Sunday, March 31, 2013

Arms Dealers

Admittedly - I love spy movies. Well, movies, stories, TV shows (if you’re not watching Burn Notice, you need to!). A common character in spy stories is the gun runner. In modern times, it is often that the gun runner is a combination of an armorer - providing necessary equipment - and a smuggler - providing things that are not easily available due to the laws. I have wondered what role the arms dealer held in a fantasy world. I think the arms dealer is probably one of the most important contacts for adventuring types in a fantasy world. Why? Well, who else is buying these looted weapons from them? A smith is not going to buy someone else’s work for resale - too much of a risk that they will get branded by a bad weapon. The arms dealer needs these looted weapons. Why? Because when someone is putting together an army or even just a band of mercenaries, they need to put together a large number of weapons. Smiths take a long time to hammer out a large number of weapons, so having an arms dealer who has a large number of new and used weapons on hand and ready for sale becomes vital. But how accepted are they? Well, if you were the legal government, would you want someone inside your “kingdom” who could arm a small army overnight? Maybe not. Sure, you could use them to arm a militia that would help repulse that invader, but the risk of a rebellion would be pretty high. This will often put the arms dealer back into that grey area of legality, or completely make him a criminal. I like arms dealers having all manner of stuff that you can use “off the shelf”. That means weapons, shields, poison, ammunition, etc. But not armor. Armor needs to be fitted, so it doesn’t work in a warehouse. This also means magic, assuming of course that you allow folks to buy magic. <-- That’s a whole series of posts, so we’ll avoid that subject for now! So they’re important from both sides of the situation - the buying and the selling. Want a customized long sword with a grip balanced perfectly for your hand? Go to the weapon smith. Want two dozen short swords and three dozen crossbows to outfit a small military - Go to the arms dealer. Want a good role-playing encounter? Have your characters visit the arms dealer looking to swap some looted weapons for something better. They’ll walk the aisles of the warehouse drooling over everything that is available! Better figure out how you plan to protect all those weapons from thieves before you let your players know where they are!

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