Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Modern Setting Thoughts: Resources

I've been thinking about how to handle resources in Eight Kingdoms, and in modern games in general. So while that pot of coffee brews, let's talk.

In general, I think individual dollar amounts are too difficult to track in a modern game. It is one of those cases where our collective suspension of disbelief cracks, I think, and hell if I want to assign a monetary value to everything worth anything in modern society. I think World of Darkness and d20 Modern has the right idea in treating your wealth as a statistic; the problem is applying that idea to the way Savage Worlds handles dice - it's a wonderful abstraction for cinematic combat, where a lucky punch can fell a giant, but as a grad student I can't possibly roll my d4 Wealth die buy myself a flak jacket and a nice car. It's just not going to happen.

So I am looking at treating Wealth like a derived statistic: If your wealth (which I am going to call Resources, because it can represent online bargain-hunting, credit, permits, and calling in favors) is higher than the object in question, you can afford it. If your wealth is equal to the object, you can, but it's going to cost you some Resources temporarily - buying that battle-ready greataxe is good for the hunt, but it sure set you back. If the object requires more Resources than you have, then you can't afford it.

Wealth is ranked, arbitrarily, 1 to 12, with 1 meaning no income or place to live (or it could mean you're in high school and everything you own belongs to your parents) and 12 being an independently wealthy millionaire who doesn't really have to do anything. Most office jobs probably merit a Resource of 5-6.

I like this so much that I also want to use it to create Contacts. I talked about contacts earlier - they're how you track your sanity. Contacts are rated on the same scale, with 1 being an unfriendly environment and 12 indicating that at least one person in the environment would die to protect you.

Each Contact is a single NPC that represents a group of people (usually). A Contact is a group that can assist you in some way. Example contacts include Coworkers (represented by your buddy Terry), the Regular Gaming Group (represented by your GM Arny), your Family (represented by your wife Jessica), and the Police (Uncle Dave, who just made Detective). The other PCs don't count as contacts, and each Contact is be tracked independently.

As stated, each Contact is rated 1-12, and using them is penalized the lower the number is. Say you get pulled over for speeding, which is fine, but you don't want the officer to see you have an arrow in your leg, and you REALLY don't want him to see what you've got tied up in the trunk. Good thing you're Uncle Dave's favorite nephew (Contacts 8), so all it takes is one name dropped and you're off with a warning. If you had Contacts 1 for the Police, it might take some quick thinking (Persuasion -4) in addition to the name dropping.

Resources and Contacts are interchangeable, to a point. I am playing with the idea that you can lower one to raise the other, temporarily, but doing that puts a strain on either your friendships or your finances.

Now, to make things more interesting: You have a finite number of points at character creation to allot to both Contacts and Resources. Now, it sure SEEMS like a great idea to put a lot of points in Resources and just be a trust funded orphan without any friends. Unfortunately, doing so penalizes all your interactions with other people because you don't have social skills. I think it will probably also have an effect on your character's Channeling abilities, because if you have the mental block that you don't need other people, well then, you sure don't need fictional people from another reality (and one wonders how this character would have gotten into gaming anyway).

I haven't worked out the details exactly, of course, but I'm happy with the idea of it, and I'm always accepting thoughts.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Generation Gap

Alright, so I had so much fun doing the last Generation Gap that I'm doing another one.

This time, we've got a lady Dwarf, who I see is Arcane Resistant. I'll go ahead and call her Dana. A raven haired lass with pale blue eyes, a bit on the smallish side, Dana looks a bit more like a halfling than a dwarf. Dana's into her adult years, not quite middle aged, pushing sixty.

Dana was born to a pair of entertainers – her father was a musician and poet, while mom was a gymnast and dancer. Dana lives in a small logging village, growing up among humans, dwarves, and one or two elves. The family has been part of the community for quite a while, moving there over 400 years ago to meet with some distant relatives. Dad's not doing too well these days, health-wise, unlike Mom, whose lifestyle keeps her active. At least Dad never had a nervous breakdown every time Dana left the house for a few hours – with a mother that protective, it's no wonder Dana is used to getting her way (leaving her with a Charisma penalty).

