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D&D 5E Do We Really Need a Lot of Gold? (D&D 5th Edition)

It's fascinating how people shout "bad design" when the game doesn't correspond to what they want. It's not a bad design.
If people are asking "what the hell is all this gold for," then, at the very least, it's bad rulebook design. If there's a resource that characters accumulate that groups don't know how to use, either the resource is a problem or the explanation is. Or both.
 
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One of the troubles with Kingmaker is that once you have your gold and you want to build your kingdom... you start playing a board game. (It's not, but it feels very similar to the games I've spent so much time with over the past 20 years). It's a little sim-city, which is engaging for a couple of sessions and then turns into a bore.

The hexcrawl adventuring is fun. The initial building of the city is fun. But after that, you begin to notice how poor a simulation it is, and also how poor a game it is (because there's a lot of maths and not many interesting decisions).

The less said about Pathfinder's attempt at a mass combat system, the better. (Most of Paizo's subsystems introduced in APs were really bad - also see the Jade Regent caravan rules!)

Running good rulership RPGs is hard. It's not impossible, but my feeling is that it needs a ton of preparation - and it helps if the DM is versed in history.
We played Kingmaker for a while. Eventually it became clear it would be a lot more rewarding if we just played Civilization instead.

I do think there's a great opportunity for someone to make great settlement rules, though, as an optional ruleset for those who want them.
 

Reynard

Legend
I wonder if part of the reason people don't seem to care for character rishes is that the game glosses over or completely ignores so much of the stuff happening outside "adventures." Not that this is entirely new with 5E, but I feel like 5E is sort of the "Marvel Cinematic Universe" version of D&D, both in that it is streamlined for a brad audience, and that it is far more interested in action than any other aspect of the stories it is trying to tell. Note that I am not saying this pejoratively. Both 5E and the MCU are wildly successful and great fun.

But money matters more in D&D, IMO and IME, when the players really inhabit the world their characters exist in, when the town isn't just a place to long rest and buy healing potions, when travel isn't just a single survival roll on the way to the next leg of the adventure, when NPCs are portrayed as individuals with their own existences outside the needs of the adventure. When the world is real and the PCs are part of it and the players feel immersed in it, players are more concerned about a lot of things, and one of those things is how their treasure can best be used. As we have stated in this thread a few times, a big part of this is the way "campaign" and "adventure" have become synonymous in 5E, as well as the immediacy of all that and the speed in in-game time with which PCs happen and events occur.
 

Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
If people are asking "what the hell is all this gold for," then, at the very least, it's bad rulebook design. If there's a resource that characters accumulate that groups don't know how to use, either the resource is a problem or the explanation is. Or both.
It always comes back to the DMG. This time page 126-131. It's spelled out very clearly how to drain the character's gold. Not a bad design. Works beautifully. I've actually read the 5e DMG from cover to cover.

It's a DM problem not a design problem. Some DMs don't read the DMG thinking I've read one have read them all. Wrong.
 

Sithlord

Adventurer
Okay. then don't worry about it. Don't even loot the bodies. Just save the world. There's nothing wrong with that.

But if some folks are asking for what to do with all the gold, this thread is full of great suggestions that people are dismissing because "it's too much work."
I think that comment was against creating a 401k or ira for his character more than general looting.
 

No pretending. It is a real thing.

D&D is a role playing game. If you're only there for the fights, you're not playing the full game available to you. You can have fun doing so, but I have never seen any player actually at a table where I left the table believing that they would not have fun with a good game that covers the breadth of D&D available, and I've managed to hook almost all of my players into storylines that they really wanted to be involved in and resolve.
Ironically, CRPGs spend more time integrating gold/money into the core play experience than 5e...
 

Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
I wonder if part of the reason people don't seem to care for character rishes is that the game glosses over or completely ignores so much of the stuff happening outside "adventures." Not that this is entirely new with 5E, but I feel like 5E is sort of the "Marvel Cinematic Universe" version of D&D, both in that it is streamlined for a brad audience, and that it is far more interested in action than any other aspect of the stories it is trying to tell. Note that I am not saying this pejoratively. Both 5E and the MCU are wildly successful and great fun.

But money matters more in D&D, IMO and IME, when the players really inhabit the world their characters exist in, when the town isn't just a place to long rest and buy healing potions, when travel isn't just a single survival roll on the way to the next leg of the adventure, when NPCs are portrayed as individuals with their own existences outside the needs of the adventure. When the world is real and the PCs are part of it and the players feel immersed in it, players are more concerned about a lot of things, and one of those things is how their treasure can best be used. As we have stated in this thread a few times, a big part of this is the way "campaign" and "adventure" have become synonymous in 5E, as well as the immediacy of all that and the speed in in-game time with which PCs happen and events occur.
The 5e doesn't ignore that. It's all in the DMG downtime activity section. If groups (DMs and players) ignore that it's a group culture problem. Not a design problem.
 

