The Economy Challenge system is the first part of a larger economy system, and is designed to emphasize that fiefs are not islands and facilitate RP and deals between players.
Each season, characters with fiefs will receive Econ Challenges -- most characters will receive two -- that describe a problem or challenge facing their lands as well as several likely solutions. These solutions generally involve another PC agreeing to commit resources, use a ME, or just agree to help. Solving Economy Challenges affects the economy rolls made for fiefs at the end of each season (once that portion of the economy system is up and running).
Purposes of the Challenge System
The challenge system serves a number of purposes:
- It gives fief-holders things to RP about that aren't purely military in nature.
- It creates more opportunities for guild PCs to be involved and be important
- It gives staff a tool to tell stories about events in fiefs over time
- It creates a mechanism to help engage PCs are struggling to connect to the world.
This last goal is particularly important; giving players challenges encourages them to go out and RP, and giving other players solutions may help players who feel irrelevant get connected. This is an explicit OOC purpose of the challenge system, and represents a guiding principle in creating challenges and developing solutions.
Receiving Economy Challenges
At the beginning of each season -- Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer -- characters will receive economy challenges. The challenges all fiefs face will be posted on the wiki.
Most fiefholders will have two challenges per season, but very large fiefs like counties will have four challenges, and the city of Akko will have eight challenges. Some independent characters may also receive challenges, particularly wealthy guilders or powerful clergy.
An economy challenge has two parts; first, it has a description of the challenge facing a fief, and then it has several potential solutions to the problem as well as the PCs who may be able to help solve the problem.
For example, if the Barony of Jahant was played by a PC it might have the following econ challenge in Fall 5001:
- Grape Surplus
Jahant's grape harvest this season is exceedingly large, and so it has a surplus it needs to find a buyer for, or else the grapes will rot either on the vine or languish in the barrel. Here are possible solutions:
- Any charioteer PC could spend an ME to ship wine to an off-world market.
- The Chancellor could agree to use Jahant wine as the centerpiece of the Harvest Festival in Akko, using up the supply.
- Excess grapes could be dried and sold as food to the crusaders fighting for Joyeaux or Auberry with the consent of either of those counts.
Solving Econ Challenges
Built into each challenge is a range of possible solutions, almost all of which require the agreement of another PC. Some require no more than that -- in the example above, for instance, all that is required is that the Chancellor agree to promote Jahant wine and take the appropriate IC steps. The Chancellor does not need to spend any money, use any MEs, or do anything else -- just have the RP and submit a +request.
This is true even when the problem involves money. For instance, if Jahant's other challenge is that Rotdam is charging too-high fees to ship Jahant's goods, and one of the possible solutions is to get the Mayor of Rotdam to reduce their fees, the Mayor of Rotdam can do this without a direct effect on their bottom line. While these decisions inform stories down the road -- and may have indirect economic results and the like, as described below in 'Challenges and Consequences' -- providing a solution to someone else's challenge will not expend resources or immediately change your fief's stat-line unless specifically noted.
In other cases, some sort of resource commitment or skill use may be required. For instance, the PC who can help solve a challenge may need to dedicate one or more MEs to the solution, or may need to succeed with a certain number of VPs on a skill check. As an example, the Baron of Ideros may have a challenge one spring where his wells are tainted. One possible solution would be to hire an Engineer or other tech-savvy character to set up a purification system, which might require an ME and 3 VPs on an extended Tech Redemption roll.
Usually, there is no limit on the number of challenges a character or fief can help solve. For instance, Ravenhurst, Brecourt and Callac may all have challenges of one sort or another where they need quarried stone, and each of them may be told that Helborg has extensive quarries. By default, the Baron of Helborg can help all three of those fiefs solve their problems; he will just become the stone-broker for the Shining Gulf. In some cases in the future, we may set up challenges where there is a scarce resource, but those challenges will be specially marked and will not occur in the first round of the system.
- By default, characters do not have to spend resources to solve an econ challenge, unless specifically noted.
- Sometimes, a character may need to spend an ME or make a skill check.
- In general, a character can help solve as many challenges as they want -- one fief could give food to four others, or one Reeve could make loans to three needy fiefs, or what have you.
