Pathfinder Player Companion: Black Markets (PFRPG)

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Pathfinder Player Companion: Black Markets (PFRPG)
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Good Deals, Bad People

When the right tool for the job is on the wrong side of the law, it's time to look for it in the black markets! This player-focused volume includes dozens of items and rare spells not sold in any legal shop but still of great use to adventuring characters, as well as spells, feats, and character archetypes to help keep those illegal goods hidden. From new poisons and portable traps to necromantic magic items and eldritch smuggling tools, Pathfinder Player Companion: Black Markets has every underhanded implement you may desire when legality isn't a concern! Inside this book, you'll find:

  • Rules for running your own black markets and managing your under-the-table business dealings when you're between adventures.
  • New poisons of every description, from magic-infused poisons to nefarious necrotoxins that blend necromancy with deadly substances, as well as the eldritch poisoner alchemist archetype.
  • A guided tour of the largest and most unique black markets in the Inner Sea region, from the Nightstalls of Katapesh to the Tarnished Halls of Numeria.
  • Feats, traits, and spells to emphasize characters' criminal dealings and improve their mastery of the underworld economy.
  • New cursed magic items, portable traps, and grafts of undead flesh to fill your backpack and prepare you for any challenge.

This Pathfinder Player Companion is intended for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the Pathfinder campaign setting, but can easily be incorporated into any fantasy world.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-789-5

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Player Companion Subscription.

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Good Collection of Nefarious Concoctions

4/5

Black Markets is a Pathfinder Player Companion that I bought just so I could use some small option in a Pathfinder Society character. I wasn't expecting much, but after reading through the book, I came away pretty impressed and with several ideas of things to incorporate into my games. The theme of the book, as the back cover blurb indicates, is "Good deals, bad people". In other words, the book is about unlawful items and activities that one might find hidden away in some seedy back alley. But you definitely don't need to be playing an evil PC to find some worthwhile material inside.

Like every entry in the Player Companion line, Black Markets is a 32-page full-colour book. The cover art is great, and gives a good feel for what's inside. The art is reused, sans logo, as the inside back cover. The inside front cover notes seven places of "Illicit Trade in the Inner Sea Region", and each place receives a brief description of what can be found there along with a little flavour. Some of these places are described in further detail in the interior of the book, but not all of them are.

The first four pages of the book include a summary of what's inside for particular classes, a rules option index, and an introduction that contains a brief but good overview of how different nations in Golarion feel about black markets. They're everything from an "unavoidable fact of life" in the River Kingdoms to "disgraces to proper society" in Cheliax.

From a GM's perspective, one of the major things the book does is create rules for black markets: how hard they are to find, what types of materials are available there, how much items will cost, and what risks customers face in visiting them. This smartly takes the form of an adaptation of the settlement stat blocks from the GameMastery Guide. The book introduces a handful of new feats for PCs who plan to interact regularly with black markets, and then proceeds to give sample stat blocks (and associated character traits) for six specific ones: the Dusk Market in Westcrown, Nightstalls in Katapesh, the Red Silk Route in Absalom, the Tarnished Hills in Numeria, the Wagons of Light in Geb, and the nomadic-fey-run Witchmarket. I think it's a great idea, and I've used the rules to create a black market stat block for Korvosa in my upcoming Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign (because I know, sooner or later, somebody's going to want to buy something that's not quite legit)!

Next, the book supplements the Downtime rules from Ultimate Campaign by creating several new nefarious downtime activities: creating alibis, blackmailing someone, planning a heist, smuggling, and more. I thought they were good, though some are far more likely to be an NPC sort of thing than a PC activity.

Some characters, like my Norgorber-worshipping Siegfried of Daggermark, are into poisons. The book spends two pages detailing the concept of "infused poisons"--which, with the associated feat, allow you to combine the effects of a poison with a spell effect. For examine, the "liquid influence" poison both gives the target Wisdom damage and puts them under the effect of a suggestion spell. It's a really clever concept. There's also some new undead-themed poisons called "necrotoxins".

