Laranna's Merchant Guide
Fresh off the turnip farm and dressed in a dingy set of light leathers, a hole-ridden heavy backpack and a small sack, I came to Elanthia seeking my fame and fortune. I was able to sweet talk the town clerk into hiring me to do some errands and eventually got myself some silvers. Not wanting to forever look like the town ragamuffin, I sought out Dari's Clothiers and haggled my way into a modest pair of black leather boots and a few other accessories. After meeting with Megorn, Aznell and Tykell, I found myself equipped with a shield, sheath, new leathers and some nifty little pouches to store my meager possessions in. Brother Wuldreth tried to con me into buying a symbol of Voln by giving me a guilt trip, and though I stood up against his priestly assault, I did crack and purchase a Lumnis medallion, (hey...Lornon items were very rare back then!)
Some time passed and I began to notice the wear and tear of my clothes, along with my eager anticipation of fashionably attiring myself. I had seen some fancy Ladies with their shimmering pink vultite broadswords bejeweled with bright opalescent pearls in the shape of a fluttering butterfly that was circling the sun and had...admired them. Not for the gaudiness of their garb, but for the pure fact that they had exquisitely original items in comparison to my black leather boots and blue silk tunic that I had seen one out of every fifth adventurer in the lands wearing. I was jealous, and I vowed then that I would one day be fashionably outfitted to the hilt.
I learned that those Ladies had gotten their nifty little creations from wandering Merchants; humanoids that roamed the lands selling their exotic wares and services in various towns around the realm. Eventually I met my first Merchant and was completely overwhelmed with awe and confusion until a kind elderly noble explained the etiquette and procedures for obtaining the merchant's services. I managed to make it on the list, and to this day I'll hold my first purchase dear to my heart.
This comprehensive Guide is for the fashion-conscious desire in all of us; for young and old, from one who's managed to be blessed with luck in acquiring merchant services.
I. What is a Merchant?
A Merchant is a humanoid that travels the realm selling their wares and services for a fee. Merchants come in all races and sizes and will often offer a discount and/or favor a customer of their own race. Some merchants will only serve customers of their own race, or will refuse to sell to a particular race because of the racial tensions that may exist between the customer's and merchant's race.
Merchants provide a service for us, the customers. They come on their own will, on their own free time in order to provide us with their wares. They offer a craft that no one in the lands can offer, and should be treated with the respect they deserve. They don't "owe" us anything, nor do they "have" to comply with our wishes - especially if it effects the integrity of their craft.
They are artisans and creative designers; they fill the great need of customer to individualize clothing, weapons, shields, armor, jewelry or other items. No where else can you find the services that a merchant provides.
II. Now I know what they are, how do I find them?
Finding a merchant takes effort, skill and alot of luck. Merchants don't just find you and plop their tent or wagon where you sit (well, very rarely). So, with this in mind, a little effort goes a long way and persistence pays off. Sometimes you'll hear people mention a merchant over the 'Net - and more often than not it's a false alarm - someone just being funny or passing on a rumor that they heard. Check with other people first before getting all excited and scurrying around town and the wilds looking for them. Perhaps see if you can feel their presence.
Feeling a merchants 'presence' by using the FIND verb has been argued as abuse of game mechanics. Some say that it's an OOC means of gaining IC benefits. Personally, I don't agree with the argument and think it's fine to use FIND, as long as you role-play that you 'feel' them, rather than having your character blurt out that they 'did a find' or 'found' that the merchant was in the lands. I equate using FIND as the same as reading the "* So-and-so bites the dust!" death message. As long as you role-play the situation out in an IC manner, then I don't see any harm to it. But that's my personal opinion on it, and you can take it as you will.
Merchants often find remote places to set up their wares; from little garden nooks, the Mews and even in the bad parts of town, to outside in the wilds. Sometimes merchants frequent the same towns and set up shop in the last place that they had visited. For instance, Fumbles seems to frequent IceMule Trace and often sets his pavilion up there. However, just because a merchant was in one place the last time they came, doesn't mean that they'll be there again. Finding a spot to sell their wares is determined by the whim of the merchant, so keep on your toes when looking.
