Selling and Trading Magic Items: What Are Your Thoughts?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

No GM will deny that magic items are an essential part of treasure. There is something rewarding to players when they scramble over a heap of gold and discover a glowing sword buried half-way-up to its hilt. Even more exciting is the discovery of rare or unique items with strange but useful effects.
Sometimes, however, the discovery of a magic item can be a dull experience. In the process of clearing a higher-level dungeon the PCs will strike down a hobgoblin defender and, with a heavy sigh, toss yet another +1 longsword into their portable hole. Of course, even these magic weapons have value, and can be sold back in town, the gold generated put toward better items.

The trick here is that act of selling. Read literally, the rules for selling and trading goods (as found on page 140 of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook) state that anything not considered "treasure" (i.e. do not include a "worth such-and-such gp" line when listed in the hoard) must be sold at half their listed cost. This makes sense for common gear, as chain shirts are by no stretch of the imagination rare, but the line starts to get "blurry" when it comes to the sale of magic items.

Magic items are, by their definition, rare and might be thought of as treasures by those that trade in them. If a merchant buys a diamond ring (worth 600 gp) for 600 gp, a magic item merchant could certainly buy a +1 longsword for 2,315 gp. Or perhaps the character could trade the magic sword to the merchant in exchange for a collection of items at equal value (in this case, 2,315 gp's worth of goods).

Alternatively, magic item merchants may be hesitant to make such a trade. They may only insist on purchasing the sword for a set amount of gold (in this case, 1,157 gp and 5 sp). Trading magic items for their worth would seem like bad business, as it is difficult to gauge the worth of an item based solely on the criteria used to price gems and treasures. The worth of a star sapphire set in a solid gold ring, for example, is readily apparent, and will always be apparent to any shopper. A battered iron sword, on the other hand, while looking to be of shoddy quality may actually be a +2 dragon bane vorpal longsword.

So it can go either way. In my group, we tend to allow magic item trade-ins, but that can cause players to have magic items and gear that far exceeds their wealth-by-level by a few levels (around +2 or +3).

Still, I'm asking the community: What do you think?
Can magic items be traded in exchange for items at their full value, or should they, like other mundane equipment, only be sold for half-price? If you can (or care to), explain your reasoning.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder PF Special Edition, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Half price. There are very good reasons for this rule.


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
LazarX wrote:
Half price. There are very good reasons for this rule.

Out of curiosity, would you mind elaborating on what those reasons are?


Kaushal Avan Spellfire wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Half price. There are very good reasons for this rule.
Out of curiosity, would you mind elaborating on what those reasons are?

Off the top of my head, it's a huge abuse when Item Creation Feats are taken into account.

Take the trait Hedge Magician. It reduces the cost of item creation for a single feat by 5%.

8th level PC wizard decides to open a magic item shop in a metropolis. He can make a belt of giant strength +2 in 2 days for 1900 gold. He can sell this belt for half price just about anywhere (easy for a metropolis to absorb 1900gp) for a 100gp profit for 2 days of work, or 1500gp/month. This is enough, on its own, to fund an Extravagant lifestyle (1000gp/month) with gold to spare. Just with a 5% profit, an 8th level wizard can live in a mansion, secure any nonmagical item worth 25 gp or less in 1d10 minutes, and need only track meals or taxes in excess of 100gp. Now imagine adding 50% more to that profit because he can sell the belt for retail.

EDIT: My +4 math was wrong. The +2 math, however, is correct.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder PF Special Edition, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kaushal Avan Spellfire wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Half price. There are very good reasons for this rule.
Out of curiosity, would you mind elaborating on what those reasons are?

Aside from what it is mentioned above it's common sense. The base price is what the item is worth. You've seen Pawn Stars and other shows. The shopkeeper isn't buying the item to support you, he's buying it to sell at a profit someday. He's only going to offer you half in the hope that he'll sell it for full price later. If he paid you full price, he's not going to get a copper for profit.


It's mainly for simplicity and game balance. If you wanted to be realistic, you'd need a system for haggling which would apply to all goods (buying and selling). You still wouldn't get full price (for the reasons LazarX mentioned) unless you find a collector (not every buyer is a seller, but most are).


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
MagiMaster wrote:
It's mainly for simplicity and game balance. If you wanted to be realistic, you'd need a system for haggling which would apply to all goods (buying and selling). You still wouldn't get full price (for the reasons LazarX mentioned) unless you find a collector (not every buyer is a seller, but most are).

Good reasons, but let me ask this: If what you've said is the case and merchants buy the item to sell it later (I don't watch shows like Pawn Stars, by the by), then why can you sell treasures at full value? Are you selling to a collector? Why does a collector buy your treasure in the first place, especially given the diversity of art objects/treasures you find? Furthermore, since you can sell treasure in any settlement, even small ones, what use would the community have for such curios?

Why are rare treasures like art and gems privileged to sell at-value, but rare equipment like magic items not, given the argument that merchants will only buy below the resale value of the item? Would a treasure object have to be bought for twice as much as its actual worth?


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Because it's assumed PCs never buy treasures (pay no attention to the expensive material components behind the curtain; most of those were XP costs in 3.5) so the only listed price is what they sell for.


