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 GearThe 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 GearIf 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.
EncumbranceThis 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.