Two pages are then spent introducing "necrografts," a concept that may be familiar to Starfinder players. Essentially, skilled necromantic surgeons implant new body parts or replace body parts with undead flesh to augment a living creature's abilities. For examine, you could get a necrograft leg that allows you to travel overland longer than normal before becoming exhausted. Although the concept is a fun one, I'd say most are way over-priced for what they do.

Cursed magical items have been in D&D and its heirs since the beginning, and Black Markets devotes two pages to them. In particular, it gives rules for magic users intentionally creating cursed items. Some new ones are introduced here, with my favourite being the spendthrift spectacles (that cause the wearer to wildly overpay for items) and the style-stealing vambrace that threatens to cut off the wielder's own hand every time they land a critical hit in combat!

Pesh, an addictive narcotic, is the subject of the next two pages. There are a handful of new pesh-related feats and then some new pesh-related spells. Given the severity of the addiction rules in Pathfinder, I don't think most of the options are very practical.

Next up: nonmagical, portable traps that will definitely appeal to some characters. There's also one magical portable trap: portable pits that replicate the various pit line of spells. These can be pretty nasty!

Evil clerics and anyone adventuring in Rahadoum might find value in the two pages on "hidden holy items", though I thought they were largely mediocre.

Two pages detail secret signs and spells related to the concept. I liked a couple of the latter, but I'm guessing this is mostly an NPC section.

A section on smugglers introduces a few new archetypes. I once had a Pack Mule character (a fighter archetype that allows a PC to carry a great amount of weight), but alas, he died. I like the Relic Raider, a rogue archetype that specialises in dealing in curses and haunts--not something for an average campaign, but could be cool perhaps in something like Carrion Crown.

A section labelled "Duplicitous Archetypes" introduces two: The Eldritch Poisoner, an alchemist specialising in poison that does ability score damage, which could be really powerful against living foes (though anything immune to poison will be perfectly fine) and the Hoaxer, a fun concept that looks clunky in practice.

Last up is several new spells. The only one that jumped out at me was curse of keeping, which prevents the target from dropping, selling, or giving away anything in their possession! I could imagine some fun story ideas for that one.

Overall, I think the book is a really nice supplement for GMs and PCs. Not everything inside is going to fit every campaign or concept, but on the whole the material is well-written and interesting.


Worth it for Necrotoxins & Undead Grafts!

3/5

GOOD:
Necrotoxins - poisons crafted with the "craft wondrous item" feat and "Craft (alchemy)" skill.
Undead Grafts - body prothestics made from dead flesh!
Cursed Magic Item creation rules and prices.
The six Golarion Black Market descriptions.

BAD:
The Pack Mule Fighter Archetype.
Most feats and spells are rather specialized.

UGLY:
The Black Market rules are for a GM not player.


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Community Manager

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Announced! Product image and description are not final.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This could be useful.

-Skeld


will this just be items, or will it flesh out black markets in certain regions, like say illegal tech markets in Numeria, or black markets in Absalom?


I'm wondering if we'll get stuff like information on where black markets for, say, illegal magic and alchemy can be found.


Somewhat interesting.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns Subscriber

Will there be Diplomacy (Gather Information) DC's listed for each item given the nature of the book? Perhaps even regions where they are commonly found/ easier or more difficult checks to obtain.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Dangit, I guess Paizo has gone away from the previous gothic horror themed Blood of books for October. I really loved Blood of the Moon.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

But will there be details on sale price by region so there's actually a point to smuggling?


I hope there will be more interesting items then new poisons, necromantic items, etc. because so far this book doesn't sound that interesting. This is especially true since isn't October the month we used to get some interesting race books.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

An inhaled, area sleeping poison, please. And a sleep bomb for alchemists, or else a way to take the poison bomb ninja trick as an alchemist without becoming a Daggermark Poisoner.


Hmm.

Doesn't seem to have what I'm wanting, judging by the description...

