Running a Business
The rules presented in the DMG2 for running a business make us very sad. Apparently the best way to make money is to run a shop out of a shack in the woods and pour money into it until noble djinni are teleporting to your door to hand over large gems for whatever the heck it is that you're selling. That doesn't make any kind of sense at all. We propose instead that the costs and benefits of running a business should be kind of comparable to those of working for a wage - since it is essentially exactly the same thing. What we're looking for is rules for running a business that aren't so obviously abusable over time, and which reward various business models rather than finding the killer app that makes the most money (the Shop as it happens) and just using that over and over again.
First off: the thing where in the basic DMG2 rules you can capitalize over and over again forever and have the profits go off towards infinity is as abusable as it is dumb. So the very first change that needs to be made is the divine decree that you can't do that. In fact, the concept of recapitalizing just wasn't handled well there at all. It takes money to make money, but investment is not a ladder where you set money on fire until the pyre lights the heavens ablaze and gets you epic items in parcels like clockwork. Instead, starting a business venture costs money - we call that initial capitalization. That's a one-time cost and the only way you can spend it again is if you start up a second business. After that, you have to supply one-third of the business' expected earnings for each month up front, we call that operational capital. If your business is still running at the end of the month, you get that money back (in addition to the earnings themselves), but if the business venture folds or you get driven off by rampaging monsters, or business events cause the venture to make no money for a month - that operational capital is gone and you're out a pocket full of shells.
Initial capitalization isn't any cheaper in the wilderness than it is in a big city. Actually, it's more expensive because you have to get goods shipped out into the wilderness to get the whole thing off the ground - and the wilderness in D&D is dangerous and teamsters make 2 GP a week each in compensation for that fact. Operational capitalization is cheaper in the wilderness, because expected earnings are less and therefore 1/3 of those earnings is also less. Yes, this means that business owners normally go to the city to conduct business, where there is a whole governmental apparatus to facilitate business dealings and a steady parade of caravans and ships to bring your product or service to the world. The only reasons that anyone does their business outside of major cities is because some particularly risky ventures can only be done far from town (for example: a Larvae Orchard is a high-risk, and therefore high profit enterprise, but it can only be located in the Wastes of Hades).
Risky business ventures make more money. But they also suffer catastrophic mishaps more often. That's what makes them risky. They are not simply an increase to the multiplier on the profit check, because that just makes you more money because player characters don't start businesses that aren't going to have positive profit checks. Maintaining a Risky venture involves you having more challenges to maintain your business - which in a roleplaying game like D&D means essentially that you spend more adventures maintaining your business and therefore spend less adventures looting other peoples' dungeons. The extra profit you make from the risky business is offset by the extra challenges you need to overcome. Essentially, taking on a risky business is just like getting the gold from your encounters before you go adventuring.
Risky businesses have a CR and a frequency. The DM is encouraged to send additional problems your way at roughly the frequency of the risk factor, and the ELs of the problems thrown your way should be roughly the same as the CR of the risk factor. Risky businesses also make a lot more money - roughly the value of an "average" treasure of an encounter of a CR equal to the risk factor every interval of time equal to the risk factor (see the DMG, p. 51). So an onyx mine that had a risk factor of 5/4 months would generate an extra 400gp per month (1600 gp/4) and be plagued with an EL 5 encounter roughly 3 times a year. It's just that easy.
Not all shops are the same. If you're selling burlap clothing, the profits are going to be small and ogre bandits won't even try to take all your stuff. If you're selling weapons of war or magical materials, then you can bet that those ogre mercenaries are going to be a little bit more interested. If you're running a more valuable business (that is, one which makes more money), the villains of the D&D world will come to take it from you - the risk factors adjust themselves pretty much automatically when your business improves, making this approximation amazingly accurate in addition to simple.
