Saturday, January 26, 2019

A Look at OD&D: Support and Upkeep

Player Character Support and Upkeep

“Player/Characters must pay Gold Pieces equal to 1% of their experience points for support and upkeep, until such time as they build a stronghold, which will bring in annual tax revenue. If the stronghold is in a wilderness area all support and upkeep costs then cease, but if it is in a village or town not controlled by the player/ character then support and upkeep payments must continue.”

For those of you who aren’t in the loop, a couple of us bloggers over at The Ruins of Murkhill decided to write a series of posts in January to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the game you’re here to read about, D&D. The rule above this paragraph talks about Gygax’s upkeep rules. And I thought we’d take a look at them.

                I’m not going to assume you play the same D&D as me, I wouldn’t even pretend that’s the case, but it’s parts of the book like this that are universally applicable. If you weren’t aware, the first part of that quote speaks to a specific XP philosophy, in which you gain your XP by gathering treasure through adventurous means; effectively allowing you to gain XP by not killing the dragon, but only because you took all the treasure out from under it as it slept. It would not include, however, the money you find in the peasant’s pocket, because murder isn’t an adventure. This doesn’t mean another system couldn’t use it though. Let’s check a little something out perhaps.

I really do enjoy how 5e's (and other) systems put up a table
of how much money the players should receive. That would
seriously bog down game preparation.

                You see this nifty table here? It tells you how much money your PCs make each level. According to Gygax’s rule, 1% of this should be taxed for each level. Let’s see if we can do the maths here quick.

Level                     % Taxed

2                              9 gp
3                              27 gp
4                              54 gp
5                              90 gp
6                              130 gp
7                              190 gp
8                              270 gp
9                              360 gp
10                           490 gp

                Now, the leveling system works in a way where that system would probably tax about 1 gp a day, though I can’t be completely sure having never played much 5e. But here’s the question. How do we trick our players into giving away their much loved money? Well, there’s a variety of ways to do just that.


A group of haggard people approach the gate, their torn and bloodied cloaks flap behind them in the wind. The guard looks at them a bit nervously, they look dangerous, and he probably shouldn’t let them in this late at night.

What? Did you think your characters looked heroic? No, they are likely a fearsome sight to behold. Why does this matter? Well, why would someone let a group of people who are probably bandits into his city, he has a duty you know.

They could just kill the guard of course.

Food and Lodging

                Many people just knock off food and lodging as an assumption, and don’t even bother to consider it, but here’s a little something to consider. Remember how the time from first to second level left only 9 gp for the 1%? Your characters probably start out too poor to afford a nifty little inn, in fact, their money is probably just enough to get them food. So where do they sleep? That’s perhaps an interesting thing to consider.


                This one might be useful later on in the game, but you shouldn’t be throwing this one about all the time, that’s how you create murderhoboes. After all, why trust the bank when it’s always getting robbed, why trust that NPC when you keep getting mugged? But one or two times in a campaign this can be a powerful tool to get some of that money out of their fingers.


Gygax mentions the acquisition of a home-base, and that if you locate it in a city, you continue to pay upkeep, but otherwise, become exempt. This makes sense, but of course you still need food when you live in the woods, although having a dedicated hunter would make that less of a problem. But house ownership in a city is generally associated with settlement, and settlement is associated with taxes. This one would be a lot less exciting to play out, of course, though due to it’s nature, you wouldn’t necessarily have to.

They’ll probably just kill the tax collector though.

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