The following is a rough idea dumping for how to handle in game businesses. Its prolly going to be a bit messy, but wanted to give peeps a bit of insight of what was being considered as this project is moving forward.
Historically there has been no single universal way on how a business was handled so we have this varied mix of businesses and what they gave to their owners. In some cases it gave an exclusive location with certain in game perks (ie monthly gold, command over people, etc). However obtaining a business and their rewards were never standardized, so we have a range where people paid nothing for a huge gain, and others paid a fortune for no gain and everything in between.
This is a scenario we wish to avoid repeating and have a standardized and simple system in place, and there is a ton of things to consider as we look into this.
What does one get out of a business?
The first question generally considered is what are the gains, why does this matter etc. For the most part it is some kind of resource - historically some business just gave X resource at a given time, while others were about becoming a favored RP spot (aka an old form of rep and popularity measurement).
There are a few perks that can be thought of - resources, reputation, and RP opportunity. Now it is a matter of reflecting that in the system in a way that makes sense and still holds to the golden rule of: All rewards must be worked for. Therefore for the Business Models from here on out there will be no automatic reward of X thing in a time frame. However this also means that players will no longer have to pay for something that doesn't give any kind of gain.
Part of what will be worked on will be trying to find more interesting ways for businesses to be reflected for those that want more then just an IC location to work with.
We also want to make it possible to where if a player only wants a certain aspect of a business that they are still not forced to take all the other parts.
In the system already we have ways for players to gain silver outside of sessions and selling items. It is possible to do scenes and silver gain is related to the PP gained in the scene. This gives us one way a business can be represented which is of some discussion in the Reputation and Ranks - which is an item. This item can provide a boost to actions reflecting the work in the business which in turn would boost the PP generated in that scene and thus increasing silver gains in general.
Taking into account our current Economy System (there are some plans to take a look at it in the future and see if we have a better way to handle it) and how we are handling employment starting a business can be handled similarly to a recruitment session. Where the goal of the mini session is the character successfully being able to start one up rather then convincing a NPC/PC to hire them. This in turn will lead to that character also getting an Econ Boost just like any other character seeking employment - the difference is that character is self employed rather then employed by another. Thus no single method of employment is seen as better - and should our econ system change it can be applied to all with no need of conversion.
This will be the first step in building a business.
If the character has already earned all their econ boosts, they will still have to do the mini session as a means of establishing the business. (may look into alternative rewards such as reputation for the mini sesh in such cases)
Businesses and Reputation
Just owning a business will not equate to becoming well known. It is also hard to tie a business in with a flat reputation gain due to our reputation system in general. Unlike silver gains where that is dependent on X PP produced, reputation is rewarded by actual RP which is reflected by counting up the amount of relevant posts pertaining to getting out there and getting the name out. Therefore if we let businesses give a flat rep, people are earning something with no work, which we can not allow. We also do not want people to flat out be able to buy reputation due to the Reputation and Ranks system coming into play. The only time it will be ok to buy rep is if obtaining it from another player as outlined in the Rank and Rep discussion, of which that becomes a trade of resources for services rendered.
Instead Businesses will become a backdrop for reputation, a motivation for earning rep within the relevant circles - this will reflect the owner and their employees getting out there and making the business known. If in the future the Reputation System is changed we can adjust for it. This is also to help encourage cases where multiple PCs are involved in a business to collaborate to do rep gain scenes if they are interested.
Treating all businesses similar to organizations
After taking a long look at it businesses have a lot of things similar to how we are handling organizations - even more so with the introduction of Ranks and such. And those can even come into play in a business in regards to employment and growth.
Just like organizations there has to be a managing/partial owning position that is held by a NPC. This is to handle situations where the player of the founding character for whatever reasons can no longer play and maintain the business project, and Setting can keep it going (especially if the sudden loss of the business has a notable impact on other PCs and the setting)
Some businesses are organizations to begin with. Something like a mercenary company is not only a business but also an organization. So it doesn't make sense and may complicate things if we have too many different types. By treating all businesses as a kind of organization we can apply the rules as they fit (since our organization rules are modular enough for that to begin with)
This gives us a rough outline on how this will work:
Starting a business is akin to finding a job - this is the starting point of it manifesting in game.
Handled by doing a Business starting session, which is just like a recruitment session - rewards econ boost if available or an alternative reward such as rep
Once business is established must create a NPC to be in a right hand/management position. If the player does not make one Setting will make one for them.
Hiring employees after that is a basic recruitment session as covered in the PC to PC relationship thingy - it costs nothing for a PC to hire employees.
From there that leaves us how to get the business as an item. This will likely be obtainable two ways - paying for it or another mini session. We do have a conversion rate for Silver to XP that can be used so it will give players 2 ways to get it pending on preference.
For the time being the item is considered for the owner only as it is about representing the resources gained for owning and managing a business, as atm the only reward for being employed is RP topics and econ boosts.
Something to churn out is how to 'upgrade' the business item - the most obvious option is to after a certain time frame allow the owner to purchase another level via XP grind or Silver, though there will be a max rank of which the item can not be upgraded beyond.
