Maritime Trade

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phderiksson
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Maritime Trade

#1 Post by phderiksson » Mon Mar 20, 2017 4:18 am

Need of help.

Reading from the Pilot Almanac. Trying to figure out the relative profit, using various Harn pricelist.
First of all, vessel is given a cargo capacity in tuns. And if I understand it correctly there are two ways that shipped cargo is measured, weight or measurement tons. Weight ton equals 2,000 pounds or Measurement ton equals 40 cubic feet.

Well, assuming shipping of 1 tun of Raw Wool (Retail price 4d/lb). Let say the captain loads 1 ton wool, purchased for 50% of retail and sell it in the next port for 75% of retail price. The total profit would be (2000lb * 3d/lb) - (2000lb * 2d/lb) = 2000d = £8.
It seems a little to much even if we add up ship and crew cost?
Pilots almanac give net profit per tun to 10d6*10d, i.e. 100-600d
Last edited by phderiksson on Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Maritime Trade

#2 Post by BrianSmaller » Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:28 am

Not if there is a glut of wool and his cargo doesn't sell for what he hoped.

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Re: Maritime Trade

#3 Post by Krazma » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:55 am

A "tun" does not equal a "ton." One is a measure of volume, the other a measure of weight. If you want to calculate this using retail prices, you're going to have to work out how much space a ton of raw wool takes up in a cargo hold. A tun of steel will weigh far more than a tun of styrofoam, but take up the same amount of space.

For a single tun lot, the maximum lot value would be 600d. See Maritime Trade 2.

Granted, the system presented in Pilots' Almanac is basic, and not designed to do what you are trying to do.
The following guidelines provide a basic system for maritime trade from the point of view of the captain of a trading vessel. How to make deals and buy/sell cargoes are discussed in sufficient detail for most players. Those who want to immerse themselves in the minutae of international trade from a mercantyler's point of view, will, alas, have to await a planned trade and economic module.

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Re: Maritime Trade

#4 Post by Targan » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:54 am

I've just gone through all of this myself over the past couple of weeks for my own campaign. The tun as a unit of measurement for shipping is definitely a unit of volume, not weight. Individual captains as part of their skill set would become good at estimating how much ballast would be needed to be taken aboard depending on the mass of the cargo (or they'd end up dead or shipwrecked).

The problem I've had is estimating the wholesale prices for bulk goods. It's really been doing my head in.
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Re: Maritime Trade

#5 Post by phderiksson » Mon Mar 20, 2017 4:29 pm

Krazma wrote:A "tun" does not equal a "ton." One is a measure of volume, the other a measure of weight.
True. But I come across both. Cargo tonnage: the cargo capacity of a vessel, expressed in weight or volume. Assuming volume is right the total weight of one tun equalls 3200 lb. The density of wool being 82 lb/cu ft. So I assumed the lower cargo capacity in this case.

I tend to agree with
BrianSmaller wrote:Not if there is a glut of wool and his cargo doesn't sell for what he hoped.
I assumed, wrongly, that the shipowner partake in all of the profit. If instead the mercantiler take the lionpart and the shipowner receivet transport charge. Lets say 2/3 to the mecantiler and 1/3 to ship owner. Then, if we assume a profit of 2000 d/tun the net profit for the shipowner would be 666d. :mrgreen:
Last edited by phderiksson on Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Maritime Trade

#6 Post by Derfman » Mon Mar 20, 2017 4:29 pm

Targan wrote: The problem I've had is estimating the wholesale prices for bulk goods. It's really been doing my head in.
THAT I have a solution for: Don't.

A lot of players and even GMs have a nasty habit of wanting to play "Crunch the numbers and make money" at the point where RPGs meet in game economics....
I've been GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY of this...
The best solution to this habit is "Don't".

And its easy....

There are two common ways PCs manage their money making property
--Personally manage it
--Have a minion (NPC) manage it

Personal management is even required in same cases, such as when the game is revolving around a ship owned and operated by PCs
But don't crunch numbers
Just ASSUME that if the PCs are doing "Due Dilligence" that they (usually) have "Reasonable Success", and assign a periodic modest profit or loss that overall is modestly profitable. Then spend the game time on other stuff. Its that easy.
Exceptions (mostly) occur for a story. When a story is happening, BIG profits and losses can happen, but they depend on rollplayed actions.

