I'm trying to make a campaign for a set of level 1 adventurers. The last encounter I am planning for this part to have them fight a Yeth hound, a tiefing rogue, and a catfolk ranger. The normal price for an 'epic' encounter for level 1 characters is 800 gp, but I'm not just giving them treasure. I want them to return some of the loot to the town that hired them, as well as basically ensuring the return of the elder's daughter. So I put this as my loot set

  • 50 GP

  • 100 SP (10 gold)

  • 4 PP (40 gold)

  • a Gold armlet with silver pearl in it belonging go Samantha Pearl (300 gp)

  • 400 GP’s worth of leftover trade goods (mostly metals that were being brought out) that had been stolen from the town. If the party returns the cart to the village of Ravenwatch they will get a Traveler's Anytool and a heroic reputation

  • The Belongings on the Ranger and Rogue. EDIT: their boxes state "NPC Gear" so

    *the rogue has studded leather armor, short sword, and light crossbow with 20 bolts.

    *The ranger has (studded leather armor, longbow with 20 arrows, longsword, other treasure)

  • Samantha Pearl’s gem. If returned to Ravenwatch intact, they gain the ability to stay at the local inn, the Songbird, for free, as well as the friendship and trust of the village elder.

Am I still giving my players way too much stuff?

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    \$\begingroup\$ You appear to have accidentally created your 6th account. You will be unable to comment on or accept answers to your other questions until you merge your accounts using the instructions in the help centre. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 6:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll try to have this fixed when I can. I had made 6 accounts because I couldn't get to my email account to finish the job of fully making the account, essentially making an account I could only access once. I apologize \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 6:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Answer in answers please. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 13:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am ready to vote to reopen this question if it's closed. This is not opinion-based. There are rules for awarding treasure based on encounter difficulty. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 13:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan But we need more context about the rest of the campaign and how much treasure is awarded in other encounters to determine whether this is too much or not. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 23:24

3 Answers 3


Short answer: No, not yet.

In this chart you can see the expected wealth by level. By the time that they reach level 2 each character should have about 2000 gp worth of stuff (counting gear and coins etc.) -- To a degree this is balanced (i.e. the creature rating (CR) system counts on player characters being equipped with appropriate gear), but since there are many ways to spend gear it's also (like the CR system) merely a rough estimate.

Assuming four players the cash and rewards alone are worth almost 500 per player, plus unspecified belongings of a ranger and a rogue that aren't explained in the original post... anything magical?

This leaves you about as much left to give before they level up (unless the gear was awesome). - That's not too bad. You can always throw some animals or other things at them that don't provide gear, if they need more XP but not money before the next level.

Suggestion: I do suggest giving out magical gear as rewards if you want to limit their cash. - A cloak of resistance (+1) would make a good replacement for the 1000 GP reward. And it can't be split evenly. Maybe they take turns or maybe one of them owes the rest of the party part of the value, or maybe they accept that the next item will go to someone else. Either way it creates a kind of bond over the loot that splitting up gold just doesn't. - Similarly instead of having the reward for the trade goods be worth more than the goods themselves (doesn't make sense) have it be something more useful than gold such as a certain Tool


This is unlikely to be enough treasure to break the campaign

It looks like you've designed an epic encounter for your PCs. That is, an encounter pitting the PCs against the CR 3 yeth hound and the 2 basic NPCs (see Gamemastering on Step 3—Build the Encounter). An epic encounter is APL +3. For your four level 1 PCs, this means a CR 4 encounter worth 1,200 XP.1 The yeth hound costs 800 XP and the 2 basic NPCs cost 200 XP each. But, you're right, the treasure is a sticking point because

Encounters against NPCs typically award three times the treasure a monster-based encounter awards, due to NPC gear. To compensate, make sure the PCs face off against a pair of additional encounters that award little in the way of treasure. Animals, plants, constructs, mindless undead, oozes, and traps are great “low treasure” encounters. Alternatively, if the PCs face a number of creatures with little or no treasure, they should have the opportunity to acquire a number of significantly more valuable objects sometime in the near future to make up for the imbalance. As a general rule, PCs should not own any magic item worth more than half their total character wealth, so make sure to check before awarding expensive magic items.

So defeating all three foes and assuming the yeth hound has standard treasure usually yields 260 gp per NPC + 800 gp for the yeth hound = 1,320 for the lot, or 330 gp for each PC.

However, your encounter yields a party of four PCs with approximately 400 gp each plus another 75-100 gp per PC for each of the tiefling rogue and the catfolk ranger (as per NPC Gear) if the PCs can immediately put to use all of each NPC's gear (or as little as half that amount if the PCs must sell the spoils to buy stuff they can use). By almost double, that is, technically, too much treasure.

Now, it's possible this is nothing to worry about. When level 1 PCs hit level 2, they're supposed to have accumulated 1,000 gp. Getting, like, half that from a single encounter is excessive, but the PCs' survival is a little easier and you've to worry less if the PCs pool some of their cash for a wand of cure light wounds (or a wand of infernal healing) or equip themselves with oils of bless weapon, so it's sort of a win-win if the PCs are mildly overequipped with consumables at low levels.

