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Pinjata
2019-06-25, 04:03 PM
1.)
My players will start as young orphaned adults, taken in by a Priest of Chauntea in a small rural town. Now, this is sort of Priest's hobby - getting less fortunate on their feet, learning them some basic skills.

But how does the investment return? I'm thinking he just lets them into the world with You Owe Me letter. Most wards never return, but some do and donate part of their earnings back to temple. Sometimes, that is a few dozen goldpieces, sometimes 10.000 goldpieces. Depends on person's luck.

2.)
I have an experienced player in game (most are noobs) who already passed "the Trials of Orphanage". He will be returning as a low level adventurer and I wonder, how could Priest hook him up with the newest batch of "baked and ready" temple wards? Any ideas are welcome.

thanks

Xuc Xac
2019-06-25, 04:23 PM
I don't think a priest of Chauntea would do this as a hobby and expect a profit from their "investment". Taking care of the unfortunate and hungry is a priest of Chauntea's calling, not a hobby. They don't feed and clothe orphans because one of them might later grow up to be rich and give them money. They do it because they don't want dead orphans.

Archpaladin Zousha
2019-06-25, 04:25 PM
Exactly...an orphanage is usually cited as an example of a nonprofit for a reason. :smallwink:

Man_Over_Game
2019-06-25, 04:33 PM
I don't think a priest of Chauntea would do this as a hobby and expect a profit from their "investment". Taking care of the unfortunate and hungry is a priest of Chauntea's calling, not a hobby. They don't feed and clothe orphans because one of them might later grow up to be rich and give them money. They do it because they don't want dead orphans.

An orphanage might be sponsored by a fund from the local government, as part of some morality legislature, or in an attempt to keep the level of crime and homelessness down.

It could also be that the orphans provide a skill for people who spend their money on donations for the orphanage. Selling baked goods, for instance. Maybe crafting items, or they make a sort of fair where the children each provide some sort of entertainment or sell goods that they've made.

These children probably aren't getting much education, and they don't have jobs, so there's a lot of free time that they have. Bored people either find work or find trouble.

KineticDiplomat
2019-06-25, 05:04 PM
None the less, bread, masonry, and the like cost money. Non-profit or not, goods and services are still required. So how does he keep it running? There's a few ways:

1) A budget from a higher organization. Could be a government, could be a philanthropic owner who lets the priesthood run it, could be a church, could be owner-operated in the modern parlance. Would would imply the owner has his own wealth and has taken this over as a sort of...retirement form whatever he was doing to get rich. Since this is medieval fantasy, there aren't things like online investments for little people. No one "sendings" an account statement. Whoever is backing the place either has oodles of money literally in their possession or is still actively involved with an organization that handles money directly. He still has enough wasta to be influential one way or another.

In this case, there is only really one rule to follow: keep the benefactor happy. They give you money because it suits them. Maybe that means hobnobbing with the high priests, maybe it means looking the other way when the prince drafts any magical talent out of your orphanage, maybe it means working as a cover. Maybe it just means making rich people feel like they're doing good things.

2) Endowments. Pretty much works like you suggested. There may be a shoestring budget from somewhere else, but more or less you are hoping for "alumni" to give money back in to the system. Of course, if you want your priest to be a little more aggressive in the pursuit of "donations" it would hardly be the first time in history that children were either exploited by modern standards (you owe eighteen years of raising costs back. We'll take a tenth a year until you pay) or by any standards.

3) Charitable donations. Exactly what it sounds like. What is interesting here is that you are essentially fighting for market share. Yes, to do good of course, but everyone else has to eat and/or decorate their palace with fine art, and there's only so much feel good money to go around. Sometimes you have to drum some up by proving what good work you're doing, what good work the people you're raising are doing...much easier to keep the place running if everyone associates it with fine young men and civic assistance, rather than a bottomless pit of beggars who never seem to amount to anything YOU hear about.

4) Forced apprenticeship. Gone out of style these days, but it would not be a stretch for the setting to simply sell off the orphans. Not directly, or as "places" per se, but what better outcome could you have? You know little Timmy is going to have a way to earn a living, and the orphanage gets a fee from whoever is buying. Other than the potential for hideous exploitation that would probably be, for a medieval setting, called "life."

Feel free to add, or to mix and match. Any number would give practical concerns for why the "wards of the temple" are being asked to go off and do something.
Amongst others. Any of those would

Brother Oni
2019-06-25, 05:13 PM
These children probably aren't getting much education, and they don't have jobs, so there's a lot of free time that they have. Bored people either find work or find trouble.

Given the pseudo-medieval culture of D&D, apprenticeships typically start in the teens, but can be as young as 7. I don't think the children would have much time for being bored, especially since the donations are unlikely to cover running costs of the orphanage, so even if the children weren't put into some work-release scheme, they would still be working, either growing their own food, cooking or cleaning/maintaining the orphanage.


Gone out of style these days, but it would not be a stretch for the setting to simply sell off the orphans. Not directly, or as "places" per se, but what better outcome could you have?

Children being sold off as slaves or sex workers may be a step too dark for the OP's game, even if it did reflect the fate of orphans in some cultures.

KineticDiplomat
2019-06-25, 05:26 PM
Likely. However, children being given up as monks, laborers, apprentices for less desirable trades like night soil collector, oarsmen/slaves, guttersweepings for the armies...these are all quite plausible.

Segev
2019-06-25, 05:36 PM
Traditionally, orphanages - particularly religious ones - were charities. They ran on donations, and often had a parent organization or several patrons. A religious orphanage is essentially a monestary or nunnary which also has kids living in it, most of whom will be receiving the Church education and expected to live similar lives to the monks. They will eventually be given opportunity to take vows or make their own way, and efforts made for those not interested in becoming priests or monks or the like to get apprenticeships. But the orphanage usually runs on the charitable donations of former members, on the tithes paid to church, and on other forms of donations. Some may also sell things - works produced by the monks, fortunes told by the clergy (you can look into how Shinto shrines in Japan make their livings, for instance) - but it mostly amounts to devout generosity.

For less church-oriented charitable orphanages, they often had one or more noble patrons. The wealthy elite who, whether through the good of their hearts or out of a motive to look good or for their own reasons, donate large sums to the budget. Some may have a single patron who runs the budget (but hires a caretaker to do the actual raising).

British work-houses and various less...socially-minded governmental orphanages would have a shared notion that the young people can do menial work for which they can charge customers...so they do put them to work. For all the horrors we hear from them, there were many British subjects who became successful adults with families of their own who grew up in the workhouses. That doesn't mean they were ideal, but it does mean they can be made functional. And you could design your own for your fiction to be as horrible or as noble as you wished, with conditions ranging from slavery and sweat shops to a good vocational training and instilling hard work ethic mixed with solid educational opportunities.

And then there's the sinister side of government orphanages: they may be mandatory. There are several kinds of tyranny which see value in taking children from their families and raising and indoctrinating them to view the State or the King as their "parent." I'm naming no real names, here, and not really alluding to any one in particular, but a strict and required boarding school program where children can visit family only rarely can easily also absorb orphans with no family who just don't have another home to which to go home. And real monstrous ones might not ever let children "go home," viewing the raising of them as the government's right and responsibility entirely.

The latter kind would, obviously, be government-supported.

But for your example of religious support, it's part of that particular church's budget. The abbot or elder or whomever makes this well-known, and works to raise the money from the tithes and charity of his faithful. Grown "graduates" who made it in the world may well return to donate generously, seeing it as a way of giving back and helping their brothers and sisters who live there now. There may be "bake sales" or other projects, but it is unlikely that it's run as a profitable institution rather than a net charity.

Honest Tiefling
2019-06-25, 06:51 PM
Children being sold off as slaves or sex workers may be a step too dark for the OP's game, even if it did reflect the fate of orphans in some cultures.

Chauntea is usually neutral good, and most people would likely think that violates the alignment a wee bit. But I think witholding blessings for fertile fields from nobles who don't pay some service to the Earthmother for her gifts is probably more acceptable if a bit neutral-ish. So your vinyard isn't doing so well? We'll take payment in gold or goods for the orphanage, thanks.

Another idea might be that a priest, if independently wealthy or having the ear of a noble who really enjoys having good harvests might not consider the children a source of income...But workers. Those paladins have to come from somewhere, after all. A few might be trained to help advise wealthy landowners on proper land management instead, but those are likely NPCs. The more promising ones (also known as player characters) might have been trained in the hopes of securing a promising specialist for the church interests. Hell, if the priest is savvy enough might have pushed a few that didn't seem like a good fit for Chauntea to the teachings of allied faiths to keep alliances strong. You don't get to be one of the most powerful gods of the setting without realizing the power of allies.

Jay R
2019-06-25, 06:58 PM
For a chilling version of this, I recommend the movie Newsies.

Oliver Twist shows the process of using orphans as beggars and thieves. The priest may not know that his benefactors are using the children this way.

