D&D 5E [Let's Read] The Wanderer's Guide to Merchants & Magic

Libertad

Hero
kXu4wC7.jpg

Although it is a staple across both video game and tabletop RPGs, the concept of the magic item shop wasn’t around for the first generation of Dungeons & Dragons. It wasn’t until 2nd Edition that the interaction of gold and magic items was a conversation point, and in that case it involved using gold to craft magic items rather than buy or sell them. When RPGs entered the digital arena in the 80s and 90s, it was common to integrate equipment and character progression in such a way that you were practically required to spend your hard-earned GP, Gil, and the like on better gear.* By the arrival of 3rd Edition, D&D incorporated this mindset by giving practically every non-artifact magic item a price along with explicit spell prerequisites and feats for crafting them. It was also here that we got the “wealth by level” concept, where instead of being used to gain experience points the primary empowerment of gold was for the PCs to buy magic items so that their characters can keep up with the opposition in combat. 4th Edition continued this tradition, but by 5th this was dropped. On the contrary, one of its selling points was that magic items would be optional in regards to making effective characters.

*This article has a good discussion on the history of the concept.

While this change was welcomed by many, there was a bit of loss. Buying and selling magic items were possible in the core rules, but were relegated to an optional and slow process in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. A persistent problem of 5th Edition was the lack of expensive things for PCs to spend their money on, and what existed was mostly guidelines and flavor text by the DM doing the heavy lifting. The Wanderer’s Guide to Merchants and Magic is dedicated to reviving the older concept of magic item shops and the broader supernatural arms trade. This book provides us with not just 23 sample shops and their proprietors, but 120 new magic items, 4 adventures, a comprehensive list of gold piece values for nearly all magic items in the core rules, and wealth by level guidelines balanced with these new rules in mind.

Chapter 1: Commerce of Magic

Our book opens up with discussing the design principles and overall guidelines for its mission statement. The first is that magic items which provide flat bonuses to values such as attack rolls are the most unbalancing in that they impact bounded accuracy. They are thus priced as being more expensive than the average magic item. The book also recommends either reducing their availability or disallowing stacking bonuses to avoid breaking the RNG. Similar guidelines are applied to magic items capable of transportation, with flight, teleportation, and the like being accordingly more expensive. There’s also discussions on handling potential balance disruptions like PCs deciding to rob a magic item shop or what happens when they get their hands on items which turn out to be too powerful. In regards to the former, there are sample security measures given, and much like other high-risk high-reward trades is likely to be guarded by powerful individuals. The sample shops in the book reflect this.

We also have guidelines for pricing magic items: they’re based on a combination of factors, from the value of their utility to adventurers who are most likely to come upon them, the value of their utility to society at large, and their overall usability such as consumables and attunement being factored into this equation. The book also mentions that all Artifacts and some Legendary Items don’t have listed prices on account that they are unlikely to be “traded for mere coin.”

Character Wealth discusses how being able to buy magic items will make PCs more powerful than if finding such items was left more to chance. So a more detailed set of guidelines for wealth based on levels and tiers is provided, along with a recommended amount of magic items per PC based on tier. The Wanderer’s Guide presumes a high magic campaign where these kinds of items are prevalent, so in regards to cheap and common/uncommon magic items it shouldn’t be too unbalancing for PCs to get their hands on a bevy of minor charms at later levels.

Bargaining Rules is a new sub-system introduced for PCs to haggle over the values of magic item prices. It’s a multi-step process done for each item desired for purchase, consisting of an appraisal check to determine the item’s value and a Persuasion check to make a counteroffer which can lower the price on a success. Magic item merchants typically sell items for more than their actual price (typically up to 150%) before bargaining is done, and technically speaking a PC can make an infinite number of Persuasion checks although merchants may grow tired of the haggling and never sell below 50% of the item’s value. Merchants won’t raise the price on a failed roll, but instead will remain at the current value. This can also be used for selling magic items with the roles reversed. Merchants can also have biases, where their initial markup of magic items can be lowered or raised based on a PC’s race, class, background, or other such qualities.

Personally speaking I’m not fond of bargaining, as it adds more complexity to a game. And in cases where the whole party may be buying multiple magic items in the same shop, that can end up anywhere from a half-dozen to even dozens of rolls.

R7GxrdT.png

Chapter 2: Merchants of Magic

This chapter contains 23 pre-designed merchants, their shops and wares, and rules for auction houses for DMs to drop into their campaigns. Every merchant has their own unique backstory, artwork, stat block, and in some cases minions and helpers to serve as companions, security, and the like. Details are also provided for security measures and tactics they’ll employ against those who seek to take their wares by force, what kinds of items they specialize in, and what kinds of Biases and Bargaining tactics they’ll be predisposed towards or against. Each merchant also has a unique item for sale they’ll part with if the PCs earn their trust or respect, as well as sample Quest Hooks which detail a scenario or adventure outline for PCs to get on their good side (and more importantly discounts!). A few of these Hooks are actually full-fledged adventures detailed in the back of the book. Barring a few exceptions, most of these merchants are relatively powerful, with either them or their minions being suitable challenges for Tier 3 (11-16th level) and high Tier 2 (8-10th level) PCs.

