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View Full Version : [3.5] Why do classes get different amounts of starting cash?



Endarire
2011-01-14, 06:44 PM
By the default rules, each class gets a different amount of starting gold. As a DM, if I am to keep close to wealth by level, this feels awkward. Why does this rule exist?

Greenish
2011-01-14, 06:48 PM
To make them feel different, I guess. Doesn't make that much sense, but oh well.

FMArthur
2011-01-14, 06:49 PM
With first level wealth, gear is mostly just for show, to be used in character introductions. Aside from worrying over your AC bonus there is almost nothing useful to get with anyone's starting package so it is all flavor.

Chilingsworth
2011-01-14, 06:53 PM
The starting cash-by-class rules only apply for characters starting at 1st level. If you start at higher than 1st, then you use the WBL chart in the DMG.

As for why... I think it's supposed to account for the differing costs of starting gear for different classes. Also, some classes get extra goodies at 1st level, such as a wizard and his/her spell book.

Urpriest
2011-01-14, 07:03 PM
Magical goods are about the same expense for everybody: +6 Int costs as much as +6 Str, and +5 Full Plate and a +5 Chain Shirt are negligibly different. However, at first level most of a character's gear will be taken up with mundane items, and these have different prices for different archetypes. If you look at which classes get which starting gold you'll see higher starting gold allocated to classes that use martial weapons or heavy armor because those things are dramatically more expensive at first level than most simple weapons and lighter armors. Monks get very little because their mundane gear is generally pretty inexpensive, as do Sorcerors and the like.

ericgrau
2011-01-14, 08:07 PM
That and fluffwise it makes sense for the wizard to be broke. Heck isn't the market value on his starting spellbook around 2,500 gp? Savage classes that use less gear are also more likely to be poorer.

Ragitsu
2011-01-14, 08:08 PM
To make them feel different, I guess. Doesn't make that much sense, but oh well.

Um, of course it makes sense.

A monk, for instance, lives an ascetic life, and therefore would have less than the bard, who tends to perform for money (and can pick and choose places with wealthier customers).

Then again, the bard would, more often, tend to rely on equipment. Things somewhat balance out, but not always fully.

Bang!
2011-01-14, 08:09 PM
Maybe the writers wanted low-level dudes to afford gear suitable to their archetypes without having enough loot left afterward to hire similar-level minions/animals to do their dirty work for them.

Greenish
2011-01-14, 08:09 PM
Savage classes that use less gear are also more likely to be poorer.That assumes that every fighter 1 or barbarian 1 (and so on) has the same (or very similar) background.

[Edit]:
Um, of course it makes sense.

A monk, for instance, lives an ascetic life, and therefore would have less than the bard, who tends to perform for money (and can pick and choose places with wealthier customers).

Then again, the bard would, more often, tend to rely on equipment. Things somewhat balance out, but not always fully.Well, if you don't subscribe to the "class as a metagame construct", I guess it works a bit better. Still, anyone could have a rich or a poor background.

Dr.Epic
2011-01-14, 08:11 PM
Different classes need different amounts of starting equipment.

ericgrau
2011-01-14, 08:18 PM
That assumes that every fighter 1 or barbarian 1 (and so on) has the same (or very similar) background.

[Edit]:Well, if you don't subscribe to the "class as a metagame construct", I guess it works a bit better. Still, anyone could have a rich or a poor background.
Ya then I suppose you could roll money randomly and then make your background. The other issue you touched on a little is that someone could be a rich person via his backstory. But then how's the DM supposed to handle one player having 10,000 gp at level 1?

Bang!
2011-01-14, 08:28 PM
But then how's the DM supposed to handle one player having 10,000 gp at level 1?
Easy. Plant the adventure hook at the exact moment that PC goes out to the loo.

Prime32
2011-01-14, 08:29 PM
The other issue you touched on a little is that someone could be a rich person via his backstory. But then how's the DM supposed to handle one player having 10,000 gp at level 1?Three options:

Make him take the Mercantile Background feat.
The majority of his wealth is tied up in investments. He is described as splashing around money whenever the PCs go to a tavern. His weapons look fancier than other party members (being encrusted with gold and jewels, etc.), but this has no mechanical benefit.
"Extraordinarily wealthy" is not a low-level concept any more than "summoner of demon lords" is.

Xefas
2011-01-14, 08:34 PM
Easy. Plant the adventure hook at the exact moment that PC goes out to the loo.

DM: Your bladder distends like an overstuffed water balloon! You feel the overpowering urge to seek the sanctuary of the bathroom, lest you drown your fancy party guests in your horrific deluge of-

PC: -God, okay, okay, I head to the bathroom. Geez.

DM: Also, suddenly goblins!

