How to handle adventuring loot outside of a strong economy?

Lackofname

Explorer
Why do the natives not have currency? Remember shiny bits of metal arent inherently different to shell beadwork, red feathers, cacao beans and finely woven mats, all of which have been used as means of exchange,
See earlier statement of "how many cacao beans for a +1 sword?"

Sure, currencies exist. The problem is conversion rates. Also I doubt "finely woven mats" or "red feathers" will be found in ancient ruins, so...
 

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Lackofname

Explorer
It sounds like you just want to throw out ant semblance of an economy rather than replace it with something pretending to be something a little different. You can look at how systems with a wealth type stat like d20 modern & fate handle it, but trying to port that sort of thing into 5e is a mess so goodluck
God yes. :sleep: I just want believable BS.

IIRC with Fate, items are either Aspects/Stunts, or handwavium. "I spend a fate point, I have a lighter."
 

The other option is just changing what you call your currency from “coin” to something like “Influence” or “Favour”. If your PC gets an item he doesnt want then he has the option to ‘give‘ it as a gift to the local blacksmith Which earns him “Favour”. Later he calls in the Favour and the Blacksmiths sister provides the PC with some magic potions.

I like this option. I tend to play fantasy games with GURPS rules which allow you to gain advantages in play. So you might offer a magical axe to the champion of the village and gain an ally ("I'll help you on your next quest"), a claim to hospitality ("you can stay in our village for free whenever you come through here"), a contact (the shaman is thrilled to study the magical thingy and will happily assist you in future research or mystical questions), or even a patron (the chief names you as his sacred warriors and sponsors further quests). I have always found that this sort of thing makes the campaign world a lot richer. Pretty soon the characters have connections all over the place.

In addition, although the local people may not produce the sorts of advanced magical items that the PCs want, they may be great sources of information about other quests and mystical locations. So instead of selling your +1 axe and buying a +1 sword at Ye Olde Magic Shoppe, you come to the village and trade the +1 axe in for information about the tomb of the famous sword-wielding hero of yore.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
God yes. :sleep: I just want believable BS.

IIRC with Fate, items are either Aspects/Stunts, or handwavium. "I spend a fate point, I have a lighter."
Depends on the version of fate, some of them have a (sometimes shared) resources/wealth/etc track alongside the physical/mental stress tracks. dfrpg, mindjammer & a few others not coming to mind have a resources track.
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pming

Legend
Hiya!

Ok. Hmmm...

How about just creating a new "Save" called "Treasure"? Base it on the PC's highest stat at character creation. When need arises to purchase or trade for something, have him make a "Treasure Save/Check", with a DC equating to however valuable the item/service is at that time in that area in that circumstance (re: buying a wool blanket in the middle of July while in the tropics should be easier than buying one in the beginning of January during a snow storm in a cold snap). If the PC fails the check, he puts an "X" next to the Save on his sheet; indicating his next check is at disadvantage until he "finds more treasure".

Finding Treasure: :) Just as the tin says. You don't have to give out actual GP values for ANYTHING. Just call it "Treasure", "Some Treasure", "A lot of Treasure", etc. On the characters sheet, they can just place a 'tick mark' next to the word "Treasure" where they would normally have a specific accounting of wealth/coins. Each time they succeed in making a Treasure Save/Check, they erase one 'Treasure Tick Mark'. If they get to zero, they have no measurable wealth left, obviously, so they can't make any Treasure Save/Check without Disadvantage and that is AFTER they make some kind of deal with the person (IOU, work-for-pay, errand/quest, etc).

Now, when tryin to "sell magic items because you got a new one", you don't have to RP it that way. Simply RP it however you want. Maybe the PC has gotten to know a Sargent of the Watch and has decided to 'gift' the old magic dagger to the Sargent. The PC then adds a Treasure Tick to his character sheet. Why? Maybe the Sargent has the coin...or maybe he knows several people in town...the blacksmith, innkeeper, butcher, etc and puts in a good word, or who knows? The skies the limit here; no need to keep track of every GP and whatnot.

