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Thread: Magic Shops

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    Default Magic Shops

    I run a 2e AD&D game and though my group really isn't interested in trying a new system or anything, I am curious about adapting some of the concepts found in the newer editions.

    One thing I have heard a lot of reference to is "magic shops" which is really rather foreign to me. I doubt I would include them in my own games to any large extent but perhaps in limited fashion it could work for one of our campaigns, so I have a few questions for those of you who have this type of thing.

    First, just out of curiosity, are magic shops expected to exist in a typical-if such word can be used- DnD game under new system rules?

    Is shopping in magic stores considered a privilege of the elite and extremely wealthy? Or do many villages have a local witch making potions and enchanting arrows?

    No doubt these shops have extensive security to avoid being ransacked by the first questionable adventuring party that rolls into town. What sort of measures do the owners take to ward off thieves and marauders?

    Are magic items heavily taxed in most cases?

    Surely the accessibility of magic item shops would mean magic is fairly common, unless its outrageously expensive - does this mean in your games you regularly encounter town guards with rings of protection and sword +1s and armies firing enchanted arrows at one another?

    Finally, I'd just like to know if you think your game is more enjoyable because the players have access to a magic shop. I don't want to stir up any arguments over which way to play is best. I would just like to hear how this can be handled to enhance the world vs. make it silly

    Thanks

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    Default Re: Magic Shops

    Quote Originally Posted by 2E Phoinex View Post
    First, just out of curiosity, are magic shops expected to exist in a typical-if such word can be used- DnD game under new system rules?
    Yes. The 3rd edition and 3.5 rulesets give guidelines on what magic items (limited by price) can be bought in towns/cities of various sizes. It doesn't necessarily assume a magical equivalent of Walmart where you can buy anything you want, but the assumption is that anything below a certain price should be available in that town.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2E Phoinex View Post
    Is shopping in magic stores considered a privilege of the elite and extremely wealthy? Or do many villages have a local witch making potions and enchanting arrows?
    The smaller a town is, the lower the price limit on items you can buy is. So for expensive magic items, you can probably only find them in a large city. Low-level potions and scrolls might be available in a small village though.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2E Phoinex View Post
    No doubt these shops have extensive security to avoid being ransacked by the first questionable adventuring party that rolls into town. What sort of measures do the owners take to ward off thieves and marauders?
    The guidelines in the DMG don't really go into it, but a lot of sellers of magic items are casters (since only casters can make them mostly), so expect lots of magical protections. Alarm spells, magical traps, summoned creatures guarding the shop, maybe golems in a really high-end place.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2E Phoinex View Post
    Are magic items heavily taxed in most cases?
    No, taxes aren't really a part of the game, at least not using the core rules. I guess it's assumed that the prices in the DMG include taxes already.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2E Phoinex View Post
    Surely the accessibility of magic item shops would mean magic is fairly common, unless its outrageously expensive - does this mean in your games you regularly encounter town guards with rings of protection and sword +1s and armies firing enchanted arrows at one another?
    Magic is outrageously expensive. A single +1 arrow costs 40 GP, which is more than a month's labor for a commoner. A +1 sword costs 2,000 gp, which is 5.5 years labor for a commoner. Officers in the military or a town guard might have a few magic items, but your average guardsman or soldier won't have any. They're unlikely to even have masterwork.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2E Phoinex View Post
    Finally, I'd just like to know if you think your game is more enjoyable because the players have access to a magic shop. I don't want to stir up any arguments over which way to play is best. I would just like to hear how this can be handled to enhance the world vs. make it silly
    I think it's more enjoyable, because it takes a lot of pressure off me as the DM. I don't have to put as much effort into making sure I'm giving out items tailored to fit my players if they can sell what I do give them and buy what they need instead.
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    furious Re: Magic Shops

    Ugh, magic shops...
    I've had more than a few bad experiences with them as a GM.
    Why? Because my players always try to kill the shopkeeper and loot the shop!
    And there's plenty of times where the players ask me: "What's for sale at the magic shop?"
    And I'm like having to come up with magic items on the spot. The DMG helps with that though. However, I don't always have it on hand. But I think it's lazy of the GM to say, "You walk into the magic shop...you can buy anything you want from these books as long as you can afford it." It's like wtf!?
    But I thank the OP for this thread because I always considered the city guard coming in to take care of those criminally insane PCs, but I never really considered the shopkeeper him/herself capable of defending him/herself with Golems, summoned creatures, spells, and whatnot. Rod of Paralysis to the face! Shazam! Ah, that will discourage idiot PCs from trying to rob the shop.

