GMs: How do *you* handle magic item shops?


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Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm looking ahead to the time when my players in an ongoing campaign will start being able to afford lots of magical gear. In past games I've let them have access to whatever items they wanted, as long as they could afford them, but I'd like to keep magical gear a little bit more "story-oriented" this time. That's certainly not to say I want to limit what they have access to - but I want the process of obtaining say, a +2 keen longsword to be a little bit more interesting than an out-of-character "I buy a +2 keen longsword, then we sleep for 8 hours." I'm looking for ideas to make magic item buying a bit more memorable and engaging, rather than turning it into a roleplay-free stat boost.

How have you handled the "magic item shop" syndrome in your games?


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I generally just make magic items available when the PC's can afford them. So many of them are things you need just because the system expects you to have them that it's not really worth making them noteworthy.

Right now I'm doing a campaign that just takes place in one town so I have crafters of every kind that can make stuff, but later on when I expand the universe some I look forward to making a character out of Magic Mart, the owner and proprietor of Magic Mart.


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I hate them. I hate when players say 'I go buy/shopping for/want x' and immediately start marking the GP off their sheet. I hate that magic items are needed by the system.

For Pathfinder I would institute mage's guilds in the larger cities and run it as though they regulate the sale of non-trivial magic items going so far that they sack little town with their local government authority if reports that they're trying to be sold there.


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Any non-consumable items are rare as all hell and have definite ties to the campaign world's history. When our group has the time, I like to use the piecemeal armor variant system and provide full set bonuses tied to the armor's visual theme. If the campaign's low magic, then I have the players activate the magic weapons/armor they've found before applying its effects. No one's complained and some have even remembered the custom names I gave the weapons from previous years.


I made a houserule system where essentially everyone gets wealth balance level equivalent points to spend every level to get the stat bonuses equivalent to the big 6. Magic items come from stories, and are additive to the stat bonuses. This was my answer to magic mart and the christmas tree effect. I think a forum search will find you many other similar houserules.

Whenever I hand out (non-consumable) magic items, since they're so rare, I give each of them a name and short backstory. This is to make magic items feel more special. Also, since magic items are so rare, as a GM, I don't have to do that much work worrying about the PC's wealth balance level.


Personally, I make it depend on what city they are located in, etc. The larger the city, the higher-power stuff can be custom-made, but it takes ordering and waiting the time it would take an NPC to craft it.

Certain staples are available immediately, depending on size as well. For example, in a small village you're going to find standard gear, but only a handful of MW items if you're lucky. You might find level-1 potions and scrolls from the one caster in town.

I am not a fan of the Feat Required to Craft Magic Item rule. I usually allow casters to craft items at 3/4 price without the feat, or if they take the feat, I have it lessen time required to craft in addition to the 1/2 price benefit. I strictly hold to required time to make magic items, though, to help prevent the overnight shopping.

No matter how large the city, however, there's usually a cap on how powerful you can get items without either a.) finding them already enchanted that way or b.) making the items yourself (or via party member).

Sovereign Court

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Magic items are not really all that interesting or special in PF/3E. I tend to just give up on story elements of items and just let the PCs buy what they want. I focus my energy on the plot and NPCs and the adventure. I found its just too much work for too little payout.

The one thing thats got me itching to try out 5E is the seperation of magic items from the system that sounds lovely!


If using the rules-as-written, I use the 75% availability rule from the CRB. That is usually enough to curb the sense of entitlement that is usually my biggest issue with magic shops.

Given the choice, I use my house rules for "Wealth Rating" and "Enhancement Bonus by Level". This eliminates the need for mandatory magic items (the big six) and gives you a clear picture of what the PCs can afford to just buy. Magic shops become a setpiece, and I include them or not depending on campaign (Kingmaker has zero, Legacy of Fire has a ton).

Contributor

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Like this.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Wow! That's a lot of diverse suggestions.

