I was thinking about a nice way to get merchants to show up in person to your town. That is, the GM-spawned randomly generated merchants, not the ones you get from the Market Stall. I’m certain there have been discussions about this in-house, but I was wondering if anything like the Kingdom Road from the old City Builder games could be done for maps. To those who are unfamiliar, every map you start on has a section of a road on it. The road starts off-map, and ends off-map. This is used as the arrival points for merchants and migrants, as well as departure for various actors.
By those games’ convention, most game actors could only travel on roads. Obviously this isn’t the case in Stonehearth, but how bad would it be to necessitate that sort of thing, if you want merchants to sell goods at your town? You have to connect a road to the Kingdom Road for the merchants to follow to your town, then they’ll take up a stall (if you have some available), or set up shop just outside your city gates, Khajiit-in-Skyrim style. This adds some additional challenges to gameplay, for example you can no longer just wall yourself off and happily develop in isolation from the cruel, harsh world outside if you want anything that can’t be locally manufactured. Or, if a merchant dies while in your town, word gets around, and you get fewer merchants as a result – incentive to “patrol the roads”, keep them clear of goblins…
At the same time, merchants don’t have to take up very much pathfinder time, thanks to the road. They’ll just follow it to its terminal, if they find a stall nearby, they take it; if not, they set up shop or return to the kingdom road and continue on their journey.
The end goal for Stonehearth, as I’ve been seeing it, is to try and get away from things that “magically” happen through dialogs, and add some in-game representation for these events. I hope this idea helps in that consideration.