Income (C&G question)

Okay, I'm a little confused. There are several references in chapters one and two to different levels of income (and, at the beginning of chapter two, to something called an income 'bar'). On page 38, it's described how characters can move from poor to average to wealthy to poor-in-a-higher-class. On p. 40, we're told what labor means to people with different sources of income; I think (though I'm not sure) that these source levels, described in Covenants, define the social classes and 'bars.'

On p. 38, we get that you can move from poor-in-your-class to average-in-your-class by the expenditure of 120 Labor Points, from average-in-your-class to wealthy-in-your-class with 360 Points, and from wealthy-in-your-class to poor-in-the-next class with 1080 points. But then, apparently, it only takes 120 points to move up again. What accounts for this cyclic structure?

On p. 40, we're told what happens when a poor person with a legendary source of income invests his wealth, an explanation that clearly states that a poor character can have a disposable income (an income that may be spent 'frivolously,' i.e., not on housing, food, clothing, capital goods...) of several hundred Mythic Pounds. I'm not clear on the meaning of the flaw 'Poor' when that's possible. How are the new wealth rules supposed to interact with the original Virtues and Flaws (Wealthy and Poor) related to wealth? If we want to basically have "poor"-average-wealthy be grades within the social classes, where a social status is determined by a source of wealth defined in Covenants, that's okay, though the use of the word 'poor' was not a good choice. But is it the intention of the rules that a character be in a position to take the Poor Flaw and also assign himself, with suitable backstory, a fabulous source of income? If so, can that possibility be explained to me?

Basically, does 'poor' mean the same in both the core rules and C&G? And, if so, how can that be made to make sense?

Not having C&G all I would say is that poor and wealthy from the core rules are more about time free to spend on other subjects - ie learning skills. And that those rules are all but useless for balancing wealth. A poor noble - (total flaw/virtues balanced) would always be wealthier than a wealthy merchant -(0 flaw/4 virtues), but that merchant would be far more skilled - which is fairly irrelevant at young ages. They would also always have a much better social position.

Any attempt to fix this would be welcome, but I find the idea that an outlaw could social climb his way up to be a noble from lots of labour to be an overreaction. Part of the point of the medieval society is that changing social class had to be done more from roleplaying - ie joining the church or going to war. Society should be static to some extent which presumably is why there is such a big threshold to skip between levels, and once you have your foot in the door it is easier to move up within that level.

(Does not have C&G either) :frowning:

Part of this may be why Timothy wrote the entry on Dowries in his Blog.

If i read that in context of your question ,
the daughter of a wealthy merchant gets to move up to the Noble Class.
So the mechanics probably require a story (in game) to rise in class.

Perhaps the Poor Flaw is maintained ,
but it does not prevent you rising in social class.
You will always be poor in relation to others of the same class.
If for some reason a peasant with the poor flaw finds a chest of gold (and manages to keep it) ,
he invests it , buys a business or whatever , but his expenses/circumstances are such that he remains poor for his new class ,
but is still better off than he was as a peasant.
He still has to spend lots of effort into maintaining his status (preventing him being rich).

Unfortunatly my C & G will be here tommarrow so I can't referance, however, how I've always seen the poor flaw is either a smaller income than the average person of your social status, or worse, you make lots of money but waste it on frivulous things so you end up working harder than your average class to just mantain your lifestyle.

For instance, a poor noble may very well make more than enough to get by, but waste his wealth that he should be spending keeping his lands stable on wine and women. Or perhaps he thinks he knows something about art when his taste is horid and keeps comissioning soddy paintings from artists he thinks are up and coming only to see his investments crash. So in my mind as long as the player can explain to the SG or troupe where they spend their money or why they are always strugling to maintain thier living so much they have to work harder they could be of any social class.

Ravenscroft, I can't agree that flaws and virtues remain no matter what. You can lose virtues according to stories you can also work off flaws by roleplaying (like enemy, favours etc) so I can agree that a poor merchant can work his way up to becoming a rich merchant, and the same for every other class. By hard work, taking your chances and investment, farmers can buy more fields, merchants can invest in their businesses and nobles can purchase further manors.

My objection was that while the flaws poor, normal and wealthy can be justified by effort and time, it should be harder to skip between classes. In one game I have a wealthy merchant who is required to put 1 seasons effort into his business according the rules, but he spends all his 'free time' working on his business as well in the drive for profits. Giving up what free time characters have, playing them as hard workers should be able to work their way up the ranking within a class.

The only way to become a merchant should be involving stories about spending big wadges of cash buying a business and then spending your time running it, hiring employees making deals.

The only way to become a priest should be by taking the flaws as vows, and spending time and effort going through the correct schooling.

