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I am puzzled by the interaction between Lifestyle and Downtime Activities, particularly as to lifestyle expenses.

One of the downtime options presented in the Player's Handbook, p. 187, is Researching, which expressly states:

For each day of research, you must spend 1 gp to cover your expenses. This cost is in addition to your normal lifestyle expenses . . . .

More downtime options appear in the Dungeon Master's Guide and Xanathar's Guide to Everything, including several that have associated gold-per-day costs. But none of them state that their costs are in addition to a PC's lifestyle expenses.

At the same time, certain downtime activities go out of their way to say lifestyle expenses are or might be covered during the activity. For example, Work, XGtE p. 134, contemplates an ability check the outcome of which determines what lifestyle one can maintain without cost during the activity. And Crafting, PHB p. 187, simply says:

While crafting, you can maintain a modest lifestyle without having to pay 1 gp per day, or a comfortable lifestyle at half the normal cost . . . .

In other words, the cost of Crafting subsumes one's lifestyle costs, at least to an extent. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the downtime options in XGtE are wholly optional "alternatives" that differ from options in the PHB and DMG. There is basically no consistency among them.

Even more confusing, the DMG says, at p. 128, that while engaged in Carousing, a PC "spends money as though maintaining a wealthy lifestyle . . . ." (Emphasis mine.) To my eyes, that "as though" is ambiguous. Does the PC spend money on her normal lifestyle and on the wealthy lifestyle necessary for Carousing? Or does the later subsume the former, as with the PHB's version of Crafting?

In short: which downtime activities cover a PC's lifestyle expenses while performing them, and which don't?

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I recommend reading the "Downtime Revisited" section of Xanathar's Guide to Everything, page 123. It gives you many options.

The ones that give you money are:

  • Crime

    • DC Value
    • 10 50 gp, robbery of a struggling merchant
    • 15 100 gp, robbery of a prosperous merchant
    • 20 200 gp, robbery of a noble
    • 25 1,000 gp, robbery of one of the richest figures in town
  • Gambling

    • 0 successes Lose all the money you bet and accrue a debt equal to that amount.
    • 1 success Lose half the money you bet.
    • 2 successes Gain the amount you bet plus half again more.
    • 3 successes Gain double the amount you bet.
  • Pit Fighting

    • 0 successes Lose your bouts, earning nothing.
    • 1 success Win 50 gp.
    • 2 successes Win 100 gp.
    • 3 successes Win 200 gp.
  • Selling Magic Items

    • Rarity Base Price
    • Common 100 gp
    • Uncommon 400 gp
    • Rare 4,000 gp
    • Very rare 40,000 gp
    • Legendary 200,000 gp
  • Work (I believe this is what you are looking for)

    • Check Total Earnings
    • 9 or lower Poor lifestyle for the week
    • 10—14 Modest lifestyle for the week
    • 15—20 Comfortable lifestyle for the week
    • 21+ Comfortable lifestyle for the week + 25 gp
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PHB page 157 gives a table of lifestyle expenses as a price per day.

Depending on what level you want to live there's a certain amount for food, clothing, housing that it costs each day to just live.

When it mentions that the cost of the downtime activity is in addition to the lifestyle expenses, this is what you add to the cost of the downtime activity. For carousing, whatever lifestyle you chose, during the carousing part you are spending as if you are wealthy, so you would spend 4gp each day even if you had originally chosen Poor as a lifestyle. For covering the lifestyle expenses, you can work and earn money or pay with the money earned from adventuring.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't fully understand your last example. If someone chose a wealthy lifestyle does that make carousing free? \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Dec 28 '18 at 11:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ It wouldn't be free, it would still be 4gp per day. This is in addition to the cost of the lifestyle chosen. So that if you chose wealthy lifestyle and carousing, then the TOTAL cost would be 8gp per day. 4gp for the wealthy lifestyle and 4gp for the carousing. \$\endgroup\$ – Jerry Daughtrey Dec 29 '18 at 19:40

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