In this particular case, I don't plan to reduce availability of magic items - I want it to be a standard campaign, and the "big six" are going to be present as normal. It's the "how" that I'm interested in. Should I require skill checks to see what sort of items they can find? Should it be an in-character experience? I'm comparing different ways to make magic items a part of the experience rather than completely divorced from it.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

The whole "magic item shop" thing wouldn't be an issue if gear wasn't a built-in part of PCs' power progression. If your power level was purely a function of your character level, then you could chuck the whole Magic Items chapter out the window and include as many or as few magic items as you like, enabling the inclusion of things like Excalibur, The One Ring, the Master Sword, the Elder Wand, etc without them either showing up too late to be relevant or else getting surpassed by other gear later on.


The Morphling wrote:

Wow! That's a lot of diverse suggestions.

In this particular case, I don't plan to reduce availability of magic items - I want it to be a standard campaign, and the "big six" are going to be present as normal. It's the "how" that I'm interested in. Should I require skill checks to see what sort of items they can find? Should it be an in-character experience? I'm comparing different ways to make magic items a part of the experience rather than completely divorced from it.

Know your players.

If they would respond well to more complexity in outfitting their PCs, then this is a good idea.

If they see outfitting as a speedbump that limits the progress of the action, then maybe something as simple as the RAW 1-in-4 chance is better.

The best choice has more to do with the players' expectations than anything. If you really want to change course, you'll have to manage their expectations first if you're going to succeed.


That's what the 75% d100 check is supposed to represent.


I use the 75% rule + the settlement price limit. It's just easier that way, I don't want to write a side story every time someone wants to buy something.
If you want to limit it further, to preven the "magic shop"-feeling, remember that you're makeing it harder for everyone.

I do understand the charm with low-magic settings, where you need to have contact with the wizard (or even be the wizard) who makes magic stuff. Or where magic is found, not bought. But it will prolong the game, and everyone may not like it.

And as a player, I really dislike it if a DM stoppes me from getting the items I want.


I use the classification of tiers associated to a city's size on whether or not to make the check. If the city size has a dash they just don't have any. However, you could tweak the check since Paizo decided to introduce more categories within the major three that adjusts the 75% figure to be more appropriate. So, start 75% for lesser minor items, 70% for medium minor, 65% for major minor, and so on until 35% for major major items.


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In homebrews I usually don't bother with many magical items. Any permanent items are generally story-relevant.

In Rise of the Runelords (and, soon, Shattered Star) I included an old Varisian woman that specialized in getting items to the correct owners. So they'd trade in their piles of unhelpful items for more appropriate items and she'd, in turn, trade their cast offs with people who'd appreciate them.

The idea of just letting people buy whatever they want is kind of foreign to me. But the PCs can't be the only people wanting to sell items in a city like Magnimar.

The closest to a true magic shop in my games would probably be crafting. If anyone were interested, I'd create a recipe-based crafting system to allow for customization while still providing some direction.

My players are pretty content just getting loot and shopping the hard way, though.

Cheers!
Landon


75% + settlement limit, and usually bas the characters out of or near enough to a metropolis that they can do their shopping.

However, you don't find magic items on the shelf in a store. You find someone who has the capability of crafting it and an opening in their schedule to do so. So they pay for the item then come back in X amount of days to pick it up.


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I don't play wealth by level, I role play player contacts and 'favours' for powerful individuals allow limited access to purchasing items. That way the characters have weaknesses and have to think to overcome stuff.

Liberty's Edge

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I use the “Olde Magik Shoppe” called The Gorgon Zola’s which is a random magical shop which travels around and appears in every town and city. The trick is finding it. It is ran by three women a young pretty girl, an adult motherly sort and an old woman … no-one knows if they are all the same person or not but them. Time works differently in the shoppe; one of the players sweet talked the young maiden into a tryst as a partial payment and the next time they visiting the matronly aspect was large with child, the time afterwards the door was opened by a young child.

