Simple Sandbox Economics – 4 Tips

A GM had this tip request: Any ideas of emulating/tracking a robust economy in osr style sandboxes? Good question. Here are a few tips and then I’ll end with some resources.

Create a Treasure Budget

I call this Treasure Crawl in my sandbox creation checklist. Forecast at each level or tier, to the projected end of your campaign, the total treasure you aim to hand out in gp.

For example, I forecast treasure to be 25% of XP in my OSE game. For Level 2, the PCs need 1,500, 2,200, 4,000, and 1,200 XPs = 8900 – 25% = 2,225 gp in treasure points as a “level 2 economy”.

We do this because the party will most likely be the main source of economic disruption in a region. A treasure budget also gives you an awesome adventure planning tool.

Inventory Daily Markets

We want adventures, not accounting. But to win at both, make a Goods & Services table for your milieu. How much does stuff cost? How much do different jobs earn? Share this with players so they can plan purchases, figure out how much to pay, tip, or bribe, and guide you in daily transactions.

Plan Your Markets

Decide where transactions take place. In OSR we don’t want _shopping mall D&D_, so this is our chance to theme and style our economy. For example, in the PCs’ home base of Fairehill there’s an inn, general trader, and smith. Locals barter. Magic item markets are via agents within the Basilica dungeon, individual NPCs, or via two-week trip back to Ravenwall.

Track Your Transactions

Record everything the party purchases and sells. Mine these for plot hooks, but also use them to see how supply and demand affect scarcity and prices. In Fairehill, weeks away from the nearest city, I’ve doubled prices listed in the rules. And I track all transactions via my Session Log in Campaign Logger using the $Tag for quick reporting.

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Here are a few resources to help create a robust economy:

These tips and resources should give you a solid foundation to extrapolate an economy from. I hope this helps.


Johnn Four
Have more fun at every game!