Benefits: Quick, easy and doesn't drag down into counting every single coin or trying to equate "how many GP's for item X, Y and Z", but at the same time there is a sense of accomplishment to the Player when they discover Treasure and add a tick or three to their Treasure List. They can also RP their characters wealth, "Good sir! I would like three bottles of your finest whisky! [rolls Treasure, succeeds, marks of a Treasure Tick Mark] Here, this should cover it... [tosses a small back of gold and silver coins to the tavern master]". That, to me, is much more evocative than "How much for three bottles of your finest whisky?", and then getting a number, then the player looking at his coin and converting silver into gold, then subtracting that exact amount.

Maybe something like that?

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
1. Be the first to plant the flag on the new continent.
2. Money. They want to gobble up as much resources as possible. Hurry, discover new things--spices? Coffee? DRUGS? Salt? GIMMIE.

Okay, so, I think #2 here will give you a headache. "I want the main motivation be about money... but I don't wanna deal with money," isn't the best approach to compelling content.

The settlement backer's POV: Politely exploitative. The locals are useful, but once that's over, buy the land out from under them and shoo them off; the native races aren't close to human so intermarriage isn't possible, their numbers and tech level isn't enough of a severe threat (and they're not warlike), conversion isn't a concern, so just bide time.

You are playing D&D here? Their technology is not the issue. Stone knives and bearskins are fine. In D&D, most of the damage comes out of the class, not the weapons. A couple druids or clerics of the native's gods with some barbarians to back them up could seriously mess up a town, if they were so motivated. And they have a continent full of them, while the settlement only has whatever they brought with them....


Indeed there was a previous civilization that was more advanced. It was wiped out because of bad things they did, and containing the fallout required heavy magical lifting from both nature spirits and extra-planar assistance. This area of the continent (The starter zone, basically) was walled off from the interior, and the locals considered everything associated with the prior civilization to be incredibly taboo--to the point some conservative tribes think building with stone is courting disaster; everything else made of stone got smote so why risk it? To them the stuff in the ruins is probably cursed or will unleash hell, so those weird foreigners are welcoming destruction on their own heads.

Hm. Sounds like you've created your own problem there, and I'm not sure about the idea that the natives will sit by while this goes on, but those are aside the point. Let us say the natives don't give a hoot about the loot. So...

Rather than contort yourself trying to figure out how to work normal economic function in a place that lacks it... just don't. Accept the thing you built, and its natural results. They will not be able to easily convert one form of wealth to another. So be it.

Use the idea of the "company store": The PCs bring gold, art objects, jewelry, etc from ruins or locations of exploitable resources to the settlement, they rack up credit with the settlement. They can trade that in for the time of settlement craftsmen to make things for them. This will take time. Such is life. You can handle this all with normal GP values.

Also, recognize that in the end there's no real difference between "give them random magic, and allow them to trade that in for what they want" and "just give them what they want in the first place". Makng them jump through a hoop to get stuff they like is not really a value-add, so to speak.

You'v epositioned it so that the PCs are unlikely to have anything the natives want, and have discarded teh idea of the PCs doign favors with the natives. Maybe just remove the natives as irrelevant? It is a continent full of monsters and beasts, and the ruins of a civilization that died....

This also gets you out of the bad look of re-enacting imperialistic oppression of natives... They just aren't there to oppress!
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
See earlier statement of "how many cacao beans for a +1 sword?"

Just to be clear, you don't need to know this. You say, "this thing is work X GP". If you trade it with the natives, they give you "Y GP worth of cacao beans." The difference is like the usual loss for money-changing. Nobody likes bean-counting, so you don't need to worry about them actually counting them.
 

Lackofname

Explorer
Just to be clear, you don't need to know this. You say, "this thing is work X GP". If you trade it with the natives, they give you "Y GP worth of cacao beans." The difference is like the usual loss for money-changing. Nobody likes bean-counting, so you don't need to worry about them actually counting them.
You said that earlier. I understood you the first time.

I was replying to the question of "What do you mean they don't have a currency.
 

zarionofarabel

Adventurer
My advice, don't use a campaign premise that is so clearly not D&D and the try make it work with D&D.

