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I DM a group of 5 level 2 PCs, and currently they each have approximately 150gp each. I was just wondering if there's an average or recommended amount of gp that a PC should gain per level?

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At the start of level 5 they should have roughly 700 gold each, and at the end 3000 gold each - so they gain a total of about 2300 gold.

The amount of gold you gain isn't the same each level, as you level up the amount of wealth you accumulate will increase. It's unfortunately not easy to figure out, but luckily Martin_DM on reddit has done the math already:

Hello! This is a level-by-level breakdown of the expected wealth that PCs will earn, if the DM uses only the Treasure Hoard tables in DMG 137-139 and the guidelines for total rolls on those tables found at the bottom of DMG 133.

These calculations do not include magic items at all

I posted this all on r/dndnext a couple months ago, but a friend suggested that it would be useful here, so here we are! I hope it is a useful tool for other DMs.

A few words about how I arrived at these numbers, so that anyone can check the math. Each Hoard Table has a certain amount of coins, and the authors were kind enough to include an average value. Those coins are all added together and expressed in a gold piece value (g) for each table. Additionally, each table has a d% chance of rolling for some gems or art at a listed value. All 100 chances for treasure were averaged together at the average value for each line.

The details for the Average Treasure rolls are as follows:

Tier 1 (0-4) Tier 2 (5-10) Tier 3 (11-16) Tier 4 (17-20)
6x nothing 4x nothing 3x nothing 2x nothing
26x 2d6x 10g (gems) 24x 2d4x 25g (art) 26x 2d4x 250g (art) 25x 3d6x 1000g (gems)
34x 2d4x 25g (art) 24x 3d6x 50g (gems) 25x 2d4x 750g (art) 25x 1d10x 2500g (art)
34x 2d6x 50g (gems) 25x 3d6x 100g (gems) 23x 3d6x 500g (gems) 24x 1d4x 7500g (art)
23x 2d4x 250g (art) 23x 3d6x 1000g (gems) 24x 1d8x 5000g (gems)
Tier 1 (0-4) Tier 2 (5-10) Tier 3 (11-16) Tier 4 (17-20)
Average roll - 179.7g Average roll - 687.5g Average roll - 4712.5g Average roll - 15,837.5g
Coins - 196g Coins - 3857g Coins - 31,500g Coins - 322,000g

Now that we have those numbers, we can get to the distribution. Here is where it gets slightly subjective. I've done my best to fairly space out the rolls on the Hoard Tables throughout each tier. You might have slightly different preference for distribution, but at the end of each tier, the totals will be the same.

Tier 1 (7 Rolls) Tier 2 (18 Rolls) Tier 3 (12 Rolls) Tier 4 (8 Rolls)
Level 1 - 1 Level 5 - 2 Level 11 - 1 Level 17 - 1
Level 2 - 1 Level 6 - 2 Level 12 - 1 Level 18 - 2
Level 3 - 2 Level 7 - 3 Level 13 - 2 Level 19 - 2
Level 4 - 3 Level 8 - 3 Level 14 - 2 Level 20 - 3
Level 9 - 4 Level 15 - 3
Level 10 - 4 Level 16 - 3

Again, that is my own subjective distribution. Your mileage may vary slightly.

Putting these rolls together gives us an average party wealth. We'll assume a party of four and divide accordingly, rounding to the nearest gold piece. Level 20+ represents the end of the campaign or the first epic boon, as appropriate. These values are cumulative, each one includes the wealth of previous levels. Also remember that this does not include magic items.

Level PC Wealth upon reaching level
1 Starting Gear*
2 94g
3 188g
4 376g
5 658g
6 2930g
7 5404g
8 8610g
9 12,019g
10 16,563g
11 21,108g
12 30,161g
13 39,214g
14 57,320g
15 75,427g
16 102,586g
17 129,745g
18 214,204g
19 383,123g
20 552,042g
20+ 805,420g

*starting gear is not included in any entry after level 1

Well there you have it! If the DM uses the suggested number of Hoard Tables throughout the campaign, this is the total amount of treasure each party member will have acquired. The mid-tier numbers are slightly subjective, but the numbers for Level 5, Level 11, Level 17, and Level 20+ are exact. One final note: this only gives an average number for the wealth that players might find, it does not account for expenditures on gear, lifestyle expenses, etc.

