BITS – Wealth and What to Buy

Money makes the world go round, right? How about the tools that money acquires and that acquire money?

Like everything else, the BITS roleplaying game system handles that. Here’s how:

The Tools That Brought Us Here

As the stellar game Mörk Borg puts it, “you are what you own.” I couldn’t agree more.

Equipment, the tools we use, is what separates us from the beasts. Yet, there is no need for these tools to be complex in their implementation when at a table among friends in play.

BITS keeps tools simple. Everything has an effect for the intended use or a retarding effect on what is being done. Effects reduce the barrier between action and outcome; retardation reduces the amount of effect.

That’s a lot of verbiage 😑 Some examples:

Consider combat: A weapon has an X amount of effect through violence. Armor reduces that effect by Y. The final effect would be X-Y.

Example: Armor has a retarding effect on violence done to the wearer.

Same goes for more utilitarian tools. Crowbar? Useful for breaking open locked doors. Shovel? Digging holes. Pick? Breaking rock. These things might have a special advantage in the situation, too.

You get the gist.

Yet, sometimes an object is used outside of its intended scope. In those cases, the tool has disadvantage for doing what is was never meant to. A butter knife could theoretically slay a dragon, but gosh-darn is that going to be a hard time!

Doing Things

Virtually all game experience revolves around conflict, and 9/10 times (no source; don’t @ me) that conflict will see a violent resolution.

When it comes to violence, every stick, sword, pistol, and whatever will have a 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, or 10 effect. I shouldn’t have to remind, but for those that need it spelled out: the effect of violence is the edging from construction and order to destruction and death. The states are abstracted, but relatable.

To rehash, the scale goes like this:

1Minor. In hand-to-hand, something like a rock or weapon with a reach less than a forearm (knives, hatchets). A small caliber, such as a pistol.
2Moderate. A sword or battle axe, arrows. An assault rifle.
3Major. A blade requiring two hands for 100% use. Crossbow bolts. A machine gun.
4Mighty. Claymores, swung tree trunks, and huge mauls. A high-caliber weapon, personnel explosives.
6Massive. Siege weapons, cannons, bombs.
10Mega. Hellfire, cruise missiles.

Same for, say, making magic. A wand could have a minor effect of 1 that helps creating the magic, a rune tome 2, and a blessed staff 3. (More on that in the post about magic.)

Is this scale exact? No. It is simple, modular, and easily tweakable, as BITS is meant to be. But if I can help settle a question, leave a comment – I get to every one!

Carrying on:

Putting a Stop to Things

Protection from effect reduces the amount of effect. Protection ranges from nothing 0, light 1, medium 2, to heavy 3, with higher versions looking at 4, 6, and 10 (though 10 is essentially ‘plot armor’ and in use is a sign of bad game design [except if the point is to assault God]).

Example: A 2-effect sword strikes a 1-effect leather jerkin piece of light armor. The final effect is a detriment of 1 towards the jerkin-wearer’s life.


A mention about shields: The best way BITS has found to handle a held shield vs. a worn piece of armor is to give advantage to the defender’s roll to dodge or block. Otherwise, just lend +1 to the shield’s use in defense. For further flavor, a shield can be smashed to pieces to prevent 100% of effect from an action, but this can only happen once and only in combat (e.g. no smashing shields to prevent harm from a great fall).

Show Me the Money

Wealth. Money. Moolah. Funds. Scratch. Gravy cheese currency cash coin treasure dough loot value capital.

It all means the same: the influence you have in society and over your own time when not using first-degree violence.

Now, there are a lot of different folks out there. Some folks like to see their wealth counted to the last coin; some folks like just to know they have enough for their needs and leisure.

Is BITS flexible enough to cater to all tastes?

You know that answer 😜 To prove:

#1 Bean Counting

Whether bags of coin or rolls of wadded bills, when piled high, they look great.

For those that like to count their money, they have an abstract-yet-significant amount of value. How significant?

That depends on how precious of a commodity money is.

For the extra-rare money games (1-2 pieces of treasure a session of play), set the value of an item equal to the amount of effect an item has. 2-effect sword? 2 bags of coin. 3-effect hunting rifle? 3 rolls of dollar bills. 1:1 effect-to-fat-stacks.

In modern-wealth terms, the #-effect could mean the # of zeros after the first digit an item costs. 10s, 100s, 1000s, etc.

