Trading and Bartering

Acquiring Gear

Getting your hands on powerful hardware in the wastelands is no easy task. Quality equipment is rare, and those who have it are unlikely to be willing to part with it without serious compensation. Acquiring a piece of ultra tech gear can be an adventure in and off itself (see the long term character goals page).

The best way to get your hands on new gear is during play; scavenging it from ancient ruins of looting it from the corpses of your enemies. The United Front encourages members to turn in excess gear to benefit everyone, but will generally turn a blind eye if you come back with a shiny new rifle while turning in your old musket as loot. Hoarding equipment, on the other hand, is frowned upon. No-one needs seven rifles, and those weapons could do a hell of a lot more good in the hands of some new recruits than they can in a duffel bag hanging of your bike.

Buttering up superiors

Equipment that is handed into the gang is either used for trading (keeping the gang supplied with ammunition and food) or stored until someone has need for it.

Convincing a superior that you have need for a certain item is a viable down time activity. Doing so requires an influence roll (Diplomacy, Fast-Talk, Intimidation, Savoir-Faire, Sex Appeal, or Streetwise) modified as explained below. If you succeed your roll, you get the item you need or whatever the UF have available that is closest (at GMs discretion). It will also increase your standing in the eyes of the superior in question, which may lead to them sponsoring you for a promotion or choosing to provide you with patronage. If you fail while rolling anything other than diplomacy, however, your standing will instead decrease.

Really stupid ideas: you'd have to be really clueless to attempt to seduce the Crusader, who is in a monogamous, healthy relationship and considers infidelity a deadly sin. Similarly, attempting to make an off-the-books deal with the Archivist is probably doomed to fail, and none of the gang’s leaders are particularly open to being strong armed by the rank and file. The GM is free to give a -10 penalty to such attempts, and even if you succeed you are likely to make yourself a powerful enemy in the long term.

Asking the right/wrong person: The leaders of the Front have fairly clear areas of responsibility. The Hangermaster handles vehicles, the Archivist handles guns, the Cook handles food, etc. Going behind the back of one of these to get something undermines the leader’s authority and will be noticed. Of course, if you want to weaken someone's position undermining their authority is a viable strategy. It is however more difficult, giving a -2 or more.

Just sucking up: if you don't actually want any gear, but just want to suck up to your favorite boss, take a +2. The effects on your standing of the roll are doubled.


Reaction modifiers: you get all your usual reaction modifiers, including the penalties for high freakishness or corruption. Most social disadvantages come with a penalty to reaction modifiers which may apply in this situation, though Sense of Duty and a couple of others provide a bonus. Of advantages, talents may provide a bonus with appropriate leaders and reputation certainly applies.
Rank: you get twice your rank as a bonus on this roll. So a full fledged members of the United Front gets a +2, while a new recruit (like most player characters) get no bonus.
Patron: you get a bonus of +2 to make requests from your own patron. As your standing with your patron increases, so does this bonus.
Cost of request: The more expensive your request, the harder it is to convince people to give it to you. Getting a handful of extra bullets to replace the ones you lost protecting the Farms from Zombeetles is fairly routine while getting yourself an assault rifle is harder. See the cost modifier table below.


Cost Modifier Table

Item value Modifier
$50 +4
$100 +2
$200 +0
$500 -1
$1,000 -2
$2,000 -3
$5,000 -4
$10,000 -5
$20,000 -6

Buying gear from traders is a two step process. First you need to find someone who has the item you want and is willing to part with it. This is an Area Knowledge or Current Affairs (Business, People, or Regional) with a penalty based on the cost of the item. Alternatively, you may roll an influence roll (Diplomacy, Fast-Talk, Intimidation, Savoir-Faire, Sex Appeal, or Streetwise) with the same penalty (plus any reaction modifiers that apply against the general public) to represent asking around.

Once you’ve tracked down someone to buy from, you need something to barter with.Most gear is worth about half price1 when bartered away for something specific, while Ammo And Power Cells always sell for their full value.

If you want, you can try to negotiate a better deal using the Merchant skill (or IQ-5). Each point you succeed by increases the perceived value of your bartering goods by 5% up to a maximum of their full value (bullets are completely unaffected). Each point you fail by decreases the perceived value of your bartering goods by 5%, to a minimum of 20% (again, bullets are completely unaffected).To reiterate: the perceived value of your bartering goods starts at 50%.

