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All Rules in Building an Adventure

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Placing Treasure

Source PRPG Core Rulebook pg. 399
As PCs gain levels, the amount of treasure they carry and use increases as well. The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game assumes that all PCs of equivalent level have roughly equal amounts of treasure and magic items. Since the primary income for a PC derives from treasure and loot gained from adventuring, it’s important to moderate the wealth and hoards you place in your adventures. To aid in placing treasure, the amount of treasure and magic items the PCs receive for their adventures is tied to the Challenge Rating of the encounters they face—the higher an encounter’s CR, the more treasure it can award.

Table 12–4 lists the amount of treasure each PC is expected to have at a specific level. Note that this table assumes a standard fantasy game. Low-fantasy games might award only half this value, while high-fantasy games might double the value. It is assumed that some of this treasure is consumed in the course of an adventure (such as potions and scrolls), and that some of the less useful items are sold for half value so more useful gear can be purchased.

Table 12–4 can also be used to budget gear for characters starting above 1st level, such as a new character created to replace a dead one. Characters should spend no more than half their total wealth on any single item. For a balanced approach, PCs that are built after 1st level should spend no more than 25% of their wealth on weapons, 25% on armor and protective devices, 25% on other magic items, 15% on disposable items like potions, scrolls, and wands, and 10% on ordinary gear and coins. Different character types might spend their wealth differently than these percentages suggest; for example, arcane casters might spend very little on weapons but a great deal more on other magic items and disposable items.

Table 12–5 lists the amount of treasure each encounter should award based on the average level of the PCs and the speed of the campaign’s XP progression (slow, medium, or fast). Easy encounters should award treasure one level lower than the PCs’ average level. Challenging, hard, and epic encounters should award treasure one, two, or three levels higher than the PCs’ average level, respectively. If you are running a low-fantasy game, cut these values in half. If you are running a high-fantasy game, double these values.

Encounters against NPCs typically award three times the treasure a monster-based encounter awards, due to NPC gear. To compensate, make sure the PCs face off against a pair of additional encounters that award little in the way of treasure. Animals, plants, constructs, mindless undead, oozes, and traps are great “low treasure” encounters. Alternatively, if the PCs face a number of creatures with little or no treasure, they should have the opportunity to acquire a number of signif icantly more valuable objects sometime in the near future to make up for the imbalance. As a general rule, PCs should not own any magic item worth more than half their total character wealth, so make sure to check before awarding expensive magic items.

Table 12-4: Character Wealth by Level

PC Level*Wealth
21,000 gp
33,000 gp
46,000 gp
510,500 gp
616,000 gp
723,500 gp
833,000 gp
946,000 gp
1062,000 gp
1182,000 gp
12108,000 gp
13140,000 gp
14185,000 gp
15240,000 gp
16315,000 gp
17410,000 gp
18530,000 gp
19685,000 gp
20880,000 gp
*For 1st-level PCs, see table 6-1 in Chapter 6.

Table 12-5: Treasure Values per Encounter

Treasure per Encounter
Average Party LevelSlowMediumFast
1170 gp260 gp400 gp
2350 gp550 gp800 gp
3550 gp800 gp1,200 gp
4750 gp1,150 gp1,700 gp
51,000 gp1,550 gp2,300 gp
61,350 gp2,000 gp3,00 gp
71,750 gp2,600 gp3,900 gp
82,200 gp3,350 gp6,000 gp
92,850 gp4,250 gp6,400 gp
103,650 gp5,450 gp8,200 gp
114,650 gp7,000 gp10,500 gp
126,000 gp9,000 gp13,500 gp
137,750 gp11,600 gp17,500 gp
1410,000 gp15,000 gp22,000 gp
1513,000 gp19,500 gp29,000 gp
1616,500 gp25,000 gp38,000 gp
1722,000 gp32,000 gp48,000 gp
1828,000 gp41,000 gp72,000 gp
1935,000 gp53,000 gp79,000 gp
2044,000 gp67,000 gp100,000 gp