Thursday, July 16, 2015

2015 Houserules update on GURPS Wealth

I've been making a lot of Wealth rules. Social Economic relationship to Game Theory is always getting the right kind of model of circumstances of a certain period. Here is a new one, based on my current learning

Here is a random wealth table that can be used to apply to a group or individuals.

Random Wealth Table.

3d6 Random Wealth and Status
3-4 Struggling (Average x0.5), Status -1
5-8 Average (Average x1), Status 0
9-10 Average (Average x1.5), Status 0
11-12 Comfortable (Average x2), Status 1
13 Comfortable (Average x3), Status 1
14 Wealthy (Average x5), Status 2.2
15 Wealthy (Average x7), Status 2.4
16 Wealthy (Average x10), Status 2.6
17 Wealthy (Average x15), Status 2.8
18 Very Wealthy (Average x20), Status 3

GURPS Wealth Levels

Some more notes on GURPS wealth levels.

Dead Broke.

Status. -3 (-40 points; -25 points from wealth, -15 from status)
Social Class. Slaves and landless tenant farmers. This is the condition of every adult in an overpopulated areas (100 people by sq mi or 40 / sq km) born of  Serf.
Assets. None, what property they "own" is a secret or what their master allows them.
GM notes. Not Playable. 
Historical Notes. This is the bottom 20% of the population. These are adults who are in overpopulated areas that work the land as tenants. Life in such a state does not make one live long, many expire in their 40s if their lords have no mercy or surplus.
Social mobility here comes in the form of running away and starting new.


Status. -2 (-25 points; -15 points from wealth, -10 from status)
Social Class. Poor Serfs. 
Assets. Typically a Virgate of 5-15 ha (15-40 acres). Typically has a mule or a small ox.
GM notes. Not Playable. 
Historical notes. second to the bottom 20% of the population. These smaller independent serfs do not last long. Often (50-50 chance) in the 3-6 years they are absorbed a better off household or manage to survive for a little longer. Everyone knows this is a very hard and unstable venture.

In overpopulated regions these are bachelors who will take over their father's oaths as serf or extra sons who are commissioned failed farms or new lands. If there are too many successors to divide this, a land may end up divided at this level.

Census is never perfect, there will always be some people living off land they may not own by rights. if they "squat" on such land, they would be typically this small (a virgate) or two. the Balkans and the various mountainous regions had such places. Bandit or Raider tribes would live in such conditions with the wealthiest only as much a struggling. 


Status. -1 (-15 points; -10 points from wealth, -15 from status)
Social Class. A comfortable Serf. a Peasant, or Commoner. 
Assets. Typically a Virgate 10-30 ha (40-80 acres). A pair of small oxen or mules.
GM notes. Not typically playable. Typical for Light Infantryman or Raider. 
Historical notes. around the middle way of the the population. These smaller independent serfs have some stable condition. They have a size of roughly an extended household or two. These households contribution support a servant or two of their overlord.  Everyone understands this is a fairly stable amount of land.

Freemen,  can be found at this level and make enough not to resort to pledging fealty as a serf.  While they are free, they have no patron to give them land to work. Many travel as tradesmen who work a village route or seek commissions. 

A Raider is the term I use for Light Infantry warriors. But note that they spend a lot of time scrounging of foraging. Their light load requires and allows them to be self sufficient. this is a trade-off in skills. These warriors face the potential of starvation and their lack of better equipment has them at a high attrition. These warriors have less to look forward to. 

  • Traveling Tradesmen. A tradesmen without an established commission of a community.
    • Ex. Mason, Blacksmith, Leather worker, Healer,
  • A Clerk or Scribe, making money on the side writing or reading letters and basic bureaucratic work. Typically they are paid in small gifts.
  • A herd of Sheep, Pig, or Goat herder, 100-200 animals. This is a typical livelihood in contested regions where there is risk of raiders.  
  • A Brigand, Bandit, Marauder, or Raider. Feel free to let them have random equipment they have stolen or looted. Its better to have them as a wild card of stuff. 


