Merchant, Variant (5e Class)

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Merchant[edit]

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A somewhat rotund retailer.

The smiling halfling calls out to the massive group of individuals traveling throughout the town square. She advertises her wares, slowly bringing curious customers to her stand through her intriguing descriptions of her mysterious treasures. At the end of the day, she packs up her kit, and begins to move on to the next city.

A human gratefully smiles as his customer finally agrees to purchase his rare gemstone found off of a long-sunken island. As they shake hands, the human deftly slips the customer's fine golden wristband onto his own wrist and hands him the gem. The human chuckles at the thought of that noble placing that polished hunk of coal up on their mantle at home.

An elf walks into his own fine establishment to receive many a happy glance from his employees. He walks about, asking them how the business has been running, as well as explaining new plans and merchandise he has in store for the company. His company will soon become the most well known arcana shop for decades to come.

Merchants are charismatic individuals that make their way in the world by finding, trading, and selling anything and everything under the sun. From owning a business to running a simple stand, every merchant has the capacity to convince any individual to buy their product, whether through heartfelt persuasion or clever deception.

Friendly Nature[edit]

Most merchants are masters of the art of being friendly to all peoples, whether they are naturally friendly or not. The best way to defeat an enemy is to make them your friend, and merchants take this to heart by being as friendly as possible to their customers, hoping their kind behavior will make their customers more willing to purchase their wares.

In combat, most will think that the merchant is out of their element. Although it is true they are at their strongest in the marketplace, a merchant still has to have the defensive skills necessary to protect their goods. They often wield the myriad of random items they have on their person to defend their lives, as well as using their silver tongue to slip out of rough situations and their money to hire bodyguards for when that silver tongue isn't good enough.

Money is Everything[edit]

For a merchant, what matters at the end of the day is the amount of money they earned by peddling their wares. Some may take this to a greedy extreme, focusing only on becoming rich through their skills of buying and selling. Others simply enjoy the job for what it is: a chance to meet new people everyday and give them something they're willing to pay for. Not every merchant is so full of avarice, nor are they all selfless angels, but they all respect the power that money wields and use it to their best advantage.

A merchant is probably the most common profession you could possibly find in any given city. Whether it be a street peddler or a shop owner, there's bound to be someone selling stuff in every town and village. Most tend to play it safe and sell simple items, whether that be food, textiles, maybe even basic pieces of metalwork and weaponry. But some go to the extreme of searching far and wide for those items that people would be willing to pay every cent they have to own. That's the kind of merchant you are.

Creating a Merchant[edit]

As you create your merchant, think about their sales tactics. Do they tend to play a nice little salesperson when in reality they're a cold, calculating manipulator? Do they allow the customer to bargain with them on the price, or are they a "my way or the highway" kind of retailer? Do they play on people's personalities, or do they try to figure out what the customer wants and sell them that?

What was their reason to leave the city center and travel about? Were they tired of selling to the same old people and just wanted to see someplace new? Did they conduct a shady deal, and now they have to keep moving to avoid being captured by the authorities? Did they hear people talk about some legendary artifact, and how royals around the world were paying fortunes to get their hands on it? Perhaps an adventuring party found them so charming the party asked them to tag along, and your merchant agreed. Maybe their company is starting to become stagnant, and they need to go around and find some new merchandise and advertising ideas.

Quick Build

You can make a merchant quickly by following these suggestions. First, Charisma should be your highest ability score, followed by Dexterity and Intelligence, unless you are planning on choosing the Traveling Trader archetype, in which case put Intelligence before Dexterity. Second, choose the guild merchant background.

Class Features

As a Merchant you gain the following class features.

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d8 per Merchant level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + Constitution modifier per Merchant level after 1st

Proficiencies

Armor: Light armor
Weapons: Simple Weapons, shortswords, hand crossbows
Tools: Choose any two tool sets or kits
Saving Throws: Wisdom, Intelligence
Skills: Choose four from arcana, deception, history, insight, intimidation, investigation, perception, performance, persuasion, religion, and sleight of hand.