I thought only trade goods sold at full value. Trade goods are usually raw materials considered the same as actual money (livestock falls into this category). Things like art objects ('treasures') should sell at 1/2 value as normal.


It's a game-balance reason. Also, if everything could be sold for full price everyone would simply "rent" any item whatever, always selling it back for full price anyway. There would be absolutely no consequence to purchases. You might as well keep the entire party wealth in scrolls that might be useful sometime, instead of carrying any money around.

Treasures are different because they have no game-mechanic effect. Finding 5 paintings worth 5000 each is just a more flavourful/realistic way of saying they've found what amounts to 25000 gold pieces. It would be weird if every treasures happened to be gold pieces in neatly labelled sacks.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber

While I understand and respect the game-balance aspect of the half-price sale value, it's always caused me to wonder why PCs are apparently the only people that ever pay full price for gear. Are all adventurers inherently suckers or something?


While I normally don't do magic item creation or buying / selling, I did kind of the bold opposite in the last game.

I didn't put ANY magic items in any of the treasure, other than to say, "You find 4000 gold worth of gold, silver, art, and various magic items." The rule I changed was that identifing items was impossible in the field, so you couldn't do it until you got back to your library, at which point you could just sell it and buy a different item.

This basically took the time I spent preparing games - making treasure hordes - and put it on the players, who started spending 20 minutes every session talking about what they should buy with the loot.

I probably won't run it that way again. I wanted the players to get a full dose of character customization. There wasn't anything wrong with it.

I don't mind totally open purchasing and creation. I especially like having no creation or selling, giving static bonuses for the big six and only having priceless wonderous items in game rarely. What I don't like is the normal way of playing. It is too much screwing around.


So you walk up to a merchant with a sword worth 4350 and say "hey, merchant who plans to resell this sword, pay me 4350".

Merchant says "look pal, if you want to set up shop somewhere and try to find an end user for that, then yuo may get that much.. but me? Heck no.. that thing is going to rot on my shelf for three years before anyone with anywhere NEAR taht kind of money even comes into the store- much less buys that specific item. I have kids to feed, a store to maintain, and a wife who tries to spend more than I make anyway. Tell ya what though- I'll give you 2175 for it right here- right now."

And thats pretty much why its half price- as an ingame reason.
You, the adventurer, are an adventurer not a shop keeper. You go into town and want to unload quick s you can get back out there. And they know it.
They, on the other hand, have no idea when that item'll sell. Its a risk to them even touching it.

Its like.. going to the bookstore to sell them a book. You aren't getting retail value. You are getting half, if you are lucky.. probably 1/4 or worse on the deal.
Sure you can try to sell it for retail value- if you want to take the top and setup a store yourself or something. but then you are setting up a store and not out doing whatever it is you do.

Now, balance wise, its because of crafting and also so they can give you level-appropriate gear without screwing up WBL too much. Since not everything yuo get it smoething you use, if evertyhing you found was sold at full price you'd soon be very much over WBL. (or they just halve what you get in the first place so yuo still end up at wbl and you just *never* find some goodie thats actually appropriate for your level..blech!)

On the "what sells" question:
We do half on magical items, full on gems, art and- of course- coinage.

-S


Stockvillain wrote:
While I understand and respect the game-balance aspect of the half-price sale value, it's always caused me to wonder why PCs are apparently the only people that ever pay full price for gear. Are all adventurers inherently suckers or something?

No, they're in a hurry. Want to sell a +1 sword at full price? Find someone who wants to own said weapon and sell it to them at full price. What's that? Your PC doesn't have several weeks to do this?

This is what merchants do, and why they get to buy at 1/2 price and sell at full price, because it's their job to sit there and wait for customers to come buy their stuff. Also, they don't NEED your magic junk, but are willing to take the chance that somebody else will, down the road.

The real question people should be asking is this: Why do magic items have a retail price DOUBLE their creation cost? I mean, it takes Mr.Wizard two days to make a +1 sword, does he really earn his 1000gp markup in that time? Or should Mr.Wizard's time just be integrated into the normal way of making money doing stuff (i.e. craft/profession weekly earnings).

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder PF Special Edition, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Stockvillain wrote:
While I understand and respect the game-balance aspect of the half-price sale value, it's always caused me to wonder why PCs are apparently the only people that ever pay full price for gear. Are all adventurers inherently suckers or something?

It's not necessarily true that PC's are the only ones who pay full price. (it's just that the PC's purchases are the only things we care about or track) But again the people they sell their items to are not end users but merchants. Merchants make a profit by buying items for less than what they sell them for.


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We have two pathfinder groups running currently, one just reaching the Spires in Rise of the Runelords book 6, and the other just setting off from Eleder in Serpent's Skull book 2.

RotRL group had done Savage Tide and Age of Worms before, so we kept using the same treasure mechanic: at the end of the 'dungeon' tally up the cost of anything we found and divide by the number of pcs. We've also given the party as a group 1 share, and pcs 2 shares, but either way, this usually involved us selling the one big treasure that sold for more than any two pc's shares rather than holding onto it.

Halfway through RotRL, I ceased splitting any consumables. They just went to the party, to be handed out as people needed them, or carried by the person who could use them. No sense in making the cleric buy the scroll of raise dead, when it wasn't going to be HIS treasure to use.

