Instant City Shopping
Between each adventure, the characters need to stock up on arrows, food, camping gear, and other supplies. In the midst of a game session, the characters might be in a town or city quarter that you have yet to detail when they have the urge to shop. This article presents several businesses that you can use when you don’t have anything prepared. The descriptions of each shop avoid covering the particular wares offered, allowing you to use them as armories, general stores, magic item dealers, and so forth.
THE BLACK CAT
Clarina Heygensdottir (N female human adept 4) learned the basics of hedge magic from her father. For several years, she lived in the wilderness around town until she fell in love with and married a merchant. She and her husband opened the Black Cat, and today Clarina handles the shop’s day-today administration. She scribes runes and warning signs around the area as a ward against bad luck, thieves, and evil spirits. If suspicious-looking customers enter, she uses detect evil on them and shoos them away if they seem malevolent in nature. She enhances her mystic reputation by wearing a black robe and by keeping several black cats in the store. In addition to the goods her husband offers, she makes additional money on the side with tarot readings, love potions, astrology, and other endeavors that draw on her arcane knowledge. Many of the Black Cat’s customers come to see Clarina first and purchase goods only as a secondary consideration.
Clarina may offer her services to the PCs, and she gladly casts spells for them at the standard rate. If they spend a lot or are pleasant and polite to her, she gives them free “luck amulets” and similar items in an attempt to make them regular customers.
The dwarf Egard (NG male dwarf expert 9) has run his shop for over 100 years. He has seen generations come and go, and is a known expert on the neighborhood’s history. His eidetic memory allows him to recall details regarding hundreds of people who have worked and lived in the area.
As an old-timer, Egard has gathered a large number of men, dwarves, gnomes, and even a few half-orcs from amongst the locals who use his shop as. a place to sit and talk over a bottle of wine. The tables and chairs they use are kept out front during warm days and brought inside for the winter. These oldsters aren’t afraid to air any opinions they may have about the PCs and their accomplishments. They keep their ears close to the rumor mill, and spend long hours gossiping and arguing politics. They might try to drag the PCs into their discussions, or they may even try to spark an argument with them simply to pass the time.
Known for the maddeningly chaotic sprawl of merchandise as much as for the quality of his wares, a trip to Gemmett’s resembles an archaeological expedition to uncover a hidden treasure. Gemmett (LG male gnome expert 8) is an elderly gnome who made a fortune by buying damaged jewelry and relics from adventurers, restoring them to pristine condition, and selling them to wealthy collectors. As his retirement approaches, he has slowly allowed his business to fall into a decrepit state, He allows his wares to pile up around the store and has no clear idea about what he has in stock. He makes plenty of money selling restored antiques, so he lets the store take care of itself. Adventurers willing to plumb the depths of his shelves might find forgotten magical items, decades-old weapons and armor, and other curios.
If the characters shop at Gemmett’s, they must make a Search check (DC 10) to find what they need without Gemmett’s help. Stacks of items teeter on the edge of collapse, shelves look like someone has randomly thrown goods upon them, and the shop’s comers are filled with piles of random wares.
Gemmett is no fool. He charges standard prices for goods and keeps a tough bodyguard on hand (Fonwalda, LN fernale gnome warrior 3) to protect his more valuable items. A locked room in the back contains his restoration equipment along with a private viewing chamber for his more prestigious clients.
Some believe that Arkaral the Fortunate (CN male elf expert 4) is a madman. Others see him as blessed by the god Olidammara, a man who threw himself into luck’s grasp and emerged all the better for it. Arkaral once traveled the trade routes as a merchant until a group of ettins attacked his caravan, The ettins slammed Arkaral’s wagon into a river, tossing the elf into the churning current. Before he lost consciousness, Arakaral vowed to dedicate his life to Olidammara if the god would grant him the luck to survive. Today, Arakaral’s shop is a small shrine to the Laughing Rogue.
Arkaral keeps wine and fresh food available for customers, and he loves to ply clients with drinks before settling down to business. He uses a great wheel mounted on one wall of his shop to determine an item’s final price. When a customer is ready to purchase something, Arkaral offers to spin the wheel to determine the final price. When a PC wishes to buy something, roll 1420. Chaotic neutral PCs, bards, rogues, and clerics of Olidammara receive a +4 luck bonus on their rolls. Roll 1420 with a +2 luck bonus for Arkaral (Olidammara favors him, for now at least). If the PC beats Arkaral’s roll by 10 or more, he receives a 10% discount. If Arkaral’s result is 10 or more than the PC’s roll, the price increases by 10%. Otherwise, the characters pay the normal amount. Characters who refuse to pay the extra 10% (perhaps deciding to purchase the item elsewhere) receive a -1 penalty on their next important attack roll or skill check.
Marked by a bright red sign depicting three golden crowns, this shop caters to those who deal in stolen goods. The owner, Tondarro (N fernale half-elf expert 2/rogue 1) works with several gangs of thieves in the city. She buys their stolen goods and either offers them for sale in her shop (if the items are impossible to trace) or sells them to smugglers who can take them out of the city. Three Crowns serves as a cover for her true business, but she soon found that adventurers liked shopping here for the good prices she offers. As a one-time adventurer, she has a good eye for picking out items and goods that explorers may find useful, such as 10-foot poles, cold iron daggers, and vials of poison.
Tondarro offers a 10% discount on any item that has a list value of 50 gp or less, Since she buys stolen goods, she can afford to sell them cheap. The PCs might inadvertently buy a stolen item thatis later recognized by its previous owner. They might even purchase a backpack or chest that has a map hidden within, a secret compartment, or some similar item still sought by its former owners .
Tondarro is always ready to pull up shop and seek a safe haven if the authorities learn of her true business dealings. She might abandon her shop overnight only to turn up in another city a few kingdoms over.
By Mike Mearls
Illustration by Udon Studios with Jim Zubkavich