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cosmicfish 12-10-2012 01:00 PM

Gear rich, money poor
 
I am helping someone make a character who fits a classic niche - an impoverished starship Captain in the vein of Han Solo, Malcolm Reynolds, and many others. I know this has been discussed previously but could not find a definitive answer, so let's try again for the general case:

What is the appropriate advantage and cost for a character who owns some item(s) worth substantially more than their Wealth level would indicate?

This can apply not only to the impoverished Captain but also the peasant Knight, warrior monk, and mech jockey, individuals who may possess items worth far more than their desired Wealth. The overall wealth level is often an intrinsic part of the character description - these are NOT wealthy people and often have low status, but they possess a ship or suit of armor or magic sword or vehicle that is worth a big pile of cash.

Wealth provides not only starting cash but also Status and the possibility of future earnings - if the character is Filthy Rich to afford the ship, even if you negate the status you still have someone capable of earning big bucks with a job, and that is not the case for these characters.

Trading cp for money and Signature Gear provide greater initial wealth without the other hassles, but it is scaled to the starting wealth for the TL, which means it progresses much, much slower than Wealth - by the time you had spent enough points to get a ship, you've used up every point in the party!!

I would rather not do this by fiat, since there are likely to be other situations where different characters will want to do this to different extents - character 1 wants a sword worth $X, character 2 wants a powerstone worth $Y, and character 3 is happy with the regular wealth rules thankyouverymuch.

Any suggestions?

Stormcrow 12-10-2012 01:16 PM

Re: Gear rich, money poor
 
You haven't found a definitive answer because there isn't one. The problem is that in the sources you cite, spaceships are treated like the economic equivalent of cargo vans. They don't cost millions or billions of dollars to buy, just thousands.

However, these costs are unrealistic, and rules like those in GURPS Spaceships don't handle them. You have to unrealistically force down the price of spaceships. If in a realistic, modern setting you could hand-wave average Wealth as including a heavily mortgaged house, in a cinematic space setting you can hand-wave average Wealth as including an old rust-bucket of a ship.

Anaraxes 12-10-2012 01:17 PM

Re: Gear rich, money poor
 
Scale SigGear like Wealth, and enforce the interpretation that you're buying individual items. For any single item, the more points you spend, the more cash the next point is worth. You can get one thing worth tens of millions, but not ten millions of things, for a given CP cost.

Depending on the setting, ships might not actually be all that expensive. I've seen this argued for Firefly, for instance. Lots of classic Heinlein puts ships within the reach of families, no worse than a real-life house or car.

The PCs might not actually own their ship. The classic Traveller sources of ships were (a) mortgaged, so the bank is the owner, or (b) old loaners for detached duty scouts, so the scout service was the owner (Patron). And variations, campaigns in which you're active duty in a service, so that Patron is providing the transport. One variant of (a) is the 40-year-old, paid-off ship, which barely runs as it is, and so isn't worth anything like the price new.

Wandering further afield, there are those settings in which the ship itself is a character. You might buy this as Ally (or another sort of Patron), or just not have a CP cost, any more than you charge PCs for every NPC with which they associate, or for each other.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Stormcrow
these costs are unrealistic

And how do you know that, in the absence of any setting details or technology? Settings with real-world, modern-day realistic spaceships are not settings where a few PCs own one and are knocking about it in. On the flip side, applying the word "realistic" to, say, Star Wars when debating only the price of the Millenium Falcon seems like a strangely selective set of reality blinders. Why is a ship necessarily expensive? Certainly, there's a lot of settings where that's true, but a certain arrangement of metal and plastic doesn't necessarily cost hundreds of millions of dollars just because it's IN SPACE!

Dinadon 12-10-2012 01:18 PM

Re: Gear rich, money poor
 
The answer is a higher level Wealth. Wealth and money are different things. Someone with expensive gear has spent all their wealth on their gear, and their wealth is now tied up in their gear. Combine this a job whose wealth level is lower than the person's wealth level, and the need to spend money to maintain your assets and you have someone who is making do but has something expensive.

For spaceships you should read Spaceships:2 since this covers this in depth.

Stormcrow 12-10-2012 01:25 PM

Re: Gear rich, money poor
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Dinadon (Post 1489448)
The answer is a higher level Wealth. Wealth and money are different things.

Wealth and money are indeed different things, which is exactly why higher Wealth is not the answer. Wealth is your social ability to accumulate buying power. Han Solo or Mal Reynolds aren't Wealthy at all; they just own old ships that serve the same dramatic function and economic niche as cargo trucks. You don't want Mal to be able to get higher-paying jobs; you want him to be Poor and having trouble getting a good job, but still have his own ship.

JP42 12-10-2012 01:39 PM

Re: Gear rich, money poor
 
PK has a very well thought-out variant on his MyGURPS site:

http://www.mygurps.com/h_money.html?p=ih&v=0

Allows for some very large capital purchases at character creation without wealth necessarily getting in the way.

Randover 12-10-2012 01:48 PM

Re: Gear rich, money poor
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Dinadon (Post 1489448)
The answer is a higher level Wealth. Wealth and money are different things. Someone with expensive gear has spent all their wealth on their gear, and their wealth is now tied up in their gear. Combine this a job whose wealth level is lower than the person's wealth level, and the need to spend money to maintain your assets and you have someone who is making do but has something expensive.

For spaceships you should read Spaceships:2 since this covers this in depth.

I could only second this one + sometimes Signiture gear protection is nice. If the story is about group travelling with this ship. GM might want to give the captain some extra points for extra responsibility. Resposibility like tracking the fuel, funding repairs. This bonus is only for player that does the book keeping the person doesn't has to be the in game captain. The player could fit the role of chief engineer pretty well. If GM does the book keeping nobody gets the extra points. Its plot device. If player waste there ship it could as well end the campaign. "These are the voyages of starship Enterprise." Without enterprise it is meaningless.

the_matrix_walker 12-10-2012 02:00 PM

Re: Gear rich, money poor
 
I recommend defining your ship as a HEADQUARTERS (Supers p.85) and apply "Special Abilities, +100%" for a Starship (+50% for space, +50% for Mobile).

Alternatively, you can take your ship as an ally or patron depending on your point levels.

Anthony 12-10-2012 02:02 PM

Re: Gear rich, money poor
 
Up to 20 points, sig gear is the way to go. Beyond that, you tend to need wealth, but any character with huge amounts of gear and a low wealth level needs to explain how they can't either turn that gear into wealth, or leverage that gear to create wealth.

Manycubes 12-10-2012 02:06 PM

Re: Gear rich, money poor
 
Just give the character the equipment and then start imposing Disadvantages to it until you’re satisfied.

For instance the Millennium Falcon had “Enemy” Hut bounty hunters\creditors were after it. The “Cursed” disadvantage as it became unreliable at the most inopportune times ("Don't worry, she'll hold together . . . You hear me, baby? Hold together!"), and the “Unique” (I don’t have a definition of this one so I am just assuming) disadvantage ("I've made a lot of special modifications myself.")

You could probably add “Age” (increased maintenance cost), “Appearance” (“She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid.”) and “Reputation” (First as a smuggler ship, and later as a known rebel ship).
I’d create at least one new disadvantage called “Coveted” ” (“You've never heard of the Millennium Falcon? It's the ship that made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs." “Let’s steal it”). I’m sure others could think of more.

Serenity had similar problems.

You could do this with any extraordinary piece of equipment, thus providing balance as well as springboards for even more interesting storylines.


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