Azân the Wanderer is a former fiendish lord who was exiled from Hell after losing a rebellion against another archfiend. What began as aimless wandering turned into a newfound goal: travel the planes and worlds, pick up rare curiosities, and make a profit off of them. Azân is the mascot of this book, being the masked goggled figure on the cover and whose in-character quotes are peppered throughout the book as sidebars. He has a soft spot for underdog types, and his powerful and immortal nature means that he’s seen it all. It takes a lot to get under his skin, which makes him have a relatively chill attitude towards things. He’s also accompanied by Jaziel, a celestial in the shape of a small dog who often acts as the “bad cop” in keeping him from setting his prices too low when bargaining. Azân’s shop is a kind of magic item general store, having a little bit of everything with no strong themes.

Bronzeforge Halls is a beautiful dwarven complex located in a large city of the DM’s choosing. Brumir Bronzeforge didn’t have much talent in artisanship or battle to his family’s initial consternation. If he couldn’t earn a name in crafting or wielding dwarven wonders, he could do the next best thing and sell them to the wider world to bring honor to the Bronzeforge name. Being your typical dwarfy dwarf, he specializes in gemstones, heavy armor, weapons, and magic items of a more defensive nature. He is not a powerful individual by any means, but the Hall is extremely well-defended with elite guards, a priest with divination spells to screen customers, and display murals generating antimagic fields to defend against spell-based sabotage.

0YNFKW7.png

Calypso’s Curiosities is your more rustic wizard’s shop. Formerly run by the great mage Calypso, an unfortunate magical accident transformed her into a common housecat. This forced her daughter Elpha to take up the reins of the family business. Calypso uses cat-based nonverbal communication with Elpha, and observant PCs may notice this when she ends up changing the price of something when the cat lets out an annoyed meow. Calypso’s Curiosities specializes in items of use to arcane spellcasters, from a variety of wands to classical witchy things such as a Crystal Ball and Broom of Flying. In addition to Elpha’s own spells, Calypso can transform into a magical lion if slain, and Elpha has a ring that can summon city guardsmen to her location by command or if incapacitated.

Dippletopp’s Tinkery is a mobile shop owned by one absent-minded gnomish gadgeteer. Tunneling below the surface in a piloted giant clockwork worm, Ernart Dippletopp is prone to set up shop in whatever surface he breaches, which is often out in the countryside where travelers just happen to be passing; travelers such as the PCs! His wares are experimental, and he’s willing to sell unstable “alpha builds” prone to exploding on a natural 1 at half the market price. Dippletopp’s wares hew closer to the steampunk/gadget side of things, such as Folding Boats, Clockwork Swords, Efficient Quivers, and the like.

Dragon’s Den is exactly what it says on the tin. Imbrixia, a copper dragon, does business in an underground cave full of treasures. It’s not her lair, but that of a rival dragon whose hoard she obtained. Imbrixia has a particular sense of humor and love of riddles, and PCs who go along with either can gain an edge in business deals. Like Azân, her items range in theme, with a bit of a focus on ones which are very old and have a lot of history to them.

The owner of Golem’s Gem is an archmage who never returned from her latest quest, so her iron golem Dex has run the shop for several decades. Although Dex was made and trained by the best of the best and has the ability to sense lies and instantly ascertain the value of items, his social skills aren’t up to snuff. The shop has a variety of items, albeit a greater than usual amount of powerful and expensive merchandise such as a Manual of Golems or Belt of Stone Giant Strength.

Dex even employs classic sales tactics such as exaggerations and flattery, albeit clumsily: “This is the best sword you will ever buy – if you do not buy more swords” and “You are a handsome and likable humanoid – would you like to pay above market value for this item?”

Hestannia’s Studio is a unique kind of shop. Its proprietor, Hestannia, is a minotaur and former gladiator of great renown, dealing exclusively in magical tattoos and the inking supplies used in their creation. She has a bias in favor of warrior types and her tattoos reflect this, with most of them having the most apparent benefits when used in combat.

Illyath’s Sanctum is run by a fallen angel who betrayed an oath of non-interference to save a family of farmers from a vicious demon. Although she regrets her action, Illyath still has the unwavering moral compass of a celestial and her prices are the most fair while still being enough to sustain a business. Her wares tend towards heavenly and divine magic themes, such as a Staff of Healing or Mace of Disruption, and can even cast some of her longer-lasting spells on characters as a service or reward.

r9tdklI.png

Luizhana’s Emporium of Adventuring Goods is run by an aging tiefling sorceress who decided to turn her small fortune of treasure into a larger enterprise. While she may act the part of a cranky elderly lady, she has a soft spot for young female adventurers who remind her of her early days. Luizhana’s shop lies in an extradimensional space and has a unique guardian in the form of Burp, a three-eyed magical frog with keen truesight and powerful defenses. Her wares are most favorable to spellcasting types, including a wide variety of potions, wands, and staffs.

