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I have a question about how to do shops. How do I handle them in Pathfinder? What do I make available for my players to buy? I know there are prices for items in the manual, but I don't think they could buy anything in the manual could they? I'm not sure if shops have to make everything in the manual available to be sold in the one place, and I'm not sure how to roleplay shops and create their inventory.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Should an answer cover one thing—like mundane items, magical items, pets, or services—or attempt to be comprehensive? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 2 '18 at 16:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am asking whether all of those things could be sold in one place, and if not sold at all. \$\endgroup\$ – Stephen Mar 2 '18 at 16:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is the question 'what can players buy (in general)' or 'what does a specific store sell'? This question is rather broad, and could be either about the players obtaining new items or the roleplaying of shops and the creating of their inventory. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Mar 2 '18 at 16:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am asking how to roleplay shops and create their inventory. \$\endgroup\$ – Stephen Mar 2 '18 at 16:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ From what I understand, Stephen just needs an introduction to how shops work at all in running Pathfinder games. We play video games where any shop can buy or sell literally anything like they've all got a magical portal to the same infinite plane of items and money; there are board games where we might be lucky to find a merchant who wants to sell us a pile of dirt. Stephen needs to know how Pathfinder handles this stuff. (Is this accurate, Stephen?) We can speak to the kind of philosophy that goes into how Pathfinder shops work, fundamentally, as a starter. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Mar 2 '18 at 16:24
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I know there are prices for items in the manual, but I don't think they could buy anything in the manual could they?

Here's a handy guide to population size and what might be available

Basically how large a settlement is determines what you can buy there. There's a cap on what they might have available determined by that.

Available Magic Items

\begin{array}{lllll} \text{Community Size} & \text{Base Value}& \text{Minor}& \text{Medium}& \text{Major} \\ \hline \text{Thorpe} & 50 \text{gp} & 1\text{d}4 \text{ items}& — & — \\ \text{Hamlet} & 200 \text{gp} & 1\text{d}6 \text{ items}& — & — \\ \text{Village} & 500 \text{gp} & 2\text{d}4 \text{ items} & 1\text{d}4 \text{ items} & — \\ \text{Small town} & 1,000 \text{gp} & 3\text{d}4 \text{ items} & 1\text{d}6 \text{ items}& — \\ \text{Large town} & 2,000 \text{gp}& 3\text{d}4 \text{ items}& 2\text{d}4 \text{ items}& 1\text{d}4 \text{ items} \\ \text{Small city} & 4,000 \text{gp} & 4\text{d}4 \text{ items} & 3\text{d}4 \text{ items} & 1\text{d}6 \text{ items} \\ \text{Large city} & 8,000 \text{gp} & 4\text{d}4 \text{ items} & 3\text{d}4 \text{ items} & 2\text{d}4 \text{ items} \\ \text{Metropolis} & 16,000 \text{gp} & * & 4\text{d}4 \text{ items} & 3\text{d}4 \text{ items} \\ \end{array}

* In a metropolis, nearly all minor magic items are available.

Now, these are just guidelines--you can fiddle with this any way you like as GM--or you can have an area that specializes in a particular type of magic but is opposed to others. Magic items that are necromantic in nature, or even charisma boosting items may be seen as illegal or possibly immoral. Not everyone carries everything, and some items might not be out, and only will be if a shop owner actually likes you.

Shops work in Pathfinder a bit how real world shops do rather than video game shops. So it isn't about shopping via the manual. And it isn't quite like shopping at Walmart either. They don't have places like this.

How I work it is this--Shops can and do specialize. General stores for adventurers might have a little bit of everything, but it doesn't mean that they will have anything other than healing potions, and you might have to go to the potion shop for anything else, and so on. A town can be known for potions, and have more expensive items of that than you might expect for their size, but could lack in all other magic items.

Every shop and settlement is different. Some shops will only carry mundane items, or be geared towards adventurers and so on.

