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I am running Orrery of the Wanderer, the pre-made adventure in the Acquisitions Incorporated book. My PCs have just gotten to the point where they acquire their franchise, but I have a question about the rules for running a franchise.

The wording of the "Running a Franchise" downtime option is vague (Acquisitions Incorporated, p. 42; emphasis mine):

Percentile dice are rolled by a player nominated for this task by the group. The number of total days spent by all characters and staff members on this activity are added to the roll. That total is then compared to the Running a Franchise table to determine what happens for the month.

The first column of the table below that is labeled "d100 + Days", with the second column describing the result of the roll.

If multiple characters spend time on the "Running a Franchise" task, do the days stack even if multiple characters are working on the same day(s)?

Which of the following is the correct interpretation?

You add together the number of days that each person individually works, even if they overlap. (In other words, if you have two people working the same day, it adds 2 days to the roll.)

Or do the days have to be different ones, in which case the maximum bonus you can get on the percentile roll is +30? (That is, does "total days" just count the number of days where at least one person spent that day working on the task?)

The wording seems ambiguous, but I believe most people would interpret it as the former (i.e. it's the sum of the number of days each person works, even if those days overlap). On the table, however, you can see that if they do stack in this way, it would be all too easy to always get the best possible result of 91+, "Monthly cost decreases by 150 percent" - which the subsequent section says indicates a 50% profit (on top of profits from other activities). This would make the rest of the table all but useless.

For example, if the overlapping days are counted multiple times, then with just the majordomo and your two unskilled hirelings, you could easily just have them each work for all 30 days, granting a +90 to the roll, and always get the best result on the table without having to roll or sacrifice player character time (you can even have your one skilled worker do something else useful to boot). That seems broken.

This is really my big sticking point, as I just got the PCs to the point where they are getting their franchise and I don't want the roll to auto-succeed. That seems boring, and what's even the point of having a table if it can just be bypassed so easily?

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The days do stack

There's no way of reading this text that would allow for a different interpretation. The modifier is the total days spent, so you do add the days worked by each character. Abuse of this is likely to lead to pacing issues, as the book states:

By allowing franchise tasks to take place not just during downtime but while the characters are adventuring, it’s possible for players in an Acquisitions Incorporated game to try to push the pace of the campaign. Characters might try to avoid taking downtime of their own in favor of having franchise employees take care of all that boring not-adventuring stuff.

Acquisitions Incorporated

The book also says to encourage the players to participate in downtime, and to provide hooks and complications to push them to do so.

Moreover, note that Running a Franchise is only one of the franchise activities available. Like normal downtime activities, days spent on this task cannot be spent elsewhere. So, while it is totally possible to dedicate your entire workforce to maximize profits, there is a substantial opportunity cost. What're you gonna do, not schmooze?

Maxing out the table isn't the interesting part

Even when trying to optimize by tasking your NPCs with this role, there are still interesting decisions to be made here. It's true that dedicating three staff members full time virtually guarantees the best results; but it's also very possible to get the best results with less commitment than that. Is it worth potentially ignoring another facet of your business in exchange for that last 10% chance to get the best possible outcome?

You should already be heavily favored to break even. Dedicating only a single staff member to this task gives you a 70% chance of reducing your monthly costs to nothing. In other words, covering this task the way you describe is certainly safe, but it's excessively safe. The interesting aspect of this table isn't in how easy it is to max out, but in how you can best try to branch out and do other things without dedicating an unnecessary number of people to running the franchise.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Like I said though, the PCs can do the other actions they want (schmooze, etc) during downtime, but have their "free" hirelings do the running a franchise task both during downtime and when they are away adventuring. Therefore they will never need to roll on this table, short of their hirelings getting killed while they are away or something \$\endgroup\$ – Andrew A DeMarco Apr 14 at 2:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ The unskilled hirelings will likely fail any of the other tasks anyway so there is no reason to not have them running the franchise 24/7 \$\endgroup\$ – Andrew A DeMarco Apr 14 at 2:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not sure what to tell you; the wording is clear, and the book acknowledges that the abuse of the system that you're describing (players running off and letting their hirelings run things themselves) will cause issues. \$\endgroup\$ – 1600hp Apr 14 at 2:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ I guess my question had two components. The first one you answered very well, which is what is the RAW here. I read it the same way, but had doubt because of my second part, which is does RAW here break itself and if so how do I solve this? I believe the answer to be yes, the RAW rules are dumb. You speak of opportunity cost but I pointed out there is none in reality. You use your two unskilled hirelings and one skilled or your majordomo doing this at all times. The unskilled workers won't succeed at other tasks anyway \$\endgroup\$ – Andrew A DeMarco Apr 14 at 2:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ So therefore there is no real oppurtunity lost. For example I gave my PCs two weeks between adventure 2 and adventure 3 in orrery of the wanderer. They did schmoozing and scrutineer to find out about the orrery and the missing NPC, and they even did philanthropy as well (and made some money at it). Now they leave for adventure 3. Even if that adventure takes two whole weeks (unlikely), their NPCs alone will easily give them the best result on that table. In what circumstance would this not happen? Their HQ is attacked and their hirelings killed or kidnapped? \$\endgroup\$ – Andrew A DeMarco Apr 14 at 2:57
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So I figured out what I was doing wrong. It turns out unskilled hirelings can't do franchise tasks (including running a franchise). This was not specifically stated in the rules, but it does state that skilled hirelings can (implying that unskilled can't). This is really easy to miss in the rules. The relevant text is page 12 of Acquisitions Inc "Tasks and Downtime: Skilled Hirelings can also be assigned to franchise tasks, as described in Franchise Tasks and Downtime section later in the chapter".

On page 37 "downtime and franchise activities: In addition to the downtime activities found in other books, characters and their franchise staff can undertake the new activities presented in this section" but doesn't specifically say only skilled hirelings can, but I am guessing it is implied in the page 12 text above. So I guess this is RAI.

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