This is a modified approach to finances in V&V, eliminating the actual tracking of income and expenses. Instead the system is an abstraction of money, introducing the concept of a “wealth save” that works like any skill check or other characteristic-based save. Like many other saves, Wealth saves are made on a D20, and have have various modifiers. Note that Rewards from performing heroic deeds are not part of the character’s Wealth, at least normally. The majority of a character’s wealth belongs to their non-hero persona, and can’t be spent on any major purchases for their hero persona without risk of discovery. More on this below.
How Wealth Works
Wealth rolls are used to determine whether a character can afford any major purchase. The ‘cost’ of the purchase is reflected by the Price (difficulty) assigned to the roll. If the character succeeds on the save, the purchase is within their means for that period (typically, the time period is one week). A failed attempt does not use up this weekly roll, but it does mean that the character cannot afford the thing they rolled for at this time. The GM may allow the player to modify the price of the item they are shopping for by “shopping around” (typically with a Skill Check to find the best price, negotiate the best deal, or find the item freshly fallen off a truck). This will confer a small bonus to the character’s effective Wealth Save for that purchase attempt.
Character’s can also incur Debt, either to gain a bonus on a Wealth Save, or gain a second large purchase attempt during that same week. Debt can accumulate from other sources as well, such as living beyond one’s means or starting the game still paying for college (this is required for characters who wish to choose Educated when selecting skills). Debt will be discussed further below. Another way to afford a large purchase is to increase one’s Lifestyle cost to cover it (car loans, mortgages, installment payments, etc). This is different from Debt, which reflects short term loans at high interests, such as credit cards (or loan sharks). Volunteering to increase Lifestyle costs grants a bonus to the Wealth Save equal to the increase.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Some purchases are so well within a character’s means that they don’t have to be rolled for. Compare the character’s Wealth Save to the item Price+10. As long as the Wealth Save is higher, no roll is needed. Each time this is done, the comparison increases in difficulty (11+Price, 12+Price, etc). Once the Price modifier (10, 11, 12, etc) exceeds the Wealth Save, the character has used up their small purchases for the week, unless they go into Debt. Note that many small purchases like fast food, cab fare, and regular clothing will be part of the character’s lifestyle, and will be covered as a portion of their cost of living.
The character’s cost of living (rent/mortgage, utilities, and basic food ) are considered to be within their means as long as their Wealth Save is higher than 10+Price (for the Lifestyle). The Price for a given Lifestyle is up to the GM, but some basic guidelines can be found below.
|Squatter||Cardboard box, Restaurant dumpster food||0|
|Street||Small apartment, ramen noodles||2|
|Low||Nice apartment, a few nice meals a week||4|
|Middle||Townhouse, steak most days||6|
|High||Luxurious condo or house, nothing but the best||8|
|Luxury||Mansion, servants, the works||10|
The Lifestyle options can be mixed and matched (nicer housing, less amenities), and the final Price for the character’s lifestyle is up to the GM. Try to describe the lifestyle in a couple of sentences (apartment over a bar, home entertainment, decent food, cell phone… costs 4). The idea is to simplify the day-to-day cost of living to a simple calculation, and abstract it as such. If the character’s Lifestyle Price ever exceeds their Wealth, they risk going into Debt (see below). This is an important consideration if the character starts raising their Lifestyle to cover large purchases.
Lifestyle, Savings, and Debt
Paying The Rent
Lifestyle has an upkeep cost, which may or may not lie within a character’s means. If the character’s Lifestyle Price +10 is higher than their Wealth, they have to make a “Rent” check each week. This represents the payment of bills, the cost of food and clothing, and so on. If all four checks are failed during a month, the character will incur Debt.
Character’s may save money for specific purchases, or even invest the money for long-term gain. Each week the character does not use their Wealth Save to make a major purchase, and has no Debt, they put some money away. Every two unused Wealth rolls grants a temporary boost to their Wealth check for a single purchase. These need not be consecutive, and savings could be set aside every other week or every third week (for example). However, any month in which no money is saved at all, the effective savings level (bonus) drops by one.
Once the character makes a purchase using his Wealth + Savings bonus, the savings are expended and the character must begin saving again from scratch. If the character saves enough, they can also opt to invest the money. Any time the Savings bonus +10 is higher than the character’s Wealth, the savings can be converted into Wealth with a successful Wealth Save. The savings do not modify this roll, but some Economics Skills can be used to gain a small bonus to this Save. If the roll succeeds, the character’s Wealth increases by one, and the savings are gone.
Note that character’s may stop working and try to live off their savings. This is necessary if they abandon their non-hero identity and live publicly as a hero. Living off savings is a special state that must be declared to the GM. No new Debt can be incurred by a character living off savings, and all existing Debt must be paid off first. The character no longer has an income, and must support their Lifestyle. Each month, the character makes a Wealth save (an Economics-based Skill can confer a bonus to this check). When the number of failed saves +10 exceeds the character’s Wealth, their Wealth drops by one and the counter resets. Lifestyle automatically downgrades if the character’s Wealth can no longer cover it. If the character opts to get a new job, which they can do if they have not become public as a superhero, they have to make a Charisma save with a penalty of 1 per year they have not worked (failure means no job that month).
