“The ultimate aim of the game is to gain sufficient esteem as a good player to retire your character—he becomes a kind of mythical, historical figure, someone for others to look up to and admire.” That bit of wisdom comes courtesy of Gary Gygax his damn self, and there is no greater grognard in all the land. Of course, the theory only applies to player characters. If you have the misfortune to be born a non-player character, your options are slightly more limited.

Your average NPC can look forward to a short and miserable existence getting murdered by the PCs, robbed by the PCs, or knocked out cold, tied up, and impersonated by the PCs. And if by some miracle they should ever come out on top, five out of six people at the table will declare it “total bullshit.” I think that it’s the native sympathy and humanity of that sixth guy (read: your average GM) which demands a more even playing field. “Why yes, the party. You can try to rob the magic merchant/innkeeper. Sinister laugh, sinister laugh. You can certainly try.

In all seriousness, the max level shop keeper exists because of rampant murder hoboism. If you’ve got a band of “heroes” making a profit by robbing merchants instead of dragons, it’s only natural to try and course correct. And while I’m tempted to say it’s a bit of an overreaction throwing “Sharkoom the Titanslayer” behind a desk at the local 7-11, there’s no doubt that some parties deserve it.