Friday, July 9, 2010


Ah money. It's the point of shadowrunning, isn't it? After all, this is a game in which people are willing to risk life and limb, routinely get shot at, parts blown off them, suffer soul burns, and get sent in for trauma surgery on a routine basis, and it sure as hell ain't because they believe in the cause. At least not in a single game I've ever played or run. Which means they do it for the payday. At first glance, money doesn't need an overhaul. In fact, that's absolutely correct. Money doesn't need an overhaul. It works just fine. There's a fully priced out catalog of gear, and my runners love to haggle for their payout on every run. It's a great motivator, because money is the gateway to stuff, and everybody loves stuff.

Except that I'm planning this game for the long term, and there's a small problem with money: it loses value for some. Once you get a decent amount of magical gear, you don't need money as an awakened character. You need karma. Meanwhile, as a mundane (samurai, rigger, hacker), you need ever increasing amounts of money because the cooler stuff costs more. Eventually you wind up with a character who's got a lot of something he doesn't need, be it karma or cash. Characters can trade cash around, but karma doesn't flow that way.
So when I set out to build a system for Shadowrun that addressed all the issues we'd run into before, I looked at this as well. I wanted one reward system that was universally applicable, which meant I needed to reconcile the cash/karma divide.

Remember way back when I decided that knacks would have to be called knacks because I wanted them to include more than a character's skills? This is one of the reasons why. I've decided to turn money into an abstract concept rather than a hard number. It actually makes purchasing something a little more involved because you can't just subtract the cost from your holdings and leave it at that, but in the end I'm hoping the payoff is worth it. See, by turning cash into a knack, it means karma is closer to a universal award. Want more money? Well, increase your Resources knack. Oh, that costs karma, by the way. See? Brilliant!

How's this work? Well, like I said, it's a little involved. So here it is:

The Basics
Resources have a health meter similar to the stun/physical condition monitors, and yes, this includes the injuries slots as well. Now, instead of tracking individual amounts of money, a player rolls some dice every time he wants to buy something. Multiple purchases eventually erode this financial health meter, which can only be replenished by getting paid. This gives characters a reason to continue running even though money isn't tracked to the same degree anymore.

Buying Things
Each point of resources in the health meter is equivalent to roughly Y1,000. Thus the first box is worth Y1,000, the second is worth Y2,000, etc. For the small stuff, I'm not sweating the details. So players can buy reasonable quantities of anything of a value less than the money granted by this knack without worrying about it. For items greater than or equal to this amount, they'll need to roll against the cost of the thing. The threshold is the difference between their Resources rank and the cost of the item, with each point of shortfall representing Y1,000. So, if someone wants to buy something that's Y4,000 more than what they have in their Resources, they need to make a roll and come up with 4 hits.

If successful, the character can afford the item; if not, he still buys it, but suffers a hit on his resources condition monitor equal to the roll’s shortfall. Thus if that roll before came up with only 1 hit, the character suffers a rating 3 hit on his resources condition monitor.

Money Woes
Resource wounds cause wound penalties in the same way that physical wounds do, but these penalties only apply to resource rolls, and represent the cash flow problems that heavy expenses cause, such as declined credit accounts and temporarily low balances.

As with combat wounds, a character can mitigate this damage by accepting injuries, in this case financial ones such as borrowing from loansharks, getting a part time job at Stuffer Shack, or tanking their credit score.

Climbing Out of the Hole
Unlike physical damage, resource damage doesn’t automatically heal on its own. In order to shore up his finances, a character needs to generate income. This probably means going on a shadowrun (since that is the point of the game). He may apply money earned on a run to his financial condition monitor. A box costs Y1,000 nuyen per point to heal. Thus, a rating 3 hit costs Y3,000 to heal. 

Note that this means you can heal your finances after a run, but only if you get paid. Getting screwed by a Johnson still hurts even if money's gone abstract. Financial injuries cost Y,2000 points per level to remove.

Starting Cash
A character's resources health meter is equal to his Resources knack rating. This means that he'll have a 2 box health meter by default, and can begin with as many as 7 boxes.

No comments:

Post a Comment