Gold is mostly there because its part of the legacy of dnd. In b/x and 1e, the whole point of your character risking their life to go into the dungeon is to get treasure (and thus xp). It's a core part of the gameplay and the assumed motivation of any adventurer. Is this true of your 5e game? Now, it is more likely that the motivation of the PCs are primarily to save the village/city/world, because the characters are heroes (of course, this tension between avarice and heroism is not new to 5e). The gold and gems and such are there incidentally, and in part just because it's become part of the convention of rpgs.

To question the use of gold is also not to dismiss the social and exploration pillars; in fact, quite the opposite. In a party of 4 characters, you might have one whose primary motivation is gold. But the druid with the hermit background, the vengeance paladin, the outlander ranger might have completely different motivations, and they can accomplish their goals without worrying about money at all.
 


It always comes back to the DMG. This time page 126-131. It's spelled out very clearly how to drain the character's gold. Not a bad design. Works beautifully. I've actually read the 5e DMG from cover to cover.

It's a DM problem not a design problem. Some DMs don't read the DMG thinking I've read one have read them all. Wrong.

Yes, you can build a castle for 50,000 GP in 400 days. Or your character can spend those 400 days going on quests, killing monsters, and getting to level 20 where they have god-like powers and can traverse the planes. Actually, it probably wouldn't even take 400 days to do that. Strongholds are given a couple pages in the 5e dmg because they were in the 1e dmg and are part making dnd 'feel like' dnd, not because they are an integrated part of the game.
 

Reynard

Legend
The 5e doesn't ignore that. It's all in the DMG downtime activity section. If groups (DMs and players) ignore that it's a group culture problem. Not a design problem.
I didn't say a single word about design. You are arguing with the wrong person on that score.

But if you look at what WotC has produced for adventures -- the things that really tell you what the game is for and how it is meant to be played -- only one (Dragon Heist) embraces the PCs spending any real time in their world, interacting with the people that live there and becoming part of it. Otherwise they are mostly theme-parking their way to the final boss.
 

Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
Yes, you can build a castle for 50,000 GP in 400 days. Or your character can spend those 400 days going on quests, killing monsters, and getting to level 20 where they have god-like powers and can traverse the planes. Actually, it probably wouldn't even take 400 days to do that. Strongholds are given a couple pages in the 5e dmg because they were in the 1e dmg and are part making dnd 'feel like' dnd, not because they are an integrated part of the game.
Actually the character does both at the same time. Hire an architect and an engineer. Let them handle construction. Characters can chew gum and walk at the same time. :p

Sure, you can hand wave rules you don't like as incomplete. I don't share your opinion. The section is detailed enough and usable. I've payed D&D since 1981 and don't need more than what is printed in the 5e DMG.
 

King Babar

God Learner
Yes, you can build a castle for 50,000 GP in 400 days. Or your character can spend those 400 days going on quests, killing monsters, and getting to level 20 where they have god-like powers and can traverse the planes. Actually, it probably wouldn't even take 400 days to do that. Strongholds are given a couple pages in the 5e dmg because they were in the 1e dmg and are part making dnd 'feel like' dnd, not because they are an integrated part of the game.
On one hand, the DM can control how fast a party levels up. If they want to run a campaign were leveling up occurs over the course of weeks, months, or years, they can.

On the other hand, all official material assumes the party is going to be leveling up fast, sometimes even multiple levels in a single day.

Which of these two leveling paces is the expectation for most players? The answer is fairly obvious. If WotC really wants to make downtime an important part of play, they should make adventures that lean into its usage.
 
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It always comes back to the DMG. This time page 126-131. It's spelled out very clearly how to drain the character's gold. Not a bad design. Works beautifully. I've actually read the 5e DMG from cover to cover.

It's a DM problem not a design problem. Some DMs don't read the DMG thinking I've read one have read them all. Wrong.
Dude, no. That's the downtime section and basically says "hey, you should build a stronghold or make magic items." And you are ignoring that there are plenty of people who don't want to do that.

There is nothing in the PHB or branding for the game that tells people "ooh, this is great -- you're going to loot ancient tombs so you can BUILD A GUILDHALL." It's not what people are signing up for.

