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Old 02-22-2020, 09:08 PM   #11
Varyon
 
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Default Re: Working Stiffs or: How Much Should Professional Adventurer's Realistically Make?

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
If I was going to do a conversion based on commodities (whicc is what I did in my long World of D"Y"R"T game) I wouldn't use anything as unimportant to D&D as bread. I'd base it on longswords (a Gurps Thrusting Broadsword). The price of a D&D longsword has been very stable from edition to edition at 15 GP.
D&D swords are ridiculously cheap compared to everything else, at least when comparing to GURPS. In GURPS, a full-sized mace costs 1/12th as much as a Thrusting Broadsword ($50 vs $600), while in D&D a full-sized mace costs 4/5ths as much as a Longsword (12 gp vs 15 gp). Most else follows a similar trend - GURPS daggers are 1/30th the cost of a Thrusting Broadsword ($20 vs $600), while D&D daggers are 4/30ths the cost of a Longsword (2 gp vs 15 gp). I feel $1 = 1 sp probably comes closest in most places.

Incidentally, I happened to look up the rates for hirelings in the SRD*, then thought to look at DF15. From that, hirelings worth [250], if available, can be hired for $120/day, with pay rates scaling linearly with point value (so roughly $0.5 per character point per day). Of courses, that is a guaranteed daily rate, rather than being the expected reward, so my suggested $250/day for a quest that may take more or less time than expected (and that the hirer doesn't tag along for) may not be too far off.

*D&D hirelings are practically willing to risk life and limb for peanuts. Really, the base cost (which I assume corresponds to a level 1 character) for a trained hireling (so probably Warrior or Adept - the NPC equivalents of Fighter and Sorceror/Wizard, who don't get all the bells and whistles PC's enjoy - rather than Commoner) is only 3 sp per day. That's only enough to pay for the most basic food and lodging for a day, with nothing left over.
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Old 02-22-2020, 09:16 PM   #12
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Default Re: Working Stiffs or: How Much Should Professional Adventurer's Realistically Make?

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This question has bothered me for a long time. Just how much money would it take to reasonably entice some exceptional Indiana Jones- or Geralt of Rivia-type to risk life and limb for a wealthy employer or with the promise of a big score? How often do they take jobs, and how long do those jobs take? Funnily enough, I feel I may have stumbled upon a solid ballpark figure while prepping for a 5E campaign of That One Game I intend to run shortly for some friends (it’s all they know, don’t hold against them… or me).
If you are the kind of person who relies on salary, you are not an adventurer at all. One of the defining features of an adventure is high risk, high reward. Or as soldiers say, the only thing sillier than dying for a standard of living is dying for someone else's.

People's perception of both risk and reward from high-risk situations are not very good. There are people who risk life in prison to steal a few days' minimum wage, or throw their lives and treasures down a pit on Oak Island without evidence that anything is buried there, let alone its value.

Mercenaries etc. earn anything from Struggling (tenant farmers or beggars rounded up at gunpoint and told that they are going to a foreign land to fight the wicked ...) to Very Wealthy (members of what is becoming the dominant ethnic group sucking the old elite's money away). Often, they are motivated by the possibility of one day becoming independently wealthy (ie. not having to work for a living) or gaining enough Wealth to support a certain Status; just as often, their personalities mean that they lose money as fast as they gain it.
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Old 02-22-2020, 09:44 PM   #13
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Default Re: Working Stiffs or: How Much Should Professional Adventurer's Realistically Make?

There was a mercenary in the sample characters in WEG Star Wars whose partner was betrayed and killed by the Empire. He now works as a soldier for the Rebellion, but his code doesn't allow him to take on personal crusades without being compensated. So he requested one credit per day.
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I concede that Indy does it mostly FOR SCIENCE!, i.e. archeological thirst for knowledge, and also to thwart the Nazis, but at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark, there is this exchange between Indy and Brody:

Indy: "Look, I got these pieces, Marcus, they're good pieces."
Brody: "Yes, the museum will buy them as usual, no questions asked."
But in that case, he needs funding to continue his quest (specifically travel costs to Marrakech) not to line his own pockets.
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Old 02-22-2020, 10:09 PM   #14
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Default Re: Working Stiffs or: How Much Should Professional Adventurer's Realistically Make?

