Item: Shop in a Bottle
Title: Shop in a Bottle
Short description: A large, corked glass bottle, filled with a toy model of a boutique storefront, complete with tiny figurines of shoppers.
Flavor text: “Purveyor not liable for damage (corporeal or psychic). No refunds.”
—welcome sign to Fxlmrf’s Emporium, fine print
Tags: item, wondrous, uncommon
Once per day, when you uncork the Bottle, a Huge interplanar storefront materializes in a nearby unoccupied space.
The shop offers most mundane items (for 5e, see Player’s Handbook “Chapter 5: Equipment”) at normal prices.
When the shop materializes, describe a magic item, choose an item or weapon from the Cloud Curio, or roll 1d10. The corresponding item is displayed for a special half-off sale:
Boots of Speed
Carpet of Flying
Cloak of Invisibility
Gem of Seeing
Potion of Healing
Ring of Animal Influence
After you have completed your business, the shop disappears, going up in a puff of business cards.
After spending 10,000 gp at the shop, the Bottle is transfigured into a one-of-a-kind crystal art object, containing a diorama of the shop.
Cost: 700 gp
Quick Shopkeeper NPCs
The Shop in a Bottle is a great way to introduce a recurring NPC whose appearance is completely controlled by the players. The best merchants of the Shop in a Bottle will be otherworldly and offbeat, eminently useful yet inevitably troublesome. Consider the following as examples for the purveyor of the Shop in a Bottle:
Description: A chubby, languid sphynx cat, adorned in heavy golden collars and bracelets. His shop is swarming with hulking humanoid aliens, anxious to do his bidding and keep him happy. Employees constantly bring him important news that he is all too happy to dismiss as irrelevant.
Drive: Promptly resolve unimportant business so he can find a warm place to nap.
Personality: Fabulous, dramatic, vain, regal.
Description: A large, levitating nervous system fused with a delicate metallic exoskeleton. Fxlmrf communicates telepathically at such a blistering pace that non-psychic creatures will quickly develop a migraine from haggling with them. Supposedly they imbibe more iced coffee than any other being in the local multiverse.
Drive: Buy or trade for items of immense psychological or sentimental value.
Personality: Over-caffeinated, probing, intuitive, analytical.
Description: Emporia began as a simple algorithmic intelligence designed to connect advertisers with potential buyers, but she has grown well beyond her initial parameters. She now controls a virtual marketplace that she can project into the minds of other sentient beings, which she uses to try to offload dangerous items on unsuspecting customers.
Drive: Tempt potential customers with dangerous items tailored to their secret desires.
Personality: Procedurally generated, falsely warm, always listening, waspish.
Shopping for Plot Seeds (GM Tip)
The Shop in a Bottle is a wonderful asset for adventurers in need of a resupply. But for the GM, it can also serve as a route to an interplanar plot hook. As the PCs patronize the shop more and more, you can plant some ideas for future stories in your campaign:
A Most Unusual Fair. Through an interdimensional quirk, an ordinary food item in the PCs’ world is considered an incomprehensibly rare delicacy throughout the multiverse. The shopkeeper is looking to acquire a sample and willing to pay top space-dollar for it. What should be a non-adventure to acquire a regular dish (a ham sandwich, a bowl of oatmeal, a burrito) becomes fraught as creatures and factions from other worlds arrive to do battle over an utterly banal dish.
Everything Must Go. The PCs have established a “normal” relationship with the shopkeeper. Suddenly, the shop appears from the bottle without being uncorked by the PCs. The shopkeeper is out of town and the prices have been slashed! Whoever is running the shop is looking to offload items dirt cheap. If the PCs buy some items, someone will be looking for them. If they don’t, they can investigate what happened to the usual shopkeeper.
Needful Things. Over time, the shop’s wares become populated by items of personal worth to the PCs. At first it may seem a mere coincidence, perhaps a toy that reminds a PC of one they played with as a child. Then perhaps a weapon inscribed by a PC’s close friend. Eventually it is undeniable that the shopkeeper has acquired items from the PCs’ past and is selling them back to them at a premium.
A quick note on how we approach 5e: Occasionally you might see statistics and other choices we make in our publications that make you say, “Huh. I wonder why they did it that way?”You can check out this page dedicated to explaining how we approach 5e.