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A Question of System vs. Setting

Jamfke

Accidental Thread Killer
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Hello. I'm working on a game. A modern post-apoc game, and I'm using a certain system (4C/FASERIP). This system has rules for purchasing items that is a simple "ya got the money, or ya don't" kind of mechanic. In essence, your character has a steady income, and the mechanic is based upon what your average income would be for a month/week. Under this mechanic, items are "priced" by listing their worth at a certain level of affordability so you can look at your character's "Lifestyle," or "Means," and then at the item's price, and say "I can buy it, or I can't." This makes for an extremely easy way to handle purchasing things.

Now, as I mentioned, the setting is a modern post-apoc. Our world's normal system of living has been abruptly shattered, meaning that a standard living wage, or income, is no longer available. In other words, you don't get a paycheck every couple of weeks, or whatever. The system of trade has fallen back to one of barter. Gold, silver, and other precious metals, and gems are still highly valued, and will be accepted as a sort of currency, but paper money and coinage have been reduced to 10% face value or less. I like the feel of this personally. Keeps the mind in the setting.

Another twist in the tale. The characters are not spending their time in the badlands scrounging for "artifacts" to be used for trade, or for protection. In fact, they are literal heroes who are going around hunting down the creatures that caused the world's current predicament.

So, my question is would you be put off on a game if the simpler, original, mechanic were replaced with a system that helps to keep the setting feel in place?
 

Bruwulf

Suspected Unicorn
Validated User
So, my question is would you be put off on a game if the simpler, original, mechanic were replaced with a system that helps to keep the setting feel in place?
To be honest, I'm generally not a fan of the "buying power" type wealth systems. I understand them in certain settings, I suppose, but I rarely like them... And in settings without a centralized economy or where most people don't hold down nice 9-5 jobs, yeah, they don't make a lick of sense and wouldn't bat an eye if they were removed.
 

bentleyml

Strange Apparition
Validated User
Probably not. If I didn't like the system that replaced the original I'd just tell my players to either use the original system or just take what you think makes sense for your character and move on.

Something like that wouldn't stop me from getting a game, especially if the setting really grabbed me.
 

Odie

If only she could breathe
Validated User
No, as long as the mechanics evoke the proper feel of the trade/barter system. In which case, do you really need a "purchasing power" mechanic? Why not rely on a barter/trading/bargaining one?

-B
 

Xylarthen

No, not THAT Xylarthen.
That kind of wealth rule appeared in medieval-style Swordbearer as well -- and, I think, before MSH (although I'm not sure).

The basic idea is that one is not terribly concerned with accounting. Most of the time, one simply assumes that the adventurers have whatever they need to get on with their exploits.

If paying more attention to logistical matters better conveys a sense of your imagined world -- maybe one in which not only each live round but each piece of spent brass counts -- then go for it.
 

Delwugor

Drunk Ugly Dwarf
Validated User
Getting across the feel of the setting is much more important then the rules used.

But... there is always a but.
My question is does changing the purchasing mechanics effectively convey the feel of the setting?
If the PCs do a good deal of purchasing or are involved in the economics then it will convey the proper feel and is worth changing.
If not then I'd personally spend more time in areas that are more effective in getting the setting across to them.
 

Xylarthen

No, not THAT Xylarthen.
I think the wealth level scheme works best with an "episodic" approach to play, by which I mean one in which one presumes a good deal of time passing between players' "looking in on" the lives of the characters.

The probabilisitic aspect of the scheme in MSH could work out quite nicely in a post-disaster scenario. You might have a situation in which characters can rapidly go from boom to bust, having a windfall cache at the start of one session but starting the next low on supplies.

Try having the player make a roll at the start of the session, and base (give column shifts to) his or her scavenging/bartering success on that. Packrat Pete might still be able to turn up just the doohicky needed on the spot later, but he'll have to make a harder roll if he started the session with relatively empty pockets.
 
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celebrityomnipath

Murmaid Murderer
Validated User
Something to consider:

The system used for seeing when you run out of ammo in Diaspora is innovative. Your enemy decides when you run out of ammo and you decide when your enemy runs out of ammo. Of course this costs cheatpoints for you to do. Plus spraying an area or using certain weapons (missiles, sawn-offs, etc) makes it free for people to tag your lack of ammo. (And of course at high enough tech levels everyone just gets lasers because they don't run out of ammo so much).

