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The other night me and my group were getting started with creating characters for a sci-fi campaign in the Coriolis RPG system, where the party will be based off their own spaceship. Problems arose when discussion about who should have what role started, after settling on leaving the captain seat empty until the issue has been solved the players picked the places their characters would fit.

The equipment of the different PCs is split up in two groups; personal and professional, and the players have power over their own personal gear, but it is up to the captain to equip the ship. The players think that those who got the "worst" positions should be allowed more personal equipment to balance the PCs, but in my mind, a captain among the wealthiest since it is his/her ship.

I have by now decided that all of the crew(5) should own parts of the ship(like shareholders), and the captain is a position appointed by the shareholders to the person whom it fits. So with everyone on somewhat equal levels in wealth, how do I proceed to balance the items the players are allowed to have?

Should I give the players a sack of cash and let them go bananas, or should I give them a couple of packages to choose from?

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What system are you using? –  Jonathan Hobbs Jul 1 at 8:14
    
Coriolis, made by Järnringen but has been taken over by Fria Ligan –  Marcus Wigert Jul 1 at 8:17
    
Thanks, I've added a tag for it. Do you think you'd be up to suggesting a tag wiki excerpt for our brand new [coriolis] tag? (In case you're new to these - a surprising number of people aren't actually even quite aware of their existence - it's the same kind of thing that appears when you mouse over the other tags in this question. It's just a summary to give people an idea of what the tag's about: it's a game about X made by Y.) –  Jonathan Hobbs Jul 1 at 8:22
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Not an answer, but I think they are trying to balance fictional and effective wealth: Surely having a better-equipped ship benefits them all, even with one player technically owning it. It might have worked, if you wanted to go down that route, having an closed, second price auction for crew positions, the GM doubling any money spent. –  Dave Jul 1 at 8:30
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The fictional or perceived wealth is the more important since the players need to feel that they have some power over their situation, beyond threatening to space the captain if their demands are not met. But the "investment" idea could be built upon. The profit could be split among the investors relative to their share of the ship, and in that way the choice of either physical wealth(gold, guns etc.) or "stocks" is in the hands of the players. –  Marcus Wigert Jul 1 at 9:13

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In similar games such as Traveller, character creation simply provides for unequal starting equipment and that's that. It's up to the players to help equip each other effectively. In other words, with a little talk at the table the problem may simply disappear.

If players are very protective of equipment they own, and there is a fixed list of items available, and if they don't all covet the same items, you can try a round-robin approach. Let each in turn pick from the list of items available. This assures that nobody gets first, second and third choice all in one.

If some items remain highly contested, I think it's best to find a compromise at the table. If, for example, there is exactly one power armor on board but three characters could use it, characters can draw lots. Or the character that gets the power armor pays into a trust that goes into buying another power armor.

If you have players that are interested in the social dimensions of the game, the players could auction off items to those characters that promise to offer more to the party. The one with the power armor promises to always take point. The one with the Plasma Gun Man Portable offers to have strong ties to the local mob and will therefore provide the game master with many opportunities for adventure hooks. Sure, it's a "liabilty" for the party but in effect it's a source of adventure, which is the point of playing the game (unless you're playing an agriculture-simulation, I guess).

Techniques I try to avoid:

  • everybody gets something shiny (it's OK if they all get to buy something shiny, it's not OK if whenever somebody gets something shiny, everybody else gets something as well, even though they didn't invest in something shiny back when they had the chance to do so)
  • drawbacks that go beyond what makes sense-in game (it's OK for a plasma gun to draw attention, it's not OK if this results in the owner never being able to use it)
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