Hello, and welcome back to Magic Market, the article where we bring you new and (we think) interesting magic items. Now, longtime readers will be aware that I like to play out the premise of this article a bit—sometimes past the point of being entertaining, I’m sure—by talking like this actually is some sort of fantasy market your characters might encounter in your next game. After a while, this got me thinking: why not try an article where, instead of just giving you a handful of magic items and telling you to have fun with them, I gave you a merchant complete with a physical description, a personality, and an inventory, which just so happens to contain a couple magic items not seen anywhere else?
Not only does this give you an entirely separate resource beyond the magic items (that is, the merchant, as a character you can use in your game), but it also gives you a convenient way to introduce these magic items into your game, making them more useful as well. So I thought I’d try it out. If you like it (or hate it), please stop by our forum, or send me an e-mail about it at email@example.com. I would really like to know how you feel about it.
In honor of our upcoming thief-related book due to come out next week, the merchant I’ll be introducing you to today is Jarrod “the starving” Grimekin, a fence and pawnshop owner of the worst repute (which, in his line of work, is often a good thing). Jarrod owns and operates The Laughing Mermaid, a dockside pawnshop that basically amounts to a rotting shack, a few shelves full of various knick-knacks, and a place where one can broker not-quite-legal deals.
Jarrod has sallow, pale skin and long, stringy black hair which glistens with grease, and which he grooms just enough to keep it out of his eyes and face. His lips are slightly swollen, and practically fish-like, and his brown, furtive eyes have a tendency to dart across the room, as though constantly on alert. He speaks with a somewhat throaty wheeze, and is almost always complaining about something.
The Laughing Mermaid is a dim, dusty, ramshackle affair: a single room, not twenty feet to a side, with two sets of shelves flanking an aisle which leads to an old and battered wooden counter, behind which sits Jarrod. The shelves are covered in various knick-knacks and oddities, no two quite alike. Behind the counter, and beneath the crate Jarrod sits upon, is a trap-door which leads down to the place where Jarrod keeps his real goods: precious art objects and magic trinkets which he buys from various thieves and ne’er-do-wells. He doesn’t sell these directly out of his shop, however: interested parties inquire with him—often through proxies—about items matching certain specifications, prices are bantered about, and if an amount is agreed on, the gold is left at the Mermaid and the item delivered in secret to the buyer’s home.
When the party first enters his shop (after having been directed here by someone “in the know,” most likely), they find him in the middle of a discussion with a man in a black cloak and hood, his lower face obscured by more black cloth.
“Now, now, the piece ye’re referrin’ to, she’s a fine piece of art. Part of our cult’ral heritage, I’m told. I couldn’ part wit’ ‘er fer less than 1,200 crowns,” the man behind the counter says.
The cloaked figure responds with a strong and stern voice, only slightly muffled by the cloth over his face. “It’s not worth a copper penny more than 800.”
“Weeell, now, that’s as may be, but I have certain overheads to see to, people who need payin’, and people who don’t need payin’ but will see me dead if I try to cut ‘em out o’ the matter, and then of course there’s the upkeep o’ this fine establishment. I can go as low as 1,000, but ye’re takin’ the food straight from me mouth.”
“Very well,” and with that, the cloaked man leaves, brushing rudely past the party if they don’t get out of his way.
Jarrod deals mostly in art objects, jewelry, and gems, and will happily buy any such items the PCs have in their possession, without asking any questions. His starting offer is 1/3 their market price, though he can be negotiated up to paying 1/2, or, with a successful DC 25 Diplomacy check and some very valuable and easy-to-move merchandise, even as high as 60%. He has 4,000 gp in ready cash for such purposes, and given a few days can amass as much as 8,000 gp, plus whatever items the seller might be interested in trading for. When it comes to selling, his prices start at 150% of the item’s actual value, but can be brought down to fair market price with a DC 20 Diplomacy check.
The knick-knacks in the upper store are basically worthless, but a few items of minor note include an iron comb carved to resemble a portcullis with spears for bars (30 gp), a necklace of shark’s teeth (5 gp), a set of eight silver plates with a stag’s head design engraved on them (60 gp, or 10 gp per plate), and a harpoon which supposedly belonged to the infamous pirate Harvis Deepwater (50 gp, and it didn’t). He also has a figurine of wondrous power (imp) here (see below). He recognizes that it’s magical, but doesn’t realize quite what it is or how valuable it is, and so asks only 7,000 gp (and can be convinced to sell it for as low as 5,000 gp with a DC 30 Diplomacy check).
As for Jarrod’s real inventory, he has a marble statue of the hero Isthomacles standing triumphant over the great bear of Trent (700 gp), a portrait of the late Emperor Jonivas III, by the renowned artist Gherim Lolvar (1,200 gp), a gilded, full-length mirror whose frame is engraved in the shape of dragons and which was said to belong to the famed and beautiful Princess Ysvelda (1,500 gp), and a painting of paradise (see below).
Figurine of Wondrous Power (Imp)
This silver statuette resembles a crouching imp, with a wicked, leering grin on its face, its wings curled about itself and its clawed hands making a lewd, reaching gesture. When animated, it functions in all ways as a normal imp under the command of its possessor, with two additional abilities.
First, its possessor can spend a standard action to see through the imp’s eyes, instead of his own. While viewing in this way, the possessor is treated as though blind, and cannot see through his own eyes, but instead sees everything the imp does. He can end this effect as a standard action. Second, the imp can cast hideous laughter as a spell-like ability up to three times each time it is activated.
The figurine can be activated once per week, and can remain animated for up to eight hours each time it is activated.
Painting of Paradise
These paintings are quite large: six feet tall by four feet wide. Most such paintings bear images of idyllic landscapes, and often have had several different images painted on top of each other over the years. By speaking a command word (usually engraved on the painting’s frame or worked into the image somewhere), one can turn the painting into a portal to a special extra-dimensional space. Only the speaker (and whatever gear he is carrying) can pass through, though other creatures that speak the command word can pass, in the same way.
The extra-dimensional space is a 50-foot cube, and its environment roughly resembles whatever picture was painted on it, though everything is made of crude proto-matter, so any creatures and plants are inanimate, and objects are not capable of being used in their normal capacity, etc. Regardless of the appearance the extra-dimensional space takes, it always possesses a single painting somewhere in it that depicts the area around the actual painting (although it does not show any creatures or other transitory objects in the area), and this painting serves as a gateway back through the painting.
Any objects stored inside the painting’s extra-dimensional space appear clearly on the painting in the same art style as the rest of the painting, but cannot be painted over: it always appears on top of any actual painting on the canvas. Creatures do not appear in this way.