That’s a lot heavier than I thought…

A comment on yesterday’s post about my rules modifications ideas for 5th edition had me think about possible expenses for PCs other than the Upkeep cost for ongoing expenses. And as I have shown some years ago, in the B/X rules, the amount of gold that you need to transport from the wilderness back to town results in a huge logistical undertaking.

Now in 5th edition, the amount of XP that are required to reach higher level are much smaller. As an overall generalization, you only need about a tenth of the XP required in B/X, and accordingly the amount of treasure that you’ll have to transport. I was wondering if that might make that aspect of the XP for treasure system negligible, and as such negate the need for pack animals, servants to tend to the animals, and mercenaries to guard them. But a quick glance at the math proved that assumption wrong.

Let’s assume that a treasure worth 100 XP consists of 80 gold pieces and 200 silver pieces. That is close to 1 part gold and 2 parts silver for treasure in the form of coins, ingots, goblets, figures, and other precious metal objects. I think that strikes a good balance between gold being rare, special, and  exciting and actual economies running mostly on the much more practical silver, and not inflating the weight that needs to be hauled too much.

To get from 1st level to 2nd  every PC needs to make 300 XP. As I stated yesterday, I want to get things dialed in so that about 20% will come from hostile encounters, which leaves a rest of 240 XP to be made from treasure hauls. Applying the above split into gold and silver, that would be 192 gold pieces and 480 silver pieces, or 672 coins in total. Using the encumbrance value of 100 coins  counting as 1 item, that is 7 items worth of inventory space. Adventurers being above average, let’s assume an average Strength score of 12, which allows carrying 24 items encumbered and 36 items heavily encumbered. That seems quite doable, especially after the characters have gone through half of their supplies they brought on the adventure.

But to get from 2nd level to 3rd, you need double the amount, which means 1344 coins, or 14 items of inventory space. This starts to be a problem if you want to do it in a single haul. To get from 3rd to 4th level, you need double that again. 2688 coins, or 27 items of inventory space. You’re not going to move that in one go without a full bagage train.

And as I mentioned before, it’s not just the pack animals you need, but also animal handlers, plus guards to defend them while the PCs go inside dungeon. And they will want all of their supplies for two or more weeks to be carried by the animals as well, which increases capacity demands even further. As you get to higher levels, you can have the players find more jewels and other stuff with much higher value per weight than gold, to keep things from going too out of hand. But if you continue the above treasure composition, getting from 9th to 10th level would take 360 items of inventory space. Ten maximum loads for a Strength 12 character. High level treasure hunting will become a major opperation quite different from four dudes tracking through the forest. With considerable costs involved.

This should be fun. And since it will be an issue that gradually grows on the PCs as they go through 2nd and into 3rd level, I think this is something that the player’s don’t need a special reminder of at the start of the campaign. :P

One thought on “That’s a lot heavier than I thought…”

  1. This is a brilliant reply to my comment, thank you! I wasn’t considering that each player would need to have the amount of gold required to level, rather like OSE that it would be an amount of gold that’s value in XP was split evenly amongst the party (1000 GP = 1000XP to each party member, no matter how the coins are split up).

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