Money - Huh! What is it good for?

Jan van Leyden

Forming an old school campaign in my head brought me to the topic of handing out XP for gold. It never really did appeal to me as I never was in a "win the adventure" mode, where it is a premium for successfull play.

If I will hand out XP for gold, it should be in a way which somehow support the RPG idea. I started with the concept of base of operations: the players only receive their XP for treasure brought out of the dungeon and deposited in a safe place. But this idea only makes sense, when the characters have such a base which I don't envision as a room at some inn.

Inspired by Mongoose's old Conan game in which the money earned from adventuring is squandered so you have to return to adventuring after some weeks, I think of setting up a system in which the characters have to spend their money. It could have two components:

The characters can squander their money if they're in a civilised area. This would be for things like making presents, throwing parties, and stuff like that. XPs are handed out for money used in this fashion.

Each character and maybe the group as a whole can define a worthy cause and earn XP by donating money to it. This wouldn't be as simple and general as "give alms to the poor" but had to be more specific. In one campaign of old we had a paladin who sponsored an orphange - very specific and localised.

Now the question to ENWorld is: what do you think of theidea and has anyone already earned experience with a something similar?

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In my experience, money in Old School play has the following uses:

a) Setting up a secure sanctuary. You need a place to go when you head back to town, and after you get some enemies and wealth a room at the inn doesn't cut it. From a very low level, you want a fortified town home with whatever traps and magical protections you can manage, maintained and guarded by whatever loyal henchmen you can spare and some guard dogs. Once you hit 7th level, you'll want to start thinking about libraries and workshops to support potion and scroll production. If you are travelling, you want a Vardo or Ship of some sort. You'll eventually want these bolt holes in multiple locales. Higher level, you want actual Strongholds.
b) Legal protection. You'll be paying taxes, buying licenses (to carry weapons, to form a mercenary company), hiring lawyers/clerks to keep track of your property and protect it. If patents of nobility are for sale, you'll want at least someone in the party to buy one.
c) Retainers and Henchmen: If you pay your people well, you get useful loyalty bonuses. Henchmen are probably more useful protecting your house, steeds, and other property when you can't than they are in a dungeon. Spare magic items for your henchmen make them both much more loyal and much more effective. Several of the standard expert retainers can be very useful. If you can find a potent enough Sage, they make really good assistants. Eventually you'll be adding followers as well.
d) Business: If you can manage it, it's good to put your money to work for you. All that gold sitting in your bag of holding could be providing you a revenue stream. Henchmen and retainers when they aren't assisting you can manage businesses on the side, building your holdings and giving you a return on investment.
e) Making friends and influencing people: Don't think of throwing a party as squandering your money. Think of it as making vital contacts in the community. Pay bribes. Give gifts to people in high places. Support local temples. Pay protection money to the local thieves guild. You'll have a much easier time convincing the DM to let you utilize NPCs as resources if you've established that they have a reason to want to keep you around and owe you favors.

A lot of the problems RBDMs will throw at players out side the dungeons can be effectively mitigated by liberal application of your gold. Of course, you'll always run into DMs that will punish you for this by inventing problems for you wouldn't have had otherwise (enemies attack your house because you have one, but wouldn't have attacked the inn if you'd just stayed there) or giving enemies unlimited resources to harass you (a couple of henchmen left to protect the horses are attacked by ogres conjured up by the DM that weren't part of his original notes, where as horses left by themselves would be peacefully munching grass right were you left them), in which case turtle up the old fashion way with everything in a Heward's haversack and never let anything outside of your sight and reach. But, don't be that DM, not just because it isn't fair, but because ultimately, it's not that fun (for the DM) either.

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