The DMG also has a table for starting campaigns at different levels. However this isn't useful in your case because you are talking about playing through a campaign not starting at level 5. If you misunderstand this table and think it is about how much wealth you will have per level, then you end up in a bizarre situation where from level 1 through 4 you don't gain any gold at all, then at level 5 gain 500 + 1d10 * 25 gold. Then until level 10 you don't gain any gold at all again. So it's not helpful to try and use this table for anything other than its stated purpose.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Mar 24, 2022 at 2:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Comments continue to not be for extended discussion. Note that mods can only move comments in the first "this conversation has been moved to chat" action. Subsequent comments just get deleted, so if you want your opinion to be preserved you need to use the dang chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Mar 28, 2022 at 13:05
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I would argue that there is no such recommended amount.

One of design goals of 5th edition was to make magic items optional. Magic item purchase and sale is optional also.

Not having to buy magic items to stay balanced means that there is no need to earn money to spend on them.

This means that one can have campaigns where

  • Characters start independently wealthy and stay that way making money no issue
  • Characters spend all earned money carousing and start every adventure broke
  • Characters engage in base-building where each significant bundle of cash means affording a new extension
  • Characters have money problems from time to time

Basically character wealth can be independent of character level.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Sure, you can run a campaign that deviates from the norm. But XP is tied to killing monsters, as is gold. That means you can simply correlate the two. In a "normal game" you won't have additional revenue streams like investments or from base building assets. If your game deviates greatly from the norm, yes so will the gold, but that doesn't mean there is no norm. \$\endgroup\$
    – user73918
    Mar 28, 2022 at 0:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ What would be a point of such norm? To guide Players/DMs if they receive/give too much/too little for game balance purpose. As balance is more or less independent of amount of gold owned I would argue that worrying about a norm is counter productive. \$\endgroup\$
    – AGrzes
    Mar 28, 2022 at 7:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AGrzes It's totally fine to do something abnormal in your games, I encourage it actually. But it should be done knowingly, purposefully, and with understanding of what you are doing. The rules DO explicitly state how much gold you should be getting. It's not a well founded assumption to say gold doesn't matter. For example, imagine you unknowingly halve the amount of gold your level 5 party should have. What impact is that going to have on Revivify? Gold significantly affects balance, but more importantly it affects the experience. \$\endgroup\$
    – user73918
    Mar 28, 2022 at 8:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Non-novelist this question is tagged with dnd-5e and while some previous editions explicitly had expected wealth for a level but I once again state there is no such thing in that edition. Ho w explicit is "It's unfortunately not easy to figure out" and You need some calculation done by some random person on redit to figure it out? \$\endgroup\$
    – AGrzes
    Mar 28, 2022 at 9:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AGrzes If you check the DMG section about encounters you'll see there are loot tables. While calculating the total accumulated gold for a level does require some math, the tables are right there and perfectly explicit. If you follow the rules everyone will gain roughly the same amount of gold. In a normal game it's just that you won't worry about "how much gold will you gain between level 5 and 6" because you will award XP and gold according to the rules and naturally arrive at that number. Hope that clears any confusion! So I don't think the frame challenge is successful IMO. \$\endgroup\$
    – user73918
    Mar 29, 2022 at 2:29
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You can compare to either "Starting at Higher Levels" or "Treasure" in the DMG

Here is the wealth a character has at the start of the given level. Wealth values are in gold pieces. We have Suggested Starting Wealth (from DMG p. 38), and Earned Treasure (from DMG Chapter 7) for parties of 3, 4, and 5 players. Treasure is cumulative from level 1. Starting gear is omitted.