The Shoppe appears in a random location and the players need to find it each time they want to go visiting. The door is always solidly locked and curtains drawn; hammering on the door for several minutes will usually provide a response as the door creaks open to a dusty shop front with a glass topped counter and a bead curtain leading to the rear. Anything bought there is usually 10-20% higher than normal price but it is the only play that you can reliably get magic items. There is a flat 50% chance they have what you want in stock, with another 20% chance they have something similar. There is also a chance you can get something cheap … but it has … oddities.

Their “special” customers get a medallion that allows them to find the shop easier and even call it to them for a special price; however this medallion allows the shop owners to scry upon the person wearing it and devours a little bit of their souls each day. This results in a slower XP advancement as some is siphoned off to the shop owners … what they use it for is anyone’s guess …

Special items are usually interesting, too good a deal to be true and tend to have “interesting” side effects. Each shopping trip is a roleplay adventure and I have characters who refuse to go shopping for magical items because of it. … (he just does not trust them and insists they store all their medallions in a bag of holding) The party once traded the body of their gnome Druid and sundry other items for an item they could use. The shoppe got a new assistant that day … Don’t think they ever thought of the rag wrapped help they found the next time they went as anything other than another oddity of the Shoppe.

If they are going for a +1 sword they go elsewhere … if they are looking for something more exotic then they come here and experience the strangeness of the shoppe.

The truth behind the Shoppe is up to you. But this is what I use and my players enjoy it.

Regards

Sic

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

In my setting, the pcs don't find magic items normally just like that, except consumables.

Like if I rolled a celestial armor for example on the list of magic items slot, they would probably find it in possession of a retired Paladin adventurer and bargains to get said items.

Or maybe they come to a house sale, where an adventurer died recently and is family is selling all of his loot.

Usually I try to make it colorful.


Replace the big 5 bonuses with inherent bonuses at level up.

Reduce the price of magic items by 90%

Remove all big 5 bonus items from the game. (Flaming sword is OK, no +3 flaming)

Decrease treasure by 90%

Increase service-based goods by 10x. (Meals/ inns/ masterwork items)

Mundane goods keep book price.

Increase starting level to level 4. (All adults in the campaign setting should be at least level 4, 3 is teenager, 2 adolescent, 1 child)

Beginning characters have 1000gp.

Watch your issue with magic item shops vanish.

Watch your in-game economy begin to make sense.


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I've come up with quite a few methods over the years for this, though I haven't tested many of them. My favorite one that spans multiple campaigns:

Low-level magic items such as potions and the like can be found in most shops. For higher-end items, however, there exists a grey-to-black market network run by a mysterious merchant guild that caters exclusively to adventurers and other figures of more direct (as opposed to merely political) power. Access to increasingly higher-end goods requires commensurate proof of your exploits in the form of fame, records of the ruins you've delved or ancient dead gods you've seen, or perhaps undertaking a quest for the network to prove your capabilities. It's unclear what the ultimate purpose of this guild is, though their indifference to the motives of those who purchase their wares suggests that they might simply be anarchists....

(Hey, maybe we should have a "101 Flavors of Magic Mart" thread...)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It depends on how important the location is to the players. If the PC group is in the area for a while, I will flesh out the magic store personalities and specialties, what kind of magic tem creation feats do the store employees have?

I also tend to have low level, consumable magic items readily available since those would be in greatest demand in theory. I try to have enough that a PC group would find I useful, yet never have everything asked for available; only some of the items requested would be available, with helpful hints as to comparable items or where a similar item might be found.

If it is just a one stop shop that the PC group is visiting while passing through, it usually depends on community size and percent chance of having any requested item (major cities - 75% minor, 50% medium, 25% chance of having a requested major item). I figure many shop owners would divine if a high ticket item would be needed on a specific day, and the unavailability means someone bought it first.


Dotting for future reference.


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Generally a PC must commission a magic item from a master craftsman. I have a variant magic item creation feat chain that goes: one shot personal (like a scroll); one shot (like a potion); charged; permanent and another feat chain that has a 5 step power chain that goes from low to major artefact.

