Mechanika Inwazja Note 160101 Resources 160101

On resources in role-playing games.

The resources are a very complex problem. It is so complex that we have not managed to solve it yet, even if we are trying to do in many iterations. First, let us review several options how it can be done:

– Apocalypse world uses something called “barter level”. You are able to amass some barter and when you want to use it, you roll against it. The weakness of the system from our point of view is the fact that this barter is just one parameter which encompasses all types of resources – be them material or social – in one parameter (simplification: there is also history which kind of uses the other part of it).
– In the older articles of “Magia i Miecz” the used to be a very interesting reputation article; basically, the more deeds you did and the more those deeds were known, the stronger your influence was up on the world and you could have had both fame and infamy reputation. You could have traded gold into reputation by hiring bards, for example
– InSpectres basically divides the support resources into four basic ones: knowledge, physical, money. Now, physical is mostly physical training for people and money is mostly used for technological approach. This is interesting, because the character sheet contains four components: knowledge (academic and information), physical (body), technology (technical acumen), contact (social stuff). So basically this one gives four major areas where the resources should be located, yet this is exactly what you’re searching for.
– Panty explosion gives us five categories: Earth (location), fire (action), air (people), water (mood), void (supernatural). Aside the fact this could be changed a bit for our purpose, this one has proven to give particular results; was not fine-tuned enough though for our purpose.
– Dogs in the Vineyard gives us three major areas: relationships, belongings, accomplishments. And it gives them on the level of traits; exactly the same way other stats are given. In other words: those are exactly the same as a part of the character as the stats are.

Overall, the resources are very important: they allow us to control the situation and the realities of the gameplay. For example, a person having wealth of 10 has more resources and money than a person having wealth of 6. Now, this concept can be combined with any type of doom counter:

- If the wealth of an opponent gets to 3, he would hire two guards.
- If the wealth of an opponent gets to 6, his defense rating gets +4
- if the wealth of an opponent gets to 10, he will move out of reach of players

So if we control the resources and combine them with the doom counter, it is completely possible to actually see what is happening in the system and put some triggers – some events – which will allow the world to function. NPCs have motivations of maximizing their resources and players are able to actually reduce opponents’ resources and that way hit them.

This same applies to the players. If players are able to expend their resources, in a way that they are able to solve parts of the missions using those resources and get some micro counters of their goals (especially combined with the triggers), like: when stealth gets to three, they have a safe base in the city. When it gets to six, they can move without detection and make free actions. When it gets to 10, opponent believes they are not here all.

Disadvantage: not only we do not have a functioning resource system at this moment but also this turns the game into a lot of bookkeeping like an Excel file. On the other hand, the mission plays itself.

Now, add the archetypes and methods we were talking about earlier. Assume every move in archetypes and methods will modify the resources of the side. Example below:

- The police managed to catch a dealer and get information about the fights between two rival gangs. They have started a crackdown.
….. CompetentPolice.interrogate <someone> successfully getting <information>
….. <police>.A.uu, <gang1>.E.d, <gang1>.F.d, <gang1>.E.d, <gang1>.F.d

So the section above shows how in fiction (first line) is combined with the Move of a selected motive called “competent police”and how it influenced the resources. Police got two levels in (Air / knowledge) and one level in (Fire / action). Both gangs have lost some defenses (Earth / location) and some possibilities to act (Fire / action). So the move was taken from the motive then it got in-fiction interpretation according to the logic of the current session and the resources were considered. I could set a trigger here like “when police knowledge about the gangs gets to level 7, they will attempt to get reinforcements and secure armament; when their fire gets to level 10 and knowledge remains at level 7 or 8, they will launch assault at the gangs to pacify both of them.”

But for that we need a functioning resource system. Resources are used for influence mostly; to represent what the person or side is able to do or have. So for now I think we will experiment with the following system:

- Air / knowledge
The academic knowledge, immaterial, secrets, books – not necessarily practical, but the general knowledge. Air element is impossible to touch so it symbolizes the knowledge. This resource is used in resolving knowledge conflicts, uncovering secrets and making researches.
- Fire / craft
Fire is an only element which human beings are able to actually create. Without fire, there would be no civilization; therefore fire symbolizes the craft – the deeds, the practical application, the machines. This resource is used in getting tools to augment solving problems.
- Earth / physical
This resource represents defenses mostly, be it defense through being hidden (countered by air) or defense through well, guards and patrols (countered by fire or water) or defense through traps and location (countered by fire). It also symbolizes raw wealth. Like Earth, this resource is a foundation for everything else.
- Water / contact
This resource represents the political and social power, the influence over people and the standing in the society. The morale, the reputation, willingness of others to work with us. Goodwill of people. Like water, it makes waves and is very hard to hold. Also, represents people.
- Void / supernatural
This resource represents the supernatural things – magic, artifacts, things able to actually modify the reality.

Now, what is actually very important in the system is the fact that you do not look at it separately. Let’s assume the following structure:
“Terror Tendrils”: Air 6, Fire 8, Earth 2, Water 3, Void 5
Terror Tendrils group has a lot of doodads and machinery; lots of useful tools which can be used under very many circumstances. They do have a lot of knowledge about things. However, they do not have a lot of material riches, they do not really have defenses and their standing in the community is also not very high. Only the fact that the area they are located in is kind of lawful protects them somewhat; they do have a lot of supernatural stuff but the moment determined people come able to disable the magical defenses the terror tendrils will not be able to Protect their possessions.

So the structure of the resources of an organization also says a lot about the very organization. And now in the process of ongoing sessions we could aim at improving some of those resources or convert some resources into other ones. We can also set some triggers – “when Air and Water get to five, the Tendrils will realize that they are not defended enough and they will expend 1 Fire to gradually build up the defenses to get Earth to at least 4; in the process they would have to hire some people which gives our players opportunity to…” - And the story starts to write itself.

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