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March 10, 2008, 10:43 am

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Cheka Man

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Fantasy Land Ownership

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Advice on how to handle land ownership in fantasy settings.

I never really paid much attention to this in my games, but, once upon a time there was a question… 
 
Has anyone worked out a system for land owner ship, like how much it pays monthly or yearly? 
  
The answer to this question depends on the land and what’s being done with it. Not too mention a ton of economic factors, maintenance costs, and other fun stuff. The quickest way to handle such detail would be to generate some basic information and add a random element. In aid of that I’ve writing a five-step plan with guidelines and examples to illustrate a (hopefully) simple and easy method to determine this information.
  
STEP 1: IDENTIFY THE AVERAGE INCOME EARNED FOR THE PRODUCT(S) PRODUCED 
This could be grapes, rutabagas, wheat, sugar, or even textiles or other crafts. First, decide what price a unit of the product will bring the seller. Next, determine the size of the land. Third, determine how much each area of land will yield (acres and hectares are fairly common units of measure for this). Lastly, some simple math will tell you the total average income for that section of land. 
 
One last note, many farms use different sub-divisions of their total land for different products. This will make the book-keeping more time-consuming, as the different incomes for each product are figured. I recommend trying to simplify this as much as possible by stating that a certain percentage of the land is used to maintain the land and it’s people, negating income, but not being factored into the overhead costs. 
Pricing Products
This is a quick table for determining the average price a particular product will have. First roll on the Valuation Table, then consult the Abundance Modifiers to determine if the product’s price will be modified by it’s scarcity.
Valuation Table

Farming


·

Grains 1D10

·

Vegetables 2D10

·

Fruits (including Nuts) 5D10

·

Herbs & Spices 10D10/1D10x10

Ranching


·

Fowl (chickens, geese, ducks, etc.) 2D10

·

Pigs 4D10/1D4x10

·

Sheep & Goats 6D10/1D6x10

·

Dairy Cows 8D10/1D8x10

·

Horses & Meat Cows 20D10/2D10x10

Hunting & Fishing


·

Small Game (includes rodents, birds, rabbits, etc) 2D10

·

Fish (includes shellfish) 3D10

·

Large Game (includes swine and deer) 4D10/1D4x10

Mining


·

Stone 3D10

·

Metals 6D10/1D6x10

·

Precious Metals 12D10/10D12

·

Gemstones 30D10/3D10x10
Note: The alternative prices are for quicker rolls and are generally applies as rolling the listed number of dice, and then multiplying the result by the modifier (generally x10).
Abundance Modifiers

·

Common (x1)

·

Uncommon (x1.25)

·

Scarce (x1.5)

·

Rare (x2)

·

Exotic (x5)
Product Yield
Since my initial unit of measure for this was the bushel, which is roughly equivalent to 50 pounds of material. I’ve decided to generate the yields in units of bushels (for vegetables) and units of 50 pound increments (for animals and minerals). The pricing is based on these 50 pound equivalents for output purposes.

Farming


·

Grains 5D10

·

Vegetables 4D10

·

Fruits (including Nuts) 3D10

·

Herbs & Spices 2D10

Ranching


·

Fowl (chickens, geese, ducks, etc.) 8D10

·

Pigs 7D10

·

Sheep & Goats 6D10

·

Dairy Cows 2D10

·

Horses & Meat Cows 1D10

Hunting & Fishing


·

Small Game (includes rodents, birds, rabbits, etc) 4D10

·

Fish (includes shellfish) 8D6

·

Large Game (includes swine and deer) 2D10

Mining


·

Stone 1D10

·

Metals 1D8

·

Precious Metals 1D6

·

Gemstones 1D4
 
Fred owns a vineyard that produces grapes. The grapes earn an average income of 25 gold (this could be any currency, for our purposes, we’ll say this is one gold coin) per bushel (roughly 50 pounds) of grapes. Fred’s farm is medium-sized, at 10 acres. For each acre, Fred gets an average yield of 20 bushels. So Fred’s total average income will be 5000 gold per harvest. 
  
STEP 2: DETERMINE THE AVERAGE YIELD OF THE PRODUCT  
Mountains, swamps, plains, farmland, forests, etc., are all going to produce a different yield of their products, and placing one product (our test grapes) into a different terrain (such as a swamp) will result in a different yield.  
  
Yield Modifiers

·

Farmland: No modifier. 

·

Unfarmed Plains: Reduce initial yield by one-tenth. 

