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Trading Points for Money and Signature Gear

While I feel that the GURPS wealth system has just the right mix of detail and playability, things do get a little bit broken when it comes to turning points directly into cash or gear. Neither Trading Points for Money (p. B26) nor Signature Gear (p. B85) scale with Wealth level or with the number of points spent on them. This is designed to prevent abuse, but it makes both into a joke for any character with significant Wealth, while also preventing you from building a hero who has few permanent possessions except for a single, expensive piece of Signature Gear. In addition, it doesn't really follow that gear with inherent plot protection (Signature Gear) should cost less than gear bought off the street (cash from traded points). This house rule addresses these issues. It was inspired, in part, by a forum thread on the subject.

Trading Points for Money

You can raise your characters starting money by trading in character points. These points do not appear on your character sheet -- once spent, they are gone for good and have no further in-game effect. Look up the number of points spent on the table, below, and apply the SWM (or "Starting Wealth Multiplier") to your starting wealth. For example, if you're playing a TL3 character with Average Wealth ($1,000) and you trade in 7 points for money (SWM x2.8), you'd start off with $2,800, 20% of which could be spent on starting gear. For another example, if you're playing a TL8 character with Wealthy Wealth ($100,000, for 20 points) and you trade in those same 7 points, you'd start off with $280,000, 20% of which could be spent on starting gear. The SWM is applied directly to your starting wealth, and then has no further effect for the rest of the game.

(Note that, in my games, the 80%-20% split is not optional -- all characters can only spend 20% of their effective starting wealth on adventuring gear. If you want to play a character with no ties to the world, you can sink the remaining 80% into a nice car or two (or a horse and wagon), but anything you can't spend, you simply forfeit. Otherwise, playing a homeless character becomes a more attractive option than playing one who's part of society, which I dislike strongly. I reserve the right to suspend or even reverse this rule for unrealistic games like Dungeon Fantasy.)

For those who'd rather write down the rule than printing the table, the progression is +0.2 SWM per point for 1-5 points, +0.4 for 6-10 points, +0.6 for 11-20 points, +3 for 21-30 points, +8 for 31-50 points, +72 for 51-75 points, +720 for 76-100 points, +7200 for 101-125 points, and so on. This progression ensures that trading in X points for money nets you approximately twice what you'd get if you spent X points on the Wealth advantage. In other words, it assumes that money that comes with social ties, investments, etc., is about twice as useful as money that doesn't.

Points SWM   Points SWM   Points SWM
1 x1.2   23 x19   45 x160
2 x1.4   24 x22   46 x168
3 x1.6   25 x25   47 x176
4 x1.8   26 x28   48 x184
5 x2   27 x31   49 x192
6 x2.4   28 x34   50 x200
7 x2.8   29 x37   55 x560
8 x3.2   30 x40   60 x920
9 x3.6   31 x48   65 x1,280
10 x4   32 x56   70 x1,640
11 x4.6   33 x64   75 x2,000
12 x5.2   34 x72   80 x5,600
13 x5.8   35 x80   85 x9,200
14 x6.4   36 x88   90 x12,800
15 x7   37 x96   95 x16,400
16 x7.6   38 x104   100 x20K
17 x8.2   39 x112   105 x56K
18 x8.8   40 x120   110 x92K
19 x9.4   41 x128   115 x128K
20 x10   42 x136   120 x164K
21 x13   43 x144   125 x200K
22 x16   44 x152   130 x460K

Signature Gear

This advantage adds plot protection to any piece of gear that you own. It does not provide the wealth to get that gear -- take the Wealth advantage or use the rules above to finance the purchase. Signature Gear costs 1 point to protect any one piece of equipment that costs no more than the campaign's average starting wealth. For example, in a TL8 game, you could add Signature Gear to any one piece of equipment that cost $20,000 or less for 1 point, regardless of your Wealth level.

More expensive gear costs progressively more, using the levels of the Wealth advantage as benchmarks. If the gear costs up to twice the campaign's starting wealth, it costs 2 points to make it into Signature Gear. Up to five times starting wealth costs 3 points; up to 20 times starting wealth costs 4 points; up to 100 times starting wealth costs 5 points; and every additional x10 to its cost adds an extra point.

By removing the "funding" aspect of Signature Gear, it becomes a much simpler advantage that provides nothing but plot protection. The additional cost for more expensive gear is merely to recognize that a building or spaceship is much more difficult and expensive to replace than a gun or car, so protection against its permanent loss should carry a slight premium.

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