Coffer of Coins reminds me of the excellent Citybook series put out years ago by Buffalo Games. It details 13 shops that would credibly populate a district of jewelers, lapidaries and metalworkers in a large city with sufficient notes on merchandise and employees to run the place, and adventure plot hooks if the players get more deeply involved. I find this format useful since it’s a manageable slice of information to help avoid making an urban shopping excursion feel generic, yet has enough information that if anything clicks for the players you can instantly add dimension to the encounter for that first game session giving the DM time between sessions to flesh things out even more fully once the players are interested.
The aspect I especially like may not be everyone’s cuppa, but the majority of shops not only have unique items and services not described in the player’s handbook (or not fully fleshed out), but this product usually offers rules not just for creating those items but a means of integrating them into the character’s repertoire. As a minor case in point, the Player’s Handbook gives pricing for silvered weapons, but if a player wanted to make one themselves there are no specific rules for that. In this product visitors of the Smithing Guild can take classes in it, which includes painting, gilding and leafing (none of which are mentioned in the official guides). It’s not an overwhelming dissertation on silvering, but it suddenly becomes an element of the campaign more or less at the players’ discretion if it clicks for them when visiting the shop.
I have mixed feelings about the presentation. I give major kudos for the inclusion of an index, so I’m willing to overlook the funky chapter heading fonts and text box borders that sometimes look like they were printed off a dot-matrix printer from the early eighties, or the occasional border or drop-shadow that crowds or overlaps text. I also have a personal dislike of ‘flavor text’, so I was briefly put-off by the fact that the first 3 ½ pages are nothing but flavor text. To me those are niggling concerns when the overall product is legible, relatively error-free, and chock-a-block full of ideas I can (and WANT) to introduce to my campaign. Buffalo Games’ Citybooks cost a lot more than this product (and those were ten and twenty years ago!), so in my books this is a bargain at $6.95, but on sale it’s an absolute steal!