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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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Anthony Shostak
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economics, merchants, non-combat, social, trade

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