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The enticing, glorious capabilities of magic potions, fierce weapons, and indestructible armor may be challenging to ignore while playing a game of Dungeons & Dragons. However, players would be foolish to overlook the value of the more common or straightforward items available at the local general store. While an adventurer's starting equipment may include many of these things, their non-magical nature often means they will break down, run out, or perhaps become misplaced due to their perceived trivial qualities. Whatever the reason or need, with the right amount of gold and a good shop, players should be able to purchase any of these less fantastical items they might be missing.
Whether a burglar, diplomat, dungeoneer, entertainer, explorer, priest, or scholar, each player begins with a particular set of basic implements and provisions to get them started on their first adventure. However, the items inside and intended usage will differ for each pack and the player character's preferences. It is also common for players to choose an additional specialized set of tools that corresponds to their background or profession. These items often help facilitate a task the character could not otherwise perform, such as crafting or repairing an item, forging a document, or picking a lock.
Still, much like the real world, despite all the creativity a player may muster, all available items are limited in their usefulness in one way or another. Players can quickly run out of ammunition, break or wear down their tools, damage or destroy their clothing, lose a tinderbox, or consume all their daily rations—hopefully not all at once. When inventories head toward a dangerous low, the adventuring party should start seeking a local store to restock whatever they need.
What’s in stock?
Though some game masters may simplify commerce to focus more on the larger story of the campaign, others may see a trading system as a way to make the game world more realistic. Varying the stock of any merchant establishment may serve the latter of those two styles. A general store may or may not carry all items listed in the player's handbook, like ammunition, adventuring gear, containers, equipment packs, tools, gaming sets, musical instruments, and more. Distance from the nearest merchant company, differing climates and locales, city size, religious or faction affiliation, and unexpected weather conditions could all affect what is available. Allowing a store's inventory to change depending on which city your party has found themselves within can add realism and provide additional challenges for the players.
General stores can also carry more than just tools and equipment. Trade goods necessary for guild businesses, like brewing, tanning, and weaving, may need wheat, livestock, or cloth, typically sold by the pound. Those interested in cooking or simply tasting the local ingredients may also purchase bulk quantities of pre-made ale or various meats and cheeses. Certain stores may even carry the occasional trinket or two, mysterious items that could add to the party's story or easily exist as a fondly remembered souvenir.