Monday, August 24, 2015

Economies Part 2 - The Rebuttal

Hey folks. There were a lot of good responses to my last post that were useful. I do want to address the idea of a Wealth stat - or die and the problems I have had with it. Also I wanted to go more into detail about how purchases add or don't add to the game play experience.

The Wealth Trait

This suggestion came up and to tell the truth I was using this several years ago in one of my first Savage Games. The problem I and my players found was in the swingy-ness of the rolls. For example-

  • The player in question wants to buy a new pistol. He rolls his wealth die and fails. So he moves on to another vendor and decides to buy a car. He aces the roll and buys a car. This actually happened and left the player questioning how he could have enough money for a car but not a pistol.
So the randomness doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Even if you figure in some haggling, the odds that someone could haggle a new car down to below the cost of a common firearm breaks belief.

Which brings me to the gameplay experience

Now was there anything wrong with just letting the character buy the gun? It wasn't going to break my game so it really isn't an issue of balance. In Savage Worlds there isn't a power creep of items like you have in D&D.  Sure a Bazooka is more powerful than a pistol but it has several built-in drawbacks: weight, slow reload time, lack of concealability, and the fact that any law enforcement will shoot at you on sight.

The mechanic of purchasing equipment is binary, meaning you either can buy it or can't. There's no challenge in purchasing, no extraordinary successes. You either get it or you don't. I'm not sure that it qualifies as a fun game mechanic. Even in D&D, the characters eventually gain enough money to make purchase-limitations inconsequential. 

Ultimately equipment acquisition comes down to game balance. Do you want the characters to have access to that or not. If you deem the object to be too powerful, you will find a reason that the heroes can't have it even if they can afford it, and whether you are counting coins or not. 

Love to hear more feedback.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Economies - A New Way To Play?

If you are a fan of Savage Worlds and you haven't been tuning in to the Savage GM's Hangout, you should. 

So here I was wallowing in a lack of inspiration to get back into writing my blog or diving back into Starpunk, then I listened to their podcast on Money and my brain has reopened.

The podcast touched on an interesting point about in-game economies, and that is the fact that you don't necessarily need one. 

Here is the problem I tend to have with game economies like D&D. The players go out, defeat monsters, gain enough treasure to technically retire, and come home. When the next adventure starts, the hero has lost no money for living costs, just the money he has spent on his equipment. His treasure hoard builds and builds.

Some people like this style of gameplay. They need these rewards to feel like they have gained something at the end of each adventure. In fact the accumulation of wealth starts to be the focus instead of the adventure. Case in point - "I loot the bodies".

But can a game be played without monies and prices? Yes, and in fact some games have been doing it for a while: Military and Espionage games. In these games, a characters gear is usually picked or assigned to them by the agency they work for. But what about regular games where the heroes aren't a part of a wealthy organization? Games like Starpunk? Well...I'm thinking of just applying common sense to the problem.

Starting Gear

The hero starts with whatever gear makes sense for the character. If he's a bounty hunter then he will have a weapon, handcuffs, and possibly some armor. I might make it a simple armor if he's just starting out. If a player wants their character to start out with something a little more advanced, then they should make a compelling argument. It will likely give me something in their backstory that I can use against them later.

Buying Gear

If a hero wants to get a new piece of gear for some reason and it's believable that an average person could afford it, then they buy it. If they have the Poor hindrance then you might be more stingy about what they get. If someone has the Rich edge, that's going to open up a lot more options to the group. Getting special or illegal items may still require a Streetwise roll.

Voila, no bookkeeping.

One big reason I like this idea is that the price of equipment always seemed like an artificial barrier to me. Being poorly equipped should be a function of whether or not the character is prepared as opposed to what the character can afford.


This is one that I will be keeping an eye on. If characters could conceivable acquire a great many tools and weapons, the player may mistakenly think that he/she has access to it all at any time. Nope. Like any adventurer he/she is going to have to pick and choose which gear they are likely to need and hope for the best.

So it's a simple idea and I don't see much that can go wrong. If a player wants a piece of equipment that you feel may unbalance the game, then money doesn't really come in to it (especially since in most games the players have hoarded enough money to buy the item). So balance issues will come up whether you are counting pennies or not. In the end you will still have to GM your way through game balance.

Leave a comment if you find a fault in the idea.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Flash! Aaaahaaaaaaah!

So I'm hoping to wrap up a really bad month. Here are the highlights...

  • Scooter engine is slagged
  • Phoenix Arizona in July
  • Custody battle for an Autistic 17 year-old
  • IRS wants a lot more money
  • Still working overtime

So my plate has been very full and rpgs have been very far from my mind, at least in forming opinions that I can post about. But then Pinnacle had to go and make announcements at Gen Con.

Suffice to say...

It's coming to Savage Worlds. And the fan boy in me is splitting in two.

I love this movie, for all of the bad acting and dialogue I still love it. (However while the teaser in the Pinnacle clip was taken from the movie, I'm unsure if that's the version of the license they are going for.)

I am also a big fan of Slipstream as many of you already know. So it feels kind of strange to have Flash-Gordon-With-The-Serial-Numbers-Filed-Off being replace by Flash Gordon.

Also, it's called Flash Gordon. Like Doctor Who or Solomon Kane, any character made is just going to be a second banana in the universe. In Slipstream the story revolved around whatever heroes were playing at the time. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm still going to buy it. I'm not made of stone. I'm just not sure if I'll get much play out of it. But as long as there are plenty of production photos of Ornella Muti... okay that sounds sexist but Princess Aura was my first childhood crush.

It may be wishful thinking but I'd love to see an updated Slipstream launch with this.