...but of course that leaves me free to develop and sell a product containing what I think it missing on my lonesome!

Scarab Sages Developer

Obviously I can't promise anything, but I AM interested in what people DO want to see in this book, and books like it. The short solicitation text is often written *very* early in a book's life.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Obviously I can't promise anything, but I AM interested in what people DO want to see in this book, and books like it. The short solicitation text is often written *very* early in a book's life.

I want to know about slavery in the inner sea.

Scarab Sages

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I would like to know how a player can find these markets/items), and it'd be nice to have a short write up of two-three of them. The Dusk Market in Westcrown would be interesting, because it is never in the same place, and it's always in the dangerous (undead/bandit/monster infested) district of the city. How would a player know where to find it?


hope it has something for the witchmarket

Scarab Sages Developer

These are all good ideas. I encourage folks to keep them coming.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

More poisons that do something else other then ability damage or ability drain like actual HP damage, sleep, fatigue/exhaustion, confusion/insanity, blindness, deafness, charm/domination, petrification, slow, magical aging, etc.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Pricing on cursed items. If I'm buying a Helm of Opposite Alignment because I intend to shove it on someone's head, what's it gonna cost? And how much trouble am I in if the supplier turns out to be an undercover inquisitor?

Actually, that makes me wonder about laws regarding Enchantment in general, but not sure if that would fit with the Black Markets stuff.


Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

For the new poisons, I hope that there will be versions of them that utilize the Unchained poison rules as well as the regular ones. As for the poisons themselves, ones that lend themselves well to narrative uses would be appreciated, like ones that can cause gradual memory loss, ones that can cause mutation and deformity, perhaps even one capable of giving spellcasters spellblights from Ultimate Magic, or have a chance of developing one whenever they cast a spell while under the effect. A poison that could temporarily strip someone of their spellcasting power could be interesting...or perhaps just a chance of spell failure?

Necromantic magic items, one thing that would interest me is necromantic prosthetics or grafts. Replacing a lost arm or leg with an undead variant that can move almost like the real thing would be tempting to some, perhaps...enough to overlook the possibility of negative levels or slow corruption into an undead? Alternatively, someone might want a little something extra up their sleeve to give them an edge...even if it's an undead limb or a baleful undead eye or even a ghost arm. Obviously, I don't think you could introduce too many, but one or two could be interesting. Another possibility would be a pouch of necromantic seeds you could bury in corpses that would rise overnight as zombies or something similar...perhaps animated by undead vines? Easy to see why it would be illegal, while still being a way for a type with fewer ethical restraints to cause a distraction or sow chaos...

For eldritch smuggling items, I like the notion of playing with extradimensional spaces...perhaps a box with, say, six different spaces inside it, depending on which way you open it or the direction an apparent piece of decoration is twisted or something along those lines, allowing someone a smuggler to show someone that it clearly just contains some perfectly legal jewelry or something along those lines. Or a robe that can be turned inside out multiple time, each time a different robe with different coloration and pockets, so someone could search the robe without finding anything unless they knew the trick to it...turning it inside out multiple times. Or linked containers that can teleport their contents between each other when one is opened without the correct command or by someone not the owner. Or something like a folding boat that looks like a large crate, but can be transformed into a suitcase or a small vanity box, each with their own separate interior only found when the object is in that form.

Just a few thoughts.


6 people marked this as a favorite.
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Obviously I can't promise anything, but I AM interested in what people DO want to see in this book, and books like it. The short solicitation text is often written *very* early in a book's life.

1. The in-game operation of locating, buying from, and selling into black markets.

2. Smuggling in-game treatment.
3. Player options for integrating black market downtime actions/events.


Here's an idea: a book teaching you how to speak Druidic. Highly illicit and illegal.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

I like Haunted Jester and BPorter's ideas.

