Friday, October 28, 2016


Just a quick update. I had been working on a new post while being very busy at work. I'd have some kind of large process start that would tie up my computer, type up a bit, save it, and go back to whatever it was I was working on at the time.

Last night, I put the finishing touches on the post, and Blogger crashed or froze up. Everything was lost. Only two paragraphs were saved somehow - no clue.

Anyway, the lesson I've learned from this is that hosted/cloud solutions are NOT ready for prime time and average use. Always keep everything on your local computer.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Starting an Adventure: Religion!

Gods & Faith for your Players

When I first started designing my adventure, I didn't really think about gods. The player came to me and said that he wanted to play a priest and that he chose the Agriculture mythoi. I responded that the priest would come from a small monastery, and they have apple orchards and blackberry bushes. Interestingly, one of his weapon choices was the bill-guisarme, which made sense with the type of agriculture the priests practiced. Growing up out in a very rural part of New England, the garage at my house had a lot of old style agriculture tools including a billhook and an actual scythe - so I loved having that be a focus.

Beyond just wanting the polearm, the player and I conferred about what this religion would look like using just the PHB. First, we decided that the god was a minor god, focused primarily on the agriculture of trees: fruit and nut trees being the most obvious, but I also had the neat idea that the priests made a fuel out of pine resin and their pine pitch candles were a special trade item:
Candle, Pine Pitch (1sp): A pine pitch candles are mixtures of pine pitch, wax, and charcoal. Each candle is a dark black color, and is shaped as a small three inch rod. These rods are then dipped into regular wax until they create a votive candle. They can then be put into small stone or glass containers and lit. Unlike wick candles, pine pitch candles take longer to light - the priests also make special matches consisting of a long bronze arm with a pitch soaked twine match (2sp, can be used ten times) - but burn brighter and longer then regular candles. They will burn for 20 minutes per inch, and shed light in a 15' radius. 
Now just using the PHB, I decided to throw together the religion for the character by going through each step. At the time, I did not have the Complete Priest Handbook, but the PHB chapter on priests is detailed enough to allow the DM some amazing discretion when it comes to designing a faith. This post will walk you through those steps and how I approached them.


In addition to requiring a wisdom of 9, a specific religion might have other requirements for the player as well. I decided that a minor agricultural god would expect a certain level of health and intelligence and made the requirements be a Strength of 12 and an Intelligence of 10. Why? I assumed farmers would have to be fairly strong, and intelligence was the relevant ability score for the agriculture NWP. The priests work their own orchards, and using heavy tools for hours on end would be exhausting work.

I generally expected that the members of this church would be of a neutral good alignment. Generally supportive, but separated from the core of civilization.

Weapons & Armor

The god we developed was a minor agricultural deity, primarily worshiped in the northern areas. A big emphasis was on harvesting and maintaining trees. We decided that the weapon selection, however, would be pretty basic and focused primarily on weapons converted from agricultural use or that farmers might have available: club, flail, hand/throwing axe, bill-guisarme, fauchard, quarterstaff, and sickle. We felt that this made sense as the weapons were basically all modifications of tools that they would normally use or were very simple and commonly available like the club and quarterstaff.

We didn't touch armor selection, and left the priests of this deity with full access to all armor available. I did make a note that the priesthood is generally not in favor of out of control fire, so throwing burning oil on a goblin in the woods would be seen as a bad thing.


I felt that being a priest of an agricultural god meant - especially a minor one - meant that the priest would not necessarily have access to all spells and spheres. This was essentially the same approach used by the specialist wizard. I banned necromancy, combat, and astral out of hand - far beyond the scope of this god. I also got rid of creation, since it creates something from nothing while the whole point of this God is to grow and nurture. You don't just create food, you grow it and earn it. I felt that the sphere's description didn't match what I saw the religion being about.

For major access, plant, weather, sun and healing were right at the top. I felt that all three made sense and provided the "key focus" of what the god was, and what it was hoping to do in the world. You'll also see that I choose to ban four spheres and make four schools major access. My thought was that for each major access you had to ban an "opposed" sphere. Although there are no real oppositions, I felt that was a good way to show specialization.

Everything else defaulted to minor access.


