Loot. Whether it’s doubloons, sovereigns, generic gold pieces or whatever creative coinage the DM has in his campaign setting, one of the most tangible (and useful) rewards of adventuring is good old moolah. And if all goes well, you should have more than enough gold to spread around after getting just a few good adventures under your belt.
But what about right at the start? It does take money to make money, after all, and without at least a few basic provisions, weapons, and other necessities, you likely won’t live long enough to get your hands on the spoils of adventure. So, let’s talk about starting gold in D&D.
D&D 5E Starting Gold by Class
So how much gold do you start with in 5E? Well, it depends on your character class. There have always been basic guidelines for starting wealth in D&D for different character classes, engineered primarily to balance meeting basic necessities without giving a newly minted character too much oomph. A monk’s needs are humble, since they don’t require much in the way of gear – or even weapons, for that matter. On the other hand, a fighter who can’t buy at least some basic armor protection isn’t likely to fare too well.
This calculus has been a little more varied in previous editions, with the starting wealth gap between classes being more dramatic in many cases. For D&D 5E, it’s a little more even with a few noticeable outliers, like the aforementioned monk.
And while there is also a non-random option to take standard equipment over coinage (more on that later), below is a quick guide to the different starting gold ranges for those characters taking the option to roll for gold in 5E:
RANDOM STARTING GOLD
When rolling for random starting gold you can check the table below and then make a number of D4 rolls according to your starting class to determine your initial starting gold.
|Artificer||5d4 x 10 GP||50||200||125|
|Barbarian||2d4 x 10 GP||20||80||50|
|Bard||5d4 x 10 GP||50||200||125|
|Cleric||5d4 x 10 GP||50||200||125|
|Druid||2d4 x 10 GP||20||80||50|
|Fighter||5d4 x 10 GP||50||200||125|
|Paladin||5d4 x 10 GP||50||200||125|
|Ranger||5d4 x 10 GP||50||200||125|
|Rogue||4d4 x 10 GP||40||160||100|
|Sorcerer||3d4 x 10 GP||30||120||75|
|Warlock||4d4 x 10 GP||40||160||100|
|Wizard||4d4 x 10 GP||40||160||100|
From these numbers, you can see the overall average sits just shy of 100 GP, with an edge to the classes that tend toward medium to heavy armors, like fighters and paladins, and lighter toward classes like barbarians and druids, whose needs are more modest.
This random starting money gives players the flexibility to customize their gear, and in general it should provide the resources to equip your character sufficiently for their first forays into the big, bad world.
But if you don’t want to spend a chunk of your character creation shopping, there’s an easier way to get your hero up and running. In lieu of randomly rolling your starting wealth and then just buying everything you need, you can take the option for standard equipment instead.
D&D 5E Standard Equipment by Class
Much like the starting range for gold, standard equipment is determined by class. Unlike the starting gold option, standard equipment is also determined by background, allowing for more customization options.
On the class side of the equation, the standard starting equipment is as follows:
Artificer: The artificer’s basic equipment includes any two simple weapons, a light crossbow with 20 bolts, either studded leather or scale armor, thieves’ tools, and a Dungeoneer’s pack (a backpack, crowbar, hammer, 10 pitons, 10 torches, tinderbox, 10 days’ rations, a waterskin, and 50’ of hempen rope).
Barbarian: This class gets either a great axe or any one martial melee weapon, a choice of either two hand axes or any one simple weapon, and also receives an Explorer’s pack (a backpack, bedroll, mess kit, tinderbox, 10 torches, 10 days’ rations, a waterskin and 50’ of hempen rope).
Bard: The bard can choose between a rapier, a longsword, or any one simple weapon. They also get leather armor, a dagger, a musical instrument of their choice and can choose between one of two packs – a Diplomat’s (a chest, 2 scroll/map cases, an ink pen and bottle of ink, 5 sheets of paper, 2 flasks of oil, sealing wax, soap, a set of fine clothes, and a vial of perfume) or an Entertainer’s (backpack, bedroll, 5 days’ rations, a waterskin, 5 candles, a disguise kit, and 2 costumes).
Cleric: Clerics receive a holy symbol and a shield, as well as a choice of either a mace or – if they have proficiency – a warhammer. They can also select either chain, leather, or scale armor, subject to the armor proficiencies of their chosen build, and can choose between a light crossbow with 20 bolts or any one simple weapon. They also choose between either an Explorer’s pack (as for the barbarian) or a Priest’s pack (backpack, blanket, tinderbox, 2 blocks of incense, a censer, 10 candles, 2 days’ rations, a waterskin, vestments, and an alms box).
