25064-final-fantasy-ix-playstation-screenshot-in-a-weapons-storesInspired by Troy’s Fantasy Wagon Train article, it struck me the other day how much I loved walking into weapons shops in the video game RPGs. Having this small, free form area that was full of interesting visual tidbits, a couple of interactions with NPCs, and a selection of items which might add some element of uniqueness to my current play experience delighted me to no end.

I also remember that experience in my first roleplaying game. The Game Master drew out my search for armor and went into detail about how I was having it custom made, what the search for the shop was like, and how I would have to wait a few days for it. It wasn’t that big of an element in the game, but it is something I’ve never forgotten the feel of. To that end, here are some brief descriptions of weapons shops for use in your games. Since I went a little more in-depth with these, I’ll be splitting it into Fantasy, Modern, and Sci-Fi over the next week or so.


Sagarel’s Arms – Fantasy

Proprietor: Joaquin Sagarel  (Portly, big moustache, leather apron, big smile, tan skin, booming voice)
Description:  A small street cart with a red awning, this weapon shop is the home of a travelling weapons vendor. The cart is laden with weapons of all sorts hung from hooks, piled on the fold out tables, sitting in barrels, or stuffed into crates set up behind the cart. There is a small logo of two crossed griffons claws sewn onto the awning. Many of the weapons bear this logo as well. A donkey is tied up near the rear of the shop. It is the logo of Joaquin’s brother, Andavin, the smith who makes or repairs most of the weapons. Joaquin tries to get a good deal, but one does not get a sense he tries to cheat anyone.
Mundane Items: Small and medium sized swords, many knives, halberd heads, arrow heads, exotic swords, a few metal shields taken in trade, a few small maces, and one solid warhammer.
Quality: Medium to Excellent. The arms show great care in their creation, but there are a few that are merely basic quality. Many of the weapons are taken in trade so that there are cheaper goods to sell.
Items of note: Hanging on one of the corners is a green colored bow made entirely out of metal. The flexibility is supreme, despite the medium. The flexibility doesn’t come from any magical source, merely from a special process that Andavin, the owner’s brother, has been working on. This bow provides a small bonus to accuracy and damage.


  1. Joaquin – If characters make small talk with the proprietor or ask him how business is doing, he will complain that people in this area don’t know a good price when they see it. The cut rate quality of some of the weapons he has seen scares him, but maybe that is just because his town is used to having the finest smith around. Even the duke for his hometown travels out of the way to get his brother’s weapons.
  2. Owen, Rival Shop Owner – A local shop owner with a brick built shop and forge can be found yelling at Joaquin because of his travelling cart’s proximity. Joaquin has a permit to sell in this town, but Owen does not like him and threatens to go get the guard.
  3. Guard Annison – Owen, the rival shop owner, has made a huge ruckus and is being drug off by an annoyed female guard. After the incident is completed, Joaquin might make mention that Owen is a blaggard who doesn’t like competition because his own shop is inferior. Pointing to a sticker on his booth, he might also mention that it is a good idea to get membership in the local militia’s booster organization if you can.
  4. Paladin – A noble paladin may be inquiring about one of the shields, since the crest is one of his order. Joaquin will relate the tale of purchasing it off of paladin in a previous town. The shield selling paladin wanted to give money to an orphanage, but didn’t have enough. Joaquin purchased the shield for more than its worth. The Paladin may take umbrage at this, but it is the truth.
  5. Donkey – If a character interacts with the donkey or feeds it hay, the donkey will become instantly enamored of the character. It will soon be discovered that the donkey is not actually tied up tightly (or has eaten through it’s rope) and will follow the character around. Anyone with the ability to communicate with the animal would hear the inner monologue of the donkey. It is not actually very interesting and mostly goes. “Hey, can you give me some more hay, nice person.”
  6. Goblin – A larger than average goblin named Yvoress (Yeh-vhor-ess) sits on a riding dog at the front of the shop. His tabard bears a symbol found on one of the shields. He is looking to buy back a shield that his master, a paladin, sold in order to get money to fund an orphanage in need. Unfortunately, he has been mugged on his way into town and doesn’t have enough money to help. His master would get in trouble if the order found out that she sold her shield, even if it was for the best of reasons.





