Economics and keeping the PC's poor.

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Economics and keeping the PC's poor.

Post by imperialus » Sat Jul 21, 2018 8:40 am

Edit: Here is a link to the Carousing table I use. I wish I could remember who originally posted it so I could give credit for at least a chunk of it. ... 54TsF/view

One of the bigger challenges I've run into with DCC is the economy, especially coming from... well pretty much any edition of D&D where the PC's are inevitably walking around with the GDP of a moderate kingdom in their packs by 3rd or 4th level. I like the idea of keeping the PC's poor, but it can be tough to keep them motivated when the rewards for a quest where they kill a dragon or battle a lich king is 200 gold. Treasure is a big motivator in Fantasy in general, even if you look at Appendex N stuff the heros often walk away from adventures with a lot of coin in their pocket. I've had a challenge in finding that balance between rewarding players, while at the same time keeping them cash starved. We came from a long running (8 years) 1st edition (well actually a B/X Labarynth Lord, AD&D mashup) where the PC's were sitting on the better part of a million gold pieces by the end of the campaign at 9th level and XP was awarded for gold simply by dragging it back to town so I encountered some resistance when I tried to 'screw' them out of their coin. At any rate, after quite some time, I think I've developed a system I quite like. It offers a lot of player choice, and although it does tend to advance characters faster than might be typical in a DCC game, I'm OK with that. It gives them a sense of being rewarded for having 'lost' their gold, and they've bought into it pretty well.

Economics pt. 1. Finding the treasure: I generally try to award PC's about 100gp per level per adventure not counting hirelings. So if I was preparing an adventure for a party of 7PC's, 2 at 3rd level, 4 at 2nd, and 1 at 1st I would include about 1500GP worth of treasure... give or take. Going to either extreme of either missing secrets entirely or stripping the furnishings and sliverware can generally either decrease or increase the take by 10-20%. This might seem high, at least by DCC standards but I think it balances out with the next step.

Economics pt. 2. Spending the treasure: I strongly encourage my PC's to basically put their treasure in a pile and set fire to it. It's the fastest way to advance in experience by far and they have a couple methods to do it.
Method 1: They can spend their money on genuinely useful stuff. This can be weapons, armour, exotic material components, ect. For every 100 GP they spend this way (rounded down) they get 1 XP.
Method 2: They can basically just dump it in some sort of boring way that may or may not aid them indirectly. This can be Clerics donating to temples, Fighters equipping the local militia, Wizards spending it on research materials, Thieves putting coin into a hairbrained get rich scheme, or anyone just blowing it on wine women and song. This will get you 1XP for every 50 GP you jettison.
Method 3: Roll for it. I've got a carousing table I've been working on. It's a modified variation of one that I found posted here a couple years ago. This one is interesting because it will never give worse than a 50:1 ratio, but it can get as high as 20:1... However, there are a lot of potential complications. If you're getting 40:1 exchange on your GP's you're probably using it to bribe your way out of trouble with the local authorities. At 35:1 it can be easy to 'accidentally' gamble away more money than you actually have, and end up in debt to someone of the knee breaking persuasion. You might have blown it all on powdered black lotus that went up your nose. Gotten lots of XP for the privilege at a 25:1 ratio, but now you're hooked and it suddenly becomes an essential item going forward. Maybe that noblewoman you spent a small fortune on over the course of an evening at a 20:1 ratio turns out to be the favoured concubine/wife/daughter of the local overlord, and everyone saw you seducing her. There are also typically limits as to how much PC's can spend at one time using this method, and they are only allowed to roll once during any significant period of downtime.
Method 4: Dump it for the story. I'll periodically give PC's one-time opportunities to jettison large amounts of money at a much better rate than typical. This usually has to do with the story. I typically do this if I want to bump up the PC's power level significantly, or if I feel as though I have been dolling out too much treasure recently. The ratio and limits are determined on a case by case basis. It can range from 30:1 down to 10:1 depending.

