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Author Topic: Resources  (Read 2247 times)
Paganini
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« on: May 04, 2005, 01:15:23 PM »

So, I been working my way through Burning Wheel Revised and really digging it. Made a character and everything (she's up on my blog).

But, then I got to the Resources chapter. They make no sense. THEY MAKE NO SENSE! HEAD A SPLODE!

OK.

First, on page 85:

"Test Resources against the obstacle as if it were any other skill or stat. All of the rules apply - helping, FoRKs, artha and advancement."

ONE PARAGRAPH later:

"Players may _not_ FoRK their skills into Resources."

(My friend Thomas just told me that the first one is a lie, the second one is true. OK. I'll assume he knows what he's talking about.)

But then, it just gets bizarre. Resources advance like any other skill, but only *successful* tests count for advancement. Resources are only drained when you *fail* a test.

So... The way to get more Resources is to spend Resources. Everything in the entire game will be free (you lose nothing) as long as you keep making successful Resources tests, and your Resources Exponent will continue to rise.

But, the only way to *drain* Resources is if you fail the test. That is, you only lose money if you *don't buy anything.*

Things are especially strange because it's very hard to get a Resources of more than 2 if you use the default LP limit (four lifepaths). That means that you have like a 50% chance of going bankrupt every time you buy a basic weapon, or some adventuring gear.

I've got a Resources of 2 (I had to stretch a little to get that). I want to go buy a _sumptuous_ meal, or maybe some traveling gear. This is an OB2 task. I stretch my imagination so that running down to the corner Ye Olde Gear Shoppe involves taking out loans, calling in favors, and so on.

If I succeed, I have some food that I eat. Or maybe a tinderbox and some snowshoes to carry around.

My new snowshoes (or my digested meal) is supposed to give me enough financial leverage on future purchases that I don't lose any dice now?

OTOH, if I fail, Ye Olde Gear Shoppe is all out of snowshoes that day (darn!) but that's too bad for me, because I've already called in my favors, taken out my loan. I lose my dice, and have nothing to show for it.

I am completely flabbergasted. Not that the Resources rules are bad, but that a game that has been this logical, consistent, and downright freakin' cool can go stark raving bizzare in the space of like two pages. Someone, please tell me I'm missing something.
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Thor Olavsrud
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« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2005, 02:16:59 PM »

Hi Paganini,

Quote
"Test Resources against the obstacle as if it were any other skill or stat. All of the rules apply - helping, FoRKs, artha and advancement."

ONE PARAGRAPH later:

"Players may _not_ FoRK their skills into Resources."


You've run into a slight editing error. You may not FoRK other skills into Resources. However, Helping Dice, Artha and Advancement do apply.

That means your friends CAN grant you Helping Dice in order to make a big purchase, but they run the risk of being Taxed as well. And the new Linked Test rule can be very handy as well.

Ultimately, Resources is an abstracted system. It does not simply represent coinage that you have available, but also favors you can call on, property that you can get a loan against, any palms that can be greased to get you in with the right guy to make a purchase, etc.

Also, you should note that we almost ALWAYS play with the Gift of Kindness rule from page 87. The only reasons not to offer the Gift of Kindness would be if the object is simply not available or the player is attempting to do something like purchase a small cargo ship (Ob 8) with Resources B2.

I think if you play with The Gift of Kindness, the mental hiccup you're experiencing will go away.

And yes, that still means that the only way to add to your Resources is by using them. However, the GM can always hand out Advantage dice if, for example, you get an inheritance or find a trove of treasure. The Advantage dice are Taxed first, and cannot be recovered.

Characters CAN be burned with far more than Resources B2. Titled nobles, high-level churchmen, and merchants/bankers can do it easily. Dwarf Nobles can easily get high-exponent Gray Resources. However, you have to burn your character with this in mind and spend your Resource Points on property accordingly.
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Luke
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« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2005, 02:55:04 PM »

Hi Pagininni.

Quote
So... The way to get more Resources is to spend Resources. Everything in the entire game will be free (you lose nothing) as long as you keep making successful Resources tests, and your Resources Exponent will continue to rise.


Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in the text in the book. I'm sorry for any confusion. Resources is NOT a coinage simulation mechanic, it's not even a spending mechanic when you think about it. It's a conflict resolution mechanic that represents the character's overall capital, fluidity, favor and financial power -- his ability to resolve situations like those so they fall in his favor.

However, the core premise of the mechanic is that "you have to spend money to make money." Squatting on piles of coins doesn't increase your Resources. Investing, making purchases and increasing your profile does.

Resources advances only on successful tests in order to prevent wierd abberations like characters with B1 Res spending way beyond their means and going up.


To use the example of your character -- he's got about he can carry on his back, right? Well, what if, in the game, he's got to impress the town sergeants in order to get on the roster. They invite him out to the tavern and stick him with the bill. Time for a Resources test. Pass, and you scrape it together to pay the meal. ::phew:: Not only that, but you've impressed the sergeants, perhaps you even get the job. Notch a test toward advancement. Fail and turn out some empty pockets, and a frown. Your name is mud in this town now.  You're temporarily taxed until you can get some more work.

does that help?
-Luke
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Thor Olavsrud
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« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2005, 04:08:53 PM »

It's also important to note that Resources is only rolled when you've got a dramatic conflict. You don't roll for the day-to-day stuff. That's handled under the Maintenance Cycle, which you'll find under the Lifestyles, Obligation and Maintenance header on page 89 of the system book.

In our experience, this stuff works extremely well in play (we've been playtesting Resources for more than a year). For one thing, it creates an avenue for actual, mechanically-supported dramatic conflict in play. When the Count of Monte Cristo starts throwing his incredible wealth around to further his vengeful plot, Burning Wheel can handle it now, without resorting to dull bean counting.

Through the Gift of Kindness rule, it also means that players can push their characters to go beyond their means when they REALLY need it -- but at a very real price.

Believe it or not, it also satisfies simmy priorities in my experience. You actually get the feel of a real economy and loans and taxes and whatnot. And actual, honest-to-god work skills, like Estate Management, blacksmithing, brewing, and so forth REALLY mean something because they help you recover Taxed Resources. One of Luke's players a month or so back had his knight go out and levy taxes in order to boost his Resources to pay his lifestyle Maintenance. And he realized that he NEEDED an Estate Manager and Accountants to help him recover his Taxed Resources.

If your fear is that characters will advance their Resources too quickly, I assure you it doesn't happen. Because Resources requires successful tests to earn tests for advancement, Challenging tests become a real impediment to increasing your wealth. You will need to spend serious Artha and make big purchases to win those advancements. And it is entirely possible to lose your entire nut with a Challenging test.

Also, don't overlook the fact that Resources is one of the only Stats/Attributes/Abilities in the game that can actually be reduced. If you Tax your Resources to zero, you lose 1D of Resources permanently.
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Bankuei
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« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2005, 09:45:18 PM »

Hi Luke,

So of the two references, you still can't FORK into Resources, but you can do a linked test?  I'm thinking of situations where someone really wants to get something, applies a -wise or two to get a better deal, or find a used version or otherwise cuts a deal.  Because they're using more dice, they're more likely to get the object/service, but less likely to get a good test from it.

Chris
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Luke
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« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2005, 10:15:37 PM »

linked tests and help are fine.

the contradictory sentence in the rules is only meant to state that Resources acts like a skill in all respects. The line below is the exception.

Yeesh. I'm going to be answering this question for the rest of my days.

-L
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Bankuei
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« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2005, 10:19:35 PM »

Hey,

Totally cool.  I missed that line, I had assumed you could FORK it until I saw this thread.

Chris
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Paganini
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« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2005, 09:26:05 AM »

Hi guys,

First, lest it sound like I'm bashing, let me ephasize that I *like* Burning Wheel. I want to play it. The Hub and the Spokes are sheer beauty. The Steel Mechanics are great. The Range and Cover mechanics are awesome.

That said, I don't think that your comments fix Resources for me. I do think I've figured out a bit more about why they bother me, though.

