Rules That Should Be Core

People are always more vocal when upset than when happy, so I don't think how vocal people are on the forums is a good check of how often people like things.

That said, I don't think extra rules systems should be added into Core. I like having options be available, but not required.


I really enjoyed this in the new edition of WFRP by Cubicle 7. Almost every part of the rules has sidebars with extra rules and suggestions but they are all explicitly optional.

In an Ars context I know my group would kill for some notes in the core book saying "hey if you want more elaborate rules on this try Book X, Chapter Y!". The conversation of "OK I know for a fact there is a rule for this, but does anyone remember what book it's actually in?" happens more often than I'd like at the table.

Obviously the original core book couldn't include those kind of notes without requiring prescience, but in a hypothetical revised book or reprint now that the product line is complete...?


Awesome idea!

I've never been a fan of book keeping. Can you think of any movie, book, comic, where they don't just have the coin for the tavern?

I love the economic hand waiving in Ars majica. Basically you have the cash, or you don't. "How many coppers did the barkeep charge." "It doesn't matter, it doesn't effect the story, move on". Hooray! Goodbye time spent keeping track of money, picking up everything one can and selling it later, wasting game time on working out resale, do you have the money to buy the new magic item, etc.

I accept some sick twisted people with the soul of an accountant want bean counting in their recreational activity, so give them a supplement book, but I beg you, for all that is holy, no core rule finance system.

Apologies for any accountants I offended, it was tongue in cheek hyperbole to get a point across. :slight_smile:


Several - but all of them stories where the lack of money was an important part of the story.

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I mean you can have a story about a lack of resources at the covenant level and not demand the characters worry about small incidental expenses like the tavern long as they aren’t over extending themselves with frivolous or extravagant expenses like bribes or stuff made of gold or beautiful pelts or the finest things found in large cities. A mythic Pound of silver is a significant amount of money for most people and the costs of average travel expenses would be in pennies.

Edit: I have been a bookkeeper and don’t really mind it for downtime stuff but I don’t see a fleshed out covenant wealth mechanic being necessary in Core.


Most of my group, including myself, enjoy the Labor Points system. Mythic Pennies, although cool when thinking up Covenants I'm not actually going to run, didn't seem to click in play so much.


A lot depends on gaming style- however I think having functional and consistent economic rules is necessary for the long term issues. For in an adventure it can either be "too rich/you can pay" or you can have a budget for the adventure, depending on the players, the story, and the setting. Realistically by the way I would expect most adventurers to handle money the SG should probably keep track of expenditures if it is a plot point and simply let you know if you don't have enough or let the team know how much is left whenever they stop to count.


Game design is hard, with all kinds of tradeoffs. Even God didn't get it quite right (imho :slight_smile: . And you know what happened to His playtesters! (And maybe there's this Criamon path of playtesting incrementally improved rules until they are finally right, abandoned because game rules can at best be clever yet fundamentally flawed, with the bulk of the House instead focusing on finding loopholes that break the game system (which also won't work, because when the system of the world becomes sufficiently broken, a new edition is rolled out?)))

But I digress.

I don't think it would be helpful for me to delve into my dislike of Labor Points. Suffice it to say that I admire most of your stuff, that it makes sense to pay attention to playtesters after having gone through the trouble to obtain them, and that I appreciate how hard it is to create a satisfying and sensible game economy.

It might be more helpful for me to point out that my comment above was not "For the love of God, get rid of Labor Points" but "Pick one economy from among those that have been partially implemented, flesh it out and use it." My issue is about how the economic systems interact with each other and the way I have to bean count in all of them to use the system, and then deal with inconsistencies. Most game systems have laughable economic systems, but at least most of those are simple. It's true that Labor Points are my least favorite of the options presented, yet if everything were expressed in LPs, I would consider the point addressed.

Getting into the spirit of things, Rego craft magic could be measured in LPs than merely in time, eg base is one LP, with each magnitude multiplying by 10.... or something like that.

I would also consider the point addressed if the various systems were better integrated, so they felt more like one system than a few systems jostling together.




My point was book keeping. While I hope people don't go it to the minutae of coppers at the tavern, I still find labour points, or mythic pennies, or whatever bigger mechanisms, tedious.

The SG, when people are discussing what they are planning on doing in the season can say, "that will stretch the covenants mundane funds, are you sure you want to do that as it may limit later expenditure", "do you want to consider some mundane funds money making ideas", etc, or "you are so wealthy do you want to import some marble for the flooring".

Doing that process with some artificial resource like labour points, mythic pennies, no thanks.

I accept some people like those mechanics and this is in no way a criticism of those rules or their creators skills. There's nothing book-keeping wise which could have been written, which I would like.

To repeat my point, I would dislike financial mechanics being in core, as things in the core book people feel more obliged to use. Outside of my personal disdain, on a corporate selling copies of the rules basis, I could see financial book-keeping frightening off some players from a system that is already somewhat dense.

