All too often, encounters with merchants and shopkeepers are little more than dry exchanges, where players whip out their rulebooks and handle the exchanges more or less on their own. While this is fine for some situations, for others merchants need a bit more personality, which isn’t always easy to come up with on the spot.
Use the table below, to give a little character to your merchants:
- Hildi Borgusdotter, Blacksmith: Hildi comes from a long, proud tradition of blacksmithing, and often exclaims her forge has been the family’s business for generations. Hildi’s a tad on the pricy side, and she has little patience for hagglers, quickly taking offense at any slight against her family’s masterpieces.
- Emil Jarvi, Alchemist: A lean young man with short hair and a severe gaze, Emil sells a variety of tonics, herbs, poultices and various alchemical concoctions. Though he begrudgingly keeps a supply of the more in-demand potions, he is quick to decry the “overdependence on magic that is currently afflicting our society,” and that magic is “too fickle a force to trust with your life.”
- Sendra Bisset, Haberdasher: While Sendra is well into middle-age, no one who looks at her would guess it, as she takes great pains to preserve her beauty and youthful good looks. Though her stall specializes in hats of all kinds, including a variety of magical headgear, an odd assortment of gloves, scarves, purses and other accessories can also be found here. Those looking for plain and functional clothes should look elsewhere: her motto is “if it isn’t beautiful, it’s not worth owning.”
- Marcis Vincelas, Jeweller: This handsome young man has long, dark hair, and speaks with a thick accent. Although he is not the owner of the stall, he is quite knowledgeable about his craft, and his incorrigible flirting makes him an excellent salesman, though he drops the act for rich adventurers shopping for magic jewelry.
- Johin Nigul, Curio Merchant: This bald, slightly rotund merchant carefully watches every customer. Irritable and suspicious, he grumbles and complains about “window shoppers,” and threatens those who touch his wares with the phrase “you break it, you buy it!” Still, his selection of magic items is impressive, and for repeat customers, he can special-order things he doesn’t stock.
- Kian Golshan, Weapon and Armour Merchant: This merchant sports a well-oiled goatee, slick hair and bright, flamboyant clothing. Far from a blacksmith himself, he assures customers he only carries the best merchandise money can buy. He is very fond of arranging little demonstrations which supposedly show off his sharp blades or durable armours, but canny buyers can tell this is all showmanship, and the demonstrations are little more than sleight of hand.
- Sabine Gagnier, Baker: This plump blonde woman loves nothing more than watching a customer enjoy one of her fresh-cooked confections. Her sunny disposition seems to know no bounds, and she is quick to recommend the perfect pastry to solve any problem, or at least make one feel a bit better while they solve it. She offers a variety of potion-infused pastries, which have effects similar to potions but are, in her words, “far more delicious.”
- Evron Teivel, Exotic Animal Merchant: This kind-faced man personally trains and works with each animal he sells, and has been known to refuse sales to buyers he thinks can’t provide a good home for the animal. If an animal takes a particular liking to a prospective buyer, Evron sometimes offers a substantial discount, especially for less popular animals.
- Anila Kleid, Potion and Scroll Merchant: This elderly merchant recently retired from teaching young wizards at a local arcane university. She brews fresh potions and sells scrolls from the large collection she accumulated over the years in order to supplement her savings. Buyers beware, each purchase comes with a lecture or story of some kind, whether the customer wants it or not.
- Ozan Balik, Pawn Merchant: This hawkish, gaunt man has very sparse grey hair, and peers at customers over half-moon glasses. He has a wide assortment of items for sale, but is also more than happy to buy or pawn interesting objects. A consummate haggler, he routinely overcharges for his sales and underpays for his purchases, and always has a dozen reasons why he can’t give a better price.
This article will appear in GM’s Miscellany: 20 Things II, available in March 2017.
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Alex Riggs has been writing and designing content for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game since 2010, when he founded Necromancers of the Northwest and jumped head-first into the business. Since then, he’s been fortunate enough to be able to work with many other great designers, including contributing to several books on the core line of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game products with Paizo, numerous Legendary Games products, and, of course, his work for Raging Swan Press.