Wealth-By-Level & Opportunistic PCs - What Would YOU Do?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


So here's a scenario for you. Tell me how you would handle it (or scroll down to the last line for the 'too long - didn't read' version).

You're running a game for a group of mature players playing "realistically evil" and/or non-good PCs. The PCs run through a dungeon from time to time, and take on 'traditional' quests and adventures.

However, these PCs pursue their own goals as well, creating and pursuing opportunities to commit evil for profit. Clever cons and burglaries, assassinations, and so forth. Robbing a local baron's keep, kidnappings, the assassinating and looting of wealthy mid-level NPCs, conning or stealing from local merchants and caravaners, and so on.

The PCs are smart about what they do, and cover their tracks well. They keep alert, live cheaply, never staying in one region for too long, moving from township to township, kingdom to kingdom, changing identities and appearances from time to time. They operate like professional criminals and adventurers of ill-repute, and they do take the occasional dungeon-sweep or rescue mission (looting dungeons and collecting rewards to further augment their criminal income), and they do a good job of it all.

The problem, (if it is a problem at all), is that by targeting wealthy and profitible NPCs and creating and pursuing opportunities to steal, mug, and con NPCs out of their treasure, the PCs are advancing well beyond their wealth-by-level guidelines. Of course, they have to be very inventive and smart about doing so, and have put a lot of time (in and out of game) and feat-and-or-skill choices into doing so. They take bigger risks (albiet calculated ones) for even bigger rewards.

What would you do? Would you start jipping them on the dungeon-loot that they find in order to keep their wealth-to-level ratios more "by-the-book"? Or would you allow them to bend the wealth-by-level table over their knees and spank it because - gosh darn it - they're earing it with careful planning and savvy resource management?

Is it okay for characters whose goal is to get adventure this way and get rich (even by adventurer standards) if they can legitimately pull it off (without dying or getting run out of every city and kingdom on the planet)?

tl;dr:
Should PCs who cleverly suppliment the treasure they are supposed to recieve from each encounter with treasure that they deliberately seek out by criminal means (with careful planning and smart playing-and-roleplaying) be rewarded for doing so, even if it breaks the wealth-by-level tables in a big way?


Rake wrote:

So here's a scenario for you. Tell me how you would handle it (or scroll down to the last line for the 'too long - didn't read' version).

You're running a game for a group of mature players playing "realistically evil" and/or non-good PCs. The PCs run through a dungeon from time to time, and take on 'traditional' quests and adventures.

However, these PCs pursue their own goals as well, creating and pursuing opportunities to commit evil for profit. Clever cons and burglaries, assassinations, and so forth. Robbing a local baron's keep, kidnappings, the assassinating and looting of wealthy mid-level NPCs, conning or stealing from local merchants and caravaners, and so on.

It is likely that there are rival groups, gangs, organizations that might have there eye on these same "marks" and the PCs are just getting there first.

The PCs are smart about what they do, and cover their tracks well. They keep alert, live cheaply, never staying in one region for too long, moving from township to township, kingdom to kingdom, changing identities and appearances from time to time. They operate like professional criminals and adventurers of ill-repute, and they do take the occasional dungeon-sweep or rescue mission (looting dungeons and collecting rewards to further augment their criminal income), and they do a good job of it all.

Have one of these uber-powerful groups, perhaps one that has been accepting "protection" monies have a bunch of very disturbed "customers" that resent paying for protection and not getting it.

The problem, (if it is a problem at all), is that by targeting wealthy and profitible NPCs and creating and pursuing opportunities to steal, mug, and con NPCs out of their treasure, the PCs are advancing well beyond their wealth-by-level guidelines. Of course, they have to be very inventive and smart about doing so, and have put a lot of time (in and out of game) and feat-and-or-skill choices into doing so. They take bigger risks (albiet calculated ones) for even bigger rewards.

The other group sees your PCs as in debt to them for the funds they stole......

What would you do? Would you start jipping them on the dungeon-loot that they find in order to keep their wealth-to-level ratios more "by-the-book"? Or would you allow them to bend the wealth-by-level table over their knees and spank it because - gosh darn it - they're earing it with careful planning and savvy resource...

Let them have to "pay to play" in the powerful underground or have the underground collect OR force the PCs into an adventure where the recovered reward is not going to be theirs to keep....

Silver Crusade

Are all the local thieves guilds just letting these guys come in and run the show? Where's their cut?

Are you charging a monthly living expense?

Are they getting XP for their nefarious stuff so they advance in levels when they steal/rob?


