Lazlo COS Pathfinder - Low Magic
Campaign Economics look here for the original article.
Who Holds the Money?
The game provides three skills which are used to determine how much money a character makes doing whatever they do, in the line of Craft (Intelligence based), Preform (Cha based) or Profession (Wisdom based).
The average gold per week for an untrained laborer is actually about 5 gold. This measurement assumes an average human with a 10-11 in relevant stats and no skill points or training invested into their profession (an untrained laborer). By taking 10 (an option you are allowed for doing normal tasks) our check result is simply 10. The result of the check is divided by 2 to determine the amount of income in gold pieces earned per week.
The cost of living for most commoners range between Poor (3 gp/month) and Average (10 gp/month).
Poor is described as, “The PC lives in common rooms of taverns, with his parents, or in some other communal situation—this is the lifestyle of most untrained laborers and commoners. He need not track purchases of meals or taxes that cost 1 sp or less.”
Average is described as, “Average (10 gp/month): The PC lives in his own apartment, small house, or similar location—this is the lifestyle of most trained or skilled experts or warriors. He can secure any nonmagical item worth 1 gp or less from his home in 1d10 minutes, and need not track purchases of common meals or taxes that cost 1 gp or less.”
Low magic / Dark ages medieval (ala Game of Thrones) your average peasant would have certainly been on the “poor” side of the column, especially in smaller communities. This is especially true when considering that typically the eldest male in the household was the bread winning and responsible for providing for his family, while his wife was tasked with raising their children and maintaining their household. This puts them at a 1 income house hold for (typically) two adults and 3 kids, thus his 20 gold / mo (minus 4 for taxes) divided over 5 people puts them hurting financially (poor lifestyle) with about 1 gold in liquid funds at the end of the month.
Local taxes would be assumed at 20%, which is to say out of 5 gold per week the local nobles would collect 1 gold, or 4 gold per month.
NOTE: “liquid cash” for a peasant is VERY relative as your typical medieval peasant didn’t deal in cash at all because they were bound to their lands and the will of their Lord. Rather in many cases their “liquid cash” would be measured in extra production of crops, slightly better clothing or food, etc. Peasants were also cautious of appearing to be doing too well for themselves as this was frequently an invitation of trouble. Suddenly bandits want to take your stuff, or the local Lord you serve may feel you are cheating him / stealing from him and have you publicly beaten, throw you in prison, rape your wife, etc.
Strangely enough most would assume that such abuse from the Nobility would cause their villagers to desert in mass…but in fact historically these forms of abuse DID take place and the villagers simply took it! They felt that the local Nobles protected them and they were deeply indebted to those Nobles and if the Lord of the Manor was punishing them, it was because they had done something wrong. Many SE Asian cultures still function in a similar manner to this day.
Back to economics: For a somewhat older family the economics are a little better. As the kids have gotten a little older (around 10 yrs old) two of the three children are old enough to work (at 1/2 pay) and that would give you 16 gold per month extra. By this point mom is likely working again, but as she is also taking care of the infant it limits what she can do, so her wages are likewise about 1/2 normal so after taxes she too will contribute another 8 gold.
Looking at this another way, at this stage you have about 2 1/2 working adults between dad (20 gold / mo), 2 older children work at 1/2 wages = 1 adults (20 gold / mo) and Mom working at 1/2 wages (10 gold / mo). This comes out to about 50 gold /mo to support a family of five. Take 20% for taxes and it gives you about 40 gold / mo vs your 15 gold monthly living expenses for a Poor lifestyle, but not quite enough to rise to an average lifestyle at 50/gold mo for the “average” family of 5.
NOTE: most families did not in fact have 3 kids. There was not birth control, so most families would have 7 or 8 kids (if not a lot more).
Another consideration: so a noble that has a small village of 500 people, and is collecting 4 gold per untrained commoner /month is pulling in about 2000 /mo. Not to bad for a bunch of folks that are completely untrained from any exceptional skills. Now add in the folks who do have additional training, an experience level or two, the occasional adventurer, etc and that figure can easily soar to 3 times that amount. Larger communities would have better education, more frequent adventurers / mercenaries, those possessing of levels and skill bonuses (which drives up their average income / taxes), etc.