Hands on look at the D&D 5E GM Screen Reincarnated

img_3097

I know I’m a little late to the party in my review of the 5e reincarnated DM screen. So let’s get right into it and take a look at what we got. Personally Even with much of the cover art is pretty blank the picture is beautiful. I much prefer the Dungeons and Dragons logo as well as ampersand compared to that of the old 5e symbol on the original GM screen.

So for this review, I’ll be looking at the panels from left to right for my review. The left panel has the most changes overall this product. The tables for NPC characteristics, NPC ideas, NPC flaws and bonds and the Name Generator all have been removed.

In their place, we have a Actions in Combat table that describes in detail everything that a player can do in a combat round. This table covers Attack, Cast Spells, Dash, Dodge, Help, Hide and Ready Actions as well as Search, Use A Magic Item, Use an Object and Use a Special Ability actions.

img_3098

We are also given a table with some rules that are not always easy to remember and will save you time looking things up like Long and High Jump, Suffocation and the easiest of all to remember Concentration. As easy as the concentration check is to remember it’s still good to have it here. Additionally, they managed to squeeze in one more little section on this panel for things that you can do in a turn listing everything that a player can do as a little quick reminder.

This panel does have one piece of art and I like it! The art is straight out of the player’s handbook and it is the of “Points of Origin” of Area Spell Effects. I really like this because one of my biggest criticisms of the old GM screen was the art wasn’t helpful and it took up to much real estate on the screen. By comparison, this art doesn’t take up a lot of space and it’s very helpful for a GM.

Myself I actually used these tables fairly often and will be sad to see them go. That said overall the replacement tables that they have put in this panel are a far better choice and if I myself had to make the choice to decide which of these panels to keep I would have gone with the new panels in the reincarnated GM screen as well.

The 2nd panel covers Conditions and is exactly the same as the old GM screen right down to the artwork. Again my complaint on the conditions panel is much the same as it was before. Granted conditions are likely the main thing we will be looking up as a GM’s during a game. I just feel that a panel and a half of the GM screen is just too much real estate for this information. Simply by sacrificing the artwork for the conditions table, they could have condensed a panel a half worth of information into one panel. This would have remained just as effective and we would have gotten more space for use out of this GM screen.

img_3099

The new and old GM screen third panels are very similar. The last half of the Conditions Table and the Exhaustion Chart are exactly the same on both of these panels. The only tables remaining the same are the Skills And Ability Table and the Setting A DC table. The tables of Light Obscured Areas and Cover we’re moved to the fourth panel on the new GM screen. In their place, the tables of Damage By Level of Severity, Object Hit Points, Object Armor Class, Setting A DC and Tracking DC’s tables have now taken their place.

Lastly, the fourth panel has changed quite a bit. Gone is my much-disliked artwork of the Tarrasque. This has been replaced by another piece of art comparing the sizes of creatures from tiny, small, medium, large, huge and gargantuan creatures.

The Something Happens table that I really wasn’t a fan of his now gone as well as the Quick Finds table. In my opinion, it is an improvement that they have been removed. The Travel Pace table and Encounter Distance tables have remained. Lastly, we’ve been given two new tables that I think are an excellent addition to the D5e DM Reincarnated screen. These tables are Food Drink and Lodging And Services both of these tables I think will see a lot of use in most players games.

img_3100

Runkle’s Ranking

The last GM screen I gave it abysmal 6 to even though I came back earlier and had given an almost to 7, All Things Considered, there’s not a whole lot been changed in this GM screen but it is far more useful I will give this screen a rating of a 13. It’s landscape, it’s useful, it has many tables now that it didn’t have before that will be helpful for a GM. The artwork has been reduced and its overall an improvement over its predecessor. D20 #11-14

So what keeps up with such a low ranking for me? The simple fact that it doesn’t have inserts. it’s only useful for one thing and that is base generic 5e. With Gale Force 9 producing a GM screen for every new campaign setting that comes out. A much-improved GM screen reincarnated would have been a landscape GM screen with insertable sheets. Then we could customize each screen, and every time we ran a particular campaign we could pick and choose the tables and maps that we would wish to add to your particular screen.

Final thoughts

If you already own a GM screen you will be able to make do without this product. If you do not have one this is a better choice over the old one. If you are willing to make your own screen then I would suggest a GM screen with inserts that you can customise.

