Cash Dice to Pay Graverobbers?


A question came up at a session and we’re looking for some clarity.

A player wanted to pay a graverobber (relationship) to dig up an artifact from a grave beyond the frontier in dangerous lands haunted by monsters. The graverobber offered to do it for 4 cash dice because he needed to hire bandits and laborers and perhaps bribe some folks. The player tried to haggle him down to 3 cash dice, but failed.

4 cash dice doubles to an Ob 8 resources test to generate the liquid funds to pay for the job.

The player argued that rather than using the Ob rules for generating cash dice, we should be using Resource Obstacles on 366-367, and that the cash dice generation rules should be limited to specifically when PCs want to generate cash dice for themselves or other PCs.

As the GM, I felt there was merit to that argument. I also thought that since the people doing the graverobbing would likely be individuals living beyond the normal economy that they would want to be paid in cash dice – pure liquidity that’s not really tied to the economy from which they are excluded.

We put the test on hold until we get some ruling on this question.

I imagine it playing out as follows: the player does have a very high resources stat. I don’t think success on the roll is likely, and it would likely end with the player being taxed but gift of kindness to afford it. For the season, they would be strapped for cash.

Any guidance, advice, criticism would be much appreciated!


Normally, I’d say you prioritize looking to the sample resources obstacles: “pay and support for a bodyguard/trainer” is the closest parallel to your situation, and is Ob 4, which feels solid.

That said, there is a scenario in which I would force a test to generate Cash when paying an NPC: when you know for absolute certain that the NPC in question is going to have to roll those dice.

Basically, if the only question is “Do we successfully pay the guy?” just set a Resources Ob and let task and intent flow. But if an NPC is plotting to embezzle their money for secret projects, or is going to hire an assassin to kill them, or is going to pay the dowry of the woman that a player is trying to woo, or is going to buy up the land they are hoping to mine, make your players generate cash dice. That way, when they see their “hireling” use their own damn money to make their lives difficult, they can look at you in horror and say: “Nice.”


Surely he didn’t ask to be paid in dice? How many Livre, Fifths, Thrones is he asking for?

That aside, I’m with your player–I’ve even made a similar argument to my current GM: My GM asked if I had any Cash Dice to give a thug as a bribe. I told him, “We buy stuff by testing Resources; not by generating cash to trade.” Swapping Cash-gen Tests can be a seductive convenience, but it can also be a red herring–even if the Task in question is giving an NPC a bunch of cash! Cash Dice are extra dice used for Resources Tests. The degree to which cash is helpful to acquiring a good or service is variable–which is why the mechanic is so unstable. 4D of Cash can be enough money to hire a bodyguard or only enough to buy food for a day or not even that–or (in the right hands) buy a castle! Further, Obstacles don’t equal money, they equal difficulty, and they don’t even necessarily equal “realistic” difficulty. Throwing around cash on a day to day basis is super easy. Having cash when you need it, like, “I need to leverage every asset I can for this buy” need it can be quite challenging. It’s an Ob 8 Test to generate 4D of Cash. It’s aslo an Ob 8 Test to buy a small cargo ship. That doesn’t make any kind of sense if you assume that Ob = Money. Even if we imagined that Cash was super difficult to obtain and so came with a double obstacle penalty to generate, 8D is not enough to make buying the ship Routine. It seems like having the Graverobber ask for Cash Dice is putting the mechanical cart before the narrative horse and artefacting the system pretty hard. That brings it back to my earlier question: How much money is he asking for? Cash Dice isn’t money. This NPC isn’t playing the game; Cash Dice isn’t a thing for him.

If we were assuming he were playing the game, though, why does he want cash? I’d take a 2D Fund over 4D Cash (almost) any day, and a 3D Fund is still easier to create than 4D Cash. Buy me a rich-folks’ cemetery that I can rob nightly for an enduring +3D to my Resources. If he’s looking at the rulebook and shopping, he could have your player finance his lifestyle and live like a Count for 10 Maintenance cycles at Ob 8 (Base 7 + Buying in Bulk) or like a Baron for 100 cycles! Ten or so years of fine living or the ability to semi-reliably buy food for a day twice? Easy choice! He mentioned hiring extra muscle. 4D Cash ain’t gonna cut it (without Help, Artha, Resources, etc.) Hiring a bodyguard is an Ob 4 test, +1 for buying in bulk. If I’m playing the Graverobber, and I’m honestly trying to help my buddy, it doesn’t make sense for me to demand Money Bags tax his Resources to give me Cash so I can go fail a test on his behalf. Especially when he’d have an easier time making that test himself (probably). If the graverobber is asking for money to finance the expedition, he should really just cut out the middle man and say, “I’ll go. Here’s a list of stuff I need. I know where to get it; I just need the dosh.” Then, you set a Resources Obstacle.

