Jochen Pinker is a jovial balding gentleman, rather rotund, with ruddy cheeks and lively blue eyes, a nose like a knob, bushy silver eyebrows and an abundant moustache of the same hue. Most often dressed in classy wizard robes of bright yellows and blues, he very much fits the image of the friendly good wizard; this is emphasized by his delight in entertaining his company with minor spells and neat trinkets.
Meanwhile, Alexander Strotz is a charming distinguished gentleman with a mane of golden hair and a beard trimmed short, sharp eyes peering over his pointy nose accompanied by an expressive mouth. Always spotless, Mr. Strotz never appears without a snappy suit and tasteful walking cane.
What connects them? Dont hurry, I will get around to it.
Let's turn back time, some forty years, and exchange our setting for the studying halls of the Anuli Dersa academy, where mage-kind from all over the empire can learn to master their gift. Wizards great and small call these blessed walls their alma mater; when we zoom over to one of the classrooms, to the rear desk, we can notice a dangly blonde boy, all elbow and knee, besides a pudgy teen that is munching a sandwich hidden in his pointy hat. Yes, those two were Pinker and Strotz, the former just skilled enough to earn a low stipend, the latter supported by the coin of his merchant father despite his meager sorcerous talent.
While even middling wizards can earn decent coin in the Lyran Empire, as lantern lighters or cornblessers, battlefield medics or potion brewers, this fate of ennui was not one fit for those two!
High and mighty wizards ask for half a kingdom for their sorcery; they deem most tasks as beneath their dignity, and worldly matters just distractions from unearthing the mysteries of the cosmos. Alexander Strotz had a different vision, one well suited for their talents and humble origin. Loaning from his father, he founded a small store, along with Jochen, his trusty friend, and found a mother lode in a niche.
What was it, you ask?
Most people do not need a grand transmuter, they don't wish to summon mighty spirits or raise enchanted armies. But just about everyone can use a magical Umbrella Ring; incidentally, this was the first product they broke through with. A low-powered enchantment just strong enough to deflect raindrops, hail and the occasional bird droppings, woven into a stylish ring, was just the thing that could be sold to the masses in perpetually rainy Lyra.
Soon other bestsellers followed, such as perfume rings, or subtle illusion amulets that simply let the skin appear smoother and hair more glossy; mass-produced potions of contraception were also a major hit with the decadent Lyran populace.
While archmages might scoff at such profane uses of the art, calling it trivial hedge magic and childs play, just anyone could afford a neat thing from Pinker and Strotz to make his life better - a dress that miraculously accommodates a few extra pounds, a bag that keeps foods fresh or shoes that always shine.
Soon they expanded, and took many lesser wizards in; they opened more shops in progressively more distinguished locales, finally in the palace district itself. Even wizardly students can and do receive jobs at the company, with an experienced enchanter leading a group of them, churning out minor marvels. Besides mages, droves of craftsmen are in the companys employ, from jewelers to tailors to smiths.
As ever, the companys motto is "A spell for a penny", written beside the golden letters P&S on their shield; many items one would not suspect bear their logo in some inconspicuous place.
The largest P&S has opened not far from the palace, in what was formerly the manor of a now destitute noble family. Light issues from the tall windows, behind which rows upon rows of wares can be seen; a purchased iron golem guards the door, saluting to approaching customers. Various magically looking races, such as satyrs, gnomes, half-fey or half-elves, serve as staff, smiling and playing up the air of arcane mystery.
The clothing and jewelry sections are huge, with something for every taste; there is a section with enchanted tools and one with lesser magical servants and guardian spirits. The weapons store may be less interesting than dedicated magic arms shops, though it offers excellent hunting bows and crossbows, complete with arrows and bolts of animal-slaying, as well as discreet light armors to be worn under other garments. Not to be forgotten is the toy department, with soldiers that move upon command and dragons breathing real illusory flame.
Despite its size the company still does commission work; it also offers shipping to all of Lyra.
Items of an adult nature are delivered in discreet brown boxes, of course.
All items come with a ten year warranty; while it is true that not all the items are enchanted to the highest quality, any item that fails is re-enchanted free of charge.
