Inspired by Troy’s Fantasy Wagon Train  article, it struck me the other day how much I loved walking into weapons shops in the video game RPGs. Having this small, free form area that was full of interesting visual tidbits, a couple of interactions with NPCs, and a selection of items which might add some element of uniqueness to my current play experience delighted me to no end.
I also remember that experience in my first roleplaying game. The Game Master drew out my search for armor and went into detail about how I was having it custom made, what the search for the shop was like, and how I would have to wait a few days for it. It wasn’t that big of an element in the game, but it is something I’ve never forgotten the feel of. To that end, here are some brief descriptions of weapons shops for use in your games. Here is part 2, Modern and Sci-fi weapons shops. You can find part 1 here. 
Monroe Consulting – Modern
Proprietor: Julie-Ann Monroe – (Tall, svelt, calculating, wears a black pants suit, severe eyes)
Description: The offices of Monroe consulting are on the 8th floor of a skyrise that is decorated in an exceedingly modern style. Monroe consulting offers security services and consulting for those with enough cash to pay. Those with enough cash to pay, and the correct secret password, can get a private consultation with Ms. Monroe at a location of their choosing. Utilizing contacts she made from her time in the FBI, she can now acquire many unique items that are very hard to trace.
Mundane Items: Ms. Monroe can acquire most mundane types of firearms and small explosives through untraceable channels. Given a bit of notice, she can provide a selection of items modified to be hard to trace or identify. She does not deal in bulk, but in specialized needs.
Quality: Exquisite. The items Ms. Monroe deals in are not street level wares. Her selection is vast, but she tries to accommodate clients’ needs.
Items of note: Though her major stock in trade is small firearms, Ms. Monroe has a few electronic hacking devices and countermeasures. Her special wares include electronic keys, encryption decoders, telecommunications encrypters, and a very special device that scrambles a person’s face in front of most security cameras.
- Sam Ralton – Ms. Monroe’s secretary, Sam, is the face of the public side of the business. He will usually be the first one seen by anyone visiting the offices. Depending on the security needs of a normal client, he will direct them to one of the accounts managers to set up basic corporate security services. If provided the correct password, he will inform a client that Ms. Monroe is busy, but he’ll be happy to make an off-site appointment.
- Sam’s Phone Call – During his lunch hour, Sam will call the client from a public, but encrypted, phone asking about the client’s general needs. He will be very quick and terse. The client should provide basics for their needs, which Monroe Consulting will try to acquire.
- Ms. Monroe – A standard dealing with Ms. Monroe will be very prompt and professional. She will carry a suitcase or two, and Sam or another assistant will be carrying cases that require larger accommodations. She will prefer to meet in a hotel room, conference room, or other private indoors area. She never deals in her or others’ homes, nor does she deal out in the open or on the street.
- Sally Monroe’s School – On a rare occasion, Ms. Monroe may receive a phone call from her daughter’s school. She will tell the client to patiently and quietly wait while she conducts business. Her severe exterior will instantly drop away as she becomes a doting mother, trying to deal with a parenting issue. One completed, Ms. Monroe will resume dealings, informing the client that if no further mention of her necessary call is made, she will provide a 20% discount.
- Gun Talk – Ms. Monroe will deviate from her business for few things, but if she notices a particularly nice or unique weapon on a PC, she will show appreciation and converse with them about the merits of the particular type of firearm, proving her knowledge and expertise.
- Bring Your Daughter To Work Day – If the PCs are having a second meeting with Ms. Monroe, a humorous element could be that Sally is sick or on suspension from school, and there was no other thing to do with her. Since the PCs are more trusted as clients, Ms. Monroe brought them along. “Honey, play with your coloring book over there. Mommy has to sell things that kill people now. Ok, where were we…”
Reactor 13 – Your Modern Armaments Depot – Sci-fi
Proprietor: The Laissan Trading Company
Description: Reactor 13 is the weapons shop arm of the Laissan trading company. Though a franchise business, Laissan will ensure that each one of these stores maintains the proper standards of the local and galactic law to which they are beholden. Laissan will provide stock weapons that are allowed in the area as well as legal assistance to make sure each store is in compliance. Though the inside of each franchise may vary slightly, the large Reactor 13 sign that adorns the outside of every store is a common site on space stations and colonies with less restrictive arms policies. The insides of most of the stores are done in a clean warehouse style with the various products displayed on the walls or through terminals which showcase the categories of weapons available.
Mundane Items: From small arms to self defense armor, Reactor 13 has it all! Locations with ship-yard access have the capability to outfit your transport with locally sourced munitions. Whether you need a holdout gun and personal body armor for your trade run to centris 7 or a containment web to mercifully contain those pesky protestors, you can find it at Reactor 13!
Quality: Varying. Reactor 13 does not sell defective equipment (the lawsuits would be outrageous), but the amount of firepower they can sell is strictly controlled by local laws. What can be purchased might also vary based on the type of permits the purchaser holds.
Items of note: A few Reactor 13 outlets get access to “corporate specials” which they showcase in large displays. Experimental weapons that are not yet available to the public, these weapons must be purchased by providing testing information, credits, and signing a waiver/license that is incredibly restrictive. Many are willing to do this as well as the cash output, as the unique weapons often provide distinct advantages.
- Jelor – Bored Shop Clerk – Jelor is a bored shop clerk who is more interested in getting back to a book than selling weapons. Jelor will provide information on weapons if pressed, but non-committedly shrugs towards an information terminal rather than being helpful.
