20 Deals too Good to be True

Adventurers must be wary at all times, and this is just as true in the marketplace as a dungeon. Merchants can be just as predatory as owlbears, and as unscrupulous as kobolds, and usually, a deal that’s too good to be true, is just a ploy to part you from your hard-earned gold.

By Harry Theaker

By Harry Theaker


Use the table below, to determine the deal too good to be true the PCs get offered.

  1. This spellbook has an amazingly low price tag considering the numerous powerful spells contained within. Unfortunately it was stolen, and its previous owner, a powerful wizard, is actively searching for it.
  2. This deal is a gold mine—literally! The seller offers the deed to an abandoned gold mine said to still be brimming with gold. While this is true, it’s also brimming with ghosts.
  3. There’s a reason this powerful magic weapon is so cheap: the magic affecting it is temporary, and will only last a few hours.
  4. This trained animal, whether a bird, dog, horse or something more exotic, is well trained. Unfortunately, what it’s trained to do is escape at the first opportunity and return to the seller.
  5. No one wants to pay for spell components, and it’s tempting to try to cut corners when buying them. This merchant offers them at a great price, but unfortunately, they’re old and stale, reducing the efficacy of spells cast using them.
  6. This suit of armor is so inexpensive because it serves as a magic beacon for the seller’s friends, a group of bandits who use it to ambush and rob victims. Worse, a command word causes the armor to lock up, effectively paralyzing the wearer.
  7. When visiting a new city, having to pay to exchange money for the local currency can be frustrating. Luckily, a kindly monk sitting outside the moneychangers offers to make the exchange for free. Sadly, it’s a scam, and he exchanges good coins for counterfeit.
  8. The reason this powerful magic weapon is so cheap is because it’s haunted by the spirits of those slain by it, which haunt the dreams of whoever owns the weapon.
  9. Owning a toll bridge is a great way to make money, and luckily, someone is willing to offer up a deed for one. Unfortunately, the bridge is out in the middle of nowhere, and now sees almost no traffic.
  10. Need a new purse after being pick-pocketed? This vendor sells them on the cheap, but each one is enchanted to magically teleport a few coins at a time back to his own coffers.
  11. Not all spellbooks are created equal, and while this one contains a great selection of rare and powerful spells, it also contains a number of minor transcription errors that make each enchantment prone to dangerous mishaps.
  12. This galleon is available to buy at a very low price, but it’s docked outside the harbour. The seller is happy to take prospective buyers out to it, but shortly after they set sail, the unfortunate new owners are press-ganged as galley slaves.
  13. This powerful magic weapon is actually the weapon used in a very high-profile recent murder. While it is incredibly cheap to purchase, its new owner may very well be mistaken for the murderer.
  14. It’s not too hard to find a mage offering spellcasting services for 75% of the normal rates. Unfortunately, she’s still learning her trade, and there’s a 25% chance of a magical mishap, instead of the spell’s intended effect.
  15. For only a handful of gold, the map to a buried treasure worth thousands of gold seems like a great deal. Unfortunately, the seller has already sold about 300 copies of the map, and it’s unlikely the treasure’s still there, if it ever was.
  16. The price for the deed to this remote manor house is very generous, and the seller even has a painting featuring it to show off. Sadly, the painting is from before it became a dilapidated, haunted wreck.
  17. This potion, sold by an evil death-worshipping cultist, is half the price, but infused with a deadly plague.
  18. This magic weapon may cost a little more than one might expect, but it was once wielded by a legendary hero. Or, at least, so the seller claims.
  19. A kindly innkeeper, a few miles out of town, offers free room and board for the night, supposedly so you don’t have to push to reach town by nightfall, but really it’s so she can murder you in your sleep and eat you.
  20. Who can say no to a free amulet, delivered by a secret admirer? Unfortunately, the admirer works for an enemy of the PCs, and the amulet allows them to listen to every word spoken in its vicinity.

20 Things II_SNE_220This article will appear in GM’s Miscellany: 20 Things II, available in March 2017.

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Guest Designer

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.

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

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