Tvtyrant
2019-06-25, 06:58 PM
1.)
My players will start as young orphaned adults, taken in by a Priest of Chauntea in a small rural town. Now, this is sort of Priest's hobby - getting less fortunate on their feet, learning them some basic skills.

But how does the investment return? I'm thinking he just lets them into the world with You Owe Me letter. Most wards never return, but some do and donate part of their earnings back to temple. Sometimes, that is a few dozen goldpieces, sometimes 10.000 goldpieces. Depends on person's luck.

2.)
I have an experienced player in game (most are noobs) who already passed "the Trials of Orphanage". He will be returning as a low level adventurer and I wonder, how could Priest hook him up with the newest batch of "baked and ready" temple wards? Any ideas are welcome.

thanks

1. The priest trains them to be ready to work as journeymen in various guilds, and then gets a kickback for providing new workers to under-utilized industries. The Tanner guild for instance requires new members but can't attract them from the general population.

2. He mostly trains them for military service, getting a kickback from the local lord who wants Men at Arms he doesn't have to pay much or train himself.

3. They act as healers, being raised by a priest, and communities provide him a small portion of the amount owed for one of his disciples healing someone. This sets up a tidy profit over many years.

4. He relies on former orphans who have done well to give him money out of gratitude.

5. The priest is paid by the local dragon not to let the orphans become heroes. As most heroes are orphans the dragon fears the revenge of orphans beyond all other threats, and he convinces them to forgive and forget in return for money.

Honest Tiefling
2019-06-25, 07:54 PM
1. The priest trains them to be ready to work as journeymen in various guilds, and then gets a kickback for providing new workers to under-utilized industries. The Tanner guild for instance requires new members but can't attract them from the general population.

I love how one of the less evil options for orphan raising involves them being trained to become tanners...One of the professions often associated with becoming a social pariah and heavy amounts of discrimination. I think this just goes to show how badly orphans were treated historically.

Yeah, I don't think THOSE orphans are going to give the church much in the way of money later on. Imagine being raised by the Chaunteans and instead of becoming a healer or a paladin the priest looks at you and says: "So...How do you feel about handling dung and hides? Think you can manage that?"

Tvtyrant
2019-06-25, 08:03 PM
I love how one of the less evil options for orphan raising involves them being trained to become tanners...One of the professions often associated with becoming a social pariah and heavy amounts of discrimination. I think this just goes to show how badly orphans were treated historically.

Yeah, I don't think THOSE orphans are going to give the church much in the way of money later on. Imagine being raised by the Chaunteans and instead of becoming a healer or a paladin the priest looks at you and says: "So...How do you feel about handling dung and hides? Think you can manage that?"

Agreed. Nothing like being turned to a life of smelly drudgery.

Although it has the advantage of making you the best staff fighter in the whole of Robin Hood's merry men.

Honest Tiefling
2019-06-25, 08:05 PM
Although it has the advantage of making you the best staff fighter in the whole of Robin Hood's merry men.

Robin Hood was technically a thief, so now we've looped back to thievery being an excellent option for orphans. Thank you thread, for justifying every single larceny inclined tiefling PC I will ever make.

You know, if this is an idea for a campaign, why not steal a page from Blues Brothers and have the orphanage be in debt? Maybe the priest no longer has a benefactor who will provide money and it is up the player characters to go get some.

Mark Hall
2019-06-25, 08:25 PM
You want an ROI on an orphanage? Figure out what you can use the kids for, within your ethics. Chauntea is NG, so it's a bit more limited, but...

Starting about 6-8, put them to work. A lot of what they do will be basic life stuff... washing dishes, cleaning places, maybe even washing clothes. A lot of this is basic chore kind of things that they'd be doing at home, but it frees up others for other duties. You have older children serve as trustees and overseers, allowing you to use less adults.

As they get bigger, they get other jobs. Working in the garden (particularly popular with the church of Chauntea), and older children might work as readers or scribes. The scribery, in particular, could be a money-maker... copying books, writing letters. It gives them a useful skill, exposes them to certain knowledge (whatever you have them copying), and can make some coin on the side.

As kids get older, you can rent them out as labor. Older kids might be useful farm labor (again, Chauntea) or any other sort of things where more hands is useful. Some who are skilled scribes can do more work along that line.

This is NOT going to be a lucrative business. If you're lucky, it might be self-supporting. But it will be less expensive to run.

Tvtyrant
2019-06-25, 08:31 PM
Robin Hood was technically a thief, so now we've looped back to thievery being an excellent option for orphans. Thank you thread, for justifying every single larceny inclined tiefling PC I will ever make.

You know, if this is an idea for a campaign, why not steal a page from Blues Brothers and have the orphanage be in debt? Maybe the priest no longer has a benefactor who will provide money and it is up the player characters to go get some.

The reference was to Arthur Bland (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_Hood_and_the_Tanner), a tanner who holds even with or beats Robin Hood in a staff fight and so joins the Merry Men. I suppose being an orphan tanner staff fighter thief does work as a back story.

Seclora
2019-06-25, 09:00 PM
5. The priest is paid by the local dragon not to let the orphans become heroes. As most heroes are orphans the dragon fears the revenge of orphans beyond all other threats, and he convinces them to forgive and forget in return for money.

Honestly, this could work with either a chromatic Dragon afraid of retribution or a metallic Dragon trying to do an honest to goodness nice thing. Either way, Dragons make great patrons of causes and institutions.

Angels also work well in this situation, although it might be a little below their general scheme of things. A Devil might help fund an Orphanage through a few side channels if they think it could yield a few easy Souls later, or even just some cover for one of their other operations. Hags and many Fey are also known to take an interest in lost or wayward children for their own selfish reasons, and might disguise themselves to take advantage of an Orphanage.

Generally though, Orphanages are non-profits and don't so much have a business model as they just sort of struggle along and need constant donations from the people around them. Have your character tithe their loot, donate a Decanter of Endless Water, enchant them some self-sweeping brooms, and find some way they can have a plentiful supply of Murlynd's Filling Cardboard Gruel and access to Heward's Handy Spice Rack.
Seriously, keep the place clean and not-overly shiny. It does not take much to make the place look like a horror movie.

Honest Tiefling
2019-06-25, 09:05 PM
Honestly, this could work with either a chromatic Dragon afraid of retribution or a metallic Dragon trying to do an honest to goodness nice thing. Either way, Dragons make great patrons of causes and institutions.

Dragon Momma decides to keep an eye on those pesky (but lovable) humans by posing as a human priestess of Chauntea, hoping to rescue some orphans and perhaps train some worthy children along the way. She pretends to have financial difficulties running the orphanage to test her current crop of orphans and to try to tip the hand of the new Lord who needs a lesson in respecting his farmers. Unbeknownst to her, enemies from her past are interested in her new brood and might make trouble for them, hinting at her mysterious past to the orphaned player characters who might discover her secret.

I like this idea because it's less freaking horrifying than most of the comments here by far. Let's ease up on Chaunteans going into child slavery, not sure if the OP wants to be that dark.

KaussH
2019-06-25, 10:13 PM
While it may be non profit, that doesnt mean it doesnt need lots of money. And for that matter non profit isnt really a protect think in those times.
However since we have magic, add in what casters and casters groups/guilds might pay an orphanage for the chance to pick early talent. One or two "children with talent" could pay for a year of operation.

Honest Tiefling
2019-06-25, 10:18 PM
While it may be non profit, that doesnt mean it doesnt need lots of money. And for that matter non profit isnt really a protect think in those times.
However since we have magic, add in what casters and casters groups/guilds might pay an orphanage for the chance to pick early talent. One or two "children with talent" could pay for a year of operation.

Problem is, this also adds to the expenses. I mean, what sort of evil necromancer isn't going to try to raid an orphanage or two? It's just a cemetery with a few extra steps. Or if you get into trouble with your god you might need a sacrifice or two to appease them until your plans unfurl and children are travel-sized for your convenience. If you were an evil person who need some bodies for some purpose, are you going to lay siege to the fortified hold of paladins, or just raid a few children?

And hell, if there are 'children of talent' a few accidents could go a long way in securing those resources for the proper side. If the priest in charge of things is dead, you could probably steal a few orphans before anyone remembers to take care of a few hungry mouths.

Segev
2019-06-26, 10:12 AM
I mean, what sort of evil necromancer isn't going to try to raid an orphanage or two? It's just a cemetery with a few extra steps.

As an evil necromancer, the only real use for an orphanage is to harvest a crop of Slaymates, and that requires some special set-up. You need, primarily, either a corrupt or corruptible manager who will betray or fatally neglect his or her charges. Once you have that, you don't even need to wipe out the orphanage; you just nudge the caregiver into being responsible (by hook or by crook) for the deaths of children. Bonus if you can make the region necromantically corrupted, to maximize chance of spontaneous animation. Though if you're high enough level to cast create undead, you can probably use that spell to make the little darlings as long as they died appropriately.

