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D&D 5E Wealth by Level

pemerton

Legend
Putting expected wealth and the like in previous editions led to a tremendous sense of entitlement on the part of certain players, and without those "expectations" in the books, groups are far more likely to tailor their campaigns to their individual tastes.
I hope this isn't true!, in the sense that I hope that gaming groups are capable of making of the game what they want. I have run RM games, for instance, with very different distributions of wealth between them, and also within a campaign with different PCs having quite different levels of wealth.

In 1st ed AD&D, the wealth requirement is somewhat dictated by the XP rules. I can't really comment on 2nd or 3rd ed, but in 4e wealth is very flexible provided the "big 3" enhancement bonuses are covered (via loot drops, spontaneous item upgrades (which is what I use in my game) or inherent bonuses). I'm not surprised that 5e aims to be at least this flexible - though it does have creatures with resistance to normal weapons, which suggests that magic weapons of some sort will probably be a requirement above low levels in most campaigns.

I like the notion that WBL doesn't grow as it did in previous editions for new characters. Even were a character to be introduced at a higher level, one presumes that they'd be adventuring less, if at all (else they would already be a PC), so they'd have less of a steady surplus of gold to enter into the economy (while the game's economics aren't true to medieval economics by any means, it is more realistic that Total Wealth in a population doesn't grow within a bullion-standard the way it does in a fiat-standard unless new bullion (like hoards of dragon treasure!) is introduced – it's actually a pretty decent concept of mercantile economics after a fashion!
I think inflation is a pretty big issue in mediaeval economies, insn't it (though not one that D&D models).
 

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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I'm glad there is no wealth by level table.

It just leads to DMs feeling pressured to abide by the table. If I want my PCs to get a castle at level 3, then they get a castle at level 3!
Couldn't agree more!

By the same token, if a 10th-level party laden with magic gets hit with a Mordenkainen's Disjunction (or equivalent) and loses it all it's not a game-ender, where in some previous editions it would be.

Easy come, easy go.

Lan-"but I'd put the idea of buying or trading magic items back in, there's too much in-game logic in its favour that banning it is plain unrealistic"-efan
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
In 1st ed AD&D, the wealth requirement is somewhat dictated by the XP rules.
Only to a point, particularly if you ditch the xp-for-gp rule (as everyone I know did).

About the only wealth requirements in 1e are that you need magic weapons at low-mid level to hit some creatures, and some capital stashed away by name level so you can build your castle/laboratory/temple/whatever. Other than that, anything goes! :)

Lan-"I suppose one of these days I really should get on with building a castle"-efan
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I want it. Why is it missing in the DMG? Doesn't need to be hard and fast. I would just like a guideline.

Because not only it is unnecessary, but it is actually detrimental to the game.

It creates fixed expectations and assumptions on what the PC can achieve in the economy due to their adventures, thus creating fixed associations between adventures completion and social advancement.

It is detrimental not because of the association, but because it is fixed. Even if it is a guideline and not a hard rule, it is still potentially detrimental, because really there is no average that makes sense, there is no guideline that works better than another, so having no guideline is actually better than any guideline.

Without any guideline at all, it is simply up to the gaming group to decide if they want to play characters who can afford anything at level 1 maybe because they are all nobles or kings (Birthright?) and because money doesn't buy what you really need in the game, or if they want to play mythic heroes who have absolutely no interest for money. Or anything in between.

Without any guideline at all, you can even have a king and a beggar adventuring in the same group, for completely different reasons, or have some PCs that leave all their treasures to the other PCs.

Any guideline is either just going to be disregarded (so why have a guideline at all?) or adopted (so indeed creating a common expectation that just shouldn't exist).

It's a problem similar to setting expectations on how many monsters or how many dungeons exist in each world. Why the hell should the books tell you that? If they do, they only force you to feel like you need them as a starting point, but the truth is that you don't need any starting point at all, what the hell does it even mean? You probably know better what is the ending point you want, so just start from there already!
 

delericho

Legend
I want it. Why is it missing in the DMG? Doesn't need to be hard and fast. I would just like a guideline.

