D&D 5E Why I think gold should have less uses in 5e, not more.


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Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
And as a player I want to spend my money on Cool Stuff and not useless inventory filler.
See, your tone is more aggressive than I feel is warranted here. What's "Cool Stuff" and what's "Useless Inventory Filler" is subjective, and as a DM I'm not going to limit what one can logically buy to a short curated list of "things Undrave thinks are worth the squeeze". I'm trying to create a consistent, logical world here. Exploring and interacting with such a world through the PC is IMO the core of TTRPG play, on either side of the screen.
 

Undrave

Legend
See, your tone is more aggressive than I feel is warranted here. What's "Cool Stuff" and what's "Useless Inventory Filler" is subjective, and as a DM I'm not going to limit what one can logically buy to a short curated list of "things Undrave thinks are worth the squeeze". I'm trying to create a consistent, logical world here. Exploring and interacting with such a world through the PC is IMO the core of TTRPG play, on either side of the screen.
Obviously 'cool stuff' is based on the individual player, that's true.

I think we actually agree but voice it differently: I disagree with the premise of this thread that gold should do less, because then it becomes harder to have Cool Stuff for all the players. If a player can't use gold to buy their Cool Stuff, then gold becomes useless to that player and monetary treasure will just be boring accounting to them.

I personally think 5e doesn't have enough cool stuff, especially in terms of consumables items. We're already paying ammunition in gold, healing potions in gold (and technically spell components), we need to bring back alchemical stuff you can throw at opponents and like magical whetstone to temporarily enchant weapons and stuff.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
See, I don't think that's really true. Because in B/X and AD&D, gold is pretty useless.
  • You need enough to upgrade your equipment. Full plate and composite longbows. And horses and carts and hirelings. But that isn't very expensive, really. A couple thousand gp is enough to equip and supply any PC for a very long time.
  • You get XP for gold (before 2e, anyway) but that's not really the value of the gold itself. The gold doesn't have a tremendous use after you've extracted the XP from it. Like it could be a concrete block that gave you 1,000 XP when you returned it to town and it wouldn't be that much different. The XP is the reward. The gold it secondary.
  • You could save up for a stronghold for the domain management game. But I don't think very many people did that or wanted to do that. People wanted to keep adventuring. It's Dungeons & Dragons, not Domains & Diplomacy. Indeed, the only people I know whose PCs built strongholds did so to retire their PC.
But none of that really stopped PCs from going out looking for treasure. I think PCs sought treasure because treasure meant magic items, and magic items meant new character abilities. The gold was basically free XP, and it has some limited use in-game. Either way, though, 10,000 gp in any edition of D&D is more than most PCs ever need to spend.

That's why training costs were a common house rule. It gave you something to spend all those cubic yards of metal discs on.
Gold is also a temple built for your god, patents of nobility purchased, bribes offered, expensive parties thrown, information purchased, houses in various cities commonly visited, powerful NPCs to aid in an undertaking for a month, and on and on.

I'm always surprised that in a game of imagination, people often don't use theirs to come up with helpful ways to spend gold. I'm always broke because I use it so often to my benefit and the party's benefit.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
That's just it, though. It doesn't really do that. I feel like you haven't actually looked at just how silly the math is. I don't think Gary did.

If you play it straight, it doesn't just make gold mandatory for progression. It makes a lot of gold mandatory for progression. It makes gold functionally replace XP for the first 6 levels of the game. It's not a siphon for gold that would otherwise be there. It's a schedule. The costs are so high that they block and dictate advancement. At low level when you're less likely to have the XP earned pro-rated, it's often higher than the XP schedule.
  • A level 1 Fighter needs 1,500 gp and 2,000 XP gained to reach level 2.
  • A level 2 Fighter needs 3,000 gp and 2,000 XP gained to reach level 3.
  • A level 3 Fighter needs 4,500 gp and 4,000 XP gained to reach level 4.
  • A level 4 Fighter needs 6,000 gp and 8,000 XP gained to reach level 5.
By 5th level, a Fighter needs to have a total of 16,000 XP. However, to reach that point, they would have had to spend 15,000 gp just in training. (For reference, that's more total wealth than 3e characters should have access to by that level.)

Except... well, now there's a big problem, because you earn XP for gold. That means they should have gotten pretty close to 15,000 XP from gold alone. If the character has a Strength score of 15 or better -- which the 1e DMG strongly suggests they always should -- they would instead have 16,500 XP from the gold alone. That's before XP from monsters or magic items or anything else, never mind any gold that the PC could actually spend on supplies and equipment. And it's worse for Clerics and Thieves because they advance more quickly but their costs are the same.

