RPGBOT.Podcast Episode 17 – Lifestyle Rules

Show Notes

In this episode of the RPGBOT.Podcast, we discuss lifestyle rules in tabletop RPGs. We explore the lifestyle rules of Pathfinder 2nd edition, D&D 5e, how they work, what they mean, and how you can use them as a storytelling device.

Special thanks to @F_Capomax and @KevinLowman60 for this week’s questions of the week.

Materials Referenced in this Episode

Transcript

Randall 

Welcome to the RPGBOT.Podcast. I’m Randall James, international man of mischief, and with me is Tyler Kamstra.

Tyler 

Hi, everybody.

Randall 

and Random Powell

Random 

Kidney.

Randall 

Alright, welcome to episode 17, the 18th episode of the RPGBOT.Podcast. Tyler, what are we doing today?

Tyler 

Today we’re going to talk about lifestyle rules and tabletop RPGs. So this is kind of an under explored subject because when a lot of people play a tabletop role playing game, you want to go do the adventury parts. You want to go crawl dungeons and fly spaceships and blow up Death Stars and things like that. And the lifestyle rules kind of get ignored, which I really think is a missed opportunity. And I think if we look at the rules for your character’s lifestyle outside of the adventuring parts of the game, there’s a lot of room for interesting storytelling there that I’d like to explore today.

Randall 

Okay, I guess that makes sense. I, I feel like the lifestyle rules are something that across any game I’ve ever played don’t really matter or get used and I think you’re going to try to convince me that I’m wrong.

Random 

Any table that you’re going to sit at to play a role playing game, you’re somewhere on a scale, at one end of that scale is what is a roll, I want to throw dice at things to kill them. And on the other end of that scale is I am here to spend four hours roleplaying and not progress the plot. And both of those are totally valid. Obviously, most games are going to fall somewhere in the middle. But for kind of the entire left two thirds of that, you’re probably never once going to interact with what your characters do during downtime, because why would I have downtime when I can just go stab another thing? In particular, the way that Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition, short rests and long rest built in, or even if you go back to 3.x with the infamous one hour adventuring day, realistically, there wasn’t a lot of reason to explore downtime. And in particular, there were some adventures that actively discouraged downtime. I mean, if you look at one of the modules that I’ve talked about before: the Red Hand of Doom. You are on a literal clock, because there are goblins invading. With all of that said, I am very excited to explore how you can use that to tell a better story.

Randall 

So I think it’s maybe worth laying out. So we want to talk about lifestyle rules. In 5e, what is lifestyle rules? Like, what do they account for? It’s essentially, I don’t know if folks have had this experience in real life. But in real life, every month, there are these people who ask me for money. And I have to keep giving to them. And then like if they keep asking for more money, I have to go get more money. And it’s really frustrating. Alright, so 5e gives us, like, this, this base idea of, well, you can live like a pauper and it cost you nothing or you can live and have, you know, do I get a half a chicken wing? Or do I get a half a chicken? And there’s tiers of money that this cost is that essentially all there is to lifestyle rules and 5e.

Tyler 

It’s a little deeper than that. You kind of have to read between the lines in a few places. But that is kind of a problem in a lot of tabletop RPGs where, like, you’ll get a couple paragraphs of text on, like, your character is rich or poor or obscenely wealthy or something like that. And then there’s not a lot of other detail in there. Some RPGs’ lifestyle rules are a little bit more important. Games where survival is more of a central mechanic, kind of a callback to our survival episode, or, sorry food episode, which touched on survival a bit. So games like forbidden lands where survival and food and, like, making gear and stuff are central parts of the RPG. Those are going to have more detailed lifestyle rules than something like Pathfinder or D&D Fifth Edition. Some games don’t even have lifestyle rules at all. Like Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars games don’t really touch on that because your lifestyle is generally, like, I’m on a spaceship going from adventure to adventure and the Edge of the Empire rule set, the lifestyle costs are kind of just baked into the game. So you your party has some nebulous quantity of money that flows in and out and most of it is dedicated either to just barely surviving or to accomplishing some plot device. So the lifestyle rules aren’t really explored beyond what you do in a given session.

