Magic Economy and Shopping in Sigil

5e assumes pretty limited access to magical items. But if you’re playing a homebrew setting, high-level game, or just a high-magic setting like Sigil, you may want a thriving magical item economy that is just not supported by WotC materials.

Personally, I use Sane Magic Item Prices as a quick reference, but I find it falls short in a magical marketplace setting. Players will naturally want to know everything that’s available and how much it costs. They will spend a long time shopping and arguing about money, and I just don’t have the bandwidth to audit a pile of items and prices individually to make sure nothing is game-breaking.

I needed a good baseline that I could use for what players can expect when they stumble across a large marketplace with access to magical goods, and from there I can throw a few wondrous items as I please. First, I reviewed the low-impact magic items that I would expect to be commonly available or “made-to-order”, like scrolls and potions. Then I adapted some magical materials and items available in the 2nd edition In the Cage: A Guide to Sigil.

The result is, in my opinion, a suitably broad and fantastical-feeling list. It’s simplified as to not overwhelm DMs, Players, or break the game, but it also doesn’t feel milquetoast when you whip it out. Fiendflesh leather armour, or a glowing golden celestial focus are just objectively cooler than handing out +1 items.

Index

Magical Substances & Items

Crafting and Spell Components

Magical markets have alchemical substances and magical reagents readily available. Characters can easily find spell components for spells up to level 7 for their listed prices.

Spell Casting and Scrolls

Characters can find spell scrolls up to level 5, or casters willing to perform these spells. Higher level casts require a specific contact willing to help you, and higher level scrolls become hard to come by due to their prohibitive scribing requirements.

Scrolls:

  • Spell Scroll Level 0: 10 gp / 2 Hours
  • Spell Scroll Level 1: 60 gp / 8 Hours
  • Spell Scroll Level 2: 100 gp / 1 Day
  • Spell Scroll Level 3: 200 gp / 2 Days
  • Spell Scroll Level 4: 360 gp / 4 Days
  • Spell Scroll Level 5: 640 gp / 6 Days
  • Spell Scroll Level 6: 1280 gp / 8 Days
  • Spell Scroll Level 7: 2560 gp / 12 Days
  • Spell Scroll Level 8: 5120 gp / 16 Days
  • Spell Scroll Level 9: 10240 gp / 30 Days

Casts:

  • Spell Slot Level 0: 6 gps
  • Spell Slot Level 1: 40 gp
  • Spell Slot Level 2: 80 gp
  • Spell Slot Level 3: 140 gp
  • Spell Slot Level 4: 235 gp
  • Spell Slot Level 5: 450 gp
  • Spell Slot Level 6: 900 gp
  • Spell Slot Level 7: 2000 gp
  • Spell Slot Level 8: 4500 gp
  • Spell Slot Level 9: 12000 gp

Potions and Draughts

All manner of healing potions are plentiful. Potions that provide other temporary beneficial effects are available for purchase, but Investigation is required to track down specific types. Potions and magical procedures granting permanent alterations to the subject’s physiology are only rumoured.

Magical Items & Artifacts

Minor magical items (Cantrip Effects, Glamour Items, +1 Weapons, etc.) are easy to come by. Specific, unique magic items are unlikely to be found, due to their cost and rarity. Artifacts are rarely for sale anywhere, as those that find them often choose to use them.

Special Materials

The Multiverse is home to substances rarer and more effective than prime material ores. These materials are crafted to create unique weapons, items and armour for adventurers. In a large magical marketplace, you can easily find traders and craftspeople specializing in each. These substances all have a faint, innate magical property.

Abyssal Blood Iron

Mined from the rich red ore that is found on the surface of the first layer of the Abyss, abyssal blood iron is used by Demons in the Blood War. Abyssal blood is a dark red ore, the color of fresh blood, and naturally develops spikes and spines over time.

Blood Iron Piercing and Slashing weapons are Viscous +1 Weapons, and are treated as magical for the purposes of overcoming damage resistances. The cost of a weapon is increased by 1000 GP.

