Resources question: how does selling items work?

I’m playing around with a dwarf character who does a lot with crafting skills, including White-Metal Artifice and Gem Artifice. Both of those skills increase the Resources obstacle of the created item compared to a normal (non-dwarf-made) version. Great so far. But:

How does this affect a PC?

Presumably I’d be selling this item to someone (barring Greed complications, at least). How does this work for Resources? I don’t see any rules about selling items, or crafting for profit, except as a way to recover from Tax. Is this just supposed to be roleplayed in exchange for Cash or Funds? If so, how does the increased Resources obstacle affect what I receive from the sale? I don’t see any guidance on this in the rules.

Items are cash, you just need to explain how you are using it for the advantage cash gives.

If I were bargaining and I threw in a dagger to sweeten the deal I’d be lobbying for the advantage die. If I explained it as selling the dagger to a third party for cash it’d be the same net effect. The narration is pretty free.

But what about more? My heirloom armour is worth more than that? Well the GM can also add additional advantage dice if he thinks the character is in a strong position.

There’s also the haggling skill as a linked test part of the resources text. That can be described as speaking well of your own item’s value (to the current vendor or even a third party). Don’t worry about selling stuff until there’s a reason for wanting the money. This isn’t a game where you do stuff just to do stuff, there is always a reason.

I imagine selling would work the exact same way as buying, but the currency is Cash Dice, not Resource Obstacles.

You craft an item and say it’s worth 2D. You find a buyer or he comes to your shop and you both enter a Haggling conflict. Say you come out on top and the price goes to 3D. He’s now got to make an Ob6 Resource test to buy it. If he passes, great. You get your 3D Cash dice, he gets the item. If he fails, you get the Cash dice and he now owes you big! Maybe he can work it off cleaning out the forges. Maybe he knows someone that can further your quest?

Yup, sell your gear for cash, use your cash to help your resources tests. Someone fails a resources test to buy your gear? We’ll, maybe they borrowed money from a loan shark to buy it, who cares, it’s probably not going to affect you… probably.

I disagree with these guys. I don’t think the NPCs ought to be rolling dice. It’s not a conflict.

The GMs job is to challenge the player character’s beliefs.

The questions that form the game content should be framed as such. “Can this guy afford to give you his cash?” is not game situation content as it’s being asked by the same guy who answers it, the GM. “Do you know someone who has the cash available for your purchase?” is much better as it demands the player answers it, possibly prompting a conflict.

Guy has a point. I don’t know any of our PC’s ever sold anything in play.

You should be breaking all of their stuff before they get a chance to sell it! :wink:

What exactly is going on in your game? Are you playing a game based around commerce?


Nothing at all yet. This game hasn’t actually started; I’m just futzing around with character burning and trying to figure out how to work the rules. It probably won’t be a commerce-focused game at all; however, our characters are likely to be severely cash-strapped in the concept, and one of my dwarf’s Beliefs involves restricting good Dwarven crafting to Dwarves alone. He’ll stretch that for his allies (he’s making them honorary dwarves), but I know that he’s going to get into situations where it will make a lot of sense to sell some of what he’s made. Whether he’ll do so depends on the circumstances, of course, and Greed is going to make get involved in all sorts of fun ways. When looking at the Resources rules, though, I realized that there’s no clear guidance on how to handle sales of items.

So far, here’s what I’m taking away from this discussion. Some of this was said outright, other things were implied.

  1. Since Resources is a major abstraction, most of the time I should assume that my Resources includes basic trade goods that I’ve made. “Work-a-day crafting” for pay isn’t a major occurrence, except when I’m doing it to recover from Tax. If I’ve got Resources B4, that includes some simple White-Metal Artifice jewelry, Black-Metal Artifice tools, or Gem Artifice stones that my character would sell without a fuss. (And, incidentally, the open-endedness of the Artifice skills would make them great methods of recovering Tax.)

  2. I’ve seen two basic approaches proposed. In the first, items are used to assist with buying things and are effectively cash. In the second, the item can be traded for cash, and an NPC makes a Resources test to buy it. The first one seems workable, but I don’t like the second one. As Durand Durand said, who cares if the NPC fails the test? The conflict’s centered on the wrong person in that scenario, and either way, the player gets the cash he wants.

However, both of these ignore my original question: how do you “price” a Dwarf-crafted item? In other words, how do you figure out how many cash dice the Arkenstone of Thrane is worth? (For the sake of argument, we’ll say that a human’s got it, and forget about Greed.) Again, since Resources is abstracted, you’re not selling it for money - you’re trading it for an army, or the dowry of a princess, or any equivalently over-the-top thing. But for the game system, where you’re rolling dice, you’ve got to put a value on it somehow. If a gold ring is, say, Resources Ob 3 and worth 1D of cash, how does using White-Metal Artifice to increase it to Resources Ob 4 affect that cash value?

  1. My current thought for an answer is that you’d treat it as if you were using Resources to generate cash. Effectively, you get cash dice equal to half the Resources Ob of the item. That Dwarf-crafted gold ring at Resources Ob 4 would be worth 2D of cash. This sounds really abusable, though. Thoughts?

BW isn’t the kind of game where you need to “price” an item for the sake of it.

It wouldn’t be “just for the sake of it” - all of this would arise in game, out of the story at hand. I’m just trying to figure out how to handle it if/when it comes up. This character’s reticence about seeing Dwarven items in non-Dwarven hands is an aspect of his character; not the only aspect, but an important one. It’s going to cause conflicts when he discovers that he’s too poor to accomplish another important goal, and I already know that other characters in the group will want him to just sell something. In that context, knowing what he can get for that “something” is important.

Turning possessions into cash dices seems pretty boring to me, in most cases I guess you can use the given item as advantage dices.

Cash dice are just a representation of the buying power of the item. You don’t have to turn it into anything unless that’s the way your economy works. If you have a chicken worth 2D in cash dice, it’s still a chicken.

Just assigning a flat “cash dice” value to an item really feels wrong, especially when it comes to these kinds of items. What I think you should do instead is try to decide just how much the buyer wants the item. If this is the Arkenstone and the buyer is dwarven, he will probably offer his family and to shave his beard for it, but if he’s elven he might turn it down just out of spite…

Trying to find the right buyer for an item could be a worthwhile Circles check in many situations, and the check could have some interesting failure consequences. These aren’t items you just carry around like a pouch of coins and trade for 2 cash dice chickens… :slight_smile:

How many cash dice? Here’s the thing: you can be pretty arbitrary and get away with it. Here’s why!

You say “That dwarven super plate is worth 3 cash dice”.
And the player will say “No way It’s got to be worth 6!”

You get a conflict right there.

Then you play the merchant saying “Oh, but it’ll take a lifetime in stock before I fine a seller. It’s a once in a lifetime buy and I’m not the one who values it.”

And then the player will say what their character does. You get a task, you get an intent if the player wants to pursue that route.

Or if you chose something a little higher the player might agree and then there’d not be a conflict and you just play out the exchange where the player sells the thing.

In either of those cases you’d play that scene because it was in service of a belief and the money was necessary for a resources test the player will be making imminently.

Although I said you can be somewhat arbitrary I’d say that the number of dice a thing is worth is somewhere between the Obstacle to acquire that thing and half that number. I might suggest the player have a disadvantage to their haggling or whetever if they ask for more than that. But the game does not give this guidance but I don’t think you’d go far wrong but really the GM has a lot of the power over that as I believe it’s in the realm of awarding multiple advantage dice.

Selling stuff you are making sounds a bit like getting a job.

A round-about way to do this system wise is test resources to generate cash and then work to replenish resources if they get taxed, you can tweak the idea with the fiction, but he mechanics would work.

Another way to approach it is to ask for a linked series to generate the cash, say, circles to find a market with a need you can furnish, a craft skill test to furnish the need, and a resources test to generate the cash from your bolstered reserves. Sure, with low resources, it’s a struggle, but later it’s easier.


Two things before people get too deep into the weeds.

First, I think 0.5 * Ob in cash is actually harsh since that’s effectively a 4x reduction in safe buying power. Honestly, an even Ob to cash conversion is fine as long as you don’t let people game the system by not paying for their supplies (yes selling Dwarven Mail nets you a ton of cash gross but the margins aren’t great due to all the mithril, it’s Ob 10 for the mail but you’re probably putting Ob 8 worth of resources into constructing it).

Second, don’t worry about it too much before you start. Follow the guidelines and don’t try to be prepared for every eventuality before the game starts. It’s unlikely that this will come up in the first few sessions, and it’s even more unlikely that it’ll come up at all in more than once or twice as anything other than color for a Get A Job roll. If it does happen in a meaningful situation unrelated to a Get A Job roll, make a call at the table and continue on. After that session is over you should evaluate how you feel about the ruling: if you feel comfortable with it let it stand as official for your game, if you don’t think it was the right thing you should bring it here and we’ll all work on it together. As long as your players are reasonable you should be able to say “remember that cash die thing from last game that felt weird, I’ve cleaned it up on the off-chance it comes up again” without them getting all bent out of shape.

As for why people started jumping on this thread. This is a standard gotcha for new Burning Wheel GMs. Pretty much everyone gets stuck on some portion of the Rim rules before their first outing as a new Burning Wheel GM. Mine was Reputations and Affiliations, though I know a few other people who had seriously knotty problems with Resources. Remember though, as the GM you’re playing to have fun as well. Don’t worry about Resources, by the time it comes up as a serious issue you’ll be ready for it. Instead focus on nailing your Situation, hitting your players Beliefs, and playing to find out.

I remember asking this very question at one point. Turns out it was back in 2007. We went with the PC engaging in Haggling to set a Resource Ob for the price of the good and the PC getting half that number in Cash dice. It worked out pretty well as I recall.

Man, a lot of downers in this thread. My two cents:

Since it takes 2x the obstacle of a test to have a 60-70% shot at succeeding, take the obstacle of an item in the resources list (or compare it to one), and double it. That’s the full value of cash die that thing is worth. A full plate suit is 12D then.

BUT! Players should never be getting full price for these—just think about pawn shops in the real world. They want to scam you as much as possible. So take the dice total and subtract 1/3 (or maybe the player can bump if up to 1/2 with a successful haggling test). So for a full plate suit, the character would get 4D normally and 6D on a good roll. Not bad.

A suit of plate is worth different things to farmer who wants to melt it down for scrap, a knight on the eve of battle, and a shop that wants to resell it for a profit.