Randall 

That, that makes sense. And I’ll say, so Random, you brought up this idea of downtime. And I think especially in 5e, these things tend to more or less be married at the hip that, you know, where does my lifestyle matter? My lifestyle matters when I’m not, you know, roving from dungeon to dungeon, or mysterious woods to mysterious woods. It matters when I stopped at an inn and I picked if I get the nicer room, or if I’m sleeping with the donkeys outside,

Random 

That’s definitely one part of it. While many adventurers are at least some part murder hobo, there are some who actually live in a place. Crazy. Tyler, the Paladin that we’ve talked about Tyle, having in my Rise of the Runelords campaign, owned a home in Sandpoint, and had a wife who lived there. That’s its own story. When you are not in a dungeon, it is worth spending time exploring what your character does for a number of reasons. I mean, it’s not just like oh, downtime, I can do cool mechanical things. This is how you can be… flesh this character out as an actual person, that this is where maybe this is someone who is married to their work, and they just spend the entire time crafting a suit of armor or practicing their sword drills, whatever. But even so you are going to have to figure out where do I sleep at night? And that can generate a lot of interesting conflict. Because what if different party members do different lifestyles? What if somebody is staying in their townhouse on the other side of town, and two people are staying in the inn, and one person is sleeping in a hut. That’s, the, the different lifestyle costs basically call it like those different sorts of things. If you get attacked in the middle of the night, there is a very valid reason why the party is split, and that’s a thing that maybe they haven’t thought about, like, oh, I actually have to spend the money to not split the party at night. There’s a lot of interesting things that this lifestyle rule can lead to. And there’s something in particular from the the section of the wealthiest line in the tier, I forget what it’s called. It basically it talks about, the more money you have, the more extravagant your lifestyle, the more likely you are to be embroiled in political intrigue, either as someone actively participating or as a pawn. And that’s literally just, like, story right there. Go. Just handed to you. There’s a lot that can be done with it. It’s just that the DM has to make a big paradigm shift away from Yes, let’s get to the next encounter to how do I take these choices that these people have made and make them relevant?

Randall 

Okay.

Tyler 

Random’s got it exactly right. There’s a bit more that we can build out from just like that one line on the aristocratic tier. So let’s dig into the mechanics just a little bit. And I want to start with Pathfinder Second Edition here, and we will get back to 5e, I promise. Pathfinder second edition, as I’ve said on previous episodes, famously, there’s rules for just about everything, and they’re usually very thorough, intricate, and interesting. And here’s another weird place where there really isn’t much to bite into. Pathfinder second edition’s cost of living mechanics, which is basically just how much your lifestyle costs. There are four tiers ranging from basically homeless to nobility. We get the one word name for each tier, and that’s basically it. You get a one word name and a gold piece cost. There isn’t even a description that says, like, here’s what you might expect to experience at these levels.

Randall 

Yeah, there’s like no thread count.

Tyler 

Yes, there’s no thread count for your sheets, ranging from sackcloth to beyond physics, I’ve imported silk from beyond space and time. At the lowest tier you can subsist, which is the equivalent of making a survival check to live wherever you are. So it’s like, I’m in a city, I’m literally going to go beg people for food and housing. Or if you’re out in the wilderness, like I’m going to eat whatever I can catch with my bare hands. Very strange diet, chasing squirrels with your hands. The lifestyle rules for Pathfinder explicitly expect that the characters aren’t living in one place most of the time. The lifestyle rules say that you should only use them for longer periods of time, such as if the players are living in a place for months or years between doing adventures or whatever and the rest of the time. Just pay for food and lodging at an inn whenever it comes up. Pathfinder has leaned very hard into the the idea that the characters are murder hobos, they’re going to go do some murder hobo-ing. This probably won’t matter. Don’t worry about it too much. But at the same time, they gave us some cool numbers. on how much things cost, and I did the math, a 20th-level character with starting gold for a 20th level character can live for 21 and a half years at the highest, highest lifestyle point. If you’re an elf, you’re gonna need a job.