But child zombies are not worth the extra effort of slaughtering an orphanage when you could just hit up a graveyard or wait for some idiot bandits to sack a caravan and leave the corpses behind for your browsing. Moreover, hitting an orphanage is very likely to lead to adventurers who grew up there returning to find it destroyed and their "little brothers and sisters" turned into your horde and come after you for it.

No, necromancers who have both Int and Wis above 11 or so won't be sacking orphanages for fodder. They'll be using them as specialty shops, and seeking to leave them intact enough to be able to shop there again. (Slaymates are fragile, so even though you're not bringing them into combat on purpose, accidents do happen.)

Now, one thing that is oft overlooked about orphanages and old-time farming was that farm families were large not just due to any lack of contraception, but because children were valuable labor to the family. A well-thought-out orphanage will maintain gardens and even active farmland, and put the children to work. Chores, yes, for those too small to do heavy work, but gradually working them up through various farm tasks. Farming is hard work, but not beyond the means of even young kids to participate meaningfully in, and barring things that will afflict whole regions with famine, each human tends to produce net more than they need to eat, even with teenaged appetites.

The difficulty there would be the immense wealth that that much land would represent in a medieval society. The orphanage would be considered on par with minor nobility for having enough to keep multiple families' worth of kids occupied. Fortunately, you have the patronage of Chauntea, who is both a goddess of agriculture and has a prominent and wealthy church. Moreover, raising some of the kids with a militant mindset (paladins-in-training, monks-in-training, etc.) will provide a nice defensive line against bandits and monsters. Put the orphanage in a rural region with "farmer" level access to "town," and it'll be a small commune/village in its own right and largely self-sustaining.

Unlike most farms, it won't have an expectation that the majority of the kids will grow up to continue farming or marry off to another farm (though many kids may well marry into other farming families, especially if they interact with neighboring farms and fall in love with nice boys and girls from those families). Heck, some level of adoption by neighboring farms who lose kids or need more hands may happen. Whether formal "join the family" adoption, "hired hands who spend a season with the family" pseudo-family-membership, or courting, intermingling and sharing of the resource of labor that the orphanage has would be feasible.

But unlike most farms, they have an ever-ready supply of new hands, and only need a few priests at most to be the managers and lead farmhands. So most of the kids will also get some sort of apprenticeship or vocational training, and it likely will have a number of adventurers head off to find their fortune. One thing that the orphans lack which farm-family kids have is any hope of an inheritance, after all.

Thinker
2019-06-26, 11:00 AM
1.)
My players will start as young orphaned adults, taken in by a Priest of Chauntea in a small rural town. Now, this is sort of Priest's hobby - getting less fortunate on their feet, learning them some basic skills.

But how does the investment return? I'm thinking he just lets them into the world with You Owe Me letter. Most wards never return, but some do and donate part of their earnings back to temple. Sometimes, that is a few dozen goldpieces, sometimes 10.000 goldpieces. Depends on person's luck.

2.)
I have an experienced player in game (most are noobs) who already passed "the Trials of Orphanage". He will be returning as a low level adventurer and I wonder, how could Priest hook him up with the newest batch of "baked and ready" temple wards? Any ideas are welcome.

thanks


I like the premise. Regardless of Chauntea's alignment, the priest probably has more worldly matters to contend with - like funding. This can directly feed into assembling the party.
The experienced player has returned from some place - war, jail, or even wanderlust and word has gotten around that the orphanage's priest is looking for him. The player goes to visit the orphanage and is told that the place has fallen on hard times - they can't afford the local Warlord's tribute, let alone building repairs, oil for the lanterns, craft supplies, or even diapers for the wee ones. The Warlord will be back in 2 weeks and if they don't pay, the orphanage gets burned to the ground. They need a miracle and this returning adventurer could be it. If the player is a bard, they could solve this by assembling the party and playing gigs across Illinois. Otherwise, maybe the Priest has heard about an ancient city that was long ago buried along with untold treasures. But, the adventurer can't do it alone - take these other young saps with him!

zinycor
2019-06-26, 11:26 AM
1.)
My players will start as young orphaned adults, taken in by a Priest of Chauntea in a small rural town. Now, this is sort of Priest's hobby - getting less fortunate on their feet, learning them some basic skills.

But how does the investment return? I'm thinking he just lets them into the world with You Owe Me letter. Most wards never return, but some do and donate part of their earnings back to temple. Sometimes, that is a few dozen goldpieces, sometimes 10.000 goldpieces. Depends on person's luck.

2.)
I have an experienced player in game (most are noobs) who already passed "the Trials of Orphanage". He will be returning as a low level adventurer and I wonder, how could Priest hook him up with the newest batch of "baked and ready" temple wards? Any ideas are welcome.

thanks

I don't think the orphanage would have the power to force wards to pay. And I don't think they should, as others have said the orphanage would get their main income in other ways, and I would think that for the most part a good orphanage would get donations and help from wards willingly.

I don't think you need to hook your experienced player into helping the orphanage, most probably he will come up with his own reasons to help the orphanage... or won't, in which case the campaign won't be set at an orphanage and you can move on to the next setting.

Honest Tiefling
2019-06-26, 11:46 AM
As an evil necromancer, the only real use for an orphanage is to harvest a crop of Slaymates, and that requires some special set-up.

Slaymates are good and all, but sometimes beggars can't be choosers. It might just be faster to kill a group of low level peasants then trying to exhume a bunch of graves by yourself. Who decided to bury this moron in clay-laden soil!?


But child zombies are not worth the extra effort of slaughtering an orphanage when you could just hit up a graveyard or wait for some idiot bandits to sack a caravan and leave the corpses behind for your browsing. Moreover, hitting an orphanage is very likely to lead to adventurers who grew up there returning to find it destroyed and their "little brothers and sisters" turned into your horde and come after you for it.

As opposed to raiding the cemetery that might have ancestors of adventurers. Anything you do is going to summon adventurers, might as well summon the poorer ones that


No, necromancers who have both Int and Wis above 11 or so won't be sacking orphanages for fodder. They'll be using them as specialty shops, and seeking to leave them intact enough to be able to shop there again. (Slaymates are fragile, so even though you're not bringing them into combat on purpose, accidents do happen.)

Again, if your choice is no skeletons, or some skeletons, well, there's a lot worse choices.


Now, one thing that is oft overlooked about orphanages and old-time farming was that farm families were large not just due to any lack of contraception, but because children were valuable labor to the family. A well-thought-out orphanage will maintain gardens and even active farmland, and put the children to work. Chores, yes, for those too small to do heavy work, but gradually working them up through various farm tasks. Farming is hard work, but not beyond the means of even young kids to participate meaningfully in, and barring things that will afflict whole regions with famine, each human tends to produce net more than they need to eat, even with teenaged appetites.

There are plenty of chores around a farm that a child could do, yes...And plenty they can't. There's a reason that stapping young farmhands is a trope, because a lot of it is harsh and a little much for poor little Timmy. Oddly, it would be one reason to have an orphanage of half-orcs, since they could probably do adult work far sooner and better than a human child.


The difficulty there would be the immense wealth that that much land would represent in a medieval society. The orphanage would be considered on par with minor nobility for having enough to keep multiple families' worth of kids occupied. Fortunately, you have the patronage of Chauntea, who is both a goddess of agriculture and has a prominent and wealthy church. Moreover, raising some of the kids with a militant mindset (paladins-in-training, monks-in-training, etc.) will provide a nice defensive line against bandits and monsters. Put the orphanage in a rural region with "farmer" level access to "town," and it'll be a small commune/village in its own right and largely self-sustaining.

Except that a farm wouldn't produce metal or leather goods, but I assume you mean that the Chaunteans could lure a few blacksmiths or leather workers. In older editions, Chanteans did in fact set up fortified, self-sustaining abbeys, which even if this game is set in a different edition should probably be stolen.

Another issue is getting the land. I assume when you have necromancers and orcs running around, fertile land is at a premium even if you are Chauntean. Nobles aren't always inclined to have non-noble land ownership. But that could just be a plot hook of some sort, in that a noble wants the land because they feel that the Chaunteans don't support the military needed to drive back the bandit menace and are therefore unworthy of their land.

Spore
2019-06-26, 12:05 PM
Exactly...an orphanage is usually cited as an example of a nonprofit for a reason. :smallwink:

Honestly I see A LOT of potential...as the plot hook/background for a LE character/villain

Honest Tiefling
2019-06-26, 01:02 PM
Honestly I see A LOT of potential...as the plot hook/background for a LE character/villain

This was literally the plot of Blues Brothers. They were just more Neutral Evil in getting the money.

a_flemish_guy
2019-06-26, 01:21 PM
Honestly I see A LOT of potential...as the plot hook/background for a LE character/villain

heh, combined with the dragon idea

a LE tyrant has a prophecy over him that he'll be killed by an orphan from the land he rules
instead he does the smart thing and generously patronises the orphanages as long as they put their members into regular trades instead of combat related ones

Honest Tiefling
2019-06-26, 01:27 PM
heh, combined with the dragon idea

a LE tyrant has a prophecy over him that he'll be killed by an orphan from the land he rules
instead he does the smart thing and generously patronises the orphanages as long as they put their members into regular trades instead of combat related ones

Agreed, he'd heavily push them to farming activities instead of being paladins. The player characters weren't cooperating with this plan and are troublesome. So they get set on a series of adventures that will hopefully kill them and discourage other orphans from thinking about being warriors. Of course, he'll have to keep rewarding the player characters generously until he can figure out a way to get rid of them.