The feat chains discourage crafter PCs and also mean that low power, one shot items can be commissioned fairly readily But more significant items require higher level NPCs to make the items. Engaging with these NPCs requires influence and can be the subject of one or more game sessions. Getting a charged wand should be doable with some effort but a powerful sword is going to require gold, influence and power to be in a position to commission the Leonardo Da Vinci of swordsmiths, who is also entertaining requests from other powerful nobles.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
The Morphling wrote:

Wow! That's a lot of diverse suggestions.

In this particular case, I don't plan to reduce availability of magic items - I want it to be a standard campaign, and the "big six" are going to be present as normal. It's the "how" that I'm interested in. Should I require skill checks to see what sort of items they can find? Should it be an in-character experience? I'm comparing different ways to make magic items a part of the experience rather than completely divorced from it.

I decide what's the most likely items needed by the group, and toss in a couple of relaively non consequential ones for flavor. When they find a shop, what I've determined is what's on the list to purchase.


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I'm going to copy/paste/paraphrase some thoughts I've had on this subject from other threads.

The primary reason I don't allow Magic Mart in my games is that is boils down to Meta-gaming. How would the players even know about these magic items existence? The CRB list of magic items is not the Sears Mail-order Catalogue of Adventurer Goodies. I strongly dislike the "ye old magic shop" mentality and I flat out don't allow it in my games. It leads to focusing on getting specific items instead of on RPing.

To me this is an adventure game, not a "I get the exact items to fit my build and my idea of a cool character" game. It goes counter to every fiber of my GMing being to allow this nonsense.

Less magic items/harder to obtain magic items = each item feels more special. Its a simple formula.


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Buri wrote:

I hate them. I hate when players say 'I go buy/shopping for/want x' and immediately start marking the GP off their sheet. I hate that magic items are needed by the system.

For Pathfinder I would institute mage's guilds in the larger cities and run it as though they regulate the sale of non-trivial magic items going so far that they sack little town with their local government authority if reports that they're trying to be sold there.

If this guy had a newsletter, I'd subscribe to it. This is very similar to how we handle it.


Zedth wrote:

I'm going to copy/paste/paraphrase some thoughts I've had on this subject from other threads.

The primary reason I don't allow Magic Mart in my games is that is boils down to Meta-gaming. How would the players even know about these magic items existence? The CRB list of magic items is not the Sears Mail-order Catalogue of Adventurer Goodies. I strongly dislike the "ye old magic shop" mentality and I flat out don't allow it in my games. It leads to focusing on getting specific items instead of on RPing.

To me this is an adventure game, not a "I get the exact items to fit my build and my idea of a cool character" game. It goes counter to every fiber of my GMing being to allow this nonsense.

Less magic items/harder to obtain magic items = each item feels more special. Its a simple formula.

I can get that. What's your take on crafting?


Zedth wrote:

I'm going to copy/paste/paraphrase some thoughts I've had on this subject from other threads.

The primary reason I don't allow Magic Mart in my games is that is boils down to Meta-gaming. How would the players even know about these magic items existence? The CRB list of magic items is not the Sears Mail-order Catalogue of Adventurer Goodies. I strongly dislike the "ye old magic shop" mentality and I flat out don't allow it in my games. It leads to focusing on getting specific items instead of on RPing.

To me this is an adventure game, not a "I get the exact items to fit my build and my idea of a cool character" game. It goes counter to every fiber of my GMing being to allow this nonsense.

Less magic items/harder to obtain magic items = each item feels more special. Its a simple formula.

It's a simple formula until you have to completely rebalance your game. Especially for the martials with their greater dependance on standard upgrades. It isn't a far hop from "Awesome" to "It's about f!+%ing time" when a player finds a +2 "Please be a weapon I spec'd in". And the space in between is filled with a lot of things that fly and shoot lasers.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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The following is something I came up with for my RotRL-campaign. Obviously, these guidelines are designed for a high-level party.

