Poor but Skilled: A surfeit of Labor Points

I hit the search function but didn't find anything (Academic's Parma?) that discusses this. Nonetheless, I'm sure we have all noticed that Labor Point systems not only allow for climbing the wealth tree, but acting as if one has a greater Wealth than one does.

A Poor character with a Characteristic+Ability (or effective Char+Abil; henceforth, Effective Char+Abil will be referred to as Skill) of 9, who works in a trade that is subject to Labor Points, is capable of working a two-season year and maintaining their standard of living. An Average character with a Skill of 12 can work one, as can a Poor character with a Skill of 18.

So I wanted to know how others would balance a character who wanted to operate like this, relying on pure ability and possibly magical aid to give themselves a surfeit of free time that their Virtues and Flaws don't merit. By the rules, there should be nothing stopping them, but a General Flaw that doesn't hinder the character is no Flaw. Should a character who is this capable be allowed to start Poor? And does there need to be any balance for an Average individual whose skill or magic makes them effectively Wealthy?

I'd change the rules a bit.

I'd say that a character who starts life with sufficient skill to generate more labor points and the flaw Poor would probably start with additional debts and expenses such that they need to work three seasons a year to generate that level of income even with their starting skill.

Personally I'm not a huge fan of the mechanics for working hard to overcome poverty; it fits with a capitalist viewpoint quite well, but it doesn't really feel like it fits medieval thinking. It feels a lot to me like a mechanic that showcases capitalist behaviour against medieval economic behaviour. Is it accurate? I don't care; it doesn't easily lead to exciting stories.

Poverty is a flaw and, as such, should probably only go away with something suitably epic. Buying off a flaw with simply seasons of work off-camera feels a little unsatisfying to me. It'd be like buying off 'waster of vis' by spending a year or two in the lab practicing.

personally I'd arrange for appropriate problems- after all they haven't developed the labor points to establish their business, we all know that avarice is a sin, but so is laziness, and they will at minimum develop a bad reputation and after a year or two it may drop their income by a level...

They pay for it with higher skill. That's still a disadvantage. The skill 18 poor character could be working once every three years if he was wealthy or only two out of three years if he was average. Plus they are still poor and living like a poor person with only the necessities, while a wealthy person is paying others to look after there affairs and thus has actually totally free seasons. Its like saying a character is unaffected by poor eyesight if they have a perception of three and buy three more levels of their combat ability.

Being Skilled does not necessarily equate to being wealthy. It also doesn't mean the guy isn't doing anything for those 2 "free" seasons that he isn't working to support himself. Maybe he spends those 2 working seasons creating goods that he has to pay someone else to dispense/sell/transport for him, leaving him with little left-over money to get by throughout the rest of the year. Maybe he only makes the bare minimum during those 2 seasons of work, which gives him little money to do anything but buy food and pay for basic shelter. Maybe the guy is taxed really heavily for the work he's paid to do.

Alternatively, what kind of work is the guy doing? Is it hazardous enough that it may warrant some dice rolls during the working seasons to avoid injury or other catastrophe?

Labor Point rules, Egon. They're in City and Guild and apply across all trades*. If you take a season doing the things you mention, you're generating LP for your business.

*Note: I personally do not apply LPs to most professions. Landed Nobles and Priests are out, as are knights in service to a lord, covenfolk, and peasants (whose wealth is more determined by land, rights, and family size than by skill).

@Quite Possibly A Cat: I hadn't thought about it that way. It makes Labor Point rules look even more ridiculous, though.

Such a skilled character may have climbed the ladder in a social sense - a master craftsman and provider of [whatever] to the Count/Duke/King/Bishop/Magi/Etc. They may also being donating service and goods at cost, or at expense, to good works for the Church or the community. Their wealth in coin may not have increased, but their social wealth may have.

On the other hand, a highly skilled craftsman may very well have increased their coin weath - so long as they are not being vain and ostentatious about it, and are not flouting social convention, so what? The King's Cobbler may be poor compared to the King, but well off overall, and wouldn't be expected to dress in rags.

You'll have to forgive me; I'm still getting used to all the various rules and books and stuff for this system. So if I sound like I have no clue what i'm talking about, chances are I don't. :slight_smile:

Anyhow, the question as I saw it was about why the mechanics allowed someone with the Poor flaw to basically ignored it when Labor Points are taken into account (assuming one has a high enough skill rating and a boatload of Labor Points working in their favor). I was trying to give potential story reasons as to why the Poor flaw would still be in effect even though they could generate (if I read the labor points thing correctly) a decent amount of wealth in the 2 seasons of work. If I've overstepped or landed on a topic that I am speaking incorrectly on, please let me know.

Essentially, if you're working for your business, you're generating Labor Points. Your rationale might apply for a serf or slave, though, or for someone who's facing some kind of extortion (though those are better represented by Story Flaws of some sort than by Poor).

I agree that taking Poor is a...poor...use of a flaw that's probably better represented by some other, more fitting Story flaw. I was just trying to make sense of it is all. :slight_smile: