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Old 04-06-2007, 03:10 AM   #1
Brandy
 
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Default Being rich without being Wealthy

I've had some trouble reconciling the following things in GURPS with regard to starting wealth and equipment:
1) Signature gear is awfully good deal compared to low levels of wealth, and no good at all compared to high ones.
2) Trading points for cash is pretty unsatisfactory, and always gives a lesser value than signature gear. . . and signature gear has cinematic plot protection!
3) The offhand comment in Basic about characters usually having access to only 20% of their by-the-book wealth for gear is widely ignored, due to the comment that follows which says that characters with an unsettled lifestyle can have all of it.

So, this is a house rule proposal to address these things. If you don't have a problem with those things, you probably won't like the house rule!

My assumptions:

1) Trading points for cash at character creation should give more starting money than buying an equivalent amount of wealth, because wealth has ongoing benefits.
2) Trading points for cash should at least be comparable to signature gear, because signature gear has plot protection. Wealthy characters should benefit more from points for cash than average or poor ones.
3) Both signature gear and points for cash should be viable alternatives to high levels of wealth at any point level.

Here's the basic idea:
1) Characters may *not* declare themselves to be "living an unsettled lifestyle" and get 100% of their starting wealth. (These character concepts can take a lower wealth level and trade points for cash at start-up). The 20% figure is absolute! The other 80% is what grants the ongoing benefits of wealth: increased earning at jobs, shorter working week, free status, and a higher wealth multiplier.

2) Points may be traded for cash at character creation. The amount of cash that a given number of points gives is based on the wealth formula(see below), which follows the same exponential progression that wealth itself does. Points for cash *are* modified by wealth level, and characters can buy both. Points for cash gives 100% of what the equivalent number of points gives in wealth.

3) Signature gear works just like points for cash, but it is not modified by wealth level. (Wealthy characters are better off paying points for cash than getting signature gear). Signature gear gives 200% of what the equivalent number of points gives in wealth, or twice what points for cash does. Each item of signature gear is a separate purchase.

Warning! Math Zone ahead!

The GURPS wealth table, page 25, uses an exponential formula to derive the wealth multiplier. Not all the values fall directly in line, but this is a good approximation for how much wealth a certain point total is supposed to provide. The formula is:
10 to the power of (points in wealth/ 25). Here's a comparison of the formula-driven values and the given values for a particular wealth level (WealthX is the by-the-book value for wealth multiplier and Formula is the value derived from the formula above).

Code:
Wealth Level       Points   WealthX   Formula
Dead Broke            -25       0        0.10
Poor                  -15     0.2        0.25
Struggling            -10     0.5        0.40
Average                 0       1        1.00
Comfortable            10       2        2.51
Wealthy                20       5        6.31
Very Wealthy           30      20       15.85
Filthy Rich            50     100      100.00
Multimillionaire I     75    1000     1000.00
Multimillionaire II   100   10000    10000.00
As you can see 10^(pts/25) is a good approximation of the GURPS wealth multiplier. I've used this formula to derive the points-for-cash values in the table below, which is for TL 3. Other TL tables can easily be derived from the formula:
(10^(pts/25) - 1) * Campaign starting wealth.
These values have been rounded to a convenient dollar amount.

Code:
Points for Cash TL/3
pts   $   pts   $   pts    $   pts    $   pts     $
 1  100    6  750    11 1750    16 3400    25    9K
 2  200    7  900    12 2000    17 3800    30   15K
 3  300    8 1050    13 2300    18 4250    35   24K
 4  450    9 1300    14 2650    19 4750    50  100K
 5  600   10 1500    15 3000    20 5300   100   10M
Code:
Signature Gear TL/3
pts   $   pts   $   pts    $   pts     $   pts     $
 1  200    6 1500    11 3500    16  6800    25   18K
 2  400    7 1800    12 4000    17  7600    30   30K
 3  600    8 2100    13 4600    18  8500    35   48K
 4  900    9 2600    14 5300    19  9500    50  200K
 5 1200   10 3000    15 6000    20 10300   100   20M
So, some possible character builds under this system at TL3:
John Plain has zero points in wealth. He starts with $200 in adventuring gear and Average Wealth. He has the necessary assets to work an ordinary job, and earns income in the game at the usual rate for regular working hours.

