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Money-based economic system?


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#1 Konrad von Richtmark

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 09:14 AM

Has anyone made any effort to do away with the acquisition system and introduce an economic system where you actually count money? Due to the many drawbacks with the acquisition system (too random, no opportunity cost, no way to save money) I've thought of slapping together a system that actually counts the money, but I'd first like to know if anyone has already done something similar. I'm thinking of something that isn't quite as complex and pedantic as Traveller, but something in its general direction.



#2 Quicksilver

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 10:52 AM

The hardest part about doing something like this is how leveraged Rogue Traders are, and even more so, how much of it rides on things with little to no establishable value.  Look to the Lure of the Expanse and what items were put forth in the auction.  Rogue Traders have legions of scribes moving money, obligations, promices and holdings for them at any given moment, as well as borrowing and repaying money against said promices, obligations, favors, items of exceptional and unknown value, shares, stocks, etc.  So really, without going into macroeconomics I think you'd be hard pressed to come up with any more 'solid' of a system then perhaps giving the Rogue Trader periodic 'allowance'. 



#3 Konrad von Richtmark

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 11:14 AM

Quicksilver said:

Rogue Traders have legions of scribes moving money, obligations, promices and holdings for them at any given moment, as well as borrowing and repaying money against said promices, obligations, favors, items of exceptional and unknown value, shares, stocks, etc.  So really, without going into macroeconomics I think you'd be hard pressed to come up with any more 'solid' of a system then perhaps giving the Rogue Trader periodic 'allowance'. 

 

Well, all those shares, stocks, hoards of money and other kinds of liquid assets would only have to be represented by a single number, a "cash balance" in the abstract sense of the word. Simply put the sum of "everything else". E.g. you have 15.02 billion Throne Gelt in liquid assets. You get an annual interest/dividend/whatever on it of a few % depending on your seneschal's skill.

Specific assets the explorers have established over the game would simply be "produces X amount of profit per year, added to the cash balance".

Upkeep on acquisitions would simply be a simplified, flat fee of X gelt per day or so. A ship, for example, would have a fixed maintenance cost that would (for example) be a simple function of its value in ship points.

Sure, it requires simplification by the axe, but even a simplified system might be better than the acquisition system.

 

I'm currently in the process of calculating what it would cost, in Throne Gelt, to raise a division (10 000 guys) of Imperial Guard equivalent troops. It's one hell of a number crunch, but once it's done, I get a nice neat number and can forget about how I arrived at that.



#4 Quicksilver

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 11:53 AM

Don't take this post wrong, I am trying to help you cover everything, not shoot down your idea.  What you said basicly is an allowance system.  They'd have to start with some kind of income already, to repersent the wealth and profit-generating abilities from their background, but otherwise that holds fairly simple.  You have X Liquid assests, increasing at Y per unit time(day, month, year etc.).  

It works well for material goods and one off things, but I'm not sure how absolutely you could calculate the value of things like Imperial Guard Regiments.  Presuming they already own the planet, the price could change drasticly by how much they have to pay for equipment (retail or wholesale), if they have to pay for some equipment at all (do they own any lasgun magnifactoriums?), what arangement they have for drafting/volinteers, (draft, draft without pay, signing bonuses, lifetime service vs. 4 year service, combat vs. normal pay?) Not to mention how their equiped, trained, fed, housed etc. All these things can be hand-waved to fixed values.  Or a fixed value that can be modifed by commerce checks and GM fiat, but you then lose some of that determination physical weath otherwise affords.

To pre-empt potential player questions, can the Rogue Trader get a loan?  Borrow money against future earnings (Y in the above equation), or, simmilarly, pay for things on credit or IOUs?  Or the other way, can you give up some value of X to increase Y if you know your going to be away for a while?  Can I sell back an item for cash directly, instead of profit rewards?  If so, how much for this priceless xeno artifact?  What happens if Y goes negitive?  What happens if X and Y are negitive?

Don't get me wrong, its not a bad way to do things, but it is clearly more complicated, and there are a lot of ways the Players can throw you for a loop on how they deal with things.  On the other hand, even with all the unknowns, it will be less random then aquasition checks, that much is true.

 



#5 Konrad von Richtmark

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 01:06 PM

Thanks, I appreciate your concerns.

Yes, it would effectively be an allowance system, but a persistent one, where not using the "allowance" when you could have done so means it'll be available later with interest.