Unfortunately, what should have been a useful DM guideline in 3e turned into a straightjacket for an awful lot of groups. (It also wasn't terribly useful, since the raw value of items actually matters a lot less than the nature of those items - the "Big Six" items were always better bang for their buck than almost any other items.)

It's also worth noting that the 3e WbL table wasn't actually derived from some clever formula - instead, it was just the sum of the average treasures from the encounters that the group was expected to face that level. (Assuming every encounter was "level appropriate" and gave "standard" treasure.) 3e assumed a party of 4 PCs, and 13.33 encounters per level (and subtracted a bit, both to get nice round numbers, and also to account for the use of expendable items along the way).

IMO, a much better approach would have started from "WbL is 1gp per XP", and built the treasure tables from there. But even by the time the 3e DMG was released it was too late to make that change - it would have been lots of work for almost no real gain. :)

So, somewhere in 5e there will be assumptions about the number of PCs in the group, the number of encounters per level, and the average treasure results for encounters of those levels. Hopefully, the DMG will spell all those numbers out somewhere, ideally in the context of "here's how to change things if your group doesn't fit our assumptions". If you were keen, then, you could probably reverse-engineer yourself some WbL tables.

Or you could take pleasure in the freedom that 5e doesn't seem to rely on them, and just give out whatever treasure seems good to you. :)
 

delericho

Legend
Without any guideline at all, it is simply up to the gaming group to decide if they want to play characters who can afford anything at level 1 maybe because they are all nobles or kings (Birthright?) and because money doesn't buy what you really need in the game...

This only works if money really doesn't buy what you really need in the game.

If the game uses the 3e/4e/PF assumptions that magic items are generally available for sale, and certainly can be crafted, then you need to keep wealth (and thus magic items) in check. In which case guidelines are useful.

(And, yes, 5e does indeed use different assumptions, where items can't be easily bought or crafted. So that's a good thing.)
 

Thunderfoot

Adventurer
Because not only it is unnecessary, but it is actually detrimental to the game.<SNIP>

That had to be the dumbest edition to 4e from a DM's perspective - In my campaign the characters will get 5 cp a monster and LIKE IT!!
Seriously though, I hated the idea that magic items were purchasable and were part of the expected treasure haul. I can still remember getting my first magic item as a player, it was special, I had it until I retired my character, it was a +1 dagger; according to 4e, it was all but worthless by 4th level and should be "traded in" on something else. *shudder* (Wal-Magic is the real demon of D&D.) I prefer my games to be grittier and lots of available cash tends to wreck that.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
If the game uses the 3e/4e/PF assumptions that magic items are generally available for sale, and certainly can be crafted, then you need to keep wealth (and thus magic items) in check. In which case guidelines are useful.

(And, yes, 5e does indeed use different assumptions, where items can't be easily bought or crafted. So that's a good thing.)

Well yes, in 3e or 4e I could not have claimed that guidelines are unnecessary!

This only works if money really doesn't buy what you really need in the game.

It was just an example of one possible campaign setup, with emphasis on an extreme case.

Even if money (as normally) can be used for something needed/useful for the game, IMO there is no standard measure for that.

Fundamentally, the reason is that wealth does not equate to character level in one single standard way. In 3e, monsters and non-combat challenges were designed with strong assumptions on PC's capabilities, and equipment was largely involved in those capabilities. The creation of the controversial Vow of Poverty feat epitomized the issue.

Going that way frames the game into a certain type, traditional of course but still limited and hard to deviate from. When 500,000gp can buy you either a kingdom or a +5 sword, the two items are essentially not comparable in general game terms.
 


FireLance

Legend
I just spent the morning keying the magic item tables and the treasure hoard magic item distribution into a spreadsheet.

