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RPG Superstar 2015

Wealth By Level


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I saw something on another board which piqued my interest earlier, a thread about wands, but it wound up going into a tangent about WBL, or Wealth By Level. It got me thinking... There are a lot of different opinions out there about wealth by level, or colloquially "By X level you need to have Y amount of treasure n' magic items." Many seem to feel that if you have less than this amount, you just aren't competitive and the DM is putting the screws to you and your character. Others seem to be more like me, and interpret the WBL as akin to the Pirate's Code: that is to say, they're more like guidelines than actual rules. I'm curious to know if others out there share my views on this, or are the Wealth-By-Level charts considered incontrovertible gospel?

Fellow DMs and some of you more knowledgeable players, what is your position on this?

Dark Archive

It isn't a hard and fast rule for me, but once in a while, I do an "audit"...if the party is off by more than 25% percent in either direction, there's a good chance there'll be a problem at some point, so I will either add or substract treasure (not immediately, but what they find in the next few "hoards").

Paizo Employee Developer

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In a standard home game, as long as WBL is even across all players, and the GM customizes the challenge of the adventure to the party's power level, it really doesn't matter that much. In organized play, like Pathfinder Society, that ideal WBL balance needs to be set by the campaign itself, rather than individual GMs.


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As long as everyone's having fun, what does it matter?


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In our current campaign (which has been running for the better part of a year and will likely continue for the better part of another) we enforce a strict WBL. Since we rotate GMs between adventures and level at the end of each adventure rather than using XP, this makes things a lot easier for each GM. At the beginning of the level 6 adventure, you are allowed to have 10,500 gold worth of gear and not a copper more. If it's in the book, you can have it. (Note: we don't allow crafting feats to reduce costs, but we allow you to use them to creature unique items.) Whatever gear you find during the adventure is yours to keep for that adventure. When it's over and you level, whatever gear is in excess of your current level's suggested wealth, you have to discard. Since there are often in-game months between adventures, we basically say that the excess gear you hawked was to pay for living expenses, rent, wenches, access to libraries, bribes, servants or whatever it is that your character does with his off time.

What this has done is allowed the next GM to not have to adjust his adventure because the previous GM handed out too much or too little, or gave one character something particularly nice and gave another character the shaft. Also, this way, players are assured of getting the items that their character needs to be effective at his/her job. We didn't fight any wizards in the last adventure? That's okay, the party's wizard can still pick up the scrolls she wants for the next level. We only fought magical beasts and dire animals this time? It's okay, the fighter can still go pick out a shiny new sword.

We are just about to wrap up level 10 and, by this time, our characters are becoming relatively well known and powerful (high fantasy, medium magic setting), so we needn't worry about the problems of having Ye Olde Magick Shoppe in every town, since they requisitioned the stuff special from the various places that specialize in whatever they need.

It's been a great system for us that has left everyone satisfied. No one has to say, "Aww, man! I wanted the +2 greatsword! I don't need another amulet of natural armor +2." Now, anyone who wants a +2 greatsword, can get their +2 greatsword. No one feels slighted and no one feels left out.


We see it as nothing more than a tool to help DMs determine appropriate challenges, along with all the other tools in the game.

Maveric28 wrote:
Many seem to feel that if you have less than this amount, you just aren't competitive and the DM is putting the screws to you and your character.

These people are dumb.

Dark Archive

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Black Fang wrote:
As long as everyone's having fun, what does it matter?

I agree with this. In my 18 years of GMing, its never really been a problem for me. I also do the occasional "audit", like Bruno, and make the necessary adjustments in future adventures if it needs to be done.


WBL is just an approximate guideline. As GM I use it mostly for starting characters at higher levels (although I will often adjust it from there) or for diagnosing balance issues. If some characters are struggling/dominating, I might check their wealth and make adjustments. I will also check the parties general wealth once or twice during a campaign just to make sure nothing is too far off.

Probably the most important thing to remember is that prices for goods and services are based on formula, not their "true value" in the setting or situation. A wand of cure light wounds and a wand of burning hands are the same price, but one will get used up in an adventure or two, and the other is likely to get used a few times at most. All of these things are general guides, not "rules"*

*Organized play is an exception.


Black Fang wrote:
As long as everyone's having fun, what does it matter?

That's missing the point. The point of WBL is to give the DM an idea of what kind of power level the rules expect the party* to have for challenges of their level. It's there to enhance the fun, in other words.

* - WBL really is a party level thing; it really shouldn't be applied individually except when creating high level characters.

Star Voter 2013

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Zurai wrote:
* - WBL really is a party level thing; it really shouldn't be applied individually except when creating high level characters.

What do you mean by this?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

WBL is a guideline. I only use it for starting gold at higher than 1st level.

Is a 1st level character with 10k in diamonds overpowered? Not until he is able to turn it into useable wealth. A fighter with a headband of intellect +6 is not more powerful than one with a +1 sword. You need to count what is actually useable by the character in some way. (Yes I am aware of the skills boost in PF headbands, and no I don't count them as more than a plus to hit.)