For the PC with remote property (like a manor that is run by a wife), the GM assigns a skill/competence to the NPC, and then assigns profits and losses accordingly. Again, profits and losses WILL be modest, but overall profitable, with exceptions for being part of a story.

Unless its part of story, don't waste time on it, and keep the numbers both 'appropriate' and 'modest'.

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Re: Maritime Trade

#7 Post by Targan » Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:20 pm

Derfman wrote:
Targan wrote: The problem I've had is estimating the wholesale prices for bulk goods. It's really been doing my head in.
THAT I have a solution for: Don't.
The PCs defeated a group of pirates sponsored by Clan Sherwyn and recovered a variety of bulk cargo goods. I've been trying to calculate the value of the cargo to determine what share of cash or kind they'll receive. Luckily there are so many variables in how much the various goods recovered can be sold for, I don't have to be too worried about my calculations being "right".
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Re: Maritime Trade

#8 Post by phderiksson » Wed Mar 22, 2017 5:13 pm

Targan wrote: The problem I've had is estimating the wholesale prices for bulk goods. It's really been doing my head in.
To set the price of bulk goods I would suggest something in line with the Dramatic Conflict Fanon. Setting the FMV (Fair Market Value] in relation to the retailprice and markets need of the product.

Demand: 60-80%
Self-Sufficient: 50-70%
Surplus: 40-60%

As Gm always start with the least profitable numbers. And modify/bargain to a modest profit from there.
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Re: Maritime Trade

#9 Post by phderiksson » Thu Mar 23, 2017 5:31 am

I would like to correct my calculation after reading some more. First some facts.
Port Almanac
A tun of cargo is equal to 2000 pounds or 100 cubic feet.
Crew Quarters: one quarter tun (roughly 6' x 2' x 2') (=24 cu ft)
However this is not totally right.
Ton or tun
  • 1. Originally, the space occupied by a tun cask of wine.
    2. For the purposes of registered tonnage, the space of 100 cubic feet.
    3. For purposes of freight, usually the space of 40 cubic feet, unless that bulk would weigh more than 20 cwt., in which case freight is charged by weight. But the expression "ton of cargo" is also used with regard to special packages which are conventionally assumed as going so many packages to the ton.
    4. 20 cu feet of timber.
Displacement ton a unit used for measuring the displacement of a ship, equal to 35 cubic feet of sea water or 2240 pounds
So sorry Krazma, I have to disagree with you, or more correctly complement the statement since you are right.
Krazma wrote:A "tun" does not equal a "ton." One is a measure of volume, the other a measure of weight. If you want to calculate this using retail prices, you're going to have to work out how much space a ton of raw wool takes up in a cargo hold. A tun of steel will weigh far more than a tun of styrofoam, but take up the same amount of space.
To recapulate, as I understand it 40 cu ft/tun is the norm, not 100 cu ft/tun. Moreover the cargo cannot weight more than 2000 lb/tun.
Wool has a density of 80 lb/cubic feet. 40 cu ft = 3200 lb. So in this case 1 tun of wool is 2000 lb.

Thus, asuming a vessel leaving Selvos with a cargo of wool or the final destination to Golotha.
  • The Retail price of raw wool is 4d/lb.
    1 tun of wool equals 2000 lb.
    The retail price is thus: 4d/lb* 2000 lb/tun = 8000 d/tun

    And if:
    The wool is purchased at 50% of retail price and sold at 70% of retail price.
    Hawking Fee at Selvos is 6% of retail price. (I assume a hawking tax is appropriate to product purchased by a mercantiler at a market/fair)
    Hawking Fee at Golotha is 5% of retail price
Gross profit = 9% (70% - (50%+6%+5%))
9% * 8000d/tun = 720d/tun = £3

The original price for the cargo was 50% * 8000 d/tun = 4000 d/tun.
Higher that the number mentioned in Pilots Almanac 100-600 d/tun.
But overall this would be a profit claim of 4720d/4000d = 118%
The sea distance between Selvos and Golotha is approximate 35 Legues, a Local Voyage.
The nominal profit claim for a local voyage is around 150%, according to Maritime trade.

