The concept of money in D&D has always fascinated me. Our adventurers seem like very poor investors and planners. They go out, risk life and limb in pursuit of coin and glory, and then blow it all on ale and whores!
Or at least that’s what we’d like to think. But in the campaign that I play in (not the one I’m DM’ing), it seems like our characters are always walking around broke not due to partying, but due to the high cost of paying for clerical spells! That’s not nearly as fun as carousing! Case in point: We have a party of four PCs who are, on average, about 2nd to 3rd level. We had built up a sizable war chest of about 11,000 gold pieces as a party, partially because we lucked upon a 5,000 GP gemstone!
My halfling, Priggle Bottomsworth, was already making plans for how to customize his little hobbit hole with his share of the loot and pay for an elaborate little hobbit wedding down the road. In short, he was planning for his future – as sensible people do.
But alas, life- or should I say death - got in the way! One of our adventuring party was ambushed by some Trogs and hacked into little pieces. He was Ahkhir the Elf. At the time he had 3,850 XP – which means that he was 150 XP short of the 4,000 XP needed to finally hit 2nd level. Adam (his player) was seriously miffed at being so close to finally leveling then dying.
But we took the body back to town. And in B/X, Elves can be raised (unlike AD&D). So we went to the local Lawful temple and inquired how much it would be to raise him. Our jaws hit the floor when we were told 8,750 GP! I immediately said “sorry Adam, life’s a bitch. It sucks. But no way should we pay 8,750 GP for an almost-2nd level Elf to be raised!” To his credit, Adam was cool about it. But I could tell he was bummed, so we finally made some negotiations about who would get the next magic item and we agreed to raise him. His PC actually paid more than the other PC’s, so it seemed reasonable.
But it got me thinking. How much is a PC worth? And so I came up with a formula. Basically, nobody gets Raised, Cured of Curse, or Cured of Diseases unless the following formula comes up higher than zero:
“Current XP of PC” minus “Cost of Clerical Spell”
So this means if it costs 8,750 GP to raise someone, we shouldn’t raise them unless they have that many XP. If it costs 3,150 GP to remove a curse, we shouldn’t pay for it until the PC has earned 3,150 XP and therefore proven his worth and survivability. If he is cursed and only has 2,000 XP then he will have to deal with it and fight and scrape until he hits 3,150 XP. Then he is “worth it.”