Game Mastering
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Rating: 4.3571
Condition: Normal
ID: 3915


May 17, 2007, 2:52 pm

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Cheka Man

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So my characters have a pile of gold...


Was the treasure horde too large? Or the employer too generous? Ohhh, there are so many ways of depriving heroes of their more or less deserved wealth.

Following is a list of things to do if your PCs become too wealthy. Somehow, it never gets easy.

(The original discussion arised on behalf of CrimsonShadow, with much aid of MoonHunter. Enjoy and add your own.)

So what to do if they are too wealthy?

- Taxes - always a good start. Besides common taxes, there can suddenly arise “special taxes” on the wealthy adventurers. No ruler’s advisor worth his salt should pass a good opportunity!

- Speaking of tax collectors, wealth attracts thieves of all kinds, crooks, burglars, and brigands. A fantasy setting is a dangerous place. Their wealth could be the basis for entirely new adventures. When robbing the players, a thief could leave a note… making it personal and launching the players on a new quest.

- Make them “develop their characters more” to find new ways to spend money - so they find a liking for that delicious wine and foods and whatnot.

- Look at what happens in our world to people that become to be known as rich. Besides thieves, suddenly everyone needs their help, for charity, investment or whatever. Even family and friends could be shown in a new light when they borrow some money. (Also see the plot Jackpot for inspiration.)

- However powerful they may be, if they become really wealthy, they will need bodyguards just to get through the streets.

- Make it a plot hook - if they gained their fortune by selling stuff, there can be a wealthy villain that secretly bought it all to do evil stuff. Now they have to face this evil (expenses) and think twice before they spread magic items, quality weapons, spellbooks or whatever around. Blindly selling for profit is rarely a good idea, even with relatively innocent items. Who bought all those dragon steaks again?

- Fantasy worlds often have no banks, and gold can be bulky. Let them worry about proper storing and the means to protect the wealth (more expenses). Investment takes time and can fail easily.

- Or have a whole army come after them. With so much money, nobody is powerful enough to protect it, especially if the army has the support of magic.


“Nobility” is a word for a whole array of means to deprive the PCs of their money, and to add plot hooks. In modern worlds, you could replace the word for “celebrity” and adapt most pitfalls.

- Bribes. Err, _gifts_ to those that can grant a noble title.

- Also, every noble needs a coat-of-arms - there are costs for registering one, putting it on all your stuff, and the annual tithes to King’s treasury coming with that. (And fun things like the law stating they can’t become noble until they have a crest; and only nobles could register one - solve that.)

- To be a knight, there has to be quality armour and lots of equipment and personnel… which they may have, mostly. But when they find out a noble suit of clothing costs as much as their platemail…

- So all the gear - clothes, jewelry, more clothes, all of fine quality and design.

- Plus, these guys don’t know the prices - they can be gouged by every merchant they meet. “Oh sir, this is not just silk, it is Cathay silk. As you can see, it is of a much finer quality.” “The Sir should not be seen in lesser garb. This helps him make a statement.” etc.

- They need lessons for skills that adventuring does not teach (remember the new Zorro movie). Foremost, there is the etiquette they must learn (yes, a character skill to train up).

- A noble must have land/property, and the manor home of course.

- And now they just can’t beat up the people who piss them off. (Well sure they can… but then they become outlaws…)

- And now that you are noble and such, the king could ask you to do “favors” or a military action for the kingdom.

- But if they fulfill the King’s wishes, they may be suddenly “too popular”, “too close to His ear”, or “too trying to get higher”. All sorts of intrigue follows. (Including backstabbing, and assassination attempts).

- On the other hand, there is always “The King is afraid that you are so rich and powerful that you will take over, and declares you enemies of the state.” Or lets you declared heretics by the church - so the King is all innocent, and result the same. (And that stigma can cross national borders…)

- And especially beware of insulting a high-ranking noble or High-priest.

A few more sources on the ways of spending money:

Luxury items

Loot and rewards

Treasure. It happens

Additional Ideas (8)

There is always the "Voluntary Loan to the Crown", a schtick popular among deadbeat medieval monarchs. If one refused to lend to them, there were usually severe consequences, but if one pressed the king for repayment, the repercussions were usually worse. The Templars learned that, to their sorrow.

2007-05-17 02:48 PM » Link: [3915#27426|text]
I have always had success with enticing PCs to "invest"...only to have them lose their shirts in speculative land deals or other shady enterprises. The possibilities are endless.

2007-05-17 02:49 PM » Link: [3915#27427|text]
Ah, yes. And then they will be drawn to investigate and seek revenge on those that have abused their investment. Or at least any group I have been in would immediately look for blood to replenish their empty pocket least gain a favor owed.

