Wealth and Capital

Creating game rules related to wealth, capital and resource acquisition.

Wealth and capital systems are mechanics designed to simulate and manage a character's financial and material resources. These systems typically include currency, assets, and possessions, allowing players to buy equipment, access services, or invest in various aspects of their characters' development.

The game system does not include any default rules concerning wealth and capital. Players are granted a fixed number of gear items as part of the rules related to Character Creation, and additional gear is acquired through game play. Directors are free to manage situations that require access to gear and equipment in any way that makes sense for the story and require players to make various action rolls to resolve obstacles related to access to resources as appropriate.

To fit the needs of a specific setting or based on group preference, additional rules can be selected to support a more specific type of wealth and capital system. Using a wealth and capital systems can help create a sense of realism and strategy within the game, as characters must make decisions about how to spend, save, or acquire resources in the game world.

Tracking Wealth and Capital

There are many types of wealth and capital system. Below are four systems that are common in tabletop role-playing systems.

  • Patronage: The patronage wealth system is a simple approach to handling group and character access to resources. Instead of tracking units of currency or other assets, the system focuses on social connections, alliances, and influential contacts. Patronage represents a character's ability to call upon favors, resources, and assistance from individuals or organizations due to their reputation, affiliations, and relationships. A group's adventuring is typically supporting by powerful patrons or benefactors that can include wealthy individuals, nobility, business or government factions, or paying clients.

  • Coinage: Coinage is a common approach to wealth and capital that uses a standard currency, such as coins, banknotes, or precious metals. Characters earn, spend, and accumulate wealth through this universally accepted medium of exchange. The system can include additional economic elements like salaries, taxes, trade, and banking. Characters often need to navigate financial markets, manage their coinage, and make investments in this type of system. Coinage adds complexity but can be appropriate for settings and campaigns where groups want to accumulate wealth and build and manage commercial enterprises.

  • Barter: In a barter system there is no standardized currency. Characters engage in direct trade, exchanging goods, services, or resources without using money. The value of items is determined by supply and demand, and negotiation skills play a significant role. Characters must assess the worth of items and make deals that suit their interests. This system places an emphasis on resourcefulness, haggling, and the bartering of goods.

  • Institutional: In an institutional wealth and capital system, characters interact with organized entities, such as guilds, corporations, or government bodies, to earn wealth. Wealth can be the accumulation of monetary rewards but can also be represented narratively through status, power or increased influence. Institutions offer economic opportunities, contracts, and resources. Characters advance by following the rules and structures of these organizations, which may involve completing missions, conducting business, or adhering to laws and regulations. Success often depends on understanding and navigating the institution's hierarchies and procedures.

The type of wealth and capital system selected with help determine how a director should manage scenes that include situations that involve needing and acquiring access to resources.

Acquiring Resources

During the game, when a character or group needs to gain access to a resource, the director needs to determine the difficulty of acquiring the resource relative to the current situation.

Following the rules for Actions, if the resource is readily available and easily acquired in the immediate area, the director can simply allow the player to succeed. If the resource is difficult to acquire and there is a chance of failure, the director should require the player to make an action roll against the difficulty of acquiring the resource.

The following are some things a director should consider when determining difficulty:

  • Restricted: The resource may be restricted by government, military, religious or another authority. Accessing the resource may require turning to black market sources.

  • Custom: The item is generally custom manufactured or crafted and is not mass-produced.

  • Local Reputation: The group's reputation in the immediate area makes it difficult to find a source willing to deal with them.

  • Remote Source: The item is typically only available in a remote location and may be difficult to find in the local area.

  • Access to Capital: The group's access to financial resources needed to acquire the item is absent or compromised.

  • Isolated: The group's current situation is isolated from normal economic and supply channels. Access to anything other than mundane common items is challenging.

Once difficulty has been determined, the player proceeds with a standard action roll. If the character has a skill set that would provide relevant skills in helping locate or acquiring the resource, they can choose the ability rating of the related skillset or specialization, otherwise they should make an unskilled ability roll against the stated difficulty.

If the action to acquire the resource succeeds, the director can either declare the character has the item or allow the group or individual character to proceed to role-play acquiring the item through normal game play. Alternatively, the item can be acquired using Cut Scenes.

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