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I always feel one should reward smart thinking and good roleplaying rather then punish it. You can always beef up encounters if the PC's wealth makes them particularly strong, but if you stifle this behavior by aggressively opposing it, then you run the risk of hampering the free thinking in players that often makes open ended games fun and interesting. That said, you could start making the criminal acts themselves more difficult. Add in traps, and higher level guards/wards in wealthy npc homes and suddenly the CR of that encounter/set of encounters to rob that npc ends up being high enough to justify the treasure they are getting even if its not in the 'plan' for the actual adventure. You can even scale npc's level to go with their wealth. Higher the level the npc and those in his employ the harder they are to rob/con.

Shadow Lodge

Wow, that is some impressive planning if they haven't been caught yet.

Or is it? If you are really worried about it(completley understandable given the situation), perhaps some of the Victims have hired diviners to find the PCs, and then a small strike they think can take them out? Sounds like their crime spree is a great plot-hook for you, since the possibility they get tracked down becomes higher. While they may be hiding themselves from scrying/detection spells, what about the items they've stolen, or the people they've kidnapped?

There are also plenty of monsters to use up resources on, including magic items with charges.

My 2cp.


Consider adding rewarding but expensive money sumps to the game. Do they have a base of operations? Maybe some of the bigger con's require a few henchmen or some unique items are needed to get into that tasty looking treasure room. Another option...make them loose some of the loot as an adventure hook. Perhaps an equally savy and more greedy party see's the amount of cash they are racking up and decides why not target them instead of trying to beat them to the next score?


My suggestions: Allow them to pursue their money-making activities, but add enough non-money-making obstacles in their way so that their XP doesn't get out of whack. E.g. a big fat shipment of gold is coming into the harbour, but a rival gang takes the same opportunity to rob it. Or once they have the loot, they have to bypass a natural disaster in order to get it to safety.

In the movies, a heist rarely turns out exactly as planned; that's what makes a heist movie dramatically interesting.


Kolokotroni wrote:
I always feel one should reward smart thinking and good roleplaying rather then punish it. You can always beef up encounters if the PC's wealth makes them particularly strong, but if you stifle this behavior by aggressively opposing it, then you run the risk of hampering the free thinking in players that often makes open ended games fun and interesting. That said, you could start making the criminal acts themselves more difficult. Add in traps, and higher level guards/wards in wealthy npc homes and suddenly the CR of that encounter/set of encounters to rob that npc ends up being high enough to justify the treasure they are getting even if its not in the 'plan' for the actual adventure. You can even scale npc's level to go with their wealth. Higher the level the npc and those in his employ the harder they are to rob/con.

This works more than anything...in the past I have always mantained that PC's are never too powerful, Dm's just arent creative enough to handle the beast they have created.


The wealth-by-level rules are designed to reflect the amount of wealth characters of a given level should have to spend on equipment and resources for adventures. If your party is made up of characters working to get rich, they're not going to be spending that money on equipment and combat-oriented resources and purchases.
I certainly wouldn't reduce the wealth rewards available to the characters. Instead of focusing on their total wealth, focus on the value of their gear. And even then, only use that as a calculation to help you increase CRs if the equipment is vastly beyond what characters of their level should have, therefore increasing their combat effectiveness more than it should.
Your PCs want to be rich; they're getting rich. I don't see this as a problem.


For specific things they stole

Locate Object
School divination; Level bard 2, cleric 3, sorcerer/wizard 2

Any unique items they PCs kept. They should know how to foil this or sell the items....

But the sold items create a trail "witness" to when they purchased the item, who they bought it from, a description, a location, etc......

Shadow Lodge

Question: Are they just carrying all of this loot around with them? If so, how are they doing it without someone noticing the huge packs that are filled with gold, small statues and paintings, gems, etc?

That's a lot of Handy Haversacks and Bags of holding to be carrying around...


They might get very dogged pursuit from a 250 GP necklace (family treasure) as opposed to the more likely magical items etc......


Kolokotroni wrote:
That said, you could start making the criminal acts themselves more difficult. Add in traps, and higher level guards/wards in wealthy npc homes and suddenly the CR of that encounter/set of encounters to rob that npc ends up being high enough to justify the treasure they are getting even if its not in the 'plan' for the actual adventure.

Exactly; I don't think the problem is giving out too much wealth, it's giving out too few XP to go along with it.


M P 433 wrote:

Are all the local thieves guilds just letting these guys come in and run the show? Where's their cut?

Are you charging a monthly living expense?

Are they getting XP for their nefarious stuff so they advance in levels when they steal/rob?

The PCs keep on the move and have good Knowledge skills, though I have done the "run-in with the local thieves' guild" plot once (one and a half times, actually) already. This is part of the reason the PCs keep on the move and change-up their identies and appearances from time to time.

