Re: Wealth without Loot (Was: Qualitytable)

From: Alex Ferguson <abf_at_...>
Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2001 00:10:27 +0100 (BST)

> > I don't see where that gets us. Firstly it seems artificial; secondly
> > it doesn't solve the basic problem. "Accept these 20 cows as a gift!
> > No, I _insist_ that you give me no more than a token counter-gift,
> > you really do deserve them, honoured kinsman!"
> Let me just make perfectly clear that I *am* advocating dropping the "sell
> for 1/10 value" rule.

I come here not to defend _that_ rule... But I do think a "rule" (or more like the thing, a guideline) for that situation is a good idea.

> Wealth was treated as a special case for "cementing"
> in 1st ed. I'm suggesting not doing so.

If you're saying it's in principle impossible to "cement" wealth at all, that's rather making it a special case in the other direction. (Making an example of it?)

> So my Hero gets 20 cows. What can I do with them 'narratively'?
> Add them to my herd (increasing my "wealth")
> Give them away to other people
> Slaughter them for a feast
> Watch as the Bad Neighbors raid them away from me
> In HP Terms I can:
> increase my "Wealth" ability
> increase a "Relationship" ability
> increase my "Eat like a Pig" ability
> do nothing
> some of each.
> So why should one option (Increase wealth) be treated differently than any
> of the others?

Cos it's natural to give some at least rough and ready quantification of the "wealth" case, while it's pretty imponderable to do so in the other cases, for one thing. You may wish to take rough and ready account of this, though: if someone with a tiny number of cattle gave away (or ate!) lots of cows I'd be inclined to give him "free points" in relationships and/or generosity and the like -- much more so than if someone with a huge herd giving the same relative number, in fact. But that's be purely "by hunch", of course.

> It shouldn't matter *to game play* if I add 1 cow or 20 to
> my herd, or what size my herd was to begin with.

And why the heck shouldn't it? You say this like it's some game-play article of faith.

> If I add one cow to my herd
> of 500, and spend 1HP on the increase, I get +1 Wealth. If I add 20 cows to
> my herd of 5, and spend 1HP on it, I get +1 Wealth.

And then he asks what the problem is...

I dislike this because it exalts the "game mechanic" currency above (almost 'instead of') the game-world notion of the thing being measured. (At this point people leap from the bushes to cry "simulationist!", conveniently ignoring the skads of "worse" simulationism all through the rules.)

> Let me see if I can state your point:
> Your point seems to be "We need to know exactly how much an Wealth Rating
> increase x Loot provides if cemented".

Except without the "exactly", the "provides", or the "if cemented". Or to be more specific: I'm not suggesting doing this mechanistically; and I'm hedging my bets as to how this should, or should not, relate to either the "cementing" or the "narratively related increases" rules. (I think basically I feel in need of something other than those as bipolar extremes, as I mentioned in reply to Benedict.)

> You also want the value of x loot to
> vary according to the Current Wealth rating of the owner.


> My answer is:
> 1. Loot is not an item to be cemented into Wealth.
> 2. Wealth is an ability like any others, and increases at the normal HP cost
> for an ability.

My answer is: hrm.

> 3. Acquiring Loot (any amount) gives the player an reason to pay a "related"
> HP cost to increase his Wealth rating.

Which clearly trivialises any consideration of how much it actually was, something you think the characters certainly, and the players intuitively, might care about...

> 4. If the narrator decides that x loot can't sustain the wealth increase
> that you propose to buy, then discuss it with him

This is the point we seem to be crucially "missing each other" on. I'm not in any way attempting to supplant "the narrator decides" in such cases. I'm suggesting a basis for _helping_ the narrator make such judgements on a vaguely consisent basis (if she feels in need of help, or inclined to be 'consistent', which I readily accept many will not -- easy for her to ignore the mechanic, much harder for someone feeling unstuck without it to invent it from first principles.

> 5. If you want to cement a particular item of that loot, go ahead. Such an
> Item can be used to Augment wealth, but is not considered a normal part of
> the Wealth rating.

I don't disgree with that.

> > > So we naturally gravitate to "How much is that cow in the pasture?" in
> > > monetary terms.
> >
> > I'd be happy enough with a first-order approximation at "how _many_
> > are those cows in the pasture..."
> Do you mean "how many cows do I have if my Wealth is 15" ?
> or "How many cow-worths of stuff do I have if my Wealth is 15" ?

I want something that could be understood as giving a ball-park notion of either of those numbers, when seen in the correct context. (e.g. a carl with a wealth of 15 likely has them mostly "in cows" (pretty poor herd, evidently), whereas a Pavisite low-life might have it entirely in "nebulous assets" (like favours, credit juggling, and you-don't-want-to-ask-too-much).)

> or "How many cows can I raid from that pasture" ?


> The answer is "it doesn't matter except as a narrative convenience". I
> wouldn't tell a player "This guy has 17w2 wealth", or even "He has a herd of
> 2,043 cows". I'd say "His herds cover the hills and dales, his clothing is
> exquisite, and his weapons are of the finest quality. You could fit your
> entire house into his bedroom." The first sentence gives an idea that the
> guy is rich. The second puts him in relation to the hero - "much richer than
> you". Just as we don't like to give concrete damage in describing combat, we
> don't want to give concrete figures of wealth, because the game is not meant
> to work on the concrete level, it is built to be more free-form. "Yes, but"
> is a valid response - "yes, but it was only a scratch"; "yes, but you
> grabbed the scrubbiest and weakest cows".

If it happens to be _my_ wealth, though, I might want, as a player, a little more intuition as to how it's made up. Abstraction is well and good in its place, but I don't want to be _forced_ to ignore something cos the game designer thought it 'wasn't interesting enough' for the median case of likely play.

> > (I sensed that Julian was giving
> > up a hostage to fortune to the Revolting Conservative Tribesman when
> > he framed his table in "coins"... "New-fangled decadent Dara Happan
> > nonsense!")
> Except that people have said that they want a Universal Economic Unit (the
> UCU, instead of the ECU) for Hero Wars, and that was the reason
> coined/printed money was invented.

Yeah, well, "people" say a lot of strange things...

> > > Yes, perhaps "Wealth" was the wrong word to use for the ability of
> "Getting
> > > stuff peacefully from others around you". Would it be better if we
> called it
> > > "Personal Worth" or "Influence"?
> >
> > Not given the "buying stuff" rules no, not really. I can buy stuff
> > using my "loot" in principle too, after all.
> Yes, and you'll notice that what you buy does not increase your Wealth.

This seems like an unsatisfying artifice to me.

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