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Old 06-28-2021, 04:03 AM   #1
FeiLin
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Default Sensible negotiations

Unless I'm mistaken, negotiating price as per SE26 incentivises PCs to make ridiculous offers to make the counterpart adjust their price by as much as possible.

For example, let's say I have an item worth $200, initial offer from a merchnant may be (after a reaction roll) $75 and acceptable $100. However, since his response will depend on the PCs answer, the best answer will be M, where M is a sufficiently large number (ie M ≫ $200), because the size of the next price change by the merchant will be a percentage of that. If M is large enough, it's possible to, say, lower M to half it's value, because that will make the NPC hit it's limited ceiling for what he will pay. That feels a bit cheap hack...

I know that haggling cultures in particular are prone to making outrageous offers, but is there an easy way around this? If the offer is outragously large, then shouldn't the response be outrageosly small? I could, of course, simply fiat the whole encounter an declare that "the merchant is unwilling to do business with you", but are there other options of tweaking the rules and still have a smooth bargaining process?
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Old 06-28-2021, 05:59 AM   #2
Emerikol
 
Join Date: May 2021
Location: Eastern Kentucky
Default Re: Sensible negotiations

Yes. You are the GM. The rules are guidelines but you have the authority to override what the rules say when the rules don't make sense and sometimes they don't. Writing rules to handle every conceivable possibility is beyond the skill of mere mortals even the great writers at SJ Games.

If they offer something that you think is insultingly off the charts, just have the merchant tell them they should move along as he has serious business to transact and these fools are in his way.
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Old 06-28-2021, 06:46 AM   #3
Varyon
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Re: Sensible negotiations

I'd have to look at the Social Engineering, but you mention a ceiling for what the NPC is willing to pay. I'd suggest a mechanic by which countering with too high* of an offer risks insulting the NPC, reducing the ceiling and having the NPC respond with only a modest boost to their initial offer, if any boost at all. If the ceiling gets dropped lower than what the NPC has already offered, either the NPC walks away from the deal or actually counters with their ceiling "Take it or leave it." As to the mechanic itself... I'm not certain how it should be constructed.

*This would be expressed as some multiple of the item's "true" value, but should have some variability to it.
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Old 06-28-2021, 10:50 AM   #4
FeiLin
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Default Re: Sensible negotiations

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emerikol View Post
Yes. You are the GM. The rules are guidelines but you have the authority to override what the rules say when the rules don't make sense and sometimes they don't. Writing rules to handle every conceivable possibility is beyond the skill of mere mortals even the great writers at SJ Games.
Sure, gm always has the final say, and don’t get me wrong, I love most of what they do. In this case, however, I’m surprised there are specific percentages for what an NPC offers based on the reaction roll, a few somewhat complicated calculations (for RPG during-play math, that is), followed bye this glaring “glitch” (assuming I got the rules correctly). Plugging that hole may be perhaps beyond mere mortals, but the heroes at sj games surely must’ve missed it or not considered it a problem. But I don’t mean to criticise them as opposed to discuss solutions, though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
I'd have to look at the Social Engineering, but you mention a ceiling for what the NPC is willing to pay. I'd suggest a mechanic by which countering with too high* of an offer risks insulting the NPC, reducing the ceiling and having the NPC respond with only a modest boost to their initial offer, if any boost at all. If the ceiling gets dropped lower than what the NPC has already offered, either the NPC walks away from the deal or actually counters with their ceiling "Take it or leave it." As to the mechanic itself... I'm not certain how it should be constructed.

*This would be expressed as some multiple of the item's "true" value, but should have some variability to it.
I like that. Ceiling could be twice (thrice?) the accepted price as per reaction roll. If above that, the answer is no price change, but instead the reaction drops one level and the gm hints “you might want to improve your offer…”
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Old 06-28-2021, 12:35 PM   #5
Polkageist
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Default Re: Sensible negotiations

Wait, what? The GM isn't a computer that you found a glitch in the code allowing you to dupe an NPC into overpaying for an item. The purpose of the opposed Merchant roll and the half-price for resale option is to streamline the obviously complex discussions that occur when negotiating a price. The percentages assume that the starting point for the item's value is within a sane (or pre-determined) range. I guess the "glitch" is based on the assumption that the price/value for an item is what the seller (i.e. PC) says it is when offering it for sale?

