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Lets say that a party has recently decided to retire from adventuring to focus their efforts in caring for a city-state in need of benefactors. I want to know what the lowest level a party can be and still safely make enough money to provide the required financial support to care for a city-state's population, without their risking life or limb adventuring.

This isn't an easy question since the economy of 3.5 is so screwed up that it's difficult to determine how much a gold piece is worth, much less how many it takes to equal a nations GDP. So Let's be a bit more exact on what I mean. Let's say the party is in charge of a City-State the size of Rome, with a population of 35,000. They want to generously provide for it's citizens by ensuring that each and every person can live a wealthy lifestyle, which costs 50gp/week/person. That means they need to provide 1,750,000 gp/week.

The adventuring party consists of 5 members, all at or below the party level you chose for your answer, of whatever classes you deem appropriate. The party can work any 'safe' job necessary to help earn the income required. At the time of their retirement they have at their disposal an amount of money expected for a party of their level, based off of wealth/level guidelines, to spend on purchasing items or equipment which would assist in providing for the City State.

If necessary the party can take up to a month's worth of time, starting at the moment of retirement, to prepare for providing for the city. This could be spent building equipment, training underlings, or saving up money for a large purchase; whatever will help them to best provide for their city.

The lucky members of the city are being cared for without being required to earn the support, meaning they can not be utilized as part of the parties money making scheme. However, the party can employ any underlings or hirelings they would otherwise have access to.

Any solution must be sustainable long term, at least until the original party grows too old to continue providing for the city. Bonus points for minimizing cheese factor (though I'm open to answers with some low degree cheese) or for not requiring every member of the party to be equal to the total party level

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  • \$\begingroup\$ How 'realistic' do you expect your answer to be? Because there is no way you can just take 2 million gp and buy food on the village market for all that money. I think it might be a lot easier if you ask how to provide food for 35k people (for example magic), rather than generate gold which later cannot be really turned in that food. \$\endgroup\$ – Artur Biesiadowski Jan 21 at 22:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ArturBiesiadowski Like I said I expect there will be a little cheese/unrealistic nature to the answer. This is a question more about playing with the broken rules then an intent to play the idea myself, so as long as answers stick somewhere around RAI their good, even if the intent of the rules isn't 100% realistic. \$\endgroup\$ – dsollen Jan 21 at 22:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ So, we can assume that shops are unlimited? For example, if there is a way to produce 50 million clay jugs, we just sell them and problem solved? \$\endgroup\$ – Artur Biesiadowski Jan 21 at 22:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ArturBiesiadowski sure. say were trading with some other city state. sure there would be some logistical overhead and economic forces but there are no real rules for that sort of thing I'm aware of. I figure that's close enough for this answer (though I would use things like realisticness of answer as a tie breaker for selecting an answer if two people otherwise have 'equal' answers) \$\endgroup\$ – dsollen Jan 21 at 22:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ The biggest concern for me is that there are just so many exploits that one could use for this. Nothing in the question forbids someone from being Pun-pun, and that can be done by a single character, at 1st level, and then provide all the gold anyone could ever need (not to mention being more than capable of removing the middle man and just producing every possible good that the populace desires). Sure there are “bonus points” for avoiding cheese, but what does that mean? \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 21 at 23:36
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The fifth-level spell fabricate says:

You convert material of one sort into a product that is of the same material. Creatures or magic items cannot be created or transmuted by the fabricate spell. The quality of items made by this spell is commensurate with the quality of material used as the basis for the new fabrication. If you work with a mineral, the target is reduced to 1 cubic foot per level instead of 10 cubic feet.

You must make an appropriate Craft check to fabricate articles requiring a high degree of craftsmanship.

Casting requires 1 round per 10 cubic feet (or 1 cubic foot) of material to be affected by the spell.

A ninth-level wizard with a 20 Intelligence can cast this twice per day. If the wizard sells the stuff for 50% of its market value, and the raw materials cost 33% of the market value, then the wizard's profit is equal to one-sixth of the market value of the stuff that was crafted. So the problem then becomes one of deciding what stuff to craft.

One might try crafting jewelry or art objects. The DMG treasure table lists a "gold and ruby ring" that sells for 1000gp, and probably one could craft quite a lot of those using 18 cubic feet of raw materials. The DC to craft these rings might be 20 (treating them as "complex or superior items"), which is fine because our wizard can have twelve ranks in Craft, a +5 INT mod, and a Skill Focus feat, for +20 to the roll.

An art object is a trade good, so it sells for its full value. The materials to create this ring cost 333gp, and it sells for 1000gp, so our profit is 666gp per ring. We reach the target gold income if we can craft five rings per cubic foot of raw materials:

666 gp/ring * 5 rings/cubic foot * 9 cubic feet/spell * 2 spells/day * 7 days/week * 5 wizards

which is 2.1 million gold per week. Of course in practice we can probably make a lot more than five rings per cubic foot of raw materials. This is limited mostly by our ability to buy raw materials, and our ability to find merchants who will buy our fancy jewelry.

Various methods will let us improve on this. We can do this with one wizard who has a bunch of pearls of power V. We can do this with a lower-level character who buys scrolls of fabricate. We can craft weapons made from special materials such as adamantium or "thinaun" (see here); these are bulkier than the rings but potentially are more saleable.


The above plan uses only DMG sources, which is nice, but it doesn't interact realistically with the economy. A more aggressively optimized plan would make aggressive use of custom magic items such as an item that casts create food and water on command, or even one that casts mordenkainen's magnificent mansion on command. This does not directly hand out gold to the thirty-five thousand inhabitants of the town, but it's arguably more realistic. See also "boon traps", such as described in the answers to this question.


A yet-more-aggressively optimized plan would involve being Pun-Pun. The less said, the better.

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It is not possible to define "enough money to take care of a society"

This is a worthy cause, but I am afraid it is not realisable in the way you are hoping for. Societies are not just a collection of ideal gas molecules, they are more like super-organisms with people functioning as different organs. Even if you decided that you need X amount of gold; the gold is only worth how much it can buy, so distributing 50gp/week to each citizen is simply going to cause hyperinflation, as the production of wheat, grains, milk, meat, etc is not going to "magically" increase. Wealthy lifestyle means servants, if everybody is wealthy who is going to serve? You will need not only money, you will also need to invent constructs/robots/dispensers/food replicators to restructure the society (à la Star Trek).

This is one of the reasons why superheroes are unable to transform societies. (See for example Superman's efforts in the critically acclaimed Batman story: No Man's Land.) It is also related to the status of some of the oil-rich countries in the world. Injecting money is not a solution, so your question about "enough money" does not have an answer.

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