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Found within the Hedge, and sometimes even outside it in esoteric places at certain times of the year, month, or day, a goblin market is a place where anything and everything can be bought. Even things that seem impossible to acquire within the mundane world can be found here, such as "the sound of a cat's footfalls", or the "death of a thief."
The reason vendors become involved in the Markets, and, by extension, how the Markets came to be in the first place is a matter of some debate. Despite the presence of creatures other than hobgoblins hawking wares at Market, some Lost insist that each Market is a single entity with many faces. Any display of competition among vendors is only a display, and every bargain bartered at Market provides these complex entities sustenance. Others claim that the Markets reflect domains in Faerie (or worse, are extensions of those domains). According to these changelings, the Markets serve two purposes: to funnel bits of mundane detritus (some call it “humanity”) back to Arcadia, and to draw in escaped Lost like flytraps. Such theorists swear that shopping at Market only serves to strengthen the Others; not that their beliefs always stop them from going to Market themselves when they need something no human store carries.
Many Lost just suspect that the Market evolved to serve a need. In the dark nights of humanity’s past, lone hobgoblins traveled from town to town, lurking on the fringe between the dreaming world and the waking, offering scraps of magic and knowledge gleaned from the Hedge to those creatures with the eyes to see them. Over time, communities grew larger and these goblins came together for mutual protection. They forged powerful pacts that empowered and occluded them, and posted Market rules designed to ensure they remained the top purveyors of goblin goods to this night.
Tonight’s goblin merchants seem cut from the same cloth. The vast majority concern themselves primarily with selling the goods they scrounge from the Hedge and take on as payment for a profit, building ever-growing piles of tokens and treasures. While quick to compete with one another, they don’t take well to outsiders trying to twist the chaotic system to their advantage. They close ranks in the face of a threat (whether out of a sense of duty or because they’re bound to do so by pledges), but prefer to overcome obstacles through wit and subterfuge rather than open combat.
Some changelings suspect that those Hedge creatures who make up the larger part of the Market workforce are those of their ilk with the deepest curiosity or interest in human affairs. If this is true, many seemingly bitter hobs go to great lengths to hide any such fascination. Changeling vendors, on the other hand, range from the openly avaricious to simple outsiders who never quite fit in with freehold society. Freehold Lost whisper that other non-hobs, such as human wizards and even the stray wolf-man or vampire, were similarly unable to function in their own societies and sought community under the umbrella of the fae Market.
Laws, Rules and RegulationsEdit
No goblin market is ever truly the same as the other. Each has its own set of rules for what can be sold, bought, or traded away. Some have laws that disallow entry to those who don't wear a particular article of clothing, while others only allow a particular type of hob to work within.
Selling ones wares at a goblin market is not as simple as putting up a tent and badgering people to buy. Every market requires a potential merchant to come under a sort of "trade agreement" bound by the Wyrd. Refusing to accept this requirement results in a very hostile reaction from the locals.
The following laws are certain to be enforced at all Goblin Markets, barring very unusual practices — the sort that tend to lead to Markets crumbling after only a few moons.
• No Violence - Goblin merchants won’t be intimidated, and they won’t tolerate people trying to injure their customers. Bad for business.
• You Get What’s Advertised - If a merchant tells you that a tenpenny nail has the power to kill someone when it’s driven into its victim’s shadow, it has that power. It may have other side effects, mind, and the method of death may be something unexpected and inconvenient — but you get what’s advertised. Note, though, that there is no law requiring a merchant to advertise all the properties or catches to his wares, and there never will be.
• Honor Your Deals - This cuts both ways. A merchant must provide the wares, and the customer must provide payment. Defaulting on a deal is more than just bad form (and a potential Clarity hit) — it riles up the Market, potentially against the whole freehold and certainly against the defaulter.
• No Refunds - If you regret trading away something, you’d better find something the merchant really wants in order to buy it back — at an inflated rate, most likely. That’s a brand-new deal.
