Town building advice :)


Advice


Hello there. I've been running my first ever campaign almost a year now. We've done some pretty cool stuff, one of which was to create our own town in the Storval plateau.

I'm trying to figure out what my towns income would be, and what expenses must be covered. Any advise or ideas would be appreciated. I'm looking to bounce ideas off of people as that tends to help.

The town is roughly 300 people. The buildings outside of homes that are currently present are the mansion where the seat of government is, A farm, A druids grove, a magus collage, a bards collage, a bank, a garrison, an inn, a tavern, a platinum mine, a watch tower, a temple, and the multitude of homes. There is also a stone head protruding from the top of the hill. It was one of Runelord Karzougs statues, but it got buried when the empire fell.

The town is nestled between the Chavali and Lampblack rivers on a hill atop the Storval stairs. Most of the buildings are along the main street. Beyond this I don't have much fleshed out. So, any ideas?


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I can't answer you specifically, but there is probably a solution to this in the Ultimate Campaign book. There are also several third party publishers that offer great fill-in resources such as information on towns and such. I highly recommend giving some of Raging Swan Press' work a look such as Village Backdrops, What's For Sale Anyway, etc.


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Gamemastery Guide has some town rules, probably the most simple approach (there are more complicated rules in the Ultimate Campaign book for buildings under "downtime" activities).

PRD link to settlement rules

If you want a detailed rule option, go here:
Ultimate Campaign

Bit too much like work for my tastes, though :)


A few things I would think about:_

1 Create some characters.
2 Racial, ethnic and religious background of the population.
3 Do the people in 1 and 2 get on, are they friends, rivals, enemies.
4 Create some NPCs running or working in the civic buildings you mention.
5 What do the people do for work?
6 Think about employee/ employer relations. Class tensions, economic exploitation.

When you have answers to these sort of questions your town has a lot more substance to it. Conflicts in the town can create adventures that can't be solved by killing things.

What do the PCs do when the whole town is disrupted when all the banks employees go on strike for better pay?


You sure you only have a population of around 300?

With all those business and schools I think your closer in size to a small city of 1000+.

Some rough numbers -

Mine 5-50 people
Colleges (2) 10-100, each
Garrison 10-50
Temple 1-5
Government 5-20
Druid groove ?

Then all the infrastructure like farms and a inn to support all those places. They require lots of people too.

I suppose it is doable with a pop of 300, it's just the colleges that's giving me problems.

Sovereign Court

Bard the Howler wrote:
The town is roughly 300 people. The buildings outside of homes that are currently present are the mansion where the seat of government is, A farm, A druids grove, a magus collage, a bards collage, a bank, a garrison, an inn, a tavern, a platinum mine, a watch tower, a temple, and the multitude of homes. There is also a stone head protruding from the top of the hill. It was one of Runelord Karzougs statues, but it got buried when the empire fell.

Wow, that's a lot of crap they have at that town for 300 people. That sounds more like a 3,000 - 6,000 or more town. In all honestly what you'd probably find in a typical 300 population town are a number of farms, a tavern that doubles as an inn, a poorly constructed watch tower (unless there's a good mason around), and a small temple.

You're probably looking at 75 elders, 150 of age to work, and 75 children. You'd hardly find a school building, let alone 2 colleges (collages are art/craft related). A druid grove would NEVER setup inside a town. You're looking at maybe 10-20 guards in this town, not sure if that warrants a garrison or just them being called a town militia.

If they are nested between two rivers maybe they have fisherman boats, maybe that's how some of them live. A mine would work also.

You probably want to up your town population. Oh, and unless there's good reason they probably have dirt roads.


The population might work if that is just the population within the town limits, and there is a much larger population in the surrounding area. For people to have so heavily settled the outskirts, the countryside would have to be fairly safe and stable though.


+1 to the assessment that the town should have a lot more people.

Aside from that...

