Saturday, June 19, 2021

Ever Use Dungeon Shops?

One little feature of a megadungeon - and some video games - that I've never used in play is the "dungeon shop."

I mean a store, inside of a dungeon, usually selling things immediately useful in a dungeon (rations, 10' poles, torches) or special equipment you can't get elsewhere (magic armor and weapons, special magic items, useful monster bits), or buy the same. In video games they tend to have hideous guardians that prevent you from reasonably robbing the place.

This is one of those things I've heard of in tabletop games but never encountered.

Have you ever used one in a tabletop game?

My DF games feature a lot of in-town sales of equipment one might consider "special." An in-dungeon store wouldn't serve any purpose except to replenish stocks of forgotten items. The PCs would eventually assault the place anyway, and kill everyone and take everything, unless I made that literally impossible.

But I'm curious about actual real-world non-video-game occurances of mid-dungeon shops.


  1. I had a shopkeeper in one of my late 80s AD&D campaigns - he'd set up shop at the bottom of a pit trap. In addition to the usual wares of torches, rations, etc, he would offer to "rent" the PCs a ladder if they lacked the means to escape the pit trap.

  2. I'd recommend the Castlevania 64 route; the shopkeeper is a powerful demon or other supernatural spirit who may not even exist in the physical realm, delivering purchased goods through the veil. That solves the problem of the player robbing the place (your sword goes straight through the clerk's head!) or monsters interrupting the shopping (goblins know better than to annoy Mammon the Archdevil of Sales).

  3. I had one in an old Fantasy Play-by-mail game, probably inspired by video games. As fantastic (or unrealistic) as things in RPG's usually are, I find the idea too ridiculous to do in any game I'd run now.

  4. I have a community of goblins that is willing to do some trading. PCs could try to take on the whole community, I guess, but by the time they are high enough level to do it I doubt it would be worth their while.

  5. I never featured one of these in my games, but maybe I should :).

    The very first video game example that came to my mind was the cake shop from the original Phantasy Star game.

    This cake shop was located somewhere in the fourth level of a cave dungeon that was pretty dangerous to your PCs at the point in the game where you entered it. This one of the OG console RPGs, so there is neither an easy map to navigate, nor any real explanation for why the only cake shop in the solar system is at the bottom of a dungeon. A remake would later add some silly dialogue where the owner explains that danger makes his sweets taste better.

    In a less nonsensical example, there's also the weird goblin dude from Demon's Souls. He's a shady scavenger, which explains where he gets the stuff he's selling you. And he also moves around, which explains how he stays safe and gives the game an excuse to place "shops" in several different locations of its megadungeon world as the story progresses.

  6. definitely!

    1. That's a bar, though, not an equipment shop. It's really a different thing. They both engage in commerce, but it's easier in my mind to justify a "bar" than a "shop" in a dungeon.

  7. You mean a place for a canny, cutthroat crew of cavern cavorters to Loot, burgle, and otherwise turn into their own once they've excised the previous owners*?

    Yeah... no, I don't often find it fits the games I'm playing to put a "shop" in my "dungeon", unless the 'dungeon' is a city or town, or they encounter a traveling peddler in the wilderness.

    .* I say that because in the Fallout 2 I turned a shop into my base once I evicted the previous owner's brain from his skull when I found out he was with an organization I considered an enemy. So I just expect that sort of behavior from Players should I ever put a 'shop' in a 'dungeon'. It's just going to be another source of loot.

  8. Back in the day, every level of the dungeon had a "bar," which was certainly that, but it also sold gear and some magical services. It's where you'd get dead party members resurected.

    Of course, this was also 1978 and I wasn't technically even a teenager yet.


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