Melvin’s Marvelous Menagerie is run by a halfling druid, a traveling shop designed to give adventurers adorable and useful animal companions. He does have standards, and may refuse to sell to customers who his animals get bad vibes from or engage in needless environmental harm such as hunting for sport or poaching. He also sells clockwork animals, several of whom serve as guardians against those who would do him or his animals harm. Melvin’s items are mostly animal-themed, but he also sells animals attuned to Safety Shells containing a useful low-level spell.

Safety Shells are a new magic item which functions similar to Pokeballs. They’re attuned to a specific CR 0 animal, absorbing them into itself if they drop to 0 HP and casts Spare the Dying on them.

Milando is a swashbuckling drow who had to flee his Underdark homeland after earning the enmity of one too many higher-ups. He is less of a merchant and more of a middleman, not having a storefront or office but instead hooking up people up with valuable items. He regards his business as something to do for fun just as much as profit, as his primary goal is avoiding a boring, droll existence. The items he sells are in line with this nature, designed to make the user’s life a little more interesting or giving them neat tricks to help them out in a pinch. Things like a Robe of Useful Items, Pipes of Haunting, Staff of Charming, or a Vial of Spiders whose contents refill over time.

Thoughts So Far: The Wanderer’s Guide to Merchants & Magic is off to a strong start. Given how many of the most popular settings for 5th Edition tend towards a high magic feel (Forgotten Realms, Spelljammer, Magic: the Gathering, and Midgard for 3rd party), having details for magic item trading beyond the DMG’s relative vagueness is a welcome one. The sample merchants and shops are flavorful and well-written, and their backstories and quest hooks help elevate them to something more than faceless vendors. Making their wares strongly themed also helps in encouraging characters making decisions on who to buy from and sell to when they end up with an impressive haul.

Join us next time as we cover the rest of the magical vendors and rules for bidding on items in auction houses!
 

log in or register to remove this ad


Libertad

Hero
QVXwUoJ.png

Chapter 2, Part 2

Saraab the Mirage is a djinni merchant whose shop is a two-horse carriage. He was the servant of many mortals over the past several hundred years, and when his last master freed him Saraab decided to pursue his calling of traveling the world. The djinni uses his immortal knowledge to his advantage, regaling customers with tales of kingdoms of long ago and the various reminders in his shop tie into his stories. As a powerful djinni, he can summon air elements or plane shift if confronted by danger, and can command the winds themselves to scatter his wares far and wide should he be forced to flee or die. Saraab’s inventory tends towards elemental and weather themed magic items. One particular magic item he has, the Djinni’s Bracers, are a cursed item that forces the wearer to fulfill the requests of anyone who begins their command with “I wish.” Saraab doesn’t sell these to anyone he likes, but to customers who treat those below them poorly and could use a lesson in humility

Shariil the Silent is a mute elven ranger who often makes camp near Feywild-touched realms. Her companion, Adras, is an elf polymorphed into the form of a fox who plays the act of a simple animal, saving his speaking skills for when needed or to surprise others. Shariil used to be able to speak and had a great singing voice, but a vengeful archfey cursed her with muteness and her lover Adras into fox form. Why? Because Shariil loved Adras and not him. Sharil’s inventory is themed around nature and archery, and her wares tend to be less expensive and more common than others in this book, perhaps to account for her lower Challenge Rating.

The Awkward Ettercap is Timothy, a monster who has led quite the interesting life.

As his epithet would suggest, Timothy is an awkward ettercap. One of a few thousand spiderlings born to a monstrous spider and a human janitor, Timothy spent the first two years of his life defending an old crypt with his siblings. Later, he went to space. Then, for a while, he lived in a lich’s bathtub. These days, he just goes wherever the road takes him.

Timothy’s quest hooks are uniquely humorous, like a jam session with an orcish bard inadvertently polymorphing the crowd into capybaras, or an egg sac full of thousands of his siblings hatching in the marketplace and scurrying everywhere. Timothy isn’t some uniquely strong version of his race, but his bizarre adventures have landed him the friendship of many powerful people who will come looking for anyone who harms him. Timothy’s basic inventory are cheap common-rarity magic items, although there’s a random 1d100 table which can put some powerful items hidden among his trinkets of increasing rarity. These can range from Goggles of Night and Immovable Rods, all the way up to a Holy Avenger or a Ring of 3 Wishes with one wish left!

