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Author Topic: Ye Old Magic Shoppe  (Read 1030 times)

Aglondir

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Ye Old Magic Shoppe
« on: May 10, 2022, 05:33:43 PM »
I'm thinking of running an OSR game. It seems to me that selling magical loot is an expected part of it. How do you handle that in your OSR game? Do you have a "magic shop" that buys and sells magic items? Do merchants know if items are magical, or do they employ wizards? Do they buy at list price or half list price? Do they sell at list price, or sell at all? Do your players role-play it out, haggle?

Or is all of that thinking about it too much? Is it "We sell the thing; Done?"

--------------------

Rick: So what do you have here?

Berek: This is a +5 Holy Avenger. I'm looking to get 5,000 for it.

Rick: Hmm... you see these markings here? They look like Pelor's holy text, but they could be fake. Do you mind if I call in an expert?

Berek: Sure, go ahead.

Galen: Hey Rick, what do you have for me?

Rick: The gentleman says this is a +5 Holy Avenger. Wondering if you could verify it.

Galen: Hmm... it looks like a cheap knockoff from the post-Turakian era. Back then, a lot of people would take +1 swords and inscribe them with "holy words." See this? These letters are clearly not Pelorian, as you can see when I compare them to the original text from the Book of Pelor, right here.

Berek: I know this is a +5 Holy Avenger. It's even got a certificate!

Galen: Sorry to tell you this, but it's just a +1 sword. We see them come through here all of the time.

Rick: Thanks man, take care.  (Galen leaves.) So, I can give you 50 gp for it.

Berek: 50? C'mon man!

Rick: I gotta go with my expert. 50 gp, take it or leave it.

Berek: Fine.

Rick: Great, see Chumlee to process the paperwork.


Steven Mitchell

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Re: Ye Old Magic Shoppe
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2022, 06:42:37 PM »
I don't know about anyone else, but for me, "magic shop" and "old school" anything aren't even in the same country, they are so far apart.  If an item is sold (or bought), it's a one-off deal done by knowing the right people, calling in some favors, etc.  Doesn't mean it happens only one time, but every time is different and peculiar to the item and circumstances.

However, usually a magic item is either kept (because you never know when you'll need it), used to gain a favor or other barter, or passed on to a henchman.  Or left in the dungeon with the body that fell off the ledge while the party was escaping or caught in the path of a disintegrate or something similar. :)

GeekyBugle

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Re: Ye Old Magic Shoppe
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2022, 07:07:49 PM »
I don't know about anyone else, but for me, "magic shop" and "old school" anything aren't even in the same country, they are so far apart.  If an item is sold (or bought), it's a one-off deal done by knowing the right people, calling in some favors, etc.  Doesn't mean it happens only one time, but every time is different and peculiar to the item and circumstances.

However, usually a magic item is either kept (because you never know when you'll need it), used to gain a favor or other barter, or passed on to a henchman.  Or left in the dungeon with the body that fell off the ledge while the party was escaping or caught in the path of a disintegrate or something similar. :)

This, I've NEVER sold a magic item, our current group even holds a cursed ring that drops your INT by a lot. Might come handy if we manage to trick a BBG to put it on.

As for a "magic shop" I could see it if it sells ingredients, paper, and other stuff the wizard needs, but I can only see it in a big city.
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3catcircus

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Re: Ye Old Magic Shoppe
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2022, 07:16:14 PM »
I don't know about anyone else, but for me, "magic shop" and "old school" anything aren't even in the same country, they are so far apart.  If an item is sold (or bought), it's a one-off deal done by knowing the right people, calling in some favors, etc.  Doesn't mean it happens only one time, but every time is different and peculiar to the item and circumstances.

However, usually a magic item is either kept (because you never know when you'll need it), used to gain a favor or other barter, or passed on to a henchman.  Or left in the dungeon with the body that fell off the ledge while the party was escaping or caught in the path of a disintegrate or something similar. :)

This, I've NEVER sold a magic item, our current group even holds a cursed ring that drops your INT by a lot. Might come handy if we manage to trick a BBG to put it on.

As for a "magic shop" I could see it if it sells ingredients, paper, and other stuff the wizard needs, but I can only see it in a big city.

This.  *Maybe* there is a hedge wizard or wisewoman who can cast 0-level spells who might have some raw materials for sale or trade.  You want access to higher level magic? You'd better be in a big city and a member of the mage's guild - even then you're not going to unload your +5-anything.  Unless you're doing a high fantasy campaign, magic should be illegal, unsafe, and rare...

