4d4 Curio Shop
by Creighton Broadhurst
July 30, 2019
When your characters return from a successful adventure laden with loot their thoughts often turn to shopping. Curio shops, pawn shops and the like are ripe venues for browsing and haggling.
Use the tables below to add depth and verisimilitude to the curio shops, pawn shops and market stalls in your campaign.
Odds & Ends
Some of the things found in a curio shop are valuable and some are essentially worthless. Others are just interesting or downright odd.
Use the table below, to determine what oddity the PCs discover:
- This small dusty bottle is half full with fine grey dust. Buried in the dust are three finger bones—probably from an individual roughly the size of an adult human male.
- A worn leather backpack lies at the back of a shelf. The pack seems heavier than it should do. A careful investigation reveals a hidden compartment containing a small notebook. Much of the notebook contains doodles, random sketches and so on. At the back of the book a loose piece of ripped, aged parchment has a lavishly illustrated map that seems to depict the location of a buried treasure. Sadly, the map is incomplete.
- A small stuffed lizard lies on its back amid other odds and ends. The lizard is missing one eye, but its scales are of a faded blue hue; hinting at (perhaps) some strange ancestry.
- These very long bright red boot laces are tied in a confused jumble of a knot. If someone takes the time to unravel the knot, they find a perfectly smooth white pebble at its heart.
Junk & Dross
Sometimes the PCs find hidden treasures among the knick-knacks, oddities and trinkets. Other times, they find what is—essentially—worthless junk.
Use this table, to determine what piece of useless junk they uncover:
- Spilling from a cracked and suspiciously stained leather folder this sheaf of song sheets records a score or so bawdy drinking songs—or they would do if they hadn’t suffered extensive water (or possibly beer) damage.
- This pewter drinking stein has a wide crack in its base; consequently, liquid quickly leaks out rendering it useless as a drinking vessel.
- This slightly charred 1,000 gp letter of credit lacks the crucial section setting out who undertakes to extend the aforementioned credit.
- Bent and twisted, this iron brooch forged in the shape of a (now squashed) pinecone has lost its pin.
Baubles & Curios
Hidden among the tat and rubbish, diligent shoppers may discover items of value and interest.
Use the table below, to determine what baubles the PCs find:
- A silver hairpin (worth 150 gp) designed in the shape of a lunging dragon. Tiny emeralds form the dragon’s eyes. The hairpin is in need of a good polish. Unbeknownst to the shopkeeper, the hairpin is the sigil of a minor dragon-worshipping cult. If a PC wearing the hairpin encounters cultists they initially believe her to be one of their own.
- Four battered pewter cups along with a decanter are arrayed on a silver tray. Each is stamped with the heraldic device of a fallen noble house. The whole can be purchased for 100 gp.
- A worn diary relates the “adventures” of Ignar the Wizard. He spends much of the diary complaining about his master’s conduct and obsession with certain experiments the details of which Ignar dared not commit to paper. The diary stops abruptly in mid entry.
- A large hooded lantern sits on a table in one corner. It is wildly oversized—the owner claimed it was taken from a giant years ago. Whatever the truth of the matter, the lantern’s oil reservoir is double normal size and it illuminates an area twice as large as a standard lantern. The lantern is on sale for 20 gp and weighs 6 lbs. empty.
Complications & Opportunities
Sometimes a trip to the curio shop goes as planned. Other times, fate takes a hand…
- Once the PCs show keen interest in a particular item, another customer swoops in and loudly declares he was about to buy it. An argument may ensue, and it is possible the party could make an enemy here. Alternatively, the other customer could be in the store owner’s pay and be trying to drive up the price of the item in question.
- As a PC picks up an object to examine it, the shelf upon which it stands collapses, dumping its contents onto the floor with a crash. Unsurprisingly, the shop’s owner is not best pleased and might even demand payment for any damaged items.
- One of the PCs spots another customer acting suspiciously. Perceptive PCs notice the customer stealing something from the shop before trying to leave. The staff are oblivious. The customer could be nothing more than a petty thief or could be reclaiming a stolen or lost possession of her own.
- While browsing, one of the party feels inexplicably drawn to a certain item (use one of the other tables to determine which item). This feeling could be nothing, or the object could turn out to be a hook into a minor adventure. Alternatively, the item could even be possessed!
The material in this article appears in 20 Things #25: Curio Shop & Pawnbrokers, which is available here at the Raging Swan Press shop.