RUNNING A BUSINESS
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS player characters typically have one source of income: they fight monsters and take their treasure. Rewards from grateful kings and barons and guildmasters might supplement this income, but for the most part, PCs finance themselves with treasure.
Yet this isn’t the only way characters can make money. Certainly, it’s not the way the NPCs of the world survive. They rely on skills such as Craft, Perform, and Profession for their livelihood. Low-level PCs might rely upon these skills as well to augment their meager income at the start of an adventuring career. No matter what sort of business a character runs, the rules for determining its success or failure work the same.
The rules presented here for running businesses function primarily off a single skill check, based on the business’s primary skill. The owner makes a special skill check using this skill, called a profit check. The owner can opt to take 10 on a profit check but he can’t take 20. One profit check is made once every business term, typically one month. The profitability of the business is set by its risk and modified by its location, the business owner’s secondary skills, and several other factors. The degree by which the profit check succeeds determines how much income the business generates, or how much it loses, for that term.
While the profit check is usually based upon a Profession or Craft skill, it represents more than what a single character does to earn money. A business is an investment by the owner, and running a business produces more profit than a character could earn on his own. In fact, a character who is a business owner could make a profit check during a month while he simultaneously works for the business, earning gold each week with a Profession or Craft check (such gold is considered part of the business’s overhead).
To build a new business, a character first selects the desired business category. Second, the owner pays the initial investment depending on where he locates the business (see Table 6–3). Third, he pays for the initial resources for the business (this includes buildings and employees). Once he accomplishes these three steps, he’s ready to start raking in the cash (or to go bankrupt, if things turn out poorly).
The first step to establishing a business is, naturally enough, determining what kind of business the prospective business owner wishes to run. Effectively, the success of a business depends on one primary skill and two secondary skills. There is no minimum required skill rank in a primary or secondary skill to start a business, but a business founded by a character with poor skills won’t last that long at all.
This section presents several archetypical businesses that PCs might want to try their hands at. You can create new businesses using the following as models.
Primary Skill: This entry gives the business’s primary skill—the skill that directly affects the business’s success, and the one that every proprietor of the business must have.
Secondary Skills: This entry gives the second and third most important skills for the business; see Table 6–5 for details of how these skills affect a business’s success.
Capital: The relative amount of cash the entrepreneur needs to start the business; see Table 6–3.
Resources: The relative amount of resources (primarily buildings and employees) the owner needs to maintain the business (see Table 6–4). This also determines the final cost of operation, reflected as a modifier to the profit check.
Risk: This indicates how solid the business tends to be (see Table 6–6). A low-risk business is reliable and less prone to going under. A high-risk business is susceptible to changes in the marketplace, but while more high-risk businesses go bankrupt than low-risk ones, high-risk offers the possibility of big money.
Table 6–2 categorizes these factors for easy reference.
Table 6–2: Businesses
|Business||Primary Skill||Secondary Skills||Associated Guild||Capital||Resources||Risk|
|Criminal||Intimidate||Knowledge (local), primary organization skill of business front||Criminal||High||High||High|
|Farm||Profession (farmer)||Handle Animal, Knowledge (nature)||Naturalist||Low||Low||Low|
|Fighting school||Base attack||Intimidate, Craft||Mercenary||Low||High||Medium|
|Performance hall||Perform||Diplomacy,Sense Motive||Service||Low||Medium||Low|
|Service||Profession or Craft||Appraise, Diplomacy or service||Religious or Mercantile||Medium||Low||Low|
|Shop||Profession (shopkeeper)||Appraise, Sense Motive||Arcane, religious, or mercantile||Medium||Low||High|
|Tavern||Profession (innkeeper)||Profession (brewer or cook), Sense Motive||Mercantile or service||Medium||Medium||High|
|University||Knowledge||Diplomacy, Profession (teacher)||Arcane, religious, or scholastic||High||Medium||Low|
A criminal organization can range from something as simple as a protection racket among a small group of established shops to a complex clandestine smuggling operation or even a full-blown thieves’ guild. Bards and rogues are probably the best-suited characters for this type of business.
By their natures, criminal organizations are illegal. As a result, all criminal organizations need a cover or front. This could be a slaughterhouse, a guildhall, a book shop, or any other business.
