Wherever people come together to buy and sell, they also exchange news, rumours and gossip. Thus, marketplaces are a great place for adventurers to learn more about the town, its surrounds and recent events.
Not all the rumours they hear will be relevant to the party’s needs or have anything to do with their upcoming adventure. They do, however, enable a GM to create verisimilitude and depth to the party’s visit to the marketplace. Use the table below, to determine what rumour(s) the party hears:
- Old Jerad’s pies are the sweetest and tastiest in the whole market. They are so good, they must have magic in them!
- A new fortuneteller has just set up shop in the market. No one knows anything about her, but apparently her predictions are uncannily accurate.
- The sewers running near to the market are old and prone to blockage (and flood) after heavy rains. When that happens, the marketplace is awash with dirty water and sewerage. It’s very bad for business—the mayor should do something about it.
- A recent rash of pick pocketing has annoyed customers and merchants alike. A thief was almost beaten to death yesterday, in the market.
- The local lord is reviewing the cost of hiring plots in the marketplace. Everyone expects him to raise prices and the stall holders will inevitably pass this onto their customers.
- Herac the merchant is boasting of a recent delivery of fine, rare silks. He’s planning to personally invite the town’s great and good to a showing of his wares, but he has some lesser silks suitable for “ordinary” people.
- Erinhol Gerst sells wine and ale by the pitcher or cup from his handcart. He wanders the market selling to thirsty shoppers and is an excellent source of rumours. He hears much and charges to pass on his knowledge.
- Normally, the market is a relatively clean place—the local lord mandates merchants remove their own rubbish. However, more and more people are reporting encounters with large and aggressive rats scavenging among the stalls. It’s putting off some visitors.
- Watch out for Eron Erkle. He is a grocer by trade, but his scales are weighted in his favour and you won’t get your money’s worth.
- Berstal the Fabulous is a charlatan. He pretends to be an apothecary, but his remedies never work—in fact, they often make his patient sicker!
- There was a murder—really a robbery gone wrong—in the market the other day. A mugger picked the wrong victim and got electrocuted to death by a magic spell!
- Erinhol Gerst (see #7) is really a member of the thieves’ guild. He uses his business to spy on potential marks—normally gullible adventuring types!
- He denies it, of course, but Brastel Enanon’s is often accused of selling stolen goods. He denies all charges, and nothing has even been proven but if you buy something from him you might be accosted by someone claiming to have once owned your newest possession.
- Brestia Nimblefingers is a skilled tatooist much in demand in the local area. Small even for a halfling, she does exquisite work. Word is that she’s been trying to imbue her tattoos with magic for years now, but never gets the process quite right.
- If you’ve got a pet (or an animal companion or familiar) you’d do well to keep it close in the market; several visitors have complained their animals have gone missing while they shopped.
- Two rival clothiers are doing their best to put each other out of business. Both send their apprentices to sabotage the other’s stall and to steal their customers. Sometimes, a brawl ensues. The Watch breaks things up, but their patience is rapidly fading.
- Someone is using false coins in the market. They appear to be silver or gold, but are really painted bronze coins. Several merchants have lost sizeable sums and—even worse—the coins have entered general circulation.
- A hulking half-orc—a monk named Narfu—has set up a stall of sorts. Really, it’s more of an entertainment as he performs amazing acrobatic tricks. He bets the audience that no-one is more skilled than he, and thus far he’s been proven right.
- The local thieves use the marketplace to stalk rich marks. Those with much coin to spend should keep their purses close and their eyes open.
- One of the stall keepers is really a vindictive evil wizard with a vendetta against the local lord. He sells seemingly mundane items laced with subtle curses designed to make the owner more angry and irritable. Several fights have broken out recently, but the wizard’s identity—if indeed he exists—remains a mystery.
Two Final Notes
The rumours above are designed to be relatively generic so they fit into almost any town or city. A GM should modify them as required to fit the flavour of his campaign.
Finally—of course—it is up to the GM if the rumours above are true or false.
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