Has anyone run a game (especially, but not limited to, an Adventure Path or Module) but changed it so that the PCs (or at least some of the PCs) have NPC wealth but gain a bonus level?

Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

So NPC wealth to PC wealth is +1 CR. Gaining another level (for a 0 racial HD race) is +1 CR. So trading PC wealth for NPC wealth to get an additional level, assuming the campaign wasn't normally going to go to level 20, should just straight up be a fair trade.

Unfortunately, this would put extra work on the GM. They have to adjust treasure, which is designed to be valued enough to support PC wealth, to instead only give the PCs NPC wealth. This can make it much harder to use NPCs, since you can easily blow through multiple levels of gear in a few battles against challenging NPCs.

Anyways, I was thinking of doing this for fun, but I wanted to know if anyone has experience with this, so I could avoid making as many mistakes.

I see a couple of problems with this. First is that the wealth by level is usually a rough guideline. Unless the GM is distributing gear directly to the players there is no guarantee that the wealth found will be distributed in any particular way. It is not uncommon for one character to get more wealth than another. This could lead to a situation where the character with the extra level gets more gear than the one the normal wealth. If you did this with all characters, it would prevent that scenario but would not prevent one character from having more wealth than he should.

Second but equally important is that some classes are more dependent on gear than others. That is the reason that the classes get different starting wealth. A monk or sorcerer does not need a lot of wealth, but an archery focused martial with a 14 STR cannot even start with a Composite longbow that allows him to use his STR. Likewise it is also nearly impossible to start with any kind of heavy armor. Another thing that throws this off is that a starting NPC actually get more wealth that the average PC. A starting martial character starts with 5d6 x10 gold, for an average of 175 gold, but a 1st level NPC starts with 260 gold.

Third is that with only NPC wealth the players are going to be unlikely to be able to afford gear that they are going to need. A +1 dagger cost 2.302 gp. That means the earliest a character using NPC wealth is able to afford it is at 5th level, and even then, it leaves less than 100 gold for the rest of the characters gear. That is going to mean the character is either not going to be able to damage creatures requiring a magic weapon or be almost defenseless.

Forth the CR system is not designed to balance characters it is a rough guideline for creating encounters and distributing XP. The Half Fiend template is a +1 CR at 5-10 HD and a +2 at 11+ HD; below 5 HD it does not add to the CR. That template gives +4 to 3 stats, +2 to 3 stats, +1 NA, darkvision 60’, Immunity poison, 10 resistance to acid, cold, electricity and fire, DR 5/magic (DR/10 magic if 12 HD), SR equal to the creatures CR +11, a flight speed of twice their base land speed, a bite and two claws, and smite good once per day. They also get spell like abilities based on their HD. A 10th level half fiend barbarian with NPC WBL would only be a CR 10 creature. Compare that to a 10th level standard WBL barbarian. Now compare both of them to a 11th level NPC WBL barbarian. The 10th level half fiend NPC WBL is the most powerful, then the standard barbarian, and the weakest is the 11th level NPC WBL barbarian.

If you just want to lower the importance of wealth, use the unchained rules for automatic bonus progression. And you could delay that progression by a level or two if you want to add more of a struggle

in 3.5 I used a 3 part system based on points split between ability scores, experience, gold. It worked well. Almost always people chose ability scores over the other two with 'adventuring' to make up the difference. CRs were +1 to +2 higher because of that. They had to retreat at times (unheard of in PFS play, LoL).

Just reward 1/4 level & WBL per 4-6 hours of play. I'd rather do that than ABP. Give them 1 day in *free* saveable accumulative Retraining per gained level.

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so people seem to have a mindset that WBL and recommended level in APs are hard set. they are not. Adjust either up or down as needed to make the adventure fun and exciting for the players. If the party is having a hard time with the encounters, you can adjust the encounters down, or boost the party up. if the party is having an easy time with encounters, then boost the encounters up. There's no need to make is all fit some magical mathematical formula per the rules. those are all guidelines anyway.

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Seriously, you can just start the AP/campaign with the PCs at 2nd level.

It's self-correcting as they earn experience over several adventure sessions; they gain a boost initially, but end up at the same level by the end of the AP/campaign arc.

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