Wooden House with Stacks of Coins

With the start of the new year, some folks are starting to think about processing and paying their taxes for the previous year. I’m certainly one of them since I have more complex taxes than the Average Joe. Deductions. Expenses. 1099 income. W2 income. So on and so forth….

Another reason this topic is on my mind is that one of my players is about to inherit a manor and nearby abandoned village. His claim to the area is partially based on familial ties (he’s the only surviving son of a dead branch of a noble family) and partially based on right of arms since he and his party cleansed the area of a devil infestation. This means he’s going to have to reestablish the village, its industries, restore the manor house, and get people to settle back into the area. All of this means he needs a large set of income to pull this off, and we’ve already started talking about how to handle his expenses and tax income from the new villagers.

Here’s the deal, though. We don’t want to devolve our D&D game into paperwork and minutia of tracking every coin that goes in an out. This has put me to mind to develop a decent system for allowing him to influence some set of die rolls that will determine gains and losses over time.

 We don’t want to devolve our D&D game into paperwork and minutia of tracking every coin. 

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

Each month, the PC will make either a wisdom or charisma saving throw (with all appropriate modifiers and bonuses and such). I’ll allow the player to pick which saving throw he wants to leverage. The wisdom saving throw would reflect the quality of his decisions to determine how well he did. If he goes the charisma route, then this would be an indicator of how inspired his new villagers are to work hard and do the best they can for their new leader.

The base “cost” of running the village, manor, and surrounding area is going to be 1,000 GP for each month. This would represent all of the day-to-day expenses, paying hirelings/servants/workers, and accounting for those crazy things that happen from time-to-time in the Forgotten Realms that can make life a little rough on a given area.

I’m also going to allow him to “buy” advantage on the die roll by means of investing money into the area. If he puts at least an additional 1,000 GP into the new economy in a particular month, then he’ll get advantage on the die roll. This isn’t just a raw pumping of gold into the villagers’ pockets, but a reflection of material support, improvements to the area (better roads), securing the area from threats (militia and/or guards), and so on.

I’m still noodling on the math.

If he doesn’t have the bonus GP on hand for a particular month, but still wants advantage on that die roll, then he can earn it through downtime efforts. If he spends at least a tenday each month performing downtime activities to support his village or directly work to make the villagers’ lives better, then the player will have advantage on the die roll as well. How this plays out will be part of the collaborative storytelling that we’ll do at the table.

Depending on how well he rolls, this will determine the amount of income he receives for that month. A poor enough roll would indicate a loss of gold (or perhaps a loss of villagers if he doesn’t have the spare coins) for that time period. Instead of coming up with a chart like the “running a business” section from Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, I’m just going to boil it down to a target number and some math.

I’m still noodling on the math, but I think a target number of 13 is fair for the die roll. I want it to be easy, but not an automatic success either.

If the die roll matches the target of 13, then there is no loss or gain based on the GP investment for that month. It’s all a wash.

If the die roll is higher than 13, then the character will make a 5% profit (50 GP) for each point above the 13 rolled. If the character invested an additional 1,000 GP to get advantage, then I’ll be kind and roll that into the “base expense” to boost the 50 GP to 100 GP profit for each point over 13 the player rolls.

 I think this system will be simple to implement, easy to use, and will reduce headaches. 

Of course, if the die roll is lower than 13, then the character will lose 5% of the investment per point below 13 rolled. This will mean a 50 GP (or 100 GP if an additional 1,000 GP was invested) loss per point lower than the target number.

Overall, I think this system will be simple to implement, easy to use, and will reduce headaches and “game mechanic overhead” while we go through the process. Since the check only happens once a month, that leaves more real-life time at the table to go forth and adventure and have fun instead of doing our taxes.

I would love to hear what system(s) you folks out in Gnome Stew Land have used. If you have a link to a product in the DM’s Guild or some other PDF outlet that contains systems/methods to use, please provide those as well. I’m always interested in learning how holding lands or managing estates comes into play for the higher level characters that have these responsibilities.