New DM, resource questions

Hi, i have some questions about Resources, if somebody can answer please?

  1. If your practical resources (thats resources - tax) ever drop to 0, you then loose 1 point from resources.
    a) Do you also loose your tax when this happens? Or you could end up with 1/-2 and that would be another point from resources minus
    b) Do you also loose your advancements in resources when this happens?

  2. Cash. How can you use cash? I mean if I (as DM) would give my players 2D and then 3D cash.
    a) Could they use +5D to resources (combine two sources together) ?
    b) Could they use +1D to resources (basically extract one point from either 2D or 3D) ?
    c) Could they use 2D to one roll on resources and then 3D on second one, or they HAVE TO combine 2D and 3D cash dice?

  3. Funds. They are separated from each other? If i create 2D and 3D fund, they can not be combined?

  4. Lifestyle maintenance
    a) LM is rolled for time that has passed or in advance?
    b) Does anything else than Tax happens when you fail your LM test?
    c) What are RP implications of somebody who has LM ob 1, another with 3 and another with 7? Do they look better? Or its easier to maintain their status? Or how should I apply this LM to Roleplay aspect as DM

  5. Resources.
    a) How should i answer in Roleplay that player had resources 0 (very poor), then bought ticket to another city (ob 1) with cash on hand and his resources upped from 0 to 1. Thats not “spent money to gain more money” at all, thats just plain spending.
    b) How should i explain that player bought only consumables (like material, food, tickets, sometimes they pay someone some “fee”) and yet his resources exp is 3 so he is now kidna … rich. Rich how? He has same items on himself, same contacts, nothing really changed except of his exp.

Thank you everybody in advance

My read is no.

EDIT: Consolidating Your Losses would let you clear your tax for another 1 off your exponent; it’s probably wiser to Consolidate Your Losses before being taxed to 0, if you can.

If you drop to 0 Resources due to tax, your Resources are depleted by 1. You won’t be depleted again unless/until you have a Resources greator than 1 that is again taxed to 0.

My read is no. Meaning you can theoretically be taxed to 0, dropping your exponent and therefore advancement requirements, and then advance back up to where you were before with 1 untaxed die.

Yes, yes, yes. They can pool, combine, parcel out, or hand over their cash as they like.

Correct. Though, some financial tests might be allowed to shift things around, in my opinion. A player with access to both funds might be able to test Accounting to embezzle a die off one cache into the other. Or maybe Estate Managament to create a tool-sharing and workflow system that allows one parcel of land to support another. Something like that.

Time passed. You look at how the character has been living to assigne the Ob.

Tax is the big one. If a character has 0 Resources and fails a maintenance test, they lose something else, since they don’t have Resources to lose – they get sick, their armor rusts, their landlord kicks them out on the street, etc.

You might be looking at it backwards. An Ob 1 Lifestyle indicates that the person is living homeless, with no real property or posessions. Ob 3 is like “middle class;” you might be supporting a family in the city, or have a small business, or have a knight’s gear and accoutrement. Ob 7 is like owning an industry, like being a shipping magnate, or maintaining a court. None of these are things that a maintenance test lets you get they’re things a maintenance test lets you keep.

So, when it comes time to set a maintenance Ob, you look at what a character has, and how lavishly they’ve been living, and set an Ob accordingly. It’s not, “If you make an Ob 3 lifestyle test, you can operate as a knight for the next month [or 3, or 6, or 12].” It’s, “You’ve been having to feed your horse and squire, and keep your harness from rusting the past month [etc.], so that’s Ob 3; let’s see if you’ve been able to keep up with the costs.”

And all of that gear (armor), animals (horse), and relationships (squire), are things you either bought during character burning or acquired in play; not from the maintenance test.

That is, the maintenance Ob is an implication from play (what do you own, how have you been living); you don’t really need to think about “RP implications” from the maintenance Ob.

Maybe you shouldn’t.

If you want to, you might say that the ticket didn’t cost them all of their cash afterall, so they’ve got some coins left over. They’ve demonstrated that they can pay their way, so the crew extends to them a little (probably informal) credit. They’ve bought status as a “paying customer” so they can leverage that status to get things on the ship. On board, they meet an old friend that owes them money; they make square their debt. It’s and abstract system.

He’s built up credit with those suppliers. If you spend a lit of money around people, people tend to get the idea that you have money; they’re even willing to spot you some when you need it – you’re clearly good for it. Spending a lot of money around a small business (which just about every business is in the middle ages), and you’re likely to make friends with the owner. Friends who will spot you the occasional meal, or even bit of coin – after all, you’re in here all the time, and I appreciate your patronage. Resources in Burning Wheel isn’t just money, it’s also favors, good will, and status.

Recall that for Resources, only successful tests count toward advancement, failed tests tax you, and you need Difficult/Challenging tests to advance. So, in order to get to B3 resources from B0, you need:

  • An influx of cash (or funds) to make your first test
  • Then 1 Routine and 1 Difficult/Challenging (Ob 1+ on 1D)
  • Then 2 Routines and 1 Difficult/Challenging (Ob 2+ on 2D)
  • All successful, in a row.

