Friday, January 17, 2014

Hand-Me-Downs and Expired Potions

So there was this great line accompanying this illustration over on Blue Boxer Rebellion:

"Hand-me-downs and expired healing potions. It's a lifestyle."

Hand-me-downs? Expired healing potions? Sounds like a great deal for the miserly adventurer.

Hand-me-downs: You can take any starting gear (what you start play with) at 20% off as a "hand-me-down" from a retired (or "dead") or better-heeled adventurer who has moved on to other things. However, for each piece of hand-me-down gear, the GM secretly rolls 1d. On a 1, that piece of gear is going to fail this adventure and will let you down in a crunch - when it really matters. If a parry roll calls for breakage, it fails. If you depend on the rope, it snaps, etc. Treat this the same as Unluckiness, but it counts for uses of that particular piece of gear, not to the character overall. But hey, 20% off.

Expired Potions: Costs 40% of list ("over 50% off!" says the sign). Sold As-Is! No Refunds! When you drink it, roll 1d.

1 - potion is spoiled and is dangerous to the imbiber! Treat it as poison. Roll HT; failure results in 1d damage, success reduces this to 1 point of damage.
2 - potion doesn't work at all.
3 - potion works at half effect (or half duration, if the potion makes more sense)
4+ - works normally.

Healing potions of all sorts are a bit safer - roll at a +1. They won't be poisonous, but they might not work well.

Optionally, you get an additional -10% discount off the base price for each -1 to the roll, with a floor of 10% of base cost. This can make healing potions poisonous!

Also optionally, allow an Alchemy roll to taste-test to check the potion, per DF2 p. 14. Sorry, no sampling until you've purchased it! Again, No Refunds!

+Doug Anderson, thanks for the inspiration!


  1. Healing potions sound like a great deal! Even if you get the 3 result on the 1d+1 roll you're still getting half the effect for less than half the cost. Hand-me-down gear sounds kind of scary though, but I guess at "first level" beggars can't be choosers.

    1. Sounds like a strong argument for removing that +1 I mentioned, then.

    2. Yes you get 'on average, better than your investment'. However, you also get a 1 in 6 chance that it doesn't work at all - which might be critical when chugging a potion in a fight!
      Even when you do get half the effect, you could still be wasting (multiple) actions in combat, drinking something that really ought to be doing a lot more for you. (Which would lead to expired healing potions only being used to heal up *after* the fight, but you may not always have that luxury or a proper storage system that lets you differentiate during combat).

      You could however remove the +1 and change the poison outcome to 'nothing happens' for healing potions (as they're never dangerous to use). Or/and change the '4+' option to only apply to '5+' rolls, and make rolling a 4 also cause weird (but mostly harmless) side effects in addition to a full effect of the potion. Like making loud obvious sounds, making you glow, giving you a head-rush (Do Nothing for a turn), etc.
      This helps rebalance the probability distribution when using healing potions and those '10% expired potions'. It also adds in some further random oddities that make expired potions more unreliable and interesting than just "works, sorta works, doesn't work, hurts". In this case I'd change rolling a 1 on a healing potion to cause a side effect with no healing, those potions may not become lethal - but they do go hella-quirky.

      Otherwise, I love the idea of these things! Will totally be adding these into my game. I also use potion miscibility, so this will become an even more 'interesting' set of variables.

  2. Great stuff :)
    Probably gonna use something like that though I'll add some "repair" possibility for 15-25% of the original price and some time, just so PCs can have the items fixed if they want to...Some PCs get attached to their gear, bit like a lucky charm :)

    How do you handle availability for this, keep it "logical" in context or just don't care much?

    1. I really gave it all no more thought besides what you see above. My concern with repair is that it shouldn't be cheaper to buy used stuff and then fix it, otherwise this amounts to just a discount. Same with allowing mages with Repair to set up shop as guys who buy at 20% off and get an item worth full value - essentially discounting all of their gear by a large amount.

      I'd limit this to whatever I felt like was available, probably, sometimes changes the costs, and occasionally ramp up the failure rate or downsides to it. And the reaction penalties from the ghosts of the guys who spot you using it in the dungeons where they met their demise, can't forget that either. ;)

    2. This feels like a case where RPG reality and reality reality need to differ. It is, of course, almost always the case that if I buy something used and fix it up, I can sell it for a profit - or effectively get a discount. In a game, it's an "I win" button that carries little to no opportunity cost.