One of the interesting side effects of this, particularly the inclusion of the occasional opportunities for XP 'firesales' is it forces the players to really consider how they want to spend their coin. Just for example, say a PC wizard recently found a scroll of create staff. Now he just needs the material components. They'll cost him 2000 GP, but the catch is, I've just put them in a situation where they can contribute coin to help equip and train a standing army to hold off an orc invasion. It's a 20:1 rate... Does he dump the 1100 GP he's saved? Does he continue to horde it to get that staff crafted? Does he split the difference? I mean he's 20XP short of the next level. Maybe if he donated 400... Choices are hard.

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Re: Economics and keeping the PC's poor.

Post by jsrodman » Sat Sep 15, 2018 10:21 pm

How does this interact with encounter XP in your games? It seems like DCC advancement is, overall, quite a bit faster than B/X D&D or 1e/2e AD&D. And that's OK by me, but if I take encounter XP and add on treasure XP, then they may well shoot right up the chart.

Or is that not typically what happens?

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Re: Economics and keeping the PC's poor.

Post by Ozerulz » Mon May 20, 2019 8:17 pm

What to do with a large haul? It’s hard to get that large load back to anywhere you can do anything with it. You’ll need pack horses or wagons and someone to man these to haul it. These people have to be paid and once they know what’s being hauled they’ll want to be paid well. If you’re cheap they may help themselves or worse tell their friends what you’ve got. Hard to protect all that newfound wealth. Even worse is how much inflation goes up once players come back and dump tons of money into the local economy.
There’s an infinite number of ways to keep players poor.

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Re: Economics and keeping the PC's poor.

Post by imperialus » Fri Jul 19, 2019 7:01 am

Oh hey. Responses. Interestingly enough I've actually begun to move away from even awarding gold as treasure. They'll find stuff... oftentimes useful stuff, but very little gold.

As far as advancement goes I haven't found it to be too bad. I mostly just make up the XP rewards for completing adventures as I see fit. PC attrition takes care of a fair bit as well. We're around level 4-5 now on the Isle of Dagon getting ready to take on the Journey to the centre of Aerth which should be interesting. The total monetary wealth of the party is probably somewhere in the neighbourhood of 2-3000 gp. That said, they've been travelling with a benefactor who has taken care of a lot of the mundane financial stuff for them. They are on the Isle of Dagon participating in the wizard duels in order to find a map to Agartha so they can find a means to travel back in time in order to kill a god so as to prevent an apocalypse that turned the world into the Purple Planet... Yes, I've been replaying Chrono-Trigger. With that in mind my goal is to get them up to level 5-6 before tackling that. As such, I tend to award XP in a very haphazard manner mostly dictated by what I want them to do next. One other thing I do is I'll award say 20XP per character at the conclusion of an adventure along with another (pulling numbers out of thin air) 50 XP to the entire group that they can split amongst the characters as they see fit.

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Re: Economics and keeping the PC's poor.

Post by finarvyn » Thu Jul 25, 2019 4:52 pm

One thing that I've noticed about many of the "Appendix N" short story collections (Conan, Fafhrd & Mouser, Elric, Delvish, and so on) is that there is a common theme that adventurers gain absurd amounts of wealth by the end of one story yet are totally penniless by the start of the next.

What I started doing is warning my players that this would happen to them much of the time, so most gold and gems vanish in between adventures. I may allow some of the magical items to stay, but not always. I was afraid that this might minimize my players' motivation or make gold seem worthless, but they still seem to enjoy acquiring it even it they don't get to keep it.
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Re: Economics and keeping the PC's poor.

Post by whatheck » Mon Sep 23, 2019 8:56 pm

I'm new to DCC, and have been thumbing through the book for the last couple weeks as I consider taking my 5e group on a DCC tangent. I came across this thread searching for ways to reconcile the seemingly vast quantities of gold required by the likes of "Sword Magic" and "Wizard Staff" with the guidance on distributing treasure which I'd summarize as "Don't give out much". I suppose those spells come later in the game, when more treasure has been amassed. And I further suppose the author would suggest making an adventure out of acquiring the requisite gold and materials. I do like the carousing ideas set forth by OP, which seem to jive with the ideas on pp 360. I think I'd try something like that, to dwindle a silly large hoard.

I do wonder, if anyone who's actually run the game has had PCs use any of the magical item creation mechanics and if the gp or material requirements felt awkward, prohibitive, or seemed to just work out.

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