Gear and Money

Sword of Spirit
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Gear and Money

Postby Sword of Spirit » Mon Jun 17, 2019 4:33 pm

Torg falls into the category of RPG where gear is cool and matters. This is contrasted with many rule-lite games where gear is mostly just a stylistic thing and either lacks stats, or has very simple stats such as "pistols give a +1 to damage, rifles give a +2".

Torg also uses the resources stat kind of system, versus monetary tracking method of determining wealth. This is likely because, unless we're playing D&D (and many people even then), we generally don't want to keep detailed track of our characters' bank accounts.

However, there is a problem, because these two things (and there are many other games who also do it this way) don't work together well.

You have a list of gear--which the designers were kind enough to give us prices for, even the things that you can't afford with starting funds (and I'm very grateful they've done that)--and you might reasonably want to collect gear and save up for big purchases, etc. But there just isn't a really simple way to do that with the system.

There isn't really any mechanic (short of a Perk) for differentiating wealth between characters--which makes sense given the default assumption that everyone works for the same employer and pretty much has the same income. So from that perspective, the same rules applying to everyone is fine.

But, if you want to allow for non-Delphi Council Storm Knights, or just want to better represent the funds available to wealthy characters during a campaign, we need more. I have some thoughts on how to do it, but I'm not totally satisfied, and I'd like some feedback and suggestions on how to do it better. What I want to accomplish is a basic differentiation of income levels between characters, and a way to allow the acquisition of gear that makes sense and is less a matter of GM fiat and Delphi Council needs-assessment (although I'm not removing that component--requisitions rules are still in place).

Here's what I'm thinking. Your Streetwise skill, or a Profession skill suitable to your wealth level can be used for your once per Act shopping role. However, you can also use that same skill number as your "automatic" purchase number as regards to the type of gear you can start an adventure with. If it's 10, you can basically just have whatever you want with a value of 10 or less, for instance (adjust for availability as usual). This is important because you wouldn't want to waste you roll buying some of the low value items, but you really ought to just be able to have several of them. You can just handwave that as GM, of course--if that's the only thing you need to deal with--but I'm going to demonstrate that there are other elements that need more than handwaving.

To represent different wealth levels, I'm thinking the the default should be considered to assume a roughly middle-class lifestyle. For a less affluent lifestyle just give a -2 to rolls and your automatic equipment number. For a more affluent lifestyle, you get a +2, and for being very wealthy (and this should go with the Perk) you get +4. I want that +2, +0, or -2 thing to be mainly just a player choice, rather than something you have to devote a Perk or something to, but I'm not sure how to balance that, since part of the point here is that gear in Torg is cool and having better gear means an actual boost to your character. I was thinking maybe saying that number also influences Streetwise and other social tasks when you are dealing with NPCs based on your relative social classes, so your -2 might be a +2 with the right people, and that +2 could be a -2 with the wrong people. Seems like it might work that way.

The third element I was really wanting to implement is the ability to save up for things. Otherwise you wouldn't be able to do things like buy a vehicle. I was thinking of using the Torg value chart. You track each Act in which you do not make a role to purchase something, or each week of downtime, and that number is converted to a bonus on the next attempt to purchase something. If you use the bonus on a roll (I'd allow you to make rolls without using it, that Act of week just doesn't count towards you savings), you don't lose the bonus until you succeed on the roll.

I ran some numbers using that system and they seemed to work out fairly well. One thing that isn't working out though is buying really expensive stuff (like private jets and such), even if you are a Wealthy, and have that +4, and save up for a while. Some stuff is just generally out of reach. But the thing is, I like the idea that someone can play a super-wealthy character concept if they want. What if you want to play someone like Bruce Wayne or Lara Croft (and I absolutely have a Nile Empire concept like that)?

So, as you can see, I've worked out some thoughts on how I might do what I'm looking for, but I'm not fully satisfied with it. I want something simple, yet it needs to do what I need it to at the same time.


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Re: Gear and Money

Postby Istrian » Mon Jun 17, 2019 5:17 pm

So far I have been considering that any acquisitions made with money are permanent (until lost or destroyed that is) and those made with rolls (requisition, scavenging, persuading someone to part with their belongings, etc) are temporary (until the end of the current Act).

I like your idea of being able to get anything up to a certain value of skill. It certainly saves a lot of bookkeeping and rolling. The one flaw I see is that one PC who can afford anything is just going to supply the rest of the team with free equipment, so everyone gets access to cool stuff (and I see no reason as GM to deny that, after all it makes sense).