And if you've been stingy with treasure from this point—so much so that this hoard brings the PCs to exactly the amount they should have—, getting it now, right as they're going into second level, is better than never, I guess, but next time try to spread that more evenly across the level. It was likely a little disappointing to have found no treasure during, like, the last four encounters.

If you're really afraid that this amount of treasure will unbalance your campaign yet you're loathe to reduce it, change the treasure to consumable items which you know will be used soon after they're acquired rather than items that will add permanently to the characters' power.2 But a couple of hundred gps extra in the PCs hands? That's not something you need to sweat.

1 Yes, Challenge Rating 4. Don't get hung up on D&D 3.5's Encounter Level nomenclature, which Pathfinder eliminates. Don't worry! It's replaced with an even more complicated Experience Point Awards per Encounter.
2 I can't be certain, but I don't think many folks are quite this diligent with their campaigns, but good for you for seeing what it's like sticking to the books before changing anything. That's really hard, and you have my respect. And, as a bonus, because you've hewed so close to the rulebooks, that adventure's probably suitable for publication when you're done. (I mean, as long as a sidebar explains this particularly excessive treasure award, of course.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ I appreciate the help here with this since I'm trying to figure it out. Honestly I'm a bit shocked at your "you're so hewn to the books" part. That was, to be honest, a bit of coincidence because I just thought that is what you did. Also, really the only reason I put such a great reward is more story than mechanic. I assumed that someone would pay large amounts of coin for their children to be returned home, so I put 1000 in a 'this is worth more than any treasure' kind of deal and the cart is basically a month's wort of ore trade of rare metals, and 1 pound of gold is worth 1/8 of the value \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 14:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ of the whole 400 gp \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 14:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @warriorking9001 I think it's awesome to stick that close to the books before eyeballing your adventures. You are playing the game the way it's intended to be played, without a Fix this before you play! filter that often comes from frequenting message boards and the like. That's really rare and cool. If you're trying to stick with that gp limit hard, consider alternatives to cash rewards, like free inn stays, all the booze the PCs can drink, riding horses, marriage proposals, a few acres of land, or legal representation (i.e. a Get out of jail free card). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 14:11

800gp for an encounter, operating under the assumption that this will be divided amongst 4 players will come to 200gp each. Considering the XP from this fight I think you are actually being too stingy.

I point you to the Wealth Per Level chart as others have but I will add to it with further explanation. See this clause:

Character Wealth by Level lists the amount of treasure each PC is expected to have at a specific level. Note that this table assumes a standard fantasy game. Low-fantasy games might award only half this value, while high-fantasy games might double the value. It is assumed that some of this treasure is consumed in the course of an adventure (such as potions and scrolls), and that some of the less useful items are sold for half value so more useful gear can be purchased.

(emphasis mine)

If you are running point-buy 20 or higher, it would be 2000gp by level 2 which means you must drop a total of 8000gp for a party of four within the first level of play.

6000gp by level 3 which means dropping 16'000gp (4000gp each) for a party of four.

Level 1 flies by quick, I doubt you are going to get 10 encounters like that within level 1, so you are probably being too stingy. Factor further if it is a party of three.

The problem can come in trying to tie wealth drops to combat, it causes headaches for you and can condition your players to "Murder-Hobo Syndrome" where they see every living being in the world as just a big moneybag they can get gold from if they stab it.

Have wealth drops (gold, jewellery, valuable items) be tied to them progressing the plot, such as by finding the person who was escaping with the magical macguffin. Of course they are going to be opposed by violence and must defend themselves, but if it is more the villain trying to kill THEM to loot THEIR corpses they are going to seem a lot more heroic when they persevere and there isn't going to be as much "foraging".

Probably the quickest way to bring their wealth up is to arm and equip enemy NPCs with valuable items they might either use immediately, or sell or trade. For example, fight an Evil Sorcerer and have that sorcerer use a Metamagic Rod of Reach. It is generally a good item and casters can start using it right away and it's a lot easier to trade it with another person who has a magic item of equivalent worth.

Just getting gold and buying stuff can be pretty boring, and they may or may not search the bodies. But if they saw a magic item be used in combat or you explicitly described how well armoured they were they are unlikely to let such things go amiss.

As to your idea:

I want them to return some of the loot to the town that hired them

You have no way of knowing what your players are going to do, they could do anything, they could lie that they didn't find any treasure or under-estimate it and give only a token amount back. Even if 3 players agreed to it the 4th may think they are being suckers and won't give it up. OR they could just misinterpret what you say and conveniently interpret this isn't stolen property that should be returned.

Be ready for your players to do anything.

So you have to be ready to be flexible, if they by whatever means come across a lot of loot then fate is going to turn on them and they aren't going to get as much stuff later.

You can codify the concept of Wealth Per Level by the idea of Hubris, that "the gods" will reward the PCs with fortune for their success in their quest, not by tricks or cons or being greedy. So they can get lectures from priests and holy men that their greed will cost them in the long run, only by true accomplishment (levelling up) can they expect wealth. Spell this out to them that they don't have to worry that giving money back means its gone forever and they'll forever be behind "the gods will look kindly on them" i.e. the GM will drop something nice so you catch up.


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