Commerce represents a faction’s proclivity for mercantile pursuits: developing and marketing products, negotiating black markets, bargaining with others, and so on.
- Wealth is a consumable resource that can be used to negotiate with other factions and temporarily boost stats. Factions generate Wealth equal to their Commerce each week, and it can also be won (or lost) through other systems. Wealth gives factions greater flexibility and adaptability.
- [Other subsystems listed here]
Commerce is a dynamic and quick-moving system, and thus most of its decisions are shifted to delegates.
Factions generate a number of points of Wealth each week equal to their Commerce stat. It can store the Wealth, spend it, or trade it. Most notably, Wealth can be spent to temporarily buff just about any stat as needed. Compare Production, which is more efficient in the long term, but requires a faction to lock onto a particular course of action.
Storing Wealth up can be very lucrative, but it also makes the faction a tempting target for thieves.
Factions can spend Wealth to temporarily boost stats. Unless otherwise stated, Wealth-spending decisions are made by a majority vote of delegates, as it’s rather too “micro” and situational to be put to a general vote.
Factions place their first buys in Commerce order, stating what they want to buy and how much of it they want. The process then repeats for another round, and so on, until all factions are done.
Modifiers combine multiplicatively. For example, if one modifier doubles the price of a commodity, and another modifier triples it, the commodity costs six times the normal price.
- Diminishing returns. The higher a faction increases its stats, the costlier it becomes to buy up further boosts.
- Points that take the faction’s stat up to 10 cost base value. Buys in the 11-15 range cost 25% extra. Buys in the 16-20 range cost 50% extra. Buys above 20 points cost double.
- Example. Rengarville has 8 Insight, and wants to buy 2 points of extra Insight for the next week, in order to further its pursuit of its Quest to Catch the Red Dot. There is no premium, so it will cost 10 Wealth for that +2.
- Example. Pinguland has 12 Insight, and wants to buy up to 17 Insight. The base price is 5 Wealth per point. The first three points (to 13, to 14, and to 15) cost 25% extra (6.25 Wealth each), and the next two (to 16 and to 17) cost 50% extra (7.5 Wealth each). The total cost is 33.75 Wealth.
- Supply and demand. When factions buy stats, they temporarily drive up the price of those stats.
- The base price of each commodity increases by 5% for every point purchased in the previous two weeks, by all factions combined.
- Example. Last week, Rengarville bought 5 points of Insight, and Pinguland bought 3. The week before that, Rengarville bought 2 points, and Pinguland bought none. That’s a total of 10 points in the past two weeks, increasing the cost of Insight this week by 50%.
- Negotiation. Factions roll Commerce to see how much of a stat they can actually buy, representing the search for sellers and negotiations with them. High rolls give discounts.
- Once the price is set, the faction must roll Commerce to actually arrange the trade. For each point that the faction beats the listed Difficulty by, it can spend up to 5 points of Wealth on that resource this week. For every 5 points the faction beats the Difficulty by, it also gets a 10% discount. (The maximum discount is 50%.)
- Factions will attempt to buy the full amount they declared earlier. If unable to buy it all, they will buy as much as they can.
- On a critical success, the faction can buy as much as it wants, and the buff lasts for two weeks rather than only one week.
- On a critical failure, the faction is swindled. The deals fall through, and it loses Wealth equal to half the base cost of the quantity they sought to buy.
- Market closing. Commerce decisions are made after each week’s World Systems resolution. They take effect for the following week.
These are the basic options for spending Wealth. The Difficulty of the Negotiation check and the base cost per unit are provided for each.
- Difficulty: 15
- Base Cost: 3 Wealth per point
- Examples: Hire scientists, buy rare artifacts.
- Difficulty: 20
- Base Cost: 4 Wealth per point
- Examples: Hire lawyers, donate to the League.
- Difficulty: 25
- Base cost: 5 Wealth per point
- Examples: Pay informants, buy laser wristwatches and martinis.
Factions can trade with each other, rather than relying on the general market.
- A faction can (temporarily) trade up to a third of a base stat. It can also freely trade anything it’s purchased that week.
- A faction may only trade one stat to any given faction per week.
- Factions cannot trade directly with each other while at war.
- Factions must agree on a base cost. Faction-to-faction trades ignore the “supply and demand” and “diminishing returns” rules, and there is no need to roll Commerce to see how much the faction can buy.
- The seller rolls Commerce first, setting the Difficulty for the buyer. A high roll from the buyer will get them a discount. (Remember that, in most cases, this trade is merely facilitated and influenced by the leadership of each faction: the details are worked out by many different corporations and merchants.)
- Either side may attempt to swindle the other. This prompts a new Commerce roll, with the defender setting the Difficulty with its roll. For every point the swindler wins by, the target loses 2 Wealth and the swindler gains 1 Wealth. (If both sides swindle, handle each separately. The swindler with higher Commerce goes first.) This creates a potential dispute that may be brought before the League. [See Politics]
Military and Production
Wealth can be used to buy Military and Production, but these options do bring with them additional risks and restrictions. This is in part a story issue—the large numbers of people involved in such hirings contributes to a certain element of uncertainty. Further, both of these stats pose heightened balance concerns. Like Commerce itself, Production is a “meta-stat” that can be used to boost other stats, and layering one meta-stat on top of another is a special case warranting special rules. Military is also an unusual stat in two key respects: first, Military losses are more permanent than other losses, due to the casualties system, and, second, Military “doesn’t matter until it matters”, making the ability to hire troops on an “as-needed” basis inherently overpowered unless there are counterbalancing mechanics in place.
- Difficulty: 10
- Cost: 2 Wealth per point per week
- Workers leave if not paid.