Random 

I will say, just a couple things that you talked about. First off, because my brain is a odd place, demonweb silk sheets. Beside that, it’s interesting that you call out that the lowest tier is what a survival check gets you. Because in fifth edition, it is very much not. It is explicitly called out, like, a survival tech gets you like middle tier, so you don’t even need to check. It is just proficiency in survival gets you comfortable, which is like a decent room at an inn and a reasonable amount of food, which is always sort of interesting to me because that means that simply being proficient in survival, you just casually build cottages wherever you go. Anyway.

Tyler 

Maybe you just know how to build a tent. I don’t know.

Random 

There you go.

Randall 

So, so the expected income changes with with the level in Pathfinder second edition, is that right?

Tyler 

Yeah, it does in fifth edition as well. It’s, it’s basically an exponential curve that curves upward as you gain levels, so you’ll get larger and larger sums of gold. In Pathfinder second edition, you start with something like 100… I think it’s 100 gold pieces, it might be 100 silver. Oh, gosh, I can’t remember now, now that you asked me

Randall 

But, but at a higher level, like the expectation is, is that the DM is either going to, in loot or quest rewards, is meant to give you about that much gold with the understanding that you’re then going to turn that gold back into the local economy by getting demonweb silk sheets and the finest pheasants that that particular inn has at a given time, right? You’re gonna order bottles of wine instead of bottles of beer, on and on.

Tyler 

Yeah.

Randall 

And so you’re just you’re churning that money back into the… the, uh, the trickle-down economics of the region.

Tyler 

Yes, the the 20th level adventurer walks into the village of 100 people and says, Hi, I’d like to buy a +3 long sword please. Who’s got one?

Randall 

Okay, so I guess I’ll ask the question. Yeah. has this impacted the way that you’ve played a game?

Tyler 

Unfortunately, no, I’ve never been fortunate enough to play in a game where we’ve explored the lifestyle rules, like Random said, The Rise of the Runelords game that we that he ran several years ago at this point. My character ended up married, owned a couple houses, had children, ran a business, did those things. But it was all kind of like, weird plot rewards that my character always ended up with for some reason. It was never actually like here are the lifestyle rules. We’re going to dedicate time to this. Yeah, has a very strange character.

Randall 

Yeah, nobody was coming after you for HOA dues on that house that you were keeping your wife in. And nobody was also making you do the accounting for upkeep and this sort of thing.

Random 

Well…

Tyler 

The character was an accountant.

Random 

Yeah. So… he was a Paladin of the god of accounting, which, he was the actual… In fact, I believe… Yes, if I recall his his original backstory correctly, he was actually sent to Sandpoint to be the tax collector.

Tyler 

Yep. So if, if people have used the tool on RPGBOT.net, “The Quartermancer”, it’s an automated tool for liquidating and distributing loot through your party fairly. Essentially, make sure that everyone gets the same amount of value from their gold. It’s great for, like, Third Edition, Pathfinder, Shadowrun, some other RPGs, Pathfinder second edition. Not for 5e because the magic items work weird. But I named and built that for this character.

Randall 

That’s something. I think we can all agree.

Random 

It’s… it was.

Randall 

Okay. Cool. And so are there any things that surprised you about Pathfinder second edition’s cost a living mechanics?

Tyler 

Kind of just how shallow they are. I really wish they’d given usm like, a sentence of description to tell us what each of these tiers mean, except for subsistence. Like, you could very easily just go into 5e, take every other tear and just steal that description and it’ll work fine. But I feel like rules usually go the opposite direction when you’re comparing the two rule sets, so it was super weird.

Randall 

I think it also… and I think I’ve said this on other rules where we feel like the ruleset is pretty light. It feels like the game designers just didn’t think this was a super important part of the game.

Tyler 

Yeah, and I think that’s right. Like I said, they do explicitly say in the rules, you should only use the lifestyle and cost of living mechanics for longer periods of downtime. They very clearly didn’t think oh yeah, my my character lives in… Random, help me out. What’s that big city that starts with an M South Sandpoint?

Random 

Magnamar?

Tyler 

That’s the one, yeah. None of our characters are going to set up a permanent apartment in Magnamar and just make that their base of operations and live out of there. Like no one wants to run that game clearly.

Randall 

Although, yeah, I think that’s that’s even interesting, right? This idea of it’s like, well, I could choose to live in Sandpoint because it has a lower cost of living. So my silver is going to go farther. But all of the best adventuring is coming out of, what’d you say? Magmar?

