Economics is one of the hardest things to do well in a fantasy game setting. Let's admit it - it can't be done. When you consider the impossibility of completely predicting economic affairs in the real world you begin to realize the enormous complexity of the economics of a single city, let alone a national economy. It is because of these considerations that exacting economics of a fantasy world are probably beyond the abilities of mortal men. At any rate, I believe they are still beyond us in the real world.

Where does the money come from, and in what quantities? Who controls the value of trade? Supply and demand is all very well and good, but are we that certain of our fantasy supplies and demands? Can we really take into the account every little detail that would effect the price of tea in China? Of course we cannot. Here, on a world of one's imagination, we can only guess or imagine but a few of the details that would actually affect prices on a real world.

Like so many times before I have tried to learn from my mistakes and the mistakes of others. I remember, for example, when I was playing in a world of my friend. He hired us, a group of mercenaries, to protect a wagon train of goods going from one city to the next. As it turned out, in retrospect, the amount of money paid for the protection of the train was considerably more than the profit from the train. If that wasn't bad enough, an NPC wizard, also protecting the train, started throwing some spells around whose material components would cost more than a hundred such wagon trains. Further more, the bad guys were expending considerable quantities of cash to gain something worth considerably less. The scenario was action-packed and well worth it in gold and experience for the mercenaries, but it never would have really happened for there would be no profit in it. And just as my friend had failed to take economics into account, I too have probably failed to take enough factors into account to make perfect economic sense all of the time.

It was because of such problems I decided to tie my fantasy economics to something that would give it a real dimension - U.S. economics. Here I made one silver piece worth about 1 U.S. dollar. Based on my decimal system of money, this would make one gold piece worth $100.

  • 1 Mithral = $10,000
  • 1 Platinum = $1,000
  • 1 Gold = $100
  • 1 Electrum = $10
  • 1 Silver = $1
  • 1 Copper = $0.1 = 10 cents

Now the price of a mundane item like a loaf of bread, a glass of beer, a chicken, or even a really nice pair of high leather boots could easily be translated to my fantasy world. $1 equals 1 SP or 0.01 GP. Prices would be adjusted for any considerations of supply and demand I had bothered to write or had become aware of during the course of play. "Oh yeah, I did say we had a particularly hard winter, and that would affect the price of tea in Alodar."

If it was an item common to both worlds I knew its price, or at least I or we could make a good guess. But what about things I didn't want on my world? Automatic weapons, for example. Simply knowing the price of an automatic weapon didn't mean it was available on Orlantia. And what about armor, swords, and magic? These things either no longer had a handy equivalent at this period in time or never existed on Earth.

Of course, some items are cheap or easy to come buy due to mass production or machine manufacture, or even inexpensive though they come from half way around the world because of rapid transportation, so I still had to keep an eye on certain considerations, but for the most part, this system still works by figuring the value of the time required for an item's manufacture.

One way to take care of that problem was to figure out average incomes for the various economic classes of people in the Alodarian Empire. Growing up in Minnesota, I was really only familiar with its economy. I'm sure the price of housing, food, education and the like are dissimilar from coast to coast, let alone international considerations. I simply decided to use what I knew and base the following incomes on what I thought would be reasonable.

Economic Class GPs / day (10 Hours) $ / hour
Way below average. Money? What money? Will work for food.
Below average. 0.40 04
Average. 0.85 08.50
Skilled. 1.70 17.00
Highly Skilled. 2.50 25.00
Titled or Level 1.50 to 10.00 GP / Level 15 to 100 / Level

This gave an economic range of up to $15,000 / Earth year for below average workers to $55,000 - $365,000 / Earth year / Level for the very rich. Since an average adult earned about $31,000 / Earth year or $34,000 / Orlantian year (multiply by the factor 400/365 or about 1.1), I finally began to get a handle on what things were really worth. Thus, if I didn't know the price of an object, I could estimate it by the amount of time needed for its manufacture, the class of person making it and the materials necessary for its construction. For example, if a highly skilled worker was needed for the construction of a widget, and it took 3 days to build it, and the materials required cost, arbitrarily, 5 GP, then the player would end up paying ((2.5 GP x 3 days) + 5 GP) = 13 GP or $1,300, with any round off error in the DM's favor. Not to mention the PC might have to wait until the NPC worker, materials, or time became available. Artistic considerations may also increase the value of an item. A painting or sculpture, for example, may be worth 2 to 10 times the hourly wage of the person who made it (depending on their skill level with that artistic talent and their roll (success, failure, critical success, etc.)).

