Buying Stuff

A brand new feedback forum for our massively revised draft!
User avatar
Agamemnon
Grand Master
Posts: 1106
Joined: 05 Jan 2013, 13:59
Contact:

Buying Stuff

Post by Agamemnon » 15 May 2017, 23:39

http://www.strawpoll.me/12976060

Every book winds up with some sort of "buying stuff" section. Should this be an exhaustive account of different things the players might want to buy, or the broadest strokes? The latter has the benefit of being less involved and taking up less space, but means the GM will have to make it up a bit more as they go along and could be troublesome if they encounter something that they just don't have a frame of reference for (anyone have even a ballpark idea what a trained hunting falcon should run in a renaissance economy?). The former gives the GM a lot more to work with, at the cost (ha) of being more fiddly and requiring more stuff to look up in play.
Sword and Scoundrel: On Role-Playing and Fantasy Obscura

Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife — chopping off what’s incomplete and saying: "Now it’s complete because it’s ended here."
Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib, the Princess Irulan
User avatar
thirtythr33
Editorial Inquisition
Posts: 1241
Joined: 12 Aug 2015, 03:23

Re: Buying Stuff

Post by thirtythr33 » 16 May 2017, 03:42

Falconry tangent!
Main sources:
De Arte Venandi cum Avibus (The Art of Hunting with Birds) by Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor around 1230
Boke of Seynt Albans (Book of Saint Albans) by St Albans Press 1484

There was a definite hierarchy of hunting birds by social rank, though it is deputed (Some say Vultures and Kestrel can't be used for hunting, for example)

Emperor: Golden Eagle, Vulture, & Merlin
King: Gyrfalcon (male & female)
Prince: Female Peregrine
Duke: Rock Falcon (subspecies of the Peregrine)
Earl: Peregrine
Baron: Male peregrine
Knight: Saker
Squire: Lanner Falcon
Lady: Female Merlin
Yeoman: Goshawk or Hobby
Priest: Female Sparrowhawk
Holywater clerk: Male Sparrowhawk
Knaves, Servants, Children: Old World Kestrel

Things of note: Females were usually much more valuable, as they were larger and easier to train.

Penalty for owning a bird above your rank was having your hand cut off.
Penalty for breaking wild falcon eggs was 1 year prison.
Penalty for poaching a wild falcon was having your eyes poked out.

Prices for high end:
1360: Ottoman Sultan Beyazid captured the son of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, and turned down Philip’s offer of 200,000 gold ducats for ransom. Instead, Beyazid wanted and was given something even more precious: twelve white gyrfalcons.
1286: Historian Ibn Said al-Maghribi tells us an Egyptian Sultan paid 1,000 dinars for each Gyrfalcon (or, if it arrived dead, 500 dinars).
Falconry largely fell out of favor in the Renaissance, so later prices are harder to find.

So using this website:
http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~marc-ca ... /coin.html
That prices the Gyrfalcon in the range of 24,000sp - 400,000sp

Prices are very high because birds of prey could not be bred in captivity until 20th century, and the best birds came from very specific islands very far away.

I don't know any prices for lower social ranked birds. But, they obviously were affordable according to their rank as historically they were very fashionable among nobility. At the low end, we know that peasants DIDN'T keep birds of prey because they were too expensive (largely because of the mews, training and feeding it meat). The low class used bows, crossbows, nets and spaniels for catching ducks and geese, so apparently a Sparrowhawk was still more expensive than a hunting dog but within the affordability of a Yeoman.
So asking "what's the price of a falcon?" is like asking "how long is a piece of string?" In today's world the best analogy is the car. You can get a car from $500 for a second hand rust bucket or you might pay $1,000,000 for a rare sports car. For a wrist watch you could pay $10 to $10,000. I'm sure that during your research you would have found equally wild price ranges for swords, armors and horses. The thing is all these things will practically do their respective jobs equally well in day to day life regardless of price. The majority of the cost is tied up in the social signaling and not the minuscule advantage that is actually in the product. So really, a sword, armor, falcon or horse costs whatever your social class demands you to pay to maintain your standing.