Random 

Yeah, that’s a Pokemon, but Sure.

Tyler 

Hey, if their population increases enough, they’ll evolve to Magnamortar.

Random 

And this is where you figure out that one of the few non-tabletop role playing game sections of RPGBOT is about Pokemon. Realistically, I think that the big reason why this doesn’t get explored more is because the default expectation for roleplaying game isn’t about that. And, spoilers for when I push these people to do a first time DMing episode. Realistically, if you talk to your players and say, hey, I want to include sections where we’re talking about downtime. Good? And you get the buy in on that you can craft some really interesting story around that. In fact, switching back to fifth edition for a second, the different backgrounds, if I am remembering where this is correctly, have different suggested lifestyle tiers that you said that you live on. Which makes perfect sense, right? So you know, if you take the noble background, yeah, you’re not going to go from being a noble to suddenly wandering around dumpster diving on a daily basis for your food, you are accustomed to nice things you are accustomed to sleeping in a soft bed. If you actually… a sort of running theme here, if you take the rules that they gave you and actually enforce them, then you can end up causing people to experience things that they’re not used to where they have to engage with their character, or they have to think things through in a way that can generate some really interesting things like I talked about, you know, like, maybe the party is split for this reason, or the Druid gets to have some interesting encounter in the middle of the night with somebody wandering past the edge of town. Because the druid’s like Nah, man, I am not sleeping in a building. Y’all crazy.

Randall 

That’s where the ghosts are.

Random 

Exactly. The ghosts of animals past. While we do have the seven tiers, and they do have vague descriptions. There’s more there than you might expect from just the sentence or two. And in particular, if you combine that with the suggested tier that you can find in other places, you start to gain more of a broader picture of how this could be useful in your game.

Randall 

I want to challenge us a little bit practically. Let’s say that I come from a noble background. I grew up with wealth, I have a lot of money. Unless the story is taking me somewhere near home, how am I refilling my wallet?

Tyler 

That’s kind of a… that’s actually a really good setting question. Answering that question could tell you something about your setting. Like, if your character is from a noble family and they have infinitely deep pockets for, you know, at least to cover their lifestyle expenses. Maybe you, maybe you have to establish that your setting has a network of banks, maybe there’s some sort of government infrastructure to support, like, letters of writ, or whatever those are called. Basically, medieval checks. Like, here’s my traveler’s check. I’m gonna stay at the same for the next six months. I’ll be gone tomorrow, but I’m staying here for six months and I’m going to pay for it because I can. Yeah, like Eberron has, explicitly has a bank with multiple branches all over the place. So, like, instead of getting handed Yes, here’s 500 gold. Yes, 10 pounds of gold in a sack. Here’s this check, go deal with it yourself.

Random 

I think that having that be setting exploration is really cool, because one of the other things that it could be is a sufficiently powerful house is going to have retainers and it is very easy to have a retainer be Yes, I am a Wizard. I can just teleport this bag somewhere and poof you have money with what… a pair of, so… God I haven’t thought about spell ranges in a while, but so I think scrying works anywhere on the plane.

Tyler 

Something like that.

Random 

And then there is not the cantrip version where you message somebody like 100 feet, but Sending? Is Sending the…

Tyler 

Yeah.

Random 

The longer range one? If you get a sending from the Baron of the the, you know, the Barony next door saying “hi, my son’s there, take care of him.” You’re gonna say “yes sir.” And then money will get to you eventually.

Randall 

But the consequences of saying no are so drastic. I feel like, I mean, even that actually, you know talking about RP that can be a lot of fun because, like, yeah, you know, the Baron always eventually pays, but he tends to pay like six months from now. And six months from now you’re gonna eat me out of house and home. So I don’t love having you here.

Tyler 

And that would be an awesome story to tell, honestly.

Random 

Exactly! You have, in a single sentence, you have described a way that to take the story and make it into something fun.

Randall 

Alright, so, so maybe there’s something we can do with this. I feel like maybe that’s what you’re trying to tell me. Okay.

