Content of the article: "The Last Stop: Buy Before You Die!"
The blade slices across your chest, the last of a dozen deadly blows you’ve suffered in this fight. You fall to your knees as the edges of the world curl inward and your vision stains black. And for a few moments, that’s all there is. But instead of losing yourself to unconsciousness, you find yourself standing in a vast, dark space. Your body doesn’t seem to be injured, nor your clothes torn. You’re still trying to puzzle all this out when an echoing click is followed by a bzzzzz, and in front of you, neon lights flicker on, illuminating a sign that reads:
And below that, in smaller, hand painted letters:
“Buy before you die!”
The sign hovers weightlessly over a shop stand displaying a handful of wares. Behind it stands the tallest goblin you’ve ever seen, larger even than most humans. His grin stretches just an inch too wide to feel natural, and his voice squeaks with barely contained delight.
“Welcome, adventurer – to The Last Stop!”
When a PC reaches 0 HP without dying, their consciousness is transported to a small market stall suspended in oblivion. Imio, the owner and shopkeep, stocks rare and powerful items at unbelievable prices, but all deals are a dangerous wager. In addition to the ticket price, players must suffer one failure against their death saving throws to take advantage of the bargain. They can wait for a few successes before risking the purchase.
But what does Imio get out of such an unequal exchange? Why, all your stuff, of course! If you die in the moments after making a deal, you forfeit ownership of all your belongings, including your deadly purchase. All items on your person disappear from the material plane, leaving a naked corpse and some very disappointed party members. The integrity of this deal is very important to Imio, and you must survive or perish on your own: if you are healed or externally stabilized, you lose your purchased item and what you paid for it.
For the more timid adventurer, or those with loved ones awaiting their return, inching closer to death need not be your only option – Imio wants your stuff, not your life! Imio can be bartered with, but if your offer offends, you lose everything you’ve submitted. A successful barter with Imio will match the actual value of the item, not his discounted rate, and he will not accept coin. (“Only the bold may pay in gold,” he’ll tell you. It rhymes because it’s true!) Imio can only take what a PC currently has on their person – items left at home, or lent to someone else, are not up for grabs.
Imio may be off-putting, but he is an honest goblin, and abides by his own rules. He is knowledgeable about his wares, and will be forthright if an item is cursed or otherwise undesirable. He never forgets a customer or how they came to him, and can be persuaded to divulge information about an item’s previous owner if a PC forms a good relationship with him. He does not appear for a PC who does not have at least one item he is interested in, even if they have made a deal before.
If a PC declines to make a purchase, Imio does not insist. He believes his deals speak for themselves. While a player waits out combat in between death saving throws, they have plenty of time to peruse his wares and change their mind.
Being down for the count in combat can suck, especially when that translates to several hours IRL of sitting around doing nothing. I wanted something my squishy low-level players could entertain themselves with while I DMed the rest of combat.
After reading out the flavor text and giving the player a quick run-down of the rules, just hand over a list of items and their prices for the player to muse over. You can run the rest of combat as normal. If your player wants to purchase an item, they can announce it at their next turn and take their death save fail alongside the result of that turn’s roll.
While existing limitations should discourage players from intentionally hitting 0 HP just to get a bargain, you might want to consider more clear restrictions – for example, Imio might only appear once per day, no matter how cool your shit is.
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