More brainfood from Papers & Pencils concerning excess player wealth and what to do with it. The general issue is in a 1 gold piece = 1 experience point system, what can players do with all the money they may hoard across their advancement?
I typically use a 1 experience point per gold piece spent system, which means hoarding doesn’t directly assist with character advancement (but it can still be performed for other reasons, which we’ll see below). But there is still that stage where players can have difficulty spending all their ill-gotten gold.
The part that really struck me was this sentence in the post:
I want a better chance of getting out of the next dungeon with my hit points above 0 because of the money I spent.
I see nothing intrinsically wrong with allowing money spent to improve the odds of survival a bit. Some have issue with “double-dipping” and insist that Magical Items are their own reward, etc. I think that there’s a potential compromise in the form of limited utility/situational items (after all, proper preparation is part of player skill). It's really no different than buying pitons and hoping you get to use them.
So without further ado, here are some ideas. I'm brainstorming using the standard BECMI Classes, and divided into the typical “tiers” of play one sees up through domain play (stronghold construction and maintenance should generally syphon enough funds away for most classes, but I’ll try to include some other ideas for players who don’t choose to pursue these options).
Today I'll start on Clerics.
Part I: Clerics and Other Pious Types
An easy, cop-out method is to implement some tithing rules. This could also be done alongside a “Cleric's Carousing Table.” It’s really just a re-skinned tax, so let’s see if there’s a better way to provide some more uses of these and other funds and Cleric types with some sort of player chosen tangible benefits for their cash, while still providing a few hooks. Season prices and fluff to taste.
Let’s start with Levels 1 through 4 (the Dungeon Exploration Tier)
1. Improve your Holy Symbol
For a modest cost, you can fortify and improve the standard Holy Symbol of your order.
- Copper: For a pitiable investment of 1,000 copper pieces, your holy symbol can be fortified with sigils that assist with the turning of Skeletons or Zombies (pick one each upgrade). When this improvement is made, any successful turning attempts versus this type affect 2 additional HD. The nearby Gnomish jeweler that can do this requires conversion.
- Silver: A common, albeit expensive embellishment. If refined, 1,000 pieces of silver can produce enough pure silver for the forging of a potent new Holy Symbol. When applied, successful Turning Attempts can also be made versus lycanthropes (they balk and scratch the air at you, but do not flee, nor are they Destroyed with a “D” result). Use the Lycanthrope’s HD to determine your chances of success. Can be forged by any blacksmith who has never seen a full moon.
- Electrum: This rare coin provides a potent benefit when invested in this fashion. 200 gp worth of Electrum yields enough material to fortify your symbol and improve the efficacy of Healing and Harming Spells. You may reroll any 1s on a Cure or Cause spell (accepting subsequent results of 1). I hear there’s a strange-smelling abandoned mound in the fens that was once home to an oil skinned wrymling who loved electrum.
- Gold: When 500 gold pieces are utilized to improve your holy symbol, it sheds light as a candle in the presence of Undead. The is an abandoned temple of the Sun Goddess that is said to grant this to any Holy Symbol placed on the cracked altar at high noon atop the pile of gold pieces, but only for individuals who can recite the Shining Shibboleth in flawless Lawful.
- Platinum: 100 platinum pieces is a significant investment, but the primary benefit is a Holy Symbol constructed with metal from this hoard can accept all of the above improvements. You need to melt in a Holy Symbol that was once wielded by at least a Bishop (7th level Cleric), who died defending the faith for this one.
- Gems: Often scoffed at by less ostentatious religions, expensive gems can also be incorporated into a Holy Symbol, but this is usually only reserved for more established members of the religious hierarchy. The use of this embellishment may be seen as morally questionable, but alas, it still occurs. Every 1,000 gp of gem value inlaid within allows for the use of a single Turn/Rebuke attempt against another member of the clergy to force them to acquiesce to your Wisdom in matters of the church. Use their HD. On failure, deduct 1,000 gp from the value of the gems. When a gem is used up it blackens, dulls, or turns to ash becoming worthless. “D” results act as a Charm Person on the target (also deducting value), and the gem value can also be voluntarily reduced to negatively impact the saves of targets of a Quest/Geas dictum (1,000 gp = -1 to save).
The skill to encrust a symbol in this fashion can be obtained from:
1. For Lawful Characters: A blinded, very Chaotic and unquestionably evil imp, in constant excruciating pain from festering empty eye-sockets that are gleefully gouged each morning with dull quills by the clergy of your church. The poor wretch is named Kvetch, and may or may not be secreted away in your temple’s hidden basement gaol.
2. For Neutral Characters: You’ll need a tooth from each of your party members and at least two from a Gnome. These need to be traded to the Yellow Musk Dryad , she promises that she’ll try not to use them for any nefarious purposes. Once provided, the witch will show you where to bury the gems and your holy symbol for a full fortnight.
3. For Chaotic Characters: Winter Elfs can do this for you, and are happy to. In the Unseen Lands, in exchange for a healthy and plump human child that shares your eye color, hair color, and gender. Also, you should probably start calling it by your name.