The additional costs and resources needed to maintain the front are negligible, but they impact the organization’s secondary skill requirement. A criminal organization run in an evil region (a slave trader in a nation in which slavery is legal, for example) is instead treated as a service, a shop, or other ordinary business.
Primary Skill: Intimidate.
Secondary Skills: Knowledge (local), primary skill of business front.
Farms are specialized businesses similar to shops and services, yet they require their own special set of skills and resources. When a PC decides to build a farm, he should determine the nature of the primary crops and livestock. Unless he chooses something exotic, this decision is largely cosmetic in game terms. Farms are good choices for druids and rangers; even barbarians can make excellent farmers if they can keep their rage under control.
Special: For every 20 acres of fertile land the farm uses, it gets a +1 to it's profit check. It takes twice as much average land to get the bonus, and barren or near-barren land provides no bonus at all.
Primary Skill: Profession (farmer).
Secondary Skills: Handle Animal, Knowledge (nature).
The fighting school represents any establishment built to train aspirants in a specific method of combat, whether that method is unarmed combat, cavalry, archery, or melee weaponry. Gladiatorial arenas are a particularly popular form of fighting school. Fighting schools (and universities) are unique in that their primary customers reside on site, imparting the difficulties of running a service or tavern on top of everything else. Fighters, monks, paladins, and rangers make good owners of fighting schools.
Primary Skill: Unlike other businesses, the fighting school’s “primary skill” is not a skill at all. Rather, the owner uses her base attack bonus as the primary skill when running a fighting school. If the school focuses on a specific weapon, the owner can include any bonuses from Weapon Focus or Greater Weapon Focus to the profit check, but no other bonuses apply.
Secondary Skills: Intimidate, Craft (armorsmithing, bowmaking, or weaponsmithing).
Moneylenders make their living by investing and lending money. Moneylenders require more cash to start out but fairly low resources, since they don’t need much more than a vault and a modest building around it. Bards and rogues make the best moneylenders, although clerics might find talent for the trade as well.
Primary Skill: Profession (bookkeeper).
Secondary Skills: Diplomacy, Appraise.
A performance hall is an entertainment venue where people can enjoy the opera, listen to music, watch a play, and so on. Performance halls are located in structures such as theaters and concert halls, and have close relationships to troupe businesses. Bards and monks are the best suited for performance halls.
Primary Skill: Perform (any).
Secondary Skills: Diplomacy, Sense Motive.
Services cover a wide range of businesses, especially those that revolve around the Craft or Profession skills. An armorsmith, a bookbinder, a shipwright, a guide, a gardener, and an innkeeper all provide services. If a business doesn’t obviously fit into one of the other categories, it’s probably a service. Services are generally easy to get off the ground, since most start small and work their way up. Services are so varied that there isn’t one particular class that does better at them than another.
Primary Skill: Profession (any) or Craft (any).
Secondary Skills: Appraise, Diplomacy.
Shops are similar to services, except that they focus on selling the products of service businesses rather than creating the product. A shop can be as humble as a general store or as impressive as a magic item shop. This business also covers the traveling merchant. Bards and rogues make the best shop owners.
Primary Skill: Profession (shopkeeper).
Secondary Skills: Appraise, Sense Motive.
The tavern combines the features of a shop and a performance hall. Customers come to a tavern both to purchase food and to be entertained, even if the entertainment consists of nothing but gossip. Any type of character can do well as a tavern keeper, since the more unique and colorful the owner’s appearance and personality, the more likely he is to attract curious new customers.
Primary Skill: Profession (innkeeper).
Secondary Skills: Profession (brewer or cook), Sense Motive.
Temples are a slightly different business to run as they depend on patrons who are faithful to a certain god. In order to build a successful temple there must be an adequate number of followers in the area. At least 25 are needed to support a small temple. If there is not then you can attempt religious conversion to bolster the numbers.
Primary Skill: Knowledge (Religion)
Secondary Skills: Choose 2 - Diplomacy, Heal or Perform (Oratory)
Special: 5 ranks of Knowledge (The Planes) will provide a +1 to profit checks due to the more interesting and indepth sermons.