Each Goblin Market may add on a number of potential laws and rules to suit their business: some straightforward (“No deals offered before midnight”) and some bizarre (“Only the Market Guards are permitted to wear red hats within the market’s confines”). There’s always some oblique reason, even if the merchants won’t say what it is. If a pact of protection from the True Fae will dissolve if a pregnant black cat enters the market’s borders, are the goblins going to explain to their customers why cats aren’t allowed on the premises? Give away a weakness like that would be considered madness.
Finding a Goblin MarketEdit
Goblin Markets aren’t entirely reputable, but they do welcome business. They’re not too difficult to find out about, but in some cases the Market, or the local freehold culture, may insist on a certain modicum of subtlety. If a character doesn’t already know how to find the local Goblin Market, success on an Intelligence + Streetwise roll is typically sufficient to find the details. The roll may be modified depending on the freehold’s relation to the Market; if it’s considered a local resource, the roll may get a +2 bonus, while there may be a -2 penalty to the roll if the local bigwigs frown on trafficking there. If it’s particularly fashionable to visit the Market, or if a character has ties to a changeling or hobgoblin who would likely know the way and has no objection to sharing the information, no roll should be necessary. Similarly, if it’s a prosecutable offense, a player may need to convince a contact to divulge the information with a silver tongue, a bribe or the like.
You should take care when determining this aspect of your setting. The freehold’s relationship to the local Market helps define the location of the Market. It doesn’t make sense for the Goblin Market to set up shop in a relatively easy-to-find spot if the freehold kills goblin merchants on sight and breaks the fingers of changelings who traffic in goblin wares (unless, of course, the freehold is too weak to enforce its rulings). Likewise, if everyone in your setting knows where the Market is, it’s probably not too hard to get to.
There are two basic considerations for any Goblin Market’s location: is it primarily in the mundane world or in the Hedge, and is it nomadic or tied to a fixed site? Deciding on these two aspects helps determine, to a large extent, the other characteristics of a Goblin Market. While we treat each of these facets as binary (either mundane or Hedge, mobile or fixed), there’s no reason why they can’t blend a little. Below are some Goblin Market examples:
- Midsummer Night's Sideshow (Mobile, Mundane World)
- The Hacienda (Fixed, Mundane World)
- The Churchyard (Fixed, Hedge)
- The Spider Bazaar (Mobile, Hedge)
Computerized Goblin Markets - A persistent rumor among younger Lost holds that the goblins have joined the digital revolution. Stories circulate constantly of secret message boards and password-protected auction sites catering in goblin wares. Most changelings dismiss these rumors, pointing out the wooden stalls, silk tents and ancient carts common to the Market. Goblins aren’t exactly known for being with the times. Supporters of the stories remind detractors that the Hedge is a place of dreams, and few advances in technology have so inspired the dreams of mortals as the Internet.
Here is some of the merchandise one might expect to find in a common Goblin Market:
- Hedgespun Items - One of the most common offerings at a Goblin Market are the many and wondrous forms of Hedgespun goods. This means clothing, of course, but all manner of Hedgespun items can be found for sale.
- Goblin Contracts - The Goblin Markets are an obvious place to sign on with the various twisted little supernatural gifts that are easy to learn but perilous to use. The merchants love them as merchandise — they’re attractive, they’re a terrific bargain, and they get people talking.
- Tokens - Goblin Markets do brisk business in tokens. The goblins typically have an easier time combing the Hedge for interesting saleables than do changelings, who have to be mindful of their Clarity. Hobgoblins, however, can manage to scavenge all number of unusual items imbued with faerie power — and a measure of faerie capriciousness, to boot. Many of these tokens are relatively useless, of course, but that doesn’t keep a merchant from trotting them out for sale.
- Goblin Fruits - Hedge fruits are perhaps the most common items available for sale at the Goblin Markets. While each Market boasts a few stalls devoted solely to the sale of these consumables, many vendors keep a basket of fruits available no matter their primary wares. They typically use these fruits to sweeten whatever deals they’re brokering, but are just as happy to sell the fruits separately if someone’s buying.
