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A look at the DnD Economy

   Posted by: Mauril   in Fantasy, Generally Geeky, Pathfinder, RPG

So, because I have nothing better to do with my time, apparently, I decided to take a look at the various skills in DnD that allow a character to make money: craft, profession and perform. Ignoring magical crafting, I decided to figure out what the average wages of the various professions are.

I made a couple of assumptions about the various characters involved. The baseline character was a level 5 commoner with all 10s in his stats. It doesn’t matter what his profession is (farmer, baker, librarian, sailor, etc.), he’s just a basic laborer. With two skill points in Profession(X), your average worker can earn 9 gold a week, which is 468 gold over the course of a year. Subtracting the price of a loaf of bread a day, two hunks of meat and two hunks of cheese a week, Average Joe nets 116 gold a year. This will buy him a masterwork tool and a new set of clothes every year with a couple of coins left over for a pint or two a week to forget the fact that he’s a commoner.

Next we’ll take a look at your average performer. In a decent sized city, a street performer who has specialized in his trade (full ranks, skill focus, masterwork item and a +2 CHA) can command a +15 to his skill check at level 5. This nets him 3.5 gold per day, 1278 gold per year (assuming he works every single day). Dropping 100 gold on a masterwork performing item, he can afford a “good” meal and a pitcher of wine every day and still have 922 gold to buy himself a villa with.

Now let’s take a look at a blacksmith. I am assuming here that our master craftsman is able to sell every item he makes. Also, since he could make any of the dozens of weapons or armors, I’m going to give an average weaponsmith and an average armorsmith. Your “average” weapons costs 32.5 gold (and is a martial weapon) and your average armor costs 259 gold. The “average” weapon nets the weaponsmith 21.6 gold per unit. He can make 2 units per week with his +15 to crafting (and using the accelerated crafting DC). Your average skilled weaponsmith can net himself 2246 gold per year. The “average” armor nets the armorsmith 172.6 gold per suit. It takes him 2.7 weeks to create a suit and, since the crafting rules are based on one check per week, this means he can make 17 suits a year. With this your average skilled armorsmith can net himself 2934 gold per year. He does pretty well for himself.

If we take a look at your average alchemist (with the same skill bonus as the blacksmith), his typical fare costs 31.8 gold, which nets him 21.2 gold per item. He can make two alchemical items per week, just like the weaponsmith, which garners him 2204.8 gold per year. He does have to buy a 200 gold alchemist lab to do this, so he’s slightly worse off than the blacksmiths, who only have to spend 100 gold for their specialty items.

Now, we have the weird one. The guys who make the random gear that fills up the rest of the equipment table, like ladders and nails and cloth bags. Since I don’t want to have to divide each of those various categories up into their component craft skills (leather, wood, fabric, glass, pottery, etc.) I’m just going to find an average sundry item and assume the maker has the appropriate skill, feat and item. Since these are relatively more common folk, I’m only giving them a +1 INT, which nets them a +14 to their skill. The average sundry item costs 41.3 gold (since spy glasses and water clocks are so expensive) which nets the crafter 27.5 gold per item. Since he can make one item per week (actually, one every 4 days but the craft rules are weird), your general crafter makes 1430 gold per year. This puts him slightly above your common laborer.

Incidentally, an apprentice to any of the various crafters (who, by RAW, has no ranks in a craft skill) only makes 36.5 gold per year. He had better be juggling on the weekends if he wants to survive.

Now,  before you say that level 5 is pretty high for a commoner, I did the math for a level 2 farmer. He earns 416 gold per year.

The numbers for the crafters would change considerably, since their craft bonus would drop from a +15 to a +12 and, with average rolls, put them out of range of accelerated crafting.

If you go with crafting by the day instead of by the week, our level 2 weaponsmith can make a weapon every 5 days. This earns him 1554.9 gold per year, assuming he sells all his weapons. Let’s say he has a military contract in a martial state. If you don’t allow crafting by the day, he can make one weapon a week, which cuts his potential income down to 1107.6 gold per year.

As for our armorsmith, at level 2, it takes him 5.2 weeks to make a suit of armor. If you allow crafting by the day, this lets him make 10 suits of armor per year and a potential income of 1726 gold. If he crafts by the week, he can make 8 suits per year, which 1380.8 gold per year. Both still set him well above the commoner and his “profession” skill.

Our alchemist was already unable to do accelerated crafting, so he’s not as bad off. He still makes 2 items a week, or one item every 4 days. With weekly crafting, he can earn 2204.8 gold per year (the same we will 3 levels from now) and with daily crafting he makes slightly less, at 1934.5 gold per year. This seems slightly curious to me, but alchemy is a weird science.

Our level 2 sundry item maker can still accelerated craft, since his average of 21 to his skill check puts him 10 over the average skill check needed for the average sundry item (can I say “average” again?). He makes an item every 5 days, or one a week, depending on which rules you want to use. With weekly wages he makes 1430 gold per year and with daily wages he can make up to 2007.5 gold per year. At lower levels, furnishing the general store is potentially better than forging armor or weapons.

If you exclude the spy glass maker and the water clock maker, the numbers drop significantly. The average price of a sundry item drops from 41.3 gold per item to 12.7 gold per item and nets our item maker only 8.5 gold per unit. However, since the value of the item went down, the crafting time also went down. He can now craft an item every 3 days, or 3 per week, depending on how you want to do the math. Weekly wages earn him 1326 gold per year and daily wages earn him 1028.5 gold per year. He is still significantly better off than the commoner.

Because I split the water clock and spy glass makers out of the sundry items group, I figure I should calculate their wages too. Each craftsman can make one of their items every 24 weeks, or about 2 per year. Earning 666.6 gold per unit, they make 1333.2 gold per year. Pretty comfortable living, compared to the common item maker.

And now to our journeyman juggler. With his +12 skill bonus, he can only manage a “great” performance every day, rather than a “memorable” one. He averages 1.65 gold per day, and assuming he juggles everyday for a year, he can earn 602.25 gold per year. Ouch. This cuts his wages more than in half. He’s barely better off than the industrious farmer, or the sailor who risks his life at sea or the baker who makes the bread he can barely afford.

Our apprentice crafter, with no ranks in a crafting skill, still only makes 36.5 gold per year. Perhaps he should be crafting spoons and lanterns instead.

This entry was posted on Saturday, April 3rd, 2010 at 12:13 am and is filed under Fantasy, Generally Geeky, Pathfinder, RPG. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

4 comments so far


Interesting. These are all single childless folk that don’t belong to guilds in crime-free (and thus extortion-free) areas, then?

April 3rd, 2010 at 10:00 am

Actually, I am very surprised that rules designed as very secondary to player characters end up producing results that look vaguely like a real economy. Thank you for taking the time to work these number through.

April 3rd, 2010 at 12:00 pm

@Anon: I’m just figuring the gross income. I leave the rest to the local conditions. Heck, I didn’t even bother to figure out a reasonable sales percentage for the crafters. The numbers are based on 100% sales.

@Sean: I was sort of surprised too. It modeled things pretty accurately for the lower classes. Nobles and such aren’t modeled by skills well, so their wages are arbitrary. Apprentices had also better hope their masters let them moonlight to make rent.

April 3rd, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Well, apprentices get room and board from their masters. At least half of their time should probably be spent “aiding another” on their master.

April 4th, 2010 at 2:36 pm