Monday, March 9, 2009

Abstract Wealth

In my current crusade against Big Numbers and Obnoxious Math, I am attempting to try out a new system to replace the CP/SP/GP economy as we all know and love it. Here's a few brainstorming ideas.


In this system, player wealth tops out around 7-10 actual physical coins. The standard coin for each tier of play varies; starting out would be CP (pennies), then you move up to SP (nickels), and finally topping out at GP (quarters). You could retain a 1:10 ratio, so if someone gets really rich, they can swap in some pennies for nickels. Prices need to be fixed so that they fall from 1-10 coins of the appropriate tier. Each coin represents 1/3 of a stone worth of cash for ENC purposes, same as a one-handed weapon.

Just like with the stone ENC system, we sacrifice granularity for ease of use by rounding prices to their nearest chunks.

Variant: For items that cost <1>nothing, roll a die. For example, a widget might cost 1 + 50% coins. The purchases definitely spends 1 coin, then they have a 50% to spend a second one on the item. Using a D6 that lets you get down to 16% gradations. Notation for this system might look like X/Y, where X is the number of coins and Y is the number on a D6 that must be rolled to not spend a second coin (so 0/2 means that only on a 1 does the purchases spend a coin).


Here are some historical units of British currency.
So you could measure wealth in pennies, shillings, and pounds. As much flavor as this might have, it lacks ease of base 10 conversions, which is a problem if dealing with large amounts of cash in non-granular units.


In this system, players have a wealth score from 1-7.
- If the item you want to purchase is < is =" your"> your wealth score, you can buy it, but your score decreses by the difference between your current score and the price (so if you have wealth 3, and want to buy Cost 5 armor, then your score is reduced by 2 -- to 1).
- If your wealth score is zero, you have no funds on hand. If your wealth score is negative, you are taking out loans to pay for your expenses. The DM may not allow you to take out a loan or may impose other restrictions.
- Starting wealth is determined randomly, by rolling 1d6.

Whenever you come across significant treasure, roll 1d6. If it is equal to or greater than your wealth score, your wealth score increases by one. Particularly valuable treasure may give a bonus to the roll -- for example, a hoard of gems might be 1d6+2.

The system is roughly geometric in absolute terms. A character with wealth 7 has about 6 times more wealth than a character with wealth 6, but a character with wealth 2 is only a little richer than one with Wealth 1.

Anyone else seen any other systems that work well?


Here's a system that retains the "precision" of more complicated ones with less math/bookkeeping.

10 CP = 1 SP
10 SP = 1 GP
10 GP = 1 PP

At TIER1 of play, the primary monetary unit is the Silver Coin. So, the only wealth that the player tracks is that in SP (or perhaps GP if they manage to acquire many silver coins, but this should be rare).

If anything which is priced in Coppers is purchased, then there is a percentage chance that a silver will be expended. So, say a Tier 1 character buys an item costing 4 SP. They roll a D10 and on 1-4 they lose 1 SP. On 5-10 nothing is lost. If you want to stick to purely D6, you can round off and estimate (1 = 1-2, 2 = 3-4, 3 = 5-6... 6 = reroll) the percentages.

One would need to revise prices (downward) and treasure (downward) so that getting a coin from the current tier is a significant and useful reward. Basically, get rid of inflation.

When you go up a tier, the primary monetary unit shifts up as well. So once you hit tier 2, anything that costs CP is considered widely available "for free" (unless bought in bulk), items costing SP now have a % chance to expend a GP, and items costing GP are the standard purchase. An occasional rare item costing a PP could be saved for or purchased by a group.


nanobri said...

The system I'm playing currently (Exalted) has a wealth system similar to your "abstract wealth" idea. You have a fixed "resources" rating from 0 to 5. If you purchase something at a resource cost lower than your level then it changes nothing, if you purchase something at a resource cost equal to your level, then your resource rating is temporarily reduced by 1. You cannot purchase something that exceeds your resource rating.

The current game I'm playing in really isn't treasure focused, so a low granularity simple system like this works well. If I was playing something where finding treasure was a big focus of the game though, I'd probably want a more concrete system. I guess it all depends on what you want the focus of your game to be.

nanobri of

Fervet olla, vivit amicitia said...

Edging closer to nWoD style, isn't it? I'm not a fan of abstract wealth, personally. I need to feel the cold, hard cash clenched in my fists!

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