One does not find any world-shattering items at the store - what it offers are cheap enchantments of convenience, something to make every life a little magical. While they may sneer and jeer at first, even adventurers will gravitate towards Pinker and Strotz from time to time, for what honorable wizard wastes time making Never-itching Boxers or Hangover-B-Gone?
Jochen Pinker is the more competent wizard of the two; what he has mastered are a myriad of cantrips and tiny enchantments - to the point where he can improvise many a minor item on the spot. He is also the one to come up with new products, being an imaginative dreamer, almost compulsively creative. While hes not alone for the task anymore, having assistant developers, he still leads every single project.
He does not have a businessman attitude, but loves what the company has become. Indeed, he bubbles with joy, and often makes small in-the-spot presents, especially for kids.
His partner, Alexander Strotz, is gifted with an astute mind and an intuitive mathematical ability. While hes well aware that he could rob Jochen blind without the merry fellow noticing it, their years of friendship and the fact that he's got more gold than he needs anyway keep him from doing so. His witty and charming nature have opened him many doors, and he's a welcome at many high society gatherings and noble houses.
*A wrench in the works: the PCs are apprentices at P&S when they discover that a malicious employee is putting harmful enchantments on some items. Newbie wizards pitted against an evil sorcerer? That is what adventure is made of!
*Competition: several dismayed magic merchants wish to get the pesky P&S out of their hair, to sell their goods at exorbitant prices again. Armed with their unsold merchandise, they are no easy treat - but the loot is good!
*Om nom nom: with this over-abundance of cheap items, some magical pest subsisting on them, like a thaumivore, has reached excessive populations, threatening some vital magical installation. Can the heroes stop critters that eat magic swords?
*Any small neat item can be brought to P&S; as soon as it is copied, one can expect a cut from the profits more valuable than what the trinket might have sold for!
*With a P&S piece everywhere, the espionage service has begun fitting the products secretly with surveillance spells. The adventure begins when a wizard PC notices that his new water cooler is scrying on him.
This scroll here is for adding fun stuff that could be purchased from Pinker and Strotz ;)
Amulet of Warning
This amulet goes cold when anyone has any bad intentions towards the wearer, ranging from a degree or two colder when the bad intention is small, to a degree above zero if the bad intention is serious. Like almost any item, it has both good and bad uses-criminals have been using these to warn when city guards are nearby and weed out informers in their ranks, and sevweral informers have turned up dead or badly beaten.
On the other hand it has saved lives as well, so the local rulers are uncertain or not if it should be made illegal.
The Pest Protector
In a land as wet as Lyra, one often has to deal with noxious gnats, moskitoes and even the dreaded mosquigo, long like a man's arm.
Pinker and Strotz have garnered praise upon praise for this trinket, which drives the annoying bloodsuckers away, or, in the case of the deluxe model, zaps them with a magical discharge. The deluxe model also has a broader field of application, frying even lice and ticks, but is significantly more expensive. Still, even the basic model is worth a few coins to almost everyone.
These are very useful to anyone with itchy skin who does not want to scratch their crotch in public.They have three spells on them and the customer can choose which one to activate by touching one of three small buttons on the underpants. One spell deadens the itch, one spell scratches the itch without the fingers needing to be used (which can cause rawness) and one spell pulls out any fungus from the skin (which can cause bleeding but clears the infection.)
This small stave of carved and enchanted quartz glows a soft white without burning itself or anything else. As it cannot harm anybody, there are no laws against it's use even in the more repressive states. A few have illegally modified this torch to flash brightly in the eyes of attackers, something that the law takes a dim view of.
Rain Deflector Hat
This diverts rain away from the wearer, but only just far away to avoid the wearer getting wet, unlike other spells from other wizards which push the rain away too much, so one area floods and the other one has a drought.
Ring of false health
This ring, while worn, counters the effects of the majority of mundane illnesses and afflictions; such as influenza, measles, dyptheria, scarlet fever, gout, arthritis, scurvy and a host of other ailments and diseases. However, it must be noted that the magic does not actually cure such diseases; only masks the symptoms. In fact, when the ring is removed, the negative effects are most often exacerbated for a period of time. Although the wearer will look and feel fine while wearing the ring, whatever ailments they harbor continue to fester within. Hence, the ring is actually dangerous to wear for anything other than a short period of time; nullifying the body's natural responses to diseases for more than a brief period results is folly.
