The Only Two Situations Where WBL Matters.


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The way I see it, there are only two situations when the Wealth-by-level table must come into play:

1) A GM is trying to figure out how powerful the party is while building a suitable challenge. They quickly audit the (relevant) character gear, and if the party is over or under the WBL marker for their level, the GM will adjust the challenge up or down as needed.

2) A player or GM is creating a new PC (or party-balanced NPC) at a level greater than first, and needs a budget to fairly simulate the wealth that PC might have found in a campaign at that point.

Point #2 sort of extends to people who make builds for fun and post them online, since WBL provides a guideline to how much wealth exists. However, it should be noted that this balance logic doesn't extend to played characters who are rich because they earned it fair and square. If a skillful player is controlling the PC, then we can expect that they might be over WBL. That's ok.

The GM never, ever needs to account for WBL when placing treasure. They may choose to do so, in order to make their lives easier, or in order to get the party back to baseline for the sake of Challenge Rating. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with giving the party items that are wildly inappropriate for their WBL, as long as you are willing to live with the consequences of balancing encounters with that wild card in the mix.

WBL is not a rule that the GM has to play by. It is a table that assists with balancing encounters. Furthermore, CR isn't a rule that the GM must abide by either. ***None of this applies to organized play, which is a special, terrible thing.

Note that I am not citing any rules source for this assertion. I don't care if this is the "official" take on WBL. For me, this is the only truth that matters: the one that helps me GM the game.


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A dev stated that the WBL is basically a rule that was writed in the book for the DM to follow it.

But I do agree with all your points, they are the most reasonable.


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And I am stating (with no basis for authority) that the dev in question was wrong. (I'd really love a link to that, BTW, because I suspect this dev gets taken out of context a lot)

Nothing personal. I don't even know who it was. But if the game works as I detailed above — and it does work— then forcing people to abide by the invisible lines is silly.

WBL as a balance metric is useful. WBL as a restriction that forces the GM to make obeisance to a table in the rulebook is lame. Anyone who says "don't do that flexible, useful thing! Do this rigid and unhelpful, unfun, boring thing..." gets a vote of no confidence from me and all of my players.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I like your style, Mythic Evil Lincoln.


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There are lots of invisible lines in PF that we follow all the time. WBL is just another one.

Any DM is free to use or ignore the rules as he sees fit. But that doesn't make the devs wrong. It just means you enjoy deviating from the game as designed/intended.

Enforcing WBL is a good way for a DM with a job, kids, and other obligations to insure that the players are appropriately challenged by a purchased module designed for their level. Having the time to tweak an adventure to fit a party with a vast horde of magic items in their arsenal is something that should fit squarely in the "optional" category.

Just how I see it, of course.


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@Democratus: I am questioning the intent, actually. I am pretty sure that I'm closer to the intent of the rules than the "dev" that's been alluded to. I've only ever seen the allusion, though, so I cannot speak against what was said, only what people have interpreted from it.

A rule that helps GMs balance a rich or poor party versus challenge rating is a helpful rule. If the game doesn't have one, it should be added post haste. But I think it does have that rule, and it's the WBL table.

A rule that tells GMs "the players are too wealthy, the GM must starve them now" is just another empty responsibility that GMs don't need. Kill it. The game has WAY too many of those.

Who ever said that WBL was a hard-and-fast rule that the GM must correct for? Or is it another statement that has been taken out of context?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:
And I am stating (with no basis for authority) that the dev in question was wrong. (I'd really love a link to that, BTW, because I suspect this dev gets taken out of context a lot)

That'd be SKR and he was pretty explicit about it. Multiple times over the last months, in fact, but I really am not feeling like hunting down more of his quotes. One should be enough.

Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:

Nothing personal. I don't even know who it was. But if the game works as I detailed above — and it does work— then forcing people to abide by the invisible lines is silly.

WBL as a balance metric is useful. WBL as a restriction that forces the GM to make obeisance to a table in the rulebook is lame. Anyone who says "don't do that flexible, useful thing! Do this rigid and unhelpful, unfun, boring thing..." gets a vote of no confidence from me and all of my players.

