Ye Olde Magic Item Shoppe


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

In my world, huge cities (15,000+) have huge selections of magic items. It's just a matter of searching through the thousands of smithies, apothecaries, tailors, curio shops, guilds, pawn shops, and other places one might find readily accessible items. Then of course there are the information brokers who will find those items not for sale, but purchaseable with the right contact information.

Smaller cities, 100-500 people, have almost nothing magical for sale, and nothing more exotic than say 300 or 400gp items, and few of those.

Then there are, of course, trade towns. For example, the centaurfolk keep two trading outposts set up where other peoples can come to trade with them and not get shot at for trespassing. Those places, being basically state run flea markets, have a much higher percentage of items, magical and mundane, for sale than you would expect to see for the population of the tradepost.


There's one real reason to have a Magic Shoppe, so the players don't start one, then instead of selling items for 40-50% to the shop to buy 100-120% cost items, they Sell their loot in their own shops for 100% and buy other people's magic items for 40-50%...


How come Mr. Fishy pays cost to sell for cost. If Mr. Fishy makes you a potion of heal a fool you can bet it's as good or better than a "store" potion. So why do I have to sell it for cost an NPCs can work Mr. Fishy for half. Mr. FIshy doesn'r even like that NP bastard. Give Mr. Fishy the CASH.

Contributor

The way I run prices is as follows:

Listed Book Price: The cost of getting a piece commissioned by an item crafter to your exact specifications or buying a brand-new never-used item which a magic items dealer got directly from the crafter.

50% of list price: What you can sell a used magic item for, regardless of whether it is a piece you personally had crafted for you and grew tired of, a family heirloom, or random grot you found in a crypt somewhere. Reflects the fact that it no longer has that "new magic item" smell and moreover may have a curse. (If you want to haggle, you can get it as high as 90% of list price, but they can get it as low as 10% of list price. See below....)

85%-90% of List Price: What a crafter gets when selling an item to a magic items broker. (They'll make their 10% to 15% commission when reselling it.)

60% of List Price to 100+% of List Price: The amount of wiggle room you have for using Diplomacy to haggle with a merchant for a used item and get him to lower his price from what he could get for a new one. Be aware that for each point of success, the price is either raised or lowered 1%. There is a floor below which it cannot go, but there is no ceiling. If you later feel buyer's remorse after being sweet talked by a very charismatic merchant, that's your trouble.


Xaaon of Korvosa wrote:

There's one real reason to have a Magic Shoppe, so the players don't start one, then instead of selling items for 40-50% to the shop to buy 100-120% cost items, they Sell their loot in their own shops for 100% and buy other people's magic items for 40-50%...

The party did just that in DarkSun, and it has been working. They even got the water cleric voted in as their district rep. No end of adventures that do not exactly bring them profit, but then again, they ARE selling their goods at full price, so there it is...

Liberty's Edge

Loopy wrote:
alleynbard wrote:
So what is your rate of increase versus community size?

Arbitrary. In my mind it's something like +10% per week for cities, steadily less for other places. I'm a little more lenient when its something that region might have lots of. For example, the cities nearer to the tundra would likely have a 20% replenishment on Boots of the Winterlands.

I should probably write this stuff down.

Thanks Loopy, that helps a lot.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
angryscrub wrote:

my biggest problem with magic item economies in the core rules is that the prices are completely artificial. it's like they decided it takes place in china, and the values are set by some magic item governmental body.

a used magic item is exactly as useful as a brand new one, but RAW, PCs can't sell a magic item for more than half price. basically i have to sell two +1 short swords to get one +1 club.

the way economics actually ends up working, i doubt it would end up being more than a 10% premium. ie, a +1 short sword and a couple of hundred gp should get you that +1 club, but pathfinder uses a completely ridiculous and arbitrary rule to prevent that.

You must not deal with the used market much. The used books I take to the local used book stores offer me a heck of a lot less than 50% and I know for a fact that the books are just as readable as they were when I got them new.

Of course, they're planning on turning around and selling it again and they can't expect to sell at full price either. After all, nobody goes shopping for used stuff with the intention of paying full new price. If they were doing that, they'd be shopping for new stuff.
Ultimately, I find the sell-value in D&D is a reasonable abstraction of the whole process.