That kind of "pay what your social class demands" thing really lends itself well to an abstract currency system like Burning Wheel.

So having said all that, I'll loop back to the original question. How detailed your lists are in going to depend on what kind of economic system you go with. If we are tracking skillings and are expected to pay for each ale we buy at the tavern like you do in DND, then you need an extensive list of prices (probably even delineating price by social rank expectation). If you are using an abstract system where you can get "stuff" for free that doesn't interact with the mechanics and is of a quality commensurate to your social class, you only really need a price (or Req?) listed for all the obvious stuff with huge narrative impact or has combat application.

So without knowing how you are handling wealth, I can't really answer your question.

Also, this is going to be useful if you don't have it already:
http://medieval.ucdavis.edu/120D/Money.html
"O happy dagger!
This is thy sheath; there rust, and let me die."

- Juliet Capulet
User avatar
Benedict
Standard Bearer
Posts: 1075
Joined: 23 May 2016, 09:52

Re: Buying Stuff

Post by Benedict » 16 May 2017, 03:52

I went with 2nd option (Broad Strokes). I don't know exactly how you are going to handle this. Still I'd like to provide some input from my part.

I'd prefer it if items (from weapons and armor, to transports and houses, to services, to whatever) DO NOT have a specific price. What I have in mind:

A Resources "stat", dependent on Class and other edges (ie Wealthy, Bankrupt, etc). Items have a Cost Rank (C1-C10, or even higher).

A Dagger would be C1. A Decorated Dagger C3. An Emperor's Jeweled Dagger C8.
Agamemnon wrote:Meanwhile, I find myself doing dumb things like trying to research price ranges for prostitutes in the 16th century.
A Port side Jenny would be C2. A High Priestess of Venus would be C7. etc.

An untrained young falcon could be C4. A highly trained Persian Falcon C6 (or more).

And so on.

Buying something that equals or exceeds your Resource rank would definitely reduce your Resource. Getting MoFs on buying rolls likewise would get you subpar items and/or reduction of Resource stat. etc.

Tbh I prefer this approach instead of "This sword costs x Skillings; bummer, I have x/2 Skillings" or "This armor costs x Marks; great! I can afford 20 of them, I equip every soldier of my mercenary band with it" approach.
"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool."
― Touchstone
dysjunct
Journeyman
Posts: 101
Joined: 20 Jan 2013, 22:47

Re: Buying Stuff

Post by dysjunct » 16 May 2017, 08:48

Broad strokes. Costs varied pretty wildly across time, geography, and coinage systems, so unless your default setting is specifically tied to e.g. Florence ca. 1200 CE, the costs are going to be wrong.

Also, the point of S&S is not to be an ACKS-like economic simulation. The issue with "better to have it and not need it" is that the presence of rules is a symbol to the reader about what's important in the game.
taelor
Journeyman
Posts: 164
Joined: 23 Apr 2015, 05:55

Re: Buying Stuff

Post by taelor » 16 May 2017, 12:41

Give us a general idea of how general price levels work. I've found from my own (amatur) historical research, however, that pre-modern societies are often very different than our own, usually in ways that are difficult to predict in advance; maybe include a page or two of price data that you personally found evocative. (My experience is that historical research is important for imaginitive pursuits [fiction, gaming, etc] not as limitations but rather inspiration; the purpose of doing research isn't to say "oh, they didn't do that back then, so I can't do that in my work", but rather "that's amazing and I'm totally putting that in".)
GLENDOWER
I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
HOTSPUR
Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?
User avatar
Agamemnon
Grand Master
Posts: 1106
Joined: 05 Jan 2013, 13:59
Contact:

Re: Buying Stuff

Post by Agamemnon » 16 May 2017, 14:35

thirtythr33 wrote:Falconry tangent!
Emperor: Golden Eagle, Vulture, & Merlin
King: Gyrfalcon (male & female)
Prince: Female Peregrine
Duke: Rock Falcon (subspecies of the Peregrine)
Earl: Peregrine
Baron: Male peregrine
Knight: Saker
Squire: Lanner Falcon
Lady: Female Merlin
Yeoman: Goshawk or Hobby
Priest: Female Sparrowhawk
Holywater clerk: Male Sparrowhawk
Knaves, Servants, Children: Old World Kestrel
Right then. Apparently, we need a hunting-birds-by-social-class chart with prices!