My campaign style is to have the players start from scratch, being a freshly chartered rogue trader house. Only thing they have is their ship, and a pile of liquid assets big enough that the interest just about covers the maintenance cost of the ship. I've found this makes things simpler, not having to pre-specify a load of stuff.

Prices for all the equipment needed for the IG-esque regiment is taken from Dark Heresy, assuming it's being bought on the free market, and when I've had to estimate the value of items not listed I've gone with a hand-waved 1 Gelt = 5€ (which would be about right for the guns), and slashed consumables prices by a factor of 10. Wages have been heavily hand-waved, with the disposable monthly incomes of Dark Heresy used as a remote starting point.

As for getting a loan, I don't see how it would change the dynamics of how liquid assets would work. Selling liquid assets would reduce X and consequently Y. Taking the loan would keep X and Y, but lead to a debt of x and an interest burden of y. X-x would be the same as the new X in the first case, and Y-y the same as the new Y in the first case. This, of course, assuming that the interest rate on a loan would be the same as the typical dividend rate from the liquid assets, which is a fair approximation.

As for X going into the negative, why not? This simply means having more debts than liquid assets, a situation in which the players better have a crapload of productive non-liquid assets (trade routes, colonies with neato stuff, etc etc).



#6 Gribble_the_Munchkin

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 01:05 AM

This sounds interesting and i once considered doing something similar myself. The acquisition system certainly has its holes (some large enough to drive a land raider through).

 

One of my players for instance has asked for the dynasties factors to buy him one of, essentially, everything useful in the inquisitors handbook. Barring the stuff he wouldn't know about or that is restricted, he figures that if i make 150 acquisition rolls for him, statistically he'll make a good number and get lots of stuff. I've knocked up a rather complex spreadsheet that automates the inquiry/commerce/acquisition rolls for this (mainly because i'm a spreadsheet nerd though).

The thing your system doesn't cover is that Profit factor is not monetary wealth. It also measures your perceived authority, influence and favours.

 

For instance, a powerful and well connected rogue trader could literally try and commandeer an imperial guard or PDF regiment from a nearby world to help him fight a war with no payments or money changing hands at all, just by the use of authority, influence and political allies. Thats very hard to monetarise.

Another, A rogue trader claims a lost world of medieval era humans. Low tech level but they are relatively organised and numerous. He could raise multiple regiments as the feudal overlord and then simply buy them equipment elsewhere. If he tried to hire equivalent mercenaries, it would cost much more.

Somethings, such as starships really can't be traded for money. They are too expensive, too vast and too precious. Instead, holdings, titles, deeds and backroom deals involving threats, blackmail, bribery and so on are required, all of which can be very loosely portrayed by Profit factor but is very hard to monetarise.

 

To re-iterate, there are big problems with profit factor. But i think less than with a money system.

 

Still, if you do manage to get one working, please share as i'd love to see (read: steal) elements of it.



#7 bobh

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 05:54 PM

Konrad von Richtmark said:

Has anyone made any effort to do away with the acquisition system and introduce an economic system where you actually count money? Due to the many drawbacks with the acquisition system (too random, no opportunity cost, no way to save money) I've thought of slapping together a system that actually counts the money, but I'd first like to know if anyone has already done something similar. I'm thinking of something that isn't quite as complex and pedantic as Traveller, but something in its general direction.

The most amazing thing about the economic system in RT is that it is boiled down to an easily usable thing.  Keeping a cash account would be a nightmare.  Establish a single colony from which you derive profit and try to deal with the PC micromanaging it....try.  The lack of detail allows the game to flow and in my opinion is a blessing.  In our gaming sessions we really have begun to appreciate the fact that we can play and not get bogged down in cash details. 



#8 Konrad von Richtmark

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 09:04 AM

Perhaps I should make a few things clear. First, the title of the whole thread was poorly chosen, I've asked the moderation to change it.

I'm not looking for an "advanced" system with a high detail level and lots of micromanagement. On the contrary, I'm painfully aware that I'm running an overhanging risk of creating a rule-monster. What I'm attempting to do is create a money-based system which does some heavy approximation and simplification along the way to cut down on micromanagement, but which nevertheless qualitatively offers certain advantages that the acquisition system doesn't. They would be:

-Not as ridiculously random as acquisition is, making it possible to know what you can actually afford
-Possibility to butcher assets to be able to do that purchase you couldn't under acquisition
-Smooth counting of benefits not big enough to warrant Profit Factor, such as rewards, one-off trade runs, etc
-Possibility to actually save money, contrary to the acquisition system where there is no opportunity cost of making an acquisition
-Asset upkeep modeled in a simple way requiring no need for arbitrary GM-imposed upkeep checks, making it actually possible for the players to know what they can afford and what they can't

Quicksilver and Gribble, your input is appreciated, and so is that of anyone willing to provide specific, constructive criticism. I will gladly hear more of it in the future, and I will post, on this thread, snippets of what I've planned for scrutiny. I've already done some groundwork, you will hear more from me soon.



