structure cost comparisons

My curiosity got the better of me and I just compleated a table comparing the structure costs of 0D&D/FFC with ACKS. I would post it here but I don’t know if that is even possible.
Generally and roughly speaking, the ACKS costs are about 3 times the OD&D ones in most cases where comparison was possible. There are a couple of wierd anomalies though where the D&D costs were higher, including those for wood palisades, which were a whoping 10 times more in OD&D (125 ACKS, 1200 OD&D). And one case, the 20’ wall, where the costs are only 500 gp different.
Several things are in the OD&D lists that are absent from the ACKS list. These in particular I think should be added:
Bastion (Demi-Lune) 40’diameter, 10’ height, 60 linear feet. (3000GP)
Barbette 10’ diameter (1000 GP)
Crenellated Curtain Wall added to existing structure 5’x1’ (5.5 GP ** estimated)
For ACKS, I would multiply the costs for these by three.
What seemed like it would be a simple comparison turned out to be a headache in some cases because the dimensions often don’t match. There might be a certain amount of mis comparisons, but in every case where dimensions were given and they didn’t match, I recalculated to match the distances in ACKs – for example the OD&D/FFC palisade is 6” (180’) and cost 1500, so to match ACKS that figure had to be reduced by 80% to 1200.
There is a discrepancy here in that the OD&D costs sometimes include an additional 5’ crenellated curtain wall on the tops of towers etc. By some rough division, I’ve estimated this to represent around 14% of the cost. Applying this figure to the various buildings with these 5’ curtain walls produced a range of 4.6 – 6.1 GP per linear foot of wall with an average close to 5.5 GP per foot – so that’s what I used. Since the ACKS figures don’t seem to include the cost of the curtain walls, I’ve deducted them from the D&D costs to compare like with like.
Also “moat” following a popular misconception, is being used in ACKS to denote a ditch (moat or mott actually means a raised mound). The proper term is FOSSE. A fosse is a defensive ditch. When surrounding a fortress, a fosse will typically have a scarp and a counterscarp (slanted side walls instead of straight) which may or may not be revetted (reinforced with stone), and a glacis sloping away from the fortress.

Use Google Docs to share it. Or email it to me and I will!
This kind of stuff is fascinating to me.

On its way

Here it is:
Great drawing of a fosse!

That drawing was done by an Irish archaeologist named Stephen Devlin, as part of a report for a section of Carrickmines castle (12-14th century) where we and about 100 other archaeologist spent a year of our lives excavating.

