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Friday, March 25, 2016

From the Tool Chest: A strange artifact from my DM's toolbox

This may be a series about  books that I have found off label RPG uses for over the  years.
Or it may be the only time I bring it up ...
Time will tell.

Enter the Toolbox:

I may have mentioned this before..
I hope I did ..
Eventually players get to such a level that they want stuff.
Stuff for the keep, stuff for the temple, stuff for the waggons. "Those retainers need a place to live" and so on.
At the time I had a hard time pricing things. If a player said "I want a great big desk for my wizard's study," I had  no idea what to charge them. Worse yet I had a hard time pricing things relative to each other.. What was the price difference between a plain set of woodworking tools and an expensive one?
Then one day while perusing the bargain table at Barnes and Noble (I used to indulge my fetish for  referance books far more often than I do now,) I found this:


http://www.amazon.com/1897-Sears-Roebuck-Co-Catalogue/dp/1602390630

It's as it says on the tin a reprint of the 1897 Sears Roebuck and Company  full sized catalogue.
ONe could find just about anything listed within its pages and  all with hand prices which can be easily and usually  directly correlated to "gold pieces" which at the time I used as the standard in my game. Fine illustrations accompany most entries, and the brief descriptions are perfect for  around the  table.

I codified each section of the catalog as a type of  "shop" that might be in an area the players visited. If they went to a smith they could buy iron implements and  tools, a furrier might have fur lined coats and jackets for cold weather travel. A dress maker might have finer clothing for  ladies, each with their own catalog section I could reference.

The nice part for me is that each item had a price. The finer items are naturally more expensive. If a player asked for a fine fur coat for traveling in style I could give the player a price that would be somewhat realistic when compared to the price of a fur lined hunters jacket,  some silverware, or a set of  blacksmiths tongs.

It quickly became one of the most used and  referenced books in my collection.

Now like 90% of my gaming material it sits boxed up in my attic, but who knows. With the 5th edition player's setting up a keep of their own and starting to actively trade with the  neighbors, it might see the light of day again.

Thanks for reading.
-Mark.