Money : For Heroes & Commoners

One thing I've always struggled with in D&D is gold.

There's often a huge divide between what a hero earns in a single level of adventuring compared to what a common earns. As such, there's strange divide where WoTC or the DM have to decide whether to make the purchase of something meaningful to the players (eg: this meal costs 20g) or something that makes sense in the world (eg: this mean costs 5c).

I'm asusming this is because DnD was original inspired by old-school fiction like Tolkein, where the common trope was for the heroes to come across a sack of gold pieces so they would never have to work again after their single heroic adventure (and single book they star in). Modern fiction seems to have left this trope behind by and large to focus on heroes who keep on being heroic and where money plays a small role in the book, TV series or movie.

I think a lot of this awkward divide could be solved by diving the rewards by 100. So instead of the zombie priest having 900 gold pieces (randomly, despite this being enough to have easily been spent to raise a mercenary army instead of unreliable zombies), the zombie priest has 9 gold pieces. Of course magic items and the like would be converted down so they are out of reach of the common, but still affordable to a hero who has a few adventures under his belt.

Now I haven't tried playing this out yet, but I have played out too many campaigns where there are awkward moments where the heroes pay 2cp for a meal out of their 4,312g (they'd be those annoying people who ask for change from a $100 to buy a 10c lolly), or spend more than a commoner could earn in a lifetime to buy a basic, unadorned (non-magical) sword.

Thoughts?
Simply use a lower denomination among treasures found. If commoners in a village are mostly using copper pieces, then bandits and monsters plaguing them should have mostly copper pieces.
it hasnt always been like this. I read through a cagers guide to sigil the other day and the prices and rewards were staggeringly small now that ive been used to 3rd and 4th ed money. So yes I do normally change when it says gold in to silver (/10) to get a less silly economy.
This is somewhat more realistic then you think. Earning 100x that of someone else happens all the time. Steve jobs earns more in 1 day then some do in a year.

The disparity was even worse in the middle ages, and still is in other countries, where 1000x can be achived. 10,000x in extream cases (like north korea).

Also, remember that adventurers carry their life savings with them.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

I read a fun blog once about a town that figured out that if adventurers passed thtough town once a year they would earn more than by doing honest work....so they sat out to get their daughters kidnapped!
I recall they were going to bring Next back to the Silver economy, but that appears to have fallen by the wayside.
This is somewhat more realistic then you think. Earning 100x that of someone else happens all the time. Steve jobs earns more in 1 day then some do in a year. The disparity was even worse in the middle ages, and still is in other countries, where 1000x can be achived. 10,000x in extream cases (like north korea). Also, remember that adventurers carry their life savings with them.


It's not that I think it's unrealistic, it's that I think it's awkward.

I believe that magic items and the like should be expensive and outside the reach of a commoner, but something like standard sword should be within their reach. To use a real world analogy, it would be like a meal costing $5 (yay), but then a standard car costing $250,000 and a house in a bad neighbourhood costing $1,000,000.

I found this divide particularly awkward in the 4e Dark Sun setting - a pitcher of beer cost 2cp (a pitcher costs about $10 here, so lets assume 1cp = $5). Desert Clothing costs 10g ($5,000), a Dowsing Rod costs 20g ($10,000) and each day it costs 5g ($2,500) to survive. Now given that the Dark Sun universe is based on merchants spending all their time in the desert going from town A to town B, so they might spend $50,000 each to sell 20 barrels of beers. 20 barrels of beer would sell for 5g ...

A copper piece is closer to a single US dollar. A pitcher of ale is more like two liter soda in most setting. And beer is simply not a profitable product moving through the desert considering its weight to price ratio and dehydration. Plus most settlements develop their own brew anyway.
Those awkward moments are supposed to be awkward.  The heroes are supposed to be extremely wealthy celebrities.  They stand out among people who don't routinely defy death for fortune and glory.  They interact with everyone from popes to peasants.  Keeping a low profile and dealing with commoners should become difficult after a few adventures.


