D&D 5E Do you actually use "Lifestyle Expenses?"


log in or register to remove this ad

So here's my question: Do you worry about cost of living concerns in your game? Or do you handwave that mess in favor of high adventure? Why or why not?
it depends... sometimes we just skip it, but the reason we already are annoyed at some of the 'growth' of the game. when we try to use money as a motivator it always falls flat, if played straight you get too much too fast. We have found at start maybe 1 or 2 sessions you end up counting every silver to get the things you need/want then boom once you saved up to get your stuff you end up with huge amounts of money to do anything wit...
 

I used it in my first 5e campaign....it proved universally unpopular with the group. These days I'm fine with handwaving it, save for extravagant expenses.
 

I used it in a sort of way. They were gifted the rebrand hideout and remodeled it into a small keep. They had to pay the retainers and workers. This also kept their gold in check so they didn't get too rich.
 

Heck, at a certain point, we don't even bother with copper or silver or electrum pieces. Everything is paid with either gp or pp.
i swear i have seen players give bartenders platinum coins per drink say 'keep the change' for 2 copper beer... and i don't even mean "here this will cover for the night"(but i have seen that too) i mean 'over the night i buy 5 or 6 beers so each time i throw a PP i will just mark off 6"

i once (as a player) had a DM in 5th level game roll kobold bandits as a random encounter and when they said they wanted gold i said "you know what, if you go home i will give you 500gold" and the DMs eyes popped out of his head... another PC asked what they had for weapons (spears and daggers) then said "if we give you better equipment you could go become mercenaries instead of bandits... so we gave them magic weapons and armor we didn't want.
 

Xamnam

Loves Your Favorite Game
In some games, I will tie useful benefits to what you spend on it so that there's a specific reason to pay for the higher lifestyle tiers.

Yeah, this is what I track. Basic life expenses are generally not of concern, but going above and beyond merits consideration, both for cost and reward. Especially relevant for me because one character at the table goes out of their way to pursue those expenses just because of personal taste.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I'm using them right now. In addition to all of the incentives that other people have already mentioned, living expenses can also affect how other factions react to the heroes. Like...unless you are living at least a "wealthy" lifestyle, you make Charisma checks at disadvantage with the Merchant Guild faction....but if you are living an "aristocratic" lifestyle, you make those Charisma checks at advantage.

That sort of thing.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I totally do it in a warhammer game - but money is hard to come by in that system.

For D&D I do it on a weekly or even monthly basis, not day by day. It's a great way not to beancount and make money still matter - costs add up!
 

payn

Legend
I'm using them right now. In addition to all of the incentives that other people have already mentioned, living expenses can also affect how other factions react to the heroes. Like...unless you are living at least a "wealthy" lifestyle, you make Charisma checks at disadvantage with the Merchant Guild faction....but if you are living an "aristocratic" lifestyle, you make those Charisma checks at advantage.

That sort of thing.
Nice. This reminds me of a Paizo AP mechanic that leans into items like lifestyle mechanics that are often left vague. So, I could definitely see this as an item that is campaign dependent. Something I have not used in the past (for D&D/Fantasy) but might want to give another shot.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Depends on the campaign.

For example, in one game I was running there was copious amounts of downtime. There I definitely used it. The party was hard up for money as well.

In another game I am running the party are all elite agents of the Imperium - not only don't I bother with upkeep costs but they can requisition pretty much any mundane equipment. Need horses? The Post will lend them to you, and you can keep riding to the next Post House and swap out to fresh ones as often as needed.
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
So here's my question: Do you worry about cost of living concerns in your game? Or do you handwave that mess in favor of high adventure? Why or why not?

Generally, yes. And largely because it simplifies the piddly accounting without the players slipping into living high on the hog without support for that in game.
 

There is a time and place for lifestyle expenses. Our gaming table doesn't usually get to that time and place but we have been there.

The game is not a 'monolith'. Play styles vary from table to table, from year to year, from person to person, and even within the same person depending on mood.

Sometimes we want play Dungeons and Dragons, and sometimes we want to Play Dungeons and Dragons (and sometimes we want to PLAY Dungeons and Dragons).
 


After characters get their first gold piece, not really. When 1 sp is a week's wages and you just picked up a 10 gp gem off the floor in a dungeon hall (and are staring at a treasure chest in the next room), how do you make living expenses matter?
You make the treasure chest in the next room a mimic. It's up to you to decide what happens next when the cleric casts Toll the Dead on the ordinary looking chest...
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
After characters get their first gold piece, not really. When 1 sp is a week's wages and you just picked up a 10 gp gem off the floor in a dungeon hall (and are staring at a treasure chest in the next room), how do you make living expenses matter?
Tie the expenses to benefits and detriments, and/or make access to particular downtime activities require a higher spend on lifestyle expenses. Works like a charm in every campaign I've ran.
 

I would use lifestyle expenses routinely if I were running a more sandbox-y type game with lots of opportunities for long stretches of downtime. I wouldn't in, say, an "adventure of the week"-style game where downtime is more or less entirely abstracted away. In the game I'm running now, I have, but have gotten away from it since it made sense for the PCs' employers to pay their room and board.

Whatever the case, lifestyle expenses and whatnot can be handled in big lump sums at the start or end of downtime.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Petty cash issues make sense from a worldbuilding standpoint. But in practice I find that they can steal narrative attention from robbing dragons, fighting evil, and generally being big damn heroes. I suppose there's some adventure to be wrung from low-stakes, low-magic, "can we afford to make rent on the guildhall this month" plots, but those seem to get outclassed pretty quickly.
The point of lifestyle expenses is not to wring adventure out of them. They’re part of downtime for a reason; downtime is the opposite of adventure. It’s what you do between adventures. And the point of lifestyle expenses during downtime is to attach a concrete game action (in this case the depletion of resources) to the passage of downtime days.

To answer the question, I have used lifestyle expenses before, but I find they don’t have enough consequence to work well. The benefits and drawbacks of each lifestyle are purely narrative, which makes them feel not worth caring about. Plus, the amount of money they cost quickly becomes trivial to PCs anyway.

I’ve got an idea I want to try with them, which is to tie downtime days (as a resource you spend to perform downtime activities) to lifestyle. Each week you buy a lifestyle, and that lifestyle determines how many days that week you can spend on downtime activities (the remainder of the week going towards working to insure your basic needs are met). Wretched gets you one downtime day, and each category above that gets you an additional day, up to all seven days for Aristocratic.
 
Last edited:


iserith

Magic Wordsmith
The point of lifestyle expenses is not to wring adventure out of them. They’re part of downtime for a reason; downtime is the opposite of adventure. It’s what you do between adventures. And the point of lifestyle expenses during downtime is to attach a concrete game action (in this case the depletion of resources) to the passage of downtime days.

To answer the question, I have used lifestyle expenses before, but I find they don’t have enough consequence to work well. The benefits and drawbacks of each lifestyle are purely narrative, which makes them feel not worth caring about. Plus, the amount of money they cost quickly becomes trivial to PCs anyway.

I’ve got an idea I want to try with them, which is to tie downtime days (as a resource you spend to perform downtime activities) to lifestyle. Each week you buy a lifestyle, and that lifestyle determines how many days that week you can spend on downtime activities (the remainder of the week going towards working to insure your basic needs are met). Squalid gets you one downtime day, and each category above that gets you an additional day, up to all 7 days for Wealthy.
Do you plan to keep the time a downtime activity takes the same? I think many of them are tied to a week, which would mean many downtime activities would be Wealthy level lifestyle expense. And would it be Wealthy daily rate x 7 or just the daily rate to cover the week?
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top