John Poor takes the Struggling disadvantage, but puts those 10 points into points for cash. He starts with $100 in adventuring gear and his points for cash give him another $750 (1500 * 0.5). He lacks the tools, memberships, or contacts to earn much at a job, but he has about twice as much adventuring gear as John Plain. This is probably a typical adventurer's build.

Malachi Arundel is wealthy (20 points) and has a lot of stuff. He starts with $1000 in gear for his wealth and takes 5 points in points for cash which give him another $3000 ($600 * 5).

Corwin Bearclaw is an adventurer with standard wealth. He a fine thrusting broadsword worth $2400. This will cost him 9 points as signature gear.
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Old 04-06-2007, 07:24 AM   #2
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Default Re: Being rich without being Wealthy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agemegos
In fact, these assets significantly offset costs of living. My $340,000 house and $36,000 car allow me to live a comfortable lifestyle without paying rent or meeting car repayments. I'm pretty sure that my standing in society is not lowered by the fact that everything is paid off. GURPS's attempts to squeeze all the material requirements of maintain status into current and its exclusion of productive investments from wealth just don't work.
Sure it does. You're using the wrong advantage.

Suppose you had to move to another city for work—but you decided to keep the house and rent it out. Even after expenses (property taxes, plus hiring a property management firm, plus insurance) you'd have a significant income stream from it. In GURPS terms, this is Independent Income. You could use it to pay part of your living expenses—for example, to pay your rent on a house or apartment in the new city. Note that Independent Income specifies that you intend to maintain the income source as a productive investment, rather than cashing it in.

Now, if you yourself are living in the house, then it frees up the part of your earnings that you would otherwise spend on rent to be spent on other stuff. So, in effect, it's still producing Independent Income. It doesn't appear directly as cash, but the rental value of the house acts as a kind of virtual wealth that displaces your cash flow into other channels, raising your standard of living in tthe process.

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Old 04-06-2007, 07:46 AM   #3
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Default Re: Being rich without being Wealthy

reply to 1 and 2)
Well signature gear should not be taken lightly. GM's know its prone to abuse and the plot protection is always up to the GM. I don't think you can, in fairness, say its better than points for cash because Signature gear requires the critical GM's approval.

reply to 3)
If you read up on what COL of a given status affords you in Banestorm you'll see right away that its hard to keep account of how 80% of your starting cash can afford all that.

Despite the fun of gear shopping, I personally, as a GM, just ad hoc assets to the PCs based on their wealth and status level (use the various references in Banestorm and T:ISW). It's less pea counting.
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Old 04-06-2007, 07:56 AM   #4
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Default Re: Being rich without being Wealthy

Quote:
Originally Posted by nik1979
reply to 1 and 2)reply to 3)
If you read up on what COL of a given status affords you in Banestorm you'll see right away that its hard to keep account of how 80% of your starting cash can afford all that.
I agree, but I see this differently. In my view, Status provides many things that have value but that aren't part of wealth. I don't make players pay for housing, clothing, or even ordinary transportation (like a riding horse or a used car). The 80% of wealth that the players can't easily spend represents (to me) the tools of gaining wealth -- guild memberships, relationships, even investments -- the things that allow or enable the gathering of more wealth.
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Old 04-06-2007, 08:08 AM   #5
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Default Re: Being rich without being Wealthy

This is a great house-rule, and you're logic on Wealth and Signature Gear is to me, on the spot. Sig. Gear already get's plot protection, so why should it, on top of that, be massively better at buying stuff than Wealth? And why should it become useless for larger point value items, such as spaceships?