The Black Tusk is owned by Captain Drubal, a half-orc former pirate captain who decided to go straight and turned his ship into a mobile shop. He still has a bit of the pirate side in him, and will not tolerate disrespect and insults aimed at him, particularly in front of a crowd. He keeps much of his merchandise stowed in a warded chest and has a loyal crew of pirates to back him up in a fight, including a magical lobster familiar who can link up to seven creatures via a Telepathic Bond. Drubal’s wares tend towards the nautical theme, such as a Trident of Fish Command, a Folding Boat, and Cloak of the Manta Ray.

1AwheRw.png

The Bone Merchant is what would happen if Resident Evil 4’s merchant was placed in a fantasy world. Appearing as a skeleton with a voluminous cloak with pockets full of merchandise, he appears in the deepest levels of dungeons, desolate wilderness, and other places prone to having stranded and desperate adventurers. His merchandise always seems to have just what they need, but he doesn’t ask for coin. Instead he trafficks in spilled blood, life energy, memories, and souls, going for bargains that can weaken his customers or are valuable to them. Adventurers low on supplies may even be asked for remaining important items. And all of these have rules for these kinds of offerings, along with their corresponding gold piece values for determining what can be bought.

The Bone Merchant can be justified as having whatever the PCs need most at the moment, but his standard inventory includes a variety of potions and scrolls along with some sinister-themed ones, like Demon Armor and a Flask of Cloning. The Flask is a new item which can grow a clone of a target, which upon death transfers their soul into the clone which rapidly grows to the original creature’s size.

The Collector continues with our “creepy merchants beholden to dark powers” theme with Urzt Drak’Shara, a dragonborn warlock who gathers souls for a powerful devil. His old adventuring party died when fighting him, and in exchange for having his life spared and for his former adventuring companions to be returned to life Urzt became his servant. He will give customers a discount of 1,000 gold per character level if they sign their names in a book. In reality this will bind the writer’s soul to his diabolic patron, but due to the rules of Hellish society anyone who asks Urzt about the discount (“sounds too good to be true”) will receive an honest answer. His favored customers are those willing to make great sacrifices in the furtherance of a cause, and his inventory bears unique curses on whoever steals the item by preventing them from gaining the benefits of a long rest. The inventory is themed around cursed items and items which can bestow harmful effects on enemies, such as a Staff of Withering or Dragon’s Scepter. The latter is a new magic item which can shrink and trap a dragon so that the user can draw on their power.

The Countess is a goblin woman with pretensions of nobility. She runs a famous tavern, and those who earn her interest can be shown her most valued goods. Her real name is Marizyn, and she left her tribe for the big city in hopes of making something of herself. She is biased against characters who remind her of those hard days, which include goblins and lower-class people. Her inventory includes poisons and roguish-themed magic items.

The Dragon Cartel is an organized crime syndicate run by Sniv, a kobold sorcerer who runs a waste management guild as a front for his more illegal operations. In addition to physical black market goods he also has a variety of services for sale, such as corpse disposal, creation of secret passages in a city, and safehouses for those on the run from someone. Although Sniv is fond of anyone and anything to do with dragons, he is biased against dragonborn who he regards as being almost as bad as gnomes. Sniv’s inventory is broad in focus, although his most expensive item, a Bag of Devouring, is an indication of what he uses to get rid of evidence.

The Gliding Giant is a frost giant by the name of Magnus. He is a consummate outdoorsman with a fondness for wilderness exploration, and travelers who spot his mammoth-drawn sled have an opportunity to talk about the tricks of the trade and buy survival gear from him. Magnus’ inventory specializes in magical items that can help one survive in the outdoors, such as Ropes of Climbing, Boots of the Winterlands, and a Map of Many Places. This is a new magic item that creates a topographical outline of the surrounding terrain.

The Timeless Tower is a structure that can appear anywhere in space and time, and many figures of cosmic importance have graced its halls. Its owner is Ezkellion, a powerful archmage of unknown origin who may greet the PCs as though he knew them for a long while. In fact this is true, for his temporal travels means he has met them before and is likely to know just what they need for some future task of great import. His inventory is broad in focus but tends towards the more expensive and powerful of magical items, with a few ones themed around time and the planes.

Vil’s Magical Shop is extradimensional and appears on the outside as a dilapidated or ruined building of some kind. Its owner, Vil, is a changeling who redoes his appearance and life story in line with whatever makes sense for wherever his shop is at the moment. Having walked miles in the shoes of all kinds of people he doesn’t have any real biases, but characters who can see through his disguise quickly earn his dislike. In addition to the shop being a mobile extra-dimensional plane, the magical merchandise is illusory and the real deals are summoned from the pages of a book that only works for Vil. The changeling’s merchandise is themed towards roguish and subtle magic such as illusion and enchantment.