Balkin’s Weapons Outlet – Fantasy

Proprietor: Matt Balkin (tunic, short hair, bright smile, very friendly), Jeff Balkin (moustache and goatee, sophisticated, wild brown hair), or Uriah Balkin (long red beard, slight hunch from doing labor himself, wears a white shirt and brown pants with suspenders)
Description: One of 3 weapons shops owned by a triplet set of brothers, Balkin’s Weapons Outlet is a fairly stock weapon shop. The brothers make their money by purchasing weapons surpluses from armies or smiths that supply large groups. These purchases are split amongst the three brothers’ shops (each in different cities, or if you want to set up a friendly rivalry, each in different sections of a large town) and the individual owners are left to make a profit on them. Depending on which shop you are in, it might look a little different. Matt’s shop is well made of stone and mortar. Being the oldest, he inherited the store and set up the 3 shop scheme to prevent rivalry amongst the triplets and maximize profit. Weapons in his shop are displayed on hooks along the walls, with extras of the same type kept in the back. There is a practice dummy to test out the weapons and he keeps a sharpening stone to make any repairs as needed. Jeff’s shop is in a less prestigious area but is built from solid oak and cherry wood. The shop has a very cozy feel, and many of the weapons are laid out on tables with crates underneath them. Jeff prefers atmosphere and commissions paintings of great warriors to inspire his customers. Uriah, the youngest brother, had the least starting capital and operates out of a small thatched roof hovel with a sign out front. Barrels and crates serve as display for his weapons, but his stock is the same and his prices are usually cheaper to entice customers. He plays up a country yokel persona, but can be shrewd in his dealings.
Mundane Items: Multitudes of the same item types. Swords, maces, cheap shields, a few batches of exotic weapons, large 2 handed swords (a deal from a country that neglected to properly train their soldiers in the use of the unwieldy things), small curved short swords, collections of staves, a special deal on metal pauldrons that can be modified to fit into any current armor, many sets of boots, an “adventurers special” of reclaimed orc weapons
Quality: Fair to Medium. The weapons here can all be tested and inspected to ensure quality. All of the brothers offer a guarantee that any weapon they sell can be exchanged for a similar one if it breaks during use.
Items of note: Some of the reclaimed orc weapons are actually magical and of exceptional quality, if their origin and design can be looked past. Each of the brothers tries to make trades to outdo the other brothers and increase their shop’s standing.

  • Matt – One of Matt’s prize weapons is a set of knives that have incredibly sharp edges. They are kept in a glass case with a few others. The knives cut through most things easily, even stone. This is evidenced by a series of deep gouges on the stone in the wall near where matt works from. He is willing to show off by cutting more.
  • Jeff – A sword that seems to be made of pure ice is Jeff’s prized weapon. Inspection of the sword reveals that it is a kind of metal, but heavily enchanted to give the sword a translucence and coldness like ice. Even moving the sword near a flame will instantly dim the fire. It cuts through armor well.
  • Uriah – Though Uriah’s shop is very modest, his unique weapon is possibly the best of them all. Modestly sitting on a table with many others, a small buckler with the symbol of a benevolent god or spirit rests. The price on this one is very high. When asked, Uriah explains that the proper words can cause the shield to heal one person it touches. In addition, though it is small it seems to move of it’s own volition to block incoming attacks. Truly the blessing of the god whose symbol is engraved on the humble wooden trinket.


  1. Silus, The Broker – A rather skeevy individual who slinks about one of the stores is trying to broker a deal for “quality” weapons that he wants to sell. Silus seems nervous and wants the brothers to take delivery immediately. He doesn’t want to wait for a messenger to be sent to the other brothers. The weapons he is selling were stolen from an army camp when Silus deserted. They are adequate quality, but the markings would get one of the brothers in trouble if they agreed. Matt  – Might buy if convinced. Jeff – Extremely interested if told they are of some importance or come from a great army. Uriah – Picked up on Silus’s unease and wants no part of it.
  2. Sgt. Gaertin – An army officer who is tracking down a shipment of stolen weapons. He has a drawing of Silus and is looking for a symbol on any of the weapons being sold in these parts. If the stolen weapons are discovered, it is hard to prevent him from drawing his sword and immediately becoming aggressive. He won’t outright attack, but he’ll threaten and yell. A good talker might calm him down, especially if they have knowledge of the situation with Silus. He will demand return of the stolen weapons for free.
  3. Ellen Terentius – A young merchant who wants a sword that will look impressive. She wants to impress a love interest, and feels that carrying an impressive sword would help her do so. “Stories of valor and courage are where it’s at!” Terentius knows nothing about weapons.
  4. General (in disquise) Keiler – Dressed as a merchant, stout “Merchant” Keiler is trying to acquire weapons for a militia he is in charge of. Tasked with helping a deposed prince (or duke or other noble) regain his throne, the general needs weapons for his ill-trained army at a cheap cost. He’s trying to work out a bulk deal, which would require transport of weapons from the other shops. This could alert the people he is working against, so he is trying to use cover stories as for the purpose of the weapons. This is not his strong suit, but he is doing adequately.
  5. Mongrel Dog – A scruffy and disheveled dog may have wandered into one of the shops. The brothers, for some reason, will be freaked out by it. They had a bad experience being cornered by a dog when they were younger. They escaped into their father’s stone shop and slammed the door shut. Uriah will be most freaked out by this.
  6. Lantelis, Disgusted Noble – A nobleman with a fine rapier at his side, Lantelis is disappointed by the lack of quality weapons in the store. The ice sword will intrigue him, but it is not a weapon he knows how to use. He might notice a character’s sword and proclaim how much better it is, offering a ludicrous sum for it. If it is not magical or superior in some way, he will decry it as well and toss it back in a huff, leaving the shop as he does so. If it is magical or superior, he will rescind his offer and make a more reasonable one in an attempt to purchase it.