You use the Resources mechanics to see if you can buy something *without noticing.* It's a mechanic for Bill Gates. It's not actually about what Resources you have, it's about "Will this make a dent in my finances if I buy it?"

If you succeed at the test, you get whatever it was you wanted without there being a dent - how exactly you paid for it (services, goods, money, favors) is swept under the rug.

If you fail at the test, you most likely still get it, but it does make a dent in your resources.

Would you say that this is an accurate characterization of the mechanics?


(Aside - Ranting about intent vs. actual textual clarity and consistency)

If you answer "yes" to the question immediately preceding this aside, then we have a textual clarity problem. The mechanics described in the book do not match the construct that I just described.

The way the Gift of Kindness is phrased, it seems like it's something that the GM can do every so often on a whim, if he feels like it - *not* a default mode that is only superseded when the player wants something outrageous. The GM "may choose" to consider it on a "case-by-case basis."

According to page 83, Resources represent the character's overall material wealth and potential influence, also his ability to borrow, barter, trade, and lend.

According to page 85: "If the player meets or exceeds the obstacle, he has acquired what he stated he was after. If he fails the test, his Resources are taxed, and he either can't find or can't afford what he was looking for."

According to page 86, on a failed Resources test: "Tax represents a loss of fluidity in the character's assets. Perhaps some cash was expended, but more likely is that favors were called or resources tapped that simply can't be called on again for a while. . . . In general, [on a failed Resources roll] the player does not achieve his intent (just like a normal failed test) and his Resources is temporarily reduced due to the expenditure."

!!! Buh? Wha? There *is no expenditure* on a failed roll. According to the rules, the character couldn't find, or couldn't afford what he was looking for. He *didn't buy it!*

The Intent of a Resources test is to buy something. According to this, if I fail a Resource test I don't buy it, and my Resources are temporarily reduced due to the expenditure of... not buying anything? If I don't buy anything, my Resources do not lose fluidity. The favor was called on, but not used. The loan was taken out, but not spent.

A couple of weeks ago I got pre-approval for a car loan. That car loan will be part of my resources, until I actually buy a car. If I can't find a car, or can't afford a car, that loan will not be used. Until I buy the car, I haven't spent the money. Until I spend the money, I still have my loan. No Resource tax.

(/Aside - Ranting)


My thing is:

The main problem has to do with the fact that it's possible to fail a Resource test, lose a die, and not have anything to show for it.

A Resources test answers the question - "Will buying this put a dent in my finances?"

A failed Resources test answers "no" to that question. At that point, you should either buy it and take the dent (i.e., lose a Resource die) or walk away (you don't buy it, but neither do you lose a die).

But the mechanics say "Nope, even though you didn't buy it, you still have to lose that die, because you might have taken out a loan, or called in a personal favor that can't be called in again."

This is terrible. In the first place, the game already has specific mechanics for loans that give you extra Resources dice. You can't have it both ways - on the one hand Resources is some abstract thing that includes loans, but on the other hand Resources is a concrete representation of finances where Loans give you extra Resources dice.

Maybe Resources doesn't represent loans after all - just cash, goods, and favors; that would be better.

But, mechanically, a low Resources character can, for example, go down to the docks and bankrupt himself *failing to buy a ship!* Apparently, the character had *no* actual cash or goods at all - his resources consisted entirely of one-shot favors, which he called in to no avail. No favors, no ship, no Resources.

It ends up just like D&D hit-points. You never can tell if it's actual health, luck of the gods, hero points, or what - so there are about a billion specific cases where it makes no sense at all.

Resources need to represent *Resources.* Stuff you can spend to get other stuff. The actual Loan mechanics give you more Resources dice. Why all this waffling about abstract "favors" and "loans?"

The Obstacle for the Resources test is specifically defined as the cost of whatever you want to get. That cost will be paid with cash or bartered goods. Calling in favors is a negligable part of this process. If the Obstacle is higher than your current Resources, it should mean that whatever you're trying to buy is just plain too expensive.