KineticDiplomat
2019-06-26, 01:30 PM
Another issue to consider is that if it is a "work training program" type orphanage, it probably isn't going to be for a high demand job. Which is a very different thing in pseudo-high-middle-ages D&D than it is to our modern and historically wealthy eye. The majority of the population is (supposedly) peasants and unskilled laborers, with some semi-skilled labor positions. Being the apprentice to a blacksmith would be a Big Damn Deal for the son of a peasant; true social mobility! Being a monk, for all of its celibacy (or lack thereof) and discipline, was also a fair step above peasant living. Being taught to "wield the divine powers of a goddess to become a healer" is the sort of thing that nobility would donate generous sums for. Conveniently handles the inheritance for the second born too, yeah? So, if this orphanage is giving away the medieval equivalent of going to grad school for free, there's got to be something beyond the goodness of the heart. Because even the most rudimentary trade, let alone mastering the healing or fighting arts, would be a massive improvement in personal capital for ANY citizen, not just an orphan. So if the kids are being trained, they are being trained for an explicit, DM hook-worthy, purpose.

And as for paladins-in-training there is going to be a definite understanding with whoever rules locally. What Duke wants a holy order of fighting men, trained to fight from childhood like the nobility, competing with his power base? It caused enough problems with one god, let alone dozens, claiming they had the right to exercise force in defense and advancement of the faith. If you're making janissaries; sure. If the church of chauntea is turning orphans into their trained killers, well, the people whose basis of power is that they control the trained killers are going to have some input on the matter. Enough input for many an adventure hook.

Honest Tiefling
2019-06-26, 01:40 PM
The OP mentioned Chauntea, who is usually tied to the Forgotten Realms, which isn't Medieval, but more leaning to Renaissance with emerging merchant empires and greater freedoms for lower classes, most of which in the areas addressed by the material don't even have serfs.

Churches and temples already have trained killers and warriors, so the orphans aren't going to be the main concern. If anything, keeping orphans from becoming the next thieves, thugs, criminals or sacrifices to dark gods might be a worthy exchange for the temple having a teeeeeeeensy bit more muscle to flex. The temples already have power, the orphans are going to be a drop in the bucket in terms of their power base competing with nobility.

As for monks, I'm not even sure if the word 'celibacy' has ever been mentioned in a single piece of literature related to the Realms. They are pretty chill with adultery in some editions, however.

Kaptin Keen
2019-06-26, 02:16 PM
I just wanted to remark that there seems to be a certain lack of narrative tension in a well-run, near-utopian orphanage. Sure, the traditional solution of orphanages being different from slave labor camps only in name is cliche, but it does give you a lot more to work with.

Segev
2019-06-26, 03:20 PM
I just wanted to remark that there seems to be a certain lack of narrative tension in a well-run, near-utopian orphanage. Sure, the traditional solution of orphanages being different from slave labor camps only in name is cliche, but it does give you a lot more to work with.

The question is, "What kind of tension do you want?" Do you want the nice - but not perfect - orphanage that did its best to be a home despite economic hardships? Do you want the pleasant memories orphanage that is now fallen on hard times to tug at the heartstrings of the heroes of the day? Do you want an orwellian nightmare of propaganda raising little uniformed tin soldiers to worship their Dear Leader? Do you want a hellish sweat shop full of child slaves to rescue, but who still can go on to live reasonably normal lives despite the harsh and unpleasant upbringing? Do you want a trauma-inducing and extremely skeevy bordello which leads to life-long problems with bonding and intimacy, and likely draws the ire and disgust of every good-aligned hero to hear about it? Do you want to get it even more twisted by introducing demons of various sorts and their vices as means of controlling, manipulating, or distorting the normal human bonds children form? Do you want a happy orphanage that is in danger from external threat?

There are a ton of directions you can take it. The "utopian" orphanage is unlikely to be perfect; it's more likely to either be a dystopia in disguise or a generally good orphanage that nevertheless faces the same sorts of real problems that any working-class to poor family might. The common bond of having grown up there and having a constant influx of new children makes it more easily used as an institution to protect than the usual family situation, is all.

Kaptin Keen
2019-06-26, 03:31 PM
That is precisely my point, yes. The good cleric of the good deity leading a good orphanage for good children just doesn't offer much in the way of narrative. There needs to be something else.

Mark Hall
2019-06-26, 04:42 PM
That is precisely my point, yes. The good cleric of the good deity leading a good orphanage for good children just doesn't offer much in the way of narrative. There needs to be something else.

Well, it really depends.

What about the kid who wants more? They may be good, but they have a drive to do more than dig in the dirt for weeds. They may have a vision of a god who isn't Chauntea and who, though not even non-good, isn't well suited to Chauntean life ("My patron is Valkur, the mighty, who calls me to the sea.") They may have strange powers that they don't understand and don't want others to know about (sorcerer, warlock, weird "My DM let me take a Dragonmark in Faerun because 'why not?'"). Imagine being a Good kid, in a Good orphanage, who comes to realize that you have, for some reason, a connection to a Fiend that feeds you power.

Or the kid who ISN'T Good. They may not be evil, but they're not good, and being in a Good orphanage is a bit stifling, even if they can play the game.

Or the kid who a budding little heretic? Not Faithless, no, they just think the priest is wrong about something.

Why are they in the orphanage? Does the kid have a secret dream that they're a prince or the heir to some great power? Do they have a trinket that they say connects them to their REAL parents?

And, of course, a good orphanage with good kids isn't going to be free of conflict. The not-good kid (above) might be a sly and sneaky bully who regularly abused one kid. Or the town might cause problems for the orphans due to racism (a tiefling or half-orc kid in an orphanage filled with mostly humans is going to stand out, and draw comment).

Or problems with the law. Hey, good kid, kills someone in self-defense, turns out to be the sheriff's son.

While certainly not the same as "My parents were fairly normal, but I had six siblings and wanted to get away from the farm to make my fortune", it simply means that one portion of your background isn't a source of trauma or drama. "Yeah, Brother Cadfael raised us pretty well, but I wanted to go find the orcs that killed my parents" is a perfectly fine background for level 1.

Segev
2019-06-26, 04:51 PM
Exactly. Ariel had a loving father and sisters, and had nearly everything provided for her, and wasn't a bad girl at all. A little chaotic and irresponsible, but not even CN. CG or even NG with C tendencies. But humans fascinated her, and she wanted to go meet them.

The orphan boy who wants to leave the orphanage's drudgery (even if it's wholesome drudgery broken up by festivities and fun) because elves fascinate him, or because he thinks dwarven crafting is where his heart lies, is definitely going to have tension. Heck, even without racism (as humans and elves usually don't have much for each other), the elven orphan taken in by a mostly-human orphanage is going to watch his "siblings" grow up and leave while he remains a child, or is at least going to be a VERY YOUNG elf by his people's standards without knowing it when he grows up alongside humans. And wants to learn more about elves. Because there's just something...missing...from the way the humans run their lives. Nothing bad. Just... he's alien, and he knows it.

Or the human orphan who saw an elven merchant girl when he was young, and she isn't getting any less young and beautiful each year he sees her, and he wants to go meet her...and so when he hears bandits are planning to waylay the merchants, he picks up a scythe and goes to try to rescue her based on nothing but his hormonal yearnings to keep the pretty girl safe. Even if she's seen him periodically grow up. (to try to make a Little Mermaid variation here.)

zinycor
2019-06-26, 04:54 PM
That is precisely my point, yes. The good cleric of the good deity leading a good orphanage for good children just doesn't offer much in the way of narrative. There needs to be something else.

Well... you only need to give it more if the orphanage is a center stage for the campaign, If not, even a minor quest can be enough for the game.

Honest Tiefling
2019-06-26, 05:30 PM
Exactly. Ariel had a loving father and sisters, and had nearly everything provided for her, and wasn't a bad girl at all. A little chaotic and irresponsible, but not even CN. CG or even NG with C tendencies. But humans fascinated her, and she wanted to go meet them.

Ariel was somewhere between 15-16. Also, she dies in most renditions of the tale. So you go back to school, little missy. Through this could provide an idea for a session 0 or prequel campaign of establishing why everyone is leaving, possibly with musical numbers.


Or the human orphan who saw an elven merchant girl when he was young, and she isn't getting any less young and beautiful each year he sees her, and he wants to go meet her...and so when he hears bandits are planning to waylay the merchants, he picks up a scythe and goes to try to rescue her based on nothing but his hormonal yearnings to keep the pretty girl safe. Even if she's seen him periodically grow up. (to try to make a Little Mermaid variation here.)