Equipment

You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:

  • (a) a shortsword or (b) a hand crossbow with a quiver of 20 crossbow bolts or (c) a simple weapon of your choice.
  • (a) a fine carpet to sell your wares on or (b) a collapsible stand to sell your wares behind.
  • A bag of holding with all of your goods inside. Talk to your DM to decide what you have in there. (Note to DM: Don't let them be a magic item dealer, unless magic items are veeery prevalent in your campaign.)
  • If you are using starting wealth, you have 5d12 x 10 gp in funds.

Table: The Merchant

Level Proficiency
Bonus
Features
1st +2 Eye of a Merchant (1), Retailer Relations, Bodyguard
2nd +2 Merchant Maneuvers
3rd +2 Mercantile Style
4th +2 Ability Score Improvement
5th +3 Daily Deals (1), Eye of a Merchant (2)
6th +3 Well Traveled
7th +3 Bargain for Your Life
8th +3 Ability Score Improvement
9th +4 Mercantile Style Feature
10th +4 Eye of a Merchant (3)
11th +4 Experienced Haggler
12th +4 Ability Score Improvement, Daily Deals (2)
13th +5 Mercantile Style Feature
14th +5 Arcane Curio Adept
15th +5 The Heart of a Merchant, Eye of a Merchant (4)
16th +5 Ability Score Improvement
17th +6 Mercantile Style Feature
18th +6 The Deal of a Lifetime
19th +6 Ability Score Improvement
20th +6 Shopkeep's Shroud, Eye of a Merchant (5)

Eye of a Merchant[edit]

As a merchant, you have an uncanny ability to see things most others won’t see in relation to your trade, be it the quirks of others, or details about trinkets you come across while trading. At 1st level, you have access to stage 1 of this feature. You gain access to stages 2, 3, 4, and 5 at levels 5, 10, 15, and 20, respectively, as seen on the Merchant Table.


1: You can naturally cast Identify as a ritual. ("Naturally" means you don't use magic, which means you are unaffected by counterspell or anti-magic fields. It's as if your analyzing skills are on par with the Identify spell.) You can also make an Insight check against a creature’s Deception check to figure out what sort of items they’d be interested in buying and what selling strategy would be most effective. If you succeed, all checks you make towards this creature in relation to trading gain a bonus equal to your proficiency bonus for 1 minute.

2: You can cast Identify naturally as an action. You can add your proficiency bonus to the Insight check one more time than usual.

3: You can naturally cast Identify on an item without touching the item as a bonus action, as long as you can see the object and it is within 10 feet of you. You have advantage on the Insight check.

4: You can cast Identify on an object without using magic based off of a decent description of the object. A decent description requires a full visual description of the object. You can add your proficiency bonus one more time than usual to your Persuasion, Deception, or Intimidation check on a creature that you’ve successfully Insight checked.

5: You no longer need to make an Insight check to know what someone wants to buy. If you succeed on your Persuasion or Deception check, the creature is charmed by you and thinks you’re the greatest salesmen ever for as long as they're talking to you and for 1 hour afterwards.

Retailer Relations[edit]

People in the business know each other, and that’s no exception when it comes to the trading business. Starting at 1st level, after spending 10 minutes in a town/city/village/etc, you know where all stores, markets, and other places of trade are located and what they sell. You also gain advantage on skill checks when trying to get information from the shopkeeps about the town and its people, or anything else that they would normally be unwillingly to talk about.

Bodyguard[edit]

Seeing that merchants aren’t generally the greatest fighters, they often hire others to protect them and their precious goods. Starting at 1st level, you hire a bodyguard to protect you. This bodyguard can be a mercenary or sell-sword willing to work for pay, or even wizards eager to test their skills in the field. Perhaps there’s a large company that has a collection of bodyguards to be rented around the land, or this can be someone who owes you a debt. Work with the DM to explain how you and this individual met each other and why they now work for you.

Your bodyguard rolls their own initiative in combat and acts on their own turn. You can give the bodyguard verbal commands on your turn or their turn, and if they think the command is reasonable, they'll do their best to complete it.

The DM should create a monster stat block for this bodyguard. The CR for the bodyguard starts at 1/2. If you gain a level while you have this bodyguard employed, their CR increases. From 1/2 to 1, 1 to 2, and so on.

Your bodyguard has a unique action called Protect. As an action, they take a defensive stance in order to keep you safe. When a creature makes a melee or ranged attack towards you and your bodyguard is within 5 feet of you, they attack with disadvantage.

If your bodyguard meets their end while in your service, it is up to the DM to decide if you will ever come across another individual that can act like this kind of bodyguard, so take care of your employee! (Note to DM: If you do decide to introduce a new bodyguard, make their CR two less than the character's Merchant level. For example, if the character is a level 4 Merchant, make the bodyguard have a CR of 2.)

Merchant Maneuvers[edit]

You may not be the most powerful fighter, but you're quick to think and even quicker to act. At 2nd level, you can use the Help, Use Object, or Disengage actions as a bonus action.

Mercantile Styles[edit]

At 3rd level, you choose your own style of marketing. Choose between Dirty Dealer, Entrepreneur, and Traveling Trader, all detailed at the end of the class description. Your choice grants you features at 3rd level and again at 9th, 13th, and 17th level.

Ability Score Increase[edit]

When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can't increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

Using the optional feats rule, you can forgo taking this feature to take a feat of your choice instead.

Daily Deals[edit]

Sometimes just doing your job is the best way to help in the middle of battle. Starting at 5th level, as an action, you start advertising whatever wares you have, drawing the attention of all your enemies, either through your exciting exhibition of your merchandise, or by just being loud and annoying. Any creatures of your choosing within 60 feet of you that can hear you have disadvantage on attack rolls and Dexterity Saving throws. A creature cannot be affected by this if they cannot see your nor hear you. This requires concentration similar to a concentration spell. After activating this feature, you can continue its effect, assuming you don't lose concentration, as a bonus action each subsequent turn for 1 minute. You must complete a long rest before using this feature again.

At 12th level, you can use this feature two times before needing to complete a long rest, as seen on the Merchant Table.

Well Traveled[edit]

As you have gone around the land, peddling your wares, you’ve picked up a skill or two along the way. At 6th level, you gain two skill, tool, or instrument proficiencies of your choice, along with one new language of your choice.

Bargain For Your Life[edit]

You attempt to use your Merchant charm to calm down an angry individual or make a neutral individual a close friend. Starting at 7th level, as an action, you can target a hostile creature within 5 feet of you and attempt to make them neutral towards you and your party. If the creature has an Intelligence score of 4 or lower or you or your party has attacked it or one of its allies within the past minute, this feature automatically fails. Make a Persuasion check against the creature’s Insight check. If you succeed, the creature is charmed by you for 1 minute. If the creature is damaged by you or your allies, the creature can make a Wisdom saving throw against your Merchant Save DC, which is your Charisma modifier + your proficiency bonus + 8, at the end of their turn to end the effect. Once this feature has been used on a creature, whether it succeeded or failed, that creature cannot be affected by this feature again for 24 hours.

Experienced Haggler[edit]

Since you’ve been a merchant for quite some time, you’ve had to argue to get the prices you want, and you’ve gotten pretty good at it. Starting at 11th level, you now have advantage on any checks in relation to buying and selling.

Arcane Curio Adept[edit]

You’ve dealt with a lot of magical items in your trade, so you’ve figured out how to use them with ease. Starting at 14th level, you ignore any class or race restrictions for using a magic item. Also, when you use a magic item that requires an action to use, you can use it as a bonus action. You can also now attune to up to six magic items at once.

The Heart of a Merchant[edit]

You’ve got to have a greater presence than others to reel them into buying your products. Starting at 15th level, you gain proficiency in Charisma saving throws.

The Deal of a Lifetime[edit]

You’ve figured out how to really amaze your customers, even in the most dire of situations. Starting at 18th level, as an action, you begin giving the greatest sales pitch the world has ever heard. Creatures that cannot see nor hear you are unaffected, as well as creatures that have an Intelligence score of 4 or lower. Any creature of your choosing within 60 feet of you must make a Wisdom saving throw against your Merchant DC, which is your Charisma Modifier + your proficiency bonus + 8. On a failure, the creature is stunned for 1 minute. If an affected creature has taken damage before the start of their next turn, they can make another saving throw to end the effect at the end of their turn. You must complete a long rest before using this feature again.

