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Old 07-01-2017, 08:47 AM   #1
Lord Dynel
 
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Default What's my counterpoint for this observation about advantages/disadvantages?

I'll start off by saying that if this has been addressed in the past, please accept my apologies. I've looked for similar topics but came up empty handed.

First, a little bit of context: I was running a character creation session not too long ago for a 150/-50 modern game. I had this (paraphrased, but pretty accurate) exchange with a player.

Player: So, are the wealth advantages available?

Me: Yes, but you only have 10 points left, so you can take "Comfortable." Or you can take disadvantages.

A couple of minutes go by - the player is looking thoughtful and flipping pages)

Player: So, at this point, the only way I can be "Filthy Rich" is to be a jealous paraplegic?

Me: Well, that's not the only way. You can dial back some of your points to fit "Filthy Rich" into your build.

Player: My point is that just because I'm filthy rich, I can't be as capable as the random guy down the street, or the other PCs, or I have to have things wrong with me?

Me: ...

I didn't know how to address this. The player understood the rules and was okay continuing character creation, but he stresses that he has a valid point. In a way, I think he does, too.

My only counterpoint was that wealth is a sort-of "power" and that to have a more believable or rational use of that power (like his vision of being rich, charming, educated, etc.) would necessitate a higher point-level game. We are playing nosy reporters and overworked civil servants, not playboys and power mongers. Of course, I didn't say it so succinctly to the player weeks ago. I said that in the confines of the point level that we're using, that type of character isn't possible.

What do you all think?
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Old 07-01-2017, 09:28 AM   #2
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Default Re: What's my counterpoint for this observation about advantages/disadvantages?

I think your friend's unrealistic result was due to trying to minimize the number of disadvantages on their character sheet.

You can get -50 points by taking Bully* [-10], Greed* [-15], Low Pain Threshold [-10], Pacifism (Reluctant Killer) [-5], Selfish* [-5], and Stubbornness [-5]. In my opinion, a Filthy Rich person possessing all of these disadvantages would be quite plausible.

For your game about nosy reporters, Trickster* [-15] may be a good replacement for Bully and Stubbornness. This will make it easier for the rest of the party to get along with the character. Trickster would also explain why this Filthy Rich individual is investigating dangerous criminals with his nosy reporter friends.

Last edited by Emerald Cat; 07-02-2017 at 01:32 PM. Reason: Fixing a typo.
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Old 07-01-2017, 09:34 AM   #3
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Default Re: What's my counterpoint for this observation about advantages/disadvantages?

Points are an overall measure of capability across all types of challenges. A filthy rich PC has a ton of options open to him, even if he is wheelchair-bound.

For example,

I had a player create a sort-of "summoner" for a DF game. He decided to make the stereotypical obnoxious rich-boy who has gotten by on his money, of which he has lots. The PC had only low levels of Sword Sport (he was versed in courtly shows of skill, not real combat) and lacked any other combat usefulness. He did, however, have money enough to hire tons of hirelings and justify Ally Groups for his personal staff - two of whom carried him through the dungeon on a sedan chair! He was at least as effective in combat as anyone else because he could snap his fingers and half a dozen guards would swarm opponents. In a social context, he had money enough to bribe anyone who was bribeable, and as a result of his money had access to Contacts. That he chose not to use his legs didn't change the fact that he sat on his butt while his money overcame challenges.

Now that was a TL3 game where he couldn't buy firearms he could shoot from his sedan chair (and he wouldn't have if he could - that was the Help's job!). He certainly couldn't hire computer analysts and researchers to foil plots, armies of lawyers to make the Enemy's life a legal hell, scientists to develop superscience gadgets, or even buy cutting edge powered exoskeletons to help with the no-walking thing.

You'll find that the higher the TL, the more powerful Wealth becomes. Even at TL8, it's got scary implications (Hey team, I bought us a tank!), but it gets even crazier at TL9+
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Old 07-01-2017, 09:41 AM   #4
DouglasCole
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Default Re: What's my counterpoint for this observation about advantages/disadvantages?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Dynel View Post
Player: My point is that just because I'm filthy rich, I can't be as capable as the random guy down the street, or the other PCs, or I have to have things wrong with me?

Me: My only counterpoint was that wealth is a sort-of "power" and that to have a more believable or rational use of that power (like his vision of being rich, charming, educated, etc.) would necessitate a higher point-level game. ... I said that in the confines of the point level that we're using, that type of character isn't possible.