Well, then that's a vote of no-confidence in SKR. ^^


One must keep in mind that "feeding" and "starving" are points of view only visible to the DM. Players are running their characters through the campaign and occasionally finding loot.

If you are controlling the spigot to maintain a WBL they won't even know it. Sometimes you find a magic dagger and some gems after a battle. Sometimes you find a powerful staff and a spellbook. It's all the vagaries of fate.

Fretting over something that can be largely invisible to the players is adding worry for little reason as far as I can see.

Keeping on the WBL dotted line in the bell curve just means that no encounter tweaking will be needed because of a dearth or overabundance of magic items altering the default power level of the party.

This leaves the GM free to focus on other, more pressing matters.


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Et tu, Sean?

Well, Sean's a great designer, but on this point I could not disagree more. Plus, I do not even think that's a clear derivation from the rule text that he quoted.

I hereby challenge Sean K. Reynolds to a calm, reasoned debate! That dog won't hunt, monsignor.


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Nothing wrong with disagreeing with the rules. Customizing a game to your personal taste is what being a DM is all about!


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Thank you very much Magnuskn for the link.

To begin:

Sean K Reynolds wrote:

The rules say:

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game assumes that all PCs of equivalent level have roughly equal amounts of treasure and magic items. Since the primary income for a PC derives from treasure and loot gained from adventuring, it's important to moderate the wealth and hoards you place in your adventures. To aid in placing treasure, the amount of treasure and magic items the PCs receive for their adventures is tied to the Challenge Rating of the encounters they face—the higher an encounter's CR, the more treasure it can award.
Table: Character Wealth by Level lists the amount of treasure each PC is expected to have at a specific level. Note that this table assumes a standard fantasy game. Low-fantasy games might award only half this value, while high-fantasy games might double the value. It is assumed that some of this treasure is consumed in the course of an adventure (such as potions and scrolls), and that some of the less useful items are sold for half value so more useful gear can be purchased.

Nowhere does it say "WBL is a guideline," any more than it says "the CR system is a guideline for what power level of monsters you should throw at the PCs."

Just because you don't use the WBL table doesn't mean it's not a rule. Some people don't use XP, but it's still a rule. Just because the WBL table is flexible enough to allow for low-magic or high-magic campaigns as well as standard fantasy campaigns doesn't mean it's not a rule.

The words "expect to have at a specific level" imply that it is possible and not specifically incorrect to deviate from the listed value. Then right after that it talks about deviating from the table explicitly. How is that not a guideline, my friend?

(And sorry, Sean, for making you the face of the opposition in this thread. It's all in good fun, I hope.)


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magnuskn wrote:
Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:
And I am stating (with no basis for authority) that the dev in question was wrong. (I'd really love a link to that, BTW, because I suspect this dev gets taken out of context a lot)

That'd be SKR and he was pretty explicit about it. Multiple times over the last months, in fact, but I really am not feeling like hunting down more of his quotes. One should be enough.

Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:

Nothing personal. I don't even know who it was. But if the game works as I detailed above — and it does work— then forcing people to abide by the invisible lines is silly.

WBL as a balance metric is useful. WBL as a restriction that forces the GM to make obeisance to a table in the rulebook is lame. Anyone who says "don't do that flexible, useful thing! Do this rigid and unhelpful, unfun, boring thing..." gets a vote of no confidence from me and all of my players.

Well, then that's a vote of no-confidence in SKR. ^^

I read that as SKR saying that Wealth by Level is a rule, sure ok, no problem. But lets look at the text of that rule....

WBL Rule wrote:

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game assumes that all PCs of equivalent level have roughly equal amounts of treasure and magic items. Since the primary income for a PC derives from treasure and loot gained from adventuring, it's important to moderate the wealth and hoards you place in your adventures. To aid in placing treasure, the amount of treasure and magic items the PCs receive for their adventures is tied to the Challenge Rating of the encounters they face—the higher an encounter's CR, the more treasure it can award.

Table: Character Wealth by Level lists the amount of treasure each PC is expected to have at a specific level. Note that this table assumes a standard fantasy game. Low-fantasy games might award only half this value, while high-fantasy games might double the value. It is assumed that some of this treasure is consumed in the course of an adventure (such as potions and scrolls), and that some of the less useful items are sold for half value so more useful gear can be purchased.