Blood Iron armor is +1 Armor. Additionally, if a creature rolls a 1 on a melee attack against the wearer of the armor, they take 2d6 magical piercing damage from its natural spikes. The cost of armour is increased by 50% of the armour’s base cost and 1500 GP.

Blood Iron shields are +1 Shields. Push and shield bash actions deal 1d6 additional magical piercing damage on a success. The cost of a shield is 1250 GP.

Baatorian Green Steel

Mined from the deepest pits of the Nine Hells, this mint-colored steel is a favored material for the Baatezu devils, due to its heavy consistency that is very similar to adamantine. All Green Steel equipment is 50% heavier than normal.

Green steel bludgeoning weapons are +1 Weapons that automatically critical hit on attacks against items, and are treated as magical for the purposes of overcoming damage resistances. The cost of a weapon is increased by 1000 GP.

All Green Steel armor confer disadvantage on stealth checks, and any strength requirements to use armors are increased by 2. However, Green Steel armor acts as +1 Armor and grants immunity to critical hits from non-magical weapon attacks. The cost of armour is increased by 50% of the armour’s base cost and 1500 GP.

Green Steel shields are +1 Shields. The cost of a shield is 1000 GP.

Fiendflesh

Devil crafters have learned an alchemical and supernatural process by which they can harvest the flesh of their conquered enemies to work into strong suits of armor, affording themselves increased protection against their opponent’s weapons.

Only armors that would otherwise be made out of leather or hide can be made from Fiendflesh. Fiendflesh armor is +1 Armor which reduces all incoming Poison, Fire, and Non-Magical Piercing, Slashing and Bludgeoning damage by 5. The cost of armour is increased by 50% of the armour’s base cost and 1250 GP.

Astral Silver

A special glittering silver ore mined from the various astral islands that drift across the Astral sea, which is said to amplify the natural psionic abilities of its users.

Weapons created from astral silver are +1 Weapons which can affect incorporeal creatures or creatures on the ethereal plane normally, and are treated as magical for the purposes of overcoming damage resistances. The cost of a weapon is increased by 1000 GP.

Astral Silver armor is +1 Armor. Incorporeal creates cannot pass through Astral Silver and cannot move through or occupy your space, and gain attack or damage advantages due to being incorporeal when wearing Astral Silver Armor. The cost of armour is increased by 50% of the armour’s base cost and 1500 GP.

Astral Silver Shields are +1 Shields. The cost of a shield is 1000 GP.

Sun-Gold

Mined from the lower levels of Mount Celestia, Sun-Gold is too soft to forge weapons and armor, but the resident Dwarves craft object which radiate energy.

Sun Gold always acts as though it is under the effects of the Light spell. Divine focuses crafted by Sun-Gold are +1 Focuses but cannot be used by evil-aligned creatures. The cost of a focus is 2000 GP.

Sun-Gold Shields are +1 Shields. The cost of a shield is 1000 GP.

Powdered Sun-Gold, when mixed with water, produces Holy Water.

Ashwood

A living fragment of the tree of life Yggdrasil, items crafted from Ashwood resonate with powerful vital energy.

A weapon crafted from Ashwood are both a +1 Druidic Spell Focus and a +1 weapon of its type. Only bows, crossbows, staves and clubs can be created from Ashwood. The cost of any of these items are increased by 2500 GP.

Planar Crystal

These rare crystals are found scattered throughout the Outer Planes. The Crystals maintain some of the purity of the Plane from which they are mined and are magical in nature.

A raw crystal or any item constructed from the crystal can be attuned to, which grants advantage on Saves to resist any ambient psychic and harmful persistent environmental effects of it’s native plane, and resistance to any damage incurred from such sources. The cost of an item imbued with planar crystal is increased by 1000 GP.

Blades made from planar crystals are +1 Magical Weapons and deal an additional +1d8 Radiant, Psychic, Necrotic or Force damage, depending on the native plane. They cannot be wielded by creatures of an opposite alignment to the crystal’s home plane. The cost of a weapon is increased by 2500 GP.