- Servants, Pets and Slaves - Sad to say, many Goblin Markets also double as slave markets. They might keep these auctions secret, only available to trusted customers in the know — or they might parade their living wares in full view. It depends partly on relations with the local freehold, and whether a sizable portion of customers would both be offended enough to do something about it and strong enough to follow through on embargos or threats of violence.
- Vices - Goblin Markets are a place where one can indulge her vices, in both the common sense of the word and as the mechanical Trait. Goblin merchants are quick to tempt the gluttonous with savory delicacies, the avaricious with gleaming treasures and the lustful with debauched shows and services. They also have a knack for reading their customers.
When anything from a breezy summer’s day to an unbaptized child can be bought or sold at a Goblin Market, “value” becomes nebulous. Like all things fae, the economy of the Goblin Market is in constant flux. Supply and demand ensures that a Token that can be had for a passionate kiss one week may cost you your soul the next. Below is a simple guide to the relative value of merchandise at larger Goblin Markets. In smaller Markets, especially those outlawed by the local freehold, items may be considerably more expensive.
Goblins won’t likely ask for gold in return for the merchandise. And if they do, they might mean ancient gold or gold mined without ever seeing the sun. Of course, market-goers have recourse to other methods of payment beyond straightforward bartering (if such a term can be applied to trading wishes for horses).
Below is a simple guide to the relative value of merchandise at larger Goblin Markets:
- 0 - Gewgaws, Goblin Contract surcharge or finder’s fee, Minor Hedgespun accessories (scarves, hats and the like), Goblin Market guides
- • - Common goblin fruits and oddments, Most Hedgespun (1 to 2), Lesser Goblin Contracts (1 to 2), Local freehold guide, Untrained minor Slave (1 to 2), Token (1)
- •• - Rare goblin fruits, Unusual Hedgespun (3), Medial Goblin Contracts (3), Untrained medial Slave (3 to 4), Trained minor Slave (1), Local Hedge Guide, Token (2)
- ••• - Major Goblin Contracts (4 to 5), Untrained incredible Slave (5), Hedge guide to another freehold, Mentorship in standard Contracts, Token (3)
- •••• - Mentorship in unusual contracts, Goblin Market membership, Deep Hedge guide or guide to the gates of Arcadia, Token (4)
- ••••• - A Goblin Market stall, Guide through Arcadia, Well-trained but unimpressive Slave (2), Token (5)
- ••••••(+) - Well-trained, competent Slaves (3 to 5), Unique items of incredible power sure to change the course of a chronicle.
In addition to the various items listed above, Lost can usually find many of the things listed below in “Price” at Market. Such items possess a value equal to their price.
The goblins can sell you an abstraction, and they can also take one from you as a price. Memories are the most common abstractions pulled from a customer, though the loss is more alarming than it might seem at first. A merchant or customer can get an idea of the relative value of an abstraction with a successful Wits + Empathy roll.
- 0 - Unimportant: A mildly enjoyed song, a boring memory, a bad dream.
- • - Trifling: A kiss, a good dream, a whispered secret.
- •• - Important: A day spent with a childhood friend, an enjoyable song or poem, a visit to a favorite museum, an intense erotic dream.
- ••• - Beloved: A favorite song, a beautiful memory, an adored sibling’s face, a favorite concert, an incredibly uplifting dream.
- •••• - Crucial: A beloved parent’s name, a part of the buyer’s True Name, a hated memory of Arcadia, a powerful dream shared with another, a broken heart; a dot in a Skill.
- ••••• - Life-changing: The buyer’s first kiss, own magnum opus, True Name, a dream shared with a dead beloved, an important sexual escapade, Kith blessing; two dots in a Skill.
- ••••••(+) - Epic: The memory that guided the Lost home from Arcadia, all of high school or college, every sexual experience; three or more dots in a Skill.
The goblins do brisk trade in hard-to-obtain items with potential mystical value. These range from the seemingly innocuous (a dove’s feather) to the utterly obscure (a mote of dust gathered on a sunny day) to the obviously potent (a shard of the True Cross).
