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 Character Wealth

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DM Jon
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PostSubject: Character Wealth   Sat Jun 22, 2013 10:59 pm

I've been running a low magic 4E campaign for some time now (magic items are not readily available for purchase) and the characters are struggling to find anything to do with their wealth.  Recently, after defeating a dragon and finding its treasure stash, they seemed uninterested in it.  I'm starting to question my "low magic" decision because I want the players to be excited when they find treasure.  So basically, I'm looking for some advice.  If the characters can't spend their wealth on magic items, what are they supposed to do with the pile of coins, art objects and gem stones they've accumulated?  Thanks in advance!
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Chris24601
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PostSubject: Re: Character Wealth   Sun Jun 23, 2013 11:35 am

Well, the first question I have regarding your description is that you mentioned they're struggling to find anything to do with their wealth... so what ARE they doing with it now? Knowing what they're trying to spend it on now might give you hints as to larger endevors for them to sink their wealth into.

Two general points though... if magic items availability is completely outside of player control then you don't need to pass out nearly as much treasure in the first place, but that also means that you don't have to be stingy in allowing them profits from wise use of their wealth either (since they still won't be able to buy magic items with it).

In the above case, what you need is to give them some initial money sinks with the prospect of assets worth more than mere gold as payoffs. 

-A king needing funds for his war offers land and patents of nobility in exchange for large sums of gold. The characters are now nobles with lands to oversee and people to protect. Not only does it drain a lot of wealth out of the PC's wallets, it gives them something of percieved value and instant campaign plot hooks as they now have to manage their investment. I'd highly recommend the Kingmaker rules from Pathfinder if you want to go this route as they give a lot of options and also providing an ongoing sink for additional party wealth (want that marketplace or harbor built faster? spend some of that dragon hoard you just recovered on Build Points to get it done).

-A merchant prince with no heirs is looking for investors to buy out his company so that he can retire to the lap of luxury. The characters now own a fleet of ships with trading interests around the world that they will need to protect and grow (exploring the world in search of new or exotic products as well as new potential markets for their existing goods). Once again, it drains off wealth from the PC's but gives them something of value and opens up campaign plot hooks.

And because the money they might gain this way cannot be used on magic items you are free to let them be as successful as their schemes would realistically let them be.


As a sidebar, even with the essentials revision, the enchant magic item still allows you to create uncommon and even rare magic items. It seems they never really looked at it that closely because none of the post-essentials classes got ritual casting and none of the post-essentials products ever reprinted any rituals or the ritual caster feat.

As such, one of the easiest wealth sinks you could add while still keeping the concept of not being able to regularly purchase magic items is having the players find a cache of "enchant magic item" scrolls (just enough for each member of the party to get one with maybe one or two extra that could be used to create items that benefit the entire party).

Because scrolls cannot be copied into ritual books you don't even have to worry about characters being able to use the ritual beyond the scrolls you provide in the treasure cache. This gives the players a HUGE (if temporary) sink for their wealth while still keeping a general level of control over the level of magic in the game.
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Felorn Gloryaxe
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PostSubject: Re: Character Wealth   Sun Jun 23, 2013 9:56 pm

There are also things where players could make a permanent impact on your campaign setting. Perhaps making strongholds, castles, cities, guilds, etc. All these things require money and can lead to more and more story, and quests down the line. Heck, even just protecting your strong hold can be a quest itself if people are trying to invade. Leading armies across the land to conquer kingdoms could be an entire campaign. The possibilities with money in D&D are endless, just as they are in real life. The sheer amount of wealth is the only thing I like about epic level D&D. Be creative man. There are all sorts of rules for building Castles and strongholds in Dragon Magazine, and in the MME book.

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