More seriously, though, this is the sort of thing that actually recommends the detailed approach. It lets you insert interesting bits like this. Your average person will have never thought about the difference. Similarly, I fancy the idea of including more obscure information that you never really see in games -- values of trade goods, costs of life events (weddings, dowries, funerals), etc.
dysjunct wrote:Also, the point of S&S is not to be an ACKS-like economic simulation. The issue with "better to have it and not need it" is that the presence of rules is a symbol to the reader about what's important in the game.
I can certainly agree with this as a general rule. On the other hand, in a game that's all about temptation, ambitions, and so forth -- very primal, classical human motivations -- money (and the need for money) is one of the oldest motivations known to man. Even when it's not the primary motivation, it presents such fascinating snags.

Imagine your character is head of a noble house that is caught in the snares of your rival. Clearly, your best move is to secure a political alliance. Some RP later, they agree to marry their heir to your daughter -- and that's the exact moment you realize that you can't afford her dowry. What will you do now?

The conflict is about your rival, but now we've gotten a sub-conflict about securing an alliance which creates a sub-sub-conflict about finding a way to raise money for a dowry. A thought that might never have occurred to you or the GM if they hadn't glanced through the book and saw "Oh. Noble dowry's are expensive, aren't they?"

While the game is not about money, there's a fascinating amount of complications that can develop from characters needing money. This is especially true once you break away from the D&D kind of thinking that "buying stuff is about personal equipment." The buying-stuff lists becomes supporting material for the setting itself.
Benedict wrote:I'd prefer it if items (from weapons and armor, to transports and houses, to services, to whatever) DO NOT have a specific price. What I have in mind:

A Resources "stat", dependent on Class and other edges (ie Wealthy, Bankrupt, etc). Items have a Cost Rank (C1-C10, or even higher).

A Dagger would be C1. A Decorated Dagger C3. An Emperor's Jeweled Dagger C8.
Current wealth system took a bit of doing, but it sits in a half-way point between something like Burning Wheel and Apocalypse World. Purchasing things is resolved with a roll, with the expense of the item being represented by the req required for the roll. Money is handled between a wealth stat that changes only gradually and is rolled like any other stat, and a pool of expendable currency that can be spent to reduce a req on an item -- up to and including making it free. The same currency is also the only way to increase your wealth stat, so you've got the game of deciding whether to use the liquid funds directly, or invest it in a more renewable form.

Amusinly, your "levels of dagger cost" is exactly what I have in mind as the example of "Detailed price list" as opposed to "general price list."
Sword and Scoundrel: On Role-Playing and Fantasy Obscura

Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife — chopping off what’s incomplete and saying: "Now it’s complete because it’s ended here."
Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib, the Princess Irulan
User avatar
higgins
Heresiarch
Posts: 1186
Joined: 05 Jan 2013, 08:00

Re: Buying Stuff

Post by higgins » 16 May 2017, 15:30

thirtythr33 wrote:Falconry tangent!
Emperor: Golden Eagle, Vulture, & Merlin
King: Gyrfalcon (male & female)
Prince: Female Peregrine
Duke: Rock Falcon (subspecies of the Peregrine)
Earl: Peregrine
Baron: Male peregrine
Knight: Saker
Squire: Lanner Falcon
Lady: Female Merlin
Yeoman: Goshawk or Hobby
Priest: Female Sparrowhawk
Holywater clerk: Male Sparrowhawk
Knaves, Servants, Children: Old World Kestrel
Nice! :D

