Expenses

Abstract Wealth

Descriptions courtesy of r/rpgdesign:

You have a wealth score and items have one, too. You can usually buy an effectively infinite number of items that are [some number below your wealth score] without it affecting your wealth. You can also usually buy something [equal to or sometimes 1 lower or higher than] your wealth by temporarily losing a level of wealth. Sometimes, you can risk a permanent level of wealth to buy something [one or more levels above you].

So, if potions are wealth 2, a wealth 2 guy can purchase one, but it drains him so he can't buy another until it recovers. A wealth 1 guy might have a chance to buy one, but it takes all of his resources and he risks losing his 1 wealth just to buy it. A wealth 4 guy, meanwhile, can buy as many potions as he wants without fear. But he has to be careful buying a wealth 4 item (I don't know, a horse, maybe? ) because it will tax him.

Characters would have a wealth level, and so would items for sale.

- You can buy items with a level lower than yours at will.
- you can buy an item equal to your wealth level once every two weeks.
- you can buy an item costing one greater than your wealth level, but it depletes your wealth level by 1. These are obviously items the PC can't really afford.

So, the way Exalted does it is pretty simple:

If it is rated under your Resources, you can buy an unlimited number of them (based on availability of course. but even then, availability is GM fiat).

If it is rated equal to your resources, you can buy one and permanently reduce Resources.

If it is rated above your resources, you can't get it.

For selling, it is reverse. If you sell something above your resources, you go up one. If it's below your resources, you can sell an unlimited number and it won't go up.

So, the trick with Abstracted resources is that the setting/mechanics don't care about [how many items you have]. In other words, maybe its a super-hero setting where the number of potions they have literally doesn't matter. Because they are either super rich like batman or has regeneration like Wolverine, or whatever. If the situation you describe in #2 [buying lots of items] will break your game, then you probably should not be using abstracted wealth. Otherwise, you just need to design the game in such a way that having 100 potions is not 100 times more effective for a PC. Then the player won't think to do that and even if they try the GM doesn't care because it doesn't change how the game is played.

I once had a system where each character has a certain number of resource "slots". Each item you bought took up a number of those slots, and you could trade out items whenever you were shopping. If you used a consumable, bribed someone, or lost your item, those slots were essentially gone until you got a "pay day". You didn't regain slots taken up by equipment after a payday, because you spent those resources maintaining the equipment.

Things to think about.

Abstract Pricing and Resource Points

Here's a revised price list incorporating the "resource points" idea.

Note that nothing here is final, this is just a thought exercise on how the system might work.

Lifestyle

Wealth levels dictate player lifestyles. Players get resource points per season according to their wealth value.

Lifestyle Value Cost to Reach Cash-In Value
Destitute 1 - -
Impoverished 2 4 2
Ordinary 3 9 4
Well-off 4 16 8
Wealthy 5 25 12
Extravagant 6 36 18

Wealth levels can be gained either by spending the specified number of resource points or by RPing out the process of accumulating assets which justify a higher lifestyle. Any increase in wealth level must be approved by a moderator.

Players may choose to 'cash in' a wealth level at any time. In doing so, they reduce their lifestyle but make a certain number of resource points available for immediate spending. A moderator must be informed to make a record of the drop.

Additionally, resource points can be obtained through RP. Completing job-related threads, acquiring awards from IC actions, selling goods from questing, etc. can all provide additional points for a player's ledger. The idea is that while a "basic stipend" is provided for each (active) season as a matter of course, it should mostly go towards upkeep costs and minor purchases. Players who really want to gain wealth should be encouraged to actively acquire resources rather than passively wait for points to build.

Consumable goods

Everyday consumable items have a resource value determined by their composition, quality, and difficulty to obtain. Players may freely buy, sell, and use these items in their threads IF the value of the item is at or below the player's lifestyle level. They are not recorded in inventory.

Consumables with value higher than the player's wealth level cost (value-wealth) to obtain. For example, a fine wool shirt with value 4 (Well-off) would cost a player with Ordinary wealth 1 resource point (4-3 = 1) to obtain. These unusual purchases must be recorded in the ledger and the item tracked in inventory. They can be resold as used items at one less than their purchase cost, i.e. that fine shirt has no resale value because 1-1=0.

Examples of consumable items:

  • food
  • clothing
  • ammunition (arrows, shot)
  • baskets, chests, pots, utensils, etc.

Assets and Equipment

Anything which is not a run of the mill purchase, particularly items which are not consumable and have regular maintenace costs, are considered assets. This category includes equipment, land, structures, livestock, and NPC or animal companions. Assets must be tracked in inventory.

All assets have a designated resource value which must be paid to obtain them. Some asset types, particularly animals, housing, and NPCs, also have seasonal costs for their upkeep. These maintenance costs must be paid every (active) season it is owned, including the first.