To know which class of skill was required, I considered the hourly wage. What does a minimum wage worker get? A slightly better job for a high school graduate? A college graduate with a good job? A doctor, lawyer, plumber, or person who owns their own successful small business? Then I tried to fit my workers somewhere in that economic frame. So far, this works pretty well for me. Naturally, you should adjust it to fit your economic area and also use your and your player's stronger points of reference. For example, if you happen to be a plumber and another player happens to be a doctor or a lawyer or own their small business, then you really know where such a person should fit on these tables. So use that information whenever it's available in your group. The beauty of this system, you see, is not the numbers I may associate with the price of beer, but the fact you can use your own points of reference, tying your economic reality into game reality, and thus freeing you from looking up every little price when you can quickly estimate it instead.

Not wanting to stray too far from the books, unless I had some definite contradictory knowledge, I would use the prices in the Player's Handbook as adjusted by my decimal based system of coins when compared to the standard non decimal system used in AD&D. (I always use gold piece standards, so one must convert any prices given in copper or silver to gold using the given, standard system. Then, one could use my system to convert from gold to electrum, silver, or copper. Now, the standard price list for mundane items given in the books was still usable (with obvious adjustments being made where needed)). This way, I knew the price of plate mail, 400 to 600 GP, and didn't need expert knowledge on its manufacture. I just thought of the $40,000 price tag to get a feel for the cost of even high quality, but mundane equipment. So plate mail cost as much as a moderately high quality car. That began to put things in perspective. Historically, I'm told, such things did cost a nobleman a princely sum. A set of plate mail would cost more than the entire yearly income of an average person, and quite easily the entire yearly disposable income of a highly skilled worker.

I had to smile when I had occasion to discover that the actual cost of a quality long sword at the Renaissance Fair cost $1,500. This would be 15 GP in my system, and luckily this is also the price in the Player's Handbook. Then I had to laugh out loud when I learned of a man who takes 3 months to produce quality plate mail armor and charges $40,000, the equivalent of 400 GP in my system, also identical to the PHB price. I just got lucky, I guess.

It began to be very clear that beginning monies for one's character would've been saved for many years by their parents or guardians. A present of $2,000 to $20,000 would start the PC on their way. This is good; it isn't so large they can buy every thing they want, and it isn't so small they will be left barefoot in the snow. And that was just the tip of the iceberg, for one's parents or guardians had almost certainly footed the bill for one's PC's training as well.

NOTE: When I say beginning monies, I do not wish to give the impression this is just cash. It may take many forms (and probably often does). The armor your character "buys" with his beginning money, may, in fact, be something his uncle gave him (or other relative, friend of the family, etc., or even something he found). The rogue may have accumulated a lot of items not quite really lost, the priest may have items given to him by the church, and even a mage may have basic equipment from his mentor. The point is, it is not necessary that cash money be given and they go forth and buy these beginning supplies and equipment, but rather the equivalent in supplies and equipment find their way into the hands of the characters by a variety of means. So even though the player may take the cash and look through the list of items and "buy" stuff, his or her character may not actually being doing that.


Eventually, the cost of training your PC had to be considered. As this may not be standard practice on many AD&D worlds, this may seem strange to you, but I have found the necessity of returning home, finding a trainer, and paying for training after sufficient experienced is gained to be realistic. Naturally, this training had to be done by a leveled person, and you could bet their time didn't come cheaply. Training costs should reflect the cost of "Good Living" for the trainer, because they've earned it, and comparable living for the trainee, because they need it. Otherwise, poor living conditions may distract them from their studies. It also includes equipment cost and rental cost (if applicable).

The final cost should be a function of the level you're training to (since it takes 1 week per level) and the level of your trainer. This is different from standard AD&D training times, but as all PCs and NPCs are under the same rules on my world, it is consistent and fair, so I do it this way.


Specialty classes have special rates.

The minimum level of trainer required is at least one level beyond the level to which you are training. Here is an example of how to use this system:

A third level fighter has earned enough experience points to train up to fourth level. Feeling he is ready, he seeks out a fighter, who must also be a specialist if he is to train as a specialist (and in the same weapon, naturally), but in this case, he is just a normal fighter. This trainer, in this case, must be at least a 5th level fighter, for only someone sufficiently beyond the level you seek has had enough time to internalize most of what is required for his or her last level. Any lower and they may still be learning those things themselves.

