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  • Merit for owning a business

    Hello there.

    Are there any Merits in any of the game lines, 1e or 2e, that represent owning a business? I haven’t seen any but maybe I’ve missed something. From what I can tell, I’d need to take Resources and Staff Merits to represent being a business owner. Does that sound right?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Holy-Hell-Thats-Hot View Post
    Hello there.

    Are there any Merits in any of the game lines, 1e or 2e, that represent owning a business? I haven’t seen any but maybe I’ve missed something. From what I can tell, I’d need to take Resources and Staff Merits to represent being a business owner. Does that sound right?
    You don't need any Merits at all. You could just have your character be a business owner. Resources represents disposable income, which might not be available if any profits (that aren't reinvested in the business) only cover living expenses. The Staff Merit represents people you have at your disposal, which most employees typically aren't since they're there just to do their job and not help you out with your private stuff. The Staff Merit explicitly says that a character can have employees without the Merit. Besides, the character might not actually have any employees if the business is small enough.


    Bloodline: The Stygians
    Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
    Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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    • #3
      This is a general design mentality for the games. You don't need Merits to have X, you need Merits to represent explicit benefits in the game for having X.

      So, as Tessie said, there's not Merit to your character owning a business. If you want that to just be flavor about your character, you can leave it at that. If you want your character to benefit from their business in a fashion that's significant to the story and game, how you want to express that tells you what Merits to take.

      Though I will offer a small suggestion to consider the Luxury Merit, which can be used for your character having access to things through their business that they don't personally own directly via Resources. Luxury is a great way to represent things like expensing fancy meals and hotel rooms, etc. if your character doesn't necessarily have a lot of disposable income (and thus a lot of dots in Resources).

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
        If you want your character to benefit from their business in a fashion that's significant to the story and game, how you want to express that tells you what Merits to take.
        Specifically: Allies if you’re friendly enough with your employees that they’ll do random favors for you, Status for any and all other ways of bringing your business resources to bear against the plot.

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        • #5
          Honestly, I don't think Status (My Own Business) works that well for most businesses. If the top position in a company is Status 5 (which you then kinda have to take) it's something that's supposed to put you on part with being the mayor of a city. Your business basically needs to be something like the factory that an entire town relies on, or one of the biggest companies in a minor metropolitan area. A character that owns a bookstore, or a bar, or a car dealership? You just can't justify that kind of clout.

          I feel you get a lot more mileage out of things like Status (Local Chamber of Commerce) for the small and medium sized business that PCs are more likely to own. It's easier to toss 1-2 dots at if you don't want to make a huge investment in it (for now), and it better represents the kind of social power business owners can exert.

          For a current pop culture reference.. it's a lot more important that a certain car dealership owner has invested energy in having official positions in community business organizations so he can try to stall his high school rival from opening a Karate dojo, than worrying about how many bonus dice he gets to social rolls aimed at his own employees. Not that Daniel can't really use those bonus social dice given he's surprisingly lacking in tact for someone thats in sales.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
            Honestly, I don't think Status (My Own Business) works that well for most businesses. If the top position in a company is Status 5 (which you then kinda have to take) it's something that's supposed to put you on part with being the mayor of a city. Your business basically needs to be something like the factory that an entire town relies on, or one of the biggest companies in a minor metropolitan area. A character that owns a bookstore, or a bar, or a car dealership? You just can't justify that kind of clout.

            I feel you get a lot more mileage out of things like Status (Local Chamber of Commerce) for the small and medium sized business that PCs are more likely to own. It's easier to toss 1-2 dots at if you don't want to make a huge investment in it (for now), and it better represents the kind of social power business owners can exert.

            For a current pop culture reference.. it's a lot more important that a certain car dealership owner has invested energy in having official positions in community business organizations so he can try to stall his high school rival from opening a Karate dojo, than worrying about how many bonus dice he gets to social rolls aimed at his own employees. Not that Daniel can't really use those bonus social dice given he's surprisingly lacking in tact for someone thats in sales.
            To be minorly fair to Daniel, we're not really getting to see him in the context of how he got there. He's off his game just by virtue of having to deal with a person he's literally dropped so much of his identity into, during high school no less. Not that that makes it much better, but still.

            That useless aside asides, I'm gonna also toss my hat onto this opinion. Most businesses have the sort of game-motivating/bending/moving/etc. virtue in relationship to the community/communities they're a part of and help to influence. It takes a lot for a business to become an institution unto itself, which conversely is part of the reason it's hard to take down corporations.

            Status is primarily valuable for it's breadth of influence first, and it's depth second. The organization Status is tied to must likewise be able to assert itself likewise. The ability to bully the employees is insignificant to the power to bully officials, and the latter often covers the former.


            Kelly R.S. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
            The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
            Feminine pronouns, please.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
              If the top position in a company is Status 5
              It doesn’t have to be.

