Thursday, January 15, 2015

Back Issues #14 - Everything on Sale, All Sales Final

Everybody loves bargain hunting. Yes, even rich people. Honestly; think about how much a rich person enjoys getting a painting for cheap and turning it around for a profit. Bargains are a good thing right? Anybody who's bought a house or a used car can tell you that a bargain just means that the seller knows something you don't know, or that you know something they don't. Either way the results can often be interesting...

Issue #14: Everything on Sale, All Sales Final
http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0135.html

Some games are all about you stuff. Equipment, magic items, blaster pistols, armor, explosive, cybernetics, etc etc, ad nauseum. The classic fantasy RPG, D&D, seemed all but designed around the accumulation of wealth to facilitate gear, and gear to facilitate wealth. Adventure, get treasure, get better gear, wash rinse repeat. I'm sure that not every game and not every GM ran games like that but I have memories of just such a thing.

So the players find themselves in town with a bag full of gold and a burning desire to buy a sword in the next 20% bonus bracket. At the local magic shoppe they find, much to their shock, that everything is cheaper than expected. Not asking questions, they quickly buy up their new gear, and pocket the difference for another day. What they don't know, however, will probably bite them in the ass.

Let the buyer beware.

In last week's article I discussed any number of defects that you can apply to potions, enchanted items, scrolls, weapons, armor, etc. Hardware can have similar defect but then there are the more unique aspects of "discount gear". Curses laid upon an item either by intent or by circumstance like "the bearer of this blade will meet untimely death." Unusual weaknesses like armor that does not defend against attacks of a certain color (the Green Lantern effect), or weapons whose enchantments fail at inopportune times (the sword that doesn't work during tea time).

Of course there's also the possibility for more plot centric "defects", or at least side-plot centric ones. Perhaps the discount gear comes from the local thieves guild. The player unknowningly are buying from a fence or laundering operation and its only a matter of time before the previous owner will be coming for it.

Similarly grave robbers sell their goods, either through a willing fence or even an unknowing legitimate shop to make their ends meet. If the character's purchase the belongings of a fallen hero the PCs may unwittingly take on the task of dealing with angry spirits, cranky relatives, and even the town magistrate.

Has this ever happened to you? As a GM do you use this kind of activity to introduce side plots into your games?