“Whoa, bub! How many slugs did that set you back?” “One. But we’d better roll. I think his mates heard the shot.” (Cornelius Three-Eyes and Whitey Moe, mutant low-lifes both)
The Cursed Earth doesn’t have a monetary standard. Instead mutants steal, swindle, scavenge or barter for the items and goods they need. One article, however, does have a reasonably constant value by which it is possible to estimate the values of other articles: The cartridge, or in common parlance, the bullet. Bullets are moderately common, easy to carry, and otherwise useful (if you happen to have a gun of the right caliber, that is). One bullet (or slug, or shell) will buy you a stomach-full of BBQ mystery meat, a canteen of drinkable water, a shot of moonshine, a can of preserved food (label worn off, so could be dog food or, if you’re lucky, a delicacy like pineapples), a battery, or a roof over your head for the night. Two or more will get you better food, better lodging, specialized equipment or machine parts. Ten or more might get you a weapon of some kind, and a hundred or a lot more might even get you a gun to shoot those bullets with!
There are no standard equipment lists for stocking up before a road trip. Instead, scavenging useful stuff from garbage dumps, ruined cities, or wastelands, or stealing it from other muties, is a major element of the game. This element is further emphasized by the character advancement mechanic, where experience points are granted for value in bullets earned (you are free to barter or shoot them once you’ve earned them, though).
Another source of experience is successful tasks rolls and defeated opponents: Every time you succeed on a task roll, or defeat an opponent, make a note on your character sheet. After the game, you’ll get 10 experience points for each successful task roll and per a defeated opponent’s hit die.
Once you’ve earned a thousand experience points, you’ll go up to second level. 2000 experience point more will put you on third. 3000 more and you’re fourth level. And so forth.
Going up a level nets you d8 + Constitution Hit Points, and an additional +1 to your standard task and knack rolls. Every even level (2nd, 4th, 6th, etc.) you also get to roll a d6 on the table below for additional perks:
Table #4: Level-up perks
1-3: +1 in a random ability. Roll a d8.
4-5: A new knack. Pick a category and roll a d4 for knack. Re-roll if you’ve already got that knack.
6: A new mutation! Roll a d2 for Mental or Physical mutation, then roll on the relevant table.
To those of you out there reading these articles: Which area of the game do you think I should cover next? Random terrain features? Random encounters? Vehicles? More charts? Damage rules? Something else?