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    Default Re: Magic Shops

    Molten Dragon covered most of your questions, so I'll add my thoughts on the enjoyment aspect:

    Dungeon Master Option: High Level Campaigns (1995) p. 20

    Magic Shops
    Do not let magic become a commodity. Magical items should never be bought and sold like milk and eggs. Allowing PCs of any level to simply purchase magical items, or even to purchase magical supplies such as quills and inks for writing scrolls, takes some of the mystique away from magic and makes the whole world seem a little more commonplace.
    I agree with Skip Williams here. Your players may well like it when you first introduce it. It's something to spend all that money on that's been piling up, and they can get just that item they've always wanted. But it erodes the game in ways you wouldn't guess.
    Money becomes personal power in a way it never was. Scrounging away every little bit of cash you can becomes the clever thing to do, so you can get together the money you need for that next thing you want. Fidgeting over losing the least when converting coins to gems or vice versa, wondering what material the doors are made of and if it's worth breaking them off and bringing them, no more cool ideas like gold golems (because they'd mess up the economy when the material is sold)...
    People who don't have the big picture on magical items (usually those already a little short on system mastery) get another setback, as they suddenly get flung into needing knowledge about what would be the right item to purchase.
    Fun/cool/nice items with little or no combat value get sold. Why spend money on a castle, or donate to charity, or buy cool art, when there are magical items to be bought?
    AD&D works best when the DM keeps a pretty tight rein on what magical items find their ways into the PCs' hands. Magic shops make the amount of items go up, and their variety as well, making it harder to balance things - especially since the players (very reasonably) will feel compelled to try to throw the balance in their own direction.

    In short, speaking as a player and DM of campaigns with magic shops: They reduce the enjoyment, but are in some games a necessary weasel.
    Last edited by hymer; 2013-12-19 at 01:18 PM.
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    Money becomes personal power in a way it never was.
    True, although that was a conscious shift in ideology for 3e. Getting rich for its own sake (or the ability to shape the world in a mundane fashion) was junked in favour of a mechanical Wealth By Level system that serves as another dial for optimisation.
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    Default Re: Magic Shops

    I know. But since OP is playing 2nd edition, he should be wary of adding this bit to a game that wasn't meant to carry it.
    Last edited by hymer; 2013-12-18 at 04:50 PM.
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    Default Re: Magic Shops

    One thing to keep in mind is that when you see someone posting about "magic marts," they are often being a little facetious. Even if they're saying such things do exist in their campaigns, it's often not an actual shop that you walk into and buy magic items.

    Instead, it can just mean that in a major city, you can usually find the item you're looking for. Maybe the town's best smith can upgrade the enchantment on your sword. An aristocrat fallen on hard times is willing to sell old heirlooms...and because you are the story's protagonists, damned if he doesn't have just what you wanted. The local wizards' guild might scribe scrolls for a fee, and on the downwind side of town, there is a whole street of small-time alchemists' shops. (They mostly sell sheep deworming draughts, but if you ask around, one of them can probably brew the potions you want.)

    If playing out the mini-adventure of finding these sellers seems like fun, the GM might do just that. If that would be a distraction from more interesting matters, she might just say "So you're spending a week in the city? If you want to upgrade your gear, you can probably find anything up to 5000 gp here," and let the players handle the details between sessions. Either way, though, the campaign is still being run as "magic shop-positive", without an actual "Bob's magic items" sign hanging anywhere.

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    Default Re: Magic Shops

    Quote Originally Posted by hymer View Post
    In short, speaking as a player and DM of campaigns with magic shops: It reduces the enjoyment, but are in some games a necessary weasel.
    I agree with this, a lot. You should think carefully about whether commodifying magic is going to be a good idea for your gameworld.

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    Default Re: Magic Shops

    Thanks everyone. That clears up a lot of questions and I must admit I breathed a sigh of relief to learn that there isn't a "Bob's magic shop" in all the WoTC D&D games. I couldn't escape the image of health potion assembly lines and other magic items being manufactured on an industrial scale...

    In general though, even as described, I won't be able to incorporate this into my game too such a grand extent. Still I have only a party of four with no cleric and I'm beginning to warm up to the idea of alchemists selling potions in order to compensate. By making them more accessible I could also include them in loot more often without so transparently saving the party from a humiliating death by 1HD creatures.