As for living expenses, I have taken a cue from Shadowrun and started really paying attention to upkeep, but the cost of living is really, really cheap if you want it to be - and like I said in my original post - the PCs are living as cheaply as they can.

They are getting XP for their criminal activities, but less than they would be getting for slaying large groups of monsters for equivalent amounts of treasure.

I'm putting solid, value-appropriate defenses in place when it comes to robberies, but like I said - the PCs are built well for this, and they're a smart group of players. Their wealth isn't going entirely to maxing out their combat ability or making them invincible - a good bit of it goes to improving their skills and options when it comes to conning and assassinating, and to not getting caught. They're passably good roleplayers too. Still, I get nervous when I realize that (by my approximations), they have a little more than twice the wealth they ought to have.


Dragonborn3 wrote:

Question: Are they just carrying all of this loot around with them? If so, how are they doing it without someone noticing the huge packs that are filled with gold, small statues and paintings, gems, etc?

That's a lot of Handy Haversacks and Bags of holding to be carrying around...

Their loot (illicit and otherwise) is on them, in Haversack-type items.

hogarth wrote:
Exactly; I don't think the problem is giving out too much wealth, it's giving out too few XP to go along with it.

Giving out more XP for the assorted crimes and hits might help balance the XP-to-treasure problem a little bit. Maybe I should just award full "combat XP" for "duped" NPCs.

And again, they aren't geared out like combat-monsters. Mind you, they're definately more than capable in (and out) of combat, but they're not munchkins. Min-maxers maybe (in a sense), but not munchkins.


Replace one member of the party with a doppelganger...

Doppleganger robs party...

Party believes it was the other member (even let that PC in on it and RP the doppelganger) most PCs enjoy this as long as they believe nothing bad will happen to their character........

Who hired/sent the doppelganger?
Or was this doppelganger working alone?


Quote:
Should PCs who cleverly suppliment the treasure they are supposed to recieve from each encounter with treasure that they deliberately seek out by criminal means (with careful planning and smart playing-and-roleplaying) be rewarded for doing so, even if it breaks the wealth-by-level tables in a big way?

I don't understand how this breaks the wealth-by-level guidelines. . . something has to be going wrong. It could be one or more of the following:

  • The challenges do not correspond to the difficulty of their criminal actions. In that case, it's a classic situation where the GM rewards too much treasure for encounters that are too easy. Even if the encounters are "easy" because of being handled properly/brilliantly, there still should be challenging/very difficult/deadly encounters regardless of how well they're handled.

  • The PCs aren't getting experience for their actions. There should always be experience rewarded for completing a heist successfully, even if it avoids combat by being tricky. It might not be maximum experience possible, but they still should get something. If the PCs were getting more experience, they *might* be able to catch their level up to the wealth guidelines.

  • Mechanics or other elements have been introduced that, with good intention and/or supposedly good mathematical analysis, have created problems with the wealth system. If you're using any non-core custom mechanics for wealth/treasure/money-making/items/etc., you might want to look carefully at them and reconsider. Sometimes a GM just has to say no -- or yank them out of the game.


I've had games like this and to deal with the level wealth issue I use a lot of adhoc experience. If the players go to elaborate schemes to cheat local out of their wealth I give them experience for that. It keeps things in balance that way.

The way I do it is take the value of the treasure and figure out what the XP would be for an encounter that would award that kind of treasure then give the players that XP as adhoc award for good role playing, skill use and ingenuity.

If you go with treasure is only reward you end up in this situation with more treasure than the wealth by level chart would suggest.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Rake wrote:


Giving out more XP for the assorted crimes and hits might help balance the XP-to-treasure problem a little bit. Maybe I should just award full "combat XP" for "duped" NPCs.

And again, they aren't geared out like combat-monsters. Mind you, they're definately more than capable in (and out) of combat, but they're not munchkins. Min-maxers maybe (in a sense), but not munchkins.

I think this was your problem, if you werent giving out 'full xp' for duped and robbed npcs you were bound to have them ahead of the curve for wealth. Imagine if you gave half xp and full treasure for your combat encounters? To me encounters are encounters, if you get past the npc by duping him or by stabbing him with a sword you still 'defeated' him and get xp accordingly. Just doing that will likely solve your problem entirely. (at least for the future)


Definetely keep track of how much actual gear thay have. That is more important than overall wealth as far as you are concerned. Make is so they don't really have an opportunity to buy the really big magic items that are a levels beyond them. Do this by enfocing the magic item cap in cities, and make sure you don't get obsurd results for the random items that will over-power them.

