One of my players just got his character killed, and because it makes most sense for his concept of "showman gladiator", his surviving sister has decided to use all his wealth to erect a statue of him in their home city.

Unfortunately though, I don't know how to decide on a reasonable price for a statue. I have no experience with sculpting (let alone historically) and the Art section in the DMG only handles small art that would work as loot, so it doesn't help me here. The only thing I know is that it costs 2gp to put a skilled worker to work for a day, but that doesn't help me much.

Are there any examples where statues are priced? Or an explanation of how much work / raw material is required to build them? I can't imagine I'm the first one whose players want a statue of one of their own commissioned. (And, this being a living game, this guy probably isn't going to be the last)

Ideally, they want a big one (life sized or better) and they have 190gp available to build it. There will be some money lost on convincing the city to let them do this (the cost for that is outside the scope of this question) so ideally, I'd like a few examples to determine this, but an example of some large statues from an official source is also fine as an alternative.

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    \$\begingroup\$ related meta: are campaign research questions on topic?. (Spoiler: the answer's "sometimes.") In my opinion this one's fine since the answer will depend on the value of a gp and the "economics" of 5e. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Sep 10 '18 at 11:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ The possibility of this question attracting 'opinion-based' answers does not make this an 'opinion-based' question. \$\endgroup\$ – Tiggerous Sep 10 '18 at 13:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yep, what Tiggerous said. It's fine for an answer to say "there's no guidance for anything of this sort in the rules". It's also fine to say "here is how I priced it, and here is how it worked out in my experience". It's not okay to answer with "I guess this pricing method might work, but I just made it up now and have never used it". Subjective questions/answers are fine if they are backed up by evidence or experience. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Sep 10 '18 at 21:55

Whatever the cost is of a level 4 spell casting

Stone Shape, level 4 spell, lets its caster form a stone object of medium size into any shape they want, instantaneously, without any expendable costs (other than the stone itself). Since Goliaths are medium sized creatures but are about 7 feet tall, you could make a statue that's slightly larger (or life sized) of your champion.

Bonus points for Clerics/Druids, who have access to this spell at level 7 and only need to prepare it that day (as opposed to Wizards who have to spend money to learn it).

So the fastest/cheapest route would be whatever the cost of a level 7 Cleric would charge for casting a level 4 spell, and the cost of a block of stone. There's no risk of flaws, missing contractors, poor stone quality, mistakes, or anything. The spell allows things like 2 stone hinges and a latch, so the detail of your statue is very much not a concern, and will likely appear of master craftsmanship.

I'm sure if you found a Cleric of the Forge, Grave, Life, War, or Knowledge, they might even commission it for a discount after hearing your story, although they may require that they stamp their emblem on the sculpture.

Unfortunately, I don't have rates on the cost of spellcastings, as it's one of the downsides of 5th edition, but I've had it for my games that Cost=L^3, where L = Spell Slot Level, was a good estimate of cost. A level 2 spell would cost about 8 gold, and a level 9 would run you 729. With this kind of example, a level 4 spell would cost about 64 gold at my table, but ask your DM what his rates are.

  • \$\begingroup\$ On the note of using magic to solve your problem, you could theoretically use the level 5 spell, Wall of Stone, and create a hollow statue that would be Large or Huge in size, specifically because "The wall can have any shape you desire" and "If you maintain your concentration on this spell for its whole duration, the wall becomes permanent". \$\endgroup\$ – Man_Over_Game Sep 10 '18 at 21:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Relevant question/answer regarding the cost of spellcasting services: How much should NPCs charge for spells cast as services to PCs? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Sep 10 '18 at 22:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast Thank you! It's rather interesting, the pricing with mine and the "official/unofficial" formula from that link are almost identical. A level 1 spell would run 11 gold and a level 9 spell would cost 810. A bit more expensive than my own, but very similar in overall price. \$\endgroup\$ – Man_Over_Game Sep 10 '18 at 23:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ I can (in theory) form a block of clay into "any shape I desire", but certain shapes require more artistry than others. Many casters can make a Wall of Stone, but those with the necessary artistic eye to form it into a proper statue could command a premium for this service. \$\endgroup\$ – starchild Sep 10 '18 at 23:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ The spell is a potent tool, but it still takes a skilled artist to use it effectively. The main benefit over more conventional tools is speed. \$\endgroup\$ – starchild Sep 11 '18 at 0:02

As with any question like this — one that doesn't have an explicit answer in the rules and is based on an interaction of different rules and out-of-game rulings, there are a number of different ways to approach this question. I will provide one such possible approach, the one I'd probably use if this came up for me. You can tweak the assumptions I make to change the final value, or go with a fundamentally different approach (as I assume will be provided in other answers).

It took Michaelangelo 3 years to carve his chef d'oeuvre David. He wouldn't have been working 100% full time on it, so let's assume he worked one day a week for that time. That's 156 days of work. Per PHB pg. 159, a skilled hireling costs 2 gp per day. If you go with the 2 gp per day, that's a little over 300 gp in labour costs.

But David is also significantly larger and more detailed than the statue you are likely commissioning. Let's halve the time to account for that. 150 gp in 78 working days.

You'll likely need to add in material costs to that. There aren't hard and fast answers to how much stone costs, so I'll make a conservative estimate of 1 copper for every pound. This site suggests a human-sized statue is probably at least 500 lbs. So that's an extra 5 gp. You can probably, therefore, ignore material costs and assume the labour price includes them.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a good approach! But I looked up a bit more about the David, and it seems that Michaelangelo did work on it full time, so your estimates are probably quite a bit too low. Still, something I can work with. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Sep 10 '18 at 12:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ I arrived at it based on OP's stated assumptions. However, for a more robust source, PHB pg. 159, a skilled hireling costs 2 gp per day. \$\endgroup\$ – Jim Cullen Sep 10 '18 at 13:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's probably worth considering that the 2gp/day figure for a "skilled hireling" is by contrast to an "unskilled hireling" for 2sp/day - for instance, a common laborer loading/unloading goods etc. is an unskilled hireling, but a carpenter or mason is a skilled hireling. Commissioning an artist of Michaelangelo's caliber to produce a sculpture should probably be at least an order of magnitude again more expensive than hiring a common mason. \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer Sep 10 '18 at 13:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Carcer that seemed to be more because we know how long he worked. I don't think my players are aiming for someone of his caliber, but it gives us an idea of how long work on the statue requires. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Sep 10 '18 at 13:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Erik, sure, I follow. Just thought it was worth clarifying in case others got the wrong impression by using the comparison. \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer Sep 10 '18 at 13:37

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