If you want to kep things gritty and street level, you should expect to tailor the material to fit that, because it's outside of the standard assumptions of the game.  
"When Friday comes, we'll all call rats fish." D&D Outsider
Pass a royal decree that all adventurers MUST purchase private health insurance.  That should suck down a good 99% of their gold.
"Therefore, you are the crapper, I'm merely the vessel through which you crap." -- akaddk
Pass a royal decree that all adventurers MUST purchase private health insurance.  That should suck down a good 99% of their gold.



There's no evil like lawful evil!
"When Friday comes, we'll all call rats fish." D&D Outsider
Wish there are better ways for players to spend money on mundane consumeables. Love the scene in Conan the Barbarian when the crew were getting drunk and spending all the loot they just acquired from the tower.
I would wholeheartedly agree that lowering the common levels of treasure gained would improve the game overall.
  I would disagree that the problem is 'awkward' moments.  The problem is that players' wealth being above and beyond what most people could hope to achieve de-values just about every NPC in the game.
  The rules specifically suggest that bribes and the expenditure of resources should be a means of furthering adventures.  You might gain advantage from a great bribe - or be unable to even attempt some charisma checks without spending a little money.
  That becomes inherently boring when the people you are dealing with see one single coin from your collection of ten thousand as riches.

  The divide between commoners and adventurers is still easily maintained - even if you were to give adventurers 1% of the treasure they got in 3rd or 4th edition D&D, they could easily be superstars of wealth compared to common folk.
  Also, if the adventurers have less money, putting them in a position where it costs 10gp per head to cross the greedy Baron's bridge might actually be an interesting part of an adventure - sure to inspire them to 'deal' with, or befriend, this greedy Baron at some point.
Wait wait wait, this concept's even better.

  The treasure awarded to D&D adventurers is like the HP and damage values in more recent Final Fantasy titles.
  There's really no reason that anyone needs 9999 HP, or to be able to deal 106,000 damage with an attack.  Is it fun in a video game?  It can be.  Does it make any sense for D&D? Not really.

  Seems D&DNext is avoiding the unnecessarily haughty numeric values of attack and AC from recent editions.  Why not adjust the suggested treasure amounts as well?  TC is right, D&D economy does NOT make sense. 
Since now there isn't Magic item emporium and Buy 2 wands for price of one there is no point in giving player thousands of gp. And somehow my group started to do this long time ago. We weren't getting tons of gold. Our DM gave out items as loot or rewards. After saving smith we got 1 masterwork sword for our effort (not one for each character) and similar thing. And in one village we saved at lv 2 got like few hundred silvers. Things like that. Realistic rewards. Serve us right when playing with DM who studied history XD 

On side note. Medieval commoner is little better than a slave (some roman slaves were treated better than some serfs) and knight could from one tournament earn more money than whole village in lifetime. So if we look at our PCs as tournament knights who wonder around it's not unrealistic that they have more money than commoners.  

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/20.jpg)

I recall they were going to bring Next back to the Silver economy, but that appears to have fallen by the wayside.

Any D&D campaign running on the "gold standard" already has a silver economy.

Pass a royal decree that all adventurers MUST purchase private health insurance.  That should suck down a good 99% of their gold.

Given how often adventurers are wounded and killed, that's basicly giving them money.

I mean if you had to pay 20 gold per year, but healing potions and resurrections are only a 2 silver deductible, your going to have alot more reckless adventurers on your hands.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

Pass a royal decree that all adventurers MUST purchase private health insurance.  That should suck down a good 99% of their gold.

Given how often adventurers are wounded and killed, that's basicly giving them money.

I mean if you had to pay 20 gold per year, but healing potions and resurrections are only a 2 silver deductible, your going to have alot more reckless adventurers on your hands.



I want to live in an alternate universe where health insurance is only 20g/year for high-risk activities like adventuring.  Just think how cheap it would be for mountain climbers and heli-skiers.
"Therefore, you are the crapper, I'm merely the vessel through which you crap." -- akaddk
Using a silver standard while dividing values by 100 instead of 10 would help curb number bloat
100 copper = 1 silver
100 silver = 1 gold

characters start with around 150 SILVER
weapons cost between 2 and 50 SILVER 
and so on...

It is still precise enough for most item due to the CP being worth less in comparison, while helping numbers stay manageable.
At high level, instead of having around 10 000 GP in his pockets, a character would have 100. More in line with what gold is worth.

