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The Dungeon Master's Guide lists price ranges for magic items related to their rarity. For example, an uncommon magic item can be worth between 101 and 500 gold pieces. Consummable magic items are worth half the price of their permanent equivalent.

In Adventurers League, magic items are obtained during adventures (1-3 consummables plus 1 permanent per 4 hours session in average).

But I'd like to know if it's possible for an AL charcter to buy a magic item (possibly using downtime) instead of finding it as aventuring loot. Is it possible for...

  1. Permanent ones? (Like boots of speed)

  2. Consumable ones? (Like potion of growth)

From what I understand it's supposed to be difficult to find magic items available for buying, even consumable ones, but I'm asking if it still might be possible for when you want a very specific item, have more than enough money to buy it and are willing to travel far to go buy it.

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Generally, no...

The Adventurers League Players Pack contains the documents that detail your options in AL play. Purchases are restricted to items in the PHB. The only potion available for sale without special documentation is the basic Potion of Healing. There are no other magic items in the PHB - no potions, no scrolls - so they can't be purchased either.

...unless you're of sufficient rank in a faction...

Characters who reach rank 3 in their faction can use downtime and gold to acquire magic items from a very limited list: +1 weapons, shields, and armor are available to all faction members, and each faction allows access to a single uncommon item and a single rare item.

...attend an event featuring Fai Chen's Fantastic Faire...

Fai Chen's is available to public events of sufficient size that register with WoTC for it in advance. Fai Chen trades (but does not sell) permanent magic items, sells scrolls up to 5th level (one per transaction per event), strange trinkets, and occasionally special mounts and property deeds.

...or adventure in Chult.

There is a very small number of magical weapons and shields, plus scrolls and potions, available for purchase only to characters playing Season 7 content - DDAL modules and Tomb of Annihilation. These purchases are only available as a downtime activity.

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Yes, in AL you can buy potions, scrolls and magical items but there are limitations...

Even though Xanathar’s Guide to Everything has an entire section dedicated to buying magical items, there are additional clarifications on p. 174. (Note that though the rest of XGE Appendix A doesn't apply currently to Adventurers League, the statement below is accurate in referring to current practices in AL adventures.):

Characters can use their monetary treasure to purchase anything from the equipment lists in chapter 5 of the Player’s Handbook. In addition. the Adventurers League allows characters to purchase potions and spell scrolls...A spell scroll can be purchased only by a character who is capable of casting the spell in question.

Spending downtime is one limitation...

For the nuance in your question about “possibly using downtime” - there are in-adventure opportunities in Adventurer’s League to buy magical items but note that there are often limitations including spending downtime.

For example, in Tomb of Annihilation downtown costs and magical items sold are cited in the TOA Primer:

...While the merchant princes are happy to sell the items over which they hold monopoly, doing so can be time consuming. Characters wishing to purchase goods from the merchant princes must spend 10 downtime days arranging a meeting, negotiating prices, and coordinating for impartial intermediaries to accept, transfer gold during the transaction. At the end of the ten days, you may make one purchase— either a single permanent magic item, or up to their limit in other items (see, below).

Potions and scrolls can be bought in this AL adventure:

...In Tomb of Annihilation, the merchant Wakanga in Port Nyanzaru sells potions (common & uncommon) and scrolls (1st, 2nd and 3rd level)

Magic items can be bought in this AL adventure:

...In Tomb of Annihilation: Ekene-Afa. This Merchant Prince has a small selection of magic items (p.25) readily available for a modest price. These items can’t be traded and the permanent magic items increases the character’s magic item count by one. The character may purchase a single item or no more than 10 pieces of +1 ammunition in a single transaction before she refuses the character further service.

Outside of AL adventures, using downtime, you can only buy non-magical and magical items listed in the Player’s Handbook. Currently, the only potion in the PHB is a Potion of Healing and there are no scrolls.

Magic items also cannot be sold by PCs.

What can be sold is also limited. According to the AL documentation:

The first rule is relatively simple. There will be some rare opportunities to buy magic items with gold, but never to sell them. Adding more magic items into the world is okay; characters that get more items simply won't get items in contention after an adventure session. We just have to preserve a character's total permanent magic item count in order keep things balanced.

Non-AL games do have guidelines for purchases.

This is in contrast to non-AL games which can allow downtime magical item purchases per Xanathar’s guide:

Buying a Magic Item

Purchasing a magic item requires time and money to seek out and contact people willing to sell items. Even then, there is no guarantee a seller will have the items a character desires.

Resources. Finding magic items to purchase requires at least one work week of effort and 100 gp in expenses. Spending more time and money increases your chance of finding a high-quality item.

Additional details and tables are provided for rolling on the outcome of the search.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately, @GaelL, the XGTE references are completely irrelevant to Adventurers League play. This answer is fundamentally wrong. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Dec 23 '17 at 3:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh... i'll remove the checker for now then. \$\endgroup\$ – Gael L Dec 23 '17 at 4:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GaelL I believe this edited answer is now foundationally correct \$\endgroup\$ – Praxiteles Dec 23 '17 at 19:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ The passages from Appendix A from XGE have not been adopted by AL for the current season. They include some significant changes that AL will not adopt mid-season. This answer may become more accurate in the future, but for now it is using text not considered part of AL play - only the classes, spells, and magic items (when granted in modules) apply to AL play. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Dec 25 '17 at 15:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Of note, the section in XTGE that says "the Adventurers League allows characters to purchase potions and spell scrolls" is supported and part of AL play as the spoiler reveals. \$\endgroup\$ – Praxiteles Jul 6 '18 at 11:03

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