Opposed Haggling Rolls

My simple rules for bargaining in D20, and why you shouldn't use them:

player rolls either Bluff or Diplomacy (or Charisma check)

opposed by the merchant's Profession or Sense Motive (or Wisdom)

If the player is buying, subtract the first roll from the second and add to 100%. That is the adjustment to the final price (for example, player rolls 44 and merchant rolls 18, so the player pays 18-44+100 = 74% of the standard PHB price)

If the player is selling, subtract the second roll from the first and add to 50% (eg. 44 - 18 + 50 = 76% of standard price)

As you can see from the above example, the player could potentially buy an item and then sell it back to the merchant for a 2% profit. However, I make the player roll 1d4+1 for the number of hours that it takes to find a buyer or a seller (a Gather Information check with DC 10 + 1 per 1000gp value). So they need to decide whether to take the standard price (or 50% if selling an item), or to spend their valuable time haggling over a few gold pieces.

So, what if you don't have NPC stats for every merchant or potential buyer in town? If you know what level they are, you can generally assume a skill bonus of level +3 (ranks) +2 (stat) +3 (skill focus), so +9 for a first level merchant up to +28 for a 20th level merchant (highest level commoner in a large city is 4d4+9) although you might want to factor in stat gains, magic items and Epic Skill Focus at that level.

A quicker option is to just take the caster level (of a magic item) or the price/1000gp as the skill bonus for the opposed roll. So for a +2 sword you would roll 1d20+6

These rules are fine for occasional use, but if the players are trying to shift a dragon's treasure hoard then it could take them weeks (and many fidgety calculations) to arrive at a final price. So my advice is to be stubborn: even though it seems unrealistic that the PCs always buy at 100% and sell at 50% of standard prices, it will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.


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