Wednesday, August 24, 2011

7K - Wealth of Nations

Character gear has been something of a bug for me lately.  Back when pretty much every system just gave your character a load of cash and a big price list, I was okay with that being the way things were done.  But I have seen some systems lately that approach it very differently.  For my Seven Kingdoms game, I want to try something fairly radical.

Where This Came From

I will start with a few of my influences.  It started with Spycraft 1.0, which needed some way to reflect that your spies could requisition gear for the mission that had nothing to do with their personal equipment.  One of the real phenomena this introduced to me was the idea that gear should be tied to level.  You automatically get better gear as you level up, but no matter how much cash you earn, you can't get better gear than you "deserve".

Spycraft 2.0 expanded on this concept with three ideas.  First, was that gear came in various "calibers," organizing its effectiveness into broad tiers instead of nitpicky stat differences (Spycraft 2.0 then went and got super-nitpicky on the stats of each piece of gear anyways).  Second, you could organize gear into categories like Weapons, Armor, and Tools, and give each class bonuses to specific categories.  Third, a lot of "flavor" gear, such as how fashionably you dress, could be abstracted away into a general "Lifestyle" category.  You will see a LOT of these ideas carried over into my system.

Gamma World introduced me to the other amazing concept.  Namely that there was no real need to create stats for every possible weapon, and to differentiate between them.  Just create stats for "light" and "heavy", and then let the player define the weapon to be whatever he wants it to be.  The stats for a claymore, a halberd, and a stop sign are all the same.  That was so mind-expanding for me.  Not because it was so vague, per se.  I'd played around with enough story games to appreciate vague gear lists.  But because it was so wide open to interpretation but married to such a tactical system.

The Basics of the System

Okay, keep in mind from yesterday's post that I'm rebooting and abandoning d20.  But, a lot of these concepts were originally formed in the d20 framework.  So, if this is a bit rough, please excuse me.

Wealth is broken up into several categories, that function in many ways like skills.  You will get points each level that you assign to the various categories.  Each category will be rated from 1 to 10.  Much like with skill focuses, you will get to assign each rank to a specific piece of gear within each category.

Whenever you make a roll that involves your gear, you gain a bonus to the roll.  Under the d20 system, this was a straight gear bonus.  Under the new system, I'm still not entirely sure how I will apply the bonus.  Possibly allow the bonus to be split between the stat and skill rolls as you wish.  Possibly make gear a third roll that can be substituted for one of the other two.  I'm hoping to come up with something a bit more elegant.

The Categories of Wealth

  • Arms - This covers the range and quality of weapons and armor you carry on you as a matter of course.  Arms are ranked by caliber.  The total of the calibers of all the weapons and armor you carry cannot exceed your ranks in Arms.  The weapon and armor you choose to use in combat will apply modifiers to your Attack and Defense rolls, and may alter the tactics you may choose (see this description of the combat system).
  • Fashion - This works much like Arms, except that it applies to repartee contests using your Wits and Resolve instead.  It also covers more than your simple style of dress, and includes manners, bearing, and speech.  Rather than being broken down into individual items, the character can assign calibers to different cultural groups.  The basic groups are upper, middle, and lower classes for each of the seven Kingdoms.
  • Lifestyle - This is a simple measure of just how well you live.  What kind of food do you eat, what kind of accommodations are you used to, and what sorts of entertainment do you expect.  It will modify many social skills (though not necessarily with a simple bonus, as some interactions can be penalized if you are not of the same class as the people you are attempting to win over).  It will also modify your resistance to poison and disease, along with your healing time.  Not sure what kind of gear breakdown to do here.
  • Tools - This covers all of the various items that you use to perform your various skills.  Lockpicks, grimoires, climbing rope, assaying equipment, musical instruments, etc. are all included.  Rather than using the gear breakdown to identify specific items, you identify the tools of a specific trade.  You would see Caliber 3 Burglary instead of Caliber 3 Lockpicks, because the Burglary "kit" covers all of the various tools that might be needed to enter a secured building.  You may detail the specific items in your tool kit if you wish, but they have no additional mechanical effect.
  • Housing - What kind of home do you have, and how much does it take to keep it up?  The general wealth level of your Housing is mostly used to reflect its security.  The gear breakdown allows you to specify elements of your home such as a Library, a Chapel, or even Servants that may provide bonuses to certain skills when performed in your home.  You may also choose to have a town house and a country estate, or set aside a Caliber 1 bolthole.
  • Contacts - It's not what you have, but who you know.  The general rating of Contacts is used as a bonus to collecting (or disseminating) rumors or other information.  The breakdown gives you specific individuals or organizations that you may call on for assistance.
  • Cash - This is how much ready cash you keep on hand.  This can be used to purchase services (such as a healer or transportation), bribe officials, or gamble.  While technically regular equipment can be purchased for cash, events will conspire to make sure that such equipment does not survive past the end of the session.  As cash is fungible, you will simply have a number of Caliber 1 items appropriate to your rank, each of which corresponds to a rough cash figure.
In addition to the standard categories of wealth, certain abilities may grant you access to other categories.  For instance, a pirate captain may be able to trade his ranks in Housing for ranks in a Ship instead.  Members of a secret society can put ranks into Society to represent their standing and the resources available.  A noble with an estate to manage or a "retired" soldier running an inn might have a Holdings category.

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