The final cost, for this example, would be 50 gp (the warrior base given in the above table) x 4 (going to this level (this factor multiplies the weekly rate since it takes 4 weeks to train to fourth level) x 5 (minimum level of trainer, but may be higher if necessary) = 1,000 gp total. 50 X 4 X 5 = 1,000 GP. Thus, it cost a normal fighter 1,000 gp to train to 4th level by a trainer who is "just" qualified. And this takes 4 weeks (to 4th level, 1 week / level). Frequently, a trainer of higher level will do the job but only charge the minimum; this is either an acceptable price or they will not even consider doing it, so the minimum is pretty standard.

Characters below "name" level can train themselves for one half of this cost, but double the time. After name level it is assumed all characters train themselves as they "explore" their art. The cost for this is the same except your trainer is yourself and the extra cost usually goes to one's servants. Thus, a 14th level wizard training to 15th level would pay 100 gp (wizard base) x 15 (going to this level) x 14(level of trainer, namely yourself). = 21,000 GP and would take fifteen weeks (or half that cost but double that time). Remember, all of this money is now gone and none of it is pocketed by you even though you sort of paid yourself for being your own trainer; most of that money went to your servants, neighbors, family, friends, or anybody else who ACTIVELY used their time to lighten your more mundane everyday burdens.

Realistically, a lot of the money went for paid consultations, acquisition of rare books, spells may have been purchased, communes to god may have been made, special ceremonies may have been held, etc. etc., etc., especially after 7th level. It may seem incredible to spend this kind of cash for "simple" training, but these arts are not easily learned. Even a fighter, for example, may need to spend extra money to consult with the gods, acquire arcane tomes (and if they can't read themselves, pay a sage to help them), so the money has numerous places it could be going, and the equipment purchased takes such a beating it is assumed to be destroyed beyond repair as well. In truth, it would be more realistic to take every little thing into account and see the details, but sometimes we have to make assumptions and simplifications or we end up living our character's lives rather than playing them, and it becomes more of a job than a game.

And lest you get the wrong idea and say you don't have any servants, it is simply ruled that during such periods of training you cannot possibly cook, clean, shop, or do all those little, but necessary things for yourself AND still train in an uninterrupted way. If necessary, you must hire temporary servants or gain lodgings at an inn where they are paid to put up with you, your unusual hours, and provide you will all these little necessities. Of course, all of this is taken care of in the above costs. I typically don't roleplay every little aspect along these lines, but sometimes it's nice to know how one's money is being spent. (If a character is of a bent who refuses to be helped by others and is essentially a loner, then they may use the 1/2 cost-double the time method, or perhaps even an optional 1/4 cost-quadruple the time option, but any additional cost of living must be included for the extra time; after all, if you take months instead of weeks, you still have to feed and house yourself, and for a much longer period). The additional cost of living expense is then added. To simplify it, add 1 gp/day to the extra time. So if it would normally take 1000 gp and 4 weeks and you decide to double the time but halve the cost, then it would take 8 weeks and 500 + 28 gp = 528 gp. This extra 28 pays for the additional room and board for the extra time. Again, to simplify and not wanting to turn every little thing into a bookkeeper's dream, the extra gold may be considered negligible at the DM's discretion.

And these costs don't even include special costs for spell research, spell books, or any other unusual necessities the DM feels appropriate.


Typical research of a spell is 100 to 1,000 gp / level of spell. (This simply reflects both how much the DM doesn't want you to have that spell and also the DM's judgment on how difficult it would be to find the spell in your current location). This is for non-named standard spells; named spells must be found. Or double this price (200 to 2,000-gp/ spell level) if it is a brand new spell the PC is inventing. The same price applies to a priest who is praying for (inventing) a brand new kind of spell. The money is for robes, vestments, sacrifices, and incense and holy water or any other materials needed and/or paid consultations with other temple clerics.

