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I know that the DMG addresses this slightly on page 143 by stating that a character's wealth is equal to:

One magic item of character level +1

One magic item of character level

One magic item of character level -1

As far as gold pieces are concerned the formula is laid out on page 223 of the PHB in that a character has gold pieces equal to the cost of a magic item of their level -1.

At first glance this seems just fine for most of the Heroic Tier, but seems very underpowered towards the end of Heroic and onwards.

My question is: Has there been errata for character wealth, and/or is there a table of character wealth by level for 4th edition?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 10 down vote accepted

The rule still is: 3 uncommon items of level +1, equal level, and level -1, and gold for common items equal to level -1. After level 1, mundane gear is free, subject to GM consent.

The mechanism of granting a character 3 uncommon items and gold equal to an item of level -1 scales almost perfectly with their magic item system. The only times I've really been infuriated with it is when I'm at the edge of a tier and can't find a bloody common item to buy.

However, I still strongly recommend the use of the common and uncommon item system simply because it cuts down on unnecessary character complexity (a lesson I keep learning the hard way) and because it, in general, has a character start with a few useful items that are essential to their functioning.

There has been no errata to this to my knowledge and I feel that there is no need for this. Simply ignore the value of GP dispensed as value. (Epic characters can buy castles out of their pocket change. This is moderately depressing.)

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+1 for "This is moderately depressing." My main concern with the above listed method is that a played character over a built character will have more magic items. Albeit at a lower level, potentially, but I don't want anyone to be too underpowered. Having not actually seen it in play, this is just conjecture on my part from the reading of the proposed character wealth by level. Thanks again, Brian, for another well thought out answer! –  GPierce Jun 19 '11 at 1:31
    
Don't forget that a newly created character starts with higher lvl magic items than the played character. He might have less magic items, but they are more valuable/stronger than the ones the played character has. Also the build character can optimize his items, while the played character may have to work with the items the DM gave him. –  Tijnkwan Jun 3 at 23:06

I'll toss in an answer in a completely different spirit...

In our group, we don't have any sense of expected wealth by level. Wealth in our games comes naturally over the course of adventuring, as part of the story. To expect a certain amount of wealth at a certain level is like expecting to own a butcher's shop, or be married, or become bishop, just because you've been adventuring a while. I'll give you an example:

A few years back, we did a game where one of the characters was the youngest first cousin of the king. The party went on errands for the king on a regular basis, dealing with various problems throughout his domain. Poverty was never a problem for this group, as they had lodging in the home of any vassal of the king, horses to ride from the king's stables, and provisions from his larder. As they went up in levels, the problems they faced became more and more challenging, and more of a threat to the stability of the kingdom.

What motivated the party was not the acquisition of wealth, but the maintenance and survival of the kingdom. As the king was their sponsor, the well-being of the kingdom was the party's interest.

If a game where the party has no poverty doesn't interest you, you might try going the other way. Try an adventuring party that's part of a religious order with an oath of poverty, where they never hold any wealth beyond what their basic traveling gear.

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-1 While I agree that wealth-seeking groups are not the most interesting, this question is a purely mechanical question of wealth by level which is necessary for the mechanical side of the game due to the inherent red queen's race of equipment. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Sep 27 '11 at 23:14
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That race is mitigated to some degree by the Fixed Enhancement Bonuses introduced for Dark Sun, which could work for any 4e campaign. –  okeefe Sep 28 '11 at 0:19

The closest thing to an errata to this would be the loot rules used by the most recent version of Lair Assault.

We use straightforward rules to equip characters for their deadly battles. Each character receives one magic item of one level higher than their level (level + 1), one of their level (level + 0), and one of one level lower than their level (level – 1). In addition, characters receive gold pieces equal to the value of one magic item of one level lower than their level (level – 1) to buy other equipment they think they’ll need. Each character may have no more than two consumable items (like potions or magic ammunition) equal to or less than the challenge’s level, and no more than one rare magic item. Note that players may equip their characters with magic items that are less than the stated levels if they so choose.

https://www.wizards.com/dnd/Event.aspx?x=dnd/4new/event/dndlairassault (note that link will probably be invalid shortly after Lair Assault ends on May 31st, 2013)

Note that you can acquire as many common and uncommon items as you desire, the only rarity restriction is one rare magic item. Common and Uncommon are meaningless distinctions in this process.


