Author: Chris Katrev

Should I Take the Starting Gold or Adventuring Pack with a new 1st level character?

You've meticulously penned your character's backstory, determined each ability score and modifier, and sorted out your class features. But before you embark on your adventure in Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, there's one crucial question: how much gold do you begin with? What about the cost of armor or the funds required for spell components? While the 5th edition starting wealth system is straightforward compared to other editions, it remains a frequent hurdle for many players. Prepare your abacus and scales as we delve into everything you need to understand about starting gold.

During the 5th edition character creation, a prevalent misconception arises. Players often believe they receive a random sum of starting gold along with equipment from their background and class, constituting their character's wealth. However, the truth is that it's a matter of choice. According to official rules, players have the option to select between a random sum of starting gold or the starting gold and equipment provided by their background and class. The rationale behind selecting either option may seem intricate, so let's navigate through a basic guide for each method and how to make an informed decision.

In employing this approach, you'll roll a set of D4 dice based on your starting class to ascertain your initial wealth. It's advisable to conduct these rolls in the presence of your Dungeon Master, as opting for this method usually entails a higher degree of risk. While there's a possibility of rolling a considerably larger sum of gold, the average gold yields are likely to be similar or even less than what you'd acquire by simply choosing the basic starting equipment option.

If you choose this method, you can find your starting gold and each average dice roll on the following chart from the Player’s Handbook:

Starting Wealth by Class




2d4 × 10 gp


5d4 × 10 gp


5d4 × 10 gp


2d4 × 10 gp


5d4 × 10 gp


5d4 gp


5d4 × 10 gp


5d4 × 10 gp


4d4 × 10 gp


3d4 × 10 gp


4d4 × 10 gp


4d4 × 10 gp

Since the artificer class was introduced after the creation of this chart, they are not present, but according to Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything the artificer receives 5d4 x 10 gp.

This method essentially provides you with a pool of gold, which you can use to purchase all the gear your character will start with. Generally, this grants you access to everything with a gold price in the player's handbook, although your Dungeon Master may determine that certain items are unavailable. It's crucial to ensure you acquire your armor (if your character wears any), weapons (usually both melee and ranged options are recommended), and basic adventuring gear such as rope, a backpack, or any specific items you anticipate needing for the setting. If you're a spellcaster, be sure to obtain a spellcasting focus (or spell component pouch), and it's wise to keep a gold piece or two leftover for spending money once the game begins.

The alternative method for determining your starting gold and equipment is straightforward. During character creation, your background and class options each furnish you with equipment and a pouch of gold. The specific items and amount of gold you receive depend on your chosen background and class, with the class equipment often offering several options. To calculate your total starting wealth, simply combine the gold pieces and equipment provided by your background with those chosen from your class options.

In technical terms, whether you're embarking on your journey as a 1st-level character or diving into a campaign with characters beginning at 20th level, you receive the same set of equipment. However, many Dungeon Masters opt to provide higher-level characters with gold based on their level. The Dungeon Master’s Guide includes a helpful chart offering DMs various options for higher-level starting gold and equipment for characters beyond level 4. It's important to note that Dungeon Masters are not bound by these guidelines, but they serve as useful benchmarks for understanding starting conditions at higher levels.

If you have the option to choose and your Dungeon Master hasn't specified, you're faced with a decision. Do you accept the starting gear as it is, or do you gamble on a dice roll for the possibility of additional gold to invest in starting gear? Statistically speaking, you're unlikely to come out ahead with these rolls and receive more than you would by simply accepting the starting gear. However, there are certain builds and combinations where rolling might prove advantageous.

In general, rolling for starting gold in 5th edition is a risky move from a mathematical standpoint, but there are exceptions and situations where it can be advantageous.

The starting equipment bundles in D&D 5th edition typically provide more value in terms of gold pieces' worth of items on average compared to rolling. However, what if you desire different or very specific items, or have a unique equipment strategy in mind? Your character concept might involve blowguns and darts, or perhaps you have innovative plans for utilizing alchemist’s fires. Maybe you're keen on casting numerous chromatic orbs and require as many diamonds as possible. Whatever the case, if your build relies on equipment not included in your class equipment package, rolling for gold might be necessary.

Backgrounds typically provide a fixed number of specific items and gold, while class packages usually offer choices between different items. You might have to decide between Weapon A or Weapon B, Armor Set A or Armor Set B, and so forth. While the most expensive options in the class packages might seem better than rolling for gold, opting for the cheaper items could change the equation.

For instance, consider the sorcerer's starting equipment, which offers a choice between a light crossbow and 20 bolts or any simple weapon. A light crossbow and bolts cost 26 gp, but if you prefer a spear instead (priced at 1 gp), you're essentially missing out on 25 gp worth of value.

The starting equipment packages are designed around the costlier maximum equipment options rather than the cheaper minimum ones. If you only intend to select the inexpensive equipment choices, rolling for gold is often the better choice.

In conclusion, while the choice between rolling for starting gold and taking the equipment packages provided by your background and class may seem straightforward, it's essential to consider your character's specific needs and equipment preferences.

Arra Alpino