Rokeydoke. Since whipping this out lesterdy, I’ve noticed a couple more things. First is that the ACKS price list is not the ACKS price list per se, but looks like an OGL list based very closely on the Rules Cyclopedia/Becmi – so that helps explain why some things are exactly the same and others different.
I also missed that “Battlement” is exactly the same thing as Arneson’s “5’ crenellated curtain wall” and that the RC/ACKS cost of such at 5 gp per linear foot sets right within that 4.6 to 6.1 range I found on Arneson’s OD&D figures. For ACKS I’d consider bumping this up to 15 GP per linear foot in keep with the x3 aspect of the tower and structure costs.
It’s also worth noting that The AD&D costs are even less than the OD&D costs – by about a third, for whatever reason. I would guess then that since Becmi/RC was last developed, somebody (Frank?) looked into historical costs and decided to raise the costs for the big stuff to the values seen in the RC.
Just for a slopy comparison:
a 25’ x 35 round tower costs 2000GP in Aif;
a 30’ x 30’ in AD&D costs 1600 GP.
a 40 x 20 round tower in OD&D costs 6000 GP (using the + 20% height figure given in
the rules)
a 40 x 20 round tower in ACKS costs 22,500
a 30 x 30 round tower in RC costs 30,000
Now the value of a GP might be expected to vary between these rulesets. As it turns out, OD&D and Becmi/RC wages for various NPC Hirelings are virtually identical, and in many cases agree with or are not far from their AD&D counterparts so, in that respect the “D&D” GP is economically stable across editions, but not so for AiF.
So, for a rough idea of the value of a GP between D&D and AiF, the average craftsperson earns 5GP (tailor for ex, ears 5GP, a carpenter earns 10GP) a year in AiF. AD&D is much more nuanced and varies a bit between 1e and 2e; the yearly income of the average craftsperson varies between about 15 – 30 GP a year – so roughly 3 times as much ( a tailor earns 18GP a year, a carpenter 24), (Again that curious factor of 3). So in AD&D terms the AiF tower would be 6000 GP (oddly similar to OD&D) whereas in Aif terms AD&D tower would only cost 533 GP! Go figure.
So to summarize, Arnesons AiF wages to construction expense is very comparable to OD&D but GP are devalued by 2/3rds. (A Aif Carpenter earns enough to build a tower in 200 years, an OD&D carpenter, using the AD&D figure, earns enough in 250 years- 200 years if he can earn a mere 1 GP a year more)
AD&D wages to construction construction ratio is altered so that the purchasing power GP is dramatically increased. (and AD&D carpenter could aford to build the same tower in 72 years)
In RC/BECMI D&D the ratio of wages to construction expese devalues the GP dramatically to 1/3rd the purchaning power of OD&D/AiF and 1/9th or less of the purchasing power of AD&D. (The carpenter - again using the AD&D income rates as standard for all editions - could afford his RC tower in 1250 years!)
Personally, I think ACKS should (if Alex hasn’t already) have a close look at stronghold costs in reference to historical data. (I may be able to get hold of some colonial stone fortress info for comparison). I have no idea if the RC/becmi/ACKS costs for the big ticket (towers, etc) are at a more realistic ratio, or not.
I also think that rather than X type Tower at X size there should just be a basic formula, Like Round towers cost x GP per 1 foot radius + y % for 2 stories, z % for 3 stories, etc. For other features it can just be x per linear foot or somesuch, to allow custom sizes and styles.

Great detective work!
Yes, the ACKS castle values were based on those in the D&D Expert Set. When I started writing ACKS, I double-checked all the costs in BX against historical norms (using 1sp = 1 silver penny). Many got changed but if they seemed “plausible” I left them. The castle construction costs seemed plausible. The costs for castles were very wide ranging, however, so additional hard data on this point would be welcome.
Leaving aside historicity, from a game point of view, erring on the side of expensive is the way to go, in that it provides the much-needed money sink for high end PCs.
I do think castle construction times seem short in BX and in ACKS, but this is probably for the best for a game (does a player want to wait 10 years for his castle?) and can be justified by reference to magic.

Comparison to fort Frederick:
Fort Frederick is a large stone fortress built in the western Maryland wilderness during the Frengch and Indian war – construction was completed in 1760. The parallels to building a D&D “borderlands” stronghold should be apparent. True, its not medieval, but for all intents and construction purposes, it might as well be, but unlike your typical medieval scenario, we have an actual record of what it cost to build. Further, we know the general range of wages being paid to craftsmen, so it provides one opportunity to convert real money into gaming gold.
The actual historic cost to build Fort Frederick was 6000 pounds.
A carpenter’s wage at the time was circa 45 - 50 pounds a year (about 1/125th the cost of the fort)
For an OD&D gaming character to build a stronghold identical to Ft Frederick they would need to pay for the following:
Four 180’ curtain walls (8400 gp each) 33,600 GP
Four bastions (3000 + 20% for added height) 14400 GP
Three stone buildings (2500 each) 7500 GP
Total GP 55,500
Now, since we know that a mid 18th century carpenters yearly wage was about 125th the cost of building Ft Frederick and that this same fort would cost 55,500 GP to build in D&D land, we can calculate the carpenters wage. Assuming the poor fellow has one day a week of rest, the Carpenters yearly wage should be 444 GP (37 GP per month) or, put another way, if the carpenters wage is set at the D&D 24 GP a Year, the total cost of the fortress should be only 3000 GP. In AiF terms, multiplying wages by three to 30 GP a year to match D&D currency value, the fortress should only cost 3750 GP. Sumpin aint rite with those wages.
Perhaps AD&D recognized that wages were low and so lowered cost of castle building to compensate? Not nearly enough though, as substituting AD&D costs for the above still yields a fortress cost of only around 11,000 GP.
Using the 1:125 ratio, what should an ACKS carpenter earn a year?
Four 180’ x 20’ curtain walls (9000 gp each) 36,000
Four bastions (no ACKS equivalent so I’ll just go with D&D 3000 +20% for height +250 for good measure) 15400
Three stone buildings (3000) 9000
ACKS Total 60,400 GP
Thus, using these figures, a carpenter in ACKS should earn 483 GP a year (40.26 GP a month).
What I think:
Given that ACKS rethinks and raises wages and income generally, the 37 – 40 GP a month for a carpenter makes perfect sense to me. It also suggests that the OD&D structure costs from the 3LBBs/FFC are just fine – at least for the types of structures included in Ft. Frederick. Any increase in construction cost would mean a corresponding increase in wage, which would soon reach a point where tradesmen are paid far far more than the poor peasant farmers, but as it stands at about twice as much now, that’s probably not too far out of line. All of which taken together is suggestive that where the cost in RC (and ACKS) are dramatically increased (towers, mostly) these should probably be reverted back to something closer to their OD&D originals.
D&D salaries, on the other hand, are extremely suspect, should probably be multiplied by as much as a factor of 20, at least in some cases.
I agree with Alex that high costs are good for eating up PC cash, but some of the costs (75,000 for a square keep!?) seem a bit over the top. Maybe it would be better to just add more stuff to buy and reduce the costs of the towers a little to something more in keeping with the other costs?

