Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Magic Shops - Do You Use Them?

There are times that I think magic shops (and their inclusion or exclusion) are one of the more controversial aspects of a campaign.

If you have one (or more) it makes magic common and no longer as special. If you have none, where do the player's sell off their excess magic (assuming they have any) or spend their gold in bulk?

I have no problem with the apothecary or scrivener adding an occasional permanent magic item to their inventory of wares, but I shudder at the idea of magic shops popping up like used car sales men:

"This here wand of fireballs was just used by the mage Bobulast to clean vermin out of his storage cellars. Hardly been used. Command word? Oh, that's an extra 50 geld."

If I did have a magic shop, I'd want it to be more like an antique shop with perhaps an anti-magic effect over the shop, preventing items from being misused against the proprietor.

"That there is a rare piece. One of a kind even. Look at the patina on that blade, shows it's age and it's heritage it does. You'd want to leave the patina. I wouldn't clean it more than a slight buffing or you'll ruin it's value. Yep, might only be a blade of minor power but it has a history well worth it's weight in gold. Er, careful with that snow globe. Iffin it drops we may find ourselves in the midst of a snow storm, magic protections or not. Remember, you break it, you bought it."

So, do you use magic shops? To what extent?


  1. I do tend to include magic shops in my game, but only the large cities have them (and then only one). If players need to get rid of excess magic items while somewhere else, I tend to let them sell to temples and npc mages.

  2. Alchemists only. Magic items are rare and tend to ne posessed ny the bery powerful or bybreligious organizations (who naturally build false muths aroumd the otems over time).

  3. As usual with such things, the answer is "it depends". If the setting is gonzo, over-the-top, making light of the tropes and assumptions of fantasy gaming and fiction, then sure. If not, then the players had better be on the lookout for a collector with a lot of cash if they want to sell - and don't even think about buying!

  4. In my worlds we have "Omar's" which is something like a Bass Pro Shop for adventurers. But if you ask the right questions or grease the right palm you can be allowed to see the "special collections" which include magic items.

    In my 3e and 4e games it was more Gonzo. In 5e so far Omar is only rumored to have magic items.

  5. No magic shops whatsoever. Magic is mysterious, weird, and rare.

  6. I never use magic shops. Crazy private collectors may buy magic items, but they will NEVER sell them.

    Every magic item is placed by me (or rolled randomly and approved by me), and I accept full responsibility for including it in my campaign.

  7. No magic items for sale at Ye Olde Magick Shoppe in most campaigns I''ve ever run.
    I do have shops where compoenets, magical materials, and inks can be bought but not finished products.
    Where do people sell all their junk magic items? They don't. Why would someone rich enough to buy a magic item not simply be powerful.enough to take the magic item?

    1. One concept I've used before is that good-aligned temples in my campaign worlds are somewhat hostile to magic-users and non-clerical magic items, though not to the witch-hunt or Inquisition level. Therefore, they have "magic item buyback programs" (similar to the gun buyback programs in some RW areas) whereby the temples purchase sinful magic items from adventurers and throw them into sacred furnaces. The reason they don't just take them from adventurers is "because that would be wrong". Clerical items are also purchased, for use by the temples.

  8. I don't, but I have some thoughts on ways to make life more interesting here:

  9. Absolutely, but few and far between. The players prefer it that way and it doesn't disrupt the campaign, I can't help but think that such a business would be untenable; the economics would just not work out given the ratio of customers with money to paying the costs of the business.
    I think such a shop's profits would pale in comparison to the magic shop that sells magic coolers to freeze or keep food fresh or heaters to stay warm without consuming fuel. Heck in a large urban environment, toilets with a permanent disintegrate spell at the bottom to get rid of the sewage would probably sell like hotcakes. I know, I know, I can hear the safety advocates among you saying "What if my kid fell into the loo?" I'm sure grates could be installed or something or maybe a wire mesh?
    Practical applications would be far more lucrative than selling swords or wands any day.

    1. The D&D Gazetteer Principalities of Glantri experimented with this idea in very campy ways. I have a fondness for that vision of the magical economy.

      Charmed Black Pudding garbage disposals, Fire Elemental-powered central heat, etc.

