The Rhodene Marches
The first step to establishing a business is, naturally enough, determining what kind of business the prospective business owner wishes to run. Effectively, the success of a business depends on one primary skill and two secondary skills. There is no minimum required skill rank in a primary or secondary skill to start a business, but a business founded by a character with poor skills won’t last that long at all. You can create new businesses using the following as models.
|Table A: Sample Businesses|
|Business||Primary Skill||Secondary Skills||Capital||Resources||Risk|
|Criminal Organization||Intimidate||Knowledge (Local), Primary Skill of Front||High||High||High|
|Farm||Profession (Farmer)||Handle Animal, Knowledge (Nature)||Low||Low||Low|
|Fighting School||Base Attack Bonus||Intimidate, Craft (Weapon)||Low||High||Medium|
|Moneylender||Profession (Bookkeeper)||Diplomacy, Appraise||Medium||Medium||Medium|
|Performance Hall||Perform (Any)||Diplomacy, Sense Motive||Low||Medium||Low|
|Service||Profession or Craft (any)||Appraise, Diplomacy||Medium||Low||Low|
|Shop||Profession (Shopkeeper)||Appraise, Sense Motive||Medium||Low||High|
|Tavern||Profession (Innkeeper)||Profession (Brewer or Cook), Sense Motive||Medium||Medium||High|
|University||Knowledge (Any)||Diplomacy, Profession (Teacher)||High||Medium||Low|
Primary Skill: This entry gives the business’s primary skill – the skill that directly affects the business’s success, and the one that every proprietor of the business must have.
Secondary Skills: This entry gives the second and third most important skills for the business; see Table D for details of how these skills affect a business’s success. One of these skills may be replaced with Profession (Business Manager).
Capital: The relative amount of cash the entrepreneur needs to start the business; see Table B.
Resources: The relative amount of resources (primarily buildings and employees) the owner needs to maintain the business (see Table C). This also determines the final cost of operation, reflected as a modifier to the profit check.
Risk: This indicates how solid the business tends to be. A low-risk business is reliable and less prone to going under. A high-risk business is susceptible to changes in the marketplace, but while more high-risk businesses go bankrupt than low-risk ones, high-risk offers the possibility of big money. Table A categorizes these factors for easy reference.
Building the Business
Once the owner has selected what kind of business to run, he needs to determine where to base the business. Without exception, businesses function better near larger cities; even farms work better near large cities. Unfortunately,the larger the city, the more expensive the costs to build and maintain a business. Businesses in large settlements spend the first several years paying off loans they had to take to start out.
Location: This indicates where the business is located. Wilderness indicates a business located in an unclaimed hex. Rural assumes the business is located in a claimed hex with no town in it. Town assumes the business is located near or in a small or large town, only one city district in size. City assumes the business is located in a small or large city, with 2 or 3 city districts. Metropolis assumes the business is located in a metropolis (or larger) urban area, with 4 or more city districts.
Profit Modifier: This bonus or penalty applies to profit checks made with a business in the indicated location.
Capital: This indicates the amount of free cash required to start a low, medium, or high initial investment business in the indicated region. This money, once spent to start a business, is gone and cannot be recovered. The money covers all the intangible costs of starting a business, including bribes to the appropriate officials, purchasing of equipment and supplies needed to run the business, advertising, tithes, and taxes. The cost of buildings and employees is not covered by the initial investment; these are based on the Resource requirement of the business and quantified in Table C instead.
|Table B: Profit Modifiers and Initial Investments|
|Location||Profit Modifier||Low Capital||Medium Capital||High Capital|
|Wilderness (Unclaimed Hex)||-10||500 GP||2,000 GP||4,000 GP|
|Rural (Claimed Wilderness Hex)||-4||2,000 GP||4,000 GP||8,000 GP|
|Town (1 city district)||0||4,000 GP||8,000 GP||16,000 GP|
|City (2-3 city districts)||+2||8,000 GP||16,000 GP||32,000 GP|
|Metropolis (4+ city districts)||+4||16,000 GP||32,000 GP||64,000 GP|
The business’s location has little to no effect on how many buildings and employees are needed to keep it afloat, but these two factors do represent additional resources that must be purchased over and above the cost of the initial investment.
|Table C: Minimum Resource Needs for Businesses|
|Resource||Building Type and Cost||Employees|
|Low||Simple House (1,000 GP) or Horse-Drawn Carriage (500 GP, -2 to profit checks)||0|
|Medium||1 grand house (5,000 GP)||5|
|High||1 mansion or collection of grand houses & towers (100,000 GP)||20|
The Profit Check
Each month during the kingdom turn, the owner makes a profit check. To make a profit check, the owner makes a skill check using his business’s primary skill. A profit check equals 1d20 + primary skill + modifiers. Thus, a tavern owner would make a Profession (innkeeper) check, while a moneylender would make a Profession (bookkeeper) check. He can take 10 on a profit check if he has at least 1 rank in the primary skill. He can never take 20 on a profit check. This check is modified by the factors listed on Table D.
