View Full Version : Starting a Town

2006-12-31, 12:13 PM
In my first Ebberon campaign a few of the Players in my groups wants to build themselves a town, in another attempt to break the wealth by level rule. I'm not againtst the notion at this point, but I have to ask how does one build a town?

How does one get a land grant is and how much land is required to build a community?
How long should it take to build a community and much much does it cost to build and maintains it?
Where do you go and what do you do get settlers?
How much profit is their in running a community and how much time do the PCs need to devote to building and maintaining the project?

2006-12-31, 12:15 PM
Usually, I would say that you need a copy of A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe, but Ebberon may be somewhat different. I hear the DMG2 might have some advice about this.

2006-12-31, 12:36 PM
In my first Ebberon campaign a few of the Players in my groups wants to build themselves a town, in another attempt to break the wealth by level rule. I'm not againtst the notion at this point, but I have to ask how does one build a town?
Break the wealth by level rule? Starting a town should be costly, even if the land is a grant.

How does one get a land grant is and how much land is required to build a community? Typically by service to a noble or other land holder. And, usually, they'll continue to owe service (and taxes) while they own the land. As for how much, it depends on the type of community. A town built up around a mine might not require much land where a farming community will require a lot...even more for ranching. A trading community is somewhere in between but needs a navigable river or port. Though a simple crossroads might do.

How long should it take to build a community and much much does it cost to build and maintains it? Time and cost are inversely proportional. If they want to attract settlers quickly (within a couple of years) they'll need to be offering some sort of incentives. Natural organic growth could take decades but be far cheaper. Don't forget other costs - taxes, militia & walls (if in an area needing protection), and development of land, houses, and other resources.

Where do you go and what do you do get settlers? Offer incentives. For example, a new farming community might offer cheap farmland with an ox & plow as a bonus if you want to attract people quickly. No matter what type of community, protection must be offered. If they fear for their lives they're not likely to move & bring families.

How much profit is their in running a community and how much time do the PCs need to devote to building and maintaining the project?I'd recommend having the PC's hire a mayor / city manager to run it for them. That way you can do it offline without taking up much game time. As for profit, the first years will cost money. Once the community is established it may start to become profitable. How much depends on size and type of community. A trading seaport will make much more than a farming community once the trade routes are established. Of course it will cost more too...you'll need ships to protect merchants from pirates and other hazards.

2006-12-31, 01:01 PM
See if you can find the old computer game "Patrician III", that set you up as a Hanseatic merchant prince. Part of your role was to establish and build new towns in the face of piracy, noble opposition and trade troubles. It was an instant education for me.

In a more D&D vein you have the old OD&D domain rules (still used at pandius.org), and the Birthright ("You are king at 1st level, good luck") domain rules for 2nd Edition. I understand there's an active Birthright community on the net.

The main thing I learnt from the above games: towns are very rarely built and run at a profit to the founder. The initial money made by auctioning off the land is, or at least should be, expended on surveying and public works (roads, city walls, sewers, water supply, etc.). Then you have gifts/bribes to surrounding territorial magnates, the cost of advertising for settlers, seed costs to prospect and establish new industries in the face of existing competition.

How does one get a land grant

Butter up the existing landholder (even a wilderness is usually claimed by someone) and get a charter from them proclaiming you something more than a squatter. Expect to have to make all sorts of backward - but plot-hooky - feudal concessions for your land (taxes, military service, banning evil religions or hated races, etc.), and expect to be given a problem area.

and how much land is required to build a community?

Twice as much as half the space needed to sustain it. :smallwink:
Seriously, that all depends on how large the community is, how dense the settlement pattern is, how fertile the environs are (food security - major factor in settlement), blah, blah, blah.
Figure settlement densities of 10% of modern day levels, with about 80-90% of the people living in rural areas.

How long should it take to build a community

Again, that all depends on the existing social and economic factors.
Is there an excess under-employed population looking for a better life in your new utopia, or is there a booming economy already? Is the area safe from marauders, or will the settlers have to farm with sword on hip and bow to hand? Are there rich mineral resources to exploit (think gold rush), or are you entering a prospecting desert?

and much much does it cost to build and maintain it?

As the IRS says: "how much you got?"
You can never be too rich if founding a settlement. There'll always be additional costs, price gouging based on scarcity, raiding bandits, peculation, cash flow crises, etc.
The PHB gives you some rough figures, the Stronghold Builder's Guide more detail.