One inn for a town with a lot of traffic (with a platinum mine they should have traffic) is kind of low. It could be a really big inn, but otherwise there should be other places. If you have 2 you can create a minor subplot where the two inns are competing with one another for business. Make up names; The Flaming Dwarf -so named for a dwarven acrobat whose act included juggling and fire-eating. The Old Thief's Skull, so named because the innkeeper once put the head of a would-be murderer on a pike as a warning to other thieves. Or the Drunk Dragon, so named because of the (completely unbelievable) story the old proprietor used to tell about how in his adventuring days he once used trickery to win a drinking contest against a dragon and win a hatful of coins from its hoard.

The city watch has some political issues. Someone high-ranking is a real jerk of a paladin. He's prideful and pushy, he has a bit of a Judge Dredd thing going on, and he thinks that certain useless or overbearing puritan values should be enforced (like awlays looking for an excuse to raid the local tavern). No one wants him dead, but if he were publicly pranked everyone would point and laugh. He isn't in danger of falling, but he is causing people to dislike him and authority in general.

There is a cult around the head! Wait, did I say, "cult"? I meant "three kids with too much free time trying to figure out illicit magic." They meet up on late nights near the head and mess around with an ouija board, an (incomplete) Harrow Deck, and a badly-burned spellbook that may not actually be a spellbook in the first place. Potential plot twist: One of their little not-quite magic toys has an imp/quasit in it. If they somehow wake it up/let it out it starts trying to manipulate them into learning real (but dark) magic.

Built on the steps the city has levels, presumably similar to this image. Chances are folk on the down-slope might have issues with folk on the upper parts. Alternatively there is an issue with water, since the higher you go, the farther away from well-water or river-water. An interesting magical pumping system might be there.

As mentioned by Kysune, there needs to be fishing. There needs to be a whole docks area since even if it's a 5-mile hike the two rivers are going to have trade and fishing business that will want to come to town.

Zoning disputes, strange laws that passed the city council, an insane inventor who the townsfolk love and hate at the same time (he makes cool things, and he makes things that explode). Lots of possibilities. But it's not clear if you are looking for DM things to do or player things to do.


Good ideas. The reason the population is so small is because the town is only about 4 or 5 months old, and its in the Storval plateau. There's really nothing around it. We have the buildings that we have because my players were wealthy enough to afford them, and my bard has an instrument that quickly builds buildings. It's mostly human, with small percentages of the other core races. Another inn is a good idea, as is the dock idea. We have the platinum mine, and its run by a freelance dwarven mining group. I've determined that a profession check from the foreman will determine how much platinum we get on a monthly basis. With that number I can get how much money will be earned. Fishing is a good thought, but how would you put a gold value on fish. I do own ultimate campaign, but it's currently at a friends. What other types of income could a government bring in? The party uses the roles out of UCamp, so they are leaders in the community. I liked the plot twists and conflict ideas. I have some good ones of my own that I'm planning. Thanks for the posts. I'm looking forward to more :)


You might want to consider looking at small towns like Sandpoint for a reasonable comparison. It has about four times the population (1,240 people) but supports a stone cathedral, a harbor, a glassworks, a lumber mill, a theater, over half a dozen inns and taverns, and a garrison.

For a town the size of yours, a single inn should be plenty assuming that it's large, or perhaps one dedicated inn and an additional tavern. (Your miners are going to want a good drink after a day of hard labor.) You've got more than enough of a population for a temple or druid grove, and don't mind Kysune, if the local population worships mostly nature deities like Gozreh, it makes perfect sense for the local druids to sanctify a grove near the town, to be kept as relatively pristine wilderness, for the people of town to pray at. What you really -don't- have enough population for yet is a bank or for two colleges. A school is fine, you've got more than a few dozen kids with that population, so it's perfectly reasonable though it will be small, but you really wouldn't be able to support more than a single very small college, which would rely on students coming to your small town from elsewhere... and likely needing a place to stay: thus a second inn. Instead of a bank, consider that a platinum mine would certainly be a great reason for a jeweler to set up shop in town, and that he/she would need a nice strong vault to protect the raw platinum and finished pieces before they were sent along to bigger cities, so the shop could double as an impromptu bank until the town grows to a larger size. (This is actually how many banks got their start in the medieval era.)