Level Starting Earned (3p) Earned (4p) Earned (5p)
5 (Tier 1) 638 977 732 586
11 (Tier 2) 6375 28,355 21,266 17,013
17 (Tier 3) 21,375 173,895 130,421 104,337
20+ (Tier 4) 21,375 1,075,128 806,346 645,080

Full derivation and commentary is presented below.

Getting the numbers

The Dungeon Master's Guide presents some guidance on wealth by tier, which is a range of levels. Tier 1 are levels 1-4, Tier 2 are levels 5-10, Tier 3 are levels 11-16, and Tier 4 are levels 17-20. It presents this sort of guidance in two places for, I argue, two different purposes.

This first place is page 38, under the table "Starting Equipment" under the heading "Starting at Higher Level", where DMs are given suggestions for how much money to give characters starting at higher levels. The DMG tells us

Starting equipment for characters above 1st level is entirely at your discretion, since you give out treasure at your own pace. That said, you can use the Starting Equipment table as a guide.

The second place is Chapter 7, where the DM is provided with explicit numerical guidance on handing out treasure during a campaign. The bottom of page 133 (under "Using the Treasure Hoard Tables") says

You can hand out as much or as little treasure as you want. Over the course of a typical campaign, a party finds treasure hoards amounting to seven rolls on the Challenge 0-4 table, eighteen rolls on the Challenge 5-10 table, twelve rolls on the Challenge 11-16 table, and eight rolls on the Challenge 17+ table.

Presumably they are referring to a level 1-20 campaign for these numbers. It doesn't make sense to roll on the Challenge 17+ table for a Tier 1 campaign. (Any other assumption would result in more wealth per level.) Note also that these treasure hoards are being given to the whole party.

Converting the treasure hoard tables to cash values is an exercise in elementary probability. We'll ignore the magic items, because those are tracked separately and are typically not interchangeable with cash.

  • The Challenge 0-4 table produces an average of 196 gp of coinage and 179.7 gp of art or gems, for 375.7 gp per roll.

  • The Challenge 5-10 table produces an average of 3857 gp of coinage and 706 gp of art or gems, for 4563 gp per roll.

  • The Challenge 11-16 table produces an average of 31,500 gp of coinage and 4885 gp of art or gems, for 36,385 gp per roll.

  • The Challenge 17+ table produces an average of 322,000 gp of coinage and 15,962.5 gp of art or gems, for 337,962.5 gp per roll.

(Differences between my numbers and those in this answer for the value of art and gems arise due to their premature rounding of 3d6's average from 10.5 to 10 and similar.)

We need to sort the rolls by tier. A reasonable assumption would be to match the party level to the Challenge Rating. While not guaranteed (a higher level party may slay lower tier monsters, or a low level party might get lucky and stumble upon a higher tier treasure hoard), this is the assumption used in Xanathar's Guide to Everything to construct the "Magic Items Awarded by Tier" table (page 135) so it is safe to use it for constructing a treasure awarded by tier table.

Based on the recommended number of rolls, we get a total of

  • 2929.9 gp awarded in Tier 1
  • 82,134 gp awarded in Tier 2
  • 436,620 gp awarded in Tier 3
  • 2,703,700 gp awarded in Tier 4

The most uncertain part of this procedure is determining how many party members there are to split the treasure between. DMG p. 83 assumes that a typical party is between 3 and 5 players, so we'll use those numbers. You could use different numbers of players, but that might deviate from the typical/expected wealth per player.

I shall not attempt to subdivide treasure in the levels within Tiers. I will also omit starting equipment (which generally includes about 100 gp of equipment plus 15 gp of cash, give or take). I am also not considering sources of treasure outside the Treasure Hoard tables, mostly because there is no guidance on how often to roll on such tables. Such additional sources of income would increase the party's wealth.

Wealth per Character by Tier

This table gives the wealth a character has at the start of the given level. Wealth values are in gold pieces. We have Suggested Starting Wealth, and Earned Treasure for parties of 3, 4, and 5 players. Treasure is cumulative from level 1.

