So my Players might become Merchants. What do I do?


So as I have mentioned before on a few posts I run ICRPG for 3 different groups for the school I work in, all with an interconnected world where one groups actions can affect other groups. This has naturally lead to exchanging of letters, gold and items between the groups.

One group has decided they want to make the first in game light bulb and use that as a way to make gold on the side (they are being sent of fetch quests to get the items needed to make it). They have also toyed around with the idea of buying a building in Norburg and settling down in that area, which I have also said is OK.

I am looking for ways to keep them involved and give them a sense of purpose as the other groups continue down the main story. I have a few ideas but I was hoping to see if anyone has done something like this and how it has turned out.

  1. they continue to go on fetch quests to get supplies needed to fuel their ideas. This gives them something to do and they can still spend their gold on upgrading their shop and items to help them on their fetch quests.

  2. they become item hunters to find LOOT to sell at their shop (to the other groups as well as NPCs). same as above but they will have all sorts of NPCs requesting rare items that they can quest for as well as find some important items for the main story. They will need to make good connections in the town and trade ports to keep the flow of gold coming.

  3. they work on making a stronghold or wizard tower and become part of the city guard. raiders, thieves, bad noblemen and the like will all try to take a bit of their earnings keeping them on their toes.

does anyone have any better ideas or have run something similar? I think it would be a fun take on it, I’m just not sure on exactly how to go about it.


I recommend you watching the anime Log Horizon. It may help with ideas and inspiration


I think it’s awesome for your players to aspire to have a base of operations and a way to make money. Your ideas are great in terms of using their business as a way to fuel the next quests. I think you should do all three in various ways to keep the group on their toes.

The only piece I might add is that you shouldn’t forget to put these players in peril (either personally or threats to their business). My fear is that the mundane aspect to this (let’s play shopkeepers) could cause this group to fizzle. So, I think pertinent questions to ask are: what are the evil forces of the world up to while players are building their business up? Will dark forces allow the characters to just sit back like this and coast? Suppose their town comes under direct threat by Orcs mobilizing? Suppose there is a serious iron shortage caused by Kobolds? I think I would continually find ways to keep the players threatened and use that as a way to drive future quests as well.


I like this idea, make sure they are always dealing with a threat.

More ideas I can think of are like… Rumble in the Bronx, Kung Fu Hustle, Way of the Dragon, or other martial arts/ mob movies. You set up a shop, trying to make a living in the community and some rough customers come in and wreck up the place/ extort for protection money. Now you know they are gonna wanna get sweet vengeance on the mob boss who messed up their shop. That could keep to going for a while in between adventuring for rare items to sell in their shop.

Or maybe the noble merchant in the town tries to undercut their prices/ run them out of business with some dirty tactics. They could try to diplomacize with that noble, become their ally and turn into a franchise, or even turn the tables and go for their throat and do a hostile takeover :wink:

Just a few ideas that popped into my mind. As always feel free to use or change/disregard anything that you think won’t work


I agree with what has been said and that there should always be some form of peril.

More ideas that popped into my mind was creating some form of rival merchant group that sees the potential for what the group is doing or even has some ideas of their own (obviously you could look into the Edison & Tesla rivalry).

Maybe provoke the players into the rivalry and have them try to sabotage their own competition but then have to deal with the consequences afterwards?

Eventually their original characters might transition into the NPCs that run the various operations of their enterprise and they can create new characters that supply the business with supplies, rumors, LOOT, and what not. So instead of having a campaign to defeat a Big Bad Evil Guy, they work to expand their enterprise and establish themselves throughout the land and the various founding/pivotal members that got it all started or expanded.


Research AND a reason to watch anime? Probably the best advice I’ve ever been given.


I like this. I am using Do you wanna build a snowman? Or... a city instead then? to flesh out a lot of the town and characters. I am thinking it will start small with people trying to get more taxes out of them, jealous shop owners, and people trying to steal stuff. Then it will get into some more of the underbelly of the city sort of stuff with bribes to keep the shop windows from being broken, people asking them to sell some black market stuff and other things like that. Thank you for the tips, I will try to find creative things to keep them alert


That is a really great idea, it would be super cool for them to eventually transition into NPC’s


awesome ideas, I will be using this for sure


You could have a lot of fun with this in a lot of ways. In addition to the ideas already presented, you could also have the town attacked, and the players wares either conscripted for help or asked to be donated. They can worry about keeping inventory of who they gave what, and then try to collect it all after the fact.

This kind of indirect threat would be a good foil to the more direct threats of rival merchants or outright theft from the shop. The village elders come to the PCs and implore them to lend their goods to the cause of protecting the city from the Big Threat. Some good role play opportunities right there. The PCs can choose to join the cause and loan out their goods – for some reasonable assurances or collateral, if possible – or they can try to stay out of it. Lots of ways to play this.

In the aftermath, the players need to figure out how to recover all their goods. Surely no one took anything to keep, right? It’s all a misunderstanding, old Wilston was going to return that magic staff just as soon as he got back from the Apothecary…


Introduce them to feudal politics and bureaucrats. Lol.
Joke but would be interesting.
Bribes and deals to open a store. Taxes and tolls. Knowing the crown can confiscate everything on a whim.


There is some interesting potential if they end being item hunters to find LOOT that they could sell at their shop. Some random ideas:

  1. If they gain popularity for selling items who knows what kind of interesting characters may be attracted by their business…thieves, wandering mages, patrons who will pay for specific items to be retrieved (under the table).

  2. What if some of the loot is cursed?

  3. Perhaps the place that they choose for their shop is an energy nexus or has some sort of vortex portal that they didn’t know about when they purchased/procured it.

