A secret ratio recurs repeatedly throughout ACKS. It is 1:33, and it is implicit in many of the game mathematics. Interestingly, the 1:33 ratio emerged from the assumptions of the system; it wasn’t initially designed in. The first place the secret ratio appeared was in the average rate of return on gold invested per month in support of mercantile activities, which is 3% (3/100 or 1/33). I noticed the ratio when I was building spreadsheets to model landlords and merchants.
- 1,000gp invested in agricultural improvement will attract on average 5.5 peasants yielding around 6gp per month, or 33gp. (3.3%)*
- 18,000gp invested in cargo and a small sailing ship will return 600gp in profits per month (3.3%)
- 36,500gp invested in cargo and a 40-wagon caravan will return 1,100gp in profits per month (3.0%)
- 50,000gp invested in cargo and a large sailing ship will return 1,800gp in profits per month (3.6%)
This ratio became very useful in other areas of play as it allowed us to work out the approximate “capital” of individuals with known income, or conversely, the approximate income of individuals with a known amount of capital. (Note that capital is loosely defined here – a fighter who has spent thousands of gold carousing while bragging of his exploits has essentially “invested” in his reputation. We assume for the sake of simplicity that coin, equipment, training, carousing, etc all have an equal rate of return).
- A peasant, earning 3gp per month, probably has (3x33) 99gp in capital. This is probably seed, farming implements, and perhaps some domestic animals.
- An alchemist, earning 75gp per month, probably has (75x33) 2,475gp in capital - lab equipment, books, chemical mixtures, potions, and coin.
- The emperor of a massive domain, with an income of 360,000gp per month, has capital of around 11,880,000gp.
- A warrior (2nd level fighter) with 1,500gp invested in equipment, training, and so on, would expect to earn 45gp per month (1500/33).
Even better, since we know the average income of various ranks of nobility, it also shows how the wages of characters of various levels compare against that of nobility. At 9th level a character’s income from his skills suggest he should be earning as much as an earl or count - which, in turn, suggests that your 9th level warlord who has built a stronghold and carved out a domain can safely style himself as an earl or count.