The platinum mine justifies the garrison and watch tower, and most of the people in town probably work either in the mine or the related industries, which would produce enough wealth that you can easily afford to import grains and other non-perishable foods, so the farm would likely focus on fruits, vegetables, and other foods that the town couldn't as easily import.


A productive platinum mine is going to attract various specialists and undesirables, each of which may bring a source of revenue or a maintenance issue (or both) of their own. Attracting a trustworthy assayer might reduce graft and improve profits for instance. Selling prospecting rights to would be treasure hunters might be immediately lucrative, but would attract unsavory elements and might create either expansion opportunities or competition down the road. Buying the silence of the ecologist that knows about the infestation of X in the mine would be an annoying one time expense.

Speaking of the ecologist, there's a lot that could go wrong in this town if they aren't careful with upkeep. A mine means pollution. Proximity to water calls for flood protection. Then there's the basic infrastructure. Roads and bridges of course. By the time those businesses are properly staffed and your population begins to rise, you'll want to have addressed sewage, fire control, food storage and so on and so forth. The colleges might lead to magical waste, hazardous gasses and explosions. At some point you'll want to begin improving fields, or perhaps you'll find a conflict between the fisherfolk and the mine barges over use of the waters... etc.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Quick UCam Kingdom building check shows a minimum of 13 lots used for the buildings in question, which implies a population of 3,250 (some of the things mentioned are technically terrain improvements for the area around the town). Even using the more conservative Ultimate Rulership populations, it's 1,000.

So, population needs to go upwards (which is what everyone else said).


I agree, but it's just not realistic to arbitrarily raise the population. We have a realistic, and immersive world, and things don't just happen over night. I know the lot rules and everything, but again they had the money, and resources. For example, yes there is a basic collage, but there's only one student, and the person that one of my pc's hired to run it. The buildings are there, but there empty at this time. The population will increase over time, so let's not focus on that anymore. I'd like to know what some good ways to establish trade would be?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Depends on your definition of "arbitrary". Or, to put it another way, "there's platinum in them thar hills" will attract a lot of people.

Establishing trade... sorry, my knowledge of the geography is poor - are there any major settlements up or downriver? Instant trade opportunity. Are there any non-humans in the area you can establish a working relationship with? You might be able to make a tidy profit selling authentic <insert ethnicity/race here> cloth/goods. You could even set up a boat building business for barges on the rivers.


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Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

The Storval Plateau is dry and arid. Farming will be a lot closer to subsistence level without extensive irrigation - which your PCs are equipped to provide thanks to the bard's instrument. Even so, I'd expect that a lot of foodstuffs would need to be imported up the Storval Stairs, if only to provide some variety. Since you have a platinum mine, you can subsidize food imports, and just incur a set of standard expenses off the mine's profits.

Getting goods up and down the Storval Stairs is a chore - that's a LOT of stairs. Most draft animals aren't able to handle stairs, so you're likely looking at people working as porters, with some number of guards to escort them. (All those side-galleries and excavated abandoned living spaces make for easy ambushes.) Since there's not much population, the PCs may have to foot the bill for getting the merchant/porter service started. Since you're between the Lampblack and Chevali rivers, you have to cross the Lampblack and then make a sizeable hike to get to the Stairs - consider if the PCs have the resources to create some other way up and down the plateau. Even building a long staircase/tower might be worth it, but at (give-or-take) 1000 ft. height of the plateau (pulling from memory, may be way off), that's a considerable engineering marvel, not something that should be done just with hand-wave-ium because "we have a magic instrument" - make them figure out how to build something that tall and safe.