    What sort of cost is generally assigned to healing potions? There is a supplemental book that covers magic item prices for AD&D but those are getting harder to come by in the used book store.

    Also, now that I think of it, have you had experience with wizards teaching spells for a fee before? I've toyed with the idea as a means to let my wizard have a little more freedom outfitting himself. I'm just not sure of what price function to use, maybe 500 gold per spell level... maybe 1000 gold.

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    Default Re: Magic Shops

    Also, now that I think of it, have you had experience with wizards teaching spells for a fee before? I've toyed with the idea as a means to let my wizard have a little more freedom outfitting himself. I'm just not sure of what price function to use, maybe 500 gold per spell level... maybe 1000 gold.
    The "standard" fee in 3e and its derivatives is 50 gold per spell level, which is probably much too cheap for AD&D (3rd edition in general is designed around the idea that scarcity of resources is not a regular or major problem for PCs).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sith_Happens View Post
    The "standard" fee in 3e and its derivatives is 50 gold per spell level, which is probably much too cheap for AD&D (3rd edition in general is designed around the idea that scarcity of resources is not a regular or major problem for PCs).
    haha I think your right - I'd prefer that the spell cost more than its components.

    Maybe instead of paying for it he can barter with magic items or trade his formula for a spell of his own. That has potential to be a huge power grab for the player but if he spends the time to develop the relationship with an NPC wizard I suppose it is both logical and fair.

    I tend to be tight fisted with magic. Perhaps a little too tight fisted... A new player once asked why he couldn't buy some magic armor in town and one of the vets replied "Because the DM hates fun"

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2E Phoinex View Post
    haha I think your right - I'd prefer that the spell cost more than its components.
    Well, it costs another 100 gold per spell level to write it in your own book, but that's hardly much more.

    Maybe instead of paying for it he can barter with magic items or trade his formula for a spell of his own. That has potential to be a huge power grab for the player but if he spends the time to develop the relationship with an NPC wizard I suppose it is both logical and fair.
    IMO trading some of your spells for some of theirs is something that makes incredibly much sense.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cirrylius View Post
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    Default Re: Magic Shops

    First, I would never have a magic shop in a 2E world.

    Second, the price for potions shouldn't be money at all. The price adventurers should pay is adventure. Perhaps the church had a priest abducted recently, or they're worried about the goblin invasion.

    Of course, ideally, the party long since earned the gratitude of the priests. In the long run, a group of adventurers should be storing up people who owe them favors.

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    Default Re: Magic Shops

    Quote Originally Posted by 2E Phoinex View Post
    Maybe instead of paying for it he can barter with magic items or trade his formula for a spell of his own. That has potential to be a huge power grab for the player but if he spends the time to develop the relationship with an NPC wizard I suppose it is both logical and fair.
    As long as the NPC wizard thinks it a worthwhile trade. After all, he can trade that spell out to other wizards later on.

    If the PC wizard doesn't have good spells to barter, then the NPC wizard should be willing to take cash instead (of course the amount of cash he wants should depend heavily on factors like the spell's availability, utility, and demand). That's one reason why money exists: so people can make quick, easy exchanges without bartering.
    Last edited by Slipperychicken; 2013-12-19 at 01:28 PM.

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    smile Re: Magic Shops

    hymer is right. Magic should not be a commodity. When you make magic a common thing, it feels less mystical and loses its mysteriousness. I once played under a GM who limited spellcasters to ONE per adventuring party. And, it was still fun, even though I wasn't the caster. But, I bet the caster felt pretty special. How about magic items are only for sale by travelling merchants that only come into town every few months?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2E Phoinex View Post
    First, just out of curiosity, are magic shops expected to exist in a typical-if such word can be used- DnD game under new system rules?
    Magic Shops do go back to 2E. The Forgotten Realms are full of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2E Phoinex View Post
    There is a supplemental book that covers magic item prices for AD&D but those are getting harder to come by in the used book store.
    I hope you have Aurora's Whole Realms Catalog. You also want to grab all of the Volo guides. Each guide describes a magic shop or two, and they are quite colorful and full of fluff.

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    Default Re: Magic Shops

    hymer is right. Magic should not be a commodity. When you make magic a common thing, it feels less mystical and loses its mysteriousness
    I have always agreed with this. I played in a friends game where magic items littered the floor and immediately dislike it. At this point I am simply experimenting with the idea of implementing another way to acquire magic so that I can run adventures which require the party have a little more endurance.

