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The player may trade with NPCs in Caves of Qud. Trading is closely related to commerce, the base value of items. Most commonly, players will be trading with merchants.

The central currency in Qud is the dramUnit of liquid. A waterskin can hold 64. One dram of water is the base unit of currency., a small measure of drinking water that must be stored in its own container. For clarity, in this page "$" represents drams in the commercial sense, while drams as the fluid volume is represented as "D".

For methods on making money, see Making Money.


Trading is initiated by selecting the relevant dialogue choice or pressing tab. Trading can performed by speaking to any character who

  1. is non-hostile;
  2. has items they can trade;
  3. is able to communicate with you;
  4. is within physical range.

Traders benefit by taking significant profits, as commerce means they have a significantly greater selling prices than the player. The player benefits as any offer they make will succeed provided they can pay any owed drams and accept any drams they are owed. For example, a scrap-clad hermit with only one item to trade will still provide the required payment if you offer him $20,000 of material, but only if you have the capacity to accept 20,000D (if the player lacks the required storage to hold all the water they earn in a transaction, they are given the option to complete the transaction and receive as much of their earnings as they can hold). Note that NPCs, for the purposes of selling them goods, will have infinite water. The only limit to how many drams can be earned in one transaction is the total volume of liquid that the player can hold.

Commerce rates are affected by multiple factors:

  • The Ego attribute. Higher ego means lower buying prices and higher selling prices.
  • Player Reputation with the trader's Faction affects ego in trades. A good/bad standing grants ±1, and a very good/very bad standing grands ±3.
  • Most items have a variable value, noted in-game with a blue $. These items are affected by the player's ego and reputation, and prices will vary from trader to trader.
  • Few items have a constant value, noted with a golden $. These items are unaffected by commerce and have a better $/lb value than drams, so they're a very efficient way to carry excess currency.

Trading UI

Trading dialogue

The trading screen is separated into two halves: the left half is the character the player is trading with, and the right half is the player's inventory. Here the player can offer to buy the NPC's wares off of them or attempt to offer up their own for water.


Key Purpose
Esc exit trading inteface without an offer
Left/Right navigate between both trading sides
Up/Down scroll through the items on one side
Tab choose to buy/sell the entire inventory
Enter select an entire stack of an item
-/= decrease/increase the amount of items offered in a stack by 1
o offer to complete the trade
Space general interaction menu. Here the player can examine objects, or ask the trader to identify or repair items (if they have the proper skill)
i ask trader to identify an object (can be either in their own inventory or the player's)
r ask trader to repair/recharge an object (can be either in their own inventory or the player's)

Trading Formula

Main article: Commerce

Caves of Qud has a bartering system where items vary in price based on a multitude of factors. Items do not have a "set" price like other similar games of the genre. Instead, items all have a commerce value. Commerce is the base value that is specified for each item that is then multiplied or divided by a multiplier depending on selling or buying.

This multiplier depends on the player's Ego modifier as well a few other factors, such as the Snake Oiler skill.

Trading Formula Details

This section is an excerpt from Commerce#Trading Multiplier Formula.

If the player has Glotrot, Ego modifier and Snake oiler no longer have an effect and returns a flat -3. The equation then becomes

The multiplier cannot be higher than 0.95(achievable with +9 Ego modifier or +7 Ego modifier with Snake Oiler) and the multiplier cannot be lower than .05 (-5 Ego modifier).

When buying an item from a trader, the value of the item in question is divided by this multiplier. When an item is sold by the player, its value is multiplied by the multiplier.



The central currency to the game is fresh water, often simply referred to as their measurement dramUnit of liquid. A waterskin can hold 64. One dram of water is the base unit of currency.. 1D of water is universally valued at $1, and is used to pay any outstanding difference in transactions: if the player offers $32 of material for $35 of material they are required to throw in 3D to cover the outstanding $3 debt. Only fresh water is accepted as balancing currency: if the water is contaminated by any other liquids then it ceases to be counted as drams unless it can be purified.

It is important to note that dram exchange requires appropriate space:

  • First, any containers of fresh water will be poured into until full.
  • If the container fills then excess drams will be poured into the next fresh water container with space.
  • If there are no more fresh water containers then excess drams will pour into the next empty container.
  • If all water containers are filled and there are no acceptable containers then the trade will be rejected.

Drams will not go into containers filled with anything but fresh water, as it will cease to be currency of the same value once mixed. Lacking space for owed credit or drams for owed debt will result in the transaction being rejected.