Serpent's Skull however, got us to switch ideas. After 4 levels of adventuring in book 1, where we just pooled everything together for whomever to use, once we reached Eleder to split, we found we didn't want to sell of some of the bigger items just to get an even split. We decided that it made more sense to just have the 'party' own all magic items. If you wanted to use it, and no one else did, then carry and use. Only if no one wanted to use the item would it be sold, and then the cost of it split among the group. So far, it's been a much more even distribution of resources.


Kaushal Avan Spellfire wrote:
MagiMaster wrote:
It's mainly for simplicity and game balance. If you wanted to be realistic, you'd need a system for haggling which would apply to all goods (buying and selling). You still wouldn't get full price (for the reasons LazarX mentioned) unless you find a collector (not every buyer is a seller, but most are).

Good reasons, but let me ask this: If what you've said is the case and merchants buy the item to sell it later (I don't watch shows like Pawn Stars, by the by), then why can you sell treasures at full value? Are you selling to a collector? Why does a collector buy your treasure in the first place, especially given the diversity of art objects/treasures you find? Furthermore, since you can sell treasure in any settlement, even small ones, what use would the community have for such curios?

Why are rare treasures like art and gems privileged to sell at-value, but rare equipment like magic items not, given the argument that merchants will only buy below the resale value of the item? Would a treasure object have to be bought for twice as much as its actual worth?

Actually, realistically, a significant portion of trades should be barter. (Realistically though, I have no idea what portion.) Things like gems and jewelry have values about as stable as coins (theoretically) and can easily be used to barter with others.


Gems might have a stable value, but art objects don't.

Corporate is the only way to go in a good/lawful party. Sometimes Mr. Wizard gets more value for his money from an item Sir Paladin uses to keep monsters off his squishy behind than another metamagic rod. Sometimes Sir Paladin's best RoI is a pearl of power and lesser extend rod so Mr. Wizard can greater magic weapon his mundane cold iron longsword and he can use his divine bond on weapon qualities.

Allocate loot so as to keep everyone alive as while accomplishing your objectives and pay out an equitable stipend for day to day expenses and cash out your shares when it's either time to retire or time to send your widow your share. Selling useful stuff to achieve an equitable balance of gear is just going to make someone less able to save your skin unless your party has unlimited crafting capacity to offset the 50% markup on used equipment.


The group I GM does the following:
Add up all treasure (after sales) and divide by # of characters+1 (in this case 4+1). Each character gets that much loot. If they want something out of the loot they have to 'buy' it. Example: IF there is a +2 sword (8000gp) and they are getting 10,000gp worth of treasure they get the sword+2000gp.

The extra share goes to party treasure fund. This fund pays for consumables, healing spells (such as remove disease, restoration, or raise dead) and party equipment (such as a bag of holding). Consumables found go to party treasure just as if they were a sword. (Example: In the previous example the haul was 10,000gp. 2 potions of Cure Serious Wounds+8500gp = 10,000gp.)

It isnt a perfect system (sometimes people have to 'borrow' from each other to get a peice of treasure) but it works out well enough.

-----

An idea I had awhile back for a different system was to do away with selling at half price. This is because GP costs are, in effect, just a representation of the usefulness of an item. Thus, trade something of equal usefulness across the board and all is well.

The main problem with this idea is when it comes to crafted items. My current idea that I am considering is to state that any items crafted at half price cannot be used by anyone but the crafter. If someone wants to use an item that was crafted by someone else then they can pay half again (ie: up the cost to full price) to upgrade it to universal use.

Anyhow, I havent actually used that idea. Its just sitting on the back burner percolating.

- Gauss

Sovereign Court

I haven't played many home campaigns (more of a PFS kind of guy) but when I do usually we pool all of our resources. Everything goes into the community chest and we have a google doc to keep track of what equipment is on what character and how much gold we have to spend as a group.

That way say we deem its best to pool our resources to buy the fighter a +2 Fullplate rather than everyone having a potion of xyz, the fighter doesn't have to scrounge or save up. He just asks and we decide if its a good purchase.


I have always found when it comes to handing out treasure and how it is divided that the whole everyone just sells it when they get back to town and buys new stuff is ridiculous.

First off, I've never allowed Magic Shops of any kind, they tend to be a silly idea IMO. Too much work goes into making magic items to be a viable business for selling them.

What I will do is allow the PC's to pay wizards or clerics to enchant their gear.

I always hated the way the world wide official games handle magic items.

What we are doing in the Dragonlance game we are running right now is we sell Magic items to a Tower Wizard who buys them for 75% of their listed cost.


The thing I laugh about, is what DOES stop a PC from becoming a merchant for one month. Imagine how much money they could make if they put adventuring on "hold" to just craft magic items and sell them.

Any group can easily setup 2 crafters and make insane amounts "selling" them at full price. What's to stop them from buying a shop in a metropolis, hiring a shop keep for normal pay, and sending magic items regularly to the shop and coming by every month to collect what sold.

This whole sell at half price thing can be broken as soon as someone questions the reality of the situation and just goes, "well how do I accomplish being capable of selling at full price".


digitalpacman wrote:

The thing I laugh about, is what DOES stop a PC from becoming a merchant for one month. Imagine how much money they could make if they put adventuring on "hold" to just craft magic items and sell them.

