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With my current group we have 2 lifestyles. One is always sleeping in the muddy stables and the rest of the group are usually taking the most expensive rooms available, eating fresh meat and drinking wine and good mead. So far, the only difference between the two is the cost and there's no real reason to choose one over the other and I'd like to change that. Some players considered dropping their lifestyles to save a couple of coins. I feel like spending gold on your stay, enjoying good food and music at the tavern should have an impact on your morale, general health and make you a more capable adventurer in the long term.

I'm not sure how to proceed. I see 3 ways:

  1. Awarding inspiration to those who gets quality sleep, bath and food
  2. Circumstantial disadvantages for sleeping in stables (smell, bad sleep, bad recovery etc.)
  3. A mix of the two

I'm not sure about the unforeseen consequences of enforcing this. I talked to my players about it and of course the majority is on board but the other player (the greedy one) is against it. He says it would turn his character's background into a burden (life of modesty).

I just want to properly model the consequences of his choices. I don't want to punish him, but I want to make it clear that if you show up in a meeting with a noble after sleeping in the stables and adventuring for 2 weeks in your sweaty clothes, you won't make a good impression. Also, I want to reward players who invest gold, time and roleplay downtime in the tavern.

What would be the best option? Any alternative suggestion?

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Torchbearer has rules for this but not in a way easily ported to 5e. –  okeefe Aug 26 at 13:58
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Also to consider: a rich lifestyle might be an advantage when dealing with fancy people, but you shouldn't dictate what kind of pleasures affect a character's morale. Maybe all of that rich living makes one soft, or feel guilty of waste, or so on. And as for health: sugar and other delicacies aren't necessarily good for you. If someone stays at the cheapest lodging in keeping with their character, you might impose some logical social consequences — but also give Inspiration. –  mattdm Aug 26 at 14:45
    
@mattdm Oh wow...that never crossed my mind. Hmmm good point. Makes a great point for circumstantial (dis)advantage –  MrJinPengyou Aug 26 at 14:47
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It's not really a life of burden if he's doing it to keep a treasure horde of gold. More like a life of Scrooge McDuck. –  Zibbobz Aug 26 at 14:59
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I've had some great sleeps in barns, woolsheds, and the like. Animal noises do not keep me awake and a pile of hay is a nice bed. There's no reason why a night in a good stable should be any less restful than a bed. Some characters (barbarians, rangers, druids) might prefer it. Then again, this doesnt apply to a draughty, smelly, wet barn full of rodents. –  Greenstone Walker Aug 27 at 3:52

9 Answers 9

up vote 17 down vote accepted

Generally, I think you're on the right track to try to enforce some mechanical consequence to the choice of lifestyle.

I think the right choice is to use the second option more often than not. In specific circumstances (especially in social interactions), certain kinds of lifestyles should grant advantage or institute disadvantage. For instance, if you're a stable sleeper, and have to go in front of the Lord of the Town, you're likely to have disadvantage on all your checks. But the inverse is also true, if you're a hotel dormer, and don't make allowances, you're going to have disadvantage with the slumlords etc.

Again, I would make sure there are opportunities for him to...essentially pay...to remove some of this. For instance, if he's been slumming it for a few weeks, he could go to a bath house, pay a GP or two to get a good bath and get cleaned up. I might still harm him if rumors are floating about, but at least he'd look like he was supposed to be there. In other words, it shouldn't be a mechanical penalty that is permanent or robs the player of his agency. Just one that he has to work around occasionally.

As far as awarding inspiration, this should be very much tied to the BIFT (Bonds Ideals Flaws Traits) of each character rather than anything specific to their lifestyle. However, if they are (for good reason) entering a lifestyle that is in character, but conveys some kind of situation disadvantage (for instance, a Hermit staying in the woods, even if it means he misses something important in town).

Basically, inspiration is a reward for taking consequences for staying in character. So if your PC, within their character, decides to slum it, but then has disadvantage with the town noble the next day. That's actually cause to award inspiration, rather than the converse (rewarding them with inspiration for living an out of character lifestyle).

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Since the rules in the players handbook don't offer much DM advice, I have toyed with the idea of creating random tables for each of the life styles. In the spirit of the rules stated in the Players Handbook, page 157:

Your lifestyle choice can have consequences. Maintaining a wealthy lifestyle might help you make contacts with the rich and powerful, though you run the risk of attracting thieves. Likewise, living frugally might help you avoid criminals, but you are unlikely to make powerful connections.

I've imagined that each plot important night or week that you spend in a life style various events might happen. I have not used this yet, as its a lot of work to make the tables and I suspect these tables will be provided in the DMG anyways. However, here are examples of the highest, and lowest lifestyles:

Wretched: (roll a d8)

  1. You get bitten by a rat in the night. Your max HP is lowered by 1 point until you get it taken care of.
  2. Those are some fine shoes you are wearing, you wake up surrounded by four commoners looking to take your shoes. Your long or short rest is interrupted.
  3. You were plagued by dreams of plague. You only gain 75% of your hitpoints.
  4. You stink! You have disadvantage on all Charisma rolls when talking to people who are not also wretched until your next long rest, or you find a place to clean up.
  5. When you wake up, you see a poor starving child looking for a leg up in the world.
  6. Amazingly you've gotten used to your situation, ignore the next negative thing that happens from rolling on this table.
  7. While sleeping in the gutter, you overheard two people talking about some important piece of information you need to know.
  8. You have been labeled "Expendable". Someone is looking for you to do a very dangerous task that does not pay very well.