The only way to become a noble should be by winning a fief either by war, or by a roleplaying oportunity where the ruler of the nation you are in permits you to buy a fief. Such oportunities were not always allowed to anyone with enough wealth.

Dropping in social status, say from noble to outlaw is also a roleplaying oportunity.

These things should never be decided by hard work and game mechanics in the background but solely by the story and the roleplaying of a character.

Which is what i meant.
You lose or gain according to stories.
In this case the story involves changing social class , not changing the flaw of being Poor (for your class).
I agree that raising Social Class should be relatively difficult.
Nobility , especially being of Royal Blood is an innate quality (at least to some)
and even in the rudest of circumstances these qualities show through.
(or so the bardic tales tell us)

OK, I'm tempteds to steal this question for my blog, but I won't because that's kind of cheating.


First Wealthy and Poor have bothing to do with money in purely numerical terms. They are -adjectives-. You don't know what they mean until you have a noun to put after them. A wealthy shopkeeper is still a shopkeeper, and is poorer in the abolsute financial sense than a medicore baron, or a poor king. OK? A Wealthy merchant has better housing and goods than a mediocre one, and spends more on his lifestyle, but doesn't necessarily make more money. A merchant ywho saves a lot of money, for example, is not living in a Wealthy way and thus is not Wealthy. Scrooge, for example, was technically a Miser until his miracle, and -then- became Wealthy in the Ars sense. Wealthy is also what gives you free time. So, wealthy and poor are lifestyles, rather than amounts of cash money.

Now, in this game, you have all of the income levels of covenants, with some smaller ones slid in. They are:

Trivial: 10L a year
Minor: 20L a year
Lesser: 40 L a year
Typical: 100 L a year
Greater: 250 L a year
Legendary: 1000+ L a year.

Note that the names of the levels are based on a covenant's income. A beggar witrh a Typical income source in not a typical beggar, OK?

Itr's identical to before. It makes sense becasue wealth and poverty flaws adjust your free time and the ostentatiousness of your lifestyle. not how much money you have.

Also, remember that -saving is a sin that will send you to HELL to burn for all eternity, you scumbag!-


OK, so my point above is this: it's a sin to save money. Seriously. Saving money is just dead wrong. It's immoral. You are required as a good Chrisitan to spend the sum that you earn. If you don';t then the Miser flaw will come get you, and terrible stuff happens to misers. Their wives get to kill them without any sort of comeupance, for one thing.

Not quite: if you raise background virtue, you go back to Poor. So, say you are a Wealthy local trader. and you buy and crew and cargo a ship. You need to go into debt to do this, so you become a Poor Merchant Adventurer. See? Over time you work up to being a Rich Merchant Adventuyrer, and you decide to have your nephews set up warehouses at your best poors and aggregate cargoes for you. OK, so now you are a Poor Capo (head of a merchant house).

Quoth the Thrakath:

The only way to become a merchant should be involving stories about
spending big wadges of cash buying a business and then spending your
time running it, hiring employees making deals.

The only way you can go up is by spending Labour points, and the way you earn Labour points is by compleiting I don't see your problem, here.

Nice rant. Glad I agree. Glad I've done this already. Thanks for the input.

Um, gang: the reules for how merchants rise to bigger, shinier, richer versions of merchant are not designed for use in your character's campign to become a baron, king, or pope.

That is: its about what you can do to run a bigger and bigger merchant empire. In some areas, if you are really very rich, your daughter can marry into the lesser nobility ,and so your grandson can be of noble blood. You don't ever get to buy being a king. You might be able, with the right stories, to buy being a nobleman if you can buy the right to marry a widow with lands, but that's not covered by these rules. The advancement line we are looking at here does not head off into landed nobility, except that yopur grandkids might get some if you are really rich and live in Scotland, England, the Low Countries or Italy, where you can arrange marriages with the poor sons of lesser lords.

Thanks for fielding these questions, Timothy. The only thing I can add - before re-reading the sections when my book arrives - is that there is a difference between a Poor craftsman and a poor craftsman. The Wealthy Virtue and the Poor Flaw describe the craftsman in relation to other craftsman in his station (as explained), and really indicates how much free time he has to pursue other interests (adventures, most likely). We disigned labor points to fit within this framework, so that a Poor craftsman needs three seasons to acquire the necessary labor points to survive, and a Wealthy craftsman can pull it off in one season. Remember too that there is no direct correlation between labor points and Mythic Pounds, in that a character can not just spend a pile of money to move up a level within his income.

I'm sure there will be more on this later.

Matt Ryan

Kept trying to answer this.