If you want to pick up one of these hit up your FLGS and grab one or head on over to Amazon to get yours.

dmscreen_productshot_wrap_04

Or if you prefer to pick up a customisable screen you can get one at your FLGS as well or grab one off Amazon as well. I recommend the landscape screen by Hammerdog, You can also pick up a non-landscape version if you prefer or the screen that I use. The Hammerdog Mini.

twgs-silver-both-sides-1024x832

So you want to be a Storyteller, Develop your Villains

What is a villain, and why are they important to our games?
 A Villain is:
  1. A character whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot.
  2. The Person or thing responsible of specified trouble, Harm, or damage.
  3. A Character in a story who opposes the hero.

A villain often has these quality’s as well.

  1.   A deliberate scoundrel or criminal.
  2. Is the One blamed for a particularly problem or difficulty.

All good Hero story’s need a villain. So how do we make a great villain in our role-playing games? We must find an NPC that will leave a lasting impression on our players. Yet to make a lasting impression on our heroes we need to find ways to give that NPC depth and character so that he may become a villain. With most DM’s the default method is by frustrating their players. Using whatever method of escape he has prepared while tossing the players a stinging quip and parting shout of.

“Better luck Next time! You will never stop me as long as your one step behind me! Until then here are some goons for you to take your anger out on.”

While this type of villain is perfectly acceptable, this style of villain is very unsatisfying a villain needs to be more. It is actions that make a villain more than just a target that the players need catch up with. They are driven and focused in action. We want a villain with teeth, who is not afraid to face his nemesis on equal all be it carefully selected grounds.

In Movies, TV and Books were introduced to Villains in several ways. We see a much deeper in-depth development with them that often we fail to see at the game table. Why is that ? Because we do not give our villains enough time for the players to really begin to hate them, or better yet love to hate them. Lets take a look at a few examples of iconic villains.

Lex Luthor
LexLuthor1What makes Lex Luthor such a good villain? Lex Luthor is a charitable billionaire philanthropist that has funded several charity’s and helped rebuild Metropolis. He has one nearly single-minded goal to rid the world of superman for the sake of humanity. To Luthor Superman is a false god and needs to be exposed to the world. He is so much the opposite of superman in every way and holds him to the highest level of contempt. Louthor’s largest flaw is that he is willing to sacrifice humanity itself to rid the world of the one thing he hates more than anything.

Even with the Man of Steel’s powers Lex does not fear him. Lex understands his opponent and is willing to exploit any and all of his weaknesses. Hurting him because he knows Superman’s weaknesses. His Morality and his Humanity as well as his vulnerability to kryptonite give Lex ample chances to face Superman and gloat about his plans.

Darth Vader
Let’s look at Anakin in Revenge of the Sith. I am not going to get into the acting but the intent. Anakin turns to the Dark side for his own ends. He’s slaughtered children and is in a battle to the death with his mentor and friend. Even as the battle rages Obi Wan tryies to convince him he’s been deceived or tricked by the evil power of the soon to be Emperor. Yet at the point in the story Anakin is firm in his belief that it is in fact the ideals of the Jedi order that are the ones that are in the wrong and his cause is just. After all of this he still believes his view of how things are is the right one. He has now become the classic villain.

Walter White AKA “Heisenburg”
Most stories are about the hero’s journey. Breaking Bad was the story was about the birth of a true villain. Most anyone would understand and sympathies with Walter White and his situation that leads to his life of crime. Yet slowly as he slips from victim of the system to a prideful criminal we look on in shock and horror. In the end much like Anikin is gone and there is only Vader. Heisenburg becomes all that is left of Walter White. With no Jedi in the world of breaking bad to bring him to redemption death is the only thing that could bring his terror to an end. At his height Heisenburg was as pure a villain as they come.

Who are you talking to right now? Who is it you think you see? No, you clearly don’t know who you’re talking to, so let me clue you in. I am not in danger,I am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot, and you think that of me? No, I am the one who knocks!

I know your thinking but if give the players a chance to be face to face with the villain they will kill him. Maybe, but any good villain picks the time and place where he will face his nemesis. You as a Storyteller must play to your players characters weakness and exploit them. All the while personifying what makes your villain more than just a thug with power. In doing so also leaving the villain an out so that he may exit the scene what ever it may be.

