I've been running a campaign for a couple of sessions where the PCs are employed by a "Heroes' Guild" a la Fairy Tail or Fable. I don't have a huge grasp on how the game's economy works since I've only been running it for a short amount of time, and as we start taking on paid quests at level 2, I'd like to get a good figure on how much money the quests should be worth.

I know that the DMG has tables for money rewards per individual monster, and per hoard, but what about per adventuring day?

Obviously the rate should go up with the party's level as the quests get harder. I just haven't been able to find a table for that. So, assuming I replace most if not all of the coin a GM is supposed to dish out from session to session and compile it into a lump sum for a party of 4, what would that formula or table look like?


5 Answers 5


There's no hard-and-fast set of rules on this. But we've got a few touchstones that can inform a good scheme:

1. PHB: skilled laborer. Skilled laborers hire out at 2gp per day. But do not equate the work of even a level 1 adventurer with that of a skilled laborer. The unskilled laborer is told: carry those bricks. The skilled laborer is told: build that brick wall. The adventurer is told: there's a set of ruins a few miles away, possibly infested by who-knows-what, but we really want the bricks from there.

The danger faced by the adventurer makes their labor rate significantly higher than that of an equivalently-skilled mundane laborer.

Labor rate: >2gp per day.

2. Adventurers League: spellcasting services. In evaluating how much an adventurer should be paid, we can assume that spellcasters may be required to cast their spells, and all AL modules contain a table of costs for spellcasting services. Level 1 spells cost 10-20gp, and your level 1 spellcaster might be called upon to cast 4 first-level spells in an adventuring day (assuming a pair of short rests).

Spellcasting rate: 30-80gp per day.

3. The Castle Guide: "Heroic Services." The Dungeon Master's Guide (5e) lists the construction+labor costs of various strongholds on p.128. Some months ago I ran each of those through the cost-estimating scheme in 2e's DMGR2: The Castle Guide;1 I can assure you that the 5e and the 2e economies track very nicely.

The Castle Guide tells us that a PC should be counted as worth an extra person's labor per character level. In addition, spellcasting PCs should be additionally "credited" a man-day of labor for each level of spell available. Thus a 4th-level (5e) Wizard should be worth the labor of 1 + 4 + (4x1 + 3x2) = 15 skilled laborers, while a 4th-level (5e) Rogue should be worth the labor of 1 + 4 = 5 skilled laborers.

Your characters, at first level, are then worth between 2x and 4x more than a skilled laborer.

Heroic rate: 2x - 4x skilled labor

Putting it all together:

Taking all of this into consideration, a "first-level adventurer's rate" of a few dozen gp per person per day is reasonable, and that should scale pretty quickly with level.(Say, 30 gp/adventurer-day at 1st, 60 at second, 90 at third, &c.)

1 - A player wanted to rebuild a certain Keep in Princes of the Apocalypse after some... devastation. Introducing him to The Castle Guide--after exhaustively vetting its numbers against 5e touchstones--provided him many hours' fun away from the table.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think that the concept of "having somebody cast a spell costs x, a wizard will cast y spells in a campaign, so will cost x*y" is a bit weird. While they might incur more danger than a wizard who casts spell x for you, they also get a lot of benefits in the form of loot. On top of that, if I were to get a freelance programmer to make me 1 hour worth of coding, it'd be a lot more expensive per hour than hiring a programmer for an entire project. While it is a good starting point, it's not the best. \$\endgroup\$
    – Theik
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 10:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Theik no argument here--you'll notice I didn't end up suggesting anything near the high-end of that "spellcasting rate". Do you have any suggestion or, even better, any other reference points? \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 11:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sadly enough, I know of no better way of determining the rate to hire a wizard for x days, just thought it was worth mentioning that if you hire them per spell you expect to cast, they'll be ridiculously overpriced. \$\endgroup\$
    – Theik
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 13:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with not paying per-day. Low-level (or shady) adventurers might drag the mission out for a long time, causing the pay to become unreasonable for the task. Also, rather than basing the pay-rate on the adventurers' level, it should be based on the expected difficulty of the adventurer. A lazy adventurer who only takes easy jobs shouldn't make the same kind of money as one taking very difficult jobs. Assume an adventurer (or party) of an appropriate level, a reasonable amount of spellcasting, a reasonable length of time, and calculate a payout before starting. \$\endgroup\$
    – tzxAzrael
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 22:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 except that's all i have; just adding to what you already posted. the rest of my answer would just be "and see what nitsua said". \$\endgroup\$
    – tzxAzrael
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 23:31

It doesn't really matter.

5e does not have a strong concept of wealth by level, or wealth per day, or anything like that. Perhaps more importantly, with the removal of magic item shopping, gold just isn't that useful.

As long as players have a sufficient amount of gold to buy the mundane equipment they need, their gold will probably just pile up. They'll still get excited about gold, of course, but they won't really be using it all that much.

I would make sure every player has 1,500 gp fairly quickly, so that they can buy full plate if they want to, then just give out however much gold I felt like.