You don't need to reign in a characters WBL unless he is more than a level ahead in useable wealth.


I mean that as long as the party's average wealth is within the general range of the WBL guidelines, you're fine. Don't try to apply it to each individual character; there's no way they're all going to have exactly the same amount of wealth. Also, at least in my experience, stuff like potions, wands, and scrolls are usually considered "party loot", which is difficult to track on an individual basis for obvious reasons ;)


WBL is a good guideline, but you can't micromanage treasure and character wealth.
(exact) WBL and random treasures are incompatible i.e.

I'm gonna quote some interesting considerations from the Core Rulebook.

Quote:


Table 12–4 lists the amount of treasure each PC is
expected to have at a specific level. Note that this table
assumes a standard fantasy game.[...]
Quote:


The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
assumes that all PCs of equivalent level have roughly equal
amounts of treasure and magic items.[...]


IkeDoe wrote:
WBL and random treasures are incompatible i.e.

That depends entirely on what you mean by "random treasures". It's certainly possible to use random treasure charts and still adhere to the general area of WBL. You may exceed WBL at some points and be under it at others, but as long as you're in the ballpark, that's OK.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Zurai wrote:
I mean that as long as the party's average wealth is within the general range of the WBL guidelines, you're fine. Don't try to apply it to each individual character; there's no way they're all going to have exactly the same amount of wealth. Also, at least in my experience, stuff like potions, wands, and scrolls are usually considered "party loot", which is difficult to track on an individual basis for obvious reasons ;)

So what you're saying is that at 5th level every should have 10,500 but since some players might have more and other less you go by that number times the number of players. So a party of 4 5th level characters should have about 42,000 GP in treasure combined.


Zurai wrote:
IkeDoe wrote:
WBL and random treasures are incompatible i.e.
That depends entirely on what you mean by "random treasures". It's certainly possible to use random treasure charts and still adhere to the general area of WBL. You may exceed WBL at some points and be under it at others, but as long as you're in the ballpark, that's OK.

I was too slow editing ( damn it).


voska66 wrote:
Zurai wrote:
I mean that as long as the party's average wealth is within the general range of the WBL guidelines, you're fine. Don't try to apply it to each individual character; there's no way they're all going to have exactly the same amount of wealth. Also, at least in my experience, stuff like potions, wands, and scrolls are usually considered "party loot", which is difficult to track on an individual basis for obvious reasons ;)
So what you're saying is that at 5th level every should have 10,500 but since some players might have more and other less you go by that number times the number of players. So a party of 4 5th level characters should have about 42,000 GP in treasure combined.

Correct. Obviously there's going to be issues if the treasure split in a 4 person, level 5 party is 0/0/0/168,000 (or other less hyperbolic, but still heavily imbalanced distribution), but I've found that the players are usually pretty quick to sort that kind of thing out for themselves. "You got that greatsword and the magic full plate last time, Bob. I think Joe should get the belt of giant strength".

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

It doesn't have to be balanced between party members at all, especially not if you're working together.

In our current RotRL game, we've found the game feels most "balanced" between the characters when we dump the vast majority of the loot on the fighter-types, leaving the spellcasters comparatively starved. We have a strongly role-based combat formation, and the duties we put on the fighters requires that. Every group will vary based on playstyle, but that's been our observation.

To bring it back on topic: yea, throw WBL out the window if you can.


Black Fang wrote:
As long as everyone's having fun, what does it matter?

^This

I haven't broken down our groups current inventory, and I know everybody has a little something, but I expect we're off a bit. Usually, somebody is down a bit and someone else is over a bit. I don't think we've ever had all players at exactly the same wealth level at exactly the same time.

If we were ever way under or way over, then yeah, we'd adjust accordingly.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So far it seems like most reply'ers adhere to the "Pirate's Code" of WBL: "Aarrh, they be more like guidelines than actual rules, Miss Turner." That fits more with what I expected, and I appreciate the feedback.

For myself, I've often found that published adventures tend to be a bit silly in treasure distribution, especially when statting out humanoid opponents: "You mean ALL the 8th-level guards have +2 Flails, mwk Plate mail and +1 heavy Shields? And they all have 3 potions of bull's strength and 2 cure moderate wounds potions? What a coincidence..." Unless the enemy is supplied by an extremely Lawful (and generous) benefactor, it's highly unlikely that they would all have the exact same stuff, especially where enchanted gear is concerned. Plus, it's boring for the party: "So guys, we have another 4 magic flails, 4 suits of armor and 4 more magic shields. Should we stuff 'em in the Bag of Holding and move on?"

This is where I play my grognard card and mix it up a bit. I randomly generate a little loot, spread it out a bit, give 'em different weapons, remove most masterwork items (unless there's a good story-based reason that they would have them), and generally just play it by ear. It does require me to be a bit more on my toes regarding rules and combat stats, but it's more interesting for my players too, and gives me the opportunity to add some items that might not be written in but could actually benefit the players. Thoughts?