Then wages, shares, etc. has to be distributed among owner, captain and crew members. Although wages I would skip in the overall picture. It is only an approximate profit that is of interest.
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Re: Maritime Trade

#10 Post by phderiksson » Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:39 am

In need of some further help.

My primary motiv with the earlier question was an intention to calculate the the maritime trade around the coastline of Kanday. How many ships, the size of the ships, etc. I have started by looking at export/import at Selvos. Furthermore I has assigned Aleath as staple port. The issue at hand is the custom tax (which I assume is the hawking tax). Even at medieval time tax was avoided to be payed twice. Hence at each port is two collectors, a controller, a searcher and an official called a tronager, all reciving commision from the king. And as I understand it no ship could sail until its captain received a license under the cocket seal. Which he had as a proof in other ports that the custom has been duly paid. So here is my issue. The hawking tax at Selvos is 6% and at Aleath 10%. Is there a certain part of the tax that is royal and another part related to the port itself?
  • The collectors levys the taxes.
    The controller see to that the accounts is properly kept.
    The searcher inspect ships in order to discover smuggled cargo.
    The tronager is responsible of weighting heavy goods
The cocket seal consist of two parts, one kept by the controller and the other half by the collectors.
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Re: Maritime Trade

#11 Post by Targan » Mon Mar 27, 2017 1:39 pm

Wouldn't the port's income be derived from the pilotage fees and the bonding tax?
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Re: Maritime Trade

#12 Post by phderiksson » Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:05 pm

Targan wrote:Wouldn't the port's income be derived from the pilotage fees and the bonding tax?
True. When I wrote port I really mean the local lord at Selvos, the city counsel at Aleath in relation to the king. To whom do the tax belong.

To me it would make sense if 5% is marked for the king, the rest for the local ruler, i.e. 1% at Selvos and 5% at Aleath.
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Re: Maritime Trade

#13 Post by MDMann » Mon Mar 27, 2017 6:25 pm

I think Aleath as a chartered Freetown is different. It doesn't pay the king pilotage, wharfage, bonding or other fees, keeping those for itself. It has certain responsibilities that it has to fund, such as civil defence, military obligations and the raising of aids. It also has to pay the Crown fixed fees, substantial ones, but it is free to raise the monies for these costs however it likes within its charter. Essentially, the Crown cedes a lot of its control in return for substantial monies and military obligations. Aleath itself hires mercenaries back from the Crown to meet some of these obligations, but that's a term of its charter. The Crown maintains military control and oversight.

Selvos and other feudal demense would operate differently and each free charter is individual and unique. Hope that helps. From memory but I think that's accurate.
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Re: Maritime Trade

#14 Post by Munin » Mon Mar 27, 2017 10:45 pm

Part of the way that medieval ports made their money it through the common practice of lading; put simply, if your ship is full of cargo but only a small portion of it is intended for local sale, you can't just unload the bit you plan to sell - you have to unload the entire ship. This not only takes time, it also means that all of the goods need to be stored somewhere (before you turn around and load them back onto your ship), which means they need to be put in bond (and pay the bonding tax). It also means you need to pay for longshoremen and carters. And you'll be tied up at the wharf longer, so it means more wharfage fees. This is one of the reasons why "hub and spoke" trade routes look the way they do, and why large vessels are unlikely to frequent small ports.

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Re: Maritime Trade

#15 Post by phderiksson » Tue Mar 28, 2017 2:45 am

MDMann wrote:I think Aleath as a chartered Freetown is different. It doesn't pay the king pilotage, wharfage, bonding or other fees, keeping those for itself.
It does make it a little more complicated or simplier. My point of view is that he king want to control the import/export and the merchants do not want to pay redundant tax. Thats where the cocket seal has its uses. Besides that it could be used at a security for loans that the king might take. The high hawking tax (10%) might just be the advantage the city has. Unable to touch the 5% already paid at another port. Yet it earn an additional 5% fee. It does make the bureaucracy a little more complicated. Incoming goods from Melderyn etc might pay first tax at Aleath. And will later be reluctant to pay it a second time.
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Re: Maritime Trade