1EYxhCz.png

Xin’s Gallery is a beautiful building located in the more well-to-do section of a town, with an architectural style closest to whatever Fantasy East Asian lands exist in the DM’s setting. Its owner, Prince Sorabia Xiniusa (or “Xin”), is the noble of a distant kingdom and far down the line of imperial succession. He found himself with little patience from the petty games of the aristocracy and used a royal allowance to make a new start far from home. Xin is fond of artwork and magic items that emphasize beauty and aesthetic pleasantries. Figurines of Wondrous Power, Animated Paintings, various rings, and the like are just a few of such wares that can be purchased from him. As the son of a prominent emperor, his shop is highly secure, with warrior monks, animated paintings that can summon monsters, and in the event of his death his family will resurrect him and hire all manner of people to hunt down the PCs.

The Auction House isn’t a specific shop so much as a general set of rules for DMs who want a change of pace. Auction houses sell all kinds of rare and expensive stuff, so naturally magic items are likely to find themselves up for bidding. The rules are relatively straightforward, where PCs put up a certain amount of gold in escrow that they’ll use during bids and compete against other attendants. Some auctions employ a tactic known as silent bidding, where participants write down their bids without knowing what the other participants are bidding. During such bids skill checks (and possible clever uses of class features and spells) can come into play in trying to guess what other people bid. Once that is done, PCs and NPCs can adjust their bids before the final results are revealed.

There are also guidelines for PCs who wish to put their own items up for auction, too. There are tables for rolling the makeup of guards (from mere mages and veterans all the way up to an adult silver dragon), magical defenses, and some colorful auctioneers and auction participants. In the latter case, merchants from this book are used along with randomly-determined GP amounts held in escrow.

Ke3EDXm.png

Chapter 3: Magical Adventures

This chapter details 4 adventures, all of which are tied to one or more merchants in this book. Their level ranges are quite wide but almost all of them are suitable for the higher ends of Tier 1 and all of Tier 2. There are suggested adjustments to encounters when rebalancing for different party sizes and levels.

The Highest Bid is an adventure where a morally bankrupt goblin, Mr. Gnax, is planning on getting rich by bidding a Bag of Monsters at the auction house he owns after murdering the previous owner. Illyath doesn’t want the bag to fall into the wrong hands, so she gives the PCs an invitation to the auction along with 7,500 GP to bid on the item. However, the Countess also heard about the Bag and hired an evil djinni/efreeti couple to get the magic item by any means necessary.

The adventure is rather open-ended, and there are multiple ways for the PCs to weaken security and opposition. For example, the head of security is a Lawful Good medusa knight bound to Mr. Gnax’s service due to a poorly-worded contract (“until my stopwatch reaches midnight” then turns it back everyday) and if freed will not interfere in the PC’s plans. Additionally, if the genie couple gains the Bag the PCs have the opportunity to overhear where they’re staying in town, but if the PCs get the Bag the genies will try to ambush them sometime after they leave the auction house. There are other items up for bid as well, along with mentions of the likeliest opportunities for PCs to sneak around during intermission. Overall, a well-designed adventure.

The Bard’s Delivery has Milando asking the PCs to deliver a magically-sealed crate to the House of Silence, a monastery where pilgrims visit to drink from magic waters rendering them mute for a year and a day. The crate contains a bard who was speaking badly about Milando, and the dark elf seeks to teach him a lesson by taking away his ability to sing. Complicating factors is that Ayyail, a drow-turned-drider priestess seeking revenge on Milando due to him playing a factor in her transformation, caught word of the delivery and seeks to disrupt the mission via hired mercenaries. The adventure details troubleshooting opportunities for PCs who go off the beaten path, like if they open the chest and find out from the bard what’s going on. Upon hearing the destination, the bard realizes he’s been given a warning and decides that going to the House of Silence is a better option than whatever Milando will do if he escapes.

Otherwise the adventure is a rather linear wilderness exploration where one of the mercenaries poses as a stranded traveler and will try to sabotage the party’s next long rest by unleashing a vial of spiders in camp. There’s also varying encounters depending on if the PCs go through the mountains or the swamp, which have their own minor environmental obstacles (deep chasms, mud which ungainly PCs can lose an item in). In fact, there’s a relatively even mixture of outright combat and non-enemy dangers, the latter of which can be overcome by skill challenges. Ayyail will attack the PCs at the House of Silence with three drow minions, and if the PCs are faring poorly it is possible Milando will intervene on their behalf. But he will not attack Ayyail directly as he still has some sorrowful fondness for her, for his exile and her transformation was due to a sexual tryst they had and she was well above his station.

The Countess’ Castle is a classic dungeon crawl in a haunted castle. The Countess sought to purchase an old noble estate to better cement herself in the upper class, only to find out that the dwelling is haunted. As her regular group of goons aren’t skilled in handling undead or exorcisms, she hopes that the PCs can make the haunted castle a suitable place to live.