Give them a money sink that does not give them more power. A base of opperations, a cause they want to fight for, a demon they want to sell their soul to but needs payment.

Have equally savy and evil NPCs steal their stuff. Great plot hook as they go out and hunt down the people with limmitted gresources. You can even make it so they lose some of their things permanently, especially consumables and cash, to bring their wealth back down.

Shadow Lodge

Besides what has already been said (awarding xp for non-combat objectives, etc), consider providing opportunities to spend their wealth in ways that dont directly translate to their combat ability -- after all, that is essentially what the wealth guidelines are for -- magic items. Give them things that could advance their goals but require prices... starting a thieves guild, securing powerful contacts / bribes (perhaps even some extraplanar ones)

In a recent game I ran, the PCs were very keen on creating an inn/pub. So, I put in a vast amount of gold so they could fund such an endeavor. Seeing as an inn doesnt directly impact them in combat, the wealth they acquired and then spent on it was void.

Silver Crusade

Agree with many posts that more XP is your solution for game balance. Sounds like your players are having a good time with the game, so no need to break them for cleverly applying schemes.

Still, might be fun for them to see their true names/faces on a wanted list at the mage's guild after having robbed something belonging to the head archmage.

Also, they're stealing all this money but living cheaply? I know you as a player can say "I'll sleep in the stables" because it won't cost money, but would a real person, who has thousands of coins at his disposal, perhaps live a little bit better? After all, what's the point of stealing?


Lazurin Arborlon wrote:
...in the past I have always mantained that PC's are never too powerful, Dm's just arent creative enough to handle the beast they have created.

... Sure, but it's also a pointless statement (IMO, of course!) - because the end result is the same.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
M P 433 wrote:


Also, they're stealing all this money but living cheaply? I know you as a player can say "I'll sleep in the stables" because it won't cost money, but would a real person, who has thousands of coins at his disposal, perhaps live a little bit better? After all, what's the point of stealing?

Well many proffessional theives in film and literature do exactly this. Think of at the end of oceans eleven when they were saying you cant spend the money yet. If you start living extravagently it draws attention as to where the money came from. If the stealing is more the goal then the wealth (at least in the short term) it makes lots of sense to live relatively cheaply for the time being. Besides cheaply for an adventurer doesnt mean sleeping in stables, it just means not buying entire city blocks worth of property to make a giant life size chess board inside an arena...


Normally I would have guided the PCs to encounters which would have forced them to a little more combat, but overall so long as the PCs aren't breaking the rules and are staying In Character during their adventures, having extra wealth isn't much of a problem.

Dragons might catch wind of the PCs exploits, and a Chromatic Dragon, especially a Green or a Blue, might send out a trusted minion to find the PCs and make them an offer they cannot refuse: Work for the Dragon and give it 50% of their ill-gotten gains and gain the benefit of a Wyrm-level Dragon watching their back, or the Dragon will squeal on them to an authority figure that can track them down no matter where they go or what they do.

Have the PCs left any physical trace behind at any stage? Clothing they might have worn a few times, a piece of ammunition or a throwing weapon, a utensil from their mess-kits? Tracked by a Ranger/Wizard combo, the PCs might not even realise they are being subtly monitored until they walk right into the middle of an ambush, either to haul their larcenous behinds to a Adventurer-Proof prison (which would be an adventure in and of itself to escape, and possibly with a large mess of prisoners in tow to form the basis of a party-wide Leadership bonanza!) or another version of the 'Offer they cannot refuse' scenario.

Alternatively they might very well come across a rival group doing the exact same thing, and either form a friendly rivalry or outright deadly combat as both groups struggle to not only retain their own ill-gotten goods but take the other group's swag as well and try to pin the blame for their own crimes on the rival group.


I like the idea of an INN
call it a base of operations
hire "doubles" to place the PCs at the Inn when crimes are committed.

As a front operation it is just a money-pit that might cost 1,000 GP a month to keep it going.....

Selling the PCs on any ideas will be the hard part.

It's easier to steal part or even half of the funds....


I don't know how they do it, but dragons just smell treasure.

There's always a bigger fish.

Someone above mentioned the fact that victims can hire Diviners to track the PCs. The god of Thieves might get a bit upset if they are not paying him sufficient tribute and tip off his priesthood, who might then even tip off the authorities or past victims.

The point about tracking Upkeep is a good one. Life on-the-run is expensive, as are high-end cons that require good fronts. Living in cheap inns means that there are thin walls and plenty of people willing to sell you out will overhear every discussion. Wealthy marks do not live in places where camping and hunting to save money (i.e. squatting and poaching) is tolerated. To get into the social circles of their intended victims they will need to appear to be of those circles themselves, their victims will want to check them out, expect to be invited to a party at their villa, and so forth.