    First, I would never have a magic shop in a 2E world
    A tenet I have lived by since getting behind the screen. However, now the "problem" is that in one game I have four players without a cleric and in another with the same players there is no party spell caster at all. At first this proved to be a delightful change of pace, and it let one player feel like more than a walking first aid kit. Now I am realizing that they will soon be limited to smaller dungeons and quick adventures until they can get a bit more healing power. To fix this it looks like my options are throw a ton potions at them in loot- a solution I don't much care for- or make potions available (in a limited capacity) for purchase- again I don't really like it but I wanted to see how others have done it- or as has been discussed: give potions to them from the local temple in exchange for their services- I like this option best.

    And I suppose my wizard can seek out his colleagues for a professional exchanges of magic if he feels constricted by the spells he finds in loot.

    I hope you have Aurora's Whole Realms Catalog
    sadly not. We have built a usable, but very far from complete, library over the 5 years that we have been playing AD&D. Finding these beloved dusty tomes in the back corner of the neglected games section at the book store is something of an adventure itself. And since we have the purchasing power of most high school/college students, Online purchasing is pretty much exclusively a holiday event.

    After considering your helpful advice I believe I shall not change my policy of having no magic shops- at least in my regular games. If I ever resurrect an old shared game that other DM's destroyed for me (incidentally musical chairs DMing is not as fun as it sounds) I may bring in some magic shops to balance out the rest of the world.
    Last edited by 2E Phoinex; 2013-12-19 at 06:16 PM. Reason: Forgot about the wizard

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2E Phoinex View Post
    To fix this it looks like my options are throw a ton potions at them in loot- a solution I don't much care for- or make potions available (in a limited capacity) for purchase- again I don't really like it but I wanted to see how others have done it- or as has been discussed: give potions to them from the local temple in exchange for their services- I like this option best.
    Another solution is to have a "first aid kit" NPC cleric, who literally does nothing but heal them and maybe throw down a buff spell now and then. Maybe he'd be camped outside the dungeon to serve as a "home base" for when the PCs get too damaged and need to get healing. Maybe he'd demand only a half-share of the loot when he stays out of immediate danger, but wants a full share when exposed to combat.

    A previous GM of mine did this in 3.5, but the theory should work in 2e. It worked great (the NPC almost never spoke and never did the usual GMPC stuff like hogging the spotlight, and we got the heals we needed) until he decided that we weren't treating her well enough and had her leave the party.
    Last edited by Slipperychicken; 2013-12-19 at 06:13 PM.

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    Default Re: Magic Shops

    Another solution is to have a "first aid kit" NPC cleric
    Interestingly, I tried this out in our last session. She was a bit more present in the game then what you describe. It seemed to be working aside from me constantly forgetting she existed during combat and the players not digging her tongue clicks every time they consider morally questionable actions. Camped outside the dungeon you say? haha I like it, she has no business in heavy combat any way being a priestess of the god of peace and healing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2E Phoinex View Post
    sadly not. We have built a usable, but very far from complete, library over the 5 years that we have been playing AD&D. Finding these beloved dusty tomes in the back corner of the neglected games section at the book store is something of an adventure itself. And since we have the purchasing power of most high school/college students, Online purchasing is pretty much exclusively a holiday event.
    Where do you shop online? Aurora's Whole Realms Catalog (used) is only $8 on Amazon.

    Where do you live? Anywhere by a Half Price Books or a Book Barn?

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    Default Re: Magic Shops

    Oh $8 is highly doable. We shopped on Amazon a little, but most of our individual purchases came out a little north of $20 which became difficult to justify to girl friends that apparently like to eat during dates.

    Clearly I have neglected a valuable mine of cheaper sourcebooks. We have no book barn or half priced book stores, just a used book store in a town where most people think D&D is a video game, or else involves sacrificing goats; thus, our game section is probably about four book shelves with most of that containing new/other systems.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2E Phoinex View Post
    where most people think D&D is a video game, or else involves sacrificing goats
    "Or?"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sith_Happens View Post
    "Or?"
    Yeah, you have no idea how many goats I had to sacrifice just to unlock the Fiendish Codex DLC. I think my college's farm/agricultural department is starting to notice all the missing livestock...
    Last edited by Slipperychicken; 2013-12-19 at 09:23 PM.

