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Draz74
2012-06-18, 01:46 AM
So, this is intended for CRE8, but unlike lots of the other mechanics of CRE8, it seems like it could be pretty easy to implement in any game. So I thought I'd get feedback on it from a wider audience.

Motivation
Bookkeeping slows down games, especially the games I've played in the most. It distracts from both the story element and the strategy element of the game. A lot of good game design comes down to reducing the need for bookkeeping, without taking away anything that will actually be missed.

One of the elements of D&D that causes the most bookkeeping is equipment. Short of Vancian spellcasting, nothing makes a game suddenly stop while people pull out books and papers and pencils and crawl into isolation like a big pile of treasure. ("How much goes into the party fund? How much do we each get? Who gets stuck with the big gem that we might not be able to cash until we get to the big city? Who gets stuck with the big pile of worthless copper -- or should we leave it behind? How much treasure do the magic items and art pieces count for?") And nothing, bar none, takes as long in character creation as budgeting for an optimized collection of equipment.

Long story short, this is one area of a fantasy world that I don't mind simplifying a great deal with abstraction. In some ways, abstracting away the details of currency and treasure actually gives the GM more freedom to be creative, flavorful and detailed about the kinds of treasure that spice up his world. (Now he can explain how the treasure is an obscure alloy of brass from a downfallen empire, with the Five Heroes engraved on the different denominations, without worrying so much about equivalencies and exchange rates and so on.)

So, the basic idea is to make a Wealth system that, like the one in d20 Modern, can keep track of most of a campaign's money issues with minimal bookkeeping. While the system I'm describing here is quite different from the one there, there are some elements of it I'd definitely like to keep. For example, poor characters should have to worry about whether they would be wise to go out carousing in the taverns ... while wealthy characters should be able to buy a drink or a night at the inn or a new quiver of arrows without having to worry at all about the cost.

Justification
I've heard some complaints that Wealth systems are only really appropriate for modeling electronic credit systems of money, like the ones d20 Modern portrays. Frankly, I think this is rubbish.

The D&D classic standard of a shopping list of items with stable price tags is the system that really doesn't make sense for a medieval world. Ye Olde Markets didn't have stable prices or reliable menus. They were a big hodgepodge of barter, haggling, one-time deals, using third parties as providers of trade goods, and calling in favors from the wealthy. In many ways, I think the Wealth system is actually a great way to model such an inconsistent environment.

Basics
Each character has a Wealth statistic, which is a non-negative integer (not a die modifier; i.e. Wealth 7 rather than Wealth +7). Each item comes with a Price statistic, which is likewise a number.

The process of buying or selling involves rolling a number of d6s equal to your Wealth. So a character with Wealth 7 would roll 7d6.

Each d6 that gets rolled is a "ping" (better name needed; suggestions welcome) if it rolls 4 or higher.

When you try to buy something, a number of "pings" equal to the item's Price means you are able to buy the item without decreasing your Wealth statistic. If there is a deficit of "pings" compared to the Price, the character may still have the option of purchasing the item, at the cost of a persistent decrease in Wealth score equal to the deficit.

For example, a character with Wealth 12 attempts to buy an item with a Price of 7. With a bit of bad luck, the character only gets 4 "pings" in his purchase roll. He can still buy the item, but only by reducing his Wealth to 9 (by losing 3 Wealth, since his roll had a deficit of 3 below the target Price).

When you attempt to sell something, you use the reverse process. Each die that is not a "ping" counts towards the Price of the item. If there is a deficit, it goes towards the amount that the character's Wealth can increase due to the sale.

Our example character and his Wealth 9 go ahead and try to sell a suit of armor they pulled off a hobgoblin in a dungeon. The armor has a Price of 4, so he's not really expecting the money he gets from it to make much of a splash in his bank account. However, he runs into an eccentric wealthy collector of goblinoid armors, according to the dice which bless him with a lucky roll of only two "pings" on his 9d6. Therefore, his Wealth increases back up to 11 with the sale.

How long (in-game time) must pass between re-rolls of these types depends on the size of the community that is providing the market. Sigil might be only a handful of hours; a small hamlet might require 3 months between die rolls.

If an inconveniently large number of dice is involved in a Wealth roll, it is quite reasonable to assume that some of the dice simply divide into "pings" 50/50. If a character has Wealth 37, I'd probably assume that the first 28 dice fall 14/14 and just require the player to roll the remaining 9.

Support
I'm planning on a "Haggler" talent to support characters who want to really be good at the buying/selling process. (Compared to 3e, a talent is more like a Skill Trick than a Feat, in terms of how much investment it represents to the character.) This talent would do something like let you turn one "ping" into a non-"ping" or vice versa each time you buy or sell something.

