Appraise (Apath)

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Unofficial rules compendium

Publisher: Trailseeker.

This skill is used to manage a business and to invest in caravans and cargoes.

Appraisal would seem to be a very simple skill, but when traveling and adventuring, the price of an item can be quite variable and knowing what an item is worth in different markets involves a lot of variables. This makes a character skilled at appraise a good trader and investor; knowing what an item is worth here and now allows educated guesses at what an item would be worth in another time and place.

These ways of making money can have a great impact on a campaign. If one player runs a business and the others have no income, it can make for great disparity over time. Try to either have the business be a common venture in the group, reinvest every gold piece in the business, or agree on some profit-sharing to get everyone involved.


The Appraise skill extends to keeping and reading accounts. With access to ledgers, an Appraise skill can discern any irregularities in about an hour's time, with a DC depending on the size of the organization (see Table: Business).


Appraise can be used to set up and manage a shop, trading firm, or bank.

Setting Up and Cashing Out a Business

Investing or withdrawing money from a business takes a month of work. Make an Appraise check, using a DC based on your investment capital or company worth (see Table: Business). For each point of margin, you manage to invest or withdraw 10% of the capital; change the value of the company by this amount. You can choose to invest or withdraw less than the full amount. When withdrawing money you must pay for crime, taxes, and corruption, see below.

Table: Business

Business Value DC Profit per point of margin
1 gp or less 0 1 cp
10 gp or less 5 1 sp
100 gp or less 10 1gp
1,000 or less gp 15 10 gp
10,000 or less gp 20 100 gp
100,000 or less gp 25 1,000 gp
1,000,000 or less gp 30 10,000 gp
x10 +5 x10

It is never possible to take 10 on business rolls. Increasing the value of the business by a factor of ten increases the DC by 5. This can be extrapolated to emporiums of even greater size.

If the owner of the emporium has access to some trade secret, monopoly, unique labor pool, or otherwise can capitalize on conditions, this can give a bonus. The same is true of an emporium involved with a local specialty; a city of weavers attracts the attention of cloth merchants.

Settlements have an effect on emporium conducted there. The economy modifier of a settlement is applied as a modifier on Appraise checks to run an emporium, but the largest possible monthly profit equals the purchase limit of the settlement; the market cannot support profits greater than this. An emporium that regularly runs into this limitation is likely to make the settlement expand quickly.

Events can give a bonus or penalty on checks to run an emporium. Events give a bonus or penalty depending on what the emporium does. An emporium dealing in weapons is likely to benefit from a war, an emporium dealing in fine arts is likely to make a loss. An adventure where the players foil a robbery is likely to increase business as the company gains fame for its security.

Manage a Business

Make a roll each month with a DC based on the value of the company. For each point of margin, there is a 1% return on the worth of the business. This profit can be realized in money or re-invested, increasing the value of the emporium. If the DC is matched exactly or fails by less than 5, the business breaks even. If the roll fails by more than 5, the emporium makes a loss equal to the margin of failure (there is no rebate for the first 4 points here, a loss is always at least 5%); this loss must either come out of the owner of the shop's pocket or reduces the value of the shop.

Crime, Taxes, and Corruption

Each year, sum the modifiers for corruption, crime, and law for the community where the business is located and add 10 to the result; this is the yearly loss (in %) the emporium suffers due to taxes, kickbacks, and crime. This cost is usually applied at new year's.

Alternate Businesses

Appraise is the prime skill for conducting a business, but other skills can do it too. A company working in a certain field can be set up by anyone with skill in that field. An alchemist's shop requires Craft (alchemy), an inn requires Profession (innkeeper), running a theater requires Perform (acting) and so on. Because trade is generally the most profitable field of endeavor, the DC to manage a business using a skill other than Appraise is generally 5-10 higher, with more prestigious and well-renowned businesses suffering a lower DC increase.

Once the business reaches a certain size, around 10,000 gp worth, Appraise can run any business as it becomes more a matter of accounting and less a matter of being able to do the job yourself. Using Appraise in this way negates the increase to business DCs.

Speculative Trade

When traveling, it is possible to use the difference in price between different locales to make a profit in trade. Add the applicable modifiers from the table below and make an Appraise check to find the value of the goods at the destination. Selling cargoes wholesale there is little bargaining room; everyone involved in the trade is fairly certain about its worth, as determined by the Appraise roll.

Cargo is bought and sold in tons (4 mule-loads, 1 medium wagon-load, or 1 ton of ship's cargo capacity). The weight includes packaging to allow the wares to be safely transported.

Purchase Price

The DC for a break-even sale depends on the purchase price of the goods. More expensive goods vary less in price and are thus less profitable to speculate in, but are much easier to transport.

Cargo valued at 10 gp/ton, such as grain, lumber, ore, and other common raw materials 15
Cargo valued at 100 gp/ton, such as meat, wool, and similar produce 20
Cargo valued at 1,000 gp/ton such as crystal, iron bars, and other exotic raw materials 25
Cargo valued at 10,000 gp/ton (5 gp per pound) such as fine cloth, weapons, and other crafted items 30
Cargo valued at 100,000 gp/ton (50 gp per pound) such as gold, spices, other and luxury items 35
Cargo valued at 1,000,000 gp/ton (500 gp per pound) such as jewelry and magic items 40

Apply only one modifier form each of the following categories (except the last one, circumstances).

Distance Traveled

The value of the cargo increases as it is transported; goods that are easy to produce in one locale command a better price when exported to a locale where it is hard to produce. The price increase and DC depends on the accumulated travel distance of the goods.

To make things simple, distances are counted is straight lines. The effects of terrain, poor roads and such are included in the speed of each mode of travel.

10 miles transport (day trade) ±0
40 miles transport (local) +5
150 miles transport (regional) 10
600 miles transport (international) +25
3,000 miles transport (continental) +20
12,000 mile transport (global) +25

Means of Transport

Next is a modifier for what kind of transport is employed. Because ships are vastly more efficient than caravans or wagons, poor routes increase the price a lot more. Note that price increase is based on the best commonly available route, the players may have used a better or worse route than that. Costs are per ton, but only approximate and purely for the transportation—security and circumstantial costs are not included.

Majority of transport is by ship (water, 1 sp/mile, 40 miles/day) ±0
Majority of transport is by wagon (road, 3 sp/mile, 10 miles/day) +5
Majority of transport is by pack animal (path, 1 gp/mile, 5 miles/day) +10


Certain situations can modify the price further. Unlike the above modifiers, several circumstances can modify each sale.

Economy modifier for the settlement of resale Economy modifier
Trouble on the route (war, bandits, monsters preventing competitors from coming through.) +5
Good timing (new route, seasonal demand) +5
Privileged Information (Superior intelligence, mundane or supernatural) +5

Sale Price

If you beat the DC exactly, you can sell the goods at purchase price. For each point of margin, you make a 10% profit. If the roll fails, you can opt to sell the goods at a loss of 10% per point you failed by. Failing by 10 or more means there are no buyers at all.

You are not forced to sell at this price, but you cannot re-roll in the same locale for a year. Cargo is invested with an eye for resale at a particular destination, you suffer a -5 penalty in other locations, so refusing to sell is a risky business.

The capacity of a settlement to produce and absorb cargo depends on its size—the purchase limit is how much value in cargo the place can handle in a month. Finally, sum the modifiers for corruption, crime, and law and add 10 to the result; this is the loss (in % of the sell price) due to taxes, kickbacks, and crime.

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