Spell books for magic users come in two varieties - traveling and home. Such books weigh 5 pounds (or more) for a home book or 2 pounds for a traveling book, but traveling books are limited and may contain only up to 50 pages (home books are as big as they need to be). The cost per page is 50 gp for home and 100 gp for traveling (the traveling book's vellum pages have extra treatments to make them more durable (+1 to saves), and slightly more waterproof. The number of pages required for each spell is equal to 1 page per level for actual space, but the cost is 1 page per level plus 1D4 pages for any mistakes. This pays for the ink and feathers as well as the extra pages ruined where mistakes were made; however, since pages can be carefully removed (or not placed in the book in the first place if they were messed up), only the proper and unspoiled pages are used and are, therefore, in the finished book. The pages are carefully sewn into the book, and if necessary, can be taken out and resewn back into the book. Each level of spells will have their own book. First level spells in one book, second level spells in another, etc., up to possibly nine home books, and maybe even more than nine traveling books.

Also, when just starting out, I give each new student a present of a traveling spell book that contains Read Magic, Detect Magic, and 1D4 +2 first level spells. Furthermore, I usually give as a present one spell of any knowable level to the student each time they return to their master for training. If their master has it, it's not a named spell, and it's standard, all that is required is they make their chance to learn roll. Success indicates they acquired the new spell as part of their regular training; failure indicates their training is complete, but no extra spell is given (In fact, they may not know that particular spell until they either go up in intelligence or up in level; then they may try for that particular spell again). Further spells can be researched if the student desires, has the money, and has the time. Once the student is at name level or, at any rate, equal to or beyond their master's level, the presents usually stop (if you surpass your semiretired master, sometimes they may come to you for training, and even expect a present, ha ha). It should be noted that training to a higher level already includes the time of researching one spell of the highest level knowable at that time, but not the cost, which must still be paid if it isn't a present from your master.

Thus, Kracky the hooded one and Jilerb Dominic both have enough experience to train. Kracky will train to 9th level cleric and Jilerb to 11th level magic user. Kracky wishes to research a brand new nonstandard clerical spell by praying to and communing with Athena during his training period of 9 weeks. He may do this as one research spell is allowed during this time. If he only wishes to use standard spells, he simply spends the money and time for training and no extra for spell research and he is finished since clerics usually have access to all standard spells their gods have access to. Jilerb, on the other hand, simply wishes to train and accept a spell from his mentor. (An NPC mentor will typically charge the minimum training rate even if they are higher level than necessary).

Kracky will pay the following: {[75(base for clerics)X9(going to this level)X10(minimum trainer level)] + [Spell Research.]} The DM decides the spell write up presented to him by Kracky's player is acceptable for Kracky's new 3rd level spell. It is the right level, power, duration, sphere, etc., etc. He further decides the spell is not going to off balance the game and might be fun. Therefore, the DM decides, from 100 to 1000, to use just 200 gp, but then doubles it since it is a brand new nonstandard spell. Thus, 400-gp/ level or 1,200 gp for the 3rd level spell research. Total cost of training and spell = 6,750 + 1,200 = 7,950 gp and 9 weeks.

Jilerb will spend {[100(base for magic users)X11(going to this level)X12(minimum trainer level, though his mentor is actually higher in level)] + [Free(Present from his mentor) 5th level Spell] + [Cost to put it in both traveling and home spell books]} = {[13,200] + [0]+ [100(cost per page in a traveling book)X(5(5th level)+1D4 (1 to 4 pages of mistakes and/or materials)] + [50(cost per page in home spell book)X(5(5th level spell)+1D4 (1 to 4 pages of mistakes and/or materials)]} or, rolling a 2 and a 4 on the D4s we have a total cost of 13,200+600+500 = 14,300 gp and 11 weeks and 5 days and taking up 5 pages of space in each of the books. (The 5 days necessary to write the spells (one day/level) in one book that is included in the 11 weeks as standard, but another 5 days is required for the second book. Any more spells or more copies require more time). If Jilerb had to pay research cost as well instead of getting a free spell from his mentor, an additional cost of 100 to 1,000 gp per spell level. For example, if he wanted to research a Hold Monster, since this is pretty standard, the DM charges him only 200/level or an additional 1,000 gp for acquiring the Hold Monster spell from the spell research library in a major city; perhaps considerably more if he had to look elsewhere. The time require for spell research varies greatly, so it is randomly determined as it depends on the caster, his mood and health, the research facilities, luck and a number of other things. Make it (1d10 days)x level of the spell. For example: Jilerb tries to research Wall of Force, a 5th level spell. He rolls a 4 on the 1d10, and 4x5=20 days. He could have gotten lucky and needed only 5 days, or unlucky and taken as many as 50 days.

