Saturday, March 14, 2015

What Do You Mean There's No Treasure?

Rough overview of a system to replace standard OSR treasure
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Nonhuman animals don't typically collect treasure for its own sake, the way longpaws do.  Sure, some species enjoy the look or feel of shiny trinkets, but to them, a worthless strip of foil or shard of colored glass are as valuable as a gold coin or a priceless jewel.  In short, it doesn't make much sense for animals to go on adventures for the purpose of acquiring treasure.
An incalculably valuable hoard.

Or does it?

Just because animals don't use money doesn't mean they don't have economies of sorts, or that they don't require valuables.  It's simply that animals value different things than longpaws.  Namely, their focus is on Food, Shelter, and Reproduction.  (Of course, these are the ultimate focus of longpaw adventures, too, but they use money as an abstract route to such things).

These three types of valuables are included under the category of Resources.  Resources is a pool of points that each character can possess, which they spend as bonuses to lore checks related to acquiring the specific type of Resource they want.  For instance, a character with high Resources can spend a point to declare that she is storing some foraged nuts in a hidden place, for later consumption, then use the point as a bonus to her Scout role to successfully conceal it from others.  Or, she can use her Resources to improve the Attitude of potential mates, or rivals whose territory she would like to enter, by spending points to gain bonuses  to Storyteller or Seer checks, as appropriate.

Resources are rated from 1 to 9, with lower Resources being less impressive.   There is no maximum pool of Resources a character can call upon, but she can only spend 1 point of Resources per Total Level on a lore check.  For instance, a 3rd-level squirrel with a Resources pool of 8 can spend up to 3 points on a Scout lore check to locate food for herself and her companions.  These points grant her a +1 bonus to her roll for every point spent (in this case, a total of +3 to her Scout roll).  She could spend less if she wished, but not more unless she goes up in level.

The BM can reward Resources points on an individual basis, or assign a Resources rank to particular challenges.  All members of a party who help overcome these challenges can divide the Resources points amongst themselves, and the BM should scale the total Resources available in such a way that each member of the party acquires the same number of points once the challenge is completed.

Example:  the PCs are a group of various animals who've bonded together in mutual aid after a volcanic eruption destroyed their habitat.  The BM rules that successfully completing a quest to find a new home suitable to all their species is a Legendary challenge worth 9 Resource points to every member of the party.  So, for a party of 3 PCs, the quest would be worth a total of 27 Resources; for a party of 6 characters, it would be worth 54 Resources; and so on.  These Resources can be rewarded in small increments to individual characters over the course of the quest, or held in reserve for a big pay-off at the end, at the BM's discretion. 

A rough ranking system for Resources follows.  This ranking is applied to whole adventures or campaigns, not to individual encounters or particular lore checks.

Resource Value (Ranking)
1 (Easy)
2 (Average)
3 (Tough)
4 (Challenging)
5 (Formidable)
6 (Heroic)
7 (Epic)
8 (Near Impossible)
9 (Legendary)

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