Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I think I'm going to use our Savage Worlds game set on the planet Sxibi as a means to teach the kids about finances. They arrived on the planet with $1,000 each (and yes, we're calling the currency "dollars"), and I can tell already that they consider this a hefty sum. Well, I can assure you that's one misconception that's not going to last.

The Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition comes with price lists for all kinds of things, but I think instead I'll be using Google Internet searches for prices. That's right: I'm going to be using real world prices for everything from housing, meals, and clothing, to transportation, entertainment, and arms. Even though the game setting is the distant future where vastly superior technologies are commonplace, just about everything on Sxibi will be analogous to things familiar to those of us stuck here in the ultra-primitive 21st century.

For example, suppose the kids want a ray gun. I'm picturing a Star Wars blaster, which is effectively a hand gun. It seems to take stormtroopers out with a single shot, so let's assume it's analogous to a fairly powerful revolver like, say, a .44 magnum. A fairly simple search informs me that prices for a .44 range from $150 to $500+, and $400 seems to get you a decent one. Please note that I know next to nothing about hand guns. I don't need to. I'm assuming that guns are like everything else in that you "takes your chances" when you skimp and buy the cheapest model. So the price of a blaster on Sxibi is the same, when purchased through legal means. Items purchased on the Black Market will be more expensive due to risk markup (for the curious, this markup will be 2d6 x 10%, i.e., 20% to 120%, with a mean of 70%). If the kids buy the cheaper model, then they risk finding themselves in a firefight with a jammed weapon.

They're in an industrial area at the moment, miles beneath the surface. Real estate prices will be fairly low compared to elsewhere on the planet. I live in the Richmond, VA area, and the cost of living here is what I'll use as a baseline. When they get around to looking for a place to live, I'll use local prices from Richmond's industrial areas. As the characters move around in wealthier circles, I'll apply a cost of living index. Thus if they find themselves near the planet surface where the dollar doesn't go as far, I might consider using Manhattan, NYC's relative cost of living as a way to inflate the prices, especially around housing.

The reason I'm doing all this is so that the players will be forced to see the value of the dollar, find ways to generate income and improve their standard of living, and learn about budgeting. A thousand dollars isn't going to last very long at all. If they hit the stores first and aren't careful with their money they won't even be able to scrape enough bread together to cover the first and last month's rent deposit on their apartments, when they finally get around to finding a place to stay. Heaven help them if they try going the hotel route.

Remember, I'm totally winging this, so I don't have any adventures planned that I'm going to guide them to. With some players this approach would be an unmitigated disaster, but with the way these kids have been rolling, I think it suits them just fine. They don't want to be told what to do. They like being in the driver's seat. Let their struggle to survive in the big city drive the game. I'll sit back and let them tell me where and how they're looking for adventure. Eventually something cool is bound to happen, and I'll be ready.

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