Special: For every 20 converted followers who become active patrons, there is a +1 to profit checks; however, with growth comes growing pains, and the business owner must invest to increase the size of the temple according to the chart. So for example, a priest sets up a temple to pelor in a town, which costs 8,000gp. He and his fellows manage to bring the number of patrons up to 60, which is a +2 bonus, but now he needs to spend 2,000 gp buying more pews and expanding the temple to accomadate.
|60 followers||Medium Temple||25% Initial Capital|
|150 followers||Chapel||50% Initial Capital|
|300 Followers||Large Temple||75% Initial Capital and requires 1 employee|
|600 followers||Cathedral||Double Initial Capital and is now considered medium resource and now requires 5 employees.|
A troupe is similar to a performance hall in that the owner of a troupe is an entertainer. But whereas the owner of a performance hall is tied to one location, a troupe travels from place to place. As a result, troupes can make much more money if they’re lucky, but their nomadic existence also prevents repeat business. As with performance halls, bards and monks make the best business owners.
Primary Skill: Perform (any).
Secondary Skills: Perform (any other than the primary perform skill), one of the following: Balance, Climb, Disguise, Escape Artist, Handle Animal, Jump, Ride, Sleight of Hand, Tumble. Once this second secondary skill is chosen, it cannot be altered without disbanding and rebuilding the troupe.
A university is similar to a fighting school in that its primary customers live on site and are fairly stationary. Unlike fighting schools, universities need greater capital to get off the ground and not as many resources; the equipment and ratio of teachers to students is much more favorable. This category of business covers everything from small private magic schools to sprawling campuses in big cities to cramped boarding schools. Although a wide variety of topics can be taught at a university, the owner need not be knowledgeable on all topics taught there. Bards, clerics, sorcerers, and wizards make the best choices for this business.
Primary Skill: Knowledge (any).
Secondary Skill: Diplomacy, Profession (teacher).
BUILDING THE BUSINESS
Once the owner has selected what kind of business to run, he needs to determine where to base the business. Without exception, businesses function better near larger cities; even farms work better near large cities. Unfortunately, the larger the city, the more expensive the costs to build and maintain a business. Businesses in large settlements spend the first several years paying off loans they had to take to start out.
Location: This indicates where the business is located. Wilderness assumes that the business isn’t located within 20 miles of any settlement. Rural assumes the business is located near a thorp, hamlet, or village. Town assumes the business is located near or in a small or large town. City assumes the business is located in a small or large city. Metropolis assumes the business is located in a metropolis (or larger) urban area.
Profit Modifier: This bonus or penalty applies to profit checks made with a business in the indicated location.
Capital: This indicates the amount of free cash required to start a low, medium, or high initial investment business in the indicated region. This money, once spent to start a business, is gone and cannot be recovered. The money covers all the intangible costs of starting a business, including bribes to the appropriate officials, purchasing of equipment and supplies needed to run the business, advertising, tithes, and taxes. The cost of buildings and employees is not covered by the initial investment; these are based on the Resource requirement of the business and quantified in Table 6–4 instead.
Table 6–3: Profit Modifiers and Initial Investments
|Location||Profit Modifier||Low Capital||Medium Capital||High Capital|
|Wilderness||–10||500 gp||2,000 gp||4,000 gp|
|Rural||–4||2,000 gp||4,000 gp||8,000 gp|
|Town||+0||4,000 gp||8,000 gp||16,000 gp|
|City||+2||8,000 gp||16,000 gp||32,000 gp|
|Metropolis||+4||16,000 gp||32,000 gp||64,000 gp|
The business’s location has little to no effect on how many buildings and employees are needed to keep it afloat, but these two factors do represent additional resources that must be purchased over and above the cost of the initial investment.
The costs for buildings below come from Table 3–27 in the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
Table 6–4: Minimum Resource Needs for Businesses
|Resource Need||Building Type and Cost||Employees|
|Low||1 simple house (1,000 gp) or 2 horses and a carriage (500 gp total)1||0|
|Medium||1 grand house (5,000 gp)||5|
|High||1 mansion (100,000 gp)2||20|
1 Businesses operating out of a horse-drawn carriage take a –2 penalty on profit checks.
2 Alternatively, a high-resource business can be based in any combination of grand houses or towers that equals 100,000 gp, or an equal value portion of a larger stronghold.
