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I have a player at our table who is role-playing a paladin who has a vow of poverty. She can only receive enough wealth for her daily needs. She is panhandling as she wants to have enough because of the kindness of strangers.

I have so far been giving her 1d4 sp, as I thought that would make sense because it mentions in the Lifestyle Expenses section of the PHB (p.157) that the price per day for someone living a poor existence is 2 sp.

I can't see much in the core books about how much a PC might earn by panhandling, but wondered if there are examples of this in an adventure perhaps? Or maybe I missed it in the PHB or DMG?

If there is no background in the books, I would also be keen to know what experienced DMs who have play-tested at their tables a character with a vow of poverty did.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Vow of Poverty has not been an "official" thing since Book of Exalted Deeds in 3.X to my knowledge. I have had several characters work in the stables or kitchens to gain room and board though, but that was just RP not published rules. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Oct 26, 2021 at 23:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AllanMills yes it is - I guess like a vow of silence, but for poverty instead. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 27, 2021 at 21:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks @Slagmoth. That's helpful. I'll look that up. Would you be able to put that as an answer? ... i.e. that not in 5e but there is in the 3rd edition and any suggestions that I could apply in 5e perhaps. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 27, 2021 at 21:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry I don't frequent this site as much as I used to... I have done just that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Oct 28, 2021 at 22:11

3 Answers 3

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They earn 1gp of goods per day, or 2gp if they're affiliated with a temple, enough to maintain a modest or comfortable lifestyle.

From PHB, p187:

You can work between adventures, allowing you to maintain a modest lifestyle without having to pay 1 gp per day. This benefit lasts as long you continue to practice your profession.

If you are a member of an organization that can provide gainful employment, such as a temple or a thieves' guild, you earn enough to support a comfortable lifestyle instead.

While normally panhandling wouldn't be that profitable, being an adventurer has its perks. Presumably they can stay with others who appreciate their generosity or such, or get given free stuff to maintain their lifestyle.

Since your PC wants to show off their generosity, they could donate their lifestyle to others, and live in poor conditions while some orphans or such enjoyed a nicer lifestyle theoretically. That lets you have nice encounters later where people thank the paladin for their generosity, and makes it easy and simple.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer is simpler than mine, and probably better, unless the GM wants to make a hassle over it (like I would. :D ) \$\endgroup\$
    – Longspeak
    Oct 28, 2021 at 22:49
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I do not have direct experience with this exact thing. But I have done something kinda sorta if-you-squint-right-it-looks similar.

Call it "Running a Business" (p129, DMG). The business' "Maintenance cost" is the cost to live, possibly plus a fee or cut paid to the local thieves' guild per day. Maybe since it's begging, I'd change the GP profit to SP, but definitely keep the profit. If the PC took a vow, it's their responsibility to dispose of the excess income... uh... responsibly. It might create an opportunity for interesting RP.

Sans vow, I used this for a PC who was "busking," performing in the street with a hat to throw coins in. First time he did it, he broke a piece of gear and had to replace it. Second time he did it he got some gold.

The PC could ALSO perform gainful work and just donate that extra coin, but that's not what you asked. :)

((As a side note, I also jiggered the table to show the results a bit lower, and to make the highest result less likely than the second highest result. I also reduced the "profit" rolls, but made them "per day" multiples of the maintenance cost. Results suited my game better, but YMMV on that.))

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    \$\begingroup\$ The maintenance cost anywhere there is a Thieves' Guild likely includes your licensing fee and percent of the take paid to the Guild. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Oct 28, 2021 at 0:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt You're probably right. \$\endgroup\$
    – Longspeak
    Oct 28, 2021 at 0:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @kirt Surely that fee should go to membership of the Beggars' guild. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 29, 2021 at 10:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LioElbammalf If a Beggars' Guild (or Union) exists, and isn't just an arm of the Thieves' Guild, yes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Oct 29, 2021 at 15:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @kirt It was just a Terry Pratchett reference \$\endgroup\$ Oct 30, 2021 at 8:28
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There hasn't been an official Vow of Poverty thing since 3.X that I am aware of and even in that setting it was overpowered for my custom world (and arguably out of the box) because of the level of magic I do in my worlds. Magic should be wondrous and in most of the settings some of that has been lost in my humble opinion. There is a version of home-brew for 5e here but it is supremely imbalanced in my opinion. I was working with a player to refine it for 5E for another DM's table but we never finished.

That said I have never used set rules or templates for stuff like this. I have always just had creative players that if they didn't want to spend the money on things or in the case of Paladins (the old AD&D and 2E versions) where they were limited on what they could carry they just humbled themselves and worked in the kitchens, volunteered at the temple or did other humbling menial labor in exchange for room and board or other services.

I feel that where a good guideline is there in XGtE as @Longspeak indicates and I use several of them with modifications a great deal has been lost since 3.X and 4E where everything had to be written down for players to do it and 5E pulled that way back to rely on the DM's rulings instead. In my opinion they pulled back way too far in some aspects but that is a complaint for another day/post.

Basically, if player comes up with an idea to creatively procure a service or good and they do some good role-play for it reward their actions in doing so. It incentivizes other PCs to do the same and the table is a better place for it besides. To that point a few connections have been made in my sessions that proved useful later as well in the campaigns.

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