What do you all think?
Pretty much nailed it. Wealth is really powerful in modern games. The player can (and usually will) bankroll the other characters, have easy and high end transport, can pay to access things others can't even dream of getting, get th best guns, cars, electronics, armor, etc.

And for really high levels of wealth, they won't even tax their ability to buy stuff.

At a constant point value, the high cost of Filthy Rich does mean making sacrifices. If he wants it all, he wants to be a higher point value character than the group agreed on.

So yeah, he can be Filthy Rich, have great stats, be very skilled, and have only a few character-defining disadvantages.

That person is vaguely called a well-adjusted Batman. Or Tony Stark.

(though yes, both have pretty epic disads)

But the point (ahem) is that to as good as everyone else AND Filthy Rich means you're higher points than everyone else. That's how GURPS and point-buy works.
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Old 07-01-2017, 12:15 PM   #5
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Default Re: What's my counterpoint for this observation about advantages/disadvantages?

Yeah, his "point" smells badly of "But I want MORE BETTER stuff than everyone else". It's like complaining about how you got DX 14 IQ 14 like everyone else and now you can't afford ST 18 too (instead of the ST 10 everyone else settled for). Well, no, of course not. You spent the points on IQ and DX instead. Feel free to shuffle things around to get whatever you prioritize.

Unless he's proposing that everyone should be wealthy, at which point that's asking the campaign limit to be raised for that mandatory advantage. Which is legit if you want to do that, of course.
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Old 07-01-2017, 12:23 PM   #6
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Default Re: What's my counterpoint for this observation about advantages/disadvantages?

It's also worth noting a few things about point totals:
  • They change in play (by earning CP, by earning advantages and such, by getting new disadvantages)
  • PCs will start slowly diverging in point total depending on what happens to them (and how many sessions they miss)
  • You can start the PCs at mixed point levels - but I don't recommend it unless you're sure there won't be bad feelings.
    • The point budget exists as an approximate measure of what the PCs can do, but it's most critical function is to get players to agree that they're on a fair, equal starting level.
    • It also gives people an agreed upon standard to judge when things are getting unfair.
    • There's lots of ways to make things unfair even when everyone sticks to the same point totals/disad limit, but point totals have the advantage of being a quick, concrete thing. They're sort of a crude "first pass" filter.
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Old 07-01-2017, 01:08 PM   #7
Lord Dynel
 
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Default Re: What's my counterpoint for this observation about advantages/disadvantages?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emerald Cat View Post
I think your friend's unrealistic results was due to trying to minimize the number of disadvantages on their character sheet.

You can get -50 points by taking Bully* [-10], Greed* [-15], Low Pain Threshold [-10], and Pacifism (Reluctant Killer) [-5], Selfish* [-5], and Stubbornness [-5]. In my opinion, a Filthy Rich person possessing all of these disadvantages would be quite plausible.
Yeah, I think that was his point, actually. He was musing that he couldn't be kind, well-educated, capable, and rich due to the constraints of his character points. The only way he this would be achieved, without a boatload of disadvantages, would be a higher point total game.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
Yeah, his "point" smells badly of "But I want MORE BETTER stuff than everyone else". It's like complaining about how you got DX 14 IQ 14 like everyone else and now you can't afford ST 18 too (instead of the ST 10 everyone else settled for). Well, no, of course not. You spent the points on IQ and DX instead. Feel free to shuffle things around to get whatever you prioritize.

Unless he's proposing that everyone should be wealthy, at which point that's asking the campaign limit to be raised for that mandatory advantage. Which is legit if you want to do that, of course.
Truthfully, Bruno, I don't believe his intent was that he wanted more stuff than everyone else. I talk up GURPS on its ability to have, more-or-less, pretty realistic characters when you really want to. I think his intent was to dispute that claim instead of wanting more "stuff" for his character. He did mention at one point that being rich should afford him better education, the ability to have people train him skills and abilities, and not necessarily have to be a cripple or an a**hole in exchange for that. I think closer to his exact words were "why should I be less educated or less trained just because I'm rich? Or why do I have to be a cripple or an a-hole in exchange for it?"

And I'm of two minds, to be honest. One hand, I can see his point. Sometimes you have to be stubborn or have one eye to get those much needed points for the options you really want. But the other part of me knows that the points are a balancing factor. And disads give a good opportunity to flesh out your character, too, just like advantages do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DouglasCole View Post
Pretty much nailed it. Wealth is really powerful in modern games. The player can (and usually will) bankroll the other characters, have easy and high end transport, can pay to access things others can't even dream of getting, get th best guns, cars, electronics, armor, etc.

