Resources - Recovering From Tax

A group of us are starting a Dungeon World derived Burning THAC0 style game. Very much West Marches, with the characters spending most of their time outside of civilization, exploring a forgotten or untouched wilderness fraught with peril. All good so far!

I am currently thinking ahead to people wanting to buy things. Our Bard is probably going to want a nicer instrument and probably a bath somewhere without the chance of leeches when we get back to Viper’s Gate, our Paladin is gonna want to get a suit of plated mail. And my mage is gonna want a horse, (no more of this walking for me).

So generally, I am gonna assume players aren’t paying Lifestyle most of the time in the wilderness (you spend 6 months in the wilds, who are you paying? You’re making foraging and mending tests instead).

But so, what about when our resources are taxed. We really don’t want to go work on a caravan for 6 months, nor do we want to try to play for our supper for months on end to recover resources. Especially when we have plenty of cash on hand (being stolen from Orcs in the wilds, and looted from ancient treasures notwithstanding).

Has anyone figured out a good way to convert cash dice into removing the tax on resources? Can we pay a day labourer or an accountant to do the work to make us solvent again? Can we just reduce our cash?

I really don’t have an intuition for this and am hoping for help.

p366 says Resources isn’t intended to be simple exchange of money: it’s more of a reputation economy. So, it’s not just about whether they’re paying someone, it’s about whether their creditworthiness holds up during the period they are out in the wilderness.For the game with significant periods of time in the wilderness combined with some time in civilisation, I’d be tempted to make the Lifestyle cycle 1 year to represent it being averaged, and not bother with foraging/mending tests for daily survival unless it was specifically interesting (e.g. consequence of failure for scouting is running out of supplies). Depends what’s interesting to your group though.

A small bag of coins doesn’t really convert well to self-sustaining riches. What we do in our current game is use cash dice to help Resources tests, finessing who is testing so helpers can get tests they need to increase resources; it’s slower than just buying off tax would be, but not that slow unless a character is already really rich; one good conversion trick is to use cash dice to help succeed on a test for a Fund.

BW is all about what’s interesting, so fully agree that one person doing grunt work for an extended period while others do fun things isn’t fun. One solution is extended downtime that people can use to counter Tax or train (sorcerers and other people with time intensive learning requirements will love you) then pick the action up afterwards.

Regarding using someone else to remove the Tax, I don’t see an issue with “I’d like to find some longterm work then hire someone to do it for less than I’m being paid”. I see it as more than a single roll, but for example, instead of working for a lifestyle cycle, have an Accounting roll to find jobs listed above margin then a Resources roll to pay someone to do them for you (guidelines in the book say servant/peasant wage is Ob2, knight wage is Ob3).

If you really want to hand it all off, maybe a Haggling roll to get an NPC accountant to do the job finding for you in exchange for X cash dice (with, perhaps, a consequence of failure that they don’t find anything you can exploit but you still have to pay them).

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Try flipping your thinking: Why do you want to recover taxed resources? With a B0 Resources, you can still make purchases with Cash Dice and Funds. You’re living more “pay check to pay check” that way, yes… But that also fits real nice with the adventurer feel. Especially if you’re the kind if adventurers who don’t want to actually work a job to demonstrate your commitment to being a functioning member of society.

If you wanna play that way, here are some tips (mostly for your players:

Invest your Cash – Look at the Fund rules; you can buy land to collect rent from, loan money to collect interest, become a shareholder in one of those caravans, all creating durable, reusable wealth (Ob = Dice in the Fund ×2 + 1). Any player can be given access to a Fund, so it behooves them to pool their Cash and make a BIG investment.

Hand out Funds yourself, GM – BWGR lists a hoard of treasure as an example of a Fund. Sure, you could give that pile of treasure Explicitica Defilus is sitting on as a big pile of Cash dice, but consider giving it out as a somewhat smaller Fund.

Always be getting money – Ask for Cash as duel of wits compromises. Sell junk “artefacts” in bulk. Demand the quest-giver NPC give you a line of credit while in town, for expenses, of course. Haggle for a few more gold pieces. Circle up people who owe you money. And, of course, always loot the bodies. Write an Instinct about it.

That aside, the Resources attribute is the general acquiring power of a given character. It represents a lot of things. A big part of what it represents is social influence – status, communal roots, friends, standing. All things that adventurers tend not to have and that dry up if you spend a long time drifting and not putting down roots – the adventuring lifestyle.

If you want to mitigate that, you might shorten the resource maintenance cycle to one month. This, to me, is good for representing a culture where things like social status and support networks aren’t as important as cold, hard currency.

If you wanna subvert the maintenance cycle altogether, bear in mind that you’re likely to disrupt some of the game’s rhythm (as well as make things a little too easy on the PCs, probably). Get a Job! allows one person to free up downtime for the others, where they can recover from injuries, practice for hard-to-get tests, work on new spells, and whatever other long-term tests they haven’t been able to work on.