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              • #8
                True... but not necessarily in helpful ways. The most common ways to interpret owning a company, but not having maximum status in it are:

                1) The owner doesn't directly run it (ex: this is very common for Bruce Wayne though not always), with the top Status going to the board members and officers (like Lucius Fox in the Batman example). This is rarely functional for smaller business, because they can't afford to hire an additional person who's sole job is to do the stuff the owner is supposed to be doing.

                2) You willingly accept that a given business has a Status "cap" and that it can't hit 5 even for the owner because it isn't going to be able to provide the social influence Status implies. There is, of course, no guide to this in the books to help you figure out what that would be (since the book doesn't really address this possibility) and it gets iffy to Status to do both its job at representing the internal hierarchy of a company, and the social influence the company allows members with high Status.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                  2) You willingly accept that a given business has a Status "cap" and that it can't hit 5 even for the owner because it isn't going to be able to provide the social influence Status implies. There is, of course, no guide to this in the books to help you figure out what that would be (since the book doesn't really address this possibility) and it gets iffy to Status to do both its job at representing the internal hierarchy of a company, and the social influence the company allows members with high Status.
                  To expand upon this:
                  If the business is small, then the hierarchy (both the official in terms of ranks but also the inofficial) isn't large enough to support more than a few available dots of Status. The owner of a large corporation can definitely levy +5 dice against rank and file employees if he bothers meeting with them at all. However, the owner of a small business who works directly with each and every employee and probably knows them to some degree outside of work doesn't outrank them in nearly the same way. There's simply no space between the first and the fifth dot if it's assumed that the owner should have five dots based on rank. The owner can still gain a lot of respect from the employees, which is also a part of Status, but that's from more personal relationships and better modelled in impression levels and with other Merits like Allies. (When looking up Allies while typing this reply, I found that employees are listed as an example.)

                  The other problem with assuming all organisations have five dots is how much these dots weigh outside of the organisation. If the corporation from above outsources some part of their process to the smaller company, then the owner of the smaller company can be justified in being able to block low Status employees in the larger company from using their Status dots in the corporation. But unless the business owner is ricidulously influential for some reason, it's ludicrous that they'd be able to levy their company to block a high ranking employee in the corporation from using their four dots of Status, as would be possible if it's assumed the owner should have five dots.


                  Though personally I would generally simply just not use Status for small organisations. It's probably more likely to be relevant to the game if it's over a larger group like a small local community (for something like a local grocery store or bar) or a sphere of influence like construction contractors for a construction manager or consulting firm.


                  Bloodline: The Stygians
                  Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
                  Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                    2) You willingly accept that a given business has a Status "cap" and that it can't hit 5 even for the owner because it isn't going to be able to provide the social influence Status implies. There is, of course, no guide to this in the books to help you figure out what that would be (since the book doesn't really address this possibility) and it gets iffy to Status to do both its job at representing the internal hierarchy of a company, and the social influence the company allows members with high Status.
                    Krewes have something like this — your Mystery Cult Initiation rating doubles as krewe Status and is capped by the Esotery of the krewe, which in turn also limits the Congregation headcount by limiting how much Resistance the krewe can have, and translating the framework presented in Geist to other sorts of organizations with Standing and Association is suggested in a sidebar. (Deviant doesn't do this with its conspiracy rules because conspiracies are antagonist groups that don't necessarily have an attached Status analog or headcount guide in the first place, but its chart of relative influence levels by Standing can fill a similar role.)


                    Resident Lore-Hound
                    Currently Consuming: Demon: the Descent 1e

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Tessie View Post

                      You don't need any Merits at all. You could just have your character be a business owner. Resources represents disposable income, which might not be available if any profits (that aren't reinvested in the business) only cover living expenses. The Staff Merit represents people you have at your disposal, which most employees typically aren't since they're there just to do their job and not help you out with your private stuff. The Staff Merit explicitly says that a character can have employees without the Merit. Besides, the character might not actually have any employees if the business is small enough.
                      Okay, thanks for the information. Not sure how much the business will actually benefit him so it’ll probably remain just for flavor.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                        This is a general design mentality for the games. You don't need Merits to have X, you need Merits to represent explicit benefits in the game for having X.

                        So, as Tessie said, there's not Merit to your character owning a business. If you want that to just be flavor about your character, you can leave it at that. If you want your character to benefit from their business in a fashion that's significant to the story and game, how you want to express that tells you what Merits to take.

                        Though I will offer a small suggestion to consider the Luxury Merit, which can be used for your character having access to things through their business that they don't personally own directly via Resources. Luxury is a great way to represent things like expensing fancy meals and hotel rooms, etc. if your character doesn't necessarily have a lot of disposable income (and thus a lot of dots in Resources).
                        I’ll definitely look into this Merit, thanks for the suggestion!

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                        • #13
                          I’ve never heard of a Luxury merit but I do know Status could do that same thing.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Sith_Happens View Post
                            I’ve never heard of a Luxury merit but I do know Status could do that same thing.
                            Seers of the Throne, page 52.


                            Resident Lore-Hound
                            Currently Consuming: Demon: the Descent 1e

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