In Character Generation, the player is treated to a relatively pleasant stroll through some rosters of adventure gear and tools, weapons, armor, and the like, all laid out for his convenience with easy set prices and no need for roleplaying or dealing with merchants, in much the same way as picking up a modern catalogue and ordering what is needed. This makes equipping the character much easier and more pleasant.
Sadly, once the character is brought into play, the days of simple and easy shopping, of catalogue-style purchases, are over.
Shopping for one’s needs in a medieval marketplace during a roleplaying session is a completely different experience. Finding what one needs may not be so easy as just going down to the local market and laying out the coin, especially when one is in the more remote reaches of the countryside. A character may have to wait for a market day to occur, first, unless he is in a chartered town with right of perpetual market. Regardless, if it is Sunday, he will have to wait until Monday to make his purchases.
There is no guarantee that what the character seeks can be found. Even in primary ports, one may have to wait on a craftsman to make something, or at least for a ship to arrive with ready goods from elsewhere, unless the type of goods he seeks are made in the region or town where he is located. This will be easy enough to find out, as a shire’s reputation is in part defined by the sorts of goods or materials produced there, as are the reputations of the chief shire towns.
Quality of goods won’t be guaranteed ever again, however, except in general by the applicable guilds, so the ability to assess the quality of goods such as that of Merchant characters becomes invaluable. Prices are only rarely ever to be so easily fixed or agreed on again, when one must deal with headstrong and proud merchants and craftsmen, as well. Fortunately the PC’s have the theory of the “just price” that is enforced by the Church on their side. The GM may insist that encounters with merchants and craftsmen be roleplayed out so the GM can get a feel for the merchant’s character and to determine a reaction towards the PC in order to come up with a more appropriate price, and especially to allow Merchant PC’s to employ their skills at Haggling, or those with social skills to try to influence the price by use of Presence skills (CHM, BTY). Indeed, there is always the danger of sharps and conmen waiting around every corner to take advantage of the PC’s, to take his money and default on the goods, or crooked moneylenders and moneychangers. Going shopping might even be considered an adventure in and of itself.
When the character goes out into the marketplace in active game play, the player needs to keep in mind the fact that most goods sold by the merchants in open-air markets are the most common or second-rate in quality, but the peddlers will always press for full price if they can get it. The player should be aware that hawkers and huxsters roaming the streets with their carts crying their wares are only tolerated, generally frowned on by common society, often accused of selling poor quality as new or even dealing in stolen goods.
To find true top quality or luxury goods, a character must pay a visit to the permanent market halls in the major port town(s) in which the town(s) renowned for producing the type of goods he seeks are represented, so he may strike a deal with the merchants native to that town who maintain representatives there. The character might, alternately, simply go to the town in question in person, or acquire an agent or “factor” to send to seek his needs and make his purchases for him.
In general, the chances of the character actually finding the materials or goods he seeks could be very good or almost guaranteed to very slim, depending on the location of the town or village market he is shopping, whether the goods or materials are native to the region or shire and how commonly needed those goods or materials are. Supplies for performing ritual magick, for example, can only be purchased in primary central markets or central regional markets. So, as common as pigs are in the agricultural medieval society (even in the towns), going “to market, to market to buy a fat pig” will be easy enough, so one can, indeed, return “home again, home again, jiggidy-jig” – unless it is after November (“Bloodmonth”) when all livestock that cannot be supported through the winter are slaughtered. Finding a pig carcass (smoked or salted) in early winter would be easy, however. Finding basic foodstuffs like meat and/or grain, or seasonal foods in season, is also similarly easy except in times of famine.
It is not difficult to find out which towns have the best reputations for the particular type of goods a character is seeking. Within the kingdom of England, Bath was renowned for its Roman baths/spas; Tilbury was noted for its ferry; Oxford for its universities and colleges; Northampton for its bachelors (important when women outnumbered men 6 to 4); Grimsby for cod; Doncaster for its belts, Haverhill for gloves, Tickhill for shoes, and Carlisle for horn; Colchester for russet cloth; Brideport for hempen cables (rope for sailing ships); Wilton for needles, Leicester for razors, and Huntingdon for scissors; Coventry for soap, Reading for tiles; Corfe for marble.
For characters of the Merchant trade, it will be a matter of basic trade knowledge, included in their trade Lore skill. Indeed, it was common practice in the period of the game for the people to make up catchy rhymes about the towns and what they are known for, the quality of the churches’ bells, the disposition of the natives, etc.
On the international market, Spain and Portugal sent sweet wines, figs, honey, raisins, almonds, licorice, iron, hard soaps of Castile, wax rosin, tar, cork, the renowned leather of Cordova, oranges of Valencia; Ireland sent herring, salmon, hides, furs/pelts, timber, linen and linen yarn; Gascon wine; dyestuffs from Picardy and Toulouse, France; glass from Italy and France; alum from Italy; gems, ebony, ivory, spices, and drugs from the East via Italy; fine cloth from the Low Countries.
- The best steel came from Toledo, Spain or Damascus in the Middle East.
- The armor of the masters in Nüremburg, Germany was rivaled only by that of the duchy and city of Milan, Italy.
- The finest red leather came from Cordova, Spain – hence, Cordovan leather.
- Good olive oil could be had from any Italian merchant.
- For wool the buyer went to see the English merchants, but the wool of Scotland was even more valuable.
- Citrus fruits came from Spain – hence, Valencia oranges.
- One looked to Flanders, Ghent, Arras, or Yprés in the Low Countries for the best in woven woolen cloth, but Italy held the secrets of the finest dyes (stolen from the Germans) and cloth of silk (stolen from the Middle East).
- From the Rhine River valley in Germany, and Bordeaux, Burgundy, Gascony, or Champagne in France came the finest wines (although the expensive sparkling wine that took the name of the duchy of Champagne came much later).
- Spices, glasswares, carpets and fine ceramics were among the finest luxuries to be had from the Middle East and Far East, by way of the Italian merchants.
- The city of Arras in Flanders became so famous for the quality of heavy Gobelin-style tapestries that all tapestries were called “arras”, regardless of the city in which they were woven, just as a tissue is called a “Kleenex”® and a photocopy is called a “Xerox”® today, regardless of the actual brand.
- Although it did not come into being as modern folk know it until the 1400’s, the cities of Brussels, in Flanders, and Chantilly in France, each became renowned for their own patterns of fine, needle- and hand-tatted lace.
This was all common knowledge in medieval Europe. The GM should prepare a similar list for the use of the PC’s for their native countiry(-ies), but an even more detailed one for character’s of the Merchant trade, especially detailing the specific type of goods in which the character specializes (if any).
Before the PC’s can go shopping anywhere, the GM will first need to review his maps and decide where the markets are most likely to be.
In English parlance, a market is a “cheap”. Markets or cheaps are not simply places where people gather willy-nilly to do business as they see fit. Holding a market and collecting the tolls of boards and stalls and holding and collecting the fines of the steward’s court of “pieds poudre” (French, “dusty feet”), corrupted to “pie powder” in English, for settling disputes, and supplying and charging for the use of the standard measures of the kingdom, all are feudal prerogatives awarded by charter from a local lord or from the king, depending on who holds the land where the town or village lies. Such market charters are only granted where deemed needful and most profitable to the lord or king.
Since they had to pay for the franchise, those holding the markets insisted on a few rules of their own so that the great lords or the Crown would not profit unduly from a profusion of markets while those holding each individual market suffered from undue and unfair competition. Markets are frequently held in churchyards by ancient custom, and in towns generally in the square in front of or beside the greater churches, or the cathedral in a city. For these, the fees are generally rather small and appear much as modern sidewalk sales or open field flea markets.
Regional markets and local markets must be no closer together than roughly 15 miles if held in the same day, and no shops or other markets are allowed to be open for business within a 15-mile radius of an open market. The market of the village or town that can produce written documentation proving that its charter was granted first will have precedence when two markets lie within the 15-mile radius and are both scheduled for the same day. The only recourse of the village or town holding the other market is to petition for the charter to be amended so they may hold theirs on a different day.
Markets are usually only held once per week, maybe twice in a week in larger villages and more populous areas. When more than one large village lies in the same area (hundred or distinct geographical region), it should not be uncommon (and was not uncommon historically) for the market to be passed back and forth from one village to another on alternating days. Borough or chief shire towns where the sheriffs make their headquarters (at the royal castle) and all national ports and primary and secondary regional ports should always have right of perpetual market, an open market until noon on every day and some limited shop hours on Sundays also. This means the GM should never place any local (village) market within 15 miles of one of these towns, and these towns should never be closer together than 15 miles, or better still, 30 miles.
Once the GM has determined where the markets are, he should think about what sorts of goods will be produced in what areas of the realm (where they will always be readily available), or by which foreign kingdoms. The topographic character of the different regions of the kingdom will provide a guide as to what major economic activities take place where (mining, livestock herding, tilling to raise grain, forest for building and ships and smelting, etc.). This, in turn indicates what the characters will find readily available in the way of raw materials or finished goods commonly and regularly produced for public need or sustenance, or ports where ready-made imports can be had, and of course, the locations and sizes of the various markets, which the GM will need to assign.
The hours during which both marketplaces and town shops are open are discussed in the passage headed “The Typical Medieval Day”.
Society & Custom: Medieval Clothing
The ability to distinguish social class, and even some specific trades, is important in the medieval gameworld, for it allows passersby to know one’s rank and thus to render whatever level of public courtesy is appropriate. This is very important particularly to roleplay.
The PC’s will be expected to react appropriately to the displays of wealth in the clothing of the rich and powerful, and if the PC’s rate the same treatment or are ranking professionals (recognized master craftsmen, et al.), they too will have to dress accordingly in order to receive the same courtesy.
