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- Join Date
- Nov 2006
[4e] Money for Nothing and Magic items for Free
This is a 4e mod intended to make cash not part of your characters combat power level, but rather something you use to have fun and characterise.
This presumes that there is no thriving magic item economy, and no ritual scroll or book shops. You don't sell magic items -- you turn them into residuum and make new ones. You don't buy magic items -- you make them, or kill someone who has one, or use transfer enchantment to move it around.
An alternative system to hand out rituals and magic items is at the end of this post -- or you can just use the 'cash rewards' in the DMG to give out alchemical reagents, residuum, and minor magic items.
100 copper makes a silver.
100 silver makes a gold
100 gold makes an astral diamond.
Platnium and other such coinage is exotic treasure, rarely found.
The heroic tier is on the silver standard.
The paragon tier is on the gold standard.
The epic tier is on the astral diamond standard.
Characters start with 55 sp at level 1, and can buy their gear out of the PHB at 1/2 list price in silver (ie, something costing 5 gp now costs 2.5 sp).
Encounter Encounter Estimated Cost of Cost of per player 5 players Floor Wealth Player Toy Group Toy 1 3 sp 15 sp 55 sp 30 sp 150 sp 2 5 sp 25 sp 85 sp 50 sp 250 sp 3 8 sp 40 sp 135 sp 80 sp 400 sp 4 14 sp 70 sp 215 sp 140 sp 700 sp 5 20 sp 100 sp 355 sp 200 sp 1000 sp 6 30 sp 150 sp 555 sp 300 sp 1500 sp 7 50 sp 250 sp 855 sp 500 sp 2500 sp 8 80 sp 400 sp 1355 sp 800 sp 4000 sp 9 140 sp 700 sp 2155 sp 1400 sp 7000 sp 10 200 sp 1000 sp 3555 sp 2000 sp 10000 sp
An encounter balanced for 5 level 5 players should hand out 100 sp in treasure, even if you kill it with 5 level 1 players. Players who constantly encounter level+4 encounters will end up about 2.5 levels ahead on the "Floor Wealth" chart, which isn't that big of a deal. (floor wealth measures how much money a player would have if they always fought L+0 encounters)
Players cannot spend their money on rituals, ritual ingredients, or magic items -- there are none for sale that do not involve going on a quest, or killing someone and taking their stuff.
So what they have to spend money on is toys.
Toys can include horses, buildings, castles, pocket planes in the astral sea, etc. Flavour things that can affect the plot, but are about creating in-world achievements.
To price such a toy, estimate at what level it should be coming around, and if it is a group or a single player toy. A castle or a demise in the astral sea is a group-level toy, while a horse would be a single-player toy. Note that a castle is early-paragon, while an astral-sea demise is late-epic -- however, even this can differ by how you want your out-of-game fluff to scale.
A level X toy is something that a player can purchase from adventuring at level X. A level X group toy is something that a group can purchase from adventuring at level X.
Players who have harder than normal adventures have incomes about 2 levels ahead of their level. Players total cumulative worth is about 1 level ahead of their income.
So if you price a castle as a level 15 paragon group toy, a party of overachievers would be able to use every penny they had at around level 12 to buy that castle (or pay for it to be built).
Group toys are about 3 levels more expensive than player toys. So a single overachieving player who invested all of her money into it could afford her very own castle at level 15, while a more typical level 18 character could pay for it out of their own pocket using an entire level's worth of income.
By level 23, a character could buy that castle using a single encounter's cash reward. They could fund an entire line of castles using their own share of the treasure before they hit level 24.
The point of these toys is to hook the players into the world. You can use them as plot hooks -- including, for example, justifications for profit for the players.
For one-off expenditures (a level 12 character funds a festival), you might use the cost of 1 or 2 encounter's worth of even-level treasure as something extravagant for the character's magnitude of power.
Fast Magic Items:
For each player, roll 1d4 and add the character's level. Find a magic item of that level for the player, and seed it into the game.
