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Currency in post-apoc / zombie world?

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Hi

Im doing a 2D-rpg along the lines of fallout 3. I want there to be "money" so the player can visit shops and buy/sell loot. Or get money as reward.

 

How would this work in the world? I have two possible scenarios:

 

1. Zombie apocalypse. But longer time has passed since the outbreak (compared to for example "the walking dead" where "the fall" is rather recent). Settlements exists with their own economy.

 

2. An evil force/government has taken over and enslaved mankind. They also have evil robots! You play as part of the resistance in the wasteland and attack "goverment bases" etc.

 

In those two potential scenarios, how would money work? I dont want a barter system only, i want money/coin/gold as well. But in scenario no 2, wouldnt it be everyone vs the evil government? Would you charge people for ammo/medkits? Maybe there would be traders that are not loyal with "the evil" or "the resistance"?

 

Use "pre-disaster money" or gold nuggets? Or some gimmick like "caps" (fallout). Right now i use "coins" but thats rather strange:)

 

Your input?

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If the scenario is of survival then rare or pretty things dont have the value of more normal times.  Objects which facilitate survival become trade goods (currency is usually ONE thing that is a near universal media of exchange).

 

So things like guns, matches, bullets, medicines, food packs, socks/boots are things that get exchanged for OTHER survival goods (and unfortunately most are consumables).

 

So in that knid of situation having some standard exchange value for barter goods like that might be the closest  -- and if things are still very unstable then a shortage of one thing makes it of greater value hampering your game having a 'simple' system.

 

On stupid thing Ive seen in a few games was incidental loot taken from the countless enemies you slaughter, but in the Real World their guns would have been the biggest value.  But then unrealistic slaughterfest game would have you so rich in no time the whole looting thing (outside of collecting ammo for use rather than trade) would be pointless.

Edited by wodinoneeye

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Ammunition would be a pretty good currency.

 

It's small, countable, every discrete unit ( = coin) has the same value, it's reasonably safe against counterfeiting, and it even serves a practical purpose. Since your life may literally depend on presence of ammunition, everybody will be willing to accept it as currency, too.

Also, it's initially abundant, but becomes rare and rarer with nobody producing more ammunition (post-apocalypse), which counters inflation of the currency.

 

EDIT:

Turns out Forbes Magazine stole my idea!

http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielfisher/2013/04/09/the-bullet-bubble-is-ammo-the-next-bitcoin-or-gold-in-the-1970s/

 

And it looks like in New York, Nebraska, and Kentucky they are actually doing it!

http://www.vocativ.com/money/industry/gun-ammo-new-cash/

Edited by samoth

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it's reasonably safe against counterfeiting

 

Apart from those who can make their own bullets and reuse parts of fired shells.

 

Something impossible to produce after an apocalypse which is extremely useful would have serious value. Thinking small and portable how about watch batteries? 

 

They're already coin sized and shaped and could hold practical value powering small computing devices depending on your setting. The main reason I chose them though is that they will be very limited in supply and testable with a watch or such, and not at all counterfeit-able.

 

Thoughts?

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Yeah, ammo is a fun currency, the Metro series had that.  Military grade ammunition was worth more, while home grown ammunition was worth much less.  Which gave you your Gold and Silver.  It has some interesting gameplay aspects tied to it.

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People making their own ammo is not a problem for the currency. If you own a mine dig gold nuggets, your gold is as good as any other gold (apart from, maybe, purity). But the mere fact that you produced it doesn't mean it has no value (or that the value of other gold nuggets is reduced... unless you produce a thousand tons).

 

Of course someone might make fake ammo out of empty shells and homemade (molten and remolded) bullets. But it would still take one (non-burned) detonator cap per round, and as long as the ammunition fires, it is as good as any other ammo.

 

It would be trivial to verify whether someone is trying to cheat on you in any substantial trade, too (by giving you e.g. recycled bullets in empty shells). If you can't tell by the weight alone, reach into the bag, take out one round, and fire it. If it doesn't fire, it isn't valid.

A round might -- rarely -- malfunction even if you are not being cheated, so to be sure reach in again. If the next round doesn't fire either, you can be very confident that you are being cheated.

 

One might be able to smuggle one or two counterfeit rounds into a bag of 100 during a trade, but any substantial scam would have a significant risk of being detected. And you sure don't want to be caught cheating on someone living in a post-apocalypse world who owns both a gun and ammunition. laugh.png

 

Now, how do you tell how much charge is left in a wristwatch battery? That isn't nearly as easy.

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First, you need to think long a hard about what money IS, and why it exists. It IS barter, but abstracted (you're still exchanging work for work, except the result of this work is not chicken and eggs, it's $ vs $, and their values are not predetermined by fertility).

Money is based on shortage of food (more or less) and evolved from there. There's a lot more to it, but bear in mind that money came to life as a form of debt-collection and means to acquire commodity: ideally everyone gets to eat, but the one that can't can somehow formulate a debt to get some, and the one that has "money" can buy a chicken instead of barley.

 

In a post-apocalyptic world, it's possible that the tech level grants you access to food relatively quickly as the world recovers (moreso than in Antiquity) so you have to consider what's "rare" and "desirable".

Some pointed out energy, might also consider sanitation (anti-rad pills!). It seems you are interested in something that is not inherently useful, as it would not make sense as a currency (people would just use it if it's that critical, or hold it so that its value increases*).

 

Money's value should be finite, unlike the goods it is used to acquire.

Coins might no longer serve as currency because they have more value (assuming minerals are scarce), but paper money? What's wrong with it?

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but paper money? What's wrong with it?
Actually the fact that is has no value beside what is printed on it is what's wrong with it :) The game setting is not that different from "current" totalitarian countries. In such setting official money usually has no value, mostly because government may and will just print more if needed. People are forced to use other forms of currency to get necessary goods from others. You actually need something that is relatively small, countable and desirable. The fact that it can be created doesn't change anything as there may be some risk creating it (ammo can blow up killing the maker, anti-rad pills production may be for some reason unhealthy or just so obvious that government forces can easily spot you.

 

The fact that you can just use the pills or wait for their value to go up doesn't mean it is bad currency. Just the opposite! It is valuable because it can save someone's life.

 

To add another possible currency to this thread I would say alcohol. It is desired, easy to "validate" and countable. It can be made (by player or someone else), but making it is risky and relatively easy to spot so dangerous. You also can't make a lot of it in short time.

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To add another possible currency to this thread I would say alcohol. It is desired, easy to "validate" and countable. It can be made (by player or someone else), but making it is risky and relatively easy to spot so dangerous. You also can't make a lot of it in short time.

 

I like this idea.

 

I feel the objective with currency should be to choose something that is disassociated from every other object in the game. That's why I'm not a big fan of Metro's currency, it's weird to have 'money' that's also often consumed in game through other actions besides buying things. It creates a weird economy.

 

To this end I usually lean one of two ways. 

 

1) Just pick something random (ie. Bottle Caps)

2) Go with a present day object

 

Regarding option 2, I'd say something along the lines of batteries or alcohol. Something that would be rare during the apocolypse, not easily created, but still has some actual value to people in a survival situation. 

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That's why I'm not a big fan of Metro's currency, it's weird to have 'money' that's also often consumed in game through other actions besides buying things. It creates a weird economy.

 

... as opposed to having money you spend on bullets which are then consumed in game?

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