Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Mason

Four days and a lot of reworking of the table later, this is finally ready for posting.  Sorry about the wait, gentle readers.

Rather than attempt to create pieces of architecture like the Dungeon Master's Guide, I felt the better approach was to provide the price of the stone by the cubic foot and let the players work out the cost of fortifications and other structures piecemeal.  Thus, aspects of a castle such as pilasters, merlons, towers, walls can be calculated according to the drawn up plans by the player.  This is a great deal of work for someone wanting to have a castle, as plug-and-fit parts are not provided, but overall I believe this is more flexible than the DMG.  The corresponding difficulty, of course, is to create a system of seige attack that is equally calculated by the mass of stone (and its precarious height) and not by 'defensive values' that have no given exact meaning.

A wide variety of individual stones are offered to the player, although I think for the most part people will be inclined to choose the cheapest (or possibly the densest) variety in most cases.  Marble is particularly expensive, which is a good reason it is reserved for non-defensive construction.  Limestone is almost always less expensive than granite ... but it really depends on whether the player goes to a given source.  Obviously, mining your own stone is cheaper than having it shipped in.

Like the wooden constructions under the Carpenter, houses are listed according to the length of their outside wall, so that larger houses can be estimated from the given price above.  The price here will work for an enclosed space 15 ft. by 15 ft.  Again, persons may argue about the justification of this, but I still feel I need to simplify this process so that players who aren't bent on detailed construction don't feel overwhelmed by the need to design an ordinary house from the bottom up.  They can look at a price and just buy.

The gatehouse is more expensive than the half-timbered house because it is all solid stone except for the floor, the ceiling and the floor supports.  The half-timbered house is a strong facing of broken stone mixed with mortar and supported by a wooden frame throughout; the construction form was typical of Europe in the age before Baroque, from the Hanseatic period up until the age of the Tudors.

I love that the table allows the player to sell a single 1-sq.ft. tile on the street to a stranger.  It is a bit laughable, and is a result of the same algorithm being applied throughout these tables.  Someday I may feel inclined to particularlize the elements of the table for various objects, but I'm content to let it stand for now.  Perhaps it indicates the amount of mason's work available by randomly asking people on the street.

Oh, the roadway being here.  I like this item, since if the party does want to build in the wilderness, and encourage settlers, the road is certainly a requirement.  Obviously if the road were made narrower or mixed more with earth and sand, the amount of money could be stretched to make the road go farther.  I would suggest that if the DM established a base rate of settlers to a given fortified area, then the creation of a solid, reliable road would at least double that rate.  Then, if the road were degraded by other materials so that the cost for one mile here made 4 miles of road, then the base rate of settlers might increase only 25%.  I trust that's clear.

As to what that base rate might be, I estimate than a typical established medieval manor and adjoining hamlet numbered approximately 250 to 350 people.  One might argue that it would take 3 to 12 years for a given fortification to reach its desired population, rolling 3d4 in any particular year and dividing the total expected population by the number on that die; thus, if the present population was zero in the first year, and a 7 were rolled, then 350/7 is 50, and that is the total influx for that year.

The following year, then, would equal 300 divided by 3d4; lets say a 4 is rolled, so that the population increases by 75.  And the following year the remainder would be 225.  Of course, this could be manipulated by proposed birth and death rates, as desired.

The presence of the 1st class road, then, would mean an increase in population of 100 the first year, and 150 the second, leaving room for only an additional 100 the third year.  So a new fiefdom could fill up fast - at least in realistic terms.  With regards to three years of normal D&D running, this is phenomenally slow.  But the players could choose to let three years pass without serious adventuring in order to build up a tax base that would mean something.  My own characters with their extended fief, which has more than a manor house but in fact includes five villages, were able to take in more than 2,000 gold in taxes their last fiscal period.  They are right now contemplating the suggested road and how much they want to build out of their own pocket.

This is, no doubt, a boring thought for many people.


  1. Per the tile: I'd imagine someone is having a feast soon, and can't wait for the masons' schedules to clear to get that one broken tile replaced.

    Checking the math here... if this is typical, there's just shy of one ton of limestone per week, costing 72 silver pieces constructed. If I have about 68 weeks of patience, I can have a 66 ton stone structure built for 4,824 silver.

    Would the well-constructed road increase the per-capita tax income, in addition to upping the migration rate? Would better access to city markets leave the average peasant better off?

  2. Checking the math, yes, that will pay for the limestone. It will not pay for the wooden floors, nor the foundation, nor the ironmongery to put the house together, nor the mortar to put the stones together, nor the fireplace. That's what's usually included in the whole house. What's not usually included would be the stairs, window-glass, downspouts for rain, plastering, furniture and doors, plus whatever else you might want, such as tiled floors and so on.

    Good idea about the single tile.

    Regards the road, that makes sense, specifically in that the peasant's journey into town would be less and therefore the peasant might possess cumulatively more working hours to accomplish other things, such as manufacturing. It's this that bumps up the per capita income - the time to spend in greater creativity.


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