Professional adventurers are basically pirates (or pirates are basically adventurers). Wouldn't pirates in the Age of Sail be a better model for adventurer economics?
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Old 02-23-2020, 03:51 AM   #15
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Default Re: Working Stiffs or: How Much Should Professional Adventurer's Realistically Make?

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
*D&D hirelings are practically willing to risk life and limb for peanuts. Really, the base cost (which I assume corresponds to a level 1 character) for a trained hireling (so probably Warrior or Adept - the NPC equivalents of Fighter and Sorceror/Wizard, who don't get all the bells and whistles PC's enjoy - rather than Commoner) is only 3 sp per day. That's only enough to pay for the most basic food and lodging for a day, with nothing left over.
I have a feeling that's for basic wilderness work, like providing camp security, and so on, rather than for full-on dungeoneering work, but it's been a while since I had anything to do with the 3.5e DMG.

3sp/day is a lot more than your basic commoner working as a labourer gets, so even if it is an actual high-risk job it pays this much there'll be people willing to hire on - at least until the party comes back minus hirelings.
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Old 02-23-2020, 03:56 AM   #16
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Default Re: Working Stiffs or: How Much Should Professional Adventurer's Realistically Make?

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Professional adventurers are basically pirates (or pirates are basically adventurers). Wouldn't pirates in the Age of Sail be a better model for adventurer economics?
I'd rather hire ninjas than pirates. Look at the pickle Squire Trelawney got himself into!
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Old 02-23-2020, 03:58 AM   #17
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Default Re: Working Stiffs or: How Much Should Professional Adventurer's Realistically Make?

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But in that case, he needs funding to continue his quest (specifically travel costs to Marrakech) not to line his own pockets.
Brody: "Yes, the museum will buy them, as usual, no questions asked."
This would mean that he regularly sells "liberated artifacts", not just that one time. That said, Indiana Jones is strongly implied to rely on his day job of teaching archaeology, and that his adventures are the exception.

More on topic, I don't think that "adventurer" is a job that (reliably) gets one rich.

In a (lower-case) dungeon fantasy setting, "adventurer" is far more likely to be a full-time occupation, but I don't think it is a particularly lucrative one. Paladins and clerics do it for the glory of their god, for justice, or to protect the innocent. Warlocks and wizards do it for power and knowledge, and regard money only as a means to that end. Bards do it to seduce everything that moves, and a few things that don't. And so on. Thieves are the only exception I can think of right now.

Best case, you are basically a mercenary. You get paid better than a soldier, which is probably what you were before, but only the desperate or the thoroughly amoral would hire you, which limits your income stream. Who would pay a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits when you have regulated, obedient soldiers/peacekeepers who do it mostly out of loyalty, plus a soldier's salary?

This is just me, of course, but most of my dungeon fantasy characters are thoroughly broken individuals who for some reason don't fit into the life of a peasant, craftsman, city guard or guild magician, and raid lich tombs and goblin dens more out of desperation/necessity than a quest for riches. The rest are plain grave robbers/tomb raiders/lich looters and/or the aforementioned mercenaries. If it goes well, their unreliable, sporadic windfalls average out to slightly more than they could have made in a "civilian" life, once you subtract item repairs, healing potions and nights spent drinking and wenching in taverns.

Of course, if your players need to see their gold counters go up to get the feeling that they are "winning" the game, and feel cheated if they don't find a powerful magic item for every character in every dungeon, you need to be more generous.

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Old 02-23-2020, 07:31 AM   #18
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Default Re: Working Stiffs or: How Much Should Professional Adventurer's Realistically Make?

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Best case, you are basically a mercenary. You get paid better than a soldier, which is probably what you were before, but only the desperate or the thoroughly amoral would hire you, which limits your income stream. Who would pay a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits when you have regulated, obedient soldiers/peacekeepers who do it mostly out of loyalty, plus a soldier's salary?
In certain times, it was often "Who would trust a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits (vassals and levy) when you can hire regulated soldiers (mercenaries) whose loyalty is assured as long as the payments arrive on time?"
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Old 02-23-2020, 09:02 AM   #19
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Default Re: Working Stiffs or: How Much Should Professional Adventurer's Realistically Make?