- • - Curiosity: Strange handcrafted music box, a copy of Peter Pan in which a child sketched his nightmares, a tortilla on which there is an image of the Virgin Mary.
- •• - Unusual Component: A witch’s finger, a spider that has been scared to death, a vampire’s fang, a fading ember that will not go out unless spat upon.
- ••• - Heirloom: Grandfather’s pocket watch, a rare Rosicrucian manuscript, a Token given to the Lost by her Mentor.
- •••• - Minor Artifact: A Gutenberg Bible, a chair from the Amber Room, a werewolf pelt, the lost log from a sunken slaver vessel.
- ••••• - Unique Artifact: Hitler’s molar, Lewis Carroll’s fountain pen, a sword forged in Arcadia, the key to a Gentry’s keep.
- ••••••(+) - Legendary Artifact: The Lance of Longinus, Excalibur, Odysseus’s Bow, the Holy Grail, a pearl from a dragon’s forehead.
As ugly a practice as it is, slave trading is one of the most lucrative businesses in the shadowed recesses of the Goblin Markets. A Lost willing to engage in a little kidnapping can quickly discover that nothing at market is out of her price range. Such activities can be rough on a changeling’s Clarity, however, as few things make a Lost more akin to her keeper than abducting another.
- 0 - Mundane: Cats, dogs, cows, or any other animals with few exceptions, particularly minor Hedge creatures.
- • - Uncommon: Unusual animals (whether due to species, such as a cougar, or circumstance, such as the runt of the litter), mentally or physically handicapped adult humans, children.
- •• - Useful: Average adult human laborers, guards, soldiers or teachers, small Hedge creatures.
- ••• - Unusual: Particularly skilled humans (such as doctors), terribly beautiful humans or animals, humans touched by the supernatural (such as psychics, ghouls, and wolf-bloods), strong Hedge Beasts.
- •••• - Auspicious: A seventh son of a seventh son, a changeling, a firstborn infant, a powerful and intelligent Hedge Beast.
- ••••• - Impressive: Non-fae supernatural creatures (such as mages or werewolves), particularly potent or unusual changelings.
- ••••••(+) - Incredible: A live dragon, unicorn or similar difficult to locate and capture creature.
A negotiation begins with the seller suggesting a price (typically a dot higher than the value, possibly two dots if the buyer seems gullible, foolish or particularly intent on getting the item). The buyer suggests a counter offer. The target number of successes for the extended roll becomes three times the difference in dots between the two offers. The Storyteller may grant bonuses or penalties based on particularly strong or weak roleplay on the part of the player. Furthermore, the character’s relationship with the vendor may result in a bonus or penalty.
Even if one character utterly trounces the other, the final price slides towards the middle. Keep in mind that while no “three and a half” dot items have been listed, a vendor can ask for an item of price ••• and another of price • or •• for essentially the same effect.
It is possible to get a better deal than this system suggests. Creativity goes a long way here. Characters may be able to trick a vendor into thinking that what he has is worth less than it is (a difficult feat) or blackmail a vendor into selling for a good deal. The vendor may owe the character for some past aid, or may offer him a good deal based on his good deeds. It’s always possible that a vendor actually has something that’s worth far more than he thinks it is, but vendors have an uncanny tendency to notice a buyer’s excitement when one finds such an item. Similarly, a good deal isn’t always as obvious as it seems. Like Jack’s magic beans, an item may not have a high value to the seller (or to the Goblin Market), but it may be just what the character needs to accomplish some goal.
Market Staff and CustomersEdit
Goblin Markets may represent the most diverse and unique social environment that any Lost may encounter. Where else might one dabble in social discourse with hobs and Hedge Beasts, monsters and minions – or even the Others – all while under the nominal protection of the Market Law.
Below are some ready-made examples of individuals or creature types that one might encounter while visiting a Goblin Market. They are in no way intended to be all-inclusive. The sheer magnitude of diversity found within the sorted confines of Goblin Markets makes a comprehensive offering impossible.