The following are house rules and clarifications for the upcoming “Underworld of Faz” AD&D 1e game. This is a long entry that may be annoying to parse on G+, so I’m putting it here for safekeeping until I get around to revising the old wiki, at which point it’ll be placed there along with my other house rules.
I use the Dungeon Masters Guide rules governing level advancement, upkeep, and training costs. I realize this may cause the vapors, but I’m house ruling as little as possible, at least at the outset.
However, the rules as written seem oppressive enough that some exploration and explication seems in order. I have no illusions that Gygax was doing anything with these rules other than siphoning off gold instead of reworking the experience point system.
Let’s also dispense with any charade that this reflects a workable economic system. Just don’t even worry about it, it’s a game, and an abstract and aggressively incoherent one at that. Lighten up, Francis, roll the dice, move your thimble. There, that was an easy fix.
The Dungeon Masters Guide, in justifying very high monthly upkeep costs, refers to adventurers as “as a free-wheeling and high-living lot (except, of course, for monks).” It seems like paladins, rangers, druids, and characters with ascetic character concepts are also unlikely to go on Conan-level debauches. So I’m assuming that the upkeep costs refer not just to “support, upkeep, equipment, and entertainment expense,” but to the considerable tithing, donations, endowment of orphanages and their limpid-eyed moppets, establishment of al-mi’raj preserves, and so on.
In exchange for the monthly upkeep cost, it’s assumed that you (and your regular henchmen and hirelings) acquire, replace, and repair cheap mundane items as necessary, so you don’t have to keep track of every expenditure on torches, rope, arrows, material components of little cost, etc. You (and your entourage) are also assumed to maintain room and board at a standard commensurate with your escalating expenditures (unless, of course, you’re playing one of the deliberately penurious classes, in which case your urchins or whatever get to move on up in your stead); to abuse a steadily improving class of lagers, spirits, and opium; to engage in salacious repartee and gymnastic congress with a steadily improving class of service personnel; to prop up the traditional rumors-for-pay racket with a steadily improving class of disreputable barkeeps; and, to pay the assorted taxes, tariffs, and exchange fees outlined in the labyrinthine Unified Gygaxian Tax and Commerical Code. And so on.
Similarly, the training costs aren’t just training costs, they subsume such things as guild dues and shares; purchase of increasingly fancy quills, inks, and vellums; acquisition of certain forbidden tomes, abstracts, updates, and peer-reviewed publications; greasing the palms of fences, racketeers, and snitches; grooming fees for snooty familiars; professional burnishing and kit for your hectoring magic sword; dancing, elocution, and etiquette lessons as part of your misguided attempts to impress the toffs with whom you now rub elbows as you climb the economic ladder; and elaborate hats. And so on. (Or just lots more donations to phalanxes of assorted mendicants.)
Now, to How Much Is All This Really? Let’s just rip off the band-aid and say about FUCK much. Even exemplars of proper class behavior – which you’ll surely be adjudged unless you shat the bed in particularly explosive fashion, metaphorically speaking – end up paying 1,250 gp per old level to advance to a new level. This is a lot.
Most DMs handwave at this point and say something to the effect of well since you can’t afford it here’s this quest that you would have gone off on anyways because there’s gold at the end to feed this awful metagame ouroboros, that’s sorted, see you next weekend. I’m not doing that.
Where does this money come from?
First, I’m placing larger monetary treasures in a greater concentration across somewhat smaller levels and sub-levels. Verisimilitude has already been thoroughly savaged. Too-quick advancement is not a live issue; it’s a play-by-post, so even piling on the lucre, we’ll all be dead or senescent by the time someone hits a demihuman level cap, much less name level. And as outlined above, the idea of “having too much money” will inspire mordant, ever more hysterical laughter*.
It should but may not go without saying that even at this more rapid rate of advancement, you can’t advance more than one level per delve and any excess experience points are lost as an Ozymandian reminder of the evanescence of human achievement.
And second, if you’re that hard up, you can sell off a magic item**, which will also be found in higher than usual concentrations, albeit to a smaller degree. They’re worth a lot, and this mitigates the much-lampooned Christmas tree effect.
So that’s how I’m handling various economic considerations. We’ll see how it goes before messing with it. I understand that many players are mortified by the use of these rules, and I’ll always consider input, but if you don’t like it, it’s probably tough titty.
* In your explorations, you may note a certain prevalence of hoards measured in improbably neat numbers of gold pieces. This doesn’t mean that, say, a horde of giant rats is sitting on a stash of actual gold pieces, rounded off to the nearest hundred and neatly packed in paper rolls. The gold piece value is an abstraction representing various coins, small but valuable gew-gaws, bits of precious substances, etc., and the rounding can represent the cut off the top for whatever fences and moneychangers convert your antiquated, non-fungible pelf to clean modern Fazian coins.
** Magic items are rated in the DMG for both experience point value and gold piece sale value. Once the item is positively identified, you can elect to a) take the experience point value and retain or dispose of the item as you wish, or b) sell the item immediately upon reaching the surface and take the experience point value of the gold. If you use the item in any context other than for identification purposes, you forfeit the option to get experience points for the gold piece sale value, although you can still sell the item and get the gold. Note also that only one player character can ever earn experience points in any fashion for a particular magic item.