The castle was formerly owned by Baron Horace Nightway, a greedy man cursed by a Wish spell into the form of an undead dragon to punish his avarice. As long as his treasure hoard remains, he will be trapped in his castle and unable to leave. The castle has 16 rooms with a variety of traps and some monsters. PCs can gather useful clues, such as a hidden chest containing treasure and the original deed to the castle which the PCs can use to blackmail or pull a fast one on the Countess. There’s also paintings of the Nightway family which provide one of several ways to unlock the vault door (only opened if a family member or someone who looks like them steps within 5 feet), and they can also meet Edgar the ghostly butler who can tell the party an alternative means of putting the Baron’s spirit to rest.

Baron Nightway is a unique dragon with shadow-based powers and a necrotic breath weapon that can drain Strength, and he has Legendary Actions to boot. PCs can slay the Baron in typical combat, but if they push his four large treasure chests into nearby acid vats they will free the Baron from his curse. This is a happier ending as he is able to depart into the afterlife on good terms with Edgar.

The Wizard’s Tower is an adventure for Azân. Somewhere in the Underdark a drow transmuter by the name of Awerna Aultar managed to get her hands on a rare breed of iridescent pseudodragon, a creature that Azân wants for himself. However, she disappeared and cut contact with everyone, something the former fiendish lord noticed; he thus hires the PCs to find out what happened and retrieve the pseudodragon.

In reality, Awerna combined the pseudodragon with a gorgon and rust monster into a unique kind of chimera, but she turned to stone as the chimera attacked her. Now her underground tower is eerily silent as a three-level, eight-room dungeon crawl. The tower has a variety of magical traps and defenses, and several of the monsters within include animated construct swarms posing as silverware, a cloaker who may cut a deal with the PCs and explain how her transmutation circle works if freed, and of course the unique chimera who has a petrifying breath weapon, legendary actions, and the ability to create illusory phantasms. One room contains a transmutation circle which can undo magic of that type. Getting the chimera inside it can safely separate the monsters and even unpetrify Awerna. The drow may not immediately attack the party, but she certainly won’t be willing to part with her prized possessions.

As for the iridescent pseudodragon, it has the unique ability to instantly end the effects of a nearby 5th level or lower spell once per day. The pseudodragon would much rather be free if informed of the party’s mission, and it’s possible that the PCs may use their social skills to convince either Azân or the pseudodragon of changing their mind. Outcomes which result in the fiendish lord not getting the pseudodragon may give the party half their reward in gold pieces (1,000 instead of 2,000) rather than the full amount.

Thoughts So Far: Once again, we have some strong contenders for Most Magnificent Merchant; almost all of them have interesting personalities, backstories, and services. The Countess and the Dragon Cartel are a bit too similar in theme for my liking, but that’s my only real criticism. I love the concept of the Bone Merchant, and the Awkward Ettercap makes for some great comic relief.

The adventures are well-done, containing a variety of “thinking man’s” challenges beyond straightforward combat as well as open-ended means of resolution. The Bard’s Delivery is a bit of a weak point in being the most linear.

Join us next time as we wrap up this book with new magic items along with random charts and tables for designing your own magic shop!
 


Libertad

Hero
y0wcD0a.png

Chapter 4: Magic Items

It’s only appropriate that a sourcebook themed around magic items includes new magical gear! For the sake of brevity I won’t cover them all, but will include the ones that stand out in being particularly interesting.