#9 Quicksilver

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 09:44 AM

Things that come to mind for consideration;
1) Upkeep basically falls into two categories: Maintenance and Recovery.
-Maintenance covers the cost of keeping a 'thing' in use. (Bullets for guns, Wages for people, replacing warn out parts etc.) This is easily approximated with a fixed deduction of monthly income. This is covered in Acquisition by making the initial acquisition check.
-Recovery covers bringing something back to use that was damaged beyond ‘normal use’. (Crashing a car, burned out armor, 50% casualties to a IG regiment). Recovery is cheaper then replacement, but more then Maintenance can cover. I can’t think of an easy system for this that isn’t GM fiat, maybe 50% of the starting cost, but when would still be kinda arbitrary. In Acquisition this is the Upkeep Check.
2) Liquidating assets for expensive items. This is also a difficult one, as it requires modification of that nebulous ‘net worth’. I guess it comes down to developing a ratio to permanently reduce your ‘monthly/Annual income’ for an increase in ‘funds available’ Say maybe, 10 or 12 times the income reduction?
Everything else seems easy to implement, or inherent in a money based system.
 



#10 Konrad von Richtmark

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 10:49 AM

Well, the problem with interpreting "normal" upkeep of an entity to be part of the acquisition check is that it doesn't reduce your ability to make further acquisitions, as it should. You got your profit factor of X, and use it to buy (say) an IG regiment. But what next time when you buy another one? Or another one? These acquisitions are all equally difficult, regardless of how many IG regiments you already have on the payroll.

Speaking of the devil, I recently made a (very hand-wavy and loosely based on the prices given in DH, but anyways) deduction of what a division (10.000 guys) of IG-equivalent troops would cost, in Throne Gelt. Here's what I ended up with:

 

INFANTRY DIVISION

This represents a 10.000-strong division of infantry, including logistical support to wage war on its own, but excluding tanks and artillery support (which will be represented by other purchases). It is assumed that the division is trained from scratch in one year, with the exception of commissioned officers who are simply employed.

Training cost: 11,7M
Equipment cost: 11,8M
Total setup cost: 23,5M

This cost must be paid when the division is built. Replacing losses has a training cost equal to the training cost of the whole division multiplied with the proportion of men that needs replacing. Equipment costs need not be paid unless the losses were incurred in a way which would leave the equipment behind (GM's call), in which case new equipment must also be paid for in proportion to the number of replacements.

Upkeep/day: 45k
Cost per combatday: 200k

The upkeep cost per day represents wages and consumed supplies when not in combat. For each day the division is engaged in combat, the cost per combatday must also be paid, representing the price of ammunition fired away.

 

There, have at it!



#11 bobh

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 04:23 PM

So what does a division of horse lancers cost?  Just man, tac and saddle, horse and lance?  From a primitive world........not that much.  Food and supply train would be significant too but they don't have lasrifles or carapace armour.  How much? 

Or you orbit a hive world and ask the local governor if you can abscond with a thousand gangers as a penal regiment.  On a cruiser adding 1000 bodies to the toal won't make a dent in your provisions.  You can literally supply them from the ships armoury and 'waste' them on the next objective.  How much did that cost?  Wages?  None.  Purchase of live bodies?  Pfffth, the gov would be throwing them at you probably.

If you want to penalize a RT for 'buying' an asset (infantry) then do so with an equally arbitrary reduction in PF for the duration of the infantry employment.



#12 Konrad von Richtmark

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 02:18 AM

bobh said:

 

So what does a division of horse lancers cost?  Just man, tac and saddle, horse and lance?  From a primitive world........not that much.  Food and supply train would be significant too but they don't have lasrifles or carapace armour.  How much?