Any group can easily setup 2 crafters and make insane amounts "selling" them at full price. What's to stop them from buying a shop in a metropolis, hiring a shop keep for normal pay, and sending magic items regularly to the shop and coming by every month to collect what sold.

Demand for one thing. Many types of high-cost goods in the real world, such as cars, houses, and artwork (as well most probably as magical items in a fantasy world) may sell for a lot of money. But may take months to years between sales. A merchant selling such items might very well make no sales whatsoever in a typical month. But when they do sell something, the markup is sufficient that they can live comfortably the rest of the year.


When I think about a character willing to pay 2315 gold for a +1 longsword, I never imagine a person walking up to the counter and buying any sword. A magic sword is a rarity (high level campaign encounters notwithstanding), and was a masterwork weapon with a name and a history before it was magical. Or it was a sword made specifically for the person buying it, meticulously crafted to order, poured out of the steel to fit one person's stance and style. Or it spent years as the dread blade of a famous villain, obvious to the observer on sight and resplendent with reputation for whoever claims it from them.

Mechanically though, it costs the same amount of money for a +1 longsword bought off the shelf as it does to order a craftsman to make the weapon for you. And while we can debate how arbitrary the half price resale amount is, it makes perfect sense to me that a resold weapon is worth much less to a merchant.

A player can try to sell a weapon at list price, but the value of it has been tainted to a merchant. This +1 longsword with a history of power and triumph is now stained with the defeat of it's master. It couldn't possibly be as good as the 2315 GP sword on order; can you imagine comparing a new sword with an unproven legacy to a sword previously owned by a loser, a sword that ended in the owner's death? If you buy this used sword, and get killed using it, you only have yourself to blame. Might as well sell a boat, sinks sometimes when most inconvenient. The merchant can order a sword to be built to the exact specifications of a buyer, but the only person in the world that called this longsword the extension of their arm is dead. The merchant is forced to do the work of waiting until someone close enough to the original owner or indifferent enough to the motifs buys it. Also, most players don't know the history or specifics of a magic sword they found other than "Got it off a hobgoblin". It then becomes the responsibility of the merchant to discern details such as whether it is made of the finest Taldan steel, the former weapon of a Lion Blade Captain, used in the second campaign against Qadira, out of production and rarely sold since they represent the family honor. Some of the merchant's skill in divining these details is represented in the mark up. A player adventurer does not account for all of these variables, they exacerbate them. A merchant earns their keep correcting the reputation of the +1 longsword.


In my campaign, magic items tend to be used for barter for other magic items or property. While I allow item creation feats, the PCs need to find a instructor willing to teach them the feats. Of course, convincing the instructor to do so is a whole other matter to itself. This means that there isn't a huge influx of new magic items into the economy.

Generally only wealthy merchants, mages, nobles and/or priests are authorized by the whatever government to deal in the trade of magic items. Exactly who varies from kingdom to kingdom. Any government is going to keep a careful eye on what magic items gets bought and sold within its borders or else it wouldn't be in power for long. Plus, such dealers would also be tasked with the safekeeping or destruction of any malevolent magic items if possible.

Sometimes adventurers will want to sell magic items. In accordance with the cost of magic items, the only people that can really afford to buy magic items are wealthy merchants, mages, nobles and priests. (Big surprise.) The powerful and the wealthy use their wealth to obtain magic items to equip themselves and their followers to maintain their power and wealth. While exercising this power, sometimes they fail and their items fall into the hands of various creatures which are then in turn killed and looted by adventurers. And thus the circle is complete.

How I handle the trade in magic item is that PCs approach a merchant house (for example) with a magic item to sale. The merchant house will take the magic item from the PCs for their own evaluation. They will give the PCs credit for the magic item (as not many merchants can simply hand over several thousand or tens of thousands of coins in cash in such short notice). However, if the merchant house discovers that that the magic item is cursed or dangerous, it will be destroyed and any credit for the magic item is erased. The merchant house can offer to find other magic items that PCs might seek. The high demand for magic items means that it very rare for large number of magic items to ever be in stock or in one location for long. The time it takes to find magic items in their trade networks is less but proportional to the amount of time that it takes to make the magic item. The merchant house can find magic items that are equal or lower level to their own level (the average level of the guards and members of the merchant house that manage the trade in magic items) as they lack the ability to keep more powerful magic items in their possession from those more stronger than themselves. As a result, trade in magic items diminishes quickly after level 10 or so as I generally don't have level 15 mages acting as shopkeepers.


At our table we sell items for full price and we have crafting.for half, but I'd be happy to craft where the cost of crafting is full price as long as it didn't have the gigantic time sink.... Its usually a waste of time to craft for profit anyway because adventure is more profitable than crafting, which is as it should be. The only purpose of crafting usually then is to make the things that we can't find for sale.

There were conversations like 'I only buy it for half price because its used'... But thats talking like my amazing historied magical item that is still as indestructible and magnificent and magical as they day it was built is some rickety piece of garbage, which is silly.

Follow that up with the idea that everything I buy from him should also be at half price since it seems to me like everything in his whole darn shop is used since likely he didn't make it himself... Now I really shouldn't be paying full price. If magic items lose value over time without losing their ability to be magical, then a gm arguing that a +1 sword should be a fantastical storied mythical wonderful thing kinda flies ot the window when it depreciates by 66% the second I drive it off the lot.