The more important question is how (or if) they're going to obtain magic items - does the guild give them to them as part of their pay, or do they need to defeat powerful enemies to find them? Personally, I wouldn't have the guild handing out magic items - it will only be a matter of time before the players decided to rob the armoury.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You could avoid the "rob the armoury" problem by declaring that the guild has no armoury: Whenever they get their hands on a useful magic item, they immediately distribute it to a member who they think would use it well. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 23:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ While you are right in a lot of ways, this answer doesn't help this particular querent with the problem he is trying to solve: what pay should he offer a party by NPC's to do X? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 1:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Sure, but suggesting some (entirely arbitrary) figure doesn't seem that helpful either. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 1:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ It probably does help somewhat. The questioner expresses concern about not knowing the game's economy. This answer says not to worry on that score. On the other hand, it looks like what the questioner ideally wants is a stripey table, because looking stuff up on tables is fun ;-) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 11:21

Personally, I don't count hiring the party out to complete a task as a "pay-by-the-day" type situation. The PCs may be more motivated to drag their feet on completing the task or turning it in to accrue more wealth. Instead, I pay in accordance to the task that they are contracted to do. If it's "kill this person/monster/thing," then the reward is just how much money the party would have found in the target's hoard. So that the party doesn't feel totally ripped off and because I'm a little generous, the target tends to have a little extra wealth on them. Sometimes when I'm not feeling as generous, I divide the "hoard" up between the reward and the amount the party loots off the target.

If the task is something more abstract than just killing a target, I first figure out how hard the task will be for a party of their level. If the task will be "Hard," for example, I look at the table for combat challenges appropriate for a party's level and write down the amount of xp a "Hard" challenge is worth for the party's level. Then, I take that amount of XP and figure out the highest CR that will fit into that XP budget. I then offer to reward the party using the "hoard" loot according to the results of the "hoard" loot table using that CR.

To further illustrate my last point: let's say that my party gets contracted to convince this one merchant to open up a trade route to a new town. The party consists of four level four characters. I decide that this should be a Hard challenge for the party. A "Hard" challenge is at least 375 xp per character (DMG page 82, XP Thresholds by Character Level table). This gives me a total of 1,500 xp. This corresponds to somewhere between a CR 4 and a CR 5 encounter (DMG page 275, Experience Points by Challenge Rating table). Since I'm feeling generous, I'll go with a CR 5 encounter. I then go to the Treasure Hoard tables (page 137 DMG) and roll up loot. Whatever I roll up is what I offer to the party.

If the party or the circumstances mandate that you must pay them per day, then perhaps you could use the method mentioned above but give the party a time limit to complete their task after which point they stop accumulating additional funding. In this case, you could simply divide up the hoard evenly for each allotted adventuring day.


Skilled hirelings (including mercenaries) go for 2 GP a day (PHB 159), and I think it's safe to assume a level 1 character being hired for a specific task they are proficient in falls roughly into that category. As the PCs level up, they might cut better deals with the guild to do harder and harder work that typical mercenaries are unable to do.


I would approach this by trying to convert the income rate generated by the core material into a per-day rate based on level.


The guy who started that conversation used the treasure charts to create an approximate WBL chart. That's a useful shortcut, so we don't need to do it ourselves.


This guy draws out how to calculate how long, in days, it takes to gain levels based on xp demand and assumed reward from the adventuring day. Really peels back the engine's cover.

Based on the assumed xp output of the adventuring day, you can create the encounters that would provide that xp and the matching monetary rewards. Divide the total by the number of required days spent gaining each level, and you have an income rate, and how that rate changes as the characters gain levels.

It is somewhat subject to your campaign and how you structure encounters and pace them with downtime. I have taken the information from those articles, assuming they are correct, (which they seem to be) and calculated it out.

1=140-0=140÷1= 140g/d

2=280-140=140÷1= 140g/d

3=420-280=140÷1.5= 93.33g/d

4=560-420=140÷1.5= 93.33g/d

5=4500-560=3940÷2= 1970g/d

6=8400-4500=3900÷2= 1950g/d

7=12,300-8400=3900÷2= 1950g/d

8=16,200-12300=3900÷2= 1950g/d

9=20,100-16200=3900÷2= 1950g/d

10=24,100-20100=4000÷2= 2000g/d

11=42,400-24100=18300÷1.5= 12200g/d

12=60,700-42400=18300÷1.5= 12200g/d

13=79,000-60700=18300÷1.5= 12200g/d

14=97,300-79000=18300÷1.5= 12200g/d

15=116,000-97300=18700÷1.5= 12466.66g/d

16=134,000-116000=18000÷1.5= 12000g/d

17=362,000-134000=228000÷1= 228000g/d

18=590,000-362000=228000÷1= 228000g/d

19=818,000-590000=228000÷1= 228000g/d

The downside to this system is that you cannot calculate income this way for a level 20 character, because there is no level gain point to base it off of.

There's a weird pay rate dip at levels 3 and 4, because it takes longer to gain levels there, but there is no corresponding pay rate increase. This is an artifact created by the fact that we're having our pay rate emulate income by advancement. I don't see why it would hurt to just keep using 140g/d through to tier 2. A similar dip happens between levels 5 and 6, and 15 and 16, which are caused by the switch from one random treasure chart to another. Again, I would recommend replacing that dip with the rate from the previous level.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow, wall of numbers. I'd try to do some formatting myself, but I can't really suss out what you're trying to communicate there. Can I suggest you take a look at this meta describing our use of MathJax, a mathematical typesetting plugin we've got on site? Some of the links in the meta will point you to documentation, some you could just look at the source to use for examples. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 15:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think so. Each line is just, for each level, the total wealth of that level, reduced by the total wealth of the previous level to find the difference, divided by the number of days it took to get it. It's a wall of numbers, because the money earned quickly ramps up into the 5 and 6 figure range... and because the site doesn't recognize my line breaks and lumped it all in as a huge wall of text. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 16:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ How do I get single-line spacing? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 16:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your first link does not link to a specific article or post on enworld. Clicking it will give a "you did not specify a thread" message. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rayanth
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 23:46

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