Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Find the Path: Pondering Alternative Wealth Systems

One of my problems with Pathfinder (and the D&D central genre of tabletop RPGs) is with the
acquisition of wealth (you know, gp).  I'm not alone on this particular subject- one subgenre of gaming subsystems is how to bypass this particular bump.  This isn't about the nature of acquiring magic items or interesting items.  I'm talking about raw gold and gem wealth.  These irritate me when I game.

Why?  The minutae of tracking wealth has, for me, been annoying as a GM.  And as a player.  On both sides of a Pathfinder game, I've been known to just ignore the actual values of wealth.  I'll just ignore the numbers, even when tasked with tracking them.  I round numbers up or down, get to some reasonable "amount" and just move on.  Actual money numbers kinda irritates me, as it adds a accounting minigame to a necessary component of the game.  If you want the item you DO want as a player, you HAVE to play the accounting game of turning X item into Y item.

As a GM, if given enough time, I ignore randomly giving items out: I just give players the items they do want.  That's one great reason to have minmaxers; they make determining these items easy as pie.  As a GM I just have to make sure they get dispensed at the right time.  But the raw gold still sits there, subtly adding more and more crap I don't want to deal with as a GM.

As a player, I tend to get annoyed with the minigame.  If you can't or don't play into the stupidity of it- selling these items, generating gold, then turning that gold into items you do want (or need for some classes to stay relevant)- you get stalled out on another form of leveling up.  The numbers game of it kinda irritates me because the system has no real raw enforcement of some of its principles I think- wealth caps, limits on purchasing items, limits on how much of X kinds of items, etc., that I feel underwhelmed.  I get 'trapped' if the GM doesn't give me the five minutes to sell and play the stupid game- and why as a GM is playing the minigame of accounting any more fun?

So, I want a different minigame for d20 games, to handle the wealth issues.  The first thing is that I don't like the Wealth system for d20 modern and its related fauna.  The system doesn't really solve the problem, replacing one complicated system with another system, one that loses all the FLAVOR of wealth in the process.  At least, that has been my experience with it.

Here are the goals, in brief I want:

*Has strong Flavor, over and beyond raw number values.
*Allows players (and me) to drop most coin counting altogether, especially for items of tiny or no consequence.
*Allows the purchase or creation of expensive items.
*Rewards pro-flavor choices, possibly being as rewarding a challenge as combat is for some characters.
*Scales without issue.

I have some ideas, but this post is just about me outlining the end goal.  Any suggestions out there?

Thanks for Reading.  All comments are welcomed.  Good ideas are praised, bad ideas ignored and great ideas are stolen outright.  If this helps you too, I'm glad I was there for you.