In general the price of the item representing the business will be used to determine the worth of the business (even if the item isn't purchased, it will then just default to the cost of the lowest rank as that reflection will be of a business that hasn't really been grown). This is important in cases where at some time a player may be interested in purchasing an already existing business.
In cases where a PC is still active and owns the business it is at that player's discretion if they want to sell their business or not and they can not be forced to sell if they do not want to.
In order to keep a business once it has been established the player must remain active on the site. If the player is inactive for 6 months Setting assumes control of the business with the established NPC(s) to manage it. If the player returns they will have to work to regain the business that was lost either by starting a new one or purchasing the one back that was lost if applicable.
Part of the nature of the game is competitive in nature and always changing, we can not just pause something because a player can no longer play. Things must be kept moving.
In regards to having a NPC in a position of authority - this is a standard rule for all organizations and projects. While the PC owner is active that NPC is likely to be a backdrop but is there just in case there is a need. But the PC owner can always set the terms for their business while they are active which also includes deciding if they wish to hire other PCs or not, the flavor of the business, etc. In the case of hiring, the PC employer follows the rules already established, but the player may also include in a note if they are ok with a SH doing the recruitment session without them being present and just use the NPC. The player of the PC employee will be able to but notes on NPCs related to their business - they can make such requests with Setting whenever they need to make updates. However if Setting receives no input from the player of the PC owner, they will do their best to build the NPC to fit the business based on what information they have on the business.
Once a business is in control of Setting it follows the same rules as all other NPC owned businesses (especially in regards for purchasing and hiring.)
Co-owning and transfer from PC to PC:
Co-owning a business is simple enough, if more then one player agrees to their characters working together to build up the business, it goes through the same steps, though the co-owning PCs can do the scenes and sessions together rather then solo if they wish. When it comes to purchasing the item - each owner must purchase one (ie one character can't buy it and then share it, each character to take advantage of it must own their own.) - however if being purchased with XP work the players may all do that scene together, and in regards of using coin to buy for the other players it follows the same rules as other PC to PC item transactions.
It is then up to those players to collaborate on what happens to the business from there. If all players of the PC owners go inactive for 6 months, then Setting will assume control with the designated NPC(s)
Transferring control from one player to another also works similarly with some ground rules. The transaction can not be forced in anyway (aka has to follow the same rules as all item transactions between PCs). There must be a scene to provide a record of when the transfer of ownership happened. Once the transfer is complete the former own looses the business item as the new owner gains it (no holding on to it unless of course there is only a partial transfer of control - ie gaining a business partner of which refer to the co-owner rules). The new PC owner can not fire PC employees without an IC reason (and must follow the PC to PC relationship rules) nor can they get rid of NPCs in a position of authority (though they may change them to a different NPC to better reflect their vision of the business)
Investing in a business:
This is about where kind of ran into the idea wall. Investing will likely manifest in several different forms depending on what what players want. The most simple form will be akin to the co-owning scenario, as well as a player character being paid for the investment as reflected by XP (akin to a PC campaigning for another PC), and if investing in general is the character's method of employment then they just follow the rules to make their own business to get an item for their investing scenes.
However in some ways investing is also like gambling, though ina way that is kind of covered in generating PP for silver in a scene. Investing in a business can also be a topic for a rep gain scene where applicable. The key thing to keep in mind is to get any kind of reward there must be some matching work done.
Updated - Rewrote in hope of ease of reading and with some of the feedback given.
- Make it accessible at any level
- Do not a repeat of past instances where the system was eventually rigged in favor of a very select few
- Economy System is put X amount of Silver and get Y amount of Silver over time - do not want to repeat this
- Must put some form of ‘work’ in to get some reward - aka no passive gains
- Do not want to make Reputation just another universal currency
RP Topic: Basically a motivation for a RP. Get no rewards or perks from it.
Paying with XP: Roleplaying out a scene to a target amount of XP in order to earn a perk
To have a business as just a RP topic for a character requires no steps - but such business provide no perks, no rewards, and have no effect system wise. Aka it is no more than flavor, no location outside of a personal room, or makes use of existing area locations.
To have a business that gives some kind of perk, reward or other system effect will require some kind of work investment be it through XP or Silver.
If a player has been playing with a business as flavor they will have to do new RP scenes to start the path to perks/rewards.
Starting a business
“Recruitment Session” to establish record of start of business. Rewards one of the following:
- Econ Boost
Business reflected in an item that will boost silver gains in a monthly scene. Can choose 1 out of the possible options.
- Can give a bonus to a skill (stackable with other skill items)
- Can give a flat silver boost to the scene (meaning you only get the silver from the item when you submit the scene) - (leaning towards using this one)
To get Business Item can do the following:
- Can do Scene and meet XP Requirement
- Pay Equivalent in Silver
Once Business is Established
Player must create an open NPC to be in a management position for the business
- This NPC will be usable by A/SH’s
- Must follow NPC guidelines
- In order to change/alter/update after NPC is established Player will have to work with Setting following the same rules as any other NPC update.
- Player will be given a set time in order to create NPC before Setting will create one for them. Proposed time limits : 2 weeks to 1 month
Hiring employees costs nothing for the Player
- NPC employees - can assume there is enough to help the business run minimally, considered reflected in the Business Item.
