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I am looking for the rules, or good house rules, covering the daily upkeep for characters. By daily upkeep I mean a daily cost to deduct from their personal wealth for mundane events and services like breakfast, dinner, repairs, rent, drinks, city guides, taxes, etc.

The Players Handbook lists some of these (meals, drinks, rent, guides) but not all (repairs, taxes). I notice that our group sometimes forgets a payment or two and it's tiresome having to keep track of this all the time, so I figured that an inclusive "daily upkeep" would help.1

What should daily upkeep be based on? When I looked in the Players Handbook, I didn't find any official rules (nor did I expect to). What comes closest is the daily cost of a trained hireling, but that's just 3sp -- that can't be right.

Since I doubt I am the first person to consider this, are there useful houserules on this, or official rules that I have overlooked?


1 Yes, we could also work dilligently on our discipline in this area, but more often it just seems like a small detail that gets in the way of all the fun of roleplaying.

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Upkeep is already priced into the wealth by level guidelines, and this is part of the reason for discrepancies between those guidelines and a straight extrapolation from random treasure tables.

From Dungeon Master’s Guide pg. 54:

BEHIND THE CURTAIN: TREASURE VALUES

There’s a relationship between Table 5–1: Character Wealth Level, Table 3–5: Treasure, and Table 3–2: Encounter Difficulty. Writing adventures following the guidelines in this chapter, and using Table 3–2: Encounter Difficulty, should generate enough treasure using Table 3–5: Treasure to keep characters abreast of the wealth figures described in Table 5–1. In fact, such adventures should provide more wealth, because characters expend some money on scrolls, potions, ammunition, and food, all of which get used up in the course of adventuring.

As you can see, rewards using these tables generate more wealth than indicated. We assume characters use up that additional money on expenses such as being raised from the dead, potions, scrolls, ammunition, food, and so forth.

Your job is to compare the wealth gained from the encounters in your adventure with the expected wealth gain shown on the table above. If your adventure has more treasure, reduce it. If your adventure has less treasure, plant enough treasure not related to encounters to match the value (see Other Treasure, below).

Your job is also to make sure that wealth gets evenly distributed. The third column in the table above shows that each character should get an equal share of the treasure from an adventure. If a single item, such as a magic staff, makes up most of the treasure, then most of the party earns nothing for their hard work. While you can make it up to them in later adventures, it is best to use the methods described in this chapter to ensure an even distribution of wealth.

(emphasis mine)

As such, if characters are kept roughly to the wealth by level guidelines, then it can be assumed that they are paying for their own upkeep. The numbers are designed such that you don’t need to track incidental costs associated with upkeep.

Put another way, the wealth by level guidelines are specifically wealth—they represent how much value a character’s useful, valuable equipment and gear should be worth to that character. It can and should fluctuate quite a bit around the listed value, of course, but it should generally be the target, and if you’re on target, things are going well (at least, according to the Dungeon Master’s Guide).

The Dungeon Master’s Guide does list an optional upkeep rule on page 130, but this is really only if you want more emphasis in your game on the subject of upkeep. Since you are explicitly looking to limit the need to track these things, I recommend simply using the wealth by level guidelines. Things like lodging and meals can be ignored unless you want to roleplay a particular night or meal, and even then the costs can be abstracted—or even waived in-character, as a form of non-monetary reward.

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Yes, there is such a thing in D&D 3.5 already. See the optional rule "Upkeep" sidebar in Chapter 5: Campaigns (p.130 in my printing) of the 3.5e DMG.

The Living Greyhawk campaign used slightly revised Upkeep costs for D&D 3.0/3.5 pervasively, to wit:

The GP required to support PCs between adventures is called upkeep.

For 12 GP per TU* your PC gets adventurer’s standard upkeep. This pays for common room and board, replenishes rations, mends clothing and equipment, refills healing and disguise kits, restocks up to twenty normal steel arrows and bolts, and heals hit point and temporary ability damage between adventures.

You may also pay more GP to live better than the average adventurer. For 50 GP per TU, rich upkeep gives the same 5 benefits as standard upkeep and a +2 Circumstance bonus on Bluff, Diplomacy, Gather Information, Intimidate, Perform, Profession, and Sense Motive checks when your GM determines that your increased social status would grant you a benefit. For 100 GP per TU, luxury upkeep increases this bonus to +4.

You may choose not to pay for your PC’s upkeep for an adventure. If you do so, the PC retains any damage into the next adventure and does not gain any of the benefits of standard upkeep. The PC may gain other penalties or benefits at the discretion of your GM. At the beginning of the adventure, if your PC possesses at least five ranks in Survival and succeed on a DC 20 Survival check, he gains the benefits for standard upkeep. He may still gain penalties or benefits at the discretion of your GM. If you fail this check, you may not then choose to pay for upkeep for that adventure.

  • Time Unit: Abstraction of time spent not adventuring, about 1 week.

As a bonus, I wrote a blog post about adapting this to the Pathfinder downtime rules here.

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This sounds like the D&D 5e "lifestyle" rules - page 72 and 73 of the SRD version 5.1. In 5e, each character can decide how much daily upkeep they want to pay, from nothing (a "wretched" lifestyle, meaning the character is homeless) to 10gp/day (an "aristocratic" lifestyle, a life of plenty and comfort). Each upkeep choice pays for accommodations, food and drink, and other necessities including maintaining equipment.

Of course, the food and drink you get from the more expensive lifestyles is better than the food and drink from the cheaper ones.

If you try to port these rules to 3.5e, you might have some problems: higher level characters in 3.5e have way way more money than lower-level characters, so your whole group will be able to live like kings.

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While I've never used any fully codified rules to this effect, I've houseruled something similar. Going off the list of per-day meals and inn stays, and doubling it to account for minor services, I got to about 5gp/day for "good" quality lodgings, 2 gp for common, and 5sp for poor (what that entails is listed in the PHB).

The thing is, that works kind of well for the first levels or two, but even if you have to sustain long periods of downtime, by the third level or so this is going to be trivial in 3.5. Adventurers make a lot of money compared to normal people. Especially since those costs are for inns and prepared meals - if the PC's own a home it should be a lot cheaper still. After all, that 3sp costs for a trained hireling likely pays for an entire family.

For that reason, after a few levels of relative hardship, we usually end up ignoring meals and lodgings altogether and chalk it up to a rounding error.

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We don't use upkeep, not explicitly. If someone forget to buy food, has to go back to buy it, find food, or die by hunger. We avoid all financial stuff as possible because we find it boring (no banks, no taxes). Usually players are required to pay for:

  • Travelling
  • Resting in inns (Innkeeper can also provide food for up to 7 days)
  • Other "services"
  • Healing potions/scrolls

So basically players will not forget most important stuff (food/healing) and have to pay only for significative stuff that has to be role-played (If they forget something important, and DM notice that, they'll pay consequences).

Something like a tax is just a boring little extra book-keeping. The reason is that we want to keep a roleplay game mood and not a Capitalism Plus mood.

A possible in-world explainations:

  • Found treasures are tax-free, shops already include taxes in their items prices
  • Raiding treasure is illegal, so going to pay taxes for these is like saying to authorities "Hey I raided a treasure".

We really never bothered for taxes (just mentioned once in a NPC dialogue). Fantasy games/books are for escaping reality, and taxes are just a thing we want to forget from reality.

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