Your villain must know the things that your players love and hold dear. As well as how to exploit those weaknesses for his own ends. So as a Storyteller you have to get into the heads of your players a bit. But hopefully with some good character back story & descriptions these soft spots in the parties armor are easily found.

 

 When creating a villain here are some simple Do’s and Don’ts

DO:
Portray your villain with single-minded determination to their end goal. Nothing will get in way of accomplishing this goal. not the players, not loved ones, nothing. This is not to say they will take unnecessary risks. They absolutely will not.Any Risk could mean not reaching the end goal and that is unacceptable. So they will gladly sacrifice a pawn to take a set back. Villains are always playing the long game. For them it is a marathon, where often the players are sprinting to stop the villain. By contrast the villain moves a steady calculated pace with their vision laid out before them. Remember your villain is the counter point to the
Do Not:
Make him a mystery. If you know nothing about your villain and your players know nothing about your villain then he is just an imposing stick figure in a really good-looking outfit. There is a place for the mysterious villain but they best serve as plot twists. I will get into t his later.
DO:
Make your villain stand out in a crowd. Either by way of action, appearance or personality. Villains by their very nature want to draw attention to themselves. They are the driving force of the actions the players are trying to stop and in some cases the architects of the plot. This does not mean that they will automatically show themselves as the villain in your story but they should not be afraid to deal with your players close up and one on one. When they situation best suits them.

Do Not
:
Let your villain be afraid of the heroes. This does not mean in any way that he should be more powerful than the players. Just remember the old catch phrase. Never let them see you sweat. Your Villain might be in dire straights but never forget he has a goal and he knows he will see his task through to the end. Nothing not even the players are going to stop this in his mind. This does not imply that he wont take actions to thwart the players at every opportunity. After all they are in the way of his driving need to carry out his goal. So they must be swept off the table. Your villain can not be suffered the chance that they players might succeed.
DO:
Remember that no matter how much your players hate your villain or the campaigns public view of them. More often than not your villain do not see themselves as evil. They will often view others opinions of them as unable to see the grand picture that only he can see. Be it twisted logic or fractured sanity that guides them to this judgment.Do Not
Never portray your villain as one that is so far beyond the players that they meta-game with the thoughts that they need to level before they can defeat your villain. Or worse yet, that they need NPC help to defeat him. This can be game breaking as well as make your players believe that you are playing a game of Us vs. Them. This makes for a bad villain all around and can not only hurt your story but your gaming group.

DO

Be sure your villain learns form his mistakes in regards to the hero’s. His end game matters too much to him to risk repeatedly allowing the players to thwart him. If one plan to remove the players from the equation fails. He will come up with something new. Keep your villain unpredictable in that regard. After all as the Joker would say “Where is the fun in that?Now I understand all of this is helpful but your asking yourself, How do I get my villain into situations. So he can do ANY of these things without the players cutting him down or dumping a clip of ammo into him and calling it a day. That my dear readers is on you for the most part. It will take careful planning. But when you pull it off it is very satisfying. Fear not I can give you a few tips that might set you on the right path.

Tips

  • When your players are having down time often you will have chances where the party is not all together. This is a perfect time to insert your villain into a face to face chat with many of your players.
  • Maybe he shows up in church where your Cleric or Paladin worship, Dressed as a Priest or even giving a sermon when they arrive.
  • Wakes a player from his warm bed in the inn where a player is sleeping.
  • In modern games maybe he picks up the phone or hacks into their computer and has a little one on one chat from the safety of distance.
  • They players are invited to go to a special event. One of the guests is the villain.
  • When Dealing with more combative types. He confronts the player and informs them that everyone in the restaurant has been poisoned by him. Warning the player or party that if they try to kill him, he will not give them the antidote.Lastly there is one other type of villain that stands slightly outside of what is talked about here and breaks some of the rules that is the Mysterious villain. Mysterious Villains follow most of the rules above but break the one cardinal rule. They are Mysterious and stay that way usually right up until the climax of the story. Often this is done in a few ways.Mysterious villain
  • Mysterious villains often are very close to the PC’s
  • Mysterious villains usually have a sub villain in play that the PC’s believe is the real villain.
  • Mysterious villains will show themselves in the last act or climax of their plot.
Here are a few links to Past Do you want to be a Storyteller Blogs.
The Blog that started it Here
And Part two Here

Tackling other GM issues Blogs.

