13th Age Mechanic: Lifestyle Costs

Excerpt from the Cloak & Coin Campaign Setting:

In my own campaigns, neither the players nor I like to keep track of the mundane expenses of life. Rather, I use the idea of lifestyle costs. During character creation, the player chooses an appropriate lifestyle for the character based upon their background. Each lifestyle places the character within the social hierarchy of the setting. It grants the player certain benefits, but comes at a cost. As characters progress through the campaign, their lifestyle can change as well as the associated benefits and costs. Generally, if a character can afford to do so, she can choose to increase her lifestyle;  on the other hand, if a sufficient number of lifestyle payments are missed due to lack of sufficient funds, perhaps debts are called in and the character drops to a lower lifestyle.

Lifestyle costs are also a handy tool as a game master to manage treasure rewards. If the characters managed to acquire quite a bit of treasure in a particular adventure, the next adventure can take a place a few months later, with lifestyle costs draining the income; or, if one adventure didn’t really pay very well, maybe the characters are desperate enough that they take a few adventures in quick succession.  The following lifestyle costs are based on standard treasure rewards as described in the Running the Game chapter in the 13th Age Core Rule Book.

Lifestyle costs includes the character’s daily living expenses, maintenance of basic gear and equipment and replenishment of basic starting gear (e.g., lanterns, rope, trail rations, etc.). By paying a regular lifestyle cost, it frees the game master and the players from tracking specific living expenses. Regardless of the character’s actual living circumstances – whether each character lives alone or they share a large house – each player pays the appropriate lifestyle cost. The lifestyle cost is based on the tier of play: adventurer, champion, or epic.

The following descriptions provide a general idea of the lifestyle, but can easily be adjusted by the game master to the type of campaign that is being played. Remember, the lifestyle choice made by the player should be in keeping with the character’s background!

Mendicant/Street Urchin
This lifestyle provides nothing special to the character, but also costs nothing.

If the character were not an adventurer, he would live off the land or by begging on the streets. But, as an adventurer, the character is able to get funds through the very work he does. It is rare that a character will remain in this lifestyle for any length of time, unless; of course, there is a background reason that keeps the character trapped here. Perhaps the character has an addiction that drains his income; maybe he has debts that must be paid; or, perhaps, he is devoted to his faith and tithes his entire income to the temple.

Regardless of the reason, if a player decides to permanently maintain this lifestyle, the character cannot keep anything more than the paltriest amount of coin after the conclusion of an adventure. Any coin that is kept is spent solely on maintaining whatever gear the character may possess. It is up to the game master and the player to decide how magical items are handled. Does the player sell them? Why does she keep them in such abject circumstances?

Peasant/Laborer

This lifestyle provides the character with the most minimal lifestyle. The character either has a small hovel on the outskirts of a village; or, if in the city, a single room with dirty mattress thrown on the bare floor in the poor quarter of town. Even in such circumstances, however, the character must maintain his equipment and health if he is to continue adventuring.

This lifestyle will cost the player 1d4 x 5 gold coins a month at the adventure tier. At the Champion tier, this cost goes up to 2d4 x 5 gold pieces; and at epic tier, to 3d4 x 5 gold coins per month

Tradesmen

The lifestyle of a tradesmen and skilled laborer is a little better than a mere laborer. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the character necessarily works as a blacksmith or a leather worker, merely that she has an equivalent lifestyle. In general, this will be the typical lifestyle of most adventurers.

Whether in a village or a city, such a character will often have a small house or apartment. Clothing, food, and furnishings tend to be better. The character generally has to take care of her own needs. She still doesn’t have servants or paid help, but a peasant may occasionally come by to keep the place clean. The character may even have a mule or pony!

The Tradesmen lifestyle costs 1d8 x 10 gold coins per month. At champion tier, this cost goes up to 2d8 x 10 gold coins; and, at epic tier, to 3d8 x 10 gold coins per month.

Merchant/Sage

This Merchant/Sage lifestyle places the character in a social class that has some privileges. This lifestyle includes merchants, scholars, explorers, and low ranking mercenary officers. The character has a small house and probably one or two servants to provide for her basic household needs. She has henchmen to run small errands and take care of mundane tasks. The character is likely to have a horse and small stable. Clothing, food, and furnishing are of a high quality and the character associates with a higher class of society.

Maintaining this lifestyle costs 1d12 x 10 gold coins per month at adventurer tier; 2d12 x 10 gold coins at champion; and 3d12 x 10 gold coins at epic tier.

Noble

This is the highest lifestyle possible for a character. This doesn’t necessarily mean the character is actually nobility, though this is quite possible if the game master allows. This character could be a successful landlord, a high-ranking mercenary officer, or merely a shrewd investor. The key is that the character is someone who lives in the highest circles of society. Unless a recluse, he probably spends time at society events and may even patronize a local artist. Such a character often lives in a manor house with enough servants to provide for all his essential needs – maids, cooks, stable hands, and maybe even a blacksmith to take care of his equipment. Clothing, food, and furnishing are of the highest quality and often imported.

This character has access to henchmen that are not merely messengers. At the approval of the game master, the character can actually call on a henchman to accompany him on adventures.

The Nobility lifestyle costs 2d12 x 100 gold coins per month at adventurer level; 4d12 x 100 gold coins per month at champion; and, 6d12 x 100 gold coins at epic tier.

 

Monthly Lifestyle Cost
  Adventure Tier Champion Tier Epic Tier
Mendicant/Street Urchin Free!
Peasant/Laborer 1d4 x 5 gold 2d4 x 5 gold 3d4 x 5 gold
Tradesman 1d8 x 10 gold 2d8 x 10 gold 3d8 x 10 gold
Merchant/Sage 1d12 x 10 gold 2d12 x 10 gold 3d12 x 10 gold
Noble 2d12 x 100 gold 4d12 x 100 gold 6d12 x 100 gold
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