There you have it. Two weapons shops (plus a bit more with the three brothers thing) that you can use in your next fantasy game. Tweak as needed to fit your game. I’ll have parts 2 and 3 up soon with Modern and Sci Fi weapons shops. What sorts of things would you like to see in those articles? I’ll try to gear my writing to concepts people would find most useful. What do you think of weapons and item shops in games? Are they something you make detailed or do you just handwave over them?

Img: From Final Fantasy IX

14 replies
  1. shortymonster
    shortymonster says:

    The kind of encounter you describe above is almost exactly what my first ever role playing experience was. I used to play W40k, back during the rogue trader rules era, and one of the lads I gamed with decided to let us play the parts of our commanders, going into a quartermasters to get our equipment, instead of just buying it.

    It was a great way to experience a different facet of the hobby, and forever changed the way I games. Sure, I still rock a wargame every now and then, but unless I can put myself into the character of the commander, I just don’t get the same amount of fun out of it. Thanks for the reminiscence my friend.

  2. Troy E. Taylor
    Troy E. Taylor says:

    How is it a GOBLIN became the squire to a paladin? Now that’s a STORY I want to explore. (It must also make for some uncomfortable moments. I can hear his commander’s booming voice: “I don’t give a tinker’s damn about the shield, man! You’ve got a goblin for a squire! What are you thinking? Bloody hells, man. We SMITE the evil, we don’t KNIGHT the evil!”)

    • John Arcadian
      John Arcadian says:

      I LOVE that dialogue!

      He/she is obviously a very open-minded paladin. I set up that shield/goblin/paladin thing to allow for some repeat occurrences or for a mini-plot to occur with the paladin getting in trouble with his superiors. I think I’m going to have to add this in to my next campaign.

  3. Razjah
    Razjah says:

    This was cool, I’m definitely using this in the future. It gave me a new way to think about the weapon shops.

    • John Arcadian
      John Arcadian says:

      Thanks. I’m going to continue through with modern and sci-fi tomorrow or over the next two days. Weapons shops are always fun for little diversions, and players have always seemed to like the feeling of “browsing” for new things in games. It gives a bit of flavor to the non-adventuring time.

  4. Tsenn
    Tsenn says:

    This is neat. Thanks for the examples, they’re always helpful.

    My last detailed weapon shop was also in Rogue Trader. After I described a massive (Astartes pattern) power axe hidden among the racks of regular melee weapons, the astropath (with Unnatural Strength) made a determined attempt to purchase it. She failed to convince the guy, but there were questions – what could she have offered, why was he so reluctant to sell it, where did it come from and who was it for? Much more interesting than a straight Requisition roll.

    • John Arcadian
      John Arcadian says:

      There are so many nifty things, like your example, that including a semi-detailed area can provide for a game. I’ve heard a lot of remarks about rogue trader that make me feel like weapons shops, or weapon acquisition, is a non-zero chunk of the game? Is any particular detail given to getting weapons in Rogue Trader?

  5. Kurt "Telas" Schneider
    Kurt "Telas" Schneider says:

    I like the format you’ve come up with. Very cool!

    This would be a good place to dump an idea that’s been bubbling around my head for months. After reading about Temple Grandin, I’ve wanted to have an autistic armorer who makes profound improvements to existing designs, but has “failed at life” because he or she is arrogant, and has an utter lack of people skills. The party could set up a shop with a manager/buffer, exploit the situation to get cheap goodies, or anything in between.

    • John Arcadian
      John Arcadian says:

      Thanks. I like these kind of skeleton formats that provide enough information to extrapolate from.

      That concept sounds nifty. I’d love to see you write that up!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] you need a weapons shop for your fantasy RPG? John Arcadian @ Gnome Stew has not one, but FIVE different shops for you to peruse and potentially include in your worlds… Each with detailed descriptions and […]

  2. […] Johnny’s Five – Five Weapons Shops – Part 1, Fantasy […]

  3. […] I also remember that experience in my first roleplaying game. The Game Master drew out my search for armor and went into detail about how I was having it custom made, what the search for the shop was like, and how I would have to wait a few days for it. It wasn’t that big of an element in the game, but it is something I’ve never forgotten the feel of. To that end, here are some brief descriptions of weapons shops for use in your games. Here is part 2, Modern and Sci-fi weapons shops. You can find part 1 here. […]

  4. […] Johnny’s Five – Five Weapons Shops – Part 1, Fantasy […]

  5. […] you need a weapons shop for your fantasy RPG? John Arcadian @ Gnome Stew has not one, but FIVE different shops for you to peruse and potentially include in your worlds… Each with detailed descriptions and […]

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