Magic Workshops of Varisia:

Format:
Item Availability: General availability of rare items (base price >20.000gp)
Focus: Item categories available/ item creation feats available
Accelerated Crafting: Maximum amount of work achieved per day for contract work
Special: special conditions or services offered

1. Magnimar (Golemworks)
Item Availability: 25%
Focus: Craft Magic Arms & Armor, Craft Wondrous Items, Craft Constructs
Accelerated Crafting: 13.000gp/day
Special: Toth Breacher has a network of business contacts in different cities across the Inner Sea. For a fee of 2.000 gp, he will contact his partners in Absalom, Egorian, Katapesh and Quantium via sending, checking for rare items within 24 hours. If available (70% chance), he organizes the item's purchase and transfer via greater teleport within another 24 hours for a fee of 3.000 gp.

2. Janderhoff (Thunderforge)
Item Availability: 15%
Focus: Craft Magic Arms & Armor
Accelerated Crafting: 13.000gp/day
Special: Forgemistress Kaptra Dorethain (female dwarf cleric of Torag) cannot afford unexpected disruptions to her working schedule. Still, she may be willing to help out a group of adventurers in a matter of urgency, provided their cause is just. Therefore, accelerated crafting requires a DC 25 Diplomacy check.

3. Riddleport (Cyphermages)
Item Availability: 20%
Focus: Inscribe Magical Tattoo
Accelerated Crafting: 6.000gp/day
Special: Magical tattoos follow the rules for magic item creation as though they were wondrous items. Magical tattoos are treated as slotless magical items for pricing purposes (200%). Magical tattoos must be placed on a part of the body normally able to hold a magic item slot, but they do not count against or interfere with magic items worn on those slots. A single slot can only hold one magical tattoo. Tattoos may be inscribed on the following slots: belt, body, chest, feet, hands, head, neck, shoulder, ring (up to two), or wrist. They cannot be inscribed on armor, eye, headband, or shield slots.

4. Korvosa (Acadamae)
Item Availability: 25%
Focus: Craft Rod, Craft Staff, Craft Wondrous Item, Forge Ring
Accelerated Crafting: 16.000gp/day
Special: The Acadamae’s instructors jealously guard the secrets of creating items that can retain power, and seldom reveal how to craft items beyond scrolls, wands, and potions. Although they gladly accept—or demand—the assistance of skilled students in creating more powerful items, the rods, staves, and wondrous items the school’s most talented crafters create are hoarded for their own use, sold to other senior staff, or sold at a significant markup to nobles across the city (120% base price).


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Zedth wrote:

I'm going to copy/paste/paraphrase some thoughts I've had on this subject from other threads.

The primary reason I don't allow Magic Mart in my games is that is boils down to Meta-gaming. How would the players even know about these magic items existence? The CRB list of magic items is not the Sears Mail-order Catalogue of Adventurer Goodies. I strongly dislike the "ye old magic shop" mentality and I flat out don't allow it in my games. It leads to focusing on getting specific items instead of on RPing.

To me this is an adventure game, not a "I get the exact items to fit my build and my idea of a cool character" game. It goes counter to every fiber of my GMing being to allow this nonsense.

Less magic items/harder to obtain magic items = each item feels more special. Its a simple formula.

Yea! I mean... I know you have a +1 sword, and I know the Mage just told you that +3 swords will get through his DR just like it was made of cold iron, but how could you possibly know about +2 swords! FREEKING metagamers! This is getting out of hand!

What do you mean you want a +2 cloak of resistance. You mean a "gracious cloak of avoiding harm of the 2nd circle?" Well you don't know about those! Metagame cheat game ruiner!

Rod of metamagic quickening? Are you insane? How does your character even know about that? Oh? You have the feat? And you have extend? And a rod of extend? Natural conclusion?!?!! NO WAY!!!!!! NO MOAR MAGIC ITEMS! Magic items are the special precious flowers and snowflakes that litter my campaign world like a bad Longfellow poem. From now on you will take only what you get, and you will equip it, and you won't try to sell it, and you will like it, AND THERE WILL BE SANITY ON THE MATERIAL PLANE!!!!!! ROWAR!!!!


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I find a point in the story to introduce an NPC crafter, a character who they can go to in order to commission new items, or upgrade old ones.