In the intro to "The Jackal's Price" James Jacobs has a really discussion of magic items and purchasing magic items. There is a also a great section on the markets of Katapesh both of which I plan on using in my upcoming campaign even though it's not set in Katapesh. Essentially there is a wealth of really flavorful shoppes and merchants laid out and he suggests that rather than just giving the players items they go out and shop for them hitting the various merchants and seeing what they find. Perhaps the players want a +1 frost longsword but the shop they go to (which is described in detail and can be role played with lots of flavor) doesn't have that but it has a +1 giant bane sword he is willing to give the players a bargain on...

It's a bit more work than just rolling a % to see if the item in question is in the town but it can be more fun. You can also use it to drop items into the game which will help the players in future encounters (which they don't know to prepare for). "And if you buy this +1 Shocking bow Cutmeownthroat Dibbler will throw in this set of finely crafted silver tipped arrows for use against werewolves which are said to stalk these hills". You can also subtly encourage them away from silly decisions.


angryscrub wrote:

my biggest problem with magic item economies in the core rules is that the prices are completely artificial. it's like they decided it takes place in china, and the values are set by some magic item governmental body.

a used magic item is exactly as useful as a brand new one, but RAW, PCs can't sell a magic item for more than half price. basically i have to sell two +1 short swords to get one +1 club.

the way economics actually ends up working, i doubt it would end up being more than a 10% premium. ie, a +1 short sword and a couple of hundred gp should get you that +1 club, but pathfinder uses a completely ridiculous and arbitrary rule to prevent that.

Have you ever done business with a used CD shop or perhaps a pawn shop? It's pretty typical that you bring in 2 CDs and get store credit to buy one. For a business there is a very real cost of carrying inventory, staffing a the shop, insurance, advertising, security, rent, profit, taxes... paying 50% cash or exchange for used items is quite reasonable in real world economics (actually quite generous), for high risk, high market value items it would probably be much less than 50% in the real world.

If the players happen to stumble across another person who wants a short sword then perhaps that person would buy the item at more than a 50% but he would likely expect a bargain versus the cost of buying it at a storefront because he knows the PCs couldn't sell it for full price either. There is also some risks (fraud, defective items, etc) associated with buying an item from an individual versus buying from a storefront with a reputation.

None of the real world economics really matters though because the rule is a game mechanic designed to encourage specific in-game behaviors. The idea is that found treasure is more valuable than bought treasure. It also encourages players to hang onto more diverse treasure.


that's why i reccoemend houserules that allow the following!

Transferring an enchantment from one item to another compatable one, for a small fee (500 gold tops if you pay an npc to do it, free for the pcs if they do it themselves) (such as transferring the +1 enchant of a +1 shortsword to a +1 club) however partial enchantments may be transferred, only if the recipient is a legal option to transfer to. (no +1 vorpal distance clubs.) however, something like transferring a dexterity bonus from a belt to a pair of gloves is fine. any illegal difference is refunded as magic residue equal to half the difference between the transferred enchantment ans the enchantments not carried over. for example, a +1 vorpal longsword, transferred to a club would grant a refund in materials equal to 1/2 the difference between +1 and +6. or 35,000 gold pieces worth of residue, (half of 70,000, 72,000 minus 2,000)

Disenchanting, you may disenchant a magic item as a whole, or disenchant individual pieces. 1/2 the difference in price between the remaining enchantments, and that of the base is refunded as magical residue. this may also be used to reduce the power of an echantment on a magic item. using the rules above. you can turn a headband of mental superiority +6 int +6 wis +6 cha into a headband of int +6 for 1/2 the difference between 36,000 and 144,000, or 54,000, which is half of 108,000. this difference is in magical residue.

to explain magical residue, magical residue is like glowing purple dust, it can be used to enchant items later. an ounce of this dust is worth 1,000 gold pieces in market value, but is as good as cash to wizards who deal in magic items. magical residue may be used to enchant magic items only by one who has the appropriate item creation feat. however since the dust belonged as an enchantment to a magic item in the past, one may, instead of the base prerequisite spell, use a similar spell in it's place, at dm discretion. not many indiviudals know the value of this residue. and mistake it for mere dust. but anyone trained in spellcraft may identify the dust with a DC 20 spellcraft check.

i know, it sounds like a complete 4th edition ripoff (it is the one rule set my dm borrows from that game to enhance his 3.5 game. and it makes usable treasure that much easier to find.)


