It doesn't really matter what your ingame explanation is; it's a pretty horrible mechanic that punishes players arbitrarily. In an RPG, you're either following a quest route or you're exploring; you aren't chartering a course according to some grand trading scheme. Backtracking for no reason that would further the game is not only a great nuisance to a vast number of players but the insular model of item distribution can cause you to become stuck/ make the backtracking even more unnerving because you're lacking some items that are needed/ helpful for overland travel.
Punishes the player arbitrarily? Taking a small but significant hit on certain prices because one doesn't want to bother with a realistic mechanic is an arbitrary punishment? Why do you play roleplaying games: for the sake of interesting characters in a believable setting, or for the sake of managing your profit from loot as optimally as possible? I for one probably would only spend time optimizing my finances in such a way if it made sense for the character I was playing, and for other kinds of characters I would find the nominal penalty quite easy to rationalize.
You make it sound like players are either blindly going wherever the central narrative leads them, or simply wandering lackadaisically with no sense of purpose whatsoever. In reality, it's not so simple as either of those extremes; a player might have one or more motivations for traveling, among which plotline questing may or may not be included. If a player decides that a bit of outfitting in preparation for some other objective is in his party's interest, then perhaps armor and weapon prices might affect the trajectory of the party's travels. Conversely, the player could act like a mindless drone whose ultimate goal is to breeze through the narrative as quickly as possible, and in this case they would not take regional price differences into account.
I'm not really suggesting restricting the purchase of certain items to specific locations, so in theory the player should never become "stuck" or have to backtrack if they don't want to. However, even if I am not suggesting that the party should go broke unless they travel far and wide for the best prices, convenience has a price like anything else.
Eh, this seems to be a theme with you. Didn't you also suggest P:E would be better off imitating MMO's in that events shouldn't revolve around the player? You're looking for a different kind of game I'd say.I'v
I once facetiously suggested that Project Eternity should imitate MMO's merely for the sake of trolling, and I have in several entirely unrelated instances decried the extent to which many traditional RPG's stroke the player's by making everything about their extraordinarily exceptional character, as if one's enjoyment of the game is simply a function of how awesome and special one feels while playing the game.
I believe that in the same breath I may have said something along the lines of the notion that the more an RPG feels like an MMO (without actually being one), in the sense that your protagonist isn't the only character that behaves in a convincing, living, and human-like manner, the more impressive and enjoyable I find it.
At any rate, I have read nothing about this issue in relation to Project Eternity, though do let me know if I've missed something.
Edited by mcmanusaur, 09 July 2013 - 03:08 PM.