Friday, 8 July 2016

A Way to Use Loot and Gold in Hero Kids

“If you’re running a longer adventure then you might reward the heroes with some gold or extra potions and allow them to rest and recover some health.” page 14 (v1.6) or 17 (v2,0), Hero Kids™ rules.

The above quote packs a lot of implied content into one sentence. Unfortunately, this is the extent this concept gets in the rules. Perhaps Justin plans to one day publish an expansion, or maybe he felt this was enough to say about it. However, one question remains: what do our Heroes DO with said gold rewards? There are no prices attached to anything in the game. If they want to buy a sword, shield, armor, pony, or just a meal at the local inn, what is the cost? If they try to sell any loot gained in an adventure, what’s it worth? First, let’s establish just what is meant by gold in this game.

Gold!  Gold!! GOLD!!! ...what’s it good for?

What is the Hero Kids™ currency? Given the intended audience and the simplicity of the system and setting, we need to strongly enforce the KISS method, so there is just one currency used by everyone and it consists of one denomination - the Gold Coin. Names of coins and details of appearance may differ over time and from place to place, but the value is unchanging. We could get into debating the value of rare gold coins from an ancient lost kingdom, but in such a scenario they technically are being treated as rare art pieces then, not simple coins. If they’re used to buy a sandwich, then they are the same as any other coin - if they instead go to a museum of the lost kingdom of Tra-La-La then they are no longer considered simple coinage.

For everyday purposes, the prices of goods are small and don’t differ between like items. Treat it like an intermediary, trial coinage system for a world just beginning to progress past the barter economy. In fact, despite this post’s topic, one shouldn’t avoid having Heroes barter for simple goods and services. The restaurant owner may offer a meal to a Kid in exchange for a simple chore like fetching water, delivering a letter, or cleaning out a dirty back room. This could even be an entry point for an adventure…

Item and Equipment Price Categories

Rather than create a price list for hundreds of purchasables one could have in the game, lets create a simple system which can quickly and easily assign a price to anything one could want to buy or sell in game. One approach is to divide all purchasables into categories with a single price per category:

Minor Mundane Items: 1 gold
Non-magical, single use objects.
Examples: Food (per portion), Gold (per coin), Herbs (per single potions-worth)

Major Mundane Items: 2 gold
Non-magical, single use objects which grant a clearly defined bonus (usually combat oriented).
Examples: Bomb.

Minor Magical Items: 4 gold
Magical, single use items whose effects do not last beyond one turn past their usage.
Examples: Healing Potion, Sandman’s Dust*, Haste Potion*

Major Magical Items: 5 gold
Magical, single use items whose effects last for “5 minutes” or the duration of a single encounter.
Examples: Potion of Strength, Potion of Invisibility, Fee-Fi-Fo-Fungus*, Four-Leaf Clover*, Shrink-A-Drink*.

Minor Mundane Equipment: 3 gold
Non-magical, multiple use objects which only function under specific conditions, for a limited duration, once per encounter, or are otherwise limited in their usage.
Examples: Trickshot Bow, Speed Bow, Unfailing Bow, Sharpshooter’s Bow, Bandit’s Bow, Deepwood Longbow, Throwing Axe, Heavy Crossbow, Throwing Dagger, Swift Sword, Thirsting Longsword, Vorpal Longsword, Lucky Longsword, Raider’s Battleaxe, Brigand’s Axe, Thundering Hammer, Strikers Spaulder, Light Shield, Everpresent Shield, Guardian’s Shield*.

Major Mundane Equipment: 4 gold
Non-magical, multiple use objects whose function can be enacted every turn, or which feature a continuous effect once equipped.
Examples: Footman’s  Pike, Defending Weapon, Club of Earth-Shattering*, Hunter’s Longbow, Siege Longbow, Binding Bow*, Boomerang Buckler, Guard’s Shield, Heavy Shield, Defender’s Shield, Wrist Bracers, Vault Pole*.

Minor Magical Equipment: 4 gold
Magical, multiple use objects which only function under specific conditions, for a limited duration, once per encounter, or are otherwise limited in their usage.
Examples: Magic Wand, Vicious Wand, Explosive Wand, Wizard’s Staff, Magi’s Staff, Lucky Charm, Vengeful Pendant, Wild Hunt Hat, Diabolic Mask.

Major Magical Equipment: 5 gold
Magical multiple use objects whose function can be enacted every turn, or which feature a continuous effect once equipped.
Examples: Faerie’s Wand, Staff of Protection, Yew Staff, Chaos Pendant, Cloak of Invisibility, Sack of Useful Items, Conjurer’s Hat*.

Notes: * Featured in the Hero Kids Compatible product Armory 1 by Travis Legge of Aegis Studios.

free one-sheet reference pdf
Prices do NOT directly relate to their intrinsic material value, construction complexity, or damage/protection potential, instead they are a rough measure of their availability, versatility, and ease of use. Equipment dealing more damage, but which can only be used under special conditions or once per encounter will cost less than a lower damage Equipment which grants its bonus with every use. Correspondingly, an Item costs less than an equivalent effect Equipment since it is expended upon a single usage. Lastly, magical Items and Equipment are intentionally higher priced, even when their effects are identical to another mundane Item or Equipment. This is done to simulate the fantasy trope that magical things are rarer, more difficult to acquire, and generally more expensive than non-magical things.

Is this a perfect system? No, far from it. It makes even one gold coin potentially worth a lot, thus awarding a chest of 500 or even 50 gold coins is an enormous degree of wealth. However, this also means if you’re playing with young children, you can award them amounts they can readily conceptualize. While one could tweak this system with more categories, higher gold piece costs per category, and so on. In all likelihood once your players are ready for more complex in game economies, they will also be ready for a more advanced game all together. As nice of a game as Hero Kids™ is for younger children, it does have its limitations. In the meantime, a system such as this one can provide an introduction to the concepts of buying and selling things in game without requiring advanced understanding of mathematics or economics.