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The PHB (p.125) states that you can either take the equipment package provided by your background or you can use coin to purchase your starting equipment. If you choose to purchase your starting equipment, then you can not also take the equipment package suggested for your class.

So my question is this: If I choose to buy my starting equipment, is there a way to obtain/purchase items such as the urchin's small knife, pet mouse, and map of one's home town? (And is "a set of dark common clothes including a hood" considered the same as regular common clothes for the sake of buying equipment?)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The title and first half-sentence weren't related to the question asked at the end, so I removed or rewrote those to match the question asked. If you meant to ask a second question about combining backgrounds, you can post it as a fresh question (instead of combining questions) by using the Ask Question button again. It's ok to ask multiple questions at once. Cheers! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 1 '16 at 1:47
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RAW No.

However Yes, if the DM says you can. The PHB p.143 states that (depending on location):

almost anything imaginable is offered for sale, from exotic spices and luxurious clothing to wicker baskets and practical swords

However also true is the rule further down the page:

Alternatively, you can start with a number of gold pieces based on your class and spend them on items from the lists in this chapter.

So RAW, if it is not on the list you can't purchase it at character generation time.

However it is your DM that is the final arbiter of what is and isn't available from the "almost anything imaginable" to your character at creation time using the class based purchase rules (PHB p.143), and how much it costs and any other considerations if it is not listed on the tables.

The tables in the book obviously can't detail "almost anything imaginable" so the DM will have to invent the cost, weight etc. of anything not listed there. In fact the DM will have to specify the weight for any starting equipment not listed if the variant encumbrance rules (PHB p176) are being used.

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    \$\begingroup\$ PHB p.143 says about purchasing thing in-game, not as a part of the character creation process. \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Dec 1 '16 at 11:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is in the general introduction to the equipment chapter before any other discussion with no distinction made regarding in-game or during character generation procurement. It is a general description of what is available. \$\endgroup\$ – Protonflux Dec 1 '16 at 11:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ However I have edited my answer as there is a rule in the starting equipment section that states things purchased with character class starting money have to be on the list which I missed. \$\endgroup\$ – Protonflux Dec 1 '16 at 11:28
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It Depends on your DM's decision

Overall this is up to your DM, so you should ask them if this is possible, if they say no, oh well. If they say yes, there are some ideas for you below this paragraph.

If the DM allows it:

Try and not spend all your starting cash on the items, other than that, if the DM allows it there's not really much else to say.

If the DM disallows it:

I'm sure you could buy a pet mouse and a small knife (If the DM allows it), that is once you get into the game and find someone who can sell those items to you. However a map of one's home town would be difficult to obtain. Unless you're home town is largely populated or otherwise important in your setting I don't believe you could buy a map of it. Instead you might have to go to said town and map it out yourself. Or pay an NPC to map it out for you. As for the dark robe, I'm sure you could inform your DM that you want your common clothes to be dark and with a hood. He could say yes or no to this request as with the other ones.

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No.

Unless the DM chooses to deviate from RAW, most of these items do not have prices and therefore cannot be bought. Technically, without the DM making up values for these items, they also have no weight, deal no damage, and cannot be sold. In effect, they are non-physical character sheet decorations. Roleplaying props. Clutter. Eraser bait.

But maybe yes.

However, DMs make stuff up all the time for the sake of verisimilitude. Unless the DM is absolutely keen on PCs being permanently tethered to these Final Fantasy style immaterial "key items", they'll probably make up prices and weights, call the knife an improvised dagger, give the mouse the stat block of a rat, treat common clothes as a generic catch-all covering a wide variety of styles and appearances rather than an exact single outfit, etc.

But mostly no.

Just because "you can houserule it" doesn't mean it's univerally OK though. You can houserule anything under the sun, but the existence of DM fiat doesn't change the text in the corebooks outside of play, and one DM's eurika could easily be another DM's BS. So make sure your DM is involved in your character creation process. They are your only true connection to the world inside their head, and they're going to be the person adjudicating and modifying the rules and content for this character for as long as you play with them. Who knows what gear they might make available to players who choose to purchase equipment. There may be tons of homebrew items they've made up that they're just itching to see you use! Or they may hate that rule, and say all characters must take their starting gear. You'd never know unless they are involved. Keep your DM in the loop!

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