Granted powers, such as turning undead are where the priest class could truly shine. For my agricultural priest, I decided that they could turn undead, but they also able to turn vermin such as rodents and insects, and had immunity to any plant based poison. The turning abilities I felt could both be used once per encounter - so you can turn undead in one round, and then turn a beetle in the next round. I told the player that vermin were only those rodents and insects that attempted to destroy trees or eat crops, and thus something like bees or dragonflies wouldn't count, but that insect swarms (See Monster Manual, pg 206 would count). Rats would count, while weasels wouldn't count. The purpose of the power was to protect agriculture.

The poison ability was something I thought would make sense. A deity focused on plant life would probably have a strong understanding of plant poisons and provide protection to their followers. How embarrassing would it be if you start a fight with the god of disease, and his followers poison yours using the very plants you represent? Note, this also gave me another deity - a chaotic evil disease god that the cleric's character was sworn to fight against.


In defining the ethos, the player and I had a full discussion. We defined seven primary beliefs of the religion that we felt made sense from the perspective we had developed above:

  1. Support and encourage farmers. 
  2. Defend against urbanization.
  3. Teach the best methods for tending orchards and using the resources of the trees.
  4. Encourage the growth of orchards where possible.
  5. Defend against disease and fire, and the spread of disease carrying vermin.
  6. Encourage peace, protect the innocent, and face challenges with bravery.
  7. Develop the knowledge of agriculture, and discourage the use of wild forests.
The player felt that the religion would strongly encourage the development of orchards and tree farms for pretty much everything. Examples we developed:
  • Special ships are built only using timber grown by this priesthood. 
  • Wooden weapons such as long bows and quarterstaffs made by this priesthood are easier to enchant. 
  • Fruit and nuts raised by this priesthood are healthier and last longer


Since the religion is primarily built around monasteries, all the members are Brothers or Sisters, and leaders are Abbots or Abbess. Men and women would work side by side, so defining their buildings as a convent or monastery would be meaningless, and we defaulted to monastery to emphasize that it was isolated and often remote.


Religion is one of those things that a lot of world designers sweat on. Yet, it isn't that hard. As you can see from the above, just using the Player's Handbook it is possible to design an entire priesthood quickly and easily. Everything you need to start building your world is right there - and you don't even need the priest's handbook to do it!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Clerics and Healing

To Healbot or Not to Healbot

How many times have you sat down at a table and seen the following:
Player 1: "I'll play a fighter!"
Player 2: "I'll play a wizard!"
Player 3: "I'll play a thief!"
Player 4 (arriving late): "Crap. I guess I'm healing."

DM: "Welcome to our table! So all the major roles are filled out, the party needs a priest."

Or some variation there of? I've seen it often enough to start thinking about it - and recent iterations of the game have also attempted to address this concern. When your cleric feels that all they can do is heal, it isn't necessarily the most fun for the player. You take a support role while other players get to be front and center on the action. I understand where - for some - that is neither enjoyable or fun. What's the point of all those spells that Clerics get access to if all they are doing is casting cure [x] wounds?

As a result, I started thinking about alternatives to Clerical healing. Over the years I've come up with a number of solutions to the problem, and thought I'd share them.

Potions and Poultices

The first and most obvious is just to increase the number of healing potions the party has access too. Most of the time I've seen this issue addressed, this is usually the recommendation - and it's perfectly valid. There is nothing wrong with handing out healing potions. The goal is to keep the number of potions limited to be roughly equivalent to what the cleric would have provided in healing spells. Potions have another advantage in that they are at risk as well - just like a cleric. A character that falls down a pit trap might lose the potions they're carrying.

Poultices are a "low magic" potion, and are available in the Player's Option Spells & Magic book. They have a perfectly good rundown on the items, though I personally change it:

Healing Poultice (20gp): Good for a number of wounds, this thick poultice has a sharp and aromatic scent, similar to lemons and mint. It usually comes in a small ceramic pot, and when applied to a wounded person it helps reduce swelling, clean wounds, and ease pain. When used, the healing poultice restores 1 point of damage per application. If the character immediately rests for eight hours after application, under proper care such as a character or NPC with the healing proficiency, the character restores an additional hit point. Such pots have four uses.
Using the ones in the book are fine - though I find that they are made with the idea that the characters will have access to a healer and I would never do a good job of tracking what wounds were caused by what.


