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  • Wealth (Resources) and Mages

    Dearest Fellows,

    How do you handle the resource merit in your mage games from both a player and game master? For when dealing with individuals that can simply conjure up what they need from thin air, foretell a future financial boon, or any number of tool/wealth creation tricks the merit itself seems lackluster except for roll playing reasons and back story. This mind you is a very good reason to have the merit! However, compared to other things to spend your experience on it seems lack luster compared to say having a magically bound spirit or knowing a magical martial art.

    I plan personally to use it as a signifier of class and comfort. That those with actual earned wealth or that have invested their magical earnings into actual sustainable wealth production don’t need to fly be their pants and have significantly more comfort. Also that they can afford to leave town and not worry about payments and collectors and such if they are trapped in a time bubble in an ancient ruin. It still seems silly though to worry about at all. I had the same problem with Changeling (1e, having looked at 2e yet) when the book talked about poverty but the reality is you could just make a simple contract and be rolling in cash.

    So going back to the first question, how is resources dealt with in your Mage game?

  • #2
    Many magical means of wealth generation are either fraud or theft, and not all PCs are going to want to be involved with that. Further, even those that are might end up getting sloppy, generating mundane problems or cluing in Hunters or even hostile Mages to their whereabouts and activities.

    Even if the money is "clean," using magically gotten wealth for your non-Mage life crosses the Shadow Name barrier, now your Nimbus is going to start affecting Sleeper family and friends with all the attendant consequences.


    Mentats - a 2e Free Council Obrimos Legacy (Mind/Forces) built around being a human computer; Thaumatech Engineers - a 2e Free Council Obrimos Legacy (Matter/Prime) focusing on the creation of Imbued items and the enhancement of Sleeper technology

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    • #3
      I take it that that's what the merit already represents. A regular amount of money that you don't need to think about.

      I dunno, there may be hundreds of ways to make money, but if your players don't pursue them, then they don't have any.


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      • #4
        Mages are terrifyingly versatile but at least they are consistently so (there are generally plots and challenges you can't do in mage because of the power of mage. Like Mages can pretty much work out a murder by looking at a body, making rent isn't a sensible worry for mages,)

        Arcanum at 2 can sub in for merit dots within their field
        Arcanum at 3 can increase attributes or skills within their field (I think this is mostly Mind/Life)
        Arcanum at 4 can grant skills within their field

        Yes, you can replicate resources with Fate/Forces (possibly others) but you can replicate a Familar with Spirit/Death etc. If you have the right Arcana pretty much everything else on the character sheet can be made redundant, but not all at the same time, with the cost being that you have limited spells, anything you replicate with magic is one less way you can defy reality on demand. (t

        Theoretically you have Sanctity of Merits Principal (and generally I tend to interpret this that merit connections should also be targeted less than similar that haven't been brought with exp. However fundamentally if the Mage is creating it with magic, it's not really feasible to target (and I would be shocked if any player party it was these tricks that feel

        That being said possibly giving increased merit dots at character gen but a pool only for mundane ones, might help.

        Another part is to say yes to things more off mundane merits than magically generated ones, Resources 4 is going to give some level of connections and access that my inactive credit card being read as Resources 4 isn't, (and considering the general power creep of Merits over the editions, I suspect Resources may be a little under-powered compared to say Mystery Cult.) See Social Merits as how you define your place in society and react to that as well as just the RAW what the merit gives you.

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        • #5
          There's a really really important reason why mages still bother with Resources:

          Wisdom.

          Mages that opt to solve all their creature comforts with magic are on the fast track to low Wisdom, and all the complications therein.

          A huge point of the game is the struggle to use massive power responsibly, which means not doing things like solving all your basic needs with magic.

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          • #6
            Something else I do that I can't really remember if it's technically correct or not (or maybe a previous version of the merit) is to treat the merit as more purely as a mechanic. So if you have Resources, that means you have money you can actively use in the game. Without it, the character might still have money more broadly, they just aren't able to use it constructively for the game for whatever reason.

            To give an example, one of my players had their mage lack any Resources, but their situations implied they'd have at least some money (they had a full-time job and they'd moved back in with their mother). The explanation we came up with was that he more or less frittered his wages away on random tat that didn't really impact the game. The player purchasing the Resource 1 dot kinda represented them becoming more responsible.


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            • #7
              Originally posted by Snakesandsuns View Post
              Dearest Fellows,

              How do you handle the resource merit in your mage games from both a player and game master? For when dealing with individuals that can simply conjure up what they need from thin air, foretell a future financial boon, or any number of tool/wealth creation tricks the merit itself seems lackluster except for roll playing reasons and back story. This mind you is a very good reason to have the merit! However, compared to other things to spend your experience on it seems lack luster compared to say having a magically bound spirit or knowing a magical martial art.
              The "sanctity of merits" has already been raised, so that resources purchased with game mechanics are more stable than those obtained by exerting magical abilities.