Based on my observation, Magic Item Tables A to E tend to be consumables (potions, scrolls, ammunition) while Magic Item Tables F to I tend to be permanent items. To simplify matters, I shall assume Tables A to E generate consumable items and Tables F to I generate permanent items.

Based on the stated assumption on page 133 of the DMG that a typical campaign will have 7 rolls on the Challenge 0-4 table, 18 rolls on the Challenge 5-10 table, 12 rolls on the Challenge 11-16 table, and 8 rolls on the Challenge 17+ table, over the course of a campaign, a party would be expected to find the following magic items:

18 Common consumables
20 Uncommon consumables
19 Rare consumables
18 Very rare consumables
3 or 4* Legendary consumables

9 or 10* Uncommon permanent items
5 or 6* Rare permanent items
5 Very rare permanent items
4 Legendary permanent items

* These expected numbers were close to [N and a half], so I have chosen to express them as [N or N+1] instead.

I am leaving for a game shortly, but I will find some time to do more detailed analysis, including a possible treasure distribution over 20 levels.
 
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Riley37

First Post
A PC party which includes a king and a commoner, allied in a shared goal, could it be possible... such as Frodo and Aragorn? I'm not saying that LOTR is the story every D&D group should be running, but I also don't want *system* rules to push anyone *away* from running that kind of setting, and wealth-per-level is that kind of rule. That should be in *setting* material, if at all.

I'm a big fan of monsters having story-appropriate loot, rather than each and every goblin carrying the same amount in their purse because they all have the same CR... and every 0-level dwarf, elf, halfling and human, too. Steve Jobs and I have probably about the same CR; we don't have the same wealth.

On another hand, here's one way that PC level and wealth *can* correlate: downtime earnings. Yes, there's rules daily income and crafting, and that's reasonable for items which 0-level people can also make, because if you try to charge more then they just undersell you.

However, if you can cast Plant Growth, in 8 hours you can zap a large area; using the Basic listing for value of wheat, and Roman Empire bushels-per-acre, and if all the AoE is farmland, that doubles harvest on 500 acres from 300 GP to 600 GP worth of wheat. So it's reasonable that someone will pay you 200 per casting, and they'll still come out ahead.

If you can cast Invisibility, even once per day, and you don't mind dealing with your local thieves guild, I bet they'd pay you a fair bit to cast the spell then maintain concentration for an hour.

We know what NPCs charge for Raise Dead; can PCs charge the same rates?

If you're a non-spellcasting fighter, then perhaps someone would hire you as a bodyguard, or as a weapons trainer. If you're a rogue... well, perhaps there's some other way you can gain wealth.
 



Joe Liker

First Post
In 1st ed AD&D, the wealth requirement is somewhat dictated by the XP rules. I can't really comment on 2nd or 3rd ed, but in 4e wealth is very flexible provided the "big 3" enhancement bonuses are covered (via loot drops, spontaneous item upgrades (which is what I use in my game) or inherent bonuses).
I'll just note here that inherent bonuses were not a part of the core 4e rules. They arose years later because DMs demanded a way to untether their campaigns from the fixed-loot treadmill. Of course, this also laid bare the pointless escalation of bonuses that was so central to that edition, so it was something of a mixed blessing on all sides. It's all for the best, though, because that discussion more or less led directly to 5e's bounded accuracy in the fullness of time.

(Don't get me wrong -- I enjoyed 4e immensely for several years. But the loot system was the first and biggest piece of it that I grew to despise.)

I'm not surprised that 5e aims to be at least this flexible - though it does have creatures with resistance to normal weapons, which suggests that magic weapons of some sort will probably be a requirement above low levels in most campaigns.
This is not at all the case. Spellcasters can make weapons temporarily magical with spells, and those spells are low enough level and long-lasting enough that mundane equipment really, truly is all any party will ever need. Magic items are a luxury, period.
 

Riley37

First Post
Are you suggesting that Steve Jobs is undead?

....Whoops, sorry. I meant "Bill Gates", and my Mac auto-corrected.