FingerRod

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Re: Ye Old Magic Shoppe
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2022, 08:01:00 AM »
No, we do not have a labeled magic shop—that would not fit our theme.

But you bet your sweet ass buying and selling magic items is part of it. We have a sage who can identify magic items for free. He then will generally make offers for the item. I play our most recent sage like Richard Rawlings. He will sell items as well. Only unused magic items grant experience.

I have found the trick to this comes from how you set up your world/economy. Question back to Aglondir—how have you set up healing potions in your campaign? Who makes them? How much do they cost?

Godsmonkey

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Re: Ye Old Magic Shoppe
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2022, 08:40:16 AM »
I'm thinking of running an OSR game. It seems to me that selling magical loot is an expected part of it. How do you handle that in your OSR game? Do you have a "magic shop" that buys and sells magic items? Do merchants know if items are magical, or do they employ wizards? Do they buy at list price or half list price? Do they sell at list price, or sell at all? Do your players role-play it out, haggle?

Or is all of that thinking about it too much? Is it "We sell the thing; Done?"


TBH, last time I ran an OSR Fantasy game, 2nd Edition was in circulation. However back then, a +5 Holy Avenger would be nothing but legend. Most magic items were rare so the party typically didn't part with them. In some larger cities the Mages Guild might be able to arrange a purchase, assuming they weren't aligned with a thieves guild who would attempt to steal the item. (I did that rarely, but the players were always paranoid after that.) The church would buy them at the lowest price they could (Usually 25-50% listed value), assuming it was an item aligned with their philosophy, and the seller was a member of the sect. Of course there was the obligatory 10% tithing taken at the end.

hedgehobbit

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Re: Ye Old Magic Shoppe
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2022, 09:11:35 AM »
I don't know about anyone else, but for me, "magic shop" and "old school" anything aren't even in the same country, they are so far apart.

How can you say that when every early D&D campaign had magic shops? Even the very first dungeon expedition every made by anyone ended with a player selling the magic sword he found.

And even Gygax's books featured a magic shop where the dwarven proprietor could identify magic item just by their physical description.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2022, 09:14:02 AM by hedgehobbit »

hedgehobbit

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Re: Ye Old Magic Shoppe
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2022, 09:13:28 AM »
How do you handle that in your OSR game?

Just ask yourself how would a person go about buying an expensive piece of art or a rare antique in the real world. That's how magic item sales would work. Auction you need special invitations to, brokers, talking to other collectors, etc.

rytrasmi

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Re: Ye Old Magic Shoppe
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2022, 09:14:29 AM »
I don't know about anyone else, but for me, "magic shop" and "old school" anything aren't even in the same country, they are so far apart.  If an item is sold (or bought), it's a one-off deal done by knowing the right people, calling in some favors, etc.  Doesn't mean it happens only one time, but every time is different and peculiar to the item and circumstances.

However, usually a magic item is either kept (because you never know when you'll need it), used to gain a favor or other barter, or passed on to a henchman.  Or left in the dungeon with the body that fell off the ledge while the party was escaping or caught in the path of a disintegrate or something similar. :)
Exactly. There is no price because there is no market. There is no market because magic items are rare and unique.

Magic that is common enough to be sold at a shoppe is not magic. It's a physics phenomenon that is understood to a degree that allows retail trade.
This post is opinion and if it sounds like something more you are misreading it or perhaps I'm just a jerk. Q.E.D.

VisionStorm

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Re: Ye Old Magic Shoppe
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2022, 09:25:22 AM »
Magic items in old school games were so rare, practically all modules had them, many monsters (particularly high level ones) had at least a chance of having some in their possession, and one of the primary goals of the game was to raid dungeons for treasure in the hopes of finding them. Don't let prescriptive notions about how the game is "supposed" to be get in the way of what you want to do or what makes sense for your campaign.

If PCs have excess +1 swords nobody else in the group needs there's no logical reason you can't sell them off. And if there are enough magical items in your game for PCs not to need that extra +1 sword, the same will be true for other adventurers in the game world, considering that PCs will certainly not be the only ones. So there absolutely could be a market for them, even if they're limited in stock and relegated to obscure shop keepers and collectors, dedicated to a select clientele. And the idea that PCs are "supposed" to have henchmen and they're supposed to give it to them instead of selling them won't stop that from happening or produce these trusted henchmen out of the ether if the PCs don't have them.