Status. 0
Social Class. Average Freeman, or Wealthy Serf, Peasant, or Commoner. 
Assets. Typically a Hide which is 25-100 ha (~250 acres) or his lords support in arms and equipment and a shares of their lords loot.
GM notes.  A basically equipped adventurer. 
Historical notes. This is the upper middle class made up of freemen living in urban areas and . These smaller independent serfs have some stable condition. They have a size of roughly an extended household or two. These households contribution support a servant or two of their overlord. This is the ideal size and sought after by many serf's sons, this is what they know as success: having enough land to have a team of plow oxen. 

Wealth in Wages or Commission. A warrior can be given the control of a Hide, small manor or villa or he can be part of a Lords physical household, in which he is given a wage mostly in goods, privileges, shares, and, coin. In the Game these are very different things, and court is where the action happens. A warrior close to his lord is of greater prestige than that managing one of his assets, while a lord may not like all his vassals personally and may have work to be done. 

Shares. much like the modern term, as a person is higher up the ranks he gets more shares. Shares are measured by the smallest unit. The lord simply takes to total sum the shares he owes to hims men and his own cut and divides the spoils by that. There are many share systems over the ages but this is to keep things things simple in game. 

Population Density. Because Hides are measured in productivity (and Taxes) since so much variables in any given amount of land, I can use Population Density (Land per Households) as a factor to make up the area . I just take the number of households (1 per virgate) and multiply it to an appropriate amount of hectars or acres or reverse that.
  • 20 hh per sq mile (~640 acres or ~260 ha) or 8 households per sq km (100 hectares or 250 acres). Ex. France
  • 15 hh per sq mi, 5 hh per sq km. Ex. Italy and Germany
  • 9 hh per sq mi, or 3 hh per sq km . Ex. England and Anatolia Turkey


Status. 1 (15 points; 10 points wealth, 5 points status)
Social Class.  Freeman with Commission, Cavalryman, Mounted Warrior.
Assets. Typically 2-3 Hides or his support in arms and equipment and 2 shares of their lords loot.

GM notes. Cavalryman, or Mounted Warrior with remounts, or a small team (3-7 men) of Raiders
Huskalars, Varangians, Imperial Guardsmen, Personal Guard, etc... all fall under this wealth class. They may have a lot of equipment that is better than their class would appear taken as part of spoils or gifts. Don't limit the kind of signature equipment such characters would have by their wealth

Historical notes. Typically this is the most common wealthiest class a Lord would support as part of his household. His personal warriors would be considered comfortable. 
This is also the wealthiest class a freeman land holder can meet. Its about 2-4 hides of land or up to 20 households working under him with the aid of agents managing them. A lord would have land holder tenants would serve him managing his various estates at this level of wealth. Theoretically a serf or slave can be this wealthy. Wealthier freeman got into more mobile and technologically advanced business like shipping, trade, high value commodities, or banking. 

Cavalry vs Mounted. A mounted warrior doesn't necessarily know how to fight on horseback. When a warrior is capable of fighting while mounted they are called cavalry, when they have enough wealth for a horse they are called mounted. Note to have enough practice to fight on horseback requires being able to own around 2 horses and be able to replace them regularly. In a workload, around 4 hours, a horse can carry a load of 200lbs around 30km (20mi) or endurance run at 60km (40mi). Sprinting a horse can move a rider on a battlefield up to 30kph or 8m/s or 50m in 6 seconds. 

Concentration of Wealth. Calamities and the farmer's own chances to get sick when important work needs to be done in the course of every year happen. Then there are calamities that can ruin a family, with productivity having a huge deviation of up to 50% a small farm (a virgate) can fail very easily in the course of 3-6 years. If they want to improve their lives they need to risk and the cost may mean watching one's family starve to death. When farms fail this causes lords to re-allocate land under "new management" or abandon it, or the family dying off or running away. 

