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Old 11-09-2023, 02:43 PM   #1
Shostak
 
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Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: New England
Default Talent/Spell of the Week: Business Sense

This two-point IQ 10 talent provides any character abilities crucial to conducting trade, including an understanding of the fundamentals of commerce (wholesale versus retail, overhead, taxes, markets, etc.) and business etiquette. The talent also confers a +1 reaction bonus when conducting business, which alone changes the chance of a favorable reaction roll from 1/3 to 1/2.

Someone with Business Sense is able to attempt to cheat others in business deals and will also realize when someone is offering ridiculous terms. A character can use the talent to cheat someone if their IQ is higher than the person targeted and all that persons companions wintessing the negotiation, or (I think it is "or"; it looks like a word is missing in my PDF of ITL. Maybe it is supposed to be "and"?) by succeeding on a 4/IQ roll. This bilking ability can be tricky to accomplish if PCs who lack Business Sense are interacting with an NPC who has it, especially if the players tend to know the prices for various items listed in ITL. Occasionally reminding players whose characters are constantly driving hard bargains that they really ought to buy some relevant talents if they want to be successful hagglers could prove useful. The mechanics for using Business Sense for cheating in a business deal are markedly different than those for negotiating the sale of magic items (ITL 166). These call for IQ rolls against 5+ dice to find an item or buyer, and then a 1d6 reaction roll which results in any of a small range of terms. Given that Business Sense gives both a bonus to a reaction roll and the ability to cheat on a deal, it is unclear which to use, and there is no mention of any modifier to the find item/buyer roll for those with Business Sense.

As mentioned, characters with Business Sense cannot be hustled by someone else with the talent. This strikes me as a bit odd, since it does not give a character the ability to assess the value of an item or to detect lies; for those, one needs both a higher IQ and to have spent points on the relevant talent. So why should someone who lacks Assess Value be able to be immune to being swindled?

Business Sense sees regular, but not widespread use in campaigns I play in or GM, and most of the time it is chosen for characters who are merchants of some kind. But, overall, I think Business Sense is not very well thought out since other talents represent its various abilities better, and because there are several different mechanics at work (which probably ought to be simplified through unification). Want to avoid being swindled? Learn Assess Value and Detect Lies. Want a bonus to negotiations? Learn Charisma, Courtly Graces, or Look Your Best. Want to be better at swindling? Learn the Persuasiveness spell and smooth-talk people into the bad deal, or pick up Lawyer and draw up convoluted, bewildering contracts.

Conversation starters:
  • How commonly do players choose Business Sense?
  • Do you read the swindling ability such that both conditions need to be met, or just one?
  • Are you satisfied with how Business Sense interacts with various trade mechanics?
  • Have you house ruled the talent in any way?
  • Share some details about a memorable Businessman from your campaigns.
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Old 11-09-2023, 06:55 PM   #2
timm meyers
 
Join Date: May 2020
Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Business Sense

This is another prime example of Roleplay talents vs Combat talents.
I have witnessed too many players with zero non-combat talents think offering ridiculous low ball (50% or less of list price) is a valid bartering technique.
I think it is incumbent on the GM (better if the rules said it) that any form of NPC interaction with a less than average outcome will require a contest of wills. Players should never expect cheap prices, favors, or special treatment just because they are good talkers in real life OR as example they imagine their PC to be some form of charming adonis even though they don't have Charisma and Sex Appeal.
These contests should not be taken too lightly as failure could mean the merchant kicks you out and will sell you nothing or the barmaid rebuffs you with a whooping from her boyfriend(s).

A standard 6d6 contest roll with pertinent talents deducting 1d6 per IQ cost would be a good starting level for most encounters. The Business Sense example in the rules falls right in line with this, 6d6 - 2d6 for Business Sense being 2 IQ talent =4/IQ to succeed.
The GM can choose what talents work best for each situation and Players can still advocate for creative use of talents or other in game circumstances.
But failure at this social deed needs to have open and mostly obvious risks and rewards just like a fight in the arena. Players can then choose their attempts wisely and gain appreciation/rewards for social prowess talents.

Did I effectively avoid your questions LOL....sorry

How commonly do players choose Business Sense?
Very very rare if ever.

Do you read the swindling ability such that both conditions need to be met, or just one?
Both. (I also despise the encouragement to swindle)

Are you satisfied with how Business Sense interacts with various trade mechanics?
Like stated above there are no real trade mechanics laid out in the rules.

