Supplement Review: So What’s For Sale, Anyway? by Julian Neale from Raging Swan Press

Occasionally as a GM I’ve found myself on the short end of this stick:

[GM] Welcome to Grigori’s Great Goods! How can I help you today?
[PC] I’m looking for {insert random magical item here}. You wouldn’t happen to have one, would you?
[GM] {madly scrambling, rolls a d6 – odd means no, even means yes} Let me see…

I’d imagine that all GMs of fantasy games have, at one time or another, been caught with their hand trapped in the cookie jar like that (usually the cookie jar is a Mimic or there’s a bear trap in some sort of dimensional rift slowly gnawing through your arm). Amazingly enough, I still have all my fingers, both hands, and all limbs still accounted for. (My wife wonders about my head sometimes, but that’s another discussion entirely…)

So how do you solve this problem? Well, one of my fallback solutions was always to use the random treasure tables in the 1st edition DMG. Not always the best idea, but usually it meant that a) the store didn’t have whatever the PC was looking for and b) got either me or them in much more trouble than if I’d just given them the item from the beginning.

Julian Neale has a better solution. Create a book full of random tables using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook and the GameMastery Guide from Paizo to represent lists of items players might encounter in different sizes of settlement – from Thorp up to Metropolis. In 18 pages of tables and lists, you have a little bit of everything available to taunt your players… from the Belt of Mighty Constitution +4 (worth 16,000 gp) and the Iron Horn of Valhalla (worth 50,000 gp) you find in a major metropolis down to a Wand of Create Water (44 charges, 330 gp) and a Stone of Alarm (2,700 gp) in a minor thorp.

Simplifying things for already harried GMs is a great way to endear yourself to them forever, so I think Neale has given Raging Swan a great concept to explore. Some settlements only have one item, while some have ten or more, so it’s like Forest Gump‘s proverbial box of chocolates… You never know what you may get!

Layout and art continue to be consistent as always from Raging Swan products. There is a ton of great art here from Rick Hershey, V Shane, and Maciej Zagorski (the guys at The Forge Studios), as well as some other artwork from Fantasy Filler Art from Hershey. But I love the fact that there’s a piece of art on every page of the book (more than one on some pages). The art serves to break up the page and remind you why you’re reading the book in the first place – for magic items!

With that, I have two nits to pick and a thought to leave you with.

Nit #1 – I would have liked to have seen definitions for the various settlement types used in the book. Even the Paizo PRD page for Magic Items doesn’t define these terms, but I would have liked to have known that a thorp is maybe 15-20 people, a hamlet is 20-40 people, etc. I’m just making up numbers here, but the differences between thorp, hamlet, village, and small town could offer some interesting roleplaying challenges.

Nit #2 – What about mundane items? Not every blacksmith is going to have every sword in the weapon chart handy in his or her shop. Not every general store is going to carry absolutely every type of foodstuff or piece of equipment mentioned. It might be good to have another book that talks about guidelines for mundane item selection as well as magical items at some point.

Lastly… Here’s my thought. Item providence provenance. How did some of these items come to appear in these people’s shops? Mentioned in the “Publisher’s Forward,” I absolutely love this idea, but I would have liked to had more suggestions. Perhaps a random table of item providence. This item was found in a field. This one was sold by a poor beggar passing through a few years ago. These are part of a set that once belonged to Ser Bloodingham of Horace. Creative GMs should be able to come up with fun story lines based around a little more information on each item, or at least a few of the items. Perhaps there’s a percentage chance that an item has a special providence. Something to consider anyway.

If you’re a GM with a party constantly on the move exploring places you’re populating on the fly or the night before a game, So What’s For Sale, Anyway? should be at the top of your list to pick up. You never know when you’re going to need a magic item or two and having this PDF in your arsenal can save the day in a hurry!

Check out the Raging Swan page for for more information about So What’s for Sale, Anyway? and pick up your copy at RPGnow today!

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