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    Canonfire :: View topic - To Be or Not: The Magic Shop
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    To Be or Not: The Magic Shop
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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Thu Apr 14, 2005 3:09 pm  
    To Be or Not: The Magic Shop

    This came up in the Hold of the Sea Princes thread, and since I haven't found anything addressing this, I thought I'd ask here:

    DM's, do you allow your players to enter a particular storefront in your campaign and purchase a magic item "off the shelf"? And what are your reasons?

    I actually use Ye Olde Magic Shoppe quite a bit. In a village, it'll be chock full of snake oil, cure-alls, herbs, and local remedies. You can find some nifty spell components (enough to reload a pouch) for your more common spells. You might even find a real potion, but the proprietor probably doesn't know what it is. You can ask for a particualr magic item, and your great-grandchildren might be able to pick it up and bury it with you. Oh, and it'll cost a fortune.

    In small towns you'll find more of the same, but there will be a few arcane potions (identified) and maybe a disposable magic item or two. Expect the weird item (that no one wants) to show up once in a while, too. "Murlynd's Spoon? What's that do?" Don't know? Heh, it'll cost you a king's ransom to find out.

    Large towns will cater more to the arcane spellcaster, having more exotic spell components and equipment, as well as a limited amount of potions. Scrolls and other disposable magic items will be a little more available, and picking up one cheap item (say a +1 weapon, or a minor wondrous item) shouldn't be impossible, though it could take a while. Since a lot of their clientele actually can make magic items, prices are not going to be outrageous.

    Small cities will pretty much duplicate what's available in the large towns, though there may be more than one shop. If there's only one shop, expect it to have lots of equipment for the arcane casters and alchemists. There will be some potions and scrolls available immediately, and with the shop's connections, more or unusual disposable items should be available within a day. Prices should be pretty close to "book" for items immediately available. Minor magic items and weapons should be available from time to time, but the shop will pretty much act as an intermediary. It will buy that +1 dagger from the party, and sell it to a buyer in the city. If the party is looking for a Cloak of Resistance +1, they may have to wait a few days, but they should be able to get their hands on a common magic item like that.

    Large cities and metropolises (metropoli???) should have a few small shops that cater to the common folk, a couple for the adventurers and merchants, and propably one that handles the high-end clientele. The adventurer shops will pretty much duplicate the small city shops, but the prices will be a little lower. The high-end shop probably won't be identifiable as a store, but rather a library or private museum. There won't be much of anything on hand, but the curator can acquire what the characters want (and can pay for) within a few days or so.

    I also bear in mind the DMG's tables for population centers and their available purchasing power. This helps to keep the hamlet from selling Vorpal Greatclubs (yeah, I know). It also keeps the characters from dumping those four potions of Jump in the same farming community. Both cases require a larger population base.

    Now, as far as divine support, that's all dependent on the church, the faith, the cleric, and the character. For example, I let characters purchase a couple of potions of Cure Light Wounds at the church of Pelor in a large town, but they're pretty much out of luck in a village. But I'll bend on that if there is a Pelor-worshipper in the party. Or I'll bend a lot for a cleric of Pelor in the party.

    That same cleric of Pelor asking for help at the temple of Hextor? Heh, roll initiative...

    So how about you?
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    Thu Apr 14, 2005 4:54 pm  

    I have alchemists and herbalists of varying degrees of competence around. However, permanent magical items are not sold over the counter. They are all by commission or sold at private auctions.

    I simply don't think the supply of such things is high enough to support stock inventory. Too many wealthy people would buy such things up outright, IMHO.
    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Apr 14, 2005 6:06 pm  

    I am against the "Ye Olde Magic Shop" it simply reeks of laziness, it is such a waste of countless RP and adventure hook possibilities.

    Putting aside such obvious problems as theft (no thieves in town?) and the threat to public safety, if Frank the town idiot gets his hands on that horn of blasting on the shelf.

    Not to mention the weekly visits from the taxman, not doing well Laughing , you have more wealth on this shelf than this whole town is worth...see you next week.

    Here is a pubished economic rationale I found and sounds reasonable:

    Since most people make the goods they sell, a large inventory is not a typical practice in most workshops. A large inventory means things are not being sold or that something has been sitting on the shelf too long. Expensive items are not kept in inventory because they cost too much to make. This is especially true of magic items, expensive in either material cost or the level of skill required in their creation. A ring of protection +1 only costs 4,000 gp, but its forging requires a 12th level caster with the forge ring feat. Expensive or unusual items typically have to be commissioned. If expensive or unusual items are bought on site, they are probably the craftsmenís personal belongings.

    From : A Magical Medieval City Guide

    Just a thought...
    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:40 pm  

    I have Magic Shops in most cities over 10000 people, but they are not simply private stores. The magic shop is run by the Magic User's Guild. The "shop" is not a physical entity (a storefront with big display windows!) so much as the sum of all the items the Guild is willing to sell to the PC's. Entrance to such a "shop" is granted on approval of someone in the Guild. All members in the Guild are sworn to act against thieves, so theft is rare.

    It also means that the shop does not have to make a profit by itself - it is an extension of the Guild, and exists more to regulate the sale of magic items than to profit from it. The Guild wants to know who has what, and in many cases they will refuse to allow certain items to be purchased by certain people. Getting in good with the Guild (through RP) gets you access to more items and items at cheaper prices.

    At the very least, the shop will have spell componants for common spells, as well as texts about magic, scroll supplies and inks, basic alchemical equipment, and so on. When PC's first gain access to a shop, I randomly generate magic items until the worth of the items exceeds the population of the city - the items generated are those available for sale. For example, in a city of 15000, I might roll magic items worth 4000gp, 2000gp, 10000gp...then stop, because the last item put me over 15000. These three things are then the magic items currently available in the shop. Then I determine how long that item will remain there, based on value, population, and whether the item is permanent or not. If the PC's return to the same store a year later, probably all of the potions will have been sold and replaced, but the big ticket items would still be there, lacking buyers. When an item is sold, I make another random roll to replace it, or more than one, until the total value again exceeds the town's population.

    Much of the money to be made on magic items comes not in their manufacture, but in their identification. Adventurers probably bring in more "recovered" magic items than new ones are produced, at least for permanent items. If adventurers bring in an item, I charge them one third the book value to have it identified by the Guild. If they wish to sell it to the Guild shop, they can then sell it at book value. The Guild does not buy items it has not been paid to identify (except from Guild members). If PC's wish to purchase an item the Guild Shop maintains, they will pay one third more than book value, and the item comes with a guarantee as to its authenticitry and identification.

    If players wish to sell an item whose value is more than the population of the city, the Guild will not pay them up front. Instead, after they have received a handsome fee from the party to identify the item, they will take it on consignment. They will hold the item until it is actually sold, and only then give the money to the PCs. Players in my campaign recovered a Reverse Gravity scroll from a slain NPC. As a 7th level spell (IIRC) it is worth a small fortune, but that means there are few buyers for it. They gave the scroll to the Greyhawk Mages Guild in the hopes that it would be sold, but it has been sitting on the shelf two years now and so far not a copper has gone to the PC's for it.
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    Fri Apr 15, 2005 2:24 am  

    Engaging rant mode

    Magic shops where some old fella has a +1 magic sword for sale seems to me to be just plain wrong. A permanent magic item should be IMC a wondrous thing, crafted for a purpose and not generic. Every +1 sword is different, made for a different purpose and by a different creator.

    If magical items are arrayed like boxes of cornflakes in a supermarket then it cheapens the mystery of magic. So as you may guess I don't use magic shops, but I do use herbalists who sell herbs and components.

    As a last thought, my players don't share my hatred of magic shops and often look for them, so to aid them in learning a lesson they met a couple of 'salesmen' on the road, who sold them a magic sword (just the usual magic mouth on it to make it detect magic) and several magical bags that made kept food fresh all the time (proved by taking out a still warm loaf of bread from the bag, however the seller had just that moment baked it).

    IMC a fool and his money are easily parted if he goes shopping for magical items.

    Rant mode off, spleen emptied
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    Adept Greytalker

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    Fri Apr 15, 2005 2:29 am  

    Well there is precedent for Magic Shops in the Gord novels. Some dwarf sells him his magical dagger. And it's no in the City of Greyhawkl but some backwater town, whose naem escapes me now.