Published adventures have a strict page count, which leads to a pretty strict word count. It's much, much, MUCH more practical, and leads to much more adventure per dollar spent, to supply groups of enemies with identical equipment. Giving them individualized equipment means they need individualized statblocks, and statblocks and art are the two main space-taker-uppers. Fewer statblocks means more space for actual adventure material, so standardized enemies are good.

When you're running the game for yourself, by all means, mix up the loot. Just don't be critical of the authors of the adventure for not doing it for you; you'd much rather have the 32 page adventure than the 16 page adventure with 16 pages of variant guard stat blocks, I imagine.

Shadow Lodge Dedicated Voter 2014

It is guidelines, but the guidelines are pretty harshly enforced. If you don't keep up to wealth by level, your party members are going to get creamed. Without cloaks of resistance they'll fall prey to every spell out there, without magic weapons they won't be able to hit the monsters reliably, and your rouges and fighters will be completely lack luster next to the casters. If you monty haul it, your characters will require more challanging encounters to avoid a walk in the park.. which give more treasure, which lead to more monsters being slaughtered.

One snafu in the WBL formulas is that miscellaneous items are horribly, horribly overpriced for the benefit they give. A helm of underwater action for example, something that might save a character a spell slot every once in a while, costs more than a sword +3 which will add more hits and damage in every encounter that its used in (which is damn near all of them) I mean.. ninety THOUSAND gold for an apparatus of the crab? Thats almost a +7 weapon.


Our group ignores this guideline completely. We just have never felt the need to enforce the notion that every person must be equal in wealth.

Honestly, it has never come up in the game; other than when someone is complaining about not getting something in the treasure pile.

Star Voter 2013

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
BigNorseWolf wrote:


It is guidelines, but the guidelines are pretty harshly enforced. If you don't keep up to wealth by level, your party members are going to get creamed. Without cloaks of resistance they'll fall prey to every spell out there, without magic weapons they won't be able to hit the monsters reliably, and your rouges and fighters will be completely lack luster next to the casters. If you monty haul it, your characters will require more challanging encounters to avoid a walk in the park.. which give more treasure, which lead to more monsters being slaughtered.

One snafu in the WBL formulas is that miscellaneous items are horribly, horribly overpriced for the benefit they give. A helm of underwater action for example, something that might save a character a spell slot every once in a while, costs more than a sword +3 which will add more hits and damage in every encounter that its used in (which is damn near all of them) I mean.. ninety THOUSAND gold for an apparatus of the crab? Thats almost a +7 weapon.

This is more of an issue with enhancement bonuses being designed into the monsters expectations. The big 6 are really needed for any character (except weapons for pure casters). They end up taking 75% of your WBL, making all of those wierd, fun magic items completely overpriced. I think a better guidline would be what 4e has, saying up front what kind of bonuses the system is designed for the players to have. I would like to get rid of all of those enhancement bonuses.

My group mostly ignores WBL. 1 GM is very montey haul, and all it means is he ramps up encounters and throws more at us. He will roll random treasure every once in a while, getting us things like a staff of healing at level 4, and it just results in him adding a couple points of strength to a monster, since we can heal it.

In my campaign, I'm have the potential for the opposite problem. Keeping enough wealth in the party is difficult, but not an issue yet. The PCs use their money on expensive things like poisons, buildings, NPC guards, and bathing NPCs (seriously, 1000gp to pay an NPC to take a bath at lvl 3). They are still low levels, so their above average stats are allowing them to plow through kingmaker.


Frankly... I learn about this chart on this forum... :D

I think it's really useful when you make a more than 1st level characters, and well I think it's something you HAVE to use in PFS...

But I still don't use it in our campaign... I've always done it by feelings (exemple : Mmmh, Krull the barbarian seem a little behind his friends... Ok next time I have to find him a nice magic object to compensate this...)
And my players shares "equally" the objects found... Mostly like that :

Zurai wrote:
"You got that greatsword and the magic full plate last time, Bob. I think Joe should get the belt of giant strength".


It is huge thing cause if I put some monster that has DR/xyz ect then at lest one ore more need to be able to pass is. Also several type of move in expected at level 5-7 some PC fly, 9-13 PC teleport 13 and up they can travel planes ect. Stat item, Defenses, Damage to hit ect.
I mean you Fighter at level 15 should better that +1 weapon and armor. All thought a 5th level should not have a +5 keen, holy, speed long sword. Balance is needed. Yes you should doe check as DM to keep it in line.

I say keep level on to planes one as PC the other as Party.

If the Wizard is falling behind then add Item suited for him Ie Scroll, Wand, Rod, ect. Try to keep it balenced cause every one wants to have fun. I mean I in 4 person party the fighter has 70% of loot and the other PC only 10% then some thing is off.

Off by a small margin as a PC +/- 10% is fine more than that thing get for scale.

If the Whole Party is off then you need up or lower to get back on pace.

I played in game where there was Small Mounted fighter type had no Magic what so ever cause GM said nothing resized and there was not crafting or magic item store to by any thing and it sucked. The Player quickly became bored and lost interest in playing.

We play the game to have fun so share the wealth and have fun.
Do go to heavy on it cause the take away the challenge.
Do go to light on it cause make the challenge un reachable.

