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  1. #1
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    Wow, I just learned of this game system, and it seems impressive. I have to find a copy of it. Apparently it was released after I stopped gaming regularly, so I never heard of it. :-)

    However, untill I do, I want to through out some thoughts on taxation in an RPG

    Most Strategy games I know have a simplified taxation structure. The person collecting the taxes states a percentage he will collect, the lower the percentage the happier the people. Some games don't let you refine it as small, they will set it to a word, like minimal, moderate, or excessive - which amount to fixed percentages. Some use dice to determine income, some flat rates. But what it all comes down to is viewing taxation from a modern day income/sales tax percentage.

    Since most fantasy games are based on medieval settings, this idea just doesn't work for me. In a medieval setting, taxes should be less 'fair' and more 'generic'. So, instead of percentages, you would have:

    Head tax - a tax on every citizen living in the country. In a male centric society, you will have greater fees for men, lesser for women, and even less for children.
    Land tax - every holding is required to pay for the amount of land it claims
    Vassalage tax - your vassals are required to submit a fixed fee to you, where they get the money is their problem
    Faith tax - adherents to a faith taxed once a year, based roughly on their income
    Special Taxes - periodic levies on certain goods for special projects. For example, there might be a special war tax levied on every man of servicable age.

    Usage fees - running a shop, setting up a stall in the market, using the port, using patrolled roads, toll bridges, gate taxes, etc
    Guild fees - belonging to a guild
    Temple fees - fees for sacrifice, fees to have prayers made,

    Fees and Taxes are both income for rules, but fees are a residual income while taxes are a periodic income. Fees therefore should be set to verbage things(moderate, mild, excessive, etc). Those levels than give the player collecting the fees a chance of income each month(in truth, even in months when 'nothing' is earned, money is coming in, its just too little to qualify). An example, using some sort of number you assign a level of 'wealth' to a town. Let's it level 4. Now, a ruler is collecting usage fees on shops, ports, etc. He states that he will collect them moderately. For each level of wealth, roll a d6. If you roll a 5 or better, he gets a gold bar this month. So you roll 4d6 and he can get from 0 to 4 gold bars.

    Now, there are a number of things which will effect the collection. They can either affect the number that you need to roll, or the number of dice. Going further with the example, 4 is the ideal collection time for fees, and will occur in summer when trade is most vigourous. In autum, you roll only 3 dice. In winter, 1 die. And in spring 2 dice(spring allowing mobility, but most peoples wealth is tied up in planting and such).

    In addition to the above, WHO is doing the collecting is important as well. In theory, the province ruler is the one to set the fees and do the collecting. But the only people he has who can collect are the army, and they often embezzile some of the money collecting. Also, unless there are actually armed forces in the region, their numbers aren't sufficient to enforce collection. So, if the army is doing it subtract 1 from each dice roll due to funds going missing, and subtract 1 die from the total if there are no army units present in the province.

    Alternatively, the province ruler can turn over the collection of fees to someone else. Or setup an organization to collect these fees. In other words, establish a law holding. A law holding of 0 is sufficient to collect fees. Law holdings don't suffer the one less die since they have the bureacracy to track everyone, but they do suffer from size(-1 Law 0, Law 1-3 0, Law 4+ +1).

    If someone else is doing the collection, than the province ruler has to come to an agreement with the tax collector(a set feee, one person paying the other for the right to collect taxes, a percentage, or whatnot). In addition, the person who collects the taxes can collect at a different rate than agreed upon, for example Prince John declares moderate usage fees, but the Sherrif collect oppressive fees and blames the Prince(with a chance of the Prince detecting the deception).

    These fees could be affected by roleplaying. For example,a ruler trying to expand the value of his province by attracting tradesmen might grant an amnesty of all usage fees for weavers, woodworkers, and other craftsmen. The GM would determine how many dice he will not get to roll for income.

    Taxes would be a bit different, taxes are collected annually(in general) right after harvest. In this case, the province ruler would specify an amount in gold bars to be levied on different groups(a head tax of 5GB on the people, a merchant tax of 2GB on the guilds, a temple tax of 3GB on the temples, etc). Someone(law holding? prominient guild representative?) Than the person collecting determines how much to collect(the most prominent guild member might decide to pay 1GB of the 2GB tax himself in order to promote guild membership - ie pick up extra Regency Points). Than there would be some sort of 'collect taxes' action which would result in GB's being gathered. Failure would indicate bandits or poor picking, resulting in anywhere from half to no taxes collecting. Success would result in the taxes collected. And phenomenal success could be an extra d4 GB picked up from hoarders/smugglers. Of course, what the collector passes on to the crown may be less than was collected, and if he collects too little, the crown may still insisit on full payment.