First, it uses words like "aid", "expected", etc. In fact, the "rule", as SKR calls it, is extremely loosely worded. Doesn't exactly sound like a hard and fast rule to me.

Second, we have a rule that has built into it the option to deviate from it by up -50% to +100%. That is definately not a har and fast rule either.

Conclusion, Wealth by Level is a "rule" in only the most general sense of the term meaning that it is included in the rulebook. If you look at the actual wording, it is not meant to be taken as a hard and fast rule like say rolling a d20 + bonuses against AC to get a hit.


Le big *sigh*

Lets talk about hte best use of the WBL table intead of the devs.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Alas, I've always found that deviating too much from WBL can unbalance a campaign very fast. It's come to my attention by now that other factors (like party size, party composition, etc) may be an even bigger factor in said imbalance, but letting the party run rampantly over WBL is definitely a noticeable factor. Magic item crafting is one of the big problems in that and while I still think that the clarification in Ultimate Campaign lacks context in terms of the rules and the lore, it puts a definite number on how much worth those magic item crafting feats should be and that can only be seen as a good thing.


A red dragon is expected to have fire breath. But circumstances (story fiat, polymorph spells, etc.) can alter this.

That does mean the the dragon stat block isn't a rule. It just means that sometimes situations happen that put you outside the rules.

More concrete example. A party decides that they want to pull off a caper where they steal the Staff of Ultimate Cool from the Lord Mayor. The mayor is many levels higher than the party but through amazing planning, execution, and luck they get away with it. They then sell the item to a fence for a ludicrous pile of treasure and all buy magic items far in excess of their level.

Here you have a situation where the players are above the WBL. But that doesn't suddenly make WBL not a rule. It just means that in your campaign you have drifted out of the standard rules.

Nothing wrong with that. But if you wanted to drift back into the rules for reasons of simplifying encounter design then you will have to adjust rewards until you are back on track.

All seems reasonable to me. And it's something any DM can simply veto as desired.

Shadow Lodge

Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:
I hereby challenge Sean K. Reynolds to a calm, reasoned debate! That dog won't hunt, monsignor.

I'll put up the barbed wire cage. Plus, I'll hide a baseball bat with a railroad spike shoved through the end under one of the corners of the ring.


Nicos wrote:

Le big *sigh*

Lets talk about hte best use of the WBL table intead of the devs.

That's so much less dramatic though. Personal confrontation is a lot more fun. :)

I think we covered "best uses" in the OP.

Now it's time to put to bed this myth that somehow "the devs" (SKR) are on record as saying WBL is binding for players and GMs alike. As long as this persists, it will be harder and harder to get people to run their games well.

Honestly, I think his comment, quoted above, is taken out of context, and that he probably understands my point.

Kthulhu wrote:
Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:
I hereby challenge Sean K. Reynolds to a calm, reasoned debate! That dog won't hunt, monsignor.
I'll put up the barbed wire cage. Plus, I'll hide a baseball bat with a railroad spike shoved through the end under one of the corners of the ring.

I'll need it. He's written like 1000 more books than I have (zero). I can't really expect to win a rules-off with SKR.


Democratus wrote:
All seems reasonable to me. And it's something any DM can simply veto as desired.

I'm saying it isn't a rule that binds the GM and can be vetoed.

I'm saying it is a guideline that helps the GM balance encounters, without any vetoing to speak of. In the RAW, it is a tool, that works, and is not a "rule".

If the party is over WBL, adjust the challenge upward. If the party is under WBL, adjust the challenge downward.

Since challenge rating itself is fluid, and can be pretty much whatever the GM decides, then how is this a rule that constrains the GM?

Making it a rule that the GM has to observe just doesn't make any sense! Why? Why would you even have a rule like that?

Liberty's Edge

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There are no rules in the game that the GM must abide by, so specifically stating that WBL isn't a rule the GM has to abide by is kind of redundant, no? However, it is no less or more important than any other rule.


ShadowcatX wrote:
There are no rules in the game that the GM must abide by, so specifically stating that WBL isn't a rule the GM has to abide by is kind of redundant, no? However, it is no less or more important than any other rule.

Yes.