    I always considered the lower powered and priced magical items to be semi-magical, (i.e. +1 = forged from magical steel, or something like that) and possibly avialable in certain shops.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Fri Apr 15, 2005 8:02 am  

    I only have 1 true "magic shop" in my campaign, Withmore's Wonders in City of Greyhawk, and even then the vast majority of the items with in are magical baubles and trinkets for the ammusmunt of the rich rather then items that would be of use to adventurers.

    on the other hand, temples will often sell potions and scrolls to faithful followers, and potions, scrolls, minor wands and some times a few other realitvly weak useful items can be found for sale from various shps, orginazations, or guilds... No shop (other then Withmore's) specializes in selling magic items however, and in any case moderate and powerful items can only be found for sale by commision, private auction, or case by case basis (If Noble x is known to own Horseshoes of the Zypher, a character might beable to apporach him, determine if he is willing to sell them, and then haggle with him for a price, etc).
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Fri Apr 15, 2005 10:48 am  

    Let me preface this by saying that Iím just starting my second group in my campaign (1st level, no magic yet), and Iím curious how other DMs handle this issue. My Saturday group has magic shops (for now); Iím not sure if my Thursday group should or not, and Iím wondering what to recommend for my friendís Sunday group.

    AnyhowÖ
    If there is no magic shop, where do the characters sell off that loot they gathered? Do you make them use moneychangers, arrange for auctions or auctioneers, charge them for exchanging valuables, send them on quests to track down spell components like guano and spider webs, and so on? Or do the clerics get all of the benefits, having an organized structure that can hand out potions and scrolls and wands and such?

    When my characters reach the level where they start acquiring magic items, they tend to get a little picky. The fighter who specialized with the greatsword isnít thrilled about having a +1 spiked chain. The cleric is okay with the +1 hide armor of hiding, but her half plate is better. And so on. I find that if there is a place in the larger communities where the characters can go to rid themselves of unwanted items, the players are happier.

    That +1 spiked chain may not get the fighter 1000 gold coins, but Fred the shop-keep knows someone who may be interested in the chain. Olí Fred will take the chain off the fighterís hands, throw in this one-pound gold trade bar, and can get him those three Potions of Bullís Strength he was asking about in a day or two.

    Call that a pawn shop, or a broker, or whatever; thatís just semantics. But do you have a place where characters can buy/sell/trade? Or is magic such a foreign concept that no one in your campaign has ever thought of doing that before?

    No, I am not talking about grabbing a shopping cart and walking through the aisles. Shocked No, Iím not envisioning clerks with green aprons and price guns directing you to ďAisle Six, next to the Vorpal BladesĒ. Shocked No, I donít ever want to say (in non-player character) ďFred, price check on a Wand of Wonder.Ē Shocked

    So call it laziness. Or munchkinism. Or whatever. Do you other DMs out there have a way for the party to get rid of the stuff they donít want and get the stuff they do want?
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    Adept Greytalker

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    Fri Apr 15, 2005 11:59 am  

    Quote:
    If there is no magic shop, where do the characters sell off that loot they gathered?
    at least in my campaign, while there are few people willing to just go around selling magic items willy nilly, there is nver realy a shortage of people willing to buy them.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Fri Apr 15, 2005 12:05 pm  

    What edition do you play?

    If you play 3rd edition player wealth (including purchasing potions, scrolls, wands, magic weapons etc.) is a built in mechanic of the system.

    I made the mistake of running my first 3.0 campaign without taking into account the fact I was giving out less magic and gold than is what is prescribed in the DMG.

    It wasn't long before half the party was getting wiped out in most encounters.

    Its a pretty hard balancing act, especially if you don't allow any magic shops and are stingy with the magic item treasure.
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    Fri Apr 15, 2005 1:18 pm  

    cwslyclgh wrote:
    I only have 1 true "magic shop" in my campaign, Withmore's Wonders in City of Greyhawk, and even then the vast majority of the items with in are magical baubles and trinkets for the ammusmunt of the rich rather then items that would be of use to adventurers.


    Happy IMC, this is what I do as well. In the whole of the Flanaess, there is only one, true, Olde Magick Shoppe and it is in the City of Greyhawk because only that city has a sufficient native population of adventurer types that, combined with a sufficient pass through traffic of adventurer types, can support a shop whose sole stock in trade is in magic items. Like cwslyclgh, the shop does not stock everything, especially high powered items, but it might on ocassion have some. If characters can't make it to the City of Greyhawk, they must make do with the local wizard's guild, which is usually only going to be interested in buying, not selling, unless it is on commission which will take time, not off the rack.
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    Fri Apr 15, 2005 1:27 pm  

    I guess Ye Olde Magicke Shoppe would fit into a campaign depending upon the treament of magic. In a low magic campaign, where +1 swords are the property of dukes and major nobles, then it would seem fitting for them to be a strange sight, if not unique (except for the CoGH). In a mid-magic setting, then they may exist at a very low level in major cities, selling trinkets and minor magic items. In a high magic setting then Ye Olde Magicke Shoppe would be a franchise, with a branch in nearly every major conurbation (think Starbucks with more wands and potions Shocked ).

    I personally lean towards magic being a rare and wonderful thing, not the play-thing of the masses, but rather a dangerous and unknown entity that some wield to their advantage, but most wield to their doom.
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    Fri Apr 15, 2005 2:29 pm  

    So I guess that the consensus (so far) is that a little herb-and-bauble shop is fine. And that if the PCs want to sell, some one will want to buy. If the PCs want to buy, the DM will plan a roleplaying session around that single exceptional purchase.

    Phoebus asked:
    Quote:
    What edition do you play?


    Currently 3.5, but I've had the same... issue... since the early days of AD&D. I guess it comes down to the DM's opinion of the "magic level" of Oerth.

    As had been said previously, the magic level would determine the presence of the magic shop, and I do not disagree with this at all. I've always seen Greyhawk as mid-magic. Mordenkainen, the Circle of Eight, half of the PHB devoted to spells, the notion that a 4-person party HAD to have a Magic User... all of that (and more) was burned into my brain back in AD&D and the days of the Folio and Boxed Set.

    I fondly remember a party going to recover three minor artifact weapons from a semi-active volcano near Riftcanyon. And I remember thinking that keeping the weapons was a viable option as a 10th level party. After all, if the (former) owners needed us to get the weapons back, who was going to stop us from NOT handing them over?

    10th level characters with intelligent, unique weapons? Heh, yeah. S2 rocked! But is that an example of Greyhawk being "low magic"? Not in my opinion. Sure, a DM can discount that adventure (it's your game), but it IS part of the fabric of Greyhawk. There are other examples, such as N1 or the U-series or the A-D-G-Q-series, but my point is this; Greyhawk doesn't appear to be "low magic".

    Comparing Greyhawk to other campaign settings may strengthen the argument that Greyhawk is "low magic", but I don't DM in those settings. There may be a magic shop on every corner and an ArchMage in every village in other campaign settings, but I don't DM in those settings. 3rd Edition spellcasters may have every munchkinized feat under the sun in other campaign settings, but I don't DM in those settings.

    So if Greyhawk started it all, and is the benchmark for all of the campaign settings that followed, let's just call it "mid-magic". It's not Dark Sun. It's not Forgotten Realms. It's in between (and better than) both.

    Or am I way off base? Am I alone in seeing Greyhawk as a mid-magic world that can support limited brick-and-mortar shops that support the spellcasting and adventuring community?
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    Fri Apr 15, 2005 3:19 pm  

    Firepower, that is pretty much how I see it. However, more often than not, I avoid the purchase all together and make an adventure for the character to pick up an item of need/desire. Usually, there is not much need as 1E modules are stocked.
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    Fri Apr 15, 2005 5:01 pm  
    Mixed Feeings

    Hello Folks,

    On one hand, I can understand a Ye Olde Magic Shoppe. Basically this would be an herbalist or alchemist. Now normally the herbs would be very limited (why would joe herbalist go out of his way to hunt down a special herb that no one in a hundred miles will have a need for, want or know what to do with). The herbs would be more mundane. Now near large centers of gravity, I can see an odd and more broad array of herbs and such, but at a very high price. There might even be a whole two potions for sale at an extremely high price. Inside a city, and it better be a major city, I can see a dealer of magic items. They would most certainly pay special protection from the Thieves Guild, Assassins Guild, the Mage Guild, the City Trustees, a local patron and/or any combination of such groups. I figure that if their is magic to be had, the nobility would really rather have it under their control than a lowly member of themerchant class. To me, folks in Greyhawk (which I believe to be a high magic setting) are very careful not to let out they have magic possessions. You never know who will try to take them away from you Wink Cool

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    Fri Apr 15, 2005 6:39 pm  

    I gotta agree with Yabusama, at least to a degree. IMHO, allowing characters to just walk into a shop and "stock up" really makes the whole thing more like a video game than an role-playing experience. Since I don't allow my players to "power-up", when they find a potion of invisibility they take care to use it wisely.