I look at the types of items to see if they make sense, even if they are mundane. One example--a masterwork or even regular lockpick set. In the real world lock pick sets (until just recently with the advent of the internet) were actually not that easy to get. 10-20 years ago here in the real world you could not pick them up just anywhere. If you were a shop owner in a kind of medieval setting, would you be selling them?

In a rough-ready boarder town would a shop carry a parasol? How likely are most shops to carry a disguise kit? Even if they are just 200 gp...

The quick and easy thing is to just set the gold amount depending on the place (population, if the area has fallen on hard times can be your determiners), and it makes your life a little more difficult if you have to make up a list for every town.

The easy fix for me as a GM is not to make up a list for every dang place. The players give me their wish list when they get into town, and then I let them know what's available and what isn't. It has to make sense for the place that they are in, but I start by saying this looks like the kind of place where it would be unlikely that there's anything over 200 gp for items, and even on the lower ones there's just no guarantee that the shops will have everything. In the olden days this actually was how grocery shopping worked--you didn't walk down the aisle and browse, you handed the stock boy your list, and he got your items. If they didn't have something, they would apologize, and sometimes bring out things they did have that were similar in the hopes that you would buy it. And if you would be in again, and said you wanted an item they didn't have, they'd see about ordering it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Thank you for the edit to make that a table. I could not figure out how to do it! \$\endgroup\$ – Erin Thursby Mar 2 '18 at 17:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ You're welcome! It's a fiddly system so generally someone with table code experience will come along and take care of it. :) (I don't know what's wrong with the formatting on that first header though; the code looks fine on mobile but maybe someone else can take a look and see the problem and fix it.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 2 '18 at 17:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer is good, but is missing the "This table represents what's available in a settlement, not in each individual shop" line. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe May 14 '18 at 22:15
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Pathfinder actually has two seperate books that can help you with this.

Pathfinder Player Companion: Merchant's Manifest Will probably be the biggest help but it does not come out until April.

Pathfinder Player Companion: Magical Marketplace is about 30 pages full of eccentric sellers of magical merchandise, great for quick roleplaying what kind of merchants would sell this stuff. One nice touch is in pathfinder you don't actually have to be a spellcaster to make magic items (you just need the master craftsman feat)so you tend to find magical items with related mundane items. like you find magical swords at a swordsmith, or you find magical traps at a trapmaker.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You are not actually correct about not being a spellcaster. From pathfinder on potions: "The creator must have prepared the spell to be placed in the potion (or must know the spell, in the case of a sorcerer or bard) and must provide any material component or focus the spell requires." And EVERY other description mentions knowing spells. Maybe you mean something specific? But as far as I knew making magic items means being able to actually use magic in pathfinder... paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/coreRulebook/magicItems/… \$\endgroup\$ – Erin Thursby Mar 4 '18 at 16:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Actually there is a feat that grants magic crafting to non-spellcasters, Master Craftsman, allows you to substitute a craft skill and allows you to ignore the need to cast the spell, instead making the craft DC higher. d20pfsrd.com/feats/general-feats/master-craftsman-final \$\endgroup\$ – John Mar 4 '18 at 16:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ErinThursby you don't actually need magic if you have the Master Craftsman feat, it only works for magic arms, armor, and wondrous items, but that is the vast bulk of magic items anyway. paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/coreRulebook/… \$\endgroup\$ – John Mar 4 '18 at 16:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's one feat, and it's not going to be wildly common for shop keepers because it does have prerequisites. Although the feat replaces some stuff, it only does for one particular narrow craft skill. This is available, but I would not say it's common. Having master craftsman should not mean that you have the ability to make EVERYTHING. You can take the feat more than once, which some might because "Choose one Craft or Profession skill in which you possess at least 5 ranks...." Otherwise, the fact that you could take it to replace two feats and ability to cast would make it broken. \$\endgroup\$ – Erin Thursby Mar 4 '18 at 16:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ So for the most part, I would still have completely mundane shops. Especially in places where the gold value is low for the area. \$\endgroup\$ – Erin Thursby Mar 4 '18 at 16:59

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