And I hope I am not interpreted as saying that WBL is not important. Rather I hope to dispel its misuse, which is a daily observance on this forum.


Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:
I'm saying it is a guideline that helps the GM balance encounters, without any vetoing to speak of. In the RAW, it is a tool, that works, and is not a "rule".

Strange you should put it that way, because RAW means Rules as Written.

It sounds like you disagree with a rule. That's totally cool.

Is it a rule? That's up to Paizo. If they say that it is (as shown by the link) then it is. It's their game.

We can plug our fingers in our ears and say "is not! is not!" but that's not a logical approach. Nor is it even important whether or not you see it as a rule.

It's obvious that you are running your game however you like as shown here:

Quote:
If the party is over WBL, adjust the challenge upward. If the party is under WBL, adjust the challenge downward.

Some of us don't want to spend the time or effort to do these adjustments. For us abiding by the WBL rule makes life easier.

Quote:
Making it a rule that the GM has to observe just doesn't make any sense! Why? Why would you even have a rule like that?

There are not rules that a GM has to observe. It's your game. Play it how you like.


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I don't see WBL or CR vs APL as actual rules. They are more like guidelines to help GM's out.

Now I do use WBL and the CR rules to a large extent, but I am also good at technically keeping a fight with a CR range, but making it a lot more difficult.

The only time I care about adhering to actual CR or WBL is for discussions on the boards so we all have the same point of reference.

edit: As for SKR's comment I think he is saying that it is a rule because it is written. However, I also think he would say just like anything else in the book, the GM should not be a slave to it, and adjust or ignore the rule as needed to run his group's games properly/well.


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I sympathize... By calling it a rule, you end up with GMs who will arbitrarily delete treasure off your sheet because "you are cheating by taking too much treasure". Even if it was treasure given out by that GM or placed within the published adventure.


@Democratus: You're being entirely too reasonable, but also disagreeing with me. Stop that!

Yeah, I tried to make it clear that I'm not arguing from a position of authority or even factual correctness.

I'm saying how it does work for me, and how it should work for everyone, so that we stop seeing this erroneous interpretation on the forums.

Bear in mind, your formulation ("Just stick to WBL it is less work") is entirely a subset of my formulation ("GMs may choose to stick to WBL if they don't wish to do more work").


Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:

@Democratus: You're being entirely too reasonable, but also disagreeing with me. Stop that!

Yeah, I tried to make it clear that I'm not arguing from a position of authority or even factual correctness.

I'm saying how it does work for me, and how it should work for everyone, so that we stop seeing this erroneous interpretation on the forums.

Bear in mind, your formulation ("Just stick to WBL it is less work") is entirely a subset of my formulation ("GMs may choose to stick to WBL if they don't wish to do more work").

I think many times when a poster tells another post to stick to WBL it is when his players are handing his arse to him, and we find out they have a ridiculous amount of gear. Now that GM might not necessarily need to follow WBL, but the extra gear is normally not helping either, and it is often seen as the main problem.

Other than that, I don't see it touted so heavily as a "must do" outside of situations where we are using it as a point of reference, which is necessary when you have so many different people with so many different ways to play.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Aranna wrote:
I sympathize... By calling it a rule, you end up with GMs who will arbitrarily delete treasure off your sheet because "you are cheating by taking too much treasure". Even if it was treasure given out by that GM or placed within the published adventure.

That sounds like a really unlikely scenario, unless the GM is a ten-year old or a robot.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I am in a party that is pretty severely under wbl. Purchasing of magic items is difficult. We have not been able to find or purchase a single magical piece of armor or defensive equipment (such as cloaks of resistance or rings of protection) except bracers of armor +1 for our arcane caster. We are level 5.

The offense of monsters attacking us is not commensurately lower, however. Our last fight, the enemy was continuously hitting AC 20+. My paladin has the highest AC in the party with an AC of 18. This is...a problem.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm guessing the Paladin is using a two-hander and there isn't even access to non-magical Full Plate's in that game?


magnuskn wrote:
Aranna wrote:
I sympathize... By calling it a rule, you end up with GMs who will arbitrarily delete treasure off your sheet because "you are cheating by taking too much treasure". Even if it was treasure given out by that GM or placed within the published adventure.
That sounds like a really unlikely scenario, unless the GM is a ten-year old or a robot.

