In the past, when I’ve attempted to track what kinds of equipment might be available in a given town, I have usually just handwaved it or gestured vaguely at the normal equipment list. For a planned hexcrawl game, I will be trying a different approach that I’m calling the Bazaar system.
First, I assign a market theme to each letter of the alphabet. Then, I populate each theme with three to seven items and attached prices. The same item may appear on different lists with different prices. Printing each market theme on a different card, I can combine different cards to represent different markets. The principle is simple, but it lets me tune things a great deal.
- You can designate one letter as always present for market staples.
- Assign more common market themes to more common letters. Then, when I want to populate a random bazaar, I can just ask a player for a random word. The longer the word I request, the more developed the bazaar. Example: I figure a small city will have a small bazaar, so I have the players give me a five-letter word: QUERY. With the themes below, that means the city will have wood, jewelry, travel supplies, beasts, and excavation tools.
- You can use overlap strategically. Items present in multiple market themes may have different prices, meaning that players will want to shop around.
- When players go out of their way to follow leads, track down sellers, or barter, reward them with extra cards.
- When players need to replace or upgrade weapons and armor, they are not assured to get exactly what they want. With sparse options, players are more likely to take up picks, hammers, and shovels.
- This is a great way to inject setting details
Example market for the Mesomergos setting I'm developing:
*While using a gigre, narcomantas are used to share the benefits and drawbacks with allies. Think a rallying banner, but it gets you high.
*Tefillim, amulets, and other ostentations are simple magic items used to reroll a magic or WORD die.
*Talismans are simple magic items that allow you to automatically memorize a spell.
*I strongly feel that you shouldn't have to track hireling wages per day. Just give them a full share if they're expected to fight and a half share if they're not.
*Reefstone is cut from living above-ground reefs
*Chimerate is the catalyst for magical transformation from which the chimera gets its nam.