              Now, why does that make sense? Well, how would BlackSpleen, the evil NPC mage who was manipulating the stock market, react when her portfolio is ruined due to the PC's magical actions? The use of powers to generate wealth might have consequences that imperil that wealth or the PC. Wealth obtained by purchasing the merit should be stable (or at worst fungible).

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              • #8
                Is it possible to utilize the monthly use of Resource dots to purchase or upgrade location merits ? For example, buy 3 dots of Safe Place and two of Library with Resources 5 ? Or even ones like Esoteric Armory ? With no Sanctity of Merits, naturally. I do remember reading something about Free Council Lorehouses or their online auctions selling magical items (to the utter horror of the Guardians and Mysterium), but I am not sure if mundane currency would even be used (I have yet to read the Order book).


                New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.

                The Agathos Kai Sophos, an Acanthus Legacy of strategists
                The Szary Strażnik, an Obrimos Legacy of Scholars of the Glyphs of Fate

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                • #9
                  You can totally buy a safehouse with Resources. If you want the Safehouse Merit, though, you'll be wanting to spend experience, too.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Michael View Post
                    Something else I do that I can't really remember if it's technically correct or not (or maybe a previous version of the merit) is to treat the merit as more purely as a mechanic. So if you have Resources, that means you have money you can actively use in the game. Without it, the character might still have money more broadly, they just aren't able to use it constructively for the game for whatever reason.
                    This is correct; both technically and in the spirit of the rules. The Resources Merit is your disposable/liquid assets, not your net worth. Two characters could both be worth millions of dollars in what they own, but one could be Resources 1 because it's all tied up in non-liquid wealth, and another could be Resource 5 because they can easily draw assets down as money to spend.

                    Though I think some groups would benefit from the 1e Luxury Merit being updated to 2e, as it actually established having the possessions of a given expensive lifestyle (whether your character was being responsible with their money so they'd have both high Resources and Luxury, not so responsible with low Resources buy high Luxury and this method means losing dots of Luxury could be transferred into dots of Resources via SoM, or Luxury could even be provided by an external source rather than your personal finances).

                    Originally posted by KaiserAfini View Post
                    Is it possible to utilize the monthly use of Resource dots to purchase or upgrade location merits ?
                    Resources can't directly buy Merit dots. You can buy equipment or services, and it makes justifying some Merits being increased easier, but you still need to pay the XP. Though lots of groups use some sort of XP debt house rule if it makes sense that you could use money to expedite a process but don't have the XP for it, without letting you off the hook for the XP.

                    Keep in mind the "buy equipment or services," thing goes a huge way, and doesn't force you to have Merits that aren't covered by SoM on your sheet.

                    Renting a secure location as a service is going to tie up your Resources until you stop paying, at which point you also lose access to what you're renting.

                    Buying a text from a rare book shop might get you a +X dice bonus to a specific subject covered by the book, but it's not going to stretch beyond that.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                      There's a really really important reason why mages still bother with Resources:

                      Wisdom.

                      Mages that opt to solve all their creature comforts with magic are on the fast track to low Wisdom, and all the complications therein.

                      A huge point of the game is the struggle to use massive power responsibly, which means not doing things like solving all your basic needs with magic.
                      The incredibly Low Wisdom of Wisdom 7 to be precise (So all the complications that a starting character has Wisdom wise), relying on magic as an income is a barrier to gaining enlightenment, but it's only an act of Hubris against Enlightened Wisdom. (Achieving and maintaining such is far from the default of the game.)

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post

                        This is correct; both technically and in the spirit of the rules. The Resources Merit is your disposable/liquid assets, not your net worth. Two characters could both be worth millions of dollars in what they own, but one could be Resources 1 because it's all tied up in non-liquid wealth, and another could be Resource 5 because they can easily draw assets down as money to spend.

                        Though I think some groups would benefit from the 1e Luxury Merit being updated to 2e, as it actually established having the possessions of a given expensive lifestyle (whether your character was being responsible with their money so they'd have both high Resources and Luxury, not so responsible with low Resources buy high Luxury and this method means losing dots of Luxury could be transferred into dots of Resources via SoM, or Luxury could even be provided by an external source rather than your personal finances).



                        Resources can't directly buy Merit dots. You can buy equipment or services, and it makes justifying some Merits being increased easier, but you still need to pay the XP. Though lots of groups use some sort of XP debt house rule if it makes sense that you could use money to expedite a process but don't have the XP for it, without letting you off the hook for the XP.

                        Keep in mind the "buy equipment or services," thing goes a huge way, and doesn't force you to have Merits that aren't covered by SoM on your sheet.

                        Renting a secure location as a service is going to tie up your Resources until you stop paying, at which point you also lose access to what you're renting.

                        Buying a text from a rare book shop might get you a +X dice bonus to a specific subject covered by the book, but it's not going to stretch beyond that.
                        What I had understood was that it could be used to buy them, but it used up your entire supply of Resources for the month (or perhaps X months of payments). So no daily expenditures apart from basic needs until it comes back. Meaning you sacrificed one month of use of the merit to buy another. And that if your HQ, Library or otherwise was destroyed, you got no refund for it and would need to invest months of Resources to rebuild it.

