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I have never played D&D before, however I will be running my first session this weekend and in a test run I understand the basics.

I will be running through the 5e starter set campaign.

I have hit a snag with how to stock a shop. In the guide there is a load of stock that can be sold, but due to the sheer number it's hard to determine what would be useful to have available at the time, as well as factoring in costs and whether having the users visit a shop would be helpful to them in the starting environment.

How would it be best to stock a shop for a first time adventure running from the starter set?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It is a lot to take in, but even if your question is put on hold, a couple of edits to clean it up can get it open again. It sounds like your question is about how to stock a store more than it is about role playing the interaction between the party and the merchant. If that is correct, then you can edit your question to include all of the information in your comment, and it will do wonders for specifying the problem. \$\endgroup\$ – Adam Feb 1 '17 at 14:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Reminder: Please use answers to answer the question. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 1 '17 at 15:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think this question should have been closed. I can't imagine how this topic is too broad and I have an answer that I would like to contribute... but since that's no longer possible, I shall post it here: there are also online random generators for filling stores. \$\endgroup\$ – geoidesic Dec 2 '19 at 7:40
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A roleplaying session is not like a video-game one: you don't have to have everything planned. Many details don't have to be decided before the PC stumble on them. After all they may never came to this shop.

When players go shopping, you don't have to show them the list of every item available, like you would have in most of the video rpgs. Just play the merchant and make them some offers, based of what the adventurers look like and the items present in your guide. For example if one looks like a swordsman:

Look at that sword, adventurer, it cuts through steel as a knife through butter, and it's only two hundred gold! Oh, you don't have that much? May I recommend you this buckler instead? It's even cheaper!

If your scenario provides informations about his personality, use them! If not it's probably not a very important character so play it as you want.

If they are looking for something specific, let them ask for it, and maybe the merchant has the item, maybe not. Look at your scenario:

  • is it an item specifically mentioned here? Then you have your answer.

  • is it a very mundane item? (like a rope, a normal sword or some arrows) If yes then you can assume the merchant has it in stock.

  • is it something magic/very rare? The merchant doesn't have it. Maybe he can know how to get it however.

  • is it something quite specific, but not so rare? It's up to you to decide. A weapon seller will probably have at least some weapons of good quality, and if you want you can even make them roll.

Ok, you are looking for a metal cage but this village has no smith since years. Roll this d100, if you are lucky maybe there is still one left somewhere.

You don't have to roleplay every single merchant in the world. If the team goes to a big city and spend a day looking for a rare merchandise in all the shops just tell them the result of their hunt (unless your game is all about shopping).

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the rolling suggestion especially. If my players go to a shop (even in a big city) looking for a specific rare item or type of item, I roll an appropriate check to see if they manage to find it in stock somewhere. You can even add a modifier to the roll if they want to devote lots of time to searching for it (assuming big city). \$\endgroup\$ – thanby Feb 1 '17 at 18:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ From my understanding, medieval shoppes were a bit different from what we have today, in that the wares for sale weren't typically set out and displayed for browsing like they are today. So, the practice of having the PCs ask the shopkeeper for specific items they're looking for, or being sold particular items by the merchant himself, works well thematically as well as mechanically. \$\endgroup\$ – Nuclear Hoagie Feb 1 '17 at 19:48
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You may not want to focus on a shop as one of the most important aspects of your new game.

While some players do indeed enjoy roleplaying the interactions with shopkeepers in purchasing equipment, there are most fantastical aspects of your story that should probably take priority. As with any story, you want a good story hook that will draw the players in and get them interested right from the get-go. Having the story open up with hours of shopping is most likely not a good way to do this. Furthermore, it's mostly unnecessary anyway - the characters have just been created, and gotten equipment as part of character creation, which is supposed to be part of their backstory, not them walking into a shop and buying all their starting possessions.

Considering the fact that starting equipment was just completed, the characters probably have access to the exact same subset of stuff they were just buying during character creation. You should just treat any further interest in shopping at this time as a retcon of this creation - i.e. they forgot something, so just add it in - and move on with the story. You have goblins to kill, dungeons to delve, and who knows whatever else. Some sessions down the line, come back and reconsider this further.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I ran a campaign for a while where the ongoing local stories all revolved around the bartender. \$\endgroup\$ – barbecue Feb 1 '17 at 18:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @barbecue It's certainly possible! \$\endgroup\$ – Southpaw Hare Feb 1 '17 at 18:53
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Generally speaking, everything on the list of adventuring gear is available in a settlement. For that reason, if you are stocking a general store, there is no more work to do than to know where to find the list of goods printed in the rules when the PCs decide they need some gear. The same applies for mundane weapons and armor: those items are generally available in any settlement of suitable size.

You don't need to decide which of those items are available unless you decide that the store doesn't carry every item. It's probably best, though, for your first adventure to include all the items as suggested in the rules so that your players have access to all of those items and are able to learn which ones are useful to them. Hand them the book or rules and say, "Here is what you can buy."

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It depends on your players and the needs of the campaign. Some players just want to buy stuff and get on with fighting baddies, others prefer to role play, bartering and talking to the shopkeeper to get information or quest hooks.

Players will typically expect that the basic items from the player's handbook will be available but depending on events in the campaign some things might not be in stock or at greatly inflated prices, shovels during a gold rush, food during a famine.

Just starting out its probably best to have all the basic items available and be ready to barter if the players try.

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A general way to roleplay shopping in D&D (at least in every campaing I've played) is to decide what is available or not based on the location of the store.

A small blacksmith store in a village will have a few non-magical weapons and other common tools, usually in unlimited quantity unless your players ask for an unreasonable amount (you decide what is unreasonable. In a village that was just ransacked, even three swords might be too much).

A big store in a major city will instead have all sort of magical and non-magical weapons and tools (depending on how common is magic in your settings).


If you don't have a specific setting, or it's just a generic store in a generic town, I'd suggest you just go with all non-magical weapons and tools, at stock prices. This also works if your setting doesn't suggest a particular limitation for the shop in question.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The question specifically asks about the Lost Mines adventure/Basic Set. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 1 '17 at 18:15

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