for primarily alt use and an inventory management headache that does not in itself produce anything resembling fun for me. I would rather promote business and bring in outside business by having no such limitations on our Auction House, promoting a safe and open trading atmosphere, providing superior pricing, and of course quality of service.

While infinite space is not realistic, if the Auction House limits our ability to do business it is also not fun. It would force market diversity instead of letting it happen naturally. It would always be smarter to pick something someone else cannot provide than to try and compete which I fear it would be more likely to produce monopolies when it's the obviously superior strategy.

EVE has a system that limited the number of buy and sell orders an individual could have active at a time, it always felt excessively trite to me until I leveled the relevant skills up enough that my cap was ridiculously high. I would instead rather see skills that augment listing fees and taxes or allow us to query auction houses abroad for pricing or even place remote purchase and sell orders (albeit some form of delay for simulation effect and of course still needing to pick up or drop off items ahead of time at the target location).

I very much like the idea of limiting certain wagon features to an advanced merchant class, especially if your caravan could temporarily setup shop like a smallholding that could act as a mini auction house or store for some time, with all the inherent risks and rewards of such an idea. In such an example a limitation on the number of items available would be far more tolerable and interesting, albeit one could argue encumbrance is already that limiter. I think their are much more interesting ideas out there (some of which you have stated above) that could add new features that are not potential tedious chores.
Thannon Forsworn
Master of Trade
Canis Castrum
Real Auction Houses are not shops and do not store all the goods on site. Sometimes they are brought from the warehouse at the time of the auction, other times they are never on site at all. Especially larger items like vehicles, ships and aircraft.

Imagine THIS ITEM being sold at Sotherby's if it actually had to be on site at the AH in London.
Brighthaven Leader
They are making the Merchant's a faction with benefits from what I heard at PaizoCon.
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