Dural the Magic Trader
Looking for a charm to ward off evil spirits or the claw of a marsh dragon?
Need some willow bark for your headaches or a potion to cure a lack of virility?
Got a weird looking ring and you don't know what it is?
Dural could be your man.
Dural is an old man, now well into his sixties, but still reasonably healthy, if a little slow moving these days, and his mind is as keen as ever it was.
He dresses very much as the respectable shopkeeper, from his dark trousers, white shirt and conservative neck tie to his neatly trimmed greying hair and clean shaven face.
At first sight there is not the slightest suggestion that he has arcane powers. However all the important people 'in the business' know him for what he truly is.
The son of a humble clerk, the young Dural had little money and fewer prospects. However he did have a keen mind and a natural talent for arcane lore.
Putting his talents to use he applied for, and obtained, a scholarship to the University Magica, the kingdoms' premier university of the arcane arts and the most prestigious seat if learning in the known world. One of his main claims to fame is that he was the first commoner to enter the University on this basis and actually graduate (there had been previous scholarship students but most had dropped out for financial reasons).
With a bursary paying his tuition fees (he was a promising enough student to justify such), Dural still had the problem of keeping body as soul together during his studies, and he again turned to his arcane knowledge for support (after all he had little else to sell). Initially this involved locating minor magical items for those who required them (for a commission of course) and later trading in such things directly.
Once he became a little more skilled he began to supplement his income by casting spells, making potions, and enchanting minor magical items. There are some who claim he invented Appearance Enhancers, although there is no direct evidence for this and he himself always denies it if asked.
After graduating (with distinction) he was then faced with the need to make a living. While most of classmates went off to become court mages to some minor lord or other (you simply can't claim to be a nobleman if you don't have a court mage), Dural simply bought a barrow and began trading in enchanted objects, alchemical potions, and magical supplies in the marketplace.
Being one of the few people in the business who knew what he was doing and actually supplying what he promised, he soon earned a reputation for honestly and reliability. His business prospered accordingly and he soon bought a shop in the market square. He has been trading there ever since.
Of course Dural's success did not go unnoticed by the charlatans and con-artists who dominated the trade in magical items at that time, a state of affairs that led directly to his hiring his first bodyguard (after one too many threats). It also led to his founding of the Magical Traders Association, of which he is still Guildmaster. The guild now regulates all 'independent trade in spells, divinations, and enchantments, as well as magical or alchemical preparations of all types', as the guilds' Articles of Incorporation put it.
Despite the obvious difference in social background, Dural has stayed in touch with most of his old classmates (although these days there are few enough left and getting fewer all the time). Consequently he can count some of the finest wizards in the land as his friends.
Dural the man
Dural is a mage and alchemist of some skill, although by no means brilliant at either discipline he is a competent and reliable practitioner. He is also a canny trader and expert negotiator, so conning him is virtually impossible (it has been done, but not often, and not easily). A basically honest man, he will trade fair with anybody who is fair with him. On the other hand, he would feel no qualms about fleecing anybody stupid enough to try and con him.
Being a scholarship student himself, Dural has some empathy with talented but impoverished young people unable to pay for an education and he will often help them out if he can, usually by employing them as shop assistants. This of course has the added benefit of ensuring that his staff understand the magic they are selling. Many a young wizard owes his career to Dural's aid and most like to stay in touch with him after they graduate.
Dural's Magic Shop
Dural's shop is divided into two main rooms, the trading counter in the front and a small laboratory in the back.
The trading counter has a pretty standard 'village shop' feel to it, containing a single long counter just inside the door with rows of shelves and cupboards behind. There are always two assistants behind the counter (usually students at the University Magica earning a little much needed cash) and a store guard (basic fighter type) to protect the staff from violence and the stock from thieves.
The shelves contain all manner of magical stock, ranging from basic supplies (herbs, coloured candles, etc), to minor magical items (such as Appearance Enhancers), most standard potions, texts on arcane lore, and basic spell descriptions. More exotic or rare items (like Crystallised Dragon Blood) can often be found here also, or if not Dural can usually get hold of it (he has a LOT of contacts).
The back room laboratory is where Dural himself is usually found. Here he spends much of his time dabbling in the arcane arts, although to be honest his experiments rarely produce anything either useful or sale-able. That however is not really the point, to Dural mucking around with some new alchemical formula or unusual enchantment is more of a hobby than a professional endeavour.
Dural rarely deals with customers himself these days, after all his staff are competent enough and the business more or less runs itself. He normally only gets involved if a customer wants something unusual or has something to trade that he has not seen before.
However, he will (for a price of course) assess the function of a magical item and he is considered to be amongst the foremost authorities in this area. This can take considerable time since he sometimes likes to experiment with it, especially if it is unusual or unknown to him (it's kind of a de-facto rule that any item must be left at the shop for several days for identification).
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? Responses (6)-6
Updated: Updated: Re-set in-text links
Would like to know if he did something for the person that paid his tuition just to finish up the story, but I like this character a lot!
I like that he would probably experiment with an item given to him for identification. So obvious now that you mention it. Wonder how many items he destroyed through experimentation. :)
How come this is overlooked?
This guy has it all - the background, the motives, the usefullness for many a game setting, and that little extra colour. Minor NPCs like these are always needed.
I like him! I will use him!
What a usable NPC. My mind instantly began churning with plots and possibilities, how can I not love something that results in that?
Another binderworthy Npc. Nicely done, and the type pcs can get a lot of use from.
A solid NPC that could be dropped into a campaign at a moment's notice if the PCs go looking to buy items or get something ID'd. Well-done!