    I have herbal shops as indicated by others, I even stock some of those with infusions (druidic herbs you eat...basically potions for druids, from Masters of the Wild) but since druids aren't always the easiest to work with it keeps things in check. Most spell components are easy to come by.

    I guess I view it as basically the same thing as wizards not swapping spellbooks. Magic isn't rare in the Flanaess, but it's stockpiled and jealously guarded. I've always had this opinion, ever since I read this in the 1st Ed DMG (pg 116):

    Quote:
    ...A properly run campaign will be relatively stringent with respect to the number of available magic items...


    I've always liked Nitescreed's 'Ye Olde Magik Shoppe' & 'Houses of the Arcane' articles. If you're not familiar, check them out here:

    http://www.dracheninsel.de/insel/add/greyhawk/shops.htm

    I'm certainly not intending to criticize anyone else's campaign. Embarassed Do whatever makes you and your players happy. Just sharing how I run things.
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    Fri Apr 15, 2005 6:40 pm  

    I actually run into the opposite problem that Phoebus indicated:

    Quote:
    What edition do you play?

    If you play 3rd edition player wealth (including purchasing potions, scrolls, wands, magic weapons etc.) is a built in mechanic of the system.

    <snip>

    It wasn't long before half the party was getting wiped out in most encounters.

    Its a pretty hard balancing act, especially if you don't allow any magic shops and are stingy with the magic item treasure.


    I actually have to thrown higher-level encounters at my players, just to challenge them. If I carefully craft a EL 5 showdown for a 4th level party, they generally clean up without a problem (the other DM I rotate with for the same players has this same problem). Keeping close reins on magic items helps to keep this in check (as well as fitting in with my view of Greyhawk). Wink
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    Fri Apr 15, 2005 7:28 pm  

    Basiliv,

    Awesome link! Happy Much food for thought there! The Shoppe is scary, but the House seems to be almost exactly the compromise me and my players need. Thanks.

    If this topic keeps getting input, I'll see if I can't come up with a mix of different ideas that "feel Greyhawk". My Magic Shoppe seems a little too... easy. But there are other ideas out there that I think are perfectly reasonable. And should be shared. Smile

    I'm going to mull this over, and see if I can't come up with something that feels right.
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    Fri Apr 15, 2005 7:45 pm  

    Yeah, I always loved those articles. Glad you could use them!

    In my current campaign, I've got a 9th level rogue (future Shadow Dancer) that poses as a failed befuddled wizard that runs one of those shops. Piles of junk everywhere, the place looks like it would take you days to find anything, etc. He inherited it from an uncle, and found that it made it easy to keep an innocent-looking profile. He actually serves as a mentor to the PCs, and his sorted past and future will reveal themselves eventually. :-)

    My campaign's based in Safeton in CY 576, and I threw in a pair of priests of Phyton (I use Phyton in his LGG aspect of Man's Dominion Over Nature). I made the priests extremists of their faith, so their views really conflict with the party's cleric of Ehlonna. Yet another reason those infusions will be a bit hard to come by. ;-P

    As for selling magic items, I never have a problem with PCs getting rid of them. It's getting their hands on them in the first place that is the issue. When they're trying to sell, I throw the occassional suspicious customer at 'em ("If it's so darn great, why you wanna get rid of it? Must be somethin' wrong with it..."), but usually it's no sweat. I might even require a magic item as payment for a service the PCs want. You want to learn that rare spell? You need to have a character resurrected? I could get killed for giving you this info, so what's in it for me? etc. etc.

    Hope these ideas help.
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    Fri Apr 15, 2005 7:46 pm  

    Oh, and congrads, Firepower, on your recent Journeyman status! I'm jealous, but working on it. Wink
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    Fri Apr 15, 2005 9:30 pm  

    Greyhawk is not a low magic campaign in any absolute sense. Look are Harn for true low magic. But GH is much lower than most of the later published worlds, like the FR, so its generally held forth as low magic by D&D standards.

    "Low end" magical items are available to the wealthy. There is enough wizards and there is certainly enough demand. The two main issues for me in regards to magic shops are these:

    1) They diminish the fun and neatness value of finding items if you can buy them "over the counter". Purchasing a real magical item should be an adventure in itself, albeit probably not a combat one... :D However, IMC, *every* permanent item has a name, history, whatnot. No one has a "longsword+1", they have "Orm's Breath" or "Valdiya" or whatever.

    2) I try to run a more or less medieval milieu. So almost everything ie made to order and few merchants stock anything but the cheapest goods for "over the counter" sales. Sure, the cobbler probably has some crappy shoes you can walk in and buy straight out. But he expects to make shoes to order for his real clients. As someone pointed out earlier, he simply doesn't have the time or money to carry "shelf stock". I consider the same true of magic vendors, for whom the time and expense is far greater. If he's gonna make something, he's got a buyer in mind already or he'll be doing something else.
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    Fri Apr 15, 2005 10:32 pm  

    Well said, Vormaerin. I agree completely, and I also really like your idea about everything being made to order. I've been trying to add a more medieval feel to my campaign, using some of the material from A Magical Medieval Society, and your suggestion sounds like a great addition.

    Thanks!
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    Sat Apr 16, 2005 12:53 am  

    As the "Ye Olde Magik Shoppe", such places in my campaign pretty much do not exist as separate entities, and are mostly extensions of existing organizations. The large free cities of Greyhawk, Dyvers, and Rel Astra are the best locations to find the largest variety of magic items for sale in my campaign, but even at these places not everything is available.

    When a wizard needs spell components, they go to the local Mages' Guild, or in less urban locales they go to the local herbalist, alchemist, herb monger, or even druid. Regardless of where they are, a wizard can usually find any type of spell component that is not exotic(such as 1,000g.p. worth of diamond dust, beholder blood, etc.). Even those 100 g.p. pearls for the identify spell may also be rare or unavailable in less urban and non-coastal areas.

    Getting to magic items, potions and scrolls are the most readily available items. They are one-shot items that are able to be made by very low level mages or priests(or other spell casters), who are present in all but the most remote and downtrodden settlements. Very rarely will raw materials for the most basic potions and scrolls not be available. Even in rural areas, potions and scrolls can usually be found at any temple/shrine/chapel. A hedge wizard, herb monger, alchemist, healer, or wise-woman is usually present in even the smallest village. In small villages, some items might be more expensive as they are more rare and valuable to the people there. In any event, the selection at such locales will be minimal.

    As to permanent magic items, these are usually rare to be found for sale in small villages. The local smith might have a minor item they took in trade for a custom suit of armor they made, or a local mage or temple might have an item that they have acquired but cannot use and might be willing to part with for the right amount of gold, or for a service and a bit less gold.

    In larger cities, mages' guilds will be the likely place to find most magic items for sale, but even then the selection will be rather slim, particularly for more powerful magic items. Temples will be more likely to have permanent magic items that they might be willing to sell to the faithful. For the non-faithful, these items will either be much more expensive or simply not made available. Magic weapons and armor are equally likely to found at a mages' guild as they are to be found at larger temples, thieves' guilds, and warrior guilds/societies. Members of these organizations once again have more access to items and pay less than non-members. Items available from such organizations tend to be ones that are usable by members as well. For example, the warriors' guild is more likely to have that magical greatsword than the thieves' guild is.
    Rarely a regular shop in a large city may have some sort of minor magic item for sale, but only if the proprietor is asked if they have anything "special" for sale.

