Trader Class

“They say that originality is the art of concealing your sources. They also say that diplomacy is the art of letting the other guy have your way. Well let me tell you something young kip, trading… is the original art of diplomacy…”
― Tabaros Wavir, of House Wavir, to his grandson

In a world where life’’s basic necessities – food, water, metal – are in short supply, the individual who can provide them wields enormous influence.

While disliked and often openly reviled by the sorcerer-kings, traders are popular with ordinary citizens. They are tolerated everywhere, for without them life on Athas would come to a grim end.

Favored Regions: Across the burning, dust-swirled deserts of Athas, from water-starved village to greedy city, from bloodthirsty halfling tribes to ancient elven roving bands, a single thread unites a dying world. That thread is trade. Player characters in the world of the Dark Sun will encounter traders and their followers constantly. The universal nature of trade will make many want
to become traders themselves. Of course, the greatest Merchant Houses reside in the established cities of the sorcerer-kings, where their extraordinary wealth and power can be consolidated. However, at any given time traders may be found risking life and limb as they trek across the desolate wastes in guarded caravans, silt skimmers, or even simply alone. Within the tablelands, the Verdant Belt surrounding the Crescent Forest of Gulg and Nibenay is perhaps the most well protected and accommodating region for traders, and so there tends to be more traffic there than anywhere else. Recently, silt skimming has returned to profitability, and so trading operations in and around the Estuary of the Forked tongue have picked up.

Adventures: While all traders aspire to become master of a major trading house, most have to start small. They generally have no qualms about accompanying bands of roving adventurers, acting as negotiators, interpreters, and diplomats, appraising and bargaining for treasure and supplies. Those adventurers who accompany a young trader often form the core of a new trading house, are adopted into the trader’s family, or live well as senior agents when the trader becomes successful.

Characteristics: Traders are shrewd manipulators, skilled laborers, and flat-out tricksters. Any trader worth his salt barters in subtlety or deception as much as in goods or services. Thanks to this, they not only have deep pockets but also the necessary skills to empty pockets – one way or the other.

Alignment: Neutrality is the norm for traders who prefer to be the middle-men in every argument, disagreement, or dispute. However as they say, their true feelings are “their business,” and so traders can be of any alignment.

Religion: Fortune – be it wealth, karma, or simply blind luck – is the only religion that a merchant knows. Traders may make a sacrifice for good fortunes to the elements before setting off in a caravan, or they may make a special donation to the templars before bidding on a new contract, but these instances can hardly be considered doctrinaire. Indeed, the only code that a trader adheres to with religious conviction is her Merchant’s Code, because to break that is to declare bankruptcy.

Background: Like nobles, most traders are born into their profession. Those born destitute or in the wild usually turn to raiding before attempting an honest living, although it is not unheard of for outlanders to join a Merchant House. Some may be ex-slaves or ex-raiders, and indeed many Traders are also Survivors or Rogues. Few traders have what it takes to compete with existing Merchant Houses or Guilds, and so almost all have taken the oath and joined up with members of these institutions. The exceptions are wandering traders, such as those in nomadic, roaming bands, but again, few of these are wealthy enough to note.

Races: Traders can be found among all humanoid races in Athas, although they are more common among humans, sauren, and qin than others. In the Tablelands, most traders are human or dwarven, with some sauren, elves, and the assorted half-breeds filling out most of the rest of the traders. Outside of the city-states, traders are almost unheard of among the thranger and giants, who tend to attack first and ask questions later. Among the nomadic elven clans, traders are not as rare as one might think, although they usually only interact with those they deem worthy. The Teotl, or “Inexplicable Ones”, are also disinclined to have traders, preferring instead to concentrate in other pursuits. Traders are relatively common in the highly structured societies of the qin, but not especially so among the halflings. These are all rough guidelines, however; any society is capable of producing a shrewd negotiator or skilled laborer

Other Classes: Knowing an opportunity when they see one, traders often appraise the skills and abilities of other classes, and tend to work with members of all classes with little difficulty. In particular, traders get along especially well with classes that are used to working for money (or no money), such as survivors, gladiators, and members of military organizations like templars, fighters, and even some rogues. Traders are often counseled by psions and wilders who act as psychic advisors and mentors, and they rely on bards as courtiers, information-gatherers, and employed performers. Rogues are also valued for their infiltration and spying abilities, and are used as tools by traders in their games of power. Of all the classes, barbarians, druids, rangers, and monks have the least in common with traders. The social structure and class abilities of the trader class are more focused on urban settings, where barbarians and druids have difficulty fitting in. Aesthetic monks are typically more concerned with their philosophical studies than the acquisition of wealth. Exceptions exist, however, and there are cases of druidic advisors to merchant princes, and barbarian or monk bodyguards of powerful merchant lords, but such instances are rare.