In appearance it takes time for some to achieve the standard of the period – skin pale “like snow on ice” can be created with powders (talcum), sheep fat, and/or lead white (lead oxide) preparations and lips rouged to show “as red as two cherries”. Sun-browned skin is a symbol of the peasantry who work hard in the fields under the relentless sun, and as such is scorned by the pale and fair wealthy and noble classes. Hair lines may even be plucked and framed with veils or wimples to reveal an appealing high, wide forehead.
The actual trades of many craftsmen or guild members are often distinguished by their modes of dress.
Monks and clerics in general wear the familiar customary cassock and mantle. The cassock’s color and the accoutrements worn with or over it identify the brother’s specific order. Priests of different religions will also have similarly distinctive dress. The scholars educated at the Church-sponsored and controlled universities, and the sages and professional magisters from among their numbers wear the black robes and black flat-topped biretta hat (the precursor of the gown and mortar board hat worn for modern graduation ceremonies), unless they are ordained as priests, in which case they will wear the garb of the Church, instead of that of a professional scholar.
Judges wear gown, tunic, and hood of red, all lined in white, with a black coif (close fitting cloth hood tied under the chin) when appearing in their official capacity in public.
Sergeants-at-law wear parti-colored robes of green and brown or black and white with the same black coif when appearing in their official capacity in public.
Physicians, who must have completed a PhD. in Physick at a university, wear robes of purple with scarlet gloves, and perhaps a scarlet biretta, as their prestige comes from their great education.
Bailiffs, reeves, and other land management officials in the country are distinguished by a cap of “budge”, a type of prepared skin.
By statute (law), professional harlots of the streets must wear dresses of scarlet along with striped hoods which must NOT be lined or trimmed in any intimation of fine fashion.
Even lepers have their customary garb, a coat and gloves of gray worn along with a scarlet hat, but that practice is a matter of public health and safety.
The colors for these traditional modes of dress are very likely described as or actually restricted to a certain special shade or hue, available only from a specific town or through a particular merchant of that town, who holds a monopoly on the method or process and the materials for producing that color.
Those who cannot prove they have the right to wear one of these colors for their traditional garb may be forbidden to purchase clothes or even fabric of that particular hue, especially if the town’s or merchant’s monopoly depends on such a condition or restriction.
All PC’s, and similarly the GM with his NPC’s, should avoid any of these special modes of dress unless they are entitled to them, or are wearing them to some special purpose and are aware of the toes on which they are treading by doing so. If caught in the act, one can be taken to court and fined for this impersonation.
To reserve the most luxurious modes of dress to the uses of those of noble blood and safeguard their lofty dignity, so that they may be identified on sight, the nobles press for legislation and the Church concurs. In the Church’s view the pursuit of fashion is impious vanity at its worst, so much the better to limit the availability of such expensive apparel. The Crown concurs with this attitude, as its own dignity might well be compromised by upstarts who have nothing better to do with their money than ape their betters.
The “Sumptuary Laws” were written to preserve the distinctions between classes, to preserve the wealth of those for whom it might be easily squandered, and especially to keep the wealth of the kingdom IN the kingdom, to reduce spending on foreign textiles due to the fact that most such rich goods and accessories were of foreign manufacture.
It is not until the late 1200’s that Sumptuary Laws aimed at keeping the commoners dressed according to their “station”.
While these laws were addressed to the entire social body, the focus of regulation was on women and the middle (working) classes.
These laws bar servants from wearing any suit of clothing greater than 8s. in value, and from wearing silk, silver, or gold, at all.
The City of London regulated the apparel, or clothing, of workmen (1281). This is the first instance of Sumptuary legislation in England in the period of the game. No laborer is allowed to wear cloth valued at more than 8d. per yard, regardless of how well-off he becomes. Common men, brewers’ men, and others in service must wear linen or wool, never velvet or silk.
Serving girls may not wear jackets. They and the maids must not go to church in pearls or gold studs, and are allowed only black braid trimmings as decoration. They are roughly equal to “women of their own incomes”, or femme sole, for the purposes of attire, equal to nannies, seamstresses, and other women in service or earning their living at a craft by their own hand.
These restrictions related to workers who had clothes supplied by their employer as a part of their wages (commonly referred to as “robe money” and/or “shoe money”).
Multi-colored (four-part) hose, caps, and coats, even simple and parti-colored garments (made up of two colors, divided right and left), are considered excessive for the commonalty, although there are no laws actually enacted against them in the period. There survives a great deal of Church invective condemning such excess.
But this alone is not enough.
In the late 1200’s and early 1300’s, several Church synods and councils in Europe issued decrees prohibiting both clerics and laymen from wearing multi-colored garments. Record of such decrees survive for Köln, Germany as early as 1281 and for Trier in 1310, a Köln synod of 1321 targeted clerics only, allowing multi-colored clothes in secular wear. In Vienna (1311–12) the clergy were forbidden to wear striped as well as parti-colored clothing and in Liége in 1287 stripes “of indecent measure” were banned among the clergy. The Danish act of 1269/1283 reinforced Church decree by secular national law. The 1269/1283 act came a few years after an identical ban was written in Spain, and the wording of the Danish and the Spanish acts are so similar that it is likely they had the same origin (the Church). In Icelandic sumptuary legislation from 1269 clergymen were prohibited from wearing garments that were parti-colored and those of red cloth, as well. Bans of the same character were issued in Iceland in 1345 and in Norway in 1351.
In England (1336), no knight under the estate of a lord, nor any other person, shall wear any shoes or boots having spikes or points which exceed the length of two inches, under the forfeiture of 40d. (3s. 4d.).
Women in general are to be dressed in accordance with the position of their fathers or husbands (1363).
The wives and daughters of servants are not to wear veils of greater than 12d. (1s.) in value.
Handicraftsmen’s and yeomen’s wives are not to wear veils of silk.
The wife or daughter of a knight may not wear cloth-of-gold or sable.
The wife or daughter of a knight-bachelor may not wear velvet.
The wife or daughter of an esquire or gentleman may not wear velvet, satin or ermine.
The wife or daughter of a laborer is not to wear a girdle garnished with silver or clothes beyond 8s. in value.
The use of cloth-of-gold and purple silk are confined to women of the royal family (regardless of title or lack thereof).
Foreigners are forbidden to import silk and lace.
Furs are also restricted, even for simple clothing trim. The “vair and grey” (the mottled belly and gray back fur of the grey northern squirrel) is reserved specially for the ranks of knights. Sable is reserved for barons and great men of even higher rank, while ermine is solely for members of the royal family.
The use of fur (sable) among ladies is confined to the wives of knights with a income greater than 200M (= £133.) per year.
The furs of the coney, hare or rabbit, the fox, marten, otter, and the fur called “budge” (prepared lambskin) are all yielded to the commoners. Many of the common white furs such as rabbit will be dyed as an alternative to a more costly and restricted fur, red a favorite though the most expensive color.
The player will please note that, while these laws might be enforced occasionally when one of the upper classes got his nose out of joint over someone without the social rank really getting extravagant, the Sumptuary Laws were generally ineffectual in most public places and times. People will wear what they think they can afford, especially if they are sure they can pay the fine should someone be offended by their presumption. If they can, then they really do have the wealth to wear it, and that is really all that matters.
Defining the Markets
Before the characters even get to them to do their shopping, the GM will need to determine what the character of the market is to which they are headed, which will indicate the sorts of things they will find there. Markets can be broken down into five basic types : plenteous primary central markets, regularly supplied central regional markets, central local markets, irregularly or sporadically supplied outlying local markets, and isolated hinterland markets.
A plenteous primary central market is one where a particular type of goods are actually produced, or the towns and/or villages in its immediate vicinity, or the primary locale where all the different types of goods of several regions are gathered prior to being shipped in bulk either to another major geographic region of the realm or overland to a neighboring realm, or to a primary port for those goods to be shipped out of the country. Raw blooms of metal are a good case-in-point. The primary market for these should be found primarily only in or adjacent to the forests closest to the mines or the mining district where the ore is dug, where the ores are then refined and the metal extracted. Products wrought from the metal blooms produced by the forest smelters should be the specialties of the villages and towns of that district and the surrounding region, unless their environment provides them with the materials for some sort of industry that is more profitable for them, in which case the metal will be a minor industry and the blooms from the smelters will primarily be shipped elsewhere to be worked and for sale in their raw state. Primary central markets for horses should be confined to those parts of the country suitable for grazing, breeding, raising, training and running the grassy, gently rolling hills or level plains. Trying to purchase horses from a Husbandman outside of this region the characters will pay more. The farther from that region the higher the price. If the characters have no Husbandman qualified to assess the state of health of the Beast(s) being purchased and want to be sure of quality when outside that primary market region, they will seek an agent, factor or merchant representing one of the Husbandman horse farmers.
In terms of ready-made imported goods, whether imported from a “foreign” region of the country or actually originating in an alien country, this classification of market must only be assigned to the chief-most port of the kingdom, the very first port to which all alien import goods are brought into the realm, the “break-in-bulk” port, called the “staple”. There is likely to be a single “staple” port overseas having a monopoly on the receipt of all native goods shipped out of the country The native staple for alien imports is likely to be divided between a number of ports, one primary (such as London) and several secondary staples which have monopolies on the receipt of all goods from a given foreign country, or a monopoly on the receipt of imports from a particular (primary) port of a given foreign country, or a monopoly on the receipt of a particular type of goods, such as wine. These are the markets in which the prices will be the cheapest in all the kingdom. A port town central-most for the entire international trade of the realm (such as London) will be the type of primary central market which will be the most reliable for allowing the character to find just about anything he wants in the way of foreign imports. The same will be true of the products and produce of the width and breadth of the realm, anything desired will be present, BUT the character will pay the highest price for it. He would do better to buy native goods in the places where they are produced, or from markets close by.
