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    Dwarf in the Playground
    FireSpark's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    447th layer of the Abyss

    Default Running an in-game business

    Heya! I have a question that I bet is rarely heard.

    "Is there any printed material (d20, WotC, or otherwise) with regards to the running and operation of a business in a roleplaying game?"

    See, my party and I have just stumbled upon an interesting opportunity. Long story short, we went out to locate and rescue some children and villagers. Turns out they had been abducted by formians as labor. There was some violence at first, but diplomatic conclusions prevailed. The formians leave, and we are left with a moderate sized nest, which turns out to be sitting on one of the richest ore and metal deposits for hundreds of miles.

    So I get the bright idea that we should keep the space for ourselves (work out the legalities later, and develop the mine, have some constant income on the side. (And yes, we love to just roleplay.) So now there's all sorts of stuff to consider. Labor costs, raw material consumption, transportation, misc. operating costs. All these could be gleaned from a number of places throughout the D&D material, as well as maybe just making the stuff up of course, but I was just curious to see if there was anything that existed for such an event as this.

    If not, perhaps I could have a new project on my hands.
    Last edited by FireSpark; 2009-05-17 at 10:50 PM.
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    Ettin in the Playground
    Sstoopidtallkid's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Texas...for now

    Default Re: Running an in-game business

    DMGII has rules on running a business. They suck, but could be a starting point. You could also go with Stronghold Builder's Guide, and use the mine as the basis of a castle town(thereby passing the specifics off to the DM).

    In all honesty, my method would be to hire NPCs to deal with running it with orders to contact us in case of trouble, show up there after each adventure to check on things(and have a place to rest where we won't be attacked in our sleep), and then have the DM use it as quest hooks a couple of times and give us a bit of profit each time we stop in.
    FAQ is not RAW!
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    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    Default Re: Running an in-game business

    Quote Originally Posted by Sstoopidtallkid View Post
    DMGII has rules on running a business. They suck, but could be a starting point.
    They're absolutely abysmal. It's clear nobody at WotC ran the numbers after coming up with them.

    If you start a high-risk, low-resource, low-capital business (there is no such thing, according to the given classifications, but it would be the ideal business) with 23 ranks in the primary skill and 15+ ranks in both secondary skills, are a guild member, spend 40+ hours per week at it, take Business Savvy, have a business partner successfully aid you, and hire the maximum useful number of specialists (that's five), your modifier for the profit check is +45. Your investment will have been 5,000 gp. On average, you'll make 1,500 gp per month (I'll be assuming take 10 through this thing; failing profit checks gives you a cumulative penalty to them, so rolling is usually a bad idea). That's pretty nice; after the third month, you'll have recouped your initial investment.

    If you start this business in a metropolis (supposedly a good thing, there's a +4 to profit checks), you'll be in for 17,000 gp at the start. Your profits will be 1,700 gp per month. It will take you 10 months to recoup your investment, and then you're only making an extra 200 gp (or 13.33%) per month. Well, if you plan to run this for years, I guess that's not too bad for the investment.

    But let's take a business that actually exists in the book, instead of a fantasy. Let's say you're Durnan, running the Yawning Portal, with your Professions maxed out (but unfortunately with only 10 ranks in Sense Motive, the other secondary skill). Medium capital, medium resources, high risk - that's good. Your profit check is +48. Waterdeep is a metropolis, so your initial investment was 37,000 gp. You're making 1,400 gp per month. That means it'll take 26 months before you've recouped your investment and start seeing profit. Hey, it's not bad for a retirement plan, but for PCs who are adventuring? It's nonsense. They make more than that by killing goblins.

    Let's take a business that isn't high-risk, and let's assume we're not dealing with a 20th-level owner, but a 2nd-level expert with all skills at 5 (with a +2 attribute modifier and Skill Focus on the primary skill). You're running a Service (medium capital, low resources, low risk). You're doing it in a city; your initial investment is 9,000 gp, and your profit check is +20. Your average profit is 25 gp (if you had a business partner, it'd be higher but your half would only be 17.5 gp). This means you'll be working for 360 months (30 years!) before you'll see any profit, and this is assuming there are no unexpected misfortunes.

    Now, you probably had to take a loan to get this money; let's assume a modest 2.5% yearly increase (and make it a flat increase to the original sum rather than calculating it from the money owed each year). Oops, over 30 years that would be nearly 19,000 gp. And you'd probably like to actually have some money to eat and clothe yourself with. Assuming you have a family, you'll probably need 15 gold per month for yourself. That means you've only got 10 gold per month toward paying off your loan - that's 900 months (75 years!) without interest on the loan, and if there's a 2.5% yearly interest you'll be able to pay less than half your yearly interest payment - nobody would have lent you the money with a prospect like that! On a 1% yearly interest you'd be able to pay the interest and shorten the loan by 30 gp per year; that means 3600 months (300 years!!) before the loan is paid off. I guess if your banker is a dragon or at least an elf you might get the loan, but you'd be tying the next 10 generations of your descendants into it!

    What this system means, essentially, is that high-level adventurers can make insignificant sums or good retirements with high-risk businesses; but that no low-level person or character could ever make a living off a low-risk business (or even medium, really), or would even be able to start them.

    Nobody ran the freaking numbers!

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