Arcane spell focuses crafted from Planar Crystals are +1 Focuses. They cannot be wielded by creatures of an opposite alignment to the crystal’s home plane. The cost of a focus is 2000 GP.

The Beginning of the Campaign and Roleplay Encounters

The party started out in a Tavern in the middle of nowhere on purpose. If they were out in the frontier, on the edges of civilization, the politics and beliefs of the world at large wouldn’t matter much. I just wanted to roll some dice. I also thought, as many new DMs do, that I could bypass the issues inherent behind the common words of advice, “Don’t just start in a Tavern.”

It’s D&D and I want to start in a Tavern, OK?

So there they started, in the village of Broken Gate, a trading center in a small colony of civilization on a largely untamed continent. A half-orc mercenary gets drunk and loudly engages the party.

“My spirit is light, but my pocket is heavy with coin! A round for everyone! Toast me – tonight we drink, for tomorrow we may die!

The half-orc introduces himself as Solomon, and he confides after many rounds that his fortune has been so good lately that he had to turn down a cushy job from the local Captain of the Guard. Turns out the Captain was offering gold in the hundreds for a simple job, simply hunting down an escaped prisoner that had run away into the wilderness. The nearby wilderness was sub-arctic, and winter was coming. The job, in truth, was likely nothing more than picking up a frozen body.

he half-orc introduces himself as Solomon, and he confides after many rounds that his fortune has been so good lately that he had to turn down a cushy job from the local Captain of the Guard. Turns out the Captain was offering gold in the hundreds for a simple job, simply hunting down an escaped prisoner that had run away into the wilderness. The nearby wilderness was sub-arctic, and winter was coming. The job, in truth, was likely nothing more than picking up a frozen body.

I should have just set all this up in a handout or a monologue but, me being me, I instead decided to insist on playing it out, every last inch of cringey roleplay at a time. Some of the players were inexperienced, they all didn’t know their characters yet. They couldn’t just slip into their shoes, and that’s fine.

Open-ended roleplay shouldn’t be thrust upon a new group, really, and especially not to open up session one. Focused roleplay, though, that worked, but we didn’t get there until the end.

The characters, of course, followed the hook. They got the job, from the Captain, who was a bit of a dick, and it was exactly as described. Bring him back either way, but a bonus if he’s alive so they can “make an example of him”. It’s the frontier after all, and order has a price. They scare off some other upstart adventurers from the job and went to investigate the Prison.

It turns out, a prison guard had helped the prisoner, Quindwin Davish, escape. The party tried to interrogate her, and she was uncooperative, opening up the first actual substantive roleplay question: What are we willing to do to get this information? The guard, Laria, was already wounded and hadn’t budged under physical interrogation, and although torture was briefly on the table, they ended up getting a few high enough rolls, a Cure Wounds, and some pointed questions in to determine the direction that Quindwin had run off in. I don’t know if they picked up on the romantic connection between the two NPCs, but if they did they certainly didn’t mention it.

Ranger rolls some dice, they travel. They track the prisoner to a freezing river, and then they reach the top of a waterfall. Below them, it lands in a half-frozen basin beside which lies two bloody bodies – one human, one animal. The ranger Althea, with her Elven eyes, see’s that it’s still breathing, but raggedly. Not for long probably. They try to quickly descend the cliff, they fasten a rope to climb down and, even with advantage, the Warlock rolls a 4 and falls. He lands with 1 HP, the Cleric and Rogue follow and help him up. The Wizard and Ranger stay atop on the cliff and see, from the treeline below, a pack of wolves attracted by the scent of blood.

This twist landed well. The party expected to track down the prisoner and have to fight him – I mean obviously, right? But they find him and it’s just a kid who was downed fighting a badger, and they find themselves needing to protect him to collect the full reward.

