A while ago the D&D Adventurer's League ran a contest for new writers. I did the excercise but never submitted my encounters. I figured I'd at least share my notes. They might not be that clear, but hopefully they provide a cool look into how I think about encounter design. This encounter is primarily based on experiences I had while on vacation in southern Italy. Here is the second of two.
Viterome's Potions and PoisonsThe shop is nestled between the desert dunes on a solid rock platform. A few small wind eroded spires and crags rise from the rock. The shop abuts the crags, partially carved directly into the stone and partially built out of stone bricks and old, weathered wood. Two short flagpoles stand next to the entrance. Small, purple triangular flags hang lifeless from the poles. Two skeleton guards, spears in hand, stand motionless in front of the entrance.
Inside, a very old manticore lounges on a large red daybed with various gold, blue, and other colored pillows. It sits like a cat upon the bed, its bat wings folded, and its scorpion tail wrapped around itself. The stinger sits menacingly next to its massive front paws, gently swaying back and forth. Its multiple sets of razor sharp teeth glint obviously in the candle light. Grey tufts of fur are peppered through its otherwise red mane.
When a potential client walks in, the manticore will lazily open its eyes and introduce itself as Viterome.
The back of the shop, partially covered by an opulent screen, is a small alchemical laboratory and shelves of various potions, oils, unguents, powders, solves, and all other manner of valuable wares. Three skeletons move around, tending to experiments and rearranging goods. These skeletons will also present the various goods offered for sale.
Standing next to the day bed is a skeleton holding a medium sized cage with a few rats inside. At his leisure, Viterome will occationally open the cage, take out a rat, and with a great flourish toss it into the air and catch it in his terrible mouth.
Two other skeletons stand to the left and right of Viterome's day bed, spears in hand, prepared to defend their master.
Negotiation is an important aspect of dealing with Viterome. To average customers, he presents a very standard yet heavily marked up product list. If the customer is able to impress or haggle with Viterome, he will present an additional list of rare and potentially illegal potions, unguents, poisons, and more. Additionally, his reaction to the PCs has major effects on price.
Negotiating with Viterome. Default check is Persuasion (Charisma), but player creativity should not be ignored. - DC 5: price x2, no special list. - DC 10: price x1.5, no special list. - DC 15: price x0, special list (no discount). - DC 20: price x0.5, special list (no discount).