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Kobold Wisdom

Help! My players want to track money

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I’m starting a new game of Star Wars with my usual players. Working through session 0 they dropped the bomb on me: they want to track wealth. For the first time my players don’t want wealth tracked with a hand wave.  I’m usually terrible at remembering to hand out money (gold, credits, mushrooms) and my players have expressed an interest in keeping better track of it.

I have a couple of questions that I hope your experience can help answer.

What is a good rate (frequency and amount) for credit accumulation? They want to plan acquiring upgrades to gear, ships, investments, bribes and such.

As a follow on question how do you handle ship upkeep? Fuel, rations, docking, medical supplies, general maintenance, etc.

As a third, phantom question, is there a good way to track wealth that isn’t bean counting? Some kind of resource management that is tracked with dice, rolling, and depletion?

Any advice would be useful!

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I ran a game where my players ran an illicit speeder shop, borrowed money from a Hutt to set up a pod race, illegally smuggled weapons through said shop, participated in all manner of street race, and were generally money hungry reprobates. We tracked their cash.

First point - make as much of it about rolls as possible. Set a baseline for things and let their roll determine the actual price or pay out. I had a success or failure add or subtract 10% from the base, with an advantage or disadvantage run at 5% (only if there wasn't some other thematically more appropriate reward). Make sure to do this with any money-making opportunity and you'll be surprised how far this gets you. A few examples:

- They're hired to run a shipment to a client at maximum speed. Payout is 1000 credits (at a x2 hyperdrive) +/- success on an Astrogation check. If they upgrade their hyperdrive, the payout goes up - 1500 at x1.5, 2000 at x1, etc. It rewards ship improvement as well as the PC who invested in navigation.

- They're hired as security for a gangster who is in town for two days to do a deal. Each PC rolls Vigilance and makes 50 credits per success. Advantage and disadvantage set the stage for what happens when rivals show up (and may inform how they are armed).

- A PC decides to gamble, rolling Cool. If they make 10 credits per success, it's an average difficulty. Double it for every increase in difficulty, reminding the player that they lose just as much per failure. Make sure to use Destiny Points if they abuse this, or drop in an NPC rival and force some opposed Cool checks if they're using dice to punch above their weight.

- Street race garners 500 credits, modified by an opposed Pilot check. Alternately run it as a 3-5 opposed check and total net successes of the competition. 

- An illicit droid surgeon will operate on the PCs for 500 credits. If the PCs attempt to bring the price down, its an opposed Negotiation vs. Medicine check as the PCs try to bargain as the droid explains in intimate and shocking detail all the gristly tasks it needs to perform so their friend doesn't die.

You get the idea. The point of running it this way is to have a few planned encounters (or plans for encounters) they can make about the cash. All you have to do is note at the beginning what the stakes are, and take note during the scene what the results are. If they come up with something you haven't thought of, go with a gut check. Is the area poor? A success on a Sculduggery check is likely to result in 10 credits per success. Is it poorer than that? They come up with trinkets and junk. Keep track of how many credits they have and give them a chance to earn about a third more per story. If they just spent a bunch, go with whatever the average of the last few sessions was - or hit them where it hurts and pile on some unforeseen debt.

After that, make a note when you're planning your next session. Mine usually went:

"They have 16500 credits in their shared pot (the business). They owe the Hutt 20,000 by the end of the next session, their speeder is still busted up and in need of repair, and there is still a 2000 credit bounty on the "Charmer". They may hear some rumors about job A, B, or C if they make Streetwise checks or talk to NPC 1, who happens to be the point of contact for job B."

Note cash the same way you would wounds or strain, dial up or down what they need to spend depending on their resources, and throw creative nonsense their way. You know it'll be coming yours. I loved this campaign, hope you enjoy yours.

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3 hours ago, Kobold Wisdom said:

1. What is a good rate (frequency and amount) for credit accumulation? They want to plan acquiring upgrades to gear, ships, investments, bribes and such.

2. As a follow on question how do you handle ship upkeep? Fuel, rations, docking, medical supplies, general maintenance, etc.

3. As a third, phantom question, is there a good way to track wealth that isn’t bean counting? Some kind of resource management that is tracked with dice, rolling, and depletion?