So yeah, you walk into the store with a $200 widget and tell the shopkeeper "Hey, this is a $2000 widget, want to take it off my hands for $1000?" the shopkeeper will look at you, look at the widget, and say "get lost". Or rather, that's the sane GM's response followed by a good laugh and then a request to quit wasting time trying to scam shopkeepers or at least come up with a better (i.e. non-meta) con. For one, an item's value is independent of what the PC says it is (from a metagame standpoint) and a given shopkeeper would probably have an (in game) idea of what a widget is worth which ought to disarm the truly outlandish propositions. Then, if you have a superb reaction roll then he'll give you a great deal relative to that widget because you're a hoopy frood, but not based on the PC quoting some absurdly high value.
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Old 06-28-2021, 01:08 PM   #6
Emerikol
 
Join Date: May 2021
Location: Eastern Kentucky
Default Re: Sensible negotiations

I think the previous poster is right in that there needs to be a market value for something that is being bought and sold. That market value should dictate the direction of negotiations. With good skill you might get some percent over market value but you won't get some outrageous amount miles above market value.
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Old 06-30-2021, 11:57 PM   #7
FeiLin
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Default Re: Sensible negotiations

Quote:
Originally Posted by Polkageist View Post
The GM isn't a computer that you found a glitch in the code allowing you to dupe an NPC into overpaying for an item.
Huh? I’m not saying GM fiat won’t handle this, but RAW (in SE) seem to be written in a way that make them fall short of what I would like to use them for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
There's a -1 reaction modifier per 10% over, so the merchant's reaction is rolled at -90
Yes, there is, but when PCs are asking for a price first, the reaction roll is made before a PC counteroffer is made, and it only specifies to refer to the initial reaction roll – note to update it. What follows after is a Merchant roll, which I cannot find is subject to the same modifiers (if neither mentions that nor list it among the applicable modifiers).

Quote:
Originally Posted by SE27
If they ask, roll the seller’s reaction, and refer to Commercial Transaction Results (p. 75) for the multiple or percentage of fair price he asks for. The PCs can accept the price, refuse and walk out, or make a counteroffer. If they make a counteroffer, refer to Commercial Transaction Results to find out if it’s acceptable to the seller, based on the same reaction roll.

Haggling
1. If the PCs made the counterproposal, the merchant will make the first move, by lowering his asking price or raising his offer by 10% of the difference between the two initial prices, or by 20% of his initial price, whichever is less drastic.

4. The merchant will lower his price or raise his offer in response. If the Quick Contest was a tie, the amount of his adjustment will be identical to the PCs’. If the PCs won, increase the adjustment by 10% times the margin of victory. If the merchant won, reduce it by 10% times the margin. The merchant will never go above his initially determined best offer, or below his initially determined best price; at that point his position is, “Take it or leave it.”
What I mean is that making a counterproposal that is sufficiently large, the merchant will go straight to the limits outlined in bold (by me for emphasis). Is that a meta con? Perhaps, but suppose they PCs are dealing with lot they suspect is magic, but lack the means to verify, and don’t know if the merchant has the means to either (and they certainly wouldn’t trust the merchant whose haggling culture is famous for tossing in a grandma or two, if the price is good enough).

That’s what I’m trying to emulate: haggling situations with high stakes and high uncertainty. Yes, I know that unknown goods give -3 to reactions, and yes, I understand – even agree with most of – the comments in this thread. If GM fiat is the best solution, so be it. Perhaps it’s best to “throw [RAW] away”, anyway, as per SE73, but I still want to understand the RAW to explore possibilities. I find it preferable to have robust rules to fall back on, allowing the GM (me) to focus on portraying the interactions (especially in what I want to achieve here).
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Old 07-01-2021, 05:10 AM   #8
Emerikol
 
Join Date: May 2021
Location: Eastern Kentucky
Default Re: Sensible negotiations

Quote:
Originally Posted by FeiLin View Post
That’s what I’m trying to emulate: haggling situations with high stakes and high uncertainty. Yes, I know that unknown goods give -3 to reactions, and yes, I understand – even agree with most of – the comments in this thread. If GM fiat is the best solution, so be it. Perhaps it’s best to “throw [RAW] away”, anyway, as per SE73, but I still want to understand the RAW to explore possibilities. I find it preferable to have robust rules to fall back on, allowing the GM (me) to focus on portraying the interactions (especially in what I want to achieve here).
Well, I think we all often think we'd like a good rule to handle a situation and perhaps in this case you may be right. I think though that such thinking in general can lead to rules that are cumbersome and unwieldly. The reason for many that ttrpg's will never be replaced by computer games is the GM. So it's not a "bad" think if the GM uses his common sense on occasion and makes a ruling. That is the game working as intended.

Now given the initial reaction roll was affected but you are finely parsing the rules after that and not seeing a satisfactory result, I think you as GM just applying the "principles" from the rule would be fine.