Dana is the middle of a big family five siblings. Her youngest sister, Mara, is also sick, which is putting a drain on the family's finances, while the next oldest, her sister Hannah, is in and out of prison for bar brawls. Her brother Kristoff, two years younger than Dana, is doing just fine, while Dana's older brother was kidnapped by slavers when Dana was very young – and Dana's oldest sister was actually sold into slavery by the State as punishment for a crime she committed before Dana was born. No wonder Mommy cottoned to her so much. Dana is now the oldest kid in the house, with one languishing, one in prison, and two children in fucking slavery. Luckily, Kristoff and Dana are close, which is great, because Hannah doesn't speak to her and Mara has actually tried to kill her once.

Between profession of her parents, having a younger brother who looked out for her, a younger sister who has spent most of her life in prison, and a youngest sister who would rather she was dead, Dana always looks for a way out of a conflict before resorting to violence. Her grandfather, an old cleric, was pleased by this outlook and promised her fortune and glory if she followed her heart, an idea Dana has held onto – because it's better than being sold into fucking slavery. Dana spent a lot of time running from her problems by climbing trees, easy to find where she grew up, which helped her avoid some of her family's chronic health problems and probably contributed to Mara's hatred of her.

As Dana started to become a young woman, she took up archery with the elves in the area, who taught her a few woodland survival tricks as well. A knight passing through the area must have seen some spirit and talent in young Mara, and she was offered the chance to become his squire. Something about his words resonated with the young Dwarven woman, who must have decided that sounded better than being sold into slavery/being kidnapped into slavery/spending time in prison waiting to be sold into slavery, and what the heck, might give her the chance to find her brother and sister – and get away from her murderous sister. With a tearful farewell to Kristoff and her mother, Dana set forth.

At this point I can either just accept the Knight career, or I can roll randomly. Being as the Knight skill package is pretty sweet, I take that. Plus, skimming the table, I see there's a small chance I can actually drag my family out of financial burden and maybe protect myself from Mara.

Dana swore an oath to defend the weak and helpless, and right out of the gateset out on an epic quest to earn her spurs (and three free skill dice) – Ol' Grampa Dwarfington was right, she was set for a long and glorious career. In the course of things, Dana's order found itself trying to end a raging war, and Dana wound up on the frontlines more than once – she honed her fighting skills, but lost an arm and wound up behind enemy lines as a prisoner of war – an unpleasant experience for anyone, but more than usual for Dana. However, prison only strengthened her resolve to survive, and she carried out her term with quiet dignity.

Eventually, her order ransomed her and presented her with a small gift – an enchanted longsword, a gift usually granted to Knights with ten more years of experience (at this point, I pull out the Fantasy Gear Toolkit and roll up a pretty sweet +2 damage bonus). Dana has recently been told by her (somewhat embarrassed) superiors to wander the earth doing good until they have need of her, a promise she is happy to oblige.


Ag d8

Sm d4

Sp d8

St d10

Vg d8

Climbing d6

Fighting d10

Guts d6

Intimidation d6

Riding d6

Shooting d4

Survival d6

Pace 5

Parry 8

Toughness 7(1)

Charisma -1


One Arm

Pacifist (minor)

Vengeful (minor)

Arcane Resistance


Gear : $100, Kristoff (Magic Longsword, d10+d8+2), leather armor, steel helmet

Character thoughts: Dana is actually a pretty sweet character – a one armed warrior dwarf-knight-lady who fights like a bitch from hell. I can see room for this character to develop, and as a GM, there's plenty of story hooks in this her. As far as negatives go, Dana is going to have a hard time getting started with her lack of wherewithal, and that Pacifist Hindrance is really going to be a problem until she gets some Persuasion or ups her Intimidation.

Edit: Uh, no Notice die, I see.

Saturday, January 2, 2010