Our previous incarnation of wealth rules also had falcons as one of the top tier items. Alas, we didn't seem to write down the source, but I vaguely remember we found some weird reference where a ruler refused to sell back a conquered city unless he was paid for it with a certain number and certain type of falcons.
"You can never have too many knives."
- Logen Ninefingers, The Blade Itself
User avatar
Benedict
Standard Bearer
Posts: 1075
Joined: 23 May 2016, 09:52

Re: Buying Stuff

Post by Benedict » 16 May 2017, 15:51

Agamemnon wrote:Imagine your character is head of a noble house that is caught in the snares of your rival. Clearly, your best move is to secure a political alliance. Some RP later, they agree to marry their heir to your daughter -- and that's the exact moment you realize that you can't afford her dowry. What will you do now?

The conflict is about your rival, but now we've gotten a sub-conflict about securing an alliance which creates a sub-sub-conflict about finding a way to raise money for a dowry. A thought that might never have occurred to you or the GM if they hadn't glanced through the book and saw "Oh. Noble dowry's are expensive, aren't they?"

While the game is not about money, there's a fascinating amount of complications that can develop from characters needing money. This is especially true once you break away from the D&D kind of thinking that "buying stuff is about personal equipment." The buying-stuff lists becomes supporting material for the setting itself.
Or the complications when you go against people who have * A LOT * more money than you do. Breaking away from the D&Dey wealth system, specific personal gear price listing included, is one of the things I always do as a GM in my games, and happy as a player when I encounter it. So, thumbs up on that.
Agamemnon wrote:Amusinly, your "levels of dagger cost" is exactly what I have in mind as the example of "Detailed price list" as opposed to "general price list."
Well, it doesn't have to be a super detailed list. I'd say stick to the basics, add some sidebars about rarity, superior craftsmanship, social restrictions, even black market (btw I heard that Gasparo runs barter town ;) ), and let GMs tinker with it.

Better to have a guideline to work with and create rather than a master-list, which honestly can work against the game.
Benedict wrote:stick to the basics, add some sidebars ...
By basics I'd say these pretty much cover most of them:
  • Personal arms & armor
  • Mounts, pack animals, herd animals, hunting animals
  • Modes of transportation: both actual vehicles that you own (from a cart to a war galley) and services of transportation
  • Apparel (and other things that display status and/or cover necessities like fancy jewelry, reading glasses, etc)
  • Skill tools (from crowbars to alchemist labs and libraries)
  • Drugs, poisons, medicine, booze, and foodstuff
  • Other special services (scribes, jennies, doctors, spies, scholars, etc)
Which I'm sure you've already got it covered.

And a thought, kinda inspired by the concept of Cascading Rolls, taken from another view. Yes, you could buy a merchant ship if you can afford it and be done with it. But it's more fulfilling (at least for me) if you create the circumstances to have that same ship built for you (secure a pass through a wild area to a crucial source of much needed lumber for your city, save a master shipwright's daughter from kidnapping and enroll him to your cause, convince an influential nobleman to back you economically) instead of passing a single Resource/Wealth stat roll.

I'm not saying that the stat roll is bad, I just think that both options should be viable.
"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool."
― Touchstone
User avatar
Agamemnon
Grand Master
Posts: 1106
Joined: 05 Jan 2013, 13:59
Contact:

Re: Buying Stuff

Post by Agamemnon » 16 May 2017, 17:18

Benedict wrote:And a thought, kinda inspired by the concept of Cascading Rolls, taken from another view. Yes, you could buy a merchant ship if you can afford it and be done with it. But it's more fulfilling (at least for me) if you create the circumstances to have that same ship built for you (secure a pass through a wild area to a crucial source of much needed lumber for your city, save a master shipwright's daughter from kidnapping and enroll him to your cause, convince an influential nobleman to back you economically) instead of passing a single Resource/Wealth stat roll.