The Vig is 20
Characters may find themselves slipping into Debt, or even enter into it voluntarily to make a big purchase. Debt has to be paid off, or it will lower the character’s Wealth in time. A character incurs a Debt of 2 (maximum 10) for each point of bonus they want when making a large purchase. Gaining a second major purchase roll in a week incurs an immediate Debt of 4. Missing a Lifestyle payment incurs a Debt of 2 for each missed month. Character’s cannot contribute to their savings while they are in Debt, but can avoid losing accumulated savings over a month by making a Wealth Save (unmodified).
To make a Debt payment (double payments are allowed), the character gives up one large purchase during the month. If no Debt payment is made in 4 weeks, the character’s Debt increases by 1 (interest). If the character fails to make any payment on a Debt for a number of months equal to the original Debt, the purchased item will be repossessed (and they are still liable interest on the Debt). If the Debt was accrued on a purchase for something that is not tangible (a trip), then there is nothing to repossess. In this case, character’s Wealth Saves take a penalty equal to the initial Debt.
If the Debt is from missing Lifestyle payments, the character begins facing possible eviction after the Debt equals their current Lifestyle Price. Whenever the character’s Debt +10 is greater than their Wealth, they have to make a Wealth Save every month or lose a point of Wealth. This can quickly spiral out of control if a character has been running a lot of Debt, missed payments, etc. Characters who choose to be Educated (see the Skills System) start the game with a Debt of 10, but get an automatic boost of +2 to their Lifestyle when it is paid off.
Note also that gaining a criminal record can result in Savings being frozen and income garnished as if the character is making mandatory Debt payments. Getting arrested sucks.
Show Me The Money
So where does all that money come from? Starting Wealth is determined somewhat like an attribute (randomly rolled), but with a couple of caveats. The first is that the character’s Wealth is not automatically rolled on 3D6. Instead, the character gets 1D6 per 10 hours (a week) that their non-hero persona works (maximum 4D6). Additionally, a character can give up skill points to start the game with higher Wealth. This reflects inheritance, investments made while younger, winning the lottery, or any other good justification the player can describe. Character who choose to be Uneducated may choose how many points to spend on Wealth, up to a maximum of 1/3 their starting Skill points. Characters who choose to be Educated, or who have a basic education, give up 1D6 of their starting Skill points (to a maximum of 1/3). Wealth can also be randomly rolled during Skill selection, converting one Skill point to one level of Wealth.
A character’s job is an important and demanding part of keeping up their non-hero persona. Being a superhero can really cut into the time needed to hold down a job. Any week that the character cannot work the necessary hours to support their Wealth level, they have to make a Charisma save. Failing this save means they have been fired, or had their hours cut, or have otherwise jeopardized their income. Each week thereafter, they must make a Charisma save to get a new job, earn back their hours, etc. Each week they fail, they have to make a Wealth save or lose one level of Wealth as their unemployment insurance slowly runs out. Many a low grade super-villain is made by the simple and ignominious pressure to pay the bills. At the GM’s discretion, new players who might find this system daunting should start with a 30-hour-a-week day job and D6+8 Wealth, and call it a day.
Wealth and Heroism
Wealth may almost never be used to purchase equipment that will be used more than once by the character’s superhero identity (vehicles, bases, etc.). It may only be used to pay for incidental expendable purchases, or for items to be possessed solely by one’s pedestrian identity. Heroes gain Rewards which they can use to fund their bases and superhero gear. A character can make a Charisma save to channel one weekly large purchase to their heroic identity each month. Each time this is done, compare their Wealth to the number of these contributions +10. If the Wealth is less, someone has discovered the link between the two (probably the IRS). Note that sudden drops in Wealth due to Debt or job loss can cause this exposure automatically.
Obviously, heroes who abandon their secret ID don’t have to worry about this, but they have other problems. At this point the hero is living off savings and Rewards. Note that each month in which a Reward is achieved, the character gets an automatic success on their Wealth save, and wipes out one accumulated failure. Still, there is an inexorable loss of savings as the hero ages and can no longer perform the same level of heroics. No wonder some of the most dangerous super-villains are silver-haired schemers hiring young muscle to bring them money. Sometimes, the line between good and bad is drawn in something as banal as social security checks.
Incidental Expenses Price List
Here are some suggested Price modifiers to the Wealth check. We can add to this list as needed.
|bus/subway fare||0x||fast food||1x|
|car/truck rental||2||fancy restaurant||3x|
|live theater concert||2x||hotel||3x|
|host a party (2 people)||0x|
|Clothing (full sets)||Medical Care|
|pay phone (local)||0||dime for a cup o’ java||0|
|pay phone (long)||1+||charity dinner||3x|
Note: Some Prices are followed by an “x”. This is the Price for 1 person. For every plus 1 to the Price, multiply by another factor of 2 (+ 1 for 2 people, +2 for 4, +3 for 6, and so on).
Estimate other Prices as needed. In general, doubling the cost of a purchase adds +1 to its Difficulty
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