ZEITGEIST Zeitgeist 5e and Stipends and Magic Items

Bercilak

Explorer
Hi folks,
I'm two sessions in to a Zeitgeist campaign, and the players have just finished dealing with the Coaltongue incident. The players have loved the first part of the adventure, and they are getting ready to have their meeting with Delft and getting their first stipends. They are already asking questions about getting more gear, and so I was revisiting the Player's Guide sections on stipends and magic items, and I got rather confused. Here are some of my concerns/questions, and I'd love to hear some thoughts about these things--particularly about how other folks have handled this part of the campaign. (I've looked at some of the other threads about this, but most of them are about PF or 4e.)

My thoughts about stipends:
  • I've seen some DMs say that they treat the stipends as loans--that the players get X gp and can use it to buy equipment (sometimes just mundane, sometimes including magic items), and when they return the equipment at the end of the adventure, they get their money back. So, more like a voucher system than actual pay.
  • The Player's Guide says the constables are granted a stipend to buy mundane items. But the amount they are given, relatively early on in adventures 2 and 3, is about 8k gp. That makes them overwhelmingly wealthy at 4-5th level. One player could buy a suit of plate armor and all the gun enhancements in the Player's Guide for about that much money. After adventure 3, what would be the point of future stipends?
  • The amount of money also seems out of line with some of the (admittedly vague and scarce) guidelines for wealth in the DMG. (The section in the DMG on "Starting at Higher Level" has a 5th level character starting with 500-750gp. The stipends would have awarded roughly 10x that amount by 5th level.

My Questions about stipends:
  • What was the design intention behind stipends? I'm guessing it was originally to accommodate the ever-increasing gear demands of 4e? Maybe the 5e rules are just kind of a relic? (I read the post @RangerWickett made here about the requisition system, but that doesn't seem like what made it into the 5e ZPG, and I'm curious what happened.)
  • Am I missing some big use for money in the campaign? Maybe some plot thing I didn't notice?
  • Do DMs treat these stipends as cash payouts? Scrip tradable at the RHC armory?
  • In the RAW in the Player's Guide, this money cannot be spent on magic items, so the only ways to acquire magic items are to (1) use them when they are found in an adventure, (2) be given the items by the RHC to "field test", or (3) to requisition them with Prestige, right?

My Thoughts/Questions about Magic-Item Requisitions:
  • I like the limits on magic items, and they seem very in-line with what I think of as the amount of magic items a group should have over their adventuring careers.
  • I'm curious about whether DMs curate a list of possible choices, or just let players requisition what they want?
  • I'm a little confused on how the Prestige rules work in relation to magic items. Under "Requisitioning Equipment" in the ZPG, it says that constables can get the following items with "a few weeks' downtime between missions." So, the players need to requisition items before they necessarily know their missions?
  • How do the charts under "Requisitioning Equipment" jive with the charts under "Using Prestige"? How am I supposed to parse the section that says "Use the Favor levels listed below as a guideline to determine how long it would take to receive the item?" What's the boundary on the level of magic item that can be requested? (My read would be that a character with Prestige 4 could requisition a Legendary magic item and have it delivered in a month--or in a week if they make a Persuasion check (DC 22).) And by the end of Adventure 5 (8th level), the PCs could have Prestige 5 and be requesting Legendary items (Staff of the Magi, Vorpal sword, etc.) to be delivered in one day? I feel like I'm missing something here.

And yes, I get that the DM can make limitations in whatever way they choose, but before I start house-ruling things, I'm trying to understand the intention of the rules. My sense is that they are still a holdover from 4e that got a few tweaks. But the base idea seems rather powerful. And I'm not sure if the game's power level is supposed to ramp up so quickly? Should characters routinely have access to a legendary magic item by level 10? (Loot tables in the DMG suggest that a player couldn't even afford plate armor until nearly 8th level...)

For those of you that have played the 5e version of Zeitgeist beyond adventure 4-5, how is the money and the magic items in RAW working out? Am I needlessly worrying?