Game Rule Information

Traders have the following game statistics.

Abilities: Charisma is the most important ability for the trader, as almost all business dealings and social interactions demand it. Intelligence and Wisdom can both be of great benefit to a trader as well, especially during the negotiation of complex contracts or the crafting of particular wares. Dexterity, Constitution, and Strength are most important for those traders who must plow through the caravan routes or survive “the blooding” experience of founding their own house.

Alignment: Any.

Hit Die: d6.

Starting Gold: 1,000 cp (see below).

Class Skills
p{text-indent:25px}. The noble’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), +Sense Motive (Wis). See Chapter Four: Skills in the Pathfinder® Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook for skill descriptions.

Skill Points per level: 8 + Int modifier.

Table 2–3: The Trader
Level Base Attack Bonus Ref Save Fort Save Will Save Special
1st +0 +0 +2 +2 Trader Archetype, Allegiance, Linguist, Wealth
2nd +1 +0 +3 +3 Bonus Feat, Material Aid
3rd +2 +1 +3 +3 Bonus Skill Trick, Influence +1
4th +3 +1 +4 +4 Bonus Feat, Connection
5th +3 +1 +4 +4 Allegiance, Bonus Feat
6th +4 +2 +5 +5 Bonus Feat, Linguist
7th +5 +2 +5 +5 Bonus Skill Trick, Influence +2
8th 6/1 +2 +6 +6 Bonus Feat
9th 6/1 +3 +6 +6 Allegiance, Connection
10th 7/2 +3 +7 +7 Bonus Feat, Founding of a House
11th 8/3 +3 +7 +7 Bonus Skill Trick, Influence +3, Linguist
12th 9/4 +4 +8 +8 Bonus Feat
13th 9/4 +4 +8 +8 Allegiance
14th 10/5 +4 +9 +9 Bonus Feat, Connection
15th 11/6/+1 +5 +9 +9 Bonus Skill Trick, Influence +4
16th 12/7/+2 +5 +10 +10 Bonus Feat, Linguist
17th 12/7/+2 +5 +10 +10 Allegiance
18th 13/8/+3 +6 +11 +11 Bonus Feat
19th 14/9/+4 +6 +11 +11 Bonus Skill Trick, Influence +5, Connection
20th 15/10/+5 +6 +12 +12 Bonus Feat, Trader’s Contract

Class Features

All the following are features of the trader.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Traders are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, light and medium armor, and with shields (except tower shields).

Trader Archetype (Ex): Not all traders are the same. Some are born to their professions, while others become traders through their flair for mercantilism, their superior knowledge, or even their ties to powerful underground organizations. The trader must pick one of the following archetypes, which affects his allegiance ability (below). Once chosen, his archetype may not be changed.

Academic: The academic trader has increased his wealth through access to information. Often seen as the power behind the throne, academics may be found manipulating events and influencing those in power. Many academics are scholars, barristers, judges, scribes, and physicians.

Clandestine: The clandestine trader is a member of an extended criminal “family”, one that holds great power and influence in the realm. The clandestine trader may use his wealth to frighten and demean others, but just as often he may try to appear as a man of the common people, using his criminal connections to help those who are less fortunate. Most, however, are corrupt, selfish, and petty, seeking only to put themselves ahead by gaining wealth and power.

Eldritch: As a member of a powerful magical or psionic house, the eldritch trader relies upon his access to ancient arcane tomes and artifacts in order to maintain his wealth. Similar to academics, many eldritch traders can be found as advisors to great kings and emperors.

Industrial: The industrial trader is a craftsman or skilled laborer, or perhaps a high-powered financier and leader of the guilds that support craftsmen and artisans. These traders hold the purse strings and maintain their wealth by catering to the mercantile concerns of the middle classes. In fact, many industrial traders are actually wealthier than the patrician traders who were born into their professions.

Military: A military career has long been a way for those of lesser means to acquire greater wealth, and the military trader has taken this path. Admired for his ability as a leader, as well as for his keen sense of strategy and military tactics, the military trader can often be found as an advisor to the legitimate government. Just as often, however, a military trader may use his position as the supplier of a powerful army to stage a rebellion and establish himself as the sole supplier to both sides.

Patrician: The patrician represents the heirs to the family business, persons who were born into their wealth and professions. Virtual royalty such as merchant lords and princes are included among their number, as well as other land-owning traders of the city-states. Most often, patrician titles are hereditary, passing from father to son (or to the first born child, in some cases).

