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Time and Money: Alternative Wealth Rules for GURPS

(With thanks to Geoffrey Fagan, andi jones, and the rest of the GURPSnet crew)

The Rules


Work Hours:
Covers all time tied up in activities that keep you from adventuring, including unpaid work and commuting.
All those possessions that cannot readily be converted to cash without taking a loss (typically 50% or worse). This includes land, buildings, vehicles, cyberwear, and magic items.
Money, plus any possessions not counted as goods.
All cash and goods owned. Usually this is split into 20% cash, 80% goods.
Discretionary Income:
The amount of money left over each month after you have paid for the essentials (food, lodging, etc). You can freely choose what you do with this.

The GM should define Standard Work Hours, Standard Capital and Standard Discretionary Income for the campaign. If you wish to tie wealth more closely to Status, set Standard Capital and/or Discretionary Income individually for each Status level; see the discussion of Status, below.

New Advantages

Increased Capital 5 points/level

You have more capital than average. Each level increases your capital according to the following progression: ×2, ×5, ×10, ×20, ×50, ×100, etc.

Special limitation: The increase only affects one part of your capital, either the cash or the goods. -50%.

Increased Discretionary Income 5 points/level

You have more discretionary income than average. Each level increases your discretionary income according to the following progression: ×2, ×5, ×10, ×20, ×50, ×100, etc.

Reduced Work Hours 1 point/level

You spend fewer hours involved in work-related activities than average. Each level reduces hours worked by 10%.

New Disadvantages

Increased Work Hours -1 point/level

You spend more hours involved in work-related activities than average. Each level reduces your free time by three hours per week.

Reduced Capital -5/-10/-15 points

You have less capital than average. Each level reduces your capital according to the following progression: ×1/2, ×1/5, negligible.

Special enhancement: The decrease only affects one part of your capital, either the cash or the goods. -50%.

Reduced Discretionary Income -5/-10/-15 points

You have less discretionary income than average. Each level reduces your discretionary income according to the following progression: ×1/2, ×1/5, negligible.

Severe Debt -20 points

Not only do you have no discretionary income, you cannot even pay for essentials without using up some of your capital. If you do not do this there will be serious consequences such as starvation, loss of status, or imprisonment.

This disadvantage includes three levels of Reduced Discretionary Income.


These rules completely replace the following published GURPS rules:

Why use these rules?

Why not use them?

Naturally, while I can see the validity of these arguments, they don't convince me...



With these rules, the income from the Jobs Table becomes no more than a guideline for setting discretionary income. In freelance jobs, an average should be assumed; the roll can still be made to see how much more (or less) money the character has available in any particular month.

Status and Monthly Cost of Living

The role of Status in these rules provoked the greatest variety of opinion in discussions on GURPSnet and Pyramid; about the only point of agreement was that the rigid link between Status and Cost of Living was a problem. My recommendations:

  1. Buy Status based purely on the social effects (i.e., the reaction modifier).
  2. Treat the Monthly Cost of Living for a character as part of essential expenditure (not spending it eventually reduces your Status and thus point total).

With these rulings, the Status trait includes the means to live appropriately at your Status level and you never need to worry about the actual monetary value of Monthly Cost of Living.

It may be desirable to go further, so that (for instance) a knight can own his land/horse/armour without paying extra points for wealth. To do this, define Standard Capital or Standard Discretionary Income as a multiple of Monthly Cost of Living (MCL). In a published setting, the Standard Capital multiple can be calculated by dividing Standard Starting Wealth by the Status 0 MCL (for example, Fantasy is 5×MCL and Modern is 25×MCL); the Standard Discretionary Income multiplier can be estimated from the Jobs Table (e.g., p. B194) by dividing average income for an average job by the Status 0 MCL, then subtracting 1. In the ancient world this should be a small fraction (people didn't have much to spare). Most later historical and SF settings should be in the range (½–1½)×MCL; Fantasy is exceptional at 3×MCL. My only problems with this are that it increases complexity and that (in my opinion) it makes the Status advantage too cheap.

Other Related Advantages & Disadvantages

Some traits overlap with these rules, modifying the amount of money or free time you have. To avoid getting points back for the same disadvantage twice (or paying extra for an advantage) it is necessary to set some conditions.

Patrons often provide money and/or equipment. Ideally the "friends and foes" traits would be thoroughly revised, but the easiest way to handle this without doing so is to ignore the equipment/money providing aspects of a Patron, instead paying for any received as part of your wealth.
Addiction, some Compulsive Behaviors, Dependents, Workaholic:
These use up time and/or money. This should be counted as part of your free time/discretionary income. Addiction is broken anyway, referring to absolute costs without taking account of the campaign...
Duty and Sense of Duty:
These are useful for justifying behaviour, but needn't affect point cost. Use common sense; if the only effect of your Sense of Duty to your nation is that you work long hours in a government position, buy Increased Work Hours instead.

Campaign Types

The value of wealth will vary depending on the campaign; I recommend using these rules in conjunction with my suggestions for pricing social traits. For instance, I have set the cost of Reduced Work Hours between half and two-thirds the cost of less sleep. This makes sense to me but means that not working is twice as expensive as Independent Income; you can restore compatibility with current rules by halving the cost of the work hours traits.

andi jones came up with a great way of defining campaigns based on how wealth is gained:

Background Income:
In many campaigns jobs take place between adventures, "off-screen", with roleplayed events happening in the PCs' free time. Examples include classic four-colour Supers, and secret horror or conspiracy games where the PCs just happen upon The Truth. This is the default assumption in these rules, and they should be usable as-is.
Played Income:
Other campaigns — such as Cops, Black Ops, and Special Ops — make the job the focus of the game, with adventures happening on "company time". This makes Increased/Reduced Work Hours at most a background trait, and it could be argued that working less is a disadvantage since it keeps the character out of play! Moreover, PCs are commonly provided with standard equipment by their employer, making capital and income worth less.
Sporadic Income:
Finally, characters in some campaigns have no regular income, earning what they can during adventures; examples include dungeon-delving Fantasy, and Traveller speculative traders. Income and work hours mean little in these circumstances and should probably be ignored unless there is a severe imbalance within the party.

This page originally found at
Last updated: 30 March 2002

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