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D&D General Story constructs to facilitate game play


This one is system independent, so feel free to jump in.

Since early role playing (cough-D&D-cough) I've seen a few hundred answers to how/where PC's turn loot into cash, or where they go to find needed items or specialized supplies.

The classic "You meet in a Pub/Bar" was the way PC's got hired or found adventures, as well as each other.

In the campaigns I'm involved it we have the Delver's Guild. It's a club (yes there are dues) for those who delve into ancient ruins, explore hidden territories and take on impossible odds (read: PCs) to gather. Magical components can be bought here, as well as raw materials for magical crafting. They'll generally act as the middle men when PCs bring in loot they need to dispose of, which also means that they often have magical goodies that some other group brought in for sale.

Now "dues" often get waived, once you're a member, if you are one of those people who buys or sells good stuff. It's kind of worked into the price structure.

I've also seen games where Magic Shops can be found in many cities.

Such shops might exist, sort of, in smaller towns, but they'll deal mostly in components and things like Ever Burning Torches/Continual Light items (from early D&D), and maybe a few 1st level spell scrolls. Cure Hangover is a popular potion (Alchemists Mercy in some editions, or the "Blessings of Bacchus" in others.) "Love Phylters" are available, though they're most commonly scented soap flakes or liquids, with the instructions to "mix with warm water, then soak or anoint yourself all over" with the mixture. In other words, take a bath you smelly person, and maybe someone will be willing to get within arms length of you. :)

In some campaigns I had the convenient story construct that such shops existed, and dealt in adventurer class items, but they seldom had any on the shelf. Instead they would look for a particular item (for a non-refundable research fee) to see if someone had such a thing for sale. Generally the price would be some lesser bit of magic, plus cash, for the greater item. After all, +3 swords aren't sitting on a shelf someplace. They're in the hands of adventurers. So the PC would pay the research fee, then the shop keeper would send out inquiries for someone who had such a thing, then work out the three-cornered deal, where they get a "fair" cut for their trouble. And said item would be available in a week or two, or three, or maybe a month, or maybe never. No instant gratification, sorry.

In some games PCs have sought knowledge, and occasionally even wisdom, from reputable sources. Seers, sages, scholars and probably a dozen other trades whose names start with "S"... And those two had a fee structure.

The "Thieves Market" is also an interesting place to find odd items, and todispose of them. Also a good place for plot hooks as well. :)

For me, these institutions and organizations exist to help the game flow smoothly, to minimize the table time spent on such things.

So, what groups, trades or types of individuals do you use in your game to facilitate smooth story flow?

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A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Don't forget family. One of the characters' background may be that s/he is from a mercantile family who funds their adventures. That character hires the others (or several of the characters could be related). Some of the greatest adventures in Human history are family funded, or self-funded (from own wealth or borrowing) by those from mercantile families. Marco Polo being perhaps the most prominent example.

Just the other day I was listening to the story of Captain Thomas Musgrave on the "Survival" podcast, again, a family-funded adventure that lead to one of Australia's most famous shipwreck/castaway storys.

If you get away from save-the-world adventures, and go to a more old school adventure, mercenary, fortune-seeking style of play, then the various mercantile adventures of real history provide plenty of inspiration.


My next campaign starts with a reading of a will. The PCs inherit a fief. There's a lot of problems with the fief, but potentially great profit. A little different way of getting a campaign rolling for me. We'll see how it goes.

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