...And him dancing while in agonizing pain is probably a little less dark then child slavery, but as a thread we're not establishing a whole lot for a less depressing tale here, just saying. You people are dark, are you sure you should be having kids?


The orphan boy who wants to leave the orphanage's drudgery (even if it's wholesome drudgery broken up by festivities and fun) because elves fascinate him, or because he thinks dwarven crafting is where his heart lies, is definitely going to have tension. Heck, even without racism (as humans and elves usually don't have much for each other), the elven orphan taken in by a mostly-human orphanage is going to watch his "siblings" grow up and leave while he remains a child, or is at least going to be a VERY YOUNG elf by his people's standards without knowing it when he grows up alongside humans. And wants to learn more about elves. Because there's just something...missing...from the way the humans run their lives. Nothing bad. Just... he's alien, and he knows it.

I'd imagine that tieflings, half-orcs, half-elves and other 'undesirables' would wind up in these sorts of orphanages, as less religious ones might take more...Socially acceptable children first. Including, in some places, elves. That seems less like a Disney movie, but might make for an interesting campaign.

Brother Oni
2019-06-26, 06:09 PM
Honestly I see A LOT of potential...as the plot hook/background for a LE character/villain

I've been playing around with a plot idea based around this in my head as opposition for a PC party. LE evil guy, dedicated to controlling the town and bring it all under his control, but his 2IC is a all round CG/NG good guy. They have nothing in common, except that they both survived the same hellish orphanage together, both by looking out for each other, to the point that they consider the other their brother.

LE guy moderates his backstabbing practices around his brother, while CG guy tries to keep the death toll and collateral damage from his brother's plans down.

If the stakes aren't high enough or you want to make the LE guy more sympathetic, set him up like the King of Qin from Chinese history, where he became a tyrant in order to end the centuries of warfare to stop the suffering of the people.

Mark Hall
2019-06-26, 10:00 PM
Exactly. Ariel had a loving father and sisters, and had nearly everything provided for her, and wasn't a bad girl at all. A little chaotic and irresponsible, but not even CN. CG or even NG with C tendencies. But humans fascinated her, and she wanted to go meet them.

And how else do you get warlocks?



Or the human orphan who saw an elven merchant girl when he was young, and she isn't getting any less young and beautiful each year he sees her, and he wants to go meet her...and so when he hears bandits are planning to waylay the merchants, he picks up a scythe and goes to try to rescue her based on nothing but his hormonal yearnings to keep the pretty girl safe. Even if she's seen him periodically grow up. (to try to make a Little Mermaid variation here.)

Funnily enough, this puts me in mind of the Midkemia books by Feist, and Pug... with a bit of Tomas thrown in. Pug was a well-treated orphan ward of the Duke, who had been tried in various trades, as was the custom on the Far Coast, and got chosen to be a wizard. His friend Tomas wasn't an orphan, but he became infatuated with the Elven Queen when she came to Crydee one time, and that led him to adventure and bond with an artifact.

Honest Tiefling
2019-06-26, 10:11 PM
And how else do you get warlocks?

...Horny teenagers?

Segev
2019-06-26, 10:39 PM
Funnily enough, this puts me in mind of the Midkemia books by Feist, and Pug... with a bit of Tomas thrown in. Pug was a well-treated orphan ward of the Duke, who had been tried in various trades, as was the custom on the Far Coast, and got chosen to be a wizard. His friend Tomas wasn't an orphan, but he became infatuated with the Elven Queen when she came to Crydee one time, and that led him to adventure and bond with an artifact.

It has been so long since I read those that I don't remember Thomas at all. He isn't the one who went on to be the Thief King, was he?

Kaptin Keen
2019-06-26, 11:25 PM
Well... you only need to give it more if the orphanage is a center stage for the campaign, If not, even a minor quest can be enough for the game.

Not really. With no narrative tension, there's basically no reason for the orphanage to be there, at all. Or - let's say, if it was my game, it wouldn't be there unless there was a good (narrative) reason. Not as anything but fluff background, at least.

And even then .. if I described how 'this town has a small orphanage that seems to be run well by good people - almost a small utopia for kids' .. if my players decided that sounded interesting enough to invest time in, then I'd add the narrative tension to make it worth their interest.

Segev
2019-06-27, 12:22 AM
Not really. With no narrative tension, there's basically no reason for the orphanage to be there, at all. Or - let's say, if it was my game, it wouldn't be there unless there was a good (narrative) reason. Not as anything but fluff background, at least.

And even then .. if I described how 'this town has a small orphanage that seems to be run well by good people - almost a small utopia for kids' .. if my players decided that sounded interesting enough to invest time in, then I'd add the narrative tension to make it worth their interest.

See, I wouldn't describe any of the things discussed here - even the most optimistic - as "utopias for kids." "Not a horrid morass of misery and want" is hardly "utopia."

It sounds to me like the orphanage is present in a PC's backstory, in this case, so it can exist there without needing narrative tension unless the PC wants such tension or the GM has a cool idea for it. Remember that not every PC needs to have their backstory used as a source for tragedy.

Anymage
2019-06-27, 12:27 AM
An idyllic little utopia is a horrible setting for all but the lowest stakes adventure, true. Having it be the home base and a place to get plot hooks is a lot more workable. If the clergy of Chanteau were simply good and wholesome, the PCs have a lot more reason to want to help out if there's some situation that needs dealing with. That's when the PCs get sent to places with more problems that adventurers need to solve.

I think a lot of people underestimate the value of letting players feel a sense of ownership over something that isn't written on the "equipment" section of their character sheet. Let them have a nice home base. Resist the urge to threaten it for pathos, because that trick gets overplayed very quickly and teaches players not to care about anything. But especially if they're new, giving them clear good guys makes it a lot easier to get adventures rolling.

zinycor
2019-06-27, 12:41 AM
Not really. With no narrative tension, there's basically no reason for the orphanage to be there, at all. Or - let's say, if it was my game, it wouldn't be there unless there was a good (narrative) reason. Not as anything but fluff background, at least.

And even then .. if I described how 'this town has a small orphanage that seems to be run well by good people - almost a small utopia for kids' .. if my players decided that sounded interesting enough to invest time in, then I'd add the narrative tension to make it worth their interest.

(emphasis mine)

As far as I can tell, it seems to be the case for this particular situation that this ophanage is little more than fluff background.

I can understand where you are coming from, and yeah, this would beanwful piece to set a story since it would lack drama and conflict. But as a smal piece on a character's background? I feel it would be perfectly ok to leave it as that until the player decides to flesh it out.

Edit: Btw, As far as I can see you are the only one describing an utopia.

Kaptin Keen
2019-06-27, 12:50 AM
See, I wouldn't describe any of the things discussed here - even the most optimistic - as "utopias for kids." "Not a horrid morass of misery and want" is hardly "utopia."

It sounds to me like the orphanage is present in a PC's backstory, in this case, so it can exist there without needing narrative tension unless the PC wants such tension or the GM has a cool idea for it. Remember that not every PC needs to have their backstory used as a source for tragedy.

Well - much as I love arguing over semantics, I'm not going to. I've picked the word utopia for all the iterations of well-run orphanage I've read in this thread, because it seems to me they neglect any sideways glance at the realities: Raising a bunch of kids is expensive, and good intentions don't pay any bills. The alignment of the cleric in charge has precisely zero impact on the economy.

Don't like the word utopia, substitute it for another. But if you want to argue, argue my point, not my choice of words - because I'm not going to play that game.

Now, you're entirely correct that if the orphanage is just a rosy still picture from the PC's youth, then narrative drive isn't necessary. But the OP did specifically ask for the business model. It's in the title, for chrissakes. And while I've been talking about narrative, it does tie into the economics. Either the kids work - or the money appears by magic. And that's really it. If the orphanage runs on magic, then it lacks narrative tension. If the kids work, it's very highly unlikely to be utopian. It's actually likely - despite all the good intentions of the good cleric - that it's a sweatshop.

And ... of course, whether it's a sweatshop or not is highly dependent upon the pseudo-historical accuracy of the setting. Work was pretty awful, back in the day, and orphanages were somewhat worse, but if you dispense with all the grit and unpleasantness that is human history, then ... well then whatever fantasy the OP wants is true, but I cannot know anything about that.

zinycor
2019-06-27, 12:57 AM
Well - much as I love arguing over semantics, I'm not going to. I've picked the word utopia for all the iterations of well-run orphanage I've read in this thread, because it seems to me they neglect any sideways glance at the realities: Raising a bunch of kids is expensive, and good intentions don't pay any bills. The alignment of the cleric in charge has precisely zero impact on the economy.

Don't like the word utopia, substitute it for another. But if you want to argue, argue my point, not my choice of words - because I'm not going to play that game.

