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From The Space Gamer: Economics in TFT

July 28, 2018

From TSG 61 (March 1983)

One of the fascinating aspects of The Fantasy Trip (TFT) is its economic system. Not only are prices given for items that player-characters might want to buy, but salaries are shown for different jobs they might undertake between adventures. Naturally, it would take a whole rulebook to list all the jobs one could possibly have, and doubtless players who want to have their characters work at something not on the list can extrapolate from the list.

However, characters might find it easier to find part-time, or short-term jobs, rather than have to work around their steady occupations when they want to go adventuring.

In order to be attractive to employers on a one-shot basis, characters will have to be able to present an efficient, knowledgeable appearance. After all, who’s going to hire an armor-polisher whose own sword and shield are rusty? To apply for temporary or part-time jobs, characters must be spending a minimum amount on lifestyle – this simulates having the appropriate clothing and buying drinks for the correct contacts or licensing officials.

For any job requiring a skill costing 1 IQ point -$10/week

For any job requiring a skill costing 2 IQ points -$20/week

For any job requiring a skill costing 3 IQ points -$30/week

These costs are in addition to the basic $20/week required of all TFT characters. For every $10 short a character is of his lifestyle total, he receives a -1 on his roll for employment. Other modifiers to the roll include: Any bonus or minus to reaction rolls, -2 if the character does not have all of the skills required for a job, -5 if the character has none of the skills required for a job (but it’s still possible to con a prospective employer, if you have enough brains and charm), +2 if the character is well-known as a good worker or "industry leader."

Of course, not all jobs are worth having, for some characters. In a city of reasonable size – say, 2,000 inhabitants ­­– a character looking for a job will find varying numbers of opportunities for different types of job. Income levels of jobs available and how many are easily found are as follows·:

Income Level  Number of Jobs Available
Subsistence   40/week
$5/week 20/week
$10/20/30/week* 10/5/3/week
Normal salary for employment type 2/week

For simplicity’s sake, assume a proportional increase/decrease in the number of jobs available for different sized communities. For example, if the community is twice the size indicated – about 4,000 residents – simply double the availabilities. If a community is half the size, divide the availability in half. If the availability falls, in a small community, to “half a job” or less in a week, consider that a job only becomes open at the GM’s option.

A character may apply for five jobs in the course of a week. To apply, he makes his intelligence roll, plus any modifiers from the list previously given. If he makes his roll he has found a job that will last for 2d6 weeks (or GM’s option).

Also at GM option will be what sort of jobs become available at the higher income levels – it’s quite likely that there will be short-term occupations available, but none for which the character is qualified.

*That is, $10/week for a job requiring one IQ point in talents, $20/week for two point’s worth, etc.


Budding entrepreneurs have a place in TFT, too. Those wishing to go into business for themselves, using a mundane skill, must make an investment in property, equipment, inventory, etc. This investment is the weekly salary that is normal for that type of work multiplied by:

15 for 1 IQ-point skills

30 for 2 IQ-point skills

50 for 3+ IQ-point skills.

Once this investment has been made – and it may be paid by installments if the NPC representing vendors or suppliers agree – the business can start making money. Each week, roll one die:

1 – Lose twice the normal weekly salary for that type work.

2 – Lose the normal weekly salary for that type work.

3 – Break even.

4 – Earn the normal weekly salary for that type work.

5 – Earn twice the normal weekly salary.

6 – Earn three times the normal weekly salary.

Of course, this is just an abstraction – if a character in an ongoing campaign wants to become an entrepreneur, the GM will probably want to make the business in question more concrete, complete with a location, NPCs business decisions, trade embargoes, etc. The numbers above are for a very small business, assuming a small location (say, a tavern) and two employees (in the case of a tavern, probably a cook and a maid/servant).

Naturally, to make a business work, you have to be there. Characters may be off two days per week – to go adventuring or anything else they want to do – and the business will run. For every day a character is off in a week beyond the second day, it is -1 to the income roll (limit -3). This -1 may be prevented by having a capable employee run the business in the owner’s absence. Roll to acquire an employee as you would to be an employee looking for that type of work. Once hired, employees will continue to work as long as desired – these are not adventurers. Employee salary is at the normal rate for that type of work, and when you’re rolling for weekly results, must be subtracted from a die roll of 3 and added to the loss on rolls of 1 or 2. However, after the employee has been on the job for a while – four months per IQ point cost – the salary is subsumed into the die rolls.

Moreover, after a year and a half, the employee’s production will have improved to the point where you may add + 1 to the die roll (a result of 7 brings in five times the normal weekly salary). If an employee is not hired, business will be presumed to have improved in any event within a year, allowing + 1 die rolls (except for those weeks where you have taken more than two days off). Employees will generally quit if not paid in a given week.

Those wishing to expand a business must invest whatever it cost originally to set it up, and may then hire an additional employee for each sum so invested. Each additional employee after the first adds or subtracts 10% to the amount earned/ lost.

Additional Jobs

Cobbler - IQ 9 - Income $20 - Risk none

Bricklayer/Mason/Carpenter/Lampmaker/Ropemaker/Miller/Tailor - IQ 9 - Income $15 - Risk none

Glassblower - IQ 9, DX 10 - Income $50 - Risk 3/19

Perfumer/Ink/Dye Maker - IQ 9, Income $25 - Risk 3/18

Miner - IQ 9, ST 10 - Income $20* - Risk 3/17

Valet - IQ 9 - Income 5** - Risk 4/18

Blacksmith - IQ 9, ST 11 - Income $25 - Risk 3/18

Innkeeper/Barmaid - Recognize Value, Business Sense - Income $50 - Risk 3/18

Bureaucrat - Literacy - Income #10*** - Risk 3/18

Bureaucrat with Diplomacy also - Income $25***

Bureaucrat with Diplomacy and Courtly Graces also - Income $50***

Bordello Worker - Sex Appeal, Charisma - Income $50 - Risk 5/16

Tinker/Peddler - may have any or all of the following: Sex Appeal, Charisma, Recognize Value, Diplomacy, Business Sense, Detect Lies - Income $10/skill - Risk 3/17

*May be considered an IQ 8 skill, $10, in areas where mining is a large industry and there is a lot of manpower.

**Low rate of pay because of room and board in relatively high style and chance of making beneficial contacts.

***May also get $1/week more for each additional skill that may be beneficial to that particular bureaucracy.

All of the above presume characters are in a place where they can find work at these occupations; not every part of Cidri may have every sort of work. The salary for a bordello worker presumes a legal bordello; for illegal bordellos, income is $75, risk factor is 5/15. Note that Tinkers and Peddlers do not work for anyone else. They are independent. Investment/income rolls are not necessary, however, the character must either deduct the $20 basic lifestyle costs from profits or must be an itinerant who cannot sell wares in the same town for more than a week at a time.


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