Where do you go and what do you do get settlers?

That's the 64,000gp question. Where would your players go looking for settlers? What would inspire these people to leave their safe and settled existence for a new and raw life in the wilds? Clue: secure freehold ownership of land + a fair and equable legal system. :smallwink:

How much profit is their in running a community

Not really the point. Do you think Alexander the Great built his 18 Alexandrias with an eye on the bottom line? Did John Winthrop run Massachusetts Bay Colony to get rich? What you get is status, available manpower and skills, security of position, a flash title, a crown and the right to shout "Orf wiv iz 'ead!".
Who doesn't want a crown and executions carried out in their name? :smallbiggrin:

You'll get tax and tarriff revenues, but if you're a good ruler they'll be ploughed back into the settlement. You live off the Privy Purse, which is filled by your adventuring loot, gifts from neighbours and supplicants, and whatever you can skim off the tax income. Curiously enough the Privy Purse is almost always roughly equivalent to your expected WBL. :smalltongue:

You can always hold or grant monopolies within the colony (a monopoly on salt production or spice importing are classics), but that will retard the rate of development and lead to public discontent. Who likes paying luxury taxes on a necessity?

and how much time do the PCs need to devote to building and maintaining the project?

As much as the GM requires. If the players are happy spending 90% of their playing time protecting, maintaining and expanding their settlement that's all good. If they want to resolve the matter with a couple of die rolls, that's fine too. Whatever is fun should be reserved for the players, boring stuff is best left to NPC factotums. :smallsmile:

2006-12-31, 01:23 PM
Quite simply, if they want to have a game where they run a town ... and do nothing else ... I'd suggest following the advice above.

But running a town is not apt to be what these players want -- they want a smoothly running background story that cranks out cash while they go adventuring. This is where you say "No."

Let them have a town, if they earn it. Make them "adventure" to gain land, find settlers, keep order. Then a reasonable profit should be provided. But any idea initially and soley undertaken to "break the wealth by level guidelines" should be met with a No.

Gorbad the Limb Rippa
2006-12-31, 03:13 PM
Also check Strong hold builders guid 4 tips

2006-12-31, 11:28 PM
Simple method of building a town?

Locate a good site. It should have good water, be located on a trade route where there is not already a town, but there really should be; in the Forgotten Realms, there are tons of such places, a day or two from another town, on a river and a road, with no major threats nearby. You should then adventure in the area to clear out any threats that might grow in the next couple years... identify tombs, nests of monsters, etc.

Buy a lot of portable holes (2-3) and building supplies... many axes and saws, a goodly amount of lumber, tents, food, etc. Even one is a great investment if you fill it with lumber, because enough wagons to cart that much lumber would be more expensive and time consuming than the hole is worth (and a single hole is reusable).

Then hire people. Families. Hire them by saying "If you will go to this place I have prepared and build houses and till fields, I will protect you and let you keep most of what you grow. I will give you what land you till, and be a fair lord over you."

It really, really, helps at this point if you've just taken the Leadership feat.

They then move there. You protect them... that's why you have an adventuring party (and cohorts, and some men at arms you've hired). The first year will really suck, but you've prepared! If you're smart, you've invested in a Lyre of Building to put the houses up faster. That means everyone has a house. You've also brought along clerics and/or druids to help with the spell Plant Growth, so crops will be a success.

If you've chosen your site well, you start getting caravan traffic quickly. This is good. You buy and sell them things. You hopefully hired a journeyman blacksmith to set up shop here... he can shoe horses, and will be happy to have a place he can work as his own master. A hostler will have to sell someone else's beer and mead (did you think to include a beekeeper and a vinter so you can brew mead and wine locally? They'll make beer on their own, but mead and wine will need a little kickstart.), but he'll do steady business. A baker (or even local women who can bake) will do steady business in fresh bread to anyone who's been on the road.

A standard party of about 9th level or so can start setting up their own villages... if they're prepared to stop adventuring for a year or two to do nothing else, and abandon a fair amount of wealth in the process. A party of 4-5 people could get together the necessary wealth for 1 portable hole and 1 lyre of building fairly easily (especially if their wizard can make the Lyre of Building, though I question the minimum caster level the item is given in the DMG) and, between the two of those, you can do some substantial town-building.