When the primary central market has great national significance, such as being the main port or central market for a half or quadrant of the whole kingdom, merchants of national status on whom the nation’s trade generally depends can be found, or their most important agents or factors if they are based in another town and merely maintain an office in the chief “staple” town (port).
These are the market towns with the greatest number of rights in their charters concerning the operation of their markets, in regards to taxes and tolls and self governance including justice, usually created by a grant from the Crown as opposed to a local lord or baron, and commonly providing a flat money rent or fee-farm to the king in return.
A central regional market is one that is regularly supplied with the goods of the surrounding local regions (shires) being gathered into it on the way to a primary central market or port. These are the type to be found in the boroughs or towns of the shires bordering that in which a primary central market lies, or in the chief shire towns and diocesan cities of all the shires of the rest of the realm, or those specifically designated as gathering the produce or manufactured products of a particular region for distribution to the rest of the kingdom. There may be as many as a half-dozen of this class of market in a single shire of a well-settled, progressively governed and industrially oriented region of the kingdom.
In relationship to ports handling alien goods, these are the secondary ports designated by the GM as “staples” having a monopoly on handling the traffic coming from particular major cities of alien kingdoms, those with whom the greatest volume of trade is carried out, or from entire kingdoms with whom only limited trade is carried on.
The factors and agents of the merchants of national stature from the primary central market port(s) can be found in the central regional markets, as well, if their masters do business with the city(-ies) or kingdom(s) whose goods come through these ports, and also merchants and factors of regional importance to the kingdom. When the central regional markets are inland, they will be up some great river from or adjacent to the primary central market (port) that serves them.
These are prominent towns and cities of regional note who may have received their chartered rights from the Crown or from some high-ranking local lord. The numbers of rights and privileges they enjoy regarding taxes and tolls and self governance including justice can vary greatly, and commonly provide a flat money rent or fee-farm to the king or lord in return. The issues of the court settling disputes of the market are often reserved for the grantor of the charter rather than to the town or city, as are matters of high justice involving capital punishment (“pleas of the sword”).
Central local market status should generally be associated with lesser (borough) towns in the more rural reaches of the kingdom, or major villages centrally located in rural districts which are otherwise devoid of larger towns or cities. There may be a dozen or markets of this class in a single (large, rural) shire. For goods not produced within the shire, they depend on the once or twice a monthly carrier services of the carters of the merchants of the greater markets. This will be greatly influenced by weather and will cease for the winter months.
In terms of ports and imported goods, these should be the lesser secondary ports serviced by the main regional ports (central regional), and should generally only receive what import goods the merchants’ and nobles’ factors have requested, plus a limited amount above this for general sales, and perhaps an additional amount for the chapmen who will supply themselves at this market level to wander the hinterlands servicing their clients. When the central regional market is a coastal port, the central local markets it serves will most likely be found inland up a major river or linked to one by canal, when the central regional market is inland, it will be up some great river and the central local markets around it up tributaries and across canals even farther inland.
These are often created when there is sufficient need by petition to the local lord or baron, only rarely from the Crown unless the town or village lies within the royal estates of the shire.
Outlying local markets should generally be limited to the villages surrounding the central local markets of the greater villages and towns, beyond the 15-mile margin which would cause them to be shut down while the greater market is open. These may center on a town or greater village or small collection of villages close together (within 3 to 5 miles) dominated by a large, wealthy manor, castle, or military fortress (outpost) in the outlying districts beyond easy reach of a central local market. These should be served fairly regularly by chapmen (as often as monthly) and the carter services roughly once every 4 to 8 weeks, depending on weather even moreso than the central local markets, and also ceasing completely in the winter months. These markets are likely to lie up the smaller tributaries of the major rivers, deep in the hinterlands. They are commonly held in a local churchyard or on the manor demesne by ancient custom (“against which no man’s memory doth run to the contrary”), the proceeds and prerogatives belonging to the local lord or the Church.
An isolated hinterland market is primarily only for the sale of local produce for the convenience of the local residents, to make sure that all have enough to eat, good and serviceable clothing and footwear, fuel (firewood and/or coal, depending on the local resources), and the other necessities of life. They will be farther than 15 miles from the nearest outlying local market and will generally be isolated by rough topography (mountains, scarps, etc.) or other obstacles (bogs, fens or other wetlands, rivers with no fords or bridges) or inhospitable terrain. These can lie in hidden valleys or high vales in rough, steep or broken hill country or deep in high mountains or their isolated passes, on islands in bayous or coastal marshes or fens, surrounded by upland moors and bogs, in thick, threatening forest haunted by Færies, eldritch magick, or dangerous bandits and outlaws, or in rocky wastes or deserts where lack of water makes for hazardous travelling conditions.
These markets will be serviced by the occasional visits of a few chapmen in their yearly circuits, perhaps a different one every month during good weather, or even as little as one every season, or perhaps a visit from a cart service once or twice a season if it seems feasible due to the level of business in a neighboring region, depending on how far out and isolated they are in the hinterland (GM’s discretion).
Like the outlying local markets, these are commonly held in a local churchyard or on the manor demesne by ancient custom (“against which no man’s memory doth run to the contrary”), the proceeds and prerogatives belonging to the local lord or the Church.
To Market, To Market …
The collecting of tolls at the town gates on market days slows the entrance of traffic into the city tremendously, for some render their payment in kind (which must be stowed safely away by the guards) and some are exempt and have to produce documents (bona fides, letters of credit, etc.) proving treaty rights and guild status (lest they lose those rights through disuse), but this can ease the pressure of traffic within the walls considerably.
Carts are banned altogether in a few of the streets due to the narrowness of the way and the common instance of cellars tunneled beneath the road (as in Bristol). Some streets are simply entirely too narrow for a cart to get through (as narrow as 7 or 8 feet). These ways are reserved for porters and pack horses. In some of the lesser towns, maybe two or three streets are wide enough to handle all wheeled traffic.
To help control traffic on market days, livestock might be divided by type and sent to different areas of the town, or even to a field just outside the town, where they cannot affect the traffic, as they were to the Brodemede at Bristol, historically.
To block the way of the carts and/or pack horses or mounts of travelers or visitors in certain avenues could incur a fine of 40d. (3s 4d.).
The horses of those coming to market are to be stabled and not to be left in the common way, except in the case of blacksmiths’ shops, where staples are provided to tie the reins of the horse in need of shoes until he can be attended to. Unattended horses are to be impounded by the Common Sergeant, and take 4d. for each before returning them.
No carter is allowed to drive his cart more quickly when it is unloaded than when it is loaded, under pain of a fine of 40d. to the [City] Chamber, and imprisonment by the Mayor. Horses must be led by hand to the river, not herded, that the safety of any children who might be playing in the streets be compromised, on fine of 6d., unless the beast is escaped.
Pigs in the streets are by far the greatest nuisance in the towns. Nearly everyone keeps pigs, and the streets are littered with their waste as well as that of carthorses and draught-oxen. The garbage commonly thrown in the gutters at both margins of the streets makes the streets the pigs’ preferred hunting grounds. There is much snuffling in kennels, rooting under walls and burrowing under rubbish heaps, considered trespass, or in some places damages, and in others sudden obstruction. In London, only the pigs of St. Anthony’s Hospital (Threadneedle Street), who were belled, were allowed to roam for forage in the streets. Pigs were allowed to be kept on a man’s own property, and might be driven to feed outside the town by the owner or the common swineherd, but because of the ample fare for them in the streets people constantly allowed them to feed there.
Pigs found wandering in street, lane or ditch could be killed on sight within the town (Edward I), and the original owner allowed to purchase the carcass back at 4d. Indeed, no such ransom of the carcass was allowed in Sandwich, the carcass belonged to the slayer of the pig, and any inquiring as to their lost pig who had been so slain was fined 21d. (1s. 9d.). In Bristol, the pig found in the streets was marked by cutting off his tail in addition to the fine in the first instance, and the second time the beast’s head was cut off and the owner fined again, and charged to redeem the carcass. Cambridge was unique in enforcing the statutes against pigs only in daytime, between the hours of 7am and Vespers.
The 4d. fine or to redeem the carcass of a pig was generally the standard in England. The pig was too essential to the table and the streets too filthy for this urban problem ever to be satisfactorily addressed in the period of the game; even in the Tudor era when it persisted.
Dogs are a different problem, as a dead one is of value to no one. If a dog was considered likely to poach, it might be “expedited” in the manner normally required under the Forest Law (see Huntsman trade description), usually ordered through the manorial court. Bristol had a leash law in the 1300’s, no large dog was allowed out in the streets even with his master except on a chain (dog collars were made by the girdlers). Northampton was lenient, only requiring those dogs considered “snappy” to be leashed, and butchers’ dogs and mastiffs were allowed as long as they were tied up at night. Not nearly as numerous as the pigs, dogs were considered according to their character in most places.
The GM will have to determine for himself what laws will apply in the towns the PC’s visit. It is likely that in those lands dominated by a certain nobleman the policy will be uniform, but may be completely different in those over which another nobleman holds sway.
The PC’s are likely to take one of four approaches to procuring their needs for goods or supplies. The urgency of their need will have a direct influence on which they use. First, they may seek out a market, perhaps travelling to one that falls within the definition of a primary central market or a central regional market if one is nearby or taking the time to do so if they have it to spare, just to make sure that they will be able to procure what they need, despite the often higher cost.
The player and GM will note that this applies only to market days, when the shops are closed. Even in the towns the market for a particular type of goods might only be open once a week, especially in the case of a material commodity like cloth rather than for perishable foodstuffs like meat, which must be purchased daily.
Alternately, they may perhaps seek out a local merchant or a local hall where the merchants representing those who make what they need can be found through whom they can purchase some or all of their needs, even if it means waiting for them to be delivered from their stock in another town/market.
