Money money money money money money money money. Perhaps the most contentious and discussed rule in the d20 Modern system was the implementation of the Wealth system. This took everything to do with purchasing and effectively turned it into a simple skill-like check which answered the question “Can I afford it?”.
To our D&D-addled minds this was nothing less than blasphemy as we like to be able to count our shiny gold pieces, but personally I like it. Adventuring in the modern age shouldn’t be about collecting the gold; our world is too full of banks, credit cards, loans and banking to be able to keep track of it all without turning the game into Accountants & Agony. The Wealth check represents your overall purchasing power as a single abstract number which can change over time. Promotions, large purchases and the occasional Windfall (perhaps a reward for Saving the World) can make your Wealth go up or down without worrying too much about exactly how many dollars are in the pot.
In our campaigns we used the Wealth system almost exclusively. Those rare times when a character rifled a villain’s wallet and took the money (For shame! Have you no honour?) they received cold hard cash. Wealth is a simple method of noting down how high the character sits up the money tree, and all the lifestyle options that entails. Your Wealth 22 superstar might live his life out of hotels and exclusive apartments while his brother at Wealth 3 eats hotdogs alone in a bedsit. We don’t need to work out how much the hotdog or hotel room cost – because the adventure isn’t about that. Wealth is just detail boiled down to a single number.
Additional supplements (which we’ll look at another day this week) took the d20 Modern system into the past and far future, and in some of those settings the Wealth system works less well. In post-apocalyptic New York, your wealth isn’t measured by the number of credit cards you own. When scavenging and barter is the order of the day Wealth is redundant. Similarly, as a Pirate of the Spanish Main wealth is everything, and any Pirate King worth his sea salt will know to the last doubloon the contents of his hoard.
But for the modern day whether you’re a spy, soldier of fortune, FBI man, psi-hacker or shadow hunter, the Wealth rules work.