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Lula2

Acquisition house rules: Shop 'Til You Drop, Bargain Hunting, and Caveat Emptor

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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.


Bargain Hunting

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.


Caveat Emptor

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.

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lula said:

 

 

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.


Bargain Hunting

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.


Caveat Emptor

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.

 

 

I like what you have here, but I have some additional thoughts.

The Shop 'Til You Drop option should have some sort of curb. As it stands now, a lengthy string of successful Acquisition Tests could have the Explorer(s) walking away with the whole of Footfall. Dice being what they are (and not remembering what they rolled from toss to toss) can quite literally result in nothing but successful rolls, and for far longer than a GM might be comfortable with, to the point that "exploring" becomes irrelevant. As this option is supposed to represent "shopping until you run out of money" (and I'm assuming this means liquid cash on-hand) it should also have some representation of the money actually running out. Something like…

  • Reduce Profit Factor by .5 point (or 1 if the Explorer fails a Commerce Test to realize he/she have been cheated/overcharged) for each 3 successful Acquisition Tests. Maximum Profit Factor loss using this option being capped at 2, so the Explorers could make 6-12 Acquisition Tests before their personal coffers become emptied.

The time for Shop 'Til You Drop Acquisition seems okay. However…

Bargain Hunting does not necessarily mean getting "quality" items (people attending garage sales are "bargain hunting", K-Mart has "bargain bins" filled with shoddy cripe, etc). I can run out right now and get a "bargain" on food, spending a third of what I'd normally spend on groceries by going to the Dollar Store and buying $100 of Ramen, but my wife and kids are going to be none too happy with this month's menu. Either the Quality/Craftsmanship of the item being purchased is automatially lowered by 1 Step when using this method, or the amount of time needed to find an item of Common or higher Quality is increased by +50% of base time. You may be willing to spend only so much money, but finding a bargain takes far more time if you want an authentic bargain, as oposed to cheap and right now.

With Caveat Emptor, the stipulation of "the GM will tell you what you're getting into" needs some clarification. As an example, an Explorer might decide to buy the Power Sword that "suddenly became available"…but why? If he couldn't get it through normal channels and finances why buy this certain one now? Only a fool would buy a Power Sword without drawing it from its scabbard, igniting its blade and taking a few minutes worth of practice swings with it, and a bigger fool to realize it's faulty or Unwieldy and still purchase it. At that point it seems like a waste to even offer it. However, the purchase of a void ship is an entirely different matter. How many people have purchased a used car that was driven by a little old lady, only on Sundays and only to church and to the beauty salon, only to find out after the purchase and after the engine has siezed that she was a lead-footed speed devil that never had the oil changed? At that point, telling the Explorer what he's getting is being too gracious. The Explorer has a responsibility to hire Tech-Adepts and Enginseers to check out the potential purchase for him, and perhaps even take a look "under the hood" for himself…or take it for a test spin. Otherwise, let the buyer beware.

I think Caveat Emptor should be reserved for use in addtion to or as an alternative to Profit Factor loss due to failed Upkeep. 

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I've been toying with a system of temporary penalties to Profit Factor based on how expensive items the players buy.  Each player's penalties are tracked separately, and small penalties vanish rapidly while bigger ones take a bit longer.  If an Explorer fails an Acquisition, they get the penalty one step lower than if they'd succeeded (this represents time and money spent working the market).

Say an Explorer succeeded on Acquisitions whose final difficulties (after Scale, Craftmanship, Availability, and so on) were +40, +20, and -20, and failed on one at +10.  I'd reduce the +10 one to the next bracket down (which is the +40 to +59 range instead of the +20 to +39 range, same as the +40 he succeeded on), and that Explorer would have four separate penalties applying to their PF:  -1, -1, -2, and -4.

Minus-one and minus-two penalties evaporate the next time the Explorers move between systems, OR if the Explorer with the penalties waits three days before making more Acquisition Tests.  So 4 of the 8 total penalty will be gone in a few short days or if they go somewhere else to shop.  Minus-three and minus-four penalties are reduced by 2 after two weeks or two moves, at which point they're treated like their new -1 or -2 numbers instead.  So if the Explorers go to another system and then return, that's two moves, so the -1's and -2 will both be gone and the -4 will drop to -2.

Past -4, it's a sliding scale to prevent multiple back-to-back "way out there" purchases, ranging from -5 or -6 (from -21 down to -60) and getting very steadily heavier (-71 to -80 range gives a -12 penalty, and anything below -91 gives a -24 penalty).  If your Explorers are able to actually get things that carry a total -80 penalty, then they can survive a few of those -12's.  No matter how far below -4 they go, these penalties wear off at a rate of one point per month (don't forget each penalty is tracked separately, so if they have three -12's for a total -36, then in a month they'll have three -11's for a total -33, not -35), as well as wearing off a point each time the group gains Profit Factor while the Explorer is carrying that penalty (representing the new cash flow refilling those empty pockets).  So groups that are out and about performing Endeavors and overseeing colonies and bringing of the light of the Emperor to the heathen worlds have their big purchases paid off faster than the ones that decide to randomly explore (and don't find anything worth selling, anyway) or sit on their laurels and count their money stacks.

I'm sure the system still needs plenty of tweaking, but I thought it would still work better than the GM (that is, me) having to arbitrarily decide when a group has worn out it's welcome (or it's wallet).  Remember if you decide to use this system that the penalties NEVER add to each other (although they do stack for determining total penalty, they're each separate for recovery purposes), and each Explorer's penalties only apply to themselves.  I'll put the full table as it currently stands below, in case anyone is actually interested :P

Quick reminder for this table…  -1's and -2's wear off in three days or immediately on changing systems.  -3's and -4's drop by two in two weeks or after changing systems twice, becoming -1's and -2's (and being treated as such, so 17 days or three moves [or two moves and then three days, or two weeks and then a move] clear them entirely).  -5's and greater diminish one point per month and one point per time the group gains Profit Factor (maybe more than one point for large gains, at your discretion) until they become -4's, at which point they follow the normal rules for a -4.

Diminishing Buying Power
Total Penalty to Acquisition Test Inflicted Penalty to Profit Factor
>=60 0
+59 to +40 -1
+39 to +20 -2
+19 to +/-0 -3
-1 to -20 -4
-21 to -40 -5
-41 to -60 -6
-61 to -70 -8
-71 to -80 -12
-81 to -90 -18
<=-91 -24

 

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