As PCs gain levels, they tend to obtain wealth. Starfinder assumes that all PCs of equivalent level have roughly equal amounts of wealth in the form of gear, magic items, and raw currency. Since a PC’s primary way of gaining wealth is through adventuring, it’s important to moderate the amount you place in your adventures. Thus, the amount of wealth PCs earn from their adventures is tied to the Challenge Rating of the encounters they face.
Wealth per Encounter
Table: Wealth Gains per Encounter lists the amount of treasure each encounter should award based on its CR. When looking at this number, it’s important to understand that it represents wealth from many different sources: hard currency, looted items, and earned or story-based wealth. Relying too much on any one category can skew the game’s power balance. Additionally, most encounters are part of an overarching adventure, in which case it’s useful to look at wealth for the adventure as a whole. Don’t be afraid to have some encounters grant more wealth while others grant less, as long as it balances out by the end of the adventure. (After all, a well-armed NPC is more likely to be carrying valuable items than a mindless beast.) Below are some important considerations regarding each type of wealth.
|CR||Wealth Gain (in Credits)|
Gear looted from fallen enemies or otherwise acquired during adventures can generally be sold for only 10% of its face value. This is important to gameplay, in that it discourages players from picking up every dropped helmet or low-level weapon and turning their ship into a flying garage sale, yet it’s also crucial to keep in mind when placing treasure. If an item is significantly better than the PCs’ current gear, assume they keep it and factor it in at its full value. If it’s no better than what they already have, assume they sell it when they have the chance. (Comparing the item level to the Average Party Level can be an excellent guideline for this purpose.) For example, if the characters face a high-CR enemy with a correspondingly awesome laser rifle, assume they keep it. If they fight eight aeon troopers with armor comparable to their own, assume most groups will leave it rather than carry eight bulky sets of armor with them. In general, beware of providing single items far above your party’s APL. Instead, provide several items equal to or only slightly better than your party’s current gear, and then make up the rest with consumable items and items likely to be resold.
Given the inefficiency of constantly looting and selling enemy gear, Starfinder assumes at least part of player wealth comes from story-based sources, usually completing a mission or adventure. Perhaps it’s payment for finishing a patron’s quest, a gift from a grateful populace, a bounty on a criminal, or proceeds from selling an alien artifact or the exclusive interview rights to a PC’s account of an adventure. Regardless of the source, consider setting aside part of the budget from your encounters to allow for large lump-sum payments at appropriate points in the story.
It’s important to include credits in your rewards, so that players can buy items appropriate to their characters, but avoid regularly giving out handfuls of credsticks, as pooling large sums of liquid capital can enable a party to buy better gear than would normally be appropriate for the group’s APL.
Wealth by Level
Table: Character Wealth by Level lists the amount of treasure each PC is expected to have at a specific level. In addition to providing benchmarks to make sure existing characters remain balanced, it can also be used to budget gear for characters starting above 1st level, such as a new character created to replace a dead one. Characters in this latter case should spend no more than half their total wealth on any single item. For a balanced approach, PCs built after 1st level should spend no more than 25% of their wealth on weapons and 25% on armor and protective devices.
Starfinder is a roleplaying game of interplanetary travel and exploration, and it assumes that most adventures will start with PCs either already having or quickly gaining access to a starship. But starships are expensive—what’s to stop them from simply selling their starship and retiring, or using the money to buy gear far too powerful for their level?
The answer is you, the GM. Starships are not considered part of character wealth and thus are not intended to be sold (unless it’s part of a trade-in to obtain a different starship). How to frame this is up to you. Some GMs may prefer to simply tell the players not to sell the ship because it would ruin the game. If you need an in-character reason, however, there are many: The ship could be the equivalent of a company car from whatever patron or faction the PCs are working for. It could be a family heirloom they’re contractually not allowed to sell. It could be stolen and thus unsellable without getting the PCs arrested. It could have a hyperintelligent AI that’s bonded to its crew and doesn’t allow itself to be sold. Whatever the justification, the real answer is that starships are just too much fun to restrict to high-level play. (Though if you want to play an entire campaign on one planet or simply have PCs pay for passage when they need to get somewhere, that’s fine, too!)
|PC Level||Wealth (in Credits)|