Aristrocratic: (roll a d8)

  1. You get summoned by the local authority to help solve a problem.
  2. You have higher expectations. The next reward you are offered is double what it would have been.
  3. Your money is no good here. Any item which costs less than 50 gold is free as long as you only buy one of them.
  4. Your wealthy ways has attracted the wrong type of attention, someone has stolen 200 * Level gold! (or 200 * Level gold worth of mundane equipment if you don't have the gold) Clues have been left behind to find the thief and your stolen goods.
  5. Someone wants to get on your good side. You have advantage on all diplomacy checks until your next long or short rest.
  6. You are "useful". A minor noble requests your assistance in a plan they have.
  7. You are one of "them". You have disadvantage on any diplomacy checks with those less fortunate.
  8. Someone more sinister has noticed your wealth. The local thieves guild has been hired to steal something valuable from you.
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This seems generally fun, although I think a character with the right background and skills ought to be able to mitigate some of the situations on the first chart. There's no "streetwise" in this edition, but maybe in an urban game, Survival would apply. It seems like the "urchin" background would probably also help: you know how to deal with the rats, but literal and human..... –  mattdm Aug 26 at 14:34
    
@mattdm Yeah that sounds about right. One of the reasons I'm expecting/hoping these things will be in the DMG is how it interacts with other features. –  GMNoob Aug 26 at 14:40
    
a lot of urchins died of disease :-D –  AquaAlex Aug 26 at 16:36
    
@AquaAlex And the ones that grew up to be adventurers didn't. :) –  mattdm Aug 26 at 19:13
    
yep but the ones that grew up to be deformed diseased beggars are much higher :-D And if you keep living that life style you will be extremely dirty (even by dirty standards) and be covered in lice/fleas/disease. Your body will not be have the minerals and vitamins it needs to keep fighting diseases, your appearance will definitely worsen and that will have very negative effect on any interactions with people not at the lowest class. (but may be a bonus in the beggars and dunniken guild) :-) –  AquaAlex Aug 27 at 7:16

You can award it at your discretion, however...

Simply giving inspiration for having a better lifestyle does not seem to be in the spirit of inspiration.

Your DM can choose to give you inspiration for a variety of reasons. Typically, DMs award it when you play out your personality traits, give in to the drawbacks presented by a flaw or bond, and otherwise portray your character in a compelling way. Your DM will tell you how you can earn inspiration in the game. - PHB p. 125

From this I would infer that Inspiration is really meant ot be given out for good roleplay, which simply spending more money does not seem to meet.

While mechanically a better lifestyle does not give any benefit it seems to imply that there should definitely be story/social benefits derived from lifestyle.

Your lifestyle choice can have consequences. Maintaining a wealthy lifestyle might help you make contacts with the rich and powerful, though you run the risk of attracting thieves. Likewise, living frugally might help you avoid criminals, but you are unlikely to make powerful connections. - PHB p. 157

From this and the descriptions of the various lifestyles there should be an increasingly powerful level of contacts and connections a PC gains as their lifestyle increases.

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You can, but I wouldn't

This is a matter of taste and group play, but I would not enforce mechanical differences for lifestyle differences like that. In the real world, much of those differences are more a matter of comfort than effectiveness, especially once you get used to them.

I spent time in the Army where during field exercises and actual deployments I was sleeping in sub par conditions and eating things that were not the most appetizing. I was uncomfortable, but it did not have any significant or major impacts on my health or effectiveness, at least not to the point I would say it would have an impact if translated to an RPG.

Story differences might work better

But the story is another situation. This character is less comfortable than the others. This can be played up. But more than that, you can have people in social situations comment on his appearance, how he looks like he slept in a barn, might smell like animals. Others might assume he is a servant to the rest of the group rather than an equal member. This can result in interesting social situations that I think are more appropriate than a mechanical difference.

Look at shadowrun

Shadowrun has the concept of "Lifestyles". It's basically a catchall so you don't have to track the price of meals, etc. But there are different grades at different costs. There are some effects you might say are mechanical, but the vast majority of the difference is in terms of flavor and story telling and even the mechanical stuff of the lifestyles shades into story realms (low lifestyles are more likely to get mugged, etc.)

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Or look at the original WFRP, which (in a supplement) had extensive rules for social class, subdivisions within classes, the cost of maintaining yourself at a particular class, and the effects on Fellowship and Leadership rolls of differing social classes between the participants. I can't remember what happened if you "really were" higher class but only paid for lower, but if it were up to me now you'd take the least advantageous of the two possibilities in all circumstances, since poor people would despise you as a toff but not respect your authority, and rich people would just despise you! –  Steve Jessop Aug 26 at 17:42

Lifestyle Die

Between adventures, your lifestyle earns you a Lifestyle Die. It's a single die ranging from D4 to D8. If you're living good, the die can be used as an extra Hit Die to heal, or rolled for a Saving Throw, once, and then it's used up.