Tyler 

So I’m going to ask, I’m going to ask kind of a character question. So everyone listening at home, and Randall and Random, both of you as well: think, what is my current character, like, think about the character you’re current on currently playing. And then ask yourself, “where do they live? And where did they live before that?” And weirdly, those details get ignored a lot in people’s backstories. Like, you’ll get a lot of things about what the character did and what they’ve experienced and where they have been. But frequently, where they live right now, or where they have lived previously is just kind of ignored. Like Random said, there are some backgrounds in fifth edition that kind of establish it. If you’re a noble, you probably lived somewhere fancy. If you’re a hermit, you didn’t. And then just the details of where your character has lived at various points in their life can say a lot about their life experiences and who they are. Like, did they live in townhome in some major city? Did they live in a one-room shack in some, like, lumber town or something like that? Those things do a lot to define your character’s experiences, and using the lifestyle rules will carry those experiences into the ongoing game.

Randall 

Yeah, I think I think that makes perfect sense. And I think maybe the challenge is, you know, working within your setting worth working within the campaign to make those details matter. But I think you’re probably gonna have a richer game, if you find a way to do that.

Tyler 

One of my favorite fixes that I’ve talked about on in previous episodes, at least for fifth edition, the gritty realism variant, which is again intended, it’s intended to affect how healing works rather than affecting anything else. And short version, a short rest takes eight hours, a long rest takes seven days and usually needs to happen somewhere safe, like a town or a home base or something. Bringing that rule into your game also makes makes it very convenient to introduce the lifestyle rules into your game. Because if your characters need to go back to town for a week at a time, they’re probably not going to want to pay for staying at an inn seven nights at a time three or four times a month. Like, what… it’ll get very expensive very quickly. So setting up some kind of permanent home might actually be an interesting and useful thing for the party. Now, that won’t work in every game. Random brought up Hand of Red Doom, or, sorry, Red Hand of Doom earlier. And that’s a game where downtime will absolutely kill you because the game itself is on a clock. Things happen at specific times, because there is an army coming and it’s not going to do the Skyrim thing where, like, oh yeah, if you want to go hunt mud crabs for 100 years, the plot will just sit right here on wait for you. Like, no. Not every game is like that. Not a perfect fix. But gritty realism gives you a lot of space in the pacing of the game to explore things like background, sorry, downtime, rules, lifestyle roles, other things like that.

Randall 

So I think I really like the idea of that. I can imagine having like a table in front of me. Basically, if you pay more money for a nicer place to stay, it is less likely that your seven days of long rest get interrupted with something that make you start over.

Tyler 

Now that’s a good idea. Yeah. Just simple mechanical benefits for spending more money on your lifestyle are a great way to encourage people to to pay for a better lifestyle. In fifth edition, you’ll have a lot of options to just get a lifestyle for free. Random pointed out earlier, survival gets you, I think comfortable was the one?

Random 

Yep.

Tyler 

Something… comfortable, thank you. And then if you’re proficient in performance, I think you get wealthy by default. So way to go Bards. So it’s pretty easy to get a reasonably high lifestyle. And the per day cost isn’t massive, especially considering how difficult it is to use gold for anything meaningful in fifth edition. I did the math on this because I’m crazy like that. A 20th-level character has enough gold to live at the highest lifestyle cost for 52 years and change, and that’s before you start selling off your magic items. The lifestyle costs aren’t crazy expensive, but they’re expensive enough that at low levels you’re not gonna be like, Yeah, I’m level two. I’d like to be an aristocrat and spend 10 gold pieces a day to have people shine my shoes or whatever. The plot options that each tier can give you a really interesting. Just grab the player’s handbook, open up the equipment section, find the lifestyle expenses, read the descriptions in there. I’m not going to read two pages of the Player’s Handbook into a podcast because bad podcasting, but there are some interesting plot hooks in here that are really worth exploring.

Randall 

Okay. And I think that’s great. So I think another tool that I’ve seen that I feel like is at least tangential to this, and I’ll make an argument that it’s almost like a suitable replacement for lifestyle rules. So Acquisitions Incorporated,

Tyler 

It’s a really, really fun source book that a lot of people kind of just ignored.

