Several years ago, when most of my group were still newcomers and unadapted to 4e, I asked my Dungeon Master which Skills to use in gambling situations for money, and how they should be used. He did not know an answer based on balanced rules, and ended up inventing a homemade skill called Gambling.

I want to give this opportunity to my future players, and make it an important and fun experience. I don't think it would make sense if all players rolled a d20 and whoever have the highest roll takes it all. Because that is what we players do, whenever we do everything else in the game.

That leads to my questions:

Are there there any material published by the developers of 4e on ingame gambling? Rules, guidelines, articles, or websites?

Should it be the case that there are no rules:

What skills should be used, if any, and why?

Have you experienced a good way to gamble without using skills? (Skills just seem to be the obvious choice)

The pitfall of gambling

Introducing another path for the players, to gain wealth and income, could cause problems. (it's the same possible challenge if the players invest gold in shops or trades that generate increased income) If the players get rich and famous from anything else other than adventuring, it seems they would start lacking the motivation at all to leave the city gates. Nobody wants to dirty their fancy new clothes with mud and monster blood when they can live like kings in their new mansions. If they have the money they could just hire others to do the dirty work.

How do you make the best balance on winning and losing, without cheating the players on the outcome of a game?

And how can you successfully prevent gambling from becoming the main source of income in a story based champaign?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This question may be better served if broken into 2 or 3 separate questions. One looking for materials, one asking for homebrew methods (with Good-Subjective experience), and maybe one about balance. This last one could be merged with the second. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 0:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I just think its too broad. I don't think there's anything wrong with each question individually, just that SE is better suited to one question -> one answer. That's all :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 5:56

1 Answer 1


No, because simulating a gambling game or investment opportunities or a stock market isn't something that 4e cares about, but this is to your advantage as DM.

Happily, gambling, like all other sources of wealth-to-players (treasure parcels) in 4e, draws from the "giant loot pool in the sky". Therefore, instead of worrying about balancing the money or figuring out specific mechanics, use the gambling to lead the players into a more interesting story, introduce complications, and use it as a source of revenue to compensate for other sources that wouldn't, narratively, have any. Furthermore, money itself is astonishingly un-useful. It can be used to purchase common magical items, and mundane items cease being an issue past level 3, so even if they win beyond your expectations (more than a few treasure parcels), there is very little technical power they gain from it.

On the other hand, take a look at my suggestions for a dragon's hoard, since much of the same advice applies: players play for narrative stakes, so let the mechanics of the gambling... be less interesting.

There are a couple things here that really make gambling not worth simulating. First, if you look at the costs increasing per level, epic level characters can choose to buy either a fairly pathetic healing potion, or a castle. (Literally, so. A level 25 healing potion is 25,000 gold, exactly the same as a stronghold.)

Therefore, gambling should be a skill challenge for a narrative purpose. Gambling, traditionally, is a way to involve people in drama that they wouldn't otherwise do. There's nothing wrong with dumping a level's worth of gold on the players before the adventure, just to frame the adventure of an angry criminal syndicate.

Because it's a skill challenge, let the players figure out how they use their skills as part of the gambling. Most skills are representations of expertise in that area. Bluff to bluff opponents, an intelligence check to know the odds, religion to pray to the goddess of luck, arcana to cheat a little tiny bit (or detect cheating), streetwise to read the room... quite a lot of skills can go into this skill challenge.

If you do want to simulate gambling, there's always the by-fiat authentic Three Dragon Ante, or, take a page from Simon Hawke's The Outcast, and make the gambling game a mini-adventure. Literally, the protagonist in the book sits down for a game of "I can't believe it's not D&D." If you go this route, I recommend using first edition rules for an unfair and bloody adventure, much like how a gambling house would want it.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ There's a card game released by WotC called Three Dragon Ante - it's a carbon copy of something I forget. But you could use that, or hell, just whip out some chips and have a hand of Blackjack. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 14:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ In 4e, money is very useful. You can use it to acquire ritual components, with which you can enchant items using the Enchant Magic Item ritual. You can't get anything above your own level, but you can absolutely fill out your kit in useful ways. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 16:06

You must log in to answer this question.