Tackling RPG Cliches: Inns Here
Tackling RPG Cliches: Caravans Here
Tackling RPG Cliches: Quests Here

D&D goes back to Basic .. Is it worth it ?

I Know Many people have done a write up on the Free PDF and the box set already.  But I wanted to take some time. Let it soak in and really decide if It was a good product or if it was my excitement about a new edition finally making it to print that was swaying my review. I will see about reviewing the Basic box set after I get a look at it. For now this is my first impressions of the D&D Basic Rules version 0.1 as a free download you can find here. http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/basicrules

 

Right off the rip I give Wizards a huge nod for trying to win their audience back, Coming right out the gate with a free RPG PDF. This goes a long way to hushing the crowds that have raved about the lords of wizards only want profit.  Why do you say.. This is not a brief 10 page primer that many of us were expecting as a quick start rule set.. This is 110 pages of quality book.. giving you everything you need to play all way to level 20!!..
That’s right if you wanted to just play basic D&D you now can play from 1st to 20th level and never pay for a book. That’s pretty cool. Granted your going to need more products not given here if you want to Run D&D. But as a player. You can actually play the new version of D&D and never EVER have the need to purchase a book.

So what’s changed ? Is it just a rehash of 4E or a scramble back to editions of the past ? Well your first hint that this is not a rehash of 4E Is the Disclaimer on page one..

Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of splitting up the
party, sticking appendages in the mouth of a leering green devil face, accepting a dinner
invitation from bugbears, storming the feast hall of a hill giant steading, angering a dragon
of any variety, or saying yes when the DM asks, “Are you really sure?”

 

So that said, lets get into a overview.  Nicely written as it is.. I like most of you skimmed over the introduction..Its D&D we have been playing this for years.. I don’t need an intro.. But wait.. the intro is a example of RP. Well played again .. reminding us that this is a Roleplaying game. I see this is going to be a theme after being accused of 4E being devoid of Roleplay.

The first new interesting addition to D&D I came across is advantages and Disadvantage. When situations occur that would give you the advantage or put you at Disadvantage you roll two D20.. and Take the better or worse result depending on the circumstance your affected by.
Then we come back to another reminder that this is a Roleplaying game in the detailing of the Pillars of adventure. Where they break down most adventures into Exploration Social interaction and Combat.  Putting combat as the last example instead of just listing them alphabetical strikes me that they want to have you thinking of combat is your final option in a game session.. Definitely proving to be a theme here..

Moving on to races. I see that Subraces are back in style. A nod to previous editions. I welcome that. One of my first impressions is that I am glad to see attention to detail on races. Names, Gods,Personality and Physical description in addition to traits and subraces.. You get a good chunk of stuff here even in the small space allotted.
Some cool thing to note as I looked over the dwarf.. They get advantage on saves vs poison.. SO Dwarf’s get 2D20 to save due to race.. As Elves get 2D20 vs charm .. and so on .. COOL !

Classes,
One of the first things that stands out is that in Basic D&D there are no dead levels in character growth as you level up.. something is improving each level be it a new ability or spell slot opening up.
The basic set has only the four core classes. The classic Cleric Fighter Rouge and Wizard. The old school guy in me loves it. The new school guy in me cringes a little due to the mindset that when you adventure in D&D.. Someone has to play a cleric. Hopefully with the edition it will prove that you can be a cleric and be more then a mail wearing portable band-aid after a few rounds of combat..And so it does. With the introduction of bonus actions, to include bonus action spells there is a limited list of healing spells that allow your cleric to heal and continue to fight all be it a reduced amount of healing.
Thank you !