I've had actual magic item stores in game before, but they ran along theme. For example, I had an Alu-fiend that ran a magical clothing boutique.

After running for a group for awhile, you should have an idea what approach will work best for them. Some groups like convenient loot "among the demon's stolen treasure is +2 flaming falcion (like you were wanting) ", others prefer magic stores or helpful sages.


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What I'm doing for a campaign I'm running now is making use of the table that suggests base values for settlement sizes. They can buy pretty much anything within that gp limit, but the limit is actually fairly small for the gear that they need, so what is happening now is that they actually have quite a bit of money but cannot spend it on the powerful gear that they have because the gear is too expensive and no one is selling it.

They only have a few ways of getting past that limit, one is the small pool of items that is randomly rolled according to that table. Another is putting in an order for an item that they specifically want, which takes time. Or they can take their own feats and make it for themselves.

I have never run into "Magic Shop" problems.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Like high class jewelry brokers.

You have to pay a retainer to even shop.

Security gets tougher the deeper you go.

If you're not somebody, you don't ever see the real power.


Magic is fairly common in my setting, so lower level magic items aren't the hardest to find. Since my campaign is in a mercantile nation, there's lots of traveling or stationary merchants, many of which are low level magicians themselves, who've picked up or crafted the odd magic item or two, as represented by the magic items I roll up on the settlement sheet.

That said, since my party wizard is played by the "find the cheapest alternative to anything" type, he took Craft Wondrous Item and now Forge Ring and tries to spend as much in-game time as he can crafting items. Thankfully, I never let him sit in one place for long enough to break the system.


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Non-Player Characters give magic items to the Players' Characters as rewards, then I adjust the wealth they are destined to find in the future to account for it.

Sometimes I have an idea what they want, sometimes I give them what I think they need.


Lakesidefantasy wrote:

Non-Player Characters give magic items to the Players' Characters as rewards, then I adjust the wealth they are destined to find in the future to account for it.

Sometimes I have an idea what they want, sometimes I give them what I think they need.

I've done that. I gave my party's rogue a +1 silver dagger which would have turned out to be great against the half-fiendish were-dire-hyena boss in the next town if the paladin hadn't literally defeated it in one turn.

I also gave the wordcaster wizard a scroll of the Accelerate word, and the weaponsmithing Dwarf inquisitor a few ingots of mithril found among the town's silver mine.


I tend to make basic magic items relatively easily available, following the standard settlement rules. It makes sense that any crafting-minded NPC wizard would churn out a bunch of +1 Longswords, a few Cloaks of Resistance, and the like to bring to market. But any uncommon/exotic weapons or unusual items need to be either specifically commissioned, which involves roleplaying out finding a crafter, possibly haggling and ending up paying more/less than the book price, and having to wait the listed time to get their item.

I also try to somewhat limit the necessity of needing a magic item shop in the first place by seeding some of the basic stuff through the treasure drops. I also get a list of specific items that the players really want more than anything, and those get a higher chance of popping up in a treasure hoard or a wandering merchants stash, so the PCs can get the toys they want in a way that's potentially a bit more exciting/rewarding than just "I buy it at the shop".


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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Jiggy wrote:
The whole "magic item shop" thing wouldn't be an issue if gear wasn't a built-in part of PCs' power progression.

This really doesn't have to be true. PCs are quite powerful enough, thank you, without the DM needing to let players page through Ye Olde Sears-Roebuck catalogue of magic Items.

This topic is endlessly debated, and the Pathfinder developers recognize that there is a wide spread of opinion on it (and there has been for some 40 years). That's why they explicitly present several options on magic-rich or magic-poor worlds.

I don't begrudge those who prefer allowing anything and everything in the game to be available for purchase anywhere, nor those who apply the 75% rule and the value-by-population rule. But I do feel that it takes some of the mystery out of the game.

Here's what I use in my games::
1) Potion shops that either sell a fixed, limited list of potions (presumably based on those the crafter knows how to make) or that always have "common" potions (eg healing ones) and have a variable percent chance of having other, higher level potions.