The point that Wealth by Level represents "Gear Value" and not total wealth is a valid one. Who cares about their theoretical net worth if they aren't using or spending it. If they accumulate millions of GP and then retire, so be it.

Of course, before they get to that point a group of powerful NPCs might get wise to what's going on. As I said above, there's always a "bigger fish". Someone well-connected notices a string of crimes by apparently random gangs that snakes across the region. A more powerful party might know all the tricks (teleports to break the chain of geography, polymorph to change appearance, etc.) and figure them out, with Good heroes looking to catch them and Evil ones looking to plunder them (then collect a reward). Fleeing from a party of pursuers 4-6 levels higher than you is really expensive, and a gang like that is powerful enough that they don't want to be "partners".

On the XP issue, I cut Combat XP by 50% but make up the difference with RP-XP, since my games lean that direction. Other posters have a point, there. The PCs should definitely get full XP for any opponent who is defeated, with the definition of that term varying by circumstance, but not just meaning "killed or disabled". Someone effectively conned out of all their wealth is "defeated" within context no less than if they had been slain in battle.

Previewing this post, I notice I got ninja'd on the dragon suggestion. Oh well.

Anyway, that's some rambling ideas.

HTH,

Rez


When my players exceed their WBL, which happens a lot, I have more encounters where there is no treasure. They get XP for defeating foes, the foes have little to no treasure, but they already GOT it earlier.


Rezdave wrote:

I don't know how they do it, but dragons just smell treasure.

There's always a bigger fish.

Are you trying to get Mr. Fishy over here?

You know he knows when someone is talking about him.....

Liberty's Edge

Don't think this has been brought up yet.

Are these PCs driven entirely by greed and profit? Do they have no professional pride? Any care for a reputation amongst the criminal underworld?

What happens when a string of well planned and executed robberies and nefarious dering-do's occur across a region? Particularly if little or no evidence is left behind? Rumors, stories, and even legends are born! Not just that but posers and na'er-do-wells looking to make a reputation for themselves start claiming they did these jobs!!

Everywhere the PCs go they hear stories of famous criminals through out the countryside laying claim to their deeds. Warned by NPCs that fence their stuff that bigger fish are out there and best no t to cross the *real* criminals. Pesky amateurs the PCs get called. Afterall, what have they done?!

As perpetual no-name "new guys" without a rep they will always get challenged by the rep-based criminal underworld elements. No Rep? No sway and no respect.

Have your PCs deal with the reality of that.

Sorry was there a question about wealth or something? Sorry, this was meant as a general tweak to the PCs so that they act like proper criminals and build themselves proper reps and force them to eventually confront law enforcement and the like or suffer endless ignoble anonymity. Should also help with the wealth/XP desparity since they risk losing things, expending resources to fight/avoid the law, confront bigger/badder criminal groups as their rep grows, etc.

EDIT - Just wanted to be sure the OP was following the available guidelines for population centers/cities. That is a limited supply of disposable resources the PCs can get their hands on. This also means that the majority of lcoations will not have much in the way of value unless they are heading towards various large cities. Cities have the goods they want to take and the resources to protect them. Wandering through the countryside should only yield thin pickings mind you.

Cities have the loot, the guards, thousands of witnesses and eyes, magical backup, criminal competition, law-abiding adventurer's looking to put a stop to the crime, etc.


Liquidsabre wrote:


EDIT - Just wanted to be sure the OP was following the available guidelines for population centers/cities. That is a limited supply of disposable resources the PCs can get their hands on. This also means that the majority of lcoations will not have much in the way of value unless they are heading towards various large cities. Cities have the goods they want to take and the resources to protect them. Wandering through the countryside should only yield thin pickings mind you.

Cities have the loot, the guards, thousands of...

Just want to point out that those guidelines for wealth of cities are for free cash that is available to trade. It is perfectly reasonable to assume that large ammounts of wealth are tied up in things that are not for trade but can be swindled off of people, such as a noble's wedding ring. Its not in the city guidelines for how much money the mannor house actually has, just how much they would be willing to spend on your stuff. Its perfectly reasonable to swindle money out of people they wouldn't use to buy something with. Just look at Madoff, swindling savings off of people.


I personally hate the entire concept of wealth by level (I guess it helps when starting at higher levels, but bah). Just enjoy your game, you should be the final judge if your game seems to have become too unwieldy due to character wealth. At that moment deal with the problem by using a plot-hook, have them captured and barely escape but they have have to leave all their gear behind, they are going to be stuck spending a lot of their hidden stash to reequip and resupply.