If you want to represent wealth levels, how about using the total value directly as an indicator? An 8 in Profession or Streetwise would be middle-class (since that's what most Ords would have as a value), 10 means you're upper middle-class, 12 for wealthy classes, etc. And the Wealthy perk would set it to 16 or 18 if your skill total is lower, or grant a +4 if it's higher. This would save on the need to balance a player-chosen +2/-2 modifier.

For saving up, you could give the characters 1k at the beginning of each Act (10k if they are Wealthy) and let them save up or spend it. If they are not affiliated with a funding organisation, they can probably get that much in sponsoring/payment/loot for resolving whatever crisis popped up in the previous Act.

For vehicles, especially expensive ones like private jets, I feel it's a non-issue. Most of the time they won't actually be used since traveling from one place to another is either off-screen (when nothing significant happens) or a couple of scenes (if anything happens). In the first case, as GM I'd just say "You're Wealthy? Alright, you take your private jet to the next location. You're not Wealthy? You buy an economy plane ticket.", and in the second it's pretty much the same "You're in your private jet when you hear on the radio there's a Nile villain holding a plane hostage on your flight path. How about leaping from one plane to another to save people?".

The main issue I see is for expensive equipment that a player can actively choose to use during a scene, like Heavy Weapons. That stuff is the only reason to take Wealthy perk if you're doing it for the cool stuff, and sadly it barely covers the cost of ammo, making Wealthy a one-time perk.

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Re: Gear and Money

Postby ZorValachan » Mon Jun 17, 2019 5:19 pm

Post invasion, i think you're more like Mr. And Mrs. Howell from Gilligan's Isle than Bruce Wayne. You'll have what you brought, but not access to what you had, which is what the wealthy perk kind of demonstrats.

I don't use the Delphi Council and the persuasion/streetwise/survival acquisition test is still a lot better than Old Torg's having to keep track of dollars, yen, francs, trades, royals, and sterlings and converting back and forth with the value using the value/measure chart. If having your own private jet (instead of a group plane) is needed, talk with the GM in what the Wealthy Perk might do or influence that persuasion test.

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Re: Gear and Money

Postby Spatula » Mon Jun 17, 2019 7:43 pm

This all reminds me of d20 Modern's abstract wealth system. Which was ahead of its time, I suppose. But my group at the time hated the thing! They wanted to know exactly how big their bank accounts were (mind you, they didn't want to pay rent or track lifestyle expenses).

I dunno what a good answer is. Like ZorValachan says, the entire world is at war and it's entirely possible that extreme luxury items like private jets aren't really for sale anymore (or if they are, you can't get fuel for it because the military needs it). At the same time, what does one do about players that want to upgrade their equipment, which is entirely reasonable?

I get the desire of wanting a system to handle that but maybe it just over-complicates something that should be left to logic and the needs of the story.

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Re: Gear and Money

Postby GeniusCodeMonkey » Tue Jun 18, 2019 3:26 am

I like all the ideas, and I'm sure my players would like better indications on what they can and can't buy during the game. But I feel your trying to bring in rules for a game that is supposed to be rules light.

I like the idea of having a 'wealth skill' but I wouldn't make it on a known skill. Just because I'm really good at something doesn't mean I get wealthy from it.
Maybe just start everyone at a wealth skill of 8/+0 and give +4 if they are wealthy. They can add XP to increase this if they want. I would even look at limiting this by cosm, as just because you have a wealth of 12 in PP, doesn't mean the same in Asyle, and you wont even have a skill in LL.

I like the idea of thresholds. If you have a skill of X you can afford everything of the value, plus you get access to a private jet/helicopter etc., at Y you get access to you own private island or lair or whatever.

As for expensive items, I think it should be the rule of cool. If you have the wealthy perk you have access to your own private jet, but as a GM you actually want the ability to say that it's currently in the shop being fixed or whatever.
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Sword of Spirit
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Re: Gear and Money

Postby Sword of Spirit » Wed Jun 19, 2019 12:09 am

Thanks all for the thoughts. It really is a difficult thing to do right!

After thinking about it, I like the idea of forgetting about +2/-2 and just going with the profession skill. In general, professions that require more training provide better income. It does require players to be on board with the GM in that you can't take 5 adds in "sales clerk" and expect it to count here. Having the Wealthy Perk set your effective profession skill (for these purposes) at a minimum of 18 (or +4 if it gets you higher) is probably a good call too.

As far as the richer PCs providing gear for their allies at the start of an act, just say that each ally they support subtracts one Act/Week from their savings.That should set up a proper dynamic where they'll only do that when it's particularly important.

I don't know if it's quite ready, but nothing else has hit me yet.

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