fair pay


Advice


In an upcoming campaign, the PCs will be working for a wealthy merchant as the mercenary force of a newly established frontier trading post. I am trying to find a reasonable monthly pay for them. Now, I have a hard enough time understanding money and economics in the real world, not to mention getting a mental grip on the economics of a fantasy setting such as Golarion vs WBL and all that. What I was thinking was to take the average starting wealth of the party and offering that as their monthly pay + room and board + whatever loot they get from adventuring.

Now, I kind of take starting wealth by class to mean that's the character's life savings up to the point they become an adventurer, so to earn your life savings every month, sounds enticing no? But then I look at the cost of higher level adventuring gear and it's like chicken feed in comparison.

So to try and get a better feel for this, do you feel that pay rate is:

A) Not fair enough
B) Totally fair
C) Way much too fair

If it's not fair, what would be?

It may sway your opinion that I've decided to use ABP rules for the campaign.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
djdust wrote:

In an upcoming campaign, the PCs will be working for a wealthy merchant as the mercenary force of a newly established frontier trading post. I am trying to find a reasonable monthly pay for them. Now, I have a hard enough time understanding money and economics in the real world, not to mention getting a mental grip on the economics of a fantasy setting such as Golarion vs WBL and all that. What I was thinking was to take the average starting wealth of the party and offering that as their monthly pay + room and board + whatever loot they get from adventuring.

Now, I kind of take starting wealth by class to mean that's the character's life savings up to the point they become an adventurer, so to earn your life savings every month, sounds enticing no? But then I look at the cost of higher level adventuring gear and it's like chicken feed in comparison.

So to try and get a better feel for this, do you feel that pay rate is:

A) Not fair enough
B) Totally fair
C) Way much too fair

If it's not fair, what would be?

It may sway your opinion that I've decided to use ABP rules for the campaign.

Loot + GP when they are adventuring should make up the difference of WBL. You could go the Final Fantasy VIII route, and assign them ranks, and as they "rank up" in the organisation, they earn more money per month.


According to the Profession skill a professional soldier earns half his Profession check in gold pieces her week. On this basis if your PCs are 1st level 1gp per day plus board and loot sounds very fair.


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No answer will ever make sense.

The economics of the game are meant to service adventurers scaling loot, not modeling world economics.

It would be perfectly fair to just handwave the entire thing as the paycheck covers living expenses and some basic nonmagical supplies like clothes and rope and rations, then just bother with the adventuring loot. Tracking every copper becomes needlessly tedious.


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As a player I would be skeptical of any sort of wages to guard a caravan, since I would probably expect something terrible to happen to that caravan as an inciting incident so I won't end up getting paid anyway. That said, no matter how little you're offering I'm still going to sign on with the caravan, because that's where the story is.

Shadow Lodge

I think it's way too much. PC WBL is based on loot, not wages. The rules for the Profession skill and hirelings suggest a typical wage for a 1st level professional would be about a gp per day. Higher level PC classed characters can probably command more than their profession skill suggests, but I still probably wouldn't go above their level squared in gold pieces per day (which is well under WBL/month).

Omnius's suggestion that you handwave it is entirely reasonable as well - though if your PCs get high enough level you might consider adding more advanced gear to "basic supplies."


PossibleCabbage wrote:
As a player I would be skeptical of any sort of wages to guard a caravan, since I would probably expect something terrible to happen to that caravan as an inciting incident so I won't end up getting paid anyway. That said, no matter how little you're offering I'm still going to sign on with the caravan, because that's where the story is.

A rather pessimistic point of view. In my experience the players won't care about the basic pay because they'll be expecting plenty of loot. And that's why they'll sign up.


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Most if not all the characters wealth will be coming from loot, not what the merchant pays them. Room and board may include more than just food and loggings. It could also include other benefits including some form of health care and discounts on some goods and services. Having access to a healer at no charge is a very good benefit for anyone in a dangerous occupation. Maybe the healer also sells healing potions at a discount the players can purchase. Normal weapons and armor may also be available at a discount for the players.

For the most part assume that the player’s actual wages are used mostly for entertainment and recreation. The gamble it away or waste it in brothels and similar other ventures. If the character is something like a cleric or a paladin they may instead be using their pay to help people and donating it to various charities. So if the character really wants to get ahead they need loot.

Starting wealth is not just cash it includes gifts from friends and family. This type of thing is a onetime deal not an ongoing benefit. After all their father can’t keep giving the characters his sword and telling them to use it well.