2007-01-01, 02:45 AM
Can you find the stronghold builders guide online? Is so, where is it, and if not where could one find it.

2007-01-01, 09:06 AM
What are the PCs trying to accomplish? Are they founding a town as a source of tax income (bad idea)? Are they founding a town because they want to have a place that is literally 'of their own'? Do they already know where they're going to build it?

A little more information on the parameters here would really help people come up with suggestions.

Gorbad the Limb Rippa
2007-01-01, 09:45 AM
Nt sure where to findit on the net,
maybe some one around here knows?

2007-01-01, 10:51 AM
How does one get a land grant

Depends on where you are. In Breland, Karrnath, or Aundair, you'd probably buy the land from a noble family. Ever single chunk of land in one of those places is going to be owned by someone. You'd most likely have to present a charter to the government - the Brelish Parlaiment, if you were in Breland, for example - to get your town legal recognition. You'd also want to square things away with the Raincaller's Guild, because, well, they control the weather.

On the other hand, if you're in Droaam, Darguun, or the Shadow Marches, you don't need a land grant but you do have to convince the neighboring warlords not to raze your town. If you're in Xen'drik or Q'barra, you just pick a chunk of land, plant a flag in it and start killing the natives.

and how much land is required to build a community?You can build a town on a square mile of land if the town can import all its food. If the town's supporting itself through agriculture, you're going to need a lot more.

How long should it take to build a community... You don't found a town to found a town: you found a town to capitalize on some resource. If this resource is new and highly profitable, and enough people know about it, the town will go up very quickly. If the party discovers a motherlode of dragonshards, they could get a town built in a month. If the party's just trying to build a town because there's a swathe of wilderness somewhere with no town in it, it's going to take much, much longer.

...and much much does it cost to build and maintains it?More money than the party has. They're going to need investors. You get investors by having a way to turn a profit (see above).

Where do you go and what do you do get settlers?People move to new places for two reasons: there's something to be gained there (material wealth), or they have no other place to go. Unless the party's recently freed a tribe of goblins from slavery, they're most likely dealing with the former. In that case, they'd want to advertise in a major population center. For key services - artisans, magewrights, healers, and so on - they'd most likely want to approach specific people in those professions and offer them some incentive to settle. In particular, they should approach House Sivis and House Orien about having a representative set up shop in the town.

How much profit is their in running a community...Enough to make it worth doing if the PCs don't screw it up, not enough to break the game. If that breaking-the-game thing becomes an issue, remember that the PCs should be investing profits back into the community.

and how much time do the PCs need to devote to building and maintaining the project?Depends on how many adventure hooks you can come up with. If they want to found a sleepy agricultural community in central Aundair, very little. If they hijack an airship full of Kundarak gold bricks and use the money to build a shard-mining town in Darguun on top of some Demon Age ruins, you're set for the rest of the campaign.

2007-01-01, 09:46 PM
Attracting people to a town can take less effort/incentives than you'd think.

Look at the huge migration of people to the American Midwest. To summarize: 180 acres per family member if you built a residence and lived there for 5 years. After that, it was yours. Tons of people capitalized on this deal. This, knowing that the farmland would not be ideal, that they would hostile natives, and be pretty much stuck with their decision.

If there's a valuable resource available, such as gold, people will flock to the place in an attempt to get rich quick. A lot of them won't stick around once the resource is gone, but the town can spring up literally overnight. People will face enormous difficulties if they think they can get immense wealth.

A lot depends on the current economic conditions. If people have fallen on hard times, they're much more likely to give your new place a try. If they're comfortable where they are, there's no real incentive to move.

Another important factor is what kind of people you want to attract to this town. Offer your place as a sanctuary for anyone (e.g. Rome), and the "undesirables" of other towns will flock to it. (Though that poses its own problems... read more on the founding, real and mythological, of Rome to learn more.) If you want the "productive" or "elite" members of society, you'll have to make it worth their while. If you want to attract a guild, with all its advantages, you could give it special tax breaks, or a lot of freedom in the way they operate (such as turning a blind eye to unethical business practices). With the amount of money that many medieval lords gouged from their subjects, you'd be surprised at how appealing a low tax rate could be.

Anyway, I'm rambling. I'll shut up for now, and pop in later. :smalltongue: