Why would you haggle?

Split from this thread: https://www.burningwheel.com/forum/showthread.php?15609-New-in-Town - stormy

I think you’re right about Haggling though. I personally wouldn’t ever do it and can’t see why any rational player would want to do it: but then many players are gamblers, and the odds aren’t completely terrible. By my reckoning you’ve got roughly neutral results at 8, 10-13, 15 and positive results at 9 (depending what you’re buying), 14, 16-18. That’s roughly 60% chance of neutral and 23% chance of positive. So the risk isn’t completely horrible, though because the neutrals actually represent only 50% chance of truly being neutral, the chances start to look pretty close to 50/50.

However, on a successful roll, the ability to move 1 higher on the haggling table changes the picture to more like 47% chance of positive and 43% chance of neutral (x50% = 21.75%) for rough odds of 68.9% positive. Still far from a dead cert, but for those players with that gambling streak, it’s not completely foolish!

We’ve been playing TB for years and have never had even a slight problem with what you’re questioning and making up house rules for without even playing the game. The point of TB is that adventuring life is rough and expensive. Don’t “fix” that by making it easier on the players. If you “fix” the difficult aspects of chess, you’re just playing checkers.

But I think people also need to recognise that different players and groups have different tolerance for grindy elements, whilst still wanting to try out different innovative games like Torchbearer. I don’t think it’s a crime against a game if a GM recognises this and tries to consider ways the game can be softened without removing core elements entirely. I happen to agree that the OP is going a bit strong on his proposed softening, as the fundamental premise of the game is based on a bunch of individuals largely stuck in the Adventure to afford Town, Town to recover from Adventure vicious circle.

Want to fix haggling? Rather than remove the cost entirely, just tweak the probabilities by adding an extra +1D result into the table, upgrading 1 or 2 of the +1D results to +1s, or allowing players to add Margin of Success to their Haggling result rather than just +1?

Trying it as written FIRST is usually the better idea. Don’t fix it until it actually shows it doesn’t work for them.
Sometimes, what players will accept is very different from what the GM thinks they will accept.

It’s not a good idea to haggle every time. This is something players generally learn through personal experience and/or thinking things through. If you’re finding that haggling every time is not working out for you, that doesn’t indicate a broken rule-- rather, you haven’t examined the haggle rules closely enough.

Here’s how I see it:

Unless you’re using an instinct to haggle, a single player is likely to break even or lose out on a single haggle roll. Most results will provide a 1D bonus, or at best a -1 Ob. A basic grasp of dice math will reveal that this is not worth the lifestyle cost.

A group of hagglers increases the likelihood of landing on a “double value” result (14 or 16, depending). Thus, whenever the group knows they will be selling objet d’art or the like, everyone will pitch in to a haggle roll. A party with two or more good hagglers has very favorable odds to double the party’s treasure.

There are myriad other lesser reasons to haggle – maybe the Ob is low, or you want to earn some tests on haggler (so that you can be the guy who gets the sweet-sweet trade in later). Maybe you’re angry. But don’t expect a return just because you’re gambling, that’s silly.

As a general rule, if there’s no loot to trade in, it’s not worth doing. Kind of like real life – if you want to get more for what you’re offering, you have to have something to offer.

Exactly. I have zero problems with house rules. We house ruled D&D for decades. But save the house rules for when you find issues during play. Not just from reading the book. (BTW, I saw someone post the idea to increase the 2D6 role by the Haggler margin of success. That is a perfect house rule. I actually like it. Much better than just eliminating lifestyle costs.)

OK folks, this is starting to turn into a dogpile. Let’s let dicemechanic get a response or two in.

Nothing to say, wasn’t my thread to begin with - my post was just a response to someone else. I broadly agree with view of playing as writ before house-ruling. On a purely pedantic point, I do think it is possible to predict the outcome of rules and adjust them to better suit your own play-style, but in a game with such tight, interlocking mechanics as Torchbearer, it’s tricky and ill-advised.

I don’t think it’s a crime against a game if a GM recognises this and tries to consider ways the game can be softened without removing core elements entirely.

I get what dicemechanic is going for. The creators of this game are brilliant and it is evident that they play tested the rules quite a bit so going with their advice and what is written is probably the best rule. But, and I know something like this is even written in one of their books somewhere, remember the first rule of gaming: If EVERYONE at the table is having fun, then you’ve got the rules right. So do what works for your group.