There are many other very good suggestions and plothooks that have already been mentioned.


Fencing difficulties. You might have 1000's in gold and treasure, but if it's all recognizable as Noble X's gear, you won't be able to sell it for half. You won't be able to sell it at all, possibly.


Rake wrote:

So here's a scenario for you. Tell me how you would handle it (or scroll down to the last line for the 'too long - didn't read' version).

You're running a game for a group of mature players playing "realistically evil" and/or non-good PCs. The PCs run through a dungeon from time to time, and take on 'traditional' quests and adventures.

However, these PCs pursue their own goals as well, creating and pursuing opportunities to commit evil for profit. Clever cons and burglaries, assassinations, and so forth. Robbing a local baron's keep, kidnappings, the assassinating and looting of wealthy mid-level NPCs, conning or stealing from local merchants and caravaners, and so on.

The PCs are smart about what they do, and cover their tracks well. They keep alert, live cheaply, never staying in one region for too long, moving from township to township, kingdom to kingdom, changing identities and appearances from time to time. They operate like professional criminals and adventurers of ill-repute, and they do take the occasional dungeon-sweep or rescue mission (looting dungeons and collecting rewards to further augment their criminal income), and they do a good job of it all.

The problem, (if it is a problem at all), is that by targeting wealthy and profitible NPCs and creating and pursuing opportunities to steal, mug, and con NPCs out of their treasure, the PCs are advancing well beyond their wealth-by-level guidelines. Of course, they have to be very inventive and smart about doing so, and have put a lot of time (in and out of game) and feat-and-or-skill choices into doing so. They take bigger risks (albiet calculated ones) for even bigger rewards.

What would you do? Would you start jipping them on the dungeon-loot that they find in order to keep their wealth-to-level ratios more "by-the-book"? Or would you allow them to bend the wealth-by-level table over their knees and spank it because - gosh darn it - they're earing it with careful planning and savvy resource...

Everyone has a method of operation, and even if nobody finds out who is doing what up front its normally not to difficult to tell that different people were robbed* by the same person. Rich people are normally in the same circles socially so word will get around and people will start to investigate.

As for limiting their wealth I would limit how much they can get from a robbery or an assassination. Just because someone is rich that does not mean they have several thousand or even hundred gold pieces on them at all time. Gold is not the standard issue when making purchases. It is normally copper and silver. My world's have banks, good luck getting into one of those. Do you have any more specific details?

*stand in for any crime


I guess the other option is to award XP and pat them on the back (or backside)

and say good game!


I think you shouldn't worry so much about Wealth By Level.

It's just a guideline. I'm quite confident that I could run a game where the PC wealth by level was double the guidelines, and my players would have a great time. All I'd have to do is consider the average party level to be a little higher when picking which adventures to run.

Frankly, I think that a lot of the essence of D&D has been lost by slavishly adhering to character wealth by level. The DMG is just full of cool, evocative magic items, that , if were were to follow the wealth by level guidelines, the party can never have. A cube of force, a daern's instant fortress, a staff of power.. these are magic items that make D&D what it is. You know what? the best D&D campaign I ever ran, the party found a staff of power, a robe of the archmage, and a ring of wizardry when they were 10th level (And I bet some of you can guess what module that came from!).

In short: don't worry about it. They're playing a heist game. They SHOULD be getting richer than regular PCs.

Ken


kenmckinney wrote:
I think you shouldn't worry so much about Wealth By Level.

There's your answer.

I once ran a game where the PCs' first encounter was a dead dragon sitting on top of its hoard. A really big hoard. Those level 1 characters were instantly rich and had something like 15 magic items they split amongst themselves - all before they ever gained even a single XP.

Made for a fun start, and it wasn't a problem at all.

But, they didn't fight CR1 encounters after that, either. I ramped up the challenge to compensate for their extravagant wealth and magical power, and fun was had by all.


Ignoring the wealth guideline is fine -- but it's not an exact science. Essentially the CR system begins to fall apart. As long as you're willing to skimp on some types of monsters and carefully gauge whether a particular encounter would overwhelm the party, have at it. My only concern is that this isn't necessarily the realm of novice GMs. If the OP has a lot of GMing under their belt, fine, that's good advice. If the OP is new to PF/3.X, then it might be too much.


Something fun to consider is that the PCs might be attracting the right sort of attention. A feud between two or more nations might call for spies, assassins and worse to settle the matter favourably for one nation in the feud, and the PCs might be approached by a Spy-Master from one of those nations, given the opportunity to 'wipe the slate clean' in regards to any ill-deeds they have done there in exchange for nominally working for the Crown (or Magocracy or Theocracy or whatever works for that particular nation!) and performing their roguish magic on the enemy nations and their spy networks and armies.