There was a recent incident wherein a client with rubella wore one of these rings for two weeks straight before dropping dead in the street; during that time he had inadvertently infected nearly fourty other persons through casual contact. Upon learning of this incident, Pinker had strong reservations about selling this product; it took quite a bit of convincing from his associate to keep the product alive. Even then, the ring is now sold with both a strong warning as well as disclaimer.
Dagger of attraction:
This tiny, ornamental dagger is little more than a letter opener. When held, and the user speaks the name of some item, the dagger will orient on and point in the direction of the nearest mundane item within 20 feet that matches the description. Descriptions are limited to two words. This item is quite useful for locating items that have gone missing. Some enterprising individuals have found uses for these as divining rods or even hunting up the odd coin or jewelry that others may have dropped. The description must be fairly specific; some examples of more common directions are "gold coin", "water", "mushroom", "silver earring". Directions such as "vorpal sword", "lich's lair", "dragon's hoard" and the like just send the blade spinning.
Looters Aid or Coin Monkey
This small construct simply follows its master about and when directed into 'loot' mode, will go about picking up small items of apparent value. Its intelligence is vanishingly small, and is as likely to pick up glass shards and chainmail links as diamonds and gold, but then again, it might pick up something overlooked by others. It is also vulnerable to traps and misadventure, since its low cost precludes it being built that heavily. Usually constructed from wood in a varity of forms, most commonly that of a small money with a wicker backpack to contain it's loot.
There has been at least once case where one of these units was deliberately provided with a boobytrap as 'loot' and sent on its way back to its soon-to-be unfortunate master.
Perfect penny pouch
A watered-down takeoff of the Bag of Holding schtick, the Perfect penny pouch is a small purse that holds coinage. It can hold a bit more than its dimensions suggest, but not much. This pouch is ideal for merchants, or anyone else who needs to constantly make change; just state how much you need, reach in the purse, and you'll pull out the exact amount requested! Note that the proper coinage must actually be present in the purse for it to work; in other words, if you reach in for two shillings, two shillings (or the equivalent coinage) need to be present in the purse.
Socks of delayed satisfaction.
When worn these socks or stockings provide the wearer with a resistance to the temptation and experience of physical pleasure. The smell of baking bread will not make your mouth water, the feeling of smooth willing flesh under your palm will not quicken your heart, and a beautiful person spoon feeding you a smooth and creamy desert will bring you no more pleasure or excitement than the last spoonful of cold oatmeal your mother made you eat.
The effect of the socks is just an illusion, and your mouth really is watering, your hormones are raging, your pupils do dilate at the site of beauty and your brain is pumping out endorphins by the liter. The socks also have a limit and if the wear is sufficiently stimulated or tempted the socks will literally be blown right of his or her feet.
An abrasive material is sewn to the palms of these leather gloves. These are wildly popular in the kitchens of wealthier nobles and royalty. When the wearer grabs and holds a fruit, vegetable, or other food item with a skin, it is magically peeled within a matter of seconds. Potatoes, carrots, turnips, even apples all come out perfectly peeled. With a set of these gloves, the typical kitchen wench can whip through a mountain of potatoes in moments! Best of all, no skins to clean up or dispose of!
One enterprising owner also discovered another surprising use; by clapping his open palms to his cheeks, he was able to give himself a perfect shave; although his skin was severly chafed for the next several days.
Lenses of Scrying:
See through skin! See through clothes! Be the first in your dungeon to have a pair!
More of a novelty toy than anything, these cheap spectacles create the illusion of being able to see through items; particularly garments.
