There never seems to be an interesting thing to spend money on. This is a pretty consistent problem in the OSR style games I’ve played. The 1gp = 1xp model is awesome, it puts the game’s focus right where it needs to be. But once that money has done its job of incrementally moving the players closer to their next level, little thought is given to what happens next. Players just amass hoards of useless wealth.
The baseline assumption of oldschool D&D is that players who have a lot of gold will spend it on a stronghold and an army of hirelings. But that’s poorly suited to a lot of games, which focus entirely on party-based adventure and eschew domain-level play. And even when domain play works within the game, that doesn’t mean it’s interesting to every player.
Most OSR games I’ve played have also implemented some variant of the carousing rules at this point, which is good. Carousing is a great option to have. But it can’t be the only option. I mean, it’s basically just a fancy way of setting all your money on fire.
When one of my characters is flush with cash, I want to spend that money on something that will make me more effective. I want a better chance of getting out of the next dungeon with my hit points above 0 because of the money I spent. Of course, the easy way to accomplish this is to have a big list of magic items with humongous price tags, à la Pathfinder. But that’s boring and dumb and I hate it.
For a long time now I’ve wanted to write a broad examination of every interesting money sink I can think of. I had kind of a false start on this idea about 18 months ago. The scope of the project was a little overwhelming, and every time I spoke with someone about it they had all these neat ideas I’d never considered before, which made the scope even larger and more overwhelming. What’s clear is that a lot of people have come up with a lot of solutions to this problem that I’ve never heard of. I want to absorb it all. I want to share my own ideas, and examine other people’s ideas.
So if you have an idea, I’d love it if you told me about it. If you wrote a blog post or you know of a blog post, I’d love to be linked to it. I myself have already written a lot on this subject. (The “curio shop” idea is a 14 page google doc all by itself.) So expect a lot of posts from me on this topic for the next week or so at least.