Find the Balance as GM is part of the art running good game if done well no one ever notices if done wrong all hell breaks lose and wheels come off.


Maveric28 wrote:
I've often found that published adventures tend to be a bit silly in treasure distribution, especially when statting out humanoid opponents: "You mean ALL the 8th-level guards have +2 Flails, mwk Plate mail and +1 heavy Shields? And they all have 3 potions of bull's strength and 2 cure moderate wounds potions? What a coincidence..."

I get where you're going with this and I understand completely. Having said that, you just have to accept that it's easier for published materials to work that way. And you have to be okay with letting the group sell that stuff and get what they actually need.


loaba wrote:
Maveric28 wrote:
I've often found that published adventures tend to be a bit silly in treasure distribution, especially when statting out humanoid opponents: "You mean ALL the 8th-level guards have +2 Flails, mwk Plate mail and +1 heavy Shields? And they all have 3 potions of bull's strength and 2 cure moderate wounds potions? What a coincidence..."
I get where you're going with this and I understand completely. Having said that, you just have to accept that it's easier for published materials to work that way. And you have to be okay with letting the group sell that stuff and get what they actually need.

To add to this most soldiers/mercs(in one organization..<cough cough> blackwater) get geared out the same way if they are in the same branch of that organization.

If one soldier gets 1 grenade, and his buddy gets 4, and a rocket launcher questions or going to be asked if they both have the exact same job.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Oh yeah, I know exactly why the published adventures are set up that way, and I pretty much agree too. It would be way too space consuming to give separate stat blocks. I just tend to make my own notes and mix it up a bit for my own peace of mind and players enjoyment. My question was more to find out if anyone else made such convoluted changes.

For instance, block of 4 8th-lvl guards listed as all having 15 Str and 59 hit points and using the equipment I listed above: +2 flails, mwk full plate, +1 heavy shields. I would probably in my notes mix it up a bit, give out weapons n' armor that gets close to the same dmg range (two use flails, one uses sword, another a halberd or axe), probably get rid of the mwk quality armor and just give them standard plate, but add some other low-end treasure that would more interesting (random wondrous items, a wand with less than dozen charges, some gems or other personal treasures) and then make some other minor changes; one is a half-orc with an 18 Str, another specialized in longsword and has Spring Attack instead of Power Attack, and another one has a 17 Dex is the best shot with a crossbow on the guard! Add or subtract a random amount of hit points from each one, and presto! they are no longer carbon copies of each other! In some cases, especially Lawful organizations, it makes sense they would have "standard equipment" but in others, I mix it up to give it a more random feel to it.

On the other hand, if I expect that the party will smash through them in 2 rounds or less with little or no resistance, then it doesn't really matter if they had magic weapons or fancy armor at all. I'll probably just remove that stuff altogether and replace it with either some more interesting mundane treasure placed later on in the adventure or some useful magic item(s) that the party will benefit from.


My problem with WBL is that in many of my games I want the players' actions to have some influence on what they end up with. In other words, if the players seek out treasure I want them to be able to have more treasure. If the players stay away from well-paying jobs and ignore treasure-heavy locations, I want that to result in them having less wealth.
The allure of rich patrons and the carrot of a fat salary for specific jobs is entirely lost of the characters are just going to end up with a similar wealth pool no matter what they do.


AvalonXQ wrote:

My problem with WBL is that in many of my games I want the players' actions to have some influence on what they end up with. In other words, if the players seek out treasure I want them to be able to have more treasure. If the players stay away from well-paying jobs and ignore treasure-heavy locations, I want that to result in them having less wealth.

The allure of rich patrons and the carrot of a fat salary for specific jobs is entirely lost of the characters are just going to end up with a similar wealth pool no matter what they do.

The WBL also assumes they are building up to the next fight and level. Most jobs pay well in the game. Either the person who contracted you has money, or the bad guys have nice loot. If they(the bad guys) did not have considerable power(normally augmented by magic items) the town militia could have dealt with it. Even if the PC's don't do it for the money the money will still normally be there.

Star Voter 2013

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
wraithstrike wrote:
AvalonXQ wrote:

My problem with WBL is that in many of my games I want the players' actions to have some influence on what they end up with. In other words, if the players seek out treasure I want them to be able to have more treasure. If the players stay away from well-paying jobs and ignore treasure-heavy locations, I want that to result in them having less wealth.

The allure of rich patrons and the carrot of a fat salary for specific jobs is entirely lost of the characters are just going to end up with a similar wealth pool no matter what they do.
The WBL also assumes they are building up to the next fight and level. Most jobs pay well in the game. Either the person who contracted you has money, or the bad guys have nice loot. If they(the bad guys) did not have considerable power(normally augmented by magic items) the town militia could have dealt with it. Even if the PC's don't do it for the money the money will still normally be there.

Yes, but there is a difference between the random gear the bad guys have and intentionally raiding the richest guy in town's house and stealing all of his money. Wealth by level means that if relatively low level players try to do the raid, they don't get more out of it than the random mooks would have. This break immerssion and hurts the game IMO.