2. Holy Water
Sure, you can buy it from Ye Olde Bloodbath & Beyonde or the local temple like everyone else, but why not use some of your hard earned coin to cut out the middleman or invest in some more focused/situational useful substances?
I. Standard Holy Water: The Breakable vials are somewhat expensive (5 gps), but a source of pure, consecratable water is potentially free. Druids may need a dowsing stick (200 gp), and others should invest in an ornate font (200 gp), but once located, only 5 gold worth of powdered silver is required per batch (*silver powder-er sold separately, but most female Dwarfs have a knack for this). You can easily produce gallons of the stuff with enough upfront investment and liberal applications of the Bless hymn.
II. Incense: An ornate censer or brazier is required to deploy (100 gp, one would be wise not to mix magical scents), but there are a few varieties that might prove useful. Incense merchants only deal in Electrum though, so make sure you claim your share:
- Ghoulbane: With the fragrance of rosemary and lavender the fumes of these potent cones (30 ep each, last for 3 turns) both mask the terrible stench of Ghasts (may work on Troglodytes too), and when wafted under the nostrils of the inflicted, can be used as smelling salts to revive those paralyzed by Ghouls.
- The Redolence of Kings: These ancient and difficult to acquire ingredients (300 ep per person, lasts 1 day) smell of camphorwood and frankincense. Any individual anointed with the smoke from the burning of these sticks will be treated as friendly by most Mummies.
- Fragrant Repose: This fragrant oil costs 50 ep per dose but each application lasts 1d6 months. When used to anoint a corpse, that corpse cannot be raised as undead, and does not decay naturally for the duration. Any corpse so preserved will smell faintly of lilies and remorse.
- Rot Mist: This pungent unguent sputters with black sparks when it burns, producing a greasy black mist that fills an area with a pike’s length radius. All non-intelligent, fleshy undead within become Skeletons while within the mist. Only lasts a turn and costs 80 ep through certain darker markets.
- Mnemosyne’s Perfume: Vials of this delicate eau de toilette (describe the scent of your first love) are pricey but nigh indispensable for the adventuring Cleric (which may account for the scarce and limited availability). The vials are only 500 ep each, but are unreliably dosed (1d4 applications per vial). Application of this scent and some brief cleansing ablutions allow the user to recall a single hymn/prayer/spell already recited this day.
III. Rent-a-Reliquary: Seldom available for sale, but often available for limited use by diligent tithers, at this level most of the sacred objects and items remain within the well defended walls of temples. Minor Clergy (below Elder, Level 6) are only able to access these on a visitation basis (but see what happens at higher tiers), and even then sometimes only for a sizeable donation/deposit (technically refundable if the boon goes unused, but this reimbursement seldom ever happens).
Even limited access to a relic and reliquary grants a boon to the character that could be the difference between life and death. This boon comes in the form of a bonus to Saving Throws (+4 or 5e Advantage). These relics travel from temple to temple, so there’s never a guarantee that one will be present in the same place. Part of the access fee may be waived by temporarily joining the formidable Relic transport party. Some sample relics are below:
- Lama Grampal’s Cup (Poison): This is a human skull cap, enameled with strips of alabaster colored alicorn. Boon is provided to the drinker of expensive wine (at least 250 gp) from this cup.
- Luven’s Finger (Turn To Stone): Kiss the lip-worn finger of this statue after anointing oneself with special oils (100 gp).
- Sainted Aleena’s Braid (Spells): Buy and burn a Magic-User scroll (price varies) alongside rare and exotic herbs (25 gp).
- Shobaffum’s Shrivelled Tongue (Magic Wands): The ashen tongue of an ecclesiastical Magic-User sits like a slug on a small pink velvet pillow. It must be presented with gifts of exotic foodstuffs (50 gp) for the boon to occur.
- The Shield Boss of Alho (Dragon Breath): There are many fakes, but some strategic bribes or inquiries backed with coin can establish the true provenance of a given relic (75 gp).
4. Support “The Crusades”
The faith has many enemies, both at home and abroad. It needs funds to help keep these enemies at bay, or drive them under the yoke of the righteous. Your tithing can help with this, but instead of being just a generic reskinned tax, let’s provide a tangible benefit in the form of Hirelings.
Initially, when you give to the “cause” you increase your chances of attracting more experienced/disciplined hirelings (perhaps veterans of foreign conflict or other fanatics amenable to your cause).
The player generates these characters according to whatever methods are acceptable, but may “buy” re-rolls (for Ability Scores, Hit Points, etc) through additional donations up to three times. These re-rolls are a 200 gold pieces each and reflect funds for hiring bonuses, special accommodations, and getting the word out via the religious networks.
These hirelings do not count against your Max. No. Retainers (though you may only employ as many as your Level), and their Morale is treated as if your Charisma Score is 1 point higher for every 1,000 gold pieces you have given in this way (max Morale 10). You’ll want to track all tithing somewhere on your sheet, because once you have provided at least 20,000 gold pieces to the cause in this fashion, and are in the next Tier of Play (Wilderness Exploration, levels 5-9), additional benefits can begin to manifest.