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    A magic shop actually came up as a joke in a recent campaign. Magic weapons in the city were heavily regulated, but the party managed to find "Ming's Magic Merchant Meet." The titular Ming was a tall, thin human moron who pretended to be an elf (complete with Spock ears) who peddled fake/useless/dangerous magic items with an outrageously fake Chinese accent. The party deduced he was a fake almost instantly, and after some threats, he sounded like he was from Jersey. The reason he hadn't been arrested for violating the magic weapon regulations? The authorities knew he was a stupid joke and wouldn't waste their time on him. Good times.
    Last edited by Trickquestion; 2013-12-20 at 12:12 AM.

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    Default Re: Magic Shops

    There was a thread summarizing a campaign a short while back, where the party decided it was safer and more profitable to run an inn near a dungeon complex than to murderhobo the dungeon... It evolved into a magic shop, and looked pretty fun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JustSomeGuy View Post
    There was a thread summarizing a campaign a short while back, where the party decided it was safer and more profitable to run an inn near a dungeon complex than to murderhobo the dungeon... It evolved into a magic shop, and looked pretty fun.
    Sounds like a reference to the original Greyhawk campaign.

    In 2E I would drop ludicrous amounts of items but then destroy them almost as quickly. If the party went to the big cities and visited a mages guild then they could buy/order whatever they wanted.

    In 3E I run an abstract market. Basically I generate several pages of items randomly and the players buy and sell as they wish. The list gets updated every level or so. They can also use personal contacts to acquire custom things, though this didn't happen until high level.

    The trick is to keep the market aspirational. There must always be things that they want to buy or they will get bored.

    I've not had anyone try to rip off a magic shop for a long time. Placing it in, or under the protection of, a Mages or Rogues Guild, or even a Temple, normally deters this.
    Last edited by nedz; 2013-12-20 at 05:21 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2E Phoinex View Post
    Clearly I have neglected a valuable mine of cheaper sourcebooks.
    Warning: If you find a good used book store that carries RPG books, then you don't actually save money; you buy more books.

    [It's worth doing, but don't expect that finding a bunch of stuff you want on sale to save you any money.]

    Quote Originally Posted by 2E Phoinex View Post
    To fix this it looks like my options are throw a ton potions at them in loot- a solution I don't much care for ...
    If the bad guys have a ton of healing potions, then the fight should take a lot longer, and there should still be no potions at the end of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2E Phoinex View Post
    ... or make potions available (in a limited capacity) for purchase- again I don't really like it but I wanted to see how others have done it-
    If they are easily available for purchase, then the bad guys should have them as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JustSomeGuy View Post
    There was a thread summarizing a campaign a short while back, where the party decided it was safer and more profitable to run an inn near a dungeon complex than to murderhobo the dungeon... It evolved into a magic shop, and looked pretty fun.
    Hard Mode: Run the shop inside the dungeon to resupply adventurers passing through.

    Advanced Hard Mode: As above, but leave enough monsters that your customers will be more-or-less depleted by the time they reach your shop.

    Inferno: Run a successful shop in the abyss.

    Nightmare: Run a successful chain of stores with a presence on each level of the abyss up to the 666th.

    Insanity: Run a successful shop in the Far Realms of madness.

    New Game Plus: Start a new game at level 1, and eventually buy out the entire on-hand inventory from your old character's Far Realm store. Without dying or going insane.

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    BlackDragon

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    Dec 2013
    Location
    New Mexico
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Magic Shops

    If the bad guys have a ton of healing potions, then the fight should take a lot longer, and there should still be no potions at the end of it.
    Oh I haven't ignored bad guys getting and using potions. Certainly for the first several fights this would be the case, but eventually it would serve as incentive for the players to tactically focus their attacks on a single person before he can spam his potions. Two players in my group need a little encouragement to think before they charge.
    Sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a misspelled username.

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    ElfRogueGirl

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    North Carolina
    Gender
    Female

    Default Re: Magic Shops

    I don't have to much to add to this discussion, more peeked in here for inspiration than anything else.

    But if you haven't looked over at drivethruRPG yet it may be worth it since they god a 2E section here http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/browse...=0_0_44830_0_0 granted you will be getting .pdf's but it's an option anyway, right?

    And I have no idea if this would even work, but if a character is interested you could allow them to learn how to brew potions, and assuming they know the recipe and have the ingredients (or can gather them while they're adventuring) they can make some, at least some of the basics like healing potions and anti-toxins. Just a thought...

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