Equipment, Load and Wealth

I don’t like bookkeeping. Once during game with my current players they had to plan a score (we’re playing Blades in the Dark) and they wanted to bring some stuff in buckets. And asked me “do we have buckets?” And I was kinda “yeah, you have everything reasonable for your situation. You can have buckets, you’re not constrained to buy every element of equipment you want to use.” And it happened few times. Like when they wanted wheelbarrel to move their cooking equipment for ritual and asked “where can we get it?” Again I had to explain “I don’t know, you bought it, borrowed it, stole it, it’s not the interesting part of adventure – you have it, what do you want to do with it?” I think because they were, and to certain extent I was too, exposed to systems in which you had to count every coin, every currency you had. And you didn’t have what you didn’t bought. And it kind of pushed GMs to roleplay even most mundane, bland purchase scenes, because it was relevant for the system. I cannot stress how many uninteresting scenes I had to play through to buy knife, bucket, torches or arrows. Usually it had some potential for adventure but I just wanted to buy stuff for the main adventure. Or spending half a session looking through the book to know prices of things to buy during big shopping moments. Even if there wasn’t roleplay we had to check with GM if thing had different prices in this place than were in the book, because they sometimes vary. And that conditioned us to worry about irrelevant equipment nonsense. That’s why I like abstract wealth. If I ever again have to play a game in which I have to worry if I have a bucket, bag or bedroll I would consider my gaming life wasted.

So, as established, I’d like abstract wealth. How abstract? Linked to social status and types of currency – Copper, Silver and Gold. Copper is important for most poor people – they count it one-by-one because they have barely any money. When one lives as a person of Silver standard they are used to making small and cheap purchases. Silver standard means you are small entrepreneur or craftsman, earning more than poorest workers but not enough to really make a difference. Kind of medieval/ancient middle class. You can buy a lantern and oil but you won’t hire anyone to hold it for you. Tools are getting better and rations lasting longer (or more nutritious). Then you have it golden. You are truly middle and upper middle class, you can hire person to hold your lantern and probably two more to carry your things.

Over regular wealth levels is aristocracy. You can pay in Jewels and Villages. At this point wealth doesn’t really matter unless you’re trying to purchase land or build a stronghold. Above Village level you can pay in Titles due to immense power given by such wealth. Every product could then be classified as one of these ‘levels’ of wealth. I think I’d add something like “what you could buy” section for settlements. Like which Light commodities can you use without destroying budget: (C) Torches, Candles (S) Oil Lamp, Candle Lantern, (G) Candle Lantern and Torchbearer, Oil Lantern, (J) Belt Oil Lantern, Directed Oil Lantern, (V) Directed Belt Oil Lantern. Differences are this – Torch has shortest ‘lifespan’, Candle has longer, Oil the longest. Lanterns make the light invulnerable to wind, belt version make it so you don’t have to hold it in hand and directed has small mirrors inside to enhance emitted light in one direction but these are experimental designs and cost way more. The biggest expense is mix all of these qualities, making it probably more of extravagant fashion choice for rich landowners than equipment used for real.

Let me just share based on Ancient Rome foods to buy: (C) Legumes, Grains, Fruit, (S) Fish, Cheese, Vegetables, (G) Meats, Spices, (J) Exotic Foods. Baseline diet was plain – mostly bread or oatmeal, dried fruits and nuts, peas, lentils and chickpeas roasted, cooked or in a stew, rarely (it is said once a week) supplemented by Silver foods. Everything from foreign lands would be considered exotic, higher wealth levels would include foods from farther and farther lands or just more good quality food. The plebs are eating groats with chickpeas and aristocrats finest meats with vegetable additions.