Shopkeep's Shroud[edit]

As you become a master merchant, your raw charismatic capacity exceeds mortal levels. All creatures of your choosing within 60 feet of you that can see or hear you must make a Charisma saving throw against your Merchant Save DC. On a failure, they become charmed by you for 1 minute. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a creature's saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the creature is immune to this feature for the next 24 hours.

Also any creature that is charmed by you through any of your Merchant features is also charmed by the rest of your party members. If they're friends of yours, they must be trustworthy!

Dirty Dealer[edit]

You know that most people are saps that just want to hear what they want to hear. You’ve decided that the best way to prey on this quality is by being a merchant and “giving” people what they want. You present gems worth 50 gold like ancient jewelry pieces from 5 centuries ago. You have every magic ring under the sun, or so your customers think. There’s nothing you can’t sell-up for a greater profit.

Natural Liar[edit]

You practically never do a straight deal, and you’ve gotten good at it. Starting at 3rd level, you gain proficiency in Deception. If you’re already proficient, you gain double proficiency.

Black Market[edit]

Starting at 3rd level, when using your Retailer Relations feature, you also learn the ins and outs of the black market of the city you're in. You also learn Thieve’s Cant.

Quick Pick-Pocket[edit]

When you sell someone something (legitimately or not), you tend to make them pay a bit more without them noticing. Starting at 9th level, if you sell a creature something, you can attempt to steal something off of their person as you close the deal. You determine the difficulty of stealing the item based on the worth of what you sold the customer.


If the item your stealing is worth 80% or less of the item you sold the customer, it’s an automatic success.

If the item is more than 80% and less than 120%, then you must succeed a Sleight Of Hand check against the customers Passive Perception - your Charisma Modifier.

If the item is more than 120% and less than 160%, you must succeed a Sleight Of Hand check against their Passive Perception.

For anything above 160%, the DC is the customers Passive Perception + 1 for every 10% over 160%, minimum of 1.


You can only steal one item off of a customer per interaction. For example, even if they bought five items, you could only steal one item from them, but the worth you use to set your DC is the cumulative worth of all five items.

Sellout[edit]

In the heat of battle, sometimes you gotta sellout your friends to protect your own neck. Starting at 13th level, as an action, choose a hostile creature within 10 feet of you. Make a Deception check against the target's Insight check. If you succeed, you must choose a creature within sight of both you and the target that is not one of the target’s allies. The creature will then want to attack them instead of you. This effect lasts for 1 minute. If the target has an Intelligence score of 4 or lower, this feature automatically fails. After you use this feature on a creature, succeed or fail, they cannot be affected by it again for 24 hours.

Pay Off[edit]

Money makes the world turn ‘round, and you know this all too well. Starting at 17th level, as an action, you can attempt to pay a hostile creature that is within 5 feet of you so that they’ll turn against their allies and join you temporarily. Make a Persuasion check and give the creature some money, weapons, or something you think they will want. Depending on the creature and its ties to its allies, as well as your Persuasion roll and the what you give them, the DM will decide if the creature is persuaded to join you. If you roll a natural 1 or 2 on your Persuasion roll, you automatically fail. If the target has an Intelligence score of 4 or lower, this feature automatically fails.

Entrepreneur[edit]

Unlike other merchants, you don’t need to go around toting your wares. You already have a business that’s up and running, and you travel about advertising your company and showing what it has to offer. You’ve done your work, and now you rake in the profit....as long as you keep your stupid employees from ruining the company.

