Replacement Talent for Haggle

Discussion on game mastering Earthdawn. May contain spoilers; caution is recommended!
MetalBoar
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Replacement Talent for Haggle

Post by MetalBoar » Thu Jun 18, 2020 12:13 am

So, back in 2016 I see I started a thread talking about my problems with the Haggle talent and looking through it again I see that I never reached a satisfactory conclusion. I don't remember now what I did 4 years ago but I once again have a PC that just reached 3rd circle as a Thief and I'm still not happy with Haggle, especially RAW. Last time I brought this up people suggested that if I wasn't happy I could replace it with a variety of other Talents but none of them really felt appropriate to me.

I just had a player suggest that I replace it with a talent version of the Streetwise skill. Overall I like the suggestion. It's replacing one sustained social talent with another and Streetwise is thematically appropriate. Outside of the fact that Streetwise is eventually available as a knack for pick pocket I don't really see any downsides.

Am I missing anything?

Are there other options you think would be better?

Do people use Haggle RAW in their games and feel like it's a positive element? Do you have house rules that make the talent worthwhile without breaking the economy?

Other thoughts?

Thanks!

Sharkforce
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Re: Replacement Talent for Haggle

Post by Sharkforce » Thu Jun 18, 2020 12:43 am

in the west marches campaign, we have had a great deal of success with using the optional rule "using all talents to advance". when you come across a talent that does not particularly fit your personal vision of the discipline, you can basically just bypass it entirely by using an optional talent to advance with instead.

this is not only a solution for this one specific scenario, it solves a lot of situations where any given talent doesn't fit as well as it might for your personal vision of the discipline, which can be particularly useful for less martially-inclined disciplines in a martially-inclined campaign (because in certain campaign styles, the thief can actually fit quite well).

for example, you might feel that your thief focuses more on being able to evade pursuers when a deal inevitably goes south and choose sprint or great leap as your optional talent for that circle, and focus on that instead of your discipline talent. or, you might feel like your thief is a bit more of an assassin and considers the use of the crossbow to be essential to his version of the discipline.

it does require a little bit of planning (like making sure that there isn't a talent option where you mostly want it at a low rating chosen at the same circle as a discipline talent that you don't particularly care to improve), but it really helps make the various disciplines fit your personal vision.

Belenus
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Re: Replacement Talent for Haggle

Post by Belenus » Thu Jun 18, 2020 9:32 am

What do you dislike about Haggle?

JetBlackJoe
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Re: Replacement Talent for Haggle

Post by JetBlackJoe » Thu Jun 18, 2020 10:45 am

Belenus wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 9:32 am
What do you dislike about Haggle?
The basic problem with Haggle as I see it - and guesstimate is the OP’s problem as well - is players trying to abuse it by spending time buying cheaply and selling expensively, essentially getting “money for nothing”. At least nothing else than time spent.

I’m actually GM’ing and have a player who will have access to Haggle soon, so I’m interested as well.
"Mind over Body. Body over Mind."
- Verron Vittraxi, Wizard Extraordinaire

Belenus
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Re: Replacement Talent for Haggle

Post by Belenus » Thu Jun 18, 2020 11:46 am

I don't see a way how you would be able to abuse it :shock:
You get a 5% discount if successful.
You lose 5% if the merchant is successful.

Items being sold by a player don't sell for 100% of the buying price.
~30% for used armor, weapons, etc.
~50-75% for other items.
With haggle you might be able to get 5% more.

So no abuse possible.

ragbasti
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Re: Replacement Talent for Haggle

Post by ragbasti » Thu Jun 18, 2020 12:12 pm

For Weaponsmith I get it since the discipline has something inherently commercial about it. However, I don't feel that it fits the Thief unless you play the "steal everything and try to fence it" kind.

We don't use all talents to advance, never have and I have never had issues with, to be honest. That is until I made a Thief. I'll still roll with it and things work perfectly fine, it's just that I have a talent that I'm not too thrilled with to sink LP into.

It just doesn't fit my vision of the character and we're also a group that has very little downtime based on how my GM runs the game. It kind of feels like a waste of LP and I really try to use it whenever possible.
I play more of an adventurous Thief, who grabs valuable here and there and is mostly looking out for himself. Occasionally, I make some money by pickpocketing in the streets, since I don't want to spend my hard-earned silver on accommodation.
The group is not a means to an end for him, but he ultimately values his own independence.

