Gearing up at start of play

Just wondering how people tend to handle the acquisition of extra gear by players at the start of a game? Do you require the players to make acquisition rules using the standard “You have mere minutes to acquire this item!” process, with Acquisition and Cost rolls, with the clock ticking at the start of the adventure?

After all, applying the sidebar rules on p330, if the PC might have had enough time (more than a few months) to acquire an item they wanted over the course of the recent past, then the difficulty of the Acquisition (Lifestyle) Test would be reduced to D0, which means that any Momentum from the roll will increase the Effective Earnings to be applied against the Total Cost.

And, additionally, the player might argue that, if they’ve had plenty of time to acquire an item, then a) they could have made multiple acquisition tests, and would therefore have definitely managed to find a seller, and b) it could have happened sufficiently far in the past that any Shortfalls would have been paid off.

So, functionally, the player might argue that, as long as the item’s rolled Cost is less than 5+(2xEarnings)+Lifestyle*, they would have been able to acquire it - and that’s ignoring any Momentum on the Acquisition test!

Which means that a character with Earnings 3 and Lifestyle Expertise 3 would, given time, have reasonably been able to acquire pretty much anything with a rolled Cost of less than or equal to 14 - which would seem to cover many of the items in the gear chapter.

So, do you allow your players to make post-generation-and-pre-adventure item purchases, or are they restricted to starting ‘playing time’ with only the gear that they have acquired from their careers?

*Calculated as follows … Item can be afforded if Total Cost (rolled Cost - Earnings) is less then Cashflow (5+Earnings+Lifestyle) i.e. if rC - E <= 5 + E + L which can be simplified to rC <= 5 + 2E + L

I’ve very recently started to GM some Infinity and am still tuning the game to make it as enjoyable for our table as possible. As far as purchases are concerned I’ve made the decision that my players can do purchases in the lead up to the mission but that any purchases (or surgery/tinkering/research) they do at that point will carry over into the mission itself.

Thus far it’s worked out quite well. Since it sets some limits on what the players can acquire between missions but take most of the shopping out of the session.

I give them the timeframe they have to work with and we’ll take it from there.

We’re also implementing a house rule that the tariff value of the item acts as a multiplier on how long a time it takes to acquire an object. So if you’re buying pain killers you’ll be able to do that in a couple of minutes. Buying an assault pistol? Couple of hours. Buying a Hyper-Rapid Magnetic Cannon? It’ll take weeks to find one to purchase and process the necessary paper work. It’s not like they’re sold in every friendly neighborhood store.

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In my two games I have a pair or very wealthy PC’s and in one of those two games a pair of players that really enjoy perusing the equipment lists for upgrades. So, I think I have some experience I’d like to share here.

First of all, the Gear system in Infinity, specifically the bit at the end of character creation is somewhat of a hold-over from when the buy/sell system was meant to be a more traditional system where Assets would be spent. The actual Acquisition rules don’t equate so well with that approach given that with “Infinite Time” or even 1 Day, you can reduce the restriction of most items to 0 and for each reduction in requisition you do essentially equates into +1 Earning rating during the final calculation step.

So, at character creation you really have to be careful on how much time you give a player and honestly, I would give them none at all. Even just “an hour’s prep-time” is room for a character to say: “Well if normally its a few moments to get a thing then I guess I will just start at A and work my way through Z seeing what I can get instantly”.

It’s that sort of approach, which a lot of RPG’s encourage when it comes to gearing, that the system falls apart.

But, it’s really all about context.

Firstly, the Acquisition system is not a Downtime system, its meant to be used In-Situ, its meant to just summarize the negotiations with a store owner etc, but it should be done in-scene so you can have consequences for Complications or failed rolls.

Similarly, and I only remember this myself recently, any Acquisition test is still a standard Roll, which means you apply the usual modifiers for Lifestyle ON TOP of the Requisition modifier. Are your PC’s in a gun’s store buying weaponry? if yes then there is no modifier for range essentially. If no then add difficulty as they have to convince the person on the other end of the Commlog to seel to them without seeing an ID. Then, how about delivery? What if the players look a bit shifty? Have they been on the news for involvement in a shootout in the streets? All these factors should add to the roll and demonstrate that Purchasing items in Infinity isn’t a thing “done off to the side”.

Now, having said all of that, that’s more from my perspective running games of “freelancers”, for the default setting of Spy vs Spy you should have a slightly different approach.

In this case Equipment Acquisition is far more a case of what is assigned to the group or what they can requisition using the black-accounts their employers Bureau Noir or their homelands have assigned them.

They aren’t really spending their own money on these acquisitions unless they use Assets, its more about what gear they get access to or request, such factions probably have limits on what sort of gear they want their agents to take on missions, they probably won’t let a TAG get acquired for a sneak ‘n’ peek for example.