- PC employees - Must follow PC to PC relationships Guidelines
- Hired via a Recruitment Session - Standard Rewarding Applies
- A/SH will oversee if PC owner chooses to do it or A/SH can run it using NPC associated with business
Maintenance and Growth of the Business
Upgradeable to reflect growth and investment into Business
- Multiple ranks of item (Set a cap?)
- Each rank purchasable via XP or Silver
- Can’t skip item ranks
Each rank will just be paying the for the perk increase (ie if the current level gives 200 Silver and the next level 300 silver then the next rank cost will be for that 100 Silver gain)
Item will have a Silver Value - that Value is the price of the Business
- Item can be bought, sold, traded per the usual Item Rules reflecting the buying, selling or trading of the business.
- An active Player can not be forced to sell if they do not wish.
Must do a scene to unlock the reward for that month
- A month is due to the current guidelines of PC employment where once a month a little bit of relevant RP reflects the continuing employed status.
If the Player doesn’t do their monthly maintenance they get nothing
- Player can not have other Player(s) do the maintenance play for them and get the reward.
- Player can not say ‘NPC did the work’ to get reward
If the Player goes inactive they lose the business
- Inactive means:
Not logging in for 6 months
Being unresponsive for 6 months despite logging in
Unresponsive = ignoring any contact regarding the project
- Setting will assume control of the business using the associated NPC
Business will then follow the same rules of any other NPC owned business
Must keep the Setting elements moving forward
Part of the nature of the game is competitive in nature and always changing, we can not just pause something because a player can no longer play.
- If Player returns to being active can either start over or try to purchase lost business back
Any conflicts between Players will be handled by Social and Setting
Follows the same steps but the work/costs can be split among the Players wanting to co-own and do the RP scenes in a group rather than solo.
Each owner has to get their own item - no sharing a single item.
- Each owner is responsible for upgrading their own item - though those scenes/costs can be done cooperatively as well.
- In regards of using coin to buy for the other players it follows the same rules as other PC to PC item transactions.
- To considered, if the work is split, divide the item per owner.
- (IE If the first rank of item gives 200 silver, and two players decide to co-own a business together they do all the work together to get the item. Thus the 200 silver item is split between them so they each get an item that grants them 100s.
Each item will have its own value and it is the price for the part of the business that one character owns. This is for in case one Player wishes to sell or transfer their share and it won’t affect the other Players and won’t mess with the general pricing of the business.
Will also allow for a way to account for unequal distribution of work involvement, or if a Player just wants to sell ‘part’ of the business but not all)
It is up to the Players to collaborate on what happens to the business. Any disputes that rise up Social will instigate mediation between the players. Setting will be consulted as need be.
Still requires a NPC to be in a management position - follows same rules as above.
If all Players of the PC owners go inactive for 6 months, then Setting will assume control with the associate NPC(s)
Means trading, selling, giving the business item to another Player or NPC if applicable
The transaction can not be forced in anyway (Has to follow the same rules as all item transactions between PCs).
There must be a scene to provide a record of when the transfer of ownership happened.
Once the transfer is complete the former own looses the business item as the new owner gains it (no holding on to it unless of course there is only a partial transfer of control - ie gaining a business partner of which refer to the co-owner rules).
The new PC owner can not fire PC employees without an IC reason (and must follow the PC to PC relationship rules) nor can they get rid of NPCs in a position of authority (though they may request to assign a new NPC of their design in place of the previous NPC(s))
Being based off of a business item type that grants X silver for a monthly submitted scene.
An investor is not the same as a Co-Owner/Partner - Will have no say on how to run the business.
Investor will get their own kind of item that they can unlock the reward in a scene they can submit monthly.
Investor item will be tied to the investor and not a business.
This way if a character has multiple investments they won’t need an item for each one, they can just keep it all in one and do just 1 scene.
We can list in the item what businesses were invested to to grow it.
To obtain the item:
- Can use Silver or XP payable to the Owner to get a ‘percentage of profits’
- 'Percentage of profits' will not remove anything from the actual business item
- Pay a percent of the value of the business item value
- For the percentage an investor puts in they get an item that will grant that same percent of the Silver granted by the business item.
- If the business ranks up - the investor item does not increase
This is to prevent getting more reward for no work, if the investor wants more, they need to go invest again.
Iggy wants to invest in a business that has a business item that grants 400 Silver for a monthly scene. They decide to invest 15% - this means they will pay 15% of the value of the business item to gain an investor item for 15% of the profit at the time of investing - which would be 60 Silver. That means when they do their monthly scene they can use their item to be guaranteed 60 silver.
In the case of using XP to gain an investment
- Could be ‘stored’ by the owner to apply to a future scene relating to improving their business
- Could be about haggling with a NPC owner (haggling with PC owners is not being considered as that requires the consent of the player which is something that can not be forced)
If an investor does not submit their scene they do not get anything
Will have an item rank assigned to them based upon their description and role
Will have at least some portion available for PC purchase
Well known and established ones may be subject for additional Setting oversight
Will be clearly stated