Thanks for your collective wisdom.
--Bercilak
 

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Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
I don't know about 4th ed.
Pathfinder unlike as far as I can tell 5th ed had a sensible system for determining roughly what equipment a character would have by level. Traditionally this is aquired by loot which is not terribly appropriate for the pc's in this campaign so to get their expected equipment the RHC gives each constable a stipend to get that equipment so its just a necessary thing to keep characters up to date.
How you apply this to 5th ed which as far as I can tell has abandoned the idea of giving guidance on how much magic a character should have or any idea of the price for buying selling items I am afraid is up to you. My recomendation would be to use pathfinder as all of these things are straight forward. Sorry if my negative opions of 5th ed are coming through
Great campaign so persevere

These bits seem less rule system based so I can give opinion
  • I'm curious about whether DMs curate a list of possible choices, or just let players requisition what they want?
I just let players pick what they want, I would veto an item I believed would break the game or be wildly innapropriate but that never came up. I allowed magical machine guns and field guns to the Goblin in a steam suit. When they went to drakr they stashed an infantry company and field guns in the absurdist web which helped kill the frost giants quite nicely
  • I'm a little confused on how the Prestige rules work in relation to magic items. Under "Requisitioning Equipment" in the ZPG, it says that constables can get the following items with "a few weeks' downtime between missions." So, the players need to requisition items before they necessarily know their missions?
Treat the requisition and prestige rules as guideline , very , very flexible guidelines. I just used them as a guideline, I would let players requisition things at sensible points of each adventure. IF it is an item the military or other authorities would have available they can hav it , likewise a squad of ordinary soldiers. If they want a powerful item or bigger force then it needs preplanning. I also offerred assistance based on prestige on several occassions if it seemed appropriate rather than forcing the players to ask the Fey or Dockers for aid
  • How do the charts under "Requisitioning Equipment" jive with the charts under "Using Prestige"? How am I supposed to parse the section that says "Use the Favor levels listed below as a guideline to determine how long it would take to receive the item?" What's the boundary on the level of magic item that can be requested? (My read would be that a character with Prestige 4 could requisition a Legendary magic item and have it delivered in a month--or in a week if they make a Persuasion check (DC 22).) And by the end of Adventure 5 (8th level), the PCs could have Prestige 5 and be requesting Legendary items (Staff of the Magi, Vorpal sword, etc.) to be delivered in one day? I feel like I'm missing something here.
Base it off the game and the players level, also the cost of the item, (I am not all that familair withthe system) so I would not in any circumstances give an 8th level pathfinder pc a staff of the magi. Such an item would be part of the royal regalia for when there is a mage king it is way , way to rare and expensive to give to someone like that. A 15th level character (i.e someone about as powerful as the monarch) may be able to get something like that on loan, but by that time they are the country so if they want powerful items they should have them as part of their standard wealth.
I limited requisition to one use or speciality items Potions, or underwater combat gear which elite units would have and the pc's would not need on a reagular basis. Likewise at the low end quick requisition they get regular infantry or cavalry from the garrison, with time or higher level and prestige they can get SEAL team 6 (Selkie commando;s), field artillery , elven rangers or warmages.
Use your judgement and don't give players things you will regret
 


Unfortunately I didn't work on the 5e conversion aside from some of the early Player's Guide character theme mechanics, so I don't think I ever worked out how requisitioning and such ought to work with 5e's sensibilities on PC wealth.

Are you familiar with Level Up, Advanced 5e? It's a big EN Publishing product, and it has guidance for gear and such. I also didn't personally work on this portion of the rules, but perhaps it can be of use to you: Starting Gear Past First Level | Level Up

If you've already run the first part of the first adventure, then right before the party goes to Axis Island is a fine time to provide a stipend.

I'd probably do something simple like, "At the start of the mission (read: adventure), you get X GP to spend on items. Consumables are not expected to be returned, but if you don't return non-consumable items, their value will be deducted from whatever your stipend is for the next mission. Any items you acquire during the mission you can use, but are expected to hand them over after the adventure ends."

Whatever starting gear they have doesn't count, but if they get a chain shirt for adventure 2, that's what, 150gp? When adventure 3 starts, they can keep it, but it counts as them spending 150gp of that adventure's stipend.