Friends who form groups and network often up the percentage of finding the merchant. Using techniques like the amulet, familiars and the Locate spell are some means people use to help aid their search. Some people debate that using those means are unfair to others who don't have such options, (i.e.: the familiar and locate spells), but my view is that by making friends, everyone would be able to rely upon each other to further their search. I believe teamwork is key, as with most everything in the lands.
Merchants use various 'set ups' to sell their wares; wagons, pavilions, tents, caravans, and of course, the infamous Juggernaut. Keep an eye out for these features in the lands; notice the world around you instead of running blindly through the lands, eyes set on your future destination.
III. Now that I've managed to find a Merchant, what do I do?
Once you've found the merchant, look around you. ALWAYS read their signs and notices, I can't stress that enough. Be sure to read them thoroughly, as they always tell you the information you need to know to be served. Often the various signs will tell you what service the merchant has to offer, the pricing and other helpful information. If you have questions, ask politely. Don't scream, sing, recite or continually ask your question over and over again - it's considered rude, is unappreciated, and will decrease your chances of getting an answer. If you do ask politely and don't get an answer, don't get frustrated. Chances are other people are busy reading the notices themselves. Wait a minute or two, read the signs again, then ask your question once more. If that doesn't get results, try getting someone's attention and whisper to them - politely.
Joining a List
Once you've determined that a) you would like the merchants services, b) have enough silvers to pay for the services, and c) have an idea in mind of what you'd like then join the list.
Lots of people join a list right away, then ask questions later. Heck, I've done that myself, though now I take the time to know what they offer before I waste a precious spot on the list. If you join a list then decide you don't want the service, or don't have enough coins to pay for it, you've just wasted a spot that someone else who wanted the service could have used. It's a big shame, and should be something to consider before adding your name in.
Don't try to sell your spot on the list. Merchants hate that and it's unfair to others.
Once you're on the list, start thinking about what you'd like to get done. Often the service has some sort of alteration that can be done to your item. Have something prepared! Personally, I figure out the design, what I'd like my item to look like before I even find a merchant. I write it down so I remember, and let me tell you, with the prospect of serving ten to fifty people, merchants really appreciate your preparedness.
When coming up with a design for an item always keep in mind, "Quality, not quantity." Gaudy, overdescriptive items are a merchants bane, and you'll find yourself haggling over the design with the merchant as you both get more and more impatient and frustrated. Keep it simple in design, though elegant in taste. Often if you have a longer, more detailed design in mind, the merchant will craft it so finely that though on the surface your item may look fairly humble, when you show it to someone they'll be able to see the detailing.
Accessories; if you'd like to add an accessory to an item, always try to supply one for the merchant to use. They may or may not take it, but it will increase your chances of having it added and may even decrease your fee. For instance, if you want to add a ruby to your sword - bring one!
Merchants will not create items with drake, dragon or other mystikal creatures skins, hides and scales. Don't bother asking for them unless you can supply the actual skin, hide or scale yourself. Sometimes they can create the image of the beast out of other resources such as diamonds or thread, but I think it's chancy to ask, unless you totally have your heart set on it. Also, don't ask for ICE-Age metals like shaalk, laen and ithloss - for like the ending of the ICE-Age, those raw materials vanished as well.
Don't ask to make your little ritual dagger into a mighty greatsword - I mean, think reasonably! The merchants are artists and can often weave magicks, but even that is too much to ask of them, and is an insult to their craft. Always keep the original shape of the item in mind before asking for an alteration.
Don't ask them to sacrifice a creature and pour it's blood all over your sword, shield, metal armor, or leathers. Blood will just dry and flake off. However, ask if they can make your fabric and cloth items blood-stained. Again, this is all realistic, rational thinking.
Pre-made items for sale
Sometimes you'll run into a merchant who sells pre-made items on tables, counters, shelves and on wracks and in cases. Always look at/on/in the table, counter, etc., to see what's for sale. Sometimes there's also a notice with a price and item description listing that's very helpful too.
Get the item to see what the price is, and buy the item to purchase it.
In certain cases, the items sale price increases with the decrease of quantity sold. Meaning, the more people buy a particular item, the higher the price rises, so if you see something you absolutely have to have, buy it!
