Adventurers spend a fair amount of their time in dark, scary places, beneath lean-tos in rainstorms, or on the open road to some other god-forsaken place. But when not slaying monsters, pulling open a stuck door in the basement of some condemned house, or foiling the plot of yet another band of thieves, where do heroes spend their time?
Assuredly, many spend long hours in their cups before stumbling to a rented pallet or passing out in a pool of their own vomit, only to wake a few hours later glued to a sticky floor or bench. But eventually the mercenary grows tired of such a life. He starts wanting a better place than a stinking tavern, a better bed than a critter-infested mattress stained by foul nights with fouler pleasures, and more than being warmed by a doxy with a rancid, disease-filled mouth lacking too many teeth.
Such heroes who tire of the drudgery of the low-life, may turn to other pursuits, such as buying a house in the county or rooms in the city, or even opening their own business.
Land prices are sharply different if one settles closer to a city, about fives times as much. Most common folk, if they would be freemen, have to settle for poor land on the fringes of society or in the wilderness where it's free. Considering how much a lowly peasant earns in a year, it would take him 3 years to purchase a meagre acre of barely farmable land, while to get a good piece of property would take 18 years!
Hence, many common folk rent the lands on which they settle. Local lords buy acres of land around their castles, offering protection to those who settle there. Peasants settle on the land and pay a portion of what they earn to their lord. Some generous lords allow a percentage of a peasants rent to go towards an eventual purchase of the land, but few peasants live long enough to pay off the debt for their property.
It's even worse in the cities, where every square foot of undeveloped land sells at a premium. Shoddy land, formerly occupied by tanners and dyers, for example, is poisoned by the toxins they use in their processes, and it sells for a little less than a good plot of land just outside of the city. Furthermore land inside of the cities is difficult to purchase, as much-needed walls confine cities in the Kingdom, making undeveloped land rare. Few individuals voluntarily live beyond the walls of a city like Baisaltir. Hence most areas build up, with building piled on top of building, and poor districts are crowded with level upon level of living quarters. Such places breed contagion vile enough to wipe out whole neighborhoods.
The primary differences of land values depend on what's around them. A poor piece of rural land may be rocky, bad for farming, or be the site of numerous raids by outlaws. A good or great piece of rural land may be close to the city, have a spring, rich loamy soil, and maybe have numerous game trails that make hunting a snap.
Urban territory has the same concerns. A plot of land near a dyer's district is no good to anyone, hence its lower price. However, a park in the shadow of the Kings winter house is guaranteed to sell at a premium price.
So skewed is the pricing between rural and urban land, one can purchase 100 acres of poor quality land, for the cost of one acre of best quality land in a city. This explains why nobles are willing to erect an estate in the countryside.
Buying Homes and Estates
Buying land does not provide a place to live unless that land includes a house, in which case the price is usually far higher, unless the house is haunted. A prospective buyer can take advantage of a haunting to get a nice bargain. In any event, pricing tends to follow the same pattern as land. Rural homes tend to be cheaper than urban ones. Descriptions of general homes are as follows.
It's important to note, most citizens of the Kingdom do not buy homes, they build their own, much as they grow their own crops, brew their own beer, and slaughter their own animals. What the can't grow, raise, or make, they barter.
This is a simple wattle and daub shack, meaning the walls are wooden and packed with dung or clay. Most have thatch roofs. There's not much room for privacy either, as it consists of a single room. For most, a hovel such as this is the best they can ever hope to have.
These wooden homes feature two to four rooms, wooden walls, and a thatch roof. Most have stone hearths and chimneys.
Throughout the wilderness of the Kingdom are small farmsteads, which are actually more like keeps than farms. The reason for their heavy defences is due to their location. Most are far off the major roads and are connected by trails or old paths through the forest. Road wardens, while responsible for safe transit, also check on these remote homes to ensure the people are safe and alive.
