Abstracting Wealth

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Oroborous Oroborous's picture
Abstracting Wealth

I've been inspired by the FATE rules and The One Ring to abstract away wealth in Eclipse Phase. Dealing with credits and purse counting does not add much to the story. I've always preferred the abstract model which focuses more on story and gets things done. As a result, I wrote up a wealth abstraction for EP.

Comments are welcome:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1s5KjA4od6Ogm3rGnfnLo7CIBAs3_P2OzuvGmVWEzUlo/edit?pli=1

Thanks,
Oro.

Oroborous

DrewDavis DrewDavis's picture
Re: Abstracting Wealth

Neat idea. I'm all for reducing bookkeeping in my games and this looks like a clever implementation of the EP system.

But part of me wonders if making the wealth system so similar to rep reduces some of the character of the different economies. What is the difference between market and reputation from a player perspective aside from which skills you roll against?

Oroborous Oroborous's picture
Re: Abstracting Wealth

The main difference is still there. The Networking skill and Rep represent the social aspect and reputation economy. The Finances and Assets replace the tracking of credits. The end result is the same, however a character will still need to choose whether to devote their skills to rep or wealth. You can do both too, but you will suffer in other skills. This only removes the tracking of individual credits, it does not remove money from the game.

Oroborous

Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
Re: Abstracting Wealth

I don't like the concept much:

- you may get rid of some bookkeeping for credits, but now you have a new skill, a new rep-like score, rolls everytime you want to buy something, additional in-game time spent, and potentially way more attempts to acquire stuff because there's no real cost.
- the idea that in a traditional economy, if you fail your roll you can't buy legal, freely available stuff, and even if you succeed you have to spend time on it, that's stretching believability way too far. Same with beeing dirt poor and getting lucky with a roll for an expensive item.

And there seem to be some mechanical issues:

- How do you balance this? In the new economies, you have a favor refresh rate, and you have to return favors (or lose rep). It seems that in your system, you can go on shopping sprees with back to back acqusitions, only limited by the time to acquire.
- Under cost of living, you write that poor characters lose Assets slower than wealthy ones, but the mechanics work the opposite way. Poor characters can fail their rolls with large MoF and see all their assets wiped out in a month (losing 1 Assets per MoF seems really, really harsh). Wealthy ones can only fail by a small MoF, so they'll lose fewer points and from a higher score to begin with.
- A mechanic for selling items and getting paid is missing.

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Re: Abstracting Wealth

I don't understand the concept of "book keeping" in RPGs in general. You have money listed in your character sheet, you substract from that number to get items. Reputation, with the "cooldown" of the favours is what might require a little bookkeeping, however.

My suggestion in that regard is to look at tabletop games (like Monopoly and such): make a card for each player and favour they can ask per reputation, and when they ask for a favour they give the relevant card to you, and while in play you place them on stacks, or even simpler you use a whiteboard pen to write the "date" the favour was expended in the card's sleeve (which forces you to keep track of ingame dates). Other option is to have cards on the table, and place the favour cards under the relevant time card (or make a small tabletop where to place the cards). Its all about choices, and of course nothing prevents you to make a computer app (android, apple or java-based), or even an excel spreadsheet using colors to mark it.

Oroborous Oroborous's picture
Re: Abstracting Wealth

Smokeskin wrote:

- you may get rid of some bookkeeping for credits, but now you have a new skill, a new rep-like score, rolls everytime you want to buy something, additional in-game time spent, and potentially way more attempts to acquire stuff because there's no real cost.
- the idea that in a traditional economy, if you fail your roll you can't buy legal, freely available stuff, and even if you succeed you have to spend time on it, that's stretching believability way too far. Same with beeing dirt poor and getting lucky with a roll for an expensive item.

Your milage may vary based on your group gaming style. I'm a huge fan of the mature game systems like FATE, TOR and others which are not the usual old-school way of playing RPGs (i.e. looking for loot, etc.). Equipment and items just exist, they add to the story only as needed, otherwise they are a minor aspect of the game. An expert mechanic has the tools they need to get the job done, I wouldn't stop them from doing something because they lack that one tool. That's not really fun in a game. Same as tracking individual items and small stuff. Same goes for "treasure". EP is not a game that appeals to that sort of play either, to me.