I'm not saying that the stat roll is bad, I just think that both options should be viable.
I think that's the sort of thing that the GM has plenty of leeway for doing regardless of the actual system one uses to resolve costs of things. If you can contrive a way to get both labor and materials for free, then the cost mechanic is irrelevant.

That said, I wouldn't discount the wealth roll as an easy fix, either. The way the system is weighted, even wealthy nobles will keep needing to get more cash in to make any kind of purchase they might actually care about. The reqs are weighted highly enough that you're always generally always going to want to be spending down the cost in order to protect your wealth. Thus, even nobles are going to want to play games with coin.
thirtythr33 wrote: I'm sure that during your research you would have found equally wild price ranges for swords, armors and horses. The thing is all these things will practically do their respective jobs equally well in day to day life regardless of price. The majority of the cost is tied up in the social signaling and not the minuscule advantage that is actually in the product. So really, a sword, armor, falcon or horse costs whatever your social class demands you to pay to maintain your standing.
This brings me to an interesting thought, though. As pointed out, so much of the cost of an quickly gets wound up in status displays. How do we convince our player-controlled noble that he really wants to pay twice the price for his longsword as the mercenary he employs?
Sword and Scoundrel: On Role-Playing and Fantasy Obscura

Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife — chopping off what’s incomplete and saying: "Now it’s complete because it’s ended here."
Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib, the Princess Irulan
User avatar
Benedict
Standard Bearer
Posts: 1075
Joined: 23 May 2016, 09:52

Re: Buying Stuff

Post by Benedict » 16 May 2017, 17:26

Agamemnon wrote:
thirtythr33 wrote: I'm sure that during your research you would have found equally wild price ranges for swords, armors and horses. The thing is all these things will practically do their respective jobs equally well in day to day life regardless of price. The majority of the cost is tied up in the social signaling and not the minuscule advantage that is actually in the product. So really, a sword, armor, falcon or horse costs whatever your social class demands you to pay to maintain your standing.
This brings me to an interesting thought, though. As pointed out, so much of the cost of an quickly gets wound up in status displays. How do we convince our player-controlled noble that he really wants to pay twice the price for his longsword as the mercenary he employs?
Through RP: When people start confusing him for his lackeys, and his lackeys for himself.
Through Rules: Increase Reqs when he tries to socially influence using his class status but doesn't dress the act.
"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool."
― Touchstone
User avatar
Agamemnon
Grand Master
Posts: 1106
Joined: 05 Jan 2013, 13:59
Contact:

Re: Buying Stuff

Post by Agamemnon » 16 May 2017, 17:43

Benedict wrote:
Agamemnon wrote:
thirtythr33 wrote: I'm sure that during your research you would have found equally wild price ranges for swords, armors and horses. The thing is all these things will practically do their respective jobs equally well in day to day life regardless of price. The majority of the cost is tied up in the social signaling and not the minuscule advantage that is actually in the product. So really, a sword, armor, falcon or horse costs whatever your social class demands you to pay to maintain your standing.
This brings me to an interesting thought, though. As pointed out, so much of the cost of an quickly gets wound up in status displays. How do we convince our player-controlled noble that he really wants to pay twice the price for his longsword as the mercenary he employs?
Through RP: When people start confusing him for his lackeys, and his lackeys for himself.
Through Rules: Increase Reqs when he tries to socially influence using his class status but doesn't dress the act.
A possibility, but this is one of those places where it's a bit more subtle and tricky. One of the reasons I chose a sword in-particular is because it's not something people immediately think about in this context. Most players will intuitively decide "I'm a noble, ergo I should buy fancy clothes." Getting the costume down is something people will grasp. On the other hand, going beyond that? How do you convince them that they want to spend twice as much money on the weapon to have the weapon wrapped with gold wire, the pommel carved in the likeness of their crest, and their family motto engraved on the blade? No one is going to confuse the lord of the castle for one of his guards when said lord will have better clothing anyway.