    All this being said, the presence of a certain magic item(regardless of the locale) is mostly based upon the item's required Caster Level, plus how rare the item is likely to be. That is how I handle things.
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    Sat Apr 16, 2005 8:12 am  

    I'm not a fan of MagicMart or random spellcasters capable of making +3 swords holing up in the countryside.

    Most NPCs in my games are just that... NPCs. The town guard are warriors, the lord mayor an aristocrat and the village priest an expert (or adept if he paid special attention to his studies.) High level in my campaigns is the 10-14th level range and there are NO random NPCs greater than 14th level. Those that are in the high level range are genrally found in large population centers in positions of power. So the expertise to make many magic items is not readily available. Add to that the lack of motivation to create magic items, aside from minor potions and the like, and the idea of Ye Olde Magic Shoppe becomes more far-fetched.
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    Sat Apr 16, 2005 5:58 pm  

    IMC, there are no "magic shops" of any kind. None. I really, really dislike the idea.

    Alchemists/herbalists/apothecaries/hedgewizards/wisewomen capable of brewing up some potions? Yes. Charms (one use, low powered items)? Yes. But that is it.

    No Magicmarts in Greyhawk!

    IMC, wizards or wizard guilds will very rarely take commissions that will bankrupt a very, very wealthy PC. Most of my PCs upon hearing the prices balk. That is why you go "adventuring." You are far more likely to find something cool in a dragon's lair etc. than to commission it and you will never, ever buy it off the rack.

    This said, I don't think Greyhawk is "low magic" or even "lower magic," except by reference to settings utterly awash in magic that has become mundane in everyday life. Greyhawk is a setting of "magical magic." Its not rare, its special. The average GH party will be comparable to the average any setting party in terms of magic. The difference, IMO, is how it is handled. Its the psychology of the thing. Greyhawk doesn't treat a wand like a claw hammer or a + sword like a wrench. That's why no Magicmarts.

    IMO
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    Sat Apr 16, 2005 6:38 pm  
    Disagree

    Well, I have to disagree in general with the lack of magic shops. Of course, since none of you are playing IMC, it doesnt really matter. However, I have them, and cannot find a reasonable way around them. They are not on every corner, and rarer even than described above.

    I have never thought of GH as a low or even medium magic setting. However, I think it is a place where magic is horded and guarded. IMC the primary reason there are not more magic shops is that nearly every merchant has some idea of the value of a magic item and will gladly sell it, should if come into their hands. In my magic shops, potions, scrolls, basic weapons and armors and charged magic items are the most common items, and only in the largest shops do you find anything more than this. Wonderous items, of the lower prices, sometimes appear.

    IMC, every member of the Keoish household guard has at least a +1 sword... it only takes a 5th level cleric or mage to create such a thing. Armor too... similar stats for the protective forces of Gran March, Bissell, the Knights of the Watch, Hart, the Important military figures of the Great Kingdom, Furyondy... etc.

    As I am working through the GM project with many of you I have come upon something that you all may find intriguing... as I work through the economics, Iron and the materials for equipping a large army are far harder to come by than for making a magic weapon, or even several dozen magic weapons. The logistics for making the masterwork sword are significantly more difficult than the process for magicing it up to +1 or even +2.

    IMC, almost every person encountered above 4th level has some magic item. They just cannot hold their own against the perils of the world without it. The more the value of a Magic Item, the less likely it is to be found... anywhere. At least for sale.

    So, I have a fair number of low level magic items IMC but after 4th level, how many +1 daggers do you want? Potions and Scrolls do not bother me either, as they are minor increases in a Mages power. If they tend to abuse them though, we start counting Spell componensts and what spells go in their travelling spell book.

    IMO, the mechanic of tracking down a +1 magic sword as the primary plot component is not useful or even terribly interesting. While it may intrigue the wanna be knight in the party, the other cast members probably dont see it as a worthy goal.

    Just my 2 cents.
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    Sat Apr 16, 2005 8:57 pm  

    Availability of magic is a different issue from magic shops. Magic shops imply that there are folks who spend the majority of their time making said items *and* are willing/able to stockpile them so as to be able to sell "over the counter." That is what I find unpalatable. There are plenty of spellcasters around and quite a few of them would gladly get rich making magical items. However, the time investment and costs (reflected in game mechanics as xp/time/gold) means that, IMHO, they should be making almost all of their items on commission.

    Said mage would have to be extremely wealthy to be able to afford to make items on the hope that a passerby buys it. Not to mention that if someone is going to pay the kind of money involved in buying a magical item, they are going to want it customized. If I buy a longsword+1, I'll want the hilt, weight, etc designed specifically for me and I'll want it decorated to suit me (family motto etched in the blade, birthstones in the hilt, whatever).

    Its also important to realize that the market isn't infinite. The number of folks that can afford such things is very limited. And many of them will already have these items as heirlooms. Or just not be able to afford them. A magical item is an enormous expense. Real world knights frequently had to mortgage their estates (or leastwise the revenues thereof) to replace unexpected losses of horses, arms, and armor of ordinary quality. How many of them could afford "masterwork" arms or exceptional horses? Magical gear is dramatically more expensive than that.

    On the other issue, of "need" for such things, I disagree. The vast majority of warriors will live and die without ever meeting something with DR. And most of them would be killed by the kinds of creatures that come with DR even if they had a magical blade... I don't think there are lots of high level characters around. I go by the old 1e rule of "whoa, you are hot stuff" if you are lvl 10 or so. Few people meet that standard. So for my campaign, "Only 5th lvl" is not that big a group.

    So, while there certainly are magical items being sold, I just don't see it as a retail activity where one would be browsing shelf stock.
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    Sun Apr 17, 2005 4:22 am  

    So, what exactly is found in Magic Shops? I did some thinking and a bit of research in the game books I have, and came up with some ideas. First, here's the type of items I'd place is a small town magic shop, or in one in a low end corner of a city, like Greyhawk's Shacktown neighborhood for example.

    Flint
    Guano
    Ink (Usually just black, colored inks may be available now and then, but probably not to order)
    Parchment sheets
    Writing Quills
    Ceramic Vials and bottles
    Cork stoppers for those bottles and vials
    small to medium sized braziers
    assorted candles
    assorted candle holders (probably engraved or carved with elaborate "mystc symbols")
    assorted incenses
    feathers, bones, teeth, eyes, hair (and other random body parts) from common animals and monsters
    assorted plant and flower pieces
    Oils and infusions made from those animal and plant products
    common and uncommon (and perhaps one or two rare) herbs
    daggers and knives of more decorative or utalitarian than combat use
    string and/or yarn
    small to medium sized slate pieces
    chalk in various sizes and shapes
    "magic scrolls" (generally non-enchanted writings on myriad arcane subjects)
    Potions, Salves and Medicinals (generally non-enchanted "snake oil" type substances)
    minor spell components (as a rule, I'd say components for 1st to 3rd level spells, except gems, pearls and other precious stones or metals, these would be found at a jeweler or smithy)

    On the off chance the owner is a minor magic-user (of whatever arcane or divine class), there may be a handful of actual spell scrolls or minor potions available, at a hefty cost (I'd say 4 to 5 times the listed value), generated randomly per DMG treasure tables. Likewise if there is a non-adventuring magic-user in town that earns some extra coin by selling minor magic to the shop, which is then marked up for profit. In addition, the presence of an actual spellcaster offers the opportunity for the party to request made to order items, but the standard rules for hiring an NPC spellcaster should then apply.

    These small town magic shops also offer a unique opportunity for the DM to introduce some of the oddball magic-user classes, like the Candle Caster. The party may be looking for scrolls or potions, but why not throw them a selection of enchanted candles instead to make things more interesting and give the magic shop a unique feel. This makes "Lady Elsinora's House of Arcana" a memorable spot that they'll probably return to when they visit the town again, and lets you weave plot hooks around it, rather than having boring old shops that are all the same.
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    Last edited by chatdemon on Sun Apr 17, 2005 4:27 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Sun Apr 17, 2005 4:25 am  

    For additional ideas on stocking a minor magic shop, I highly recommend visiting a local Pagan, Occult or New Age book/gift shop, if you have one nearby. Aside from meeting some interesting, and generally friendly, people, you'll find ideas you positively wouldn't think of just thumbing through game books.

