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I'm running a Deadlands Reloaded game and had a disagreement on the rules, all hinging on a line in the description for Rich:

...Rich heroes start with three times the normal starting funds for the setting. If a regular income is appropriate for this setting, the hero receives the modern day equivalent of a $150,000 annual salary."

Emphasis mine, as it's the sticking point. What does it mean by that?

The way I had read the edge is that the "modern day equivalent of a $150,000 annual salary" means that the character receives $150,000 of actual in-game money that is then adjusted for the setting, such as dividing it in half for Deadlands Reloaded as characters only have half the starting money than normal.

The core of the disagreement really is in "the modern day equivalent" where the player who disagrees with me says that there should be some other adjustment made to the $150,000 amount to determine how much actual "savage worlds money" the character receives.

I'm trying not to look for answers that only fit my point of view, but since it was asked I'll say their original reason for piping up about the edge was that they thought the amount of money from the salary was astonishingly too high. I didn't and haven't seen a problem with it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you describe the argument, since that will help us understand what you're asking? (For example, if it's "that's not 'rich'!", then your "What does it mean by that?" question is substantially different than if the argument is "no, you get it once per year!", and again different if it's "which modern period?".) Currently it's unclear what part of that needs explaining and why, so I've temporarily put a hold on further answers, lest they go far astray the actual point of the question before it's clear. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 21 '18 at 6:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, that describes the issue to be tackled much better! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 21 '18 at 14:33
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Official Answer

The Official Answer to this question is "Up to the Marshal", due to the varying importance of economics in campaigns, the optional nature of allowing the Rich edge, and the wildly varying prices in locations across the setting. (Goods cost significantly more in The Great Maze than in the rest of the West.)
How the Marshal chooses to adjust for inflation, the differing economy of the fictional Deadlands timeline, and the expense of operations in the campaign is a specific choice made for that campaign. Though it is worth noting that a pound of bacon is only $0.15 in Reloaded, and a good riding horse is only $150 - well within the $250 budget of most starting characters.

My Suggestion

Based upon this tool, it appears that $150,000 from 2018 has similar purchasing power to $7,000 in 1876. Given the prices of various New Science inventions (i.e. Infernal Devices), the cost of various staples including Ghost Rock fuel cores, and ease of math I would reduce Rich to about $12,000 a year ($1,000 a month) for future use in Deadlands.

Though, as a Marshal you should consider why a player chose to be Rich. Was it to gain more resources for weapons and armor? For the story points of protecting and claiming their fortune? Or was it for the convenience of avoiding tedious book keeping and concerns over the prices of normal goods?
In the first case, numbers matter and need to be agreed upon quickly, so that play can resume and everyone can return to having fun.
The second case is less concerned with the actual amount than making the character's history and resources a plot concern - while the values will be mentioned at some point they are largely unimportant beyond being (relatively) large.
In the last case, the actual amounts are unimportant - set a threshold of cost the character can't ignore and anything below that threshold is defeated by their wallet. The Marshal can provide complications by making the wallet unavailable for a short period, but don't do so very often as it defeats the purpose of the player's choice.

Good luck.

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According to a CPI

Let's parse this...

"If a regular income is appropriate"

In this case, 'regular' would mean steady. A $150,000 annual salary, divided over however many pay periods. Maybe it's once a year, once a month, twice a month--the pay periods might vary, but the total amount does not. Over time, things would average out, but a person whose work is paid by commission does not earn a regular salary. Their wages would fluctuate depending on their sales within a given time period.

"the modern day equivalent of a $150,000 annual salary"

This is an equivalent amount adjusted for inflation/exchange rates. When my mom started teaching in the early 1970s, she got paid $300 a month. The modern day equivalent is $1800 per month.

According to an inflation calculator, $150,000 in today's money is the equivalent of $5,903.83 in 1913. Unfortunately, it doesn't go back to the 1870s...

Not knowing exactly what the argument is, I'd say the rich character should start out with around $5,000*--NOT $150,000.

*Or whatever 3x the starting amount is for a regular character.

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    \$\begingroup\$ In Deadlands Reloaded, the normal starting cash for a character is $250, so three times that would be $750. Like with D&D, it’s representative of the value of your stuff on hand, rather than a yearly salary. Of course, given that the Weird West has diverged so much from our own 1870s and 1880s, who knows if inflation rates would match \$\endgroup\$ – Thunderforge Mar 21 '18 at 13:02
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There is no reference to matching Savage Worlds costs to a real world economy. The use of dollars to represent costs and income in game terms in every other instance suggests that for the core rules $150,000 means actually $150,000 of in game currency. So when adjusting for setting, there is no reason to think real world values apply.

However using a straight divide in half also seems like not quite right. Per the gear rules in the Savage Worlds Deluxe handbook page 48, cost

Equipment prices are relative both to the starting funds of $500 and to their tech level, so a Springfield musket doesn’t really cost $250 in 1862. That’s just the “worth” of the weapon relative to the tech level and the typical setting it’s intended for....

....Economies are critical to balancing game worlds, so the Game Master is encouraged to re-price goods for his particular campaign.

This suggest that prices and incomes are variable. While starting funds in Deadlands is 250, the gear list is not just 1/2 the price of the Deluxe handbook.

Some examples, Cost for Bedroll in Deluxe $25 For Bedroll in Deadlands Reloaded $4

Handcuffs deluxe $15 In Deadlands $3.50

Winchester 76 in deluxe $300 In Deadlands $40

Clearly money is meant to be on a much smaller scale in Deadlands and likely be much tighter. One labor intensive way of determining how to adjust rich would be to average the price difference of each item and apply that to the $150,000.

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