If the need is for some sort of manufactured good(s) and a craftsman can be found to accept the commission, the savings on the price of imported ready-made wares may be worth the (relatively) short wait.
If the PC’s have other pressing matters to which to attend, they may well seek a merchant or go to an inn or tavern during the day to locate a factor or man of affairs to retain, to whom they can simply give a list of their needs, detailing any specifics, and send him on his way so that they can see to their other business while the agent goes shopping for them – the medieval equivalent of a personal shopper.
IF the characters go in search of a merchants’ hall, pursuing the goods of a particular town or craft guild, regardless of whether raw materials or manufactured goods, the GM will first need to make an AWA & CHM check on d100 to determine whether that town has a permanent hall or keeps an office in a shared hall with other towns of the same region (shire), or if any merchant(s) of that town or dealing with the craftsmen or merchants of that town maintain an agent or factor locally for the character to find.
The character’s trade SL as a Merchant will be added to his AV for the AWA check will be increased, and/or a bonus based on his trade SL as a Diplomat or Courtier (as applicable), so long as he has contacts in the town in which he is seeking help.
The DV for the character to find the hall, office, merchant, or agent to help him obtain the goods he needs will be equal to (1 per 4 miles) of the distance of the source (raw materials) or place of origins (manufactured goods – region/shire if the GM does not actually have a pin-pointed location of manufacture) from the town in which he is seeking them or help to obtain them. This will be modified by the quality of the market in which he is seeking the goods or aid to obtain them.
Type of Market
|Isolated hinterland market||
|Outlying local market||
|Central local market||
|Central regional market||
|Primary central market||
IF the character is specifying color, and/or a specific pattern or design element or motif, and/or style or shape (as applicable), the Gm should add 10 for each such criterion applied.
IF the character is a Rogue and wishes to consult black market sources, as well, or search them exclusively, a bonus based on his Rogue trade SL will be substituted for that derived form any Diplomat or Courtier trade SL’s for use in the AWA check AV.
Characters without the Rogue trade who attempt to find black market sources could encounter serious hazards to their continued good health. Surviving these hazards might earn the PC’s new contacts in that social sphere, however.
When the character’s approach fails to put him in touch with the goods or materials he seeks, the GM should allow the normal 3 tries to gain success discussed in Chapter 1. of Part III.
Every failed check in this process should raise the DV for attaining success by 1.
Should the goods or materials sought not be available and no merchant or agent handling those goods can be found, the character will have to seek his needs in another region or a better-supplied market.
In order to properly evaluate the availability of goods when the characters head to market, the GM will need to have a working knowledge of commonly available goods. Where ever the PC’s go to market, the PC’s should always be able to find the local produce on sale : hay (from spring through fall), grain (wheat, barley, oats, beans, peas, vetches, etc.), garden produce (cabbage, leeks, lettuce, sorrel, shallots, spinach, onions, beets, scallions, broad beans, etc., varying somewhat from one ethnic region to the next by taste), butter, cheese, cattle, sheep (especially in wool-raising regions), pigs, chickens, geese, or other fowl (especially pigeons – “squab” – every manor has its dovecote), green hides or tawed or tanned leather, linen and woolen yarn, thread and cloth. The common run of cloth will be undyed (ivory or charcoal), or russet, whence came the name of the color derived from iron oxide (rust), or bluet, which is of the same quality but of a medium blue color obtained from the commonly available dyestuff such as woad. Russets and bluets are woven in most if not all villages and towns across the countryside for the clothing of the locals, and so will be widely available in ALL classes of markets. Some towns will specialize in the weaving of russets and/or bluets of a far finer quality, but usually only in the heart of the wool-raising region. Elsewhere they will be limited in availability like the better classes of all other manufactured goods, and far more expensive.
Goods such as firewood, charcoal, wooden housewares and architectural ornaments, timber for building, salt, fish, stone suitable for building or paving, decorative and gem stones, earthenware housewares and roofing or flooring tiles, and especially useful metals (copper, tin, iron, lead, silver, etc.) and the like are all considered specialized goods. They will all require some sort of specialized resource (forest for timber, broad flat coast and plenty of sun for saltpans, substrata of good building stone which can come from plain, rocky hills or mountains, veins of gemstones or metals which must be mined, clay river beds or substrata to be dug for earthenwares, etc.) to be obtained, placed by the GM in the same region where those goods or materials are available as from a primary market, even if it only a lush belt of woods dominated by oak, alder, and ash, or just a small body of water or modest river hospitable to fish or eels. Salt can come from mines, but usually isn’t high enough in concentration, and must be boiled in brine to bring up the salinity, or a salt spring which can be rimmed in pure salt crystals (a very special resource), but most salt available in the period of the game comes from the reclamation of seawater by evaporation in the sun in coastal saltpans. Earthenwares require good clay banks and large tracts of forest to burn in firing the kilns, and similar tracts are needed for smelting, to extract the metals from the ores dug by the miners. Placement of resources, the particulars on a great many of them, and the conditions surrounding their processing and use are all discussed in detail in the chapters on creating the gaming environment and the whole gameworld itself.
The GM must also consider whether the goods sought by the PC’s are seasonal in nature, like fruit ripening on the trees in July and August. While going to a larger and better supplied market will improve the availability of goods, the season may very well affect the price. Reaping starts in July for hay, and strawberries ripen in mid-June and raspberries in late June, both continuing through July, blueberries from early June through the end of August, blackberries in the month of August, cranberries in September and October. Peaches can ripen as early as late May or the beginning of June and last until late August or mid-September; plums from late May to mid-June; apples from mid-august to mid-October or as late as early November; pears from late August to late October; quinces ripen in late autumn, but require a long hot summer such as is found around the Mediterranean.
The GM should be aware that livestock prices may be as high as 3x or 4x normal if the characters try to buy them live after November and before May. This also affects the availability and prices of wool, hides and leather, causing a glut for the winter with all the animals that will have been slaughtered.
IF the goods the characters seek are unusual by nature, the GM should be sure to add 5 to the DV for finding them at market or finding someone to find them for them for every month that has passed following the picking, gathering, or culling season (as applicable).
For shipped goods in seasonal ports add the same for every month passed since the closing of the port for the winter.
The price of seasonal goods should be multiplied by 1.25 + (0.25 per full month passed following the picking, gathering, or culling season (as applicable).
The GM will please note that the only goods that should generally be available from black market sources should be foreign or alien goods (from another shire or country), and will be recognizable from those purchased through legitimate channels for the fact that the sacks, bales, kegs, etc. in which they are packed will lack the cocket seal of the Crown signifying that the proper payment of import tariffs has been made. The only exception to this will be black market goods being sold in protected market areas, where the lord has a monopoly on the sale of a certain type of goods to ensure that his own supply gets sold, or where he has sold that right to another. The black marketers will offer other local produce at a price set to undercut the monopoly in these cases. The lord’s seasonal wine monopoly is a good example of where this might come into play.
The PC’s must understand that merchants in particular will not be interested in undertaking to fill the party’s shopping needs unless the total order comes to some considerable sum, or they require such a quantity of one or more items or materials (half a “last” or more) that a discount will be in order, and providing that they have the contacts or associates to obtain what the PC’s have asked for. Most likely the party will need a little of this and a little of that, like any other large medieval household, and when this is the case that sort of buying is best done by an agent or man of affairs, whom the PC’s will be expected to support and pay expenses for while he is about their work, in addition to making sure that the craftsmen and merchants their agent patronizes in their names are paid up, whether on a seasonal basis following the same schedule as the central royal law courts, twice yearly following the practice of the Exchequer, or annually at New Years.
The AV for any given character to go forth and find someone in general retain and employ on a continuing basis to act as their factor or agent, rather than to find such a person to find something in particular on a single occasion, will start with an AWA & CHM check on d100, adding their Merchant trade SL (as applicable), with a bonus based on his trade SL as a Diplomat or Courtier (as applicable) for their social connections.
When more than one character is engaged in the search, the highest AV among them will be used as the base, and a bonus will be added based on the AV’s of all other characters involved.
The DV for this check is determined according to the rules used for Encounter Reactions, and the manner in which the PC’s treat the prospective agent or factor on interviewing him. Just because the PC’s have a position to fill doesn’t mean that the NPC’s have no pride and will jump at it regardless of the manner in which the PC’s conduct themselves (foreshadowing the manner in which he will be expected to be treated by them in future). Such interviews should always be roleplayed out so the PC’s get a chance to use their Presence/CHM skills and Savvy/AWA skill, against those of any of the NPC’s who also have them (as applicable).
This DV is subject to a modifier based on the class of the nearest market at hand.
Type of Market
|Isolated hinterland market||
|Outlying local market||
|Central local market||
|Central regional market||
|Primary central market||
Once the candidate has been tracked down and interviewed and the PC’s have made a choice, they must then offer their candidate the position.
This will require a Presence or CHM check on d100 be made vs. the same DV above (NOT including the market class modifier). The character will be allowed a bonus based on his trade SL as a Diplomat or Courtier, Player or Trickster (as applicable) to the AV for this check.
For this check, a single character must be chosen to approach the candidate and make the offer, and he will supply the AV for the check.
The Presence rules will apply in full in application of the Morale and Encounter Reaction procedures if the NPC is hesitant or initially declines the offer, if the PC’s should try to bribe, coerce or threaten the NPC into cooperating with them.
At the players’ option, however, the whole procedure of finding someone acceptable to serve in this capacity may be dumped in the lap of a Recommender, for him to get in touch with them when he has found someone suitable. Once the PC’s have located their needed items or materials in the market, or their agent has done so for them, the prices will have to be determined, and then d100 checks made for any Haggling to be done.