D&D is it's own thing with it's own tropes that must exist or it simply doesn't make sense. You have chosen a campaign premise that is built on tropes that are pretty much the opposite of D&D tropes. Trying to shoehorn the D&D tropes into your setting is why you are frustrated.

Solution, use a different system that de-emphasizes all the magic item BS that is prevalent in D&D.
OR.
Make the settlement that the PCs use as their base full of magic shops and large vaults of gold coins so the classic D&D tropes will make sense.
 



zarionofarabel

Adventurer
To be honest... in 5e I haven't found this to be a big deal. My current party would be fine without most of their items (barring critters that have resistance to non-magic weapons, anyway).
I lack any knowledge of 5e as I don't D&D anymore, but if what you say is true then it should be a non-issue. Simply don't hand out oodles of magic items! A few here and there and of they really want to rid themselves of one, have a ship in port that has some peeps on board that will trade for them.
 

Lackofname

Explorer
Okay, so, I think #2 here will give you a headache. "I want the main motivation be about money... but I don't wanna deal with money," isn't the best approach to compelling content.
I disagree, for the same reason you said that I don't need to know the exact amount of GP for a fur pelt.

The worth of a pound of cocoa beans doesn't matter. The cost is quite far down the road when cocoa beans haven't been discovered yet. The process of "discover, plant, grow, harvest, box, ship" is quite a long one before the actual value even enters the equation.

The point is, "we desire to harvest as much resources from the place as possible." The PCs won't be encountering the price of goods, or be involved in the collection of those goods. It's purely the motivation that is pushing expansion, the tenor of relations, and the source of friction.

Similar to how, if the PCs are the crew on a merchant vessel, the cargo in the hold doesn't have much of an impact on the story if the point is to have the PCs become shipwrecked. Or hit by pirates (as pirates don't know what you're hauling till they raid your hold).
You are playing D&D here? Their technology is not the issue. Stone knives and bearskins are fine. In D&D, most of the damage comes out of the class, not the weapons. A couple druids or clerics of the native's gods with some barbarians to back them up could seriously mess up a town, if they were so motivated. And they have a continent full of them, while the settlement only has whatever they brought with them....
Then replace technology with magic or whatever word represents "potential for success in physical conflicts". The natives ain't up to a fight.
Hm. Sounds like you've created your own problem there,
and I'm not sure about the idea that the natives will sit by while this goes on, but those are aside the point. Let us say the natives don't give a hoot about the loot. So...

Rather than contort yourself trying to figure out how to work normal economic function in a place that lacks it... just don't. Accept the thing you built, and its natural results. They will not be able to easily convert one form of wealth to another.
Also, recognize that in the end there's no real difference between "give them random magic, and allow them to trade that in for what they want" and "just give them what they want in the first place". Makng them jump through a hoop to get stuff they like is not really a value-add, so to speak.

It's not normal economic function, it's D&D economic function. It's that there's no in-game use for gold past 10gp except buying magic items.

Forcing in ways to buy/sell magical items is vexing (especially since I personally hate the idea of buying/selling magic). Not forcing ways means I need an exact Christmas list the PCs want, and they just Conveniently discover that precise thing in the next place they look. Which feels quite contrived.

Every option is annoying. And that's all it is. Not a problem, just a choice I don't like.

Ultimately I've decided what I'm going to do: no buying and selling, ask for item suggestions, players get what they get have to live with it. Now all that's left is simply replying to comments in the thread.

You'v epositioned it so that the PCs are unlikely to have anything the natives want, and have discarded teh idea of the PCs doign favors with the natives. Maybe just remove the natives as irrelevant? It is a continent full of monsters and beasts, and the ruins of a civilization that died....

This also gets you out of the bad look of re-enacting imperialistic oppression of natives... They just aren't there to oppress!
No, absolutely not. Interaction with the natives is half the fun to me. The culture and interaction and so on. Hell, the story won't even matter without the natives.
 
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Lackofname

Explorer
Solution, use a different system that de-emphasizes all the magic item BS that is prevalent in D&D.
Believe me when I say I'd give a tooth for a group who'd play Dresden Files or FAE or DREAD or some other loosey goosey story game. I have spent maybe 15 years off-and-on looking for people willing to play non-D&D and I cannot find one group.

