Anything can be found in a market, if you know where to look. From meat pies to alchemical ingredients to black market organs, market stalls are as fascinating as they are varied. Often, the merchants are as bizarre as their wares.
Use the table below, to determine the merchant and wares of an interesting market stall:
- A greasy man with thin black hair sells live black bats for familiars, arcane components or kibble. The bats chirp and flutter energetically, straining at the leg straps tying them to their perches. Three tattooed elves purchase from the vendor, completing their transactions in total silence.
- A fat dwarf in a dirty grey shirt runs a stall stocked with hundreds of rotten caramel apples. He absentmindedly bites a soft apple, makes a face of disgust, and then puts it back. The dwarf’s white beard drips with melted sugar, apple juices and black seeds.
- Two elven children, a boy and a girl, sell beaded talismans from a stall shoved to the back of the market. They aggressively hock their wares, but attract little more than annoyed glances from other merchants. A large dwarf swipes a talisman without paying, and walks away as if he cannot hear the children’s angry protests.
- A female gnome, either drugged or incredibly scatter-brained, sells a variety of glass baubles. She mumbles quietly to herself, blanks eyes staring up at the sky. However, her wares radiate a complex magical aura noticeable to even the most mundane passer-by.
- A thin human in a black cloak wrings his hands and mutters to himself. He seems suspiciously eager to rid himself of his stock of rings, bracelets and other fine jewellery. The twin, interlocking scars which run down his forearm look more indicative of ritualistic injuries than battle wounds.
- A sickly half-orc repeatedly sneezes over his merchandise: meat pies and sandwiches. He makes no effort to clean up the mucus, instead sipping a spicy-smelling tea and wiping his bleary eyes. Despite everything, the meat pies smell of pepper, salt and garlic, and the hearty aroma is delicious. A few faithful customers purchase a snack, brush off the phlegm and eat the meals wholeheartedly.
- A handsome half-elf merchant flirts with a well-dressed noble woman. She pockets some of the merchant’s jewellery when he is distracted, kisses the half-elf on the cheek then turns to leave. The blushing vendor doesn’t notice a thing.
- A tired halfling leafs through one of the many books he has for sale, and barely seems to notice his customers. He adjusts his spectacles and licks his fingers whenever he needs to turn the page, and loudly clears his throat every few moments.
- Behind a counter lined with mosses and herbs, a mute orc attempts to haggle for her various natural medicines. When her customer leaves in frustration, the orc lobs a handful of mud at the back of his head, makes a rude gesture and sits back down. Evidently, no deal was reached.
- A strange-looking human with pale flesh and massive eyes sells a variety of rare spell components. His accent cannot be placed, and he repeatedly scratches the skin under his cloak. However, his smile and voice charm passing customers, who cannot help but browse his wares.
- A fast-talking human has attracted a crowd by extolling the medicinal virtues of various charms won from tribes in the undiscovered wilds. Despite the slick look of the merchant, the goods appear to be genuine—or at least, alien to those produced by local artisans.
- A brooding teenage human with facial tattoos, and an obvious great distain for his customers, sells a small variety of wands. Though he makes no attempt to attract passers-by, he scoffs and rolls his eyes when a potential client chooses to move on.
- A smiling gnome in a yellow dress sells bizarre, eldritch flowers from a small handbag. Many of the flowers move seemingly with a life of their own. She wanders the market, approaching and aggressively selling to anybody who makes eye contact.
- A dwarf loudly hocks vials of silty water, which he claims are from a blessed spring. A pale, sweaty customer purchases a vial, gags on the liquid and is reassured by the dwarf that the magic is already doing its work.
- Identical halfling twins put on a short juggling show in an attempt to drive business. The act is entertaining, but their stock of overpriced potions goes mostly ignored. They put on a brave face as the crowd dissipates, but seem stressed.
- An old woman with black cataracts sells fresh scrolls, penned by her own unsteady hand. Despite shaky script, dozens of customers put down handfuls of coin and thank the lady profusely. She smiles and shakes each one by the hand.
- An obese half-orc with a malformed leg loudly extolls his wares: fine-looking axes and crossbows of apparent dwarven make. Suspicious dwarves cast angry glances towards the stall, but say nothing. Upon closer inspection, the weapons bear the marks of orcish craftsmen.
- A dwarf plays an intense game of cards with a street ruffian, completely ignoring potential customers who walk passed his stall. Evidently his business of potted plants is not doing well. The street ruffian, a human no older than eight, has won several consecutive hands and is coming away with a few handfuls of coppers. The dwarf is clearly getting angry.
- A gaunt, impossibly tall human hunches in his stall, gesturing at his wares with long fingers and a thin smile. The wet “animal” organs on his table look fresh, and it is unclear exactly what type of creature produces such brains.
- One stall is unmanned. On the counter, alongside various trinkets and baubles, a sign reads “Take what you need. Leave what you can.” A small elf places down a sparking wand and walks away with a cookbook.
This article will appear in GM’s Miscellany: 20 Things II, available in March 2017.
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Jeff Gomez’s steady migration has taken him from sunny California to snowy Boston, and then back again. The proud owner of an online business, he devotes his time to his publishing company, Zenith Games, and freelance writing for RPG publishers. In addition to his own products, such as We Be Dragons and Jacob’s Tower, Jeff has written adventures, edited universes, collaborated on classes and line directed source books (over a million words in two years).