In determining the price for goods or materials, the GM will need to make any appropriate adjustments due to the fineness or coarseness, and only afterwards adjust the price according to how far from the region or place of origins the character(s) is, and then according to the level of commerce (general level of wealth) or class of the market or town in which the character is shopping.
Type of Market
|Isolated hinterland market||
|Outlying local market||
|Central local market||
|Central regional market||
|Primary central market||
The results of the modifier for market class should be rounded to the nearest farthing (0.25).
The GM will need to determine what part of a ton in weight the character’s purchases amount to, and then add [2d. x (number of miles)] those goods have been shipped or will have to be shipped to the final purchase price. If the goods have come by water or will come by water, the rate will only be 1d. per ton weight per 6 miles. Only the standard 15% profit margin on the goods or materials themselves will be negotiable through the use of Haggling, not the costs of shipping.
When the character’s purchase encompasses a large transaction, regardless of the mixed nature of the items or materials being purchased, if all of it is coming from the same merchant, any Haggling done over the price will NOT be on a per-item basis, but for the entire purchase being made. Haggling should never leave the Merchant with less than the original cost of the goods plus this freight charge, plus no less than 5% in profit margin (on the original cost of the goods or materials only). No Merchant would take a loss on any transaction unless the PC’s are able to offer the Merchant some goods or materials he desires on which they are willing to take an equal beating, and put the agreement in a written contract recorded in Chancery as a Concord.
IF the character(s) is buying more than a ton of goods or materials (total), the freight charges may begin to be negotiated along with the Merchant’s profit margin. The minimum freight that should be charged or collected should be 1fg. per ton per 6 miles by water or 1d. per ton per mile carried by cart.
The production techniques of the Olde World may seem slow and crude to the modern mind, very small in scope. Medieval craftsmen would be astounded by the sheer wealth in materials represented by the stock on the shelves in modern shops, and the wealthiest merchants of the day turn green with envy. Every item on the market proposed by the game will strictly me “made to order”, whether shoes or boots, armor, weapons and shields, household goods – everything! There will be no such thing as “off the rack” finished clothing unless one is in a town where such goods are made or seeks out a merchant importing (expensive) foreign goods, and then only loose-fitting outerwear and accessories, padded armors, and common pieces, especially half-plate armors and their ilk, which will fit a wider variety of bodies than the made-to-fit full plate armors which must fit more precisely.
The player should always check with the GM when the PC needs gear or supplies first to see if what he seeks can even be found locally at all, or if he must go farther afield, and if it can be found if there be a difference in price from that quoted in Appendix F., and to determine if an “off the peg” item fits the character. Every point by which the character’s trade SL, STA, CND and AGL scores differ from the average or those determined by the GM for the NPC for which the garment was made (regardless of whether above or below), and category of difference in Build, makes it less likely the garment(s) fits the character.
Peddlers of second-hand clothes have ready-made clothes for sale, though patched and mended – artfully, no doubt – but second-hand, nonetheless. These can always be identified by the fact that they are displayed wrinkled and soiled as when they were received, repaired only. This is to prevent them from being confused with new-made goods by an unsuspecting public, just as repaired shoes are not allowed to be polished. General designs, colors, and decorative motifs must all be dictated or the buyer’s taste at least indicated, and often the materials for the job or a payment of 50% of the finished price is expected or even required by the craftsman. This is true of all the arts and crafts. The only exceptions are found in the larger, more prosperous towns where trade and commerce are constant. In those settings, a so-called “middle class” craftsman may have a few items already finished and awaiting the return of the clients who ordered them to pick them up. These items are always be proudly displayed on the counter at the front of the shop for passersby to admire, perhaps with one or two sample pieces always kept on hand to advertise the craftsman’s skill and artistry.
To determine if a craftsman is present in the area, town, village, etc. to take on the commission, under the condition that he supply the materials also OR upon the PC securing the necessary materials to have his goods made, will require a d100 check, the same as described for finding goods or materials at market, or an agent to do so instead, and the process of interviewing and hiring will be conducted in the same manner described for hiring a factor or agent detailed previously.
If the character cannot wait for something to be made for him, he may be able to convince the shopkeep of his need and convince him to allow the character to purchase something already made, whether one of his sample pieces (usually showing the height of his skill and ornate enough for him to exhibit the entire range of his skills, and thus rather expensive) or a piece prepared for another. In the case of clothing, the degree by which the character’s physical scores vary from average determine the chances that the garment will fit. For accessories that are carried, hats, and outerwear (except gloves, shoes, and boots, which must be fitted) this is not an issue, unless the character is particularly tall or short.
In addition, the race of the craftsman determines the usual race of his clientele and what size body any sample items are designed to fit. As explained in the Craftsman trade description, differences between a client’s physical scores and the average for the craftsman’s race determine how difficult the PC is to fit for such things as clothing and full plate armor.
In these cases, while a craftsman might sell a sample made from his own stock as a showpiece, he is only be free to sell a piece commissioned by another client if the materials that went into making it were from his own stock (more successful craftsmen, “upper middle class” and up, GM’s discretion). If it is personal apparel, the character is very likely to still have to wait for it to be altered to fit him. The chances of it fitting him as it hangs may be rather slim, but the GM can make a d100 check, nonetheless.
In medieval English society on which the RoM gameworld is modeled, the people followed the preferred custom of buying their own materials for the goods, furnishings and clothing or accessories they desired and having them delivered to the appropriate craftsman to be worked after consulting with them to get an estimate of how much of which materials would be needed to make the item(s) desired, with the understanding that every scrap of waste was to be returned. In this, they were practically unique in the medieval world, and many foreign merchants and craftsmen thought them quite strange for it. For its quaint charm, this custom of frugality and strict accounting can also be found in the game world, if the GM likes. The NPC’s simply don’t trust the craftsmen not to overcharge them for the materials. If more than one craft is involved in making the desired item, the client always ensure that all materials get to the proper shop, and carriage for the item(s) from shop to shop arranged by the client or through the craftsman. It is very common for each stage of production to be checked by the client or his designated agent, until the finished product(s) is finally ready to be delivered or picked up. Of course, under these circumstances the craftsman is held strictly accountable for any materials ruined or not returned, whether they were waste or not.
The higher the social class and rank of station the client, the more likely the craftsman (or men) will be to take care of transport of an item from shop to shop and final delivery to the client’s home at their own expense, for future good will and the value of patronage.
The player should be aware of all this not only for the fact that it applies to his PC when plying some handicraft, smithcraft, or Artisan craft for NPC clients, but also when his PC seeks to have things made by NPC craftsmen to fill his own needs.
Even when made from materials from his own stock, the overwhelming majority of craftsmen will never sell goods made for another client to anyone of a lesser social rank than that of the client who originally commissioned the goods, especially when the client’s station is greater than the craftsman’s own. Angering one’s social superior in so foolish a way could result in an enormous amount of trouble in physical vengeance by henchmen, or nuisance suits in court, or any number of abuses of personal power and prestige, not the least of which would be to black-list the craftsman among the original client’s peers, which is sure to trickle down the social ladder until he cannot find any clients for whom to make his goods, and cannot find anyone from whom to buy his materials anymore, anyway.
If the character seeking to buy the ready-made goods is of greater social rank than the one for whom the goods where originally made, the craftsman will know that the original client would want to be informed of this opportunity to do his social better a favor. This provides an opportunity to establish and cultivate some sort of social relationship with the character as the NPC’s patron at a later date, should he have need, and everyone does eventually. If the original client is of greater station than the character attempting to buy his goods, both the craftsman and the original client will want to see that the proper forms of petition, service, and permission are duly observed if the favor of letting his materials go to another is to be considered at all. This may take longer than the PC wishes to spend. Looking for another craftsman to buy from is likely to be faster. This is one aspect of medieval life that is totally foreign to the modern mind that really brings the atmosphere of the medieval gameworld alive. It is part and parcel of the flavor and charm of the medieval fantasy setting of the game.
One other aspect of the market that takes some getting used to is the practice of having the hours of access limited according to whether one is a local or a foreigner. Only the locals get first crack at the best of the goods at market at Prime, all others must wait. This is mentioned also in the passage headed “A Typical Medieval Day”.
Also, the markets for various goods may be scattered over several areas of the town, to keep congestion of traffic down. The town of Bristol assigned four sites at which fuel in bulk (wood) might be purchased. Those bringing grain in might be directed to a specific marketplace according to where they were coming from, the town gate through which they passed. The cloth market in Bristol was held once per week in Tonker Street, while the poulterers in Coventry were sent to the area around the bull ring. Berwick allowed sales of wool and hides only at the ancient market cross.
The foreign merchants were not allowed to even display their wares until later in the day (10 or 11 of the clock), and were commonly removed to a different spot from the locals to prevent confusion in buying and to ease traffic congestion. In Northampton, the local mercers, haberdashers and sellers of hardware could be found in the west corner of All Saints’ Church square, while the strangers of those trades were to go to Hirelings’ Quarter. This practice is often followed to make sure the locals got the best placement for selling their wares, but it also had the added benefit of breaking up the congested traffic that a market can cause.
But the restriction was often solely by trade.
No victualer or poulterer in the city of York was allowed to buy wholesale before 10 of the clock, although trade commenced at 5 in summer. Huxters of Coventry weren’t allowed to buy the wares they would cry in the streets until 11 of the clock. Foreign bakers in London could not sell bread in the afternoons, while the bakers of Beverly in general were forbidden to enter the corn market until 1 in the afternoon to buy for their bread. Foreign bakers carts in Billingsgate (London) were ordered to be removed by noon on pain of imprisonment and fine. Every medieval town had its own counterparts to these laws and rules of the marketplace. The vibration caused by the traffic through the streets was a recognized nuisance and actual physical danger in the period, and one of the leading causes was iron-shod cart wheels, especially those whose rims were secured with large, round-headed nails for better traction. The wear and tear on the streets, especially those that were paved (which the main streets or “high-ways” usually were), was great and constant, and the tolls for bringing in carts or wagons shod in iron was twice that of those without, when they were allowed in the town at all.