As stated earlier, race sometimes factors in the haggling price of the item, as does fame. Training in trading also helps lower your price too, as you learn to haggle better in your training class. Rumor also has it that the more you ask for the price of an item, the salesperson gets frustrated and may increase your price, (especially those grumpy dwarves!).
IV. Types of Merchants
There are all sorts of merchants with various skills and trades. Items for sale or alteration are a reflection of the different skills the particular merchant has.
The different types of merchants are;
Alterers: They will alter the design or "look" of an item to different degrees, depending on the merchants skill and patience. They are the most common, and often have other abilities, like those listed below.
Enchanters: Enchanters can add magickal properties to an item, dependant upon their skill. Sometimes they add padding, weighting, sharpening and criticals.
Embedders: They can magicakally enhance a scroll or item to contain spell properties dependant upon their skill and training.
Scriveners: A scrivener can use their illuminati and writing skills to personalize parchment letter for you.
Dyers: Dyers such as the Dwarven Cave workers offer vats of colorful dye to dip your items into, and if you look hard enough, they may even sell some items too.
Cobblers: Can create footwear with pockets and often give them unique designs.
Jewelers: They work with silver, gold and other precious materials to create jewelry that sometimes magickal, dependant on their skill.
Auctioneers: Generally for the rich, auctioneers display their wares for those who'd like to bid on them.
General Sales: Merchants who offer pre-made items for sale, such as some of the tables in the Juggernaut.
Roaming Merchants: These are pretty rare to find. They don't have a 'set up' to display their wares, rather they carry around their items and sell them from their sacks, pouches and satchels.
Raffles: The raffle is designed to allow several players an equal opportunity to participate in an event that will permit only a limited number of entries. Each Player Character is permitted to purchase one ticket. The tickets are non-refundable and the cost of the ticket may be applied to any entry fee or with merchants, towards the price of the merchant's service or item. Once a ticket is purchased, the Player Character may go anywhere in the game and still be eligible to win when the drawing is held, however, the Player Character must be in the game when the drawing is held. The Player Character will be notified, regardless of where they are, if they win. Only those present in the room with the raffle table will be notified of all winners. The winners are responsible for being readily available, the merchant running the raffle is under no obligation to locate the winner or move the winner to an area where they can collect their prize.
I'm sure there are many more that I've left out, as the skills and trade the merchants learn are always changing and growing.
V. Merchant Etiquette
Etiquette is something that's very important when in a merchant event. It's something that a lot of people seem to forget in their desire and greed for items and wealth - for both the young and old. I've seen fresh-faced youngsters act mature beyond their age with dignity and poise, while elder nobles, even Legends, act like whining, impolite little brats.
If you manage to find a merchant, but not get on the list, don't whine and cry about it. Not everyone makes a list all of the time, and some people may have never received merchant services. Instead of asking, "Will the list reopen?" and "Anyone selling their spot?" why not look around, talk to people, see what you can find out first.
Complaining about not getting on a list, or getting what you want will not win you favor with merchants, let alone the people in the merchant sales area. Accusing people of having unfair advantage, while may be true in some specific cases, is NOT true in all cases. Accusing people of cheating, using means that others don't have access to, and various other insults are very hurtful - especially since, for the most part, they hold no truth to them. Don't be a sore looser and cast your frustrations out on another person - it's rude, hurtful, and unfair to the other person. Alternatively, why not ask the people who did make the list how they got so lucky, offer to help with their designs and just plain have fun. Merchant events are supposed to be jovial ones - let's try to keep it that way.
Merchants are one of the most sought after creatures in the realms. In our passion for uniqueness and desire to obtain better items, we often make demands on them that are sometimes unfair.
Always remember, merchants are people too!
They have feelings, get hungry, tired, frustrated and happy. They generally love to have fun, mess around, play and create something that you could be proud of. That is their purpose; to craft things that you will appreciate. So have a heart, give them an extra smile and a big tip! That'll make their day, especially after working long and hard on plying their trade.
So, if you see a merchant and manage to get on their list, be glad - but be sure to be considerate, polite and accommodating. Everyone will appreciate it!
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