Never let a bunch of rules lawyers try to dictate the reality of your campaign. I tell my players up front that anything relating to rules that their "characters" know are just the best guesstimates about how things work. So if they see something right before their eyes that seems to contradict their understanding of the way the world works, like good scientists they should reevaluate based on new observation data.
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Old 07-02-2021, 08:51 AM   #9
Polkageist
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Default Re: Sensible negotiations

Quote:
Originally Posted by FeiLin View Post
What I mean is that making a counterproposal that is sufficiently large, the merchant will go straight to the limits outlined in bold... That’s what I’m trying to emulate: haggling situations with high stakes and high uncertainty.
Snipping a little out here, but I wanted to touch on this point. I've spent a touch of time around markets where haggling (negotiating) is popular or expected and a big part of it is that the negotiations are the point of the whole interaction. Fixed prices are for box stores and tourists who just want a souvenier. Also, the GURPS skill check sequence is a huge simplification of a pretty long and involved discussion that includes asking for more, for less, adding in another item for a discount on both, offering token gifts, stroking egos, begging hardships, and on and on. And that's not even getting into the initial or subsequent reaction rolls.

Anyway, the notion of an outrageous counterproposal to a merchant's offer is simply a refusal to negotiate. That's where the GM critical thinking skills are so key because it's important to read that kind of situation and react appropriately which is to have the merchant go to a fixed price (not necessarily their limits or 'best price', they are likely insulted after all) and not move off of it. This yahoo isn't interested in playing, or doesn't know how to play the negotiation game so they get the sticker price.

To go immediately to the edge case and use it to shortcut the spirit of the negotiation sequence, then don't use that rule and go with a straightforward quick contest of merchant rolls and call it a day. Whatever doodad there is has a value determined by the GM, maybe only the players know its true worth and are lowballing (cool!), or know it's worth way more than it looks like and need to convince that merchant (fun!), and if everyone is on the level then pay attention to the spirit of the rules or don't use them if you're going to intentionally break them.

@Varyon, yeah the reaction chart has been discussed before as having some odd results out on the edges. But it's kinda fun to justify post-roll how that bad of a result came about. I could totally see the '0' result as the PC's roll into a shop to buy a $2k necklace for a buck. PC's not seeing that another customer is there, who's delicate negotiations have been interrupted, the merchant has now been insulted in front of a valued customer and possibly ruined an important deal. Word might spread that merchant is a chump who can't negotiate. In that ask for a buck, they also used (un)intentionally a slur, profanity, or insult at the merchant and/or their stock.

Banned from the shop!
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Old 06-28-2021, 11:04 PM   #10
Pursuivant
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Default Re: Sensible negotiations

Quote:
Originally Posted by FeiLin View Post
I know that haggling cultures in particular are prone to making outrageous offers, but is there an easy way around this? If the offer is outrageously large, then shouldn't the response be outrageously small? I could, of course, simply fiat the whole encounter an declare that "the merchant is unwilling to do business with you", but are there other options of tweaking the rules and still have a smooth bargaining process?
The GM can always rule that outrageously low offers trigger an additional reaction roll from the merchant at -1 per [$ increment] below the fair price. That might result in the merchant refusing to do business with the character or otherwise altering their Reaction. ("Offer me just a quarter of what my goods are worth? I'll show her! The city watch might be very interested to know that Ayeesha the Rogue just bought 10 barrels of flammable oil and 100 yards of slow match.")

If a merchant accepts an outrageously low offer there should be strings attached. For example, the item might have been sold by a disgruntled employee to spite their boss, triggering attempts by the item's rightful owner to recover it. Or, the item is actually defective, radioactive, stolen, or otherwise "too hot to handle."

Alternately, since haggling depends on personal relations and reciprocity, the sale might come with additional non-financial obligations. "I'll give you a great deal this time, but you owe me one." or "I'll give you a great deal, but I want you to do me a favor."

If a NPC merchant accepts an outrageously low offer due to the PC's reaction bonuses, that implies that the merchant gets some non-financial benefit from the sale. Expect to see advertising mentioning the character's name ("Come to Tawfeek's Armoury, where Raslan the Mighty buys his swords!") and/or rumors which aid the merchant's business ("I heard that Tawfeek is under Raslan the Mighty's personal protection. Let's not shake him down for protection money this month.").

Characters might also have to put up with a certain amount of fanboy/creep behavior on the part of the merchant and their staff, posing for pictures, signing autographs, and other types of "fan service." This might take extra time or bring extra attention if the character wishes to get the full discount. ("Sorry I'm late. I got a fantastic price on the ceremonial candles you wanted, but it took me two hours before the chandler stopped asking me questions about the time we were marooned on the Isle of Dread.")
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