Resources are like Capitalization that you get to keep. While the presentation in the DMG2 is essentially "something that makes it harder to turn a profit on your business", the fact is that what they actually are is your own private dungeon. While the full rules for actually building your dungeon are going to have to wait until Book of Gears and the advanced crafting rules, for now we're going to assume that the prices in the Stronghold Builder's Guidebook hold up (and yes, we know how silly that is, but we haven't written anything better yet). Essentially, this means that your business needs to be housed in a building, or ship, or cart, or dungeon of some kind. Bigger, more high-scale business ventures are going to need to be housed in more expensive surroundings. That sounds bad, but remember that when business events and risk factors happen to your business, they happen to your business, which means that if you have a ship or a tower to hold your stuff in, you actually get to use it when it gets attacked by gnoll pirates. Keep in mind that if a business is booming, it may require more resources to house. A shack is all well and good if you plan to sell a couple of pots a month, but if you want to move inventory you've got to have inventory. And that means you need a place to show that inventory. Practically, that means that your projected profits (before calculating Risk-based Profits), can't ever exceed 1/10th the value of your business' resources. Of course, some businesses can only exist with large amounts of resources backing them up. And that's fine, since you really only get the benefits of large resources in large urban areas, this means that in general there are a lot of services that can be found in the big city that can't be found in smaller towns. Which is exactly what you'd want, right?
Growing the Business
Characters may outgrow collecting melloweed from the Bane Mires. The occasional hydra they have to defeat to get the goods just doesn't challenge them anymore, and the gold the whole thing takes in every month just doesn't seem worth the hassle. When this happens there are two options: franchise the operation, or grow the business up. A business can be expanded to a larger operation by investing in the next level of resources (causing it to be eligible to make more profits), or by taking on higher value/risk goods and clients (causing the risk factor to increase and profits to increase as well). Franchising a business simply involves starting up a second (or third) business in another location. Resolve it as a whole new business.
So how much money do these things make? Well, in addition to Resource Limitations, there are demand limitations. That is, the amount of money that people can spend on your goods and services is proportional to how much money they have - larger communities can spend more money than can smaller communities. The maximum profits per month of any venture are based on the total population that business serves. If you compete with other businesses providing the same goods and services, simply divide the region's population according to market share before you determine maximum profits.
Population Size / Gold per Month
* 20-80 - 4 GP/month
* 81-400 - 10 GP per Month
* 401-900 - 20 GP per Month
* 901-2000 - 80 GP per Month
* 2001-5000 - 300 GP per Month
* 5001-12,000 - 1,500 GP per Month
* 12,001-25,000 - 4,000 GP per Month
* 25,001-100,000 - 10,000 GP per Month
* 100,001+ - 60,000 GP per Month
Remember that while this determines the maximum profits, there's no guarantee that your business will actually do as hoped. Things don't always work out as planned, and many business plans aren't good. In order to make your business succeed, you'll have to make a Profit Check. Actually making the projected Profits is a DC 20 check.
Every point you fail that DC, reduce your income by 5%. For every point you exceed 20 on your Profit Check, add 5% (essentially this just means that you make a 5% return for every point of Profit Check you make).
The Profit Check itself is simply a straight ability check, using your choice of your Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma. Some of the modifiers to Profit Checks from the DMG2 are appropriate, others are not. For your convenience, we're replicating the entire chart with all the needed modifications:
* Owner has appropriate Profession Skill +1
* Owner has two appropriate Profession skills +2
* Owner is a member of an associated guild +1
* Owner spends less than 8 hours per week assisting business operations -8
* Owner spends more than 40 hours per week assisting business +1
* Business is considered a Monopoly +10
* Business is an Oligarchy +4
* A Business Partner aids during the term +2
* Specialists are on staff +2
* Previous Profit Checks "Failed" -1 per consecutive check below 15.
Sometimes your "business" is actually just that you run a country, or a guild, or a church, or a criminal organization, or a mercenary command. Or whatever. The point is that your job is to run things, and people pay taxes (or tithes, or protection money, or whatever the kids are calling it these days) to you to make sure that you keep running things in a manner that doesn't involve them being stabbed in the face. The amount of lucre you can squeeze out of these situations has nothing to do with your skill checks or capitalization - you're essentially stealing from these people so the amount of money you can crank out of them depends largely on how much you're willing to squeeze them and how many people you are squeezing. Taxing a group of people can generate as much money as running a business serving them would. Your "business" in this case is 'not stabbing them in the face". You can be senselessly wicked and punitive on a population and make twice as much gold, but your subjects will hate you. You can also simply sack a region, making ten times as much gold, but driving the remaining population away as refugees. Lawful creatures (such as Hobgoblins and Dwarves) are more likely to pay taxes or save money and taxing or looting them is worth twice as much. Especially impoverished regions (such as one which has labored under a cruel governor for a long time) are worth half as much or less.
LKA again: I am not sure we are using ANY of this, but am posting for completeness. Simply because these boys put a lot of thought into this.