The original buy-in rules were designed before Rarity was introduced.

The confusion about common, uncommon, and rare items was introduced much later, with Essentials. Although Wizards back-introduced rarity to items, it is very inconsistent across its many books, with some "uncommon" items seeming more powerful than their "rare" counterparts. I find rarity to be a poor indicator of actual value and don't use the system myself.


The buy-in rules were designed for a single higher level character entering an existing campaign. If you are building an entire party at higher levels, you can instead pool all the treasure parcels they ought to have received.

Although it is considerably more time-consuming, an alternative to the +-1 three-item buy-in rules is the full parcel buy-in rules. Basically, add up all the parcels for the levels below the new characters' level. So if you're starting a Paragon campaign at level 11, pool together the parcels for levels 1 through 10.

In this example, you'd hand out 40,795g to the whole party (versus 25,000 for a party of 5) and you'd hand out items of the following levels:

  • Level 2: 1
  • Level 3: 2
  • Level 4: 3
  • Level 5: 4
  • Level 6: 4
  • Level 7: 4
  • Level 8: 4
  • Level 9: 4
  • Level 10: 4
  • Level 11: 4
  • Level 12: 3
  • Level 13: 2
  • Level 14: 1

(as opposed to 5 level 10s, 5 level 11s, 5 level 12s. Note that the loss of three +2 items from 11 and 12 are replaced by 3 +2 items from 13 and 14).

This system requires the players to work together when assigning their items from a common pool, but more accurately reflects what a team of players are expected to have acquired during their campaign. Note, however, that this does not account for items players ought to have lost during their campaign, consumables consumed, money spent on services, etc. As a result, you may wish to reduce or even eliminate the monetary treasure from the pool system.

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At the height of "5e" coming out, and this being an old thread, I'd like to share my experience in DMing 4e and how I dole out items, gear and what my players say.

I DM two 4e groups. One is a weekly and we rarely miss a game. Very rarely. The other is monthly/bi-monthly. I originally tried to be a rules lawyer with items. Never quoting out loud to my players "no, level X can only have Z amount of items" or "that sword can only give a +X proficiency bonus." But the shops they visited and loot they found clearly reflected that mind set of PHB says this and I do this.

I've found the biggest thing with 4e, 3.5 or AD&D is the handbooks and guides are there to help you create a universe. And if in that universe your Rogue wants their dagger to have a daily and give a prof boost on attk rolls because the Rogue is sick of rolling 9s and lower then just do it! You can still, as a DM scale monsters any way you want so your group has an enjoyable time.

Plus, my players were sick of going into town for this or that. So, hell, if the Paladin Wis Mod wasn't providing a big enough lay on hands plus because the Wizard wouldn't keep distance between himself and the goblins, then maybe they found some potions for HP. Or maybe a surgeon's kit, that with the right heal DC they could get a 1d4 or 1d6 bonus to health, or whatever!

My point is have fun. Don't rely too much on lvl X needs Y. And if the supplements and handbooks don't have an item or a certain weapon or perk that will make your team be better and have more fun, while still being challenged then just make it up.

As players we should be expressing our desire to tell a story and get items (but understand there may be a reason for a DM saying No). And as DMs we should understand that the handbook isn't God Almighty. Yes, a DM should say no to a Cleric who wants to move, standard, minor and oh, can I move again just cuz (4e)? And a DM should say no to a wizard who wants to cast 8 spells, but has only 6 prepared (every other e). But we SHOULD say YES to the Warlock that need a bonus to their AC so they can enjoy the game. We should surprise the Ranger in the loot with a new Bow that may give a +2 to attk rolls even though he is only level 5. DMs can fudge the monsters or develop plot lines that inhibit a PC who become too strong. But pcs can't do that to overcome their crappy dice rolls or scratch the itch for a sweet Ring of Arcana Boost.

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Although I agree with your playstyle, the question posed is a pure technical one and "play differently" is not a valid answer to it. –  mxyzplk Jul 8 at 1:50

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