Wealth by level and connection to treasure per encounter, selling magic items and consumables / spell components.


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


The encounter treasure awards average at around 30% increase from the wealth by level table or alternately the wealth by level table is about 25% decrease from the total treasure who have gained in gp. I have to say I am not a sure about these numbers so please correct me if I am wrong

However I find an only 25% decrease from the treasure you have found is a bit too low or better put too optimistic. See even if half your treasure is sellable stuff at full price and half of it is random magic items sellable at half price, you will want to sell most of them to have the items you want. At that point you end up with (50%+25%) the 75% of the found loot in wealth by level.
Two factors though complicate this.
1) You may keep some of the loot you find because it fits and so go a bit above wealth by level
2) Any consumables you use and any components for spell you use (like raise dead) will take you below wealth by level.
I think the second factor is much more stronger than the first one, so you end up with a lower wealth by level, unless you award more treasure sellable at full price and less magic items.

Has anyone calculated the treasure awards from a pathfinder adventure path? Has anyone who run the adventure path as is and found that it doesn't have enough treasure?


Things vary by AP, but if I remember right, most of them have well above average loot drops. Between rare artifacts, finding treasure, getting paid for jobs, and a bit of crafting, most parties have plenty of cash to go around.


I haven't, but a friend tried a while back for a couple of AP's he had on the shelf.
There are more complications.
- AP's are usually written assuming a party of 4 PC's. Groups often have anywhere from 3-7 PC's.
- They are also written assuming a group won't hit every single side quest. But most groups do try to get them all.
- Some groups end up inventing their own side quests for additional unwritten profit.
- Most players also try to con, loot steal, bargain, embezel, ransom, and/or extort more money than the scenario plans.
- Some PC's will take a bit (or a lot) of item crafting.
- Depending on the group, a PC might die and the player brings in a new PC rather than being raised. Leaving the previous gear as a net gain.

Given all that, any sort of detailed analysis is really impossible and pointless. All you can really do is play it and see how it goes. Adding in a bit here and there if it seems necessary.
Generally we find book 1 to leave the PC's a bit poor. By the end, they are well above.


Beyond adventure paths, how do you treat loot in normal games?
I want to award enough valuables, magic items and consumable so that my players have a chance to reach the WBL they are supposed to be in. I don't mind with them ending up with more or less than that though.


To be honest, as a GM I am kinda stingy.

I generally don't give as much as the WBL table expects. Players usually insist on at least 20 point buy, we usually have 5 or 6 players, most of them are at least halfway decent at building a powerful PC, most of them are pretty experienced.
I've found with a group like this, rich PC's tend to get sloppy. They are so powerful, they are going to win/survive even if they use horrible tactics. If one happens to get killed, they can easily afford a raise. So every thing becomes charge & blast. Then they get to a tough boss fight and don't really know how to use their characters. They charge & blast and find themselves losing. It is somehow 'unfair' that they are finally being challenged.
If they aren't so fiscally overloaded, they have a much higher tendency to use some tactics. Finding out what works and what doesn't. They learn how to best utilize their PC's capabilities better.

Boss fights are usually pretty much on 'standard' target.
Non-boss fights around 50% of standard.
Though I tend to throw in some extra consumables. Partially charged wands. Scrolls of odd spells. Equipment of special materials. Etc...

I also throw in the occasional invented magic item that might be a real lifesaver but you have to be careful with it.
Say, a locket that turns the user incorporeal for d4+4 rounds. However, when used it drains d4 from a random ability. Will save for only 1 point of drain.
Or a double weapon with the vicious property on both ends. But the vicious does greater than std damage to the wielder. If your not careful a flurry of strikes could hurt yourself significantly.
Things like that.

Then as we are playing, if the PC's seem to be struggling (not caused by their own stupidity). I add cash to the next few encounters to allow a little better gear without it getting out of hand.


John John wrote:

Beyond adventure paths, how do you treat loot in normal games?

I want to award enough valuables, magic items and consumable so that my players have a chance to reach the WBL they are supposed to be in. I don't mind with them ending up with more or less than that though.

WBL is really a guideline and more of a benchmark of you not giving enough rewards. Just make loot appropriate for the encounters. Not that every encounter should have treasure, but there should be enough opportunities to spread that many CRs worth of treasure to the ones that do.