Fixed value weapons

Weapons which are not particularly variable in terms of the materials they can be made from have fixed values. Items of higher quality or expensive materials may be obtained at increased cost. There are no discounts for poor quality, 'used' state, or 'lesser' materials.

Sling - value 1
Bolas - value 2
Polearm - value 3 (stave, shortspear, javelin)
Great polearm - value 4 (glaive, guisarme, naginata)
Self bow - value 3
Composite bow - value 4
Crossbow - value 4

Variable value weapons

Small weapon - value 2 (knife, hand-claws, etc.)
Short blade - value 3 (rapier, handaxe, etc.)
Long blade - value 4
Greatsword - value 5

Values are given for ordinary metal weapons (iron, steel, bronze). Items made with non-metal materials (wood, bone, stone) are valued one less. Items of higher quality or more expensive materials may be obtained at increased cost. There are no discounts for 'used' state.

Armor

Small piece - value 3 (vambraces, small shield)
Medium piece - value 4 (helmet, gauntlets, pauldrons, medium shield)
Large piece - value 5 (breastplate, hauberk, greaves, large shield)

Values given are for ordinary solid metal armor (iron, steel, bronze). Non-solid metal armor (mail, scale, brigandine), with a leather or cloth backing as appropriate, is valued one less for medium and large pieces only. Armor not using metal (wood, bone, treated leather/cloth) is valued one less than the metal equivalent. Items of higher quality or more expensive materials may be obtained at increased cost. There are no discounts for 'used' armor.

Thus, the cheapest body armor available (e.g. boiled leather) has a value not less than 3. Leather vambraces, helmets, shields, etc. have values not less than 2. For items which come in pairs (vambraces, greaves, etc.) the cost includes both members of the pair.

Obtaining an entire suit of armor requires buying all the pieces. It's very expensive; basically no one is likely to get full plate. Armor for horses, dogs, etc. are valued according to size in the same way, i.e. dog armor (smaller) might cost one less than the human equivalent while horse armor (larger) might cost one more.

Companion Animals

Companion animals are purchased individually and may be trained to perform certain tasks. All companion animals have seasonal upkeep costs, which reflect providing them with shelter, food, and other care.

Horse - value 4 + 2 upkeep
Dog - value 3 + 1 upkeep
Cat - value 2 + 1 upkeep

Young, gelded, or undesirable (e.g. disabled, elderly, ill-tempered, ill-gaited) animals have value reduced by one.
Animals with basic training (e.g. riding horses) have value increased by one.
Animals with specialty training (e.g. warhorses) have value increased by two.
Breeding stock (e.g. stallions) have value increased by one.
Unusual breeds have increased value.

Personal NPCs

Personal NPCs have upkeep costs equivalent to their lifestyles, e.g. an Ordinary NPC costs 3 resource points per season. NPCs may be kept at no less than one level below the PC's lifestyle, and cannot be sustained indefinitely at lifestyles below Ordinary. (Maybe one season at Destitute and two at Impoverished?)

Children have no upkeep cost, but will not survive if the PC they are associated with falls below an Ordinary lifestyle.

TBD: Buying slaves or indentured servants.

Livestock

Livestock are distinguished from companion animals in that multiple animals are typically kept, i.e. a flock or herd, and they are not trained for anything beyond accepting handling.

All livestock purchases must be checked with a Moderator before they can be made, and final costs are subject to the Moderator's discretion depending on the age, sex, health, breed, and number of animals being purchased. Upkeep costs may be modified depending on the PC's access to land and other resources for the support of their stock.

Note: I composed these livestock values before really thinking about housing and how its upkeep should be handled relative to lifestyle levels. I expect livestock are going to be part of housing or business uses in most cases, so all of this should be recast in that light. I'm leaving the values I initially brainstormed in for now so that I can revisit them when I reconsider this topic.

The costs given here are base guidelines only. Any decimal values are rounded up.

Hill town stock prices:

Small livestock - value 1 + 0.2*N, upkeep 0.2*N
(chicken, rabbits)

Medium livestock - value 3 + 0.4*N, upkeep 0.4*N
(pigs, goats, sheep)

Large livestock - value 4 + 0.6*N, upkeep 0.6*N
(cattle, horses)

Under this value system:

A flock of 5 chickens costs 2 points to buy and 1 point per season to maintain.
A flock of 5 goats costs 5 points to buy and 2 points per season to maintain.
A herd of 5 cattle costs 7 points to buy and 3 points per season to maintain.