Randall 

Yeah, I mean, the idea that like, well, why am I adventuring? What motivates me? And usually, that’s the campaign, right? There’s some reason that we’re going to go do the thing. I feel like a lot of a lot of books are basically, I am trapped here, and I want to be there. And so how do I get there as quickly as possible? What this is doing is is basically saying, right, let’s, you’re going to start a franchise, you’re going to grow a business, and you’re going to climb the ranks. And so as the same way that you have your class, you have this other role, whether it’s, you know, you’re the cartographer, or the CEO, or whatever it might be, you have an important role to fulfill. And your goal is to grow the company, grow the influence of your franchise, versus the competing franchises around you. And so now, you know, marrying lifestyle rules to the money that you’re willing to spend to maintain your lifestyle. Now, it’s not you’re not hustling for your inn stay, you’re hustling to grow your business and climb the corporate ranks.

Random 

And sorry, I just, I have to bring this full circle for a second or my head will explode. You mentioned Acquisitions Incorporated. Acquisitions Incorporated included, a character played by Patrick Rothfuss. Patrick Rothfuss, famously wrote the King Killers series where the character had to do exactly what you were just describing a significant part of the first book is him figuring out how to have the money to live in his very expensive college town. Acquisitions Inc. doing that makes my day. There’s another thing that I have talked about, in passing, if you haven’t listened, it’s maybe worth checking out. Pathfinder had a third party campaign called Way of the Wicked that included an evil organization set of rules. That would be very easy to import into fifth edition if you wanted to figure out another way to have a charismatic character take this idea of let’s actually make money, and then have this be something that I’m doing vaguely off screen. But one of the cool things that having something like a an organization or a business does is it gives you NPCs you’re invested in, which if you remember from the fear episode, I don’t actually remember what we call it. Horror. No. Fright?

Tyler 

I think we call it Fear.

Random 

Help, my brain is full of…

Randall 

Actually, that’s that’s what the episode was called. “Help!”

Random 

Beautiful, my brain is full of adjectives. When you give people NPCs, that they are invested in, then all of a sudden, if you can threaten one of these NPCs as part of your your story writing, you can threaten the organization. It is worth noting that there are also rules in this, er, rules for this in 3.X if you are still playing 3.5 I think the DMG two had rules for creating a business. They were not well made. They were very broken, you could generate a lot of money very quickly in a, in a system where money actually mattered. But with that said it you know, at least props to WotC for trying but but yeah, there’s there’s definitely a couple places where you can find these sorts of systems and bring in because yeah, fifth edition, very flexible in this sort of stuff you import.

Tyler 

I read this in a Reddit thread recently, there’s a there’s a weird loop in the Pathfinder first edition rules for… I can’t remember if it’s actually called lifestyle, but you can own a manor or whatever. And if you own structures of various size and pay to maintain then you get certain benefits. So one of the benefits is you can just search your household for items. So like the most expensive thing you can live in, you can search and find items of such and such value in such and such amount of time. And people have figured out that if you spend about 10 minutes a day searching your house for spiked gauntlets, and then selling them that will pay for your lifestyle. So you have this dumb infinite loop, where you just keep finding spiked gauntlets under couches and stuff and selling it to pay for your house.

Randall 

Obviously there’s a spiked gauntlet mind somewhere in the basement

Tyler 

And my butler is just mining it and re-armoring, er, re-gauntleting all of my armor set pieces or whatever. Just very silly. It is difficult to make those running a business rules work in games that are fundamentally about adventuring. So it’s kind of not surprising that they don’t always work perfectly and sometimes they’ll throw off the math. But yeah, the Acquisitions Incorporated rules for running essentially an adventurers Guild are really interesting both because they offer some interesting plot points, some interesting storytelling devices, a way to bring a party together, a way to bring in new characters as necessary. And yeah, they give you a way to make your your lifestyle meaningful. Like, my franchise is set up in Waterdeep, I need an apartment near the office so my commute’s short, and what’s that going to cost me? And that’s part of your characters lifestyle, and says a lot about who they are and what they do in the game.

Randall 

Yeah, or like I need to run protection for a dignitary coming in. I’ve been paid to make sure nothing happens and so that I put them in my safe house, and I hope that goes okay. Yeah, I really like it. Um, this is maybe off topic, but I really like it. It gives you a nice structure to essentially do like a monster the week or dungeon of the week. You know, here’s your challenge of the week, and we don’t need anything to motivate us other than greed.