 

If I'd really need a figure for such a specific situation (can't think of many actual uses for a division of medieval lancers), I'd hand-wave a figure. Just like you'd need to do when your players want to buy one under the acquisition system.

bobh said:

Or you orbit a hive world and ask the local governor if you can abscond with a thousand gangers as a penal regiment.  On a cruiser adding 1000 bodies to the toal won't make a dent in your provisions.  You can literally supply them from the ships armoury and 'waste' them on the next objective.  How much did that cost?  Wages?  None.  Purchase of live bodies?  Pfffth, the gov would be throwing them at you probably.

 

You'd still have to pay for the provisions. 1000 more mouths to feed is 1000 more mouths to feed, regardless of how many mouths there already are. The cruiser might not run out of provisions much sooner, but the difference in consumption would mean having to buy more when you restock.

Throwing away a thousand forcibly rounded-up gangers with no training at an objective would hardly accomplish anything. At best, they'd bugger off as soon as they'd get off the ship, in worst case they'd turn against you.

Oh, and not every rogue trader is running a cruiser. A division of 10.000 men and a frigate with a crew of 25.000-30.000 is more likely situation.

bobh said:

If you want to penalize a RT for 'buying' an asset (infantry) then do so with an equally arbitrary reduction in PF for the duration of the infantry employment.[/QUOTE]

 

Why make an arbitrary reduction when you can have a predetermined, exact number for what it actually costs? Much easier than trying to, in any even remotely realistic way, determine how much PF would temporarily go down from current upkeep-requiring assets.

 



#13 bobh

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 06:43 AM

Which is exactly the point i'm getting at.  RT's economic system doesn't bog down into minutae (which is what I threw out asking about different styles of warriors).  And there are some examples of unsophisticated warrior types being used in the Imperial Guard regiments (tithed ones especially). 

And if the gangers don't play ball their explosive collars detonate or they get shot in the face by a guy in a black trench coat and don't get the promised pardon and a ticket off the rt ship (not that that'll ever happen).

I'd rather put an alien civilization to the sword...not count up ration bars and their costs.



#14 Konrad von Richtmark

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 10:21 AM

I see what you mean, but I think you're making the false logical leap that a money-based system would have to deal with minutiae any more than the acquisition system. Mind you, determining the appropriate net acquisition modifier for the hypothetical 10.000 lancers would require quite some "minutiae" too.

Continuing the infantry division example, exceptional circumstances affecting cost could be a simple, hand-waved percentage discount. Not perfect, but workable, and at least the correct answer isn't off by orders of magnitude. Contrary to the acquisition system, in which a pack of tobacco is equally expensive as a lasgun with an infinite ammo supply.

Your preferred play style is your business, all the power to you. Mine is mine. I have laid out my reasons for doing what I'm doing in a few posts, I'm not going to repeat myself. You're free and welcome to contribute if you have constructive criticism, or even play devil's advocate if you find specific problems. But I have no need for naysaying based on a preconceived notion that it can't be done, or subjective ideas on what the game is supposed to be like.



#15 ItsUncertainWho

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 01:54 PM

The problem I see with a monetary system is that Profit Factor isn't a representation of cash. Profit Factor is cash, credit, loans, contracts, back room deals, trade, favors owed, favors earned, and availability all rolled into one. Yes it's a bit random at times but it is efficient game play wise.

I have another game I run where one of the players has taken it upon himself to become an economic powerhouse behind the scenes. From my experience, even at a macro scale, a pure monetary system can get really out of hand fast. Getting requests for a price on 10,000 units of full combat kit to outfit the merc army he just hired, along with cost projections for upkeep, transport, and support personnel and equipment gets old. This is just one of his pet projects. I have seriously considered trying to implement the Profit Factor system in that game just to save myself the hassle of all the calculations.

If this type of thing makes you happy, good luck. But I have found it to be overly time consuming. Everything needs a price, and there is a lot of stuff in the galaxy that a player will want prices on.



#16 Konrad von Richtmark

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 12:44 AM

ItsUncertainWho said:

The problem I see with a monetary system is that Profit Factor isn't a representation of cash. Profit Factor is cash, credit, loans, contracts, back room deals, trade, favors owed, favors earned, and availability all rolled into one. Yes it's a bit random at times but it is efficient game play wise.

Well, as far as I see it, insubstantial things like influence, bargaining power, favours earned, leverage, etc are best represented through simple roleplaying. How much insubstantial influence a Rogue Trader would have would heavily depend on who he's dealing with, and could vary largely even between individuals of equal power level. I'll give an example.

Person A is the mayor of a hive city on Fenksworld.

Person B is a low-level rogue trader who has plans on future cooperation with the player RT in establishing a colony which, for certain reasons, neither can do on his own.