• A good list of the most active black markets in the Inner Sea, what's illegal in different places (and why it's illegal), and the penalties for possession of illegal goods, smuggling, etc. Could include a good black market in an evil country (selling hope on the sly).
• Something on how these black markets stay in business and keep from getting shut down (frequent movement, bribes to corrupt officials, magical misdirection, divination blockers, both mundane and magical, clever use of extra dimensional spaces) and how folks "in the know" contact them anyway.
• DCs for locating markets and some type of "rarity" (i.e., higher and higher DCs) for different illegal/black market items.
• Risks for frequenting black markets, almost like a corruption score or reputation loss (think "sanity loss") or a penalty when dealing with lawful individuals.
• Notes for having/using "contacts."
• Black markets already exist in terms of kingdom/city building rules, but notes on how to run one like a PC business would be cool.
• Some black market organizations, both those who run them and those who try to shut them down. Maybe stats on a famous smuggler or two who could be PC allies or opponents, depending on the situation.
• More rules for using skills to hide things, mask spell casting, speak in code (remember Innuendo from 3.0 anyone?), Thieves Cant.
• Maybe a sidebar on scarcity and economics in general. Supply and demand. Adjusting regular market prices in extreme situations like war or natural disasters.

Dark Archive

Info on fencing goods might be appreciated

Weapons that can be disguised and thus made illegal

Lists if what items would be contraband in various regions

Black markets might be the rare place you could find a scroll/potion made of an irregular spell list like a paladin lesser restoration. I hear many merchants quickly put out hitmen and assassins to eliminate any such completion though so those items might be too hot even for the black markets! Perhaps a place where people could just trade said irregular spell level items, of course a nominal fee would be charged for the service. Even a paladin made lesser restoration would likely sell higher than the simple formula since people want a cheaper item, wouldn't you buy the cheaper one, even if only 10% less than the regular cost? How many would really walk away from tbat deal on principal, complaining the.mer hantbwas getting more than the standard profit margins.

Joke, APG Summoner made scrolls/potions of haste will likely ee increased trade on the black market now that the crybabies have been placated with the whipping summoners got in unchained.

I noticed what looked like a slave for sale in the early cover artwork. I am sure sine forms of slavery is outlawed but funny thing about Golarion is that other than Andoran, you could buy slaves in the open market!

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'd like to see info.on what sorts of spells are illegal either generally or in specific nations or regions. I would also like to see some new illegal spells. Preferably many or most of these spells won't be evil. Also how much of a surcharge does it take to pay for illegal spellcasting.


Antipaladin archetypes!!!! I want them sooo badly (or more archetypes in general).


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I second the call for specific markets! Especially Dusk Market--Westcrown is fascinating.


I'd love to see information covering specific markets and what you will and won't find there, like the witchmarket and the Nightstalls in Katapesh.

More information on poisons would be appreciated. And something on slavery in the Inner Sea, like where do they get them from? Most Inner Sea nations are fairly well organized and should be trouncing slaver raids -- do they do debt slavery? Or use prisoners of war, or use it as a punishment for crime?

Maybe places where you can go to get illicit firearms and other weapons? That seems to be a constant headache of Alkenstar given how often they send shieldmarshals out to silence such people.

And prices on cursed items would be helpful. What if you want to find a robe of powerlessness to give to that troublesome wizard who's making problems for you?

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

I'd like this to include rules/guidelines for how black market items affect prices and the economy for PCs (not for the NPC merchants as much). For example, are the poison prices in the core rulebook for when they're not black market items? How does their price increase if they're not legal for sale?

Also, how does this interact with crafting magic items that are black market items. For example, if a robe of bones is black market in a region because they ban necromancy items that create undead, and the black market price is double the normal market price, does this open a loophole for crafters to make the item at half the market price, then sell for half the black market price?

Does selling items that are black market items still only get the seller 50% of the standard market price, and the increase in price from being black market become profit for the black market merchants?

