In the FATE system there is the Resource ability. The rules for Resource are very basic and, aside from purchasing goods, there does not seem to be many reasons to use it. The alternative to Resource is actually tracking money, so it’s nice that Strands of FATE stays consistent with the abstract nature of the game. With a little creative thinking, Resource is a worthy ability that can benefit or hinder a character without adding any new mechanics (remember, hindering a character can be good!). Here are some suggestions to make the Resource ability more important in any campaign setting.
For a description of Resource, think of it like the character’s Strength attribute. It is not a measure of raw wealth as much a measure of how well the character manages his financial resources. As an example, there could be two characters, each with a 3 Resource, but one is merely wealthy while the other knows how to shop for deals and barter when necessary. The net result is the same.
Aside from the suggestions listed in SoF, there are plenty of ways to use Resource. Usually, it’s used whenever someone needs to purchase something. When this happens, they take the cost of the item and use it as an attack against the character’s wealth track. If the character makes the target number or better, he afforded the item without any problems. If the character makes more than one purchase in a game session, each consecutive purchase is at -1 to defend. When a character does fail, he does not make the purchase. He also cannot purchase anything else at that value (or greater) for the remainder of the session. Optionally, he takes stress on the wealth stress track. Of course, stress heals quickly and unless it is a large purchase, taking stress is not much of an issue. Here are some suggestions for adding value to the Resource attribute.
Unless the character has a profession where their day-to-day expenses are easily met, a monthly maintenance roll is needed. This is a Resource roll against a target number (set below). If the character missed work, a penalty of -1 per week or less missed would be a good modifier against the roll. The following is a guideline for maintenance based on lifestyle:
Very Poor: 0
Moderately Wealthy: 4
Very Wealthy: 8
Filthy Rich: 10
For games where adventuring is their source of income (i.e., private investigator, adventurers, etc.), this is a reminder as to why they work. The fact that they work is the reason within the game as to why their Resource is where they set it. If a character is working a lot of overtime or they find treasure, they could be given a bonus for that roll. The bonus helps give the player the satisfaction of putting in the extra work.
I run a fantasy game where treasure is part of the genre. My players occasionally hit the big score which gives them one-shot wealth bonuses. These are expendable wealth points that benefit a Resource roll at a one-for-one ratio. It allows them to make those occasionally large purchases without raising their Resource attribute or going into debit on the wealth track. On one occasion, I had a player accumulate so many wealth bonuses (not spending them) that I allowed him to use them as experience points to purchase up his Resource attribute.
For some purchases, the characters will run into situations where some products are either rare or more common than back home. For these cases, a cost modifier is in order. I developed my table based on the D6 Adventure by West End Games. I got my copies through one of the many online gaming resource sites.
Cost target modifiers might look like this:
Very Common: -2 (This is when the PCs are located where the bolts of silk fabric are woven or the mines for the rare ore are located.)
Very Rare: +6 (It might be easier to go on a quest to acquire this item)
High quality goods: +2 (i.e., The sword does extra bonus, The dress is of high quality, etc.)
Low Quality: -2 (i.e., The item is damaged or used.)
Of course, there are plenty of other modifiers that could be used.
Even if characters make monthly maintenance rolls it should not affect their other purchases. Of course, if their maintenance target is above their Resource, a modifier would be in order. So would a maintenance below their Resource. This better reflects the limited resources the character has to live and how wasteful or frugal they are.
For normal purchasing rules, the cost settings are fine. For those GMs who like to use the wealth stress track, I recommend adjusting the money value higher per dollar to account for the fact a character can make a purchase by taking stress on their wealth track. Since the first couple of consequences are minor and easily recovered, the Resource attribute is actually more powerful with the stress track to benefit it. For this situation, I recommend that money follows the same linear track that Strength does in place of the standard quadrupling the money for each rank. I leave it to the individual GM to decide what the right balance is for them.
I also think that there should be a “Wealthy” power. It could follow the rules as Strength for how it escalates for the amount of advantage points spent. This means each rank of wealth is equal to one rank of size for lifting capacity. With a “Wealthy” power, antagonists can be brought into a game who have resources that only vast amounts of money can buy. A certain villain in DC comics comes to mind.
There are plenty of options for using the Resource attribute. Feel free to experiment. It’s a worthwhile attribute that can be used to manage wealth by any measure without the need for meticulous cash counting.