Originally Posted by Sstoopidtallkid
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!