I wanted to share an experience I had while running a game during a retail therapy session and maybe have a discussion on styles of running a shop. (TL;DR in 2 parts at the end)
Before I get too into the meat of it I should say that the group I had at the time was mostly composed of a few close friends with whom I've played with before and done 'ren faires with for longer. We had been itching to play a campaign for a while and to fill it out we had invited a mutual friend who had recently joined our circle. I had a campaign brewing with some elements cobbled together from disparate sources and was willing to be the man behind the screen so was elected to the venerated (HA!) DM spot.
With the party members I had been around for years the common shopping experience in game we had was built more around the style of "I'm looking for a shop that would sell X, is there one here?". That is to say we usually had something in mind, and occasionally would be offered something similar or something the DM would rather see us have.
Our the New guy had much less experience with ttrpgs and was the browse everything type of shopper. We get to a major city complete with its own map and a few key places marked. He immediately keys on a magic shop to spend his budding wealth in and the party bee-lines it. He walks in and I describe a veritable shop of wonder as there are glass cases of jewelry, shallow cabinets and shelves with potions and statuettes. Racks with clothes & cloaks; and wall mounts and table stands featuring various weapons of nearly any style you could want. New guy walks right up to the shop keeper and asks "hey what do you have for sale?"
The table dissolves in laughter. We likened the experience to walking into somewhere like Walmart and asking what they had for sale. (yay go us for mocking the new guy, but we had all hung around for a while and he didn't take it personal). The shop keeper ended up offering him some really high end stuff that was well above his price range to encourage the player to provide more context for what he was seeking. The player was stuck, so a couple of the other guys stepped in and asked about stuff they were looking for specifically or for unusual items within a given price range.
I use a few generators to help stock odd items the party may not think to ask for or items that may be fun and have a general idea if a shop might stock something they ask for, but I don't generate a full inventory for the shops. I would rather have a general idea of the stock, handful of specific items and wing any odd requests.
TL;DR: mocked a new player for trying to shop without an idea what he wanted; Learned a lesson about common experiences within the game.
Lesson: Take a little bit of time to think about how you expect shopping to run in your sessions and possibly bring it up during a session Zero to ensure expectations align. This could apply to a variety of equipment shops and not just specifically Magic shops. If you get a grasp on your style share it, maybe its as simple as saying "Hey these shops stock such a variety of items I'm not going to sit down and list them all for you so you need to have some type of idea what your looking for, even if its very vague. Just saying you want protective items can lead to discussions of enchanted armors, rings of resistance, or basic protection amulets.
Good? Bad? Stories to share?
- How do you guys handle shopping?
- Players want specific magic items. Do I just give them what they want?
- Encourage Players to Suggest Magic Items to Help Other Players
More about Dungeons & Dragons OnlinePost: "Mixed shopping experience" specifically for the game Dungeons & Dragons Online. Other useful information about this game:
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