As an example: Say you want to get your hands on a Gas Mask (worth $400). You’ve got a Cheap Auto Pistol ($480) and a suit of Studded Leather Armor ($210) (both taken off a ganger you killed last week) to trade, as well as the ammunition the ganger was carrying. The pistol and the armor have a “book” value of $690 in total, so the perceived value starts at half that, or $345. The trader is willing to give you $345 worth of gear in exchange for them. So you’d need $55 more to reach $400, which is 11 pistol rounds. Or you could risk trying to negotiate a better deal.

You have a Merchant skill of 13, and roll a 9. Nine is 4 less than 13, so you succeed by 4 for a 20% increase to perceived value. Out come the calculators. Your goods are now worth 70% to the trader instead of 50%, so the pistol is worth $336 and the armor $147 to this trader. You could toss in some more bullets and keep the armor, or you could ask the trader if they have some ammo to spare to even out the deal. After a bit of back and forth, you hand over both items in exchange for the gasmask, 8 rifle rounds, a spent rifle casing and a paper cartridge.


Trading is the art of buying cheap and selling for a profit. Traders aren’t quite so picky about what they buy or sell, as long as the price is right. Traders’ stock fluctuates over time, as stuff is bought and sold. Since no-one wants to keep track of all these trades, carefully evaluating every trade and role playing out every encounter with random peasants, we’d like to abstract away as much of this as possible.

To begin trading, designate some of your gear as Trade Goods. Trade Goods is an abstract concept which functions much like Junk (Wastelanders 30), in that the only thing that matters in game terms is how much it weighs and how much it is worth. We’ve got 5 different categories of trade goods below. To convert gear into trade goods, pick the category which closest describes the goods and sum up the total value of trade goods you have within that category. Divide that value by the Value per Pound to get the weight.

Trade Good Value per Pound Value per Ton Trading modifier
Junk $0,10 $200 +5
Clean Water $1 $2,000 +2
Consumables $5 $10,000 +0
Equipment $20 $40,000 -2
Ammo $200 $400,000 +2 (See Text)

To be able to trade, you need to be able to carry your trade goods from settlement to settlement. Goods you keep locked in your room at the fort cannot be traded and do not affect your profit. For the purposes of these rules, we assume you are using a combination of scavenging and trading for meals to keep your caravan watered and fed. The same is not true for fuel, however. If you’re using a car (that doesn’t use a gasifier) you need to bring along your own fuel (assume 8 hours on road each day of trading).

There are only three things which affect your profit (in these simplified rules).

The first is what you are trading. Decide what you are selling, and what you are looking to buy (this can be the same Trade Good). You get the Trading Modifier (above) for both these categories2 If you are selling from multiple categories use the worst modifier. If you are buying from multiple categories use the best modifier; you receive an equal amount of each Trade Good by value.

Ammo is special, since “everyone” knows the fair price for ammunition types and most people have some ammo with them for bartering with. This makes it next to impossible to profit trading ammo for ammo due to the competition and fixed price. However, as long as you have other Trade Goods, ammo can function as a very useful slush fund (much like money does in our society). If you aren’t both selling and buying ammo, treat it as having a Trading Modifier of +2.

If you are both selling and buying ammo, note that it cannot be the only thing you are selling or buying. If you are trading ammo for equipment and ammo, and as noted above there is no profit for trading ammo of ammo, you are in fact just trading ammo for equipment.

The second thing that matters is how fast you are travelling. The faster your caravan can move, the more trading you can get done in a given period. If your move is 3 or less (when carrying everything), take a -2. If your move is 10 or more, take a +2. If your move is over 20, take a +4. Note that wheeled vehicles have a cruising speed of half their max speed when travelling over average terrain. If you stick to roads, take a -2 for the increased competition along your routes.

Trading rolls

Current Regional Wealth: $1003

Make a Merchant roll with the modifiers listed above and half your general reaction modifiers. On a success, you trade away 1% of your stock of each of the Goods you were selling per point you succeed by up to a total value equal to the region’s wealth. Make a note of the total value you sold. You earn twice this, divided evenly amongst the goods you were buying.

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