  4. Maybe there are loot bounty hunters who have been hired to retrieve the loot that they have acquired.


I would personally suggest, as far as quests go, that you have them track down some of the land’s most famous artisans and builders and attempt to learn some of their trades. I think this would be an interesting dynamic for a traveling merchant campaign.


I had another idea, so i felt like i should put it up here too. Im not sure if someone suggested something like this already or not but,here is my spin on some possible new fetch quests you could send your players on. They could try to seek out NPC’s as shop keepers, artisans, and tenants which would also provide some sort of boon when they visit their home base.

The building they buy could be enormous, but run down. if they spend time fixing it/ pay up some LOOT to buy upgrades they could add CHUNKS to the building. this could be things like defenses, nice amenities, or new rooms (pub, Inn, smith shop, alchemy shop, general goods, book store, curiosity shop, temple, etc.). Once they have the new rooms opened they may want to fill them with NPCs.

  • If they make a forge they can do a quest to find/ hire the finest blacksmith in the land. this would allow them access to some more LOOT as the NPCs create them, or a bonus to treasure as they sell their wares.

  • The Pub may need some entertainment so they travel for a bard to get the crowd riled up to spend some cash, perhaps it could even buff the party before they head out.

  • If they set up a laboratory they would surely want to find a mad alchemist to brew up magic potions they could use.

different shop fronts may have multiple folks to get too, for example after they pick up the bard they hear a rumor about a brewer making some magical gar in the next town over, so they try to go snag that person up too.

it may seem weird to think of people/ connections as loot or quest rewards, but i think this could be a way for the players to literally build a community.

the other cool thing about this is the ethical consequences of dealing with other intelligent creatures. if they treat their patrons like dirt they may try to swindle the players out of money or cause trouble by being double agents for competitors. but if the party pays them well, or treats them especially nicely they may “defend the fort” while the players are gone, or weed out potential risks.

anyway, i will quit rambling again lol. i hope some of this was helpful


All good ideas. I really like the chunks for the shop/homebase idea, That is very neat


those are a lot of fun! I will absolutely be using the cursed loot table now


I wouldn’t have thought about that as far as NPC’s go, I really like that. They already made pretty good contact with a dwarf who makes Dwarven Thread so I could see this being a fun trend. Thank you.


Oh man, this is so rad! I was just thinking of them upgrading the house but building in stories to attract NPCs is huge. I did a little of this last year with them where they had a town they would try to attract NPCs to and once they did they would get discounts on goods but I like this loads more.


This is a super awesome idea @TheWunderLich! Good thinking!

You could even combine it with @GmGrizzly’s theory of NPCs as LOOT and before quests you could kind of customize your party with a couple of the locals based on their bonuses and abilities.


So some things i’m trying to work in as boons and upgrades; any tips or additions will be very welcome. Thanks to all in advance, you guys really rock.

Unlock items to be sold, must obtain to sell things without consequence:

  • alchemy shelf/medicine certificate- can sell potions and antidotes
  • weapon rack/small arms certificate- can sell basic weapons
  • arms certificate- can sell enhanced weapons
  • clothes rack- can sell gear
  • adventure shelf- can sell basic adventuring needs;torches, rope, etc.
  • scroll drawers- can sell scrolls and maps
  • magic display case/magic certificate- can sell magical items other than scrolls
  • food certificate- can sell basic meals and basic food items
  • pet certificate- can sell animal companions
  • secret mark- can buy and sell black market items
  • inn certificate- can rent out rooms

NPC Boons, :

(basic salary)

  • blacksmith- can make weapons
  • mage- can enchant weapons
  • wizard- can make scrolls
  • cartographer- can make maps
  • chef- can make food
  • bard- can give temporary boosts to PC’s
  • priest- can make blessed or cursed items, remove curses
    -animal handler/druid- can find animal companions and minions
  • alchemist- can make potions,antidotes and poisons
  • Medic - can heal serious wounds and conditions
  • salesman- can sell items while PCs are out
  • item hunters- can roll on item charts (more gold to roll for better item lists) to sell at stores if the PC’s aren’t already item hunters themselves. will not work with pc group.
  • item scout- may roll twice on any chart and pick which item is found or available to hunt. may pay (high) for re rolls

(low salary)

  • miner/dwarf- eliminates need to find blacksmith supplies
  • farmer/fisherman- eliminates need to find chef supplies
  • acolyte- eliminates need to find mage or wizard supplies (one for each)
  • scavenger- eliminates needs to find alchemist supplies
    -devotee- eliminates needs to find priest supplies
    -minstrel- bards effects last longer

im not sure if I want a building AC but it would be treated as chunks with a starting AC of 10 per chunk

  • body guard- basic at door protection +1 to building ac (low salary) max 1 per chunk
  • guard- +2 to building ac per guard employed (basic salary) max 4 per chunk
  • knight- + 5 to building ac per knight employed (high salary) max 2 per chunk


  • Forge room- required for blacksmith
  • Large kitchen- required for chef
  • Study- required for mage or cartographer (one each)
  • Tall tower- required for wizard
  • Stables - required for animal handler,companions and minions
  • Holy hall- required for priest
  • barracks- required for bouncers,guards, and knights
  • rooms for rent- different sizes and costs for Inns
  • rec room - heal 1 hp per hour spent in this room unless severe wounds
  • vault - keep valuables. higher cost, more effective
  • sleeping quarters- for,well, sleeping
  • stage- for bards, minstrels and speeches from nobles
  • pc improvement rooms; faster magic,weapon and spell creation rooms

basically stuff from the wizard tower and castle building rules. this includes enchantments and traps.

((Lunch break, I will be back to add rooms to add. basically a forge room is needed for a blacksmith, a library for a wizard and so on)