There will also be abilities that grant one-time semi-permanent adjustments to the character's Wealth score, such as an Aristocrat kit or a Windfall talent that basically duplicates the d20 Modern feat with the same name.

Note that, in CRE8, the number of magic items a character can use is highly level-dependent (similar to Legend, although developed independently), so extreme wealth is not an automatic path to extreme combat power.

Questions for the Playground to PEACH
Does this system work as well as it seems like it should in general? Will it accomplish my goals of making treasure easy to keep track of, make it so that wealthy characters don't have to bother with small purchases anymore, and so forth?

Does this system make it too easy to gain too much Wealth? (I'm wondering if the wealth increase due to selling something should generally have a -1 attached to it.)

Does the system lead to any logical flaws? For example, if a character has two items -- one high in Price, the other low in Price -- does it make a big difference (on average) what order the two items are sold?

Craft (Cheese)
2012-06-18, 07:47 AM
When you attempt to sell something, you use the reverse process. Each die that is not a "ping" counts towards the Price of the item. If there is a deficit, it goes towards the amount that the character's Wealth can increase due to the sale.

Why do this? The chance of a ping is 50/50 no matter how high your wealth stat is, so I don't see what purpose counting non-pings on selling has except to make things more confusing, unless I misunderstood what you mean.


If an inconveniently large number of dice is involved in a Wealth roll, it is quite reasonable to assume that some of the dice simply divide into "pings" 50/50. If a character has Wealth 37, I'd probably assume that the first 28 dice fall 14/14 and just require the player to roll the remaining 9.

Do you have a formula in mind of at what point it's "reasonable" to handwave some of the dice away, and how many?


Note that, in CRE8, the number of magic items a character can use is highly level-dependent (similar to Legend, although developed independently), so extreme wealth is not an automatic path to extreme combat power.

So how *is* starting wealth determined anyway? Let's say I wanna start up a game of characters at level 5: Do you have some sort of equivalent of Wealth By Level to account for treasure the characters have already earned in their past adventures, like with magic items?


Does this system work as well as it seems like it should in general? Will it accomplish my goals of making treasure easy to keep track of, make it so that wealthy characters don't have to bother with small purchases anymore, and so forth?

Well, it certainly sounds like a pretty cool idea, if a little inelegant: My intuition is giving me a strong feeling (if no concrete arguments at this time) that something almost equivalent could be done without dice at all. The intention, however, is most definitely solid.


Does this system make it too easy to gain too much Wealth? (I'm wondering if the wealth increase due to selling something should generally have a -1 attached to it.)

Probably not: The higher your Wealth is, the less likely you are to get a wealth increase from selling items of the same price. Let's say you happen to have 200 of those hobgoblin Price 4 armors and plan to sell them all. If you have, say, Wealth 40 the chance of rolling under 4 (and thus getting a profit) is so abysmally low it may as well be 0. And if you implement a robust "cutoff" point where you automatically get a number of pings depending on how many dice you have to roll, that chance becomes actually 0. However, a player can ride those 200 hobgoblin armors all the way up to the cutoff point pretty much all the time, but if they actually have that much treasure to sell that's probably what you want to happen.


Does the system lead to any logical flaws? For example, if a character has two items -- one high in Price, the other low in Price -- does it make a big difference (on average) what order the two items are sold?

Well, let's run the numbers. Say you have Wealth 5, and have two items to sell: Price 4 and Price 2.

If you sell the low-priced item first, you come out ahead... but only by 0.02 Wealth, on average. So in this particular case, it seems that it's too small to actually matter much.

Anydice link (http://anydice.com/program/134e) for those calculations, by the way.

Draz74
2012-06-18, 04:00 PM
Why do this? The chance of a ping is 50/50 no matter how high your wealth stat is, so I don't see what purpose counting non-pings on selling has except to make things more confusing, unless I misunderstood what you mean.
Hmmm, I think this rule is leftover from when I was playing around with a "ping" not being a 50/50 chance. Wealth numbers would be less explosively exponential if, for example, a "ping" required a 5 instead of a 4.

If the chances aren't 50/50, then the non-"ping" selling system is necessary to keep the symmetry between buying and selling. For example, to make it so that two characters can't spontaneously generate wealth just by selling a single item back and forth between themselves many times. (Not that a DM would be wise to allow such a transaction anyway ... but that's beside the point when it comes to robust game design.)


