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Old 12-10-2012, 02:00 PM   #1
cosmicfish
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Default 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?
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:16 PM   #2
Stormcrow
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Ronkonkoma, NY
Default 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.

Last edited by Stormcrow; 12-10-2012 at 02:20 PM.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:17 PM   #3
Anaraxes
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Default 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!

Last edited by Anaraxes; 12-10-2012 at 02:22 PM.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:18 PM   #4
Dinadon
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default 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.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:25 PM   #5
Stormcrow
 
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Default Re: Gear rich, money poor

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinadon View Post
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.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:39 PM   #6
JP42
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Default 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.
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Old 12-10-2012, 03:00 PM   #7
the_matrix_walker
 
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Join Date: May 2005
Location: Lynn, MA
Default 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.
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Old 12-10-2012, 03:24 PM   #8
Dinadon
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default Re: Gear rich, money poor

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormcrow View Post
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.
That's fine when your Wealth is abstract, but when 90% of that Wealth is a single asset, your only way to accumulate buying power is to use that asset. Nor would I put Han or Mal down as those with a steady job. They finds jobs they can do, and then get paid if they are completed, assuming they don't just get screwed over by the client. And all without going against their morals. So for them it's more about not getting paid regularly rather than getting paid little.

So long as necessities cost close to income you are probably going to be poor irrespective of amounts involved, and if there's only one place where you are able to spend any excess then extravagance isn't going to happen that often.
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Old 12-10-2012, 03:44 PM   #9
Lamech
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Default Re: Gear rich, money poor

I would alter sig gear to be 50% of starting wealth not standard campaign wealth. Then you just grab a lot of wealth and put it all in gear.

Finally, you don't take the skills for a high paying job. (Or if you do get those skills you don't take the job.)

Bam! Lot of gear, low wealth.
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Old 12-10-2012, 04:09 PM   #10
Ulzgoroth
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Default Re: Gear rich, money poor

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinadon View Post
That's fine when your Wealth is abstract, but when 90% of that Wealth is a single asset, your only way to accumulate buying power is to use that asset. Nor would I put Han or Mal down as those with a steady job. They finds jobs they can do, and then get paid if they are completed, assuming they don't just get screwed over by the client. And all without going against their morals. So for them it's more about not getting paid regularly rather than getting paid little.

So long as necessities cost close to income you are probably going to be poor irrespective of amounts involved, and if there's only one place where you are able to spend any excess then extravagance isn't going to happen that often.
Well for one thing, if you're not able to earn the Wealth-appropriate income, you're not getting your points-worth for Wealth.

For another, spending 90% of your Wealth on a spaceship hardly precludes earning pay appropriate to your Wealth level. Just drop a few points on an appropriate job skill, point out that you've already got the Wealth on your sheet, and go. Now, the difficulty might be if your personal earnings at your wealth level don't look so good when you're also paying upkeep on the ship. But that means that running the ship has to produce substantially more revenue than a Wealth-level job would.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamech View Post
I would alter sig gear to be 50% of starting wealth not standard campaign wealth. Then you just grab a lot of wealth and put it all in gear.

Finally, you don't take the skills for a high paying job. (Or if you do get those skills you don't take the job.)

Bam! Lot of gear, low wealth.
And you've gotten a grand total of [0] points for your poverty compared to someone who decided they were okay with earning money after all.
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