Medievia Mudslinger

September 11, 2003

The Cradle of Corpses Guide to Professional Trading by Xanalus - Second Edition by Mythion



Preface

Trading has traditionally been considered a quick way for someone to make a little money by themselves. However, with an ever increasing membership, and the formation of new clans every week, it has become a very competitive activity. Whether it is for personal wealth or clan rank, an increasing number of players compete for the same values. The purpose of this guide is to discuss the fundamentals of trading as well as specific strategies for dealing with the many scenarios that arise while on the road. From weather to mob factions to catastrophes, this article does justice to all aspects of trade, with unprecedented scope and accuracy that reflects our years of experience in the area.

1. Valuing

Valuing is necessary before starting most trade runs. Using a value script is the best way to value. However, to value an individual commodity, or a small of group of them, the syntax is "value ". The only exception is trading TOW games where speed is critical. Though it is tempting to pick the highest numerical values available, it may not always be the best option. Making sure that there are enough good values from the same trade post or from adjacent tradeposts for your whole form is your first consideration. Secondly, you have to determine what values are actually good.

Many traders use CPM or coins per move, which is simply a ratio of your profits to the number of moves traveled. Before we discuss how to measure CPM, let me give you an overview of distances:

Sea's End to Ruellia is a whopping 2594 moves: a very long trade run. New Ashton to New Genesia is 1196 moves: an average sized trade run. E'nat'dae to Elwyn is 418 moves: a very short run.

Many of the hardcore traders have scripts that calculate the best values and rank them by CPM. But here's something for the scriptless. CPM of 500 is considered acceptable. So here are some guidelines:

a. If you do a cross continental TR and you are not making over 900k, it's not worth it.
b. Your average 30 minute TR should yield 675k.
c. When your town is in a Trading TOW, the best strategy is to trade from two nearby non-coastal trade posts with a medium sized form. Form size is critical because you are not valuing ahead of time. If every member of a decent-sized form makes only 150k, it is a sure victory.

2. A complete newbie's guide to Mounts, Wagons, and Forms

Warning: This section is overly simplistic and is meant only for the novice trader.

The preferred mount for most TRs is the appaloosa horse, which is sold in inns located throughout the wilderness. The reasons for this are simple. They have higher stamina than other mounts, and have higher movement points than all other mounts except the morgan horse. Bringing any other type of horse to the trade post will undoubtedly annoy your formleader since you will not be able to keep up with the appaloosa riders.

Selection of wagon is also a clear choice. Never buy a horse pulling an open wagon. The default wagon for most TRs is the horse pulling a *covered* wagon, simply because it can hold the most freight. The keyword for this wagon is "covered". So, typing "buy covered" will get you one. Mules are used for TRs to Naera Mae, and Pack horses are used when trading to Ur-Ville. I'd love to explain more about how to do transfer runs here, but the gods deemed that learning those should be left to the reader's initiative.

Even if you are not leading the trade form, you are expected to be fully alert. Whisking (which happens when you don't type anything for a while) will cause you to lose your mount and then be left behind. Set an anti-whisk event, one that is not spammy. Here are possible events in zMUD and MudMaster:

zMUD: #ALARM *2:00 weather weather

MudMaster: /event weather 120 weather
or simply: /event 60 60 60 (if you don't like the spammy weather graphic)

Regardless of whether your leader assigns you a job for the duration of the run, you are expected to

1. make sure that the horses have at least 500 movement, and if not fix it with the mass refresh spell - but if you are a caster with cleric abilities don't burn more then half of your mana this way - you still need to be able to heal in emergencies,
2. check the weather and let the leader know of hostile conditions (especially tornados, firestorms and wasps), and
3. make sure the form is invisible and tanks are sanced.

Never hitch your wagon unless you are doing a transfer run to Naera Mae or Ur-Ville. There is absolutely no point to hitching your wagon and it slows down the run because the leader has to wait for you to unhitch.

If you have to dismount your horse, be sure to tether it. There have been incidents of horse-jacking, where certain people tether their own horse and mount yours to delay your TR.