2) Magic shops (that often masquerade as junk shops, curio shops, libraries, etc) which have a variable list of available equipment drawn up in advance (usually using an online random magic-shop generator or a random loot generator). This makes more sense to me, because inventory control in an infinite magic shop must be *really* problematical. In a few minutes I can print out ten different inventory lists and use them either for different shops or for the same shop one month later.

3) For crafters, I feel they should be fairly rare (a subset of the existing high-level spellcasters) and individualized. Finding one in the first place might be problematical, and then he would have a more or less limited list of what he could craft, prerequisites being what they are.

This said, I love some of the ideas in above messages, like Amenuensis's "Magic Workshops of Varisia".

Otherwise, most magic shops should work like this.


My magic shops normally have a limited amount of predetermined magic items:

1-2 items I guess the heroes will be looking for-a keen sword, stat boosters etc.

2-3 useful but uncommon magic items-Ring of Climbing, Oil of Silence, etc.

Maybe 1 cursed item

The rest of the shop may be filled with some consumables, but mainly weird material components(stuffed baby crocodiles) for casters.

The characters only have the descriptions of those items and have to guess, if the prices are fair and what the items do.
The prices are normally a bit above the listed price, but the players can bargain to lower the price.

Every item gets a unique description: Longsword with a silvery bluish blade and a wavy blade.


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The Morphling wrote:
II want the process of obtaining say, a +2 keen longsword to be a little bit more interesting than an out-of-character "I buy a +2 keen longsword, then we sleep for 8 hours." I'm looking for ideas to make magic item buying a bit more memorable and engaging, rather than turning it into a roleplay-free stat boost.

The game expects you to buy a lot of magic items. If you role-play every purchase, you'll have to do it dozens of times over the course of a campaign. Practically any other role-play encounter is going to be more interesting than repeated shopping experiences where one character tries to find what he wants and then pay a reasonable price for it.

Instant magic item purchases are quick and let you focus on other things. (But can lead to overpowered characters.)

Some alternatives to shopping:
- The group meet an elderly crafter and his apprentices. They can make whatever items you want, for the right price; they become recurring characters who can be used for quest hooks.
- Work out what your players want and add them as items the players can find.
- Separate money from magic items - player items can power up automatically to match their expected WBL.
- ...or play D&D 5E, which has removed the 'expected magic items' element.


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I have these giant retail outlets built in enormous warehouses. They have a blue sign out front that says "Magci Mart"...

Seriously, I don't know a single GM IRL that actually does it that way. I also don't understand the other extreme where NO ONE sells magic items or it's highly restricted. What sense do extremes make in a fantasy setting?

Anyway, netiher of those work for me or my players. If it does for others then I apologize for any malignancy in my above statement. It wasn't meant to inflame.

So in my games I ask the PCs what they're looking for. I also have random items in the settlement per the settlement rules in the Gamemastery guide. Finding these items for sale takes a little effort; they need to use either Knowledge: Local or Diplomacy or some other method to find them. DCs are usually averaged to the level of the PCs or maybe lower depending on the item requested.

Then the actual purchase. I don't have "magic shops" but rather traders, merchants, artisans and common folk who are willing to part with these fantastic items for a price. Once I had a PC looking for magic armor. The settlement happened to have a set of Chain Mail +1 so I had the party roll Diplomacy to gather info. Turned out that a former militia soldier of the town had been an adventurer in his youth but now was old and infirmed. His granddaughter had come of age but also was beginning to develop latent supernatural powers (budding sorcerer). He wasn't going to be around to help her but in a city nearby there was a college of the arcane where she could train and study... if only she had the money.

The PCs met the man, brief RP ensued and they bought the armor. Felinda took most of that, hired on with a trade caravan headed for the city and went to pursue her training. Had the campaign continued I might have kept her as a potential NPC.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

I dislike the comments that 'magic items are required by the system'. A GM should be able to adjust encounters so that they are workable no matter what level of equipment is available.