For the more liberal money games (say, 2-12 treasure earned in play, all characters are likely to have at least 1 in their pockets), sum up to the effect as value. That means you add up all the effects to the current effect.

Example: A 4-effect item is worth 1+2+3+4=10 of a currency. 2-effect is 1+2=3.

#2 Wealth Class

For those looking to do less math and more play, wealth class is for them (and you, too).

Wealth class is the abstract level of influence a person is in society. It could be considered as follows:

0Poverty! Completely broke. Might beg for bread. Hard to count the unwashed masses, as they slip through the cracks of society.
1Lower. Peasantry and labor class. Can cover necessities, but barely. Food, poor housing. Hundreds of dollars in the bank, maybe. About the bottom 40-60% in society’s value hierarchy.
2Middle. Skilled and trader class. Can afford some leisure, but has to budget for it. Thousands of dollars available in the bank. 30-45% of the population.
3Upper. Overseer and mercantile class. Can look wealthy. Can be impulsive with leisure. Hundreds-of-thousands to low million in the bank. 20-30%.
4High. Inherited and aristocratic wealth. Rich. Want for nothing. Millions banked. 10-15%.
6Elite. Royalty, old-family, and monopoly wealth. What society dreams of being but could never sustain. Hundreds-of-millions. Top 1-4%.
10More money than God. Few if any good deeds done to get here. Do as they please. Cannot reasonably spend enough to reduce the class. Not generally known to the public, but members here come to know each other.

A class can buy anything of classes below it, no questions asked (within reason).

Buy things of the same class? Might need to roll – on a critical failure (e.g. 1 on a d6), the class reduces by 1 but the thing is yours.

Try to buy things above the class? Can maybe do 1 class above, but will reduce class by 1 or 2 guaranteed. Consult with the Game Moderator.

With bean counting, more beans means bigger numbers means better wealth. What about class?

With class, consider:

  • Gather treasure (or large enough paydays that went straight to savings) equal or more to the current class value, then spend that treasure to roll for a class increase at the end of, say, a month. Using d6, increase the wealth class by 1 if the roll is over the current wealth class – on a 1, decrease by 1 for some unforeseen expense or misjudgment on funds.

Example: Change wealth by gathering treasure/savings/windfalls equal to current wealth. Exchange that treasure to roll d6 (perhaps at the end of a month or so). Increase wealth by 1 if the roll is over current wealth; decrease by 1 if the roll is a 1.

What Is This Worth?

Shop keeps may buy things similar to their other wares at 1 level below the thing’s actual worth, 1 level above if selling.

Want to bargain? A successful Insight test (the ‘I’ in BITS) could get the price leveled to what it is supposed to be.

Example: A 2-effect sword will be sold to a merchant at the same rate as 1-effect, bought at 3-effect. Negotiate to make it a 2-effect cost.

Capitalism at work.

The above though fails to answer the question, “what is this worth?” Like everything else in BITS, it follows the 0, 1-4, 6, 10 pattern. A guide:

Value LevelWhat It Is
0Trash. Rubbish. Rags.
1Mundane. Everyday. Simple. Cabbages, toilet paper bundle, concert tickets.
2Middling. Required extra process. Prepared meal, handy labor, mediocre laptop.
3Uncommon purchase. Some haggling. Jewelry, performance computer, car, US health insurance.
4High quality. Fancy. Sports car, leisure boat, simple property, US medicine.
6Above and beyond. Rare. Complex property, large vessel, small plane.
10Exotic. One-of-a-kind. Especially unique. Companies, aircraft carriers.

A little give and take with the above will make for a great starting place in determining a thing’s value if not readily apparent. Cool?


And that’s all I have for gear and wealth in BITS!

A familiar topic, I have tried posts before for making gear and giving a highlight to its use. Yet, the economy talk was little and, well, I am better now than before in understanding what makes BITS fun 🙂

I am sure more can and will be added. Super-effect where the value is multiplied by 10 or 100, repair costs, base materials vs. final product, etc. Adding more is always possible with BITS, though simplicity is always key – in that, less is more 😉

How do you like to handle ‘stuff’ and the stuff used to buy it in your games? I want to know! Comment about it and I’ll owe you one. For now, cheers to your day!

Published by

Jimmy Chattin

Processor of data, applier of patterns, maker of games and stories.

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