    If you don't have a shop handy, google "magic shop" or "pagan shop" and browse what the countless online stores have to offer.
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    Sun Apr 17, 2005 7:02 am  

    Okay, maybe I'm just missing it. How does a non-adventuring spellcaster replenish the lost XP from creating magic items? Are there rules in 3.5 that cover how to advance without adventuring?

    Even if there are, I can't imagine that it's a very fast progression at all...otherwise you'd have lots of 15th-20th level wizards serving as powerful sages and such. So if they're pumping out magic items and losing XP for each item they create, but they're not advancing quickly enough to recover those XP, then their ability to keep up with the demand of all the adventurers out there shouldn't work.

    Or should it?
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    Sun Apr 17, 2005 9:13 am  
    Re: Disagree

    Anced_Math wrote:
    The logistics for making the masterwork sword are significantly more difficult than the process for magicing it up to +1 or even +2.


    Could you please explain this comment, because, well, you know, all magic arms and armor have to be masterwork before they are magically enhanced.

    basiliv wrote:
    Okay, maybe I'm just missing it. How does a non-adventuring spellcaster replenish the lost XP from creating magic items? Are there rules in 3.5 that cover how to advance without adventuring?


    The reason NPCs have classes in 3E+ instead of just being 0-level humans is to satisfy this requirement. Basically, everytime a merchant and customer haggle, it is an encounter. The 5th level expert (merchant) compares his party level, consisting of himself for a party level of 5, to the 3rd level commoner's CR, 2, and get his xp award for suucessfully defeating (by whatever definition) the commoner. This award may be reduced to half, a quarter or even less on an ad hoc basis to account for the fact that the expert's life probably wasn't really in danger, etc. The commoner could apply the reverse to determine his own potential xp award, etc.

    At least, the 3E rules wil support this. It probably breaks down pretty quickly, though.
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    Sun Apr 17, 2005 10:32 am  

    Let me rephrase my question. Since the only NPC Class that is a spellcaster is the Adept, are you assuming that all NPC Spellcasters that make a career out of crafting magic items are adepts? If so, you're looking at divine magic only, and it takes a minimum 8th level adept to cast a 3rd level spell.

    If you're not limiting this to only adepts, then how does an NPC wizard or cleric advance to keep up with the XP penalty without adventuring? Again, I'm only talking about those wizards and clerics who make a career out of crafting magical items instead of adventuring.

    Even assuming that the "haggling as an encounter" scenario callmeAndydammit described, I don't think it works. As a character advances, their "opponent" in the haggle will give them piddly XP unless they are of fairly comparable level. As they advance in level, I'd assume that there would be fewer and fewer customers available who would present a "worthy challenge". So they'd advance very slowly, which means any XP they spend on crafting items would be replenished slowly, which means they'd be selling items faster than they can make them.

    The whole concept just seems very self-defeating to me.
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    Sun Apr 17, 2005 3:50 pm  

    The experience point loss is a game mechanic that does not apply to NPCs. The reason the game mechanic exists for PCs is because player characters are assumed to be doing various class specific "Stuff" during the time between adventures. That is why wizards get two free spells every level; they are assumed to have researched them in their "off camera" time.

    Magic item creation costs xp becuase it is considered to eat into that 'free" time, not because something is literally sucked out of the character in the process. Since NPCs are 100% about that "off camera time", the DM simply decides what they are doing with their time and doesn't need to worry about it.
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    Sun Apr 17, 2005 7:30 pm  

    basiliv wrote:
    Okay, maybe I'm just missing it. How does a non-adventuring spellcaster replenish the lost XP from creating magic items? Are there rules in 3.5 that cover how to advance without adventuring?


    I use Classic (Basic) D&D, so this isn't an issue in my game, but I would assume that NPC spellcasters do enough odd jobs around town to earn some XP now and then. NPC wizard types can earn XP and coin Identifying items, casting divinations, and myriad other low to mid level castings for locals and folks passing through town. Clerics surely get XP, and perhaps coin for all those healing spells they cast for people, as well as the divinations, protective spells and such.

    But all things considered, I'd have to agree with the comment that the XP expenditure rule for creating magic items shouldn't be strictly applied to NPCs. It's a game balance mechanic for PCs, but a little common sense can easily provide that same balance for NPCs (in other words, as long as the wizard isn't popping out store fulls of Staves of the Magi every week, he's probably safe ignoring the XP rule).
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    Mon Apr 18, 2005 6:20 am  

    @ basiliv

    Yep, most NPC spellcasters in my campaign are adepts. True clerics/wizards/et al are rare and "special." So, here is a built in explanation for the lack of magic shops; no one to run them.

    NPC clerics/wizards/et al do face diminishing returns in the crafting of magic items if they don't adventure. Again, a reason not to. Adventuring for components needed to craft the item (and thus lower the raw material cost), however....

    And yes, the xp cost is meant as somethine taken away from the crafter. It is not to represent free time, it is the actual investiture of a part of the caster in the things they create. A part of them has been permanently transferrred to the item making it magic. This is the same reason some spells have an xp cost.
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    Mon Apr 18, 2005 12:35 pm  

    Yeah, I've gotta agree with chatdemon and callmeAndydammit. I don't like rules that apply to the PCs and not NPCs. I also like the callmeAndydammit's explanation that it's the same thing as spell that cost XP to cast.

    Even if the rules allow for it, I'll just stick with Nitescreed's Houses of the Arcane.
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    Mon Apr 18, 2005 5:53 pm  

    If that's the case, its an awful game mechanic. It implies that "experience points" are actually a real thing that folks possess. And considering what the game actually gives xp for, that is particularly ludicrous. Experience points are an abstraction. How you can rationally argue that fireballing a band of goblins gives you the power to invest in a new wand is beyond me.

    If you want a system where characters are investing a portion of their life force/magical power/whatever in every object they enchant, you need a much better mechanism for it.

    I'd forgotten there are spells that cost xp to cast. I only use 3e for my NWN campaign, not in p&p. More to the point, though,extrapolating from game mechanics designed SOLELY to reflect the functioning of professional adventurers to a wider environment is gonna cause all sorts of problems..

    There should be plenty of NPCs who are true professional mages, not mere adepts. But they wouldn't particularly resemble the D&D Wizard class, either, because that's the class for mages who are full time adventurers.

    Btw, basiliv, you misread chatdemon. He was on the 'xp rules don't really apply to NPCs" side of the discussion.
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    Mon Apr 18, 2005 6:50 pm  

    Quote:
    But all things considered, I'd have to agree with the comment that the XP expenditure rule for creating magic items shouldn't be strictly applied to NPCs. It's a game balance mechanic for PCs, but a little common sense can easily provide that same balance for NPCs


    ...sure about chatdemon's opinion?? Wink

    But I think we've sufficiently derailed this thread. Firepower, I hope you got what you were looking for before this turned into a rules debate.

    I'm out yo.
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    Mon Apr 18, 2005 7:18 pm  
    Explain

    Quote:
    Callmeandydammit wrote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Anced_Math wrote:
    The logistics for making the masterwork sword are significantly more difficult than the process for magicing it up to +1 or even +2.


    Could you please explain this comment, because, well, you know, all magic arms and armor have to be masterwork before they are magically enhanced.


    I will try to explain as best I can. I will say that this thread has wandered into a variety of areas beyond the Magic Shoppe. However, I would begin by suggesting the following web site:

    http://filebox.vt.edu/users/jselmer/technology_article.htm

    I will begin with a real world analogy that we are using to help shape the Gran March project. In our conception, The Suel Emperium is equivalent to Rome. When Rome fell, the whole world was not plunged into darkness, just Europe. In our case it would be the rest of the Flaness, or the fleeing refugees who scattered to the rest of the Flaness I should say. The Keoish, however, are the Byzantines. They kept a large portion of the technology of the Romans, but with the fall of the Western Roman Empire, they lost much of the economic engine behind the empire.

    This is where we see the Flaness, in a late Medieval Period technology, but without the complete loss of the large scale economic ability that western europe did not recover until the late renaissance or even the 17th century. One major component of this loss in Europe is the creation of armies based on the warrior instead of the soldier. A warrior typifies the ultimate extension of indavidual ability, while the soldier is the exaultation of superior technology, strategy, and group tactics. Indavidual supremacy is secondary to success.