"Real cost" is what you make it. I prefer games where penny-pinching is not a factor of the story. Your mileage will vary. I prefer games where being short $10 is not an issue for a "hero". If you don't want them to have something, just say its not available. Same as if they had the credits and could afford it.

Quote:

And there seem to be some mechanical issues:

- How do you balance this? In the new economies, you have a favor refresh rate, and you have to return favors (or lose rep). It seems that in your system, you can go on shopping sprees with back to back acqusitions, only limited by the time to acquire.
- Under cost of living, you write that poor characters lose Assets slower than wealthy ones, but the mechanics work the opposite way. Poor characters can fail their rolls with large MoF and see all their assets wiped out in a month (losing 1 Assets per MoF seems really, really harsh). Wealthy ones can only fail by a small MoF, so they'll lose fewer points and from a higher score to begin with.
- A mechanic for selling items and getting paid is missing.

Shopping sprees are not an issue in my opinion. I let my players buy what they want, I don't really restrict them. Combats in my game are not super hard, they are also not a major aspect of my games. Combat is deadly, it makes sense that those sent on very difficult and potentially suicide missions are well equipped. When I have combat, its because of a good story reason. Its not there to defeat the characters. I prefer to defeat them in other ways as needed for the story.

You are right about the MoF and poorer characters. I mixed that one up in my first draft. As I said, they are not play tested, and thus the request for comments. I'll have to think about that.

There is no mechanic for selling items because selling junk is part of maintaining your Assets. The Assets are not a physical thing, it is an abstract thing. It represents you spending and gaining money all the time at a certain level which is assumed to pretty much equal itself out. The whole point is not to bother with picking up junk and selling it, it just wastes time and is un-heroic. Heroes don't horde pistols to sell at the nearest pawn shop. That's a bit lame to me. The whole picking up and selling gets abstracted into Wealth. After that it can be ignored in-game. They don't pick things up, they don't need to and so it goes away. As I said, this is against the grain of traditional RPGing and more in line with more modern indie game systems.

Abstractions work when the whole group is mature and experienced games. I admit it is not for every gaming group. Everyone has their own playing styles. Having said that, my future games of EP will use the FATE system, unfortunately I discovered it after starting this EP campaign.

Oro.

Oroborous

Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
Re: Abstracting Wealth

I totally get your desire to abstract wealth, but I think the acquisition process and the items themselves are the tedious parts, not the credit score. The credit score is very easy to handle and that's all this replaces, and with a complex and time consuming mechanic.

I very much agree on the junk selling, but there's also stuff like morphs. Acquiring a morph at the egocast destination will be problematic unless you're quite wealthy in your system, where normally you would just sell what you're sleeved in at departure, or simply rent at the destination if you want to come back.

Regarding balancing, I just think it gives the wrong feel that your acquistions are unlimited in traditional economies but limited in new ones.

Oroborous Oroborous's picture
Re: Abstracting Wealth

I would not say they are unlimited. A character attempting to acquire something can't keep rolling. If you fail once, that's it. The whole point is that the character cannot afford it, or decided not to buy it because its too expensive. Whereas with Rep based economies you can make multiple roles, in the traditional economy it is not so. Also, a character attempting to purchase something too expensive will result in penalties which may result in a higher MoF and a loss of Assets in the purchase. Or they can burn Assets to reduce them penalty and increase the chances. Either way, a price is paid.

BTW, I reworded the part about rich loosing Assets qucker. It was intended to say the more Finanically capable will lose Assets slower than those who are not Financially-savvy.

I just converted all the characters in my game to use the system. We're going to play test the rules on Monday.

Oro.

