Mercantile Ventures

Hi Alex,
Wanted to send some kudos out to you. We are starting to get into some mercantile ventures. The rules seem really solid!
One queston though - The PCS are currently acting as the guard for the caravan - if you want something done right, you do it yourself mentality. However, as the “empire” grows, and they send more and more caravans out with hired guards, I have been considering developing a chart that accounts for some random happenstance to the caravans. Some events would be positive while others would be negative (to the point that caravan is wiped out). Would you recommend this? And if so, should such a chart be included in the rules?

Duskreign, thanks for the kind words!
As far as the chart:

  1. Yes, I’d recommend you create something like that;
  2. The reasons we haven’t, by and large, focused on charts like that in the rules themselves are several. First, I tend to think that most GMs are fairly good at coming up with such charts, whereas they tend to lack the time/interest/history background to develop the math behind the economics, for instance. So we focus on giving the foundation and framework and let the GM paint the walls, as it were. Second, a good chart can be catered to the GM’s specific group and setting, whereas we could at best only offer a somewhat generic one.
  3. If you do create a chart, keep in mind that the average rate of profit should be about 3% per month. So if the players are sending caravans out on a route where they are getting, say, 6% per month, then you might interpret that to mean that must be a risky route, and crank up the monsters and challenges. On the other hand, if it’s a route with a 1% profit rate, it’s probably very safe.
    If you do make up something, please post it for everyone!

Thanks for the insight on answer 1 and 2. Would you elaborate a bit more on the 3% per month just to be sure I follow you? Thanks.

There is a “secret ratio” that runs throughout ACKS - 3% per month rate of return, or, put another way, a person’s capital tends to equal 33 times their monthly wages.
This shows up in the domain rules. The average peasant family, after costs, earns their lord about 5gp per month. It costs 1,000gp to attract 5.5 peasant familes. 5.5 x 5 = 28gp per month from the 1,000gp invested.
This also shows up in the mercantile venture rules. See the “Merchant Ships and Carvans” table - add the value of the ship + the value of the cargo and multiply x .03 and you’ll see its close to the average monthly profits. (The actual math is 6 passengers netting 120gp, 243 shipping contract loads weighing 19,440st netting 1944gp in shipping fees, 117 arbitrage cargo loads netting 1,053gp in arbitrage profit, with total cargo value of 64,800gp, with a round trip travel and transaction time of 28 days, earning 3123gp less 532gp in costs to yield 2951gp in profit on a 20,000gp ship and 64,800gp cargo).
Conversely, for instance, if you know that a common laborer makes 3gp per month, you know that his net worth of tools, clothes, home, etc. is around 100gp. A knight who earns 60gp per month probably has about 2,000gp of possessions - warhorses, armor, weapons, clothes, home, etc.
Kind of fun to play around with.