    So, GH is a world of Knights, we can attribute this to magic, and the ability of the warror to survive where the soldier would not. Specifically to the point... The Iron to make the sword cost more than the magic to make it indestructable. Without the large scale mining and manufacturing industry found in Rome, the Iron would be the important part. Otherwise your 20th level fighter will be waving his +5 stick.

    In the discussion of the knight, earlier in this thread, it was mentioned that the knight could not often afford his armor... this is an economic factor, one that should drive the cost of all this stuff way up, more than the addition of +1. Wow, I can get full plate, and then for twice as much, I can add +1. The knight is a creation of the lack of resources. Knights faired poorly against the Roman Legions. Granted the addition of stirrups in the 11th century helped, but that still did not change the true effectiveness of the knight against the soldier.

    From what we know of the Flaness, this is not generally true. As we work on the Gran March project though, it becomes apparent using the actual populations of the Flaness that this type of economy is difficult to sustain. As you start to ask "who does the mining, the carting, the forging, the selling," of all these items, a large army, such as detailed in the Canon Greyhawk material becomes nearly impossible to assemble.

    You can go two ways here...1) Gary and those guys were just pulling this stuff out of their @(#! and they messed it up. Since this is rather self limiting and, and I have talked with Gary (Holian not EGG) about it, I choose option 2) they thought out these populations and into the breach goes magic and all the other races in the MM.

    This has left me in a quandry... and I have not discussed this with the Gran March Team, so dont take this as the way we are going there... but this series of events makes magic more common, not less. Magic Swords dont rust, dull, break or bend like regular swords. Afterall, they are master work as their basis. Did all these +1 swords come from one mage... no it came from generations of mages making two three or five swords each. As magic items do not simply go away (though many are horded in ancient mages dungeons Wink ) they should IMO, be more than common enough for some enterprising young man to be a Magic Salesman. Is the cost high, yes, but more because the iron is expensive. A +1 sword increases a fighters to hit bonus maybe 5%. I dont find that it disrupts combat, even if every kobold has a +1 weapon.

    I hope this touched on your questions Andy.

    As to Adepts, NPCs, and XP.

    The DMG specifically references that combat and even adventuring are NOT the only way to gain XP, just the most codified. A non adventuring expert should earn a comperable level as a fighter for completing tasks as difficult (if not life threatening) as fighting a dragon. I am currently playing in a game where we have spent the last few games playing through political combat. Skills instead of base attacks. Sounds boring, and I thought it would be, but when well done it can be better than hack and slash. If a mage, one who speicializes in crafting magic items, makes a +1 sword, and his life and profession is focused on this task, I would give him xp for completing the task. As he progresses, the DCs would rise and the XP bonus would rise. If he was and expert/mage, I would give him XP for the forging and the ensorcellment, then his xp may well exceed the xp cost.

    My games regularly feature 6th and 7th level commoners, warriors, and experts. Adepts are not as common, but not unknown. We have a general profession breakdown, so Wizards, Sorcerers and Clerics make up a percnetage of the Population. And IMC, there are almost no 1st level anythings. IMC, beginning at age 15 plus 10 years, a person gains a level in a class, unless they are truly slovenly. So, a person who is 25 in Gran March is almost universally a 2nd level warrior. At 35, they are third. At 45 they are 5th. By subtracting out the age penalties and bonuses, this has worked well. You never find a 65 year old farmer who is a first level commoner and still has 2 points in Knowledge: weather.
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    Mon Apr 18, 2005 8:44 pm  

    Yes, I suppose you could say "hmm, these NPCs all get xp from doing random stuff." Not quite sure how that differs from not worrying about the xp costs for NPCs. I mean, its obvious non adventurers can advance in skill and ability. It just seems rather strange to try to shoehorn NPC behavior into a mechanic not designed for that purpose. YMMV.

    The choke point for masterwork equipment was generally skill, not raw materials historically. Unless the numbers radically changed in 3.5, I'm a bit confused by your example, though. A longsword costs 15 gold. A masterwork longsword costs 315 gold. A longsword+1 costs 2315 gold..

    The point about magic items being durable has some value, though D&D does not endorse the view of magical items being indestructable. They will attrit over time, though slower than mundane weapons. You would also need to consider that weapons technology changed over time. A pile of magical gladii is somewhat lessened in value when folks need the heavier swords to compete with the better armor and weapons of the 14th century.

    Cavalry does tend to fare poorly against properly equipped, well trained, disciplined infantry. But actually maintaining such forces is extremely expensive, both financially and politically. Most medieval nations could not afford to pay a standing army of that sort and some that could, could not afford to have a lot of well equipped, disciplined peasants around to object to the latest round of misgovernment.

    But I'm thinking there is not a lot of point in continuing this discussion (at least on my part) because when it comes right down to it, I reject the D&D money numbers as a basis for any sort of economic analysis. The idea that every masterwork item has the same resource cost and retail price increase is a very nice little game balance thing, but it is not economically sound. So if you start trying to structure society around those numbers, we are gonna be so far apart as to have no common ground for discussion.
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    Tue Apr 19, 2005 12:00 am  

    A lot of good points are being made, and I can't say that I disagree with all (or even MOST) of them.

    I guess I was looking at the Magic Shop with two things in mind. First was the lessening of work on the DM's part. With a Magic Shop, I don't have to design a side adventure for the atheist rogue to pick up a potion of cure light wounds. I just don't have time to plot out every magic item acquisition. At 10th level, designing an adventure around getting a 50gp potion seems a little silly to me. In Earth's Dark Ages one did not walk in and buy a longsword "off the shelf" either, so should the same apply to Greyhawk? I don't think so, but that's just how I look at it.

    The second thing I was thinking about with the Magic Shop was a little bit of control or moderation. I say "Magic Shop" and people seem to envision WalMart with Spheres of Destruction in hardware and Decks of Many Things in the checkout aisle. Just because the item is in the DMG doesn't mean I'm going to let the players have it. Exaggeration is easy, albeit not usually constructive.

    Most posters seem to consider the thought of Greyhawk having an economy capable of handling magic item creation, sale, and purchase offensive. Okay, got it. I thought magic was everywhere and anywhere in Greyhawk; I guess I got that impression from the old books and modules. I missed pretty much all of the canon GH stuff in the '90's, so I must have missed where that changed.

    There's a freakin' GOD sitting on a throne in Dorakaa! There are so many "lost" artifacts that it's a wonder peasants aren't digging them up with their turnips. Characters can walk around with enough assets to bankroll a small army. Sounds to me like GH doesn't quite match up with reality. Historical comparisions, while interesting, fail to take into account hordes of orcs, scientifically measureable magical effects, and a freakin' GOD lounging around.

    Thanks all around for the contributions, whether I agreed or disagreed. And apologies all around if I offended anyone's sensibilities.

    Can we close this silly little thread down now? I think it's broken and I don't really want it fixed anymore.
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    Tue Apr 19, 2005 12:54 am  

    well, I think you missed the point. No one I noticed objected to the creation and sale of magic items. A number of opinions were that a shop with a standing inventory did not suit their vision of the place, except perhaps for potions and the like.

    THere is very little directly written about GH's economy. GH has always been published with a "the DM is always right" attitude on top of that. If you want to have magic shops and mass produced goods, go ahead. What's the big deal?

    Seems a bit strange to ask about how folks do it in their campaign and then get huffy about the responses, though. Anced_Math and I look to be pretty much on opposite ends of the spectrum on this. But there is no reason to think one of us is "wrong". Both are IMC answers. And IMC trumps everything and always has.
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    Tue Apr 19, 2005 6:37 am  
    Re: Explain

    FirePower wrote:
    Most posters seem to consider the thought of Greyhawk having an economy capable of handling magic item creation, sale, and purchase offensive. Okay, got it. I thought magic was everywhere and anywhere in Greyhawk; I guess I got that impression from the old books and modules. I missed pretty much all of the canon GH stuff in the '90's, so I must have missed where that changed.


    Whoa, Tex! As Vormaerin notes, availability may be common, while specifically magical shops are not. It is not a zero sum game -

    Vormaerin wrote:
    Availability of magic is a different issue from magic shops. Magic shops imply that there are folks who spend the majority of their time making said items *and* are willing/able to stockpile them so as to be able to sell "over the counter." That is what I find unpalatable.