Caineach wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
AvalonXQ wrote:

My problem with WBL is that in many of my games I want the players' actions to have some influence on what they end up with. In other words, if the players seek out treasure I want them to be able to have more treasure. If the players stay away from well-paying jobs and ignore treasure-heavy locations, I want that to result in them having less wealth.

The allure of rich patrons and the carrot of a fat salary for specific jobs is entirely lost of the characters are just going to end up with a similar wealth pool no matter what they do.
The WBL also assumes they are building up to the next fight and level. Most jobs pay well in the game. Either the person who contracted you has money, or the bad guys have nice loot. If they(the bad guys) did not have considerable power(normally augmented by magic items) the town militia could have dealt with it. Even if the PC's don't do it for the money the money will still normally be there.
Yes, but there is a difference between the random gear the bad guys have and intentionally raiding the richest guy in town's house and stealing all of his money. Wealth by level means that if relatively low level players try to do the raid, they don't get more out of it than the random mooks would have. This break immersion and hurts the game IMO.

WBL is not always on point. There will be times when you are below by a good amount, and above it by a lot. Immersion and balance don't always work together, but the DM should be able to come with an in-game reason to justify the corrections for having to much or too little loot.


Caineach wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
AvalonXQ wrote:

My problem with WBL is that in many of my games I want the players' actions to have some influence on what they end up with. In other words, if the players seek out treasure I want them to be able to have more treasure. If the players stay away from well-paying jobs and ignore treasure-heavy locations, I want that to result in them having less wealth.

The allure of rich patrons and the carrot of a fat salary for specific jobs is entirely lost of the characters are just going to end up with a similar wealth pool no matter what they do.
The WBL also assumes they are building up to the next fight and level. Most jobs pay well in the game. Either the person who contracted you has money, or the bad guys have nice loot. If they(the bad guys) did not have considerable power(normally augmented by magic items) the town militia could have dealt with it. Even if the PC's don't do it for the money the money will still normally be there.
Yes, but there is a difference between the random gear the bad guys have and intentionally raiding the richest guy in town's house and stealing all of his money. Wealth by level means that if relatively low level players try to do the raid, they don't get more out of it than the random mooks would have. This break immerssion and hurts the game IMO.

That's why micromanaging treasure to adjust it to WBL makes no sense.

Even the treasure chapter encourages you to give ad-hoc rewards to players.
When the party does something nice that should bring extra money I just give them part of the money they should get in the near future, right now.
When the party does something nice that should decrease the money earned I just decrease the value of the next treasure, but I save that money in the future.
So, sometimes, for a short time, they get more or less treasure than usual, but eventually they will have the average WBL.


If you want both immersion and balance, you can have it, but you can't have balance instantly. You get balance over time as pc's spike above and below their WBL line.

The way this happens is this: PCs and NPCs both, when they're looking for swag, TRY to target opponents with the best reward to risk ratio. That pauper of a 10th level paladin? No way...that level 1 commoner who just inherited his uncles shiny vorpal greatsword...SIGN US UP!
Wealth by level is that point where, below or near which, the world makes no particular exceptional effort to relieve you of your stuff. Thieves guilds don't look at you as worth the risk, politicians/nobles don't see you as a fat juicy target for imposts and special taxes for some young upstart that is 'above his station' and potential employers don't view you as someone 'they can't afford to hire'. As you get more above the WBL, all of these factors stop being positives and become increasingly negative. Someone with stuff at say, 2xWBL would be such a ridiculously tempting target for the thieves guilds throughout the land as to beggar belief. Dragons and other popular BBEG monsters also like to maintain intel networks and would be very interested in what you've got to decorate their under-CR hoard with. A very basic simulationist maxim is that most NPC's, particularly powerful ones, are not idiots and act within the ruleset that the world presents them with in a manner at least plausibly related to their supposed goals. Make sure your players understand this and buy in though, a lot of gamists will otherwise get the idea that you're 'out to get them personally' when the regular (and frequently surprise) attacks from the above mentioned enemies start happening. Historically, a LOT of people have taken great pains not to appear to be above their station. This is why :-)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Caineach wrote:
Yes, but there is a difference between the random gear the bad guys have and intentionally raiding the richest guy in town's house and stealing all of his money. Wealth by level means that if relatively low level players try to do the raid, they don't get more out of it than the random mooks would have. This break immerssion and hurts the game IMO.

That's one robbery vs a whole bunch of random mooks. At least that's how it work in our games. Random Mooks rarely have much for treasure but take out enough of them and does add up. One good BBEG has a lot more treasure.


Tom S 820 wrote:
It is huge thing cause if I put some monster that has DR/xyz ect then at lest one ore more need to be able to pass is.

Not if the APL is well above the monster's CR. Killing gricks or lemures, without any magic weapon, is still a piece of cake with Power Attack or Sneak Attack. My PC's killed 2 gricks (CR 3) at 2nd level without magic weapon, and it was a great fight : the bard had to go in melee to flank the the creatures, used the ''fighting defensively'' option (because he couldn't hurt them anyway), so that the fighter could use Power Attack with more ease. That's a clever tactic and the kind of things that I try to encourage in my games. Same thing happened when they fought some lemures on a bridge : Improved Bull Rush saved their life that day.