I have met GMs that felt that Wealth by Level was meant to be a strict rule, and while they did not end up removing any treasures from someone's sheet with a claim of "you have too much treasure," they would do a number of things that are effectively the same thing... like not handing out any new treasure because the party hadn't used the expendables they found, having one character robbed (has more than wealth by level) and another character gifted, or by insisting that a particular character take a particular piece of treasure because it is "for" that character.

Building an adventure is enough of a time-sink without also having to carefully monitor which character took which bit of treasure, get heavy-handed about how the party splits their coins, and keep track of every last copper piece the party picks up so you can make sure not to get too far away from "expected".

...and that's without even getting into how a +1 vorpal longsword (72,315 gp) has nowhere near as potent an effect upon what a fighter is capable of than a +3 longsword (18,325 gp) - making Wealth by Level even less accurate as a balance mechanism, and thus even less sensible to treat as a rule.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Nicos wrote:

A dev stated that the WBL is basically a rule that was writed in the book for the DM to follow it.

But I do agree with all your points, they are the most reasonable.

I would be extremely suprised if that was actually the case. What is more likely the case is that I'm seeing a distorted third account interpretation of someone's exact text.

Moral of the story.. If you can't dig up someone's exact quote, don't put words in their mouth. Or at least use the correct language that states that this is YOUR INTERPRETATION of what someone else said.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
thenobledrake wrote:
I have met GMs that felt that Wealth by Level was meant to be a strict rule, and while they did not end up removing any treasures from someone's sheet with a claim of "you have too much treasure," they would do a number of things that are effectively the same thing... like not handing out any new treasure because the party hadn't used the expendables they found, having one character robbed (has more than wealth by level) and another character gifted, or by insisting that a particular character take a particular piece of treasure because it is "for" that character.

And part of that is fully okay. If your group has gone wildly over WBL, then you need to reign it in somehow. Handing out fewer treasure or stealing overpowered items or using roleplaying reasons to make someone use a less OP item are totally legit ways of dealing with the problem that your game is suffering because you made a mistake before.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
LazarX wrote:
Nicos wrote:

A dev stated that the WBL is basically a rule that was writed in the book for the DM to follow it.

But I do agree with all your points, they are the most reasonable.

I would be extremely suprised if that was actually the case. What is more likely the case is that I'm seeing a distorted third account interpretation of someone's exact text.

Moral of the story.. If you can't dig up someone's exact quote, don't put words in their mouth. Or at least use the correct language that states that this is YOUR INTERPRETATION of what someone else said.

Or check further down the page to find the quote with a link. ^^


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All the rules in the book are rules.

All the rules in the book are also guidelines.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Jess Door wrote:
The offense of monsters attacking us is not commensurately lower, however. Our last fight, the enemy was continuously hitting AC 20+. My paladin has the highest AC in the party with an AC of 18. This is...a problem.

Sounds like it is time to bug out to greener pastures.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Jess Door wrote:
The offense of monsters attacking us is not commensurately lower, however. Our last fight, the enemy was continuously hitting AC 20+. My paladin has the highest AC in the party with an AC of 18. This is...a problem.
Sounds like it is time to bug out to greener pastures.

This. You can't fix people problems with rules.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:

WBL is not a rule that the GM has to play by. It is a table that assists with balancing encounters. Furthermore, CR isn't a rule that the GM must abide by either. ***None of this applies to organized play, which is a special, terrible thing.

WBL by itself won't balance encounters. It's basic assumption rides on the idea that it will represent a roughly balanced set of assets when it comes to weapons, armor, defensive magic items, consumables, utilities etc. WBL can be thrown badly askew when players insist on making corner use of said rules. "I'm going to throw ALL of my wealth into THIS!" Or with the acquisition of two feats says "I came into this world naked and a pile of cash and created ALL of my stuff last month!"

Now of course these are extreme cases, but players have been known to shave corners pretty close when it came to starting assets.


magnuskn wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Nicos wrote:

A dev stated that the WBL is basically a rule that was writed in the book for the DM to follow it.

But I do agree with all your points, they are the most reasonable.