Random 

That is actually one thing that the rules from the DMG 2, 3.5 DMG 2 did cover is like, basically your business would get random encounters and and you could have like, bad stuff happens. And you got to deal with it. Or, you know, sometimes good stuff happens. If you can find a DMG 2 and you want ideas for this sort of thing. It’s there.

Randall 

The gang tries insurance fraud .

Tyler 

Yeah, it’s just… title every session on that. “The gang tries blank.” And yeah, the DMG 2 is available as a PDF on DMsGuild currently, I don’t think they have it available in print on demand. But it’s probably worth a look. The PDFs are pretty cheap. So there are some other some other benefits that maybe we haven’t quite dug into that we can offer for lifestyle rules. So the fifth edition lifestyle rules do talk about, like, at the aristocratic tier, which is the very top one, you might get dragged into political intrigue. But it’s… like, the benefits are kind of vaguely defined. You as a DM might decide to offer specific benefits to characters who’ve been living at each tier. Access to just things that you can buy. Equipment and services. Like maybe you can buy fancier clothes, maybe you have access to a magic item market that’s only available to nobles because they know you have money to spend. Maybe you have access to services because as, like, some minor nobility, you know, a couple of professional spellcasters who are also rich and you can be like hey, man, I’ll make you dinner if you come over and cast Sending for me or something like that. If you’re sufficiently rich, your household might have hirelings, servants, butlers, porters, etc. People who can haul loot around for you and maintain your house and go deliver letters when you can’t cast Sending. Things like that. And then just access to opportunity. Being sufficiently recognized, sufficiently well off and, like, having the right connections can give you opportunities to maybe you find out about a quest before the competing adventurers’ guild does. Maybe you find out about some cool book or some magic item that you really want because it’s like Oh, yeah. Some noble paid some adventurers to go scout out this item and you find out about it from them. You’re like, ah, I’m gonna go steal this guy’s magic item before his his hired adventurers can. At the higher end of things there are a lot of opportunities you can offer. And even at the lower tiers, sure, you can offer penalties like yes, you’re you’re poor so you’re frequently robbed in the middle of the night and keeping shoes is very difficult. But you might have a network of contacts who are street children who you use a spies and pickpockets to maintain a network of information through a city that you live in. So you can make each of those tears interesting with just a little bit of thought. But it might require some discussion with your players about how much they’re willing to engage with these systems. And whenever you do homebrew rules, it’s really important that they feel fair. So make sure you work it out with your group, try to set things down in writing as much as you can and make adjustments where necessary.

Randall 

Yeah, that makes good sense. And if you’re engaging in this, then you can really, like, let every character shine in whatever the background is to have something that leverage. But I think if we’re going to do if we’re going to have these sorts of things like access to this market, I think there also probably has to be some kind of responsibility to it. And potential penalty if it’s abused or misused. Essentially, making it feel like a reward, and it’s something that the character has to sustain versus something they wrote on the character sheet on day one. And just get to live with the benefit of.

Tyler 

Exactly.

Randall 

Okay. All right, I think. Yeah, I think I think we did it. So that’s exciting. We have a question of the week this week.

Tyler 

Let’s see, so we’ve actually got two. So I’m going to, I’m going to touch on the first one real quick. So from @F_Capomax on Twitter, do you use 5e’s variant flanking rule? What do you think about it? We had a good chat about this one before we recorded tonight, and we decided that this and other variant rules in fifth edition justify their own episode, so look forward to that sometime very soon. But it’s, uh, the discussion is a little bit longer than we wanted to fit into this episode.

Random 

Basically, Tyler doesn’t want me to rant for half an hour at the end of an episode.

Tyler 

He’s not wrong. So we’re going to go to our second question of the week. This is from @KevinLowman60 on Twitter. How does 5e’s Soulknife work with opportunity attacks and extra attack?