Look at what are the nearest sizeable communities, both above and below the Stairs. The mountains make it improbable that they can trade with Kaer Maga or Turtleback Ferry, at least not without going far too close to Urglin, which would make it likely that the orcs might decide to start raiding the settlement. The shoanti tribes on the plateau are Sun Clan, not friendly with outsiders - gaining them as willing trade partners might require a heck of a cool diplomatic adventure for the PCs. Below, via the stairs, are smaller communities like Ravenmoor and (at a sizeable distance) Wolf's Ear. If the PCs create their own path down the plateau, they might be able to create a trade route to Riddleport.

On the other hand, if the events of Rise of the Runelords are past events in your campaign, the PCs' town might be a good waystation for those traveling to and from Xin Shalast. In that case, they simply need to get the word out that they can accomodate travelers. At that point, it's actually even more important that the town be properly supplied with goods that will be needed by those travelers.

Final thoughts - what it really comes down to is Marketing. If the PCs want people to trade with their town, or visit it, or even relocate there to increase the population to something viable, they need to get the word out that they exist, and they need to make their town sound good. Think Iceland and Greenland - when they settled Iceland, they had a heck of a time getting settlers to move there - who wants to move to someplace called Iceland. So when they found a landmass even farther north and far more inhospitable, they named it Greenland and had lots of people sign up to move there. Your PCs need to think about how to convince people to move to the (relatively inhospitable) Storval Plateau. If the PCs are keeping all the profits of the mine, it'll be a lot harder to get more miners than if they offer some sort of profit-sharing to let the "strike-it-rich" crowd to flock to the area. If they make sure the inn is luxurious and they subsidize it (so visiting merchants can get resort-style service for little or no cost), they'll get more merchants to make the trip. And so forth.

And as the PCs increase their town's notoriety, and as more merchants travel there, more greedy types will hear about the platinum mine (and other trappings of wealth the town has built), and it's likely some warlord or orc tribe or rival adventuring group might make an attempt to raid or even take over the place...


I agree with Chemlak. There's a reason for people to move there, so it's really not that arbitrary. If the platinum has just been discovered, okay, sure, but then why's there all that other stuff? I mean either it's just been found and there's multiple colleges and banks and stuff built in random town that's infrastructure was probably 'farming and travel' or it's been found a while ago and the towns been built up and people had time to move.

Also if there's only one person in the college then it's not really a college. A college generally has multiple classes, teachers and students; it's more of an apprenticeship now. Additionally banks are a pretty sophisticated economic model and need to be able to make money unless they're literally just a repository for money. If they can't make money they won't set up and if there's only 300 people- and the bulk of them are farmers- they're not going to make money. The college, the tavern and the mine will make them some money, but probably not that much. Was it supposed to be more like a mint? Mints don't generally just get set up in little towns because of the amount of money that's being pushed through them and the security needed to protect the things that goes into making regulated accepted currency. Though you do note how they have a lot of security!

As for making trade. It's hard to do when we don't know a lot about the surrounding area in detail, and the devil is in the detail. However the city has a platinum and that's a huge deal. They could trade excess food stuffs, sell stone if they have excess amounts of that from the mine or hills, or other natural goods. Alternatively they could base themselves on their services and prop themselves up on their ability to teach and try to sell themselves as amazing teachers. With both a magus and bards college and even a temple they could try to entice teachers for a university and sell themselves as a center of learning eventually for when the mine runs out.

Really though I think that you should give some serious thought to raising the population of the town. I'd suggest looking at the population of places where people thought that there was gold during the gold rush.


