Vow of Poverty (3.5e Variant Rule)
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Vow of Poverty
A number of systems have tried to do the "under-equipped character" with mixed success (D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder come to mind), and both leave a sour taste in the mouth of many people. In D&D 3.5 you get a smorgasbord of abilities that, while nice, often leave you unprepared for the fights you encounter at high levels. On the other hand, in Pathfinder the character who takes a vow of poverty is completely neutered and ill-equipped to do almost anything at high levels, and only ki-users get any sort of benefit out of it.
This variant instead continues character progression as far as the wealth-by-level chart is concerned in accordance with what everyone else gets without giving miscellaneous bonuses that sometimes seem random and at other times too strong compared to what the rest of the party has.
At any time, a character may declare that they take a vow of poverty. At this point they must divest all masterwork and magical items on their person and sell them as soon as possible, donating the proceeds to charity or for the good of society. From then on, that character can only own mundane, non-alchemical items that they would require to feed, bathe, and shelter themselves for up to a fortnight in the wilderness, including weapons and armor should they wish it (though they must still be mundane and non-magical). Beyond this, all items that belong to them (after party gold split) must be donated to charity, though the character can carry them until such a point. Should the character intentionally use any such items they immediately lose all benefits of the vow, effectively setting their Poverty Pool to zero (see below) and requiring them to declare the vow of poverty again (should they wish to do so).
The amount that this character donates to charity and the like goes into his Poverty Pool, and from then on they can use this to effectively enchant themselves just as they would magic items, though the enchantments can be dispelled just like normal magic items. In order to enchant himself, the character must spend three consecutive days praying during which they can take no food. After this time they may apply any enchantments they wish from their Poverty Pool, even "scrapping" current enchantments for new ones. No two of the enchantments can together equal move than 50% of the character's total Poverty Pool. The character may still accept and use consumable items (such as a potion, wand, or staff), but must drop them or hand them off to another character immediately after having made use of them, if applicable.
For example, let's take Herma the Fighter, who has a gold pool of 20,000. If they wanted to enchant whatever armor they wore with a +1 enhancement, they would need to spend 1,000 gold from their gold pool, and would henceforth gain a +1 enhancement bonus to their armor class. Similarly, they could spend 2,200 gold from the pool to gain the effects of a Ring of Feather Falling. It's important to note that equipment slots are still considered "filled", and enhancements should be bought accordingly. However, they could not gain both a Ring of Mind Shielding (8,000 gold) and Boots of Striding and Springing (5,500 gold) since that these two together would cost over half their total Poverty Pool (10,000 gold).
What does this actually do to a character? Well, first of all their magic effects can't be stolen, nor can their magical items be sundered, and they can effectively have whatever items they wish after a period of downtime. On the other hand, they are unable to "upgrade" their current items without significant downtime, can't make use of any consumables they find, and are unable to use any magical items that are found along the way. Due to these downsides, making use of the vow of poverty does not carry any feat investment, since you're gaining just as much as you lose.