One of the hardest parts of Dungeon World for me is money.

One of the hardest parts of Dungeon World for me is money.

One of the hardest parts of Dungeon World for me is money. Both as a player and GM, I haven’t figured out how to make coin meaningful. DW characters seem not to need, or even want much gear. Like, nobody’s saving up to buy a +1 longsword. As a player I’ve ended up just accumulating and sitting on big piles of cash with nowhere to spend it.

The main solution I’ve encountered is a sort of forced inflation of the value of coin, like “you need x coin to complete your ritual/ ransom your friend/ pay back a debt,” but there’s less of an intrinsic mechanical value to it.

So, GMs, what opportunities to spend coin do you offer your players? What do players wish they could spend their coin on?

17 thoughts on “One of the hardest parts of Dungeon World for me is money.”

  1. Healing potions, adventuring gear, rations all add up. You can also try encouraging carousing. Lastly, if they’re very rich, there are big options like owning a ship or castle.

  2. The default equipment is not enough

    Have smiths offer meaningful adaptations or truly exotic pieces

    -chains for alternate attacks ultility and range

    -sheens of silver, holy blessings, and other such enchantments beasts would fear

    -a weapon that is hidden in plain sight when sheathed (A walking stick that truly is a rapier, a flag with the pole sheathing a spear, a harp that can quickly unleash all but one bow string)

    -Talking weapons

    -Alternate form weapons (Yes Blood borne weapons)

    Whatever you feel can help paint the setting or help define a unique adventurer put it in. I have black powder firearms in my game, expensive and heavily covered under the law of the region. You can bet that my Players held on to every bit of spare change and went adventuring after rumors of riches. They’re in even more danger having acquired firearms.

    The best advice I guess I can give, look at your world after the 1st session or before a one shot, then brainstorm cool weapons, then start thinking in existing and new tags.

    hope it helps

  3. In our games we do not track money (or rations) simply because that is not what the story is about. If they want to buy something ordinary like potions or weapons, it just happens. More extraordinary things are usually found in the game.

  4. I encourage players to invest in a base of operations. Even if all they can afford is a small house, there are things you can do to make the proposition very enticing. First of all, give their base some character with custom moves. So, for example, in a game I ran awhile back, the party saved up their coin and bought a modest place in the city. Together we worked out the history of the house and decided the former owner committed suicide, and now their ghost haunts the grounds. Ultimately, the party managed to befriend the ghost, and so I wrote a custom move that allowed them to learn some secret knowledge from the ghost at the start of every adventure. The players loved it. 

    Another thing you can do is make the gear and treasure they store in the base of operations untouchable by hard moves. 

    I happen to run a decently large gaming community, and we have multiple DW campaigns going on at any one time (often three or four a week). I’ve decided to take this base of operations idea to the next level and allow these disparate groups to unify as an adventuring company. The notes detailing how this might work are included in the linked document.

  5. I’m in the middle of running my first campaign front, and this has been one of my observations.

    Thank you guys for the question and the innovative answers. My own response is unfinished, but somewhat similar: the players hammered out a Viking-themed story, so their “base of operations” will be a longship. That’s their money sink.

    It’s good to know that my response corresponds to GMs with much greater experience than mine!

  6. All these responses work. Like many have said already, fit the theme of your story. If you are at sea, buy a ship. If you are fighting warring kingdoms, buy a castle.

    As for your “use up resources” move, I think that is a great way to keep cash flow in check. I would try and make it theatrically interesting however. Maybe force them to purchase an indeterminate amount of Ritual supplies that isn’t determined until they try to use it.

    “I cast a ritual”

    GM: “OK, it requires the use of 1/4 your Ritual supplies totaling Xgp.”

    ‘Player marks use of gold’

    This keeps the story following and allows the cost to fit the story. While at the same time alludes to the need to purchase goods at a local merchant. It’s like the milk and bread that gets the hero’s in the store. Then they may purchase additional goods.

  7. (Jason Cordova)

    When you activate the heart of the home and send the Flux Suite adrift among the multiverse, roll+Structure. On a 12+, you arrive in particularly ostentatious or covert fashion, players choose. On 10+, you arrive more or less where you intended. On a 7-9, it’s a rough landing, or distant, or both. On a 6+, the GM says where and when you exit the flux between worlds.

  8. I love the idea of a base, and Jason Cordova’s adventuring company idea is excellent.

    I need to learn to run lower-pressure games. My players rarely have enough breathing room to contemplate buying real estate.

  9. When characters roll a 7-9 on defying danger one of the more common things you can do is to have them lose some stuff.  For example, “The creature you are fighting has thrown you toward the precipice and you are about to fall off…(rolls 7-9 on defy with Dex to catch balance)…ok, you can surely catch yourself with two hands, but your trusty sword will plummet into the darkness beneath, or you can try to hold onto your sword, but it is highly likely you won’t be able to hold onto the ledge very long…”  

    I doubt they would want to hold onto the sword while plummeting or wait for hopefully one of their friends to come over and give them a hand up (which they might fail?), so there goes the sword that they will need to buy anew.  

  10. Money = more story. Carouse is the formal way to use money in the story. It provides leads, rumors, and that leads to more story. Money also attracts NPCs for good or ill. The thieves guild takes notice of adventures with a lot of cash as do merchants, and other nefarious or non nefarious people or people. Just think of who likes cash or has something to give for cash and make sure that thing leads to more story.

  11. I’m running a Ptolus DW game ( In this setting, it makes sense for coin to be converted into things like:

    • good/bad press

    • political influence

    • favors from “charitable” organizations

    • real estate

    • investment in trade or other enterprise

    • access to a mysterious cabal that can make custom magic items

    • thoughtstones (sort of a cell phone network for the elite)

    • magical forms of currency, with which certain markets can be accessed.

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