Dungeons & Dragons Online

Zathar, The Multidimensional Magic Merchant

This is an awesome idea if you plan to have a long campaign with plenty of magic items. It has a long setup, but the payoff is very worth it and it creates an interesting NPC while adding incredible flavor to your world.


THE SETUP

I recommend giving a PC a Ring of Magic Shielding or having a believable reason why one player wouldn't be affected by mind-altering magic. Maybe their race has an innate defense against it, (like an elf being immune to charm) maybe their class gives them features, (aberrant mind sorcerer) or you can just make your players make a wisdom saving throw. Whatever reason why, they should not notice anything weird the first time they visit a magic shop, mention some strange runes or some other strange arcane powers, they will certainly think of this just as flavor.

You can start setting this up the first time that players visit a magic shop in a big city. They may be low-medium level PCs, returning from their first successful adventure, their pockets recently lined with gold they seek to spend in powering up.

They will inevitably ask if there is a place to do so, and that's when your trap starts.

Mention an interesting building, perhaps in an alley filled with fog, they must ask around locals for a couple of hours for someone to mention this shop in an almost forgotten part of town. As they approach, they see an odd-looking building with a sign reading "Crucible Colorful Curiosities."

Create a mystical ambience in whatever way you see fit, have fun with making your players spooked or curious.

Once they enter, they see an ordered and clean shop, expensive woods furnish the shelves, wonderful curtains and rugs spread, a faint scent of lavender and old books circles around them as they immediately notice how this place is colder than outside. They close the door and hear a puff, watching a blue creature sitting in a raised chair, a mix between a dragon and a toad lays half-asleep in a corner, ice crystals forming in its skin. It releases a cold breath every couple of moments, keeping the shop strangely cold.

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A warm voice welcomes them; try to give it a memorable feature, such as a unique accent, mannerism, etc.

"Good afternoon honorable guests, my name is Zathar, what service may I provide for you today?" A sun elf gestures in a friendly manner, neatly dressed, his hair impeccable. He has a vast repertoire of incredible, though expensive items.

This first encounter with Zathar goes as many magic buying sprees often go, haggling, perhaps a stealing attempt. If they ask for a specific item, he asks them to wait for a moment while he searches his vault. He goes towards the back of his shop and enters a secluded room where he disappears for a couple of minutes, later announcing whether he has the item or not, more than likely, having it. Many familiars watch his shop while he is away, warning him of any shenanigans that the party may do.

All normal as your player expect. The next time however, things become stranger.


THE TWIST

The next time they visit another city they may be on another adventure, hundred of miles away, possibly in another plane of existence altogether. Despite that, they will still eventually feel the need to go to a magic shop, they are still adventurers after all.

Describe then how they search for it, in the same manner twisting and turning around the city, looking everywhere until they find an alley looking oddly similar to one they have seen before. Your players might have forgotten already of Zathar and his magic shop from long ago, try giving them slight clues of a Déjà vu if they don't get the hints.

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They find "Astralus Arcane Acquisitions," and enter to look for their items. It is then that you describe the same shop as before, the same creature sitting in a corner, and the same warm voice.

"Good afternoon honorable guests, my name is Zathar, what service may I provide for you today?"

This time however, point to all other players, except the one that has the mind shielding, and say "You don't remember ever seeing this person before." The magic runes set in the entrance affecting most of the players.

Bells are ringing, the player that knows what's up may start telling their friends to leave, or to be alert. If questioned, Zathar may answer that he has recently moved his business for whatever reason, or he may say that they are mistaken, he doesn't recall ever seeing the players before.


THE PAYOFF

It is an open secret, to many magic users, interplanar players and high ranking officials that these shops are run by the same network. A sun elf named Zathar created a dozen or more simulacrums of himself, running a merchant operation based on the city of Sigil, all the shops interconnected by portals.

Most of his customers are not aware that they might have visited his shops many times in different places, and the ones that are, know to keep their lips shut.

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Spreading this information can end up with one being permanently banned from the many shops, which can be a death sentence when looking for various objects.

Zathar can act as a simple curiosity, a patron paying hard gold for locating or retrieving an object, or even a rival looking to gain possession of an artifact the party is interested in. Zathar however always maintains strict professionalism, putting economics ahead of feelings, and will not hold a grudge against the party unless he deems them to be a potential business rival or that they are irreparably hurting his goals.

Source: reddit.com

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