Each time staff creates a economy challenge, they also create two or more proposed solutions to that problem. There are, of course, other possible solutions to a challenge, and sometimes players will want to come up with an unorthodox solution we haven't thought of. We encourage this, with the following caveats:
- One of the goals of the challenge system is to create topics for RP and to help people get involved with folks they might otherwise not see. Alternate solutions that don't achieve this goals may be rejected or tweaked so that they do.
- There is a broad balance to the challenges and solutions; while the balance isn't as exact as in a direct resource-trading system, we do keep an eye on parity. As a consequence, we may reject alternate solutions for balance reasons.
When an alternate solution doesn't quite achieve the goals we are seeking, we may reject it. There are several ways we may reject an alternate solution:
- We may rule that the alternate solution will not be effective in solving the problem, or that while it will help solve the problem it won't solve it entirely.
- We may alter the alternate solution so that it meets the involvement and balance goals we are seeking.
- We may rule that the alternate solution does solve the problem, but then issue another econ challenge in its place. We may issue some alternate reward for solving the original challenge, but the new challenge will be the one that is tallied at the end of the season.
Solving A Problem Multiple Times
Often, the proposed solutions for a problem may not be mutually exclusive. For instance, the Lord of Brecourt may be trying to help some of his merchants improve their pear wine, and staff may suggest that this could be helped by importing grapes from Childeric to help even out the flavor, by arranging for an exclusive contract with Akko, or by getting discounted barrels from the Altamont.
There is no logical reason why the Baron of Brecourt couldn't do all three of these things, and we encourage PCs to do as much as they would like to help solve a challenge. Such 'over-solving' doesn't have a direct mechanical effect, but we take it into account when developing new challenges and making rulings about the economic development of a fief. Indeed, in the latter case we sometimes use 'over-solved' challenges to grant synergy bonuses when making rolls.
The economy system will calculate income for fiefs, businesses, and other entities each season, and at the end of the season you will receive a bonus if you have complete all of your economy challenges:
- If you have completed all of your economy challenges, you will receive a +1 to your economy rolls this season.
If you have completed some of your economy challenges, then you will receive neither a bonus or a penalty. However, if you have completed almost none of your economy challenges, you will suffer a -1 penalty to your economy rolls.
Most fiefs have only two economy challenges, so this is easy. If you complete both, you will receive a +1. If you complete one, you will receive a +0. If you complete neither, you will receive a -1. For fiefs with four or more economy challenges, you need complete more than 25% of your economy challenges to avoid a penalty -- so 2 of 4 challenges or 3 of 8 challenges.
Getting More Challenges
New challenges are generated at the start of each season, and then when you solve challenges staff will also add new challenges in. Solving these 'extra' challenges can get a character extra bonuses -- for every additional set they complete, they'll receive a +1 synergy bonus to their econ rolls. Depending on the challenge, uncompleted challenges at the end of a season may roll over or they may disappear, as makes sense for the particular challenge.
Challenges and Consequences
Staff uses the way challenges are solved (or not solved) to generate challenges for future seasons and tell the story of the game. As a consequence, you should not assume that challenges are solved in a vacuum -- instead, the choices you make help determine the kinds of challenges you may face in the future, as well as broader questions about the world.
For instance, if your fief faces a labor shortage, you might ask the Chancellor for help importing refugees to work in your mines, solving the challenge. That decision will have consequences; it may lead to a challenge next season about more crime, for instance, but it may also give you a reputation as being charitable. In this way, the agreements and choices you make help define your place in the world and the destiny of your people.
Decisions you make in challenges may affect future challenges. In an earlier example, Jahant had an issue with Rotdam charging too-high fees for shipping, and one possible solution was that Rotdam agree to lower its fees. If Rotdam does so, Rotdam will not suffer an immediate economic consequence, but Rotdam may see a 'decreased revenue' challenge the next season. Over time, one of these challenges may have a consequence of reducing a fief's income, but if it does so that consequence will be spelled out clearly in the challenge. Solving someone else's challenge will never result in economic consequences for you unless it has been explicitly stated in advance, though it may in turn create a challenge for you the next season.
The current season is Fall 5001, and its challenges can be seen here: