Saturday, October 15, 2016

Skill: Quantifying Scrounging

Pigs are cool.
Scrounging is a kinda paradox to me. It is definitely an immensely helpful ability in several cases for all types of adventures, but it is really difficult to finger just how much one can dig up with scrounging. So today, I put some of my thoughts together on the problem and see if I manage to come up with something fair, if not a bit overwrought.


Mechanically, in GURPS, Scrounging is a Per/Easy skill, and a usage of the skill takes one hour, and, paraphrased, is modified "as the GM sees fit," depending on the rarity of the item. To me, this might as well say, "throw the dice and make something up, lol!" That's a shame, because it is a fundamental skill that probably makes it onto a bunch of top 10 lists and makes it into all sorts of cool parties. Dungeon Fantasy being one of my most familiar modes of GURPS has a few rules for it, but it feels a bit black and white and simple for me, to the point where a single point is probably fine with any character that has a decent perception. But, I says to myself, I want a way to separate a guy with scrounging-13 from a guy with scrounging-20. It's a shame that the guy who happens to be awesome at it gets nothing for his trouble. After the End also has some rules, which are admittedly cool, but feel a bit inflexible and not very dynamic for the style of games I like to play which have very dynamic power levels. So, I decided to homebrew a system.

The Rules

Sure, these are a bit overwrought, and maybe have a few steps, but I feel like this scales better to players that could be all over the scale.
  1. Figure out the wealth level of your character, and then subtract 1. Our calculations are based on a lower level of wealth because if everyone could just wander around picking up objects and do so well enough to make a living, I think we might be in a post-scarcity society.
  2. Now let's examine contacts. If we have a particular object in mind for which we would like to scrounge, and we have a particular contact that lines up well with that need, we get a bonus to our scrounging if we want to use up our daily favor with that contact. More contacts means we can increase the value of our search further. 1 contact multiplies by 10, 2 contacts by 20, 3 contacts by 30, and so forth.
  3. A usage of the scrounging skill takes 1 hour. Calculate the hourly wage of the wealth level found in step 1 (that is, one level below your real wealth.) This can be easily done by looking up the monthly wage in Basic Set Campaigns p. 517, and dividing that by 160... assuming the "humane" 40 hour work week, 4 weeks a month with weekends off.
    As an example, at TL3, the normal monthly wage is $700. If our wealth is average, then we look up the multiplier for struggling wealth, which makes this $350. That, divided by 160, rounded down, is $2.
  4. Roll against scrounging. You may use both a relevant survival skill and area knowledge skill (the area knowledge skill must be at town resolution to apply without penalty. Optionally, add bonuses for higher resolution and penalties for lower resolution in steps of +1 and -3 respectively.) as complementary skills to this roll. Find the margin of success for the scrounging roll.
  5. Multiply the margin of success times the multiplier from step 2 for the number of used contacts. Further multiply this by 10 and read as a percentage (eg, if we had margin of success 5, and used 2 contacts for a multiplier of 20x, we have a total of 5 x 20 x 10 = 1000%
  6. Take the value from step 3, the hourly wage and multiply it by this percentage. In our case, the result is $20. If the objective was to find an item, double the amount of money generated. If the item is far more expensive than you could hope to scrounge up, consider it a discount towards the purchase of the item that can be negotiated further. GM, consider applying the cheap modifier to the object to simulate a lovingly used or badly maintained find.

Other Thoughts and Conclusions

This method generates less money's worth than the rules from Dungeon Fantasy and from After The End, but I think it is a little more commensurate with wealth levels which is an important metric to me. It rewards players who have high wealth (which in GURPS terms isn't just money, it's your ability to generate money.) and people who have contacts, which would also be able to source opportunities, provided your needs and their talents aligned. Proffering more quantification of the benefits of contacts is a nice boon of writing this.
I was also thinking that rather than tying this to the wealth of the adventurer, I'd tie it to the town instead if you are the kinda person who likes to use City Stats which might complicate things in one way, but also mean that you only need to calculate the constant once per city instead of once per adventurer per wealth level.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting system. I love the basic project - to create some more detailed rules for Scrounging.

    I have one qualm about using Wealth as a basis - the effect is to make wealthy characters better at scrounging, and poor characters bad at it. I get this, to the extent that "wealth" in GURPS is meant to be the ability to generate wealth - but I also think it's a bit of s shame, since thematically, the character who is awesome at scrounging is archetypally a beggar, impoverished mendicant monk, or similar.

    That's one thought, anyway...

    I really like the basic idea, though!


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