Economy System

This is a condensed and formatted version of the rules for economy found in the 3rd edition D&D sourcebook, "Magical Society: The Silk Road". It has been converted for use with 2nd edition AD&D rules.

There are several changes made from the original Silk Road sourcebook. First of all, the DCs have been directly converted into percentages by the rationale that 1 point on a 1d20 is equal to 5%. This works fairly well for Silk Road, as it is not /too/ dependent on skill or stat bonuses to the Buy/Sell rolls. The area where skills are relevant, the "Merchant Quality" factor, has been replaced by either NWPs or DM fiat, and 2nd edition Charisma rules have also been applied as a modifier to chance of success when driving for a particular price, based on Reaction Adjustment. Finally, the steep edges of the Buy/Sell table for haggling have been smoothed out by changing -120/-100 to -110/-90 and +25/+30 to +35/+40. Using the rules as-is, there would be no point for the end-of-range adjustments to even exist, as they are utterly unattainable even under highly favourable circumstances.

Mercantile Variation

The Great Net Equipment List can be found here. While there are no objective values for products, this pricelist establishes a baseline value for goods based on the material conditions of Morus. When evaluating the relative value of products in an area, there are three important factors that affect the price of a given commodity in a given area at a given time, all of which are related. The current market price can be determined by characters with the Appraisal skill; the accuracy depends on how much the check is passed by.


The first factor to consider is demand. The demand for the given item will affect the price that people are willing to pay for it.

Demand Modifier
Low -10%
Average +0%
Moderate +10%
High +25%
Exceptional +50%


The next factor to consider is supply, which is rationalised in the form of the distance to the nearest source of a similar item. If you are in a farming village, you will not get much more than the base price for a given commodity. For each 400 miles you are from the nearest place that produces the commodity in question, the value of the commodity doubles. It is for this reason that exotic spices bring in such a lucrative amount of money - distance costs.

If you are unsure of where the nearest area of production for a commodity is, follow this guideline: if it is produced in another distinct area (geographical or political), simply use the distance to that nation and add 3d100 miles. If it is produced in the same nation that you are currently in, roll 3d100 miles to find the distance to the nearest area of production.


Finally, the quality of the item also affects its value in the market. Refer to the table below for the numbers.

Quality Modifier
Low -10%
Average +0%
Moderate +10%
High +25%
Exceptional +50%

Quality is not universal, but relates to the average quality that may be found in the area. Low quality silk in one area may be average silk in another. As such, when the supply is higher (when you are further away from the point of production), high-quality items of that type will become rarer and rarer, meaning that your items will also tend to increase in their quality as compared to other items available in that area.

Flooding the Market

Selling very large quantities of a commodity will have two effects: firstly, not all merchants are willing to buy the commodity. If you've already sold 600 pounds of silk, the merchant has no need to buy more - they need to worry about who's going to buy all this silk from them. Furthermore, in a flooded market, artificial inflation will set in, reducing demand drastically. In a flooded market, Demand is always considered to be low. Furthermore, a flooded market counts as a "Point of Origin" for as long as it is flooded, meaning that any of that commodity sold there will not be doubled or quadrupled (or so on) due to distance from the area it was manufactured in. This, in addition to the difficulty of finding someone to buy in the huge bulk required to flood the market with a commodity, makes flooding the market a very foolish practise.


Monopoly occurs when either all local producers of a commodity have been bought, or sometimes when a party simply has enough wealth to buy all of a commodity that is produced and thus ensure that it all falls into their hands. Maintaining a monopoly ensures that you have complete control over that commodity - if the commodity is in any sort of demand at all, then people will be forced to pay whatever price you dictate for it. Monopolies can be undermined by scrupulous or canny merchants who refuse to sell to the monopoliser, which is why many monopolies have an aspect of organised crime. Monopolies are not always independent - the most effective type of monopoly is that which is government enforced. Most notably, the government has a monopoly on the production of coins.


Once the value of your commodities in a given area is determined, it falls upon you to actually sell your goods. Getting a good price for your goods can be very difficult, especially if you do not have good connections and/or are not a very charismatic person to begin with.

Base Haggling Modifer

Before entering into a trade situation, you must determine the basic percentage chance that the merchant in question will accept your offer.

To get your base success modifier, multiply your Reaction Adjustment by 5; for example, if your Charisma is 16 you will have a +10% base modifier. Note that it is entirely possible to start with a negative modifier if you have a low Charisma. Furthermore, if you have previous relations with this merchant, your chance may be increased or decreased based on your relationship with this particular merchant, by up to 20%.

Community Size

After this, the next adjustment is based on the size of the community. It is hard to make transactions, especially large ones, amongst small communities. This is reflected by an adjustment to your chance of success.

Settlement Population Modifier
Thorp 20-80 -30%
Hamlet 80-400 -15%
Village 400-900 -5%
Small Town 900-2000 +0%
Large Town 2000-5000 +5%
Small City 5000-12000 +10%
Large City 12000-25000 +20%
Metropolis 2500+ +25%

Transaction Magnitude

The next adjustment is based on the price of the transaction. More expensive goods will always be more difficult to shift, and buying more expensive goods will engender more caution and careful haggling from a shopkeeper. The following table gives a list of item values and the adjustment to your % chance of success from trying to buy or sell these items.

Value Modifier
0-1 SP +20%
1-50 SP +10%
5-20 GP +5%
20-50 GP +0%
50-100 GP -5%
100-150 GP -10%
150-300 GP -15%
300-600 GP -20%
600-1000 GP -30%
1000+ GP -40%


Once you have calculated your final haggling modifier, it is time to make an offer. Depending on how much higher or lower than the current going rate your offer is, the table below will give you a chance of success. If the price you're asking for isn't on the table. To make a haggling check, apply your haggling modifier to this chance of success and roll a d100. If you succeed, the offer has been accepted. If you fail, it means that your offer has been refused.

Chance of Success Buy Offer Sell Offer
5% 50% 200%
10% 60% 175%
25% 70% 150%
50% 80% 125%
80% 100% 100%
100% 125% 80%
120% 150% 70%
150% 175% 60%

A failed offer doesn't mean that negotiations are closed; you can keep on making offers for as long as the merchant will let you. Merchants don't have infinite patience, however, and most will tell you to shove off if they don't think you are making serious offers. Remember, as well, that your relationship with a merchant is a factor in haggling - so frustrating a merchant with repeated failed offers makes it less likely he'll give you a good price in the future.

If the price you're asking for is so far from the going rate that it doesn't even appear on the table, you can assume the merchant either automatically accepts or refuses - depending on whether it's a ridiculously good deal or a ridiculously bad one!