I like mysterious stranger's ideas. Make it a minor benefit like a few consumables per month and ask them how they want to enjoy the rest. Clerical donations, feeding the poor, booze and hookers, fancy clothing, throw a party, etc. This lets them express their character and keeps the expectation that loot is their primary source of income


You could use cost of living as a guideline.

Quote:

Destitute (0 gp/month): The PC is homeless and lives in the wilderness or on the streets. A destitute character must track every purchase, and may need to resort to Survival checks or theft to feed himself.

Poor (3 gp/month): The PC lives in common rooms of taverns, with his parents, or in some other communal situation—this is the lifestyle of most untrained laborers and commoners. He need not track purchases of meals or taxes that cost 1 sp or less.

Average (10 gp/month): The PC lives in his own apartment, small house, or similar location—this is the lifestyle of most trained or skilled experts or warriors. He can secure any nonmagical item worth 1 gp or less from his home in 1d10 minutes, and need not track purchases of common meals or taxes that cost 1 gp or less.

Wealthy (100 gp/month): The PC has a sizable home or a nice suite of rooms in a fine inn. He can secure any nonmagical item worth 5 gp or less from his belongings in his home in 1d10 minutes, and need only track purchases of meals or taxes in excess of 10 gp.

Extravagant (1,000 gp/month): The PC lives in a mansion, castle, or other extravagant home—he might even own the building in question. This is the lifestyle of most aristocrats. He can secure any nonmagical item worth 25 gp or less from his belongings in his home in 1d10 minutes. He need only track purchases of meals or taxes in excess of 100 gp.


Moonclanger wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
As a player I would be skeptical of any sort of wages to guard a caravan, since I would probably expect something terrible to happen to that caravan as an inciting incident so I won't end up getting paid anyway. That said, no matter how little you're offering I'm still going to sign on with the caravan, because that's where the story is.
A rather pessimistic point of view. In my experience the players won't care about the basic pay because they'll be expecting plenty of loot. And that's why they'll sign up.

I would consider it less pessimistic and more genre savvy, since "get the PCs on a ship, or with a caravan, etc. and then have things go badly thus stranding the PCs somewhere interesting with minimal support" is basically a trope in this sort of thing.

If this is the plan, you can always promise the PCs approximately twice what's appropriate for their level, half before and half after then not have to pay up on the second part. Though if the PCs, after leveling up some, still want to track down what they believe they are owed, at a higher level the windfall would be less significant.


Thank you all for the advice, I think I’ve decided on 20gp/month. I understand it’s mostly for flavor and may end up almost meaningless in the course of the campaign, but it’s a little lagniappe, to help with consumables and personal entertainment, etc.

True, the players are signing up because they have the meta knowledge that that’s where the game is, but I think a minor detail such as this helps anchor the characters into the game world.

@Helpful Harry, that’s pretty much the kind of info I was initially looking for, where’d you find that?


It's in the Gamemastering chapter of the CRB.


I forget where the math was posted, probably on one of the dead forums, but the equivalent dollar value of a gold piece is ~$385. Thus paying them 20gp a month is about a 92k salary in terms of USD, its not super high, but it is a good salary for people who don't wear the GDP of several small countries for a walk to the park.


That seems a little high. You don't need to be earning $38,500 a month ($462,000 a year) to "live in a nice suite of rooms at a fine inn".

But it's hard to say, because our technology makes some items very cheap and other things very expensive compared to a pre-industrial society, and some Pathfinder item prices don't make much sense.


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I'd pay them a small monthly retainer to stick around (10gp/month say), that covers their room and board in relative comfort at the frontier and then offer them special bounties for particular jobs.

Hanging out in the fort being available for jobs needn't pay much, it's basically just a pittance to keep them warm and fed and incentivize them to answer the merchant's calls.

The real money will be for doing specific jobs. Suppose a pack of trolls live in the area and are threatening the merchant's business. The merchant offers some money for the mercenaries to take them out. Four PCs head out at level 5, hunt them down, and several sessions of thrilling heroics later, return victorious at level 6. The delighted merchant pays them.

How much? Well, WBL suggests a level 5 PC should have 10,500gp and a level 6 should have 16,000. So, between level 5 and 6 each PC needs to get ~5,500gp or ~22,000gp for the group. Maybe you sprinkle 12,000gp worth of treasure around the troll horde (a +2 sword, and a couple potions could do it) and the merchant gives them 10,000gp. That's how I would do it.

