D&D: How DMs Can Make Shopping Exciting Again


Shopping is a part of Dungeons & Dragons that some DMs and players dread. In a game that allows players to live out wondrous fantasies having to go to a shop to buy stuff seems tedious and mundane. But there are ways that DMs can turn the necessary shopping trips into something fun and even exciting.

Shopping is necessary for D&D as adventuring parties will need to stock up on items eventually during their campaign. Whether the players need potions or new D&D armor, materials, and weapons, they won’t be able to find everything they need from looting their fallen enemies. If the players find themselves in a city or town, they will naturally head for the shops to stock up.

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After a few adventures, the party might have gold burning a hole in their pockets and will naturally want to spend that on shiny new equipment. Shopping can be used to great effect to add depth to the world around them or to create new encounters for players. Each town or city players visit should have a unique feel, which should also apply to any businesses they come across.

Memorable NPCs Will Make Shopping More Fun In D&D

One of the best ways to make shopping more fun is by making the shopkeeper a quirky or aD&D character important to the lore of the storyline to keep the players engaged. This can be someone flirtatious or charismatic, but could equally be a creepy or odd character that makes them laugh. By making a character that players want to talk to and return to, DMs will find new and exciting ways to relay information to the party. DMs can also use shopping to further the plot or give players side quests. Is the party hunting down a terrible cult or gang of criminals? Have the shop be a front for the villains or have a person integral to the plot come in while shopping. Another way to introduce better plot points or D&D quests is to have the players overhear other customers talking about something relevant to the story.

Making the shopping trip more than just about getting new stuff turns what could otherwise be a boring lull in the game into a location of significance in the campaign setting. If, for instance, the players know they can get intel out of a particular shopkeeper while also getting a fancy new shield, it makes a simple shopping trip a more worthwhile activity for the whole party. Ultimately DMs will know what their players will respond to the best (and what will make them laugh) when creating truly memorable shopkeepers.

Planning D&D Shopping Trips Ahead Will Save Time

One of the main issues players and DMs have with shopping trips is that if not properly managed, they can drag on. This slows down the game, and it’s not uncommon for entire sessions to end up being spent purely on shopping. One of the best tips for better D&D DMs is to plan ahead, knowing that players will need to shop at some point. There are a couple of ways this can be done so that gathering necessary supplies doesn’t take up hours of real time.

At low levels, DMs can create a shop that is the fantasy equivalent of a catalog shop. Simply let players pick any non-magical item from the Player’s Handbook and charge them accordingly. This quick, easy, and humorous method will allow them to swiftly stock up on new things from one place without slowing down the plot. At higher levels, DMs should ask their players what they are looking for in advance. This will save time and allow for discussions as to whether it’s plausible for such items to be purchased or found. When having higher-level items in shops, a good tip is to only have two or three high-value magic D&D items in stock for the game adventure or campaign. That way, the DM can stop the players from debating for too long about their purchases, which is often a culprit in slowing things down.

Even with all the planning in the world, players will still find ways to surprise their DMs, but by taking some time to plan out a few shops, shopkeepers, and small encounters, DMs should be able to get ahead of any impromptu shopping trips. With a little time and effort, DMs can stop any future Dungeons & Dragons shopping sprees from becoming too boring.

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