Then roll 1d4 and subtract it from the character's level. Find another magic item of that level that fills in a gap on the character and seed it in the game. Alternatively, buy rituals with the value of the magic item, or provide residuum, etc, or a mixture of the two. (Note that if the player is under level 5, you can instead take character level +1d4, and use the sale price of the resulting magic item as your budget. This works out to be the same).
Do not allocate any of this to cash or negotiables.
Do this with items that seem somewhat appropriate for the character. If you want to, randomly determine what kind of magic item (weapon/implement, armor, cloak, misc) with another d4 roll.
This very closely approximates the 4e treasure system.
- Join Date
- Mar 2008
Re: [4e] Money for Nothing and Magic items for Free
I think this looks pretty good, even if I expect I'll only use it for a rough costing guide to the 'toys'.
Yakk, do you have a collection of the stuff you've written about 4e? I often find even your casual writings, ideas or observations are of a high quality and would enjoy the opportunity to read those that I've missed.
- Join Date
- Nov 2006
Re: [4e] Money for Nothing and Magic items for Free
Nope. You can try searching on this forum for threads started by me and you'll get most of them.
Note that the costs I used depended on my 10^(L/5) income curve and the silver standard at heroic tier. The standard 4e income curve is 5^(L/5) and uses a gold standard at heroic tier.
If you want to sell the party toys, the average level X 4e 5 person party will have accumulated this many times an even-level magic item in cash:
2 sum(i = 1 to X-1) 5^(-i/5)
2 sum(i = 1 to X-1) (5^-.2)^i
2 (5^-2 - (5^-2)^(X)) / (1 - 5^-2)
7.25 * (5^-2 - (5^-2)^(X))
As X gets even medium-large, the (5^-.2)^X term -> 0 pretty rapidly, so:
-> ~ 5.25
This neglects your level 1 starting cash, but that is pretty small relative to the totals the above generates. You'll note that this converges pretty rapidly to 1 equal-level magic item in cash per party member. :)
Now, the sale value of magic items you get in a level comes to:
5^-.2 + 5^-.4 + 5^-.6 + 5^-.8
times an even-level magic item's value. This ends up being about 1.9 times the value of an even-level magic item.... which is pretty close to the default 2 times the value of an even-level magic item in cash.
So if a party sells all of it's magic items, and saves up all of its cash, at level X it has about 10 times the value of an even-level magic item in cash.
This is an upper bound on the budget of a party.
The pure-cash drops (if never turned into magic items etc) come to half of this. So an item worth 5 level X magic items is a pretty huge ticket item for a level X party, much as an item that costs as much as a level X item is a huge ticket item for a level X character.
So you can try that rule. If you want something to be expensive but achievable for an individual level X character, have it cost as much as a level X magic item. If you want something to be expensive but achievable for an individual level X party, have it cost as much as 5 level X magic items (or a level X+5 magic item!)
We can also do a change in the magic item drop rules that is less party-centric.
A party is balanced if it fights a 10 level X encounters over the course of the level.
A party is also balanced if it gets 4 level X+1 through X+4 magic items, and treasure summing to one level X item, and one level X-1 through X-4 magic item (check -- it works out!)
So we can use this! A random treasure table. Roll 1d10. X is the level of the encounter you are using. If the encounter is above level 25, you can use the purchase price of a magic item 5 levels lower instead of the sale price values below:
0: Nothing of value.
1: Treasure worth the sale price of a level X+1 magic item.
2: Treasure worth the sale price of a level X+2 magic item.
3: Treasure worth the sale price of a level X+3 magic item.
4: Treasure worth the sale price of a level X+4 magic item.
5: Treasure worth the sale price of a level X+5 magic item.
6: A level X+1 magic item
7: A level X+2 magic item
8: A level X+3 magic item
9: A level X+4 magic item
This will result in players having better items and more treasure if they fight harder than 'normal' encounters, but their treasure will also be more random and less reliable. Which can seriously crimp the player's style!
You can also move treasure 'back' if it doesn't seem appropriate, naturally.