© Wizards of the Coast by John Severin Brassell

Lifestyle, Services, Costs, and Expenses in DnD 5e – Get What You Need

Just like in the real world, everything in the Forgotten Realms costs coin.

Everything requires you to have some cold hard cash upfront, from food and drink to hiring personnel to help with your adventures.

How can an adventurer balance their needs and wants effectively with their admittedly meager income?

What can adventurers do to make sure their money is going somewhere useful?

Different Currencies

The Forgotten Realms features many different currencies that adventurers may come across during their travels. The most well-known currency is, of course, gold coins or gold pieces.

However gold is not the only or most valuable currency available in the Dungeons & Dragons universe. 

The five currencies players might come across are Copper, Silver, Electrum, Gold, and Platinum.

Each currency has a conversion scale for the other currency types, so don’t worry if you don’t start immediately seeing gold and platinum returns during your adventures; you can always convert your copper into gold and platinum!

CopperSilverElectrumGoldPlatinum
Copper110501001000
Silver101510100
Electrum5051220
Gold100102110
Platinum100010020101

Electrum is not the most popular currency, and not all DMs use the Electrum currency in their campaigns. Almost all, if not all, campaigns will use Copper, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. 

Expenses in Dungeons & Dragons

When you’re not camping in an underground fortress or traversing the wilds of Wherever-You-Are-Right-Now, players will have to contend with the average hum-drum of mundane, regular-person life. 

Unless you want to eat rations (maybe you have Prestidigitation to make them taste less like trash?) every day for the rest of your life, you’ll have to find ways to procure food. Unless you want to sleep with the beggars, you’ll have to buy yourself inn rooms. 

These expenses have to come from somewhere, and luckily, the PHB has plenty of lists of costs and how much daily life should cost you.

Lifestyle Expenses

Lifestyle Expenses are how you live your life when you’re in civilized societies. You won’t be spending much on your lifestyle in the depths of a dungeon, but once you’re back in town, your lifestyle expenses determine what you do with your free time and money.

Lifestyle Expenses are calculated per day, and your DM will have you subtract that money from your current expenses for each day. At the start of every in-game week or month (your choice!), you will choose a lifestyle and pay the price to sustain it.

These costs also cover your equipment and weapons upkeep, so keep that in mind when selecting one.

LifestylePrice Per Day
WretchedX
Squalid1 silver/day
Poor2 silver/day
Modest1 gold/day
Comfortable2 gold/day
Wealthy4 gold/day
Aristocratic10 gold/day (MINIMUM)

Wretched

They live in inhumane conditions that would be unconscionable to most people. Their shelter is whatever they can find or break into without repercussions. This lifestyle presents an extensive breadth of dangers as they’re regularly unsheltered or in a building that they are unwelcome in.

Other people who live this kind of lifestyle will covet any valuable item they have, such as weapons or treasure, and may attempt to rob them. Most people pay no attention to them at all.

Squalid

hey live in a run-down shack with a mud or dirt floor. The walls are drafty, and the roof may leak, but it’s a roof nonetheless, and they call it home. They may live in a boarding house filled with pests in the worst part of town or a stable.

Most people with this lifestyle are faced with a seemingly insurmountable setback like disease or massive debt. The law does its best not to notice them, as do most people.

Poor

Poor people live without a lot of the creature comforts that the average person has. The availability of housing, food, clothing, and other necessities is unpredictable, and a poor person may choose to go without if they don’t have enough to make their rent.

Most of these people live in a slophouse or above a tavern in a shared room with other people. They tend to be unskilled laborers and other people at the bottom of the job ladder.

The benefits of legal protections are scarce, and poor people still face life with significant violence and disease.

Modest

People who lead Modest lives have homes and food without too much worry about the costs, but they don’t, by any means, live lavishly. They’re able to upkeep their armor and weaponry without fear of going hungry or without a roof.

They live in a clean home, even if it’s simple, and don’t worry about crime, violence, or disease as much as poor people.

Wealthy

Wealthy people live in lovely houses in the nice part of town. They can upkeep their armor and weaponry easily; they usually don’t even think before spending that money.

They don’t worry about crime, violence, or disease. They don’t have the same social status as an aristocrat with old money or nobility, but they have a similar lifestyle and probably have a small staff of servants.

Aristocratic

Aristocrats want for nothing. They may come from old money or nobility. Aristocrats have immaculate homes, perhaps a townhouse in the nicest part of town, and eat at fancy restaurants without worrying for a moment about their finances.

With servants attending to your every need, they needn’t lift a finger to get the basics done. They’ll have to contend with treachery and deceit; the wealthier they become, the more people will want to use them for their own gains.

Individual Expenses

Of course, there’s more to the world than your lifestyle as well. Even someone who chooses to live frugally can have a nice night out if they want one.

While your DM may select the cost of some things, the PHB and Dungeon Masters’ Guide provide more information on item costs for individual items.

You may have to pay for individual items when you want to purchase gear, consumables, weapons, or materials for projects that your character might want to undertake.

If you choose to go to a restaurant outside of your everyday living, you’ll probably have to pay for that too.

The following chart gives you some references for how much things cost in terms of food, drink, and lodgings.

ItemCost
Ale4 copper per mug, 2 silver per gallon
Banquet10 gold per person
Bread2 copper per loaf
Cheese1 silver per hunk
Inn Stay
Squalid7 copper per day
Poor1 silver per day
Modest5 silver per day
Comfortable8 silver per day
Wealthy2 gold per day
Aristocratic4 gold per day
Meals
Squalid3 copper per day
Poor6 copper per day
Modest3 silver per day
Comfortable5 silver per day
Wealthy8 silver per day
Aristocratic2 gold per day
Meat3 silver per chunk
Wine2 silver per pitcher (common), 10 gold per bottle (fine)

These provide a baseline for Dungeon Masters to use when setting prices for some of the things adventurers might want to purchase in towns.

Services

Coin is used to pay not just for goods but services as well. Adventurers can hire people to do things for them. The Services table covers all the types of hires one might make during their adventure.

ServiceCost
Coach cab
Between towns3 copper per mile
Within a city1 copper
Hireling
Skilled2 gold per day
Untrained2 silver per day
Messenger2 copper per mile
Road or gate toll1 copper
Ship’s Passage1 silver per mile

When determining what kind of hireling you want, you need to consider what tasks you’re giving them. An untrained hireling can perform basic tasks like washing dishes or housekeeping.

A skilled hireling has a proficiency of some kind, be it a weapon or a profession (Smithing, Alchemy, etc.)

Spellcasting Services

You can also hire people to cast spells for you. This kind of service isn’t entirely unheard of, but there’s no way to quantify how much a spell should cost. The caster will determine what is and isn’t worth their time. 

For DMs, consider looking at the prices of magic items that do similar things and deciding what you think the best cost would be. If the spell has a material component with a listed cost — such as “a diamond worth 500 gold” for Resurrection — this cost should be included in the price for casting.

Buying Weapons, Armor, and Other Gear

One might say that an adventurer is only as strong as their gear. While you may find equipment while adventuring or kill some people and take their stuff… there’s always the option of just buying some gear if you’re hurting for it. Weapon and gear costs are listed in the PHB as well.

Conclusion

There’s so much to consider when it comes to the financial side of adventuring.

Making sure that you have food, shelter, and gear is something that many people don’t think about when it comes to Dungeons and Dragons, but it’s an important thing to consider nonetheless. Happy adventuring!