Spending Money 1: I’ve got thirty thousand gold pieces and nothing to spend them on.

8b179ff4ae0da82ec9de423c03d1-grandeI want to have a conversation about how players can spend their money.

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.

Related Posts:

The original impetus that spawned this idea.

A first attempt at coming up with things to spend money on.

The Google+ conversation for this post, which raised some good resources.

Eric Treasure’s idea.

James Young’s Idea.

A direct response to this post from d4 Caltrops

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4 thoughts on “Spending Money 1: I’ve got thirty thousand gold pieces and nothing to spend them on.”

  1. Insteadof 1 exp per gp looted on a adventUre give 1 exp for gpspent on trainnig, sacrifice, carousing, bribes, hosting banquets, gifting, luxuries, animals, property, and vehicles. Of coursethe GM has to play along but there is never a shortage of ways to burn cash when thecampaig supports it.

  2. My players have a sizable war chest at the moment, but also have spent a whole load of cash enabling traveling further into the wilderness, with a cart, two horses, a handful of combat hirelings, two mercenaries, a quartermaster and a carpenter*, and have just recently commissioned some water barrels; plus of course, hundreds of person days of rations. As long as you can make provisioning interesting, you can have it take some of that huge chunk of cash. It helps that they have no magic way of creating food, traveling fast and so forth, but they are only third level.

    * and a cat, three homunculii they stole, two piglets and 12 goats they goatnapped.

  3. In Raiders of the Lost Ark – remember the enormous Cairo dig site the Nazi’s had?

    That must have cost a fortune, and, if it was in a D&D land, opened up all kinds of dangerous, treasure-filled temples/palaces/whatnot.

  4. I think “Charles” is onto something there. Because referees generally DON’T want the players to have to “go looking for the adventure”, it usually happens that the adventures just sort of fall into their laps. But what if they had, every now and again, to actually fund research to find their next adventure location? The more they spend, the less game-time it takes OR the better chance that they’ll discover the location of an important item, magical or otherwise. It could be interesting if fleshed out a little…

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