Although late in period for use here, it is useful to note that the arches piers and towers of London bridge gradually accumulated a great deal of damage from the vibrations of the shod carts passing over it by 1481, after its completion in stone in 1209.
Making Change: The Coins of the Realm
Since RoM is based on the English medieval culture and social realities, the money to be used in this corner of the gameworld is dictated by that used in medieval England, as well, naturally enough. In Character Generation, the GM and players are introduced to the three standard monies of account, in which all of the English medieval bookkeeping was done and should also be done in the game, and also the two smallest denominations with which change will be made, the ha’penny (hp.) and the farthing (fg.).
As stated there, the economies of the gameworlds in RoM are presumed to be on a silver standard, much like medieval Europe. Copper and bronze coins wear too quickly and are too heavy to carry conveniently. Gold is too scarce and valuable to mint coins for regular circulation of a large enough size not to be easily lost except in Italy, the Middle East and Far East. Gold coins will see some small use in the hands of the members of the royal family and a few of the greatest ranking tenants-in-chief, but usually of foreign mintage.
The penny (plural : pence) is the basic monetary unit for day-to-day commerce, and is minted in silver and roughly corresponds to the old European silver “denier”. This is the reason behind the English use of the abbreviation “d.” in reference to the penny, and why the same is done here.
In the ha’penny and farthing the GM has a decision to make. Through most of the period of the game, the people made change for the penny by the quaint custom of clipping it in halves and/or quarters. The cross on the back of the coin made it easier to cut them evenly.
The Waterford mint in Ireland issued silver farthing coins under Edward I (1276-1302). Under Edward III (late 1320’s) the ha’penny and farthing were issued as coins in their own right, with the weights indicated on the table following.
These examples indicate there was a common briskness in small transactions for coin instead of bartering in kind all across the realms. No doubt this had been true for a number of years before the coins were issued. The GM will need to decide whether he wants the cutting of the penny coin to persist or the ha’penny and farthing coins to be used, or both in some sort of transitional period, or the popularity of the small denomination coins to come in and go out again regularly so that both small coins and cutting of pennies will constantly be in use concurrently. Perhaps the cutting of pence to make change will continue in the rural countryside where there is much less traffic in commerce and consequently less coin, leaving the small denomination coins concentrated in the cities and towns.
In the High Middle Ages, the latter part of the period from which the standards for the game are drawn, several other coins were in circulation besides the simple monies of account (£., s., d.). For ease in making larger common transactions there are the “groat” valued at 4d. (also known as a “grosso”) and the “half-groat” valued at 2d., whose common name is “tuppence” among the people. One of the largest coins in general circulation for regular commerce is the “shilling”. These coins exemplify the old English monetary system. The larger denominations of coin are most commonly seen in the primary central and central regional markets, and rather a remarkable rarity in the isolated hinterland markets.
Coins, Coin Weights, Rates of Exchange
= 48 farthings
= 24 ha’pence
= 12 pence
= 6 tuppence
= 3 groats
= 16 farthings
= 8 ha’pence
= 4 pence
= 2 pence
half groat, tuppence
= 8 farthings
= 4 ha’pence
= 2 pence
= 1 tuppence
= 4 farthings
= 2 ha’pence
= 2 farthings
Recognizing coins, their country of origins, the names by which they are called, the city in which minted, and their value in exchange with the coins of his own realm are all considered part of the basic Lore of the Merchant trade.
Collateral to the regular denominations of monies of account (£., s., d.) are the Marks, (abbreviated as “M”), which are also monies of account. The Mark of silver is valued at 13s. 4d., while the Mark of gold is valued at £6.
The “pennyweight” in Troy weight is just that, the weight of a medieval penny. Measurements in Troy weight originated in the French city of Troyes, site of two of the 6 great faires held throughout the year in the duchy of Champagne.
The medieval English penny was c. 93% pure silver. The historic exchange rates correspond to the value of the silver and the amount of it in the various coins, so the weights were easily arrived at by taking the penny value in penny-weights. A one pound (Troy) weight of fine (pure) silver could actually be minted into 257d. and 3fg., the 17d. 3fg. extra beyond the 240d. value of the pound representing the copper added in alloy, to the profit of the Crown.
If the GM is dealing with or developing a region consisting of multiple countries, foreign coinage should be a simple fact of life to deal with, especially if the PC’s will or are making a habit of hopping back and forth across the border(s).
Who has the right to mint coins?
Generally the lord of the soil, meaning the king in the English culture, but in England the lords of the Church also claimed the right by ancient custom. The chief mints of the Crown were only two in number, that at the White Tower in London, and that at Canterbury, which was merged with that of the Archbishop of Canterbury. There were as many as 30 of them when more coins were needed quickly in a single minting, particularly when there was a change in the coinage.
Of the 8 dies at work in Canterbury, it was acknowledged that the profits of three of them went to the Archbishop, who also paid 3/8th’s of the mint’s expenses and wages. The Archbishop of York ran another mint of some importance. The bishop of Durham in the north country beset by the Scots had a mint with three dies, and the Bishop of Lincoln and the abbot of Bury St. Edmunds also ran mints with one die each. That was normally the complete extent of the mints in the realm though. That at the Tower was the most important and worked most steadily.
The silver commonly used to make articles of plate in England was not always fine or pure silver but was a lesser alloy for which the English mints paid only 16s. per pound (Troy), where a pound of fine silver was worth 20s.
Foreign silver, especially foreign coins, was generally much poorer in quality and the English mints only paid from 2d to 11d. per ounce (Troy) for it when purchasing metal. That comes to 2s. to 11s. 6d. per pound (Troy), which in properly minted purity would be worth 240d. or 20s. This reveals that the foreign coinage could commonly only contain between 10% and a little over 50% pure silver.
Aside from the English pennies and the Cologne pfennige which were both of good silver, most other small denari or deniers (pennies) were struck in “billon”. Billon coins always contain much more alloy than silver, generally copper. They are so debased that the actual silver content is less than 50% and generally under 8.33% (1/12th) – in extreme cases as little as 1.04% (1/96th). As a consequence, due to their color, they will be referred to in general as “monnaie noire” or “black money”. The Venetian or Lucca denari fall into this class. These terms should be used in play by the PC’s where appropriate, as well, especially by those of the Merchant trade, and all such coins made notable by the GM by their color. These devaluations in the coins will cause corresponding inflation of prices in the countries they come from.
In the middle of the period of the game (1279), £4. “black Tournois” (Tours being one of the many provinces of France) were worth only £1. Sterling in English money.
With strong local lords, whether noble or ecclesiastical, and a weak monarchy such as was the case in large parts of the Continent (especially France, the Low Countries, and large parts of Germany) there occurred a profusion of different coins with different standards of purity. Everyone was minting coins as an obvious source of revenue. The numbers and types of coins in circulation was quite astounding. To promote their own coinage and keep foreign silver passing through their mints, some local lords or kingdoms occasionally refused to allow the circulation of alien currency in their realms, making money on the exchange of coin at the Exchanges in the ports and border towns, making the customary income from minting their own silver, and also additional fees at the mints by foreigners bringing their money to be re-coined so it could be spent in the markets of the kingdom.
At the Exchanges, the GM may stipulate an across-the-board rate of exchange for coins of a certain nationality at an unfair undervaluation, as was done in England following the immigration of Flemish weavers to the realm (1330’s), just to get the coins of the Low Countries they brought with them out of circulation.
While devaluation and reissuance of coin was a serious problem in the period of the game, particularly on the continent, it is a difficulty that simply causes unnecessary problems for the PC’s and a dire amount of work for the GM. As long as the GM presupposes relatively stable market conditions and a fairly steady flow of silver from the mines (regardless of what country or countries are providing it), stable coinage is perfectly reasonable and acceptable. The coinage of England was the most stable in the West in the period of the game. The silver content remained the same (as stated above) for 125 years, for the reign of four kings and into the reign of a fifth.
This is not the only sign of the stability of English coinage. The design of English pence is commonly described as either “short cross” or “long cross”. On the short cross coins the arms of the cross end at the inside edge of an encircling band containing an inscription, while the arms of the cross on the long cross coins extends all the way to the outside of the outer band enclosing the inscription, where the ends of the cross could be seen to flare a bit. The design of the latter made it very evident when the edge of the coin had been clipped or shaved to remove some of the precious metal (a relatively common means of debasement or fraud), much more so than on the short cross coins.
The short cross coins were minted first by Henry II in 1180, and maintained through the reigns of his sons Richard and John and even into the reign of Henry III to 1247, a period of 67 years, even down to the inscription of “HENRICVS”, no doubt allowed to remain in order to emphasize the fact that the same standards and valuation in the coins had been maintained from one reign to the next.
The long cross penny was issued by Henry III in 1247, and the design was maintained with only minor variations through the reign of Edward I (1272-1307) and the next five kings, through the reign of Henry VI (1422-1461), a little more than 200 years. Alexander III of Scotland (1249-86) employed the same long cross on the reverse of his penny coins, as well.
By the reign of Edward I, the penny had not changed much in 500 years, since Anglo-Saxon times, and there had grown a need for both larger and smaller denominations, not to mention the problem of clipping the edges debasing the coins in circulation. In response to these pressures, Edward I struck new coinage in 1279-1280 with a different (rim) design – a rope twist – which made clipping much easier to see. The new coins were greatly admired in Europe and copied quite prolifically there, though often with poorer fineness of silver. This only made Edward’s coins even more popular, however, and severely drained the local supply of silver to the point where the export of English coins was forbidden (1299). The strength of the high-quality coins in the market bolstered the English economy and brought prosperity to the country at large.