Beside, I don't see any point in throwing a monster with DR at my players if they can overcome its DR without any effort from their side. Of course, I'm not saying that you shouldn't reward your PCs for having the right weapon at the right time, but if you follow the WBL to the letter, then DR/magic is a joke and it won't ever matter in any fight.

I use 50% WBL and it works just fine. You just have to know your PCs well enough so that you don't throw at them things that they can't handle. Of course, if you're doing that, you have to nerf the casters with house rules.


Our group never uses WBL. Some of us actually prefer not being overloaded with magic items. I fondly remember when Pallys were limited to 10 total magic items, and they were still considered a rather powerful class.
We each just made a 2nd PC for one our games; the DM used the NPC WBL for our new 4th level PCs (our other PCs are 6 level) and the new guys had more wealth than a couple of the old guys.

Some people say that keeping to WBL is necessary to keep up with "appropriate" encounters. The flaw in that is that they base what is "appropriate" off of CR. CR is not a very good indicator of how much a challenge an encounter will present to a party. Even the 4 player "Fighter, Cleric, Rogue, Wizard" party will have vastly different experiences between encounters of the same "CR"
I've played in, and run, CR +2 encounters where the PCs were very prepared to deal with the threat, i.e. the Pcs had abilities that targeted the monsters' weaknesses, but thew monsters had few attacks the targeted the PCs' weaknesses, even with only a fraction of the WBL, the PCs stormed this "very difficult" encounter with barely a scratch on them and only a few spells and abilities spent. They could have fought 10 such encounters and still walked home.
At the same time, I've played in CR -2 encounters that the PCs were ill prepared to deal with, and even having significantly more than the WBL, the fight was a near TPK.
These encounters weren't even planned to go this way, it just happened. In my experience, regardless of WBL, CR isn't enough, a DM needs to learn how to base his encounters off of his specific party. And if you're doing that anyway, why not give out as much or a little loot as you want and WBL be damned.


Quantum Steve wrote:
WBL be damned.

I Agree !

However, the PCs must still have some feeling of advancement, or progression, when it comes to WLB. If they don't, they'll get the feeling that they have been cheated by the GM. Leveling up is fun, but upgrading your gears is fun too. If you're 10th level fighter is still fighting with his masterwork club, then something is wrong...

I still use WBL as a guideline, I'm just cutting this guideline in half, that's all. :P

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To throw another arguement into the ring: much like character builds, so too can magic items be min-maxed. This is very important when considering GP total.

An "organically grown" character that actually played from level 1 to (say) 10, equipping himself only off of loot rescued from slain enemies and special quest/plot rewards, will be much less powerful that someone who creates a character at level 10 and buys custom-designed equipment with all his freely-given GP. Even if they have the exact same GP total in an audit.

The biggest difference will be that the a-la-carte PC will have fewer, more-powerful items, and the organic character will have many more, yet weaker items. (Note that due to stacking rules, action economy, etc, the game encourages specialization, so fewer&bigger is better). Now, the existance of magic shops and the like can make this somewhat easier for the organic PC (basically, it un-organics him), but that starts to make certain setting assumptions that some GMs don't nessecarily want to make (not just "high fantasy" but also "near a metropolis" if the base-value rules are actually being used; or "lots of time off" if the crafting rules are).

I've found that a pure organic (ie no magic shops, no custom drops) character requires roughly double the GP of an a-la-carte character to reach power-parity. A hybrid-organic character (ie lives in a world with access to magic shops or the GM does custom drops) requires about 1.5 the GP of an a-la-carte character to keep up.

So whenever I have a character joining halfway through a game, I look at WBL and reduce the GP total given to the new character by 25% to 50% depending on how I feel the other PCs have been doing. A little optimization can go a long way.


Quantum Steve wrote:

Our group never uses WBL. Some of us actually prefer not being overloaded with magic items. I fondly remember when Pallys were limited to 10 total magic items, and they were still considered a rather powerful class.

We each just made a 2nd PC for one our games; the DM used the NPC WBL for our new 4th level PCs (our other PCs are 6 level) and the new guys had more wealth than a couple of the old guys.

Some people say that keeping to WBL is necessary to keep up with "appropriate" encounters. The flaw in that is that they base what is "appropriate" off of CR. CR is not a very good indicator of how much a challenge an encounter will present to a party. Even the 4 player "Fighter, Cleric, Rogue, Wizard" party will have vastly different experiences between encounters of the same "CR"
I've played in, and run, CR +2 encounters where the PCs were very prepared to deal with the threat, i.e. the Pcs had abilities that targeted the monsters' weaknesses, but thew monsters had few attacks the targeted the PCs' weaknesses, even with only a fraction of the WBL, the PCs stormed this "very difficult" encounter with barely a scratch on them and only a few spells and abilities spent. They could have fought 10 such encounters and still walked home.
At the same time, I've played in CR -2 encounters that the PCs were ill prepared to deal with, and even having significantly more than the WBL, the fight was a near TPK.
These encounters weren't even planned to go this way, it just happened. In my experience, regardless of WBL, CR isn't enough, a DM needs to learn how to base his encounters off of his specific party. And if you're doing that anyway, why not give out as much or a little loot as you want and WBL be damned.