The Aegis of Dread is a shield that can impose the Frightened condition on someone who misses the wielder in melee; Animator’s Quill can be used to draw and bring to life a tiny creature, possessing a telepathic bond with the wielder and the ability to cast Invisibility on itself; Basilisk’s Blade can expend charges to deal bonus poison damage or cast the Flesh to Stone spell on a target; Beauty’s Bane is a mirror that can stun a creature looking into it as it becomes enamored with its own reflection; Caged Star is a morningstar which can expend charges to glow brightly, halving incoming damage from an attack and dealing extra radiant damage after the attack; the Clockwork Sword can do one of three effects when attacking with it (blinding flash, pushing a target away, or shocking them with lightning); Death Petal Rose is a plant one attunes to and has 3 nonrenewable charges which can be spent to auto-succeed on a death saving throw; Extending Staff can magically shorten or enlarge to grant a variety of benefits (5 feet a quarterstaff, 10 feet adds reach property, 15 feet can vault for extra distance on jumps); Ghost Shroud has charges that can turn the wearer incorporal until the end of their next turn; Heartlock Armor is studded leather which comes with a matching key that makes the wearer automatically succeed at any save which can alter their form should they so desire, and the key can be used to spend a charge to cast enlarge/reduce with no concentration or the knock spell; Jug of Endless Wind can create powerful winds the wielder can use to move objects and creatures, create a wall of difficult terrain that can block ranged attacks, or bestow short-distance flight via geyser jumps; Mithrandine Armor is mithral reinforced with adamantine in key sections, removing disadvantage on Stealth checks and turns any critical hits against the wearer into normal hits; Potion of Renewal comes in three varieties which allow the drinker to regain one spell slot of an appropriate level; Ring of the Blood Pact stores charges when the wearer absorbs the life essence from a dying creature as a reaction, and can spend those charges to roll an additional d20 on an attack, ability, or save check; Rope of Reaching creates a bodiless duplicate of the caster’s hands which can appear at any point up to 30 feet away and are capable of fine manipulation; Scroll of Time Travel can transport the reader and up to 8 willing creatures to a specific point in the past, and can transport them back to the present once a set-upon period of time passes (or the reader can choose “forever” where the travel becomes one-way); Sojourner’s Flute has charges which can be spent while playing to cast teleport, but only to the place the performer last used the flute (using the flute for the first time designates the location for the next teleport); various Tattoos which are consumable items that fade from the wearer’s body once used, such as Absorption which can absorb a set amount of damage from a specific damage type based on rarity, Devastation which can make a single attack be made with advantage and automatically crits on a hit, Heroism which removes and grants immunity to the Frightened condition along with temporary hit points, and Spell Turning which can rebound a spell at the caster; and a Wondrous Bestiary which allows the reader to make an Intelligence check plus double their proficiency bonus to know details about a certain creature type, and has charges which can be spent to learn aspects of a monster’s game stats (HP, AC, Vulnerabilities, Immunities, special qualities such as Legendary Resistance, etc).

Chapter 5: Make A Magic Shop

The shortest chapter in this book, these pages are little more than a series of random die charts and tables for determining the various facets of a magic item shop. There’s tables for race including both PHB-friendly and more monstrous results, generic details such as name, background, appearance, quirks, and biases, as well as the location, appearance, features, and security/inventory of the shop itself. We have 5 tables of broad magic item types (arms and armor, jewelry and clothing, etc) for determining what goods they have on sale using items from both the core rules and this book. In the case of these last tables, they are all d20 but one can choose to roll a smaller die as the higher results contain more powerful magic items.

Appendix: Magic Item Values

This appendix includes values for nearly every magic item in the 5th Edition OGL along with all of the new items in this book. A few items are intentionally left out in being too powerful or unpredictable in ways that preclude reliable pricing: these include the bag of beans, candle of invocation, deck of many things, orb of dragonkind, sphere of annihilation, talisman of pure good, talisman of the sphere, talisman of ultimate evil, and the well of many worlds.

The appendix is split into two tables, covering the SRD items and the ones in this book. They are arranged alphabetically rather than by price, and items requiring attunement have an “A” symbol next to them.

Thoughts So Far: I’m quite fond of the new magic items here. A few may be rather potent for their price, particularly the Potion of Renewal which can recharge spent spell slots (50 to 200 gp for 1st, 3rd or lower, and 5th or lower slots), and the Jug of Endless Wind can be used for long-duration flight as long as you have an action to spare (800 gp). The Scroll of Time Travel is open to all sorts of shenanigans, but its Legendary Rarity and being only sold at the Timeless Tower to trusted customers puts it more in the DM’s hands (10,000). The Wondrous Bestiary I can see as being extremely valuable to just about any adventuring party, but its metagaming features are limited in charges which makes it more of a useful thing to pull out at key points than something to use all the time (1,000 gp).

But overall, I like the new variety of magic items. The Make a Magic Shop chapter is also useful for generating merchants on the fly, too.

Final Thoughts: I really like the Wanderer’s Guide to Merchants & Magic. It serves a purpose that many gaming groups want which is overall lacking in the 5th Edition core rules. The fact that there aren’t many other sourcebooks like it makes it even more valuable. The adventures and sample shops are high quality as well, making this book more than just a list of item prices. Even those who don’t care for the magic item shop concept can still find it a useful resource in adopting the NPCs, adventures, and new magic items for their own campaigns. The Wanderer’s Guide has a little something for everyone, and for that reason I highly recommend it!
 

Libertad

Hero
This looks interesting, thank you for sharing. I don't typically use magic shops, but this just might change my mind!

It really blew me away with the high production values and supplemental material. I'm quite used to a lot of 3rd party 5e being bare-bones or situational. I did see some other "magic item shop" products on the DM's Guild, but they were lackluster in comparison to this one.
 

dave2008

Legend
It really blew me away with the high production values and supplemental material. I'm quite used to a lot of 3rd party 5e being bare-bones or situational. I did see some other "magic item shop" products on the DM's Guild, but they were lackluster in comparison to this one.
Maybe I missed it, but is there a link to where I can get this product. I think I am going to pick it up.
 

Libertad

Hero
You can get it on Drive-Thru RPG or Eventyr Games


 

dave2008

Legend
Thanks - I just purchased it. Thank you again for introducing me to the product.

