This system is intended to be a middle ground between D&D-style resource systems that expect the player to track every individual bit of cash and WoD-style systems that completely abstract income and its fluctuations. It’s set up to easily convert from D&D and create a function for less specific accounting (and eventually not worrying about small purchases) while still providing a benefit to earning treasure. It might also be of use to other genres of games that want to make earning and/or managing wealth to be part of the experience.
All characters have a Resources trait which is an indication of their total wealth in cash and fungible property. It represents cash, investments, and miscellaneous items like homes, art, and furnishings that are basically unimportant system-wise to the game except to indicate the PC’s lifestyle. Items that are useful from a game perspective are removed from the Resources total until the character sells them.
For bookkeeping purposes, a player may choose to track multiple Resources traits. Typically the largest is the real total and the smaller ones are incidental stashes. For example, a traveling character may only take a small portion of his wealth and, consequently, “break off” a smaller Resources trait to avoid making the larger amount vulnerable to theft. Meanwhile, another character may be tracking a Resources trait earned from the sale of an item that was not big enough to affect the main Resources trait, but she’s saving it until other small sales add up to a potential increase.
Resources 1 is essentially the amount a person might need to scrape by during a day. For D&D, it’s more or less 1 gp. For modern games, it’s about $10.
Each additional level of resources is 10 times the previous level. So Resources 2 is 10 gp/$100, Resources 3 is 100 gp/$1,000, etc. If more granularity is required, the decimal places can be used to track multiples (and, yes, this isn’t exactly the same as the Richter Scale for ease of conversion at the table). For example, Resources 2.5 would be 50 gp/$500 (essentially reading 2.5 as “5 x Resources 2). The player’s total Resources shouldn’t be tracked on a decimal level (for ease of hand waving away how minor purchases aren’t lowering the rating), even if profits and expenses often are.
The Resources total can be used to estimate the character’s total net worth (e.g., Resources 6 is a millionaire), and allows the purchasing of useful goods.
When a character wants to make a purchase, figure the estimated Resource value of it (e.g., a 1,000 gp magic item is a Resources 4/4.1 purchase, while a 2,000 gp item is a 4.2 purchase). If the item is more than the character’s Resources, it is too expensive. If it is three or more less, it can be purchased essentially “for free” (a character with Resources 7, and, consequently, 1,000,000 gp, isn’t going to notice a few thousand here or there); if players want to abuse this and make more than the GM feels is reasonable, feel free to total the expenditures (e.g., a character making a “free” purchase 100 times is actually making that purchase at +2 Resource levels).
If the purchase is within 2 levels of the character’s Resources total, it becomes important whether the character depletes ready funds and drops a rank.
- If the purchase was one Resource lower (e.g., a 4.5 purchase for someone with 5 Resources), roll a d10: if the result is equal or less than the decimal of the expenditure, the character’s total lowers (e.g., 5 buying a 4.5 drops down to 4 on a roll of 5 or less). If the purchase doesn’t have a decimal, treat it as a .1 (e.g., an expenditure of 4 is the same as 4.1 and lowers the Resources trait on a roll of 1). Obviously, a purchase of exactly equal the character’s Resources automatically drops them by one level (the character is assumed to have at least 10% in “change” so he doesn’t just drop to Resources 0 with such a purchase).
- If the purchase was two Resources lower (e.g., a 3.6 purchase for someone with 5 Resources), roll a d10: if the result was a 1, treat the expense as one higher and then roll again (e.g., 5 buying a 3.6 rolls and gets a 1, meaning he has to roll again and a 6 or less will lower Resources to 4).
If Resources did not lower, that’s the end of the transaction: the character managed to have enough free cash on hand that she’s still closer to the higher Resource mark than the lower.
Income within two Resource levels works in reverse (except only income either of equal resources or one lower is applied); income of a greater Resource level simply replaces the old one automatically (e.g., a character with only 3 Resources that gets a 5 Resource reward now just has 5 Resources, but might want to track the original 3 separately until it adds up to more).
- Income of the same level of Resources (e.g., 4.3 when the character has 4) has a chance to raise Resources equal to its decimal place (i.e., roll a d10 and try to get equal or less to the decimal to raise Resources).
- Income of one Resource level less (e.g., 3.6 when the character has 4) rolls twice: if the first roll is a 1, treat the income as one greater for a second roll (e.g., the Resources 4 character rolls 1 and then 3, going to Resources 5 with a 3.6 profit).
This system may be particularly useful in allowing higher-Resource characters to maintain hired NPCs for various purposes. For reference, the following are approximately the rates for such NPCs:
- Pauper for a day, Commoner for an hour
- Pauper for a week, Commoner for a day, Artisan for 5 hours, Merchant for 3 hours, Specialist for 1 hour
- Pauper for a season, Commoner for 2 weeks, Artisan for 1 week, Merchant for 3 days, Specialist for 1 day, Luminary for 1 hour
- Commoner for 6 months, Artisan for a season, Merchant for 2 months, Specialist for 2 weeks, Luminary for 1 day
- Specialist for 6 months, Luminary for 2 weeks
- Luminary for 6 months (having a noble work exclusively for you is very expensive)