Wealth – a new ability score for D&D

Solomon's Wealth and Wisdom, as in 1 Kings 3:12-13, illustration from a Bible card published 1896 by the Providence Lithograph Company

New Ability Score: Wealth

If you are like me, tracking wealth, money etc. is always a chore. In general, I don’t care how many gold pieces the dragon sleeps on. It should just be a lot.

I really like the d20 modern solution so I thought perhaps do something similar for DnD 5E. In the DMG, Sanity and Honor are introduced as extra attributes, so I thought this would be a good template to use for a wealth mechanic.

The Basics
The starting wealth of every character is 11. It can’t be raised by ability increases, only by finding treasure. Opening a treasure chest at the end of a dungeon should increase the parties wealth by 1; slaying a dragon and getting a mountain of gold by 2 or perhaps even 3.

You only make wealth checks never wealth saves. Your wealth can never drop below 1, but has no maximum.

Spending Wealth
Day to day commodities like eating, drinking, staying a night at the inn are not of interest. It is always assumed that the heroes have enough money to afford this. In essence, if you spend 1 sp or less, it should not matter and if it costs 2 sp … seriously you don’t need to roll everything.

To buy something more expensive you look up its normal gold cost, look up its associated DC in the following table, and succeed on a wealth check against the DC:

Wealth check DC Cost in gp
5 ≤1
10 ≤10
15 ≤100
20 ≤1,000
25 ≤10,000
30 unlimited

To make the transition between steps a bit smother you can introduce “half steps” with the following table:

Wealth check DC Cost in gp
7 ≤2.5
12 ≤25
17 ≤250
22 ≤2,500
27 ≤25,000

Exhausting Wealth
When a character succeeds on a wealth check with a higher DC then the character level + 10, the character’s wealth permanently decreases by 1.

Availability
Availability grants advantage or disadvantage. Common goods even if they are expensive are easy to find, giving the purchaser advantage on the wealth roll. Items with low availability like black market goods or legendary magic items will give the purchaser disadvantage on the wealth roll.

Pooling Wealth
Characters may decide to combine their wealth to buy something. This simply grants advantage on the roll for one of the participants. When the roll is successful, it counts as if each of the participants succeeded on the wealth check which means that one or more might have exhausted their wealth. However, the group may decide to shift around the permanent wealth decreases among them as they please.

Being Rich
Some characters are defined by being rich or having access to high amounts of wealth. Perhaps the character is of nobility or is simply a successful merchant. The Abundance skill is for this purpose and simply grants proficiency on all wealth rolls. All character classes have access to this skill.


Image: Solomon’s Wealth and Wisdom, as in 1 Kings 3:12-13, illustration from a Bible card published 1896 by the Providence Lithograph Company.

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