ACKS, The Secret Ratio and the cost of a standing army

The secret ratio ( tells me about the relation between NPC income, his level and his “worth” in GP.

The count in my campaign receives a nice 20620 GP per month from his county and that tells me that its worth around 680k Gold. He has a pretty big army in reserve though and cant afford to put them all on the march with the money he gets.

I am absolutely no history buff so have no idea how much gold a count would have put aside for military expeditions.

Is there a ratio for “disposable savings”?

edited by Thomas Weigel - no changes made, just trying to make sure it posts correctly.

Any ideas?

Would be good to know how much for example a Barony could spend on a military expedition before going bankrupt.

Not an Autarch, but I suspect that the answer is “1–3 months of income.”

Most historical figures did not hoard cash on hand. Most of their income wasn’t even in the form of coin, but sheep, gifts, favors, and so on, and they spent it almost as fast as they got it - that was the point of getting it in the first place.

Quite a few kings lived almost hand-to-mouth.

I’m not an Autarch either, but I am a medieval history buff if that helps and I’ve been trying to help my GM sort out some similar questions.

Historically speaking (mostly for flavor and possible RP opportunities), most wealth doesn’t take the form of coins, it takes the form of agricultural products (also ore, stone, and timber) and licensing rights (e.g. granting someone the right to collect the tolls for a given bridge). While coins have the advantage of lasting forever, they have the disadvantage of taking up quite a bit of space and being easy to steal (darn adventurers). Peasants aren’t really wealthy enough to have many coins, really and so they pay their taxes in grain, livestock, and goods. When commoners do pay with coins, they pay with copper pieces, not gold pieces. If you think about it this way, 10,000 gp in value of coins would typically be denominated in 500,000 - 1,000,000 small pieces of copper and silver (a problem that lower-level adventurers are acutely aware of). That being said, the most valuable things a lord owns are probably their land, peasants, castle, weapons, horses, and armour (actually in about that order), meaning that a noble’s net worth isn’t easily translated into cash either. What you do see, however, throughout the middle ages, is that nobles don’t have too much difficulty acquiring loans using their lands and future revenues as collateral. If Baron Willhelm owns 3,000,000 gp worth of land with an income of 20,000 gp/month and needs 500,000 gp now. Of course unlike now, the rates of interest (and usury) would be very high. 50-70% wouldn’t be unheard of. As you get into the renaissance period, the banks themselves have become large enough to start ruling lands and manipulating wars in their favor (e.g. the Fuggers supporting Emperor Maximilian I and the De Medici family in general). This could be an interesting plot to include in a campaign.

ACKS simplifies the accounting of wealth that is due to coins (or gems) and wealth that is made out of barter-able goods into “gold pieces,” which for all purposes is really an abstract measure of money rather than physical gold coins. This works quite well, as a medieval economy works largely on the barter system (unless you’re a noble), so commoners aren’t generally too bothered about being payed in grain rather than silver. Mercenaries might want their pay to be a bit more metallic, but converting grain to coins isn’t that difficult for a nobleman to do. Furthermore, the supply costs for a campaign are going to mainly reflect a need for agricultural products rather than boxes of gold and silver being transported in wagons, so this method works out.

The amount a barony could spend depends mainly on how much they’ve saved up for the campaign. However, rather than this reflecting the baron amassing a large pile of shiny metal bits, it would instead reflect him building up a stockpile of arms and armor, training men to fight, building siege weapons and wagons, stockpiling flour (which keeps for quite a while, actually), increasing their herds of livestock (animals are butchered where they are eaten, not in advance), etc.

To answer your question more directly, Domains at War: Campaigns provides the details of supplying an army on campaign. Add supply cost to the units’ wages to see the monthly cost of taking a given unit on campaign. Subtract this from whatever money the baron has. Size and duration will matter, as will any necessary construction (e.g. siege equipment/vallations/contravallations). I don’t imagine that a lowly baron would be going on much of a campaign by themselves. Costs add up quite quickly, and a baron simply can’t support a large enough force to be very effective against enemy fortifications. With that in mind, barons seem to be well-suited to raids against their neighbors, but for those I wouldn’t bother calculating the supply cost. It doesn’t really cost extra to use your mercenaries to attack the baron just down the road. Calculating exactly how many resources a baron has for such a campaign would seem easy for PCs (since they should know how much cash they have + their monthly income), but is a lot trickier for NPCs. I’d say the amount they’d save up depends entirely on the NPC’s disposition. Are they war-like? Have they been planning this for years? Does the baron typically squander his money on booze and women? Horses? Fancy Clothing?

What a great response. Thanks for that! I enjoyed reading it.

Thanks Apep for the post. :slight_smile:

“The amount a barony could spend depends mainly on how much they’ve saved up for the campaign.”
Thats exactly my problem. I dont know how much that could be (though 1-3 months of income seems to be a good estimate) as I dont do the books for all my NPCs.

Part of the difficulty in giving a number for savings is that such savings can be highly variable. Some barons may want to “stockpile capital and assets for the future” (i.e. hoard) while others will spend it all. Recent events should also come into play (has their been recent conflict or the like). I’d go with 1-3 months as a rule of thumb, I guess.

If you want to make it “fairer”, you could also randomize it. Like, roll a d6, plus a d6 for each month (season maybe?) of dedicated buildup. (Like, if the baron decided to build an army three months ago, roll 4d6 (or 2d6 if going by seasons). If you’re just pulling this out of nowhere, roll 1d6). For each die result, apply the table below.

1 - -1/3 month income saved
2 - 0 saved
3 - +1/3 month income saved
4 - +2/3 month income saved
5 - +3/3 month income saved
6 - +4/3 month income saved

Add it up, and go. Obviously, you can’t save 4/3 of your income, or really even 3/3 of your income, in a month, but I figure this can represent windfalls and such.

I just made this idea up. You can tweak the values to match your sensibilities.

It just occurred to me that you might be able to apply the treasure table or perhaps the pillaging rules to this. You’ll want to increase the treasure rating a bit, as a baron’s total saved wealth is going to be greater than a random NPC encounter in the wilderness.

For the pillage table, you could roll the value of 1 day of pillaging for the baron’s lands and then use that value. It’s worth noting that if the baron needs to, he could continue to plunder his own lands for more cash.

I'm not sure I could provide a better answer than what's been given in this thread already!

Wait… there are pillaging rules? Are these in the DaW preview? If so… do want.

I don’t believe so. They’re in the Domains at War: Campaigns draft I’ve seen. I suppose you’ll have to back the new kickstarter. a

It ends up translating to roughly 40 - 100 gp/peasant family really.