Fifty Fairs and Markets
Markets and fairs are the life and soul of the city. Most are mundane affairs where farmers come to town to sell livestock or fishermen come to sell their catch.
The markets and fairs suggested by this entry in the Campaign Workbook, however, are anything but ordinary, and each offers opportunities for adventure.
Markets and fairs offer the Dungeon Master an opportunity to introduce new and unusual items into the campaign at a moment’s notice.
They also give the players unique opportunities to spend their hard-earned gold pieces. Each time your PCs are wandering the streets of the city, roll d% and consult the Random Markets & Fairs table, below.
The markets and fairs presented in the table below (or those of your own design) provide a bit of constantly changing local flavor to your city, making it seem like a vibrant, living environment. If you keep a campaign calendar (and you should), note the date of the festival. A year later (in game time), when the PCs encounter the same festival, they’ll have a real sense of accomplishment and an understanding that time marches on in the city. Market prices are generally 10-20% lower than those listed in the Player’s Handbook, although choice is considerably narrowed by the particular specialist market.
Expanded Sample: Saint Hellowell’s Scribery Market and Fayre
The local Saint Hellowell died over 100 years ago, but an annual market is held on the anniversary of his death to celebrate his life’s work of collecting the written word in all its forms. The PCs may find a plethora of scrolls, old maps, and knowledge from the traders who flock to the local area. A particularly valuable tapestry work – the Illuminai Magnifica – is stolen by a group of wizards who believe the tapestry details a powerful spell.
The tapestry was a peace offering from a neighboring baron. Unless it is recovered, war could erupt. The town gates are locked and the town leadership announces a strict curfew and a huge reward for the tapestry’s safe return. Meanwhile, the thieves accidentally release a demon that was bound to the tapestry and it goes on the rampage.
Random Markets & Fairs (d%)
01-02 Sir Berzimon’s Challenge: Warriors battle to win the belt of champions. The town is awash with cheap armor and weapons.
03-04 Bird Market: After 20 years, this cacophonous market now even attracts traders in griffons and hippogriffs.
05-06 Tanners’ Mart: Masterwork leather workers come to sell fabulous goods at reasonable rates.
07-08 March of the Master-tailors: Exquisite clothing from all corners of the known lands are sold. The winner gets a contract to dress the local lord’s huge extended family.
09-10 Fayre of Wonders: Wizards descend on the area to create the finest illusion of the year. Scrolls and spellbooks abound.
11-12 Beast Market: Livestock farmers come to trade. Occasionally a group of adventurers appears with some fabulous beast to sell.
13-14: Merry Mart Jesters come to raise a smile and trade in all manner of colorful wares, specializing in exotic, fanciful masks. Perhaps one has a curse of sorrow attached to it.
15-16 Lordship’s Auction: After falling on desperate times, the local lord is forced to sell a manor full of prized possessions-invitation only Can the heroes use their silver tongues to get access to the auction?
17-18 Fishermen’s Longest Day: A prize is awarded for the strangest sea creature caught. Who knows what will appear in the fishermen’s nets this year?
19-20 Inventors’ Market and Fayre: The greatest scholars and engineers in the land come to show their new ideas and creations during a week of wonder.
21-22 Efreeti Souk: A trio of efreeti brothers disguised as merchants use a local market to sell their ill-gotten gains.
23-24 Painters’ Days: Artists come to sell their wares and take commissions – perhaps the heroes would like a suitably grand portrait?
25-26 Smithies’ Market: Master-smithies come to compete for the golden anvil.
27-28 Sotillioms Sampling: Pop corks and sample some of the known world’s greatest wines for four days of merry making and sore heads.
29-30 Dwarven Miners’ Auction: Ore sold cheap in vast quantities to the highest bidder.
31-32 Impromptu Market: A shipwreck washes up and an impromptu market occurs as goods wash ashore. Do the PCs join in the bargain hunt or ensure that the goods return to their rightful owners?