Sometimes, this cost in time is a bigger burden than the cost in money, especially if other PCs are waiting on you. Try to coordinate your research times when they are using weeks and weeks for training and you do not have to train. These other players may (probably should) also find some other interests to occupy their time. All PCs will have to have some down time (while they wait for others) and their characters will be better for it if they have other things they could be working on, such as acquiring or improving tertiary skills or just more mundane matters, such as a family life, romantic considerations, or involvement with other NPCs. Hopefully, these activities will not require too much actual roleplaying time, for even though a wizard (or other PC) may be taking months, their player isn't. Thus, finding an avenue or two to burn up some time in a non-roleplaying way is a good idea for the game and a good idea for character development.

Remember, most people will find it too difficult to actually adventure during the dead of winter, so there may be 2 to 5 months (depending) when they have no choice but to sit and wait, thus giving your wizard or priest plenty of time to do spell research, write scrolls, transcribe spells into a second set of books, manufacture potions, create magic items, etc. Also, it may not be necessary to do a job in one sitting. That is, your DM may allow you to break up your research time into smaller segments. For example, it may take you 50 days to research Wall of Force, but your DM may let you do it in two or three goes, taking two weeks here, 3 weeks there, another 2 weeks there, until you finally finish the job, but be sure to ask your DM what his feelings on the subject are.


The price, if you could find someone willing to do it, for the manufacture of a magical scroll worked out to be {(25 GP / level of the caster + 56 GP) x spell level} + the cost of any material components to cast said spell + the enormous cost to compensate for any unnatural aging or other side effects from said spell. This already includes the price of magic ink, the use of magic feathers, the cost of the vellum or parchment, and the room and board necessary to upkeep the caster while they work.

For example, magic ink runs about 35 gp/level, the feather has a value of 20 gp/level, and the vellum is about 1 gp/level. All of that accounts for the 56 gp/level factor in the above equation. On my world, a potion shop, if it has magic ink available, sells it for about 350 gp for a bottle of 10 doses. Each dose can write one spell level on a scroll. A magic feather cost, if you can find it for sale, about 200 gp (though they should be relatively hard to come by and most characters who wish to write more than one or two scrolls will almost certainly need to quest for these feathers). Each feather can write about 10 levels of spells before it must be replaced (I freely ignore the suggestion that one needs a "magic missile" feather that is separate from one's "fireball" feather, etc. or the need to use special ink for each type of spell. Your DM may like these things and require them of you, but I do not find them to be all that fun so I do not). This is why the potion shops put ink in 10 dose bottles. Of course, a magic user wishing to write many scrolls would almost certainly have to create their own ink from items for which he or she had quested. Also, they would almost certainly have to come across their own magic feathers. And finally, they would certainly have to construct or buy their own abode to work in. However, the few bottles of ink and the few feathers you may occasionally run across that are actually for sale should be sufficient to keep you in a scroll or two without having to specifically adventure for such things. (Remember, on my world you must be 7th level to be able to write scrolls or help create potions (2e world). Also, unless I have some reason to do so, I always assume a magic user can come across enough ink, parchment, and even magic feathers to do their spell research and put their spells in at least 2 spell books (home and traveling). It is only when they wish to write extra scrolls or the like when I concern myself with the larger, necessary quantities of these components. Thus, if they have the cash to put their new spell in their spell books, I assume they can automatically purchase the ink, vellum, and magic feathers necessary without the need to roleplay those aspects of the game).

Now the 25 gp/level is the cost of one day of the magic user's valuable time. This will pay for their time, their servants' time, and the room and board necessary for all those people. They may work for as little as half of this, especially if they have safe, steady work. And all of this is multiplied by the spell's level since it takes one day/level to write the scroll. Next, additional cost for material components, unnatural aging, etc., are all taken into account.

Finally, there is a multiplication factor from 1 to 10 depending and your standing, usually determined by a difference in your alignment from the caster's alignment, to be taken into account. (Please don't assume the caster is checking out your alignment to set the price. This is just a guess or an easy way to determine if the NPC will be doing you a favor since you are well thought of in his circles, a member of his church, a member of his community, or if he will charge you an arm and a leg since he doesn't know you from Adam). Even then, all this money only pays for the attempt. Failure would still cost you the whole ball of wax and gain you nothing. Magic isn't cheap or easy. If it were, everybody would have it, use it, and cast it themselves.