The Jester asked about RAW for price/value of Raise Dead. That's RAW in Adventurer's League play; AL is set in Faerun; does that mean that the AL value is setting-dependent? (Raise Dead fee is 1250 GP; this is established in "Spellcasting Services" and also established in "Death", both on page 11 of the AL Player's Guide.) In that case, no, we don't have RAW for settings other than Faerun. I approve; some settings might be less magic-rich!
 


pemerton

Legend
I'll just note here that inherent bonuses were not a part of the core 4e rules. They arose years later
Inherent bonuses are in the DGM 2, which has a Sep 2009 publication date. Powering up existing items in place of new items is in Adventurer's Vault, which a Sep 2008 publication date. Neither of these is "years later". And inherent bonuses are so obvious from the house-rule point of view that I saw people posting about it before either of those books came out.

The Adventurer's Vault system also answers [MENTION=34175]Thunderfoot[/MENTION]'s complaint upthread. The paladin in my game has worn the same plate armour throughout the campaign. At the start of the game it was non-magical. Relatively early on the Raven Queen blessed it (as +1 meliorating armour). The bonus has gradually stepped up over the course of the game, and is now at +6, reflecting the increasing fondness in which the character is held by his patron.

this also laid bare the pointless escalation of bonuses that was so central to that edition
The escalation of bonuses is not pointless, although the point may or may not appeal to any given gamer.

The point of bonus-escalation in 4e is to drive the story relative to the default monsters published in the MM and adventure modules. The scaling-up of PCs bonuses means that at low-to-mid heroic, appropriate foes are the classic humanoids, while by upper epic appropriate foes are the most powerful demons, slaad lords, demi-gods etc.

Within the recommended level range of enemies, 4e exhiibits relatively tight bounded accuracy.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
To create an Expected Wealth at Level table, we take
Hoard cache values average
CR 1-4 = 196
CR 5-10 = 2226
CR 11-16 = 18900
CR 17+ = 322000

Based on the stated assumption on page 133 of the DMG that a typical campaign will have 7 rolls on the Challenge 0-4 table, 18 rolls on the Challenge 5-10 table, 12 rolls on the Challenge 11-16 table, and 8 rolls on the Challenge 17+ table, <snip>

We need to determine at which level you are when you make these rolls. The only real fact we have is that heroes generally face BBEGs (i.e. hoard-keepers) above their own level. So quite arbitrarily I've assigned each hoard to a level, "dipping" into the next hoard tier at two levels "before" that tier; trying to keep the number of hoards equal (ignoring the question how on earth you will manage to find so many hoards on the lightning-quick levels 1-3... ;) )

There are 7 tier I hoards, 18 tier II hoards etc In total 45 hoards which means 2,25 hoards per level on average.

Code:
Level 1: I-1 and I-2:                +392 gp =     392 (total)
Level 2: I-3 and I-4:                +392 gp =     784
Level 3: I-5 and II-1:              +2422    =    3206
Level 4: I-6, I-7 and II-2:         +2618    =    5824
Level 5: II-3 and II-4:             +4452    =   10276
Level 6: II-5 and II-6:             +4452    =   14278
Level 7: II-7, II-8 and II-9:       +6678    =   21406
Level 8: II-10, II-11 and II-12     +6678    =   28084
Level 9: II-13, II-14 and III-1    +23352    =   51436
Level 10: II-15, II-16 and III-2   +23352    =   74788
Level 11: II-17 and III-3          +21126    =   95914
Level 12: II-18 and III-4          +21126    =  117040
Level 13: III-5 and III-6          +37800    =  154840
Level 14: III-7 and III-8          +37800    =  192640
Level 15: III-9, III-10 and IV-1  +359800    =  552440
Level 16: III-11, III-12 and IV-2 +359800    =  912240
Level 17: IV-3                    +322000    = 1234240
Level 18: IV-4                    +322000    = 1556240
Level 19: IV-5 and IV-6           +644000    = 2200240
Level 20: IV-7 and IV-8           +644000    = 2844240

As easily seen, the wealth at high level really rolls in. Which is why Blog of Holding recommended you to cut out tier 4 hoards completely if you want to do XP for GP.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Another approach is to use the XP table's values (PHB, page 15) for expected wealth.