Besides, when you *do* call in a favor, wouldn't it be a good idea for that to be handled specifically, so you can role-play it accordingly?

* * *

Last night I made a 5 LP character. He's a 40 year old Noble Born -> Neophyte Sorcerer -> Rogue Wizard -> Zealous Convert -> Court Advisor. The guy has 181 resource points to spend! He's probably gonna own a manor, with a tower workshop, a town-house, maybe a library, etc. etc.

I'm wondering about the Get a Job mechanics for him. I don't see him having to Get A Job to recoup lost resources. Is there an option for fixed income characters that I missed someplace? Like, it seems that a Court Advisor who owns a private library should have his resources refresh automatically at some point, based on his stipend, rent, and such.

Can a "job" include just sitting around letting the wealth roll in from estates and so on? Like, what if I own an inn? I don't actually work there (I'm busy at court), but I get the money from it, out of which I pay the inkeeper, the cook, the barmaids, etc.

* * *

By the way, Thor:

Quote from: Thor
In our experience, this stuff works extremely well in play (we've been playtesting Resources for more than a year). For one thing, it creates an avenue for actual, mechanically-supported dramatic conflict in play. When the Count of Monte Cristo starts throwing his incredible wealth around to further his vengeful plot, Burning Wheel can handle it now, without resorting to dull bean counting.


This doesn't count for a whole lot in terms of explaining / convincing me that Resources are actually cool. D&D hit points, for example, have been playtested for well over 30 years, and the explanation for them is still a logical black hole. If there's one thing that you learn over years of designing games and hanging around game designers and game players, it's that, just because something seems cool to the game's author and has a bunch of happy fans doesn't mean that it actually makes sense.

Donjon also has an abstract wealth mechanic that can handle the Count of Monte Cristo without bean counting, but it does so in a consistent manner.

The thing here is that the Resources mechanics seem pretty solidly imbedded in the rest of Burning Wheel. Normally if there was a subroutine in a game that didn't make sense, I'd just rip it out and use one I like (say, like Donjon's abstract wealth system). But in this case, the Resources module also is tied into character creation and the social mechanics. What I'd really like is some alternate way to handle Resources that makes sense, but doesn't screw up the other submodules that interface with the current Resources mechanics.
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Luke
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« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2005, 09:58:24 AM »

Just because you "didn't buy it" doesn't mean you didn't waste time and money trying to get it. And as for failing a test and still getting it, I thought the Gift of Kindness took care of that.

Anyway, I don't know what to tell you, man. They work mechanically, and they make sense to most folks. Sorry they don't click with you. I don't think we're going to see eye to eye on this one.

As for your Court Advisor, he's still got to use the Get a Job mechanics when his Resources are taxed. He's got to administer his finances. Even if that means hiring and firing and signing off on invoices. Sounds like he needs the Estate Management skill.

-L
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Mulciber
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« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2005, 11:07:25 PM »

Hello,

My understanding was that if the DM gave you the Gift of Kindness, you could take back the purchase and not put a dent in your finances. I think this is maybe the next couple of paragraphs in the text or so? (I don't have the books with me. Will you check for me from there to the end of the section?)

If it is the case you can take back your purchases when offered tGoK, and tGoK is assumed to be the rule rather than the exception, does that fix this mechanic for you?

The explanation I make up in my head to be charitable is that the lost die or dice due to a failed Resources test is one buying an interest in a ship, but it sails away to become a pirate. Or you buy 20,000 cans of white paint, but needed glossy, not matte. The point is that you throw your weight around financially and you get shafted. And you don't learn anything from it, because the loss in your actual abstracted wealth exceeds your increased abstracted ability to handle money to the tune of the margin of failure.

I do think that the section wants rewriting. Even so, I appreciate Luke's choice to go ahead and give me the game. Besides, I don't think this will be the last printing for a game as good as this.

Best,
Will
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Yokiboy
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« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2005, 10:51:24 AM »

Couldn't a failed Resource check simply be translated as "oops, I didn't have enough resources after all." That is, you might have spent more than you thought recently, perhaps some of it has been swindled away, or whatever. Paganini, I'm sure you can modify the system to do what you want it to do, but personally I think it sounds like a great system as is.