    2. Elementals! I hadn't even considered them. Think of the possibilities; a wind-wagon in every barn, self-plowing fields and all your HVAC needs are met with a simple command. Add a skeleton to the household to handle the laundry and most of the drudge work of the ancient world has been taken care of.

    3. Unseen Servants, golems, etc.
      Magical Moving services (teleport without error for the, ahem, Discerning Prince)

      And, of course, with such modern innovations come Bureaucracy, Taxes, and all the other necessaries. :D

  10. No magic shops but the occasional item of power is traded on the black market. PCs that have a good relationship with a dubious vendor may get the occasional offer.

  11. My comments above notwithstanding, I generally don't put "magic shops" into my games.

    There are collectors who will pay the PCs for items. But there's nowhere they can go to buy ready-made anything more powerful than a Potion of Healing. But I have very, very generous rules permitting PCs to make magic items and research spells even at low levels.

  12. I fall into the "It Depends" crowd.

    In my Mystara campaigns, things were always kind of wacky and wahoo. The BEB Trading Company (as in the Black Eagle Barony, i.e., Bargle) featured prominently into any "magic stores" the player's encountered... so they quickly became wary. Except in Glantri or Alphatia, and Thyatis City, where such things were available from a selection of merchants.

    In the Wilderlands, I'd let players find a few lesser magic items at the Sorcerer's Supply. Usually potions and scrolls, now and again a wand or ring or miscellaneous item. They could also find out rumors of the whereabouts of specific items at that store and a few other similar locations...

    In almost all cases, +1 and +2 weapons were available via appropriate racial smiths, bowyers, and so forth, such magic being part of the rune-enchantments of the Dwarves and Elves. But even these are few and far between, often must be sought out and found.

    +3 and better weapons, now, those had to be found or stolen...

    Similarly, healing potions and most of the like were available, usually but not always, at Goodly temples; the gold of the adventuring and noble classes going to subsidize the healing and care of the poor and common folk.

    But the outright sale of any and every magic item in the book? Nope. I remember when some players who started out in 4E were playing in LL, and they expected to be able to effectively trade in their lesser magic items for a greater one (I think they had two +1 daggers and wanted to buy a +1 sword) at a normal local general store. Lots of confusion ensued then...

  13. I have used them but they were really rare and were back-alley establishments. You have to know a guy on the inside to go in. I've also made a fake magic shop. They won't buy your stuff but they'll sell. The players don't even try Detect Magic to see if they're getting scammed.

  14. Like a good porn star I go both ways.

    Sometimes I run campaign where magic is no even available to the players. It's in the background. A force of nature. Other campaigns I've run magic is a commodity that can be bought and sold, legally and illegally. And all the shades in between.

  15. I remember running a fun AD&D session with one of my players whose magic-user was buying and selling magic items at the Magic-Users Guild in the City of Greyhawk.

  16. I do like the idea of a magic shop, but not a Magicks 'R' Us kind of shop, where you can find anything you want, and if they don't have it in stock, they can special order it for you wholesale.

    Typically, most cities of significant size in my games will have a couple of shops in competition to sell potions and other low powered one shot items. Occasionally, you will find an artisan who is willing to sell a low level magic item, but usually there are so many of those lying around in the dungeons that the characters don't think about buying them. This same artisan may be cultivated into a resource who can help identify magical items that fall in their specialty, and may possibly be willing to accept a commission to manufacture a special item for a character, but it is always costly in one form or another. After all, the process of permanently enchanting an item is physically taxing and time consuming... if the players aren't willing to expend the effort themselves, then they will pay for it.

    This is also is how I explain why the economy is not overflowing with magic gear -- part of the expense for the commision is to provide raw materials for the creation process. A sufficiently skilled artisan is capable of reforging the magical essences from magical equipment along with the physical materials. This allows the creation of unique magic items without the master needing to be a wizard.

  17. Only, only, only in Sigil. Even then it's just the Friendly Fiend where magical trinkets are for sale. They're mostly harmless, really.

    Magical Haberdasheries and such are just way Higher Fantasy than I typically enjoy.

  18. Nope. In large part that's just because a magic shop just doesn't fit the feel of my campaigns: I skew a few centuries older than standard D&D, I think, so there just aren't that many "shops" of any sort. And magic just isn't that common. You can probably buy trinkets and relics from various hedge wizards and scam priests, but at best you'll be looking at a 1-time bonus to a roll.


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