I crunched some numbers. 5e doesn’t have a super fleshed-out economy, but the few data points in the PHB match up pretty well with Adventurer Conqueror King, which has a very robust and internally consistent economic model.
This is good news. ACKS expands D&D’s footprint in some cool ways, into a high-level world simulator and war machine. Slotting this into 5e is very appealing to me.
What does a gold piece mean?
Compatibility basically rests on one question: does a gold piece mean approximately the same amount of money in both systems?
Equipment-wise it does. A 5e longsword costs 15 GP. An acks “sword” costs 10. The longsword has cost either 10 or 15 GP since the D&D/AD&D split. What about the high end of the equipment list? Admittedly, armor prices are way off. Plate armor is 60 in ACKS and 1500 in 5e, but armor prices are generally peculiar in 5e. Ship prices match the traditional D&D prices in both games: 10k for a sailing ship, 30k for a galley, etc.
It’s not surprising that 5e and ACKS start with a similarly-priced equipment list, since they’re both descended from TSR D&D. Things get more interesting when we look at the non-equipment extrapolations: price of grain, income for laborers, stuff like that.
First of all, both games have a very similar “cost of living” chart. 5e’s is presented as a fixed daily number and ACKS as a monthly number range, so I’ve converted them both to fixed monthly numbers. I’ve left out some brackets to match them as well as I can. ACKS, for instance, has tons of high-income brackets, as befits a game focused on high-level play, while 5e simply says “in the Aristocratic tier, you can spend as much as you want.”
5e ACKS Wretched: 0 gp (outcast) Wretched: 1 gp (serf) Poor: 6 gp (unskilled laborer) Meager: 7 gp (unskilled laborer) Modest: 30 gp (laborer) Adequate: 26 gp (laborer) Comfortable: 60 gp (skilled tradesman) Comfortable: 70 gp (master craftsman, farmer w 85 acres) Wealthy: 120 gp (favored of royalty) Prosperous: 275 gp (patrician, 200 acres) Aristocratic: 300+ gp (noble) various brackets: 450+ (noble)
These charts are strikingly similar. It’s almost as if the 5e guys took a look at ACKS… for which I wouldn’t blame them. If you’re serious about having a rational economy, you need to consult Alexander Macris’s work at some point.
Here are the 5e prices of the main agriculture and mining staples:
1 lb wheat: 1 cp
1 lb iron: 1 sp
I can’t find direct prices for ACKS good by the pound, but in the mercantile rules, I find that 80 stone of grain costs 10 GP. That comes to… 1.12 cp per pound of wheat. Pretty damn close. In ACKS, “common metal” is 200 GP per 100 stone, or 1.4 sp/pound. Given that “common metal” is already an abstraction, that’s close enough for me.
Livestock are easier: no stone-to-pounds conversions here. Here are the 5e and ACKS prices: pretty similar, except for the big markup on ACKS chickens.
5e ACKS 1 chicken: 2 cp 1 sp 1 pig: 3 gp 3 gp 1 cow: 10 gp 10 gp 1 draft horse: 50 gp 30-40 gp
Here’s something interesting: a “comfortable” ACKS yeoman farmer has 85 acres and makes 70 gp/month. Farmers don’t really make monthly income, though; more likely it’s around 420 gp at each of the two yearly harvests. That means that, after harvest, a farmer has a LOT of wealth in the barn – but instead of gold, it’s in the form of several tons of grain and vegetables. Murder-hobo adventurers, try to figure out some way to make a profit out of that.
There are still some potential speedbumps in the so-far-unreleased 5e Dungeon Master’s Guide. How much does a 5e castle cost? How much treasure do PCs earn? 5e could wildly diverge from ACKS at high levels. So far, though, it looks like you could coherently play 5e and use ACKS for your treasure, trade, and domain management.