Buying Magic Items in D&D 5E

The DMG provides some great guidance on selling items, but I thought it needed a little embellishment for buying items. These rules are meant to be fun and provide a little structure around character wish lists. I found that over the course of a a campaign the players ended up with mostly what they wanted, but never 100%, and it often took several shopping sprees to get those items. The pacing seemed about right to me, and kept items rare (relatively). We also had some fun roleplaying opportunities a couple of times when engaging with certain sellers.

The general premise is still the same: use Intelligence (Investigation) to find a seller and make the deal. You can search for as many items as you like, but a failure results in 10 days of your time and ends that cycle of buying. This roll can be eliminated with the right roleplaying or story, but absent any other context the roll is a useful mechanic.

The DC to find the item is as follows based on item rarity:

Rarity DC
Common 13
Uncommon 15
Rare 18
Very Rare 20
Legendary 23

These numbers assume a city. Increase the DC by 2 for a market town or 5 for a small town. Villages will likely not have any items.

Buying A Magic Item

Rarity Base Price Days to Craft Days to
Find Seller
d100 Roll
Common 100 gp 2 1d4 -10
1d6 0
Uncommon 500 gp 10 1d6 0
1d8 +10
1d8 +10
Rare 5,000 gp Months 1d8 +10
1d8 +10
Very Rare 50,000 gp Years 1d10 +20
Legendary Adventure/Quest† Decades n/a n/a
  • Apply this modifier to rolls on the Magic Item Search Results table.
    † If the transaction is purely monetary, it is likely 10x the price of a Very Rare item

Magic Item Search Results

Search results should always interesting. Shady sellers always have strings attached. I found the easiest thing to do is to use the Magic Item Quirks table (DMG 143) as the reason why, or to exaggerate a Minor Property (DMG 143) to the point of being annoying. Other options include: requiring attunement when the item does not normally require it, limiting the number of uses per day, requiring some other cost (e.g., gp, HP, mundane consumables such as oil, holy water, etc.).

d100 + Mod You Find…
20 or lower A shady seller offering a tenth of the base price
21–40 A shady seller offering a quarter of the base price (50%), or a seller offering half the base price (50%)
41–80 A shady seller offering half the base price (50%), or a seller offering the full base price (50%)
81–90 A seller offering the full base price
91 or higher A seller offering one and a half times the base price


This includes potions and scrolls primarily. Scrolls are important as they are the primary means for Wizards to learn new spells. Additionally, scrolls are usable by anyone and can provide useful utility to non-casters.

Rarity Scroll Level Consumable
Base Price
Days to Craft
Common 1 50 gp 1
2 100 gp 2
Uncommon 3 200 gp 4
4 400 gp 8
5 800 gp 16
Rare 6 1,200 gp 24
7 2,500 gp 50
Very Rare 8 5,000 gp 100
Legendary 9 10,000 gp 200

Healing Potions Too?

That’s up to you. I doubt you can just walk into a general store and buy a dozen Healing Potions, but if that’s the commonality of magic in your game go for it. Personally, I include Healing Potions into the mix.

Scrolls For Everyone

One alternate rule we use for scrolls is that if the spell is not potentially accessible to the character (i.e., not on the class spell list), the scroll requires an Intelligence (Arcana) roll with a DC of 8 + Spell Level. If the roll fails, the scroll is destroyed.

We just finished Tyranny of Dragons…

…and I am glad it is over.

The Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Rise of Tiamat are not my favorite modules. In fact, they are some of my least favorite modules ever. There are minimal spoilers below, but in general I don’t recommend you run the modules so what does it matter?

The Good

It is an epic storyline and in general I think it approaches the story well. There are grand councils, and epic dragon fights, and a generally good narrative tying it all together.

It has some episodes that are engaging and fun. My group enjoyed the Caravan episode most, with the Tomb of Diderius a close second. And that’s it I guess.

The Bad

Now before I get into some of the specifics I do want to clarify a key element of my review. I spent $60 on the modules to run for my group. What I expect out of that $60 is to have an architected and executable adventure that requires only that I read it to be able to run it. Looking back, there are a number of ways I could have fixed the issues in the adventure, including the ending, but I don’t spend money on adventures to have to revise them.

I think this quote from Episode 7 of Rise of Tiamat (Xonthal’s Tower, p. 66) sums up much of the adventure design:

“The adventurers must deduce the correct path from among multiple shadows, but those solutions aren’t obvious or even fair.”

I about had a player mutiny when they discovered the puzzle maze was basically just a grind.

Go – Go – Go

The fate of the world is at hand, so there is no time to rest. Especially once the characters start engaging with the cult there is a this overriding sense that doom is on its way. You never feel like you can take time off to buy a magic item (let alone try to make one), work on scrolls, or scribe new spells into your spellbook.

Boss Fights A-Plenty

That’s pretty much it. It always seemed that everything was about the next boss fight, the exception being the Caravan, the Tomb of Diderius, and the Mission to Thay.

Density of Information

When the characters can encounter Rezmir (half-dragon) in Episode 6 of Hoard of the Dragon Queen, it gives guidance that Rezmir tries to avoid combat at all cost. My group, being crafty, was able to pin her down and force her to fight. It was tough, but they defeated her. What the text doesn’t say is that the Black Dragon Mask is not supposed to be on her (even though it is listed in her stat block), so naturally the group got the mask when they weren’t supposed to. There are other examples like this where there is so much information to read, and it is spread out in different parts of the book, that it becomes challenging for a DM to run it without making continuity errors. Really, there is no reason they couldn’t have added “She is not wearing the mask in this episode – the mask is at location X” to the paragraph describing that she wants to avoid a fight.

The Final Battle

Frustrating in about every way possible. Either I am supposed to architect this grand battlefield engagement involving fiends, dragons, giants, human, elves, orcs, cultists, etc. or I just narrate through it (which I did). Then, they either find the direct path into the final battle, or they slog through one combat after another trying to work their way in.

Luckily they found a way.

So, now, we are presented with stopping the ritual or facing Tiamat. They stopped the ritual in 4 rounds. Like stop stopped. It was so anticlimactic is was stunning. They used Arcane Gate to rush Severin, killing him in a single round. They then began killing 2-3 Red Wizards per round. The ritual could not continue.

So, I decided to let Tiamat come through, weakened as per the ritual damage they had caused, and Tiamat killed them. Now, many of them ultimately survived or were raised, so the encounter with Tiamat was probably as it should have gone, but it was such a downer. It wasn’t an epic victory they had been building to over the last 6 months, or an epic defeat that showed them giving their all.


So far my read on Princes of the Apocalypse looks a lot better. However, my group is so burned out on D&D right now that we are going to play an 80’s era Champions campaign, starting with Aaron Allston’s Strike Force. That should be refreshing.