You Can’t Buy Happiness

An alternative economy for Dungeon World

The following are some notes that ended up on the ‘cutting room floor’ for my next PDF adventure, Terror in Nekesti. I still intend to bring them into play in the following games though. If you have any feedback or comments, feel free to leave a message on my G+ here.

In my DW playtest group, we have a problem with money. It’s not heroic enough! If Baccan the barbarian, warrior without fear, is bold enough to venture into the tomb of Ludus Lepsi without a second thought then he shouldn’t need to be checking his purse to see whether he can afford 4 rations or 5, unless that tomb-robbing went really badly. Be a fan of the characters, right?

If you feel the same way, these new rules might be for you.

No more counting coppers

First: the players don’t track money. It’s assumed they always have “just enough” – less than they’d like, but enough to get by. When the players need stuff, here’s the updated supply move:

When you go to buy something, if it’s mundane supplies available in any marketplace (arrows, rations or adventuring gear) you get d4+CHA of them. For anything else, roll+CHA. On a 10+, you find just what you’re looking for. On a 7–9, what you want isn’t exactly available – it’s just sold out, it won’t be in stock until certain conditions are fulfilled, or the merchant only has a less effective equivalent. The GM will provide more details. The GM has final say on what is mundane (or not) and what is available (or not).

For any other moves involving money, players should start by rolling+CHA. Get a 7+ on that roll first, and we’ll see.

Treasure tables

At the end of a session, roll the biggest damage die again. Follow the guidelines from the DW rulebook on rolling treasure (don’t forget modifiers and if the monster is a hoarder, roll twice and take the best result.)

1-3 10-100 coin

  • Your name goes unmentioned by the common folk.
  • At best, you sleep on a scratchy bed in a draughty room above a rowdy peasant inn.
  • You have little more than a few spare silvers to fritter away in the bordellos and gambling houses.
  • You can spare enough to restock your rations and adventuring gear, but little more. Take -1 ongoing to supply until your living situation improves.

4-6 100-400 coin

  • “Aren’t you the one who killed that guy, or got that thing, or something? I know your face from somewhere…”
  • A private room for the party in a decent enough bedsit.
  • One good night of drunken larks! Roll carouse+0.
  • Enough coin for a simple drink or meal whenever you feel like it, without having to count your coppers first.

7-8 150-600 coin

  • When folk talk of ‘adventurers’, you’re the ones that come to mind.
  • A rented room each, with fresh linen, in a decent part of town. You could even have a bath (if you want!)
  • Many rampant nights of spending, drinking and celebrating. Roll carouse+1.
  • You’re eating better than most townsfolk, that’s for sure.

9-10 400-1200 coin

  • Your name is well-known round these parts. People have started actively seeking you out to solve their problems.
  • You can afford a small wagon or caravan for one, dented but whole; or sleep separately in decent living conditions (a bedsit or nice inn.)
  • You’re building a professional relationship with the local innkeepers. Roll carouse+1.
  • Every meal a banquet!

11-12 600-1800 coin

  • Your tales are known in at least a few towns, and travellers are spreading word of your deeds further every day.
  • One or two well-kept wagons with a few retainers.
  • You’re a regular sight in the taverns. Roll carouse+1; also, your celebrity identity may be used as leverage for appropriate townsfolk.

13-15 2000-8000 coin

  • Word of your success has spread far and wide. There’s a good chance your name and face will be recognised on the other side of the continent by now.
  • A simple homestead or office, find for business loans!
  • When you have cause to celebrate, roll to carouse+2.

16-17 10,000-60,000 coin

  • The works and lands of the free races stand or fall on your actions.
  • Your homestead is lavishly decorated with trophies, and smells of rich mahogany.
  • Your entertainments draw the rich and famous. Roll carouse+3, but be warned: the stakes are higher than your humble days in the watering holes.

18+ 30,000-120,000 coin

  • For generations to come, grizzled veterans will tell tales of your party’s exploits to their children. The youth’s eyes will grow wide (with fear or excitement, your choice) when they hear of your accomplishments.
  • You own a fine keep, a settlement of your own, or a small castle displaying the sigils of your adventuring party.
  • When you hold a party, you bet you roll carouse+3.
  • Your keep is filled with the best food, wine and equipment money can buy.

Edit: Multi-session games

Marques Jordan raised a very good point about how this table comes into play for multi-session events. After a bit of thought (and subject to more thought, as always) I suggest that when the party ends a session, but not the adventure, roll for treasure as normal. Tell the party what they get (the fame and fortune if they left the dungeon right now) but also point out the greater treasure/glory/objective still waits further within. When the adventure is complete and the ‘final boss’ defeated, roll for treasure as normal but treat the best earlier result as a minimum.

Example

The party are tasked with clearing the temple of elemental evil [say, that’s a good name for a future adventure PDF!] by a nearby town. In total, it takes the players 3 sessions.

They defeat a black pudding in session 1 (d10 damage) – they roll a 9 on the treasure roll. In session 2 they continue, but only face giant rats (d6 damage) because they’ve already ‘banked’ a minimum of 9 treasure from session 1, they don’t bother rolling for treasure afterwards. In the last session they find and kill their actual objective, an earth elemental (d10+5 damage). They roll d10+5 to work out treasure, but the lowest result they can actually get is a 9 – because of their efforts in previous sessions.

Other notes

If the party goes from riches to begging, ask questions and use the answers. Why didn’t the vampires have more gold, did someone else take it? How do you adjust to your new lifestyle? How has sudden fame changed you? How will you pay for your castle now, will someone richer try and claim it? If so, what do you do?

Wait, clerics don’t carouse!

If your character is of a more religious inclination, it might not make sense for them to spend their hard-earned gold drinking the night away. That doesn’t mean they don’t carouse, just that their character’s version is a great big donation to the church along with an evening’s prayer/chanting/self-flagellation. Hopefully, this effort will result in the attention of a notable figure of their faith (if not their god him/her/itself!)

What about magic items?

In addition to their wealth, notable enemies always have notable treasure, namely a magical item of some kind. These should be awarded in addition to the treasure roll, and should be something appropriate to the defeated creature.