PS any idea how to change the default language on drive-thru? I somehow changed it to Portuguese by accident!
 



Libertad

Hero
Someone on another forum asked me my thoughts on how well-balanced the pricing is for magic items in the book. I elaborated enough that I feel it deserves its own post.

I believe that I can only gain a holistic view via actual play, which I sadly haven't had the chance to do so. But just in eyeballing things, by the time individual PCs can purchase multiple RNG-boosting stuff they're at Epic Tier or very close to it. I think the Guide overall did a good job. There are some cheap items you can buy in droves, but they tend to be the kinds of things that are limited-use or give neat gimmicks vs the kind of things an entire build or character class would be an idiot to go without.

Here's the table for the refurbished PC Wealth by Level. This is for individual PCs, not the whole party:

sb7ZUfX.png


Just going by the SRD items...

Let's look at the various RNG-boosting items. The Belts of Giant Strength range from 4,000 (Hill Giant) up to 50,000 (Storm Giant). Enhancement bonuses for armor range are 1k, 10k, and 30k for +1 to +3. For weapons it is 500, 5k, and 15k. The stat-boosting Tomes cost 30k each. Wands of the War Mage are rather affordable, being 400, 2k, and 5k for the enhancement bonuses.

Magic items which can summon, control, or create creatures are singularly expensive. A Ring of Djinni Summoning is 50k, a Ring of Elemental Command is 20k, the items for Commanding X Elementals are 5k, an Efreeti Bottle is 25k, and an Iron Flask is 50k. A Manual of Golems is 5k. Figurines of Wondrous Power are on the cheaper side of things, ranging from 500 (onyx dog and silver raven) up to 4k (obsidian steed). Horns of Valhalla range from 10k to 25k. There are some exceptions, such as Pipes of the Sewers costing 500 but like the cheap Figurines are mostly for very weak creatures.

The more powerful ioun stones are also expensive: Mastery is 30k, Regeneration 8kk, although the others are more affordable ranging from 1k to 5. Staves of all kinds tend to average five-digit figures, with a few being four-digit (Healing, Python, Withering).

Potions overall are pretty cheap, ranging from 25 to 1k at most (storm giant strength) and are easy to buy in bunches. Spell Crolls are a tad more expensive, after 5th level they start costing more than 1k per scroll.

Fore more broad utility stuff, things vary. Wings of Flying are a pretty 4k, while a Carpet of Flying is 12k. A Stone of Good Luck is an affordable 1.5k. A Ring of Mind Shielding is a cheap 500, while a Ring of Protection is 2k. Amulet of Proof Against Detection and Location is 500, a Deck of Illusions is 1k, a Robe of useful Items is 1.5k, a Portable Hole 2k, a Bag of Holding 1k, and Adamantine Armor is 1k plus twice the cost of the base armor in question. A Ring of Invisibility is 8k.

Around low levels PCs can only really afford to splurge on a few moderately pricey items at most. Past the First Tier they can easily splurge on a bunch of cheap magic items and potions if they want. +1 weapons and armor are easy for PCs to obtain as well, but +2 and higher they need to start weighing the balance between raw RNG increases vs more general utility. Same deal for items that grant additional creature minions past a certain power level.

For example, let's say we want to buy gear for a sneaky "mage assassin" type. We get an Amulet of Proof Against Detection and Location for 500, a +1 weapon for another 500, Boots of Elvenkind for another 500, and a Ring of Spell Turning for 6k. That costs 7.5k in all, much of it from the Ring which is the only one they have to attune to. We'll spend almost all of our 10th level wealth, but around 5th level we can get the other items by investing all of our gold. By 8th level it's less of an all-consuming investment.

Let's say we have a tanky fighter. The good kind of tanky, not the one who defends Putin's invasion of Ukraine or claims that effeminate men are counter-revolutionary. A +3 armor is 30k, +3 shield another 30k, a Ring of Protection 2k, and a Cloak of Protection another 2k. They have to attune to the Cloak and Ring, leaving just 1 attunement slot open. This costs 64k, which is something that can only be earned at 19th level if buying on an individual basis.

How about we reduce the enhancements to +2? That makes the purchase 24k instead, which is still almost all the wealth of a 14th level PC.

Okay, let's try something else: a speedy swashbuckler. Scimitar of Speed for 10k, Ring of Free Action for 2.5k, and Boots of Speed for 3k. All of them require attunement, and cost 15.5k. They all deal with helping the character do more, be it an extra attack, doubling speed, or ignoring difficult terrain. While the bonus action activation of the Boots cannot be used on the same round as the scimitar's bonus attack, it can last for a duration of 10 minutes per day. In order for an individual PC to afford it, they'll need to be 12th-13th level, and again much of the investment comes from the Scimitar. At 9th level we can afford all but the Scimitar.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top