2007-05-17 02:50 PM » Link: [3915#27428|text]
I have always dealt with excess gold in the most horrific manner known to man.


Entourages cost coin, as do mounts for them. Acquired lands need upkeep, ranging from repairing broken down equipment, paying taxes, or simply payroll for the guards in the PCs new tower.

The main thing is that when I can forecast a PC windfall, I will arrange a few money sinks for the PCs to stumble into. This is ample room for RP since there is interaction with NPCs making repairs, dealing with old loyalists who oppose the PCs covertly and the like.

2007-05-17 02:51 PM » Link: [3915#27429|text]
Ah bills, the best continuous money sink. "This isn't a video game, you don't buy something once and have it on your sheet forever... and horses are not motorcycles with hay for gas... and your armor is pretty shabby, they won't let you in. " If you let them be noble, or up and comming, the general rule of 5% to 10% upkeep is a great way to keep them hungry. However, my favorite is still:

Besides the ever present gate tax, wage tax, and windfall tax, for each new location they go.

Now that you have all those noble trapping, you have new taxes. There is the title tax (for those with new titles), property taxes, paying the tax for your servants, paying sales/ transaction taxes on all those better goods, hoof tax (tax on all those animals past the second horse), and so on. It works pretty well. And, if they have become invested in being proper and noble, they will pay them rather than skip town.

You want to go up and comming? Get yourself a high ranking significant others and marry yourself some legitamcy. Of course, there are all the costs for courting... gifts, gifts, services, musicians, and so on. Of course, the bride price will also come up.

2007-05-17 03:21 PM » Link: [3915#27431|text]
Actually, the nobility has often enjoyed a break from some of the taxes that others paid...

Of course, if one is to be knighted, or invested into the nobility, one needs to have the proper pomp and ceremony. Historically, many a squire of gentle birth wasn't knighted because of the expense of hosting an extravagant celebration with all the land's great nobles in attendance. Arranging such an event, with the attendant feasting, tournaments, and religious ceremonies often cost a fortune.

2007-05-20 03:54 PM » Link: [3915#27477|text]
One word. Ships!

Dreadfully expensive, and dreadfully easy to lose. Especially if they are lost before any gain has been made with the ship.

One little seamonster or navigational error, and well, did they do business with Lloyds of London?

2007-05-17 06:29 PM » Link: [3915#27435|text]
"I am Bagellon the Mighty, Underwriter of Insurance!
It was common in the Middle Ages for ships to be insured, and merchants could come to the wealthy characters, asking them to insure their vessels against mishap. Such contracts would cover the cost of the vessel, the value of the cargo, and even the expected profit from its sale.

This could become a source of income for prominent heroes, and could stimulate adventures as they try to eliminate the pirates/hostile powers/sea monsters that are preying upon ships they have insured.

2007-05-20 03:42 PM » Link: [3915#27475|text]

One of my favorite tricks as a Shadowrun GM is the 'Combustible Lifestyle'. My characters must maintain some form of 'lifestyle', that is, they have to own a house / rent an apartment / squat in a crash pad somewhere, pay the utilities on it, keep up with the housekeeping, etc. Mechanistically, downtime healing is affected by the level of the lifestyle you maintain - If you're crashing on a half-rotten mattress in a sewer somewhere and spending a hundred dollars a month on food, you can't heal because of infections, you smell from not bathing, etc, etc. Higher lifestyles, like a nice apartment somewhere where the soy is warm and decently flavored, get expensive fast, the price rising exponentially. And as the price rises, you have to sink more and more into contractual payments, regardless of whether or not you're actually there. As they are criminals, and frequently have organizations fighting over the right to take them down, it behooves them to move often. It also behooves them to keep emergency bolt-holes in the city, etc. Their homes get raided. They get exploded. They get burned down. As a result, I can get one person paying for up to four, five, six places at once, two of which they die if they ever show up at again, and one of which doesn't even exist anymore, but they're not gonna be able to get that down payment back...

2007-11-14 10:13 PM » Link: [3915#32401|text]
The Exchange Rate

In "the real world", money does not trade as nicely as it does in most fantasy worlds where money is metric, based on the material (and all of it is reasonably pure), and nobody cares a wit about where it was pressed - just how much it weighs.

Reality is very different. You could have a great deal of money that nobody wants to take because it is from elsewhere. The coins might be worth 50 units of value each, but only made of 30 units of value worth of gold/silver/whatever. Thus you can recoup some of your loss by melting the coins and converting them into gold.
(Of course the local government might want to question you about where you got all that gold).

Money Changers are the answer. With rates from 1-10% charged, they can convert gold/ money from one country to the local country, if you can find someone who is willing to buy that much of your "odd money" from you. Traders are often willing to do that, but the farther you get away from a trade route, the harder it is for you to find money changers. (Though they are often known to hang out on the temple steps.)

2008-01-30 11:51 PM » Link: [3915#63565|text]
Another way to relieve the PC's of funds, especially the spellcaster types, is the cost of constructing a lab and a library. The cost of copying scrolls and tomes, purchasing from booksellers and the constant need of replacing broken and destroyed lab equipment from failed experiments is not cheap. Replacing walls that were damaged by that exploding alembic are not cheap either.

2009-04-13 09:15 PM » Link: [3915#71295|text]
Don't forget the cost of alchemy! Creating new substances with various properties can't be all that great for your equipment; not all containers are equal for every substance (sulfuric acid in high concentrations will break glass, for instance). If they're wanting to make something nifty, they probably need to drop a pretty penny for the proper container, and that's if they even realize this before making the first batch. Whoops, there goes your first batch, and all the components you used. And of course, the extremely rare components they need for whatever interesting experiments they're doing.

2009-04-13 11:44 PM » Link: [3915#71297|text]
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Comments ( 16 )
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May 17, 2007, 14:53
That does it. This thing moves out into the public. Don't say I didn't think of doing that! :)
May 17, 2007, 15:28
There are a lot of good things in the catacombs. This is one of them. Now with all these things linked together, one big happy family of posts.
Voted valadaar
May 17, 2007, 18:30
A great collection of suggestions!
Voted Cheka Man
May 17, 2007, 23:33
One of the really good submissions.
Voted Wulfhere
May 20, 2007, 15:49
A good, useful list of suggestions for GMs, but also useful for players: It's a mistake to make the GM come up with ways to eliminate characters' wealth! If you let the GM know that you have a grand plan (that won't make you into an invincible killing machine), he'll often go along with it.

"Calgon the Pure is saving his gold because he plans to commission the greatest cathedral his faith has ever known!"

Most characters have some ambitions beside becoming personally invincible, and a player that works with the GM to express those ambitions within the game can make it richer and more real to everyone.
Voted Chaosmark
November 14, 2007, 21:35
Wulf's comment is quite true: this is a great resource for both GMs and PCs (more as a warning to PCs of what they might want to expect/watch out for).
Voted Kinslayer
January 30, 2008, 15:01
Such is the nature of the would-be rockstar hobos that call themselves 'adventurers'. Money come; money go.
January 30, 2008, 23:44
There is a game called "Rune" (a viking game). Gold and Plunder you take can be converted into experience. However, you have to spend that money on the thing of Heroes (food, drink, wenches, entertainment, and so on). Money saved for weapons, ships, and other purposes do not count towards your EP total. In short, blow your money like a good adventurer, and you get to be a better adventurer.
January 21, 2009, 22:33
That is an epically awesome idea. Truly the stuff of legends.
Voted klauston
April 13, 2009, 21:16
Great ideas here. I've used a number of them myself.
August 20, 2010, 20:01
This is a great submission, if I had some more votes I would surely give it at least a 4.5.
Voted Nuchiha101
August 21, 2010, 20:36
Didn't vote, in my last comment,


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       By: Murometz

Coinlake sits perched between two sheer cliffs in the Stigrani range, and is difficult to find, much less approach. Four miles long and two across, the water is a vibrant cyan blue. The lake's shoreline is an unassuming beach of gray pebbles, and its mean depth is seventy feet. The rare times when the sun makes its way between the cliffs and shines over the the still water, one could see clearly the lake's rock-strewn bottom.

Strangely, no fish or aquatic life can be found here.

At night, a peculiar phenomena occurs. When the night sky is clear, the moon and stars are reflected in the lake's surface, but if one were to look at the surface from a high vantage point, the reflection does not match the firmament above!

Instead the water's surface reflects the night sky of some other distant world and seventeen shining golden moons besides, each ones shimmering upon the water like so many gold coins!

Legends whisper that Coinlake is not a lake at all, but a gate or nexus, to some distant alien world.

The mystery has long remained unsolved, and only recently has the Arch-Duke commissioned an expedition to uncover the secret of Coinlake once and for all. Among the team members are several scholars of the Nascent Academy, an astrologer from the Occultists Guild, and of course the PCs, acting as body guards.

Encounter  ( Any ) | January 31, 2016 | View | UpVote 4xp

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