BENEFITS OF BUSINESS OPERATION
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS is about adventure and excitement; the day-to-day running of a business can be anything but. For faster gameplay, the operations of a business are therefore generalized and significantly simplified. Businesses generate income or loss once each month based on a profi t check.
The Profit Check
Each month, the owner makes a profit check. To make a profit check, the owner makes a skill check using his business’s primary skill. A profit check equals 1d20 + primary skill + modifiers. Thus, a tavern owner would make a Profession (innkeeper) check, while a moneylender would make a Profession (bookkeeper) check. He can take 10 on a profit check if he has at least 1 rank in the primary skill. He can never take 20 on a profit check. This check is modified by the factors listed on Table 6–5.
Table 6–5: Profit Check Modifiers
|Owner has at least 5 ranks in both secondary skills||+1|
|Owner has at least 10 ranks in both secondary skills||+2|
|Owner has 15 or more ranks in both secondary skills||+3|
|Owner is a member of an associated guild +1|
|Owner spends less than 8 hours per week assisting business growth 4||–8|
|Owner spends more than 40 hours per week assisting business growth||+2|
|Owner has the Business Savvy feat (see below) +2|
|Business is located in the wilderness||–10|
|Business is located in a rural area||–4|
|Business is located in a city||+2|
|Business is located in a metropolis||+4|
|Business is a low-resource business||+1|
|Business is a high-resource business||–4|
|Business is a low-risk business||+1|
|Business is a high-risk business||–4|
|Previous profit check failed||–1 per consecutive check failed|
|A business partner successfully aids during the term1||+2|
|A specialist is on staff||Variable2|
|Previous upgrades have been made to the business||Variable3|
|Business has a franchise5 elsewhere||+1 and variable|
1 A business partner can be a hired specialist, a cohort, or even another PC. In order to provide a bonus on the profit check, the partner must make an aid another check, using the business’s primary skill.
2 A specialist adds a bonus of +2 if his specialized skill is the business’s primary skill. He adds a +1 bonus if his specialized skill is one of the business’s secondary skills.
3 See Upgrading a Business below
4 This penalty can be negated at the price of hiring a business manager to take over in the owner's absence. See Hiring a Manager below
5 See business events below.
Once the check is made, subtract 25 to derive the profit rating. A negative profit rating at this point indicates a loss for that term, whereas a positive profit rating indicates a profit. The actual profit or loss in gold pieces depends on the risk level of the business. A low-risk business is more likely to make a profit, but the profit will
be measurably smaller than what a high-risk business could attain. On the other hand, a high-risk business that doesn’t make a profit might instead have a significant loss.
Table 6–6: Profit or Loss By Risk
|Low||Profit rating × 5 gp|
|Medium||Profit rating × 20 gp|
|High||Profit rating × 50 gp|
For example, Garrick is a 7th-level character running the local town tavern. He spends more than 40 hours working each week, has 10 ranks in both Profession (cook) and Sense Motive, is a member of the local business guild, and has a business partner (his wife) who helps him each week. The tavern is a medium-resource, high-risk endeavor, so his total modifier on his profit check is +3. With his 10 ranks in Profession (innkeeper) and his +2 Wisdom bonus, he gets a 25 on his profit check if he takes 10, which is a 0 profit rating, so his business neither gains nor loses money for the term.
If he had achieved a 30 result on the profit check (a good month, indeed), his profit rating would be 5 (30 minus 25), and his profit would be 250 gp (5 × 50 gp). If the profit rating results in a loss, the owner must cover those losses, either from his own pocket, contacting a moneylender, or making arrangements with his debtors, the details of which are left to the DM. If the losses cannot be covered then the business fails (see Failed Businesses, below).
NEW FEAT: BUSINESS SAVVY
You are particularly gifted when it comes to setting up and maintaining profitable businesses.
Benefits: You gain a +2 bonus on all profit checks. In addition, you get a +1 luck bonus on all attack rolls, saving throws, and checks when resolving any business-related events.
MAINTAINING A BUSINESS
Once the business is located, any necessary buildings are purchased or bought, and at least the minimum
number of employees is hired, the business is ready to go. The benefits of operating a business are detailed in the previous section; this section covers the rules for maintaining a business.