I was miserable playing 3e and looked for alternatives then. 4e came out and I was so happy. When 5e released I went back to looking for non-D&D players because 5e is just a 3e rehash as far as I'm concerned.

Finally I've surrendered. D&D and PF are the only games people actually play. So I've dusted off my old 4e books. It's 4e or I burn my dice at this point.
 
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zarionofarabel

Adventurer
Believe me when I say I'd give a tooth for a group who'd play Dresden Files or FAE or DREAD or some other loosey goosey story game. I have spent maybe 15 years off-and-on looking for people willing to play non-D&D and I cannot find one group.

I was miserable playing 3e and looked for alternatives then. 4e came out and I was so happy. When 5e released I went back to looking for non-D&D players because 5e is just a 3e rehash as far as I'm concerned.

Finally I've surrendered. D&D and PF are the only games people actually play. So I've dusted off my old 4e books. It's 4e or I burn my dice at this point.
It makes me so sad when I hear peeps say this, and you are not the first. So many times in my life I have met peeps that insist that D&D is the "one true TTRPG" and it can be used to play any kind of campaign. The sad truth is it can't, unless you mod it so much it's no longer D&D. Sorry nice person, I wish I could make it so you could find peeps that were willing to play something else with you. You have my sympathies.
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
What are each of the colonies / outposts doing for a living?
  • Get rich quick! (Virginia) Not much here until they do strike gold / tobacco / whatever.
  • Farm for food (Pennsylvania) Nothing special here but prices are usually low and quality excellent.
  • Farm a cash crop (Maryland) One thing (sugar, cocoa, silkworms) is abundant and cheap, everything else has to be ordered from outside or made by hand.
  • Get away from other people (Plymouth) All the basic gear, a safe place to rest, normal trade goods
  • Conquer a personal empire (Cortez) Lots of top-end military gear but iron rations to eat
  • Plundarr! (Pirates) Roll randomly, may be useful stuff or not.
  • Trade outpost (New Netherland). THIS is where the magic items come from, but it takes a while for your order to be placed with our home office and be shipped back to our store. They will be happy to trade that native masterwork +1 sword you found for a +1 whip of tripping made by top craftsmen overseas; our agents have connections everywhere!

If you don't want to sweat the details, say the traders will swap expensive things (like a canoe load of furs or a magic item or 1000GP jewelry) one-for-one. You spend time waiting until the next boat arrives instead of pulling your hair out balancing prices for goods. As long as the PCs do not want to adapt Traveller merchant rules and get their own ship, you are good to resume adventuring.
 

Lackofname

Explorer
It makes me so sad when I hear peeps say this, and you are not the first. So many times in my life I have met peeps that insist that D&D is the "one true TTRPG" and it can be used to play any kind of campaign.
While that is certainly a thing, IME it's less an issue of stubborn people, and more that D&D is the thing everyone has played, or if they have never played before, know what it is. People know what it is. You put up an ad for "Dogs in the Vinyard" or ask a stranger at a game store to play it, and 19 out of 20 will just say "I've never heard of that, I don't know what that is" and move on. Meanwhile you can roll into a gaming store or look on Meetups.com and find 3 D&D games every week.

Indie games seem to be the sort of thing you need an established group, one you can say "Hey guys wanna play x?" and they say "Never heard of it, but sure".

That's my problem, I've never had a stable group. Just in the last eleven years I've moved 6 times between 4 different states. And when it comes to indie games, even if I found players, I'd need to run it instead of play myself, and running a system you've never played is scary--I want to say, play FATE before I run it, and that goes back to "finding a game"... Online is possible--it's how I'm running 4e now--and I have tried to advertise for indie games online and gotten no response (granted, it was for a horror game so those interested is very, very low...)

That said, I have played indie games. Always at conventions. Conventions are great, people are far more willing to commit to a 3 hour game no matter what. But a man cannot live on 1 or 2 single-session pick-up games a year.
 