Druid: A druid receives leather armor, an Explorer’s pack, and a druidic focus of their choice. They can also choose between a wooden shield or any one simple weapon and make an additional choice of either a scimitar or any one simple melee weapon.
Fighter: The standard gear for a fighter offers either a set of chain mail or a set of leather armor along with a longbow and 20 arrows. Fighters can also choose between either two martial weapons or one martial weapon and a shield, as well as choosing between two hand axes or a light crossbow with 20 bolts. They can select either an Explorer’s pack or a Dungeoneer’s pack (as above, for the artificer).
Monk: The monk’s modest set includes either a short sword or simple weapon, a choice of either the Dungeoneer’s or Explorer’s pack, and 10 darts.
Paladin: These holy warriors start out with chain mail and a holy symbol, either five javelins or any simple melee weapon, and either two martial weapons or a martial weapon and shield. They can choose either an Explorer’s pack or a Priest’s pack (as the priest, above).
Ranger: Rangers can choose either scale or leather armor and can choose either two short swords or two simple melee weapons. They also have the choice of a Dungeoneer’s pack or an Explorer’s pack, and they receive a longbow with 20 arrows in a quiver.
Rogue: For weapons, rogues can select either a rapier or a short sword and can make a second choice between either a short bow with 20 arrows or another short sword. They also get leather armor, two daggers, thieves’ tools, and can choose between a Dungeoneer’s pack, an Explorer’s pack, or a Burglar’s pack (backpack, crowbar, hammer, 10 pitons, a bell, 10 feet of string, a bag of 1000 ball bearings, a tinderbox, 5 candles, 2 flasks of oil, a hooded lantern, 5 days’ rations, a waterskin, and 50’ of hempen rope).
Sorcerer: The standard package for a sorcerer includes two daggers, either a component pouch or an arcane focus, a choice of a light crossbow with 20 bolts or any simple weapon, and the option of either a Dungeoneer’s pack or an Explorer’s pack.
Warlock: The warlock starts of with leather armor, two daggers, and any simple weapon, and like the sorcerer can chose either an arcane focus or a component pouch, and either a simple weapon or a light crossbow with 20 bolts. They can select either a Dungeoneer’s pack or a Scholar’s pack (backpack, bottle of ink, ink pen, 10 sheets of parchment, a book of lore, a knife, and a small back of sand).
Wizard: Of course, the key item in a wizard’s standard gear is their spellbook. They can also choose between a dagger or quarterstaff, and between a component pouch and an arcane focus. They have the option of either a Scholar’s pack or an Explorer’s pack.
As noted above, the character’s background option adds another layer of equipment, usually somewhat minor items such as tool kits, musical instruments, or items of “flavor”, as well as modest amount of actual cash. Mixing and matching background options with your choice of class can create near-endless possibilities to tweak the finishing touches on your gear.
Roll the Dice or Take the Stuff?
So, should you roll for gold in 5E, or take the standard gear instead? Let’s look at the first class on the list, the artificer, to dig a little deeper into the math of making that decision.
The armor choices on the artificer come in at 45 GP for studded leather or 50 GP for scale mail. The Dungeoneer’s pack, bought ala carte, costs 12 GP. The crossbow and bolts add up to 26 GP, and thieves’ tools are another 25 GP.
Simple weapons vary, but if we drop the mace from consideration (you get just as much bludgeoning damage from a quarterstaff, for a lot less money), the average for two simple weapons is about 2 GP, 7 SP – let’s call it 3 GP to be simple. That puts the artificer standard equipment at between 111 and 116 GP, depending on the armor choice.
A deep dive into the possibilities that come from choosing different background options, each of which adds additional equipment and starting gold, is beyond the scope of even a much wordier article than this one – even if we restricted ourselves to just the “base” list in the Player’s Handbook and left out the broader array added in modules and other sources.
Let’s just note that the Guild Artisan (the recommended background for an artificer) grants a choice of artisan’s tools (they range wildly, from 1 GP for woodcarver’s tools up to 50 GP for a glassblower’s kit, but overall, they average to about 16 GP) and 15 GP in cash. Assuming the DM will spot you the one set of traveler’s clothes in any case (I mean, come on), that’s give or take an extra 31 GP of stuff, putting us now between 142 and 148.
Given that the average roll is 125 for starting gold, the standard seems like the better deal unless you feel very lucky on the die roll. Even then, max starting money doesn’t give you that much extra. Not enough to risk getting shorted by an unlucky die, at any rate.