Your Company[edit]

At 3rd level, you’ve established a company of some sort. Work with the DM to decide the company name, what you sell, etc. A major detail you must decide is where your business is located. When you return to this location, you’ll be able to withdraw your piece of the profit. The longer it’s been since you’ve returned, the more you may receive. Depending on where your company is located and what they sell, the DM will tell you roughly how much money the business makes daily/monthly/etc, how much the employees should be payed and so on. However, if you’re gone too long without sending any instructions or bringing in new merchandise or ideas, your company may start to fall apart, so be on top of it. You also have to be aware that you have employees that need to be payed to keep your business moving, as well as possible payments for the building and patents and so on, so you can’t take all of the money that the business is making.

Popularity Surge[edit]

Your company starts to become quite well-known, as well as yourself being the CEO. Starting at 9th level, you can temporarily hire individuals to go out and either spread your popularity or gather more materials and merchandise for you due to your fame. If you travel to a place that is aware of your successes due to your hire, you will gain a +3 bonus to all social checks there. Anyone you hire to bring you materials or ideas will bring them to you personally unless you give them someway to return to your company building, where they can become new employees if you can convince them to work for you permanently.

Second Location[edit]

At 13th level, you are able to establish a second location for your company to thrive. You can go to this other location to receive your profit as well as put in directions and new merchandise. The overall profits for your company double due to this new opening.

Partnership[edit]

At 17th level, you’re company has grown large enough that you are able to partner with another massive company to improve both businesses. Work with the DM to determine what kind of company that you’ve encountered in your travels would work with yours. Both companies’ profits double, and you are able to get items from the partner for free or at a large discount.

Traveling Trader[edit]

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Tressa, as skilled of a traveling merchant as any have seen in Orsterra.

You’re not the kind of person that would sell someone short, nor are you rich and famous enough to have a full company at your back. You are a simple traveling merchant, going where the money flows freely and the beds are cheap. You’ve mastered the art of travel, and you’ve picked up a few other tricks along the way.

Living on the Road[edit]

Sometimes you don’t want to waste money on food, so you track down any other food you can. At 3rd level, you gain proficiency in Survival. If you are already proficient, you gain double proficiency. You can also easily find enough food to feed yourself for a day, given there are berries, game, and water about.

Ears Peeled[edit]

It doesn’t tend to be safe out at night, and you’ve learned to be ready for anything. Starting at 3rd level, when you’re sleeping, you are easily awakened by slight noises that aren’t natural to the area. When conscious, you cannot be surprised.

Collected Cantrips[edit]

As you’ve gone about selling your stuff, you’ve picked up a few magic tricks. At 9th level, you gain three cantrips of your choice from the Traveling Trader Cantrip list, which is at the end of the archetype description. You gain a fourth cantrip at 12th level. Intelligence is your Spellcasting ability for these cantrips.

Defensive Dealer[edit]

You’re ready to protect your goods, no matter who walks by trying to take them. At 13th level, you gain proficiency in one weapon of your choosing that you aren’t already proficient in, as well as improvised weapons. Your unarmed strikes also now deal 1d4 bludgeoning damage. When attacking with the weapon you gained proficiency with this feature or with an improvised weapon or an unarmed strike, you can use a bonus action to make the attack deal 1d4 more damage.

Go the Distance[edit]

At this point in your travels, nothing will stop you from getting to your next destination. Starting at 17th level, you are unaffected by non-magical difficult terrain. Your movement speed increases by 10 feet. Attack of opporutnities that are directed at you triggered by your movement are at disadvantage. You can also take the Dash action as a bonus action.

Traveling Trader Cantrip List[edit]

Blade Ward

Booming Blade

Control Flames

Create Bonfire

Dancing Lights

Druidcraft

Friends

Green-Flame Blade

Guidance

Gust

Light

Lightning Lure

Mage Hand

Magic Stone

Mending

Message

Minor Illusion

Mold Earth

Prestidigitation

Primal Savagery

Produce Flame

Resistance

Shape Water

Shillelagh

Shocking Grasp

Thaumaturgy

Thunderclap

True Strike

Vicious Mockery

Multiclassing[edit]

Prerequisites. To qualify for multiclassing into the Merchant class, you must meet these prerequisites: Charisma score of 15 or higher

Proficiencies. When you multiclass into the Merchant class, you gain the following proficiencies: light armor, persuasion (if you're already proficient, you gain double proficiency), and one tool set of your choice.



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