Bard the Howler wrote:
Good ideas. The reason the population is so small is because the town is only about 4 or 5 months old, and its in the Storval plateau. There's really nothing around it. We have the buildings that we have because my players were wealthy enough to afford them, and my bard has an instrument that quickly builds buildings. It's mostly human, with small percentages of the other core races. Another inn is a good idea, as is the dock idea. We have the platinum mine, and its run by a freelance dwarven mining group. I've determined that a profession check from the foreman will determine how much platinum we get on a monthly basis. With that number I can get how much money will be earned. Fishing is a good thought, but how would you put a gold value on fish. I do own ultimate campaign, but it's currently at a friends. What other types of income could a government bring in? The party uses the roles out of UCamp, so they are leaders in the community. I liked the plot twists and conflict ideas. I have some good ones of my own that I'm planning. Thanks for the posts. I'm looking forward to more :)

Downtime rules (from ultimate campaign) are pretty stingy with the gold. Like, super-stingy. These rules also don't care for things like casting Wall of Stone or using a Lyre of building. It shows up in the book ONE time, and says you can use it to get 2 building resource points per building per week. A small tavern (no rooms, just booze) costs 45 in total. You can also only SPEND so many building resource points on construction in a week because of population.

Not saying your methods are WRONG, just giving you an idea of what exists in UC.

As for fish, it's a flat profession (fisherman) check (there are bonuses, Aid Another checks) which determines income in silver pieces. I think it's just total fishing bonus + 1d20 = that many silver pieces come in that week. This rule applies to every building and every business. It gets crazier with magic, since even a spellcaster is just using caster level + casting stat - 5 (that means a 20th level god wizard can make anywhere from 2.5 to 4.4 gold in a week).

I haven't read the taxation rules. Another thing is, you can't OWN a property and also tax it, that would be silly, so I'm not sure which the PCs are doing. It is more a good source of food than something that will make a lot of money. If Stronghold taught me anything, you can never have too many alternate food sources.

Moving on...population growth. I'm not sure the best way to go about it. I think the Rules are you just build a building and then the citizens sort of magically spawn like some computer game. For a more sane explanation you could have PCs making diplomacy checks, maybe offering bribes to recruit people. For a more interesting and hacky-slashy move the PCs could do reverse slave raids, where they find some mine or plantation and free all the slaves, offering a new home to the ones who can't go back to their old ones. Or they could hunt down refugees from any war or disaster (they're happening all the time) and bring them in.

Anyway, UC does have a lot of events you can throw at buildings, groups, and settlements. Here are a few more I can think of that may or may not be repeated in the book.

-Big fat wedding. Two "pillar of the community" families are getting together for a big ol' wedding that will unite their houses. Literally anything can go wrong, from catering issues to cold feet to the husband being gender-shifted by a third party with a cursed item and a sense of dark humor. Possible dark twist: More than just an arranged marriage that one or both kids didn't want, one is being forced to take an elixir of sex shifting because the burgeoning dynasty wants heirs.

-Sects and Violence. Seems the clan of dwarves you rescued from enslavement follow a darker version of Torag than the locals running the mine. Leftover PTSD, religious disagreement, and general mistrust over accents and foreign-ness has a smoldering feud threatening to burst into a full-fledged conflagration. Darker twist: I'm not saying it's Demons, but it's demons.

-Viva la...polite disagreements! Thoughts of democracy, or at least greater self-determination are spreading throughout the settlement. The emotionally-distant and often absentee landlords (the PCs) are not very good at governing when they aren't home most of the time, and the fact that they are the governors AND the landowners AND the richest folk in town is frustrating to people who wonder if they traded one slavery for another. They want a town council, and/or some of the businesses want to run themselves without having to send all the profits up the chain, and/or the town council really NEEDS a tax base. Darker twist: the leader of the not-really rebels (they still LIKE the party, they just want more of a say in things) is a (wo)man scorned. Having tried and failed to seduce one of the PCs into marriage, s/he is now seeking power from a different angle.

