Upkeep and Lifestyle

The Downtime rules in Pathfinder from Ultimate Campaign kinda whiffed on the Upkeep section of the rules, which basically say “uh, nothing needs upkeep, move along.” But wouldn’t it be more interesting if it did?  “No!,” the people shout, no one likes being taxed. But what if there were options and possible advantages to be had?

Let’s talk about PCs who want to live high on the hog, as opposed to paying their bare minimum for food while in town. There’s nothing in Pathfinder RAW about this. However, in D&D 3.5 there were optional rules on Upkeep (DMG p.130) with costs per month for various levels of lifestyle. We used a variant of these rules in Living Greyhawk:

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.

To incorporate something similar into the Downtime rules, it’s easy – determine the relevant cost tiers and benefits, then tie it into the Capital system as usual.  Let’s say you decide on monthly levels of 5 gp (Subsistence, has penalties), 20 gp (Basic, default), 50 gp (Nice), 100 gp (Rich), and 200 gp (Wealthy) is the maximum ultra luxurious lifestyle. The higher levels get you social bonuses, faster recovery, maybe faction points or other bennies from other rulesets you’re using…  Then it can be paid for using the currencies in the system, with some flavor as to whether it’s goods, influence, labor, or magic fueling your super-luxe life. You can pay for it in all of the usual ways, from money found adventuring to working for a living… Someone unskilled only makes 3 gp/month, so they get the Middle Ages Mostly Starving lifestyle unless they moonlight. Any Craft or Profession skill would let you afford Basic with a little spending money left over. A super skilled artisan with a +20 Profession check is only making 15 gp/week, so could pull Nice, but it’s not enough even for a 100 gp/month lifestyle – but that’s why those folks are the 1% (as Chris Rock would say, it’s the difference between being rich and having wealth!).

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2 responses to “Upkeep and Lifestyle

  1. Wouldn’t these numbers be different for different classes? It’s one thing for a fighter to be living “high on the hog,” but it’s a vastly different thing for an ascetic monk or paladin with a vow of poverty! An interesting followup blog to this might be how this would play out with different classes, and even different sized towns.

    • Not really; I’d think a paladin or monk wouldn’t choose to live high on the hog at all. They certainly wouldn’t get the benefits of doing so for less. I don’t see any real variation among classes here. Town sizes perhaps, but this is already fiddly enough that I am not sure going into detail about “you have to send away for a good sofa because you’re in a hamlet” is a good use of game time…

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