Excerpts Archive | 6/5/2012
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1st Edition DMG Excerpts: Economics
Bart Carroll

In 1974, the world changed forever when Gary Gygax introduced the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. The legacy of his innovative ideas and the extensive reach of his powerful influence can be seen in virtually every facet of gaming today.

To help honor his work and his memory, we've created limited-edition reprints of the original 1st Edition core rulebooks: the Monster Manual, Player's Handbook, and Dungeon Master's Guide. These premium versions of the original AD&D rulebooks have been lovingly reprinted with the original art and content, but feature an attractive new cover design commemorating this re-release.

Your purchase of this monumental book helps support the Gygax Memorial Fund—established to immortalize the "Father of Roleplaying Games" with a memorial statue in Lake Geneva, WI.

I n this preview of the 1st Edition re-release of the Dungeon Master's Guide, we explore a sampling of the wealth of advice offered inside. From the chapter on running campaigns, the DMG provided the following warning:

Unlike most games, AD&D is an ongoing collection of episode adventures, each of which constitutes a session of play. You, as the Dungeon Master, are about to embark on a new career, that of universe maker. You will order the universe and direct the activities in each game, becoming one of the elite group of campaign referees referred to as DMs in the vernacular of AD&D. What lies ahead will require the use of all of your skill, put a strain on your imagination, bring your creativity to the fore, test your patience, and exhaust your free time. Being a DM is no matter to be taken lightly!

A daunting task, but the DMG sought to help by offering page after page of ways to create and improve your campaign. In today's excerpt, we look at a few pages on campaign economics, including a look at placing treasure and magic items throughout the world!


There is no question that the prices and costs of the game are based on inflationary economy, one where a sudden influx of silver and gold has driven everything well beyond its normal value. The reasoning behind this is simple. An active campaign will most certainly bring a steady flow of wealth into the base area, as adventurers come from successful trips into dungeon and wilderness. If the economy of the area is one which more accurately reflects that of medieval England, let us say, where coppers and silver coins are usual and a gold piece remarkable, such an influx of new money, even in copper and silver, would cause an inflationary spiral. This would necessitate you adjusting costs accordingly and then upping dungeon treasures somewhat to keep pace. If a near-maximum is assumed, then the economics of the area can remain relatively constant, and the DM will have to adjust costs only for things in demand or short supply—weapons, oil, holy water, men-at-arms, whatever.

The economic systems of areas beyond the more active campaign areas can be viably based on lesser wealth only until the stream of loot begins to pour outwards into them. While it is possible to reduce treasure in these areas to some extent so as to prolong the period of lower costs, what kind of a dragon hoard, for example, doesn't have gold and gems? It is simply more heroic for players to have their characters swaggering around with pouches full of gems and tossing out gold pieces than it is for them to have coppers. Heroic fantasy is made of fortunes and king's ransoms in loot gained most cleverly and bravely and lost in a twinkling by various means — thievery, gambling, debauchery, gift-giving, bribes, and so forth. The "reality" AD&D seeks to create through role playing is that of the mythical heroes such as Conan, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Kothar, Elric, and their ilk. When treasure is spoken of, it is more stirring when participants know it to be TREASURE!

Placement of Monetary Treasure

Wealth abounds; it is simply awaiting the hand bold and strong enough to take it! This precept is basic to fantasy adventure gaming. Can you imagine Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser without a rich prize to aim for? Conan without a pouchful of rare jewels to squander? And are not there dragons with great hoards? Tombs with fantastic wealth and fell guardians? Rapacious giants with spoils?

Dwarven mines brimming with gems? Leprechauns with pots of gold? Why, the list goes on and on!

(98 Kbs PDF)
Bart Carroll
Bart Carroll has been a part of Wizards of the Coast since 2004, and a D&D player since 1980 (and has fond memories of coloring the illustrations in his 1st Edition Monster Manual). He currently works as producer for the D&D website. You can find him on Twitter (@bart_carroll) and at bartjcarroll.com.
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