The trouble here is going to be giving the player a reason to care about "keeping up with the Joneses," as it were. Players tend to be very practical by nature, carefully working situations to their best advantage, leveraging rules in ways that provide the most benefit for what they are trying to do. There's nothing wrong with this, but when you put a player in a situation where the cost of a base version of that thing is (relative to their wealth) negligible vs an actual cost associated with getting a fancy noble version of that thing, how do you incentivize pragmatic players that they want to care about this enough to expend resources to get it?

Funnily enough, we do this fairly well in other places. Drives (SAs) are the perfect example of "how do you get players to care about the plots/to care about playing the character a certain way?" Our treatment of flaws was a great way to get people to care about playing up their shortcomings and bringing that sort of thing into play. The game works best when mechanical incentives align well with desired player behavior. I'm just not sure what to do with that, in this instance.
Sword and Scoundrel: On Role-Playing and Fantasy Obscura

Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife — chopping off what’s incomplete and saying: "Now it’s complete because it’s ended here."
Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib, the Princess Irulan
User avatar
Benedict
Standard Bearer
Posts: 1075
Joined: 23 May 2016, 09:52

Re: Buying Stuff

Post by Benedict » 16 May 2017, 17:55

True. But lets look at it more deeply.

One thing is that they will earn the scorn of their peers. People used to highly decorate arms and armor to display their status. So when the PC is confronted with a situation when his hated rival displays in court the new blade he had personally commissioned for himself with silver, gold, and mother of pearl inlays (which costed a small fortune) the PC ought to outdo him in this prestige game. If he doesn't he gives a perfect opportunity to his rival to publicly scorn him. He does nothing about this? The others regard him as sub-par and act accordingly. He does something about it involving violence? They also snub him as a brute, even if it is behind his back. The perfect comeback would be to either produce a more lavish item (which leads to Resource rolls and all), or mock and downplay his adversary's superiority (which involves good talking skills and possible complications). Better to pay that gold instead of putting one's foot in his mouth in the royal court in front of the King. :lol:

Another thing is that most nobles won't care about martial prowess anyway, they leave that to their lackeys. If they do care about martial prowess (high Prof maybe) it's most likely that they care about practicality over form. Which means that they will pay more to have a well crafted damascus sword. Even if it has the same DR.

Ofc it requires some cooperation on the player's part too. Which takes us back to group cooperation and proper GMing.

PS
Agamemnon wrote:Our treatment of flaws was a great way to get people to care about playing up their shortcomings and bringing that sort of thing into play.
How about some "Vain" and "Spendthrift" flaws then?
"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool."
― Touchstone
myanbar
Initiate
Posts: 94
Joined: 17 Jan 2016, 17:16

Re: Buying Stuff

Post by myanbar » 17 May 2017, 01:18

I don't know which would be better. With games I've played before, games with broad resources & costs (such as Storyteller games) make it hard to pin down what a person would be able to afford. It takes money out of the gameplay sphere and puts it into the narrative sphere. It's no longer a game mechanic with a failure state, it's instead a GM call. With games that do have defined resources & costs (D&D, Riddle, almost any RPG I've played), affording things becomes a gameplay mechanic and money becomes a potential reward for adventuring. However then it becomes another balancing point, where if things are unbalanced people will make snide jokes about things' prices. There'll be no end to it, no point at which players say "yes, these prices are fair and balanced." If I absolutely had to pick one, I'd pick the precise costs, because I prefer having money act as part of gameplay than story, but I'm not fully on board with either idea.
User avatar
higgins
Heresiarch
Posts: 1186
Joined: 05 Jan 2013, 08:00

Re: Buying Stuff

Post by higgins » 17 May 2017, 04:33

myanbar wrote:With games that do have defined resources & costs (D&D, Riddle, almost any RPG I've played), affording things becomes a gameplay mechanic and money becomes a potential reward for adventuring. However then it becomes another balancing point, where if things are unbalanced people will make snide jokes about things' prices.
Love my 300 GP masterwork sling! :lol:
"You can never have too many knives."
- Logen Ninefingers, The Blade Itself
User avatar
thirtythr33
Editorial Inquisition
Posts: 1241
Joined: 12 Aug 2015, 03:23