That’s my first bit of advice. And, Situation willing, let Money Bags haggle, score a deal, and generate Cash for themselves to help with the roll. I’m not saying harrowing expeditions for lost artifacts are cheap. If the graverobber is saying, “Sure. I’ll dig up Blackrazor on Monster Island in the Land of the Dead. Gimme a million bucks,” that sounds fair to me!

If he is really willing to go, my first instinct was to say to the player, “He’s your Relationship; sure he’ll go! If you wanna send 5 resource points on a suicide mission without providing him the means to have any hope of success, he’s 100% on-board! :grin: (We’ll check in with him in a few sessions when he’ll have never been heard from again.)” :shushing_face:

Other than that my criticism is that this expedition sounds like a heckin’ fun adventure! It seems a waste to have it occur off-screen!

… And so my ultimate advice is to not let the adventure happen off-screen! Tell the player, “You don’t have to give him anything; he’s packin’ his bags! But feel free to give him as much as you want! Give him a letter of introduction (Help with Resources); back it up with a letter of credit (Fund). Buy him arms and armor. Book his passage on a junk and shell-out for a spade with a balance die. And make sure his character sheet is up-to-date; you’ll need it. Everyone else, burn up new characters in Graverobber’s circles. Next week Money Bags is taking his relationship for a spin, and you’re all going with him!” If it’s not the kind of thing you’d run, ask someone else to run it and burn up a character yourself!

Also, what are the player’s Beliefs?


Should the NPCs be making those rolls?

I feel like I need a dedicated thread for, “Hey, when do NPCs test?”

But I feel like I’m leaning more and more toward “Only when the players are rolling against them.” … “And maybe when the players are helping.” The GM doesn’t need to a character to roll to hire assassins or pay a dowry when those things are challenges to a player’s Beliefs. Put another way, the players shouldn’t be at the mercy of the dice to get to have their Beliefs challenged. “You know, guys, I was gonna have this cool showdown between Shawna’s character and her nemesis from the School of the Viper, but Count Emerik failed his Resources test to hire him, so… No epic showdown tonight.” :confused:

I love the last bit of your post, but I don’t know if I agree with the method.

… I’m sure you’ve found success with it, though! So… Can’t be all bad.

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Ah! And welcome back, Salmon!

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The reason I called for cash dice is because in my mind the folks doing the work live outside the regular economy. I have no intent of the NPCs making rolls related to the cash dice. I see regular resource payments as happening within the formal economy from which the people being paid would be excluded, so I called for cash dice rather than a plain resources ob. I’m pretty swayed by the arguments for it being a regular resource ob, however.

This is a The Blossoms are Falling campaign. The player in question plays a minor noble trying to impress the clan to which he is sworn by procuring a gift worthy of an expected visitor from the emperor’s clan. He hopes that his liege will be so impressed by his wealth and resourcefulness that they will allow him to marry into the clan proper.

The game in question has more to do with politics than robbing graves and the players wouldn’t really be interested in a side quest involving obtaining the artifact itself – though with a different group I could see the interest in going on the trip.

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That makes sense to me. I feel remiss for not validating that point more in my initial reply.

I could definitely see some kind of Ob penalty being imposed due to that situation. I don’t know if I’d double the Ob (hired professional 4 × 2 = 8), but I feel like financing a mission like this would be quite steep. And, yeah, cash-only is tough.

It’s also interesting because this feels like the resolution of a Belief by a mere Resources Test (maybe there’s more going into it than was commented upon here). It feels like it could be meatier, you know? (Though, I’m sure you’ve got plans for complications when/if he acquires the treasure.)

Maybe some creativity could get around the cash issue? Like, maybe he could bring this gravedigger into the fold, so to speak. Or find something that he wants within society that Money Bags can get him.

That’s dope. I know basically nothing about Blossoms other than it’s super well-loved and damn-near impossible to acquire. This gives it a sort of lost-treasure mystique for me.

There’s always Zoidberg… :smirk:

Given that BW resources are based more on the possessor’s reputation for being able to cover a debt than they are on physical liquid cash, I see the economy of favours and barter that exists among the oppressed and excluded as closer to standard resources checks than a properly established legally regulated economy is; so if I were to use Cash Dice as payments, I might well do it the other way around and have a respected merchant ask for Cash rather than a Resources roll because he isn’t interested in how decent a chap you are or that if he gives you the shiny your cousin will give him the foo that he was otherwise going to give to you.


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