#16 Post by Eder » Tue Mar 28, 2017 8:46 pm

Munin wrote:Part of the way that medieval ports made their money it through the common practice of lading; put simply, if your ship is full of cargo but only a small portion of it is intended for local sale, you can't just unload the bit you plan to sell - you have to unload the entire ship. This not only takes time, it also means that all of the goods need to be stored somewhere (before you turn around and load them back onto your ship), which means they need to be put in bond (and pay the bonding tax). It also means you need to pay for longshoremen and carters. And you'll be tied up at the wharf longer, so it means more wharfage fees. This is one of the reasons why "hub and spoke" trade routes look the way they do, and why large vessels are unlikely to frequent small ports.
Indeed, this is a big issue that dramatically affects how trade operates. From my understanding, the only port that applies it in Harn is Cherafir, and only for "foreign imports", i.e. ships from mainland Lythia.

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Re: Maritime Trade

#17 Post by Eder » Tue Mar 28, 2017 9:12 pm

On tun vs. ton. A TUN is generally 100 cubic feet of onboard space; i.e. space on the ship. Depending on the form your goods take, the effective volume of stuff loaded could be significantly smaller e.g. if you carry wine or oil in clay containers, that are not going to be cubes! The typical utilization you'd assume would be somewhere between 25% and 75%.

1 TON of weight is between 2000 and 2200 pounds (1000Kg, or close depending on the definition of ton), which might be 35 cubic feet of water/wine/milk, 60 cubic feet of flour, etc. So, in terms of weight, 1 TON is going to take 1 TUN of onboard space as an order of magnitude. It could take much less, for really dense stuff (if you are shipping silver bars, for example) or it could take more (if you are shipping round bales of hay, for example). The problem is that your ship has both TUNNAGE and TONNAGE limits: too much volume of superlight stuff just won't fit, and if you fill it to the brim with silver (or just iron) it will obviously sink. So the savvy captain would try to balance the weight/volume ratio, and to a first approximation, he'll try to make sure that he carries 1 ton of weight for every tun of space, if sailing relatively close to "full load".

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Re: Maritime Trade

#18 Post by phderiksson » Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:04 am

Heúrēka :mrgreen:
Naturally it is so.

How about cattle. Is there any number for this?
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Re: Maritime Trade

#19 Post by MDMann » Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:34 am

You might want to check out the Firefly fanon on this site, it covers some of these things abroad the intrepid Lorkin.
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Re: Maritime Trade

#20 Post by Munin » Wed Mar 29, 2017 4:23 am

Eder wrote:Indeed, this is a big issue that dramatically affects how trade operates. From my understanding, the only port that applies it in Harn is Cherafir, and only for "foreign imports", i.e. ships from mainland Lythia.
I don't think it's so limited. I'd imagine that pretty much any decent-sized port with an active and involved harbormaster will do this. IM(p)H, Golotha, Aleath, and Thay all do it, as do Shostim and Selvos. It's a way for the local authorities to collect more taxes.

Speaking of which, I don't know why people think that taxing the same goods multiple times isn't a thing - it absolutely is. You only pay the hawking tax for what you sell locally, but every time you need to put your goods in bond (which as mentioned previously is often required when a ship is unloaded, whether you're going to turn around an reload those same goods or not) you need to pay the bonding tax. This is one of the reasons that goods that travel long distances are so expensive. Therefore, it is in a mercantyler's best interest to make as few stops as possible - he's much more likely to try to find a local buyer than to load everything back up and sail down the coast ten miles to the next port.

This economic disincentive to unloading a ship is how large market towns develop - they serve as a centralized repository for the transfer of goods between long-haul traders (who will lose their shirts if they stop at every port along the way) and local traders (who will take the goods from afar in smaller lots to their ultimate destinations, minimizing the amount of material that needs to be put in bond).

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Re: Maritime Trade

#21 Post by Targan » Wed Mar 29, 2017 11:38 am

What about ports in Orbaal? Does lading apply there too?
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Re: Maritime Trade

#22 Post by Derfman » Wed Mar 29, 2017 12:11 pm

On the full unloading and taxing of ship's cargos regardless of destination......