The party makeup matters as well as the party. If you had a bunch of noobs playing rogues, then I can see that happening. I am not saying that was the case, but your example was to generic to be excepted by many people.


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It's a guideline, nothing more. Campaigns vary, players vary.

If a PC started arguing that he was "getting gipped" because he had something less than the WBL guideline, I'd politely suggest that he take in-game/in-character steps to rectify. Failing that, I'd politely suggest that he learn to adapt to the situation or find another GM.

As someone who hates the X-Mas Tree effect, I'm definitely not going to increase treasure output and especially not increase magic item output just to meet some arbitrary table that may, or may not, have relevance to the campaign I'm running.


BPorter wrote:

It's a guideline, nothing more. Campaigns vary, players vary.

If a PC started arguing that he was "getting gipped" because he had something less than the WBL guideline, I'd politely suggest that he take in-game/in-character steps to rectify. Failing that, I'd politely suggest that he learn to adapt to the situation or find another GM.

As someone who hates the X-Mas Tree effect, I'm definitely not going to increase treasure output and especially not increase magic item output just to meet some arbitrary table that may, or may not, have relevance to the campaign I'm running.

This is also important, but it should be remembered that not all parties can get by with less gold. You(not directed at Bporter) as the DM know your group best.


On Wraithstrike's point, as a GM, Intraparty balance is really the most difficult problem rather than balance with respect to the rest of the world. If your party of level 10s is more like level 11s or level 8s with their gear and level of player expertise, you can always simply adjust your encounters (or they can adjust their targets, if they're in a simulationist game). Some of your players feeling like they're the grogs (usually the melees) of the others (usually the casters) is a much more serious problem and is harder to address.

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EWHM wrote:

If you want both immersion and balance, you can have it, but you can't have balance instantly. You get balance over time as pc's spike above and below their WBL line.

The way this happens is this: PCs and NPCs both, when they're looking for swag, TRY to target opponents with the best reward to risk ratio. That pauper of a 10th level paladin? No way...that level 1 commoner who just inherited his uncles shiny vorpal greatsword...SIGN US UP!
Wealth by level is that point where, below or near which, the world makes no particular exceptional effort to relieve you of your stuff. Thieves guilds don't look at you as worth the risk, politicians/nobles don't see you as a fat juicy target for imposts and special taxes for some young upstart that is 'above his station' and potential employers don't view you as someone 'they can't afford to hire'. As you get more above the WBL, all of these factors stop being positives and become increasingly negative. Someone with stuff at say, 2xWBL would be such a ridiculously tempting target for the thieves guilds throughout the land as to beggar belief. Dragons and other popular BBEG monsters also like to maintain intel networks and would be very interested in what you've got to decorate their under-CR hoard with. A very basic simulationist maxim is that most NPC's, particularly powerful ones, are not idiots and act within the ruleset that the world presents them with in a manner at least plausibly related to their supposed goals. Make sure your players understand this and buy in though, a lot of gamists will otherwise get the idea that you're 'out to get them personally' when the regular (and frequently surprise) attacks from the above mentioned enemies start happening. Historically, a LOT of people have taken great pains not to appear to be above their station. This is why :-)

That is making lots of assumptions, like everyone in the game world is following wealth by level. I guess all the people living in slums in your game world are lvl 1, and all the rich people are high level. Otherwise the rich people would just be robbed by the poor people. The game world does not run off wealth by level, but the game design and ballance does. And even then, only the CR system is really reliant on it, which has dozens of flaws. WBL is a decent yardstick to understand where you should be designing encounters. If the PCs are above WBL, you make things harder. If they are below, make sure they can deal and you may need to tone things down. Other than that, I toss it out the window in favor of a more organic world, which is more fun IMO.


Caineach,
I don't count land, fancy clothes, etc appropriate to your station against you on WBL. Generally only things that'd show up in your stat block if you were an NPC get counted. And people who have a choice DO rob rich people, as long as their risk ratio isn't too high. BTW, when I talk of 'station', I'm speaking of it as pre-moderns would understand the term. Didn't aristocrats get some sort of a WBL bonus in previous editions, or was that just one of my house rules?

If you look at the mechanics in the game though, you will find that at least insofar as commoners/experts are concerned, there is a very strong correlation between level and wealth (particularly for the expert, who probably has his income tied to his craft or profession skill at basically +1/2 gp per week per level, and the possibilities of skill focus or the like increasing it a lot faster as well. Aristocrats as always are a special case...maybe that's why they frequently garner so much resentment :-)

Notice how often in previous editions that GMs sent thieves etc after players to grab magic items. It was generally a VERY high risk endeavor. Under my guidelines this would be super rare unless you were considered a juicy target for the risk you represent.