When the shopkeep dares me to open up my own magic shop i'm more inclined to call his bluff. I'm sitting on a ton of riches which I earned by putting my life in danger. I'll build a shop down the street from him. No problem. Where do I sign? I'll just pay him for the property and his salary for the year in cold hard cash to take his 'used resale magic item crap' and go home and leave the shop to me...

I also agree that 'if i'm the only one stupid enough to buy magic items at full price' it breaks my versilimitude... What kind of an idiot am I?

Most of this BS is just quick meta pursuit of WBL, and its all kinda crap. Its applying BS economics in the pursuit of meta economic balance.

Our table is full of 2e grognards. We haven't cared about WBL for a single minute in the entire time we've played. Fighting so hard for it in fact makes the world both less (I don't want to say less fair) but less believable. Thank goodness i'm not in society play.


One of the analogies that I find very fitting about this whole range of ideas and magic items is a conversation that my group had when I first joined them. I am a 2e guy and back then treasure was randomly rolled, and there was no wbl. There didnt NEED to be magic shops because it was entirely possible that my 5th level wizard could find a staff of the magi... All you had to do was keep at it and eventually you'd find the thing you were looking for just as a matter of statistical probablility.

No magic shops did mean magic items didnt feel like 'just another commodity'. They were unique and special and rare because you couldnt just buy one at magic mart, but by the same token they also WEREN'T necessarily rare because you had a decent chance of finding it by accident.

I like sandboxes and so when one guy said he wanted to find a pet aurumvorax, I decided 'that sounds awesome... lets make it a quest! So I turned it in to a sidequest that ran parallel to the actual adventure they were on. They'd just have to stop at a certain town, head up a mountain and meet the people most likely to have/sell/help them get an aurumvorax of his own. Maybe help those folks out and they'll give him one for free! Getting involved in the world, helping the community... And getting what the player wants, all at the same time. All good stuff. Classic. Still to this day how I 'feel deep down' things should be run.

4 Sessions later they finally found a dwarven mining colony that used aurumvoraxes that they raised from kittens to sniff out ore (canon actually in the monster manuals for dwarves to do that as it turns out, so thematically cool)... Halfway through the quest the adventurer practically decided he didn't want it anymore because getting it was turning out to be too much effort. He was worried that the whole campaign was about pursuing his personal goals (a valid concern nowadays) even though nobody else at the table cared that much. As old schoolers the journey was more important than the destination... But a valid point had been made.

Back in the 2e days I could play 6 hours a day 7 days a week. The journey being the fun wasn't a problem because there was plenty of journey to be had. Now that i'm down to 6 hours of gametime a week, I'm seeing a lot of players who 'just want to get on with it already' and think of 'getting aurumvoraxes' and getting the [magic items that they should be able to afford with this WBL we've been so adamant about giving them] out of the way.

Granted to my 2e grognard heart I wish they'd just be happy with pursuing their goals in an adventurous in game way, but when the time you have to play is cut down by 85%, then the amount of game time you want to spend 'shopping for knives and training your pets' starts to go down quickly as well.

Now that all the guys at my table have jobs and wives and kids, life's starting to be too short to make 'finding the dragon's blood for that sword you want to make' or 'finding a town thats selling the sword you want to buy' or 'finding the one dude in town who has the sword you want to buy' or any of that crap really.... That's not fun. And it's time consuming, which is now 7 times more annoying than it used to be. When instead you could be busy 'playing'.

Its a shame, and I think the game has become a little less awesome because of it, but it's a reality. Either the table gets better at enjoying the pursuit of immersive sandyboxy goals, or it devolves into a 'just gimme what I want now so we can get our murderhoboing on and get the 'real story' under way. I see a lot more of the second kind of player than the first anymore, and making 'getting what they want more challenging' is the opposite of the kind of game they're looking for.


I can totally see magic shops as a thing that exists. So long as there are shops that sell expensive jewelry, tapestries, rugs and other art objects with essentially ZERO practical value, magic item shops will exist.

Yes, most magic items are insanely expensive, but a lot of the low-end items are literal life-savers. Potion of Cure Light Wounds will save someone's life. Potion of Invisibility is a nearly guaranteed get-away. A Ring of Sustenance gives you 6 more hours a day of useful life. Periapt of Health or Proof Against Poison basically sell themselves.

So-called 'Adventurer Magic' would be less common, of course. The low-end items like +1 swords are going to be bought - there are too many dangerous creatures with DR/Magic in a fantasy world. But the majority of the magic items don't have a huge use in day to day life of 95% of the wealthy population.


Magic item shops MUST exist in a world where Magic items exists.

It may be a black market, only reachable by obscure means, that allows a selected few to buy and sell those products, to a open market with shops everywhere, but it must have some way to buy/sell those items.

Why ? Because EVERY items in the world have a value. And if it has a value, some people will want to buy/sell those.


D&D worlds have an advantage the real world doesn't, instantaneous transportation ... it's perfectly possible to sell stuff in shops but keep your high end stock with a friendly Red Dragon you pay to treat your wares as part of his hoard (or some other type of special storage) and just use say a planar ally to go get it if a customer is interested. You might also have a chain of shops which share inventory in this way.

Eberron somewhat explored this in offering worldwide accessible bank vaults, but unfortunately they stopped short of giving rich shopkeepers access to such things for their shops.