There were a few things I wanted to touch on that I liked in the Personality and Background Section of the PDF. One thing that I imagine most people over looked was Languages. We now have a listing of Standard and Exotic Languages. I find that now players have to ask their GM for permission for their Knowledgeable player to just have Celestial as a language among others. This makes the world a bit more scary. And I think will make the players feel like they are in a bigger world again. Or maybe I just like the small things in life as a GM and my party not being able to overhear and understand what the two demons they are spying on are saying without a good reason why someone among them has learned Abyssal.. Cause the reason why one of my players “knows” Abyssal should be a good story in itself.
As for Personality Traits, Ideals, Bonds and Flaws. And the inspiration Mechanic.  I know that D&D has put tables for these types of things in the game for players to use in the past. But to include a mechanic so they can affect the game play in more then just rounding out the RP for your players. I find a breath of fresh air and a move in the right direction for the game. I myself have every intention of using inspiration at my table much how Aspects work in FATE. Not only will the players be able to play to their personality traits, Bonds, Ideals and Flaws. But As a GM I will also call on them and award inspiration if I my players play to these traits when called on.  Ie.. If the Thief with the Criminal Background and well say the Trait of “I don’t pay attention to risks in a situation, Never tell me the odds.” and Bond of ” I will become the greatest thief who ever lived” is with the party and spy’s the mayors Medal of commendation on display begging to be taken.. And I see the player is interested. while the party negotiates for work .. I might .. MIGHT.. Call on the players Personality and Bond and award him an inspiration if he attempts find a way to slight of hand it out of the blue.
And if he decides to just do it without my encouragement… hes getting the inspiration anyway.  In short this adds so much more to game I am very much looking forward to using it now.

The Equipment section is much the same as all editions before it and there is not much that jumps out at you when looking through it. D&D has had this area of the game down pat for so long it like attributes that I did not even mention it.. There is one thing that is worth mentioning here though.  Expenses.. to the point Lifestyle Expenses. Players now may opt not to pay as they go in game. But once you have made somewhat of a name for yourself you can allot some coin to cover your basic lifestyle that your chose to life. This has a few benefits. First your Gm knows that when you come to town that the barbarian that shuns society and is willing to sleep under the stars before paying an innkeeper for anything more then Ale.. will be treated much different then the bard that will be singing for his food drink and room and bedding a lovely Lass for the night if he gets his way.. But its going to cost that bard some coin. And if you stay in town for some time.. more and more coin as it burns it way through is coin purse. But no matter what level of lifestyle you chose. You now can gain contacts that want to be around you… or take what you have.

As to running the game one nice tweak to the old D20 days is the simplified DC ranks. THANK YOU.  Very easy Skill checks now are a 5 and each step there after goes up by another 5. Another nice thing is the hold over of Passive checks from 4E. Its nice to see good rules from any edition still reused. Short and Long rests now can give the party some down time healing. I like how this take some of the burden off the cleric being the party band aid. And will keep most groups active longer between rests.
In combat now you can break your movement up anyway you like between move and attack and also interact with things around you much easier.  Death in 5E has an reworked mechanic but interesting as well. 5E straight away covers rules for instant death.. any time you get slapped with enough damage to take you to -0 HP if the remaining damage is more then your max Hit points your done .. call it a day. pack up your DEAD.  But if you hit 0 HP and there is not a cleric around do not fear.. your not going to get passed up round after round until they get a healer to you.. YOUR DYING after all. ANd you get to play the Death Saving throw game. Make three rolls of a 10 or better before three failures and you live. Roll a nat 20 and retain 1 HP and get back up and join the fight again.. At your own peril.. Roll a 1 and you get two failures.  If you get hit while at 0 HP.. the instant death rules APPLY ! If you get crit at 0 HP a failed save equals two failed rolls.  Good luck ! If your Dying you are going to need it.

The Magic section is well done but I will not touch on it too much other then I found some of the tweaks very nice. I like Bonus action and reaction spells now. It adds more to the game and will keep some casters on their toes and paying attention to the game even when it is not their turn in the combat order.  The conditions outlined in the game are well done and simple. Lastly the Character sheet looks nice. It has a bit of a throw back 1 and 2E look to it. But I like it.

So like most my reviews I will close with Pros Cons and Will I get it. So here we go.

Pros:
Well lets see.  How often can you look to a new RPG and be handed a 110 page Free PDF of the product. That will always be free and will be updated regularly. With all the rules needed to play four base classes from level 1-20. Wow.. let me think .. I will just go ahead and say that it unheard of. And AWESOME.  Additionally everything is presented well and easy to find.  There is so much good here to put in the pro list.. well just reread every thing above and you will see all the pros.

Con:
Well its a PDF. I know there are allot of us that Hate PDF only products. So this is a negative. But if your like some people I know and you have access to a printer.. you can fix that. Additionally my biggest and only harsh words for anyone as a Con to what is presented here. There are no monsters or examples of how to make a monster in Basic D&D. Now I think what we will see is after the DMG and the MM are released they will add a chapter or two to this product. But that is only a guess. And until then that is a huge Con.