They kill the wolves, tie up their captive, and everyone makes camp. In the morning they decide to interrogate Quindwin – their “escaped prisoner” was a skinny red-haired kid, maybe 17 years old.

Sorry for the long intro, but this is what this little essay is actually about.

Quindwin tells the party, truthfully, that he was a guard before he was thrown in jail for refusing what he thought to be an unethical order, to beat up a gnome physician. The prison guard, Laria, freed him because they were in love. If he is returned to the village, they will both be killed.

Now, the party knows that the Guard Captain uses physical interrogation, having observed it on the other captive. The party also knows the Captain is kind of a dick and believes in using violence to enforce order.

Everything about Quindwin’s story tracks, and to anyone who believes he did the right thing by refusing an unethical order, by extension believe that he should not be imprisoned in the first place, let alone executed.

However, they also know that by willfully aiding or releasing their captive, they would be not only breaking their word but alienating the Captain – functionally the law of the land, as well as giving up their reward.

This is what I’ve started calling a Roleplay Encounter, and I’m really happy to have included it in my first adventure. This type of challenge encourages what I think is the best kind of roleplay. I’m not forcing the players to talk in-character or engage in any sort of theatrics, but instead making them engage with a problem the way their character would. I’ve given the players an ethical problem to which there is no Correct, or even Lawful Good solution, that their characters need to solve as a group.

The primary options presented to them are:

  1. Let their captive Quindwin go, and do something to save Laria, the captive prison guard, betraying their word and alienating the local authority. Chaotic Good.
  2. Keep their word, return their captive, and collect their prize. Lawful Neutral at best.

These options, and everything in between, were discussed by the players in character in what was actually a somewhat tense negotiation. In every way the social RP in the tavern failed, this succeeded. The players were forced to make a judgement based on what their characters value. Is it money? Trust and honor? Authority? Personal morality? Freedom? These all factor into the decision of what to do with the boy.

This is my first truly great D&D memory, and the moment where I thought I could actually be a decent DM if I kept at it. It all came together.

Althea, the Ranger, had an arrow pointed at the boy’s head. She was bringing something back, even if it was a corpse.

Gladomain, the Rogue, likewise wanted to tie him up and get on with the job.

Adrick, the Cleric, was advocating to let the boy go and negotiate a reduced punishment for the other prisoner. He would not condemn a good man to death.

They could agree that they didn’t want the prisoners to die, but they also didn’t want abandon a reward, or worse, become labelled criminals themselves.

Aemon, the Warlock, approached Quindwin from behind.

The other thing to take out of this anecdote, is that when I say that I gave the players a problem with no correct solution, I meant it. I, as a DM, had no idea what they were going to do in this instance. I had planned for them to go with Quin, to the east, I had planned a jailbreak of his sweetheart, I had planned for the party to cash in the reward and pick up another job. This simple cliffhanger, which I subjected myself to, was the start of my addiction to uncertainty.

The key to a good Roleplay Encounter is to present a problem where any solution you can think of has very real negative consequences. A choice between right and wrong is easy. A kobayashi maru is where the fun happens.

Aemon pulled out his dagger and slid it along the kid’s face. Quindwin cried out, “My ear!”

“Here, we’ll use this,” says Aemon, not a little smugly.

They had chosen the third option that I should have, but didn’t, consider: Lie and cheat until you make everyone happy. Chaotic Neutral.

“We’ll just tell the captain that he fell off this waterfall and wolves ate him. Perfectly plausible given the circumstances we found him in. The Captain must have an Arcanist or someone who can confirm this is actually Quin’s ear.”

Quindwin is openly sobbing now. The cleric heals him and the party shrugs and sends him on his way. “There’s a Druid circle nearby, they’ll give you sanctuary. Just follow my directions and you’ll find them.”

Time to head home and lie their pants off for gold.

The resolution was, although unexpected, fantastic. As dramatic as any outcome, and a brilliant display of player agency. More importantly, though, the players knew a little more about their characters and how they view the world than when they started the adventure.