Greenish
2011-01-14, 08:37 PM
Ya then I suppose you could roll money randomly and then make your background. The other issue you touched on a little is that someone could be a rich person via his backstory. But then how's the DM supposed to handle one player having 10,000 gp at level 1?Well, that's a mechanical concern, now, isn't it. :smalltongue:

Benly
2011-01-14, 08:55 PM
You could reasonably start out each character with their selection of, say, one armor and two weapons they're proficient in (plus relevant ammo and shield if applicable), basic traveling/dungeoneering supplies, and a standardized amount of pocket change for picking up whatever flavor material they feel like. That tends to be what level 1 characters actually start with anyway.

lesser_minion
2011-01-14, 09:03 PM
[Edit]:Well, if you don't subscribe to the "class as a metagame construct", I guess it works a bit better. Still, anyone could have a rich or a poor background.

They are metagame constructs, but not in the way you're using the term. Every class comes with a large amount of background material that is assumed to apply to all 'standard' members of that character class. That includes assumptions along the lines of "standard monks are ascetics" and "standard wizards are still paying back their student loans*". However, it doesn't go the other way -- not everyone in-setting who has a student loan is a wizard, and not everyone who officiates at religious functions is a cleric.

The 'counts as' principle is roughly that: "as long as everyone knows what's going on, it may be possible take a concept that has no rules for it, and play it using rules that were intended to portray something else". It's a far cry from "classes have no meaning beyond the abilities they confer upon a character".

* Or a more setting-appropriate equivalent.

Greenish
2011-01-14, 09:09 PM
It's a far cry from "classes have no meaning beyond the abilities they confer upon a character".Funny, that's how I've always understood it. A monk (as the class) could easily be a cat burglar or a lazy nobleman's scion or an actor or a traveling fortune teller, instead of an ascetic.

Gnome Alone
2011-01-14, 09:22 PM
Funny, that's how I've always understood it. A monk (as the class) could easily be a cat burglar or a lazy nobleman's scion or an actor or a traveling fortune teller, instead of an ascetic.

Lo! and thence didst they discover something that doth dependeth upon how thou looketh at it, and how thou wanteth to playeth.

lesser_minion
2011-01-14, 09:33 PM
Funny, that's how I've always understood it. A monk (as the class) could easily be a cat burglar or a lazy nobleman's scion or an actor or a travelling fortune teller, instead of an ascetic.

The bard, rogue, and factotum can handle those alternative concepts infinitely better than the monk can -- in no small part because they have skills, options, and class features that pertain directly to burglary, acting, and telling fortunes.

The monk 'could' be one of those, but it'd take a pretty impressive spin on the concept before it became a good idea*.

* I've ignored multiclassing here -- for the most part, it's there just to provide a method for you to apply the 'counts as' principle.

Ragitsu
2011-01-14, 09:33 PM
Yep, lots of traveling medieval actors can jump a hundred or so feet.

There's imagination, and then there's game mechanics.

Bang!
2011-01-14, 09:39 PM
Funny, that's how I've always understood it. A monk (as the class) could easily be a cat burglar or a lazy nobleman's scion or an actor or a traveling fortune teller, instead of an ascetic.
Funny, the way I've always understood it, my 'characterís class is his or her profession or vocation.'

My PHB must be broken.:smallfrown:

Urpriest
2011-01-14, 09:50 PM
Funny, the way I've always understood it, my 'characterís class is his or her profession or vocation.'

My PHB must be broken.:smallfrown:

Issue is, game rules by their very nature can't cover that kind of thing: there can be no RAW of fluff, in other words. So while a game might intend to have rules like that, they're not stable. Rules end up representing what they model best, not what they're described as representing. Witness Locate City: how often does that thing get used to actually locate a city?

The-Mage-King
2011-01-14, 09:53 PM
Funny, the way I've always understood it, my 'characterís class is his or her profession or vocation.'

My PHB must be broken.:smallfrown:

Of course not! That's what the Profession skill is for! Class is for abilities. A Wizard can be a fishmonger just as well as he can be a scholar, you know.

Greenish
2011-01-14, 09:56 PM
The bard, rogue, and factotum can handle those alternative concepts infinitely better than the monk can -- in no small part because they have skills, options, and class features that pertain directly to burglary, acting, and telling fortunes.Monk has climb, balance, hide and move silently to burglarize places, Perform and Profession to act (and those + Sense Motive to tell fortunes).

Yep, lots of traveling medieval actors can jump a hundred or so feet.If ascetics can do it, why not? Haven't you ever been to a circus? :smalltongue:

Gamer Girl
2011-01-14, 10:07 PM
This goes back forever in D&D.

And it's simple, each character needs equipment. You have to have equipment to go adventuring at 1st level. And in character creation, everyone buys equipment.

It's always 'assumed' that you don't just go to a store with 100 gold and buy the equipment. It's more like you have saved up and slowly bought the equipment over a couple years, starting at like 15 or so.

The trick is, each character needs different equipment. A fighter needs armor, and that costs a lot of gold. A wizard or a monk does not have a single high priced items they 'must' buy.

