The day’s task shows up in an envelope, and not in glowing purple letters emblazoned across the inside of your eyelids, which is usually a good sign. The owl that brought it looks on with equanimity as you read its master's message:
I hearde that you do odde jobs for Wizards. I neede 120 mana for a ritual but cannot leave my Tower righte now. Go to the caravans in towne and buy enough magic items that I can gette that much by sacrificinge them.
My Owle has a pouch. It is biggere inside than oute. Putte the things in it ande she will carrye them back.
Enclosed is my
Thormo TharmeuMagic Sensing Device. It usually lies but is probably bettere than guessinge. Returne it when you are done. Enclosed is also a list of 836 itemse I sacrificed and what coloure they glowed and how muche mana I gotte and what the ThauLying Box said when I pointede it at them. I like lists.
The pouch contains 200 gold pieces. You may keepe what coins are lefte over. If I do notte gette at leaste 120 mana from the things you sende me, you shalle owe me 200 gold pieces.
Wakalix the Wizard
PS: If you do not accepte the jobbe, I bid you sende the Owle and the gold back before sundown, that I may finde another to charge with it.
Your spirits lift with every line. Clear objectives, payment in advance, acknowledgement that you have the right to refuse the task, no threats of involuntary transformation, no random tangents about world domination or beard care, handwriting legible, capitalization not entirely random . . . this is one of the good clients. And if you make clever enough use of the list he provided, you suspect you could end up taking home a decent fraction of that 200gp once this day’s work is done. With a song in your heart, you depart for the travelling caravans and their magic items.
The selection of artefacts that greets you is as follows:
|Item name||Glow color||Thaumometer reading||Price|
|Longsword of Wounding +2||Red||14||66gp|
|Warhammer of Justice +1||Yellow||5||41gp|
|Hammer of Capability||Blue||35||35gp|
|Pendant of Truth||Red||40||38gp|
|Ring of Joy +5||Blue||29||32gp|
|Warhammer of Flame +2||Yellow||48||65gp|
|Battleaxe of Glory||Blue||7||23gp|
|Plough of Plenty||Yellow||12||35gp|
|Saw of Capability +1||Green||16||35gp|
|Amulet of Wounding +2||Green||50||35gp|
|Pendant of Hope||Blue||77||34gp|
|Pendant of Joy +4||Green||42||39gp|
Will you accept Wakalix’s errand? If so, what will you buy?
I’ll be posting an interactive letting you test your decision, along with an explanation of how I generated the dataset, sometime this Sunday. I’m giving you a week, but the task shouldn’t take more than a few hours; use Excel, R, Python, tarot readings, or whatever other tools you think are appropriate. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about the scenario.
If you want to investigate this collaboratively and/or call your decisions in advance, feel free to do so in the comments; however, please use spoiler tags when sharing inferences/strategies/decisions, so people intending to fly solo can look for clarifications without being spoiled.