Abstract Wealth in Games (Blog Post)

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Jared Rascher
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Abstract Wealth in Games (Blog Post)

Post by Jared Rascher »

https://knighterrantjr.blogspot.com/201 ... iches.html

I've had the idea to write something about this since I read Emily Wilson's translation of The Odyssey recently, but Sean and Brett did it as a topic on Gaming and BS, and it kicked my butt into gear to finish it up. ;)
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Re: Abstract Wealth in Games (Blog Post)

Post by Emmett »

So many thoughts on this.

I think your opener is important. When you first saw abstract wealth you didn't like it. I've seen this with a lot of players. They really reject the idea of abstract wealth at first and some never come around to it. We are so used to thinking of wealth as a concrete value that it's hard to think of it abstractly. Maybe if you plunked abstract wealth down in front of some millionaires they'd pick it up more easily?

I think on the low end, if that's a thing in your game, to ease players into this, give them discrete money. Then if they pay into fields or an estate, introduce abstract wealth. I think that would make more sense to players since most people wouldn't really have a strong grasp on what a farm's output would be on real cash or what putting a lien on the farm would consist of.

I used abstract wealth in my space opera game Jump Temp because who wants to track paying for fuel, paying starport fees, paying taxes in various currencies? Still, the players really had a hard time with it. The way money worked, it fed into the character's abilities too. The hard part is, as a GM I can see the "money" directly growing the character unlike in a traditional concrete system, the money is abstract to the character themselves. (Weirdly) So that made me very reluctant to just hand the players things like dropped items even though they would have easily gotten them in a regular game. That was just my own hang up that I didn't fully deal with. I should have gotten over it but I bring it up because there are mental hurdles to handling this kind of thing.

In my specific implementation, one of the biggest hurdles the players had was when an item's value is a die and they had a die of wealth that they didn't just cancel each other out. What if the roll said they couldn't afford the item? They really balked at that even though conceptually it makes sense. I'd explain the concept and they'd be okay with it, but as soon as they failed to be able to purchase the item, (not enough liquid assets at the time, you just refueled the ship and chipped in more than you wanted) they really didn't like it.
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Re: Abstract Wealth in Games (Blog Post)


I always liked the FASERIP Wealth rules, and should really use something like that more often.

I play a bit of Barbarians of Lemuria, where wealth is something fluid. You get a bunch of coins, then spend them all before the next adventure. You get an extra bonus if you use the story of your spent wealth to generate another adventure hook.

I preferred this to game where the players looted every bit off of every enemy. How much can they sell 25 shortswords for? How many iron spikes did the enemy Fighter have?

It could often turn a game into an accounting scenario over adventure.

Lately, most of the games I run use a Loot and Gear system similar to dungeon world. When you defeat an enemy, you may get Loot and Gear. Need some iron spikes later on? Sure, spend a gear point, that's what you looted from the enemy. Excessive gear might take an extra point. None of the gear points are worth spending. Kill 8 orcs? Two Gear one Loot.

Loot points are just generic money. If you have at least one Loot, you have enough money for basic food and drink without spending it. Weapons might take two Loot points, etc.

But the article makes me think that a scaling Loot roll might be more fun. Gonna have to play with that.
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