The sell value of an animated skeleton, plus tips on running a huge bazaar/market

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Hi,

(Short question at the end if TLDNR)

I'm running my first campaign in D&D, in the Unforgotten Realms setting in 4E rules.
I'm doing my own story, and as part of it the party recently got a gift for completing a quest from an archmage: he animated a nearby skeleton, conjured a standard sword and gave control over it to a party member.

The skeleton is a level 4 monster with appropriate stats. Basically I figured it'd be fun to let them have an ally for a little while. When not needed the skeleton is rolled up in a blanket and hung below the backpack. If combat arrises they can summon it with a few magical words.

I'm teleporting them to a big city (their first one) across the continent, and am working on designing the market (a middle eastern bazaar in fact). Of course it must be bustling and overwhelming, with a (possibly dishonest) cityguide, beggars, tons of yelling and of course loads of opportunities to get some better/decent gear.
Party will just have hit level 4 at this point and posses about 680 gold each.

Anyway, I think when walking through a completely foreign market you'd get some looks as an obvious outsider, and what savvy market-trader would not make a bid on the magical skeleton hidden away under that backpack?
If I was a frequent traveller in the realm I'd probably pay quite a penny for my own obedient, never tiring, fearless bodyguard skeleton!


THE QUESTION IN SHORT:
Now, the question on my mind is: What would be a good/realistic price on a level 4 animated skeleton servant/companion? Even if they don't sell it now, they might want too later...

I was thinking it is about as powerful as a decent magic weapon, better even, since it has it's own turn with a move and an attack. So I guess that might make it equivalent to a level 6 rare magic weapon? But, it also has a bigger market than a weapon: For example a merchant can use it to carry stuff around and defend a caravan, so this would not only appeal to adventurers! Thus making it more expensive.

I do not think people would be too put off by owning it, despite it being undead. It's perfectly obedient and thus inherently neutral, aligning with the owners wishes. It's "spooky" quality can be useful for intimidation/scaring off weaker attackers.

Bonus question:
I would also be really grateful if you had any tips for making the whole "big bazaar/market experience more interesting. Laughing

Thanks so much in advance!!!
Kenjitsuka.
As an equivalent henchman, I'd price the skeleton at 1/5 the value of a level 4 magic item.

For the bazaar to be interesting, it needs to be more than a place where the PCs can buy and sell items. There needs to be something going on that the PCs can interact with, either for the purposes of a current ongoing adventure, or to start a new one. As a bazaar in 4e Faerune, the former Red Wizards immediately come to mind as involvements. Whether they're allies or enemies is a different story. You could even work the wanting to purchase the skeleton into interacting with them to make such a transaction story relevant.

Hope this helps. Happy Gaming
The D&D Next playtest has an adventure called Reclaiming Blingdenstone that has a sizeable (though not massive) market in it.  As a newish DM, I was impressed with the variety of NPC merchants that were described.  I changed a few of their names, races, and genders to match my setting, and my players found themselves in the middle of some longstanding disputes, back alley dealings, and more plot hooks than they knew what to do with.  I was very surprised by the mileage my group got out of a fairly straightforward trip to the market.
"I'll trade you this map for your skeleton."
 
Thanks for the suggestions all!!! Laughing
I'll definitely look into the Playtest market, and see if I can add some former Red Wizards hook.

As for trading the skeleton for some other (mystery) item, I really like that a lot too! Wink
Still unsure about it's monetary value, but I'll look into the whole henchman thing as soon as I have the time.

Thanks again!!! Sealed
You could treat it as
Phantom Soldier
 
Phantom SoldierLevel 7 Uncommon

This tiny figurine is carved in the shape of a warrior and can be used summon a life-sized illusion of the depicted warrior to distract your enemies in battle.


Wondrous Item        2,600 gp


Power (Illusion)  Daily (Minor Action)


You must have the figurine in your hand to use this power. An illusory soldier appears in an unoccupied square adjacent to you or an enemy within 5 squares of you. The soldier is treated as one of your allies and can be used to flank enemies, but it does not make attacks.


The illusory soldier has the same defenses as you and 1 hit point. It never takes damage on a miss. Once per round, you can use a minor action to move the soldier up to your speed. The illusory soldier remains until the end of the encounter or for 5 minutes.



Usual sale price for uncommons is half their worth so that would be 1,300gp. 
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Ooh, that's a great idea Fardiz!
Thanks, I think I'll go with 1300 GP.

It's just high enough to be quite tempting, yet not that much that it feels like a must to sell it. Cool
Ooh, that's a great idea Fardiz!
Thanks, I think I'll go with 1300 GP.

It's just high enough to be quite tempting, yet not that much that it feels like a must to sell it.

Honestly I wouldn't get too hung up on a set value. You know why?

It's a bazaar! Haggling and negotiating is the name of the game. Likely if the party does sell the skeleton companion, they will get some gold, but it will mainly be in other wares. A semi-barter system in many ways.

Merchant: "I like your skeleton. I will give you 500 gold and a map that is rumored to lead to a giant treasure horde."

Party: "No deal. 1000 gold and the map."

M: "500 gold. The map. And this sword that is said to harness the power of the sun!"

P: "Hmmmm....."

Edit to add:

Personally, as a player I would be more interested in mysterious magical items than money, but that is just me. I call this Family Guy Syndrome. "Do you want a boat... or the mystery box?" "The mystery box!" "Peter! Why didn't you just take the boat?!" "Because it's a mystery box, Lois! It could be a boat!"
Thanks for the tips, I_am_Baldur!

I feel it is important to know the value, even when trading it in. Because if it's worth only 340 GP it'd be crazy for the merchant to offer a very high level magic item in return, or vice versa if it's worth a lot GP it should not be traded for a mundane, low level item(s).

I also found it hard to incorporate a trade because of the ownership of the skeleton.
It was a quest reward for the party as a whole (mainly because I wanted something unique and useful, but it was not such a huge quest to justify giving everyone another magic item), so if the party gives it up they all need something in return. If the merchant offers for example an awesome bow Kenjitsuka the ranger will be quite happy, but the rest is left with nothing...

These things made me a bit wary of a trade, but your example of a treasure map made me rethink that. Because I do think they'd be very interested in trading something if all could benefit.
I'm not sure if I'd personally trade a proven asset (fighting skeleton) for an item of unproven worth (map could be fake, or the treasure could've been already found). But, if I hit the books hard enough I think I can come up with some wondrous items to tempt the entire party! Laughing

I have almost no experience going to markets IRL, and your bartering idea made me think of the following:

The party's skeleton get's noticed by Merchant A, and he yells an offer. Then his neighbour and competitor, B, realizes there's an interesting item to be bought, and the party starts a three party negotiation with A and B simultaneously! I'm thinking A can bid gold and B can offer mysterious items. They both might start throwing in GP/items as a little bidding war erupts. Perhaps a third party will wonder in with an even more unusual offer (offering a job/quest/travel or alliance etc.). This way the party can choose between gold, items, favours or different combinations of these three.

As a last point I'll add I'm more into gold myself, because at such a big bazaar I can buy virtually anything with enough money. The problem with bartering is individual need and possesions available to you to offer a seller, after all... But, you are right. Mystery boxes are *quite* compelling.
Love the quote btw, still remember that episode. "It could be a boat!!!" (except the box is about 20 cm cubed). Money Mouth
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