33-34 Poor Merchants Market: A bankrupt merchant’s stock is put under the hammer-but will the PCs spot the magic item amongst the rubbish?
35-36 Fakirs’ Mart: A pair of fey-touched traders sell what they claim to be goods from ethereal travel-but is it all just illusion and bluff?
37-38 Harpers’ Bazaar: A warring trio of gypsy tribes arrives to trade charms and totems. They battle over possession of a famous magical gold harp- will the heroes help settle the dispute or steal the harp for themselves?
39-40 Halfling Ale Market: Halflings arrive to sell their wares and compete for the title of Master Brewer.
41-42 Lockmasters’ Mart: Locksmiths try to open the Prince of Locks and gain the prize hidden in the chest it bars.
43-44 Bladesmens’ Moot: Mercenaries offer their services for a year at a special market.
45-46 Lovers Market: Love potions, charms and spells abound, but will the heroes fall under the spell of the hag covey that attends?
47-48 Alchemy Fayre: New formulas abound-but do they work?
49-50 Copper Souk: Snake-charmers, magicians, and acrobats abound as foreign merchants offer minor treasures from the Distant West.
51-52 Ship Armada: Sailors come together to trade boats of all descriptions.
53-54 Cobblers Fayre: Master-bootmakers arrive to ply their wares.
55-56 Zett’s Memory: A meat market specializes in keeping up the tradition of the exotic cook Zett, who could make tasty pies from any meat.
57-58 Cake Market: Chefs arrive to compete for the local lord’s prize of Best Cake. This year, a 10-foot-high monster is seen heading through the streets to the castle. Does the massive cake contain a deadly surprise for the lord?
59-60 Land Mart: Auction for local land and property.
61-62 Adventurers’ Hawk: Open market for heroes to sell their dungeon gotten goods.
63-64 Badger Festival: Gnomes sell guard badgers (generally to each other).
65-66 Peddlers’ Week: Poor traders come to sell what little they have, but one of them claims to have a magic ring which money cannot buy.
67-68 Timber Market: What seems like an ordinary market turns nasty when a dead treant is peddled and its relatives come to exact revenge.
69-70 Sword Fair: Master sword-makers arrive in town to take commissions and sell their exotically carved goods.
71-72 Antiquaries Vend: Unusual, bizarre, and even dangerous ancient and exotic goods are sold at this huge market held over three days.
73-74 The Lizardfolk Hawk: Lizardfolk come to hold their annual market, an historical bequest of a long-dead lord. Local traders dorit like the barter of the lizardfolk and trouble often erupts.
75-76 Poultry Market: There’s a cockatrice in the box…
77-78 Harvest Mart: Elves have a huge amount of weapons and armor at bargain rates. Can it be that they robbed a battle burial ground?
79-80 Moon Moot: An obscure law allows trade only at night.
81-82 Storm’s End: Townsfolk and locals gather at a hilltop market to thank the gods for a good harvest.
83-84 The Games: Traders sell games they have devised and join in with local contests of strength.
85-86 Mountain-men Moot: Wild men descend from the hills to trade fur.
87-88 The Jewel of Markets: Dwarf miners come to sell uncut stones; thieves abound.
89-90 Oak Fayre Market: Locals gather around an ancient oak to trade.
91-92 Bottumen’s Eye: A potion market is held under the watchful gaze of a beholder who “invites” arcane spellcasters to join him in his tower lair.
93-94 Meadow Fayre: This year’s food market is alive with mosquitoes. Could it be that the townsfolk have offended a local druid?
95-96 Zester’s Demand: Evil items and paraphernalia are given up to the church at a special market to celebrate the local god.
97-98 The Great Market: They say that if you can’t buy it here it doesn’t exist!
99-00 Traders’ Quandary: The local lord waives taxes to allow free trade-prices plummet!
BY RICHARD PETT
ILLUSTRATION BY ATTILA ADORJANY