This is a guide focusing on early money making method - running hashish. I will provide the steps to the method as well as some tips to make the method more efficient as you progress. To make this guide easier to follow you might want to see this Map.
Click to enlarge...
1) Acquire Hashish
There are multiple methods in game to get hashish but in the early game you might be limited by resources (squad members, cats, squad skills) so we will focus on buying hashish from vendors. A traders backpack or two are necessary, always keep hashish in your backpacks and not your main inventory. Hashish costs between 100-155 cats each.
Hive Traders (Vain Region) - this is an easy route to follow: starting near the Hub, go west toward the first Hive Village, then follow through as far as you want potentially ending north of the "Lost Library" that is to the west of New Kralia. In each Hive Village, visit the general store (Scales Sign if you hold ALT) and you will most likely find a very talkative hive salesman. Trading with him you'll find 1-9 hashish being sold. Hitting up 6 villages in a row yields around 3-4 stacks (9 each) of hashish and if you hit the villages on the way back to the Hub you might be more efficient if they restock in time.
- Dangers: Vain is filled with Beak Things that constantly attack the villages, make sure to stay indoors when in the village if you are ill-equiped to fight beak things. The positive is that you can also make some money by picking up the animal skins from them and either selling them or keeping them to make into leather. Gorillos are also around, less frequent though.
- Benefits: If you are in the midgame you might want to utilize the resource plentyful hive traders for fabric, leather, skins, armor plates, as well as the lanterns to equip your squad.
Swamp Villages (The Swamp Region) - a route of medium difficulty, I haven't confirmed all the locations listed but the trend holds up. You can hit up the following: 2 Swamp Villages, Mud Town, Grayflayer Village, Rot, Stone Rat Village. Each village has a fisherman like trader, usually on the deck of an unmarked building, he will sell 15+ hashish as well as some fish. You can run around the villages and collect a ton of hashish but this method in my opinion is slightly harder due to different enemies.
- Dangers: The swamp is filled with a lot of Swamp Ninjas, Red Sabres and Spiders. All these enemies are very fast compared to a newer-ish character. Sneaking will be a smart choice and more management will make sure that your character doesn't die.
- Benefits: A bigger hashish haul.
2) Running and Selling
Hashish is an illegal good in all major faction cities, anything that belongs to the Holy Nation or United Cities, etc. That being said those are the best places to sell. You cannot sell hashish to any vendor, you can only sell to the Shinobi Thief Trader in the tower located in most cities. Each region has a different price mark-up for hashish which is available on the wiki. The best marked up cities at 1200% are Bark, Heft, Heng, Sho-Battai, Stoat (I don't remember if there is a tower here) and are located in the Great Desert. This is the most worth while place to sell.
Note: If you are part of the Shinobi Thief Faction you will sell to them at a discount but the price per unit is still 800+ cats. Depending on the amount of hashish you have to sell you might have to wait a day or two for the trader to restock his cats, his usual purse is around 25,000 cats.
This is definitely an easy way to earn money at the beginning and can be kept going into the mid to late game as well. Hope this helps and hope you guys enjoy Kenshi as much as I do.