Saturday, May 11, 2019

Hucksters, tinkers, and peddlers

Out in the wilderness, far from the cities of the elven strangers, manufactured goods are hard to come by.  If they don't make it in your community, you'll have to get it from a wandering trader.

Ausrufer mit Hobeln

It's always an exciting day when the huckster comes to town.  Loaded up with plenty of doodads and knick-knacks, the huckster has a little bit of everything for sale.  Need some new shoes?  He's probably got a few (mismatched, of course).  Need a new musket?  She's probably got one that's in fairly good shape, just missing a screw or a spring.

Hucksters trade in odds and ends, the leftovers of manufacturing everywhere.  Like a convenience store selling loose cigarettes, hucksters are who you go to when you can't afford to buy the whole quantity at the general store in the next town over.

Peddler (Eric Sloane)

Roll to see what this wandering trader looks like, how they're carrying their goods, and what sort of goods they're most likely to have.

What they look like (d10)appearancetypical goods
1-3giant(d4) 1: pack almost as big as its bearer, 2: pulling a travois, 3: pulling a sled, 4: pushing a one-wheeled cabinetwide variety of goods and news
4-6human (from a tribe)(d4) 1: canoe full of tightly-wrapped bundles, 2: dog pulling a travois, 3: dog pulling a cart, 4: on snowshoes and hunched over with a big packagricultural products and metal implements
7-8goblin(d4) 1-2: big bundle slung over one shoulder, 3-4: many small bagssmall scavenged valuables and metal items, drugs, bones, claws, shells
9-10elf(d4) 1-2: riding a fancy painted cart pulled by an ox/donkey, 3-4: group of elves carrying small packsalchemical products, cloth goods, cookware

(If you're looking for a deeper character, try rolling up a random personality issue as well.)

Most hucksters follow a general circuit, making their rounds of the usual settlements over time.  Roll to see how long it's been since they were last here:

How long since the last visit (d8)
1days, something happened to make them turn back
2-3weeks, they have news from a nearby town
4-6months, everyone is glad to see them
7-8never been here before, might be a swindler

Roll to see where they've been recently that you might want to know about:

Recently been (d6)
1at a nearby settlement, fort, or trading post, where something is wrong
2selling something strange to enemies of the people who live here
3in a hidden ruin, cave, shipwreck, etc.
4selling shoddy goods to allies of the people who live here
5in jail, held captive, chased by enemies
6on a route they can't return by: bridge washed out, landslide, fallen trees, hostile people

a Chinese porter (William Alexander)

They've acquired something interesting that they're offering:

Something interesting (d10)
1news about a great opportunity
2rumors of danger
3news about someone gathering followers
4a tiny artifact from an ancient kingdom
5a small sacred item lost by a human tribe during the apocalypse
6a new invention that they're trying to sell
7a key, an old doubloon, jewelry, a strange edible object
8a part for some kind of machinery, something powered by clockwork
9an old book, a certificate or bearer bond, a map, a contract that someone still cares about
10a powerful alchemical product, but only a small quantity

If you want to buy something from a huckster, they'll usually sell it for up to 2× trading post prices.  Hucksters' goods aren't cheap, but you can buy in tiny quantities and you can find them out on the frontier.

This traveling trader has picked up something that they're tired of and would like to unload cheaply, for less than post price:

Trying to unload (d4)
1perishable food: eggs, berries, mushrooms
2clothing: a warm coat, a fine hat, some shoes
3a tool/weapon that has something wrong with it: knife, lockpicks, axe, musket
4some troublesome alchemical product

If you want to sell to a huckster, they'll take things off your hands for less than ½ post price.  You won't get rich selling to them, but you can make a little coin when you need it.

Roll to see what they're especially interesting in buying or trading for.  They'll pay extra for this:

Looking for (d6)
1a new pack/canoe/cart, something to help them carry things and get around
2something people make on the frontier: rope, pottery, cloth, cornmeal, dried fish
3something nice to pass the time: alcohol, tobacco, a musical instrument
4an armed escort to their next stop, a guide to get around an obstacle
5something to use as a gift: a silver locket, shell beads, a golden bracelet, fine gems, a music box
6an introduction to the leader of a town that does not allow outsiders

Tinker (Franz Feyerabend)

Most peddlers pick up some kind of skill on the road:

Skill (d6)
1good at fixing things (goblin: good at identifying things)
2entertaining: stories, jokes, singing
3know all the trails and back ways for many miles around
4owed favors by people all along their route
5always have an inkling where you might find something
6allowed in to places outsiders normally can't go

When the party wants to buy something from a huckster, you can usually use your GM sense to decide if it's available (A deer's jawbone? Sure, why not.  An axe handle?  Yeah, I guess so.  The jeweled scepter of the viceroy?  Definitely not.) but sometimes players ask for things that you haven't decided about.

If you're not sure the huckster has what they want, roll for a random response:

Do they have it? (d6)
1They have exactly what you're looking for, but it'll cost you.
2They have one, but it's broken or in bad shape.
3They have only part of one, much less than you were looking for.
4They had one just recently, but they traded it to someone.
5They know who has one, but you won't like who it is.
6They hear you can buy one at the store / trading post (somewhere nearby, if possible).

Japanese peddler 1901

Roll up your own random peddler:

random wandering trader
how long since the last visit
recently been
they have something interesting
trying to unload
looking for
do they have it?


  1. Nice random tables! I like how there is depth in there, plenty of ideas to jump off from.

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