To be an even greater, more fantastic-themed game, take a couple of Dragons playing the 'Great Game' or Xorvintaal as it is known amongst the Draconic. Whole generations might have spent their lives working towards a goal not knowing their actions were little more than a bluff or feint on behalf of one Dragon, and such skillful PCs as the OP is dealing with would obviously 'ping' on such Dragons' 'Minion Radar' sooner rather than later.

The PCs are working for the Kingdom of <Whatever>, unknowingly controlled by a Ancient Blue Dragon who is in turn competing against small Clan of Bronze Dragons of various ages, all younger than her, naturally who have mobilized several different organisations and adventurer teams against the Blue. If the PCs are combat-weak, the Ancient Blue might assign a Half-Blue Dragon Fighter or Blackguard to assist them, giving the PCs the chance to shine in the areas they are obviously loving while allowing the party to avoid being used as mops by their enemies.

PCs might find the benefits to giving a 50% tithe to the Ancient Blue, who in turn allows them to call upon her children/grand children as mounts (only in the loosest term) and allowing the PCs to hide themselves in the lair of a trusted and valued Mate or Offspring, giving the PCs a chance to get their breath back, revive deceased companions and craft new items or recharge old ones while the enemies they have made search high and low or otherwise run away at the prospect of facing a few metric tonnes of angry Dragon bearing down on them.


If the group use cohorts or followers [even hirelings] I'd be inclined to have these individuals be part of a similar [higher level] group who are operating a sting on their party...

In the right [or "wrong"] circles their deeds will attract a high level of notirioty and as such may be attributed to them or "fictional" figures/alias. Regardless other similar groups of confidence tricksters and black hearted rogues will want a slice of the pie... they could be organised [thieves guild] or mavericks like your PC's.

Even better would be to have them get "played" then used as patsies for the other groups bigger scheme... double whammy they lose a chuck of ill-gotten gains and get blamed for something they didn't actually commit...

Plus this sets these rivals up as major NPC foes and requires the group to do some detective work to track them down [assuming there not in irons as scapegoats]...

Would require a large slice of setting up [that loyal clerk hireling isn't the 1st level expert he preports to be... he's actually a 10th level Rogue with some great trait/feat combos and a high degree of patience]

Just my 2 runes worth


I'd say let 'em get what they get.

:shrugs:

Wealth by level is SO artificial it's not even funny. Doesn't the rule section even say something to the effect of "this is a guideline - feel free to stray from the tracks" or along those lines?

It *sounds* like everyone's having fun (including the GM), so why not just keep on keepin' on? If anything, what I'm hearing is a cautious/conscientious GM who's looked at the wealth by level table and did a knee-jerk gut-check and is now wondering if his group has entered the realm of "bad wrong fun!"

I'll simply hi-light the important part of that statement, "bad wrong fun!" That's your bottom line, man. If you and your group are enjoying the stories and scenarios ... roll with it and enjoy! Screw balance by "level" and wealth. Tell your story - let them make their choices, and carry on.

Of primary importance in changing ANYTHING moving forward is this: apparently you've allowed for a group of PC's to play an "evil" game. If you start messing with things, because they're "evil" then it's very likely going to come off as PC-abuse or something. All the way up to now, they've been "evil" and it's been a valid option for them and the games been enjoyable. Now, suddenly, you're going to tighten up the reigns and bring down all sorts of hell-fire and brimstone because their "wealth" (admitted in rules to be a suggestion and NOT an absolute mind you) is going too high. No ... it can't possibly go over well.

On that same front, if you, as GM are feeling overwhelmed in challenging them on account of their wealth, just sit down and talk with them and tell them to expect *less* cash to come their way from now on, OR ask them to stop "knocking over the local bank" or whatever equates to that. I'm sure it'll go over ok and you'll reach a compromise if the problem is brought out into the open and you all decide upon *how* it should be run moving forward.

I'm also down w/HalfOrc Heavy Metal's idea of making them become *noticed* on the radar of powerful, possibly even EPIC npc's and get roped/maneuvered into regional politics and the like as a result. Now, fully 90% of why this appeals to me is that it seems like a natural outgrowth of adventure given their path to date. They're really, REALLY good at stuff like this - why *wouldn't* someone that knows about these PC's not want to tap them to work for their own agenda? Maybe even through some 3rd party mediator, and then only near the later game reveal their "true" employer as a further plot revelation, etc. This just seems a *smart* plan to take for options moving forward story-wise.


