Monday, February 22, 2021

Wiki Spotlight: Psi-Wars Currencies

"I can do Calamari Flan… But I can only pay half."

Greef Karga, the Mandalorian

Do you know what Psi-Wars needs more than anything? If you answered "Unnecessarily detailed rules on currencies in Psi-Wars that nobody will use" then you, my friend, have the same sort of problem my brain does late at night.  Because that's what I wrote. 9,000 words of obsessively detailed currency rules.

Why would I do this? Well, first, because my brain wouldn't shut up about it.  I kept coming up with new currency ideas, and I had to sketch them somewhere.  Believe it or not, these are somewhat edited down from what I originally had! But more than that, I got to thinking about the Heist, and what people would steal, and how they would expect to get paid. Combined with my recent explorations of finances for other things, I found myself coming up with all sorts of questions, questions like:

  • Do cash-based currencies even make sense in a sci-fi setting?
  • If they don't, what do people on remote, "uncivilized" worlds use for money?
  • If they use cash, or commodity currencies, how much do they weigh?
  • How do you handle interstellar commerce? How do you balance the books of a star-spanning corporation or empire?
  • If the Empire controlled financial institutions, what prevents them from freezing the accounts of political dissidents?
  • Why would the Empire allow the Alliance to use the same financial institutions they do?
  • How do criminals get around various laws to buy stuff on the black market or get paid by fixers?
  • What does commerce in the Umbral Rim look like? How crazy can we get it?
  • Do the Keleni even need money?
  • What sort of money did various ancient empires use? Do they still use them?
I began to answer the questions for myself, writing out notes, looking up rules for these in other books, discovering the Flux rules in Cyberworld, diving into various financial concepts, and as I wrote out the notes, they became more and more detailed, and I had to trim them down further.  I had a noted down quick summary of every currency which, I notice, is no longer present in the article, but I could add it back, if you guys prefer.

I've separated this off for a reason.  I imagine the vast majority of people playing Psi-Wars just scratch off the word "Dollar" in GURPS and replace it with "Credit" and don't think more about it.  And when they get to an alien world with alien commerce, they just stop for a moment, shrug and make up something on the spot.  And, you know, that's fine.  I've listed that as a default set of rules in my currency article.  But some inspiration for some of these weirder currencies might be nice, and if you think about things like my questions above, you might want some answers to things like "How can a criminal do business in the Empire?" and "Do Keleni have money?", so I've provided those. I've even added some rules to allow you invest your character more deeply into a particular currency, and to play up its impact on the setting, if you want.  I may further expand these, depending on what people want. But I don't expect most people will ever use them, so everything about the article is self-contained. It's a "nice to have" that you can explore at your leisure.

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