|Expertise = Skill Level + Learned Trait|
|1||10 CP||Paltry Venture|
|2||5 CP||Specialty 1|
|3||10 CP||Moderate Venture|
|4||15 CP||Specialty 2|
|5||20 CP||Substantial Venture|
|6||25 CP||Specialty 3|
|7||30 CP||Child of Fortune—or— Perfect Collector|
|8||35 CP||Specialty 4—or— Dealmaker|
|9||40 CP||Child of Fortune—or— Perfect Collector|
|10||45 CP||Specialty 5—or— Monopolist|
|11||50 CP||Child of Fortune—or— Perfect Collector|
|12||55 CP||Specialty 6—or— Invisible Hand|
This ability measures a merchant’s facility in buying, selling, trading, investing, managing, and making business contacts. Expertise is equal to a character’s skill level in Mercantile plus any levels they have in the Learned Trait. All downtime actions that use the Mercantile skill will involve Expertise in some way. At the beginning of every game, a character receives a number of Fragments equal to their Expertise rating, representing their general income and profits.
This set of abilities allows a merchant to invest money in market speculations, make business contacts, and manage concerns. Each successive Venture ability increases the amount that may be invested, the importance and power of the contacts that may be made, and the size of the businesses that may be managed.
In order to speculate in a market, a merchant must decide on the amount of money they wish to risk in that speculation on a per-action basis. This amount is limited to 10 Fragments per action for Paltry Ventures, 20 for Moderate, and 30 for Substantial. The speculator must note what kind of investment they are making: Risky, Average, or Conservative. At the next game they will get their return on these investments—in the form of debt or profit—during start-of-game production. Debts may be paid off immediately before game or later using downtime actions, but if they are left unpaid they will be compounded, and large debts will almost certainly lead to in-game repercussions. Successful speculations depend upon base Expertise, any specialties that apply to the markets involved, any Tip used to enhance success, and the risk level of each investment.
In order to make a business contact, the merchant must simply dedicate one or more downtime actions to pursuing it. Contacts can take more than one game to develop, and when they do they will likely appear in game to seek out the merchant in person or through a representative. The importance of the contacts that may be made is limited by Venture ability. Success, however, depends on Expertise, specialties, the character’s general relationship to the potential contact, and any money they wish to spend to “grease the wheels.” Although a merchant may spend as much money as they like on bribery in this regard, the amount that will have an actual effect is limited as per the speculation limits above. Money used for bribery is handled as per a speculation debt.
In order to manage a concern (business or organization), a character must spend downtime actions just like other ventures. Most concerns require at least one successful action per event on the manager’s part in order to run smoothly, but additional actions can enhance profits and reveal opportunities, and will contribute to the concern’s overall size and scope. The size of the concern that can be managed is directly limited by venture ability. Money can be invested in a concern, but the amount of usable capital is limited exactly as contact or speculation actions, and payment is handled in the same fashion.
Specialties in Mercantile are defined as specific market, contact, and business types. When performing venture actions, a character adds 2 to their Expertise for each specialty they have in it.
This ability allows a character to seize opportunity when they find it. Once per season (game year), the merchant can enter into a period of intensely profitable wheeling and dealing. For one entire downtime session, the character functionally gains a +6 to their Expertise. In addition, Mercantile actions that would be normally impossible—regardless of expertise—become possible while under the affects of this ability, such as taking over a powerful, established firm in a short time period, or creating an entirely new market from whole cloth.
This ability allows a merchant to find and purchase almost any rare, “priceless” item. Once per season (game year), the merchant may spend a downtime action as a perfect collector, for which they declare that they are seeking to buy some piece of rare art, a powerful artifact, or a historical relic. This action is almost guaranteed to be successful as long as the item itself is not ridiculously out-of-bounds, and a contact will appear in play at the next game to negotiate the deal. The more specific the merchant makes their demand, the better, though something will always materialize.
A character with this ability can buy and sell almost anything. As a mercantile action, the character can directly purchase and/or sell up to a number of discrete items equal to their Expertise. Multiple actions can be dedicated to Dealmaker per session. Note that characters normally are not able to buy and sell items during downtime sessions, without this ability.
The types of items guaranteed to be purchasable are those limited to the listed Craft and Tinkering production tables. All tagged items in the character’s possession, however, are sellable with this ability. Dealmaker items are purchased and sold at double their production cost in Fragments.
Finally, Dealmakers can find out the “base” value of items for which the cost is unknown or believed unknowable, though it takes a single downtime action dedicated to figuring this out, per item.
Upon choosing this ability, the character comes into their own as the controlling figure in all the markets related to their specialties. Functionally, this means that market speculations and Concern management in those areas are much more likely to generate a positive result.
With this ability, a master merchant will be able to freely turn their great wealth to ever more flexible ends. By spending money finding the finest facilities, associates, materials, and opportunities, they may enhance their competence in all other skilled arenas. Per downtime session, every 3 Fragments a character spends will add 1 to the derived abilities of all their general skills, save Mercantile. The highest bonus they may receive with this ability is limited to their Expertise, meaning that 3 x Expertise is the largest amount that may be usably spent.
A merchant may also use this ability to enhance the abilities of others, though the cost for doing so increases to 6 Fragments per point, and the recipient must acknowledge that they are gaining such a benefit in their post-event form. The bonus they may receive is limited to the lesser value between the merchant’s expertise and their own derived ability level.
When enhancing a merchant’s own abilities, Invisible Hand does not cost a downtime action. It takes one action per person aided, however, when used on others. Regardless of the target, this ability is useless on those without at least some level in the skill that is being enhanced.