Firework Spectacles and Firework Earmuffs
If you put these on at night and look up into the sky, you see and hear a private illiousion of a huge firework display, that only you can see and hear. Great for using in areas where fireworks are banned. No more having to dodge City Guard patrols and risk igniting wildfires. No more risking getting blown up lighting fireworks. And when you've had enough you just take them off and out of your ears and the display is over,
Cap of the cuckold:
This large-brimmed man's hat is made of grey felt. The hat turns a greenish color when or if the wearer's spouse or ladyfriend is unfaithful. Whereas a kiss would give the cap a greenish hue, an out-and-out affair would render the cap a brilliant green color.
Favored by the jealous husband type, the number of illicit affairs in town has drastically plummeted since the cap's inception.
Simple bodily aliments have historically been one of the core uses for magic among the masses. Voodoo has charms for indigestion, sleeplessness, impotence and bad breath. Rake and new age medicine cover the same sort of ground using metaphysics to treat muscle tension and even cancer. And if you have any doubt about the desire of the medieval world to seek a metaphysical resolution to minor illnesses then look to the saints. The patron Saint of Toothaches: Saint Alena, Hemorrhoids: Saint Alexander, and numerous others were called forth to treat small pains. Medieval art produced enough depictions of people, women mostly, inducing men to vomit, and giving enemas that numerous examples still survive. I think in our days of ubiquitous medical care we forget how truly painful a impacted wisdom tooth could be without pain killers or dentistry. Constipation, cramps or digestive issues would be a major concern of any pre-industrial populace that had enough to eat and money to spend at a penny spell shop. For all this reasons I say a Scroll of Regularity is a an more than reasonable, it is absurd to envision its absence. Any arguments?
Scroll of Regularity
Be you a hardened soldier of fortune or a single mother raising the soldier's bastards, nobody has time for constipation. A Scroll of Regularity gives instant relief by mystically relaxing the bowel and softening the stool. Based on an Explosive Runes spell, all one needs to do is read the Scroll, and immediately they will void their bowels.
Rocks of Rodent Fear
These small smooth rocks are each marked with a Ward of Fear. This ward is specific for rats, mice and squirrels, and each stone has radius of effect of roughly 11 inches. Any rodent that comes within 11 inches of one of these stones will be overcome with fear, as if confronted by a predator and bright lights. These items pay for themselves, tossing handfuls of these through out you pantry, garden or grain bin can save you fistfuls of coin.
Stick of Earthworm Attraction
Tired of digging for earthworms to place in your gardens or on your hooks? With the Stick of Earthworm Attraction you will never have to dig for worms again. Simply shove the tip of the stick into ground, speak the power word and wait. Within minutes earthworms will begin climbing to the surface and towards your wise purchase. Gather as many as you like, speak the release word, remove the stick and head on your way.
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? Responses (15)-17
A classic pair, I like the line about cornblessing and lantern lighting, not being their cup of tea. Good voice on this piece, they are well-presented and described. Enough detail on the duo is provided that they can be included in plot-hooks, instead of just regurgitating minor items.
Ok, now I'll have to think of a few scroll additions. I was thinking dog-repellant robes, or maybe dyslexia-fixing spectacles.
I want to buy some never-itching underpants, it would be a huge help for me lol. 5/5
I like this one as well, and will definitely say that I will add something to it... :P
Love it! Some of the description has a bit of a "Harry Potter" flavor to it, but nevertheless a truly useful and colorful establishment to add to a campaign world. 5/5
A lovely piece that needs an entire setting rewritten around it. All those little magics easily available is going to change a lot about the world.
Basically, you have magi-punk and magi-tech going on here. All your modern conviences as imagined from the magical view. Magi-tech because many things that would be tech are simply magic here.
The world will be a very different place if this stuff is mass produced enough to be really this cheap.
This is an absolutely wonderful piece, both with regard to the idea and the excuition. I actually laughed out loud while reading it. Moon is right you could put this into any setting with a mystical component and indeed I want to changed my campaign worlds around so this store could fit into them. Thanks for writing this, I can't believe I haven't seen this before. What charcoal soul could give this piece anything less than a 5?
Yup, it's been said allright. Sweet piece Echo.
Nice work Echo, I can find plenty of uses for these penny ante wizards
This is a great little story, and the feed back and contributions have made it even better. I will give you a 5 on this but let me know if you don't want me to vote on your work anymore. I will understand.