Wealth and Starting Equipment
Mixing power-gaming and RP in the old west
PHILOSOPHY & ROLE-PLAYING
Wealth represents the character’s buying power not an exact amount of coins. Broadly speaking expenses will fall into four categories.
1) Lifestyle choices you make every day that don’t affect how much money you really have,
2) Larger purchases that impact your day-to-day choices, and
3) Things you can barely afford
4) .. and of course, those you can’t
The wealth system separates purchases into those broad groups.
Also – this isn’t a “survival” game and we don’t intend to track whether you have two shirts or three. Track it if it is important to you.
MECHANICS to know
Some important to know a few things:
1) There is an “oh, I have that” rule. You can make a wealth role (DC based on cost of item) to reach into your bag of holding and see if you “happen to have” the thing you want. See pg 127 for details.
2) Off-camera you can buy/acquire any legal, common item with DC at/below your wealth. It takes one hour searching per DC, and you can use the normal “take 10/20” rules.
3) Wealth of under 5 is bad news. You need someone to buy your drinks at the saloon
Also it is worth knowing John and Ed aren’t in love with the “roll for Wealth loss” rule.
The ARMS RACE
There are three ways that I know the system can break that I want to address.
1) No sugar daddies
Your wealth at start of campaign (after gear) should be 5 or less.
Several PCs may have occupations with that will give them 7 wealth. (John = Ranch Hand, Greg = Hunter, Kevin = Athlete/Laborer). John in particular has made the RP decision that he wants he character to be broke and desperate (wealth 0) at the start of the campaign.
In contrast, you could build “Fat Cat” Bailey with a wealth of 10 or more. 15 before equipment is easy for the focused character – 5 (2d8 base) plus 6 (Idle Rich) plus 1 (profession skill) plus 3 (Windfall feat). Then you only pay wealth ranks for gear of DC15+.
“Fat Cat” is more likely to be the Villain than the Hero. He will be be rejected as out of line with the genre.
2) Infinite merchandise for sale
Greg already accidentally started this off with his “just rode into town with new pelts to sell” storyline. In theory, J.J. Althaus could have a giant number of “Wealth 7” items (e.g. beaver pelts) and then sell them off every time he buys something to raise his wealth back up. This would mean his effective Wealth would never be less than 4 and with the Horse Trading feat he could keep it as high as 6.
That may not seem abusive – but “Fat Cat” can do the same thing and have an eternal Wealth of 14.
3) Infinite merchandise to use
In theory RAW allows you to have an arbitrarily large number of items under your starting wealth. E.g. if you wanted, you could have seven shirts. Or one box of every kind of ammunition. Or a hundred bottles of whiskey, bought one at a time “just because”.
In practice, that is ridiculous. Expect us to ask “why?” and “where are you carrying it?” if you own more than two of a “commodity” and start acting like a merchant. Or we might waste time we could spend developing compelling encounters and make rules for bulk prices, enforce the “spend 1 hr per DC level per purchase/sale” rule, and ask “where are you keeping your 42 bottles of whiskey”.
Let’s avoid that arms race, and be reasonable.
Assumptions & decisions for your starting equipment
Although this is a “modern” campaign, mundane gear is not going to be a dominant concern. I expect everyone will want to invest in a fancy pistol or some other signature gear – but in general I want to be equipment-light and avoid an arms race.
This guide assumes you want to start your Wealth at 0 after equipment buys. This is recommended, as we have house ruled that all PCs are starting with a wealth of at most 5. In section three, we will go over specifics of how that plays out for most characters.
When picking your equipment you should decide the following:
• Firearms – covered in section two
• Other weapons – most of them are free, but you track the gear you want
• Armor – most people will pick nothing or soft leather
• Clothing – basic clothing is “free”
• Adventuring/outdoor gear – Basic gear (tent, bedroll, et al) is free as part of your starting equipment, but you will have to pay if you want cold/wet-weather gear (i.e. cloth or fur coat).
Picking a firearm
You many have about a dozen options for a firearm, and will pay zero to two wealth levels for the weapon.
Free weapons (DC 10 or less)
• Harpers Ferry Pistol – US Navy (smoothbore) is mechanically identical and has better resale value. Only reason to buy the HF pistol is if you want to start at W5 vs W0, as you can get this pistol during step one of purchasing.