Remember that you can work quickly to reduce the amount of time recovering Resources takes. Recovering Resources is supposed to be tough, and it’s expressive of some cool stuff in the game, I think. I say keep it in. Hopefully I’ve given you some ideas on how you can get by being unattached drifters; the game allows for that and is built in such a way that playing in that style leads to some cool trade-offs. If that’s the style you guys wanna play in, give the game a chance to show off how it handles that.

I definitely agree lifestyle is more complicated. Maybe doing Ob1 lifestyles just for players to keep their resources (see if their social relationships decay while they are dungeon delving).

But as for the other side of get a job, I think, fundamentally I don’t like Get a Job. The group has a job. They are treasure hunters. Going out and getting treasure and bringing it back is how they generate cash. They way they build esteem is by sharing that (the Paladin of course supports the church with their history, and the Mage has a Guild who backs them. The Bard and Namer are more solitary of course, but that’s the nature of their role).

I just don’t like that these people will have to go out, slay a dragon, come home with its hoard. But then, if they want their personal resources to come back they need to make an Acting or Persuasion roll while they take the bones from town to town. I really want to hire a Barker* or something like that. It just feels like the Intent “I want to get my money back after that purchase” requires me to not Say Yes, but at the same time, I am not interested in the failure, and the failure slows the game down, rather than make it more fun.

Fundamentally this game isn’t about making money (it’s very focused on the lore we find in dungeons), so I don’t want to just forego resources altogether and just count coins (or even cash dice), but I also don’t want to spend too much play time constantly getting jobs.

(Part of this comes down to an average session length of 2 hours).

*(Why is there no Barker lifepath?! It’s definitely in Outcast or City depending on where fairs are, I think it’s related to Itinerant Performer and therefore Outcast:
5y 9 - Peasant, City, Village
7s Conspicuous, Haggling, Mark-wise, Falsehood, Mending, Foraging, Persuasion
2t The Story

Also, yeah, I know I am being a bit of a heretic with this.

The Resources attribute is an abstract representation of purchasing power. Cash Dice and Funds are more concrete representations of purchasing power. If they have a B6-10 Fund of dragon hoard and Cash Dice earned along the way, why is that abstract representation so important? If they have the job of going out and finding treasure in dungeons, then why do they need their personal Resources attribute to remain intact? Is it because that treasure isn’t enough to suit their needs and desires? Then maybe treasure hunting isn’t a good enough job for their purposes.

It sounds like you all are handling the money game pretty concretely, so the abstraction shouldn’t be as much of an issue.

That’s a great example of a Fund. You put some money into hiring someone to work for you. That work produces a return for you. Easy-peasy.

Say Yes, and have an antagonist make a move in the six months that that character is getting a Die back. Or target one of their other Beliefs. Introduce another opportunity they’d want to take and then ask if they’d abandon their job for it. Or just Say Yes; that feeling sounds like a you issue.

Or, even Say Yes to the purchase that would cause the tax in the first place.

I don’t know that I buy that one test, or round of tests around the table even will sufficiently cut into play time. The Obs are easy to factor, the duration of the tests are set, and task and skills are real open-ended. With the exceptions of FoRKs and advantages the tests adjudicate themselves. You could go around the table and say, “What’s your job, skill, and FoRKs?” tweak as needed or just approve them and move onto the next player while that one is rolling dice. You could be done in a minute or two.

Hold on, you are GMing this game, right?

Fundamentally here, I think that this comes down to:
You want me to enjoy the question of money.
I don’t.

That’s cool, but I don’t like that in most places in the game there’s an Intent (Recover my resources) and a Task, and the Task is kinda in the control of the players, rather than being very explicit in terms of length and action. I want to be able to be like “You come back to town, spread a bunch of money around, pay for rounds, tell stories, and everyone remembers you suddenly” make a Ob[Tax+1] Resources test to recover. Or hire a Barker to recover my money. Basically not have the player spend the time. I am entirely looking for alternate tasks, not really looking for a restating of the Resources rules.

We rotate GMs, I’m not currently the GM, no.

I really don’t want you to do anything. I’ve been presenting options is all.

I don’t have any ideas ideas for what you’re looking for. You might ask to use Cash Dice as advantage dice for Getting a Job to shorten the duration of the test by working quickly. :man_shrugging: What did you think of my suggestion to shorten the maintenance cycle?

If everyone else is as uninterested in the question of money as you are, you might ask the GM to Say Yes to purchases. Just describe you guys selling loot and trading money for new armor and equipment and be done with it.

Yeah, that’s legit.

I definitely want a resource cycle that’s longer due to lifestyle payments. But I also want to not force people to take 6 months off.

I really don’t envision treasure hunters, nobles, sorcerers in towers, as people doing gruntwork.

The Compte De Sainte Germaine doesn’t come to town and work for a job to get back resources, he runs a con.

A noble doesn’t spend 6 months with the books, they go on campaign and annex new lands.

These are moments of play and not downtime, ya know?