And for really high levels of wealth, they won't even tax their ability to buy stuff.

At a constant point value, the high cost of Filthy Rich does mean making sacrifices. If he wants it all, he wants to be a higher point value character than the group agreed on.

So yeah, he can be Filthy Rich, have great stats, be very skilled, and have only a few character-defining disadvantages.

That person is vaguely called a well-adjusted Batman. Or Tony Stark.

(though yes, both have pretty epic disads)

But the point (ahem) is that to as good as everyone else AND Filthy Rich means you're higher points than everyone else. That's how GURPS and point-buy works.
My thoughts exactly, sir!
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Old 07-01-2017, 02:06 PM   #8
Anaraxes
 
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Default Re: What's my counterpoint for this observation about advantages/disadvantages?

CP are a completely meta game construct, and have nothing to do with realism or the internal logic of the setting. It has to do with players, fairness, and trying for interesting tradeoffs in character design, rather than just throwing in a bunch of Mary Sues that can do everything and have no flaws.

The statement "just because I'm filthy rich, I can't be as capable as the random guy down the street" is half right. The half that's wrong is that "the random guy down the street" doesn't have 150 CP in the first place. (Normal people are more like 25 by RAW.) The PC already has 125 extra CP just because they're a PC -- which also has nothing to do with realism.

But that aside, there's still a tradeoff because making choices in the face of limited resources is what games are all about.

One classic example would be a character that was some sort of super-race -- maybe an ogre warrior, because ogres are all naturally huge and tough, or an elven wizard, because elves are all smart and magical and have lived hundreds of years, giving them lots of time to study. If the characters pay for all those advantages, then among the PCs, the ogres are either very unskilled by comparison, or sell down their natural attributes making them really small and wimpy ogres. (This point can even be used as a reason why that character would waste his time hanging around with inferior humans. The real ogres laugh at his pathetic weakness, but at least the humans are still impressed.) If the GM ignores racial Advantages because having such makes that race look bad (in PC terms) rather than better, then it's free points, and no one would ever been the (presumably normal) human. (Then you wind up having to create exactly equal race packages, point-wise, which contradicts the initial assumpton that there's some super-race available as a PC. All races are equally super.)

But the notion that the PCs are a reflection of the average member of their species is the incorrect one. In most games, PCs are unusual heroes. They're already breaking the statistics -- in cinematic games, often by huge or impossible margins. There are occasionally games where the humans are supposed to be utterly normal (usually some sort of horror or stranger-in-a-strange-land scenario), but those are the exception in RPGs. (People get to be normal every day. They don't need to play an adventure game to be normal all over again.)

So the player's argument doesn't make sense because its assumptions are twice wrong. The tradeoff faced in character design isn't reflective of most inhabitants of the world, or an actual in-setting, visible, law of nature, and so can't be accused of conflicting with the in-setting laws of nature; and whatever laws of nature those are don't even apply to the PCs in the first place, which is one reason that they are PCs involved in the interesting and heroic stories rather than being one of the countless faceless mooks of the setting.
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Old 07-01-2017, 02:08 PM   #9
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Default Re: What's my counterpoint for this observation about advantages/disadvantages?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Dynel View Post
Truthfully, Bruno, I don't believe his intent was that he wanted more stuff than everyone else. I talk up GURPS on its ability to have, more-or-less, pretty realistic characters when you really want to. I think his intent was to dispute that claim instead of wanting more "stuff" for his character. He did mention at one point that being rich should afford him better education, the ability to have people train him skills and abilities, and not necessarily have to be a cripple or an a**hole in exchange for that. I think closer to his exact words were "why should I be less educated or less trained just because I'm rich? Or why do I have to be a cripple or an a-hole in exchange for it?"
"Realistically" not everyone is built on the same point budget. Arnold Schwarzenegger is just worth more than you. Having everyone in a campaign start at the same point total is only a game balance concern.
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Old 07-01-2017, 02:12 PM   #10
Andrew Hackard
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Default Re: What's my counterpoint for this observation about advantages/disadvantages?

Yes, the question to ask is "Why is this Filthy Rich person just starting out as an adventurer? What has been holding her back?"

Filthy Rich can be a campaign derailer if the GM doesn't account for it - "Oh, our HQ just got firebombed? I can have a cleanup squad here in 20 minutes, and in the meantime I'm hiring armored trucks to transport us to my secret backup HQ." It's reasonable to put some brakes on it unless all the PCs are equally capable in other ways.
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