I once too the time to check, and by weight, a gold coin is roughly 100 times the value of a silver coin of the same size (in real-world money)
Using contemporary values for comparison, 1 ounce of gold is worth roughly 1500 USD (something only a rich man would carry around, just like gold in DND)
the same coin made with 1/2 ounce of silver (silver roughly weights half as much as gold) would be worth around 14 USD, lets round it up to 15 (a sum that can be reasonably be considered for everyday transactions for most people)
A same-sized 1/2 ounce copper coin would be worth 0.10 USD (spare change) but copper price fluctuates a lot, and assuming it could be worth around 0.15 USD is not a big stretch, and it conveniently makes our maths just right.

GP = 1500 $ 
SP = 15 $
CP = 0.15 $
 
Try radiance RPG. A complete D20 game that supports fantasy and steampunk. Download the FREE PDF here: http://www.radiancerpg.com
On side note. Medieval commoner is little better than a slave (some roman slaves were treated better than some serfs) and knight could from one tournament earn more money than whole village in lifetime. So if we look at our PCs as tournament knights who wonder around it's not unrealistic that they have more money than commoners.  

Only before the bubonic plague of 1378! After that there were so few workers that they were able to ask for more money. It is also was around when knights became less and less prominent.

Anyway - I agree by paragon tier or high heroic the heroes should be dealing with big wigs who have deep pockets, put at least at lower heroic I think the heroes should be rich compared to your average worker, but still poorer than your local noble. By the end of level 2 (roughly end of first adventure?) an average hero will have about 360g + 1.5 magic items + starting loot in 4e. That's enough to stay in an inn (5sp/night) for about 2 years getting fat or 1,8000 pitchers of ale.

Diving rewards & heroic items by 10 might do the trick?
@zippy after the plage too,hence revolts in 16th ct (in some parts of europe at least,in england it was bit better,no ottoman threat and all that). But i digress. History is great inspiration for me when I DM.

Another idea i got is that instead of gold they get items so as a plot hook they need to find someone who will pay for 20 goblin made swords and so on. Why would monsters carry gold with them if they don't use it? There are lot of stuff one can do so that players get their reward and more realistic feeling. 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/20.jpg)

Wish there are better ways for players to spend money on mundane consumeables. Love the scene in Conan the Barbarian when the crew were getting drunk and spending all the loot they just acquired from the tower.



I think there's something to this.  Implement a "High Living" rule, where it's assumed characters are spending a 10th (or more) of their money every day they're not either a) adventuring or b) saving for something specific to purchase. Don't track any expenses except that which is important to adventuring (bribes, weapons, spell components, etc).  All that ill-gotten dungeon money isn't doing them any good if they don't spend it, especially since they live a lifestyle where any given day could be their last.  SO PARTY LIKE YOU'RE GOING TO DIE!


The needs of your campaign may vary, of course.
D&D's supposed to be a roleplaying campaign, last I checked, and instituting a "high living" rule assumes that every single adventurer that ever was and ever will live spends all his free time drinking and whoring. Not a whole lot of room for roleplay in that. What if you're playing a bookish adventuring wizard? A penny pinching miser? A devotee to a god who forbids drinking and whoring?
Using a silver standard while dividing values by 100 instead of 10 would help curb number bloat
100 copper = 1 silver
100 silver = 1 gold

Why are we using a 10x scale anyway?

Many systems with life style cost have different ratings to choose from. For example, the adventuring noble is still use to the same expense life style while the pious priest has inexpensive needs.
D&D's supposed to be a roleplaying campaign, last I checked, and instituting a "high living" rule assumes that every single adventurer that ever was and ever will live spends all his free time drinking and whoring. Not a whole lot of room for roleplay in that. What if you're playing a bookish adventuring wizard? A penny pinching miser? A devotee to a god who forbids drinking and whoring?



It only assumes that as heroes grow in accomplishment and stature and wealth, so do their ambitions and expenses.  That's generally true. 

You can be as specific as the narrative needs you to be.  A devotee of a god who forbids debauchery is, in all likelihood, a devote of a god who demands tithe, which scales with income.  A bookish adventuring wizard should be able to buy even more obscure substances with which to experiment, more precious and obscure reference materials, and even endow other scholars with grants to research or explore.  A penny pinching miser loses access to money faster than the lot of them, because his "living expenses" are his own neurosis.  The money might still be in his possession in the narrative, but if he's completely unwilling to part with it then it can be written off mechanically.  If he has a change of heart and decides to come off some of his nest egg, you can cite insecure storage or the cost of conversion to portable wealth as the cause of depreciation.

Think of it not as a wench tax, but as an opportunity to flesh out characters.  Give creative control of it over to the players.
"When Friday comes, we'll all call rats fish." D&D Outsider
I have had the same thoughts before. I believe it is up to everyone's own preference but I like to keep the rewards fairly low at the first few levels. However at levels over 10 I think it is believable to have the players be like multi miljonairs.

It really just a matter of the DM running the campain in a way that makes sence. 



We just completed a rather long run as caravan guards, several attackes etc and a renegotion of gurad fees  


 


We got a rather large sum of gold as our cut of sales and given the currect war status of the city we were in things were expensive, but we could also find craftsmen to get better quality weapons. In my case I had to wait to have a bow made, which in turn kept us in the city eating up funds and mini adventures that ultimaltly not gaining any more funds.


By the time we left the merchants were rich and we were again close to poor



-R

I'm asusming this is because DnD was original inspired by old-school fiction like Tolkein, where the common trope was for the heroes to come across a sack of gold pieces so they would never have to work again after their single heroic adventure (and single book they star in). Modern fiction seems to have left this trope behind by and large to focus on heroes who keep on being heroic and where money plays a small role in the book, TV series or movie.


What you really mean isn't in regard to modern fiction 'moving on' (yah, who makes movies about Tolkeins books anymore, eh? Totally moved on) - it's because D&D play goes for 20 levels worth of adventures, not just one adventure. D&D is in contradiction to itself in that way, how it takes the main motivator and...forfils it ten seconds into the overall 1-20 arc.

The D&D writers need to work on character motivations being made as necessary on a character sheet as the core stats, because 'get rich' essentially gets forfilled ten seconds into play at the very first pile of gold coins the PC's come across.

"In the game there is magic" - Orethalion

 

Only got words in my copy.

D&D's supposed to be a roleplaying campaign, last I checked, and instituting a "high living" rule assumes that every single adventurer that ever was and ever will live spends all his free time drinking and whoring. Not a whole lot of room for roleplay in that. What if you're playing a bookish adventuring wizard? A penny pinching miser? A devotee to a god who forbids drinking and whoring?



I'm not assuming.  Like I said, the needs of your campaign may vary. Your campaign may not be appropriate for that kind of rule.  I'm offering a way to deal with the awkwardness described in the original post.  Is it ideal?  Nope.  But it's an opition.
Really, the big issue is that people don't spend money on their actions. As stated, have them spend money on upkeep of themselves and healing between missions. Also gabber players spend money gathering rumors and actually finding adventures. Add descriptions in combat that the orc slashed your good bag and you lost Some money. And when they start getting really rich, knock them out Andy let them lose their gold while kidnapped.

All very realistic things that happen that isn't normally accounted for
Really, the big issue is that people don't spend money on their actions. As stated, have them spend money on upkeep of themselves and healing between missions. Also gabber players spend money gathering rumors and actually finding adventures. Add descriptions in combat that the orc slashed your good bag and you lost Some money. And when they start getting really rich, knock them out Andy let them lose their gold while kidnapped. All very realistic things that happen that isn't normally accounted for


Do you DM?

There's basically an equation - the more something is detrimental to the player, the more 'it's realistic' is not going to make them happy over it happening.

You need a rule on gold loss - either the player will either accept it at the start of play or not, instead of having unfun each time you do your 'realistic' gold loss.

"In the game there is magic" - Orethalion

 

Only got words in my copy.

Like i said, it's things unaccounted for. It's up to your group to count for such things. While i have never used the mechanic that everyone gets ko and kidnapped to rob them, i do make then lose money for travel and things like gather rumors. If wizards have to pay to make, learn and prepare for spells, paying bribes to people in taverns to gather info makes sense