Since adventurers are not working regular jobs and rarely have stable income I was thinking of making it as such – you get a clock of your current wealth quality. So if you robbed a dungeon and have a lot of gold you are in Golden. Every time you buy thing or live as in poorer wealth you do not “lose” your fortune – amount of it spent is small enough you won’t acknowledge it. It changes if you buy bulk items or items for others – within this wealth are only your expenses. If you buy something within your wealth range tick your wealth. If you use whole clock then you lost your fortune and have to change wealth clock to lower. Each clock has a different bigness – Copper has 4, Silver 6, Gold 8 and so on. It showcases that the poorer PC is the more part of their wealth is spent on basic needs and that world is more generous for the rich. And after significant time passes (for downtime activities) change everyone’s wealth to lower. If they’re doing some work earning them money keep their wealth clock on this level. If they’re going adventuring and stop working their wealth would slowly diminish. Another rule – if you get more wealth ticks than your clock has available (found 2 Silver Coins exceeding full 6 Silver clock) then it does not turn wealth level to higher – it’s just additional disposable income.

How does the encumbrance work? I think each character has a Load. I’d make few points of it, so you can have a lot of 0-Load things in pockets. Then there won’t be notion of counting every straw and changing things because you threw that one stone which made you encumbered. Items with 0-Load would be knife, small bag with money, lover’s letter or stone to your sling. Load changes some rules regarding characters. Light loaded are considered inconspicuous, quick and quiet. Medium loaded characters look like they are having specific goal, can either be quick or quiet but no both at the same time. Heavy loaded characters look like ready for trouble, loud and slow. And over that you’re just simply not able to do most things – just walk slowly. I was wondering if amount of Load shouldn’t affect Dodging ability – for example giving advantage while Light and disadvantage on Heavy but it is to be balanced. I will be crunching numbers but think fully armoured knight with heavy weapon and shield should be on the verge of encumbrance. Maybe even after it – and to use full tank-man equipment you have to train or get special abilities or maybe invested in Brawn attribute if you use alternative rules. Also, historically knights in full plate were rarely using big shields – armor gave enough protection they could focus on attack.

  • Last point of this article should be some combat equipment. Let me show you some examples in Medium/Regular weapons (1 Load):
    • Mace/Club 1d8-1 Blunt Copper
    • Axe 1d8 Sharp Silver
    • Sword 1d8 Sharp Parrying (1) Gold
  • And Long weapons (2 Load):
    • Stick 1d8-1 Blunt Copper
    • Spear 1d8+1 Sharp Silver
  • And Short/Small/Light weapons (0 Load):
    • Stone 1d8-1 Blunt Free
    • Knife 1d8 Sharp Silver
    • Dagger 1d8+1 Sharp Silver

And now I see people complaining – dagger is better than knife and they cost the same. To which I’d answer – but dagger is a weapon and knife is a tool. And if you used your dagger to do knifey things I would rule it’s dulled. Or even can break (X-in-6 chance?). And if guards would find dagger they will be more suspicious than with knife.

Armor would be barely accessible to be honest. Maybe Gambeson Armor (1, Blunt) Silver, but anything better? Gold. Want something like chain armor? Bring me some Jewels. Want to be plated knight? Pay me some Villages. I know it doesn’t make action gamey sense because how my paladin could pay for this. And here comes the explanation – you either start as a noble who could pay for it, it was sponsored by your family or your order. So then when you go rouge with whimsical adventurers be sure someone will come after you in this shiny armor. Some of the things would of course be cheaper or more expensive depending on their state and materials. Bone tools I’d imagine would get better bonus from upkeep background ability but dull out quickly. Stone tools may be invulnerable to such skill and wouldn’t get the bonus at all and when broken couldn’t be fixed – only replaced. If you cannot buy regular knife maybe get the rusty one – less damage, easier to brake but at least something sharp. Also in order to keep people from having to think about every single object they might need – I would group items into Kits and Packs. Also I’d probably include in Player’s Pamphlet advise how to handle equipment in action so players would think what to put to a backpack so they can throw it away if quick action is needed and it makes them encunbered.

That’s how I see it. I see some points which make it maybe too convoluted. But at the same time – I will never go back to counting coins.

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