Helic wrote:
I can totally see magic shops as a thing that exists. So long as there are shops that sell expensive jewelry, tapestries, rugs and other art objects with essentially ZERO practical value, magic item shops will exist.

You might want to review the cost of jewelry and gems and other things. They top out where magic items get started. Merchants that run those shops just have to protect themselves from generally low level risks. A 19th level warrior is not going to barge into your jewelry shop to steal a gold bracelet worth 500 gp. Magic items shops on the other hand do have to have to worry about higher level threats. Even if the PCs (if neutral or evil aligned) aren't tempted to hit a such a soft target; other NPCs would. Unfortunately, the most common "solution" to this problem is just make the merchant a high enough level to deter theft which results into a plethora of magic shops being run by level 10+ spellcasters which is reminiscent of Forgotten Realm's wonkiness.

Helic wrote:
Yes, most magic items are insanely expensive, but a lot of the low-end items are literal life-savers. Potion of Cure Light Wounds will save someone's life. Potion of Invisibility is a nearly guaranteed get-away. A Ring of Sustenance gives you 6 more hours a day of useful life. Periapt of Health or Proof Against Poison basically sell themselves.

For who though? Your average commoner still isn't buying them. 50gp is a good chunk of disposable income. He's better off going to a temple and pleading for help that way. People's disposable income is generally not equal to or greater than their monthly income. So, even the "cheap" magic items are still the purview of the wealthy. You also have to remember that permanent magic items are permanent. Once you sold the baron's family a set of periapt of proof against poison, you won't be making any more of those because they can simply hand them down to their descendents and no one else in town can afford them. You won't be making any of them for anyone living in another city because those cities have their own crafters. So it seems very odd that you would stock your shop with such periapts on the odd chance of some PCs coming into town and wanting to buy some. PCs probably wouldn't buy them as they can simply make them themselves for half the price you are selling them. However, PCs might be interested in selling you some extra periapts of proof against poison. Of course, how you will ever sell them is anyone's guess. The life of a magic item merchant may suck.

Helic wrote:
So-called 'Adventurer Magic' would be less common, of course. The low-end items like +1 swords are going to be bought - there are too many dangerous creatures with DR/Magic in a fantasy world. But the majority of the magic items don't have a huge use in day to day life of 95% of the wealthy population.

If you look at the beastiary list, sort DR and look at say CR of 5 or less, i.e. stuff that won't stomp the average NPC flat regardless if they had a +1 sword or not; silver, bludgeoning and cold iron really do quite well for most of it. The remainder, mephits and other minor outsider creatures, are the main things you need magic.


zend0g wrote:
Unfortunately, the most common "solution" to this problem is just make the merchant a high enough level to deter theft which results into a plethora of magic shops being run by level 10+ spellcasters which is reminiscent of Forgotten Realm's wonkiness.

No, the most common solution is to just require everyone to be good aligned and not worry about it.

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For who though?

Merchants, aristocracy, army, police, adventurers (of which the PCs are but one group). The first two tend to buy stuff for it's value and rarity too, whether they can make good use of the magic items isn't even that important.

As for finding magic items in shops ... in some ways the PF world is actually a smaller place than the real world ...

Quote:
You also have to remember that permanent magic items are permanent. Once you sold the baron's family a set of periapt of proof against poison, you won't be making any more of those because they can simply hand them down to their descendents and no one else in town can afford them. You won't be making any of them for anyone...

Conversely, if he only has a single child they might get sold off after he dies. The propensity of magic items to hang around is more a good reason for their availability than the converse IMO.


In D&D/PF, magic is like electricity is in the real world. It's an extant, controllable, teachable, predictable force. You make these gestures, say this word, and throw this bat poop, and you get a Fireball every time.

As such, magic items are the equivalent of electronics. And as such, you get the wide difference between someone who needs a flashlight, someone who needs an iPod, and someone who needs a top-of-the-line gaming rig, and someone who is an actual electrician. The fact that such things would be for sale or barter is only logical.

That said, I can imagine cheap items being on shelves, but not anything expensive; too tempting a target for thieves, hard to protect, and likely they just sit there gathering dust. Instead, I usually say that you can buy magic items on commission; you find an item crafter, and pay him up front the full cost (he's gotta make a profit, after all), then he makes it for you, customized.


Pinky's Brain wrote:


No, the most common solution is to just require everyone to be good aligned and not worry about it.

Common?

I don't know many people who'd be willing to have an entire game of good aligned people slaughtering other good aligned people and taking their stuff.

Paladins would be useless too.


My group does really well with loot. We operate on a "If you need it, take it," mentality. In the case of two people needing the same item (not often due to party make up), we usually settle it in-character. That does mean that any conflict I get into with items, I tend to lose out on the item for. because my character is innately selfless, but it also means I have a ton of "credit" built up for when I really do need something for her.

For example, I've laid claim to the next weapon we get that only has a single edge (weapons like scimitars or katanas), because my character prefers those.

For gold, we mostly just pool all of it, with me doing quick math to figure out what my share would be if we WERE splitting, then taking 15% of that for church tithe. (No, my GM does not require that I do that. I do it because ROLEPLAY. Plus 15% is rarely enough to worry about.)