Re: Buying Stuff

Post by thirtythr33 » 18 May 2017, 13:56

Agamemnon wrote:More seriously, though, this is the sort of thing that actually recommends the detailed approach. It lets you insert interesting bits like this. Your average person will have never thought about the difference. Similarly, I fancy the idea of including more obscure information that you never really see in games -- values of trade goods, costs of life events (weddings, dowries, funerals), etc.
Yeah, the equipment list is a great place to direct what you think the games goals should be about. If you have prices for digging moats and hiring guards, don't be surprised when people starting building castles. If you want to focus on skullduggery and drama you need to jam in prices for things like smuggling, assassinations and a table for how much it is to bribe a judge for various crimes.
Agamemnon wrote:This brings me to an interesting thought, though. As pointed out, so much of the cost of an quickly gets wound up in status displays. How do we convince our player-controlled noble that he really wants to pay twice the price for his longsword as the mercenary he employs?
The "obvious" way is to make the more expensive stuff better, which is the way almost every other game does it. But then if there is no sumptuary laws then everyone end up using the same stuff. And if there are sumptuary laws then whatever the bonuses are on the "better gear" more or less become "features" that nobles get that commoners don't.

While that would be easy enough and make sense for some things, (eg warhorse have better Willpower than rouncy or that expensive armor makes you more likely to be captured alive for ransom) that doesn't really seem like the Scoundrels way. And it kind of falls apart for things like clothing and swords. Similarly, you could come up with penalties for people not spending according to their social standing but that just makes you want stay a commoner.

Pendragon does something different that solves it magnificently. Basically, instead of trying to convince you that buying each individual overpriced item is worth it, they just let your pour all your money into the nebulous money sink of your "manor". No matter what you spend the money on (be it silk robes, a wedding, a tapestry or a fancy sword) it gives you 1 glory per $ you "waste" on frivolous conspicuous spending. Since glory compounds each year, the player is always motivated to splurge their money ASAP (once they have adequate fighting equipment) and then go out and make more. What they spend the money on is mostly a reflection of the character and a good role playing opportunity, but you are still required to actually make the money needed to pay up a dowry or feast if the story demands it. Since you are so heavily incentivized to not save money up, even nobles come up short quite often (which is great).

Pendragon also has some really great roleplaying insights into how it recommends a knight think about money. I've copied some interesting bits here:
Pendragon wrote:UNDERSTANDING WEALTH
Value is important because wealth is measured as a standard of living and property, not necessarily cash on hand. The daily measure of wealth is that which can be seen and partaken of. Rich people eat better, wear fancier clothes, and have more luxurious homes.

Land is the time-honored basis for measuring one’s economic success; the more land a character gains, the stronger his economic position. Land provides the basics of life, the people to husband it, and the raw materials to be turned into profit. Thus the manor is the basic source of economic measure for knights.

Noblemen are notoriously short of money. Being important is expensive! In addition to his own expenses, a noble’s virtue is reflected by his largesse, and if he wants to be famous within his social circle, he should reward favorable behavior with an open hand.

Conspicuous consumption is the rule among knights. No one saves money, except perhaps to put aside a few libra for imminent expenses. Traveling to the nearby city to buy new equipment, gifts for lovers, or other items is a pleasant event after the slaughter and trouble of an adventure or battle. Most of the time knowing the particular items bought isn’t necessary — it is sufficient merely to say “I’m spending £10 on my manor,” for instance — but sometimes the details are important, or just fun, so this price list offers prices for some really large items, if desired.

IMPOVERISHED
A knight who spends less than £3 per year is Impoverished. His is a miserable lot. He appears ragged, most likely lean and sickly, and his armor pitted and rusty. He has no squire and often lacks a horse of any kind. As a result, an Impoverished knight counts only as a sergeant in battle (see “Ransom”), even though he may be far more skilled or valorous. Legally, impoverishment means trouble. If a vassal knight neglects his land to the point of impoverishment, the lord has the right to cancel their agreement and take the land back: The vassal has clearly failed to maintain the land and uphold his end of the feudal bargain.