Cost of Operation
All businesses have a cost of operation. This cost includes employee salaries, repairs to buildings, regularly purchased supplies, taxes, fines, and anything else that might crop up during the day-to-day process. The owner of a business pays the cost of operation during each term, but that cost is incorporated into the profit check.
The base cost of operating a business is determined by its resource needs, but occasionally there might be additional expenses for a business beyond the base cost, including the salaries of additional employees or specialists, costs arising from business-related events, and any upgrades purchased in the current term.
As a business grows and becomes more profitable, the owner can hire specialists to further enhance the business’s profit. Having a specialist on staff grants a bonus on profit checks. A specialist must have at least 8 ranks in the relevant Profession or Craft skill. If the specialist’s skill is one of the business’s secondary skills, it gains a flat +1 bonus on its profit check. If the specialist’s skill and the business’s primary skill are the same, the business gains a +2 bonus on profit checks.
Specialists put an additional drain on other employees, unfortunately, since they demand more from them. A business can support one specialist at a rate of 10 gp per month. Each additional specialist requires more employees, so the cost of each additional specialist with the associated employees is 20 gp more than the previous specialist.
Thus a business that employs three primary-skill specialists would pay a total of 90 gp per month on specialist wages (10 gp for one, 30 gp for the second, and 50 gp for the third) and gain a total bonus of +6 on the profit check from those specialists.
Hiring new employees and specialists is a common tactic for successful businesses. Salaries for these additional employees (standard and specialists alike) represent additional costs over and above the business’s normal cost of operation.
Upgrading a Business
An owner can take steps such as buying the latest equipment, refurbishing buildings, or ordering a new brand of ale to improve his business, and these upgrades usually have a positive effect on the profi tability of the enterprise. Upgrades are essentially additional capital investments in the business. If the business owner invests 25% of the initial capital cost of the business, he rolls 1d4 and adds the result as a permanent bonus on future profi t checks. A business owner can only benefit from one upgrade every three months.
Additional business partners can also enhance an operation’s profitability. Business partners must be from one of four categories: they can be hired specialists, they can be cohorts, they can be allied NPCs, or they can be other player characters. Only hired specialists put an additional drain on the maintenance costs, but
all four types are within their rights to receive a share of the profits. The details for this profit sharing are up to the owner and partners to work out, but usually, the owner gets a full share and any partners get a half share. In cases where the partner had an equal hand in setting up the business, he can demand up to a full share as well.
When it comes time to make a profit check, one of the business partners makes the check, using the appropriate skill check modifier. The rest of the business partners can use the aid another action to grant +2 bonuses on the profit check, as long as they spent at least 8 hours a week during the current term helping on site at the business. Business partners are not required to help in this manner.
Hiring a specialist to be a business partner is an excellent idea for a PC who wants to start a business as an additional source of income but doesn’t want to be tied down to the business. By having the specialist make the profit checks, the PC is free to do as he pleases with his time. If he’s available to help out, he can try to aid another on the profit check; if not, the specialist can still handle the business on her own.
Selling a Business
A business owner might decide to sell a profitable business to a prospective individual or group. An owner who sells his business gains half his initial investment, adjusted by the recent profit or loss.
A business that goes bankrupt loses all its employees immediately and can no longer be used to make profit checks. The owner might find himself in dire straits if he still owes moneylenders or other creditors money; depending on their patience and temperament they might or might not attempt to collect on what’s owed them by seizing property or threatening the owner. In such a situation, the business is sold for one-quarter of the original initial investment, any loss is covered from those proceeds, and the owner retains the remainder (if any). If no money is left after the losses are covered, the owner could find himself indebted to moneylenders.
If the owner doesn’t owe anyone money, he can attempt to launch a new business (or even relaunch his prior failed business). He must pay the initial investment as normal, but if he already owns buildings, he obviously doesn’t have to repurchase them.
Businesses don’t operate in a vacuum. They require customers, investors, and even competition to thrive. Since the business must be exposed enough for these factors to influence it, it is also vulnerable to other influences. Some of these business-related events can increase profitability for a term, but most present challenges that must be overcome if the business is to survive.