Resist the urge to go to medlink whenever you see a wilderness dragon land. Typing the quit command is sufficient, and it allows the form to keep going. If you type quit and you get the message "You are being hunted by a dragon!!!", let your formleader know that it is you. It isn't necessary to call your own dragon unless you hit mob factions. The average trade form is by far faster than a wilderness dragon.

If you don't have a very reliable connection, turn brief on and autoexit off. It makes your screen duller, but at least you won't lose link often.

If you are new to trading, take no initiative and do exactly and *only* what your formleader says. Never solo move; if you get left behind, formtalk or telepath or link your leader. If you are assigned to refresh, keep your mana regen rings on permanently. Use sandstorm on every wilderness mob unless your leader tells you otherwise. Our forms generally prioritize speed to xp. Ticks also slow down TRs and are not usually necessary unless you have mob factions.

3. Leading

If you have values and followers, you are ready to go. It's useful to have a phase person in the nearest inn and one at the trade post to easily obtain mounts. In the event that members of a form have to share a value, assign them the heaviest/biggest commodity (the one of which the least items fit into the wagon). Jewels in New Aston are a good example of such goods.

Make sure you assign someone to refresh your horses and to watch the weather. Often, when you are racing another form and are too busy watching the road, it's useful to assign people to do some of the more simple things such as checking the form for combat readiness, looting maps, etc. Leaders should have "brief move" on. This reduces spam and also give you a very visible warning when you leave either people or freight behind. You, or someone else in form with the trap skill, should have six traps ready made and in inventory for the event of a firestorm.

Different people have different ways of driving. Most people use the rhythm method where they drive in moves of three (move, move, move, pant). Some like moves of two. Still others spam trade, which is basically spamming a direction and hitting a '--' macro when they get to a corner. Any of those methods are fine, as long as you are comfortable with them. I personally prefer to spam trade, but it requires a very good connection, and lightning fast reflexes, or you will continually run off the road.

Make it clear that everybody's attention is required. Unform people who whisk on the spot to make an example of it. Never allow people on TRs who tell you beforehand that they will be AFK. This is illegal and they are a liability. Occasionally, people will lose link, and when they reconnect the game leaves them behind. This is because the horse tends to regain breath slower at the moment the person reconnects. If this happens, just phase the person and escort him back to the main group. Never allow solo movement; if someone gets left behind, they stay put. It leads to chaos if both of you pop your own mob factions.

Due to a number of clantowns being disbanded, there will be times when is a trade shop is out of phase range. As of the writing of this article, this is true for Mystara and G'dangus. Fortunately, both these cities have their own recall points. Simply fly to these cities, acquire recall point by entering them, fly back to your companions, and transport them.

In the event that you are separated from your freight for any reason and are too far to walk to it, take advantage of the newly implemented 'fly freight current' command to fly to it.

4. Weather

Weather is something beyond your control, but if you follow these guidelines, it shouldn't be that big of a problem on your TRs.

Tornados: You will get a warning when you are close to a tornado, but you shouldn't need it because someone in your form should be watching weather anyway. If you are cocky like me, and attempt to race every tornado you see, you are bound to get killed eventually. The rule with tornados is to come to a complete stop two weather-map rooms away from it, *if* the tornado isn't heading to you, and to go to LINK if you are in its path. If you are not sure of whether you are in its path, use the forecast command. If by chance you get hit by a tornado, your whole form will die and scatter, so be sure you have them on chat or can communicate with them in some other way.

Hurricanes and Wasps: These are similar in effect, except that the Shield Room spell reduces the damage done by a hurricane drastically - so if you stop, shield room, cross heal and tick from time to time, it's easy to keep the form healthy without using healing items. Damage from wasps can't be reduced, so it can be challenging even to keep the form healthy while ticking mana. The most efficient way to deal with this situation is using Rosary Beads, which load on novices of the Holy Order in the Cleric quarter of the City of Medievia. Three to four form members 'beading' (spam-using beads) should be enough to keep your form at near full health.

