Friday, November 29, 2019

Discussion: How Do You Handle Shopping Sessions?

Shopping sessions are a fact of life in most RPGs, and depending on your group and yourself you probably either love them or hate them. Lots of people talk about shopping sessions being some of the most boring sessions in an RPG - a necessary evil as it were. Others love them, seeing it as a chance to RP downtime and get to know who characters are when everything isn't on the line, and also because they get new stuff, new items, new toys to play with.

Because of this, I've seen a lot of GMs handle shopping differently, and sometimes on a group or game by game basis.

Today I'm curious as to how you do your shopping sessions? Do you roleplay out the shop keepers, making them their own mini-social encounter as the PCs go looking for things and get to roleplay and spend money on things? Or do you just have the PCs make some rolls, spend their coin, and get their goods?

There are strengths and weaknesses to both. RPing it all out gives a chance to add more flavor to the world, depth to the setting, and to draw out more of who the PC is as a character while also establishing a character in the world. Shopkeepers from GMs who RP out encounters have a tendency to quickly become beloved characters for campaigns, partially because the GM goes for full zaniness on account of how limited the NPC is supposed to be. Just look at Pumat Sol or Victor from Critical Role, or talk to any GM you know about NPCs that were never meant to become main fixations of a game except the PCs just would not let them go.

Not RPing things out on the other hand returns the PCs to the story and the 'main meat' of the game faster. This gets things back on track for what 'everyone' is there for so to speak. It also saves you from having to make up a bunch of random shop keepers either ahead of time as prep work, or on the fly while also determining what they do and do not have in stock.

I tend to flip flop between the two depending on my mood, the player, and what is going on. Some of my players really enjoy getting those scenes so I try to indulge them. Others will even preface the request as "I don't want a full scene out of this, but I'd like to find if possible."

I am trying to stray more to RPing because as a GM I feel I could do better RPing individual NPCs more and I am trying to fix my tendency to feel like any time not on the 'main' docket for the game is wasted when the only goal is for people to have fun. But sometimes people just want to roll some dice, mark off some coins, and get their items. And I'm perfectly fine with that.

But what about you and your games?

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