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Is that tip / bribe too much? A consideration for keepers.

Posted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:18 pm
by Logar
Imagine this exchange:
"I'm looking for Mrs. Kelly. Which room is she in?"
"Umm, let me think..." (Vaguely holding out hand)
"Oh." (Reaches into pocket) "Will this help?"

How much is too much for a tip/bribe?
A consideration for keepers and players that bribing/tipping outside the normal range may have adverse effects.
People may:
**take closer note of,
**speak more about,
**bring more attention to and, at the very least,
**arouse suspicion and doubt with unusual bribe/tip amounts.

Ever see a player hand out $20 (during a 1920s scenario) like it is just a "generous" tip/payoff but not an eyebrow raiser? Look at the job list I put up in an earlier post (Boston Region - Job listing/pay) and think of it--we can now see that $20-25 is a week's pay for many. Let's say a week's pay today (after taxes--we're dealing with cash remember) is about $500-600/week. Handing off $20 is like handing someone something like $500 cash!
That's not a tip--it's a BOUNTY.

I am proposing that throwing about very large sums could have the exact opposite effect that a character is looking for and I will attempt to give an understanding of how much a tip is worth in modern sums (see below).
Let's say a player is trying to hand out a huge sum with the thought of keeping someone silent. It may loosen lips not keep them quiet. (Jimmy, the bellhop might run about telling all his friends of the crazy that gave him a $500 tip!) Will it make people suddenly "forget"? Well, imagine a total stranger is trying to hand you, the assistant train conductor, $500 to know, "In which room is Mrs. Smith staying?" It will probably be only the most poor, desperate or morally ambiguous npcs that will not be (at the very least), suspicious when handed that kind of money. A person might think that their job will be in jeopardy for it, that the police will be involved, or simply that they may be aiding in getting someone hurt or worse. Trying to blend in may suddenly draw unwanted attention. (Yes officer! I absolutely remember what he looked like! He bought a cup of coffee and gave me a $500 tip just to know about XXX! Why that's him across the street...). This could be wildly bad if it is a confined area--a train, ship, plane. Or where they may be easily identifiable--a small town or foreign locale where they are not native. This is not even considering arousing prying eyes from thieves, conmen, salesmen, etc.. (I am assuming private or at least semi-private interactions.)

Think about it. He gave me a tip equal to a week's pay. You don't forget that quickly. (He pays in doubloons....)

Now let's figure out what constitutes a tip/bribe in modern terms for better understanding:
A typical worker might make about $20-25/week in 1922. Let's assume that. (An average worker who might be giving a tip on a trip, for example, or receiving it--conductor, bartender maybe). At $25/week, let's say 40-50 hours of work per week. Let's say roughly 50c/hour for ease. Imagine that a modern equivalent is something like $12-15/hour. (Location/jobs will make that vary but let's keep that for now--and remember that no matter what your job, Walmart still probably hires 100x more than your employer.)

That would make a 5c tip equivalent to maybe little more than a buck or so (say 1.20-1.50), a 10c tip, 2.50 to 3 dollars or the rough equivalent. (5c is 1/10 of 50. 1/10 of $12-15 is $1.20-1.50. Double that -$2.50-3.00) You can vary that based on your own understanding but let's use that as a base. So tipping a bellboy 5c for example might be an average/normal tip (on the lower end), and 10c on the average-nicer end. A quarter (25c) is going to be roughly half an hours pay (and probably a little more; a bellboy/doorman for example is probably making less than normal--part of their pay is tips). Imagine a tip of half an hour of your (modern) pay. Let's just say about a modern $5-7 tip. If 50c is an hours pay then a dollar tip is about a couple hours pay. Let's say the modern equivalent of about $25. It is my opinion that 5c or 10c is a normal tip. 25c is a generous tip. A $1 is very generous (a couple hours pay) and that paying out more than that may bring about increasing amounts of suspicion/note.

**Quick Summation:
Even considering error or variation you can get an idea that 5c/10c is the modern equal to a tip of about $1.25-1.50/2.50-3.00 or so. 25c (half an hour's pay)--$6 or 7 bucks. A $1 tip is a couple hours pay then (possibly $25 modern). $5--a day's pay (maybe $100-125 modern). $10-a couple day's (or half a week's) pay (possibly $200-250). And $20, 4 or 5 day's pay--a week's pay or near it. (Let's say roughly $500-600 modern). Just consider a common job (1922) at $25/week (for a male) and go from there.

I posted a few examples of rent (say typically $30-40/month) and some job listings with pay (say typically $20-30/week). Keepers should feel fairly confident that the above numbers aren't too far skewed and can be used for play for use in bringing up payments (or consequences should it arise).

Note: It should be unfair if characters aren't given some understanding of the numbers at some point. You can't blame a player for handing someone a $10 tip if they don't know how much that is worth--players should have an understanding of their own pay. Maybe it can be worked quickly into a scenario or simply mentioned outright before play begins or during (when it comes up).

Thoughts/opinions anyone? Too far off? Helpful/not?

Re: Is that tip / bribe too much? A consideration for keeper

Posted: Wed Mar 13, 2013 2:34 am
by Keeper Jon
Great post! I think this is really helpful, and I think it warrants a discussion on the show.

Re: Is that tip / bribe too much? A consideration for keeper

Posted: Thu Mar 14, 2013 5:22 pm
by KeeperMurph
I agree. A very good topic and something I have wondered about as well.

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Re: Is that tip / bribe too much? A consideration for keeper

Posted: Thu Mar 14, 2013 6:03 pm
by Logar
KeeperMurph wrote:I agree. A very good topic and something I have wondered about as well.

Sent from my ADR6425LVW using Tapatalk 2
Consider when you guys played the Isley Variant. You paid off that librarian what, $30? for the books from an estate. (Trying to crate them up, have them shipped I believe.) That would have been equal to what $700-800? You used a check. Very reasonable! Yet many players just assume they have it in their pocket. As a businessman (antique bookdealer) it would not be unusual for you to have your checkbook on you in case you come across that rare find so it would not be odd. Pulling out cash (or paying more) by anyone else might have brought suspicion or doubt or odd talk among locals. In that case, it might have just been talk, but in others it could have led to something worse. When you guys were on the train for example. If a conductor pointed to you and said, "I remember him! He tried to pay me $30 to find out XXX's room!" (during "the incident"). There might have been more suspicion to your motives and more difficulty getting out of it.

Re: Is that tip / bribe too much? A consideration for keeper

Posted: Thu Mar 14, 2013 6:11 pm
by Logar
Keeper Jon wrote:Great post! I think this is really helpful, and I think it warrants a discussion on the show.
So weird. I thought I put up a post to this and it just disappeared. Oh well. I was just saying that it would be great to see it discussed and that it was a pet peeve of mine that players oftentimes assume that they just have large amounts of cash in their pocket in the first place. Would they really have $20 in their pocket? ($500-600) Do you often carry that much money in your pocket? Even before ATMs/debit cards people were careful to walk around with cash. I assume most people just have a couple bucks or less (even possibly in coins).