Example of the use of the {(25 GP / level of the caster + 56 GP) x spell level} + equation:

You wish to buy a Fireball scroll written by a 10th level magic user.
25x(10th level writer)= 250. 250 + 56 = 306. 306 x 3(rd level spell) = 918 gp. Assume the magic user is a friend of the same alignment. 918 x 1 = 918 gp. (Usually one can round off to the nearest 50 GPs, so this would cost 900 gp or 950 gp). The chance of success, given in the PHB is rolled. Whether the magic user fails or not, you still pay the 918 gp or so. If this spell also had costly material components to it, you would have had to pay for these as well.

Furthermore, if you wanted a spell that actually aged the caster, at a minimum you could expect to pay the caster's annual salary for every year he was aged, or perhaps up to 10 times that if he wasn't a great friend of yours. For example, let us say you wanted a WISH on a scroll. The magic user is 18th level and this spell will age him 3 years on my world. So we calculate the following: {[25X18+56]X9 +[extras]} = {[4,554]+[extras]}. These extras include 10 gp/level per day for 3 years or about 216,000 (400-day years). This is the maximum figure of 10 gp/level. The minimum of 1.5 gp/level works out to be 32,400. Thus the cost for a wish scroll is about 40,000 to 220,000 gp by formula. In actual practice it is unlikely a wizard will do such a thing for a wish in the wrong hands can do tremendous damage and failure to successfully inscribe it still will age them. They might, however, cast the spell instead, but the price of 120,000 to 180,000 gp is pretty standard. (Not that it happens so often that one should think of it as an every day occurrence).

The cost of other more permanent magic items is simply too difficult to make a general formula. Each item must be considered on its own merits. {Although, since an Enchant an Item and a Permanency are almost always required, it is unlikely any permanent item would cost less than the price of these two spells. (10,000 gp or so should cover the cost of an enchant an item and about 1/20th of a wish. At a 5% chance of losing a constitution point, a wish will be required for every 20 such permanency spells. (Assuming you use wishes to keep your constitution up). 1/20th of a wish cost about 6,000 to 9,000 gp. Thus, a minimum of 10,000 gp for the manufacture of magic items requiring these two spells should always be thrown into the mix. Therefore, it is unlikely you will ever find a permanent magic item for less than 10,000 gp. The only exceptions are little items that, for one reason or another, have been ruled as NOT requiring these two spells. Examples would include things like magic arrows, low powered, +1 or +2 daggers, items with built in permanency factors like continual lights, many +1 items where, due to the method of construction and the relatively poor materials used that will make further enchantment unlikely, or perhaps the cost of the permanency wasn't included because it luckily happened to hit the 19 out of 20 times and didn't cost a constitution point. It should be noted, however, that no permanent items of +2 or better, except for arrows and daggers, have ever cost less than 10,000 gp).} It turns out, however, the cost of manufacturing a permanent item is frequently more expensive than it would be to buy the item if you could find it. Of course, if you commissioned the item's manufacture you would probably get the item whereas you couldn't, and probably wouldn't, always find one for sale.

For example, a standard cost of a +3 long sword is about 45,000 to 60,000 gp. Exponential failure considerations, metals, metal smiths, etc. indicate such a sword would cost about 30,000 gp per attempt but would require an average of 3 attempts to succeed for a +3 weapon. Thus, about 90,000 gp. Yet, paying that up front nearly guarantees you will get your +3 long sword. On the other hand, going to magic shops in the hopes they have a used (though perfectly good) +3 long sword will probably leave you disappointed for years to come. (It typically happens that such shop owners reserve such things for their long time loyal customers. Of course, by the time you qualify as one of those, you may have naturally come across a +3 sword already. (Doesn't it always seem to just work out that way?) If you do get lucky, however, it would only cost 45K to 60K since it is "used" goods, not that it matters for all practical purposes.

Now don't get the wrong idea here. It is not as easy to buy magic off the shelf like you would so much flour or sugar. It is just, occasionally, you can find such an item in the magic or potion shops. I will speak more of the justification of such shops later, since I have read much condemning their very idea; but for now, suffice it to say they do exist. Such shops trade in surplus magic items adventurers don't want or need and exchange them for other more useful items or cash to those particular adventurers when and only if such items are available. These magic shops (alchemy and potion shops notwithstanding) do NOT manufacture magic items. They simply buy and sell items adventurers find or need.