    Of course, all this makes things much more complicated. But then, taxation always has been a complicated issue.

    Hopefully I'll soon get a copy of the basic rules to see how such ideas would work into actual game mechanics, so far I'm just going off temrinology in the Book of Regency which I downloaded from wizards.

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
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    brnetboard@TUARHIEVEL.ORG <brnetboard@TUARHIEVEL.ORG> wrote at 02-07-11
    21.35:

    > Most Strategy games I know have a simplified taxation structure. [...]
    > Since most fantasy games are based on medieval settings, this idea just
    > doesn`t work for me. In a medieval setting, taxes should be less `fair`
    > and more `generic`. So, instead of percentages, you would have:
    >

    The kind of taxes you are citing here are not medieval, or possibly late
    medieval. As society used more money, taxes became more inventive, until you
    got a system like the one you describe, where everythig is taxed, in the
    18th century. Guess why the North Amercian colonies rebelled?

    Early medieval taxes were mainly on land and on households. A village would
    pay a tax related to it`s areable land. Lords could claim extra taxes for a
    variety of reasons, and the base amount would increase if new land was
    cultivated.

    A non-monetary culture collects taxes in kind and in due, that is services.
    This is the very basis of vassalage. So oart of the tax is to serve in the
    levy, militia, on public contruction works and so on.

    Birthright is very much late medieval - the monetary system is coming into
    it`s won, and land taxes and vassalage is bering replaced with monetary
    taxes like the ones you suggest, though not nearly as advanced. But
    representing this accurately in a game just involves too much detail.

    /Carl

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  3. #3
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    On Thursday, July 11, 2002 2:35 PM
    feleck wrote:

    > Most Strategy games I know have a simplified taxation structure.

    Birthright has a simple taxation structure, but you can imagine whatever
    mechanisms you want behind it because of its simplicity.

    For example, here is how I envision the levels of taxation working at the
    role play, that is descriptive level:
    Collect no taxes - in game terms this gives you a bump in loyalty. Medieval
    lords would grant partial exemptions to taxes during plague years or famine
    years. Because I assume we`re dealing in net collection figures (more on
    this later) I assume the lord collects only enough tax to cover long term
    (fixed) expences, and stops projects that aren`t necesary for the maintence
    of the realm. He may still collect a twelfth of the grain, but he ceases
    the mill fee, the bridge toll, the payment of the spring chicken, the autumn
    hog, and does not require the levee service (work to maintain roads, dikes,
    moats, and walls).

    Light taxes - The lord lives off his feudal dues and the income of his
    estates like any other feudal lord. In effect, people only play local
    taxes, there are no realm taxes.

    Moderate taxes - There are a few realm taxes in place, mostly indirect taxes
    on things like salt, wool, imported goods, and so forth. Merchants pay most
    direct taxes, and then pass the cost along to their customers. People
    aren`t directly aware of the tax, because its concealed in the price of
    goods.

    Heavy taxes - not just extraordinary taxes, like poll taxes, hearth taxes,
    and other temporary taxes usually paid in coin (common people find taxes
    easier to pay in kind) but also forced loans, and higher fees for routine
    actions (the fee for using the mill goes up, the bridge toll increases, the
    lord demands extra days of work to repair his moat).

    > But what it all comes down to is viewing taxation from a modern
    > day income/sales tax percentage.

    As you can see, its certainly possible to view the BR taxation as a medieval
    system of produce taxes, tolls, fees, and tariffs.

    > Head tax - a tax on every citizen living in the country. In a male
    centric society, you will have greater fees for men, lesser for women, and
    even less for children.
    > Land tax - every holding is required to pay for the amount of land it
    claims
    > Vassalage tax - your vassals are required to submit a fixed fee to you,
    where they get the money is their problem
    > Faith tax - adherents to a faith taxed once a year, based roughly on their
    income
    > Special Taxes - periodic levies on certain goods for special projects.
    For example, there might be a special war tax levied on every man of
    servicable age.
    > Usage fees - running a shop, setting up a stall in the market, using the
    port, using patrolled roads, toll bridges, gate taxes, etc
    > Guild fees - belonging to a guild
    > Temple fees - fees for sacrifice, fees to have prayers made,

    You can imagine all of this behind the net income you get from taxation.