·

Scrub: Reduce initial yield by one-fourth. 

·

Hills: Reduce yield by one-third. 

·

Forest: Reduce yield by one-half.* 

·

Swamp: Reduce yield by three-fourths.* 

·

Desert: Reduce yield to one-tenth. 

·

Mountains: Reduce yield to one-twentieth. 
*These numbers only apply to production of products not native to those terrains. Forests can be harvested for wood with no modifier. Swamps are limited to reduced yields of two-thirds even for products native to them.
Fred’s vineyard is in farmland, so he has no modifier.
STEP 3: DETERMINE EXPENSES (THE OVERHEAD)  
There are two key areas to identify here, people and materials, which will vary depending on the product type and where it’s being produced. A percentage of the average income (i.e. 15% of the average income) could be applied without too much trouble, keeping things fairly simple, though some products will likely require a higher or lower percentage than some set standard.  
Overhead Costs

·

Workers (generally room and board costs). 

·

Slaves (which include room and board for both slaves AND guards for the slaves). 

·

Equipment (these will vary widely from product to product, but in general include tools, containers, storage facilities, and other odds and ends). 

·

Transportation (basically there are four types of transportation; bearers, harness or pack animals, carts or wagons, and river transport). 

·

Land Maintenance (this will vary somewhat by product, but mostly by the type of land and will include such things as clearing brush, dealing with pests, drought, heavy rain or flooding, crop rotation, harvesting wood, and many other odds and ends).
Fred also has to pay overhead costs. For simplicity, we’ll say that each item listed for overhead costs will penalize Fred 5% of his average income for those which apply. In this case Fred is using standard workers, paying for equipment, transportation, and land maintenance, for a total of 20% of his average income. This comes out of his average income, leaving him with 4000 gold income. 
 
STEP 4: TAXES & TITHES  
Taxes are fees paid to support the government.  In a fantasy setting, taxes are usually paid to the local ruler. Tithes are essentially taxes paid to a church or religion. Both taxes and tithes may be paid in currency, but that is not always the case. In many cases, they are paid indirectly as labor or material goods. The amounts charged are generally a percentage of the total assessed amount of output for the land. In the cases of taxes, this percentage can be as low as 15% or as high as 50% (sometimes more, particularly if the local lord is notoriously evil or greedy), this is theoretically in exchange for things the government is supposed to handle, such as pay for troops, maintaining government projects, arbitration of disputes and other legal matters, or even in return for the right to work that land. For tithes, the general percentage is around 10% (this is in addition to the taxes).  These payments come out of Fred’s total average income. 
Taxation Rate
1-10 Altruistic - 10% taxation rate
11-20 Benevolent - 15% taxation rate
21-30 Liberal - 20% taxation rate
31-40 Generous - 25% taxation rate
41-50 Charitable - 30% taxation rate
51-60 Closefisted - 35% taxation rate
61-70 Stingy - 40% taxation rate
71-80 Selfish - 45% taxation rate
81-90 Miserly - 50% taxation rate
91-00 Greedy - 50% plus 1D10x5% taxation rate
 
Fred has a relatively generous lord, he pays 25% of his average income (1250 gold) to Baron Drinksalot in taxes and tithes 10% (500 gold) to the local Church of Dionysus. The total loss to his average income is 35%. This means Fred has to pay out 1750 gold. 
 
STEP 5: DETERMINE MARKET CONDITIONS  
Some of this is part of the overhead costs, such as transportation to a marketplace. However, of more interest is how well the market is actually doing for that product. This is fairly easy to handle, as a simple table can be created to adjust the price of a product up or down, depending on market conditions.  
  
Market Fluctuation 
01-05 Shipment Hijacked - Someone has stolen the product on it’s way to market. -100% average income
06-10 Market Glut - The product did VERY well this season. -75% average income
11-15 Low Demand - There isn’t much desire for the product. -60% average income
16-20 Rampaging Monster - Product takes a loss. -50% average income
21-25 Bad Timing - The product is brought to market simultaneously by several providers. -45% average income
26-30 Bad Weather - Product is slightly ruined or damaged. -30% average income
31-35 Pests - An infestation has reduced the product yield. -25% average income
36-40 Price Dispute - A local ordinance has changed the price of the product. -10% average income
41-45 War - The product is sought after by the local army for less than average market prices. -5% average income
46-50 Slow Day - Not quite as many customers as usual. -2% average income
51-55 Nothing Unusual - Business as usual. No modifier
56-60 Minor Market Disruption - The price is slightly higher. +2% average income
61-65 VIP Visit - A portion of the product is produced by a figure of importance. +5% average income
66-70 Stockpile - The product is being stockpiled for use in the future. +10% average income
71-75 High Yield - A more than average yield for the season. +15% average income
76-80 Choice Sale Location - The product has been conveniently placed to attract customers. +20% average income
81-85 Speculative Market - There is a decent demand for the product. +25% average income
86-90 Lucky Disaster - Rival providers have had problems getting out all of their product. +35% average income
91-95 High Demand - There isn’t enough of the product to go around. +40% average income
96-00 Windfall Profit - The product is incredibly rare demand. +50% average income
So, first we need to find out how well grapes are doing for the season. Poor Fred sees a Price Dispute when selling his grapes, resulting in a 10% loss of income. 
 