Generally speaking, some of the poor people WILL rob the rich people if their stuff isn't guarded by some sort of police or guard. And that increases the CR to make the wealth appropriate. If there's wealth out there that isn't guarded by an appropriate level of security, rest assured someone will soon take it away.


wraithstrike wrote:
Quantum Steve wrote:

Our group never uses WBL. Some of us actually prefer not being overloaded with magic items. I fondly remember when Pallys were limited to 10 total magic items, and they were still considered a rather powerful class.

We each just made a 2nd PC for one our games; the DM used the NPC WBL for our new 4th level PCs (our other PCs are 6 level) and the new guys had more wealth than a couple of the old guys.

Some people say that keeping to WBL is necessary to keep up with "appropriate" encounters. The flaw in that is that they base what is "appropriate" off of CR. CR is not a very good indicator of how much a challenge an encounter will present to a party. Even the 4 player "Fighter, Cleric, Rogue, Wizard" party will have vastly different experiences between encounters of the same "CR"
I've played in, and run, CR +2 encounters where the PCs were very prepared to deal with the threat, i.e. the Pcs had abilities that targeted the monsters' weaknesses, but thew monsters had few attacks the targeted the PCs' weaknesses, even with only a fraction of the WBL, the PCs stormed this "very difficult" encounter with barely a scratch on them and only a few spells and abilities spent. They could have fought 10 such encounters and still walked home.
At the same time, I've played in CR -2 encounters that the PCs were ill prepared to deal with, and even having significantly more than the WBL, the fight was a near TPK.
These encounters weren't even planned to go this way, it just happened. In my experience, regardless of WBL, CR isn't enough, a DM needs to learn how to base his encounters off of his specific party. And if you're doing that anyway, why not give out as much or a little loot as you want and WBL be damned.

The party makeup matters as well as the party. If you had a bunch of noobs playing rogues, then I can see that happening. I am not saying that was the case, but your example was to generic to be excepted by many people.

Those both were examples at the extreme ends of the spectrum, but, in my experience(magic words, I guess) CRs are just too swingy to be reliable. As a DM picking CR appropriate encounters, I often found myself saying, "Wow. That encounter totally owned the party and it wasn't even a mini-boss. They'd be hard pressed to clear this dungeon now. I may need to adjust" Just as often, "Wow. They creamed that mini-boss without taking a hit. I had nerfed the boss thinking they'd be at half health. I may need to adjust."

Party composition, builds, equipment, spells, tactics, etc. plays such a huge role in how an encounter plays out, that two different groups with the exact same WBL might, very easily, find the exact same encounter very easy, or very hard. Just look at the AP boards. There are many anecdotes where certain fights presented vastly different challenges. Same encounter, same loot drops, often same point buys.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that CR and WBL are part of the same yardstick that just doesn't measure things very well.


Quantum Steve wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
Quantum Steve wrote:

Our group never uses WBL. Some of us actually prefer not being overloaded with magic items. I fondly remember when Pallys were limited to 10 total magic items, and they were still considered a rather powerful class.

We each just made a 2nd PC for one our games; the DM used the NPC WBL for our new 4th level PCs (our other PCs are 6 level) and the new guys had more wealth than a couple of the old guys.

Some people say that keeping to WBL is necessary to keep up with "appropriate" encounters. The flaw in that is that they base what is "appropriate" off of CR. CR is not a very good indicator of how much a challenge an encounter will present to a party. Even the 4 player "Fighter, Cleric, Rogue, Wizard" party will have vastly different experiences between encounters of the same "CR"
I've played in, and run, CR +2 encounters where the PCs were very prepared to deal with the threat, i.e. the Pcs had abilities that targeted the monsters' weaknesses, but thew monsters had few attacks the targeted the PCs' weaknesses, even with only a fraction of the WBL, the PCs stormed this "very difficult" encounter with barely a scratch on them and only a few spells and abilities spent. They could have fought 10 such encounters and still walked home.
At the same time, I've played in CR -2 encounters that the PCs were ill prepared to deal with, and even having significantly more than the WBL, the fight was a near TPK.
These encounters weren't even planned to go this way, it just happened. In my experience, regardless of WBL, CR isn't enough, a DM needs to learn how to base his encounters off of his specific party. And if you're doing that anyway, why not give out as much or a little loot as you want and WBL be damned.

The party makeup matters as well as the party. If you had a bunch of noobs playing rogues, then I can see that happening. I am not saying that was the case, but your example was to generic to be excepted by many people.
Those both were...

The table assumes certain things. It can be made to be more exact, but player options will be more limited. I do agree that a DM should always adjust things for his group though.


wraithstrike wrote:
The table assumes certain things. It can be made to be more exact, but player options will be more limited. I do agree that a DM should always adjust things for his group though.

It would be nice to know what the table assumes. What my groups has or does (or doesn't have, or doesn't do) that the table isn't accounting for. As it is, an encounter that uses 20% to 25% of our groups resources (i.e. equal CR) has a margin of error of + or - 2 on the CR table. On a table where +4 is epic and -4 is trivial, 2 whole points makes a ton of difference.

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