15
\$\begingroup\$

I am a new DM playing DND 5e. I am curious as to how more experienced DM's handle setting prices for adventuring gear, weapons, and armor. Does the merchant upcharge on their wares?

On that note, how about buying items from players? I have heard some (Matt Mercer) say that he sets the price of items at 25% base when buying FROM a player.

I'm sure the players reputation with the vendor plays a role in this, and I assume there should always be room for haggling as well. How do you do this?

Thanks in advance!

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ As a quick clarification, this is for mundane items only, correct? The DMG is very clear that magic items should be considered unique and not generally available at your local Ye Olde Magick Shoppe. \$\endgroup\$ – Joel Harmon Sep 13 '16 at 2:52
19
\$\begingroup\$

Personally, I've been using a shop catalog that /u/jrobharing came up with on reddit. It gives you a rough idea of what's considered cheap or expensive, and also gives some nice options for what sort of locale the shop is in. I try to keep away from improvising too much on prices, as I've found that I get too lenient otherwise.


As for selling, I generally start off with a pretty low offer -- 25% sounds about right. I also try to keep in mind that there's something of a hard cap that merchants have to deal with -- a roadside peddler cannot, under any circumstances, afford to pay out 500gp for magic slippers.

Generally, I try to cap it out at about:
- 250gp from moderately sized merchants in larger cities.
- 50 gp from small merchants / large cities or moderate merchants / small cities
- 10 gp from rural merchants

Although it's a fairly rough system, there have been no complaints from players about the economy so far.


I also play around with offering goods in exchange. The blacksmith might be willing to toss in some nice swords in exchange for that armor, or the herbalist might offer a potion to cover the 50gp gap. I've found that offering things like this can prompt the players to experiment more with what's offered for sale.

| improve this answer | |
\$\endgroup\$
15
\$\begingroup\$

This is going to depend more on your personal DMing style, and what kind of play your group is interested in than any rules consideration.

Money isn't something that's super important in 5e, unlike in the two previous editions. Most of the adventuring gear that you can buy will come fairly cheaply by mid-level, and there isn't much listed to buy after that. Adjusting prices up and down a little bit won't have a large mechanical effect on play.

However, haggling and price adjustment can have a large effect on how your players feel about the world. If your players are mostly interested in dungeon delving and killing evil monsters, then they might get bored if there's a long haggling session every time they go back to town. If your players are more interested in the social aspects of the game, then maybe they'll have more fun if they can have a real relationship with their local merchants. It's more important to make the players feel like they're getting a better or worse deal than actually effecting the mechanics of what items they can bring with them.

As far as how to adjudicate haggling in play: the actual numbers that you adjust the purchase and sale prices by don't matter very much. I've been running various editions of D&D for years now, and I haven't found much difference in player reactions whether the discount was 5% or 50%. The rule in 3rd Edition was that you could sell an item to a merchant for half the listed buy price, and that's what I have always used as my base. If a player wants to haggle, I let them, and give them an extra 25% if they do well, which ends up being 62% of the base price. Merchants generally sell things for the base price, or 10% less if a player haggles well.

As long as your group is happy with the amount of time spent on dealing with buying and selling items, and you don't feel like the players are getting too much money, then you're doing it right.

| improve this answer | |
\$\endgroup\$
10
\$\begingroup\$

One good marker here come from this question. That question is point to Wizard's official Adventurer's League material, part of their Organized Play.

At the end of an episode or adventure (and sometimes during an adventure), you can buy or sell mundane items. Any gems, jewelry, art objects, and trade goods you find during adventures are automatically converted to their full value in gold and divided up among the adventurers in your group. Arms, armor, and other equipment fetch half their cost if you sell them.

There are some key elements here. Things found as "loot" are meant to fetch full value. So if the PCs find 5 diamonds worth 50gp each, it's expected that they will get 250gp, just as if they had found 250 gold coins. By default, the "art" and gems stuff is mostly there to provide flavour rather than forcing PCs to haggle at everything. Likewise the weapons are not intended to be a revenue source, so we just assume that they are damaged and don't carry full value.

Likewise, D&D 5e has a very stable set of basic living expenses for PCs based on their lifestyle. The lifestyles in 5e have a specific cost and a good idea of what that entails. This means that you don't generally need to do things like haggle over the price of a room at the inn. If they go to the right inn, we assume they're getting the appropriately valued food, drink & lodging.

All in all, I typically take the stance that things that are "used" sell for 25% to 50% of their original value. This enables the merchants to have a markup when they eventually re-sell the item. It also discourages excessive "trash collecting" by players (unless it's part of their character). If someone specifically has a merchant or trader background, then maybe there's some leeway of 10% either way on the pricing.

I think if you set something like this as a default, then it enables you to handle pricing more specifically on things that really matter. Trading magic items, negotiating prices for that guide to the forbidden lands, buying a keep, splitting up earnings from the mine you just cleared... I think these things can be fun for players as long as they're important. Otherwise you just follow the defaults and it's easy for everyone to operate.

| improve this answer | |
\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The "trade items for full value, other for half" is from the PHB equipment chapter, not just from AL. \$\endgroup\$ – Derek Stucki Sep 13 '16 at 15:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DerekStucki More accurately: you can sell art objects and trade goods for their full value. According to that section of the rules, "As a general rule, undamaged weapons, armor, and other equipment fetch half their cost when sold in a market. Weapons and armor used by monsters are rarely in good enough condition to sell." So if you're looting enemies' bodies, you usually can't find someone who'll bother paying for their gear; I assume this is a design decision to avoid the exact behavior you mentioned. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 31 '18 at 20:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ And from the same rules: "Selling magic items is problematic. Finding someone to buy a potion or a scroll isn't too hard, but other items are out of the realm of most but the wealthiest nobles. Likewise, aside from a few common magic items, you won't normally come across magic items or spells to purchase. The value of magic is far beyond simple gold and should always be treated as such." Of course, the economy may be different in your universe if you decide to have magic items be more commonly available. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 31 '18 at 20:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.