Person C is the governor of a colony which is reliant on the player RT's fleet for its interplanetary trade, without which the colony would starve.

 

Here we have three people of which none is inherently any more powerful or high-standing than any other. Yet, simply due to circumstances (which would have been formed under play), the player RT would have absolutely no influence over A, a certain amount over B, and massive leverage over C. Something which a simple number representing general influence level couldn't model.

ItsUncertainWho said:

I have another game I run where one of the players has taken it upon himself to become an economic powerhouse behind the scenes. From my experience, even at a macro scale, a pure monetary system can get really out of hand fast. Getting requests for a price on 10,000 units of full combat kit to outfit the merc army he just hired, along with cost projections for upkeep, transport, and support personnel and equipment gets old. This is just one of his pet projects. I have seriously considered trying to implement the Profit Factor system in that game just to save myself the hassle of all the calculations.

If this type of thing makes you happy, good luck. But I have found it to be overly time consuming. Everything needs a price, and there is a lot of stuff in the galaxy that a player will want prices on.

That other game, it wouldn't happen to be Traveller?

Well, that's why I've pre-determined the prices of certain common, "expected" purchases, like the infantry division higher up in this thread, and despite what I had to do to arrive at the number, what's left on the bottom line are a few, easy numbers.

If you think Profit Factor would make life easier in your campaign, why don't you tell me how you would determine the acquisition modifier for the 10,000-man mercenary army? Seriously, I'm not trying to be snide, it's actually something I've considered myself, and that was back in the days when I too was resigned to the notion that Profit Factor was, despite its flaws, a necessity sans better alternatives.



#17 ItsUncertainWho

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 03:24 AM

In your example, technically, Person A would be socially below the RT's. 

 

The other game is actually Star Wars, not Traveler. My players have delusions of galactic uprising.

I tried to predefine some things they might buy in bulk. I failed to comprehend how outside-the-box some players think.

I'll try to run some numbers on the PF chart tonight and get back to you.



#18 bobh

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 02:01 PM

No one planet will be the same as another.  On one world the lasguns won't exist, on the other manpower might cost you more.  You can say, hey this type of regiment costs this much and fudge it across each world saying it costs the same across all the galaxy but how is that any more efficient than the system included with the RT Core Rules?  With your proposed system you'll be spending massive amounts of time on detailing each type of unit...and if your players decide to mess with you - which they will, they always do...your going to be in for a lot of paperwork.  After eight gaming sessions now our GM is thinking about implementing a PF system in two other RPGs we play.  He likes it that much and I can't say I blame him.



#19 Quicksilver

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 05:15 AM

Looked up the Profit method last night for the 10,000 merc army. (this is from memory so I might be off on a couple of abundance numbers)

As we've already "acquired" the mercenaries themselves, all that's left is the actual combat equipment.  This is assuming we can go to a reasonable location to buy this stuf, like a hive world.

[Rolls 1 threw 3] Abundance = Scarce (+0), Scale = 10,000 (-30), Quality = Common (+0).  So a total of -30 for Lasguns, Guard Flak and Frag Grenade.

Or, assuming you don't want to end up with partially equipped troups, one Roll could be made at -40 (Scarce (+0), Scale = 10,000 (-30), Quality = Common (+0), Add ons at -5 each (-10)

Then, if we want to get them up to Guard level weaponry, we'll need special and heavy weapons. 

If we're willing to just do grenade launchers, Flamers, Heavy Bolters and Missile Launchers: Scarce (+0), Scale = 2,000 (-20), Quality = Common (+0). give one roll at -20

Or, with nice stuff like plasma, melta and Lascannons: Very Rare (-20), Scale = 2,000 (-20), Quality = Common (+0). gives one roll at -40

But I do beleave this thread was for assisting the development of, not for arguing about the value of, a money based system. As I think I said above, I myself would never use it for RT, but if Konrad want's one, I'm perfectly willing to help him cover all angles.



#20 MILLANDSON

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 12:22 PM

Quicksilver said:

Or, assuming you don't want to end up with partially equipped troups, one Roll could be made at -40 (Scarce (+0), Scale = 10,000 (-30), Quality = Common (+0), Add ons at -5 each (-10)

Add-ons are things like sights for guns or Mono on melee weapons. They're modifications to the weapon. You can't add on full bits of kit (like armour) as an add-on (with the -5 modifier) to a gun. Each of the Lasguns/Armour/Grenades would need to be rolled separately (as in your first example).


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