There is a resource that accumulates by doing Activity A that you cannot spend in aid of Activity A. The fact that the DMG says "here's Activities B, C and D you can use with that resource instead" is not good design. Telling someone they have to start a different style of play to use the resource is an admission by the designers that the resource has little relevance to Activity A.

DMs aren't bad DMs for not saying "sorry, dude, at this point, you're pretty much required to start spending that gold on all these activities in order to remain engaged with treasure as a motivational tool." In fact, I'd say that them acting that way would be a great example of being a crappy DM. If your players want to do Activity A (adventure and kill stuff), forcing them to do something they've expressed no interest in is a great way to be one of these ENWorld posters who bemoan their inability to hold a group together.

The fix for "what the hell do I do with all this damned gold" isn't more downtime activities, it's to dramatically reduce the amount of gold given out by default in the game unless your players express a desire to do all those downtime activities.
 


Reynard

Legend
Yes, you can build a castle for 50,000 GP in 400 days. Or your character can spend those 400 days going on quests, killing monsters, and getting to level 20 where they have god-like powers and can traverse the planes. Actually, it probably wouldn't even take 400 days to do that. Strongholds are given a couple pages in the 5e dmg because they were in the 1e dmg and are part making dnd 'feel like' dnd, not because they are an integrated part of the game.
Emphasis mine. This is NOT a feature, it is a bug.
 

The 5e doesn't ignore that. It's all in the DMG downtime activity section. If groups (DMs and players) ignore that it's a group culture problem. Not a design problem.
"I got in this game to kill monsters and go on adventures, as it's marketed about being about, not to be a guildmaster or build a castle" is not a culture problem. Or if it is, it's a culture problem in the Renton offices of WotC.
 


Reynard

Legend
Dude, no. That's the downtime section and basically says "hey, you should build a stronghold or make magic items." And you are ignoring that there are plenty of people who don't want to do that.

There is nothing in the PHB or branding for the game that tells people "ooh, this is great -- you're going to loot ancient tombs so you can BUILD A GUILDHALL." It's not what people are signing up for.

There is a resource that accumulates by doing Activity A that you cannot spend in aid of Activity A. The fact that the DMG says "here's Activities B, C and D you can use with that resource instead" is not good design. Telling someone they have to start a different style of play to use the resource is an admission by the designers that the resource has little relevance to Activity A.

DMs aren't bad DMs for not saying "sorry, dude, at this point, you're pretty much required to start spending that gold on all these activities in order to remain engaged with treasure as a motivational tool." In fact, I'd say that them acting that way would be a great example of being a crappy DM. If your players want to do Activity A (adventure and kill stuff), forcing them to do something they've expressed no interest in is a great way to be one of these ENWorld posters who bemoan their inability to hold a group together.

The fix for "what the hell do I do with all this damned gold" isn't more downtime activities, it's to dramatically reduce the amount of gold given out by default in the game unless your players express a desire to do all those downtime activities.
This speaks to motivation, of course. If the PCs' motivation is NOT to acquire wealth, what is it? Note -- I asked the player characters' motivation, so "gaining levels" is probably not a good one unless the game is very meta. "Gaining power" in a more general sense is better, as is, "finding magic items!" because they things that exist in the world. But then the question comes to "why?" Why does your character want power or magic items?

If we aren't talking about quests to save the princess/realm/world on a clock, if the players have agency over their characters' actions in the world, then they need good motivations. "Gold" is an easy one that suggests the kind of places D&D excels at presenting, namely Dungeons and Dragons' lairs. "Uncovering ancient knowledge" and "finding my mother's heirloom sword wherever she fell in battle" are good ones too, but "get rich" is a concrete, understandable, powerful motivator.
 

Actually the character does both at the same time. Hire an architect and an engineer. Let them handle construction. Characters can chew gum and walk at the same time. :p

Sure, you can hand wave rules you don't like as incomplete. I don't share your opinion. The section is detailed enough and usable. I've payed D&D since 1981 and don't need more than what is printed in the 5e DMG.
What I mean is that a lot of things are included in 5e simply because they've become genre conventions for what "dnd" should include, especially given that 5e has been so nostaliga-driven. But there's a gap between the "classic" playstyle and the more contemporary OC/neo-trad playstyle. If you are running or playing in an adventure-path style game, there's a lot of aspects to the game where you look at it and you're like, 'wait, why is this here?'

These aspects could be updated; I'm not overly familiar with them, but I think the sidekick and survivor rules they have been introducing are an interesting update to hirelings and henchmen that is more themed around the typical 5e playstyle.
 

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