Resource Questions: Cash & Funds (and being insanely rich)

So, my character is really, really, really rich. His lifepaths are: Born Noble -> Moneylender -> Merchant -> Magnate. His father broke with the tradition of the nobility, after the family fell into hard times, and made him a ward of a City Born banker and promised his hand to his City Born daughter. (That is how he became a Moneylender at such a young age, whereas other noble children were mostly being shipped off to the church or becoming pages, he was apprenticing at the bank in the city.) The bankers daughter now basically runs the day-to-day operations in the city, and has followed the following lifepath track: City Born -> Moneylender -> City Wife -> Banker. They are married, they have children, and at character creation my character purchased her as an immediate family (since she’s his wife) and a romantic relationship (since, once again, she’s his wife). She also counts as my “second-in-command” as per the gang and crew rules (pg. 96), and my character purchased +2D Affiliation with the bank as well as a +1D Reputation.

My character has two instincts that involve wealth and political power: “Always keep disposable wealth close at hand.” and “Never pass up an opportunity to advance my house when it comes to wealth and politics.” My character’s first instinct is basically me saying, ‘I want to be able to roll for cash dice whenever I want, and as a result I always have a massive amount of wealth always within easy reach…’ My character’s second instinct is me saying, ‘I am basically a dwarf without the Greed emotional attribute. Please tempt me. Odds are high I will go for it and do horrible things for wealth and political power, so long as he can justify it as advancing an agenda that benefits his family.’

My character also has the Penny Wise trait (C-O for Resources) and the Affinity for Business trait (+1 D for Resources). My character has a B7 Resources (effectively B8 with Affinity for Business) and his wife has a B6 Resources.

Obviously, it is my full intention to throw some massive Resource dice onto our virtual table. So, this brings me to my questions, regarding generating cash dice and funds.

Since my character and his wife own a bank, I want them to go into the bank vault and see if they have enough liquid wealth to do a massive investment. (I am attempting to generate +2 D Cash Dice – Ob 4. – 9 Dice rolled (7D from my characters Resources, +1 D from Affinity for Business, and +1 D Help from his wife).) Assuming that they have enough liquid wealth (pass the Resources test), I want them to invest that money. To understand how this works in the narrative, it is important to know that the Empire is at civil war, and so they are basically going to try and engage in war profiteering. So, to take those cash dice (+2 D), they are going to want to invest it into commodities that should do really well during wartime. Obviously, as they own a bank, this represents them buying ownership positions (and buying land) and giving out loans to certain businesses (and noble families) and not others. (In game mechanics terms it is my attempt to generate a 3D Fund – Ob 7. I will attempt to roll that using 11D – 7D from Resources, +1D from AoB Trait, +1D Helping from wife, +2D from Cash Dice.) Odds are good that I will pass the test, with that amount of dice I should have close to a 50/50 shot right out of the gate, then my character has his C-O to re-roll all dice traitors as well as Fate to make all the 6’s he rolled explode.

So far, so good, right?

So, next my character would want him and his wife to divest from businesses and deals that are likely to do poorly during war. (In terms of game mechanics, this is my character generating another +2D Cash dice, at Ob 4 with 10D this time instead of 9D – he gets the +1D from his Fund.)

This, to me, also seems to be an accurate reading of the rules and it makes sense in the narrative – which is perhaps the most important thing.

However, what if he wants to create an additional Fund? Let’s say he wants to generate another +2D Fund – this time by investing not in commodities, but in businesses that are likely to do well during war time (armor and weapon smiths, morticians, etc.). Could he then use the +2D Cash dice as well as the +1D Fund to do that? Is it possible to generate multiple Funds? If so, how do we know which one is taxed on a failed roll? Does a player get to decide?

If we can have multiple funds, what happens when one Fund is completely taxed out but you have reserve Funds? (In this example, let’s assume that my character has a +3D Fund from Commodity investments and a +2D Fund for Business investments, and receives a Tax of 4 – because it was a Challenging Test and the Margin of Failure was 4. Does this mean that his 3D Fund from Commodities gets spent as well as 1D Fund for Business investments, or vise versa his Business investments gets spent along with 2D of his Commodities investments?)

If my character can possess multiple funds, and these funds can be taxed, does this mean that it is in my characters self-interest to look for opportunities to create small 1D funds to protect himself from Tax: My character invests in expensive Artwork to decorate his keep +1D Fund, my character purchases the best wine for his wine cellar +1D Fund, my character knows soldiers are coming to his city and so he invests in all the brothels in the city +2D Fund.