Level Starting Earned (3p) Earned (4p) Earned (5p)
5 (Tier 1) 637.5 976.63 732.47 585.98
11 (Tier 2) 6375 28,354.63 21,265.97 17,012.78
17 (Tier 3) 21,375 173,894.63 130,420.97 104,336.78
20+ (Tier 4) 21,375 1,075,127.96 806,345.97 645079.78

At Tier 1 the Suggested Starting Wealth and the Treasure Table results approximately agree, but at higher tiers the results diverge. There are a few possible reasons for this. One might be that adventurers who earn treasure are expected to spend most of it on things like consumables, lifestyle expenses, animals, hirelings, maintenance, etc (especially once they have enough cash to splash on things like that), expenses which one does not make at character creation. The Suggested Starting Wealth might also omit the value of strongholds the party might have. Such expenditures would make a character's wealth lower than the treasure they have found. By how much is hard to quantify, though.

Another potential reason is that the DMG might be deliberately rewarding characters who earn their wealth through real play by giving them more wealth. Or perhaps they found that giving players a vast lump-sum at character creation wasn't good for play but drip-feeding them the cash over the course of a campaign was okay. Or maybe the writers didn't do the maths at all and just ball-parked some numbers which felt right. These reasons are just speculations on designer intent, though.

A stronger reason for the misalignment, however, might be the following.

Wealth by level is a very loose concept in 5e

Note that DMG 38 says

Starting equipment for characters above 1st level is entirely at your discretion, since you give out treasure at your own pace.

and DMG 133 says

You can hand out as much or as little treasure as you want.

The DMG provides suggestions and guidelines for the wealth to be given to players, but also gives the DM license to ignore those guidelines as they see fit.

The reason that wealth needs no strict guidelines is that wealth cannot be easily converted into raw power. The power of a character in D&D 5e comes primarily from their class features, not their equipment. Good equipment is a boon but not a necessity.

Cash can be used to buy mundane equipment, material components for spells, spellbook ink for wizards, and to manipulate people and politics with hirelings, strongholds, bribes, etc.

Mundane equipment is the most sensitive item for low-level characters, but once wealth exceeds a few thousand gp the cost of mundane equipment becomes irrelevant, unless you want to do something crazy like flood a dungeon with holy water. Spellcasting components are important to balance, as too little money makes some spells irrelevant while too much money can cause issues (like stacking glyphs of warding), but it generally isn't a make-or-break matter. How much cash a wizard gets determines how liberally they can learn new spells and whether they can afford a backup spellbook. Manipulating people and politics is powerful, but in a manner complementary to personal character power rather than overshadowing it and is more a matter of campaign type and DM adjudication than level.

In some campaigns cash can be used to buy magic items. However, DMs are strongly advised not to let magic items be bought and sold like mundane items but to instead carefully control their sale. DMs should not sell magic items to players they don't want them to have ("it isn't available for sale"). On the flip side, D&D 5e is designed to work fine without magic items (see XGtE 136, "Are Magic Items Necessary in a Campaign?"), so there is no obligation to give players wealth just so they can buy magic items.

Adventurers in D&D 5e do not require wealth to remain relevant as they level up. Conversely, slightly too much wealth will not unbalance a game, and even obscene amounts of wealth only impact limited parts of the game. For these reasons, take any kind of wealth by level table in 5e as a rough guide only.

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5th edition doesn't have a wealth by level system. However missions should be higher level as the campaign progresses, so although players should not be receiving gold rewards treasure etc. determined by their levels, it should have some form of influence. I'd also personally recommend having leveling and receiving rewards as 2 separate events. However that is opinion based and thus invalid as an answer on this site.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Opinions are perfectly valid as answers, or especially parts of answers, on this site. They simply have to be backed up—which is true of all parts of one’s answer. Talking about experiences with suggestions, walking through the ramifications of them, etc. are all valid ways to back up opinions—then they become expert opinions, which we value highly. \$\endgroup\$
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