As for balance, the RAW talent is fine. 5% is not much and should never break the economy.
Even if you have rank 7+ you'd require all rolls to succeed to get any meaningful discount and that ignores that the merchant can roll against you to get the 5% back :P
The implementation is actually quite enjoyable. You and the merchant sort of entering a contest where the accumulated successes determine the final price. And let's face it, there should be no respectable merchant out there with no rank in haggle ;)

MetalBoar
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Re: Replacement Talent for Haggle

Post by MetalBoar » Thu Jun 18, 2020 7:55 pm

Belenus wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 9:32 am
What do you dislike about Haggle?
I have two primary complaints. A strict, literal reading of the RAW (4th Edition) is broken as it only gives you a +/-5% change in price, max. A more optimistic (from the Thief's point of view) interpretation of the RAW still relies on a great deal of luck to see more than that. It feels completely underwhelming relative to almost any other required Discipline Talent, short of the Windling Scout's Climbing requirement. It's probably on par with Windling spellcasters that have to take Astral Sight. Why would Haggle develop as an integral part of the Thief discipline for such small reward? If a Thief wants more money it's far more efficient to just get better at stealing things. There's also the impact that Haggle has on play if a more effective rule set is used. Earthdawn is a fine game and 4th Edition has given more thought to economics than previous editions but it's still far from being its strong point and I fear that it can be broken with injudicious modifications to the Haggle rules. My other complaint is more a matter of play style. I'm concerned that if it's used for everything it slows down the game with a lot of dice rolling that doesn't particularly advance the story nor feel especially heroic.

MetalBoar
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Re: Replacement Talent for Haggle

Post by MetalBoar » Thu Jun 18, 2020 8:14 pm

Sharkforce wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 12:43 am
in the west marches campaign, we have had a great deal of success with using the optional rule "using all talents to advance". when you come across a talent that does not particularly fit your personal vision of the discipline, you can basically just bypass it entirely by using an optional talent to advance with instead.

this is not only a solution for this one specific scenario, it solves a lot of situations where any given talent doesn't fit as well as it might for your personal vision of the discipline, which can be particularly useful for less martially-inclined disciplines in a martially-inclined campaign (because in certain campaign styles, the thief can actually fit quite well).

for example, you might feel that your thief focuses more on being able to evade pursuers when a deal inevitably goes south and choose sprint or great leap as your optional talent for that circle, and focus on that instead of your discipline talent. or, you might feel like your thief is a bit more of an assassin and considers the use of the crossbow to be essential to his version of the discipline.

it does require a little bit of planning (like making sure that there isn't a talent option where you mostly want it at a low rating chosen at the same circle as a discipline talent that you don't particularly care to improve), but it really helps make the various disciplines fit your personal vision.
I've already run the group from 1st to 3rd circle using standard advancement rules so there'd probably need to be some tinkering with all the characters to make everyone happy but it's a good idea. I'd still have to figure out how I feel about the existence of Haggle in my Barsaive but it's not as important or urgent.

My group has been playing Earthdawn as one of our top most go to games for over 10 years now and we've never used the "all talents to advance" option, not in the games I've run nor in any of the others and I don't think anyone has even considered it. I'm not sure why not but I'll definitely give this some thought and run it by my players.

ragbasti
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Re: Replacement Talent for Haggle

Post by ragbasti » Fri Jun 19, 2020 12:42 pm

MetalBoar wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 7:55 pm
I have two primary complaints. A strict, literal reading of the RAW (4th Edition) is broken as it only gives you a +/-5% change in price, max.
That is per test, and you get Rank x tests per negotiation. Haggling is a competition, you can roll multiple times (so can the merchant) and the total successes decide your discount. See it as a little social fight that can break out every now and then
It feels completely underwhelming relative to almost any other required Discipline Talent, short of the Windling Scout's Climbing requirement. It's probably on par with Windling spellcasters that have to take Astral Sight. Why would Haggle develop as an integral part of the Thief discipline for such a small reward? If a Thief wants more money it's far more efficient to just get better at stealing things.
If you look at how much stolen goods usually sell for (10% of base price) then haggle is huge. I can easily double or triple the money you get when fencing goods. And playing it out that way is also a lot more immersive for the Thief player, imo.
There's also the impact that Haggle has on play if a more effective ruleset is used. Earthdawn is a fine game and 4th Edition has given more thought to economics than previous editions but it's still far from being its strong point and I fear that it can be broken with injudicious modifications to the Haggle rules.
The only point where haggle gets bad is in warden tier+ where you get a number of rolls that can easily lead to 50% discounts. At that point, it is even more important to make sure that high-class merchants have the haggle skill at a reasonable level to counteract it.
My other complaint is more a matter of playstyle. I'm concerned that if it's used for everything it slows down the game with a lot of dice rolling that doesn't particularly advance the story nor feel especially heroic.
How often do you actually deal with goods in your game? Halle only ever comes into play in my games when we're actively trying to buy/sell stuff in a town. That's when it should be used and when it matters. Just make a social contract not to use it on every beer/accommodation/transportation and that's that.

I think you are giving the talent more of a beating than it warrants. I also ahve issues with it but that is more the character vision of my current thief rather that not liking the mechanics.

Belenus
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Re: Replacement Talent for Haggle

Post by Belenus » Fri Jun 19, 2020 1:34 pm

ragbasti wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 12:42 pm
MetalBoar wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 7:55 pm
I have two primary complaints. A strict, literal reading of the RAW (4th Edition) is broken as it only gives you a +/-5% change in price, max.
That is per test, and you get Rank x tests per negotiation. Haggling is a competition, you can roll multiple times (so can the merchant) and the total successes decide your discount. See it as a little social fight that can break out every now and then
This is not quite correct.
You get +5% when successful and -5% when the merchant is successful.
And the negotiation stops as soon as someone failed his test. So you get +5% at best.

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