For example lets say you plan on an abandoned farm. The farm is occupied by a hag and some creatures she has lured there. Several giant centipedes live in the crops. A sizable family of Ogres live in the barn. A Worg heads a wolf pack in the nearby woods. The hag keeps 3 more advanced ogres with her as a personal guard.

The centipedes have no treasure. The Ogres have some incidental coins plus the ruins of destroyed armor, clothing and personal goods belonging to many people. The Worg wears a necklace of natural armor. 90% of the remaining treasure from all of these encounters is in the possession of the hag who stashed it all in the farm house or is used as gear by her and her bodyguards. The remaining 10% is a bunch of silver coins hidden under a loose stone next to the well between the house and the barn that was the farmer's life savings.

Chances are the adventurers will recover everything but the farmer's stash. But who knows? Adventurers stumble into things more often than they should. Almost every adventure has a bit of lost treasure in some really odd place that you don't think they'll visit. There is no reason they need to find everything. Generally there is more treasure from encounters than the WBL chart indicates.


I like having some consistent rules about awarding treasure. Then I can deviate from them as much as me and the players want.

I also understand HOW treasure can be awarded, but my question pertains to how much and what kind is awarded. I understand that in an adventure the boss will have most of it and stuff like vermin and oozes will have very little if any of it.

Again my question is considering treasure is half sellable stuff at 100% and half sellable stuff at 50%, consumables, spell components and as Elterago and Meiril mentioned player wont always find all the treasure, how much more treasure than the wealth by level should you "drop" in a level?


I've read that the standard for APs is roughly twice WBL, under exactly those assumptions: some won't be found, some will be sold, some will be used up, some will be kept.

And of course, if you're not writing for publication, you can adjust that if the party is getting too far away from the expected track.


I see thanks, I was thinking wbl*1,5 should be about enough, but maybe *2 is closer to the target.

I think there is an arguement for not adjusting it.

It rewards parties that play "well". "Well" as in were able to find all the treasure and played in a way as to not lose too much on components.
Regarding the problem of having too much or too few gold, my personal solution is for parties that have too much I offer ways to exchange gold for xp and for parties that have too low I offer ways to exchange xp for gold.
Examples:
Outsiders in the service of Iomedae offer to train the players, but in exchange they must build her a temple.
A mysterious stranger can help you sacrifice some of your power(xp) to imbue your magic items.


John John wrote:

I see thanks, I was thinking wbl*1,5 should be about enough, but maybe *2 is closer to the target.

I think there is an arguement for not adjusting it.

It rewards parties that play "well". "Well" as in were able to find all the treasure and played in a way as to not lose too much on components.
Regarding the problem of having too much or too few gold, my personal solution is for parties that have too much I offer ways to exchange gold for xp and for parties that have too low I offer ways to exchange xp for gold.

Or punishes those who don't play "well". It rewards and thus encourages a more loot focused style, which I'm not really interested in. I'd rather have players focused on beating the bad guys than on scavenging every last bit of loot.

That definition of "well" also relies heavily on what the GM plants for them, so it's not all on the players: how much of the treasure is hidden and how well, how much happens to be things the players want to keep and use rather than sell, etc.


thejeff wrote:
Or punishes those who don't play "well". It rewards and thus encourages a more loot focused style, which I'm not really interested in. I'd rather have players focused on beating the bad guys than on scavenging every last bit of loot.

Sure it depends on your playstyle both are viable IMO.

thejeff wrote:
That definition of "well" also relies heavily on what the GM plants for them, so it's not all on the players: how much of the treasure is hidden and how well, how much happens to be things the players want to keep and use rather than sell, etc.

Well how much treasure could be stadarized and on some level is.

How much happens to be things players want is basically random, unless the Dm chooses otherwise.
Also how much treasure is easily accessible and how much requires ingenuity/searching to get could also be standarised. Though you are correct to say that how well its hidden can't be.

Also think that even if I was commited 100% to the way of playing I am suggesting, I would still adjust treasure depending to my party/setting/story a bit.
Simirarly anyone who is comfortable with adjusting the treasure would take issue if his players constantly bought and used consumables and spells with expensive components.
Ofcourse you can prioritize which of the two playstyles you prefer.


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I usually just scrap wealth by level entirely. It is a strange and fragile baseline for things that can vary massively, and can be abused by mechanically strong players.

