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Bought & Broken: Goblin Market Costs & Prices

Welcome to the jungle
We got fun 'n' games
We got everything you want
Honey we know the names
We are the people that can find
Whatever you may need 
If you got the money honey
We got your disease
-- Guns N' Roses, "Welcome to the Jungle
"

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A goblin market is magical place not just because it's attended by otherworldly beings and staged in the Hedge, but also because nearly anything can be bought and sold there.  The books make it abundantly clear that the market is not restricted to earthly goods or to common mechanical benefits, like points of Willpower.  You can buy the sweet feeling of a young girl's first love, or an alien flower, or a human kidney - but what will the asking price be for such treasures?  And if you had such things to sell, what can you expect to be offered in return?  With a playing field so broad, it's no wonder that the books only go so far into explaining market haggling.  The authors took special pains to make the game mysterious, open, and fascinating.  But sometimes, particularly on the spur of the moment, a little guidance is appreciated.

The chart below is meant as a quick guide that provides several things.  The wares column gives you ideas for the items and features that can be offered for trade, or that merchants might be looking for someone to supply (in this way, the list can serve as a plot hook generator, as well). Some changelings will take stray hedgespun or objects to the market in the hope that someone there will be interested.  Keep in mind that certain wares can only be sold to the market by the fae, since a normal human doesn't have a Seeming to sell. A hapless mortal who wandered into the market might be able to buy such a dubious treasure, however, though the price would probably be steep.

The effects of selling column gives you an idea of what might happen to a person who sells such things to goblin merchants. For instance, a changeling who sells a dot of Manipulation will not be able to access it until they buy it back with experience points or the deal ends.  That level of ability would vanish the moment the deal was agreed to (and returns or exchanges will probably be far worse than living with a difficult "bargain"). Sales can be permanent or temporary, depending on the transaction. Sometimes goblins don't want something forever, but they'll take it for right now. A few merchants run pawn shops, holding onto items until their former owner buys them back or their time to get their items back is up.

The sample phrasing column gives a brief example how the goblin merchants will talk about their wares or what they want in exchange. After all, goblins don't know what "a dot of Clarity" is, but they are all too happy to take "your peace of mind."  This is flavor text to keep visits to the market in-character and in the spirit of the story, rather than breaking the immersion to handle the details.

The side effect of buying column talks about the likely side effects of purchasing the wares in column one.  Not only is nothing in the goblin market free, but everything has an unforeseen price due to the nature of the Wyrd. Some wares, like body parts, were probably obtained forcefully, generating all kinds of residual emotions and, if you will, bad karma. If a changeling purchased a dot of Manipulation, for instance, he might not be able to use his highest dot of Empathy until he got used to the change.  Merchants are not always aware of what the added difficulties will be, so they can't always forewarn their customers.

The market column talks about the types of markets that will trade in such things.  "Normal" goblin markets are the type most commonly found near and frequented by freeholds. They'll deal in dream vessels without batting an eye, but the locals will frown on or make a deal to ban trading in body parts (at least out in the open).  "Taboo" markets deal in risque and risky rarities, such as health levels and slaves.  Most freeholds do not support the slave trade, for instance, unless slaves are being purchased with the intent to set them free in the real world.  Some things are frowned upon for other reasons that are less obvious.  That dot of Strength you covet, for instance - where did it come from?  In all likelihood, it was tricked, stolen, or tortured away from an innocent.

This is a mix and match sort of chart, and your mileage will certainly vary.  I've found it to be a handy reference and something of a security blanket; when my players ask what's at market, I don't worry as much about being caught flat-footed.  What does the Butcher have for sale?  Eyes with 20/20 vision, which will cost 3 experience points per eye (and will cause visual hallucinations).  The Praying Man (who is part priest, part praying mantis) will add your Vice of Lust to his special string of prayer beads and you'll stop feeling the urges for the duration (one prayer cycle is one month).  In return, he'll give you a dot of Clarity - but your sexual organs will be unable to feel arousal or perform, you will be unable to draw Glamour from Lust, and you will be unable to regain Willpower from your Vice.  Or maybe you'll just forget everything you knew about sex altogether (as well as every memory of sexual encounters).

Download this chart in PDF

Wares* Effect of Selling** Sample Phrasing Side Effect of Buying*** Market
Attribute Lose dot of an attribute “Your keen senses” Lose another attribute; gain related illness Taboo
Body Part Lose use of the part “All it will cost is…your voice” Part functions strangely; hallucinations Taboo
Clarity Lose dot of Clarity “Your peace of mind” Betrayal by someone close/important to you Taboo
Clause Lose clause of Contract “Your power to ripen plants” Lose another clause randomly Taboo/Normal
Dream Vessel Dream (with real beneficial effect) “Your fondest lustful dream” See flashes of the dream while awake (penalties to Perception rolls) Taboo/Normal
Experience Lose experience “All your dreams of falling” A repercussion from the life it was taken from Taboo
Glamour Lose point of Glamour “The joy you've stolen” Glamour rush (RoS 63); residual memory Taboo/Normal
Goblin Fruit Various types and strengths “Sweet to tongue, sound to eye” As per the type of fruit Taboo/Normal
Health Lose health “Your iron innards” Flaw or disease after benefit ends Taboo
Hedgespun Lose the item “A tear more rare than pearl” Take on traits related to the item Taboo/Normal
Kith Lose Kith blessing “The claws you gained in Hell” Can't sleep for 36 hrs., all traits halved til sleep Taboo/Normal
Merit Lose the Merit “Your flow of wealth” New situation comes with trouble Taboo/Normal
Object (common) Lose the object; might be asked for many “Wings pulled from a live butterfly” Lose another object of a similar type Taboo/Normal
Object (obscure) Lose the object; might be asked for many “A living puppy's eyes” Others hunting the object get closer to finding it Taboo/Normal
Seeming Lose Seeming blessing “The dark that hides you well” 2x Seeming curse; acquire another Seeming curse Taboo
Service Enter a pledge for a service “A moment of your time” Might be more trouble than it's worth Taboo/Normal
Skill Lose dot of a skill “Your fondest memory” Next 3 rolls made under stress automatically fail; lose another skill Taboo/Normal
Slave; Creature Lose your slave “The pet you prize the most” Slave has a disease, obsession, or addiction Taboo
Token Various types and strengths “The all-seeing eye” As per the token Taboo/Normal
Trifle Various types and strengths “Bits and bobs from abroad” As per the trifle Taboo/Normal
Vice Cannot regain WP using that Vice “Your sense of all that's wrong” Suffer -3 to Composure checks Taboo
Virtue Cannot regain WP using that Virtue “Your sense of what is right” Gain notoriety, deserved or otherwise Taboo
Willpower Lose point or dot of WP “Your strength to carry on” Become obsessive Taboo/Normal
Wyrd Lose dot of Wyrd “That which makes you fae” Get closer to being found by Keeper Taboo
Years Lose one year of life “Buy from us with a golden curl” Enter fugue states randomly Taboo

* Options with temporary and permanent ratings (like Glamour) can be traded in temporary points or permanent dots.
** Effects of selling can be temporary or permanent, depending on the nature of the transaction.
*** Side-effects are generally instantaneous/immediate or of temporary duration, until somehow resolved or until enough time has passed.

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