RANSOM
Ransoming captives from battle is the single most lucrative (and probably the most dangerous) way to get money. Everyone captured alive in battle is worth money to his captor. The ransoms given here are based on roughly three years’ average income, the minimum acceptable amount. Particularly proud knights may offer to pay more for their release, but most are generally satisfied to offer or accept the ransoms below.

Rank Ransom
Sergeant £4
Squire £6
Knight, bachelor £12
Knight, landed (vassal) £18
Knight, banneret £150
Baron £550
Earl or praetor £1100
Duke or pennath £1600
King or independent ruler £2150

LOANS
Loans are possible, but to be avoided at all costs since it puts the fate of nobles in the hands of peasant-class merchants. (These city dwellers are the only people likely to have any money to lend.*) They always charge interest on loans, sometimes as much as 50% a year. (Usury!) Alternately, moneylenders may extract promises odious to lords. For instance, they might bargain for promises of freedoms from future taxes, or maybe even the right to marry the daughters of the lord (or to have their sons do so, or their daughters marry the lord’s sons), thereby ensuring that their own children will become nobles.

STANDARD PRICE LIST
Note: Prices listed are non-negotiable. (It is beneath a knight to bicker with a merchant, anyway.)
So putting all this together you need:
  • To make lifestyle and spending an infinite money sink
  • That rewards ALL KINDS of "wasted" money
  • Gives bonuses you definitely want but won't break the game if they get huge
  • And an incentive to splurge now instead of saving up until you can afford the next bonus
The most obvious way for S&S to do something similar would be to allow the purchase of Drive or Karma points through conspicuous spending. The only adjustment it would really need is flattening out the seasonal income of the social classes so nobles don't just out level commoners. It also harkens back to 1e DND gold for XP shenanigans and incentives planning out a huge heist. It's kind of like everyone having access to the "vain" flaw. Splurge 100sp and get 1 SA.

Tying more things to SAs probably isn't ideal. But the alternative would be introducing some kind of Influence or Reputation system for conspicuous spending... that can be used to make connections, bribes or give bonuses to social skills.
Agamemnon wrote:Purchasing things is resolved with a roll, with the expense of the item being represented by the req required for the roll. Money is handled between a wealth stat that changes only gradually and is rolled like any other stat, and a pool of expendable currency that can be spent to reduce a req on an item -- up to and including making it free. The same currency is also the only way to increase your wealth stat, so you've got the game of deciding whether to use the liquid funds directly, or invest it in a more renewable form.
This might be very similar, but here's some ideas:

You have a Wealth stat from 0-10 based on social class and edges at start. Wealth represents your land, owned businesses and standard of living. This can't really be robbed.

You have Cash, which you can hold any amount of. Cash represents the value of what you have on your person that you can make purchases with on the spot. If you get robbed or taken prisoner, you are losing all your Cash.

To purchase an item mid adventure, you roll your Wealth or spend your Cash.

You can Sell 1 Wealth level for Cash equal to 2x the Wealth level.
You can Buy 1 Wealth level for Cash equal to 5x the Wealth level.

Each season you gain an amount of seasonal Cash according to your Wealth level.
Each season you have to pay seasonal Cash as Upkeep according to your equipment (horse, armor etc).
Purchasing outside the adventure doesn't take a roll, you just spend the seasonal Cash.
Any left over seasonal Cash goes to your personal belongings.
Instead of buying, you can Rent something for 2x it's upkeep cost.

This has the effect of allowing Wealthy people to maintain upkeep of things like silk clothes, fancy armor and horses indefinitely while poorer people could get the same for limited time (or continuously make more money).
"O happy dagger!
This is thy sheath; there rust, and let me die."

- Juliet Capulet
Post Reply