-Halflings, halflings everywhere! Seeing as how Golarion Halflings are all slaves at some point in their lives*, the party has ended up rescuing quite a number. Somehow this snowballed into the PCs town becoming this "halfling promised land" where smallfolk can be safe from the endless list of natural and unnatural predators that stalk the half-pints. Problem is...well is it a problem? I don't know, but then I'm not the one to ask, the party and the townsfolk and the potential hobbit empire of twiceling bloodshed are the ones to ask...forget I said that last part.

-Mad science! Seems Fizban the Alchemist's latest arcanomagical invention went wrong. Out-of-control construct on the loose and needs to be solved with violent science.

-Sewage. Town's population has gotten to the point that waste is a problem.

-Storage. A refrigerated room to store food in was brilliant. Using Brown Mold to keep things cool was inspired. Using a fragile container to keep the stuff contained and not spreading was less brilliant or inspired. Did anyone remember to pack some cold damage magic/material?

*It's literally the ONLY defining characteristic of the Golarion Halfling culture that I am aware of, they're constantly getting enslaved by people. Everything else is "they're short, their dextrous, they have families like any other group." Paizo wrote a book on them and they're still the red-headed stepchild race of the setting.

Edit: Transport ideas. Fizban had an idea, and one successfully-deployed acid-ooze later there is a trench that goods can roll down on wagons. Getting them back up is a bit of an issue, but a winch system can pull cable cars up the trench pretty easily. Alternatively it can all happen underground, with an elevator that goes straight up and down at the end of a long tunnel into the mountainside.


Cintra's analysis looks pretty solid. You're looking at an island economy (isolated by altitude rather than seawater) based on the extraction of natural resources. Prices across the board are going to be inflated. Domestic goods will be no exception unless you are regulating trade in a rather draconian fashion... perhaps not as inflated as imports, but still inflated by anyone wanting to get rich. The mere presence of a platinum mine will exaggerate that inflation, because outsiders will believe the town has money.

Were I in charge of the town, I'd be really tempted to set up a mint. If you can prepare coin for a nearby crown, they're going to be sending armed caravans to retrieve it. Merchants may well shelter in their wings, potentially reducing some of your costs. Establishing the trust of the crown will also guarantee that people will hear about your town and it's a first move away from the inevitable boom and bust cycle associated with extractive economies. Even if the mint isn't viable, I'd put my level best into attracting engravers and jewelers. Why sell platinum after all, when you can sell works of art wrought from platinum for far more with less bulk? Once you wade into the world of art, you'll be doing business with the kind of folk for whom it is worth the trouble to teleport around the globe instead of hoofing it, and at that point you'll have more options.


To answer OP

Income:
sales from platinum mine...
Taxes

Expenses:
Salary to miners
Salary to teachers in both collages
Food (1 farm will/may feed 10-20 ppl)
Pay families to send their kids as students in either college... (until a college have a strong reputation nobody rich will pay to train there, and the poor need to work, not learn)
Recruitment (a new village can't hope ppl will just happen to stop by and apply fir work... Recruiters must look in many cities to find ppl with the right skills
Security (taxes may pay for a couple of guards...)
Transportation (ppl, food & equipment from cities)
Equipment maintains


Well, at 4-5 months old, this is obviously a boom-town,and boom towns grow quickly. The main problem is that you will have a continuous stream of wannabe get-rich-quickers making their way across the wilderness, being subject to predators and Shoanti raids. They need protecting, and once they get there, they will need to be housed. Many of them will be fractious; criminals running from the law will want to hide out here, fights will be common, etc.

Then there will be those looking to make a profit out of them: brothel-keepers, gambling joints and bar owners (I remember hearing how one boom town had a bar every 50 feet at this stage).

Then too, the Shoanti will not be pleased at all these settlers and will seek to raze the city.

Finally the moralists step in. They close down the brothels and the worst of the bars, promote Law and Order, build Temples and other respectable establishments, etc.

Given the current state of affairs, it wouldn't surprise me if a group of drunken settlers set alight to one of the academies and/or banks in a drunken riot.

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