If you're living poorly, I'll decide when it gets rolled and it's subtracted from a Saving Throw, or a skill check involving endurance, attention, or anything that might involve needing to be well rested and fed.

D8 Aristocratic

D6 Wealthy

D4 Comfortable

No effect Modest or Poor

D6 Squalid

D8 Wretched

Considerations

It provides a concrete bonus, but as a one-time (per adventure, anyway) die it's not too heavy of a consequence. For the negative dice, it's mostly that the player has no control when it's going to slam them, and that often is more stressful to the player than whatever the actual effect turns out to being.

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It might be helpful to note that you are presenting this as a houserule –  wax eagle Aug 26 at 17:05

Maybe...

let's say that you have a Cleric in the group who made a poverty(?) pact. He cannot gain Inspiration if he sleeps into best best room in town, while he should be rewarded for sleeping with pigs in a stable as per Joshua's quote from the PHB.

As written, Inspiration should be given for roleplaying your character features.

I would use Way 2 but only on extreme situations; adventurers are quite used to spending part of their lives in dungeons, deep forests, mountains, swamps, and so on.

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Award Inspiration for maintaining a high lifestyle if the character's Background and other roleplaying traits suggest they would do that.

Award Inspiration for maintaining a low lifestyle if the character's roleplaying traits suggest they would do that.

A street urchin or an uncivilized barbarian should get Inspiration for living in the dirt despite the looks people give them for smelling like soil. A noble or a merchant should get Inspiration for renting a proper room despite the cost.

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A fourth option for rewarding player character's nonoptimal downtime behavior such as spending gold on luxury items, consuming good food & drink, playing games, carousing & enjoying tavern music, etc., is let the players earn 1 XP per 1 gp they spend above the 1 gp/day expense for a "Modest" lifestyle. (See the designated answer to my similar question here for a full explanation.)

Here "nonoptimal" means lifestyle choices which have no tangible benefits to the character's statistics but preserves verisimilitude of the adventure. So time spent plying a trade, training, or buttering up a nobleman wouldn't count.

This is a fairly abstract and convenient way of representing & rewarding downtime. There's no need to roleplay their lifestyle choices, although as the DM you could certainly award extra XP if the player does want to roleplay.

At the DM's discretion, it would be a good idea to place a limit on how many XPs a character can earn by spending gp on a luxurious lifestyle. The number of XP required to advance to the player's current level (so 300 XP for Level 2 players, 900 XP for Level 3 players, ...) is a convenient cap, even if the PC has plenty more gold to spend. Furthermore, players should not be allowed to level up by earning XP from gp spending. For example, a player has to first win XPs the old-fashioned way in order to progress to Level 2 before she can earn 300 bonus XPs by spending 300 gp on high living.

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If you do this you should of course award equal or greater XP if the players can contrive a means to have just as much fun without spending anything. But I suppose that's the same as "award extra XP if the player does want to roleplay" :-) –  Steve Jessop Aug 26 at 17:46
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@SteveJessop - Yes, absolutely. I liked the gp for XP solution because it's in keeping with human nature that we're going to live it up after completing a dangerous quest. What did Conan & his friends do after stealing the Eye of the Serpent from Thulsa Doom's temple? They got plastered at the tavern! –  RobertF Aug 26 at 17:56

Since any "solution" is going to be some form of house rule, I would like to put in my 2 cents.

I feel like it's best to compare the "norm" with the "now" - A character that regularly plays a certain lifestyle should be able to gain benefits due to their experience with that lifestyle. I would weigh it against the character's back story as well as their past actions.

I think that it would be unfair to the people spending gold for a good night, but at the same time a flat disadvantage to the people choosing the stables would probably leave a sour taste in their mouths.

I think the better way to deal with this is to have random "situations" on both extremes of the lifestyle:

  • Those living in barns, sheds, stables, etc... Might find themselves in bad situations. Since there is nobody watching guard, there runs a higher risk of theft, being captured, or otherwise interrupted in the night.
    • Bonus: Your character wakes up to see your comrades tied up. A local mob boss in front of you is angry because you are on their property. You can either pay a hefty fee to make them go away, or you can participate in some event to "pay them off" (and possibly make some money on the side) at the expense of some sleep.
  • Those living in high-class might find that it pays off! You throw a party and brag loudly!
    • A local attendant realizes that your deeds have done them some great deed (freeing captives that were actually relatives of theirs, stopping a local cult that was harassing the town, etc...) and offers a cash reward or maybe a hard-to-obtain item.
    • As your group spices up the otherwise boring town, some shop owners offer you a discount on select wares.
  • Surprise! Your group comes across a large castle town. Upon entering the town you are approached by an official messenger inviting your group to the castle because you are so well known!
    • Surprise#2! Only those of your group that were living it like rich folk are well known. The rest of your group is invited, but are treated poorly. Maybe they get wrongly accused and temporarily imprisoned, or maybe the thriftier folk get showered with rewards as their deeds are now well-known throughout the land.
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