Player Advice: 6 Things Your PCs Can Buy That Aren’t Magic Items

At the end of an adventure, the PCs rush back to civilisation, sell their loot and more often than not engage in an orgy of magic item purchasing. There are other things to buy, though, things that can be just as useful in the right situation as a magic cloak or ring…

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)

 

There’s nothing wrong with buying magic items. Particularly in a game heavy with combat, magic items can be the difference between life and death. However, not everything you buy has to be a magic item. In games that focus on things other than battle and dungeon exploration often other purchases can provide the party with handy in-game advantages. Such purchases include:

  • Business: A PC with an interest or profession outside adventuring should consider purchasing a business. Not only does it provide a distraction when not adventuring it also (hopefully) provides a steady income.
  • Home: Everyone needs a home. If the campaign is set in a defined geographical area and the PCs aren’t just wandering about from adventure to adventure a home is a great investment. A house or home is somewhere to rest and relax after an adventure. You can also engage in research or magic item creation as well as store bulky treasures or even – gasp – start a family.
  • Favour or Influence: Buying the favour of an important person or organisation is a great move. Particularly in campaigns featuring a lot of political manoeuvring or roleplaying having someone’s favour can be extremely important. Making sizeable donations to the church, for example, might make raise dead and other powerful spells easier to access in times of need. Similarly, giving gifts to a local official could smooth the way in the future if certain irregularities or (surely unfounded) charges of criminality come to light.
  • Hirelings or Henchmen: It’s not only villains that need minions. Henchfolk or hirelings are a great addition to an adventuring party. They can stand guard while their masters rest, carry treasure and gear, protect the spellcasters and more.
  • Title or Position: As the PCs gain in power, their thoughts may turn to rulership. Buying a minor title or position is a great way of making such dreams a reality. Some – cheap – positions are purely ceremonial while other more expensive titles may also grant rulership over a portion of land.
  • Transport: Many adventurers get everywhere on foot. If you are going to be travelling a lot, though, buying some kind transport is a great idea. This could be a fine warhorse, ostentatious carriage or even an ocean-going vessel. Having a means of transport (probably) speeds your journey. It also means you can carry more stuff (or bring more people) with you on your adventures. Having an impressive mode of transport (say the above mentioned ostentatious carriage) also marks you out as someone special. When you enter a settlement, you get to make an entrance.

Plot Hooks Galore!

And a final note for GMs: many of the things listed above can act as great plot hooks for adventures large and small. For example:

  • A house could be haunted, and the PCs must lay the ghost to rest.
  • A caravel could have once served as a pirate ship (and perhaps its captain’s last haul yet lies undiscovered in a secret hold!)
  • A purchased title could be disputed by the disgraced family that once held the position.
  • A henchman could have his own agenda, or interesting backstory, that comes to light at an opportune (or inopportune) moment.

Remember, using the PCs’ own possessions to launch their next adventure immediately makes it a personal affair for the players and invests their PCs in seeing it through to a successful conclusion.

Help Fellow Players!

So there you have it: six things that aren’t magic items your PC could buy today! Do your PCs regularly buy other things beyond the mundane? Let us know what they are in the comments below and help your fellow players spend their ill-gotten loot today!

Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply to Creighton Broadhurst Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

3 thoughts on “Player Advice: 6 Things Your PCs Can Buy That Aren’t Magic Items

  1. My two cents but if you want to encourage players to buy and invest in more than magic items as the GM you have to follow through and make those investments pay off. When the player invests in a business draw that business firmly into the story line. Try to stay away from every mention of that investment being negative (your business got robbed, your employees got killed, yet another caravan was waylaid). If your players invest time and energy in henchman, followers, or even familiars incorporate them into the game. Occasionally have a henchman do something progressive for the player without being asked. Not only will it move the story along but it will make the players feel rewarded. Example: A PC has a henchman in town who works the docks, when the party returns from another adventure low on supplies the henchman points out a smuggler looking to move a lot of potions on the cheap. The party is rewarded from previous play and restocks their potion supply on the cheap while you as GM are able to introduce further hooks and story lines.

    • That’s an excellent point. If the purchase “gets dusty” on the PC’s character sheet there is not much incentive to keep buying similar things. Even small sidetreks and mini-quests make the player feel important and wouldn’t take up much game time.

  2. Many characters have one set of clothes. Can you imagine the look and smell of them?

    Running around in your adventuring clothes is fine and good… when you are adventuring.

    When the characters are about town that outfit is not quite appropriate. NPCs should react with raise eyebrows, and raised noses. Maybe the vendor tacks on a few extra silver or gold pieces just because the PC should be able to afford it- adventurers are filthy rich after all.

    A few different outfits and appropriate jewelry should be purchased for a variety of occasions. If the players are going to be presented before the Lord, they should look their best. When crashing a formal party they certainly will not fit in with adventuring garb.

    A variety of outfits does not cost much, but is essential.

    …And it leads into the all important question: where do you keep all of your outfits?