Balancing Bias

While exchange prices have three decimal places of accuracy, the amount paid will round to the nearest integer. In such cases the bias always favors the trader:

Trader Value Player Value Difference Balance
-$112 $208 -$112 + $208 = +$96 Merchant pays 96D
-$32.75 $45.33 -$32.75 + $45.33 = +$12.58 Merchant pays 12D
-$500 $500.999 -$500 + $500.999 = +$0.999 Merchant pays 0D
-$130 $87 -$130 + $87 = -$43 Player pays 43D
-$74.308 $62.079 -$74.308 + $62.079 = -$12.229 Player pays 13D
-$145.001 $145 -$145.001 + $145 = -$0.001 Player pays 1D


4 drams of any liquid weighs 1lb, so the weight of a filled container is the capacity divided by 4; an empty 64D water skin weighs 1lb but the same one filled will weigh 17lbs, as 64D / 4 = +16lbs. While an acceptable cost early on, drams will slowly start to eat into your carrying capacity as you find more liquid containers and start selling loot, so materials with higher guaranteed $/lb will eventually become necessary. It should be noted that it is still strongly advised that the player keep one or two water containers with space so that owed currency can still be easily managed between transactions.


Water is not the only liquid that can be traded; unlike drams, they cannot be automatically poured. Liquids other than fresh water must be sold with the container as added value, so the actual profit is (Drams * 1D Value) + (Sold Container Profit - Replacement Container Cost). For example, 64D of honey always sells for $128 ($2/D), but to sell it you first need to put it in a $3 canteen which gets you a total of $131; if canteens sell for $3 then they cost $8.574 to buy with base stats, so the final profit is $122.

Note that this table simply provides the minimum value for a container of the appropriate size, as factors like player trading stats cannot be accounted for. Liquids with a trading value of $0 are not listed such as asphalt and putrescence. Liquids also have varying weights, so their value per pound will depend.

Liquid Value over Weight Value
4D 16D 32D 64D
slime $0.1/0.25# 0.4 0.4 1.6 3.2 6.4
blood $0.25/0.25# 1 1 4 8 16
gel $0.5/0.25# 2 2 8 16 32
algae $1/0.25# 4 4 16 32 64
acid $1.5/0.25# 6 6 24 48 96
honey $2/0.5# 4 8 32 64 128
sap $2/0.5# 4 8 32 64 128
oil $3/0.25# 12 12 48 96 192
cider $3.8/0.25# 15.2 15.2 60.8 121.6 243.2
wine $4/0.25# 16 16 64 128 256
primordial soup $4/0.25# 16 16 64 128 256
lava $50/0.5# 100 200 800 1600 3200
warm static $1000/0.25# 4000 4000 16000 32000 64000
neutron flux $1000/2.5# 400 4000 16000 32000 64000
sunslag $1000/0.25# 4000 4000 16000 32000 64000
brain brine $1233/0.25# 4932 4932 19728 39456 78912
cloning draught $1250/0.25# 5000 5000 20000 40000 80000

Trade Goods

Main article: Trade goods

Trade goods are effectively non-liquid (figuratively and literally) financial assets. While this does free up skins and can end up lighter overall, they can only be returned to $/D value by selling them to traders. This can cause issues in some cases, as high value items require you to either trade for a lot of items or be prepared to accept a lot of drams. Additionally, dormant items carried for value do not quench thirst nor can they provide additional uses like lava. As such, it can be important to not convert all drams into trade goods.

Item Value
copper nugget 10
bronze ingot 20(100/5)
silver nugget 50
gold nugget 200

† Ingots weigh 5lbs

There are also trade goods that do not keep their prices static across trades:

Trade Good Value
grave goods 10.0
box of crayons 15.0
neck-ring 20.0
silver rondure 50.0
beaded bracelet 80.0
albino ape pelt 100.0
polyhedral rings 150.0
ogre ape pelt 300.0


  • Purchasing the last tradable item in a character's inventory will result in the trade screen exiting, becoming unavailable until they regain a tradable item. Bear this in mind if you're trying to offload plunder onto a common NPC, as emptying their inventory means they won't engage in any more trade.
  • Trade is possible through Telepathy but only from within physical range. This allows players with glotrot to exchange goods without finding a cure, though it won't remedy the trading penalties it incurs.
  • As long as communication is possible (a dialogue box appears, not whether they appear to understand) and they have an item in their inventory, anybody can be traded with, including non-humanoids.
    • young ivories, lurking beths, and baetyls cannot be traded with and cannot be given items. This is because they do not inherit from the game objects that come with the Inventory part; They are Creature, MutatedFungus, MutatedPlant, or Table.