If the adventure is only going to be about half the experience required to level up, maybe the merchant only offers 5,000gp. If you know you want a lot of the PCs wealth to come from recovering treasure, maybe the merchant pays less.


Darkon wrote:
I forget where the math was posted, probably on one of the dead forums, but the equivalent dollar value of a gold piece is ~$385. Thus paying them 20gp a month is about a 92k salary in terms of USD, its not super high, but it is a good salary for people who don't wear the GDP of several small countries for a walk to the park.

There isn't a consistent figure that translates well between gold pieces and US dollars. If you pick different benchmarks you get different amounts.

For example: Unskilled labor commands 1sp/day. If the US minimum wage is $7.25 (or $58 for an eight hour day) then a gold piece is about $600.

A fish hook (one fish hook mind you) is also 1sp. A quick Amazon search offers a box of 500 fishing hooks for $9. Use that as the benchmark and a gold piece isn't worth much of anything.

If you use the 1gp = $400 conversion a longsword costs $6,000. That seems insanely high. Need a new cookpot at home? That will be $320 (8sp). God help you if you want a belt pouch to keep your coins in, that's going to cost you $400 (1gp).

The core rulebook prices are all over the map, which is unsurprising as the economy of the commoner classes isn't a major concern of the game and hasn't ever really received much attention.


Ring_of_Gyges wrote:

I'd pay them a small monthly retainer to stick around (10gp/month say), that covers their room and board in relative comfort at the frontier and then offer them special bounties for particular jobs.

Hanging out in the fort being available for jobs needn't pay much, it's basically just a pittance to keep them warm and fed and incentivize them to answer the merchant's calls.

And if you want to be evil, make them pay exorbitant prices for items while in the trading post, need a healing potion, 100gp, some rope? oooh that's special rope, 100gp. Make them indebted to the post and they have to stay to pay off their debt, constantly going further and further into debt. Then have the post master offer them a huge reward for something, only to abandon them before they return, being owed wages.


Darkon wrote:
I forget where the math was posted, probably on one of the dead forums, but the equivalent dollar value of a gold piece is ~$385. Thus paying them 20gp a month is about a 92k salary in terms of USD, its not super high, but it is a good salary for people who don't wear the GDP of several small countries for a walk to the park.

Ever since 1st ed AD&D I've used the price of ale as my yardstick. The CRB prices a mug of ale at 4cp. In the UK a pint costs about £4 (at least it does outside of London). So I equate 1cp to £1. So in my world 1gp = £100.


Trained Hirelings

3 sp / day

Quote:
Trained Hirelings The amount shown is the typical daily wage for mercenary warriors, masons, craftsmen, cooks, scribes, teamsters, and other trained hirelings. This value represents a minimum wage; many such hirelings require significantly higher pay. Typical equipment for a guard or mercenary warrior is studded leather armor and a club, shortsword, or shortspear. Most guards are off-duty soldiers or city watchmen, though some are unskilled laborers with a talent for fighting.

Suck it up, meatshields. If you don't want the job, I'll hire someone who does.


Quote:
Typical equipment for a guard or mercenary warrior is studded leather armor and a club, shortsword, or shortspear.

Pay s~~$ wages, you get s~#% guards. At minimum, PCs are running around with scale mail and greatswords. They're at least looking at a gp per day. And we're not even considering that half the party are going to be spellcasters who can perform literal miracles and stuff. Going by the services rules, a 1st level caster selling his services should be raking in some 30gp a day.

If the merchant isn't going to pony up a decent wage, they'll go find someone who will.


Groundhog wrote:
They're at least looking at a gp per day.

Done. Meals are included. Welcome to the caravan.


The income may not be very appealing to a mid to high level character however if you implement the benefits of the results their job's input enables, like buildings, improved organizations, additional retainers, walls etc, then it can remain motivational, if that ever becomes an issue in comparison to adventuring and then having to spend their own gp on the same thing, which would probably cost them alot more..

A homebrew idea from an Ex-math-teacher could look like this:
You could have their weekly salary be defined as: 20+ x³ where x is every point beyond a DC 15 profession/craft check the adventurer succeeds at. This scales somewhat well to about 6k+ week salery at 20th level and even include the absurd lucky chance of getting 42000gp from a week's worth of work at level 20 if fully skilled, rolling 20 and somewhat invested.

Ex: Adventurer: 2 ranks + 0 Ability mod + class skill + 1d20=
=> 2+3+rolling'14'= 19

19 - 15 = 4
20+4³ = 20+64= 84 gp

84gp gain at level 2 is somewhat OK, in regard to the WBL-table

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