Wealth. Seeking advice

Hey Open Legion,

I’m months deep into my campaign and am thinking that perhaps I should have tackled wealth differently.

Right now, in a party of 5-6 PCs, some are at WL 5 while others are still at WL 2. This is mainly down to individual morality on whether to take, steal or accept rewards in certain situations.

I wonder, would it have been better to have given the group a shared Wealth level instead? For the purposes of deciding on purchases. For example, if they need a crew for a ship, it’s going to be one or two characters paying for it. Then again, that may be a good excuse for some party roleplay.

How do you all deal with wealth in your games? And how would you approach ‘fixing’ this situation in my campaign (if indeed it is an issue and not an opportunity)?

This definitely seems more like an opportunity than an issue for me. You can easily use this imbalance to create tension, provided that you can trust the players to take it in good humour even if their characters are at each other’s throats. If the difference in wealth levels is mostly due to morale concerns, then be sure to lean on that: how does the strictly lawful character feel about having something they use paid for with stolen money?

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And that’s about a thousand new ideas flowing through my head :slight_smile:

You’re right I feel. It’s a blessing. So far, the characters have all gotten along well. I wonder what will happen when some major purchases are required…

So, while I’m here on the topic - they are level 3. On average, have I been a little too generous if one of my players is WL 5?

I would say yes.

Remember, WL is exponential in growth.

if you said that:

WL 1 = 1 gold

then that would mean

WL 1 = 1 to 9 gold
WL 2 = 10 to 99 gold
WL 3 = 100 to 999 gold
WL 4 = 1000 to 9999 gold
WL 5 = 10,000 to 99,999 gold

Though a lot of people consider those numbers but all with an addition digit. (as in teh WL # indicates how many 0’s are after the 1).

WL 5 is very high for level 3. In the rules, an example for WL 4 is a Hero at Level 4.

That is dependent on your setting though,a nd the types of missions they have been on and rewards gotten.

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Ok. Thanks. I’ve got two sessions coming up in May. Going to have some fun re-balancing this :smiley:

Fun idea, if some of them have a lot of money from stealing then the thieves guild might expect some tax :wink:

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I’m curious on how to handle group purchase. Summing the PC’s WL cannot work since it’s exponential. Any suggestions?

I’d like to hear thoughts on this too. All I could think of right now is the characters all agree to put their wealth in a single pot from the start. Then again, the GM could just assess how much the total party WL is at their discretion.

Fun idea, if some of them have a lot of money from stealing then the thieves guild might expect some tax :wink:

Ooh, I like this. And they just happen to be going somewhere next where the thieves guild have a presence…

It’s certainly tricky, not something that was in mind when the wealth level system was built. It’s probably something the GM would have to play by ear, but my initial thoughts:

  • 2 players of the same WL can purchase 1 additional item of their WL between them every two weeks than they could separately
  • 3 players of the same WL can purchase an item 1 WL higher without dropping a level
  • 4 players of the same WL can purchase an item 2 WL higher by all dropping a level

I tend to handle it as in the example above for costs, while player WL uses “number of zeros” (because a WL 2 player doesn’t spend all of their money to buy a WL 2 item). It’s highly setting dependent, and just a guideline anyway. Something for the GM to decide case by case.


Part of what I really like about OL is the Wealth Level (WL) system, because in most RPG systems money is a thing that gets in the way of the story.

The reason for this is pretty simple, money is a very powerful, near universal, convergent instrumental goal, whatever you are trying to do, having more money is (usually) a way to ease doing it. In a story, where the protagonist is presented with interesting choices money can therefore be a problem as they can buy their way out of a difficult situation. Limitations and restrictions on resources are what create interesting choices after all.

The way wealth works in OL is that the GM basically grants a character the ability to do new things as reward. You are never in a position where the player can micro their way up to buying equipment you don’t want them to have access to because changing WL is a macro event, it requires a substantial sacrifice on the part of the player or the completion of some quest for which it is the explicit reward.

So, if you want to know if you’ve made a mistake just ask yourself am I happy with the powers I’ve granted my players by giving them changes in WL? According to the core rules at WL 5 they have wealth comparable to lord of a realm or mob boss in a large city, they can buy a large cargo ship, a city wall, a heavily armored tank, weapons to outfit a small militia. Can they do things that would potentially break the game or render challenges irrelevant? Have you made a subset of characters the centre of attention too frequently because of their WL?

If you are happy where things are then great, you don’t need to worry. But you might still consider a few options that the WL system has presented you with. Some of your party are at a higher WL because of morally dubious decisions you say? Fortunately for them theft is an action without consequence so I’m certain if their GM were to give them an opportunity to spend lavishly no one would notice and put two and two together. I’m certain their lawful good counterparts wont be upset if their thieving companions land them in trouble with the law, or the local thieves guild, or a disgruntled property owner.

If you have put yourself in a position where the players WL have become a problem you have a few options. One option is to put them in a scenario where wealth is less useful. The example given in the rules is that a player can have all the money in the world, but they wont be able to buy water in an uninhabited desert. Be careful with this one, the additional wealth they obtain was a result of player choices, and completely sidelining the entire wealth system risks undoing those choices and that is a Bad Thing ™.

A milder version of this is if you are in a setting with multiple currencies then you can play the old ‘Republic Credits are no good here’ card. Keep this simple though, ‘while you are in this location everyone has -1 to WL’. Suddenly the lawful paladin find themselves unable to afford a room for the night and either sleeps in a barn or finds themselves indulging in the ill gotten gains of the morally questionable rogue.

Another option is to look for areas where your players are under powered and offer to trade WL for some other sort of power. Is the archer using the same bow from character creation? Maybe it is time for an expensive extraordinary item to show up in the local shop. The way I think about shops is that they aren’t really shops, they are ways to let the player pick a (slightly more random) reward post quest. The player gets a bump WL then presented with some choices in a shop (do you want the fancy pants armor, or the magic staff?). They get the choice of keeping the bump in WL, or one of the two extraordinary items (wouldn’t you know it, they are priced in precisely such a way that the WL I just gave them would have to be used up to obtain them).

I also find that in general with consumables (of which WL is an example), it helps if players are aware of how a GM is going to treat them. Is this a common item that they can obtain again if they need to, or is it unique. Be prepared for them to hoard unique items like lunatics.

I like my players to use consumables because it forces them to decide when to expend a resource. So I make a point of regularly stocking them up on things their characters can expend, but only if they have used them. They can buy another grenade, if they used the last one. I explicitly tell them this is how consumable work.

As for pooling resources, generally I think it should be avoided. Differences in WL are exponential in base 10, so unless 10 equal WL players (and what the heck kind of game are you running with 10 PCs) get together the effect of pooling resources is to just match whatever the highest WL is. Of course this is a rule I might allow to be bent or broken for something suitably interesting.


Me too :slight_smile:

Thanks for your thoughts on this. I’ve opted to introduce more opportunities to spend in order to get things back on track.

I’m a bit late to the party here, but I’d like to suggest that another option is to present morally acceptable rewards that are big enough to bump up the lower WL characters without changing the higher WLs.

Character 1 is at WL2
Character 2 is at WL5
A reward that moves character 1 to WL3 is nowhere near big enough to move character 2 to WL6. If it were, character 1 would ALSO be at WL6, due to the exponential nature of Wealth Levels.