a question for the gamer types

As you probably don’t know, Bob, [profile] kniedzw and I are running a Dragon Age game right now, using the Pathfinder system. A couple of our players have decided to go into business — they basically staged a hostile takeover of the trading contracts belonging to a certain noble house, since they knew in advance that said house was about to go down in political flames.

So now we’re trying to work out how to handle the business in a way that will make it rewarding and worth the investment of skill ranks/character effort/etc, without flooding the game with so much money as to completely unbalance things. I have some ideas for how we might do this, but I also know this is something other people may have dealt with in their games, so I thought I might as well toss the scenario out here and see if anybody has suggestions.

For context, these are level 5 PCs, so average character wealth is roughly 10K-11K gp. There are two PCs involved in the business. They took out a loan to foot the bill for buying out the contracts; we haven’t specified how much money that was, since the whole economy of D&D is borked in the first place and putting numbers on things would only highlight that fact. What I’m aiming for is a) some way to measure the scale of their enterprise, b) some way for them to draw off limited amounts of cash as profit, based on that scale, and c) some way to link the maintenance and growth of the business to their skills. (One PC has Profession: Merchant, and the other has a wacky good Diplomacy score.) As I said, I’ve got a potential framework in mind, but I’m interested in other ways of handling it. Thoughts?

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0 Responses to “a question for the gamer types”

  1. templarwolf

    Hmmmm…in all my years of running D&D games, I’ve never had players start up a business. As a player, I once spent some time in game making and selling armor, but not on this kind of scale.

    This makes me think of Torneko, one of the characters from Dragon Warrior IV. He would go off adventuring to find stuff to bring home and sell in his shop. Apparently, they made a few spin-off games about him as well.

    Might also want to look up the Darokin gazetteer from the original basic D&D game. Its a mercantile nation in the Mystara setting, and they included some rules for a secondary “merchant class” for characters.

    • Marie Brennan

      Yeah, this sort of thing isn’t common. But it’s part of a larger plot, in that one of the two PCs is a nobleman trying to amass sufficient wealth and influence for his family to take over the city, which means he needs to be operating on a scale beyond individual PC wealth.

      I’ll see if I can find that Darokin thing, thanks!

      • templarwolf

        It’s been about 20 years since I read through my Darokin stuff, but it was also primarily individual…just really wealth individual.

        Perhaps a modified version of the wealth/credit system from d20 Modern? Purchasing things with a value score less than the wealth stat are simple and automatic. Finding and purchase something above it requires a roll, and if successful, reduces the wealth stat by one until they come into more money.

  2. beccastareyes

    This is totally un-fleshed out and ripped from FATE and some of Green Ronin’s stuff, but my first thought is to make a skill check any time they want to draw off business profits for a personal venture*, reflecting their ability to convert things into liquid accents. I don’t know about a DC (probably one that scales with ‘you want how much?’), but I could imagine skill penalties for being rushed, in an area where communications is slow**, or for doing it repeatedly in a short period of time.

    I imagine it would involve balancing a lot of factors, but that’s my handwavy idea.

    * Aka buying magic items, etc.
    ** And GM fiat for when you just can’t contact your factor to convert some of your assets into coin because you are currently on the Outer Planes and your spellcasters have vetoed any frivolous spell use (I know this is not Dragon Age, but I don’t know that canon as well as traditional D&D).

  3. bryant

    If you want an actual balanced D&D monetary system that allows for businesses, Adventurer Conquerer King is really good at that. But you’d probably have to retcon your entire economy.

  4. laurelwen

    I strongly recommend looking at the Campaign Guide that Pathfinder just released not long ago. It has a great deal of information on world building, including things like running businesses for long-term campaigns.

  5. Anonymous


    I was a student of Joyce and Lyndette more than 40 years ago when they were still living in South Africa. Joyce was such a positive inspiration in my life and was probably one of my first role models. I always wanted to grow up and be Lyndette. I suddenly thought about them this evening and I am so saddened to hear about Joyce and her final years. She taught me so much more than dance, she taught me how to be a lady. I have never had children of my own but I encourage All little girls to do ballet because it instilled so much in me. RIP Aunty Joyce and all my love to Lyndette. Martine

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