- Hiring laborers is cheap, though large purchases can destabilize the domestic labor market and trigger rioting from displaced workers. Each week, the faction must roll Commerce against a Difficulty equal to 5 plus the number of hired workers to keep a handle on the situation. If it fails this check, the disruption of the labor market triggers protests. Riots halt all Production for this week, except for the purchased Production. Starting with the next week, unrest locks out an amount of the faction’s base Production equal to twice the size of the hired workforce. Beginning with that week, the faction may take one of three approaches:
- Wait and see: Each week, the riot’s size increases by d6, then decreases by d10. (In other words, riots gradually fizzle out, on an unpredictable schedule.)
- Negotiation: Succeed at a Politics check against a Difficulty equal to the size of the riot +15. Reduce the size of the riot by one point for every point the faction beats the Difficulty by. The faction may buy a bonus on this check (buying out the workers) at a cost of 2 Wealth per +1.
- Break strike: Win a battle against an NPC force with a Strength equal to a quarter of the riot’s size. The faction decides how much of its Strength to use for this battle; the faction only needs to win a single round to disperse the rioters. However, each “lost” unit on the rioters’ side reduces Production by 1 for the rest of the arc.
- Difficulty: 15
- Base Upkeep Cost: 2 Wealth per point per week, starting the week after they’re hired.
- Hiring Cost: Three times the upkeep cost.
- Mercenaries desert if they are not paid.
- The total number of mercenaries available for hire in a given arc is equal to 5 times the number of factions participating in the arc.
- When a faction moves to hire mercenaries, other factions are given an option to try to outbid them on some or all of those mercenaries.
- Maintaining a large mercenary force is dangerous. Each week, roll Military against a Difficulty equal to the size of the mercenary contingent. Failure results in the mercenaries striking out on their own. They will loot the faction’s territory until they are stopped. Mercenaries will always retreat after being beaten, whereupon they will return to the general pool.
- Hiring Champions
- A faction may hire up to one independent Champion for a set of Featured Matches or a Tournament.
- Difficulty: 25
- Base Cost (Featured Matches): 10 Wealth (covers one set of three matches)
- Base Cost (Tournaments): 30 Wealth (entire tournament)
- Bidding: factions may attempt to outbid each other.
- Limit: Only one mercenary Champion can be hired at a time.
- The following mercenary Champions are available for hire. [Insert list here. Champions with no affiliation with any of the involved factions, who are also the sorts who’d fight as mercenaries.]
- Bribing Champions
- Factions can bribe another faction’s Tertiary Champion to “go MIA” for a week.
- Difficulty: 25
- Cost: 30 Wealth
- This also creates a Scandal-level Secret.
All unspent Wealth is invested. For every 5 points of Wealth a faction invests, they’ll get back 6 Wealth next week. If the faction does not select any other Wealth action this week, e.g. buying or selling, it rolls Commerce against Difficulty 20 instead. For every 5 points it succeeds by, it increases the return by one point. For example, rolling 27 would suffice to raise the rate of return from 6 Wealth per 5 Wealth invested to 7 Wealth per 5 Wealth invested. (This is capped at 10 Wealth per 5 Wealth invested.)
Factions can also loan other active factions some Wealth, with whatever terms they agree upon.
Wealth may go into the negatives. A faction may buy on credit, driving the balance further into the red. (It is generally not possible to loot or steal from a faction with 0 Wealth or below.) The absolute limit on debt is equal to the faction’s Commerce stat. If they reach that point, they are unable to make any more purchases until they are positive again.
Profit and Loss
Each week, factions get a random chance to get lucky with a commercial enterprise. Roll against a Difficulty of 20.
EDIT: This should probably all get replaced with more deliberate action options, e.g., a trade war. If there’s any random element, it should probably be a separate mechanic that periodically creates shortages/surpluses. Not sure that would really serve any useful purpose.
If the faction succeeds, roll a d6 to determine the effect:
|1||Innovation||The faction comes up with a new product that increases its Commerce stat by 1 for the rest of this arc.|
|2, 3||Record Sales||The faction gains +1d20 bonus Wealth in extra revenues this week.|
|4||Buyer’s Market||The faction finds some great deals. Whatever it spends this week, it gets a 33% refund on the final amount paid out.|
|5||Monopoly||The faction gains brief control of some important commodities. It may increase prices for all other factions (excepting whomever it likes) by 25% for the next two weeks.|
|6||Golden Arches of Peace||Randomly select a Hostile inactive faction. Unlock a Commerce Quest that, if completed, will make them Neutral.|
There is also some risk of a critical failure. If that happens:
|1, 2||Recall||The faction’s products are found dangerously defective. Lose all Wealth generation this week. Also, pay out an amount equal to last week’s Wealth generation, divided evenly among the other factions. (Delegates can decide how to slant it to deal with uneven numbers.)|
|3||Corruption||Corruption has become rampant within the faction. Other factions can pay 3 Wealth in bribes under the table (Gaffe-level Secret) to cut the faction’s Espionage rating in half for Espionage defense purposes in the next round of missions.|
|4, 5||League Inquiry||The League accuses the faction of false accounting, anticompetitive trade practices, or some other capitalist sin. Wealth generation is shut down for three weeks, as is the faction’s ability to buy anything with Commerce. It can make a Difficulty 30 petition to end the inquiry early; this will probably require some support from allies.|
|6||Market Crash||A financial panic spreads through the faction. It will lose 1d20 Wealth per week until the market stabilizes. To stabilize, it must make a Difficulty 25 Commerce check; its first opportunity will come next week. (Wealth is lost before the attempt is made each week.)|