Do you have a formula in mind of at what point it's "reasonable" to handwave some of the dice away, and how many?
Honestly, it's more a question of game hardware requirements than it's a question of game design. How many d6's is it reasonable to expect a playgroup to have? At a minimum?

I was thinking of a requirement like "you must roll at least 8 dice."


So how *is* starting wealth determined anyway? Let's say I wanna start up a game of characters at level 5: Do you have some sort of equivalent of Wealth By Level to account for treasure the characters have already earned in their past adventures, like with magic items?
Since wealth has little relationship to combat power, the DM should feel pretty free to declare starting Wealth by fiat, depending on backstories and how socially influential he wants characters to be in the setting. I do intend to come up with a guideline in case the DM is ambivalent, but I haven't gotten that far yet. I might need to playtest with the Wealth system some more before I even have an idea of what Wealth score makes the players feel "wealthy."


Well, it certainly sounds like a pretty cool idea, if a little inelegant: My intuition is giving me a strong feeling (if no concrete arguments at this time) that something almost equivalent could be done without dice at all. The intention, however, is most definitely solid.
Good to know. :smallsmile:


Probably not: The higher your Wealth is, the less likely you are to get a wealth increase from selling items of the same price. Let's say you happen to have 200 of those hobgoblin Price 4 armors and plan to sell them all. If you have, say, Wealth 40 the chance of rolling under 4 (and thus getting a profit) is so abysmally low it may as well be 0. And if you implement a robust "cutoff" point where you automatically get a number of pings depending on how many dice you have to roll, that chance becomes actually 0. However, a player can ride those 200 hobgoblin armors all the way up to the cutoff point pretty much all the time, but if they actually have that much treasure to sell that's probably what you want to happen.
Yep, diminishing returns from selling things was definitely an important part of the idea.

I do worry that it's too easy for a character with just the Haggler talent to make money in a pretty predictable fashion just by acting like a merchant rather than an adventurer. I guess I'll playtest it.


Well, let's run the numbers. Say you have Wealth 5, and have two items to sell: Price 4 and Price 2.

If you sell the low-priced item first, you come out ahead... but only by 0.02 Wealth, on average. So in this particular case, it seems that it's too small to actually matter much.

Anydice link (http://anydice.com/program/134e) for those calculations, by the way.

Thanks -- I've been too busy/lazy to run the numbers myself. Offhand, I'm inclined to say that this is a small enough difference that I'm not concerned about it.

137ben
2012-06-18, 04:42 PM
This is a very nice system, with a bit of tweaking it could be great.


Do you have a formula in mind of at what point it's "reasonable" to handwave some of the dice away, and how many?
The 3E ELH suggests using average dice rolls "some of the time..."
It depends on how many dice you are willing to roll. If you use an electronic dice roller, I wouldn't use a cutoff point. If you only own 10 d6s, perhaps a low cutoff point is in order

Well, let's run the numbers. Say you have Wealth 5, and have two items to sell: Price 4 and Price 2.

If you sell the low-priced item first, you come out ahead... but only by 0.02 Wealth, on average. So in this particular case, it seems that it's too small to actually matter much.

However, I would suggest additional alterations for one PC selling to another. Since it is possible for the total amount of wealth to change in a transaction, there is room for players to gain an advantage by repeatedly trading one item (though it could just as easily hurt them). For interacting with NPCs, this shouldn't be a problem though.


Since wealth has little relationship to combat power, the DM should feel pretty free to declare starting Wealth by fiat, depending on backstories and how socially influential he wants characters to be in the setting. I do intend to come up with a guideline in case the DM is ambivalent, but I haven't gotten that far yet. I might need to playtest with the Wealth system some more before I even have an idea of what Wealth score makes the players feel "wealthy."
Depends on the system. This is the aspect of your system which is NOT easily adaptable into any game. WBL is very important in every edition of D&D, but the value of gold changes dramatically. I am not familiar with CRE8, but perhaps this does work better in that system.

BarroomBard
2012-06-24, 07:15 PM
The game designer in me thinks you should think more about the dice. If you only care about an equal 50/50 split (you only care about a "ping" result or a "non-ping" result, and each are equally likely), why are you rolling d6's? You could just as easily flip coins. Maybe include an exploding die result on a 6? That's just me nit picking.

You mention limiting the number of "re-rolls" based on the size of the community. I'm not sure what you mean by re-rolls here. I think a solution to what you are trying to articulate there is having a cap on Price in certain locations. For example, a small hamlet might not be able to pay more than Price 3 for any goods, so you couldn't get huge windfalls from them.