    > [...] But the only people he has who can collect are the army, and
    > they often embezzile some of the money collecting. Also, unless
    > there are actually armed forces in the region, their numbers aren`t
    > sufficient to enforce collection. So, if the army is doing it subtract 1
    > from each dice roll due to funds going missing, and subtract 1 die
    > from the total if there are no army units present in the province.

    This assumes that tax collection tables are gross income figures, where I
    prefer to think of them as nex income, that is after all the extra hands
    have taken a piece for themselves. So if I roll that ruler X gets 3 gold
    bars, he gets 3 gold bars, even though I can describe that more than 3 GB
    were collected and others have collected their share (10% is the accepted
    figure in my campaign) as payment for handling your money, and those who
    took more than their share.

    > [...] For example Prince John declares moderate usage fees, but
    > the Sherrif collect oppressive fees and blames the Prince(with a
    > chance of the Prince detecting the deception).

    This could be a Matter of Justice random event, or planned problem, but the
    tax system doesn`t need to be so complicated that these things are explicit.
    It makes for more bookkeeping, and it can frighten off players. Just as
    easily, the DM can know how the tax system works and include as much of it
    as the players will enjoy.

    > These fees could be affected by roleplaying. For example, a ruler
    > trying to expand the value of his province by attracting tradesmen
    > might grant an amnesty of all usage fees for weavers, woodworkers,
    > and other craftsmen. The GM would determine how many dice he
    > will not get to roll for income.

    These are great ideas for description, but I would not make the complex
    system of feudal dues, fees, tolls, and other revenue devices an integral
    part of the system. A few of us might like to play the tax policy RPG set
    in Cerilia, I`m not so sure about the rest of these vagabonds.

    > Of course, all this makes things much more complicated. But then,
    taxation always has been a complicated issue.

    Part of a good RPG, though, is that its only as complex as it needs to be to
    be fun for the players. When I roll up the tax income for a province, I
    imagine it to be the aggregate effect of all the individual operations you
    have described. My players, probabaly not unlike most nobles of the middle
    ages, are mostly justing thinking, "Yipee, 12 gold bars!" I`ll use greater
    detail as an adventure hook, or as backround dressing, but I really don`t
    ask my players to get involved in medieval finance economics. They have a
    Steward for that.

    Kenneth Gauck
    kgauck@mchsi.com

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  4. #4
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    > Head tax - a tax on every citizen living in the country. In a male
    centric society, you will have greater fees for men, lesser for women, and
    even less for children.
    > Land tax - every holding is required to pay for the amount of land it
    claims
    > Vassalage tax - your vassals are required to submit a fixed fee to you,
    where they get the money is their problem
    > Faith tax - adherents to a faith taxed once a year, based roughly on their
    income
    > Special Taxes - periodic levies on certain goods for special projects.
    For example, there might be a special war tax levied on every man of
    servicable age.
    > Usage fees - running a shop, setting up a stall in the market, using the
    port, using patrolled roads, toll bridges, gate taxes, etc
    > Guild fees - belonging to a guild
    > Temple fees - fees for sacrifice, fees to have prayers made,

    You can imagine all of this behind the net income you get from taxation.

    =======================================

    Well, actually I have some minor comments. The faith Tax referred is reflected in the Law claims on Temple holdings and the guilds work the other way around if you are a king. I mean, you would not pay to be part of the guild, but the guild would pay you to be able to operate in your lands. Hence law claims on guilds.

    Vassalage agreements are also handled seperately with the Investiture Vassallage ceremony.

    Otherwise I agree that the rest are all in one's imagination and does not really need complex rules :)

    >This assumes that tax collection tables are gross income figures, where I
    prefer to think of them as nex income, that is after all the extra hands
    have taken a piece for themselves.

    Then how do you interprete the Maintenance and Court costs? The taxes in BR are collected by the serfs, the law holdings in the various provinces. However it would be too complex in my opinion to add this as a parameter.

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