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Lots. Ever read Spider-Man comics from the 1970s?
And I am not in this to write a movie/book/comic. I am in this to play a game. I am a gamer. Roll dice. Manage resources. Figure out problems. Collaborative storytelling is the result, not the process.


Since we're already off on a tangent, and I've been holding this back for a while...

Not all gamers are after the same thing. Some want to roll dice, etc. Others want something different.


As a player, I want to taste the experience of being in a game world. It can also be fun just to play an ordinary rpg, but even a great ordinary rpg remains ordinary. To me.

As a GM, I want players to experience being in the game world, to be immersed in it, to drown in it. Everything else is secondary or unimportant.

As a GM, I don't care if there are dice. I don't care if there is storytelling, or even if a story emerges, though it usually does. Sometimes, usually to my detriment, I've even been willing to sacrifice fun.

Dice are a tool. Story is a tool. Collaboration is a tool. Resource management rules, a tool. (Yeah, yeah, and me too. :smiley: )

Experience is about what people do, and to a lesser extent what they say. For a player in our world to feel like a character in his, I believe the player needs to be engaged in congruent activities. Incongruous activities pull a player back into the real world, because the experiences are different.

Dice? If I want players to feel like they are in a book or movie, I'll avoid them. If I want them to feel the indifference of an uncaring world, or the caprice of a malicious god, bring on the dice.

Getting it right can be tricky. Want an oppressive totalitarian regime? Being an over-controlling bastard GM will only get players to focus on what an over-controlling bastard I am.

Collaborative storytelling? That's not something I usually want to feel as a player during a game, or as a GM, inspire players to feel during a game, because it pulls the focus to the metagame; but when the session is done and players think, Wow, look what we've done together, awesome, far better than Wow, what an awesome GM you were.

Resource management? That depends. Conan the Barbarian might be more efficient if he managed resources strictly, but then it wouldn't feel like Conan, so I'd want rules that discouraged thinking about it. Magi - and at last getting to the point - manage resources to some extent, and great resource management rules would mirror the way magi think about resources and act regarding resources, so that the thoughts in players' minds are akin to the thoughts of magi, and the activities of players correspond to those of magi, and most important, because otherwise nothing works, that the rules are not broken in the sense that I usually mean (ie ugh, this is sooooo powerful is rarely my idea of broken), that is, that the rules represent the right way to do and think about things within the game world too.

I suppose an example of how things are done right might be illustrative: Although I have many problems with the AM magic system, it has one overwhelming virtue: The players and the magi are using the same system, can talk about magic in exactly the same way, optimize power in exactly the same way, think about the same considerations, synergies and limitations, (usually) have the same idea of what is involved in casting a spell or crafting an item... it goes on.

I can have a conversation with you about Magic Theory, and two magi can have the very same conversation, and it makes sense. We can talk about the effects of a Divine Aura in the same way, to similar precision. We all know how much vis we have to hoard, and what kind. We all spend downtime in the lab. (It's not perfect though, because the game world lacks the theurgic aspect of pleading with a higher power that an effect should have a lower magnitude because it is minor rather than moderate....)

It works so well, that unlike in most games, I think something is lost if the magi aren't allowed to talk about the magic system to the same precision as the players. Of course magi know about spell guidelines, about spell effect levels, about Auras and their effects, and they know it with far greater detail, precision and nuance than we do. A Flambeau bragging about the Faerie he charcoaled better be able to answer the question, How big? (Although Who wastes points on Intellego is a fine response.) A Flambeau and Jerbiton just out of Gauntlet talking about their spell repertoire...

So how do magi think about resources?




The funnest campaign I have ever run, both from my prospective and my players prospective (we still talk about it 25+ years later), was one where we discarded nearly all of the rules and RPG expected elements.

Rules? Stripped down WoD because it was one of the lightest on the market at the time and we knew it. Pre-game? Every player send me a list of at least your top 10 favorite movies. Action, horror, comedy, thriller, didn't matter. Listing personal fav scenes and characters a plus. Premise? Create a lightly stated ordinary Joe as a character. Nzykmulk has decided to do some experiments so snatches them all up and throws them "into" a movie. They had a pool to add dice to Stats and Skills based on who they were in the movie. Effect? What was supposed to be a fun "lite" one-shot turned into an on running game that lasted years.

By removing nearly all management and structure, the players were left to role play out scenes and characters that they knew and loved. It was not Collaborative Storytelling because I was very much the Director. The biggest take away is that unless some element of the rules adds to the story and fun, it is a sink that takes away from them.

While you are correct that many things in Ars Magica can be talked about the same way in character as out, there are many others which can not. They become a sink, taking up time that could be used role playing and replacing it with "spread sheets" and "number crunching". Some people find those fun, but not all. Reducing them can improve any game, including Ars which has a lot of them to include how finances are handled.


