Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Building Bhakashal - Money, Money, Money...

Twitter regularly shows me the most fascinating things, for example, recently I have seen a few threads complaining that the PCs couldn’t find ways to spend their gold. 


D&D gives out a lot of gold or gold equivalents (jewelry, gems, other coins, etc.), so adventurers will find themselves laden with loot by mid-levels if they are lucky and survive that long.

Here are a few suggestions of ways to drain that loot.

  1. Heavy Loot - in AD&D 10gp = 1lb, so 100gp weighs 10 lbs. Doesn’t sound like much, but look at those treasure tables, you can roll 4000 gp as loot, that’s 400lbs of coins. Even if you split it up between 4 adventurers, that’s 100lbs each

I suspect most groups just hand wave the weight, or give out bags of holding and such. 

But that’s part of the reason you have too much gold to spend! If you use some form of encumbrance, every time parties grab loot there will only be so much they can carry out of the dungeon, and they will be slowed by it considerably. You haven’t really rocked it old school until you have had to choose between carrying gold and fleeing from a monster. 

Greed kills!

  1. Mounts - During low levels getting around is a slog, by mid levels parties should invest in mounts. This means getting tack and harness, sometimes barding, and arranging for upkeep, housing and food. Mounts are generally one of the most expensive things you get in the early stages of the game, and depending on how messy things get, you will have to replace them eventually as well. 

  1. Animals (dogs, pack horses) - PCs are enamored with guard dogs and extra horses to carry out more loot and gear, that costs in training and food!

  1. Guides - when in unfamiliar areas, it is usually possible to hire guides, often local hunters, to help parties navigate their surroundings. You get what you pay for…

  1. Transportation - I suspect that a lot of referees put their adventuring destinations close to the party so they don’t have to go far, but booking passage on ships or with caravans can be expensive. Also note that if you want to get a ship to take you to some remote island they aren’t going to wait around for free, and they aren’t going to take you on the cheap. Generally ships will only drop you off somewhere if it’s on one of their regular runs, and they will make you pay dearly for it. If you want them to WAIT, as opposed to dropping you off and returning weeks later when they are on their way back, it would cost a LOT.

  1. Transportation 2 - Buy a ship! If a party wants to be able to adventure on the waves, they could do worse than to purchase, provision and hire crew for a sailing vessel. By mid-level they should have the wealth for it, and it will give them much greater mobility. 

  1. Equipment, Weapons and Ammunition - no more endless quivers! Your adventurers should be replacing lost and broken arrows, spears, etc. over the course of the game. Damaged weapons, damaged armor, all of these things need replacing. A set of chain mail doesn’t last forever, so even if you have no detailed rules for armor and weapon damage, periodic replacement is in order. An easy house rule is to replace one non-magical item every time the PC levels

  1. Tithing - 1e had tithing for Paladins and clerics would give to their temple, but really, any class would have guild fees to pay, all PCs would likely donate to their temple, not just the paladins. 

  1. Taxes - Everyone wants a “medieval style setting”, but they ignore the taxation that came along with it. If adventurers are hauling back large sums of loot, local administrators are going to want their share of the wealth. 

  1. Property - Tables will spend time thinking about where you will be staying on the way to an adventure, but between adventures this is often hand waived. It shouldn’t be! PCs need a place to stay when they are not adventuring too! In most of my games once the PCs hit it big the first time they put some coin into renting rooms at a local Inn on a long term basis. By mid-levels they can often purchase land or real estate.

  1. Managing Money -  So let’s say your group has just become flush with funds after a successful adventure, and let’s say further that you manage to get a lot of that loot out of the dungeon. You arrive back in town, your mounts laden with gold filled saddlebags. 

Where do you put it all? Say you slay a dragon and end up with thousands of coins, this is 100% possible given the treasure tables. Say you have 10,000 coins of various kinds, that’s 1000 lbs of loot. Likely you will have to hire porters and mounts to extract the loot, and once extracted you can’t keep that under your mattress, or in your backpack, so it has to be stored somewhere and protected when you are not around. That all costs money. 

Smart PCs convert gold to gems, that saves a lot of space, but this will also cost money, it will cost to convert the loot (there are fees for that) and there won’t be an exact match, so sometimes you will get less for the gem than it is worth. For the ridiculous amount of wealth that a PC gets, storing and managing the wealth will be a significant cost 

  1. Sages - Gygax put extensive information about sages into the game, the idea being that PCs can consult sages to get a leg up on adventuring. Sages are a great way to drain gold from a party, as research can take a lot of time and require rare and hard to find books and lore. 

  1. Clues and Information - pretty much every fantasy story I have read has a part where the protagonist spreads around coin to gain information. Paying off the locals to get the scoop, bribing guards to let the party through, there are lots of ways to spend gold to get advantages.

  1. Henchmen - AD&D and earlier editions assumed that PCs would have henchmen, and the best way to guarantee loyalty from your henchmen is to give them decent shares of the loot. Paying for room and board, buying them equipment and mounts, etc.

  1. Training - AD&D also makes you pay gold, a LOT of gold, for training to level up, training is a specialized activity from rare, hard to find higher level NPCs, it should be expensive!

  1. Potion, Spell and Magic Item Creation - It varies by edition, but if you have rules for making temporary or permanent magic items, they will all be a huge drain on gold supplies. And not just for rare ingredients, the AD&D rules for magic item creation, for example, require the wizard to sit with the item for days and do nothing else, that wizard needs to be protected and in a remote, or at least hard to access location to do this work uninterrupted. All of that costs gold, the location to work, the ingredients, the guards to protect you, etc, etc. 

  1. Potion and Spell Purchasing - though “magic shops” are not really an AD&D thing, purchasing of spells (on scrolls, or to have spells cast) and potions definitely exists in AD&D. Temporary magic items like these can be purchased, and are a significant source of gold drain for the treasure laden party.

  1. Magic Item Creation by NPC - At lower levels PCs can hire high level wizards to make items for them. The costs are staggering, but if you really want to drain gold, this is a sure fire way to do so. Keep in mind that the requirements of staying in contact with the item for days means that wizards who take on this work are taking great personal risk, what better time to attack your foe when they are stuck in a room touching a magic item and they can’t spellcast or defend themselves? So PAYING to have someone else do this will be very dear indeed.

  1. Helping Others - particularly if you have a good or lawfully aligned party, a gold heavy adventuring group can spread around the wealth in helpful ways. You don’t want to flood the economy with gold, that can lead to problems, but say purchasing a fishing boat for a fisherman who had their’s stolen, or giving a small village the gold needed to hire mercenaries to protect them, that sort of thing is an easy and in-character way to use excess wealth. For real, if an adventuring party has thousands of GP, they could pay to get mercenaries to protect a village for months with that sort of loot.

  1. Art! - mid level PCs with gold to burn can become patrons of the arts, commission a sculptor to make a statue of the Baron to curry his favor, have the party’s adventures immortalized in paintings, hire a skald to keep records of their exploits and sing them to all who will listen.

These are suggestions from my gaming experience, I’m sure others will have cool ideas too. Last suggestion: encourage any and all hare-brained schemes your players suggest, as they will likely cost a bundle to execute…


1 comment:

  1. What is missing from this glorious list? A table specifically for vagabonds, rapscallions, and bards. Hookers and blow.


Building Bhakashal - Money, Money, Money... Twitter regularly shows me the most fascinating things, for example, recently I have seen a few ...