Plains nomad stock prices:

Small livestock - value 1 + 0.4*N, upkeep 0.4*N
(chicken, rabbits)

Medium livestock - value 3 + 0.2*N, upkeep 0.2*N
(goats, sheep)

Large livestock - value 4 + 0.4*N, upkeep 0.4*N
(cattle, horses)

Under this value system:

A flock of 5 chickens costs 2 points to buy and 2 points per season to maintain, as they are uncommon and must be more protected/contained than other livestock.
A flock of 5 goats costs 4 points to buy and 1 point per season to maintain, as they can freely browse and need comparatively less food than large stock.
A herd of 5 cattle costs 6 points to buy and 2 points per season to maintain, as they can freely browse but require larger pasture areas.

Unimproved Land

All land purchases must be approved by a Moderator, and final costs are subject to the Moderator's discretion depending on the specifics of the location and circumstances. Unimproved land does not have upkeep costs.

Note: I feel like these might still be too low, particularly for city land relative to high-wealth lifestyles. Still thinking about this. Land in general is probably just going to be a case-by-case scenario — values are so incredibly context-specific — so it might not be worth including any listing at all.

Low-quality land - value 3 + 2*N acres
(e.g. swampland, barrens)

Medium-quality land - value 4 + 4*N acres
(e.g. hill slopes, woodland, generally arable land)

High-quality land - value 5 + 6*N acres
(e.g. rich soil, mineral resources, inside town walls, etc.)

One acre of unimproved swampland costs 5 resource points to purchase.
One acre of unimproved woodland costs 8 resource points to purchase.
One acre of unimproved city land costs 11 resource points to purchase. If one can find it.

Buying and Building Structures

TBD.

Housing Costs

PCs only pay housing costs if the value of their residence exceeds their available wealth. It doesn't matter whether the residence is owned or rented, however, there is no appreciable land associated with the residence (unless separate land costs are paid). Residence values are as follows:

Small - value 3
(e.g. cottage)
Medium - value 4
(e.g. modest house, shop)
Large - value 5
(e.g. large house)
Grand - value 6
(e.g. mansion)

For example, a player with Ordinary lifestyle (value 3) can live in a cottage (also value 3) and its maintenance will be considered part of their lifestyle. Building values may be adjusted up or down by one according to quality, e.g. a poor-quality studio apartment might have a value of 2 and thus be available to Impoverished PCs.

Players living above their means must pay the difference between levels as a seasonal expense. For example, a player with Ordinary lifestyle (value 3) may live in a large house (value 5) at a cost of 5-3=2 points per season.

Players living in a residence of lower quality than their means would support do not get extra points.

Resource Points and Chargen

Assume new characters get enough resource points for Ordinary lifestyle plus a bit to spend. Say 15 points. They do not receive a stipend for their first season of play, and must pay any upkeep costs for that season from the starting pool.

Starting players may take an Impoverished lifestyle in exchange for more discretionary resource points. They then have to accrue 9 points over future seasons to justify rising to Ordinary wealth, on a stipend of 2 points per season. This means they're likely at a disadvantage for a while. By contrast, someone who starts at Ordinary will make up the difference for those 5 'extra' starting points from their regular stipend in just two seasons.

Players cannot start with greater than Ordinary wealth, because it costs more than their residual resources (6 points) to rise to Well-off (cost 16). It may be permissible for PCs to start as Destitute, but they will forgo most of their points to do so, because Destitute people should not have much in the way of possessions or resources. They might get 2 to spend in that case (double their wealth level, as 6 is double Ordinary). In other words, starting as Destitute is definitely not encouraged.

Condition 1: Ordinary lifestyle + 6 discretionary points
Condition 2: Impoverished lifestyle + 11 discretionary points
Condition 3: Destitute + 2 discretionary points (if permitted)

Those residual points may be banked or spent on:

- quality consumables (value 1-2)
- weapons (value 2-5)
- armor (value 2-5)
- animal (value 2-4) + upkeep (1-2)
- better housing upkeep (1-2)
- NPC upkeep (1-3)

Thus even a player who takes the wealth hit still will only have around half a dozen possessions at the start. New PCs should probably also be limited to no more than one dependent NPC, period. And if that NPC isn't living an Ordinary lifestyle, they'll probably lose it at the end of their first season…

There should probably be restrictions such as being unable to buy anything with value more than 2 levels above the PC's lifestyle, so that one starting at Impoverished (wealth 2) doesn't give themselves an ornamented longsword or a steel breastplate (each value 5). That just wouldn't make sense. They could still have an ordinary longsword (value 4), which can be justified in story as a warrior down on his luck.

An initially Impoverished PC could have a horse (4+2=6), though that 2 point upkeep will eat his stipend every season thereafter. A PC starting with Ordinary lifestyle could just barely afford that same horse, but will have better passive regeneration in following seasons. (Penny-pinchers will get a gelding or elderly horse (3+2=5). Or an elderly gelding (2+2=4).)

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