Each farmstead is a walled compound with a large open area in the middle, a main structure for the family and living quarters, and a barn or a workshop across the courtyard. The centre of the farmstead is the living quarters of the owner. In it is a larger main hall to greet travellers and for banquets and such. A storeroom separates the kitchen, which also serves as a living room, from the rest of the house.
Most farmsteads also have a tower that houses the stairs to a few bedrooms on the second floor. Further up on the towers roof is where wealthy farmers would keep a bolt thrower and ammunition to ward off brigands, orcs, or other dangers that can crop up in the wilds.
Living accommodations in a farmstead are simple, and only the senior family members have their own rooms.
These are opulent stone houses, small keeps really, owned and maintained by wealthy merchants or nobility as vacation homes. Most estates are surrounded by homesteads, homes, and hovels where peasants toil on rented land. Furthermore, these supporting people supply servants to the estate, foodstuffs, and some finished goods.
A rural estate usually consists of a single, large house or keep and several smaller buildings such as a stable, servants quarters and so on.
An urban house is not so much different from a rural house, except they have shingled roofs patched with tar. As fire is a serious concern in most cities, sod and thatche roofs are not popular. Better versions are based on neighborhoods and size. Urban houses start with three to four rooms and add rooms based on quality.
-Opulent House with Garden
These beautiful stone or brick homes are quite spacious, and include a well-manicured garden. These buildings have eight or more rooms, many of which are bedrooms. Stone tile floors, plaster or papered walls, breathtaking light fixtures, and glass windows set these domiciles beyond the dreams of the dirt peasants who dominate the Kingdom.
-Rich Town House with Court
Like the opulent houses, these homes define wealth. Having all the amenities one could want, these homes can only be afforded by the richest in the Kingdom. These homes serve rich merchants, nobles of the highest rankings, and even some provincial lords.
Because town houses have dozens of rooms, each with wooden or tiled floors, dramatic windows, and multiple floors, owning one is the peak of status.
For those with more money than sense, the small palace is a nice alternative to a town house. These sprawling estates may be in the countryside, surrounded by a village, or in the heart of a city. Palaces take up entire blocks, having towers and multiple connected buildings.
So what's an adventurer to do after he's lost an arm to a demon? Get prosthetics and keep fighting, of course! But many heroes lose this kind of resolve after staring down a band of enemy warriors, or watching their friends get mauled by an army of starve goblins. Some just put their swords down and go home. So the question becomes, what's a Kingdomer to do after a life of high adventure? Many go into business for themselves.
Businesses fall into different categories. Poor businesses are unprofitable ventures, such as opening a bookshop in a town where nobody reads, or becoming a fishmonger in a landlocked community. Certainly, such ventures may be profitable in other areas, such as a city with a high literacy rate, or a coastal community respectively, but generally these businesses provide a surplus of goods that no one wants or needs.
Common businesses fulfill a need that is generally handled by other competitors. A common business would be a fishmonger in a fishing village. Plenty of people make a living doing this, but nobody does it better than the rest.
Good businesses are those that fill a niche without much in the way of competition. An example would be becoming one of two wainwrights in a town that is a regular stop along a coaching route.
The best category reflects a monopoly, where a business has cornered the market on a particular good that people require.
Purchasing a business includes the name of the business, the customers, and necessary tools. Obviously, the prices do not include things such as the building, a forge, or carts or wagons, these are sold separately.
Guilds dictate how commerce works in various areas and facilitate the flow of trade. Each trade has a guild, so there is a Jewelers Guild, a Smiths Guild, and even a Physicians Guild. Heading up these organisations are the Guild Masters, master merchants and calculating thieves who are waging quite a war with the nobility for complete control over the Kingdom.
Any character who would open a business must first register with the appropriate guild, if there is one. The guilds set the prices for all commodities produced by their labourers. Characters have no control over how much or how little they sell their merchandise; such decisions always come from above. In addition, all tradesmen pay dues to their guild, which equals about 10% of the weekly take.