TTFN,

Yoki
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Angaros
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« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2005, 12:01:07 PM »

Quote from: Paganini
A couple of weeks ago I got pre-approval for a car loan. That car loan will be part of my resources, until I actually buy a car. If I can't find a car, or can't afford a car, that loan will not be used. Until I buy the car, I haven't spent the money. Until I spend the money, I still have my loan. No Resource tax.

I'd say that Resources reflect your ability to get that loan, not the money themselves. The stat also reflect appearances and is probably far more fluctuating and volatile than a modern-day credit rating. The usurer has no means to measure your ability to make good on your loans other than checking your reputation, looking at your appearance and assessing the value of your belongings.

A failed test can mean a lot of things. Let's say you go out and try to buy some seeds at the market. Failing the test could mean that you just can't afford it and without those seeds, your economic situation worsens. A farmer without seeds will be going downhill soon and everyone knows it. Who would want to reach out to you when they know you have nothing to give in return? They might help you once, but that's exactly a "Gift of Kindness" situation. The kinsmen reach out and make sure you get those seeds, but now you owe them as well = Tax.

Another possible interpretation of a failure would be that there are no seeds avaliable at the market and despite your efforts to seek out neighboring villages and local freeholders you just don't find what you're looking for. This didn't cost you anything you say? Of course it did. First of all you probably spent time doing this. Second, you looked up contacts, made people reach out for you without finding anything. They still used their time and energy hunting for something for you. As Luke and Thor said, Resources is a conflict resolution system and it isn't necessarily as fast, clean and contained as a credit card check at the store.

I would say that a huge amount of the Resources stat consists of reputation and an appearance of wealth. For medieval lords a penny saved was a penny lost. This meant that they spent huge amounts of silver just to maintain a respectable appearance to their peers. Guilded craftsmen and peasants did the same but on a smaller scale. Virtually noone saved money for a rainy day -- instead they invested what resources they had in their current situation. Buying animals, grain, repairing the house, getting new tools etc. How does this work for adventurers? Well they too need to keep respectable appearances and build networks of contacts. Respectable people that can vouch for them will probably count even more than the silver they carry. If they land in a foreign country they might suffer from increased Ob:s (since noone knows them and they only have their charm and what valuables they carry to use). If the players feel that their character's Resources come only from carried valuables, then let them argue for this and tell them that while that's fine, they're probably going to face higher Ob:s later when trying to regenerate their Resources. Spending Resources successfully means using your connections and valuables in a sensible way. The sensible spender will always be remembered as a level-headed and valuable customer and this is what advancement checks represent.
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taepoong
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« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2005, 01:40:50 PM »

It seems to help play if Gift of Kindness is set to the default. I don't think I've seen it played any other way. Would this address your problem, Paganini? It sounds like it. You just don't want to lose money and not get anything in return. Completely understandable and I agree. It will just take more GM fiat to determine what is and what isn't worth a Resources test. For instance, a B2 Resources trying to buy a boat. He should just be scoffed at by the shipwright and sent packin' with no dice rolled.
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xenopulse
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« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2005, 01:58:04 PM »

I've read through the rules just recently, and they make sense for me--because of the existence of the cash-on-hand and property rules.

If your character has a lot of coinage, that's simple, he'll use them as bonus on the resources roll and spend the coin in the process.

When you *don't* have extra amounts of coin, you need to get it another way, based on your lifestyle circumstances. Maybe for favors, maybe as an advance on your regular income, whatever. And those things need to be paid back, hence the potential for Tax. The roll, coupled with Gift of Kindness, is more a question of "can I get it without using up some of my most basic resources" rather than "do I have the coin to afford this." It seems to me the Gift rule is there as optional simply to prevent abuse (buying a castle with a failed roll on low resources).

I thought more along Paganini's line of reasoning until I came across that cash bonus rule, and that made it all fall in line for me.

Of course, I hate coin counting.
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