Will I get it..
Well I just reviewed the 110 page Free PDF.. So yeah I already have it. I hope after reading this if you do not have it you go out and get it.

Fate Bundle

I Like to keep my eye out for good content for good causes. This is one of those. Humble Bundle Projects if you did not know donate a portion of all of their proceeds to charity. Several of the bundles have brought in over $1 million; as of August 23, 2013, the bundles have collectively earned more than $50 million, of which over $20 million has gone to charity.  That’s a great cause for me to get behind cheep PDF’s ! 

Well that’s all good but I know you want to know if there are any good books in the Bundle right ? Well this weeks bundle is FATE CORE ! This great system has been making a lot of waves ever since they had a HUGE kickstarter. Well if you missed out on that. Now’s your chance to get in on some FATE action. And at a supper low-cost as well! So if you see this and can spare a few bucks. Run out there and get a Great stack of PDF’s. And do it for charity. That and as a great way to round out your Fate Core set !

For just under 8 bucks you get the main PDF set, and the full set currently will run  you 16.50 for all ten books ! not bad at all. Also if they add more books before the end you get them as well if you buy in early. So if you want to give FATE a try, get out there and give to charity and get it on the cheep! There’s less than two days left on this Bundle. I’ll make it easy on  you and add a link for you.

http://bundleofholding.com/index/current

Orc’s for Dinner ?

This side trek takes place over the course of three days while traveling through a valley. While on the road traveling through a valley the party finds themselves being followed at a distance by Orc’s ridding Worg’s. If the players attempt to close with the Orc’s they ride away before ever reaching combat range. If they set up an ambush the Orc’s do not fall for the bait they keep their distance.

On the second day the Orc’s no longer trail the party. If the players stay on the lookout of the Orc’s, signs of them can be seen but they never show themselves to the travelers this day. On the eve of the second day the party comes across an Inn with a Farm and Barn along the side of the road. There are three buildings here. The two-story Inn with a brick first floor that is a Bar. The farmhouse is a large Ranch house and the outlying Barn. They welcome the travelers with open arms full glasses and hot food if they have the coin for it. They are willing to draw hot baths for the road weary and their rooms are a slight on the steep side but well worth the coin. A handful of farmers from the area are here tonight. 

hours after the sun as set and the drinks are flowing a panic-stricken man bursts through the front door of the Inn. He is mortally wounded and as he collapses he mutters the word .. “Orc’s” with his dying breath. As the man dies the howl of Worg’s fills the air from all around. The Orc raiding party with send waves of attackers against the Inn over the course of the night. If they are repelled they will set fire to the Ranch house or Barn in an attempt to draw the adventures into the open where the words and archers will have the advantage.  This game of chess will go on long into the night. An hour before sunrise the slip away into the remaining night.

 

You’re our only hope

A NPC that the players are familiar with approaches them in the village, after they return from their latest adventure. This normally would not be odd, save the fact that this is not the village this man is from and he is a long way from home. He looks haggard, road weary and hungry. It is plain he in need of the party’s assistance.
After calming the villager down and getting him some food, he relays his story to the party. About a week back one of the local villagers went missing. He was feared dead. The towns folk put together a search party and thankfully the villager was found injured but alive. They brought him home and he had been on the mend. All seemed normal until your friend stumbled on the corpse of the man they found.
He rushed back to town to inform the rest of the townsfolk but as he passed through the front gate he saw his dead neighbor having a conversation in hushed tones in the back ally with two other townsfolk.
Not knowing what to do he left and sought your party out in hopes you can save his people once more.

Priced to Move

This side story is best played when the adventures find themselves in a city. When the player’s head to the market place of supplies and to shop they come across a corner establishment on the edge of the market.
The merchant is quite pleasant and has a wide selection of wears mundane and magical in nature. All his items are priced at a 20% mark down and he can be negotiated to go as low as 25%. If questioned about his great deals he informs the party that he is in a bit of a price war with two other local establishments and a small loss on the front end of his goods is undesired but the Cheaper rates keeps the customers in the door and makes up for any losses with the volume of his sales.
As the players prepare to return to the road when they have finished their business in town they are confronted by either the local militia or another adventuring party. It seems that everything the players have purchased from the corner merchant was stolen from another adventuring group.
When the party returns to the scene of the crime the entire establishment is gone vacant. Striped down as if it had never been used.