Anyways, what I'm saying is, I don't know teh system you are using, butt if it has cheatpoints I would consider just charging people one per gunfight to say "it's OK I have another clip" or to make the badguys run out.
 

Jamfke

Accidental Thread Killer
RPGnet Member
Validated User
First, thanks to everyone for their responses. Now to address some individual posts:

Probably not. If I didn't like the system that replaced the original I'd just tell my players to either use the original system or just take what you think makes sense for your character and move on.
I could include the original system as an optional rule with a conversion guide for the price lists. This way, individual groups could choose their favorite method.

No, as long as the mechanics evoke the proper feel of the trade/barter system. In which case, do you really need a "purchasing power" mechanic? Why not rely on a barter/trading/bargaining one?

-B
The system I've decided to go with is one of barter and trade. There is a common sort of currency using gold and gems from jewelry as the guideline. So a rifle would be worth X amount of gold, etc. I'm keeping it to one unit, so you don't have to track various types of "coinage," such as gold, silver, copper.

Getting across the feel of the setting is much more important then the rules used.

But... there is always a but.
My question is does changing the purchasing mechanics effectively convey the feel of the setting?
If the PCs do a good deal of purchasing or are involved in the economics then it will convey the proper feel and is worth changing.
If not then I'd personally spend more time in areas that are more effective in getting the setting across to them.
Well, the characters will be spending time moving around from stronghold to stronghold as they hunt down the creatures and villains that wrecked our world. They will need some currency to get the supplies they might need on a given hunt, so it will be a functional system as well as one of flavor.

I think the wealth level scheme works best with an "episodic" approach to play, by which I mean one in which one presumes a good deal of time passing between players' "looking in on" the lives of the characters.

The probabilisitic aspect of the scheme in MSH could work out quite nicely in a post-disaster scenario. You might have a situation in which characters can rapidly go from boom to bust, having a windfall cache at the start of one session but starting the next low on supplies.

Try having the player make a roll at the start of the session, and base (give column shifts to) his or her scavenging/bartering success on that. Packrat Pete might still be able to turn up just the doohicky needed on the spot later, but he'll have to make a harder roll if he started the session with relatively empty pockets.
I like this idea. I'll have to test it out soon.

Something to consider:

The system used for seeing when you run out of ammo in Diaspora is innovative. Your enemy decides when you run out of ammo and you decide when your enemy runs out of ammo. Of course this costs cheatpoints for you to do. Plus spraying an area or using certain weapons (missiles, sawn-offs, etc) makes it free for people to tag your lack of ammo. (And of course at high enough tech levels everyone just gets lasers because they don't run out of ammo so much).

Anyways, what I'm saying is, I don't know teh system you are using, butt if it has cheatpoints I would consider just charging people one per gunfight to say "it's OK I have another clip" or to make the badguys run out.
I can see this working in an "on the spot" situation, but I don't know if it adds to the feel of the setting I'm working with. I'm not familiar with Diaspora. Sounds like a narrativist style game. Am I wrong?
 

wheloc

He's trying real hard to be one of the good guys.
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I don't really enjoy a lot of fiddling over equipment, so I like any system that lets me avoid it. The lifestyle approach of the original system sounds pretty good (though I'm not famiar with this 4C/FASERIP), and so removing it seems like a step in the wrong direction. I'd consider just abstracting it to involve trade foods rather then cash, and maybe tweaking the mechanics to give it the fell you want.

Maybe people don't have nine-to-five jobs, but most people presumably still work much of the day to produce that they need, and then trade any excess with others to get what they want. The main difference is that trappings associated with the lifestyle or means, but it still breaks down to "can you trade for it or not". Instead of cash and credits cards, characters carry around trade goods and can borrow based on their reputation in an area. Wanders from place to place (like PCs) might simply not have much means (unless they have a herd of cattle or somesuch following them around), but means still exists. The big man in a town can still get more stuff then tramps and vagabonds.

Frankly, I'd find this more realistic then a future society that had a standardized gold-based currency-less economy.
 
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