The idea of the adventuring surgeon is fairly well established. Dr. Watson is a great example of an adventurer who is also a medical doctor. However, it isn't a role that is often taken by players. When considering healing options, however, a character with surgical training could be an excellent choice. Within my games I had surgery as a non-weapon proficiency:

Surgery (Wizard, Priest) 
# of Slots: 1 | Relevant Ability: Intelligence | Check Modifier: -2 
Surgery is a skill set often maligned by "true" healers. However, although their focus is on removing infected teeth, setting bones, and occasionally more complicated affairs - they provide valuable medical services to communities, and are often found in small villages and farming regions tending to the myriad injuries seen in such settings. A surgeon with a well stocked surgical kit is able to restore 1 hp per injury received by a character. Each injury requires it's own skill check. A surgeon without tools cannot attempt to heal any injuries. Adhoc tools (i.e. using a dagger instead of a scalpel) impose an additional -2 penalty. Working within a well stocked surgical shop removes the penalty. Surgical kits cost 30gp for the initial tools. Although many of the tools are reusable such as scalpels and forceps, after restoring 2d6 hit points, the surgeon has to pay 5gp to restock necessary supplies such as thread, splints, and bandages. 
A surgeon who combines their skill with the alchemist, healing or herbalist non-weapon proficiency is able to restore 1d4 hit points per surgical attempt. They only check against the surgery skill, but restocking their surgical kit requires that they test the other skill (i.e. an alchemy check to make sure that the sulfur powder is effective). Having more then one does not increase the number of healing dice, but does allow for a +1 for each additional skill for a maximum of plus two. Thus, the surgeon has the alchemist skill, and gets to heal for 1d4 points. They later add healing, and get a +1, and then later add herbalism for an additional +1. 
For example, Mally is a Gnomish illusionist, alchemist, and surgeon. She and her adventuring party have been beset by goblins, and her friend - the halfling fighter Arwin - has taken a nasty blow. She throws a quick color spray and as the goblins reel from the magical surge of vibrant colors, she and Arwin beat a hasty retreat. Safe, she pulls out her surgical kit as Arwin struggles out of his boiled leather breastplate, and checks the wound on his shoulder. The goblin blade bit deep and she knows that those disgusting creatures do NOT clean their swords. She pulls a yellow powder out of her surgical bag and sprinkles it on the wound. Arwin gasps in pain but knows not to yell. He instead just glares at the ceiling. Mally winces and apologizes and fishes a well bitten leather strap out of her bag. She gives it to Arwin who clamps down on it. As the sulfur works, Mally seals the wound up and stiches it together. She applies a healing salve and then bandages it up tightly. For these actions, Arwin is healed for 1d4+1 points of damage. 

This is a skill set which can also be used by fighters and thieves as well. Dr. Watson, for example, could be seen as a fighter with a high intelligence allowing him to have bonus NWP slots that can be used for healing, herbalism, or alchemy. 


In Dragon Magazine issue 221, there was an article called "The Little Wish" which converted cantrips into a non-weapon proficiency. I thought this was an amazing idea and include it in all my games when I DM. In addition, I converted Orisons into the same kind of non-weapon proficiency, and allow them to restore some hit points per prayer.

Orison (Priest) 
# of Slots: 1 | Relevant Ability: Wisdom | Check Modifier: -2 
Orisons are the collection of minor prayers, rites and rituals that make up the core tenants of the faith in a particular god. A character with this proficiency knows enough about the rudiments of their faith that they can take on the role of a priest and officiate over certain ceremonies, knowing how to properly beseech their god or goddess. When the character attempts to pray, they must outline what it is they are praying for first. Following this description, they then make their skill check. The Religion non-weapon proficiency provides an additional +1 bonus to that skill check. Other adjustments might be made by the DM as they see fit. For example, a God of Agriculture might grant a healing request if the characters are attempting to defend farmers, and thus forgive slight errors (i.e. the players get a +2 bonus). Characters who have not followed the tenants of their faith would have penalties.  
If the check is successful, the effect comes to pass. such as healing 1 point of damage, or more - some healing gods might restore 1d4 hit points at the DMs discretion. Gods of war might bless weapons to cause an extra 1 or 2 points of damage. The final form of help is up to the DM. Players should not attempt more prayers then they have a wisdom bonus. Each additional prayer above that imposes an additional penalty of 1. Thus if the character's wisdom bonus is 2, and they pray four times, the fourth prayer is at a -2 penalty. Any prayed for result lasts for one round per wisdom bonus of the player, or per level if they are a cleric or paladin - whichever is higher. Failure could have serious consequences, including insulting the Gods at DM's discretion, requiring penance before prayer can be attempted again.

One major advantage of this approach is that it also makes more sense from a NPC perspective. Suddenly, you don't have class level NPC clerics everywhere, but instead you just have lay priests with high wisdom scores who are really good at praying. They are able to manage the church successfully without being the rare breed of warrior-priest who goes forth to vanquish evil.