Random 

I will start off touching on this as someone in a game with a soulknife right now. The short answer is “not well.” At least for the opportunity attacks. Extra attack works fine. 5e’s soulknife, you generate the blades as part of attacking. The problem with that is that the way it’s worded is when you are not performing an attack on your turn. You don’t have your psiblades. And so you are effectively unarmed between when you attack on your turn to when you attack on your next turn. And so if somebody does provoke an attack opportunity moving away from you, or, you know, whatever else may happen, unless you do some shenanigans, you basically have to punch them. Now, the good news is you can still sneak attack with punching. So you’re… no?

Tyler 

No, no you can’t. It has to be, it has to be a weapon. And it has to have either the light or finesse properties or… light, finesse, or ranged I believe.

Random 

That’s right, you only get you only get Dex on on armed if you’re…

Tyler 

If you’re a Monk and even then it doesn’t qualify because it’s it still doesn’t have a qualifying properties.

Random 

It doesn’t have finesse.

Tyler 

And it’s still not a weapon, technically. Unarmed strikes aren’t a weapon, even though they make weapon attacks. It’s a it’s a very important but frustrating rules distinction.

Random 

Well, there you go.

Tyler 

Yeah.

Random 

You had, you basically have to choose it if you want to do that.

Tyler 

Yes. So here’s some annoying cheese. So what you can do is essentially juggle a weapon. So turn one you start unarmed, you attack you wave your your hands and soul knives about. At the end of your turn your soul knives go away. And then you use your free item interaction to draw a weapon. at the beginning, and then you have a weapon throughout the next of the rest of the round. Beginning of your next turn, you put the weapon away and attack. Unfortunately, you only get one free item interaction per turn, so you’re out of luck for the turn after that. But you can have a weapon in your hand to make opportunity attacks with 50% of the time. I’m seeing some very disappointed shaking heads. I feel like it deserves that. And yeah, that’s about it.

Randall 

Okay. Alright.

Random 

With that said, I will say, having seen his whole life played it and having read through Soulknife. While this is certainly frustrating, the subclass is still very fun to play. It is still very mechanically strong. So I wouldn’t let this stop you from trying soul knife if you’re interested in it. It’s just kind of dumb.

Randall 

I guess I, yeah, I was gonna hold my tongue but let’s go ahead and I’m gonna stick my foot in it. Can we just let people punch people?

Random 

Yes.

Tyler 

Yeah.

Random 

And this is exactly what I was about to say. It’s like, realistically, this is a thing that, you know, you can talk to your DM and say, Hey, DM, the way they wrote This is dumb. Can we let me hold a dagger all the time, so that I can still attack opportunity like a normal person? With that said, I mean, if your DM says no, if you are allowed to use the alternative, the alternate class feature, take aim is really strong with soulknife because you can just use your bonus action to take aim instead of off-hand attack, which means that you can just have a real dagger in your your off hand the whole time. And then you’re getting your advantage on your attack to be able to sneak attack anyway. There’s still ways around it even if your DM is going to be super stickler about it. Realistically, again, I’m I’m I’m going to advocate for the talk that out here because don’t punish your your Rogue just because they want to do spooky, you know, mind blades.

Randall 

Okay, and I think that’s something we can all agree to. Alright, that’s our show today. Thanks for joining. Next episode, we’re going to talk about downtime rules. So please join us for that. I’m Randall James you’ll find me at amateurjack.com and @JackAmateur on Twitter and Instagram,

Tyler 

I’m Tyler Kamstra you’ll find me at RPGBOT.net. On Twitter and Facebook @RPGBOTDOTNET and patreon.com/rpgbot.

Random 

And I’m random Powell. If you have find me, please let me know how. Realistically it’s probably either going to be here contributing to the podcast or on RPGBOT.tnet writing some articles. Also if you look in places where people play games, I’m usually there as Harlequin or Harlequint.

Randall 

Alright, this was made in conjunction with producer Dan. All hail the Leisure Illuminati.

All 

*Cat noises*

Randall 

You’ll find affiliate links for source books and other materials linked in the shownotes. Following these links helps us to make this show happen every week. You’ll find our podcast wherever fine podcasts are distributed. If you enjoy the podcast, please rate review and subscribe and share it with your friends. If your question should be the question of the week next week, please email podcast@RPGBOT.net or message us on Twitter at RPGBOTDOTNET. Thanks folks.

Tyler 

You DM wasn’t not doing anything. Your DM was being entertained.

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