Now, you're entirely correct that if the orphanage is just a rosy still picture from the PC's youth, then narrative drive isn't necessary. But the OP did specifically ask for the business model. It's in the title, for chrissakes. And while I've been talking about narrative, it does tie into the economics. Either the kids work - or the money appears by magic. And that's really it. If the orphanage runs on magic, then it lacks narrative tension. If the kids work, it's very highly unlikely to be utopian. It's actually likely - despite all the good intentions of the good cleric - that it's a sweatshop.

And ... of course, whether it's a sweatshop or not is highly dependent upon the pseudo-historical accuracy of the setting. Work was pretty awful, back in the day, and orphanages were somewhat worse, but if you dispense with all the grit and unpleasantness that is human history, then ... well then whatever fantasy the OP wants is true, but I cannot know anything about that.
(emphasis mine)

As said by others, the money could also come directly from the state, from other sections of the church, donations, etc.

You are right that all these alternatives aren't the most entertaining at face value, but if this orphanage isn't that important for the adventure, it doesn't need to be that deep or be great source of conflict.

Kaptin Keen
2019-06-27, 02:10 AM
As said by others, the money could also come directly from the state, from other sections of the church, donations, etc.

Yes. 'By magic' isn't to be taken literally. Full funding by state or church is, essentially, 'by magic'. It's just another way of saying 'the bills are all paid, nothing to see here.'

Maybe I'm way too hung up on these things. It's a fantasy world, the money could quite literally come by magic. If the GM proclaimed that god's angels descend from on high once a week bearing in their right hand the Heavenly Expense Account Master Card, and in their other left the Divine Scepter of Reimbursement - then that's how things work.

But if you want an economy that's moderately comparable to real world orphanages in real world middle ages, then .. then the kids work all hours of all days, for meagre wages, to pay for their own housing, food, clothes and the generous wages of any associated staff. But realism isn't a requirement, not even for me. Narrative tension, however, is (to me).

And like I've said, Divine Intervention Economy (or any other handwave solution) lacks that.

Mark Hall
2019-06-27, 10:53 AM
It has been so long since I read those that I don't remember Thomas at all. He isn't the one who went on to be the Thief King, was he?

No, that's James/Jimmy the Hand. Tomas bonded with the white-gold armor of Ashen-Shugar, and became something of a combination of the two... mostly Tomas, but with the power and memories of Ashen-Shugar.

EDIT: And, as to the orphanage, it's only as perfect as you want it to be. It may look fine on paper, but what are it's challenges? What sort of challenges can it have without violating the core concept... an actual priest of Chauntea, not a fake or secretly-evil person, running an orphanage to the best of his ability?

What about too many orphans for the resources available? He doesn't have the heart to turn them away, so he's got more kids than he has resources for... constantly scraping the edges.

He's bad at logistics. Related to the one above, but what if he doesn't think some things ahead, so certain shortages happen from time to time (food is likely not a problem for the priest of an agriculture god, but what about clothes? Or beds? Stuff the kids can't make and the adult would need to plan for)?

What about a resentful town? Like, they view him as "their priest", and resent him using resources (i.e. spells and such) for all these kids. You may have to wait days if there's a disease around, he never has enough healing spells,

Segev
2019-06-27, 11:15 AM
Well - much as I love arguing over semantics, I'm not going to. I've picked the word utopia for all the iterations of well-run orphanage I've read in this thread, because it seems to me they neglect any sideways glance at the realities: Raising a bunch of kids is expensive, and good intentions don't pay any bills. The alignment of the cleric in charge has precisely zero impact on the economy.Er, you are arguing over semantics. Specifically, my objecting to your term, which you then attempt to redefine without redefining. :smallannoyed:


Don't like the word utopia, substitute it for another. But if you want to argue, argue my point, not my choice of words - because I'm not going to play that game. I expressly argued your point. I went on from saying "They're not utopias" to demonstrating why they had problems to overcome. I made a point of the fact that this is not a cheap operation, and that the kids will have troubles growing up; everybody does. The orphanage can be without direct financial straits without being idyllic.


Either the kids work - or the money appears by magic. And that's really it. If the orphanage runs on magic, then it lacks narrative tension. If the kids work, it's very highly unlikely to be utopian. It's actually likely - despite all the good intentions of the good cleric - that it's a sweatshop. See, "sweat shops" are given a lot of bad rap because many of them are horror houses with no respect for the employees, but you literally can't have one that doesn't respect the employees when the owner and manager has good intentions and is personally involved. One of the points must fail; they're contradictory. You can't have the well-intentioned priest managing the kids' work and have him also slave-driving them to exhaustion with abusive conditions. Now, you can try to argue that the failure to abuse the kids in such a fashion means they never have enough goods to make a profit, but at that point you're setting up a very specific dichotomy that justifies evil by actually making it profitable.

In fiction, of course, you can have the endless grind of misery in Cyberpunk or any other kind of dystopia that endlessly enriches the eternal rulers, because the modeling of an entire economy and society is beyond any one person and winds up having a lot of fiat in the fiction. I hesitate to go too much further into discussing why this is problematic and is a choice because it steps into politico-economic analysis that inevitably touches on IRL issues.


And ... of course, whether it's a sweatshop or not is highly dependent upon the pseudo-historical accuracy of the setting. Work was pretty awful, back in the day, and orphanages were somewhat worse, but if you dispense with all the grit and unpleasantness that is human history, then ... well then whatever fantasy the OP wants is true, but I cannot know anything about that.See, I'm not suggesting that you should dispense with the hardships. I'm just saying that you don't need to invent a hellish hole to claim that all orphanges must be miserable experiences, lest they be utopian.

You can have kids raised by people not their parents in large groups and have it be sustainable. It's hard, and that difficulty provides its own tensions, but it need not be the kind of poverty-stricken starvation or wicked workhouse that is so oft depicted. It can be reasonably successful and non-evil. It won't be utopia. It won't be perfect. There will be problems. But it can be no worse than lower-middle-class.


No, that's James/Jimmy the Hand. Tomas bonded with the white-gold armor of Ashen-Shugar, and became something of a combination of the two... mostly Tomas, but with the power and memories of Ashen-Shugar.
Wow. I remember this not at all. I need to hunt down my Midkemia novels and give them another read. It has been about 2 decades, after all. ...maybe 2 and a half; I think it was mid-90s when I read them.

Anymage
2019-06-27, 11:17 AM
But if you want an economy that's moderately comparable to real world orphanages in real world middle ages, then .. then the kids work all hours of all days, for meagre wages, to pay for their own housing, food, clothes and the generous wages of any associated staff. But realism isn't a requirement, not even for me. Narrative tension, however, is (to me).

The adventurer economy in D&D already separates it severely from "realistic" middle ages. These people pump tons of money into circulation, and only a handful of contrarians make a fuss about how that will affect local economies or what the resultant inflation will do to the prices of goods and services.

Churches in D&D often interact with the adventurer economy, both in terms of direct services like spellcasting and in terms of bequeathments. In other words, they have a decent amount of income.

So if you want to make it "realistic" while still being a generally positive and wholesome place, income from the church as well as donations from former wards who remember the place fondly. (Mostly commoners who have since grown up and integrated into the local community, with the rare adventurer bringing rarer but larger contributions.) It is "by magic" and assumes a rosier view of human nature than you probably ascribe to, but only in ways that most fantasy settings are prone to papering over.

Man_Over_Game
2019-06-27, 11:27 AM
I'd be interested to see a realistic analysis of how a world's culture and economy would change from magic. When spells can create food and water, or make food taste as good as you want, how would that change things?

Spice, in particular, was something that was highly priced to cover up the taste of regularly fouled food. Would there still be a spice trade, or just a hedge wizard in every kitchen?

Most early forms of electronics were developed for communication. Would we have needed to implement technology when spells/familiars can do the same?

What would poverty mean if you could create a house with a spell, or have the hunger crisis solved with a snap of your fingers?

Seclora
2019-06-27, 11:54 AM
I'd be interested to see a realistic analysis of how a world's culture and economy would change from magic. When spells can create food and water, or make food taste as good as you want, how would that change things?

Spice, in particular, was something that was highly priced to cover up the taste of regularly fouled food. Would there still be a spice trade, or just a hedge wizard in every kitchen?

Most early forms of electronics were developed for communication. Would we have needed to implement technology when spells/familiars can do the same?

What would poverty mean if you could create a house with a spell, or have the hunger crisis solved with a snap of your fingers?
It would mean that the only progress worth investing in was magic, that finding those capable of wielding it would be the paramount goal of society, and that those who could not learn magic were trapped in poverty.

Why Explore the world when every flavor imaginable was available at the snap of a Wizard's fingers?
Why develop a Telephone when Sending Stones exist?
Why build a Steam Engine when Teleportation is accessible?

Which basically explains the eternal proto-renaissance of most D&D settings, doesn't it?