- Mercenary Company – Wow, is this shop crowded! There is barely any room as it is taken up by a uniformed and armored group of mercenaries who are pawing over all of the weapons there. They were just engaged in a major firefight (it shows on their armor) and they need to resupply, even if it is off the shelf at a store like this. Their next engagement requires them to be better outfitted than their last engagement left them.
- Miranda – Corporate Spy – Slinking around one of the displays of corporate specials is a well dressed woman with a small optical device. When she thinks no one is looking (she is very bad about this) she sneaks a picture or scan of the device, possibly setting off an alarm.
- Sales Robot – “Why hello there valued customer! You look like you are in need of something that your average joe or jane wouldn’t carry on their person. Can I direct you to the eviscerator 957?! It’s the absolute best in self defense technology. Remember though, the eviscerator line works best with genuine H.P.* cartridges!
- Chalik – Unfortunate Robber – A poor, unfortunate crook wearing a black ski-mask busts in through the store’s doors, brandishing a shotgun of some futuristic design. “Everybody stick your hands up, this is…. not a bank.” Jelor, the bored shop clerk, fiddles absentmindedly with a few joysticks and buttons, aiming two of the automated turrents on display at the crook. As the burglar puts his hands up, Jelor pushes a button, turns the page in his book, and another turret fires a containment web at the robber.
- Automated Turret Gone Haywire – A voice booms from a sparking automated turret that a customer’s child is messing with. Turning towards you, it says: “Remove all arms and get on your knees. Failure to comply will result in life sign termination!”. As the gatling style barrels begin to turn, a red light comes on and the voice says: “Please reload ammunition.”. What, you think they keep those things loaded while in the store?
The Talingar – A Floating Weapons Ship Shop Proprietor – Sci-fi
Proprietor: Cerrick Palling (scruffy, lazy, slobbish, stains on clothing, black vest, gun at side, goggles perched on his brow, fumbles over his word choice)
Description: The Talingar is a well known ship in less law-abiding circles. Travelling about the space lanes, it will dock with other ships or at stations, offering up the many wares that it stores in its cargo deck. Those coming aboard the Talingar will notice the many crates and loaders that are spread about haphazardly. Cerrick, or one of his small grey or green alien crew, will accompany buyers with a clipboard that has a complete inventory. The buyer will ask about certain items, and the crewman will reference the inventory, checking which box it might be in. Any visitor quickly gets the feeling that Cerrick operates far outside of the law and can easily find evidence that most of his product “fell off the back of the freighter”.
Mundane Items: Cerrick’s stock is very diverse. He may not have any common weapons on a given day, but he likely will in a few weeks. The many crates of cargo are likely to hold a mish mash of various rifles, blasters, missles, shipboard navigation components, assemble it yourself fighter ships, etc.
Quality: Poor to Excellent – Cerrick will try to unload the crap he has on hand as good quality stuff, if he thinks he can get away with it. A schrewd buyer knows that Cerrick has a second inventory list that shows where the good stuff is. With a bit of coaxing, one can usually get him to provide access to this stock. He just has to know you’re willing to pay the price.
Items of note: Cerrick usually has a few gems tucked away. From time to time he gets his hands on a decent small fighter or a multi-target electric defense grid. Sometimes he will carry robotic weapons platforms, but it usually means that someone, somewhere is looking for the breach in their organization and will be tracking him down as soon as possible.
- Selaryn – Concerned Buyer – Dressed in fairly common clothes and accompanied by 2 guards, Selaryn is the governor of a colony that is about to start a war of independence. She is on a mission to procure armaments, and might be willing to buy Cerrick’s entire stock, if he can be convinced to take wheat and other crops in trade.
- Sleeping Crew-alien – While browsing through the crates, the PCs might find a hammock stretched between two stacks of boxes, slightly hidden away. Here a strange kind of snoring can be heard coming from a jump-suited grey, bipedal creature. If disturbed, the alien will grimace at the PCs and roll over.
- Dirk – Undercover Cop – Posing as another buyer, Dirk is perusing the weapons, covertly asking about what other “more specialized” weapons Cerrick might have. He is trying to find some real dirt or verify a serial number known to be from a stolen shipment. Dirk’s manner is fairly cool, but he is showing a bit too much of his hand. Cerrick will soon become suspicious, if a PC doesn’t pick up on it beforehand.
- Stack of Crates Ready To Fall – Crates here are packed from floor to ceiling and secured with nets, but a stack or two might not be as secure as it could be. Crew-aliens rush to hold it in place, but if it falls something very interesting might slide from one of the crates. A special type of weapon that is on Cerrick’s good list. It might just be possible to grab this before anyone notices.
- Crew-alien reprogramming a robotic weapons platform – Loud cursing accompanies one of the crew aliens who is trying to get a robot out of “Dance Instructor” mode. A few tweaks, and he tries to activate it again. “Wouuuuullld yooouuuuu liiiiike toooo leaaaarrrn howwwwoowwo tooouououooo Saaalllsaaaa?” More cursing comes from the alien as the robot gets shut down again and the alien attempts to delete the last few bits of this programming.
- Box Of Suspicious Materials – Some boxes are marked with large red alien symbols. What is in these boxes? Perhaps a genetically engineered creature intended for drop and kill missions? Maybe it is Cerrick’s stash of platinum or hard cash? Maybe it is nothing more illicit than alien marital aids… Open at your own risk.
And there are the final 3 shops, modern and Sci-fi. Tweak as needed to fit your game. I hope these help provide a quick inspiration or scene to use in your game. If I write up more of these, what sorts of things would you like to see? Corporate offices? Suburban homes? Biker bars? Fantasy bars? Jails?
Img: From Wing Commander Privateer