Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Congratulations you won!

Alright, I finally got another bee in my bonnet. Therefore another rambling post emerges.

So I'm playing in a system that abstracts much of the game. It's a homebrew based on the white wolf system. It's been altered to fit his own needs so I am unaware of how it originally was 'supposed' to work. Regardless it's not about what's behind the facade to me, it's about the camera side of the set.

Regardless, my intent was to play a captain of a ship. Therefore I chose to spend 8 points of my 16ish background points buying a ship (5pts) and a crew (3pts.) Then, seeing myself as a son in a prominent merchant family, I gave myself resources 3 (3pts) to represent my wealthiness. (5 being the ceo of a successful international company in modern terms. and 3 being the max to buy at character creation.) (for the record all advantages like this range from 1-5pts 5 being amazing.) Other players spent these points on enchanted weapons, big guns, powerful spells, amped up defenses and magical pets.

Unfortunately, this plays out rather poorly in functionality. The flying ship so far has only managed to give us the advantage of not having to get over a town wall once. The pet another player has (for 5 or less points) has scouted out various locations, tracked down enemies inconspicuously, killed several minions and has a psychic bond with its owner. I have a flying boat that occasionally makes an appearance. Oh and that crew of 4 people? They are slightly better skilled than a janitor, demand pay before going into any kind of fight, and sap all the cash I get periodically from my resources. Meaning, I have absolutely ZERO spending money except what we get from adventures. The alchemist's dog never gives him shit when they get to payday... Never mind the fact I probably wouldn't be allowed to even USE the ship without the crew.

And here we arrive at the core problem that has arisen. Here I am purchasing an advantage for myself, and devoting half my character to making it work from creation, only leaving me with absolutely NO cash, little unrelated skills and a bunch of documents detailing things that will rarely come into play. All the early bookkeeping coming to naught. As a player this is frustrating. It is just like getting a letter in the mail saying I won a million dollars, so long as I just send them my credit card information and get drawn out of a list of 1000 other entries... I've bought this advantage, now I have to pay for it until the one day it may become useful.

That isn't so say that once anything is bought it should not have upkeep at all. However, it's utility should be equivalent to it's cost. In Dungeons and dragons, the greatest upkeep for a starting adventurer, is likely the sustenance of self, and perhaps a horse. At level one this maintenance can be restrictive. However, owning a horse should not bankrupt the player. Especially considering the degree of benefit granted. Currently one could look at my character as thusly, to get my 'horse' I sacrificed all my money aside from bonuses indefinitely, a couple weapon proficiencies and some movement speed. Reasonable cost for reasonable benefit is almost the essence of balancing in these games, and I basically payed an arm and a leg for a leg.

Would I be in charge of the game, I would make the assumption that by owning the background advantage, you also own the means to support it (ala Rogue Trader.) I'll keep playing this game with this setup, because regardless of my unrest, I'm going to make it work, or lose the ship and the crew while trying, and gain a net bonus of cash.


  1. I completely feel for you here.

    One of my least favorite experiences as a player was building a character in much the same way as you and then being told that "Your ship is actually impounded across the galaxy."

    When I asked the GM why he did this, after the game, he said he thought it'd be easier to get me to join the party if he denied me most of my character sheet(I had drawn the entire layout and specs of the ship on the back,) so I would be forced to work with the party.

    The end result was that we were led by the nose through a heavy handed story written by the GM beforehand that took us nowhere near the place he had impounded my ship. It's hard to get into the game when you know that logically your character would be going after your ship!

    I would recommend bringing up the disparity between your ship and the magic dog, however. He might be completely overlooking the fact that the other players' weapons and armor and dogs aren't sapping their resources on a regular basis in favor of a "naturalistic" approach where logically your crew should be paid. I completely agree that the crew should be part and parcel to the ship that you spent background points on.

    If the GM refuses to budge on this point, you could suggest to the other players that they -become- your crew. If the game involves travel, the players should be able to be convinced of the advantages of controlling their own transporation.(no chances of a train being hijacked while the PCs are on it, etc) If the GM doesn't believe that you all can control the ship, then explain to him that you will continue to pay the crew to allow the PCs to "job shadow them" until everyone figures out how to run the ship.

    Always assume the GM is reasonable until proven otherwise. ;)

  2. With all my juggling of nine different games, (Hopefully I'll be GMing one soon too! :D) I'll admit bringing it up wasn't the first thing on my mind. It got so bad one night when I already was in a bit of a foul mood, I almost let my character get killed while playing just so I could make something else.

    Maybe while I'm at it I'll point out the description of the amount of resources I have indicates I should have two houses and a few servants. Seeing as I have neither, maybe I'll get some leeway.