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D&D 5E What Sort Of Income For Commoners To Get A Coherent Economy?

Dausuul

Legend
Let's say you want to retire into the nobility. Not royalty, mind you; just a landed noble with income sufficient to cover your expenses, and pass on to your heirs. What level do you have to be before you have enough money to do that?

Per the PHB, an aristocrat's lifestyle costs a minimum of 10 gp per day. Based on late-medieval England, I will assume a 5% rate of return on your properties. You need to generate 3,652.5 gp per year, which means your net worth should be 73,050 gp. In 5E, this happens around 15th level. Again, this is not the amount required to live like a king--you're a baron or viscount, maybe an especially well-off knight.

Seems fine to me, even a little on the conservative side.
 

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dragoner

Dying in Chargen
Where PCs can't really break the economy simply by spending gold.
Old style economies were not advanced, so that the baker traded in bread for his eggs, usually on some sort of ledger; and even that was more advanced than early medieval style markets. The cash economy is fairly late in development. So that even if an egg cost 8 gp, that would only affect those paying in gold, and not bartering.
 

CubicsRube

Adventurer
Supporter
Old style economies were not advanced, so that the baker traded in bread for his eggs, usually on some sort of ledger; and even that was more advanced than early medieval style markets. The cash economy is fairly late in development. So that even if an egg cost 8 gp, that would only affect those paying in gold, and not bartering.
That's largely a myth.

In England, the Pound Sterling was adopted as a physical currency back in the 8th century or so, when it was the worth of a pound of silver (hence the "sterling" part). Early pennies and shillings were minted and commonly used from the 12th century onwards for anything from agricultural purchases to daily trades (excluding favours from neighbours as still goes on now). Land tax, military tax and shortly after Income tax become common for anyone that owned land of any sort, even a small stedding.

By the 12th century, national treasury was pretty advanced in supporting exporting guilds, standing armies and navies, and some national infrastructure projects.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
a pound of silver
An English pound, only applicable in England, as standardized weights and measures only come into being in the 18-19th century. That's why the US customary system differs from the Imperial system. England is just one tiny county at that time also. Many small states such as England had some sort of currency, except with no standard weights, and no currency exchange. In China, a much more advanced economy, had bank drafts by the 8th century, something it took almost a thousand years to be seen in Europe. I remember my Mother telling me about how she would ride to market with her Grandfather in a horse cart to take eggs to market, all done on a ledger; they still farmed with animals as well, and this is the 20th century.

In ancient Rome, one sees them change the purity of the silver coinage, to ease supply issues, and of course there were complaints about devaluation. Their economics continues up through the middle ages with the Byzantines. Problems with purity and counterfeiting continue to early modern times, such as with the Prussians counterfeiting the Polish coinage to collapse their economy. Beyond fanciful ideas with peasants using pound sterling, even the nobles themselves were of the character of robbers, currency could be a curse in that the lord of the land could simply take it. In turn paying it out as ransom after being captured by another noble.

So not a myth at all, if you read up on it, economics is more like a huge rabbit hole to fall down.

Game-wise, it's best to just assign a standard value to the yearly labor and split it up, such as 240 cp a year or something. Divide it up that way.
 

CubicsRube

Adventurer
Supporter
Won't get into an argument about it. However it appears that most of Europe was regularly using coins for many transactions much earlier than people think, and much earlier than the level of technology d&d implies.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
You can but then you also get the PCs looking for all kinds of ways to grub money by stealing bandits' shoes and then trying to sell them in town by haggling for the highest price they can and things like that.
So... don't let 'em?

"No, I'm not buying -used shoes- and other disgusting largely ruined pieces of clothing. Besides! These have -blood- on them, you madman!"

If your heroes become the kinda guy who kills a man to steal his shoes that's just terrible.
 

Mannahnin

Adventurer
While he focuses mostly on OD&D, Delta has done a series of fairly detailed posts on his blog about D&D economics. Talking about the silver standard, actual medieval coins (the Pound was mostly only a money of account until modern times; the Groat was closer to a standard for D&D usage), comparing costs to historical sources and reference books, etc. He's dived a little deeper into costs of armor, castles, and rope, among other things. Some of the discussion in the comments is gold ( ;) ) too.

While they don't discuss most of the assumptions 5E makes, most of the info is directly usable for your purposes.

I typically convert my games to a silver standard based in part on his writings.

 
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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Most commoners historically have received benefits other than coin; they received food and potentially lodging as well (depending on time frame, region, etc.). For my campaign I rarely follow the guidelines, honestly it's more guesswork and "are they running out of money" than anything. It's not that they never used money, just that money was often only used for some things. For that matter, trade and barter was a large part of rural America as recently as the 1930s.

The only thing I explain to my players is that gold is not as rare or valuable as it is on earth. I could convert to silver I suppose, but for me it's just not worth the overhead. In my campaign world gold pieces are the size of a dime (which was common) and is similar in value to a 20 dollar bill. Just don't expect to do 1-to-1 correspondence because cost and value depends on way too many
 

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