Help me understand the resource/cash dice system...

I’ve read through the rule book twice now and will be playing my first game soon. I’m really enjoying the feel and purpose of the system overall, but am having a hard time with the treasure/resources/lifestyle stuff. It seems unnecessarily abstract and complex. I don’t really get the purpose other than to maybe try and use the same basic die roll tests in every aspect of the game.

What problem is it trying to solve by being different than a straightforward “coin and cost” system? How do you as a GM explain/sell the idea and randomness to players?

Thinking on it some more, here are a few potential examples that I’m struggling with:

With strange dice luck, I could go to the market and have no problem purchasing a suit of plate armor, but can’t obtain any food (rations)?
I want to buy rope. I give the guy a gold necklace, but then fail my test and don’t get the rope - but he keeps the gold necklace anyway?
Then there’s the whole lifestyle system where I can do as much as I want in town on credit, and then we’ll see if my card is declined when I’m leaving town?

I guess part of the issue is that when I have seen abstract systems in other games (The One Ring, for example) the purpose has been to cut down on the bookkeeping and de-emphasize treasure, but in Torchbearer both acquiring treasure and bookkeeping play major roles in the system. What am I missing?

Well, insofar as purpose goes, Torchbearer aims to use bookkeeping that’s still abstracted at a level (thus, you have slots instead of measuring weight). It wants to keep bookkeeping at a level that’s interesting and enjoyable. Counting coins isn’t so much.

The whole idea of Resources, though, is that money in Torchbearer doesn’t quite work the same as money nowadays. The Resources stat is all about your ability to effectively use the money you have on hand, along with your ability to call in favors and the like. Since there’s no set standard of price and coinage, either, it represents your ability to hit the exchanges right. The Ob for any particular item represents how difficult it is to find an item of the proper price.

(Insofar as failing to obtain items, I believe that’s not necessarily true. Don’t you receive the item but tax your resources?)

Hopefully that answers your question somewhat? I believe there is a sort of historicity behind Resources, but others know it better than I.

Keep in mind that if you are taxed or get a condition then you get what you wanted. So the merchant does take the gold necklace, but you do get the rope. With a twist… I guess a technical reading would be that you still lose the cash but you don’t get the item, but I have a hard time swallowing that too. Most of the time I’d let the player keep the cash, unless the twist describes how the cash is lost, like a thief nicks it while you’re distracted arguing with the merchant. In that case you’d at least get a test or conflict to get it back. That’s my own opinion though, I don’t think it’s raw.

The resource system is meant to reinforce and easy-come-easy-go flavor to money to make you feel even more like a murder hobo. It takes up lots of space in your inventory, so you need to spend it all before you go out looking for a job. Every time you try to spend money it’s risky, so do you throw lots of cash at it or do you rely more on your own resources and risk losing everything? It’s all a big gamble that could leave you coming away with nothing. Furthermore, by abstracting it as dice it’s already in a gambling state instead of making a separate roll and then trying to apply that roll to a “pile of gold”. I think CarpeGuitarrem’s explanation of how the gambling makes sense narratively is spot on.

While the Resources rules are abstract, I don’t really find them to be very complex at all, but maybe that’s just me.

“Coin and cost” doesn’t cover ideas such as available assets, credit rating, all of the stupid little things people have to spend money on to survive or waste money on to keep themselves happy (do you really want to track every new pair of socks or every candy bar or every new roll of toilet paper?) and the fact that not everything costs the same all of the time. That’s how I see it, anyway.

Torchbearer is a descendant of Burning Wheel, and both are fantasy games set in a period of time when people didn’t necessarily walk around with sacks of coins all of the time (and it might not be safe to do so). So everybody keeps a “tab” for you, “I.O.U.s”. It’s like, “Hey, my harvest won’t come in until the fall. Can I get this hoe now and pay you back later?” That applies more to Burning Wheel than Torchbearer, but it’s the same concept narrowed for use by adventurers.

Think of Resources as a combination credit rating and “financial management skill”. Can I afford this sword, or did I blow all of my cash on tacos last night?

There’s also an element of “shopping” involved. How long did it take me to find the sword I wanted to buy? Did I have to pay somebody for the information? Did I have to keep up my living expenses while looking?

As for armor and rations, recall that Resources isn’t hard cash. It’s just a financial reputation, financial planning skill, and some nebulous assets. Perhaps the guy selling the rations doesn’t trust the look of the coins you have, or doesn’t want what you have to trade, or just thinks that your (lowercase) haggling makes you seem so cheap that he just doesn’t want to deal with you.

With the gold necklace, don’t think of it as a trade. Think of it as selling it off for store credit, thus adding it directly into your Resources score. Of course, failing the Resources test shows that your affluence isn’t what it looked like, despite you throwing around jewelry, and your Resources evens out again. It’s like an implied “Tax shield”.

Lifestyle is just the same thing on a larger scale.

What are you missing? I guess that The Life is hard and dangerous, and that it’s hard to pull yourself out of the gutter. Even in real life, you’d think that healthy (but poor) adults would just spend carefully and work their way out of poverty, but it doesn’t happen like that (very often) because people are people and money is money and it’s all very messy and hard to control. Yes, I think that’s it.

i would also like to add that in terms of a straight trade, especially if it’s not in town, it might not necessarily warrant a test. you could simply exchange the items, but you’d get nothing towards advancement.

Abstract rules sometimes break the “Suspension of Disbelief” in a game, if your group is having trouble with this try to justify it “in game.”

Maybe is not about the gold you carry but “who” is carrying it. The characters are murder hobos, and their coin is less valuable than a working man’s coin. As an adventurer you don’t have anyone to answer for your debts, your reputation is dubious at most and your gold is surely stolen, probably even cursed!

Stay cool :cool:

In all the Burning games, “Resources” is your credit rating: Your likeliness to be able to afford something.

Thanks everyone - have never played Burning Wheel so haven’t seen the system in action, only read the rules. Looking forward to giving it a shot.

My players struggled with this as well. I like the ideas on trying to justify it in game, but I would just be straight with your players: this is a game about resource management. The resources stat abstracts measuring wealth and turns it into a game mechanic. While this may seem unfair at lower levels, once you increase your stat, it becomes far more predictable. Remember, as a rule, you want to roll twice the number of dice of the Ob.

I totally agree.

The idea is to reach a consensus about how much is abstraction do the group wants to handle. In this case, you can try to focus on the Resources fiction (that can even create some cool adventure hooks in your game). Or not, in my group we have other priorities. It’s a matter of the interests of the players.

Stay cool :cool:

It’s also worth pointing out that there isn’t anything like an MSRP to compare prices to. The Resource Obs are “ballpark” in terms of how much actual value they represent, but you still might not have “enough” cash for what you need. So if you’re buying something at Ob 1, and you have 1 Cash die, and you fail, then probably the shopkeeper thought you looked like a sucker and tried to gouge you, or maybe he didn’t like the cut of your chin.