I apologize for ranting earlier. It comes about from not having the book and not knowing what Labour points are. I had imagined that it was a non story investing of spare time and capital in your chosen profession, ie the difference between a wealthy mercenary and a poor one is the quality of equipment and spare cash.

Would someone mind explaining, or convince Atlas to release more books on pdfs for sale, I am falling behind everyone on the reading. :slight_smile:

Literally that's true - a poor mercenary has poorer equipoment and less cash than a rich mercenary. Let's ignore mercenaries, and use merchants instead.

So, say you are an Average shopkeeper. It costs 360 points to move from Average to Wealthy. It cost you 36 points per year to keep at your current level. 36 points is about 2 season's work for you. (which means you are between one free season a year, which is the Poor flaw, and three free seasons a year, which is the Wealthy Virtue.)

You -can- just put in extra work in background, and it does get you points, but it also gets you social flaws. Let's use a concrete example: if your shopkeer works an extra season in the year and doesn't spend the money, he does get around 18 Labor points, but because he is acting as if he is Poor, he will be treated as one of the poor by his peers.

You are expected to spend to the limit of your capacity to spend. Now, some people spend money on things which bring more money back - and if you spend too much on that then you are a miser and misery have a place in Hell marked out for them.

If you want to get ahead without the penalties for overwork, then you do something like this:

"Due to illness, bereavement or age, the character's superior is unable to effectively run the company's business. The character may either hold the superior together, covering his mistakes in the hope that he will improve, or find a way to displace the superior. (One season's worth of Labor Points)."

That's an example from the book. You successfully either supplant your superior or protect him, in a sotyr, and you get Labor Points. In the story, of course, they aren't points they are tangible trade assets, like the goodwill of his allies, money, his contacts, a friendship with his son and heir...

Thanks, that helps

Thanks for the answers. I think that I'm getting clearer here.

'Broke' is also an adjective, but it has something to do with money in purely numerical terms. I think that some of what's going on here is that 'poor' and 'wealthy' in the game are only homonyms with certain words of standard English, but they mean 'overworked' and 'underworked.'

Are social and occupational classes defined by the income levels in the game?

There's just something slippery, something in here that I'm missing. Maybe it's like this. We can characterize sources of income as bad-trivial, average-trivial, and super-trivial (&c). A bad trivial source of income produces 10 pounds a year as long as you spend three seasons working it. A super-trivial source produces 10 pounds a year, but you only have to spend one season working it. So a labor point is very qualitative. If I have a bad widget-making machine, it takes me three times as long to make a widget as the other widget-making guy, because he's got a super widget-making machine. (And then, since we're all medieval nitwits, we do our utmost to waste our income to ensure a terrible future for everybody!)

The idea is that poor-average-wealthy is determined by how long it takes me and my income source to produce that source's yearly income. Is that supposed to be the way it works?

If so, let me ask about this. What happens if you have multiple sources of income? (Beyond that you're evil and going to hell and all.) So let's say that I have four super-trivial sources of income. I spend a season working each of them. I take in forty pounds. Yes? No? Maybe?

Maybe it's because I'm too Protestant or too American or know too much economics, but, while medieval people can believe whatever they want, I have a hard time dealing with a whole continent dedicated to suicide. Not a hard time believing it, but a hard time understanding it: the question of belief hasn't yet emerged. Can you let me know which of the sources listed in the book discuss this issue? I'm not questioning anybody's research or conclusions, I'd just like to look into this a little more.

I didn't say this explanation extended to all possible adjectives, just the two terms you were asking me to define.

OK, if that model works for you...


If you have multiple sources of income, then you just act as if they were one larger source of income. Pretty much every merchant has multiple sources of income.

I can't force you not to play a modern person, nor would I want to, but I can point out that this is precisely what you are doing. Saving is immoral.

I'm off to work: I'll answer this tonight.

Well, that gives you a topic to elaborate on in your blog. :slight_smile:

I must say I am not entirely sold on the concept of Labor Points. It's a bit too much bookkeeping for my tastes. But as a source of background information, I like what I have read so far. Very much so. Congrats. :smiley:

Also, if you don't provide enough labor points to support your business, at what point does it degrade?

I recall reading the answer to that in the book but I don't recall what the answer was.

Again, thanks for the answers. I think I'm getting the idea.

? I don't want to play a modern person, I want to have a better understanding of the medieval people I do want to play. One of the best things about this particular sort of supporting material is that it brings up just such weird but important facts about medieval people.

Page 38, second column: "It costs 36 Labor Points to maintain a character's business interests at their current level.... A character falling on bad financial times can lose his level of wealth or Social Status Virtue, falling to a lower one..."

I assume that your business degrades after any year you don't produce at least 36 LPs, since that represents a normal level of "working to earn a livelihood."