Generally, the answer is 'because there are never enough Arcanists to fill the needs of their own society'. A wand of prestidigitation can only be used so many times, and might take a year's pay for the average person to afford, and Sending Stones are even more expensive. Finding a caster strong enough to cast Teleportation might require you to travel to them anyways, and even then they may demand a fee beyond the abilities of anyone but the nobility.

Adventurers, by contrast, have both the resources and all too often the arcane power needed to create those items and flavor that food. So, while society at large still needs the spice trade, there's nothing stopping the player from from having his buddy the sorcerer from making a self-filling spice rack and ensuring that a handful of people who couldn't afford spices can have access to it with no added expense.

Mark Hall
2019-06-27, 12:00 PM
Wow. I remember this not at all. I need to hunt down my Midkemia novels and give them another read. It has been about 2 decades, after all. ...maybe 2 and a half; I think it was mid-90s when I read them.

And, as a bonus, the entire Midkemia cycle is now done... you can start with Magician: Apprentice and go all the way to Magician's End.

As always, check your local library.

Back to the orphanage, you're almost definitely going to see labor from the kids. The younger kids will have chores to do; the older kids will be responsible for not just chores, but also helping to care for the younger kids, as well as actual labor, both for community upkeep and for income. There'd certainly be punishments and problems for those kids who skived off work, or who refused to work. But, if you have a NG individual with some steady income/salable valuable skills (i.e. the spells of a Nature or Life priest, in 5e parlance; he might even be a druid, with Chauntea), you could support a fairly large population on relatively little money, assuming you have some help with the logistics.

I mean, let's talk about money.

How much per day does it cost to feed a person? How much per month? Is there an economy of scale? Using the 3e SRD's cost of 3sp/meal/person for "common food", we can round to 1gp/person/day in common upkeep. That's 3 meals a day, plus 30sp a month in other upkeep. It's an approximation, but at 1gp/person/day, or 30gp/person/month, you have a number to work with; if you assume a Poor inn and Common food... sleeping on a pallet in a dorm would fit as that, the SRD cost is 11sp/person/day, and assuming an economy of scale that lets you save 1sp/person/day, you have things more or less accounted for.*

Now, a 5th level cleric, who sells an average of 1 spell level per day (some days it will be less, some days it will be more, but we're talking an average), makes 50gp per day. So, over the course of 30 days, he makes 1500gp, which will let him support 49 other people, at Inn costs, just on his spellcasting. We'll call it 50, because that makes the numbers neater.

The value of unskilled labor in the SRD is listed as 1sp/day. Skilled labor averages 2sp/person/day (remember, Faerun uses a ten-day week; 2sp/person/day assumes a net +0 modifier, which we'll count as 1 rank in the skill, but a -1 modifier for a penalty to wisdom for being children), plus a bit more if you're talented or skilled. Your younger kids (we'll say under 10) will help defray costs by doing labor; your older kids ("youths", 10-19) will further defray costs, though they may not actually add net value (you need an average modifier of +10 on Craft or Profession to break even, and that will require a bit more training than you can expect). But every 10 children will allow an additional child to be supported, and every 5 youths will allow another child.

So, just on the 50 supported by a single 5th level cleric casting 1 spell level per day, you're looking at another 5-10 children who can be supported by the labor of the other children. 1 adult overseeing 50-60 children, even with youths to support is a rough ratio, but it might be doable, and might even see a few gold pieces in the bank for rainy days.

*There's a lot of variables we're leaving out; a peasant's outfit is 1sp, but you wouldn't need a new one every month. Having a cleric means that a lot of healing costs are subsumed, and I think 2sp/person/day is excessive on upkeep of a building that is likely owned, so I'm calling my 1gp/person/day "reasonable" at SRD prices.

Kaptin Keen
2019-06-27, 03:34 PM
The adventurer economy in D&D already separates it severely from "realistic" middle ages. These people pump tons of money into circulation, and only a handful of contrarians make a fuss about how that will affect local economies or what the resultant inflation will do to the prices of goods and services.

Churches in D&D often interact with the adventurer economy, both in terms of direct services like spellcasting and in terms of bequeathments. In other words, they have a decent amount of income.

So if you want to make it "realistic" while still being a generally positive and wholesome place, income from the church as well as donations from former wards who remember the place fondly. (Mostly commoners who have since grown up and integrated into the local community, with the rare adventurer bringing rarer but larger contributions.) It is "by magic" and assumes a rosier view of human nature than you probably ascribe to, but only in ways that most fantasy settings are prone to papering over.

That's an illusion. It may very well be real, for your game, if you want it to be. But there is absolutely no universal standard by which high level characters pump obscene amounts of gold into the economy. For instance, in my games, there are basically no spell casters. At all. There may be the PC's, and a small handful of NPC's scattered around the world. Zero adventurer economy.

But that's what I said: If your fantasy is different, then that's the truth - in your game. I cannot say anything about how the OP designs his world. But if he has free gold trickling out of nowhere, then by my accounting he hurts his own narrative.


Er, you are arguing over semantics. Specifically, my objecting to your term, which you then attempt to redefine without redefining. :smallannoyed:

I expressly argued your point. I went on from saying "They're not utopias" to demonstrating why they had problems to overcome. I made a point of the fact that this is not a cheap operation, and that the kids will have troubles growing up; everybody does. The orphanage can be without direct financial straits without being idyllic.

See, "sweat shops" are given a lot of bad rap because many of them are horror houses with no respect for the employees, but you literally can't have one that doesn't respect the employees when the owner and manager has good intentions and is personally involved. One of the points must fail; they're contradictory. You can't have the well-intentioned priest managing the kids' work and have him also slave-driving them to exhaustion with abusive conditions. Now, you can try to argue that the failure to abuse the kids in such a fashion means they never have enough goods to make a profit, but at that point you're setting up a very specific dichotomy that justifies evil by actually making it profitable.

In fiction, of course, you can have the endless grind of misery in Cyberpunk or any other kind of dystopia that endlessly enriches the eternal rulers, because the modeling of an entire economy and society is beyond any one person and winds up having a lot of fiat in the fiction. I hesitate to go too much further into discussing why this is problematic and is a choice because it steps into politico-economic analysis that inevitably touches on IRL issues.

See, I'm not suggesting that you should dispense with the hardships. I'm just saying that you don't need to invent a hellish hole to claim that all orphanges must be miserable experiences, lest they be utopian.

You can have kids raised by people not their parents in large groups and have it be sustainable. It's hard, and that difficulty provides its own tensions, but it need not be the kind of poverty-stricken starvation or wicked workhouse that is so oft depicted. It can be reasonably successful and non-evil. It won't be utopia. It won't be perfect. There will be problems. But it can be no worse than lower-middle-class.


Wow. I remember this not at all. I need to hunt down my Midkemia novels and give them another read. It has been about 2 decades, after all. ...maybe 2 and a half; I think it was mid-90s when I read them.

This is all - from end to end - semantics. You wanting other words. That's fine. Argument done.

Segev
2019-06-27, 03:57 PM
This is all - from end to end - semantics. You wanting other words. That's fine. Argument done.

So... you agree with what I said, even if not the words I chose for it? Because I'm trying to argue points, and you're just dismissing it all as "semantics."

Kaptin Keen
2019-06-27, 04:31 PM
So... you agree with what I said, even if not the words I chose for it? Because I'm trying to argue points, and you're just dismissing it all as "semantics."

Yes. I do not see any conflict between your point and my own. Just an insistance on using other words. I would ask you for one example of a real life, non-evil, self-sustaining orphanage. But I'm not going to. I'll just state that I very much doubt any such example exists.

zinycor
2019-06-27, 04:51 PM
Yes. I do not see any conflict between your point and my own. Just an insistance on using other words. I would ask you for one example of a real life, non-evil, self-sustaining orphanage. But I'm not going to. I'll just state that I very much doubt any such example exists.

My mother worked with an orphanage, it wasn't too bad and was mantained mainly by donations and a church nearby.

Kaptin Keen
2019-06-28, 01:00 AM
My mother worked with an orphanage, it wasn't too bad and was mantained mainly by donations and a church nearby.

Yes, well - it wasn't in the 1500's, I wager. And I'm also going to claim out of hand that it wasn't self-sustaining. In our present day, money for social institutions do come 'by magic' - tax payer funded - but in the dark ages, that quite simply was not the case. There could well be a partial church funding, for example, but those places are the ones that are decidedly non-utopian.

The last 'self-sustaining' orphanage in Denmark closed in 1965, and was basically a work camp, even with partial state funding. It was also ... every bad thing you can imagine of such a place. Just .. nightmarishly bad.

Of course present day institutions for orphanages - of whom there are close to none, btw, so it's mostly other groups - are under strict state supervision, and are propably as close to utopian as humanly possibly. But until frighteningly recently, it seems there was a good chance you'd be better off living on the street than in an orphanage.

Edit: There is an orphanage in Name of the Wind, btw. It nicely fits what I'm trying to say: It's run by a good and kind old priest, and all kids are welcome, and will receive shelter, and kindness - and hopefully a warm blanket. But is a soggy, mouldy old basement, and there is no food, except when the local baker decides to donate an armful of warm loaves, or when someone has donated some coins.