    I also find unpalatible the "magic to the rescue" idea -

    Anced_Math wrote:
    . . . it becomes apparent using the actual populations of the Flaness that this type of economy is difficult to sustain. As you start to ask "who does the mining, the carting, the forging, the selling," of all these items, a large army, such as detailed in the Canon Greyhawk material becomes nearly impossible to assemble.

    You can go two ways here...1) Gary and those guys were just pulling this stuff out of their @(#! and they messed it up. Since this is rather self limiting and, and I have talked with Gary (Holian not EGG) about it, I choose option 2) they thought out these populations and into the breach goes magic and all the other races in the MM.


    EGG was no historian, let alone an economist. Having magic save unrealistically low population levels is IMO (all due respect) ludicrous. Just raise the population levels. Don't make the viability of the setting turn on magic! Close the breach, don't fill it with magic and the MM.

    I reject Option 2. I acknowledge Option 1 and choose to fix things rather than make magical excuses. YMMV.
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    Tue Apr 19, 2005 7:09 am  

    Firepower, it's YOUR campaign. I firmly believe you should run it as you see best. In the end, I think the most common outcome among debates like this is that the Hawkers just agree to disagree.

    Luckily, this thread didn't get ugly (sometimes that's a pre-requisit to coming to the conclusion mentioned above). I appreciate everyone remaining level-headed. Happy

    Even if DMs revel in the kind of game I strictly avoid, it's their game, not mine. Whatever makes each group happy is the key. I think taking all the disparate views and backgrounds for opinions is part of what makes Greyhawk great. It's just letting go when we disagree that needs a bit of work. Wink
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    Tue Apr 19, 2005 8:08 am  
    GVD

    GVD Wrote:

    Quote:
    EGG was no historian, let alone an economist. Having magic save unrealistically low population levels is IMO (all due respect) ludicrous. Just raise the population levels. Don't make the viability of the setting turn on magic! Close the breach, don't fill it with magic and the MM.

    I reject Option 2. I acknowledge Option 1 and choose to fix things rather than make magical excuses. YMMV.


    Hey GVD, I certainly understand that the Population is difficult to handle, but not impossible to deal with. I also understand that the raising of the population is the cleanest answer. However, I am not convinced that there is not a nice answer, with some work and hard thought, on the lower populations. I dont want to make magical excuses, but magic and magical monsters have to play in it some.

    EGG may not have been a historian or economist, but Gary Holian (the one I have talked with) has put a lot of thought into this, with Mr. Mona.

    I will tell you this... I have expressed some things here that are direct extensions of our Gran March project. We (our project group, including Firepower on religion and GVD on literature and fashion) have and are struggling with many of these issues. We are approaching it more as archeologist and socialogists... we have portions of the facts and we have to fill in a whole picture.

    We are sticking with the population as detailed in the LGG. We are constructing a description of a working economy, and we are including the prevelance/lack thereof of magic items. We are figuring in refugees, non traditional races, politics, churches, guilds, laws, commerce, and social aspects.

    As this comes togeather, I would like the input from all those who have jumped in so passionately on this thread. I do not believe that any place in the Flaness has ever been detailed so thoroughly or with such attention to functionality. I dont want all the Flaness to be detailed like this, but having one done (and hopefully done well) may help future DMs in other areas of the Flaness.

    Also, I am working on a complete Census of Gran March, as the Government would do it... which I am assuming correlates to the LGG numbers of population. I am also doing one as God might do it, counting all creatures that impact the eco system excluding only animals of the natural world that we know. As soon as I figure out a good way to post it, you should look at it. You may be suprised how well thought out PSmedger's numbers were. I sure was.
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    Tue Apr 19, 2005 10:20 am  
    As a follow up

    As a follow up to my last post, I have just completed a census of the Gran March (draft) including all PHB races, both those recognized by the March, those outside its perview, refugees, and all appropriate entries from the Monster Manual. I assigned each a ratio vs. humans based on their population tendancies. This left most Montrous Beasts and Aberrations with a .00001 ratio.

    I then created and Eco factor, i.e. a factor to describe how much of the land/resources of the ecology the creature used. Bullettes and Medusae (which have very few in the way of numbers) had a very high eco factor. The Goblinoids and Huminoids fill in most of the gaps.

    The result is that instead of the 254,000 population listed in the LGG, we come up with a 1,475,000 effective population. This remains only 18 per gross square mile, but is 42 per arable square mile. About the same as the British Isles. Since a very large portion of the Gran March is March, I think this seems more in line with reality. Grey Hawk has always been desribed as sparsely populated.
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    Tue Apr 19, 2005 11:07 am  
    Re: GVD

    Anced_Math wrote:
    EGG may not have been a historian or economist, but Gary Holian (the one I have talked with) has put a lot of thought into this, with Mr. Mona.


    Stop it. I'm getting all misty-eyed. Wink I will just say I was unpersuaded by the "spoke and hub" theory that was discussed in the Greychat.

    Anced_Math wrote:
    We are sticking with the population as detailed in the LGG. We are constructing a description of a working economy, and we are including the prevelance/lack thereof of magic items. We are figuring in refugees, non traditional races, politics, churches, guilds, laws, commerce, and social aspects.


    An understandable course.

    Anced_Math wrote:
    As soon as I figure out a good way to post it, you should look at it. You may be suprised how well thought out PSmedger's numbers were. I sure was.


    I will be glad to read it. Smile
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    Tue Apr 19, 2005 11:26 am  

    I personally have no objection to the low population numbers in older products, and don't honestly give them enough thought to try and justify them with magic. I like a more sparsely populated "frontier" feel to the flanaess, that encourages wilderness exploration and discovery.

    Keoland, for example, is roughly the size of Texas, you cram enough millions of people in there and the likelihood of vast areas of wilderness becomes very low, after all, there's only 4 or 5 major cities, whose total combined population is less than 200,000 people, that leaves millions and millions of people scattered about the country.

    Not the feel I'm looking for, no matter how well reasoned or rational it may be.
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    Wed Apr 20, 2005 5:33 am  
    Low

    Chatdemon,

    The low populations dont actually bother me either, except when it gets so low that you cannot make a socieity work. In our little project, we are trying to bring togeather everything a new DM would need to run a campaign in a cohesive whole.

    This includes some things that are non traditional in GH, particularly a detailed description of one small segment of the Flaness. So, we are simply attampting to take the numbers traditionally presented and make an overall system that works. In my mind this does not have to destroy anything traditional about Greyhawk.

    Now, if this were a Canon piece, it might create hordes of angry Greyhawkers... but we have two things going for us on this front...

    1) it ain't Canon
    2) as far as I can tell we have the 5 people who adventure in Gran March participating in the project Smile

    Gran March is very possibly the Greyest area in the World of Greyhawk, and good choice for such a project. So far, I think we have stirred more interest in the region than put people off.
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    Wed Apr 20, 2005 6:42 am  

    AM, could you post in the forum or as an article, the system you use to create the effective population? I would enjoy it and it would get a great asset to CannonFire! and any DM detailing other areas.
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    Wed Apr 20, 2005 8:15 am  

    Wolfsire wrote:
    AM, could you post in the forum or as an article, the system you use to create the effective population? I would enjoy it and it would get a great asset to CannonFire! and any DM detailing other areas.


    I too want to see the Monolian (or would that be Homona?) formula for tiny populations that are magically augmented to make them viable. Lets get a cognent statement of this perspicacious demographic asseveration. Elucidate! I need certitude! Wink
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    Wed Apr 20, 2005 9:03 am  
    Hello

    GVD, i sent you a PM asking for an email address that allows attachments, and I will forward the Excel spreadsheet.

    The formula is fairly simple:

    Number of Creatures equals a population factor times the number of number of humans.

    In GM the number of Humans is 200,000 as per LGG. This does not include bandits or refugees. This is just the stable number of humans in the region. This also does not include demihumans.

    Thus, for goblins, the factor is 4. There are roughly 4 goblins per every human. This results in 800,000 goblins, in tribes and holes scattered throughout the territory of Gran March. This includes a large swath of the Dim Forest, The entirety of the Rushmoors, and a large portion of the Lortmils. I have then applied an Eco Factor. A simply and fairly arbitrary factor intended to express how much reasource/land the creature consumes, destorys or dominates to the exclusion of other creatures. This does not represent realtive power strength, though I did conisder size and hit dice for the assignment of the number. The destructive nature of a creature was also considered.