I would be extremely suprised if that was actually the case. What is more likely the case is that I'm seeing a distorted third account interpretation of someone's exact text.

Moral of the story.. If you can't dig up someone's exact quote, don't put words in their mouth. Or at least use the correct language that states that this is YOUR INTERPRETATION of what someone else said.

Or check further down the page to find the quote with a link. ^^

But then he couldn't start moralizing at people for daring to mention the devs without fawning in worship of them...

Anyway, getting back to the topic of WBL, I would say that any GM needs to be aware of how altering WBL is going to effect the game's balance. Especially since magic items don't have a symmetrical effect on character power. As a couple other people noted, without magic it's very difficult to get an AC over 25 unless you're doing something like using combat expertise while fighting defensively in Crane Style.

In my own experience, low WBL games turn into rocket tag since wealth adds a lot more to defense, and offensive buffs tend to be easier to come by in battle. In the last 3.5 low WBL game I played in, the party had a fairly easy time keeping up offensively thanks to my buff-focused bard, but there just aren't defensive party-wide defensive buffs that can do what Haste and Inspire Courage can do for a party's offense.


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If SKR thinks WBL is so important, then why are the crafting feats designed to destroy it so handily?

I'm curious what he'd do in a game with someone who took a bunch of Craft X feats to effectively double everyone's WBL. Would he just start handing out half the treasure?

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Quickly grew bored reading this thread, but with regards to the OP, couldn't agree more. The game is more interesting without WBL.

Evil Mythic Lincoln, I salute you!


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magnuskn wrote:
If your group has gone wildly over WBL, then you need to reign it in somehow.

This quoted bit here is exactly why taking WBL as a rule is a problem.

You believe that being wildly over some arbitrary number needs to be fixed, and that is not the case in practice during a campaign in enough cases to actually be true.

Yes, a party kind become more powerful than their level indicates by having more treasure - that requires treasure of the appropriate types, though, not just a certain GP value.

A 10th level character with a +1 vorpal longsword (and a small helping of other magic items, like +2 armor) is more than 10,000 gp over 10th level Wealth by Level - but nowhere near as potent as a character of the same level with perfectly WBL (62,000 gp worth) of the right gear for the current circumstances within the campaign. For example, the character with the +2 giant bane longsword as the party is nearly one-third of the way through the classic adventure trio of Against the Giants.

5% chance of getting the chance to instantly slay an opponent vs. always hitting more often, and much harder on every hit - let's just say that the guy packing the vorpal blade keeps wishing the character with the giant slaying blade would trade with him.

...and there are numerous other examples that can be made which show that Wealth is next to irrelevant as a balance mechanism, despite it being related to what actually can cause imbalance (that being applicable bonuses, or the lack thereof).


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thenobledrake wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
If your group has gone wildly over WBL, then you need to reign it in somehow.

This quoted bit here is exactly why taking WBL as a rule is a problem.

You believe that being wildly over some arbitrary number needs to be fixed, and that is not the case in practice during a campaign in enough cases to actually be true.

Yes, a party kind become more powerful than their level indicates by having more treasure - that requires treasure of the appropriate types, though, not just a certain GP value.

A 10th level character with a +1 vorpal longsword (and a small helping of other magic items, like +2 armor) is more than 10,000 gp over 10th level Wealth by Level - but nowhere near as potent as a character of the same level with perfectly WBL (62,000 gp worth) of the right gear for the current circumstances within the campaign. For example, the character with the +2 giant bane longsword as the party is nearly one-third of the way through the classic adventure trio of Against the Giants.

5% chance of getting the chance to instantly slay an opponent vs. always hitting more often, and much harder on every hit - let's just say that the guy packing the vorpal blade keeps wishing the character with the giant slaying blade would trade with him.

...and there are numerous other examples that can be made which show that Wealth is next to irrelevant as a balance mechanism, despite it being related to what actually can cause imbalance (that being applicable bonuses, or the lack thereof).

To give another rather applicable example from one of Paizo's own APs, there's also the possibility that a character has 30k gold worth of large-sized +1 Ogre Hooks as loot. Taking WBL too literally leads to all kinds of problems.

Like a lot of the rules in Pathfinder, WBL needs to applied with a bit of common sense added to the mix.