    3. Right. What Doug said.

      In a non-GURPS game, or with a magic system that doesn't make repairing a matter of "I cast Repair during down time. [roll, roll], okay like new." it would be fine to make this widely available. But with the Repair spell around, it's probably worth saying that it's just not out there. NPCs are bottom-fishing for used gear, too, and getting it fixed up to sell to you as new - you buy some of that in town when you equip yourselves.

    4. As long as repairs can be made to take some time, then it's time that could be spent more profitably killing monsters and taking their stuff.

      If Repair is available, why does anyone sell low-grade second-hand gear in the first place? 2 energy, therefore $2, per 5lb, minimum 6 if moving parts. You take your ratty old kit to the Repair-mage to fix it before you sell it. Even a $10 4lb quarterstaff is probably worth Repairing at that cost!

    5. Easily solved.

      This gear cant be repaired by magic. Crit fail on a previous repair spell, whatever.


      Cost to fix can be as per buy normal gear or more as GM desires and as per the item.

    6. I like that. You could just basically say, it's like Cheap quality - it's not going get any better via repair, magical or not. You can't Repair cheap gear to make it good, or good to make it fine. It's just that way, period.

      I also edited slightly to highlight one important bit - this is starting gear only, not gear you can buy off the shelf at will at any time. It's mainly to reflect old and not fully functional gear you got before game start, not as a pricing point for all used gear in the game!

  3. Well, that's why I pointed out a 15-25% of the base price cost for repairs by usual means, which would put the price close to/higher than the original. It would require time (which can be the most important factor here), materials and skill rolls, therefore failure is also an option, potentially costing even more.

    That would be transparent if bought via a merchant though. Maybe they actually buy low from adventurers gear in poor condition, then repair it, and sell it full price. Or sometimes they don't want to spend the time and hire a specialist to do the work, and sell it as is.

    The magic is a thing though, how can you prevent a PC with that repair spell to actually just do that? I mean, if the spell exists in your world and is basically free but for fatigue points, would kinda make sense to have them around, making used gear a rarity. And if a PC has the spell, then it's just like a light spell vs torches/light-source expenses, the PC invested points in that, why limit one but allow the other?

    Of course it's to each his own, just wondering what's usually your rational for this.
    Personally it's not really an issue since I just don't use permanent spells usually and tend to convert "duration: permanent" to "duration: x / maintained", so repair spells would be a real pain in the long run unless you linked it to some external magic ressource, but that's another matter :)

    1. The magic is a thing though, how can you prevent a PC with that repair spell to actually just do that? I mean, if the spell exists in your world and is basically free but for fatigue points, would kinda make sense to have them around, making used gear a rarity. And if a PC has the spell, then it's just like a light spell vs torches/light-source expenses, the PC invested points in that, why limit one but allow the other?

      Part of it is the fun aspect - is it fun to have PCs get 20% off in return for taking that spell? Do you want to play a game where people buy and sell used gear to save money?

      If it is a thing, and people can just go an do it, 20% is too steep a discount. There shouldn't be a lot of slightly-worn things out there for sale. There should be competition for it, and prices will rise. The price assumes there is some fatal flaw in the gear, not that it's slightly worn, and that repair isn't trivial. If repair is trivial, it should usually be done ahead of time or through normal channels, and you're stuck without them,

      Basic, my answer boils down to - if you have the Repair spell, and using it is trivial, then I wouldn't offer used gear at 20% off. Not without making that 1-in-6 flaw change permanent - it's not fixable. Repair will work, but it's at a penalty (-5 for missing materials and up), and the price will generally be 90-95% of list cost, if available. Sucks, but if you're playing the old "buy and fix" game it's likely you aren't the only one.

    2. Yea, I know how I would handle it but it's always interesting to see how others do it, sometimes you can learn something, refine your own stuff, etc.
      Bit like the whole "servant and traps" thing really, magic in GURPS is so...versatile and wide open that it's both a beauty to see and, being a bit OCD personally on little stuff, a nightmare since you have to think about every possible magical effect and counter-effect actually in the world you play in :)


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