In our current campaign, we are sitting at about 1/4 or WBL, still have a ton of fun, and get more excited with the items we find, and the characters have adjusted to the items available. When the Urban Barbarian inherited a +1 Called Frost Earthbreaker, he immediately took Throw Anything...


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CraziFuzzy wrote:

I dislike the comments that 'INSERT GAME FEATURE HERE' are required by the system. A GM should be able to adjust encounters so that they are workable no matter what 'IS REMOVED FROM THE GAME'.

Good choices could be:

Base Attack Bonus
Spells
Classes
Saves
Hit Points
Weapons
XP
Feats

The point is that, sure, you can start monkeying with the game so long as you are actually doing that. Most people's experience is that the GM doesn't adjust and is just being a campaign setting control freak. You can easily spot them when they say things like, "I don't like magic wal-mart because magic items are special. Who cares is every city has casters 7 levels higher than you, and the bad guys are geared out to fit their builds perfectly, and everytime you turn around there is some magical effect that your wizard with knowledge arcana and spellcraft maxed out doesn't have a clue about... items are special."

BS on that. The GM is a control freak. Same GM will complain about Kitsune, new classes, oriental weapons, etc, etc, that makes their world not look like Tolkeinized Europe.


I ask my players what items they hope to get fir their char, and try to put them (or if they are too expensive a similar item) on bad guys. This way I don't need to have a magic shop. Specific items can be crafted... By the chars or by NPC's

The only time magic shops are used is fir upgrading... In order to speed in game time up, many shops that can upgrade gear have upgraded versions ready... At a small extra price.. (ie, upgrading a sword from +2 to +3nnormally cost 10 K and take 10 days... The char will be offered another +3 sword , no waiting time, for 12 K (jan be negotiated to 11 K...)


I have xtra dimensional magic marts.....

It just makes things easier.
And its a chance to rollplay.

Darthvader passes yoda near the coffe shop display.


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I've done away with "gold = magic items." Instead, the characters gain their WBL equivalent directly as personal "mojo" and declare what items they are finding, and what their properties are, subject to that limit.

Say they've leveled (read: now have a higher mojo limit) and are in a crypt. I've described that there are iron torch-holders on the walls, etc. They kill some spectres or whatever, and it's time to look for loot. Mundane treasure is mundane treasure; they find what's there, and can spend it on hookers and blow or castles or horse food or whatever. But magic gear is special.

  • Rogue: "Using my awesome Appraise skill, I recognize that some of the jewelry is actually a necklace of fireballs. That still leaves me some extra mojo -- I'll think about it and get back to you, okay?"

  • Fighter: "Hmmm, I've got 6,000 mojo to burn. How about this: the essence of one of the spectres has infused my sword; it's now a +1 ghost touch sword instead of just being +1."

  • Cleric: "I've still got a huge pile of unspent mojo because I always forget to spend it. So here it is: I recognize one of the torch holders as my ancestor's mace of disruption, so this must have been a family crypt! I perform funerary rites over the spectres so their souls will rest easier, and I take the mace."

    This means that the PCs generally get the gear that they imagine themselves having, without me needing to include Ye Olde Magic Item Shoppe in every town, and without me needing to read their minds and specifically include this stuff as treasure.

    The catch is that the limits need to be enforced. If they loot the BBEG and take his magic items, and those items put them over their limit, then they don't have the personal mojo to actually hold onto and use the extra stuff, long-term. Maybe it just won't function for them. Maybe it gets destroyed by the next fireball. Maybe it manifests as a personality conflict with an intelligent item. Whatever.


  • My DM separated magic gear from in-game wealth. Powers of magic items come from the wielder, not the item. Characters get points that they can spend on giving their gear magical properities. Magical items still exist but are very rare and powerful (artifacts or Epic items).


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    I just use the actual rules. Not even Metropoli have a 36000gp base limit. That means even something as minor as a +6 stat item either has to be specifically commissioned (meaning getting a crafter to devote 36 days to one item), rolled as part of the random major items of the month, or just found.

    Magic Mart Syndrome is largely a product of not using the settlement rules correctly.

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