Indeed, in most cases standard equipment is the better deal – fighters, paladins, and barbarians all tend to get more value out of the standard pack, as do most spellcasters. Monks and druids, being on the low end of starting gold, also tend to fare better with standard gear (especially monks – never, ever, roll starting gold for a monk).
With clerics, rogues, and rangers it’s more of a judgement call. Rangers, for instance, can choose between scale or leather armor – quite a difference in cost. If you’re going heavy, the standard equipment would again seem to be the better value, but if you’re going to be a stealthier ranger with light (and inexpensive) leather armor, rolling the dice plays in your favor, likely leaving you with a chunk of leftover cash to spend.
The one class that’s an easy choice for rolling is a bard. Given their standard equipment, the die rolls – especially with a little luck – are almost certain to offer a better value and give your bard a chance to accumulate more starting gear than the off-the-shelf option.
Starting Wealth for Higher Levels in 5E
While 5E gives this detailed guidance for equipping those starting at 1st level, what if you’re kicking off a campaign for more seasoned characters? How do you handle starting gold for higher levels in 5E? Well, there’s a little guidance to be found in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, as laid out below:
|Character Level||Low Magic Campaign||Standard Campaign||High Magic Campaign|
|1st – 4th level||Normal starting gear||Normal starting gear||Normal starting gear|
|5th – 10th level||Normal starting gear plus 500 GP and 1d10 x 25 GP||Normal starting gear plus 500 GP and 1d10 x 25 GP||Normal starting gear plus 500 GP and 1d10 x 25 GP and one uncommon magic item|
|11th – 16th level||Normal gear plus 5000 GP, 1d10 x 250 GP, one uncommon magic item||Normal gear plus 5000 GP, 1d10 x 250 GP, two uncommon magic items||Normal gear plus 5000 GP, 1d10 x 250 GP, three uncommon magic items, one rare item|
|17th – 20th level||Normal gear plus 20000 GP, 1d10 x 250 GP and two uncommon magic items||Normal gear plus 20000 GP, 1d10 x 250 GP, two uncommon magic items and one rare item||Normal gear plus 20000 GP, 1d10 x 250 GP, three uncommon magic items, two rare items, and one very rare item|
Note, though, that this is more guideline than actual rule, and a DM always has the last say on the correct, balanced way to equip a character starting above first level. He could, for instance, simply use a formula of multiplying the starting gold by the character’s level (or 2 or even 3 times the character level, if he’s feeling more generous.
Another notion is to provide the usual starting gear or money, then add a flat amount for each level or group of levels – e.g., 200 GP for each level beyond the first, or an extra 1000 GP for every three levels above the first (1000 GP at 4th, 2000 GP at 7th, etc. It all depends on the DM’s math as to what provides a fair start given the particulars of the characters and the campaign setting.
And of course, it’s a good idea to allow for the purchase of magic items, assuming a flat rate cost based on the rarity. For instance, a common magic item (50-100 GP in the DMG) could be “bought” at character creation for 75 GP (the average price). Alternately, the DM could have the first item cost the low-end price (50 GP, in this case) while subsequent items of the same rarity could cost the average price or higher up to the max.
And DMs, if they are so inclined, can simply make their own “standard gear” lists tailored to higher-level characters, replacing the standard equipment packages listed by class and replace them with revved-up versions for more experienced characters. Again, this – and the magic item rules – are totally the DM’s call.
D&D Starting Money, It’s Your Choice
Rolling for starting gold has been part of D&D since 1st Edition, and while it’s still an option in 5th Edition, players may well want to avail themselves of the equipment packages that potentially offer more bang for the buck. For several character classes, taking the gear makes more sense, though in some cases rolling for coins can work out depending on your build.
And while the rules of starting gold beyond 1st level are undefined, ironing them out shouldn’t be particularly challenging for a DM. With a few creative tweaks to the higher-level guidance noted above (or even without tweaks), higher-level characters can get just enough loot to equip them successfully without giving away the store.
That depends on your character class – and whether you choose to start with gold at all. The standard gear options use class and background to give a character a set package of equipment, albeit with a few either/or choices included to give some flexibility. Additionally, the background option will give some small amount of starting gold (generally less than 20 GP).
The classes with larger possible amounts of gold, such as fighters and paladins, can start with anywhere from 50 to 200 GP, while humbler ones like the monk can start with only 5-20 GP. The overall average for all classes comes to just under 100 GP.
Per the standard rules for starting gold, a character might start with only 5-20 GP for a monk, or as much as 200 GP for characters like fighters and paladins. Most classes with generally benefit from taking the standard equipment in lieu of starting gold, however.