What’s the end game of an RPG? Just keep stacking up XP? So cash is just a way to buy XP? I think that’s stupid. Infinite power and infinite gold are goals for boring, one-dimensional characters. For damned cartoon villains.
OK, infinite power in an RPG and the madness that entails, I can live with. But imaginary cash as goal in itself? That’s daft. So why do heroes want cash? To retire from the game and do the stuff they’ve always dreamt of: buy a farm, build a chain of coffee shops, pay off their horrible debts, raise a mercenary troupe, hire an army to kill a dragon.
This should be explicit. Retiring a hero successfully should be an achievement in itself, and should probably give a bonus to the next hero, perhaps unlocking weirder bonus classes, or just giving some starting boost or a powerful patron.
The simplest way for a hero to retire is to “cash out”. They take all that cash and plunder they’ve looted and plunk it down for a farm, where they go and raise rabbits and a new generation of fools who believe that going into ancient holes in the machine substrate will make them rich.
So, let’s say I make several retirement tables, depending on the size of a hero’s pile. If a hero really wants a specific option, let them roll for the amount that will take.
Pathetic Retirement: 200 cash (100 + 1d20 x 10) is all your hero saved up. They are a failure. Roll d20 for what happened to them:
- soon your “retirement fund” is gone and you join the faceless rotting folk in the great under-sewers, until even your name withers away, forgotten.
- thus end all who live by the sword. Several months of hard drinking later, the trauma of the adventuring life grinds you down, and you die in a pointless tavern brawl over a maggot-eaten hat.
- the horror and the pain grew too much, the haunted nights worse than the hollow days. You hanged yourself, a body for others to stumble across, 70 silver cents in your pocket.
- it went downhill, there were blank days, months, years, but in the end, you dragged yourself back from the abyss and joined the Beggar’s Boulevard before the great Palace of Jesus Thor.
- there is an odd, broken fellow renting a bedsit above the Turf and Turnip, spends all their cash on paper and the dark green ink because the creatures in the corner can’t read in green. Was this you?
- among the common laborers on the dock is a taciturn, scarred creature. Short on words, but with a glower that sends brave militiamen scurrying. The tramps look at that magic-stitched hide and keep away.
- the new farmhand is sometimes called simply Donkey, so docile yet hardworking. Old Master says there’s a darkness to that one.
- being the undertaker at the Blue Gate isn’t so bad. You have a roof, a liquor ration, and somebody has to be ready with stake and sharpened shovel to keep the dead in their graves.
- you are the new gardener at the Corporate Duke’s estate. You’ve got green thumbs, three of them. It’s a rough and unkempt sort of life, but good enough. Happy to be left alone. Also, there’s a pet badger.
- you joined the ‘hood of the Praying Penitents, trading mail and steel for a cassock and the purgative of hard devotion to the Pantheon.
- after a few harsh years you found meaning as the darkest bartender at the Dismay and Desolation.
- it was rough going, who’d have thought being a snake-water peddler would be so rough? But eventually you got a good route going and are now a well-enough-respected fixture among the half-nomads of the Grassgreen Plain.
- going into the portage business seemed like a good deal, but it really took off once your partner had an unfortunate accident. Since then, the Heroic Porters company has had nothing but good relations with the local Hexads and Self-help Associations.
- being a tenant farmer isn’t so bad, sure the taxes are harsh, but at least there’s butter and cheese and yoghurt and the cultist’s are good about paying for the animals they need for their rituals. Much better than dying in some forsaken pit.
- you took over the plague pits, it was free after all, and over the years you’ve saved up enough to add a little tap house on the side. Could be worse.
- you’re living proof that hard work, some graft, and a lot of luck pay off, what with your market stall and six pigs. Yup, you’re rolling in the money.
- you eventually accepted the Inquisitor’s offer to join the local Protectors of Moral Rectitude. Ain’t so bad.
- after a stint in the debtor’s prison you got smarter about your act and set up as a local distributor for a certain luxury importer of dubious goods.
- things worked out alright, you joined that guild you always wanted to, and are now both a master and a member of the local chapter of the Chtonic Appreciation Society.
- you blew all your savings on one last grand bash, invited the local bigwigs and, after some weird shenanigans involving melted cheese, animated pumpkin jerky and seventeen golden candle-sticks, you were (roll d6): (1) adopted by ‘Uncle’ Greenface of the local Half-Elf association, (2) married the Innkeeper’s son or daughter in a weird pagan ritual, (3) inherited a small and creepy estate by the seaside, (4) were anointed a local magistrate, (5) acquired a herd of a hundred horses and five slaves, (6) were appointed a board member of the Green God’s Priesthood of Mergers and Acquisitions.
And the payoff. For your next hero roll d6:
- cursed, the hero loses 1d4 Charisma, but gains a savage survival streak a mile wide (advantage to death saves, maybe resilience).
- avenger, the hero holds clues to someone called the Laughter in the Rafter. Five stand in the hero’s way, each one that they send into the rotten embrace of the Blue God grants the hero 1 permanent bonus hit point. Destroying the Laughter gives a permanent +1 bonus to one ability of choice and shifts the hero’s alignment towards chaos or evil or blue or something.
- wild child, raised by savage badgers, the hero grew steel-sinewed and tough, gaining +1 permanent Constitution and d4 melee unarmed attacks.
- the green-ink papers, the hero came across a series of occult papers that have given them advantage on Intelligence saves, a fear of the dark, and the means to open one magical door.
- child of dismay, basically brought up at the Dismay and Desolation, the hero acquired an innate tolerance of liquors and an resistance to fear and ennui.
- hidden cache, the new hero found 100 + 1d20 x 10 cash on a corpse in a gutter. Is there some connection?
At some point in the future, the next table: Modest retirement
1,000 cash (500 + 1d10 x 100) may be enough to start a small business, maybe open a Break ’n’ Stabbins franchise, or get into the lucrative salteptre distribution business.
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Oh, come on! Stop it with this fragmentary world-building and these chunks of rules that lead nowhere!
But they do lead somewhere. This is a fragment from my next installment of the WTF Patreon: the Ultraviolet Grasslands.