Firestorm: Firestorms are truly annoying on trade runs because you cannot refresh your horses, and you cannot do much against MFs without mage/cleric power. The safe way to deal with a firestorm is to stop at an intersection, tether your horses, and wait it out. You can hop from intersection to intersection and be ready to run back if you see a MF warning, but that is slightly more risky. The last thing you want is to hit surprise troll captains two moves from an intersection and not be able to heal your tanks. It is useful to have six traps in your inventory for use in firestorms, and also to have delicate golden scrolls (mass refresh) with you. If you get mob faction warning signs during a firestorm, and you decide not to risk a fight, set three traps, back up once, set one more trap, back up once more, set two traps, then move forward one room again. This gives you have a good chance of stopping wandering MF mobs before they get to your freight, regardless of the side on which they happen to start.

Firestorms also start fires. Fires are incredibly destructive, in that they have the ability to set you on fire causing major damage to your health every second, destroy your freight and kill your mount. If you see a fire on the road, it is not wise to approach it. Fires spread but they also burn out. Simply wait for the fire to burn out and proceed down the road. The c sense fire road spell can be used to monitor a major road fire from anywhere in Medievia

Rainstorms and Lightning Storms: These storms are bad mainly because they lessen your visibility and make driving slightly harder. Also, caster MFs (Demon Lord, Blood Demon and Troll Clerics) will use call lightning against you. If it's a lightning storm and your formie gets hit, stop and make the rest of your form heal the unlucky person - you don't want anybody getting killed by the next baenlyr you run into.Lightning storms have the ability to cause small fires as well.

Magic Storms: This is the only good weather condition for a trade run. Not only do regenerative abilities increase, but you also get more visibility. In addition, spells don't cost as much mana.

5. Mob Factions

Mob factions are the most challenging aspect of trade. One cannot call themselves a good trader without being able to handle them safely and effectively. Here are some strategies and tricks to take on specific mob factions:

1. If there is a dragon hunting you, find out who the target is by ordering the form to type quit, and then have the target call a dragon and wait till you hear the pounce message before you proceed.
2. Have the form tick full. There is no reason to take a chance.
3. Make sure everyone is sanced. Orb if you have to.

The Demon Lord Mob Faction:

Warnings
You notice that everything is too quiet.
Undescribable fear grips you, you struggle just to breath!
The loud crack of a dimensional vortex collapsing nearby sets your hairs on end.
Your heart starts pounding as you are overcome by fear, a Demon must be close by!
You hear a pack of dogs running towards you, they are about X yards (X/10 rooms) away!

Handling dogs is simple. Run into the first wave and kill them. Then advance to a possible second wave or the demon lord. Do not under any circumstance lose track of your freight, or it will be taken, and eaten quickly. Your freight stays in your room at all times. Killing the demon lord depops the dogs. When you run into the demon lord room with your freight, he summons a blood demon. As soon as this summoning occurs, someone in the form should room spell, or the blood demon escapes with the freight, which is never good.

An alternative approach can be used with small forms. When you get close to the dogs (around 100 yards), trap the room, go back one room, lay down three traps again, go back another room and place two traps, and back yet another room and place one trap. Then, back up once more, cast attune if you can, and leave the freight behind in this room, advance to the demon lord, and kill him. This avoids the trouble of fighting the blood demon and the dogs.

If you are very close to the demon lord, and waves of dogs just keep coming and you don't seem to be able to get rid of them, ask a high level player in your form to flee (while the rest of the form continues to fight the dogs), advance to the demon lord and engage it. The demon lord stops summoning dogs once it is in combat, so the form can finish their round of dogs, then help killing the lord if needed.

The Kobolds Mob Faction:

Warnings
You feel as if you're being watched by many eyes.
You spy a multitude of tiny footprints in the dust near the road.
Your scalp prickles at the sibilant sound of leaves rustling.
You hear the creak of a bowstring as an unseen hand draws it back.

Kobolds are a fairly easy mob faction. As soon as you hear the warning, have your form sanc and advance slowly until the first room where you get hit by arrows. At that point, *leave* your freight, move off the road, and come back to the adjacent room without your freight. (If the next room ahead of you is east, you would go north, east, south). Then you proceed without freight until you see a congregation of kobolds on the road. These are the captains. They are non-agro if you left your freight behind. Room spell, while having someone plague each one if you have a large form. Hands and kill each one individually if you have a very small or weak form. Some are charmable if your form needs a bit more help. It is not necessary to kill the kobolds that are not on the road. The damage that their arrows do is negligible compared to the time saved by ignoring them.