Only problem I see. And probably GURPS writers as well. Is that while this formula would be perfect for me as a GM, I'd rather not overbare my players with mathematical formula when they hardly ever use sig gear beyond an uber sword.

I agree with Agemegos too, the ownership of stuff reduces your cost of living, maintainance and tax is much lower than rent or payment of parcels towards ownership.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nik1979
1 and 2)
Well signature gear should not be taken lightly. GM's know its prone to abuse and the plot protection is always up to the GM. I don't think you can, in fairness, say its better than points for cash because Signature gear requires the critical GM's approval.
This is irrelevant. If signature gear is allowed, it's allowed. If the GM vetos it, the discussion is moot. We can only discuss signature gear with the assumption that the GM is allowing it and granting it plot protection as per the RAW. Otherwise we'll either have to drop the point entirely or discuss every single possible house-rule.
The GM can veto anything that has no effect whatsoever in it's cost.
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Old 04-06-2007, 08:08 AM   #6
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Default Re: Being rich without being Wealthy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agemegos
Yes, but in the course of an important plot arc my intentions might change, and I might want to convert my $320 per week virtual independent income into $340,000 worth of wealth: which is worth a lot more points.
The way I would handle this, as your GM would be to allow you to convert your Wealth (the 80% of it that you don't have access to for gear) to cash and lose the Wealth advantage. I'd give you some percentage of the actual value, not the full 80% (though it would be a substantial percentage of it). The loss would represent real estate and bank fees, if you like.

I'd be interested to see how you think your current situation should be represented in GURPS. That might be more productive than calling Bill's suggestion an "ugly kludge". I'd be more than willing to give you another point of view on how that could be represented.
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Old 04-06-2007, 08:11 AM   #7
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Default Re: Being rich without being Wealthy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gudiomen
This is a great house-rule, and you're logic on Wealth and Signature Gear is to me, on the spot. Sig. Gear already get's plot protection, so why should it, on top of that, be massively better at buying stuff than Wealth? And why should it become useless for larger point value items, such as spaceships?
Thanks!

Quote:
Only problem I see. And probably GURPS writers as well. Is that while this formula would be perfect for me as a GM, I'd rather not overbare my players with mathematical formula when they hardly ever use sig gear beyond an uber sword.
I agree. This really needs to be more table driven. I wouldn't ever try and publish a formula with a complex exponent or logarithyms, but I wanted to make sure that the source of the tables was clear, so that interested parties could generate their own for other TL's.
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Old 04-06-2007, 08:57 AM   #8
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Default Re: Being rich without being Wealthy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agemegos
In GURPS as written? I'm Wealthy with <snip>
Okay. I'm going to have to admit that my build of that description would be very different from yours even under the RAW, but I don't have my books with me and even if I did I probably couldn't give you a satisfactory response without taking this thread very far adrift.

I'm afraid I'm going to have to renege and try and stick closer to the topic at hand -- balancing Signature Gear, Wealth, and Extra Cash.
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Old 04-06-2007, 08:58 AM   #9
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Default Re: Being rich without being Wealthy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agemegos
Cash is not a form of wealth?
By Wealth I mean the points that you have in the wealth advantage -- you'd lose the advantage of Wealth (or some portion of it) and get spendable currency for gear.
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Old 04-06-2007, 10:18 AM   #10
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Default Re: Being rich without being Wealthy

Signature gear: pro: plot protection and a nice return on your points. con: it's ONE thing, or one type of thing.

Points for cash: pro: totally flexible and fungible. Need not be converted directly into equipment at the time, but can be kept as liquid and acceptable trading gear. buy anything that can be had for money. Con: slightly less bang for the points.


So, in my mind, the reason signature gear buys more than points for cash is that the designers probably decided something like this:

You get X dollars in value for cash.

for Sig Gear, you get a limitation: 'Only for one thing' and an advantage 'plot protection.' the designers must have felt the limints on your choices of what you get for that point expenditure is worth more than the fact that by and large it won't be taken away from you.
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