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Selling Priceless Items

As part of something I'm working on, I've run into the question of "how much can you sell a priceless item for?" If you come across, say, Excalibur or the Ark of the Covenant in the course of an adventure and you want to sell it, the question becomes less how much people are willing to pay for it and more how much people are capable of paying for it. This is different from selling a large hoard of loot. If you come back to town with a wagon full of potions and magic swords and the like, merchants can split it all up into smaller lots broker multiple small transactions. Here, you have to find one person or entity with a large sum of money. So here's something I'm toying with for DF:

Any item designated as "priceless" has a base value of $1m for purposes of figuring resale value. All modifiers for the seller's Wealth and that sort of thing still apply. That's the maximum value one can get in a typical Town. If the seller chooses to do so, however, he may shop around for a better price. To do so, the seller must travel to a Center of Power. This is the capital of a kingdom, a temple at the center of a major religion, the palace of the faerie queen, or other location where one is likely to get large amounts of money and/or favors. Such centers should be at least a month's travel apart, and getting there should be an adventure in itself.

Once the seller gets to the destination, offering the priceless item for sale to the resident power shouldn't be an issue. The question is really whether or not the seller wants to sell, not if the Center wants to buy. Any given Center of Power will buy at most one priceless item ever; its resources will be too depleted thereafter to provide suitable payment for a second. If a seller declines to sell to a given Center, he may attempt to sell another item there later, but if he does sell, he cannot sell it another.

To determine what's on offer, roll against Merchant or Savoir-Faire. On a failure, treat the margin of success as zero. The priceless item may be exchanged for money, or it can be traded for one of a selection of advantages, worth points as follows based on the margin of success of the Merchant/Savoir-Faire roll:


There are several options for what the item might be traded for, below. The GM must determine which ones are available.

Take The Money And Run

Increase effective base price by 5% for every point of the margin of success.

Never Had A Friend Like Me

The entity to whom the item is sold becomes a Patron. The GM and player may work out the details as appropriate. For example, it may be a not particularly powerful patron who is always ready to help or a more powerful patron who is sometimes hard to get in touch with.

For The Horde!

The seller gains the loyalty of an Ally Group. Again, details may be worked out between GM and player.

Half My Kingdom

The seller receives a bundle of smaller advantages representing rulership of his own small domain. These include an Ally Group of retainers, an increase in Wealth, and a Claim to Hospitality of suitable scope. Points for advantages may be distributed between these three categories, but no one category can get more than two thirds of the total points.


Charles Saeger said…
To add a little variety, use the discretionary income of the highest Status available. At TL3, for Status 1+, we get:

Status 0: $100 (That is, Average Wealth makes $700 a month, and Status 0's Cost of Living is $600, giving us a $100 net)
Status 1: $200
Status 2: $500
Status 3: $2,000
Status 4: $10,000
Status 5: $100,000
Status 6: $1,000,000
Status 7: $10,000,000
Status 8: $100,000,000

Now, that means that if you have something the God-Emperor of Fear and Flame wants, he's able to scrape up $100m. (I'm assuming Cost of Living scales up for non-adventurers like in standard GURPS. Even if it doesn't, most rich folk have expenses that would make up the difference.)

Most of the time, you're not going to the God-Emperor, so the richest guy/gal/thing sets the threshold. I'm sure getting to the local Croesus would be a bit of an adventure, and involve some reaction rolls. Nothing will be for sale anywhere that nobody can afford to buy.

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