Personal Note. There is not much  solid statistics for this but I'm using my demographic experience and it appears small farms, at the independent virgate size, would have a 50-50 chance in the course of every 3-6 years. Surviving every time gets more and more unlikely and typically they are drawn under a wealthier serf who manages it with subservient families (relatives or servants). So you can imagine every 3-6 years the landscape consolidates the smaller farms, or new waves of servants try to tame the wilds and the limits of lord's domain. Over time these farms coalesce as the unlucky fail and over the course of generations the hides then break up again when wealthier serf families redivide the land after the pater familia dies a new conqueror redistributes for his vassals. (Rinse and repeat)


Status. 2 (30 points; 20 points wealth, 10 points status)
Social Class. Landed Knights. Sergeants leading a Light Infantry Squad (or Small Band). 
Assets. Typically 5-6 Hides, or his lords support in arms and equipment and 5 shares of their lords loot.
GM notes. Depending on the society and their circumstance there is the Knight, which is pretty "high tech" for its era, and his equivalent is the Leader Vassal who leads a Squad-size of men (8-15). 
Historical notes. This is what people of the medieval and ancient era's call "humble beginnings". Robert Hautevile aka "The Guiscard" is one such example, he and his brothers rising from this humblest of ranks to that of a Duke. His father being what we would call a low Baron or Baronette with modest holdings.

Wealthy 2, 7-8 Hides, 25 points
Wealthy 3, 10-13 Hides, 30 points
Wealthy 4, 15-18 Hides, 35 points

Very Wealthy

Status. 3 (45 points; 30 points wealth, 15 points status)
Social Class. Baronnets or Knight Leaders, Captains. 
Assets. 20-25 Hides. 20-25 Shares in the Spoils.
GM notes. PCs who are part of a household at this level are family to a Count or greater. PCs who are are each of this level are Captains or Knight leaders, each with their own Comitatus, serving their Lord Captain. This is a level where money for better equipment have such diminishing returns, its better used to arm a fighting man.  
Historical notes. This is the highest amount of wealth supported within a lords household - and typically Emperors and Kings can support their Captains of their guard or personal retinue at this level. At this level lords have the money to specialize and budget for a military leader - a captain. I've encountered this in later medieval and Chinese history. At very wealthy there is enough stability a Lord can afford to hire a full time Company or Platoon of warriors. Because they are full time, the lord really tries to get his moneys worth and employ these men in maximizing taxation as well as represent him for his overlord in times of war. 

This is interesting because at this level we see some lords spend on themselves and their personal guard vs lords who delegate this and have much poorer equip men (relative to knights) but with more soldiering experience

Very Wealthy 2, 20 Hides, 40 points
Very Wealthy 3, 30 Hides, 45 points
Very Wealthy 4, 50 Hides, 50 points
Very Wealthy 5, 70 Hides, 60 points

Filthy Rich

Status. 4 (70 points; 50 points wealth, 20 points status)
Social Class. Baron or Viscount (Vice Count), A Knight Captain. 
Land. Typically 100-120 Hides.100-120 shares.
GM notes. Last Wealth Level allowed because every few points buys a Company Strength of warriors. 
Historical notes. Check out the benchmarks for Population Density in households.  At 500-600 household this is the economy of a small Barony (~500 sq km. since denser lands are gobbled up by those higher up the food chain). 
Consider that sometimes a Lord may be have surrounding petty lords who are independent of him or his own lord. Very unlikely that a lord has control and dominion of 100% of the households in his "de jure" (rightful) territory. 

Territories as Benchmarks

Getting the Sqkm or (Sq mi ) helps give a sense of wealth and resources. As well as how poorly managed a territory can be. When you can imagine 1 hh to 20 hh per sq km it helps to quickly grasp the scale of wealth of anyone who can muster those resources.

 500 sq km Bremen
700 sq km Berlin
1,000 sq km 
1,500 sq km Greater London
10,000 sq km  Upper Normandy
15,000 sq km Lower Normandy , Schleswig-Holstein
20,000 sq km East of England
25,000 sq km South West England
30,000 sq km Brandenburg, Burgandy, Brittany
50,000 sq km Lower Saxony  , Orleans, Aquitaine  
70,000 sq km Bavaria

Regions of England 
Regions of France
States of German
China Regions is worth noting to give a sense of Scale 
Indian States are also
and of course the USA's own states  
Territorial Units of Turkey

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