[RPG] What’s a good pay rate per level for a party for hire


I've been running a campaign for a couple of sessions where the PCs are employed by a "Heroes' Guild" a la Fairy Tail or Fable. I don't have a huge grasp on how the game's economy works since I've only been running it for a short amount of time, and as we start taking on paid quests at level 2, I'd like to get a good figure on how much money the quests should be worth.

I know that the DMG has tables for money rewards per individual monster, and per hoard, but what about per adventuring day?

Obviously the rate should go up with the party's level as the quests get harder. I just haven't been able to find a table for that. So, assuming I replace most if not all of the coin a GM is supposed to dish out from session to session and compile it into a lump sum for a party of 4, what would that formula or table look like?

Best Answer

There's no hard-and-fast set of rules on this. But we've got a few touchstones that can inform a good scheme:

1. PHB: skilled laborer. Skilled laborers hire out at 2gp per day. But do not equate the work of even a level 1 adventurer with that of a skilled laborer. The unskilled laborer is told: carry those bricks. The skilled laborer is told: build that brick wall. The adventurer is told: there's a set of ruins a few miles away, possibly infested by who-knows-what, but we really want the bricks from there.

The danger faced by the adventurer makes their labor rate significantly higher than that of an equivalently-skilled mundane laborer.

Labor rate: >2gp per day.

2. Adventurers League: spellcasting services. In evaluating how much an adventurer should be paid, we can assume that spellcasters may be required to cast their spells, and all AL modules contain a table of costs for spellcasting services. Level 1 spells cost 10-20gp, and your level 1 spellcaster might be called upon to cast 4 first-level spells in an adventuring day (assuming a pair of short rests).

Spellcasting rate: 30-80gp per day.

3. The Castle Guide: "Heroic Services." The Dungeon Master's Guide (5e) lists the construction+labor costs of various strongholds on p.128. Some months ago I ran each of those through the cost-estimating scheme in 2e's DMGR2: The Castle Guide;1 I can assure you that the 5e and the 2e economies track very nicely.

The Castle Guide tells us that a PC should be counted as worth an extra person's labor per character level. In addition, spellcasting PCs should be additionally "credited" a man-day of labor for each level of spell available. Thus a 4th-level (5e) Wizard should be worth the labor of 1 + 4 + (4x1 + 3x2) = 15 skilled laborers, while a 4th-level (5e) Rogue should be worth the labor of 1 + 4 = 5 skilled laborers.

Your characters, at first level, are then worth between 2x and 4x more than a skilled laborer.

Heroic rate: 2x - 4x skilled labor

Putting it all together:

Taking all of this into consideration, a "first-level adventurer's rate" of a few dozen gp per person per day is reasonable, and that should scale pretty quickly with level.(Say, 30 gp/adventurer-day at 1st, 60 at second, 90 at third, &c.)

1 - A player wanted to rebuild a certain Keep in Princes of the Apocalypse after some... devastation. Introducing him to The Castle Guide--after exhaustively vetting its numbers against 5e touchstones--provided him many hours' fun away from the table.