What kind of currency do I want in a game? Do I want people worrying about credit balance, or… something else?
Blades in the Dark uses Coin to represent liquid assets, and it can be deposited in Stash which is a longer term storage. Coin is the reward for your criminal activity, and you can use it to grease the wheel for all manner of downtime activities - whether finding assets, continuing with long term plans or many other things.
When coin is placed in Stash, your lifestyle improves. Should your character retire from the game your Stash indicates what their retirement looks like. You can get Coin out of Stash if you need it, but at a cost. You have to remove 2 from Stash for every 1 which you add to your available Coin.
Born to the Purple has the players taking the role of diplomats in space, negotiating with one another. As representatives of sprawling interstellar regimes I don’t want them to worry about Coin (or a sci-fi equivalent like Credits). I don’t care about charging them for their drinks, their fancy meals or even their gambling - because money isn’t the currency which they need in order to make things happen.
That would be favours.
So Favour is the form of liquid ‘currency’ in Born to the Purple. It is a generalisation of the wink and the nod, the greased palm at the right time. We don’t worry about keeping track of who owes exactly what to whom here, and the assumption is that favours can be passed around. A favour which is owed to you can be passed on to someone else and now the favour is owed to that third party. It is a vast informal network of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch his”. Part of the normal business of being a diplomat and wheeler-dealer in this far-future world.
You can then spend Favour during routine life on the diplomatic station to get better results from your research, to get better medical treatment or higher quality items. You can sometimes spend favour to make trouble go away, or to bring a minor bit of trouble to others.
Favour is transitory, and the equivalent of Stash is your Support Network. You can invest favour in your Support Network on a one for one basis, and as your Support Network grows, so you lifestyle improves and you have access to nicer things.
When you invest Favour in your Support Network, you are formalising your relationships with unnamed people. Transitory favours become something more trusted, more dependable.
Of course, sometimes you might want to cash in some favours but find the well is try. If so you can burn some of your support network, turning it back into fungible Favour but at a cost… you have to lose 2 Support Network for every 1 Favour you extract from it.
I’m also noodling some thoughts around recording longer term debts or obligations. The idea that someone does something for you and that you now owe them, and they can call in a debt of honour at a future point, is a really strong one in stories. It’s the kind of thing that I think ought to play well in Born to the Purple too. Nothing like having debts hanging over you!
It seems likely that I’m going to lean into the rules I’m introducing for Facts (see previous blog post), as this kind of debt might be a Fact which is assigned to you that can be invoked by an OC (Other Character) at some future point.