So the amounts are different. After all, if everyone got the same amount(the maximum) then some characters would have tons and tons of gold left over. Or worse, could stock up on powerful things...''I'll buy 50 alchemical fires, a mule, a wagon, 15 war dogs, and....''

After all the characters buy equipment, most characters should have less then 50 gold..often times way way less.

And they need to go adventure for more gold.

Bang!
2011-01-14, 10:07 PM
Witness Locate City: how often does that thing get used to actually locate a city?2/2 times I've seen it actually used in a game?

I know these boards and groups that like to play the optimization metagame like to treat classes, rules, etc. as metagame constructs.
I get that; it makes the optimization game more free, and allows more fun combinations.
It's the assumption that the game is supposed to be played like that, or is mostly played like that, or that there's something inherently incorrect about groups where a Monk represents a disciplined martial arts guy from a monastery and a Swordsage is a magician with a blade fetish that bothers me.

Urpriest
2011-01-14, 10:27 PM
2/2 times I've seen it actually used in a game?

I know these boards and groups that like to play the optimization metagame like to treat classes, rules, etc. as metagame constructs.
I get that; it makes the optimization game more free, and allows more fun combinations.
It's the assumption that the game is supposed to be played like that, or is mostly played like that, or that there's something inherently incorrect about groups where a Monk represents a disciplined martial arts guy from a monastery and a Swordsage is a magician with a blade fetish that bothers me.

But the swordsage's fluff isn't that they're a magician with a blade fetish, that's just their name. The fluff in the class's entry is much broader and...but this is a silly argument.

I'm actually pretty impressed that you've seen Locate City used twice in actual games. I get that no actual games use it as a bomb either, but I had the impression that it was obscure and niche enough that actual games simply didn't use it.

In any case, you don't have to be an optimizer to be subject to the way that rules adjust and broaden fluff. For one, it affected the development of the books themselves as the rules progressed. For another, think of the number of people who play a druid because they want to be a big, muscly character (in many video games based on D&D this is one of the primary things druids are, despite it having nothing to do with the concept of a Celtic priest), or who end up picking a greatsword because it deals more damage, despite there being no fluff reason for it to deal more damage than the greatclub. Dragon blood was just one potential source of a Sorceror's magical power, but how many groups think of Sorcerors as the "draconic" caster? Rules and gaming culture shape the way your game world is in a myriad of subtle ways, and in many groups they have worked to broaden the classes, or at least shift them beyond how they were written.

Foryn Gilnith
2011-01-14, 10:51 PM
that there's something inherently incorrect about groups where a Monk represents a disciplined martial arts guy from a monastery and a Swordsage is a magician with a blade fetish
It is true that, when considered rationally, there is no rationale for deeming anything badwrongfun. But it's a natural response to consider things different from you unpleasant (as you did), or in extreme cases "inherently incorrect". People see those groups, think about how they would interact with them (namely, they would be prevented from playing their ideal character under the rationale that they were doing it wrong by trying to make a class into what it isn't), and react violently against that hypothetical scenario.

Akal Saris
2011-01-14, 11:11 PM
Of course not! That's what the Profession skill is for! Class is for abilities. A Wizard can be a fishmonger just as well as he can be a scholar, you know.

I hope you enjoy fiendish shark and pseudonatural octopi, because that's what on the menu today, sir!

The-Mage-King
2011-01-14, 11:15 PM
I hope you enjoy fiendish shark and pseudonatural octopi, because that's what on the menu today, sir!

EXACTLY! Who else will sell the weird fish?

FelixG
2011-01-15, 05:56 AM
DM: Your bladder distends like an overstuffed water balloon! You feel the overpowering urge to seek the sanctuary of the bathroom, lest you drown your fancy party guests in your horrific deluge of-

PC: -God, okay, okay, I head to the bathroom. Geez.

DM: Also, suddenly goblins!

I just had a fun idea for a slap stick RP based off of this :smallbiggrin:

Dinner party is the scene, the PCs are invited by the king, the PCs are given some drinks and food laced with laxative, then are told where the bathroom is, they have to fight various monsters within a set time based on their...say...str or con to get to the bathroom before they are humilated and booted from the castle :smallbiggrin:

lesser_minion
2011-01-15, 10:40 AM
Monk has climb, balance, hide and move silently to burglarize places, Perform and Profession to act (and those + Sense Motive to tell fortunes).

Firstly, you're still using a hammer to pound in a screw. There are three different character classes that are actually designed to portray the character concepts you suggested. Why aren't you using them?

Secondly, the monk's skill list is not adequate for cat burglary (Gather Information, Bluff, Search, and Open Lock are also essential). Nor are the monk's stats -- all of these concepts require a higher charisma score than the monk can afford, for example.

It's usually better to take a fun and interesting concept and then figure out the rules for it. Not only does that help ensure that whatever you make will make sense in the setting, but it also helps you to avoid overlooking better or simpler ways to represent a given concept; if you're a designer or a homebrewer, it also helps you to avoid wasting time rehashing things that the rules already cover.