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We are starting a new 12th level campaign (DnD 5e) within a few weeks and checking the higher level starting equipment I found that between 11 and 16 level the PC should start with 5,000 gp plus d10 x 250 gp and with two uncommon magic item. Assuming buying magic items is not a possibility (or very limited at best), how should I handle this?

I feel that if there is no good way to spend this money at the start of the game, it may cause problems with the PCs being too worried to do anything with that much at hand (just outright start with a cart stuffed full with cash) or just try to solve every upcoming problem with it (bribes, hire guards or even a small army).

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd love to run a game where the party tries solving every problem with cash. There's so much opportunity for conflict and story. \$\endgroup\$ – Joe Jun 14 '17 at 20:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ related: without a magic item economy, what is gold for? \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jun 14 '17 at 23:23
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A typical gold sink is tool proficiencies and languages; downtime

I recently joined a group at level 11 with similar guidelines. My choice was to add a tool proficiency (thieves tools) and two languages. The DM took a look at the tables in the DMG, also consulted the UA on downtime article from WoTC. We arrived at a price. It ate about 3300 GP to get those downtime benefits, and accounted for all of the downtime he had allowed for a character to have earned by 11th level.

On my own I made the decision to convert 1000 GP of gold into 2 500 GP diamonds (Raise Dead needs one of those) which DM approved, and I spent a little more money getting them set into a mundane amulet I wear around my neck. (Under my shirt/armor).

The rest was odds and ends, though getting a warhorse and the expensive barding is something I considered seriously.

Work with your DM if this idea appeals to you and arrive at some "how I used all of my summer vacations" upgrades to tools and languages.

If your DM likes the UA article on downtime, you could use some of the gold/down time to craft a particular magic item. (A rare one goes for about 2000 GP but takes about 50 game weeks, and the DM needs to rule on the need to face at least a CR 9-12 monster to find the necessary ingredients).

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6000 gp can run out quickly.

There are a lot of ways for PCs to spend down 6000 gp in the course of their adventures:

  • Spellcasting: Lots of spells have expensive material components. Raise Dead costs 500gp, Hallow, Heroes' Feast, and Forbiddance (among others) costs 1000gp, and in a few levels, your players will have access to increasingly expensive spells like Sequester, which costs 5000gp. Hell, Planar Ally can cost 100gp a minute! The Downtime UA shows that making scrolls is quite expensive as well. These costs can easily eat through that starting gold.
  • Equipment: While most adventuring gear is pretty cheap, some of it is not. Plate armor is 1500 gp, half plate is 750gp (PHB 145), and the infamous spyglass is 1000gp (PHB 150).
  • Other goods: PHB 157 has a list of other various things your PCs might be interested in having. They could easily spend a few hundred gold on mounts, and most watercraft are more than 10,000 gp.
  • Real Estate: DMG 128 shows that building even a small building can cost many thousands of gold. An outpost or fort costs 15,000 gp, for example. If your PCs want to have some sort of home base, it could be a huge gold sink. Moreover, such buildings also have persistent maintenance costs (DMG 127) that accumulate daily and can really add up.

You can also introduce custom costs. For example, you could give extra languages or proficiencies for gold. A "skilled" hireling is 2gp a day, but that might only be a 1st level fighter--hiring a spellcaster or a high-level hireling might cost a lot more. After all, at that point, your PCs are basically quest givers.

Based on costs, this sum might not "feel" exorbitant

It seems like you're concerned that the PCs will perceive themselves to have a massive fortune. However, based on the costs given above, they might not actually feel that way. Sure, that much money is an incredible amount for a commoner to have, but it's very far from an infinite supply. Even if they only end up spending a few hundred of that gold, they probably won't feel flush with cash.

For example, in my own campaign, some of my level 10 PCs are walking around with 15,000 gp, but they are unconcerned about it: it basically means that they don't worry about everyday costs. Of course, this is down to how your players feel and the style of your game, but I think it won't be much of an issue in a typical heroic fantasy game.

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