Saturday, July 23, 2016

Shopping Mini-Game

I've mentioned a few times in the past that I'd like to make some kind of mini-game for shopping.  My players engage in a lot of what we jokingly call Shopping & Dragons.  Because they're in a city and I've used a fad table that changes fashionable things to wear from week to week and because they like to buy things for their schemes, they are often shopping.  Oh, and the city they are in, Ulminster, is pretty mercantile and has a Mile-Long Market as a landmark.  So shopping is something that is going to happen.  But I wish it were more fun, more game-like.

Last night as I was trying to fall asleep I had an idea of how to do this simply: have a roll-all-the-dice type table but let players choose which die to apply to which column.  That would mean there is luck involved but also player choice.  To have a cost of rolling again and again, each roll on the table is 1d4 hours of searching markets and shops.
This is a first draft and I haven't tried it in play.  The worst possible outcome is probably having to wait a week for something, or needing something so badly you would settle for 4x the price.

I wanted there to be the element of clothes not being the right fit and I thought Strength and Constitution might be a suitable stand-in for this.  If players have minuses on those stats it's more likely they might be slight, if they have bonuses they could be considered burly or tall.  I don't know how this applies to buying non-clothing gear.  Can ropes and 10' poles be of different, awkward sizes?  Maybe just ignore this column when buying gear, that would give players an extra die to choose from, meaning non-apparel is easier to acquire or at least more standard when found.

Another thing I was thinking, a player might apply a roll that exceeds a column's maximum to get their choice of the results in that column.  That way a player can "throw away" a high score for certainty of fit or quality.

Here is the table in an editable form.

Of course you will still need a set of simple, well-organized price lists.  My buddy and I started on that, organizing them by material the items are made of so we might hook in trading or world event effects later, with embargoes making prices on all cloth goods go up, say, or metal goods becoming cheaper when a new mine is opened.


  1. Ah, the old 8 1/2 foot long 10' pole

    Your lists and tables continue to astound and delight me.

  2. I think I understand what the results on the Fit column mean, but could you provide a little more detail or an example?

    I like the concept and the player's flexibility in interpreting the rolls.

  3. Great! I like this, but I'm a little afraid my players may think I am obstructing them. On the other hand, I like getting them out of the notion that their is a 21st century shopping mall in which they can find anything they want whenever they want.

    I Hope you will tell us how it goes in a follow up post.

    Also, I'd be interested in seeing the items by materials listing.

  4. Maybe the 'non-standard' nature of gear (as opposed to clothes) might mean it's made for non-humans? I remember an old table in WD for non-human armour; maybe you find that the lantern you bought has an inconvenient handle because it was made for (tiny) Kobold or (giant) Gnoll hands (paws?). Perhaps Halflings measure rope differently to humans and what you thought was a standard measure turns out to be 41 feet instead of 50. Those 4 bundles of Orcish torches a) come in 5s not 6s, and b) produce a choking smoke that doesn't bother Orcs. That 10-pole is Troll-made, and is 50% more bulky than usual. Or it's sprite-made and will break if you roll your STR bonus or less on a d20.

  5. @Scott: Lol, 49 1/2 foot rope, extra heavy lanterns and such, might make using the chart worth it by themselves. And thank you, that means a lot to me.

    @subhuman: Of course, and sorry, I left it more abstract because I figure other DMs might use different Stat bonuses than me. In my game stats of 8 or less are below average and receive a minus. So, if a player was buying a formal dress and put a die roll of "1" on "fit" it wouldn't fit them unless they had both Str & Con of 8 or less. That makes ome of those pretty restrictive, but I was thinking most players would fit under the "or" entries, by dedicating a 2,4,6, o7 roll to the "Fit" column. Thanks.

    @Gaston's Hat: Well, my hope is that, if the game aspect of it is engaging, even not finding what you want will be fun for them. But you did make me think of an older campaign I had in the Shifting City of Nidus where it was hard to find anything. To allay frustration in failed attempts back then I would have players roll on a weird encounter chart each time. So I should probably do the same here-- even failure will result in seeing something odd or meeting an NPC. I'll do my best in sharing the price lists when finished. Thanks.

  6. @Red Orc: Thanks, yes. I don't have a lot of non-humans in my current campaign world but I was thinking something similar with having good variety based on different cultures. So these Northern lanterns are crude and heavy, you really want one made by Southern smiths, etc.

  7. In today's post, I linked to your shopping article and created a version of your table for my Honor+Intrigue game:

  8. That's awesome. Thanks for letting me know.