Consult Table 6–7 to see what sort of business-related events occur. Roll once per term for low- and medium-risk businesses, and twice per term for high-risk businesses. The timing of the events is left to you, but you should strive to have them occur at times when the owner is able to react to the event. If an owner is away for extended periods of time, there’s little he can do and he simply has to accept what chance has to offer.
As the business continues to grow and more events occur, try to weave them together so that they build logically from one another. For example, if you keep rolling up robberies, perhaps a mastermind who has a grievance against the business owner is orchestrating the thefts.
To roll up a business-related encounter, roll d20, modified by circumstances as shown in Table 6–8 (apply one modifier from each section of the table, as applicable). A result of higher than 20 is possible. Descriptions and
definitions of the entries on Table 6–7 follow.
Table 6–7: Business-Related Encounters
|1 or less||Monster|
|14||Spell gone awry|
|25 or more||Admirer|
Table 6-8 Business Related Encounter Modifiers
|Owner is usually Anonymous 1||-2|
|Owner is usually Famous2||+2|
|Business is failing||-1|
|Business is stable||+0|
|Business is booming||+1|
1Use this modifier if the owner is not as famous in the area as other characters of his level would be. Perhaps he's new to the area, or he simply keeps his activities quiet. Never apply this to high-resource businesses.
2 Use this modifier if the owner is widely known. Perhaps his business has spawned dozens of imitators, or maybe his deals are know far and wide to be the best (or worst) in the nation.
Nearby construction or a traffic accident impacts the business in some way; perhaps a partially completed building collapses onto the owner’s shop, or maybe an out-of-control carriage crashes onto the front porch. The damage to the business caused by the accident costs 2d6×100 gp to repair.
A friendly character (usually an NPC with class levels) with a CR equal to 2 less than the owner’s level approaches the owner with a request. She might wish to hire the owner, tell him a rumor he heard, or could simply be looking for friendship or advice.
A second business front with nearly identical services opens nearby and begins to attract away customers and undercut prices. Unlike the good competition encounter, the owner of the competing business in this case nurtures a grudge against the owner and deliberately tries to bring grief to his establishment. If the two businesses are taverns, the competitor might hire a druid to cause a rat infestation in the owner’s bar. If the two businesses are fighting schools, the competitor might challenge the owner to a fight and then cheat in the duel. Until the bad competition leaves, the business owner takes a –1d6 penalty on profit checks. Bad competition remains until the owner makes a profit in three successive months.
A particularly bad few days (or weeks) of weather cause minor damage to the business, necessitating repairs for 3d6×10 gp.
A group of bandits targets the owner’s establishment. The bandits might attempt to set up a protection racket, but they are more likely to simply try to assault the business and rob it blind. The bandits consist of a number of thugs with a combined EL equal to the owner’s character level –2 (minimum EL 1).
For whatever reason, business is booming this term. Apply a +4 bonus on the roll for the term’s profit check.
A thief tries to break into the business and rob it. The thief is working alone, and he should have two fewer class levels than the owner. The level of his success obviously depends on what sort of defenses and guardians the owner has established; if he has none, the thief steals any gold kept on site, along with 2d6×100 gp in goods and supplies.
The business’s employees are unhappy. They shirk their duties, the quality of their work suffers, and the atmosphere at work is poor. The unrest can be mollified with a DC 30 Diplomacy check or a pay raise. Each pay raise adds additional overhead of 5 gp per employee per term. Failure to address the concerns of the unhappy employees results in a cumulative –1 penalty on profit checks each term; this penalty is removed completely once the employees are happy again.
Fire is a danger that can threaten an entire city. This could be a fire on par with a forest fire (Dungeon
Master’s Guide page 87) that the owner must help fight in order to save his business, or it could be a new fire that starts on site. Arson is a possibility in this case; if no one’s around to stop the fire, the business burns to the ground. The business can no longer make profit checks and must be rebuilt.
The business owner is approached by another entrepreneur and given a franchise offer. For an investment of no less than 1,000 gp, the entrepreneur can establish a linked business elsewhere in the nation (or perhaps in the same city, if the city is large enough). Establishing a franchise grants a bonus on the business’s next profit check equal to +5 per 1,000 gp donated. Each profit check thereafter, the bonus decreases by 1 per term until it reaches +1, at which point it becomes a permanent +1 bonus on profit checks.