Finally, I've allowed arcane casters to have access to the Cure [X] Wounds spells in the form of Mend [X] Wounds. Each mending spell restores a d6 instead of a d8, but is otherwise the same. The spells are reversible and allow the wizard to inflict damage. No other aspect of the spell changes.

I find that that these spells are great as they make the necromancer a more viable specialist - by providing reinforcement to the "white necromancy" aspect. Books such as the Deeds of Paksenarion by Elizabeth Moon and the Bardic Voices series by Mercedes Lackey include arcane healing. As a note the Deeds of Paksenarion is heavily based off of the game - so the inclusion is an interesting addition based on how well the book covers traditional D&D tropes. Some of the concepts from the first book include: 

  • Paks laying on hands after the events of Dwarfwatch
  • The fact that recruits with the Duke's Company train on four weapons, matching the four weapon proficiencies of first level fighters
  • The concept of magical arms and armor being easier to use, both lightweight and stronger compared to mundane weapons
Back on track with the goal of this thread - the main point being that clerics shouldn't be the only source of healing. By providing spells to wizards as well, you spread out the healing burden.


When all you are allowed to do is heal the others, many players feel like they are taking a back seat. Not all, but some. Giving options for a party to spread that burden around allows that burden to be shared - and lets the priest use some  of their other spells and abilities. Hopefully you find these rules helpful! Thoughts and feedback are always welcome - leave your comments below!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Catching up after Moving!

Moving: Why it seems so much easier in RPGs!

One thing I will say about RPGs: they make moving and packing look easy. Sure you can ransack that ancient castle with 100 rooms - let's just say you make off with 10,000gp and all the loot. In reality, a two bedroom apartment takes 16 hours and the weather gods decide that - despite the fall month - you will also have to deal with a temperature of 106F. Isn't that great? Obviously my sacrifices and prayers were in vain.

Le sigh!

But let's talk for a minute about encumbrance. As that's what I've been spending the past few weeks thinking about!

Encumbrance and Transportation

This is very much an optional set of rules, and one that is often not focused on in the game - which is a shame, because this is the kind of rule that would address those concerns of fighters and thieves that magic users are overpowered. Even if you are playing a high magic game with tons of magical options to transport things, you do hit a cap - and nothing helps clear out a dungeon like the follower table for the fighter. But that will be addressed later.

For now, let's focus on encumbrance itself. I would say that out of every ten readers, only one will have used encumbrance (Please feel free to comment below if you are that one person - I'd love to know your experience with the rules). Encumbrance adds an additional layer of complexity to the rules that many players and DMs do not like. They don't want to record gold coin weights, nor do they want to stop being able to seed the dungeon with useful items.

And that's fair. There is nothing wrong with saying "we're going to hand wave our way around this." This is a game after all, and though I couldn't hand wave myself through my wife's closet (seriously: four hours in and of itself), I can understand the desire to do so.

So why do I do it?

Because it is fun to go back to old adventures with new rules becoming the focus of the fun! When I include these rules, the goal is to make the characters think about their equipment and about their environment. If you find a room with two full treasure chests, how are you going to get them out? Say you have a fighter (Str: 15) and a thief (Str: 12). Between the two of them they can carry 100 lbs unencumbered. But the fighter has chain mail and the thief has leather armor: 55 lbs of their weight is taken just in their armor. This is unencumbered of course, If they are carrying weapons and some gear we might get from encumbered to lightly encumbered. 

So the large chest weighs 100 lbs (maxed out capacity based on Table 50 in the PHB, page 105). So let's just say that our characters are sharing the load and we'll assume the chest is evenly packed. That means each character is lifting 50 lbs. So for our fighter, we'll say that puts him at moderate encumbrance, and our thief is now at heavy encumbrance. Both are humans, and now the fighter has a movement rate of 6, but the thief has a movement rate of 4. When moving did you ever hear someone say: "You're going to fast!"

Well due to the shared load, the fighter is now at the same speed as the thief - four. If the fighter tries to go faster, then the thief is going to fall down, or lose his hold, etc etc. Now you're party is moving this chest through a dungeon at a movement rate of 4. How many random encounters will they have? Did they clear the dungeon first? Are they sure? How long will it take to get it outside? Is outside even safe? There is another chest too - so now you have to repeat this!