Oroborous

Oroborous Oroborous's picture
Playtest update

I have used the abstracted wealth system a couple times now. To be honest, I had quite a bit of resistance from my players initially. They just didn't understand it at first. Perhaps that is also the case with people who read it once. However, after the first session they saw potential. After the 2nd session, they were sold. The final reaction was that it got rid of a lot of BS that did not add to the story. They saw that the abstracted wealth empowered their characters and allowed them to do things they may not have thought of before because they were limited by an arbitrary amount of credits on their sheets. It did not unbalance the game in any way and it made things like getting from A to B as well as getting basic mission needs quick and painless. It also helped them better understand how Rep can be monetized in a similar fashion. Overall, success in my campaign.

Oroborous

OpsCon OpsCon's picture
Looks interesting, and will

Looks interesting, and will pass on to my GM (I also hate tracking money in a game, have to do enough in real life). It's similar to the Wealth stat in d20 Modern, or like Resources in World of Darkness/Storyteller.

The only thing I might suggest is having a Wealth threshold, and leaving out the new skills. Perhaps have that purchased like a Lifestyle Level in Shadowrun based on how many credits you have left after CP are spent and all gear is bought.

Example, my guy Alex has a LOT of gear, software and tools, so after spending 14 CP on credits and buying stuff, he had 700 credits left. Using the chart on page pg 298 of the core book (also reproduced in your document, I think) that puts him in the Moderate Lifestyle (700). This would be recorded on the sheet as 'Lifestyle: Moderate (700)'.

That means that he's probably got a lower-middle-class style income (which works, as in game he's a low-range security tech for OIA). With that Moderate Lifestyle, he can buy anything of a Moderate cost or lower, no roll required, as long as the GM deems it can be found locally (or by 'mail order' if you want to wait) and not straining his budget. Anything higher, he'll need to use Networking and Rep to essentially get a loan (which is covered by the Reputation systems already, pg 290) or look for a sale. As there are ranges, you can use the actual number (in this case, 700) as a guide for when things might be on the higher end of the range to say it out of their range this month, but they could save to get it next month (leaving the GM some control over gear), for example;

Say Alex wants to buy a Wrist Mounted Tools implant (he does, actually, it's on the list eventually). That's a cost of Moderate, which means that it costs anywhere from 500-1,499 credits. The GM could say that in Olympus, that implant costs 1,000 credits even (using the average). Alex can't afford that, but using the mesh he finds that a place in Elysium offers that implant for 650 credits. He schedules an appointment for next week.

That same day, Alex decides he needs a bigger gun. He wants a Shredder. That is also moderate, but the GM decides that is at the higher end, 1,250 credits, and heavily regulated, so finding a sale is out of the question. Alex will have to put off the implant and save for a month. He decides he'd rather have the implant.

You can still spend Rez points on credits, this adds to your Lifestyle total, raising you to the next Lifestyle when you get in the right range.

Example, Alex's Lifestyle is Moderate (700). If he spends Rez on Lifestyle, it goes to 1700. That puts him in the low end of High. He would record his new lifestyle as 'Lifestyle: High (1700)'. He's probably firmly in middle class now, and maybe has a promotion to some kind of supervisor. He can buy low end High cost stuff now, and Moderate and lower stuff like candy.

KT
Alex 'Iceshade' Andrade


Oroborous Oroborous's picture
I have updated the

I have updated the Abstracting Wealth with some new thoughts and feedback from my players. Some notable changes:

- Muses now have Finances at 30.
- Assets burn has been streamlined and is more consistent.
- Got rid of the Assets vs. Cost table, it was not nescessary. Everything is in one table now.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1s5KjA4od6Ogm3rGnfnLo7CIBAs3_P2OzuvGmVWEzUlo/edit

Oroborous

Chase-san Chase-san's picture
Not sure if anyone has

Not sure if anyone has mentioned it yet. But the d20 modern wealth system wasn't too difficult to use and could fit pretty well (with some tweaking of course).

Basically you have a wealth bonus. As you gain wealth it increases, spending decreases it.

You roll against it. If you succeed you can get whatever it is you were trying for.

If your bonus > the cost, you can get it without penalty. If it is above it, and you succeed you lose wealth. Your wealth decreases depending on how much higher it was then your bonus.

So basically a bit like rep, but simpler without all the extra rules/skills (it is its own skill).