That 'sort' of thing absolutely happened at various times, late middle ages thru the enlightenment for sure.
If memory serves, some local famines in Europe could have been easily avoided if food could have been moved without being taxed by every baron, and sometimes by every lord that it passed near. I remember reading that France had enough food around the Paris region at the start of the French revolution, but a lot of it could not get to Paris due to all the lords with taxing rights along the way, leading to the famous (and false) "Let them eat Cake" (The original "The Cake is a LIE!")

Anyway, my reading of Harn material leaves this sort of thing as 'optional' for GMs. I don't use it, as I have the international Mangai solidly against it, they understand what such policies do to trade and the wealth generated by Trade. There are still taxes in plenty, but fewer of the trade ruining sort than Terra had. Not zero, but fewer....
If you do include this sort of taxation, sea captains will adjust their routes accordingly. Sea trade to a city that taxes in this manner would include 'almost' entirely only cargo going to that city. Repeat that pattern enough, and you have a major trade (and wealth generation) slow down.

The busiest ports would be those WITHOUT such tax policy. They might not tax the entirety of every cargo that lands, but they'll have a lot more traffic and service use, and if located correctly could become trade hubs (Chelemby being the biggest example, but others exist too).

Adding a bit.....
This is not to say that NW Lythia won't have 'medieval' style tolls and such. It will. But those tolls will either be robber barons, or will be a 'bit' better than Terran tolls were at going to people that actually maintained roads and such, and otherwise encouraged trade. One of the areas where my pHarn Mangai have exerted themselves over the last few centuries is this issue. Not modern 'free trade' by a long shot, but a real effort minimize the number of manor lords and barons that can tax trade while doing nothing to help trade.
The Mangai do this by showing kings, and powerful earls, dukes, etc, how they can add wealth to their own treasury, empower the nation, and keep the lesser lords 'lesser' by regulating who can charge such tolls, taxes and fee, and how the fees are used.
Its also one the things that annoys a lot of barons and manor lords....

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Re: Maritime Trade

#23 Post by Munin » Wed Mar 29, 2017 11:57 pm

The problem with that interpretation is that these systems develop for a reason, and that reason is usually "money." Sure, you might end up with more trade (and arguably more revenue) in a free-trade situation. But there are so many economic interests pushing things towards taxation and protectionism that such free-trade situations were the exception rather than the norm.

And one of the monied interests in this equation is actually the Mercantylers. By enforcing a hub-and-spoke trade network, you guarantee a place for local traders. They don't want a big Karejian ship docking at every tiny Harnic port and trading rare/luxury goods in small lots at every stop along the way, mostly because it cuts into their profits. Guilds are not about fluidity of commerce, they are about protection of monopoly.

In terms of whether lading is practiced in Ivinian/Orbaalese ports, I'd say it's hit or miss; the Mangai/Mercantylers' Guild isn't as strongly established, but Ivinian potentates cannot be unaware of the practice (as their traders travel widely). And the economic interests of the authorities are strong. The application of the practice probably also has much to do with who owns the vessel.

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Re: Maritime Trade

#24 Post by Targan » Thu Mar 30, 2017 10:34 am

Munin wrote:In terms of whether lading is practiced in Ivinian/Orbaalese ports, I'd say it's hit or miss; the Mangai/Mercantylers' Guild isn't as strongly established, but Ivinian potentates cannot be unaware of the practice (as their traders travel widely). And the economic interests of the authorities are strong. The application of the practice probably also has much to do with who owns the vessel.
Ok, so it's fair to suggest that a vessel owned by one of the Orbaalese greatclans wouldn't be subject to lading in most Orbaalese ports? (Or at least those Orbaalese ports controlled by other greatclans with which they had cordial relations).
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Re: Maritime Trade

#25 Post by Derfman » Thu Mar 30, 2017 11:38 am

Ok, my Harn-Fu is failing me....

Is there a section of a publication that covers 'smuggling', and uses the phrase "He is fish all the way down" to describe an honest man? Or am I confusing myself with another game?

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