Now you've added an additional layer onto the dungeon for the PCs. Not only do they have to concern themselves with the monsters, but they also have to think strategically. This leads to four major areas for additional role playing opportunities:

1. Making Camp

The first is the base camp. Many adventures start in an inn, jump to the dungeon, and end with the players partying it up back in town. Again, there is nothing wrong with this style of play. However, encumbrance means you have to have a place to leave your gear and it needs to be secured. Making camp then, requires actually working through the outside of the dungeon area. The players need to think about:

  • Concealment - is it hard to see where they want to make camp?
  • Accessibility - can it be easily accessed when carrying a heavy load?
  • Safety - can it be easily defended if necessary?
As a DM you can either have the players talk through this: "I look for a small cave, more a crack in the rock which we can conceal with freshly cut branches." Or you can have the players use non-weapon proficiency, such as survival or camping:

Camping (General/Fighter)
 # of Slots: 1 | Relevant Ability: Intelligence | Check Modifier:
You know the basics of setting up a camp in the wilderness, such as creating a safe fire pit, and the best location for a refuse pit. Most people know that you can pitch a tent and set up a fire, but when they make camp randomly, they might end up sick if they put their refuse pit to close to the spring or they might start a forest fire if they didn't properly set up a place for cooking. You can avoid those mishaps easily. Without an ability check and with proper equipment such as tents, a shovel, flint and steel, and tinder, you can set up a camp for 4 people for each hour you spend working.  
With an ability check, you are able to set up shelters if you have none, for the same time frame. Each hour requires an ability check, and you gain a bonus of +2 to your ability role if you have the survival skill. You are able to scour the local site for what you need. This assumes ideal conditions, and problems such as inclement weather could impose penalties.
When taken by a fighter as a fighter skill, the fighter can make additional skill checks to conceal the camp, or set up a camp as a siege camp. When concealing a camp, the character imposes a penalty equal to difference between their target, and what they rolled. For example, Arwin the Halfling Fighter is attempting to conceal a camp in the mountains. His intelligence is an 11. He has chosen a good site, and had all the necessary gear to get the camp set up. He begins the process of concealment and rolls a 9. The orcs that have been tracking them end up having to take an additional -2 penalty to their tracking score or they lose the party and move on.
If you use additional skill points on this skill, you are mastering camping skills in specific terrains, such as mountains or temperate forests. You gain that additional skill point bonus when in that specific terrain, and that terrain only. You can use more then one additional skill point for one terrain type, for example, a fighter with three skill points spent on camping would have general, and then could either declare a +2 bonus for camping in mountains, or a +1 bonus for camping in mountains and a +1 bonus for camping in temperate forests. Non-fighters can spend a skill point to gain the fighter abilities above.
The DM might allow you to also purchase specially designed camouflage supplies. These would add an additional bonus to the concealment check. Of course, if you have animals in your camp concealing it could be difficult. You might need to hire guards. Especially when you start carting out treasure.

2. Carting Equipment Around

So the party wants to make their way into the mountains. They know of a good camping site near the ancient tomb of Xylocan the Terrible, but they want to be absolutely sure they are ready for what they encounter. They want to bring tents, supplies for a few days, and some spare weapons. They also know that the last time they went exploring, that they had found some items that were to large to carry out easily, so they want to bring block and tackle and some hand carts.. wait! Hand carts? What?

First, making an expedition out into the wilderness requires bringing along everything you are going to need - or making it as you go. Hunting and fishing, for example, can maintain food supplies, as does foraging. However, having ready made food is easier as you do not have to spend all your time just focused on survival. The same is true for weapons - you're better off with prepared weapons versus making your own. So you decide you need:
  • Tents
  • Bedrolls
  • Rope (lots and lots of rope)
  • Poles
  • Lanterns/Torches (and oil for lanterns)
  • Block and tackle
  • Grappling hooks
  • Extra ammo and weapons
  • Food and water (jugs or barrels are probably the best approach)
How do you get all of this up into the mountains? A wagon makes the most sense, pulled by a mule or ox. I've always ruled that a horse, mule, ox, or other pack animal with a cart harness is able to pull 150% of their stated weight on the encumbrance table. They can pull more then moderate encumbrance if the character passes an animal handling check with a -2 penalty for each level above moderate (or for each movement penalty point if using the optional encumbrance rules). However, wagons don't fit into most dungeons easily (there are obviously exceptions!).

