Urban Settlement Investment: Are we missing something?

Currently, a beginning settlement (below a Class V market) earns 7 gp per family, without any adjustment for additional taxes, services, or land value. (Am I correct on this?)

Of this, 30% is immediately skimmed off by taxes and tithes, leaving 4.9 gp. Another 2 gp need to be devoted to garrison, another 1 gp goes to upkeep of the urban population, and an average of 1.67 gp per month will usually go toward a seasonal festival.

This leaves 0.23 gp per family of net income. That’s not very much! In particular, it’s much smaller than the average income of 5.23 gp per family associated with agricultural income from the domain population.

As a point of reference, it costs an average of about 200 gp per family to make the investments that attract them in the first place. That would pay off in 40 months for agricultural investments, but it takes 800 months (!) to pay off the same urban investment.

I realize that urban investments reap other advantages associated with the presence of a market. And certainly supporting a larger garrison in a settlement will also help to defend that settlement’s domain. I just want to make sure that I’m understanding the differential in income correctly.

I believe the 20% tax is paid to the domain ruler of the domain the settlement is in, meaning that for your own urban settlement within your own realm, you can ignore that.

I could be wrong, however, since the Villages, Towns, and Cities table (ACKS page 134) that shows the net income after expenses for urban settlements of market class VI reverse-engineers to between .24 and .25 gp per family per month for net income.

Yeah, pretty sure the 20% tax is paid up the feudal chain rather than kept by the immediate lord. My understanding of small settlements were that they provide a market, a place to put population after you hit the hard cap on agricultural population, and an extra strongpoint during invasions, and are intended to be not-very-profitable.

First, don’t buy people for a city. Get morale up and get that 4d10 families per 1000. Spending two extra gold will leave you at stalwart most times. The extra gold almost pays for itself, but if you add in the extra families? 20 families? Plus avoiding random bouts of turbulent (and the bandit swarms that come with) is nice too. Oh and you get to make the thief cry. Everyone likes making the thief cry.

Second, the GM might frown at you, but you can save money, by replacing the festival with Jackbooted thugs. I mean, increasing the garrison to keep people safe. Point is it has the same net morale.

Three, be the ruler of your own domain. Don’t answer to a king. Don’t pay that damn tax.

Four, you get the markets and garrisons that come with cities. That means more buyers for crap, more places to buy magic toys, more trade routes you can tax or whatever. The garrison means you have more troops for defense. Pretty cool.

Five, it provides prayers for the cleric/bladedancers/priestesses god. Which means free special components for you.

Six, it gets better as the settlement grows. This is a early place. Its like a half built castle.

Oh yeah, I forgot about trade! Give yourself (or the party venturer) all the monopolies and enjoy rolling in gold.

And then you have to factor in hijink income, and the mage can sell magic items in a large enough market…

All this suggests (or, for me, reinforces) that PC urban settlements should be a shared endeavor: everyone’s helping fund it, because everyone benefits from it, even if it’s in one PC’s realm. Of course, trading is substantially improved once your party has multiple good markets…

Also useful to run hijinks in a city controlled by a friendly, since then you can manipulate the courts to get off easy when you get caught (though I have seen this abused, and contemplated treating state-complicit crime as a form of taxation for domain morale purposes).

Yeah, applying a morale modifier for rampant corruption of the courts seems like a no-brainer.

You could come up with some really elaborate abuses, though, like having the mage cast illusions to fake an execution, and rotating the “executed” underlings into a branch guild in a different settlement…

as mentioned earlier in the thread, a domain with high morale will make it difficult for thieves to operate in the vicinity, though i’m inclined to believe that more would be required if abuses ramped up. The main thing is to understand who the criminals are getting their gold from. If they’re making money smuggling, it’s the domain ruler’s taxes that are being circumvented.

Yeah, that’s my impression as well. I just wanted to make sure that before I delivered my impassioned “cities aren’t supposed to make you rich, they just give you markets” argument, that it was actually an argument I needed to make, and not a consequence of my own confusion about how taxes and service income work.

Why not go Ankh-Morpork style?