• US Navy Pistol (smoothbore) – single-shot with short-range and multi-round reload time
One wealth level (DC11-14)
• US Navy Pistol (rifled) – same as above but with better range
• Pocket Derringer – faster reload and easier to conceal
• Sharps Pepperbox – low-damage (2d4) and very short range, but has 4 shots
• Basic rifles – single-shot longarm with high damage (2d12) and very long reload time. Choose between muskets (DC12, 10 round reload) and Harpers Ferry (DC13, 6 round reload)
Two wealth levels (DC15 or more)
• A&T Pepperbox (DC15) – six-shot muzzleloader, takes several minutes to reload
• Colt Walker Dragoon (DC15) – six-shot revolver, first firearm that can use fancy shooting feats, can be reloaded via cylinder exchange in four rounds
• Hawken Rifle (DC16) – same as Harpers Ferry Rifle but with +1 to hit (considered mastercraft)
• Sharps Rifle (DC16) – lower damage but one-round reload. Carbine trades range for better usability on horseback.
Power-gaming your starting equipment
The process to buy your gear for maximum effectiveness is the following:
1. Buy anything you want up to your starting Wealth.
2. Buy gear up to W+10. After each purchase reduce your wealth by 1 point (DC14 or less) or 2 points (DC15 or more).
3. When you reach W1, buy a single item up to DC21 with a “Take 20”
4. Now that you are broke, buy items up to DC10.
Assuming you start with Wealth 7 then there are seven basic options.
• Option #1: DC21, DC17, DC15, DC13, DC12. Solid default gear choice.
o Ex. good horse (DC20), saddle (DC16), walker dragoon pistol (DC15), saddlebag & blanket (DC12) and something of your choice up to DC13 e.g. cloth overcoat/duster (DC12) for the Sierra Nevada winter.
• Option #2A: DC21, DC17, 2 @ DC14, DC13, DC12. Build for two decent firearms (pistol & rifle)
o Good horse, saddle, bags & blanket, two decent firearms (DC11-14 list) and a fur coat.
• Option #2B: DC21, DC17, 2 @ DC14, DC13, DC12. Build for horse and mule.
o Poor horse (DC14), saddle, bags & blanket, decent firearm (DC11-14), coat and a piece of gear up to DC21. This is the one to pick if you want something crazy expensive like a homestead or a mule (both DC19).
• Option #3: DC21, 4 @ DC14, DC13, DC12. Build for several low/mid-cost items.
o Poor horse, saddle, bags & blanket, fur overcoat (DC14), decent firearm (DC11-14) then two more pieces of gear up to DC14. I have a problem with this, because you are way overpaying for the saddle.
Those are the basic choices. Now three specialty ones.
• Option #2C: DC21, DC17, 2 @ DC14, DC13, DC12. The prospector “who needs a horse?” build.
o Mule or donkey (DC19), bags & blanket, Sharps/Hawken Rifle (DC16), Pepperbox (DC13) for close combat, fur overcoat (DC14), and anything else you want up to DC14. You don’t need a saddle, but without bags and blanket your mule will have limited carrying capacity and be at risk of saddle sores.
• Option #2D: DC21, DC17, 2 @ DC14, DC 13, DC12. Build for masterwork weapon.
o Masterwork firearm (+1 sharps rifle or +2 walker dragoon), poor horse, saddle, bags & blanket, and two items (DC14 & DC13). You probably take a decent quality firearm and a coat.
• Option #4: DC23, DC17, 2 @ DC14. Build for an excellent horse.
o Excellent horse (DC23), saddle, bags & blanket, decent firearm (or coat). This is a terrible build, but John really wants that horse.
With each of these builds you get “unlimited” gear up to DC10. That should include:
Weapons and Armor
• Navy Pistol (DC10) unless you have a better small firearm
• One box of ammo for each firearm (DC4 to 7) and a gun cleaning kit
• Plain holster (DC7) for your pistol, and rifle scabbard (DC8) if you own a longarm
• Basic knife (DC5) or pocket knife
• Other simple/archaic/exotic weapons e.g. staff/baton, knife, bow & arrows, lasso, etc
• Light leather armor (DC10, defense +1) if it fits your character concept
• One plain suit (DC10) or Lady’s dress
• One pair of shoes (DC9) or boots (DC10)
• If you own a horse, you want a pair of plain spurs (DC7) and probably chaps, soft leather armor or buckskin trousers to protect yourself
• Head covering – either basic cap (DC6) or hat – sombrero, cowboy, bowler or lady’s hat (DC 7 to 9)
• Basic clothes (DC4-8) including bandana
• Basic “adventurer gear” – Week of trail rations, bedroll and canteen
• Pre-paid lodging for the next 24 hours – either one week at basic lodger’s quarters (DC8) or two nights at good hotel (2 @ DC7), and stabling for your horse (DC4)
• RP gear that rounds out your character concept e.g. picks & pans, bottle of whiskey, plug of tobacco, shaving kit, deck of cards and chips, writing paper and pen/ink, et al