So what about inside a dungeon? Well, the characters can use a block and tackle to load up a small cart. There are three types: Hand Carts, Miners Carts, and Wheel Carts. When using a cart to transport, the weight is considered to be 50% of the total weight if pulled, and 80% of the total weight if pushed.

Hand Cart (10 gp): A handcart is essentially a chest on wheels. It can carry up to 100 lbs, and is 3' long by 2' wide by 2' deep. A cart might come with an optional closure on the top which can be locked and secured (+2 gp), or it could just be open. If open, ignore depth - though putting a tall statue in the cart could cause it to tip over. 
Miner's Cart (30gp): A miner's cart is larger then a hand cart, being 5' long, by 3' wide, and 4' in depth. Miners carts can carry 200 lbs. Miners carts sit on two axles and four wheels. They are often pulled by mules or pushed by the miners and are well constructed for that purpose. As they are designed for use underground, most make sure to include a place to hang a lantern, torch or candle from the front. Fancier carts will include a small mirror of highly polished silver to help improve the visibility of a miner's candle (+10 gp, miner's candles burn even in poor air quality, and brightly - they cast light out in a 10' radius and last for 20 minutes per inch. The polished silver mirror extends the light out to a 20' cone, which is 10' wide at the end. Miner's candles cost 5cp each).  
Wheel Cart (5gp): A wheel cart is usually nothing more then a single axle with a small base that is 2' wide and 0.5' long. A single rope is included that can be tied around objects laid on the platform, allowing them to be pulled along. Wheel carts are most frequently used by foresters who down a tree and put one end on the cart, and the other end of the tree is harnessed to a mule or pony to be carried back to their mill. Wheel carts cannot carry a large number of items, but can only carry one item that is secured via the rope. 
With these options the players are able to cart more equipment, and now have an additional reason to set up a camp. Remember, if they're using mules or ponies to pull their gear they will also need feed for them as well!

3. Making Shields and Armor Actually Worthwhile

Additionally, I have made shields and armor more worthwhile. I allow fighters to gain a bonus of -1 to their AC in any kind of armor (i.e. leather armor goes from -2 to -3) by using a weapon proficiency. Further, for all classes shields are better:

Buckler/Target: Improves AC by 2 against one attack, or 3 if used against a missile attack.
Small: Improves AC by 2 against two frontal melee attacks. or 4 against missile attacks.
Medium: Improves AC by 3 against all melee frontal and flank attacks, or 6 against missile attacks.
Body: Improves AC by 4 against melee frontal and flank attacks, or 8 against missile attacks.

Halflings and gnomes cannot use body shields, however they, and other Small sized creatures, treat their shield as one size larger. For example, Arwin the Halfling Fighter has come back to town. During his latest foray into a dungeon, he was attacked from behind and had to drop his short bow and fight with his short sword. He got hurt badly, and has decided he needs a shield. He goes to the shop, and finds a human armorer who has created a small round shield with a bronze leaf pattern. He loves it and purchases it. In his next encounter, he will have an AC bonus of 3 against all frontal and flank attacks: 2 for the shield, and 1 for using a weapon proficiency.

This allows weight to be saved on armor, and also is slightly more in line with history - where shields were key to a soldier's defense. 

4. Hirelings as more then Torch Bearers

Porters, carters, and camp guards all become necessary if encumbrance is going to be a serious concern. The players will need to balance, however, the cost of a team against the potential reward. And this also means that they have to think long term: should we quickly scout a place out and determine what we'll need ahead of time? If we have to leave and come back, what could happen? 

Perhaps the main treasure of the adventure isn't even monetary. An ancient evil has overtaken a temple far in the mountains. The church wishes the PCs to go into the temple and recover important relics: statues of their goddess. These statues are made of marble and are fragile, each double the size of a regular human. In exchange, the PCs will be well rewarded - but not with gold, but access to restoration and healing spells. To recover those statues the PCs will need to clear the dungeon, evaluate the safety of the route, and then bring in a team to get each statue safely out of the dungeon and into wagons or onto wheel carts, and then back to the temple. All of those people will need to be paid, and all that equipment secured or rented. A team of teamsters going all that way will be a handsome sum. Add in laborers and you have a large team of people heading into the mountains. What will that attract? Is the route truly safe? The PCs will have a very difficult time... and that's what makes it so much fun!

And also note: you aren't going to double up here. Guards aren't going to do the job of porters and porters make terrible guards. Maybe if the guards are getting some of the action they'll help load - after all, the more treasure that comes out, the larger their share - but do the players want to share?