A similar business opens nearby. Unlike the bad competition encounter, though, the owner of this competing business merely likes what the business owner is doing and is trying his own hand at it. Good competition lasts for 2d4 months, during which time the business owner subtracts 1d6 from his profit check. From then on, he adds 1d8 to his profit check.
Someone important visits the
business. This could be one of the owner’s guildmasters, a local politician, or a famous bard or hero. The visitor’s patronage itself doesn’t impact profits, but the owner might be able to make an ally or contact out of the visitor. More important, word of the visit spreads and a number of customers visit the business as a result, granting a +2 bonus on profit checks for the next 1d4 months.
The business has become infested with rats, vermin, or another undesirable pest. Each term the infestation is allowed to continue, apply a cumulative –1 penalty on all profit checks. The infestation can be removed with a successful DC 25 Survival check and 2d6×10 gp of supplies; at the DM’s option, certain spells (such as repel vermin cast multiple times) can cure the infestation as well. Penalties accrued by infestation diminish at the same rate, lowering by 1 point per term as customers slowly become convinced the infestation is over.
A customer who has a bone to pick with the owner visits the business. The customer’s grievance might or might not be legitimate, but it nonetheless requires immediate attention. The customer’s initial attitude is unfriendly; if the owner doesn’t adjust this to at least friendly with a successful Diplomacy or Intimidate check (or with appropriate magic), the customer leaves the business and spreads the word of his poor treatment throughout the region. The next 2d4 profit checks take a –4 penalty as a result.
The business owner or one of his employees is mistaken for someone else—famous or infamous. This has no effect on the business’s profit, but might cause further developments as the DM sees fi t.
A monster native to the region attacks the business. The attack could be against the employees, the building, or both. The monster’s CR should be equal to the business owner’s character level. If it is not defeated, the damage it causes results in a –6 penalty on profi t checks until repairs costing 4d10×100 gp are made.
A natural disaster strikes; this could be a tornado, an earthquake, a blizzard, or anything else appropriate to the region. The disaster is devastating not only to the business, but to everyone else in the region. As a result, profit checks take a –8 penalty for this month. Each month that follows, this penalty decreases by 2 until four terms have passed and the penalty is removed altogether.
Nothing unusual happens this term.
The business owner is approached by an intimidating group of thugs and made to understand that if the owner pays a fee of 3d6×10 gp per term, the business won’t have an accident. Paying this money only prevents trouble from this particular group; others can still rob or menace the business. Failure to pay these demands or deal with the group behind the racket ensures that something bad happens each term. Roll an additional business-related encounter each term the fee isn’t paid, rerolling anything with a benefi cial result.
This could be as simple as petty vandalism or as dangerous as a legitimate attempt to destroy the business. The business owner should make a special profit check to determine how bad the damage is, opposed by the saboteur’s Disable Device check (which should be equal to the business owner’s base profit check). Success indicates the attempt was thwarted in time, but failure indicates damage. The profi t check for this term takes a –4 penalty.
An unusual form of public entertainment performs near the business for several days—a talented bard, a street circus, a flashy magic display, or a parade, for example. The spectacle brings out the crowd; the business gains a +2 bonus on this term’s profit check.
Spell Gone Awry
A spellcaster has foolishly experimented with a spell or had a mishap with a scroll. The business might have to contend with a rampaging summoned creature, the aftermath of a fireball, or a squad of the city guard under a confusion effect.
The local government, either having fallen on hard times or having succumbed to greed, raises taxes for a short period of time. For the next 1d6 terms, the owner takes a –1d4 penalty on profit checks.
The store has attracted the attention of a particularly unusual customer; a dragon, an outsider, or something equally exotic decides to visit the store once or twice per term. The novelty (or notoriety) of this development grants the business a permanent +1 bonus on profit checks, as long as the unusual patron continues to support the business.
A wounded adventurer staggers into the business seeking aid and shelter. The adventurer might or might not be what he seems; he could herald the arrival of bandits or a monster, or he might himself be a bandit trying to con the owner out of some cash.
Source: Dungeon Master's Guide 2