Granted, magic items will probably still be uncommon and expensive enough that not every shop keeper in town will necessarily have them or be able to afford them. So it might be possible that PCs will need to travel and make connections to find people involved in the magical item trade. Which could be an adventure on itself, or alert thieves to the fact that PCs have excess treasure on them, opening up additional possiblities.

Ghostmaker

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Re: Ye Old Magic Shoppe
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2022, 09:48:23 AM »
As I have commented before: it depends on the setting.

In a middle to high magic setting, a la Eberron for example (or even FR), sure, a 'magic shop' could be feasible. A less adventurous wizard could make a decent living cranking out potions and scrolls.

rytrasmi

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Re: Ye Old Magic Shoppe
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2022, 09:52:59 AM »
Magic items in old school games were so rare, practically all modules had them, many monsters (particularly high level ones) had at least a chance of having some in their possession, and one of the primary goals of the game was to raid dungeons for treasure in the hopes of finding them. Don't let prescriptive notions about how the game is "supposed" to be get in the way of what you want to do or what makes sense for your campaign.
There's a difference between prescription and strong opinion. A lot of things did not make sense in old modules. Why do monsters hoard currency? Are they saving up for a better lair? If adventuring is so common that there are clearinghouses for magical items, why can items still be found lying around in dungeons? There must be a distribution mechanism. Perhaps reverse adventurers who go around hiding magical items and giving them to monsters to guard. Who's funding this and where are the insurance companies? Why risk your life to obtain a commodity item?

I've played in games where much time was spent in the shopping simulator and frankly it's boring (IMO). "Don't you want to haggle? No!" Besides, adventures around the magical item trade can be had whether you've got a wagon load of Acme brand +1 short swords or a single unique and powerful artifact.
This post is opinion and if it sounds like something more you are misreading it or perhaps I'm just a jerk. Q.E.D.

Steven Mitchell

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Re: Ye Old Magic Shoppe
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2022, 10:34:43 AM »
Well, not that I'm fully in the old school mode any more, but when I ran AD&D, I used the rules that equipment had to make saving throws in some situations, plus all the other crazy monster rust, acid, etc. problems.  So yeah, the party was finding a fair amount of magic in the modules, but it was a little bit "easy come, easy go".  Not exactly "easy", but you get the idea. I have fond memories of a near TPK because the party did not consider what a fireball might do to a magic carpet.  Shame to make your save against fireball and then take all that falling damage on top of it. :D

Now in fairness, I'm cheating on this question a little, with my current campaign and own system.  Quasi old school in some ways.  As Ghostmaker says, it's a setting conceit, albeit built into the implied setting of the system.  The system/setting assumes that between "mundane" equipment and "real magic" equipment, there is a middle ground of equipment that is better than normal, made via magical processes, but not otherwise magical thereafter.  The classic +1 sword is in this system just high quality equipment that gets that +1 to hit and damage, but isn't otherwise capable of, say, bypassing certain monster defense anymore than a mundane sword is.  It radiates a faint magic signature from a sufficiently advanced detect magic effect.  I've also got a few "high tech" items that fit in the category even though they have no extra properties.  Plate armor is an example--not something that can be made in this setting without magic, even if its technically +0 Plate.

Which means that:
- Basic mundane is bought and sold as expected.
- Middle made by magic stuff is in the "art auction, rare goods" category often, though can also be found in the proper shops.  There's no "magic shop" as such, but you can buy a +1 sword from a master smith directly.
- Real magic is the stuff of legend, and fits my attitude on old school outlined above.  Every buy/sell is a one-off, and thus rare, even when you can find the item.

Theoretically, you could have a metropolis that might edge into "magic shop" given that--except my setting caps out at moderate cities for other unrelated setting reasons.

Also, I think sometimes people confuse cause and effect on this question when discussing it, i.e. lost in translation.  I get that others reason from "D&D rules work this way, ergo in my setting there would be magic shops."  I dislike magic shops aesthetically, "therefore, the rules are adapted to make them not happen."  Plus, I wanted to back away a little from the common conceit of a world in decline/recovering from apocalypse to explain all the equipment available even when no one is making it, but without playing into the "magic as high science" gambit.

