Well in the campaign I am planning to run I've managed to smooth out everything except the magic items. I read chapter 15 of the core rulebook about generating magic items. Because of information overload or my brain not functioning as well as it should, I'm not sure whether I'm interpreting what I read correctly. Thus from what I read I'll show an example magic shop.

In a large city I roll 4d4 minor magic items I get a result of 7 magic items.

Afterward a roll 7 d% to see what my shop will have, I get 3 scrolls 3 potions and 1armor/shield.

Afterward I roll again, d%, and get three 1st level scrolls, One 1st level potion, two 0th level potion and One +1 armor.

However for the life of me I can't seem find what spells should be on the scrolls, what potion they'll get and which +1 armor I should place. Thus other than the question of am I doing this correctly there is also the question of what exactly is the item they get.


2 Answers 2


First: this part of the rules is completely optional (more so than normal, I mean); you can simply choose the items you want. They are literally guidelines, not rules, and they're there to help you, not confuse you.

That said, this is the procedure laid out in the book.

  • Any item below the base value (8000 gp for a large city) is 75% likely to be available somewhere in the area. You don't check this ahead of time, but when a player asks if they can find an item.
  • In addition, there are some number of minor, medium, and major magic items definitely available. As you've correctly noted, if you get a 7 on the first roll, you then roll 7 times on the minor magic items table, and then roll on the appropriate sub-table for each result.
  • In many cases this won't have determined the exact item.
    • Scrolls and wands can be made of any spell (of the correct level) -- just choose one by whatever means you like.
    • Potions can be made of any spell that fits certain criteria (read the potion creation rules); a good rule of thumb is that if it's a buff you can cast on someone else, it makes a good potion. (Like cure light wounds, enlarge person, or bull's strength. But not true strike, because you can only cast that spell on yourself.) Since they're a bit more complicated, you could use the old 3.5 table, though it'll be missing some pathfinder spells.
    • Armor and weapons you could choose yourself, or again, use the old tables for armor or weapons.
  • Once you've done all this, you split the items amongst all the shops in the area. This is for the entire city, not just one magic shop.

Why does it matter?

It doesn't, really. The rules are written under the assumption that the players can have any item they can afford, so if you're new to DMing just stick to party wealth guidelines and consider letting the players have anything they want.

So don't let these rules prevent the party from getting healing potions or armor of the correct type unless that's what you want!

These limits on items are meant to create a sense of verisimilitude; the idea that there really are a finite amount of notable items for sale. This is probably best used in very small areas; in a large city it's more believable that you can find about anything. If you feel it's important, certainly try the rules out! But it's probably not how most people play the game. Generally either everything is available, or the DM restricts things based on narrative reasons.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ It's worth noting that preventing players from having the items that they want and/or need is equivalent to reducing their wealth (wealth being the value of their assets). Ultimately, an item's value to a player is how well it keeps him alive/kills the enemy (or accomplishes some other important task). Getting items have nominally the same value but which don't function so well for you is equivalent to getting a worse (less valuable) item. And 3.x performs extremely poorly on lower-than-normal wealth. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jun 5, 2013 at 17:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ On the other hand, it's also worth noting that for verisimilitude, Ye Olde Magic Mart is often inappropriate. You don't need to just sell exactly what the players are looking for every time: you should just find some way of getting it into their hands. Maybe that item he's looking for "just happens" to be in the next goblin camp's stash. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jun 5, 2013 at 17:05
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm more used to AD&D than 3.x, but generally I let the players buy anything they can afford in a large city if they have time, such as in between missions. My justification is that if they can't find it in the city they can have it imported or even made, as long as they have the time to wait (yes, I just ignore shipping costs which were very high in everything before the modern era). In small towns or when time is tight, then I tightly limit what is available both for verismilitude and to help create tension. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 5, 2013 at 19:14

They don't bother making charts for the details like "which potion or scroll is it" - though there are some more complete item generation charts in the Gamemastery Guide and Ultimate Equipment, they still don't cover total end-to-end generation. You'll have to choose or randomize on your own.

These have however been turned into super helpful online tools by several folks which do take it the last mile - like this magic item generator that takes town size as an input, which seems to hit your exact current use case, or this sweet encounter treasure generator.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Did the tables from Ultimate Equipment not make it into the SRD? I couldn't see them on Paizo's site. \$\endgroup\$
    – starwed
    Jun 5, 2013 at 16:06

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