The Rogue Mob Faction:

Warnings
You realize that this road seems too quiet.
A loud *SNAP* of a footfall on a stick just off the road gives you pause.
Your instincts warn you of an ambush up ahead.
A flock of birds spring into the air just ahead.

Rogues are also very easy. When you see a warning use sense presence to check if the rogue is close. If so, leave your freight and charge it. If you leave your freight, you only have to fight one non-aggressive, plaguable, sometimes even charmable mob. If you run into it with freight you get to fight many more. I generally leave the lowest level member of the form behind with freight as a phase point. Even if you don't, just run back and continue trading.

Running into either the kobold captains or the solitary rogue with your freight will cause several other mobs of the type to rush in and attack you. Usually, this is not worth it, unless your form is really strong and they prefer combat experience instead of cashing in the trade rewards early, or you are attempting to pop dragon lair maps.

The Bandits Mob Faction:

Warnings
You get an uneasy feeling and glance over your shoulder... at nothing.
You glimpse a bandit dash by, just off the road!
You sense some movement to the side of the road.

Bandits are among the more challenging mob factions. As always, the form needs to be at full health and mana. You never know when you will hit captains. There are solitary bandit scouts on the road before you hit the captains. Tick after every three bandit scouts. Don't shield room, or you might end up fighting five bandit scouts stacked in the next room. Use traps in the tick room instead. Trap every couple rooms or so to catch bandits who started behind you before they catch up, as well as to prevent any of the leaders to drag your freight far in case you have to flee. When you find the captains, just hit them with freight, kill them, and proceed.

The Trolls Mob Faction:

Warnings
An awful scent nearby alerts you to a possible Troll attack.
You hear the bone chilling war cry of a horde of Trolls.
You step on what used to be a human. Trolls must have ripped him apart.
You sense some movement to the side of the road.

Trolls are undoubtedly the hardest mob faction. If you are wounded significantly, you might as well shockwave yourself to death because you won't last. Your form needs to be fully spelled up. Before the captains, you may encounter warrior, thief, mage, and cleric trolls. These need to be cleared. If you see a troll cleric in your room, room spell immediately because it can, and will, cast hands of wind on your formies. If it is not the leader who is handsed, the handsed person should immediately refollow; if they don't pay enough attention to do that, rescue them fast. Tick often to make sure your form is at full health and near full mana. Use sense presence to determine number of captains. 'c sense p captain' ...'c sense p 4.captain', until you get 'Nobody by that name is within range.').

Special Conditions while fighting MFs with captains

If during the battle, you feel that your form will not win, or the form's hp/mana is too low to have a decent chance at winning, order everyone to flee immediately. If you get a surprise faction and the tanks are not sanced - order that everyone should flee. Formies should type "--" and then flee till they are out. The survivors should phase the leader, or whoever is alive and willing to lead (use shout - if somebody is able to shout, he's at least not dead, and hopefully in a safe room). Your next job is not to go back, but to tick for 20 seconds, cross heal, re-sanc, and go for the freight. Kill the mob with the freight, trap the room next to your freight, and cast Shield Room in the room with the freight - then do another pass. Repeat until your whole form is dead or the captains are. Feel free to enlist the aid of nearby heroes while fighting if you feel you can't do it alone.

If a mob faction has captured your freight and you realize you won't manage to get it back fast, tell all dead formies to corpse and suicide on the next MF mob. Once you are a corpse, the freight is temporarily removed from game (just like your equipment), and therefore safe. Afterwards, look for the room with the leaders and wait there as a corpse until they either get bored and leave (that usually takes five to twenty minutes), or other players kill them. If you get back to life too early, while the mob faction is still active, it can happen that your freight gets destroyed while you are still sitting at the altar nursing your formies back to health.