Fred’s vineyard has the potential to earn 5000 gold in an average season on his grapes. However, after overhead, taxes and tithes, he’s reduced to an average take-home income of 2250 gold. Not doing so good this year, he saw an additional loss of 10%, leaving him with 2025 gold.
 
  
Automation of the system  
Once you’ve got your system in place, you can probably find ways to make it require less bookkeeping to generate the income. Market conditions are nice if you’re working on a product over short periods, but unless there are major market-affecting factors (war is one), over a long period, the prices and income are going to average out. 
 
Final Note 
Obviously, many game masters have no desire to deal with this level of detail, even as simplified as I try to make it. That’s not a problem, this guide was created to help those game masters whose players have started showing an interest in such activity.



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Comments ( 11 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Cheka Man
March 10, 2008, 12:02
0xp
Very good, if OTT for most gaming.
Voted Misanpilgrim
March 10, 2008, 12:30
0xp
The GM will have to generate several examples on his own to determine what this system's "price index" is. The example given, in which 1 = 1 gold piece, comes out to over 200 gp per acre for a simple peasant farmer, and would blow any campaign I've been in out of the water.

On the positive side (from the PCs' perspective), if the price index is left at "1=1", the payout for town-council adventuring contracts would rise significantly. ("We need you to drive off the kobolds in the old river-caves. Our citizens have managed to scrape together 100,000 gold...")

Aside from the price-index issue, your system looks solid enough. 3.5/5
Voted valadaar
March 10, 2008, 14:03
0xp
Apart fromt the numbers, my biggest concern is that grains are the least profitable on this table, but in reality grains are the most common crop grown for many reasons. Not sure quite how to handle that other then many of the higher priced items take more work to grow and are more risky.
manfred
March 10, 2008, 14:58
0xp
Good question... the most "common" goods (ie the most favored) are not likely to have too hefty prices, instead they will have more reliable yields. So you could play with the numbers, say replace D10 with a 20+3D10. Then you'll get closer to the approximation you want.
Voted Dozus
March 10, 2008, 22:06
0xp
Extensive tables galore! A very practical guide that I'm sure will come in handy for anyone GMing with land-owning characters. While I'm sure there's similar systems like this elsewhere, it's the practical details like terrain type and taxation that earns my favor. I approve.
Kassy
July 12, 2008, 9:09
0xp
A nice and handy piece of work, this might come in handy if my players continue the way they are.
Nuchiha101
August 21, 2010, 0:06
0xp
This is exactly one of the things I was looking for,
Mourngrymn
August 22, 2010, 9:26
0xp
One issue with this type of table is its relative static, stating that everything on this table can be produced everywhere. Take cattle in Japan for instance. While they have little grazing land for them they do not have an abundance of cattle ranches, however the cattle that they do have is rather high quality (kobe beef) making it highly expensive. And again, certain areas are superb for raising specific crops such as grapes for wines but not for wheat or cotton and tabac (tobacco).

While this is a neat idea for the table junkies like myself it needs to have some kind of geographic modifiers. All in all it is a great and general outline to have. But that's just my thinking. Ill go back to skulking in the dark again.
Voted JPatterson
September 5, 2010, 19:09
0xp
Excellent effort and forward-thinking resourcefulness and sharing with others on a very, very rarely addressed issue with a broad application - THIS is the kind of thing that needs to be produced for gamers. Terrific work!
Voted Nafar
December 14, 2011, 0:24
0xp
Now we just need a table for the ones who decide to build an Inn.
Scrasamax
December 14, 2011, 11:23
0xp
Or own a mining operation, or have a product other and raw agricultural output

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       By: ephemeralstability

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