The first advantage is that the price of a legendary item is much less ridiculous when at level 20 you will have roughly a third of a million gold and not almost three million. The price of a legendary item is given as "50001+" gold, which makes much more sense if you will ever get hold of a few hundred thousand.

(Compare to d20: here the expected wealth tops out at 760000 gp while item prices can reach 100000-200000 gp. If we squint enough we can say both editions now support the purchase of about three items at maximum price. While that is an incredibly rough approximation it should do to tell us we're in the right ballpark at least)

Since this is what the old skool variant does where you give characters one XP for each GP found, Blog of Holding has analyzed the DMG treasure tables and recommended its tweaks on how to make their use "compatible" with this expected wealth:

In short, the treasure expectations almost-but-not-quite work for 1XP=1GP. For that trick, the treasure finds really do need to be a little more regular. Here's the fix I propose:

Whenever a monster is in the top half of a tier (levels 3-4, 8-10, 14-) double the monetary treasure.

Ignore [the monetary part of] tier-four treasures.
http://blogofholding.com/?p=6760
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I want to take this one step further, by assigning a formula to the pricing of "the bonus"; the plus associated with weapons, armor and such. The +1 of the +1 Longsword.

Recall that d20 uses a scale from +1 to +10 where +5 is the highest actual plus bonus but where specific item could be rated, and thus priced, higher.

In 5E I feel the +3 item should be priced at least at the d20 +5 level, if not more.

Here's my suggestion of a item bonus formula that is fairly compatible with Expected Wealth based on experience points.

Item bonus market price: 5000 x (bonus x bonus)
Weapon/Ammo Plus, no attunement: (Plus x 2) bonus
Armor/Shield Plus, no attunement: (Plus x 2) + 1 bonus

So, for instance, that +1 Longsword will be considered a +2 bonus item and have a market price of 20000 gp (5000 x 2 x 2).

The next step, then, is to reassign prices for the rarities (Common, Uncommon, etc) to match this.

Coupled with how I feel there is place in the system for one more rarity grade above Legendary, to represent items that even a level 20 character can't afford but may well find as loot, I give you...:

Zapp's 5E Expected Wealth Per Level Table
1: 50 gp
(PHB items 50 gp)
2: 300 gp
3: 900 gp
(Common items 1000 gp)
4: 2700 gp
5: 6500 gp
(+1 items 5000 gp)
6: 14000 gp
7: 23000 gp
(+2 and Uncommon items 20000 gp)
8: 34000 gp
9: 48000 gp
(+3 items 45000 gp)
10: 64000 gp
11: 85000 gp
(+4 and Rare items 80000 gp)
12: 100000 gp
13: 120000 gp
(+5 items 125000 gp)
14: 140000 gp
15: 165000 gp
(+6 and Very Rare items 180000 gp)
16: 195000 gp
17: 225000 gp
(+7 items 245000 gp)
18: 265000 gp
19: 305000 gp
(+8 and Legendary items 320000 gp)
20: 355000 gp

(+9 bonus items 405000 gp)
(+10 and Epic items 500000 gp)


How to read this table:

A level 11 character is expected to be worth about 85000 gold in total. This value is close to the market price of +4 bonus items (such as a +2 Longsword) as well as any items still using the rarity system (Rare items cost 80000 gold in this version).

This character will probably not be able to sink his total expected wealth into that single item, but that's another story. (Much like d20, you're not supposed to have more than perhaps a third of your expected wealth invested in any single item)

This character could defeat a CR 13 monster and thus (with luck) find a +5 item or even a +6 item as loot. An example of a +5 item would be a +2 Shield. But that is all loot; what expected wealth is mainly concerned with is your purchasing power, and at level 11 that is 85000 gp in total.
 

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