Cool, cool. :+1:

Do you want the length because you want more time between payments? Hmm… It might be good to know a little bit more about how the time-scale tends to work in your games? How much downtime do you guys tend to take and how often. My thinking was that a shorter maintenance cycle means that you can cut down recovery tests to a few weeks with extra successes. The fast-flowing income of adventuring can also help ease some of the burden of having to make more frequent upkeep tests, especially with the low Obs that lifestyle can get you. It’d also open up the opportunity to advance resources faster which might be helpful, especially if you Consolodate Your Losses a lot.

I think we’re gonna just have to agree to disagree here. Those are all hustles for Cash and Funds in my mind. Maybe advancing Resources through Title depending on the annexation.

Resources, to me, is the mundane, safe, abstract side. Funds and Cash are the adventuring, play reward side.

Speaking of, do you think you could explain why it’s so important to recover the Resources attribute rather than Funds for those hustles? One reason why I was going over the Resources rules was because it seemed like you were trying to plug a hole that the game had already filled. That made it seem like you just might not have known. One of your posts maybe alluded to that being too involved for your tastes, but that’s still unclear to me. Do you mind clarifying?

In direct defiance of @Gnosego, I see those as easily being working for a living for those specific social roles if a group wanted: a con artist’s “day job” is grifting, a noble’s “day job” is leading armies during campaign season. They could be adventures too, but they don’t have to be.

In the same way that a poor knight taking a bodyguarding job is either working for a living (if it’s a boring slog) or adventuring (if the protectee is kidnapped by ancient evil during the night).

Ironically, I like BW resources partly because I don’t like the question of money: games can suffer from “I need X coins for a room and Y coins for the weapon I want, so I search every drawer in this room and find N coins…” which can become “I’ve got all this money, what can I buy” when characters start really succeeding; whereas BW lets me put accounting for every penny into the background so I don’t have to spend much time on money.

One alternative if you don’t want to do standard Tax recouping is to just tear out Resources altogether: award Cash Dice for looting/exploring, have NPC’s charge X Cash dice for a month’s stay for the group in the inn &c. and let the players earn their living entirely with uptime adventures. It won’t be standard BW but if the players all find it interesting then it’s got the same focus on the fun spirit.

What!? You think you can defy me!? You will rue the day, Higgins! Rue it!

So I think this might be important context:
One of our GMs doesn’t like downtime. Like… at all.
We have spent two months of play traveling from one side of the woods to another. It means that every second of time kinda needs to be accounted for. So jobs really cause friction with his style.

I really don’t want to count coins, and I really don’t want to count cash dice, I want the stat that can just be there, a good number I can use, but it means that there needs to be a good way to recover it, without just making it infinite.

I definitely agree that pulling a con is a job. But it doesn’t have the longterm consequences on time that say, Caravan Guard does. There’s narrative implications of “I am conning the king, but also doing this adventure, I need to make sure to get home and present him with this fake gem, but that’s it” vs “you spend 6 months working for a lord”.

You could try ditching tax and doing something with Let it Ride. Once you fail Resources tests equal to half your Resources exponent (rounded down), you can’t test Resources anymore until you get more money somehow. Might even replace Cash opportunities to test Resources :man_shrugging:

You might test Resources against Ob4 to recover a die of Resources. Then up that obstacle by some increment to recover more. That’s generating a die of Cash doubled, or creating a 1D fund +1Ob. Each of those options generates another die if you up the Ob by 2, so you might use that model here. You might let extra successes over the base Ob grant more recovery, since the more dice you need to recover, the less you have to roll.

You might set the Obstacle = to 10 minus your Resources exponent.

Those can be high Obs, either way, but you were looking for a way to convert Cash to Resources earlier. This could do.

It seems like what you’re after is for your GM to let you work jobs more quickly than the resource cycle calls for. Have you spoken with your table about that?

Yeah, I am looking for things to bring to my table.

Sorry I got stressed, I am parenting a new born and been bad at sleeping.

But ok - so lots of just gut checks here. But no one has opinions on it, but similar intuitions to me.

I think I’m gonna present this to my group:

Exploit Someone’s Labour:
Rather than getting a job, hire someone else to do it! You need a proper task here, you can’t just create an intent whole cloth and hope.

Generally, to hire someone, their skill exponent is the obstacle to hire them. They then perform a job on your behalf, rolling as if they were recovering your tax. The main obstacle to this is that their skills cannot be open-ended, and they cannot receive help or FoRKs.

It might be the case that the character doesn’t want to hire a single person, but instead several, to do the single job. Do NOT give in the temptation to have them hire several people, and then get a mess of help, instead, take the final number of dice rolled and use that as an obstacle.

For example, a knight wants to hire someone to collect taxes from his lands due to him being out adventuring. He figures this probably an Intimidation check, and he only has a small property, so likely only has one person to collect them. He has two taxed resources, and therefore makes an Ob5 resources test to hire a out of work mercenary to get the taxes.

Similarly, a courtier wishes to recover their resources after finally paying the rents to join a secret society. They decide to keep their mill running, hiring two people to work the mill, and they collect the money. The set their Obstacle to Ob3, though are hiring two people with B2 Milling.