In keeping with 5e typical / best practices, players usually won’t be able to directly buy magic items. However, a local merchant may have the resources to occasionally procure (or more accurately collect and redistribute) magical items up to Very Rare quality. Although this is still a costly and unlikely enterprise, it does give players a chance to get exactly what they want.
However – there is no such thing as a “magic item” shop. Merchants make queries upon player character request. Such a query always requires a non-refundable deposit, and that deposit only merits a chance of procurement. Deposit cost is a stand-alone finder’s fee and is NOT folded into the item cost. Item cost is a separate fee. Payment in full is due upon delivery of the item. Item queries, searches, and deliveries happen during downtime (aka between adventures). An item may be queried up to three times. Merchants can be persuaded into trying again up to once per downtime session at the original query rate. All queries “reset” after a new adventure.
Because magic items do not enjoy a standardized market, prices can swing wildly. See the “Determining Item Cost” chart, below. This determined item cost is consistent for an entire downtime session, but “resets” between adventures. The item cost is determined BEFORE querying.
- Player character decides on a specific item to query, e.g. “+1 Studded Leather Armor” or “Wand of Magic Missiles”
- Dungeon master looks up item rarity (Common, Uncommon, Rare, Very Rare).
- Dungeon Master rolls D100 (percentile) to determine item cost.
- Player decides whether or not to query for item. If no, Player character may select another item, or another player may make a selection.
- Subsequent steps assume player does decide to query. Otherwise, return to step 1 for a new item.
- Player pays query cost.
- Dungeon master rolls percentile for query (to find magic item).
- The merchant (via the Dungeon Master’s roll) may or may not find the magic item. Subsequent steps assume merchant DOES find the item.
- If the merchant does NOT find the item, the player may pay for up to 2 more additional queries. The cost for these queries must be paid immediately.
- If these queries are also unsuccessful, any player may attempt to persuade the merchant to look again. The cost for this query must be paid immediately.
- If the merchant is still unable to find the item, the item is simply unavailable until the players have completed another adventure.
- Once magic item is found, the dungeon master determines how many of the item is / are available using the “number available” column of the “Buying the Item” chart.
- Players may then buy a number of items up to the number of items available at the cost determined in step 3.
A player wants a +2 sword. The player rolls on the Determining Item Cost table for this rare item and determines that it will cost 3,000 GP. The player queries, paying the deposit of 900 gold coins. The merchant cannot secure one, and tries two more times upon player request (costing and additional 450 and 275 gold). The merchant still cannot find one, and the player persuades the merchant to try one more time rolling a Persuasion check and succeeding and paying another 900 gold. Still, the merchant cannot find the item (and the party is now out 2,225 gold). The party goes on an adventure and comes back. The player still wants a +2 sword and queries the merchant- these are normal queries, as if the previous session had not occurred. This means the player must re-establish cost, can try up to three times to secure the item, and if that still fails, can try to persuade the merchant to look again.
Magic Item Pricing Chart
NOTE: 4+1D6 Common Healing Potions (per downtime session) are always available, and are exempt from the fluctuating pricing and necessity of querying, below.
Determining Item Cost, in gold (roll percentile dice / D100)
Buying the Item
|Item Rarity||Cost (in GP)||Query Price as Percentage of total cost.||Find Percentage / likelihood||Number available||Persuade Merchant to Try Again|
|Common||50-100||10%, 5%, 2%, (10%)||75%||1-6||DC 10|
|Uncommon||101-500||20%, 10%, 5%, (20%)||50%||1-4||DC 12|
|Rare||501-5000||30%, 15%, 8%, (30%)||30%||1-2||DC 14|
|Very Rare||5001 – 50000||50%, 25%, 10%, (50%)||15%||1||DC 16|
Further Clarifications: on Buying Magic Items
Any given magic item can be queried up to three times per group (not character – per group), plus a possible persuasion chance, under the assumption that players are pooling character wealth and resources. This means that if a player asks for a +1 shield, another player may not also ask for a +1 shield. However, if player characters are not pooling resources, then a player may ask for a +1 shield, pay for that query from their own money and, if the query fails, another player can pay for the second query from their own money, and so on.
Merchants can be persuaded only once per down time session (not per item – per session) – it is recommended that the strongest persuader undertake this attempt.
For purposes of classifying magic items, discretion will go to the Dungeon Master, but the following guideline should inform this taxonomy: a magic item is either a specifically named item (e.g. “Ring of Spell Storing” or “Cloak of Invisibility”) or a combination of an enchantment and a mundane item from the player’s handbook (e.g. +2 shield, +1 sword). This means that players could spend money seeking out a +1 breastplate, some +1 plate armor, +1 full plate, +1 leather armor, and +1 studded leather all as separate queries.