Cash and Carry: Savage Wealth with a Nod to Technoir

Something caught my eye yesterday on Twitter, someone had retweeted something or other about Technoir, so I clicked through to JeremyKeller’s website and scoped out his video. I’ve thought about trying them out sometime, but that’s beside the point. The game looked interesting and evocative of FATE, but with his own interesting twists. He wrote Chronica Feaudalis (a game I’ve read good things about as well as heard good things about from Ron Blessing, though haven’t picked up yet). Well, I found this a bit intriguing, because we’ve been playing FATE and I’ve been fiddling around with the rules a bit, but haven’t been quite happy with how Wealth is handled in Diaspora (and I really dig Diaspora, for the most part). In other FATE games I’ve played, money hasn’t been a big focus in our games, as we focus more on the cinematic and story angles coming from Savage Worlds and just my basic design sensibilities. It’s about the quests, not the coin, so abstraction is okay. Speaking of coin, you can get the Player’s Guide (beta version) for FREE.

There are appropriate times for counting the coin and I think Jeremy struck a nice, happy balance. You can read the article here. The upshot is each tag costs you more money. Simple. Elegant. I can dig it.

You may want to know what any of this has to do with me? Well, I posted this up in Basecamp, and Kristian went off the rails about the thrust of the conversation and took the conversation to Life After Death. That’s okay. All these guys go off on tangents, but usually something good will come of it. It prompted a dialogue regarding wealth in Savage Worlds. I’m a coin guy for the system. Though it’s not the focus of the game. I haven’t seen a wealth system I’d bring home to meet my mother. After seeing countless iterations, I caved and finally drafted up some simple rules which should work fine in play, but like other things I’ve posted here from time to time, I haven’t played with them, nor set up the necessary Target Numbers, though I have an idea now of how to do it, so I shall proceed. I’m also going to include liner notes along the way which I would scrub up and you’d never see if it makes it into our product. I typically do this on occasion for other devs, but not for playtesters–at that point, rules should stand alone. Here, I’m going for a workshop vibe, so go with it. Good? Good.

Savage Wealth

Basic Rule: Wealth is a “skill” which can be purchased like any other, but does not Ace or get a Wild Die. Each die type costs 2 skill points to Advance. May be used Unskilled, like other skills, at a d4-2.

Rules Reasons: While you may think the No Aces violates the rules, this uses the precedent of Running. You may also say, hey, my Smarts could help me get rich. Sure, maybe, but you could say that about any Attribute, Agility/Strength = Pro Athlete, etc. Keeping it unskilled means people REALLY have to throw the points into it. Precedent? Of course. It’s like advance Super Skills in the core book as well.

Common Sense Reasons: You don’t want people to pump up Wealth radically quickly and you don’t want the die to Ace because it’d be absurd for someone with Wealth d4 to purchase a Leer Jet. Savvy? Good. Let’s move on.

Then you could modify the two wealth related Edges accordingly:

Rich (Prereq: Wealth d6+) : The character gets a Wild Die with all Wealth checks.

Filthy Rich (Prereq: Rich, Wealth d8+): The character has access to vast amounts of resources. The dice may Ace on Wealth checks.

This uses the old, “bring down the baseline, and then pump it back up with Edges” guideline from the Reality Blurs’ handbook.

Another idea to explore, which adds a bit of granularity, but I think is okay, is you could take all gear and put it into lifestyle bands.

Free: No roll. (I”m putting it here, so you don’t bombard me with questions.)

Cheap: +2 to Wealth rolls. (This means characters who make Wealth check rolls unskilled still have a 25% chance of getting a burger or a soda. Who knows? Maybe they’ve scraped together pennies from the floorboard of an old Pontiac, cause they ain’t working (or they’re doing charity work, so God bless ’em).

Reasonable: No modifer to the wealth roll.

Expensive: Wealth rolls are made at -2. This would be paying cash money for a car, chartering a jet, whatever.

Very Expensive: Wealth rolls are made at -4. This would be buying a hotel on a whim, tricking out a secret lair, or building a suit of power armor.

This is a baseline applied across the board for all characters. It’s not relative. A reasonable roll is the fixed amount and works equally. A TV may be reasonable, but it’s unlikely for a hobo to be able to whip out his HoboExpress and buy one.

You then categorize what goods go where. This is a rough system which could be refined a bit more, but I think it’s workable. Let me know what you think. Let me know how you do things. Post comments below, so we can all share in the dialogue (if there is one).

Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!


Note: These have not been tested. If you give them a spin, please let me know.

6 Notes on, Cash and Carry: Savage Wealth with a Nod to Technoir

  1. How would you work the Poverty Hindrance into this? A penalty on all Wealth rolls? How large a penalty?

    There are always more things to consider in a rules change. Even ignoring the gear section (though most adventure gear, including weapons, would be “reasonable” for adventurers).

  2. Hello and thanks for dropping by!

    As stated, these are ideas just tossed out. I’d put a lot more detail (and thought) into them if expanding and integrating them into any rules set. I just took a few minutes away from what I’m working on to post them up, but I had given some thought to Poverty and had a couple different angles of approach.

    Poverty: The character receives -2 to all Wealth rolls. Each die type increase in Wealth takes two leveling opportunities.

    Alternately, you could say all purchases are treated as one Level Higher (i.e. Free becomes cheap, and so on.)

    Certainly, more care would be required to sort out all the specifics for a particular setting. At present, it requires a bit of lifting from the GM, but these mechanics work on a coarse level.

  3. Hi,
    Have you seen the d20 Modern conversion to Savage Worlds?

    I like your system, but this one seems more deep, without being less FFF.
    One thing I miss in SWEX and the new SWDX is a better equipment list prices for different “ages”.
    I’ve indeed researched through RoC, HEX, and half a dozen games more to find a connection on ’30s wealth for a pulp campaign, and before that to a 19th C. (Victorian) campaign.
    6 books, 6 different prices for the same old gun.

    “The Wealth System” (yours or d20) seems to fix some issues. What do you think?

  4. Jorge,

    Thanks for dropping by. Mine was cobbled together in a handful of minutes, so I’ll be sure to check that one out.

    There is going to be cost variances between settings–different designers, different resource materials, and so on. The main thing you want to do is not let it get in the way of having fun! Abstract can work, depending upon the game focus. I’ll admit to changing my view on that quite a bit over the years.

    I’ll give you more insights on this tomorrow. I just caught this as I was wrapping up for today.



  5. Hi Sean:

    I’m thriving for your experienced point of view!

    I agree.. sometimes I forget the main goal, having fun, but this time is quite the opposite.
    Trying to reflect the era you are playing this way allows to be flexible with almost no work:
    If in the 30’s the autos were cheaper but the weapons weren’t (i dunno really) it’s only a +1/-1 instead reworking all gear tables.

    Anyways, I’ll test it on my next game session, and I’ll come with some feedback.


  6. Hi again, Sean:
    Researching a bit around SW Licensed materials, I’ve found a nifty book covering a TN wealth system :
    Take a look, seems that you both thought the same thing around!


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