See. Struggle. Narrative tension. Something to work with. You lose all that if you just decide that ... it's church funded, everything is cool.

Segev
2019-06-28, 09:05 AM
Yes, well - it wasn't in the 1500's, I wager. And I'm also going to claim out of hand that it wasn't self-sustaining. In our present day, money for social institutions do come 'by magic' - tax payer funded - but in the dark ages, that quite simply was not the case. There could well be a partial church funding, for example, but those places are the ones that are decidedly non-utopian.

The last 'self-sustaining' orphanage in Denmark closed in 1965, and was basically a work camp, even with partial state funding. It was also ... every bad thing you can imagine of such a place. Just .. nightmarishly bad.

Of course present day institutions for orphanages - of whom there are close to none, btw, so it's mostly other groups - are under strict state supervision, and are propably as close to utopian as humanly possibly. But until frighteningly recently, it seems there was a good chance you'd be better off living on the street than in an orphanage.

Edit: There is an orphanage in Name of the Wind, btw. It nicely fits what I'm trying to say: It's run by a good and kind old priest, and all kids are welcome, and will receive shelter, and kindness - and hopefully a warm blanket. But is a soggy, mouldy old basement, and there is no food, except when the local baker decides to donate an armful of warm loaves, or when someone has donated some coins.

See. Struggle. Narrative tension. Something to work with. You lose all that if you just decide that ... it's church funded, everything is cool.
So, as far as you're concerned, a farming family has zero struggle or narrative tension if their family farm isn't always on the brink of starving them to death. A merchant's household has zero tension or struggle if the merchant's business isn't failing and about to go under every single day. Do I have this right?

I ask because you seem to be saying anything that isn't destitution and misery with constant fear of losing what little you have or starvation is "utopia," by which - if I understand your claims of dismissing all arguments against terming them this "semantic" - basically means "lacking all narrative tension."

It seems to me that you're insisting that narrative tension only exists if people are in hellish conditions. That there's nothing to hang a story on, nothing interesting about a backstory, if the backstory has even a lower middle class level of financial security and comfort. If the kids aren't physically and emotionally abused and have two or three meals a day and adequate and clean (for the setting) clothing and shelter, then there can't possibly be any sort of narrative tension.

Is this accurate? Or am I misunderstanding you somewhere?

Kaptin Keen
2019-06-28, 09:12 AM
Do I have this right?

Yes. That is precisely right. The only type of struggle is economic struggle, and nothing I say is to be seen as an example or analogy.

Can you stop, maybe?

zinycor
2019-06-28, 09:16 AM
Yes. That is precisely right. The only type of struggle is economic struggle, and nothing I say is to be seen as an example or analogy.

Can you stop, maybe?

Ok, that helps.

Segev
2019-06-28, 09:33 AM
Yes. That is precisely right. The only type of struggle is economic struggle, and nothing I say is to be seen as an example or analogy.

Can you stop, maybe?

Not really, no; I'm trying to understand, but you keep dismissing any effort as "semantic" and then doubling-down on the things I'm trying to pry apart to understand the nuance.

Edit: To be clear, I "can't stop" because I don't know what I've done nor what I'm doing to so anger you. I'm trying to figure out what you're saying. End edit.

Do you prefer I misunderstand you? Are you that offended by my efforts to figure out what you really mean? Seriously, Kaptin Keen, I'm not trying to argue with you at this point. You keep telling me that I'm arguing semantics, but then when I try to figure out what you mean, you act like I'm insulting you personally. And not understanding what people are saying drives me nuts. I can live with disagreeing with somebody; I hate not understanding where they're coming from!

I'm genuinely not trying to be hostile, here. I'm trying to figure out what you mean. The "do I have this right?" wasn't me deliberately misunderstanding you: it was me spelling out how what you're saying reads, and not being able to figure out what you actually mean if it's not that.

So, what do you mean, if not what I outlined? I am happy to take your word for it that I am not understanding you. I would like to. Please clarify.

Kaptin Keen
2019-06-28, 10:02 AM
Not really, no; I'm trying to understand, but you keep dismissing any effort as "semantic" and then doubling-down on the things I'm trying to pry apart to understand the nuance.

Edit: To be clear, I "can't stop" because I don't know what I've done nor what I'm doing to so anger you. I'm trying to figure out what you're saying. End edit.

Do you prefer I misunderstand you? Are you that offended by my efforts to figure out what you really mean? Seriously, Kaptin Keen, I'm not trying to argue with you at this point. You keep telling me that I'm arguing semantics, but then when I try to figure out what you mean, you act like I'm insulting you personally. And not understanding what people are saying drives me nuts. I can live with disagreeing with somebody; I hate not understanding where they're coming from!

I'm genuinely not trying to be hostile, here. I'm trying to figure out what you mean. The "do I have this right?" wasn't me deliberately misunderstanding you: it was me spelling out how what you're saying reads, and not being able to figure out what you actually mean if it's not that.

So, what do you mean, if not what I outlined? I am happy to take your word for it that I am not understanding you. I would like to. Please clarify.

Well - I can.

But let me say this: I am not angry. Definitely not. I do not feel, however, that I'm saying anything so complex it needs to be further explained. To me - and I apologize if I'm incorrect - it feels like you're looking for something to misunderstand, rather than as you say, trying to understand.

I'll grant you this: There are many forms of narrative, and they don't all have to be about whether life is hard or simple at the orphanage. One might imagine all sorts of character growth, coming of age, and so on. I've focussed rather narrowly on one type of narrative featuring an orphanage - but that is because ... the title specifically calls for a business model.

Let me pull something of your own out of the hat. You say you can't have a good, well-intentioned cleric also be a 'slave driver'. Well - yes you can. And there is a potentially great narrative there. If it's the only way our good cleric can keep these children alive - then possibly that's what he does. Maybe he cries every evening. Maybe he begs in the street, and implores the higher-up's of his church to help. Maybe he's sunk his own meagre wealth into trying to help. But in the end, it's a question of leaving them to die, or doing what he can to make ends meet.

So when the OP asks for a business model - sure you can handwave it. Absolutely anything is possible, maybe our good cleric is a former adventurer, and he just pays everything out of his own pockets because he has a dragon's hoard in the basement. But that's not an ideal solution, because there's no narrative tension to build on.

See? Now I explained anyhow. I did not want to. I hope this is sufficient explanation, because it's the last I'll say on it.

Segev
2019-06-28, 10:13 AM
See? Now I explained anyhow. I did not want to. I hope this is sufficient explanation, because it's the last I'll say on it.

Hm. Assuming I understand you as I think I do now, I still disagree with you, but you would rather not discuss it further, so I'll walk away and just accept that we have irreconcilable differences in how we view narrative and the world. :smallfrown:


Edit to add:

Anyway, on the subject of a business model, the question Kaptin Keen has raised is a good one: do you want the business model to be a source of narrative tension in its own right, or are you just looking for something believable for a priest of an NG god of nature to adhere to in running an orphanage? Because, as has been discussed, you can have anything from "comfortable caregiving" to "hard-knock life" even with a Good caregiver.

Kaptin Keen
2019-06-28, 12:15 PM
Hm. Assuming I understand you as I think I do now, I still disagree with you, but you would rather not discuss it further, so I'll walk away and just accept that we have irreconcilable differences in how we view narrative and the world. :smallfrown:

Disagreement is welcome. And having opinions on narrative is also a good thing. The world too, for that matter. For what it's worth, I'm well aware (at least when I think about it) that I tend to consider my reasoning to be obvious - which means I skip straight to the conclusion, convinced everyone will know what I mean, without explaining how I got there. Anyone is welcome to disagree with me, but if someone doesn't get my meaning, I'm often frustrated trying to figure out which part of my (unstated) reasoning it is I need to explain. If I even remember.

Beleriphon
2019-06-28, 02:21 PM
A thought for this orphanage, as its run by a priest of Chauntea. Where is it in the Realms? Being in the Dales is different than being in Cormyr is different than being in Waterdeep.

Lord Torath
2019-06-28, 03:54 PM
I'm surprised no one's suggested Miss Hatie's Home for Girls (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej6dxNrh3Dc) as a model. :smallbiggrin:

The orphanage in The Chronicles of Elantra (https://michellesagara.com/series/chronicles_of_elantra/) (Cast in <fill in the blank>) is funded by donations from members of the community, even fraudulent fortune-tellers.

Jay R
2019-06-28, 07:01 PM
Throughout history, an orphanage does not create money. It uses money to create adults out of outcast kids.

So the only two business models for an orphanage that actually work are:

1. The selfless desire to burn money in order to help kids grow up, and
2. The ability to exploit growing children. This can be a thieves' school, as in Oliver Twist, selling them out for work, as in the Sharpe novels or the movie Newsies, or any other way to exploit them directly.