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
D&D swords are ridiculously cheap compared to everything else, at least when comparing to GURPS.
By design and from the beginning Gurps weapons that do not have to be made of sword steel are far cheaper than weapons that do need to be made of sword steel. D&D weapons are priced either by random or by damage done.

So you try and compare apples to apples and you pick something that's of central importance to both systems. That's how I ended up with longswords/Thrusting Broadswords.

Speakign of things that are important, 1 GP equalling $10 is what the world of D'y'r't used but that was mostly for magic item buying. It seemed to work well.

As to hirelings I've never been in a group where low level adventurers had the money to hire them. The 2e Monstrous Compedium (probably quoting an even older source) says hirelings were seldom seen below the 3rd level of the dungeon.

Hiring people to guard your camp or especially your horses goes back to Runequest and not D&D. :)
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Old 02-23-2020, 10:27 AM   #20
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Default Re: Working Stiffs or: How Much Should Professional Adventurer's Realistically Make?

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By design and from the beginning Gurps weapons that do not have to be made of sword steel are far cheaper than weapons that do need to be made of sword steel. D&D weapons are priced either by random or by damage done.
Correct, and therefore basing the exchange rate on one of the items that has the most relative difference between the two systems (GURPS swords are really expensive compared to just about everything else mundane, while D&D swords... aren't) is going to create an exchange rate that throws everything off.

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Speakign of things that are important, 1 GP equalling $10 is what the world of D'y'r't used but that was mostly for magic item buying. It seemed to work well.
Indeed, and from the perspective of the players, the cost of magic items is pretty much the centerpiece of the D&D economy, everything else is small enough to be secondary. Let's take the most expensive single melee weapon in D&D, the 75 gp Falchion, and cheapest single melee weapon in D&D, the 0 gp (seriously, the cost line is "-") Club, and give them the weakest available enchantment, a +1/+1 enhancement bonus. Being masterwork (necessary to be magic) adds 300 gp; the +1 adds 2000 gp. We're now looking at a 2375 gp +1 Falchion and a 2300 gp +1 Club. That's less than a 5% difference between most expensive and least expensive base item. The difference is a bit more for ranged weapons, where the 400 gp Heavy Repeating Crossbow vs the 0 gp Sling gives us 2700 gp vs 2300 gp for a +1 enchantment, but that's still only around a 15% difference (and drops below 5% for +2, for 8700 gp vs 8300 gp).

The primary reasons one would want to convert from gp to GURPS $ would be to be able to make use of D&D's lists of goods and services, make use of D&D treasure results (or their magic item design system, which I'll admit a fondness for)*, or in edge cases (such as our own here) to figure out how much money an adventurer "should" make. Aside from the goods and services - which GURPS already has covered elsewhere - everywhere else the amount of money involved is tied into D&D's magic item economy (because that's where characters above ~level 3 or so are going to spend all their money), so that's the best place to base your conversion rate off of. The 1 gp = $10 (or 1 sp = $1, as I listed it) seems the best fit there.

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As to hirelings I've never been in a group where low level adventurers had the money to hire them. The 2e Monstrous Compedium (probably quoting an even older source) says hirelings were seldom seen below the 3rd level of the dungeon.

Hiring people to guard your camp or especially your horses goes back to Runequest and not D&D. :)
I think the only case my group ever made use of hirelings was in an Evil campaign where we decided to get some ships and attack some of the local Good settlements to take them over (there was another campaign where one of the characters got the Leadership Feat, but his followers were all just background support). The SRD mentions both warriors and craftsmen for its 3 sp/day, so safer duties may be intended (it mentions that some hirelings will be markedly more expensive; I interpreted that as referring to higher-level hirelings, but those who wanted extra hazard pay would make sense as well).

*I'll admit this never really occurred to me - using D&D treasure results and magic items - but I think would work out fairly well. Some results might need to be reinterpreted or outright rerolled (Keen doesn't work with critical hit chance not being a function of the weapon, and Vorpal's limited instant death crit isn't quite as useful when a crit has a pretty solid chance of downing an enemy anyway, for example), but monetary treasures would certainly work outright. While I've already designed a magic item creation system for my Oubliette DF setting, I'm not terribly happy about the pricing scheme or lack of a loot generation system, so I may see what I can steal from D&D. As my system involves building enchantments with character points, I may opt to use the D&D pricing scheme with each [5] in my system being worth the same as a +1 in D&D.
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