Not to change the tide of the thread, but I feel like WBL weaves itself into "the big six." Some of those essentials that nearly every character would possess. (Stat booster, weapon, Armor, Cloak, etc.) It's just about the only reason I partially hang on to the idea of WBL.

Is there any creative idea or alternative process that could deal with that?

Sovereign Court

DISCLAIMER: I only read up to the SKR quote link about a half dozen posts in, but I think that (from the linked post), the "roughly equal amounts" is the crux of the disagreement here. I agree with Mythic Evil Lincoln that - as with, in my personal opinion, most every PF rule - the table is a guideline.

"Roughly equal" does not mean "exactly equal". Add to that that the table is a guideline and it shows a metric that GMs should try to aim for their parties' equipment values to be, but if the average party equipment value is above or below that by a certain margin, it's fine.
Additionally, the GM is no more obligated to follow this guideline than he is any other rule in the book, it's just that this one is a bit easier to tweak and see the consequences of tweaking. The CR and EL of an encounter includes the assumption that characters have a certain quality of equipment, which the table provides. If the GM is stingier with equipment, then encounters will be tougher, and if he's more generous then they will be easier.

If the GM wants to make his party trek through EL 15 encounters equipped with nothing shinier than a +1 longsword, that's up to him. He just needs to be aware that creatures with CR 15 will be much harder for the party than is normally expected by the game.
On a less extreme note, the GM doesn't need to make sure that everyone has exactly 62,000 gp worth of gear at 10th level. If someone is only up to 58,051 gp that's fine, just like if someone had 64,207 gp. Even if the entire party had these amounts of gear, it wouldn't be that big a deal since they're still much closer to the 10th level value than the 9th or 11th.

SKR's post pretty much says all this in the second paragraph, but it's condensed. I've basically just expanded what he said.

In short, you're both right. Yay! :p


I feel most DMs should try to stick to that guideline fairly heavily. The CR system was built taking it into account so if you use all of those monsters I feel you should be paying attention to WBL as well. Same for APL.

Those three rules were built taking into each other.

A significant amount of wealth over WBL (50%) is +1 APL.
A severe deficiency of wealth under WBL should be -1 APL. Maybe even more depending on your tier of play. High levels it is incredibly important to have access to magic items. We're talking starting at 8th level here. Before then it doesn't matter too much.


Dot for later, mostly agreeing with the Mythic Evil former president.


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The WBL table is not designed to be used for treasure rewards. That is what Table 12-5 Treasure Values per Encounter is for. However, Table 12-5 gives out about 30-40% more wealth than the WBL table. The expectation is that the excess is lost through selling equipment and using consumables.

With that said, the WBL table is a good way to measure the relative equipment power of a group. If it is too low or high and you are having problems balancing the encounters it might provide an indication of the source of the problem.

As Wraithstrike stated, when discussing things on the boards it is a good reference point. Perhaps the message that it is a reference point gets lost in the debates regarding the rules (guidelines if you want to call them that).


Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:

The way I see it, there are only two situations when the Wealth-by-level table must come into play:

1) A GM is trying to figure out how powerful the party is while building a suitable challenge. They quickly audit the (relevant) character gear, and if the party is over or under the WBL marker for their level, the GM will adjust the challenge up or down as needed.

2) A player or GM is creating a new PC (or party-balanced NPC) at a level greater than first, and needs a budget to fairly simulate the wealth that PC might have found in a campaign at that point.

Very well said; these situations are essentially the only ones I use WBL for when I run games.

Granted, from time to time, after having done (1), I may decide to slightly alter the treasure handed out in upcoming encounters. Typically I'll do that by swapping some less-important classed NPCs for monsters (or the other way around), but usually I don't. The encounters still have to make sense, after all!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
thenobledrake wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
If your group has gone wildly over WBL, then you need to reign it in somehow.

This quoted bit here is exactly why taking WBL as a rule is a problem.

You believe that being wildly over some arbitrary number needs to be fixed, and that is not the case in practice during a campaign in enough cases to actually be true.

Yes, a party kind become more powerful than their level indicates by having more treasure - that requires treasure of the appropriate types, though, not just a certain GP value.