1. Depends on how quickly you want them to get the things they desire. I would say they should get credits that equal to the personal scale items and have to save up for any ship upgrades they want. If you were to hand out credits in the tens of thousands, it could get out of hand quickly and leaves little room for them to want to take on Obligation to get those extra few thousand credits needed for that hyperdrive upgrade.

 

2. I have made custom rules for ship upkeep but to be honest, trying to track that among every other task, it gets lost in the fray. I don't even use my own rules for ship upkeep and just keep it simple for consumables (100 credits per silhouette of the ship).

 

3. Make the players count the beans. You tell them they get x credits off the badguys they killed and they get y credits from the successful smuggling run, make it their job to track their own money gains (just make sure they also write down the amount they subtract when spending funds).

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3 hours ago, Kobold Wisdom said:

I’m usually terrible at remembering to hand out money (gold, credits, mushrooms) and my players have expressed an interest in keeping better track of it.

Getting a couple things out of the way...  First, ick.  If your players want to track credits, they should do all the work.  Second, it's really easy for credits to get out of hand, and if you don't have a way to rein them in, they can start to afford some pretty ridiculous stuff pretty quickly.

Honestly, I'd first try to dissuade them.  Then I'd make them track it, charge them for every little caf break, and try to break their will with the sheer tediousness of it.  But if that didn't work...

The Far Horizons and Fly Casual books have good guidelines on how to handle money.  Far Horizons has the "homestead" concept, where the PCs have their food, clothing, and lodging covered by the homestead, and everything else is discretionary.  Fly Casual has prices for carting goods and what kind of profit one can expect from trading, and it should be a reasonable guideline for how much money a PC should expect to gain over time.

4 hours ago, Kobold Wisdom said:

What is a good rate (frequency and amount) for credit accumulation? They want to plan acquiring upgrades to gear, ships, investments, bribes and such.

This is a bit problematic, because the value of a credit goes geometric.  As a rough guide, I'd say it starts around 1cr = $2USD for cheap items.  This means 50cr is a nice bribe for a low level offence or minor information, and represents a low-skilled worker's pay on a daily basis.  At mid-levels it starts to approach 1:10...you can buy a spaceship for less than a Bugatti, which seems kind of ludicrous.  At the higher levels it's more like 1:1000 or more...an aircraft carrier costs about $12B, but you can buy a Star Destroyer for 120 times less, and it will do a lot more damage.

With that in mind, a risky job for new "unproven" PCs might give 1000 credits per person per week.  PC-type jobs don't tend to last more than a couple weeks at a time, so there should be plenty of room for lean times.

4 hours ago, Kobold Wisdom said:

As a follow on question how do you handle ship upkeep? Fuel, rations, docking, medical supplies, general maintenance, etc.

I think one of the books suggests 500cr per hull point if you need to repair something, so a short battle can quickly become very expensive.  For fuel, what I've been using since WEG is something like the following:  each ship has 50 fuel cells; each fuel cell costs 10cr per Silhouette, so a YT-1300 has fuel cells that cost 40cr to fill, so 2000cr to fill up the entire ship; a fuel cell is used up for each hour of normal flying, each minute of combat flying, each hour in hyperspace, one to enter hyperspace and one to exit.  Ship maintenance is one of the easiest ways to keep PC wealth in check.

4 hours ago, Kobold Wisdom said:

As a third, phantom question, is there a good way to track wealth that isn’t bean counting? Some kind of resource management that is tracked with dice, rolling, and depletion?

The simplest is to hand-wave "incidentals" like food and clothing, say by using the Far Horizons homestead rules.  Then only use credits for the big ticket items.  And if they start to sit on their loot like a dragon king, well, there's always somebody else who wants a piece of that kind of pie...

 

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If your players want a logistics element in the game and you're not totally opposed, go for it!

My group just passed our third anniversary and we track both credits and fuel.

Keep credits proportional and fairly consistent. Real-world values aren't too far off:

- 50 credits should be come and go. Drink money or cover charge. Usual docking fee.

- 500 credits is a long voyage or painful fine. Imperial-class docking when the job's in space Manhattan. 

- 1000 credits parallels some better gear for context. Small-time job. Big bribe for little fish, little bribe for big ones.

