Tuesday, January 17, 2023

GURPS Wealth Revisited

Wealth in GURPS is a weird advantage. It can influence how much money you make from a job or even transactions. It can benefit from high Rank or Status and it can be a game breaker if one PC is the group financier.

Mburr on the forums suggested a breakdown into Income, Starting Cash, Assets, and Lifestyle.

Income is currently covered by Wealth and Independent Income.

Starting cash reflected by the above (usually 20%) and possibly debt, Signature Gear, or points for cash.

Assets is covered mostly by Wealth, but Patron can also factor in here.

Lifestyle is mostly from Status level but modified by some disadvantages.

It can be a complicated and nuanced combination to get just the flavor you want.

Abstract Wealth, Pyramid #3/44 Alternate GURPS II by Jason Brick has another take. It converts Wealth into a secondary attribute. It uses a table instead of a flat number for different levels and you roll against the level by comparing the item value to wealth level to see if you can purchase said item. I kinda like the concept but the execution feels overly complicated. Its main claim to fame is to avoid having to track actual money and thus save bookkeeping.

So how could we change the current system to make something simple yet fun and useful?

Start with Wealth (p. B25)

Dead Broke [-25]

Poor [-15]

Struggling [-10]

Average [0]

Comfortable [10]

Wealthy [20]

Very Wealthy [30]

Filthy Rich [50]

Multimillionaire [+25/level] over the cost of Filthy Rich.

You have to have a job to earn this money. Independent Income lets you get money based on Wealth level without working for it and assumes passive income like an allowance, interest, royalties, etc.

Patrons do not generate revenue (though you may get a salary if employed there) but can provide equipment and other assets on a decent roll. I used Patron to handle being a ships captain/owner without having to be rich in my article The Captains Boat, Pyramid #3/71 Spaceships II. I wanted a way to get characters like Han Solo who had their own ship but were not wealthy. The idea is a ship (including a crew) can be seen as a small company.

Lets take a look at treating Wealth like most advantages and apply modifiers.

Independent Income: You get a percentage of your income without having to spend time working for it. Gives +1%/level up to +20%. Gives full income at +50%. [+1%/level up to +20%; Full income for +50%].

Supernatural Access: You can get your funds anywhere. No need to get to a bank or worry about a lost credit card! [+50%].

I used this for a submitted article (not published) for Conjurors, inspired by the Dragon Knight series.

In High Tech settings it may not be needed and is often overkill.

Liquid Wealth: Your wealth is liquid and does not include the normal assets associated with it. You may still earn the normal amount and have other perks but live a nomadic lifestyle that does not include fixed assets. Instead of the usual 20% liquid and 80% permanent fixtures it is 100% liquid and available for adventuring gear. This gets more for adventuring use but precludes assets like a house or car that you could borrow against. In some settings this may be the default and it severely cramps a stable lifestyle.[-0%]

Starting Wealth: This is a case of one use ability or ability that costs character points. Wealth is purchased at 1/5 cost but once used the money is gone! Wealth can be purchased multiple times at different levels this way to represent markers that can be called in. Impulse Points may be allowed, especially for cinematic wealthy characters.

Optional Rule: Patronage

Appropriate Patrons or Contacts (but not Allies) may be purchased as alternative abilities to Wealth. The total points in alternative abilities cannot exceed the points in Wealth. This can represent well established characters who own or have controlling interest in companies and can leverage that asset.


This is an initial thought on how to make Wealth a bit more intuitive. By applying modifiers we can tailor Wealth to meet the needs of the character or campaign without a lot of complicated and scattered rules.
Bruce Wayne would have high level Wealth + some incidents for Starting Wealth for say when he needs to buy a bank or build a space station. As Ben Affleck answered Flash, his superpower is being rich.
A super with a lab? Wealth + Patron as an alternative ability, and if they can occasionally get very expensive gear seemingly out of nowhere they may have had a use of Starting Wealth saved up/
Han Solo? Starting Wealth would be another way he started the campaign with his own starship.

Lifestyle is not addressed here, I think that is still well represented by Status and I have some ideas on that in my upcoming GURPS Template Toolkit: Spirits supplement.

1 comment:

  1. Wealth is for sure one of the areas that a potential 5th edition would do well to address. Which is, probably, why you're posting this now, I'd guess.