    For the Goblin this factor is .75. So, even though there are 800,000, they affect the ecology like 600,000 humans. They do not farm, they scavange, hunt, pillage and are generally dispicable. Thus, they ravage a much broader area than an equivalent number of agrarian humans.

    For Hill Giants I set a factor of 15. They eat, occupy, destroy as much land/forest/waterways as 15 humans. This may not be high enough, but 15 humans can screw up a lot. That is it in a nutshell.

    I should point out here, though, that as I was providing these examples I noticed that I had placed the Goblins Eco factor at .075 in my spreadsheet.

    This results in a revision of previous posts. It raises the adjusted populatio to 2,016,000 or 27 persons per square mile, or 57 persons per arable mile. Not a strain on the eco-system, still frontier like as some people desire, but not the Stone Age statistics the LGG might lead one to expect.

    Anyone with an Email is welcome to the spreadsheet.
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    Wed Apr 20, 2005 9:13 am  
    Rationale

    As I reviewed the previous posts I noticed the Monolian (Homona) Formula reference.

    I would like to say that they did not suggest my formula and certainly are not responsible for it. However upon completing it, I must say that their reasoning is more sound than it appeared on it's face.

    Maybe this is because I was trying to work out how it could be true, maybe they are just astute. There is certainly no higher math contained in the equations. Though I realize that many in this thread are unconvienced (GVD Smile). Once you have reviewed the numbers, if you remain unconvinced, how bout helping to fashion other theories about the population and its sustainment in an ecosystem.

    Unlike our world, there are numerous other sentient races who have civilization and socieites to account for. There are also large non sentient races to account for that simply dont exist here.

    I realize that this is all a fairly academic discussion, and for those of you whom we have bored stiff ..... well I ain't making you read this Laughing
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    Fri Apr 22, 2005 5:22 pm  

    I just want to say how happy this thread has made me, given how many other GH fans are stingy with magic items, even in 3E. Now, before I add my two coppers, I will say that I have a very strong, passionate view about what Greyhawk is. Greyhawk will never industrialize. It will always be politically incorrect. Being an 8th level character commands respect. Humble +1 shields are prized possessions. And so forth.

    If we're discussing Ye Olde Magic Shoppe, I suppose it would depend on just what kind of magic we're discussing. If it's common herbs for potions, the cockatrice/pegasus/sphinx quills needed to scribe magical scrolls, or common spell components such as honeycomb, gum arabic, mercury, bat fur, lodestone, chalk, or whatever else, these are relatively easy to find in any settlement that is a Small City or larger, or even a Large Town in some cases. Peasants can supplement their incomes by selling otherwise innocuous goods, adventurers can be paid a hundred gold pieces or so for the feathers of exotic monsters, etc.

    Finished potions and scrolls are usually available only in large cities; even then, they're very expensive. Religious organizations can sell cheaper versions of some of these items to members of their own faiths. If not temples, then the local wizard's guild will sell them. Members get the standard prices for buying them, but non-members have a 50% markup, minimum. Wands, staffs, and other charged items such as dust of (dis)appearance are also possible, but will be correspondingly rarer and more expensive.

    Shops for permanent items simply do not exist. IMO, players should count their blessings if they even manage to acquire a masterwork item, much less a magical one. I see no reason why a fighter cannot go to 17th level wielding the same ordinary broadsword he originally had with him when he was an inexperienced country boy. Sure, in FR he might spurn that +1 hand axe, but in Greyhawk, he'll be more than happy to use that hand axe when he's attacked by perytons...

    Players ought to be thankful for what they can get. If that fighter previously mentioned isn't too keen on having a +1 spiked chain, how many NPC fighters do you think are jealous of him having a magical weapon? Quite a few, I'd imagine. Acquiring a number of wands, staffs, scrolls and potions is certainly possible, but even a simple +1 sword is something remarkable.

    And no, I don't follow strict 3E rules when it comes to magic items. You want that Forge Ring or Craft Wondrous Item feat? Sorry, it's off limits until you reach 16th level-the level at which, in previous editions, you could cast the permanecy spell to craft a magic item. And how many 16th level magic-users even exist in a setting where characters of half that level are feared and respected? Are they willing and ready to spend heaven knows how much time creating permanent items?

    This isn't to say that players will never get their hands on any time of permanent items-far from it. It's just that they won't necessarily get what they want, and the same goes for any number of NPCs. Lots of NPC wizards would love bracers of defence AC 2, but it just doesn't work that way. Even an NPC wizard like Tobin Potriades of the University of Magical Arts in Greyhawk probably has to make do with a cloak of protection +2, or otherwise AC 10. I would have no problem taking certain modules and ripping out half of the villain's magical arsenal, if I decide it's too big. Sure, I'd have to think up new tactics, but that shows the fairness of the situation; any players I'd have would have to think about what they can do with the resources they have, and so do I.

    And no, for the record, I don't actually play with anyone. I'm just a guy with an overactive imagination and too much free time, heheh.
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    Fri Apr 22, 2005 8:36 pm  

    Heh. Well, I do play with folks and that is pretty much how I DM, except maybe without quite so much attitude ;p

    My campaign has characers of lvls 10, 9, 8, 7, 5, 3, 3, 3 in it. Between the group, they have two +2 weapons and 3 +1 weapons. One of the characters has magical armor, two have magical shields. There are an assortment of minor trinkets (low level skill bonuses or low quantity charged items). A range of potions are available for sale from various sources The Festival Faires in the city of Flen usually have some trinket type stuff for sale and the occassional 'real' magic item. Though the players often can't afford the item and some NPC snatches it up.

    Obviously not the playstyle everyone enjoys, but its how we enjoy playing. The items are rare and usually have interesting stories to go along with them. Actually, they acquired another +2 weapon at one point, but the background/description were "icky" so they gave it over to the Silent Ones...
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    Wed Apr 27, 2005 8:33 am  
    Re: Hello

    Anced_Math wrote:

    Thus, for goblins, the factor is 4. There are roughly 4 goblins per every human. This results in 800,000 goblins, in tribes and holes scattered throughout the territory of Gran March.

    For Hill Giants I set a factor of 15. They eat, occupy, destroy as much land/forest/waterways as 15 humans. This may not be high enough, but 15 humans can screw up a lot. That is it in a nutshell.

    I should point out here, though, that as I was providing these examples I noticed that I had placed the Goblins Eco factor at .075 in my spreadsheet.

    This results in a revision of previous posts. It raises the adjusted populatio to 2,016,000 or 27 persons per square mile, or 57 persons per arable mile. Not a strain on the eco-system, still frontier like as some people desire, but not the Stone Age statistics the LGG might lead one to expect.


    <much of quote above snipped for brevity>

    I looked at the spreadsheet you sent me--I am much impressed. It must have taken a lot of work, as it is certainly detailed. I'm curious to know how you came up with your factors? Was your decision arbitrary (ie what made sense to you at the time) or was there information in the canon material that gave you the numbers you chose. I admit, this is a bit above my head, but I'm looking to see how I could extrapolate this for another area of Greyhawk (the home of one of my characters).

    Thank you again for sending me the spreadsheet.

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    Wed Apr 27, 2005 9:34 am  
    Arbitrary

    Well, the factors selected were not scientific, but not exactly arbitrarty either.

    For the ratio versus humans I attempted to read into the history of the Campaign/species. Goblins and Orcs, as examples, have only one advantage over humans in an ecological discussion... rapid reproduction. So, it seems logical that their numbers are greater than humans, but that they still cannot over run them. In my process I assumed that if any species was able to overrun humans, they would, so I attempted to balance them out. I have also assumed that Goblins and Orcs, though far more numerous, are scattered.... some in the Dim forest, some in the Rushmoors, some in the Lortmils, and a few scattered throughout the Gran March itself.

    As to the eco factor, I examined size, hit dice, and general nature. Medusae and Owlbears, for example, have an increased eco cost, as they are far more destructive than a Giant Owl, though they may be of comperable hit dice.

    I will be glad to answer any other questions.
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