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I am running a level 17 module for my friends because they are impatient and want to run epic level stuff immediately.
Question: What would be a good starter package to put together for level 17 starting gear?
Responses I'm looking for would discuss the range of magical items/armor/weapons they can possess at the beginning or large sums of gp.
I'm not sure on the specifics of the amount of gp a PC would have acquired by that level and/or the average items a level 17 PC would possess.
I'm looking for serious answers, as well as some not so serious ones. Basically, any answer will be considered.
Page 402 of the Core Reference Document (don't have my books handy, so I am using the PRD) has a table labeled Wealth By Level. Table 12-4 to be exact. For a 17th level character, it is expected that he or she will have approximately 410,000 gp worth of equipment when he or she reaches 17th level. It's 530,000 gp for an 18th level character.
Now, the rulebook recommends that you spend no more than 25% of your wealth on weapons, 25% on armor or protective devices, 25% on other magic items, 15% on disposable magic items (wands, potions, scrolls, etc.), and 10% on normal mundane gear and coinage. Use that as a general guideline. That would be around 102,500 gp for weapons, the same again for armor or other protection, the same for additional magic, 61,500 in disposable items, and 41,000 gp in mundane gear and coins.
My games tend to adjust downward the percentage for disposable, mundane, and coinage at anything past 12th level--it is hard to buy that much in wands and potions. I would suggest keeping weapons and armor/protective where they are, and if you adjust the percentages, add them to additional magic. But that is just me.
EDIT: And you have to take into account different classes. Wizards and sorcerers and witches might not spend 10% on weapons, but they will certainly stock up on wands, scrolls, and staffs.
There's a specific chart for this on page 399 of the Core Rulebook, table 12-4. 410,000 gp is what is assumed for 17th level PCs. You can extrapolate from table 14-9 in Chapter 14, Creating NPCs, page 454 to get the estimated values for PCs, but basically figure 35% of the total for weapons, 25% for armor and protection, 30% for other permanent magical items (rings, wondrous items, etc.), 15% on limited user items, and the remainder on non-magical gear.
So for a 17th level PC, you might assume around 145k on weapons (this likely means staves for caster PCs), 105k on armor and protection, 125k on other permanent items (like stat boosters), 30k on limited use items, and the last 5k on miscellaneous gear.
Now by no means are these hard numbers, but just a rough guideline.
May I make a suggestion?
do not allow the player to spend all the money in things that they want, i mean lets they choose the 80% of their items, for the reaining 20% use some random table. Lets they try to figure out what to do with non standar items.
I'd check the Gamemastery section of the PRD. According to this your players should start with 410,000gp worth of gear, with roughly a third spent on weapons, another on protection and another on magic items (ability score boosting items, boots of speed, etc.) and potions. Depending on their class, these values can change. That's about 130k per category, give or take, which is HUGE. I'd keep an eye on what your players take because there's a lot of room for craziness here but on the other hand much of a high level character's power, as well as their ability to survive against the higher CR monsters, comes from their gear.
I'll do a quick meleer, because they're a fair bit easier to judge. These items should give you an idea of what a 17th level character can be packing. They're by no means the BEST choices.
Ferinstance, a meleer could easily afford a +8 weapon (128k), such as a +3 vorpal longsword or the similarly priced holy avenger. They should probably spread this gold around a fair bit, a +5 weapon or two and some of the APGs gloves of dueling if they're a fighter.
They probably won't want to skimp on defense. A +5 armor and shield (shields are a MUCH more attractive option at this level), a +3 ring of protection, a +3 amulet of natural armor, a cloak of resistance +5 and a dusty rose ioun stone come to 111k, and give a +17 bonus to AC and an (admittedly lacking) +5 to saves.
The rest? A belt of physical might +4, winged boots, a ring of friend shield and a pale green ioun stone (+1 to attack, skills and saves) leaves the meleer plenty to spend on potions. This kit allows the fighter to do what he does best, but doesn't do much to expand his combat options. Ashiel has a great post on higher level combat Here that goes into the logistics of high/epic level play. The fighter might want to take the [admittedly weak] horn of valhalla or a lot of potions to buff himself while the party pops time stop.
Expect your players to jump on all the items that've been on their wishlists for years. Expect them to try to break the laws of physics with ring gates and a handy haversack and a gallon or three of holy water with some trick they found on the forums a few years ago. Casters are in a whole other ballpark at this level, with prayer beads, incense of meditation and rings of wizardry all over the place, as well as the gold for all the scrolls they could dream of.
Hope this is somehow useful. It has most of what I see as staples (especially the cloak of resistance) at ninth level, which is the level I've been stuck at... ... er, playing at for the better part of two years.
Let them know that they'll have a really hard time keeping up with the AC, save DCs and attack bonuses of the higher level monsters. They'll have to spend a good chunk of gold shoring those up if they want to stay intact.
Strictly speaking, that may not even be the case, depending on what they're pitted against. But better to put the fear of death in them now rather than the first few rounds of high level play.