My perspective is this- no not everyone likes resource management. However providing rules for those who do like it does not automatically require those who do not like it to use them. If the SG is keeping track of resources as a guide for everyone ese, those rules are useful to them. If nobody wants to keep track then that's you story, and that's how it works. Rules should never be excluded simply because some people don't want to deal with them.
That being said- the medieval economy was a messed up convoluted entanglement of religious, social, and economic considerations that nobody in their right mind (or even me) really wants to try and consider in detail. I like labor points as a way to simulate a community based economy where reputations, and non-financial exchanges of understood debts may be common. An exact tracking of gold for a noble estate or covenant may make more sense in that situation. What seems to me to be missing are guidelines a to how these different economy models fit together- for example (IMO) if a covenant invests 6 MP into a blacksmith's smithy in a nearby town, it would be reasonable for them to expect an in kind annual contribution to their covenant of 3 or 4 labor points, which would be translated to covenant savings as if they had a blacksmith based on the payout conversion of those labor points to cash.
And again, rules of this level of complexity should be pointed out as useful but optional.

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A lot to unpack there, but overall I agree with both you and Silveroak. Now to me, the purpose of all games is to have a structured social activity. RPGs are more collaborative in nature and less competitive. Not as an absolute, but it is a thing.
As for my desire to facilitate collaborative storytelling, you hit the nail on the head exactly. I don't want my players to know that is what is going on as they do it. I want then to get that feeling afterwards. Now, I have always been a sandbox style GM, which is why I often chaff against the status quo here. And you are right, different people want different things from gaming. That is why I have drifted away from this one. I no longer desire to change this game, I just want to do something that helps facilitate that emergent creativity I enjoy.
And immersion.
Counting coins/pawns/etc helps facilitate immersion. That immersion in concerns facilitates the sandbox style (for me).


I must say that I both like and use Mythic Pounds and Labor Points, but I still think they shouldn't be core rules. They feel outside the main focus of the game for me, and thus I'm of the oppinion they should be optional rules found in supplements, just like they are now.

I do agree there should be just one system, or there should be guidelines as to how they interact if you use more than one (having MP for the covenant and LP for the companion merchant business has given us some headaches). But those should still be outside the core rules, IMHO.


I very much agree with this. Using labor points to upgrade a crafter's work place is pretty niche and not necessary at all in the core book.

Exactly. There is no way medieval economics can be done well without devoting a lot of pages to it. Especially if you accomadate how the economics will work in covenants situated in tribunals with more developed mundane economies, such as the Rhine, and tribunals with less developed economies such as Stonehenge.

A supplement is the perfect place for economics. Have all the mythic pennies, labour points, covenant crowns, whatever, you want.
Have a list of all the coins which were in use in the era. I'm sure there'd be less than a thousand, and put in the rough conversion rates.
Have new virtues and flaws which relate to economics.
The supplement would be a good place to have detailed rules about how magi can craft things, grow trees, change river courses, make lakes, etc, to assist the economies of their covenant.

just not in core.....



I find myself in disagreement on all points, perhaps because of the starting assumption that it is in any way desirable to model the real medieval economy, rather than a magus' view into it, which I think is essential.

To the same extent that a supplement is the perfect place to talk about Faerie or House Tremere or the Church.

No, I have it wrong: To a lesser extent. Pretty much every game will involve magi wanting stuff, because people want stuff: Books, vis, land, glass, swords, retainers, gems, food, parchment, ink, teachers. Not every game will involve Faeries, House Tremere or the Church. The Core book might need to say something about Faeries, House Tremere or the Church, but should give preferential treatment to the economy of stuff.

Moreover, the game is being played by modern people - that's us - and more than ever we look at the world through the lens of economics. A good description in core helps bridge the distance between how we think and how magi think.

I'm not saying that we need any particular model, that we need to discuss competitive advantage (Labor Points work fantastically in Napoleonic Mythic Europe, the world of Smith and Ricardo. (Yes, Smith is a bit early.))

If you're running a band of muderhobos - and nothing wrong with that! I've always wanted to be a murderhobo - you don't need much here. Murderhobo economics is "you get what you can find," far less sophisticated than viking (note the small 'v') economics. A covenant? Usually not so much.

Rules about crafting, growing trees, changing river courses, etc firmly belong in core. The impact of such endeavors on covenant development should at least be treated in Core, since every spring covenant is going to try to improve their position ASAP, so reasonable rules for this better be available. Something deeper for a supplement? Ok.

BTW, I do not necessarily advocate for an extremely detailed economic system in Core, but enough for magi to do the things they need to do.

That said, once of the things that really made ME alive for me was the section in C&G that described various goods, who makes them and who wants them. But the stories that came to mind seemed more suited for mundane people or for magi integrated in the world than for epic wizards. I also enjoyed the section in Covenants that descibed wealth souls in various gradations; it was very evocative but fit poorly into the other economic systems.




Can I close the discussion of economic systems for this thread at this point? It has been very useful input so far, but it now risks taking over. Feel free to create a new thread to continue this discussion, though. It is interesting.