Too much gold!

I have been thinking about character wealth. Really this span out of the discussion about Fate points and Inspiration.  As I said I don’t use any kind of fate system. I don’t need one as my party was sponsored by a powerful priest in the early days and the PC cleric is fast approaching the point where he can cast Life Keeping, buying enough time to effect any repairs and stave off death. If the PCs can dodge death then fate points do dodge death only devalue the role played by the cleric.

Of course there are conditions that the cleric cannot cure and when that happens Life Keeping can keep the victim ‘on ice’ until the characters can get to a cleric or healer that can effect the cure. At this point gold enters the equation as the cleric or church is going to require some hefty donation or possibly a duty in payment.

Healing by NPCs is a great way of taking excess money out of the campaign.

In my world getting permanent magic items made is hugely expensive, massively time consuming and alchemists of required skill are extremely rare. The net result is that no PC has ever succeeded in having an item made. This isn’t by accident, magic per se is rarer in my world than RM would have it. I have reduced the chances of finding magical items in the treasure charts and made spell lists harder to learn. Characters have less spell lists in general which leads to greater differentiation between different characters who would appear to be broadly of the same profession.

Right now the PC party are around the 5th/6th level and whilst not counting every copper coin, they are still having to seriously manage their money.

How do others manage excess money in their campaigns?

6 Replies to “Too much gold!”

  1. Well…if the group is killing other groups or foes and looting them, does it seem fair that other groups would try and kill the PC’s and take their loot as well?

  2. Exponential scaling is another way to keep things from getting out of hand. I liked the old RM2 item cost modifiers: a low steel (+5) sword cost 5x what a normal iron (+0) sword cost, and a high steel (+10) cost 20x. That gave me as a GM some leeway, because if I screwed up and gave the players twice or three times the amount of money that would be appropriate for their level, they still wouldn’t have enough to get the higher tier equipment yet.

    Some people have criticized exponential scaling as being unrealistic, but I never quite understood the criticism. Even today, luxury items can be vastly more expensive than mundane versions of the same item, and that’s without even adding magic into the equation. The most expensive car in the world, according to one list I saw on the interwebs, is something like $5 million (not even including what a Formula 1 car would cost), while I sold a used Ford Ranger a while back for $1,000. That’s a 5000x difference right there without magic involved. So I see no problem with exponential scaling for other things either.

  3. Bill Webb lists a number of ways in his Book of Dirty Tricks but I think my favourite of those is to give the characters a castle and land grant. If this is, say, either a rundown castle or one that hasn’t been built yet on the edge of civilisation, characters will need to spend a lot of money fixing it up or building it and securing the area. Plus castles need servants, who also cost money, as do soldiers etc. In this way characters can get separated from large amounts of money yet get their own castle and base of operations from it. So players are less likely to feel hard done by; in fact, there’s always a chance they might not realise what’s going on.

    1. @egdcltd one of our DM’s did that for us in a D&D campaign. It was a long spanning campaign and the coin was meted out by the modules and the net result was a ton of coin on hand. The majority went to buying the wands of healing, but he gave us the opportunity to invest in land/buildings. Those needed upgrade and upkeep, hiring of personnel to maintain it while we were on our adventures. In my case, I needed to hire soldiers as it was an outpost along the primary trade road into town.

      Coincidentally, I was looking trough Alchemy Companion last night and one of the charts reminded me of a thread in the forum. It’s also very fitting for this topic as well. On page 37 of the AC, there is a chart for Sale/Resale of items. It offers modifiers for the quality of items as well as the location where it’s being sold. (Hamlet, Village, Town, City, etc.) There are multipliers for coast and value and of course, in the event of a really bad rolls… Swindled, Thieved, and Armed Thieves. Sometimes one just gets screwed in the deal. This in itself can also open up side quests for the players as they seek revenge. (Also included in the AC is the non-spell user profession of Charlatan. I’ll be rolling one up before this weekend.)

      Another creative way one GM handled the gold issue was by having the party stumble into a cave with a “challenge” that we had to negotiate. There was a large, very old wooden chest with a cryptic inscription above it. It was something along the lines of “… to see the unseen, you need faith and to be clean…” and some other deliberately vague wording. The party took that to mean we needed to make donations, we needed to get rid of our ill-gotten (not hard-earned 🙂 ) gain, or that we had to “give till it hurt.” Players were putting in dark magic items, giving all of their silver, donating half their coin, ring that was pick-pocketed, so on. The trunk closed, the items were gone, our challenge started. After the session, the GM said “Wow. I was just expecting you guys to put in a copper piece and it would have worked.”

      We had another challenge where we were being chased by a dragon and we had to cross a rickety bridge. We had to lighten our load as quickly as possible and that meant leaving gold and items behind. Hence, why the dragon had such a sizable hoard in the first place.

      1. I quite like the castle/land grant idea. It would fit the world quite nicely as well. A poor condition castle would be a real money pit that just keeps on taking.

        1. The actual title of the castle section is “Here is your new Castle (aka The Money Pit)”.

          The other sections in the book (which is generically useful even though it’s written for D&D-based systems) on removing excess wealth are:

          Tax Collector
          Framed!
          Wilderness Bandits – subsections The Gatekeeper and The Opportunist
          A Friend in Need
          Holy War
          Disaster in Home Town

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