                        So one moth to make a safe place, one month to build a library, another for an esoteric armory, etc. But when you do, you get that and nothing more. I think a metaphor would be trading a pretty good DPS for a powerful burst of damage and a massive cooldown.


                        New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.

                        The Agathos Kai Sophos, an Acanthus Legacy of strategists
                        The Szary Strażnik, an Obrimos Legacy of Scholars of the Glyphs of Fate

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          mcgonigle

                          If all you want is to live off as a hermit in the woods, sure, using magic to solve your problems is generally going to not be a problem.

                          If you want to live in a city as a person of means? That's more of an issue. When you use magic to Jedi mind trick an IRS agent into not looking into the discrepancies in your income, that's an Act of Hubris against Understaing Wisdom. And so on.

                          Originally posted by KaiserAfini View Post
                          What I had understood was that it could be used to buy them, but it used up your entire supply of Resources for the month (or perhaps X months of payments).
                          There are people that house rule it that way, but it's not how the RAW work.

                          Among other things, the base rules avoid the whole "Merits not protected by SoM" as much as possible. Only things like Mystery Cult Initiation's bonus Merits, or Merits generated by magic, are supposed to not be covered by SoM.
                          Last edited by Heavy Arms; 01-04-2020, 08:54 PM.

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                          • #14
                            The way I run it in my games if the players decide their character needs something and he has the merits to obtain it then it's theirs's, if they obtain it by other means instead (such as magic) then I make them play out obtaining it and dealing with any complications in game.
                            I also require an explanation for how they obtained the merits in game and playing it out works as a viable reason. I don't demand that they play out obtaining new merit dots, but it does make them more meaningful and interesting if they do.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                              mcgonigleIf all you want is to live off as a hermit in the woods, sure, using magic to solve your problems is generally going to not be a problem.
                              Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                              If you want to live in a city as a person of means? That's more of an issue. When you use magic to Jedi mind trick an IRS agent into not looking into the discrepancies in your income, that's an Act of Hubris against Understaing Wisdom. And so on.

                              As you pointed out technically lifestyle doesn't come under resources, you don't actually need to buy the resources merit to have the general lifestyle features, as your absurd millionaire example illustrates. It's specifically can you access that money when the game wants you to when honestly given the dual life and secrecy which are consistent CoD themes - I honestly can think of a lot of cases where those holes and gaps could help distance your Shadow and real lives. Yes, the money I used for our dodgy purchase found on the street 2 hours ago, is probably more helpful than being a card payment from your normal account. Like maybe I don't want my donations to get the homeless demon a really good tailored suit, to have an easily followed trail back to me.
                              But many of these arguments are and this is where the slippery slope of using magic in this way leads and then you have some extreme cases at the end of the slope. I can see how it could result in that scenario, but it's far from certain, and with skilled use of subtle magic (and like mundane lying) it can be avoided. You have given two extremes and honestly most use of this is going to fall somewhere in the middle. (Also magic opens up some really rich array of 'hermit' life options.)
                              As an example say I play a waiter, resources 0, due to fate magic I make slightly more than I should in tips, some of which because it's cash in hand doesn't get declared and no one is likely to be suspicious because I am declaring my full salary plus I am getting tipped reasonably well (and declaring tips probably makes you less likely to create suspicion.) But anytime my secret mage persona needs a bit of capital, it has came from magic.
                              How many games have people actually played in where this character is making frequent use of spells to make money, is anywhere near top of the list of the thing the players have done which feels like it needs consequences? I can’t think of a single game I have run or played in where there aren’t consequences for actions that are more tightly tied to the ‘central’ plots and subplots (and rely less on an offscreen NPC having followed a trail of really subtle clues and discrepancies.) Many of these examples feel confrontational, and the type of hypothetical response that are easy to trot out to an forum inquiry but would actually translate poorly to games.
                              Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                              Among other things, the base rules avoid the whole "Merits not protected by SoM" as much as possible. Only things like Mystery Cult Initiation's bonus Merits, or Merits generated by magic, are supposed to not be covered by SoM.

                              The example in the text is friends, which clearly doesn’t fall into either category (I’d even say that the Mystery Cult to me is covered by SoM (but to the value of the MC dot not all the bonus merits)), But most of the social and some of the Mage merits are things you could effectively acquire in the general narrative.
                              whereas there are a lot of time in games where as the story progresses you end up essentially gaining merits through the narrative, build up connections with a mentor figure, find a artefact in an Atlantean ruin, spend time building security round your home. Which particularly with the CoD experience system are unlikely to be brought as merits (Like nWoD we had a habit of just taking more of them because low dot merits were relatively cheaper.) None of these are going to be explicitly written into the rules but neither is there any RAW for gaining friends.

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