Then, if I'm reading the rough guidance of the A5E page (and not sweating the details about how much 'starting wealth' each PC gets), maybe do something like:

Adventure 1 - party is 3rd level? 225gp.
Adventure 2 - party gets up to 5th level in the final act? 700gp.
Adventure 3 - party gets up to 6th level? 1,000gp
Adventure 4 - party gets up to 7th level? 1,500gp
Adventure 5 - 9th? 3,000gp. From this point on, let them keep one magic item each that they've gotten on their mission, without it counting toward stipend.
Adventure 6 - 11th? 7,000gp
Adv 7 - 12th? 9,000gp
Adv 8 - 14th? 16K
Adv 9 - 15th? 20K From here on, let them keep two magic items apiece that they've picked up.
Adv 10 - 17th? At this point, it's not so much 'requisitioning' as 'you are giving orders to the country to make stuff for you, and this is how much they can produce in a timely manner'. 40K
Adv 11 - 19th? 70K
Adv 12/13 - 20th? 100K

Then A5E has prices here - Enchanted Gear | Level Up (scroll down to COST) - for a lot of existing items, and you can kinda eyeball how much comparable things might cost.

-
As for Prestige and calling in favors, in the setting guide Adventures in ZEITGEIST (set 20 years after the adventure path), I did write up a general system for tracking Prestige (on a scale of 1 to 5) with various groups, and the party can have one favor active with any particular group at a time. So the PCs might have Prestige 2 with Risur, Prestige 3 with Flint, and Prestige 2 with the Unseen Court.

And I think during the adventures, broadly the PCs start at Prestige 1 with everyone (Risur, Flint, Unseen Court, Clergy/Family). [[I also had the Obscurati originally as a Prestiget-tracking group, but it doesn't really work as a group to get favors from. Maybe you could create a group out of Ber, Drakr, and Elfaivar, though the prestige with those probably stays low until the later adventures. But I digress.]]

Borrowing Magic Items
If the party wants to borrow a magic item from a group, they can call in a favor. If they just need the item for a day or so, use the following favor ratings. If they intend to keep it long-term, increase the rating by 1. If the item is particularly valuable, the group might send along a minder to ensure it is returned.
  • Common Magic Item. This is a level 3 favor.
  • Uncommon Magic Item. This is a level 4 favor.
  • Rare Magic Item. This is a level 5 favor.
  • Very Rare Magic Item. This is a level 6 favor.
  • Legendary Magic Item. This is a level 7 favor.
The Narrator is encouraged to decide if the item has an interesting creator, physical detail, quirk, or minor magical property, which could reflect a novel provenance.

If the favor is of the party's Prestige or lower, it can be granted as fast as reasonably possible.

If the favor is 1 level higher than their prestige, the item arrives within a day. If 2 levels higher, it arrives after a week. If 3 levels higher, the request is denied.

That's a rambly response, not playtested, just eyeballed, and apologies if it breaks anything in your game. But if it does, Adventure Three gives you an excuse to fix the math with the audit.
 

Bercilak

Explorer
Thanks @Andrew Moreton and @RangerWickett for the input. I think I will be using those Level Up guidelines for wealth. Still got to work through what I'm doing with magic items, but I like the idea of them getting a permanent requisition for loot they've turned over to the RHC at certain levels. And I like the idea of requisitions being for very specific purposes--the stuff you have to put on the requisition form. Ring of Water Breathing for an aquatic mission, approved. Staff of Power because it's a Staff of Power, denied.

--Berc
 

Veril

Explorer
I'm playing this under Pathfinder 1st edition. 5th edition D&D is kind of 1/10 of the money of the wealth by level it kind of looks like.

Between adventures I let the players re-spend without any restrictions, they can buy any magic items they want. Favour is irrelevant here. There are a lot of rings of evasion in the party! I do point out every time that if they spend all their money then they can't afford anything, no bribes, no schmoozing on the town, staying at cheep inns only. I have made sure that they are opportunities for them to buy things occasionally at discount prices (1/2 price potions and "wooden"/"natural" items when they turned up at Macdan with 5 prestige - they are wildly popular and are seen as heroes there)

On the adventure that is when prestige comes in to try and requisition things, and they have to pay for it. If they don't have the money it's unlikley to be available, unless it would completly block the adventure.
 

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