Types of Business
A wide range of business opportunities exist throughout the Kingdom. What follows is a list of possible businesses a character may pursue.
- Accountant/Tax Collector - Manage finances and keep books for nobles and businesses. Thrive in large cities but rarely, if ever found in places with a population of less than 1000.
- Apothecary/Herbalist - Grows and gathers herbs to mix into remedies. Shadier places may deal in poisons.
- Armoury - An armourer is a metalsmith specializing in the creation of armour. Skilled with a variety of materials, such as leather working, tailoring and forging.
- Artist - Creates 'beauty' from painting, sculpting, or even music. Sponsered artist can move through the highest circles in the realm. Especially with current traits of appreciating art for art's sake.
- Bakery - Specializes in bread, cakes, pastries etc.
- Bank/Moneychanger - Banks hold money and give loans. It's rarely safe to walk the streets with a large sack of coins. So, for a slight fee, banks will hold your money for you. They then use this money to make loans with exorbitant interest rates. Moneychangers are like banks, in that they exchange coins of one nationality for another, for a price of course.
- Barber - They do more than just cut hair, often called on as surgeons by those without the money to afford an actual doctor. Skilled Barbers can eventually become Physicians, one of the most esteemed citizens of any city.
- Blacksmith - Works with iron and other metals to make useful items. Those with talent and skilled hands can even become gold/silversmiths.
- Boat/Shipwright - Constructs boats and/or ships.
- Bookstore - These rare dealers sell old books. As they only really need to sell one, at the most two books per year to pay their expense, they tend to keep odd hours.
- Bowyer - Make bows, closely associated with fletchers, who make arrows. Many do both.
- Brewery - Brew mead, ale and beer.
- Butcher - Take animal carcasses and carve them into cuts.
- Carpenter/Joiner - Specialize in cutting wood and making basic items. Furniture and Quality products can also be made by the better ones.
- Carter/Wagoner - Drive carts and wagons. Some of the better ones are coachmen.
- Cartographer - Makes and sells maps.
- Cart/Wainwright - Make and repair carts, wagons, coaches etc.
- Chandler - Makes candles and other objects out of wax.
- Cobbler - Repairs boots and shoes.
- Coffee House - Among the elite, such houses are gaining popularity after the discovery of this new substance. Away from noisy taverns, they're great places for merchants and nobles to rub shoulders.
- Cooper - Makes barrels of all shapes and sizes.
- Cutler - Makes knives, forks, and sometimes even medical instruments.
- Distillery - Makes and distills spirits.
- Draper - Sellers of cloth and other fabrics.
- Tailor - Makes clothing for men and women. In addition to making fine garb, they make and sell small accessories.
- Dyer - Make dyes for use in clothing.
- Merchant - Specialize in import/export high demand commodities. Rarely produe anything of their own, instead distributing the goods of others.
- Fishmonger - Catches and sells fish at markets.
- Gambling House - Places to lose money and wits, for money, women and alcohol are all free-flowing.
- Jeweller - Gemcutters, Goldsmiths etc.
- Horse Trader - Buys and sells horses.
- Innkeeper - Provides lodgings and food and drink to travellers.
- Lawyer - A specialist profession. As the bureaucracy grows, so does the need for them.
- Mason - Builders of walls and homes.
- Painter - Differ from artists in that they paint walls, fences, homes etc.
- Perfumery - Creating smells for those with the money to cover up the stench and make themselves smell nice.
- Physician - For those who can afford it, a physician is a good alternative to a barber.
- Scribe - Scribes and scriveners fill a particular niche in society. Employed by wizards, lawyers, merchants and nobles.
- Stable - Stables horses for a fee.
- Tavern - Serves drink. Mainly alcoholic.
- Theatre - Where actors, and travelling shows perform.
- Thatcher - Fixes roofs.
- Weaponsmith - Similar to the Armourer. Forges weapons. Many do both.
Feel free to add any of your own to this list.