Lackofname

Explorer
What are each of the colonies / outposts doing for a living?
The PCs are literally the first to set foot on the new world. So there isn't even one colony until they build it. They're the trial balloon, to see if the place is wall-to-wall hellfire and raging dragons.

(Now, a second country will definitely try to get a piece once they find out about it, but that's not going to happen right away...)
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Then replace technology with magic or whatever word represents "potential for success in physical conflicts". The natives ain't up to a fight.

This is aside from the economic discussion but, I am genuinely curious. Why not?

There was some issue in the past with... urban development and arcane magic, it sounds like? So... why aren't the natives the most potent druid/barbarian culture on the planet?

And, as I said... having a bunch of immigrants come and lord over powerless, underdeveloped natives... isn't such a good look.

It's not normal economic function, it's D&D economic function. It's that there's no in-game use for gold past 10gp except buying magic items.

So... just two sessions ago, my group of PCs was in a village that was under threat. And, we worked out that we had sufficient wealth on our persons to evacuate the town. Provide food and water, transport for same, significant levels of equipment for the trip, for several days journey to the nearest haven, for 600+ people, to keep them safe while we dealt with the issues. It would only take about a quarter of the cash resources we had on hand, that we don't have any plans for anyway.

There's plenty of opportunity for PCs to throw money at problems. Most of us just don't stop to think of it.

No, absolutely not. Interaction with the natives is half the fun to me. The culture and interaction and so on. Hell, the story won't even matter without the natives.

Okay, so... why should the PCs interact with them? These people have no power. They are not interested in what the PCs may have to trade. You say you don't like the idea of them asking the PCs to do favors for them. What incentive do the PCs have to spend time with these people?
 

Lackofname

Explorer
This is aside from the economic discussion but, I am genuinely curious. Why not?

There was some issue in the past with... urban development and arcane magic, it sounds like? So... why aren't the natives the most potent druid/barbarian culture on the planet?
The Starter Area (The place where they land) that is currently walled off from the rest of the continent, is peaceful. The tribes there have a compact, are united in a sense of maintaining a vigilant watch on the wall separating them from the interior. For the most part the only real threat are your crocodiles in the river, your undead boogeyman that steals the breath of those that wander off the path--lone predators that you should be able to avoid if you are cautious. The local Nature Spirits (spirit of a big river, etc) are de-facto feudal lords that trade worship for tangible benefits, and part of that includes Encouraging those nasties to stay out of the spirit's territory. All that, plus a lot of "don't do this, don't do that" taboos keeps everyone safe from all that bad stuff buried out there.

In short, if you don't have any reason to fight you don't have much need for awesome barbarians and super druids. When you're safe if you stay in your lane, the status quo becomes stagnant but balanced, and it's been like that a while.

Which is ripe for some foreigners who don't know any better to stumble right through and smash that stability.

With all of that said, the wall separating the Starter Zone from the rest of the continent is about 30 miles from the coast. Things on the other side are night and day; large numbers of war-like humanoids, nasty spellcasters, possibly even cities, etc. Had the foreigners landed in the middle of that, events would have been brutal. It's only the Starter Zone, left in isolation, was allowed to become peaceful and stagnant, which lets the colony have time to get a solid foothold.

That way there's an obvious "Here be dangerous higher level threats" while having a strong in-game reason for a relatively benign low-level zone.

And, as I said... having a bunch of immigrants come and lord over powerless, underdeveloped natives... isn't such a good look.
Yes, it's supposed to not look good. The situation is intentionally exploitative. The PCs are allied with an organization that is going to put the locals at a disadvantage--but not in an overtly mustache-twirling evil way. That's not a nice thing. What are the PCs going to do about it?

The foreigners (especially the PCs) are going around stirring up ancient evil despite the locals' warnings. That doesn't look good either.
Okay, so... why should the PCs interact with them? These people have no power. They are not interested in what the PCs may have to trade. You say you don't like the idea of them asking the PCs to do favors for them. What incentive do the PCs have to spend time with these people?
I'm starting to feel like you're intentionally trying to poke holes in my campaign.

Motivating the PCs to interact with the locals isn't a worry I have.
 
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