What about purchasing materials for crafting black market items, do those go up in price?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Even just a simple note for GMs like "trade goods may be up to x% price (for both buying and selling) in a location where supply is abudent and not controled by a monopoly. Trade goods may also increase in price during scarcity (y%), famine (z%). In areas where any item is illegal its price may increase by any amount depending on how enforced the law is. Trade goods may also sell for up to x% less in locations they would not be particularly useful: While a desert town may not have a ready supply for furs, few have reason to purchase them." and basic tariff rules (so you have reason to smuggle to avoid paying them) would go a long way to making smuggling make sense.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Obviously I can't promise anything, but I AM interested in what people DO want to see in this book, and books like it. The short solicitation text is often written *very* early in a book's life.

Something about "what is illegal where" and how it may affect "normal prices" (like trying to buy holy symbols in Rahadoun, or possibly anti-undead stuff in Geb), as well as what sorts of checks or chances an average adventurer might have to pass in order to find such items (assuming the check differs from the normal standards based on the size of the settlement).

-TimD


Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I would really like to see the Sahir-Afiyun Achtype updated!

Scarab Sages Developer

Brinebeast wrote:
I would really like to see the Sahir-Afiyun Achtype updated!

Is there something specific about pesh magic you think needs updating?


Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The Sahir-Afiyun was made under the 3.5 rules and doesn't function as an archetype. It is somewhere in between an archetype and a prestige class. It feels closer to an archetype but I guess it could be expanded to a prestige class considering the range of spell caster's available. Either way it doesn't quite fit the rules set in the PRPG. And with the number of pesh dens around the Inner Sea Sahir-Afiyun could be easily found outside of Katapesh.


I thought it was a feat?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Any chance we could finally get a trait or feat that allows you to use Disable Device with Int instead of Dex?


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Obviously I can't promise anything, but I AM interested in what people DO want to see in this book, and books like it. The short solicitation text is often written *very* early in a book's life.

slavery based magic items and spells and rules for purposely making cursed objects. and possibly rules for buying non humanoid slaves and guard beasts like fleshwarps otyugh and fiendish animals. and being able to have nightmares as a monsterous mount.


Out of curiosity, since slavery isn't illegal in the Inner Sea, why would slavery-themed stuff be in Black Markets?


BPorter wrote:
Out of curiosity, since slavery isn't illegal in the Inner Sea, why would slavery-themed stuff be in Black Markets?

Well there are areas in the Inner Sea where slavery is illegal...actually it would be helpful to know where slavery is legal and where it is not as there seems to be some confusion about that.


Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Brinebeast wrote:
I would really like to see the Sahir-Afiyun Achtype updated!
Is there something specific about pesh magic you think needs updating?

I think it could be easily made into an Addicted/Alcoholist Alchemist archetype.


Interesting. Dotting for later.

Shadow Lodge

I'm honestly hoping for a book like this to present a non-racially-based hand-sign/sign-language. I know "Pathfinder hand sign" was mentioned in Seeker of Secrets, but that was a long time ago and never actually utilized. Other than that and racial silent-languages... it's something I think that has been missing as an option for characters who like to try and be subtle or sneaky *especially* while in public spaces / RPing openly.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Will Thieves' Cant be covered in any way?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Samy wrote:
Will Thieves' Cant be covered in any way?

They "cant" do that. :D


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Cthulhudrew wrote:
Samy wrote:
Will Thieves' Cant be covered in any way?
They "cant" do that. :D

Does that even exist in Golarion?

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

The Canter trait is meant to represent that, I suspect. ^_^


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

Can you say that a bit louder? I can't 'ear you, chum.


Zaister wrote:
Cthulhudrew wrote:
Samy wrote:
Will Thieves' Cant be covered in any way?
They "cant" do that. :D
Does that even exist in Golarion?

There's probably a different version in every major community. That said some hints at what they're like would be appreciated.

Community & Digital Content Director

Updated with final cover image and description!


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Interesting that it seems like Balazar is always buying from shady people.

What is he up to?

Scarab Sages Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Feros wrote:

Interesting that it seems like Balazar is always buying from shady people.

What is he up to?

Why, what have you heard!?

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