Once the check is made, subtract 25 to derive the profit rating for the month. A negative profit rating at this point indicates a loss for that term, whereas a positive profit rating indicates a profit. The actual profit or loss in gold pieces depends on the risk level of the business. A low-risk business is more likely to make a profit, but the profit will be measurably smaller than what a high-risk business could attain. On the other hand, a high-risk business that doesn’t make a profit might instead have a significant loss.
|Profit or Loss By Risk|
|Low risk:||Profit rating × 5 GP|
|Medium risk:||Profit rating × 20 GP|
|High risk:||Profit rating × 50 GP|
If the profit rating results in a loss, the owner must cover those losses, either from his own pocket, contacting a moneylender, or making arrangements with his debtors, the details of which are left to the DM. If the losses cannot be covered then the business fails (see Failed Businesses, below).
|Table D: Profit Check Modifiers|
|Owner has at least 2 ranks in a secondary skill||+1|
|Owner has at least 7 ranks in a secondary skill||+2|
|Owner has 12 or more ranks in a secondary skill||+3|
|Owner spends less than 40 hours per month assisting business growth||-8|
|Owner spends more than 40 hours per week assisting business growth||+2|
|Owner has the Business Savvy feat (see below)||+2|
|Business is located in a wilderness hex||-10|
|Business is located in a rural hex||-4|
|Buisiness is located in a city (2 or 3 districts large)||+2|
|Business is located in a metropolis (4+ districts in size)||+4|
|Business is a low-resource business||+1|
|Business is a high-resource business||-4|
|Business is a low-risk business||+1|
|Business is a high-risk business||-4|
|Previous profit check failed (cumulative penalty)||-1 per failed check|
|A business partner successfully aids another during the term||+2|
|A specialist is on staff, specialized in the business’ primary skill||+2|
|A specialist is on staff, specialized in one of the business’ secondary skills||+1|
As a business grows and becomes more profitable, the owner can hire specialists to further enhance the business’s profit. Having a specialist on staff grants a bonus on profit checks. A specialist must have at least 8 ranks in the relevant Profession or Craft skill. If the specialist’s skill is one of the business’s secondary skills, it gains a fl at +1 bonus on its profit check. If the specialist’s skill and the business’s primary skill are the same, the business gains a +2 bonus on profit checks.
Specialists put an additional drain on other employees, unfortunately, since they demand more from them. A business can support one specialist at a rate of 10 GP per month. Each additional specialist requires more employees, so the cost of each additional specialist with the associated employees is 20 GP more than the previous specialist. Thus a business that employs three primary-skill specialists would pay a total of 90 GP per month on specialist wages (10 GP for one, 30 GP for the second, and 50 GP for the third) and gain a total bonus of +6 on the profit check from those specialists.
Hiring new employees and specialists is a common tactic for successful businesses. Salaries for these additional employees (standard and specialists alike) represent additional costs over and above the business’s normal cost of operation.
Upgrading a Business
An owner can take steps such as buying the latest equipment, refurbishing buildings, or ordering a new brand of ale to improve his business, and these upgrades usually have a positive effect on the profitability of the enterprise. Upgrades are essentially additional capital investments in the business. If the business owner invests 25% of the initial capital cost of the business, he rolls 1d4 and adds the result as a permanent bonus on future profit checks. A business owner can only benefit from one upgrade every three months.
Also, any business can be upgraded into an equivalent kingdom resource or building. Every full 3,000 GP spent on a business’s capital or initial grants a 1BP reduction on building the equivalent upgrade for your kingdom, but provides no kingdom benefits until then.
Additional business partners can also enhance an operation’s profitability. Business partners must be from one of four categories: they can be hired specialists, they can be cohorts, they can be allied NPCs, or they can be other player characters. Only hired specialists put an additional drain on the maintenance costs, but all four types are within their rights to receive a share of the profits. The details for this profit sharing are up to the owner and partners to work out, but usually, the owner gets a full share and any partners get a half share. In cases where the partner had an equal hand in setting up the business, he can demand up to a full share as well.
When it comes time to make a profit check, one of the business partners makes the check, using the appropriate skill check modifier. The rest of the business partners can use the aid another action to grant +2 bonuses on the profit check, as long as they spent at least 8 hours a week during the current term helping on site at the business. Business partners are not required to help in this manner.
Hiring a specialist to be a business partner is an excellent idea for a PC who wants to start a business as an additional source of income but doesn’t want to be tied down to the business. By having the specialist make the profit checks, the PC is free to do as he pleases with his time. If he’s available to help out, he can try to aid another on the profit check; if not, the specialist can still handle the business on her own.
Selling a Business
A business owner might decide to sell a profitable business to a prospective individual or group. An owner who sells his business gains half his initial investment, adjusted by the recent profit or loss.
A business that goes bankrupt loses all its employees immediately and can no longer be used to make profit checks. The owner might find himself in dire straits if he still owes moneylenders or other creditors money; depending on their patience and temperament they might or might not attempt to collect on what’s owed them by seizing property or threatening the owner. In such a situation, the business is sold for one-quarter of the original initial investment, any loss is covered from those proceeds, and the owner retains the remainder (if any). If no money is left after the losses are covered, the owner could find himself indebted to moneylenders.
If the owner doesn’t owe anyone money, he can attempt to launch a new business (or even relaunch his prior failed business). He must pay the initial investment as normal, but if he already owns buildings, he obviously doesn’t have to repurchase them.
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