Why in a row? Because if they weren’t you’d be taxed and wouldn’t have effectively 3D anyway, until you worked a job. And that would void this question.

So, you’re looking at some cash coming in with 6 tests following up, 2 of which you have to be more likely to fail than succeed (without Artha). And what are you acquiring for those 6 tests? Food for a day? Lodging for a night? A sumptuous meal once in a while. Oh, and let’s not forget that there’s a decent chance you don’t get the Obs you need for optimal advancment, so you may be making more tests, with more chances to fail.

And what do you get for it? B3 is hardly rich. B3 is keeping your head above water. Maintaining a working poor lifestyle – a rented cottage (Ob 2) is going to tax your Resources half the time. And the first time it does, it’ll tax you to B2, where that Ob will tax you 75% of the time – to B0. Now you’re broke! Poverty is actually a vicious cycle in Burning Wheel; it’s hard to escape. Often, the trick in the game – like in real life, is to have other people pay the ticket for you. Find friends that you can reach out to for Help, extort vassals for cash. Haggle, steal, hustle; play the game. There’s a lot of play around Resources.

Thank you for all answers, its much clearer now. Tho number 1 is still bit unclear to me

If you drop to 0 Resources due to tax, your Resources are depleted by 1. You won’t be depleted again unless/until you have a Resources greator than 1 that is again taxed to 0.

And that you wont loose advancements in that case and you dont loose tax. But in that case, it could go like this:

  • Starting with 3/-2 (resources, tax) with 2 Routine advancement and 1 Difficult
  • Failing Resource check, being taxed by 1D so its 3/-3 now
  • My resources will drop by 1, because my effective resources are 0, now its 2/-3
  • My resources will level up to 3, as I have enough advancements to level up now, back to 3/-3
  • Effective resources are 0, lower resources by 1 to 2/-3 again
  • Effective resources are 0, lower resources by 1 to 1/-3
  • Effective resources are 0, lower resources by 1 to 0/-3

Now i would consolidate my losses and go on with 0/0. But that does not seems right. I mean, if my tax is on same level as my resources, i will go to resources 0. Every time, unless DM allows me to consolidate my losses, which could take more time than just mechanically dropping my resources Exp.

We live in a money focused world where you pay at the point of receiving but many medieval economies (European and otherwise) weren’t like that. Instead, because wealth was the product of land, which produces once a year/season/&c. rather than on demand, people did a small amount of cash-at-the-time shopping, but much of the economy was either barter or paying tithes, taxes, &c. at the appropriate time and living on credit for the rest of the year. So, a king is wealthy but that wealth represents the shared belief that x% of his lords will pay their taxes in full and on time, and those lords are wealthy because of a shared belief that their underlords… &c.

So, Resources and Lifestyle Maintenance aren’t about money, they’re mostly about increases/decreases in the shared social belief that your character will be able to cover a debt when it becomes due, and finding out whether the shared guess is right or not.

Thus, increasing resources can be more about having a reputation than actual money underpinning the spending or it can be about getting slightly better at gathering what you are owed when it comes due than your creditors are at gathering what you owe them.

And failing LM can be about a farm in another county having a blight that knocks on through ten people before it delays the payment you need long enough for the merchants in your town to start complaining to each other that you haven’t paid your bills.


Nope. Your effective Resources didn’t drop to 0 when you advanced. They were 0 before you advanced, and they’re 0 after you advanced, so you’re sitting on B3/-3. You never had more than 0 effective Resources, so you never were reduced to 0.

I’m not sure what you’re saying here. You have B3 Resources, taxed to 0 (-3 tax, if you like). You Consolidate your Losses, and go to B2 Resources with no tax.

Resources is a pretty abstract system. While it may take some in game time to consolidate your losses, your character might not suffer the effects of being taxed to 0 on the moment. While you’re looking at your effective Resources at B0, your character might be eying up their finances. When you say, “I’m gonna consolidate my losses,” your character might just be thinking, “I’m gonna have to cut back [and maybe sell off some stuff when I get home] to afford this purchase I’m about to make.” You clear tax and reduce your Resources, and your character buys a room for the night.

That might not be appropriate to every game/situation, but, like I say, Resources is pretty abstract.

I think you are missing a key part of the text on the rule about depleted resources.

“If a character’s effective Resources ever drop to exponent 0 due to tax, his Resources exponent is reduced by -1D…”. BWGr 370

Due to Tax is the keyword here. You only check for depletion when you fail a test and are taxed.


There’s another sneaky little detail here: Tax is always described as “losing a die,” the dice you lose are “taxed dice” and so on. Tax isn’t a number that you subtract from your exponent, it’s part of your dice pool.

So I don’t think you can ever have more Tax than you have Resources exponent.


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