My players are savy, and I don't like having to apply advanced templates and beef up encounters just to satisfy loot needs. I typically keep all my APs and campaigns in a low loot settings.

I encourage the PCs to use what they find and limit crafting to consumable items, as I've found that the players actually have more fun when they aren't able to get everything that they want (whether they know it or not). Being numerically and statistically powerful in the game and steamrolling through isn't nearly as a rewarding experience. If I feel that they really are starting to struggle I will splash in a piece of extra loot here and there.

If a new PC is coming into an adventure after a death, then I simply award them enough wealth to start with comparatively to average loot of the existing party.


ElterAgo wrote:

To be honest, as a GM I am kinda stingy.

I generally don't give as much as the WBL table expects.....
Boss fights are usually pretty much on 'standard' target.
Non-boss fights around 50% of standard.
Though I tend to throw in some extra consumables. Partially charged wands. Scrolls of odd spells. Equipment of special materials. Etc..

I'm pretty much with ElterAgo on this one. The WBL table assumes a 'high fantasy - magic rich' setting, and is pretty generous in my opinion.

I tend to run less-than-average magic levels, and slower character progression, than pathfinder rules assume.

I also typically GM long-running campaigns, not one-shots and short adventures. I've found that with high wealth levels, magic and progression, characters get too powerful, too fast. There's no time for them to really use and explore new abilities/spells/feats before they move on the the next.
And by reigning in the power levels to a slower pace, I don't lose the opportunity to throw interesting encounters/monsters their way, before the party's power level climbs out of range.

A hazard of having high wealth/magic, is it becomes a crutch to solve problems, instead of using ingenuity and good decision making.
I came to my current style of play, after seeing too many parties basically become just vehicles for their magic items to travel the world solving problems.

Bottom line, is for Adventure Paths, you may have to stick relatively close to the WBL chart, as the challenges in the AP will assume a certain power/wealth level. You don't want the party to be too far off (high or low) than the AP's assumptions.

For home-brew, or original campaigns, you can throw out the WBL.
You'll have to figure out how much to hand out as rewards based on your plans for the campaign. Whether it's gritty/struggling, or high fantasy and rolling in coin, will be up to you and the style you're going for.
But I would suggest starting on the low side. It's always easier to become more generous later as needed, that be stuck with an over-powered party that can walk through your challenges unscathed.


Problem with running below WBL - Monsters at specific CRs assume the PCs have access to specific bonuses. These bonuses are the sort that you need to sink a ton of cash into over the course of your career: Rings of protection, cloaks of resistance, belts of stats, headbands of stats, magical weapons, magical armor, and necklaces of natural armor just to name the Core 7.

The Core 7 is expensive, and falling behind the curve on The Core 7 due to a lack of wealth can leave your PCs behind their opponents. The Core 7 boosts all your numbers, and that can make your fights really really rough if you are budgeting your encounters by CR. Especially since while small, these bonuses are used nearly every time you roll your dice in combat. Missing an extra 2 strength and +1 to your weapon means every time you roll the dice you lose out on +2 to hit and 2-3 points of damage. Multiply that by 3 characters (assuming party of 4 with 3 people using weapons regularly) and that can result in a much larger number of misses than just the +2 to hit would suggest. Its like making the PCs permanently shaken. Now, while this can be a good thing depending on the flavor of the campaign it can also cause your PCs some manner of frustration as fights that should be easy become much harder.

Also, as mentioned, the Core 7 are extremely expensive and will take up most of your wealth over your career. As noted above, they really help you out keeping competitive during combat but all of them ARE BORING ITEMS. Everyone is happy to take a Belt of Strength +2, but when the campaign is done there will never be any stories told about that Belt of Strength. It's a necessary item, but hardly memorable or exciting. Now, compare that to something like an Immovable rod and see how many absurd stories over the years have come together from that item and you'll see the picture. An Immovable Rod is FUN, it can create memorable moments that get told and retold over time.

This is why I do not follow the WBL chart and tend to be generous in my item distribution. Notably, I will almost never give the PCs items from the Core 7 for free. Instead, my loot is usually fun or unusual items. Meanwhile, I still distribute raw gold by the WBL chart. Thus, my players can spend their money on upgrading their gear while trusting the GM to always provide them more promising toys with which to play.