Obviously, he could still only use +1D Fund dice when doing a Resources test regardless of how many individual funds he owns, but owning many smaller individual funds would help shield him from the consequences of failed tax rolls, and would encourage me to play more aggressively as a player as I would fear the consequences of being taxed less.

If this is true about Funds, it surely cannot be true regarding Cash dice, right? My character could generate +1D Cash dice in his sleep. This, in theory, should not be difficult in the narrative since his family owns a bank – he just goes to the bank vault, collects interests from investments, someone wealthy paid down a loan, etc. Let us not forget my character’s instinct, “Always keep disposable wealth close at hand” – which exists to let me roll for Cash dice whenever I need to do so. However, generating a lot of 1D Cash dice and then spending all of them to do a massive roll seems… well… unintended.

Is all of this an accurate understanding of how Cash and Funds work? What insane trouble could my insanely rich character and his wife cause with such massive resources?

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You can only use a single fund when testing Resources. My belief is that that fund, and only that fund is a shield for your resources should that test fail. So, if you have Resources B7, a 3D fund, and 4 1D funds and fail a challenging test with an MoF of 4, your Resourced are taxed by 1 if you were using the 3D fund (and the fund is destroyed) and by 3 if you are using a 1D fund (which is destroyed). I don’t think you can divert incoming tax from your Resources to a fund that was irrelevant to the roll.

The fact that you can only use one fund for a given roll also implies that you can have more than one fund, thank God.

I don’t have my book to hand; I’ll check when I get the chance.

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You are playing the game! I love it.

All those are legal moves, but where is the GM in this? Obviously there has to be a situation and some serious failure possibilities for those rolls.

The subsection on Funds (p.374, BWG) does not explicitly state either way. The closest to it is that dice “must” be removed from the Fund first if the character is Taxed.

Funds are a subset of Cash, Goods, Titles, and Loans so are “advantage dice for your Resources” (p. 373, BWG)

The general rules for Advantage (p.28, BWG) state that to gain the advantage the player “must state how and why he deserves such a boon.”

Therefore—while the Fund subsection doesn’t explicitly state it—it seems clear that the player only gets the Fund bonus if they explain how they are using that fund to support their Intent; and, thus, a player is never forced to include one of their funds.

While it is not explicitly stated, if use of a Fund is optional then it seems logical that the negative consequences only apply if it is used; otherwise, why would someone not try to use a fund? And how could a Fund that didn’t net Advantage because it wasn’t relevant to the situation simultaneously be relevant to what someone could lose?

Further, if uninvolved Funds could be Taxed that Tax would need to be apportioned somehow if a character had multiple Funds; so, the absence of even a mention of doing that suggests only the Fund used (if any) is liable for Tax.

Thus, I read the rules as preventing a character from diverting Tax to unused Funds but also protecting them from having an unused Fund Taxed—except in the case of a GM specifically making that the consequence of failure because it fitted a specific situation.

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You may only use one fund per Resources test. If you have multiple funds, you must choose one. Funds are only taxed if they are used on a Resources test. If the tax is greater than the fund used, then your Resources atttribute gets taxed, not another fund you control.

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Thank you to everyone who has responded! Everyone’s feedback has been very helpful. I wanted to make sure I really grasped the limits of Resources before I attempted anything crazy at the gaming table.

Thanks again everyone!

I GM’d a game of nobles houses where one character (head of house) had massive resources and one (other) player was decently into gaming those resources. Some things that came up which y’all might want to consider:

  • Head of house created a modest fund for all of her trusted delegates to use. Whenever they did, it was part of the narrative that they could not distance their purchase activities from the house itself, politically. This mattered especially for the spymaster.
  • Cash dice are not completely abstract. If it’s a bag of gold, then there’s a physical bag of gold sitting around. It might be stolen, traceable, heavy, etc. If it comes from illicit out-of-country ventures and then there’s tension between countries, you’re sitting on a bunch of foreign currency which may be problematic.
  • The main booster fund (which of course a very rich noble should create) was narratively tied to the house’s main (monopoly) export, a special sort of silk, and also to the circumstances of the fund’s creation, a trade deal with another head of house. The existence of the fund relied on at least a baseline goodwill between the houses and was threatened many times (a competing product, sabotage of their spiders, potential for war disrupting trade routes, and a nefarious law-based attack).
  • And as Luke notes, even if failure is unlikely, there should be failure consequences to all these creations. The choice of failure complications really helps define the thing created! Makes it a lot more clear what’s at stake not just with creating the new resources, but also with using them. The more context and story around each non-pc-resource-stat resources, the better.
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