Finding equivalents in value would have been difficult, indeed, if Charlemagne had not laid down the theoretical standard of the penny, shilling, and pound, and the internationally accepted penny-weight of the Troy pound (called the Tower pound in England), requiring assaying samples of coins regularly to test the purity of their alloys to determine true silver content and just market value. This makes coinage in the medieval fantasy world a great deal easier to handle.
If the GM wishes, he can institute a different system in various kingdoms of his gameworld, but keep the selection of coins similarly simple to those used by the English, just varying the values, according to the penny standard. If the GM really likes to play with numbers, he can engage in a little monetary insanity such as prevailed in France, the Low Countries and Germany, including trying the devaluing of certain coins.
The GM should be sure to read all of the text prior under the heading “In the Marketplace” in depth to get an idea of what the realities of the marketplace and shopping in it will be once play has commenced. The PC’s have no business expecting the be treated to the simplicity and catalogue-like ease of the equipment rosters and kits compiled to facilitate character creation after the characters have entered active play.
Gold Coins, Coin Weights & Exchange Rates
|= 6s. 3d.|
|= 2 Half Nobles|
|= 3s. 7d.|
|Florin, Ducat, Half Noble||
|= 1s. 6d.|
The first gold coin minted in England was issued by Henry III in 1257, the gold penny, which bore the same long cross on the reverse side as the silver penny and had a value of 20d. It was not well received, as there was little need for it, as the economy really wasn’t strong enough yet to support it. Henry III allowed that it might be brought to the Exchange and redeemed for its value in silver, minus 1 hp. for mintage, or 19d. 1hp. The coin was actually undervalued. By 1265 the metal in it was valued at 24d. while the nominal value remained 20d., and many of the coins were kept and melted down by the more savvy citizens (merchants) to realize the profit. Edward III tried again in 1344, on the eve of the arrival of the Plague, with the beautiful English Florin (Double Leopard, 6s.), Half Florin (Leopard, 3s.) and Quarter Florin (Helm, 1s. 6d.), but this too failed as there was not sufficient gold in the coin to warrant its face valuation and the merchants refused it, so it was withdrawn within the year, to be replaced by the Noble, Half Noble, and Quarter Noble. The metal content was steadily reduced, by 10 grains in the second coinage (1346) to 128.5,and by 8.5 grains further still to 120 in the coinage of 1351. The nominal value of the Noble was 80d. (6s. 8d.), with the Half at 40d. and the Quarter at 20d.
As the commercial leaders of Europe, the Italian merchants in their city states issued the first gold coins in the West in the period of the game after the collapse of Rome. The first was the highly successful “Fiorino d’Oro” or “Florins” of the city of Florence (hence the name), valued at 3s. (English), and the Genoese “Genovino”, which were issued in 1252. These coins were made of gold imported from Africa. In the latter half of the 1200’s the use of gold coins in Europe spread only slowly outside northern Italy. The opening up of gold mines in Europe itself (primarily at Kremnica in the kingdom of Hungary)in the first half of the 1300’s, drove the use of gold coins to spread much more rapidly throughout Europe.
The next to be issued was the “Ducati d’Oro” or “Ducats” (DUCK-et; pl. DUCK-ets) by the Venetians in the 1280’s. This was first issued at a somewhat greater gold content, but was quickly reformed to be equal to and interchangeable with the florin or Florence, and was equally as successful. These were imitated by the Swedish, the Dutch, the Germans, and so on, due to their success. The most important of these imitations was the Hungarian “Forint” because the Kingdom of Hungary was a major source of gold mined in Europe. Until the Age of Discovery, most of the gold minted in Europe came from Africa. Gold coinage in circulation in the European markets came mainly from the Italian city-states, however, and from the markets of the Middle East, where it was in wide and general use, carried to the West through the Italian merchants who bridged the gap between East and West.
The “écu d’or” was minted during the reign of Louis IX of France (1266). In 1335, the French produced two gold coins, one called the “Parisiensis” valued at 6s. 3d. and the “Agnelle” (Lamb) valued at 3s. 7d. and in 1340 they added the “Angelot” or “Ange” valued at 6s. 8d. This brings us to the tail end of the period of the game. All of these were without doubt carried into England in the course of carrying on commerce and seen there at higher levels of commerce, where the Angelot was called an Angel, but gold coins of this sort were not issued in England until Edward IV issued the “Angel-Noble” in 1461, a re-issuance of the old Noble but long after the period of the game.
While some larger denomination coins may be minted of gold for special occasions and transactions, they will only generally be used by the nobility, merchants companies, and governments for large (international) transactions. Only the accounts of the king’s and queen’s households in the period of the game bear any sort of regular mention of getting florins or any other gold coinage changed. If the GM sticks with the English basis of the culture, this gold coinage will not be found in general circulation except in wealthier countries with booming economies reminiscent of the Age of Discovery and the Renaissance, where the trade traffic and high prices will warrant it.
Only under these circumstances will money be changing hands in great enough quantities and at a fast enough pace to warrant their minting. Alien gold coins will be taken in trade in the economies of truly English-style realms in receipt for sales of native goods and materials to alien merchants, but they are likely to be hoarded or used for jewelry or to gild a piece of silver plate, or what have you, immediately taken out of circulation. For any member of the working class to have such an item without some sort of documentation validating possession by some authority would be grounds for his neighbors to have him up before the court on suspicion of theft.
The weights of ALL the coins presented for use in the game here (silver as well as gold) have been estimated according to the results of research into precious metal content (grains and purity) and exchange rates for game purposes. These are the historically accurate rates of exchange for these coins on issuance. This should represent the extent of gold coinage in use, and only those PC’s born to the greater nobility or having served his Merchant apprenticeship in the capital or one of the greater secondary ports will ever have seen any of them.
The GM will note that, of these, only the Noble, Half Noble, and Quarter Noble are actually of English make. More than half the gold in circulation should be struck by foreign mints. In addition to these, every once in a while, the characters may see a strange looking coin with even stranger writing upon it, from the Middle Eastern culture(s) – if the GM has any such in his medieval fantasy world.
While there was some variance in the actual value and percentage of precious metals in the coins at later dates, English coinage was distinguished as being some of the best quality and most stable in Europe, especially in the early to mid-point of the period of the game.
The value of silver relative to that of gold at the turn of the 1300’s stood at c.14 : 1.
Until these larger denomination coins were minted, larger sums were paid with masses of the smaller denomination coins or with ingots of silver, bars of a standard value of 6M each, or they were held as “monies of account” on the books and balanced with debts incurred by others in trade of goods, in pounds, shillings, and pence, existing nowhere in fact except in letters of credit, vouchers, books and ledgers of the merchants, moneychangers and moneylenders, shuffled around between them.
Hazards of the Marketplace
While the market halls of the merchants are the best bet for the finest quality goods, they may not always be present. There are only so many merchants to represent any given town, region, and country and its goods. When the characters are forced to do business with buying agents or look in the common market for common or even second-quality goods or, worse yet, when dealing with Rogue Merchants and the black market, they run the risk of being cheated in some way or conned entirely out of their money.
These hazards can take one of a number of forms.
A shady merchant or vendor might simply try to shortchange a character, especially if he looks like a country bumpkin, unlikely to be able to count very high (if at all, or he might pass false coin in change (or mix false coin with sound or nearly sound coin). An unscrupulous merchant might well sell used goods that have been cleaned up and refurbished as new, or even sell the PC’s stolen goods.
There is also the hazard of being sold bad goods that have been doctored up : wooden chests and furniture and similar wooden goods may be canvassed over, gessoed, and painted in an attractive color, BUT this might be done to hide rotten, worm-eaten ground-wood; saddle trees might be pieced together from smaller pieces of wood rather than being cut and carved all of a piece, so that when they are used at all hard, the glue holding the pieces together gives way and the saddle crumbles beneath the rider causing great calamity; hats are status objects but are also supposed to be of some use in keeping the weather off – what use is a hat that won’t keep even a light sprinkle out of the wearer’s eyes, whose brim leaks like a sieve; gilt copper may be sold as solid precious metal (whether silver or gold), or 10k, 12k, or 18k sold as 24k; secondhand clothes, thoroughly cleaned, artfully mended and pressed might be sold as new in the streets by a mender claiming to be a poor haberdasher; mild (domestic use) steel might be sold as true steel, and the buyer will never know until he talks to the craftsman working it – indeed, if the smith is an honest man, he will likely send for the patron and inform him before wasting time and effort using poor steel for something like armor or weapons which are like to get the wearer killed in battle; cloth on the bolt might be allowed to sit out overnight to collect the dew, so as to appear, feel, and weigh heavier, thus commanding a higher price, and so.
Tricks involving the quality and sale of victuals (foodstuffs) will be especially common in large marketplaces : old fish flesh can be reddened and made fresher-looking by being smeared with pig’s blood; milk can be watered without changing its outward appearance, as wine and ale may be; wines and beer or ale might be moldy at sale, although the more obvious evidence of this will have been skimmed from the top so it will bear examination; hunks of meat could be “blown out” or stuffed with rags to make them appear larger, the latter especially with organ meats like kidneys that have major arteries running into them to facilitate stuffing (which also increased the weight); sawdust might be used to cut flour in making bread; cheeses might be soaked in beef broth to make them appear older and richer, commanding a higher price; expensive peppercorns imported from the Far East can be counterfeited with a mixture of ground mustard seed and other hot native herbs and spices mixed with clay from which corns were rolled, and so on.