The Rules of Engagement and looting while on the road

The first form to hit a MF claims all looting privs on the MF corpse, except if all form members of that form fled or died. Kill-stealing does not apply to mob factions. All forms that run into an MF can chose to assist the form that's already fighting them. This applies to mob factions only and not wilderness mobs.

6. Catastrophes

Please note that which goods and trade posts are the best value for which specific catastrophe will not be discussed in this section or article, because that would be unfair to clans, such as 42, which have been recording data on catastrophes for years.

Catastrophes really weren't discussed in previous articles. In addition, many players are unaware of how to best take advantage of a cata (as we will refer to it from this point on). It's surprising, because a town with just ten people on can easily make 100mil for the town as a whole in just a few hours. Catastrophes cause trade values to reset in a particular trade post.

Let me first name and discuss briefly the types of catastrophes:

Fire and Disease - These are catastrophes that hurt you consistently, and there is nothing you can do about it. Call a dragon ahead of time, fly to the nearest clantown after your freight is sold, then phase and transport your form.

Flood - This catastrophe has a receding cascade of underwater rooms. Make sure you have the breathe water spell on. Remember to leave the shop and re-cast the spell on yourself as it expires.

Asteroids - This catastrophe is truly catastrophic in its damaging effects. The area around the trade shop will be exposed to falling asteroids which instantly kill you on impact. It is unlikely that you will make it from the start of the asteroid zone to the trade shop without dying. Expect to die three-six times on your way to the shop. If you die, simply wait the required time, call a dragon, and use "fly freight current" to resume your run. The asteroids stop falling ten hours after the beginning of the catastrophe. It is extremely important to get your freight to the trade post as soon as possible. As the time progresses, more and more traders show up and pop mob factions. Fighting mob factions in an asteroid room will not get you far.

Silinar's special pet peeve: do *not* shield the last safe room before the asteroids. If you don't, mob faction mobs that grab a freight will be able to leave the affected area, and you can secure the freight without being slain by the asteroids. Using traps in the last safe room is fine (and recommended), as is using shield room two or three moves away from the asteroids.

Linking continuously while running through asteroids is illegal for spam reasons. (You will spam the 'Welcome to Medlink' room, rendering it impossible to stand in for any length of time.) A good way to avoid the pain of waiting to corpse, then waiting to pray, then finding the freight (and often getting slain again before you even reach it) is the 'reser-runner' method. The formleader makes one formie at a time strip naked and run through asteroids. Upon death, another formie will phase the dead, resurrect the dead, cast quickness on the runner, and phase or recall back, allowing the runner to keep going. One or two backup 'resers' are needed because statistically, the 'reser' himself/herself will die at least once. The backup 'reser' will need to have a lot of hp since the original 'reser' is not naked. If you hear a Demon Lord shouting, tell the people with freight inside the asteroid area to camp and quit immediately - once the dogs have reached the freight it's too late, and only a miracle can keep it from being destroyed.

Have someone check for a catastrophe every hour. In my clan, the highest ranking person does this. (And people say that clanrank is useless). Only if you are fast, you should go for a high CPM trade. Avoid buying/assigning high-devalue goods. If you can fit more than 50 items of a given commodity in your covered wagon, you might be taking a risk.

7. After a trade run

For many of the lower ranked clans in the game, trade is the primary source of income. We recommend that, after each trade run, players donate ten percent to the clan. You are obviously not required to go out of your way to help other traders on the road, but do so as a courtesy. Helping others with mob factions rather then standing in the same room as them and doing nothing, resurrecting dead traders on the road, et cetera are parts of being a professional trader. It's ok to be competitive, but it is our belief that traders are part of a common brotherhood. We hope that our readers will come to feel the same way.

Acknowledgements

Much of this article is derived from the lessons of Silinar when he was teaching me to trade, so thanks goes out to him first and foremost. In addition, he edited the entire article, for accuracy and completeness. The mob faction warning text was directly copied from Ketroc's trading guide on clangersidi.com. The techniques used and described in this article were developed by myself and other members of my generation of HSM traders, as well as other traders from many years ago, who started the trading tradition that we proudly uphold.

Updated by Mythion.

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