- 5000 is where decent work starts out. Lots of group payouts between this and the next range. Can add up to repair or medical care after a tough scrape. 

- 10000 should get your party's attention, no coincidence with Han's fee. Solid jobs with some risk. Good work, better if it's regular. 

-20000 should be rare or come with strings attached. Multiple payments. Much above this becomes funny money; other people's cash that players are handling but not keeping. Have an NPC ask for this to get players to ask for Option B.

Remember that in the (dramatized) crime world, money is king and many adversaries will ask to be made whole and get "square" before they raise arms. Money talks, and big spends can get your players to where they want to to. If you do it right, credits flow in and out in bundles all the time.

On fuel, I set price to 50 credits and gave the YT-2400 capacity of 70. Llanic to Socorro is 3-5 cells. One player just really enjoys gassing up, so it's worked. Didn't bother with rations, and never got around to maintenance fees. WEG's Tramp Freighter resource categorizes spaceports as Basic, Standard, Stellar, Imperial -- 50, 100, 200, 500 if you like. 

Finally, while I created rules to abstract repair parts with a dice pool, wealth can be tracked easily with good, old-fashioned paper and pencil. But as stated above, make your players do it!

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I believe that I saw some links in the Compiled Resources thread for things like tracking operational costs (for running starships) and running interplanetary trade routes.

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What is wrong with "bean counting" you gormless nerf herder? ;)  How hard is it for you to head over to a local Office Supply store and pick up a three column ledger?  Column 1 is for Adding entries, Column 2 is for Subtracting entries and Column 3 is your running total.

Is that too tough for you?  Try a two column journal then and just annotate the change transaction in Column 1 (add and less done in the same column) and use the second column for your running total.

Don't want to do THAT even?  Let one of the players do that and give 'em an extra 10 exp for their PC each session.  :rolleyes:

 

Costs are 'flavor' and can be used to enhance your role playing.

 

That said, I don't get lost in the weeds with the expenses.  And I use the SJ Games Traveller rules for calculating the annual upkeep costs for the ship which is, take the new price cost of a ship and divide that by 10.  THAT is how much money it takes to keep a ship in good repair and to cover the expendable expenses (eg: food & fuel).

I calculate that out at a monthly cost (divide annual cost by 12, use your calculator app on your phone) and plan on having the PC's spend that much per month to keep the ship afloat.

Once you and the players understand how much money it takes to keep this ship of theirs flying then you/they need to earn revenue that is greater than their monthly expense.

 

Going BACK to the costs are flavor, prices can fluctuate.  On Nar Shaddaa, everything costs double the core retail price.  There are additional . . . "expenses" in procuring stuff for Nar Shaddaa.  But on the Debit side, some of the work opportunities on Nar Shaddaa, pay pretty well!  There is some additional "risks" that need to be factored in . . . :o.

My players have been travelling to Roon a lot and they kinda like it.  There are NO starport or excise fees on Roon.  But there are no general services on Roon either.  No Air Traffic controllers and all you really do is park your ship on an open section of cermacrete.  That also didn't stop a bunch of roughs from approaching the ship captain and demand a sizable quantity of money for "Port Fees" <ahem> "Protection."  <_<  The new Captain wasn't up to speed on how things worked and actually paid $2,000 for the port fees . . . much to the chagrin of the veteran crew.  :ph34r:

IIRC Sullust was kinda pricy, but their starports have double lock system to keep the corrosive atmosphere out, and the crew were offered cleaning services for a nominal fee.  (You can't let that corrosive stuff stay on your ship.  It'll eat right through your armor plating).  So prices were a little higher on Sullust.  :unsure:

Corellia was a very high traffic planet and the "monthly upkeep" costs were considerably less and included a lot of value added services at no additional costs, like free tranportation and off loading services.  It was a very clean and well run starport.  ^_^  But Corellia was running on a, get your cargo off and your ship outa here ASAP.  Prolonged stays could result in additional parking fees for instance.

 

Any rate, I get that you don't want to deal with putting tally marks next to your Arrow Allotment on your D&D Inventory section, but there is a dynamic of dramatic tension that you deprive your game of as key resources run out . . . ^_^

 

And that being said, I'm also running an AoR campaign so if the PC's can park their ship at a functioning rebel base, they "top off" for "free."

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