Have you house ruled the talent in any way?
As above I attempt to lay out expectations of average normal results for social activities unless the players choose to try and "win" exceptional outcomes.

Share some details about a memorable Businessman from your campaigns.
Sorry to say I have none, but I have plenty of experience explaining to most players that the art of haggling is not offering 10 cents on the dollar.
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Old 11-10-2023, 05:22 AM   #3
larsdangly
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Business Sense

I like this and the other social-interaction talents, and of them all I think this one might be the best written, RAW, because it has clearly 'game-able' features to it beyond a reaction roll adjustment.

Re. house rules for application of this specific talent, my prejudice is to find ways to use what talents PC's and NPC's have on their sheet, as often and as broadly as seems reasonable, because it promotes more balanced game play and more interesting characters. A 'Marco Polo' style traveling merchant is a much more interesting idea for a character than 'cage fighter living outside the law', which has been done to death in every FRPG known to man. What that means in practice for me is off-the-cuff table rulings that allow people with the talent to gain a modifier (e.g., to reactions) or advantageous die roll (e.g,. 1 die reduction in an IQ roll, typically the talent getting a 3d roll while those without it roll 4d. This could mean recognizing objects, knowing things, finding certain kinds of people like underworld fences, etc.

More generally, I think the game would have been wise to not have cut the old leadership/followers talents, add another 2-3 talents of this kind, and to introduce further 'game-able' features to those social interaction talents that exist, all of which promote better roleplaying and more varied and nuanced characters. Also, some broader concept of social status/hierarchy would have been a welcome addition. But that's water under the bridge.

Do people know whether treatments of these issues that include optional additional talents are appropriate for Hexagram articles, or do they avoid that sort of thing?
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Old 11-13-2023, 08:37 AM   #4
Bill_in_IN
 
Join Date: Dec 2021
Location: Indiana
Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Business Sense

Quote:
Originally Posted by larsdangly View Post
I like this and the other social-interaction talents, and of them all I think this one might be the best written, RAW, because it has clearly 'game-able' features to it beyond a reaction roll adjustment.

Re. house rules for application of this specific talent, my prejudice is to find ways to use what talents PC's and NPC's have on their sheet, as often and as broadly as seems reasonable, because it promotes more balanced game play and more interesting characters. A 'Marco Polo' style traveling merchant is a much more interesting idea for a character than 'cage fighter living outside the law', which has been done to death in every FRPG known to man. What that means in practice for me is off-the-cuff table rulings that allow people with the talent to gain a modifier (e.g., to reactions) or advantageous die roll (e.g,. 1 die reduction in an IQ roll, typically the talent getting a 3d roll while those without it roll 4d. This could mean recognizing objects, knowing things, finding certain kinds of people like underworld fences, etc.

More generally, I think the game would have been wise to not have cut the old leadership/followers talents, add another 2-3 talents of this kind, and to introduce further 'game-able' features to those social interaction talents that exist, all of which promote better roleplaying and more varied and nuanced characters. Also, some broader concept of social status/hierarchy would have been a welcome addition. But that's water under the bridge.

Do people know whether treatments of these issues that include optional additional talents are appropriate for Hexagram articles, or do they avoid that sort of thing?
Through one of Shostak's characters, I have seen the Business Sense talent in role play and it does provide some of the dynamics that he mentioned. It filters into many of the non-combat situations that occur during an adventure. Most of my past play in my Classic TFT days centered upon fighting ability. I knew that these non-combat talents had value but, since most of our character building centered on combat and IQ total was the premium limit, we couldn't explore it in the same way that you can with Legacy TFT.

As a GM in our Classic TFT days, I would typically modify Reaction and IQ rolls as you mentioned in my attempt to keep those talents more relevant and still considered for character development.

Your comments about leadership talents are interesting and deserving of its own thread.
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Old 03-02-2024, 02:41 AM   #5
David Bofinger
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Sydney, Australia
Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Business Sense

The talent says it's a general knowledge of business. But it isn't clear what borders it has with Administrator (which surely should have a lot of relevancy to running a business) or with Mathematician (which teaches accountancy). And 80% of its content is about swindling people. It's confusing, and one of the few things of which we can be sure is that we ought to be able to do better.
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Old 03-02-2024, 03:40 AM   #6
hcobb
 
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Location: Pacheco, California
Default Re: Talent/Spell of the Week: Business Sense

Note that Business Sense and Mathematics are absolutely required to "balance the books" for crafting (if not reselling) potions and magic items and players who attempt to be crafters without a business manager should expect to lose money.
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