Bill Dunn wrote:


You must not deal with the used market much. The used books I take to the local used book stores offer me a heck of a lot less than 50% and I know for a fact that the books are just as readable as they were when I got them new.
Of course, they're planning on turning around and selling it again and they can't expect to sell at full price either. After all, nobody goes shopping for used stuff with the intention of paying full new price. If they were doing that, they'd be shopping for new stuff.
Ultimately, I find the sell-value in D&D is a reasonable abstraction of the whole process.

this may be getting off topic, but I know many used book stores that offered only 10% of the price for the new book, and even then only if the book was in essentially perfect (new) condition. I also knew of one used book store that simply wasn't buying used books at all, as they had no more shelf space.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Yup. My local 2nd hand book store gave 1/12 of the cover price in cash and 1/6 in exchange.


Talking about used books is like talking about used TV's. They dont have the same quaility as a new item. They deprecate because there are newer modles comeing out all the time. They are a luxuary item, that are not needed.

Magic items are more like used Handguns, Tanks, airplanes, etc.


Except handguns, tanks, airplanes, etc. all depreciate drastically; persistent magic items retain 100% function until the end of time.


Oliver McShade wrote:

Talking about used books is like talking about used TV's. They dont have the same quaility as a new item. They deprecate because there are newer modles comeing out all the time. They are a luxuary item, that are not needed.

Magic items are more like used Handguns, Tanks, airplanes, etc.

Have you ever tried to sell a used handgun? Go buy a used handgun from a gunshop and try to sell it to another gunshop, if you are lucky you will get $.50 on the $1. Shops are in business to make money not as a personal favor to you.


I have to admit the 4e residium concept is pretty useful. One thing I've toyed with is the idea that residium is partially used by divine creatures to sustain themselves. As such temples dedicated to the various gods try to gather magical items in order to sacrifice them to the gods in various rituals. The temple might keep relics and useful items to outfit their clergy but a major temple might try to sacrifice 10,000 GP worth of magic items in a given time period.

Because the gods continually want more items to sustain themselves, the various temples are willing to buy up items pretty much no questions asked.

The residium from magical items is also useful for outsiders and some magical creatures. Some might consume magic items as sustenance others might use sacrificed magic item as a way of gaining extra power (More HD, maybe a better form). Creatures summoned by planar ally will definitely want to be rewarded in magic items that they can bring back to their dieties.

The longevity, feeding and advancement of dragons might even by intimately tied to the consumption of magical items. That +5 holy sword that he won by killing a paladin might sustain a ancient red dragon for centuries as the magic slowly fades. That way you don't have to have a dragon eating whole countrysides just to get a minimum number of calories. He raids the villages and eats the virgins because he wants to.

Finally alchemists and magic users might've figured out a way of distilling some of the god-juice from the destruction of magic items. They might be willing to purchase and trade magic items in order to be able to produce potions of longevity. Rich and powerful nobles and merchants might all be willing to spend insane amounts of money for the ability to postpone death for another decade or so.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

This is a fascinating discussion. Thanks for posting Loopy. I think your system is pretty good. Mine, I'm handwaving GP totals. My players will find what they're looking for when I'm ready to give it to them, and sell what they want when I decide a buyer has come along. Not for everyone, but it should be an enjoyable change.


Magic items give such an enormous benefit in both winning and surviving combat. Anyone with gold and power who is putting together a guard, militia, posse, or army is going to want them.

In a weakly organized society, magic items might float around in the free market, but if there's a strong and wealthy king or prince-bishop trying to maintain control and fight enemies, they're going to get involved in the exchange of magic items, and just like every government everywhere, they aren't going to play fair.

I played a campaign once where pretty much every combat related magic item that made its way back to civilization was snatched up by the crown's royal prerogative for the army and city watch. The only way to get an item was to find it in a musty chest somewhere or to do a favor for the government. The fact that items could get favors out of high-level adventurers is yet another reason why the king kept them in storage.

This didn't apply for items with a caster level of 5 or less. +1 weapons and armor, first level wands, 1st - 3rd level potions and scrolls, and really basic wonderous items like Handy Haversacks could be found in bigger cities.

Silver Crusade

I just wanted to mention that the percentage tables in the back of the book are not rules, they are guidelines for the DM to use if he wishes. I think pointing this out is real important because some people actually make the mistake in thinking that they are hard coded RAW when in reality they are not.

Anyway, magic item shops are rarely in my campaigns. I hate them, period. Sometimes I setup the black market, but the items are random and never what you ask for, unless you get lucky. If item X is available you either want it or you don't.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Whoa, blast from the past!


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Whoa, blast from the past!

No kidding. I thought this looked familiar and then I caught the date and said "oh, right I do remember this"...

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