Similarly, the whole idea of the default setting is that the players are off doing other things, going about their day-to-day and being brought in for specific operations, that is their “Downtime” and its filled with all the other off-screen activities centred around normal life that does not matter to the cinematic nature of the adventures they go on.
Such Adventures call them from their other duties and probably straight into a briefing, immediately followed by a shuttle-ride to whatever transport delivers them to their destination. Not really the sort of situation the agents would have time to do much shopping in.

Most, if not all Bureau Noir assignments have a level of time-sensitivity to them and wasting time shopping would be pretty frowned upon I imagine.

Now, don’t let this stop you from allowing your players to go out and get gear. In my groups one of the players has a Minor Ally who is a smuggler that they can call upon to get them the odd item hand delivered, for a price. Just make sure that any acquisitions are a part of the story, not the traditional shopping for equipment post-D&D session bookkeeping.

Having said all that, it’s still perfectly acceptable to give you players Downtime that they can use to gain items, just be aware that the system is designed to work hand-in-hand with all the other mechanics of the game.

If your players really want to shop between sessions make sure it happens only between missions and that if the item is well within their Earnings rating on a half-decent roll (aka they can reduce the Restriction to 0), don’t make the roll, just say they bought the item and subtract the outcome from their Cashflow OR if they really want to roll to generate Momentum to increase their earnings, change the type of Roll into a Complication Test (page 31 Core Rules, any roll the GM wants can be considered one of these) and add the Complications as story to their purchases (Maybe that Gun they bought is Hot or they didn’t think to get a permit for it) or take the Heat to represents other factors from these purchases having a direct impact on your next session (such as various factions watching the players and noting the sorts of gear they have bought so they can take appropriate countermeasures if necessary).

  • Raith

P.S. Make sure you check out Incidental Purchases on page 330, that covers what players should be able to buy without needing to work for it, AKA do it in-game.

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Thanks @Gahalla - that house rule on acquisition times sounds like a handy one to cut down on over-optimistic shopping plans.

And thanks too, @Raith - I used to run Shadowrun, which has a whole different (more traditional) approach to gearing up before the start of an adventure/campaign, and I know players with the same background. I was wondering whether, other than gear from character generation, anything other than Incidental Purchases (which can include Normal Reloads, I note with some mental maths, but nothing with a Tariff, like almost anything interesting [grin]) could be acquired at the end of generation - especially with people on this forum mentioning things like purchasing upgrades for their Geist at the end of generation.

Very good point about range modifiers for shopping!

So, in summary, all purchases are intended to be in-game, rather than downtime (or pre-game), and characters only start play with the gear that they got as a result of their career phases during generation.

From both your ideas, they would work as a downtime-purchase-synthesis …

  1. Use the length of downtime to limit the Restriction of downtime-available items, a lá @Gahalla - if you’ve only got a day off, no Hyper-Rapid Magnetic Cannon for you!
  2. Apply @Raith’s ‘average roll result’ approach to working out what they can afford during downtime without rolling (perhaps treating the “Rolled Cost” as if each die rolled a 2). If they want to make a roll for Momentum, or try to get a better deal, then they have to use the standard in-game acquisition process (unless it’s an Incidental Purchase).
    Anything they can’t get using that mechanic is definitely complex enough to require them to play it through, as it will be a major piece of gear.

Applying that, if they want to replace a misplaced Chain Rifle without rolling for it, they’ll need a couple of days in between jobs to do so, and will need to be able to afford taking a 7-cost to their Cashflow (which will then affect them during the subsequent adventure) - and it will still keep the big stuff out of reach. If they need it faster, or need a better deal, then they’ll have to use the standard acquisition process.

Cheers both!

I believe the rule for reloads is, outside of fancy ammo granted specifically from character creation the player starts the game with 3 Reloads per weapon and can carry that number at any given time. I also use that as a rough rule for how many weapons a person can easily carry. 3 “rifle-sized”/2-handed weapons and any 1-handed/pistol sized weapons count as 0.5 on that scale, and if you go to the max you look like a walking armoury.

As for replacing lost/destroyed gear, thats really up to the GM to decide but I have seen two general approaches, the first is that between missions anything without a Tarrif is just replaced, the destruction only impacts on a specific adventure. Or the more generous approach in which once you buy an item its essentially “access to a supply”. That works well enough for the Spy vs Spy stuff where you have backing but in a more mundane game I feel its very generous.

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Our group recently had some downtime, and I tried something different this time around. There were several characters that had some big-ticket items that they wanted to purchase.

Instead of telling them, “You have 5 weeks to go shopping,” and letting them spend that time as @Raith described, I did it differently. I told them that you can buy one item that requires “weeks”, you can buy three items that require “days” and you can buy as many items you want which are “hours” or less.

This worked out pretty well. Everyone got one nice big expensive toy for the next adventure. The rich player of the group was able to get a little more than everyone else since his lifestyle was high enough that he didn’t need to reduce all his tests to a D0.

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