It's unlikely you can find very powerful, highly useful items, but you can frequently find lower powered items. And the magic shops simply deal in used magic items, unlike the potion shops that actually manufacture potions. I have prices written in my Dungeon Master Guide. The printed published prices already in there are pretty unrealistic in my economy, but after I adjust those prices for a multitude of considerations, such as supply and demand, the possible necessary steps in the manufacture of such an item, and the degree I, as DM, don't want the PCs to have said item, I end up writing a price in my book. If you sell such an item to the magic shop you will get perhaps 60% to 80% of that price. If you buy, you will pay that price or 10%, 20%, or even 30% more. In this way, the shop owners make an obscene profit. Now who says it wouldn't be done? If there is an obscene profit to be made, you can bet someone will try to make it. It is anything else that would be unrealistic. And if a PC can trade or sell an item they don't really want for an item they'd rather have, you better believe they will do that before they pass it off to some underling.

After awhile you come to the realization most adventures are, by our standards, millionaires. That's O.K. They deal in goods and services that cost millions. They put their lives on the line nearly everyday. They'll probably die young, several times in fact, until eventually they permanently go on to their great reward. It's while they are alive they are an economic problem.

A millionaire, being extremely frivolous with their money, can cause some serious damage in any economy just by irresponsible spending, as a friend of mine did in one campaign. His character entered a small town where he proceeded to buy up all of the liquor for double its normal value. Naturally, they sold it to him for such a good price. Total cost: 1,200 GP or $120,000. He dumped it all out. He simply wanted to run the town dry and mess with the upcoming festival because it would interfere with his other plans. The manure hit the fan, I can tell you. And it didn't even hurt him to waste that kind of money. In our own society, if you won the lottery you could buy every TV guide and TV week in an entire city for months to come. Why? Just to screw with people. And if they tried to compensate by ordering double, you buy none that week. Why? Just to screw with people. So you see, a millionaire, or adventurer, can certainly abuse his wealth in such an economic system. I just try to keep such deviants under the control of realism. It's true they are millionaires, but they are going to need every copper piece someday, so don't waste it. Training costs alone are so high I find it difficult to imagine how any adventurer can frivolously waste their money.

One of the big advantages of having higher level adventurers as millionaires is one no longer needs to deal with trivial things so much and can concentrate on the more epic aspects of an adventurer's life. At first, it may be fun to consider the cost of bread, a glass of beer, the up keep of your horse, and your room and board at an inn, but after awhile, it gets old. Thus, within a relatively short time, one's adventurers begin to be beyond that sort of thing, and only extraordinary costs (magic, training, actually building a keep, etc.) need to looked at closely, and you can concentrate on roleplaying and concerning yourself with the bigger issues rather than the more mundane tasks of making change for a silver piece. It also has the added advantage of making these characters stand out in the eyes of most normal NPCs, and this typically gives your player a good feeling as well. It's nice to have people wait on you or not be bothered with "little" money problems (and a good escape from our real lives where we need to deal with these things everyday). That's part of the appeal of the game, so I like it that way.

Some DMs prefer a more poverty type of campaign where even the adventurers may be hard pressed to pay for food. I find I can still do this since the actual money carried by the adventurers is relatively small, and they may occasionally run out on long trips or lose their cash due to some mishap. Thus, I can still deal with such story lines when desired, but I usually do not.

Finally, just to prove you can put a price tag on human life, the average cost of a raise dead spell from a cleric of your own religion is 5,000 GP or $500,000. (Though a cleric's own temple will charge only half that for the cleric his or her self should they be the one requiring the spell. The cleric's companions, however, will usually pay 5,000 gp no matter what their alignment, as it is assumed, since they are traveling with a cleric of their religion, they must be all right. And, if the party cleric can cast the spell for a fallen comrade, there is still some charge, though it is optional). Half a million bucks will buy the attempt; it doesn't guarantee success. In fact, unlike a PC who has a high chance of success, many NPCs might have a 50/50 shot at it due to their average or below average constitution scores. So if you ever wondered why farmer Brown doesn't get his daughter raised from the dead after her tragic accident, now you know. Farmer Brown doesn't have half a million bucks. But won't a lawful good church do it for free? No way! I'll write more on that idea later.

© May of 1999
James L.R. Beach
Waterville, MN 56096