Mirror, Mirror wrote:
When my players exceed their WBL, which happens a lot, I have more encounters where there is no treasure. They get XP for defeating foes, the foes have little to no treasure, but they already GOT it earlier.

+1

Liberty's Edge

If I understand well, you consider that their hobbies of evilly and smartly collecting wealth does not earn them a single Experience Point ?

I believe that this is why the ratio goes wrong. Do not reduce the wealth they gain through "legitimate" adventures, but increase the XP they should gain for their very clever and well role-played crimes and cons.


If you're going by-the-book, going over the wealth by level guidelines in the book shouldn't be a problem as long as the total cost of their equipment doesn't exceed them. Magic items are the biggest factor obviously, when equating treasure to PC power. Just make sure you limit access to more magic than should be appropriate for their level according to the tables, and give them other choices to spend their treasure on, such as the construction of a home base, or paying off lackeys of their own. If you want to be devious, cut one of their bags of holding or whatever they're using to carry their treasure, and watch the fun commence. I'd have some pick-pocket who doesn't know any better try to do it in public when they're traveling around town sometime. It'd be quite the scenario!


anthony Valente wrote:
If you're going by-the-book, going over the wealth by level guidelines in the book shouldn't be a problem as long as the total cost of their equipment doesn't exceed them. Magic items are the biggest factor obviously, when equating treasure to PC power. Just make sure you limit access to more magic than should be appropriate for their level according to the tables, and give them other choices to spend their treasure on, such as the construction of a home base, or paying off lackeys of their own. If you want to be devious, cut one of their bags of holding or whatever they're using to carry their treasure, and watch the fun commence. I'd have some pick-pocket who doesn't know any better try to do it in public when they're traveling around town sometime. It'd be quite the scenario!

On the other hand, the PCs getting their hands on power beyond their normal level could be quite handy if they get it into their heads to make a play for power. Trading in all that stolen loot to a Wizard who isn't particularly fussy about his clients modus operandi and getting their hands on some magical items that makes them even better at what they do best is a sure-fire way to give the players some good times.

They pull off a few jobs using their new tools (I always favoured a nifty little item that created a Passwall effect when you slapped it against the wall, floor or ceiling, but had the visual effect of a Portable Hole. Shortcut, pit-trap and hiding place, all in one.) and then BAM, the PCs are on the run for their lives as they finally trigger the Big Bads (or would that be Great Goods?) after stealing something undeniably valuable yet has immense non-monetary value to a certain organisation or group, and the PCs must burn valuable items and charges to escape without leading their pursuers to their safe-houses. PCs then have a period of time in their adventures when they're racing both against the clock and some pretty P.O.'ed enemies with a very, very traceable item weighing them down. Do they ditch it and keep running, do they have a strategy to escape, can they pull it off without sacrificing a team-member or an irreplacable item from their own armory? Just because the PCs are geared like 15th level characters despite being only 12th level doesn't mean they can handle CR 15+ encounters like PCs closer to the level/treasure balance ratio, just that they're more likely to survive said encounters than normal 12th level PCs.

Of course, being able to turn around and unleash hell via 4 Rods of Destruction (massed Maximised Empowered Fireball/Frostball/Shockball/Acidball, one rod capable of producing one of those enhanced spells per day, can put quite a damper on a pursuing party, especially if the PCs have set up a choke-point in which their pursuers have little or no choice but to file obediently into a tightly-packed bundle of soon-to-be-ash NPCs.) to make the enemy either very, very, very dead or have to pull back and recover from the onslaught.

Mantle of Polymorph that allows the PCs to assume the forms of Gryphons or other large, strong flying creatures so they can carry the loot way, way up into the sky, making it damn near impossible for a Scrying enemy to pinpoint their location when all the sensor can reveal is clouds and blue-sky, given that the Scryer can only see the nearby area ....

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Rake wrote:


As for living expenses, I have taken a cue from Shadowrun and started really paying attention to upkeep, but the cost of living is really, really cheap if you want it to be - and like I said in my original post - the PCs are living as cheaply as they can.

Just remember as they advance in thier carrers nefarious or otherwise, the PCs will make an impact. As the impact grows they come to the notice of people that can be just as capable or knowledgeable as they are. Eventually there will be scryings, divinations, (rogue types have their clerics too after all) At some point they'll find themselves moving into big leagues and a whole different meaning of the word adventure.

They'll come into contact with power groups some that will want to use them, others simply to slay them. And dancing between them all becomes the new challenge.

Remember even if the PC's are mind blanked to the hilt... the patterns they leave behind won't be.

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