Trading expeditions can make for interesting adventures, having a good mix of role-playing, combat and survival challenges. Setting out in small and rather fragile ships, the heroes must brave storms, pirates, sea monsters and greedy local rulers to trade their goods for treasure. Trade is handled very simply in this game, with minimal bookkeeping so you can focus on the adventure aspect.
Trade opportunities rise from a constant demand for certain items in certain places, or from a temporary shortage of an otherwise common item somewhere. Exotic marine and forest products are in high demand wherever foreign merchants call. Locusts, typhoons and even the raids of giants may cause a rice shortage somewhere.
You can find out about trade opportunities by talking to travelers; this is a good reason to hang out at the Datu’s hall and join the conversation when he has guests. As a rule the best opportunities are on other islands — the farther they are, the less likely that they also have your trade goods. There may also be good opportunities inland, necessitating voyages upriver or trekking into the mountains.
A trade opportunity is given in terms of a return rate for an item at a certain place: X Wealth points for Y item, at place Z.
For example, the GM may declare that “Pearls bring a 3:1 rate in Penjan.” This means for every Wealth point worth of pearls you bring to Penjan, you may bring back 3 Wealth.
This gives you the feel of actually doing trade without having to go into detailed and onerous bookkeeping.
Successful bargaining with a buyer can raise your profits, while bungling negotiations can lower them.
Continuing our example, Lawin-laut as the most experienced traveler does the negotiations. He asks for a 4:1 rate on their pearls, but his buyer, a canny Wu Long merchant, angrily insists on 2:1. A contest is rolled, but with Dimasalang and Hagibis scowling fearsomely at the Wu Long merchant, Lawin-laut gets enough Advantage to win the contest. The merchant reluctantly pays a 4:1 rate for the pearls.