The consensus in my RT group is that forcing the GM to figure out exactly how many individual purchase attempts of what scale your appallingly wealthy explorer can make every time you go shopping is just cruel; so here are three alternate systems you might use in some combination when you next put into port. I'm curious if anyone else has tried one of these before, and how it went.
Shop ‘Til You Drop
Each Explorer in the party may continue rolling for Acquisitions as many times as they want—up until they fail a roll, at which point that Explorer must stop. Players cannot spend Fate Points for re-rolls here, but they can spend a single Fate Point to increase Profit Factor by 10% for the duration of their shopping spree, or test Commerce, etc. This process’s in-game duration equals the highest time requirement among the purchased items, plus one day for each item acquired after the first: so if I acquired three items which would normally take one day, 1d10 days, and one week to get, respectively, I take the longest of the three (one week) and add one day for each of the other items, for a total of nine days. I recommend allowing each individual Explorer a run of purchases using these rules, plus a run for the party as a whole for shared items like spaceships or ship parts. This system represents shopping until you run out of money, the local merchants run out of stock, or you risk destabilizing the regional economy and decide to quit before there’s a revolution.
The Explorer rolls a single Acquisition, no more, without specifying what they want to buy. Fate Points may be spent for +10% or for a re-roll as normal. The Explorer then consults the equipment listings and chooses a single item which they could have acquired through the normal Acquisition rules using that roll. So if I’m in a settlement of ten thousand people, my Profit Factor is 50, and I roll a 40, then I could choose to buy enough Average items (Ordinary +10% in a settlement whose population is between ten and one hundred thousand) to outfit a division of two to five thousand individuals (-20% quantity modifier), because the required modified profit factor (50% base +10% availability/population -20% numbers) is greater than or equal to my roll. Alternatively I could buy a single (-30% quantity) Scarce item (±0% availability/population), etc. Determine time normally for this purchase. This system represents deciding you’re only going to spend a certain amount of money and looking for the best deal available.
If you fail an Acquisition roll, the GM can offer you the item you wanted, but with strings attached. Maybe it’s a recently stolen item which will draw local law enforcement’s interest. Maybe the vendor wants a special favor done before she agrees to sell. Maybe the item wasn’t quite what you expected: it has a flaw in its construction which gives it an unfavorable quality like Unwieldy, or a hit to its craftsmanship rating. Or maybe, in the case of really big purchases like grand cruisers or corporations or unique treasures, it’ll permanently impact your finances, resulting in a permanent loss of 1d5 Profit Factor. One of the players might also have a fun suggestion for a complication which the GM will like. In any case, the GM will tell you what you’re getting into, and it’s your explorer’s or your party’s decision whether to take it or leave it. This system’s name is Latin High Gothic for “Let the buyer beware,” and is based on what happens when you fail a Resources roll in the Burning Wheel fantasy RPG.