In addition, there is the danger of being conned completely. If the PC’s direct a shady merchant to deliver a certain piece of goods to their home or inn, what ends up being delivered could be stolen, poorer quality than exhibited originally, or nothing at all, and the merchant long gone with his ill-gotten coin. If the PC’s are buying in quantity to prepare for a journey or to replenish their household stores, they may well find that only the pieces or parcels they actually inspected are any good, and the rest is rotten or otherwise inedible, cloth goods moth-eaten and/or irreparably stained (by mundane skills), and/or mildewed, totally useless, and the merchant again nowhere to be found (although, if the goods were originally sound enough and of decent quality, by magick the party could get their money’s worth and then some, foiling the merchant). The greater majority of merchants will rely on their glib tongues, however, and small tricks of presentation to glean a little extra profit here and there on what are otherwise common goods.
The greatest danger in the marketplace is of thugs posing as merchants or vendors, wandering the market with a platter or other sample of some goods like peas, beans, wheat, barley or oats normally sold in great quantity, crying their quality and availability to the crowd. When a prospective buyer approves the quality of the sample they are offered, the thug invites the prospective buyer to inspect the balance of the goods so he may satisfy himself that the balance of the goods is true to the sample and, having seen it, so take it away. This bin is located up a convenient and less travelled side street. The “kind” thug and/or his assistant “courteously” lift the lid for the client to inspect the goods, but it isn’t full so the client must lean over to reach the goods inside. on doing so, the thug or his assistant grabs the clients legs and flips him into the bin, dropping the lid, which he then locks and holds the client captive thus until he agrees to ransom himself, revealing to them the location of his valuables. How well this works is up to the GM and how smart his thugs are, and how experienced they are – whether they allow the captive to go before the valuables are in hand, or whether they free him at all after they have stolen the valuables, send some innocent 3rd party to release him after they have stolen his goods, or simply leave him there on the off-chance a passerby releases him or gets help for him, whether they get his valuables or not (GM’s discretion).
These sorts of cheats should be particularly common to the unwary where ever there are evening cheaps, or in markets of especially large towns (the two greatest classes) due to the great demand and especially brick commerce. Evening cheaps should be short in duration, just a few (2-3) hours – from an hour or so before sunset to an hour or so after – and lit by lamp and candlelight. These cheaps generally have a poor reputation, though, the reputed haunts of all sorts of low characters and so perfect for finding black market goods, so the PC’s will be taking their chances in patronizing them at all.
Such hazards will not befall the PC’s EVERY time they go to market, however. There are laws and those representatives of either the guilds or the municipal authorities who inspect goods and guard against cheats for the public weal.
How then does the GM determine when such a thing has occurred?
The larger the market, and the more obvious it is that the PC’s are NOT local, foreigners or aliens, the more likely they are to be marked as victims by the Rogue Merchants, cheats and Trickster conmen. Once the PC’s have found a source for the goods he seeks, according to the procedure described in Chapter 3. The Medieval World : The Details of Part II. Playing the Game, in the passage headed “To Market, To Market …” previously, another d100 check must be made to determine if the merchant and the sale are on the level.
The AV for this check will be based on the size of the market, as follows.
Market Class AV (Evening Cheap)
isolated hinterland markets 1
outlying regional markets 5
central local markets 10 15
central regional markets 15 22
primary central markets 20 30
IF the character is shopping at an evening cheap, the GM should use the alternate values supplied, according to the market class.
The GM will please note that isolated hinterland markets and outlying regional markets will never have evening cheaps, as they do not is not carry on enough commerce to warrant it. Those evening cheaps found in central local markets should be limited in some way, perhaps to only being held once per month (perhaps coinciding with some feast or religious festival), and such cheaps should only ever be held during the longer lasting days of the warm summer months, at the height of the overall market’s activity, lack of traffic and general inhospitable weather and temperatures at other times of the year generally making them unnecessary.
In addition, the higher the apparent class and station (freeman and clergy classes, without appearing noble) or the station of the client if the PC is posing as a factor or buying agent, the higher the AV should be for determining if he is going to be targeted for a scam. For every station on the tables in Step 2. of Part I. PC Generation the PC is or appears to be above the common run of resident craftsman, farmer, or merchant, the GM should raise the AV by one (1). In the same vein, for every station below this the PC is or appears to be, the more of a gullible hayseed the character will seem to be and the more likely a target he will make, so the same modifier will be applied.
IF the PC allows it to slip out, or the vendor or merchant can tell by his manner of dress, his accent, syntax, or dialect that he is a foreigner, from a village beyond the local district NOT dependant on that town/market in which he is shopping, or of another town or especially from another shire, the AV should be raised by (1 per 10 miles) the merchant or vendor perceives his origins to be from the market in which he is shopping, according to his manner of speech and/or dress.
IF the PC appears and especially sounds like an alien from another country entirely, the base AV for this check will simply be doubled.
On the other hand, those who appear to be noble, with armed men in their retinues, armed themselves, the less likely they are to be taken advantage of in this way, except by the truly skillful and daring, just for the adrenalin rush from the sheer physical danger they court which will be carried out on their persons when they are found out. For those who are obviously noble, the AV for being scammed will be halved.
The DV for this d100 check should be equal to the PC’s AWA att. mod., plus any Savvy Perception SL’s, and a bonus based on his Merchant, Courtier, Rogue, Knave, and/or Assassin trade SL’s, as applicable.
IF the roll is made successfully, the person the PC is dealing with will attempt to cheat or con the character is some way, and the character will be allowed a Savvy check, normally to see if he can sense this fact. Those with sufficient Presence might try to play the vendor or merchant in turn through the use of those skills, interview him and see how he thinks, to determine what shape the deceit or con is likely to take.
The form of skullduggery the NPC’s attempt can be determined on the table at right.
IF the roll is failed, the PC’s will have found an honest merchant or vendor and the goods will be true to the quality represented.
The player must understand that offers of wrapping and delivery, of the need to prepare goods, bundle them up so they are protected during transport are a common courtesy and service freely offered by all craftsmen and merchants, especially to those of greater than common station. Unless the PC(s) do not appear to warrant such courtesy and are not already known by the merchant or vendor as being deserving of such courtesy, the player can NOT simply take such a courteous offer as an automatic sign that they are about to be taken advantage of, set up, or ripped-off.
Dirty Deals, Market Hazards
|01 – 25||Short Change†, roll for a different result if the character acts like he is following the transaction closely and appears to be able to count.|
|26 – 36||Flim-Flam*, roll again for a different result if pays with exact change, unless the character uses or shows any large denomination coins in the transaction (groats, shillings, or gold).|
|37 – 50||Gilded or Clipped Coins passed in change, roll again for a different result if pays with exact change, roll d100 determine % by which the PC is cheated in value of coins.|
|45 – 50||Cut Purse, young street urchin aged 7 to 11 (d5) working alone attempts to either take the PC’s purse or relieve the PC of something else on his person, especially if he is laden down with packages from his purchases, and even more likely when the PC has hired a Porter to carry these things for him.|
|51 – 60||Fraud, a sound sample is used to represent bad goods, will not be discovered until the goods are unwrapped later.|
|61 – 70||Fraud, bad quality goods are cosmetically masked and sold by the piece as common or even good quality goods, will not be discovered until the goods are unwrapped and put to use.|
|71 – 75||Fraud, old/used goods cosmetically refurbished and sold as new or better quality at the full price, though only common in quality anymore, in fact.|
|76 – 80||Cut Purse, either a lone professional thief (Cut Purse) working or a pair or team work to distract the PC with a trip or bump or some seeming casual and inadvertent sexy display or some combination thereof, to either take the PC’s purse or relieve the PC of something else on his person, especially if he is laden down with packages from his purchases, and even more likely when the PC has hired a Porter to carry these things for him.|
|81 – 90||Con, after payment is received, the vendor/merchant offers to have his own man bring the goods purchased around, or proposes the PC send a man to come get them after a certain time so they can be packed and readied, so the PC can continue to shop at his own convenience, but the goods are lacking the quantity paid for and/or compromised in quality when unwrapped at home.|
|91 – 95||Con, as above, except the merchant and goods are no where to be found at the appointed hour.|
|96 – 00||Con, vendor/merchant cons the character into a vulnerable position and takes him prisoner, holding him until he reveals the location of his valuables (as per text).|
† If the PC simply hands over his purse, as a nobleman or Lady might do in the absence of a servant to handle his money for him, the merchant/vendor will make a show counting out the proper amount of money while palming additional coins through the use of the Cut Purse skill, or the Sleight of Hand of the Mountebank, as applicable.
* Flim-Flam, the merchant/vendor interrupts the transaction to ask the PC if he would like any of his larger denomination coins changed, especially if any gold is in evidence, then laying all the different ways in which he might change the coins into different denomination coins out one after another in succession, and then all at once, as a means of insisting in the end that the PC laid a smaller denomination coin out to start with, or as a means of hiding false of bad money in among the good which will be given in change. If the PC’s AWA + Clerk skill fails against the NPC’s Sleight of Hand Mountebank skill, the GM should roll d100 plus the NPC’s SL to determine the amount of value in the coins passed to him he was cheated out of vs. their face value.
In all cases where the PC finds himself cheated later – on closer examination of the goods – the GM should understand that the perpetrator will be long gone and unlikely to pull the same stunt twice or with any sort of regularity, unless the town is particularly large and offers multiple market locations for different types of good for him to ply before moving on (perhaps in another market or market hall venue in town where his first victim is unlikely to see him). In these cases, the PC’s will have to have Rogue trade training to have any chance at all of finding out where the malefactors who have cheated them have gone to ground or retreated to in order to chase them down, and even then their chances of recovering even a portion of their lost money are slim and none. Nonetheless, PC’s who get cheated will, one time or another, insist on a search for the culprit to drag before the law, or from whom to exact a little rough justice of their own, making an adventure in and of itself, thus making the GM’s job in coming up with ideas for further adventures for the PC’s a little easier.