Ye Olde Market of the Unclean

We see it in countless settings: the gatherings of the occult, the mutant, the seekers of That Which Man Was Not Meant To Ken, and so forth in order to buy, sell, trade, and bargain. Usually at random intervals in out-of-the-way locales.

The PCs have to jump through various hoops to find the place, and to obtain the Wonderous Diet Bars of the All-Seeing, which they will used to bribe the Sand Witch in order to obtain the lore needed to locate the Rolodex Of the Elder Gods, with which they can prevent the Current World Crisis.

So, my question is:
1) how do you make this trip to the Market of Night something more than a short predictable bit of role-play?

2) How do you keep your players from turning this is the shopping expedition from Hell, unbalancing the rest of the campaign?
 

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Ah, the Goblin Market off of Fiddler's Green. One of my favorite places!

This being more mystical, memories and experiences are the major coin. You, too, can have this delightful object, it just costs the memory of your first kiss. (-1 WIS / CHA, -2 fear saves from lower self-confidence, &c.) You also have the other shoppers. Not rivals, although you might run into them there. But people from other realms or even planes. You might be able to make friends with the Kelmain captain of the Fourth Cohort, the Amethystine Holdfast. And, if your players have come across dark water (water from an underground spring that light has never touched) or moonsilk (spiderwebs harvested gleaming in the light of the full moon), or even some grave wax, here is the place they can unload such things.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Some systems have built-in social mechanics that can help, but setting that aside, I'd go with the notion that people who are new to the market don't get served except in the lowest sort of way. Make it explicit that the whole idea is about who you know and the economy of influence and favours. That gives them a ton of hand holds to plat off of but still doesn't commit you as the GM to anything in particular.
 

MGibster

Legend
1) how do you make this trip to the Market of Night something more than a short predictable bit of role-play?

2) How do you keep your players from turning this is the shopping expedition from Hell, unbalancing the rest of the campaign?

1. I think interesting NPCs would really help make it more than a short predictable bit of roleplaying. Maybe the purveyor of books filled with knowledge man wasn't meant to know always looks like he's about to laugh at a joke only he gets. Maybe a blacksmith makes wicked looking weapons and claims all sorts of terrible things like his swords were "quenched in the blood of unbaptized childrend," but in reality they're just regular weapons made the old fashioned way. You could also make the market the occasional source of new adventures. The PCs want something valuable, but the seller doesn't want gold, he wants something else of value...

2. This is the kind of market where you don't do a lot of browsings. The people who come here have some idea of what they're looking for, and if you don't know who or what to ask, you're not going to get anything special. When they're just browsing, they see a bunch of junk and mundane items. They're not going to walk into the bookshop and see the Necronomicon in the religious section. If they're just browing, they're going to find a bewildering number of books that are of no immediate use to them. Think of a few titles, The Mating Rituals of the Bog Goblins of Crackleberry Cove is a pretty good read if you want to get in the mood. And you're into short green people.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Someone I read about recently, maybe Jesse Ross, is currently working on a big Goblin Market project that looks to have a metric ton of random tables and whatnot. That might be something to keep an eye out for.
 

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