For consumables, we distribute evenly, with people who need them going first. For example, if our 5 person party finds 3 potions of cure X wounds, the witch who stands in the back and buffs us probably won't get one, because she rarely gets hit, and if she does get hit, she probably won't be in any condition to drink a potion.


Rynjin wrote:
Pinky's Brain wrote:


No, the most common solution is to just require everyone to be good aligned and not worry about it.

Common?

I don't know many people who'd be willing to have an entire game of good aligned people slaughtering other good aligned people and taking their stuff.

Paladins would be useless too.

Sharing an alignment doesn't make you automatically buddy-buddy. People of the same alignment can be at cross purposes very easily.

And in any event, if someone attacks you with intent to kill, there's zero problem with the paladin defending himself and fighting back.


But he can't Smite them, which is the Paladin's main edge over other combat classes.

And seriously though, an entire world of good aligned people?

What is this, the Utopia finally achieved?


Rynjin wrote:
But he can't Smite them, which is the Paladin's main edge over other combat classes.

Which makes them 'less useful', not 'useless'.


Well the main question would be "What use is a Paladin (in-universe) if everyone is Good?"

They're the smiters of Evil, destroyers of Evil wherever it rears its ugly head.

So where's the Evil?

And if there's no Evil, then why is there a Paladin?


Rynjin wrote:

Well the main question would be "What use is a Paladin (in-universe) if everyone is Good?"

They're the smiters of Evil, destroyers of Evil wherever it rears its ugly head.

So where's the Evil?

And if there's no Evil, then why is there a Paladin?

No evil in our universe, but some trickles in from other planes.

I also took that line to mean 'requite all PCs to be good', which would supposedly deter theft, but since actions follow alignment, it really wouldn't.


It can't be, because the post he was replying to specifically said:

Quote:
Even if the PCs (if neutral or evil aligned) aren't tempted to hit a such a soft target; other NPCs would.


In either case, I think my solution probably works best. You can't steal something that hasn't been made yet. :)


The problem with your solution is that at high levels it could literally take MONTHS to get your item.

Even rushing (4 hours per 1000 gp, and only one "session" per day allowed.) something like a +3 longsword (9k to craft) would take 9 days to craft. That's a significant chunk taken out of your quest to save the world.


Rynjin wrote:

The problem with your solution is that at high levels it could literally take MONTHS to get your item.

Even rushing (4 hours per 1000 gp, and only one "session" per day allowed.) something like a +3 longsword (9k to craft) would take 9 days to craft. That's a significant chunk taken out of your quest to save the world.

Not really. You go out and adventure and quest and such, and then after you're done, you go back and get it. By the time you're high enough level that this becomes an issue, you can teleport there and back with ease.

And, well, for me, I don't hold NPCs to the rules as PCs; they occupy a completely different design space. He NPC gets the thing done when he gets it done.


Assuming you're alive to go back and get it.

And the lack of a magic weapon didn't kill you.

The game does expect the PCs to have these things, they balance monsters with it in mind.


zend0g wrote:
You might want to review the cost of jewelry and gems and other things. They top out where magic items get started.

Looking at the gems necessary for certain spells tells me otherwise.

Quote:
Merchants that run those shops just have to protect themselves from generally low level risks.

I'm not in agreement that magic shops need 10th level Wizards protecting them. If 10th level Wizards are so uncommon, then so are 10th level everything else (including 10th level Rogues and 19th level Fighters). They'll be in high-value neighborhoods (lots of town guards) and you probably don't see what you're looking to buy until you've convinced the owner that you have the money needed and are serious about buying something.

Securing inventory isn't even hard. Really good secret compartments will foil a host of thieves, especially when backed up by decoys (trapped iron bound chests), guardian animals (barking dogs for a start) and really good locks. Preferably under something heavy that takes a few people to shift.

Quote:
For who though? Your average commoner still isn't buying them. 50gp is a good chunk of disposable income. He's better off going to a temple and pleading for help that way.

Your average professional pulls in 7gp a week, so yeah, a 50gp potion is almost 2 months pay. For a modern equivalent, look at the engagement ring. Almost every guy that gets married scrapes together that kind of money (once), and it doesn't save someone from the brink of death. In a world where stabbing and monsters is a hell of a lot more common, lifesaving magic is a LOT bigger priority. When someone is at negative hit points and dying, you don't have time to run to get a healer.

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People's disposable income is generally not equal to or greater than their monthly income. So, even the "cheap" magic items are still the purview of the wealthy.

You're seeing it as disposable income. Nobody considers health insurance as part of their 'disposable income' (for me, in Canada, it's part of my taxes and/or work benefits). Point being, your average Professional CAN afford a Potion of Cure Light wounds, he just can't afford to use it frivolously. I can see these being popular wedding gifts from older, established relatives.

Quote:
You also have to remember that permanent magic items are permanent. Once you sold the baron's family a set of periapt of proof against poison, you won't be making any more of those because

Your assumption that ONLY the baron can afford one is easily disproved. There is an economy beyond the 7gp/week crowd, it's just badly modeled by the rules.

Take the salt trade for example. Modern salt consumption is well below historical (thanks to refrigeration, canning and other preservatives), and we're well above 8 grams per capita per day. That's 6.5 pounds per year, BTW, and salt in Pathfinder is 5gp per pound.