Craft (Cheese)
2012-06-24, 08:26 PM
The game designer in me thinks you should think more about the dice. If you only care about an equal 50/50 split (you only care about a "ping" result or a "non-ping" result, and each are equally likely), why are you rolling d6's? You could just as easily flip coins.

Because d6's are the easiest dice to find and dice are much easier to roll en-masse than coins are to flip. I mean, you could do it with coins if you don't have any dice around, but doing it with d6's as the default is solid.

137ben
2012-06-25, 03:48 PM
You mention limiting the number of "re-rolls" based on the size of the community. I'm not sure what you mean by re-rolls here. I think a solution to what you are trying to articulate there is having a cap on Price in certain locations. For example, a small hamlet might not be able to pay more than Price 3 for any goods, so you couldn't get huge windfalls from them.
1. It is easier to roll a handful of d6s than to flip a lot of coins
2. What he meant by a "re-roll" was to say "hmm, I don't like that price, I'm going to walk out of the store and then walk into a different store and try again, to see if I can roll higher." You can't do this indefinitely, as there are only a finite number of merchants in the town. The bigger the community, the more "re-rolls" you can make.

Craft (Cheese)
2012-06-26, 12:10 PM
So I was just thinking of something: How are you handling expendables?

Let's say a Scroll of Fireball has Price 4, and our resident wizard has Wealth 20. Assuming you have to roll all the dice, the probability of getting a Scroll without having to spend any Wealth is 99.87%; If you only make the player roll 8 and assume 6 pings, this chance becomes 100%.

So this means you can easily get an effectively unlimited amount of any sufficiently low-priced resource. How do you plan to address this?

(Note, I'm not saying this is necessarily a flaw. A perfectly valid answer to how you're addressing it is "Not at all. Once you get high enough level, you no longer have to keep track of these things and always have as many potions/scrolls/etc. as you need.")

Absol197
2012-06-26, 01:14 PM
So I was just thinking of something: How are you handling expendables?

Let's say a Scroll of Fireball has Price 4, and our resident wizard has Wealth 20. Assuming you have to roll all the dice, the probability of getting a Scroll without having to spend any Wealth is 99.87%; If you only make the player roll 8 and assume 6 pings, this chance becomes 100%.

So this means you can easily get an effectively unlimited amount of any sufficiently low-priced resource. How do you plan to address this?

(Note, I'm not saying this is necessarily a flaw. A perfectly valid answer to how you're addressing it is "Not at all. Once you get high enough level, you no longer have to keep track of these things and always have as many potions/scrolls/etc. as you need.")

The easy answer to this is not wit the wealth system itself, but with other systems that are around it. A small village may have only 3 minor magic items available in the entire village, and every single scroll counts as one of those (going by the values listed in the DMG). Sure, your Wealth 20 wizard could buy them en masse with essentially no cost, but there are only so many available. To get as many as possible, he has to continue to travle to dozen of cities, and then he will eventually buy out the supply, and have to wait a while until it is replenished. Even in a massive metropolis, there will be a limit on how many on one item you can buy.

The other limiter is carrying capacity. Sure, bags of holding an whatnot exist, but even they have limits, and they themselves weigh a certain amount. Eventually, anyone will run out of carrying capacity.

Also, as I agree with the word "ping" not being very good, I've got a couple of suggestions: how do "success" and "credit" work for you?

Draz74
2012-06-28, 02:00 AM
This is a very nice system, with a bit of tweaking it could be great.
Thanks for the confidence, and thanks to all of you for commenting at all!


However, I would suggest additional alterations for one PC selling to another. Since it is possible for the total amount of wealth to change in a transaction, there is room for players to gain an advantage by repeatedly trading one item (though it could just as easily hurt them). For interacting with NPCs, this shouldn't be a problem though.
Hmmm, it's certainly important that the average Wealth gain when players give stuff back and forth to each other in a cycle is zero. You're right, players could gamble with that system and (if they get lucky) end up with a net gain of wealth out of thin air. What "alterations" do you suggest to curb such a gamble? I'm leaning towards just suggesting to the DM that the result of transactions like these doesn't change if the PCs do it repeatedly.


Depends on the system. This is the aspect of your system which is NOT easily adaptable into any game. WBL is very important in every edition of D&D, but the value of gold changes dramatically. I am not familiar with CRE8, but perhaps this does work better in that system.
You're right, if this system is going to be adapted to (e.g.) 3.5e, then Wealth By Level definitely needs to get incorporated. Any ideas about how to do that? I've tried to work on something for this in the past, but everything I've come up with has seemed pretty breakable.