Religious: The religious trader is a devotee of the sorcerer-kings, and includes members of the merchant caste who have chosen to advance their careers and gain wealth through religion. Unlike clerics, the religious trader is not necessarily at the pulpit delivering sermons, but is more of a planner and power-broker. They help to advance the cause of their faith through well placed bribes to the other merchants, calling for increased donations to the sorcerer-king’s hoard, or even demanding a Jihad against a rival faith.

Allegiance (Ex): Traders receive special training and tutoring to give them advantages over uneducated and less fortunate commoners. In return for these necessary skills and a place within a guild, traders must pledge an oath that they will abide by the rules of a given Merchant House. Considered to be their allegiance, this extra education often manifests itself as useful knowledge gleaned from endless hours of apprenticeship and training. The trader gains allegiance at 1st level, and again at 5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th levels.

All mercantile houses follow a strict code of behavior, known as the Merchants’ Code. Anyone wishing to join a merchant house must accept all aspects of this code and abide by them or face immediate expulsion. The code varies from house to house, but in most cases it conforms to the following principles:

  1. Recognition that by joining a merchant house, an agent forsakes citizenship in any city or membership in any tribe.
  2. An oath of allegiance to the merchant house.
  3. A promise to perform in the best interests of the merchant house in return for a salary.
  4. A promise to deal honestly with stranger, friend, and foe alike.
  5. A promise not to flaunt any wealth gained through employment with the house.
  6. A promise to uphold the laws of the city in which the agent is stationed, and to do nothing to bring down the wrath of the sorcerer-king or his agents upon the house.
  7. A promise to cooperate with other merchants to make life very expensive for any person who unjustly imprisons, blackmails, or otherwise harasses any merchant.

Each time a trader gains the benefit of allegiance (while he is a member of a Merchant House), he may select one ability from the following, based upon the trader archetype he chose. The trader must meet all prerequisites for any noble breeding bonus feat he chooses.

Academic: Higher Education, Improved Iron Will, Iron Will, Professional Researcher, Skill Focus (any Knowledge skill)

Clandestine: Deceitful, Eyes in the Back of Your Head, Multitalented (for Disguise and Stealth), Stealthy, Wary

Eldritch: Arcane Strike, Arcane Training, Bloodburn, Magical Aptitude, Multitalented (for Spellcraft and Use Magic Device)

Industrial: Born to Wealth, Diligent, Merchant, Persuasive, Skill Focus (Appraise, Bluff, Knowledge (local), or Sense Motive)

Military: Armor Proficiency, Armor Specialization, Combat Tutor, Mounted Combat, Weapon Focus

Patrician: Intimidating Wit, Iron Will, Negotiator, Persuasive, +Political Intrigue

Religious: Church Patron, Divine Training, Inspirational Leadership, Sense Infidel, Skill Focus (Diplomacy, Knowledge (religion), or Sense Motive)

Linguist (Ex): The trader is adept at picking up languages. At 1st level, the trader has an open language “slot.” When he first encounters a language he does not know, if he makes a DC 20 Linguistics check, he automatically gains this language. At first, he has difficulty in using this new-found language, taking a -4 penalty to all Charisma skill checks when using this language. After a number of days (10 – the trader’s Intelligence modifier), he gains total mastery of this language and may use it without penalty.

Wealth (Ex): All traders are moderately wealthy. Traders begin play with the effective wealth of 2nd level characters as defined here. There are a few restrictions on how they may spend their wealth, however:

  • At least one-fourth of a trader’s wealth must go toward their cost of living as defined here. In addition, traders may buy property at roughly 100 times the cost of renting that property. This allows a 1st level trader, for example, to live a wealthy life-style in a merchant house or palace, or to wholly own an apartment or loft in the city. Wandering traders may substitute the cost of a caravan for this requirement.
  • Consumable or temporary use items, such as food or potions, cost 5 times the normal price for traders.
  • At each level, a trader’s wealth is reset to the effective wealth of a normal character one level higher unless their current wealth is already higher than this amount. All of a characters belongings and property are considered part of their wealth.
  • On each extended rest in their merchant house, palace, or owned home, a trader may exchange all of their current belongings for any other items whose total cost is less than their current wealth.
  • A trader’s wealth does not stack with that of a noble’s.
  • Ex-traders or multiclassed traders may only apply these benefits to amounts equal to one level higher than their total trader levels.

Trader Class

Lighthouse for the Blind Nemquae Nemquae