While we’re on construction costs, are the dungeon construction costs in the right place? The only thing it seems we have to go by is the 10’ dungeon corridor for 500 gp plus accessories. I just did a quick count of the AD&D Sample Dungeon first level and, with ~588 10’ squares and sundry accessories, raw construction costs come in at just under 300,000 gp.

  1. Is that number in the ballpark? If it is, dungeons seem expensive - which might be realistic historically, but may not fit well in a world filled with dungeons. It would explain the importance of utilizing natural caverns whenever you can find them, though.
  2. Can a dungeon secure a domain? That seems to be implied in Establishing the Stronghold ("… or a tunnel complex cleared of its prior inhabitants in the process of securing the domain…"). If so, this dungeon could secure 9 wilderness 6-mile hexes (10 if you build a small tower over the door). Is that the intent? Can a deep enough dungeon secure the kingdom?
  3. If so, a weird synergy shows up with mage-built monster dungeons being convertible to domain-expanding strongholds in a pinch - either by the mage or someone else. That’s kind of neat; keeping an ogre-filled dungeon out on the fringes has some risks if a chaotic leader comes along.

Lady Irene gave us a little vacation from Mr. electricity but I used some of the time to go over the figures for various things. Two corrections I would make to the above: although it is not marked, I’m sure the OD&D curtian walls are meant to be 20’ high, and at first I thought they were 10’ sections. This only affects the above in that it changes the GP cost of Fort Frederick’s curtain walls to 7000 each, lowering the overall cost of the structure to just under 50,000 thus changing a capenters yearly wage to 400 GP.
The other thing I missed was that the AD&D carpenters monthly wage includes room and board. If you use his daily wage (3sp), assume 300 working days and divide by 20 to get gp, the carpenters wage comes out to 40 gp a year. This has the effect of making AD&D architecture even cheaper than before. So while a number of the figures in the posts above would need to be ammended, the effects hold.

So I condensed some of the info here and added some comparisons with OD&D and FFC hireling costs and posted it on my blog for anyone interested

Side note:
I have been mulling over How easy it would be to model these stronghold elements in Sketchup. Either as a way to illustrate what each element is (ala the classic OD&D page) or as a way to snap together a stronghold, and have the GP cost listed for each part in the library.
Someone has already done some modeling along these lines, although there are probably others in the Sketchup 3D Warehouse:
Castle Construction by Badger

Aldarron, you had calculated that a carpenter in ACKS should earn 483 GP a year (40.26 GP a month) based on our stronghold costs.
According to ACKS, a Master Craftsman such as a Carpenter would earn 40gp/month. It looks like our wages to building cost ratio is just about perfect, which is very satisfying.
Thank you very much for doing the heavy lifting on this research!

Heh, that’s awsome Alex!