Alternatively, though my current group does not like this second method, you can use the Alternate Bonus Progression Rules. These rules make characters gain the Core 7 bonuses as they level up, allowing the player and GM to concentrate their gold on fun/interesting items. According to the rules, you should half their gold generation or reduce access to magical items when using ABP. Now, if you are running modules instead of designing things yourself this is a good idea. If you are running the campaign without a module or outside of PFS, then do whatever feels comfortable. Keep the PC's gear around a reasonable point for ABP +3, and adjust encounters as appropriate to match your PC's capabilities.

If your players know their gold generation will keep them up with the current level of danger, and the items you give them for treasure are fun/interesting, then they'll be less likely to sell all the fun loot in a desperate attempt to keep relevant vs the monsters.


Valid points ShroudedInLight.
Which is why I said being close or on WBL for APs is recommended.
The encounter difficulties are set (barring GM edits) and ignoring certain assumptions as to what a party is bringing to the table can be a problem.

In original or homebrew campaigns however, it's all up to GM.
And the GM prep is (if done right) going to take in to account what the party has and can pull off.
I judge CR to ALSO be a very loose guideline, and select challenges based on the party's abilities & resources.

Building encounters/challenges, I start first with looking at the party.
I select the monsters or difficulty, based on the PCs' level/abilities/math and how difficult I want it to be for them.
Half of my encounter building is running the numbers.
If a monster's AC is 'x', how often will the PCs hit based on average die rolls. How many hits will it take to kill. How often will the monster hit them, and for how much damage.
If it has a poison bite or breath weapon, what's the PCs' saves look like. etc....
OK, that CR6 beast has a feature they can't overcome, so I'll use these CR4 monsters, and add difficulty by increasing numbers, or some environmental hazards. Or maybe the CR6 monster with the 'young' template is do-able. And so on.

As for treasure: What do I plan to throw at them next outing? Let's make sure they acquire enough wealth or items on this adventure, so that they (at a minimum) should be able to get together what's absolutely necessary for future obstacles.
I've never seen the Core7 as being indispensable. At least not with home-brew campaigns. If the characters don't have a chance without them, then the GM isn't crafting their adventures correctly.

Again, printed adventures skew towards higher power levels and assumptions, so the Core7 and WBL become more necessary in those cases.

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PodTrooper wrote:

..

Bottom line, is for Adventure Paths, you may have to stick relatively close to the WBL chart, as the challenges in the AP will assume a certain power/wealth level. You don't want the party to be too far off (high or low) than the AP's assumptions.
...

Actually I find WBL way too powerful even for adventure paths. Most of them are written such that they can be accomplished by players and GM's completely new to d20 system. Also most were written assuming 15 point buy and 4 players.

Most players typically seem to be set on at least 20 point buy if not 25. All of mine are very experienced gamers with PF and other systems, so they build and play with some expertise. Most groups I've seen in the past few years have 5 to 7 players.

I already have to build up encounters because they curb stomp the written ones.

ShroudedInLight wrote:

Problem with running below WBL - Monsters at specific CRs assume the PCs have access to specific bonuses.

... just to name the Core 7.

The Core 7 is expensive, and falling behind the curve on The Core 7 due to a lack of wealth can leave your PCs behind their opponents.
...

I have 2 issues with this.

1) That assumes CR is an accurate judge of difficulty for your PC's. It really isn't, for a whole host of reasons (see the above section just for a beginning). CR is, at best, a very general flag to say "you might be willing to consider this creature." The whole game system has always heavily relied on the GM to give some consideration as to whether or not this party will be appropriately challenged by this opponent.
The only thing I find needing to be really careful about is incorporeal and/or high DR before the party has the means to over come those defenses. Also, really powerful SLA or SU powers can occasionally throw a wrench into the works.
2) Most of my really challenging and memorable fights are with NPC's. Take away the Core 7 from the NPC's has about the same offsetting effect as taking away the Core 7 from the PC's.

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ShroudedinLight, I agree with you up to a point, that point being the 16k gp bar set by the base value of a metropolis. I'd say the "core 7" are entirely expected, up to that value. PCs can't count on being able to buy anything above 16k (or so, city modifier can push it to ~24k), so the expectation is that everyone will have +2 weapons, +3 armor, +2 rings and amulets, +4 stat items and +4 cloaks. Anything they get beyond that is "extra," and not really need to balance encounters. I've run several high-level games and numerical bonuses past these aren't truly necessary to face high level foes.

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