That is, the first question on the presence of magic shops is, "Does the GM want magic shops?"  Then make your rules fit that decision.  It's not rocket science.


VisionStorm

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Re: Ye Old Magic Shoppe
« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2022, 10:39:15 AM »
Magic items in old school games were so rare, practically all modules had them, many monsters (particularly high level ones) had at least a chance of having some in their possession, and one of the primary goals of the game was to raid dungeons for treasure in the hopes of finding them. Don't let prescriptive notions about how the game is "supposed" to be get in the way of what you want to do or what makes sense for your campaign.
There's a difference between prescription and strong opinion. A lot of things did not make sense in old modules. Why do monsters hoard currency? Are they saving up for a better lair? If adventuring is so common that there are clearinghouses for magical items, why can items still be found lying around in dungeons? There must be a distribution mechanism. Perhaps reverse adventurers who go around hiding magical items and giving them to monsters to guard. Who's funding this and where are the insurance companies? Why risk your life to obtain a commodity item?

I've played in games where much time was spent in the shopping simulator and frankly it's boring (IMO). "Don't you want to haggle? No!" Besides, adventures around the magical item trade can be had whether you've got a wagon load of Acme brand +1 short swords or a single unique and powerful artifact.

There's a difference between strong opinion and declaring that things that did happen never happened because you disapprove of them or prefer that history played out a different way. Even if it makes no sense for monsters to collect so much treasure the reality remains that that was a staple of old school gaming since the game's inception, even if the old school revisionists of today would like to erase that from history in favor of their version of what "old school" play should be.

As to how magical items can still be found in lairs despite adventurers clearing them out, the possibilities include several:

1) Adventurers in possession of magical items get killed all the time, and their friends might not always be able to reclaim their bodies, cuz sometimes they get killed as well, often by...
2) Intelligent monsters capable of using them also desire them as well, so they also hunt for treasure and may reclaim them from the bodies of dead adventurers.
3) Magic users have the ability to create magical items, so they're still in production, leading them to be in circulation, leading to more of 1 and 2.

Granted, some people may take issue with that last one, preferring that the creation of magical items be this obscure secret forgotten in the distant past, or the result of strange circumstances that imbue certain items with power. But the fact that some people may prefer things to be that way doesn't change the fact 1) the ability for magic users to create their own magical items has been part of the game for a long time, and 2) declaring that not to be so on the basis that you'd prefer it not to be (for anyone other than your own camping) would be prescriptive.

FingerRod

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Re: Ye Old Magic Shoppe
« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2022, 10:48:36 AM »
Magic items in old school games were so rare, practically all modules had them, many monsters (particularly high level ones) had at least a chance of having some in their possession, and one of the primary goals of the game was to raid dungeons for treasure in the hopes of finding them. Don't let prescriptive notions about how the game is "supposed" to be get in the way of what you want to do or what makes sense for your campaign.
There's a difference between prescription and strong opinion. A lot of things did not make sense in old modules. Why do monsters hoard currency? Are they saving up for a better lair? If adventuring is so common that there are clearinghouses for magical items, why can items still be found lying around in dungeons? There must be a distribution mechanism. Perhaps reverse adventurers who go around hiding magical items and giving them to monsters to guard. Who's funding this and where are the insurance companies? Why risk your life to obtain a commodity item?

I've played in games where much time was spent in the shopping simulator and frankly it's boring (IMO). "Don't you want to haggle? No!" Besides, adventures around the magical item trade can be had whether you've got a wagon load of Acme brand +1 short swords or a single unique and powerful artifact.

The challenge with strong opinion is the harder the push, the harder the push back. Your strong opinion comes down to preference, setting, and perhaps shared beliefs with your gaming group. All 100% legitimate.

Monsters hoards, items lying around on dungeons, and why risk one’s life are all easily explained by setting. I cannot tell by your examples of insurance and reverse adventurers if you are being humorous (how I’m taking it) or you are just over the conversation. But if you are genuinely curious, I can expand.

Agree on shopping simulator. I do not care to spend any significant game time at the general store. Rations, water skins, etc. Who cares? Get me your list off-session, or bring it with you to the game and give me a quick update.

Haggling with the sage to find out how much exp your newly acquired items are worth, when done correctly, IS dramatic. Not life and death as the combat waged/dungeon explored to obtain them, but finding out the exp rewards is compelling. It is also necessary to give proper weighting to the treasure tables used in early D&D.