Wealth: Cash and Assets in Modern Assembly

Wealth by alexjtam

Modern Assembly supports many different worlds. In a game where modern characters don’t have access to a typical modern society, such as a post apocalyptic game or one where modern heroes are transported to a fantasy world, most of a character’s treasure goes into purchasing and upgrading their equipment. In these games you can treat wealth the same as you would in a typical fantasy game.

However if the game has a modern setting it becomes important to make a distinction between the wealth used in combat and the wealth used in story telling. You do not want a character to drag down regular encounter because they spent their treasure on a new apartment instead of an upgraded weapon. Modern Assembly separates these two types of treasure into Cash and Assets.

Cash Anything that you might find on a typical treasure table falls under cash. This includes starting equipment, combat gear and consumable items. It also includes any actual cash or liquid assets that could be used to purchase personal gear. We measure cash in gold pieces to keep things comparable to the base system. You should feel free to change this to a modern currency, just keep in mind that this is merely a representative system. Prices are balanced to keep mechanical balance, not to match realistic current day prices.

We also recommend using inherent bonuses, instead of bonus enhancements found on weapon, armor and neck items. That way a player using modern equipment will scale with fantasy characters without upgrading to brand new equipment every few levels. They can still get their equipment enchanted if your setting has magic, but it should be with alternate effects, instead of the typical +1 bonus.

Assets Anything that your character can acquire given a little time, that does not come into play in the average combat, is an asset. These can be physical objects, such as a car or a home, or more abstract rewards, like a seat on a board of directors, or being able to bribe your way into an affluent club. Think of these as story rewards more than typical treasure.

If an asset logically comes into play during an encounter then the DM may give out a bonus for having that asset. These are parts of your story and players should be rewarded for using the world creatively. If these assets come into play in more than one encounter a session, they should be reworked as part of the characters equipment, purchased from their cash, and not be considered an asset.

The recommended bonus for these effect is +2. In some circumstances assets are logically more useful, due to their quality, and can receive a bonus based on their distance from common. So for example if an common character uses their jeep as cover, they get a +2 bonus to their defenses, and so would a wealthy character using their corvette as cover. However, if an common character is trying to get a bonus to their knowledge roll by using the local library, and a wealthy character has a private library devoted to the subject at hand, the DM may grant the wealthy character a +4 bonus to the roll (+2 for common, +1 each for the two asset levels above common). This bonus is subject to the DM’s discretion.

There are four asset grades available to level 1 characters. All characters start as common but can gain a different asset grade through feats, backgrounds, or as rewards given out by the DM when the story permits.

Common: This is roughly where most of an average society fits. You likely have a full time job to provide you with income. You have shelter, whether its a small apartment, a room in your parents house or a modest home with a mortgage. You have a means of transportation in your immediate area, but its nothing flashy.

Comfortable: Your job requires a certain amount of skill, experience of education that puts you above average. You earn more money but probably work just as much as someone with common assets. You likely have a spacious apartment or your own home. You almost certainly own a car that’s equal to new in quality, and might include more luxurious options such as a powerful engine, or leather seats. It’s easier for you to find money for plane tickets, hotel rooms and other luxuries than it is for an common person. Players can select this asset grade at level 1 by taking the Comfortable Lifestyle background

Wealthy: Handling money is second nature to you. Your assets are big enough that they practically handle themselves. Whether your living off interest, your parents, or the profits from your company, you only go into work if you want to. You own multiple luxury cars, and may own, or can easily get the use of other modes transportation, such as a boat or small plane. Money comes with privilege, and it’s easier for you to get an audience with other key individuals. It also has its drawbacks. More people are aware of you and may seek you out or target you. It’s much harder for you blend into a crowd. Players can select this asset grade at level 1 by taking the Comfortable Lifestyle background, and the Wealthy feat.

Poor: You live below the poverty line. If you have an apartment it’s likely in a poor neighborhood. If you have your own car it may also be your home. You may be working multiple low income jobs, or out of work and on the street. It’s much easier for you to go unnoticed or go completely off the grid. You’re used to living off of very little and are able to survive in harsh situations. You understand the importance of trade and know where you can sell things quickly and quietly. Players can select this asset grade at level 1 by taking the Poor Lifestyle background.

Fountain of Wealth by yoodz

Asset Grade as Story Once play has moved past the starting level, character’s asset grade may change as part of the story. Characters of higher levels may gain access to even higher levels of wealth in this way. These levels are limited by tier so that only characters of Paragon and higher can become Rich, and those of Epic and higher may be Unreasonably Rich. It’s possible for a character to achieve such wealth before these levels, but they do not have the experience needed to take the advantages of such wealth. Characters should not select asset based mechanics when leveling up.

Rich: You’re beyond wealthy, your rolling in it. You may be a pop superstar or the owner of one or two fortune 500 companies. You have your own plane, a mansion and more material goods than you can keep track of. You are constantly recognized in public and can buy your way into nearly any place or event.

Unreasonably Rich: You’ve achieved an asset grade that seems almost impossible. You fly from locations in a huge jet, that doubles as your luxury home. Maybe you own a whole city, and employ all it’s residents as your employees. Everyone knows who you are and they likely have very strong opinions about everything you do. You sway nations and command your own private army.


Filed under D&D 4E, Modern Assembly