A 10,000 person community at that level consumes 325,000gp of salt per year. People will own salt mines, silver mines, gold mines, gem mines, and these people will be wealthy. People own ships that trade to far off lands and come back with a fortune in sell-able goods. Economies are bigger than you might think at first glance through the limited rules for economics (which are all designed to basically make PCs adventure).


Rynjin wrote:

Assuming you're alive to go back and get it.

And the lack of a magic weapon didn't kill you.

The game does expect the PCs to have these things, they balance monsters with it in mind.

Which is a mistake, I think. I'd love for PF to create something like 4e's inherent bonuses, where you don't need magic items, they're just a pleasant perk.


Vincent Takeda wrote:


There were conversations like 'I only buy it for half price because its used'... But thats talking like my amazing historied magical item that is still as indestructible and magnificent and magical as they day it was built is some rickety piece of garbage, which is silly.

The half price isn't because it's used, it's because it's incredibly difficult to sell. Even if you are in a major metropolis how many people will really be in the market for a +2 flaming longsword? Lets say there are 100,000 people in the city. It's a feudal society so wealth is pretty concentrated, lets say 1% has the money to even afford something so expensive. That's 1000 potential buyers. Now of that 1000 the majority would not be adventurers, after all they are already rich, why would they go risking their lives? so lets say 90% have no use for a sword solely designed for adventuring. Okay so now we have 100 with the means and the theoretical desire to purchase the item. If we assume that these are mostly adventurers than we could break them down by class and say that most wizards, sorcerers and druids wouldn't want the item at all. Most clerics wouldn't either except maybe followers of Imoade. Most rogues use light weapons. Lets say that knocks out another 50% now we're at 50 people. Out of those people a good chunk will already have a similar weapon, after all they are adventurers and they find cool toys for themselves too. Another 50% and we're at 25. Another chunk will be built around a different weapon type and won't want to change. "+2 flaming?! That sounds great...does it come in scythe?" 50% more and we're at 12. Now we're down to the people who are in to the market for a magic longsword.. out of these 12 people several will take a look and say "hmm +2 flaming is certainly better than what i have, but i was really hoping for a frost weapon, or a keen weapon, I'll go talk to the crafter next door and order exactly what i want." So out of a major metropolis you've got maybe 1-5 people out of 100,000 that will buy what you are selling. Now these are adventurers so most are probably out adventuring. But lets say you're in luck and 1 person is in town. You bring them the sword and say hey I hear you're in the market for this. They're interested but how do they know that they can trust you? after all you could have just cast magic weapon and a silent image to produce flames, or maybe it's cursed. they'll need some references before spending that much. You do have references right? people you've sold items to in the past. And you're a stand up member of the community that i can trust also? it's not like you just teleported in here from the other side of the world and will be running off with my money right...

And all this is for a low to mid-level item that's useful for many martial classes. If we look at the staff of power it's a dozen times more expensive and it's useful for a whole lot fewer classes. Maybe 5-10 people in the entire world would have the means and desire to purchase one.

Here's a system I could see working if you want more verisimilitude but don't want to skew the balance much. The DCs would probably have to be adjusted after testing, this is off the top of my head:

alternate magic item selling rules:

Very low level items (500gp or less)- Almost same as cash, 95% of market price

Low level items (500-5000gp)- Lower risk and more merchants are willing to buy. 75% of market price. You can spend 1 day and make a gather information check to increase this by 5%. Diplomacy, profession shopkeeper, knowledge local DC= 15+1/thousand of items market price. GM may modify this for certain items (ie selling a holy sword in Nidal) You can make multiple checks until you fail a roll or get to 90%

Mid level items (5000-25000gp)- Items tend to sit for a long time and tie up capital and there is a smaller pool of purchasers. 50% of market price. You can spend 1 week and make a gather information check to increase this by 5%. Diplomacy, profession shopkeeper, knowledge local DC = 15+1/thousand of items market price. GM may modify this for certain items (ie selling a holy sword in Nidal) You can make multiple checks until you fail a roll or get to 80%

High level items (25000+gp) Very few buyers or merchants with the means and desire to act as middle man. 50% of market price. You can spend 1 month and make a gather information check to increase this by 5%. Diplomacy, profession shopkeeper, knowledge local DC= 15+1/ 2k of the items market price. GM may modify this for certain items (ie selling a holy sword in Nidal) You can make multiple checks until you fail a roll or get to 70%


And, let's be honest, with how much magic there is in most D&D/PF worlds, and how many magic items you find ... magic IS a commodity. Magic isn't rare, strange, unusual or unfamiliar. It's everyday and commonplace. Frag, the gravedigger in RotRL has two levels of cleric. There are probably 1st level clerics and druids wandering around casting Create Water to improve the crops. It's NOT special. If you want it to be, prepare to make some massive houserules.


Rynjin wrote:

Assuming you're alive to go back and get it.

And the lack of a magic weapon didn't kill you.

The game does expect the PCs to have these things, they balance monsters with it in mind.

Yes, but we may be talking about such an edge case that it might as well be irrelevant. I would have to see an example where a party with some members with +2 weapons would fail against an encounter versus another party with some members with +3 weapons would succeed against the same encounter. What I have usually seen is that former just has to spend more resources or fight more intelligently than the latter.

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