And to top it off, this is the cheapest it can be. If the DM decides you weren't playing your class or alignment well enough or if no trainer is available, you can be required to spend up to quadruple the costs.

But it gets worse because, as I mentioned, 1e AD&D is unique in this training cost requirement. It doesn't appear in other editions except as an optional rule. That means any module for 2e AD&D or Basic D&D shouldn't have this level of treasure. That means any Basic module, including the entirety of the B and X series, anything set in Mystara, Dark Sun, Spelljammer, or Planescape, nearly all of Ravenloft, and nearly all of Forgotten Realms should not have the gold required to pay for this training.

That's why I'm saying I honestly don't believe anybody used this long enough for it to happen during play. The costs for a significant portion of play are completely outside the reality of gameplay, and it lasts until the PCs are mid-level.

If this is really how you say you played, then my question is: Why do your players put up with that much level drain? Because that's the only way I can imagine this kind of game working and not being constantly capped on XP.
There are two things that you are overlooking with the training there. First, the trainer can opt to take less gold and have the PC perform some sort of task for him, so you don't necessarily have to have all the gold needed. Second, see below from page 86 of the 1e DMG...

"ONCE A CHARACTER HAS POINTS WHICH ARE EQUAL TO OR GREATER THAN THE MINIMUM NUMBER NECESSARY TO MOVE UPWARDS IN EXPERIENCE LEVEL, NO FURTHER EXPERIENCE POINTS CAN BE GAINED UNTIL THE CHARACTER ACTUALLY GAINS THE NEW LEVEL."

It's likely that PCs will lose XP that way while gathering the gold needed. The issues you are talking about assume that no XP is being wasted and so a ton of gold will be needed very quickly. The reality is that some, possibly a large chunk, of that gold to XP earned will simply vanish since you can't go above a certain point until you train.
 



Asisreo

Patron Badass
So, reading the replies in this thread, I partially agree that players should have the freedom to exchange currency to improve themselves, but maybe it shouldn't be the same resource as what you use to improve your livelihood or roleplay situations. It should still be seperate from XP.

Of course, this makes the challenge of another resource to manage, but now a player won't have to feel like they've kicked themselves if they buy a stronghold and find their perfect magic item for sale that they can't afford anymore.

Maybe there could be that "wealth" system for one of these currencies with the legacy system of gp for the other. Maybe that would be a good compromise to implement.
 

Edgar Ironpelt

Adventurer
Gold is also a temple built for your god, patents of nobility purchased, bribes offered, expensive parties thrown, information purchased, houses in various cities commonly visited, powerful NPCs to aid in an undertaking for a month, and on and on.

I'm always surprised that in a game of imagination, people often don't use theirs to come up with helpful ways to spend gold. I'm always broke because I use it so often to my benefit and the party's benefit.
The problem is coming up with helpful ways to spend gold beyond the obvious improvements to the survival and success of the character. If the temples, patents of nobility, expensive parties, fancy houses etc. are meaningless bling, then that's Not Helpful.

So the GM has to run a game where gold-fueled social interactions are fun for the players, and where the adventure survival imperatives of the characters and the adventure fun imperatives of the players don't push players into spending nearly all their gold on (magical) adventuring gear. The second means that gold can't be used as the limiting factor on the amount and quality of that gear.

Or at least the issue has to be finessed. Trying to control magic gear by making it ruinously expensive will backfire by giving players incentives to become fanatic misers grubbing every last copper and then spending that last copper on more gear. Instead magical adventuring gear has to be cheap enough that PCs will have plenty of gold left over after loading up with all the gear they care to take with them on an adventure.

In econospeak terms, magic adventuring gear has to have a declining marginal utility. (Yes, D&D economics are crazy. But that means a GM needs to think like a crazy economist. "Economists are often accused of believing that everything - health, happiness, life itself - can be measured in money. What we actually believe is even odder. We believe that everything can be measured in anything.")

As a half-baked idea: Maybe go back to old-school "xp for gold" - but only if the gold is spent on those social-interaction luxuries. Maybe there is an in-world reason why successful adventurers spend freely on riotous living, generous donations to charity, and extravagant displays of wealth when they return from an adventure with heaps of treasure.
 

To me, the difference is that spending money on training is still very utilitarian, and a character who only spends money on strictly utilitarian things can feel more like a drone the player pilots than a person.
That depends how you fluff "training". The 1st edition training rules were at least somewhat inspired by Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, who, it is made explicit, fritter away all their loot on carousing. It's basically a case of in order to level up after you have gained sufficient experience you must spend X gp on whatever downtime activity is appropriate for your character.
 

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