A 10th level character with a +1 vorpal longsword (and a small helping of other magic items, like +2 armor) is more than 10,000 gp over 10th level Wealth by Level - but nowhere near as potent as a character of the same level with perfectly WBL (62,000 gp worth) of the right gear for the current circumstances within the campaign. For example, the character with the +2 giant bane longsword as the party is nearly one-third of the way through the classic adventure trio of Against the Giants.

5% chance of getting the chance to instantly slay an opponent vs. always hitting more often, and much harder on every hit - let's just say that the guy packing the vorpal blade keeps wishing the character with the giant slaying blade would trade with him.

...and there are numerous other examples that can be made which show that Wealth is next to irrelevant as a balance mechanism, despite it being related to what actually can cause imbalance (that being applicable bonuses, or the lack thereof).

I concur that WBL is far less important in a homebrewn campaign, but in an adventure path it is one of the factors keeping the campaign balance in check. Even in a homebrewn campaign, deviating strongly from it demands constant rebalancing of encounters and so is another workload factor on the GM.


magnuskn wrote:
Aranna wrote:
I sympathize... By calling it a rule, you end up with GMs who will arbitrarily delete treasure off your sheet because "you are cheating by taking too much treasure". Even if it was treasure given out by that GM or placed within the published adventure.
That sounds like a really unlikely scenario, unless the GM is a ten-year old or a robot.

Wow you respond with insults? The GM in question (yes he is real) is a twenty something year old computer repair specialist. To him WBL is a RULE and will be adhered to strictly. If we ever exceed WBL from treasure he hands out he will strip it from your characters arbitrarily until you are under the listed maximum for your level. Rules WILL be followed in his game or else. We killed a dragon once and nobody dared to pick up any treasure because we were already at WBL and dared not even remove a single copper coin from the horde lest the GM step in and say "You seem to have misplaced your magic ring somewhere... remove it from your sheet." Although to be fair if we just grabbed coins it's more likely our coin purses would vanish. One guy once tossed aside a couple items to pick up a new piece... nobody touched the stuff he dropped either.

So YES there are GMs out there who will see the quote that WBL is a rule and claim full justification from the Devs themselves for their actions. Even if it ruins immersion in the setting and breaks the fourth wall to pieces.


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magnuskn wrote:
in an adventure path it is one of the factors keeping the campaign balance in check

No - what the party has available as options to use their wealth for keeps the balance in check, not the wealth itself.

Having more +1 weapons that anyone is actually using does not make the party more powerful than one that simply has a +1 weapon for every member... at least not unless the party is able to convert those unused weapons to cash and then convert that cash to items they will use (both of which are 100% GM fiat, not any kind of rule or guideline).

magnuskn wrote:
Even in a homebrewn campaign, deviating strongly from it demands constant rebalancing of encounters and so is another workload factor on the GM.

I disagree. Further, I assert that you cannot find proof of your claim of universal demand for rebalancing.

Zenogu wrote:

Not to change the tide of the thread, but I feel like WBL weaves itself into "the big six." Some of those essentials that nearly every character would possess. (Stat booster, weapon, Armor, Cloak, etc.) It's just about the only reason I partially hang on to the idea of WBL.

Is there any creative idea or alternative process that could deal with that?

Here is my solution for the "big six" situation:

1) You are not entitled to a stat boosting item, nor is one required for your character to maintain a fair chance of success.
2) Magic armor is not nearly as relevant as it might seem as the game heavily favors accuracy, you will rarely notice any detriment without it
3) Magic weapons are not guaranteed, nor necessary to be successful - and weapon-dependent classes in Pathfinder get enough bonuses to their attacks to still be so accurate at higher levels as to only miss on a 1 on their first attack in a round without weapons.
4) Save DCs are not, in a game not assuming everybody gets a stat-booster, that hard to succeed at - so you don't need a cloak of resistance to get by.
5) I confess: I don't know what the 5th and 6th part of the "big six" actually are supposed to be
6) Without everyone being covered in items like a Christmas tree, spell casters can actually use spells like magic vestment, greater magic weapon, and other enhancement bonuses for something more than just avoiding the +5 DC to craft magic items that fill the "big" slots.

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