DMs Guild Review – Auction Encounters

New rules for auctioning items, along with seven sample auction encounters and NPCs.

dms guild review

A review copy of “Auction Encounters” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: Tyson VanOverhill (Double Crescent Productions)

Buying and selling good and magic items is left largely up to the DM, at least until Xanathar’s Guide to Everything provided some more concrete rules and details for acquiring or crafting magic items. Auction Encounters attempts to inject a bit more interactivity into D&D Shopping Channel with skill challenges and rules for buying and selling goods at various kinds of auctions, including several sample encounters.

The 40-page supplement features a unique parchment paper background with some very nice black and white artwork, particularly the striking character art for the provided NPC auction patrons. I was much less impressed with the text, however. The font is tiny and plain (is that Times New Roman?) and I discovered numerous grammatical errors throughout.

The rules for auctioning are easy enough to understand. An item’s modifier is determined based on the location of the auction (is it a small town or a sprawling metropolis?) and the rarity of the item. Bidding on an Uncommon item in a town provides a modifier of +8, which the DM adds to a d20 roll in opposition to a PC’s Insight check.

Every item has a starting bid based on its rarity, but the price goes up if the PC fails the check, and can increase significantly depending on the degree of failure. The bidding process continues until the PC finally wins a roll, or they opt to drop out, though at some point the DM starts rolling at disadvantage once the bid has surpassed the item’s resale value.

Other PCs can assist the bidder with their own skill checks, up to twice per item, but they need two successes to succeed and grant the bidder advantage on their roll.

It’s a neat system that streamlines the auction process into a few meaningful rolls. It’s a shame that the monetary value on magic items is so simplistic (based on rarity), leaving very little price differential between goods. Every Rare item always starts at 500gp, for example. It would have been nice to see some plus or minus variables just to shake things up a bit. Maybe a town doesn’t know the true value of a Flametongue sword, for example.

dms guild review

The supplement also includes seven sample NPC auction-goers along with seven sample auction encounters. The NPCs are a fantastic bunch with some really great character art, each one, from the half-orc drover who only barters to the haughty elven historian, feels like an appropriately memorable character.

If you haven’t guessed, each of the NPCs factors into each encounter. Encounter’s a bit of a misnomer as some of them involve multiple steps and events, such as a dinner party at an estate sale with lots of underhanded stealing and swiping of goods, an open market at a village fair, where two warring families are none too happy to see some of their goods missing from their eloping kids, or a high-class art gallery which the PCs need to infiltrate like a heist, only to come across a rival party planning to pull a heist of their own.

The encounters provide some fun challenges and options for the PCs, while also showcasing examples of the wide variety of auctions and the kind of events that can surround them. It’s a bummer that none of them have any maps or artwork, however, though I did appreciate separate player handouts for the list of items and detailed appendices for item values and types of prommisories.

Pros:

  • Fun new rules for buying and selling items at auctions, as well as creating dockets.
  • Seven sample auction purveyors, each with their own motivations, skills, and character art.
  • Seven encounters with multiple events based around different kinds of auctions.
  • Player handouts for each of the auction encounter dockets.

Cons:

  • Small, plain font; some grammatical errors.
  • No maps or artwork for the encounters (besides the dockets).

The Verdict: With simple but fun rules and a variety of interesting events, Auction Encounters makes D&D shopping fun again.

A review copy of “Auction Encounters” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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