The game designer in me thinks you should think more about the dice. If you only care about an equal 50/50 split (you only care about a "ping" result or a "non-ping" result, and each are equally likely), why are you rolling d6's? You could just as easily flip coins. Maybe include an exploding die result on a 6? That's just me nit picking.
I'm not necessarily committed to a 50/50 split. In fact, I'd love mathematical feedback about whether a 67/33 or 33/67 split would make the exponential nature of the Wealth score work out better.

That said, like others have chimed in, d6s are a lot more common in most groups than other sizes of dice -- and coins are a pain to flip compared to rolling d6s.


You mention limiting the number of "re-rolls" based on the size of the community. I'm not sure what you mean by re-rolls here. I think a solution to what you are trying to articulate there is having a cap on Price in certain locations. For example, a small hamlet might not be able to pay more than Price 3 for any goods, so you couldn't get huge windfalls from them.


2. What he meant by a "re-roll" was to say "hmm, I don't like that price, I'm going to walk out of the store and then walk into a different store and try again, to see if I can roll higher." You can't do this indefinitely, as there are only a finite number of merchants in the town. The bigger the community, the more "re-rolls" you can make.
You're both kind of right.

One Wealth roll can represent shopping in more than one store. However, if you're in a big city, it stands to reason that you're not going to be able to shop at every merchant in a day, for example. So ben, like you say, the re-rolls do represent broadening your search for the item you're looking for -- which is definitely easier to do in a bigger community.

However, the limit on re-rolls isn't an absolute limit; it's a limit on how often you can try to shop again (meaningfully). In addition to broadening your search, re-rolling represents allowing time for the local market to change. Even if you're in a small village, if you are having trouble purchasing a warhammer, if you wait a month the blacksmith might find that he has several serviceable hammers to spare, and he's willing to modify one as a warhammer and sell it to you cheap. So without going to a different community or changing your Wealth score, you could eventually get lucky and find success, just by waiting a while.

All that said, BarroomBard, community-based limits on what can be found are certainly reasonable too. You shouldn't be able to buy a Rod of Lordly Might in a typical little village, no matter how rich you are. I'm just torn about whether such limitations should be formulaic and price-based, or whether they should be left to DM fiat.


So I was just thinking of something: How are you handling expendables?

Let's say a Scroll of Fireball has Price 4, and our resident wizard has Wealth 20. Assuming you have to roll all the dice, the probability of getting a Scroll without having to spend any Wealth is 99.87%; If you only make the player roll 8 and assume 6 pings, this chance becomes 100%.

So this means you can easily get an effectively unlimited amount of any sufficiently low-priced resource. How do you plan to address this?

(Note, I'm not saying this is necessarily a flaw. A perfectly valid answer to how you're addressing it is "Not at all. Once you get high enough level, you no longer have to keep track of these things and always have as many potions/scrolls/etc. as you need.")

Yeah, I'm leaning towards the answer that once you're wealthy enough, you can indeed just assume that you have a nigh-infinite supply of healing potions. Makes sense, really.

It might require you to be really, really wealthy, though. Consumables will probably cost more (relative to mundane goods) in a Wealth system than they do in 3.5e. Hopefully, that will make consumables found in dungeon loot more exciting. (To me, buying healing potions in town before you head into a dungeon isn't really in the spirit of D&D.)


The easy answer to this is not wit the wealth system itself, but with other systems that are around it. A small village may have only 3 minor magic items available in the entire village, and every single scroll counts as one of those (going by the values listed in the DMG). Sure, your Wealth 20 wizard could buy them en masse with essentially no cost, but there are only so many available. To get as many as possible, he has to continue to travle to dozen of cities, and then he will eventually buy out the supply, and have to wait a while until it is replenished. Even in a massive metropolis, there will be a limit on how many on one item you can buy.
I like the realism you're invoking here, but again, I struggle to know how to quantify it rather than just saying "the DM should be reasonable about what's available."


The other limiter is carrying capacity. Sure, bags of holding an whatnot exist, but even they have limits, and they themselves weigh a certain amount. Eventually, anyone will run out of carrying capacity.[quote]
This should certainly be an issue for a super-wealthy character who buys hundreds of consumables. Sure, you own a near-infinite supply ... but many of them, you'll have to store back at your fortress, rather than carrying them with you!

[quote]Also, as I agree with the word "ping" not being very good, I've got a couple of suggestions: how do "success" and "credit" work for you?
I thought of "success," but it overlaps with too many other areas of most RPG rulesets (including mine).

"Credit" is a good suggestion, though. Maybe not perfect, but certainly better than "ping." Thanks!