Hypothetically speaking, how would you go about collecting taxes from a group of heavily-armed adventurers?
Keeping in mind that my court advisors have informed me that keeping them alive and in good health is an overall benefit for my kingdom.
Add a sales tax to goods sold or bought in your realm. 15% on all trades.
Apply heavy penalties to tax evasion or trying to hide your earnings. Use wizards with scrying abilities to enforce the penalties.
Have your campaign become a fun game of "Dodge the Taxman."
Gate Tolls work well. Cant get into town without paying the toll. Tax magic item purchases and general goods as well. Players have to eat and sleep and buy rope.
Only methods I have found that actually work and dont piss people off.
You send a zero level NPC to collect.
If they refuse to pay. You send a squad to order them to pay.
If they refuse, arrest them.
If they resist again, send the kings "special squad".
PCs must follow the law.
Be able to threaten them into doing it. Sure, actually having to act on it would suck, but if you actually can threaten them into doing it, possibly by having stronger adventurers as your guards, you can get them to pay
This is assuming you have already tried just asking, and their answer was "lolno". Do not immediately resort to force.
>Have your campaign become a fun game of "Dodge the Taxman."
Welp I know what my next campaign will be now.
Could have a 15% tax on goods sold by adventurers as well, so stuff they get even less for sold scavenged goods.
I doing something similar with a LE run town. All non-citizens have to pay tolls and taxes and have to buy licenses to do almost anything. Recently a player stole an official government stamp to use in forging licenses. that should get interesting
Ive tried it and it really only comes across as That DMing.
also, when they get pissed off they will direct that anger towards you as a DM.
Best thing to do is have tarrifs, tolls and taxes to nickle and dime them, have shopkeepers inflate prices when adventurers come to town. then when they do get pissed off (and they will. they always get pissed off) it will be directed at the local innkeeper for charging 35gp a night for a room and 8gp for a bowl of stew.
Yeah I said that in jest but thinking about it, it actually sounds really fun.
Get some Objectivist/Libertarian anti-tax rhetoric in there, get some utilitarian and socializing pro-tax arguments, fuck with the players politics until they don't know what to think anymore. Organized crime, tax havens, hidden wealth.
Actually sounds like a good time to me.
I am sympathetic to libertarianism, but the 'taxation is theft' argument is a poor one imo.
By secretly enchanting them so that when ever they receive payment or find loot, portion of that teleported into the royal treasury without them even knowing about it.
By placing "adventurer tax" on all the goods they consume and all the facilities they use. You really think everyone pays 100 pieces of gold for that sword? Most will never even see 10 pieces of gold in their lifetime.
By not even bothering, just making your wealth from the fact that a bunch of idiots are willing to keep your kingdom free of monsters and threats for pocket change and you get to reap all the benefits of the work and trade people are able to do without worries.
Ive been playing with that idea for a while as well as politics in my current game. LE Bureaucrats run everything in the town and all the bureaucrats are owned by what I like to call "The Lumberjack Mafia"
Party Paladin is investigating the town for government corruption but his meetings with the mayor keep getting 'delayed'. Also a player was recently publicly executed for being a werewolf (lumberjacks hate werewolves in their forest. also they player wanted a new char). Had a mock trial and everything filled to the brim with corruption and falsified evidence. was great.
Organized crime is fun to play with, infuriating the players with bureaucracy is fun, but now im thinking about turning the local Enforcer into a glorified Tax-man.
>Adventurers are the equivalent of the super rich or mega corporations with holdings in Ireland or other foreign tax haven.
This. Dungeon delving RPG adventurers are by default megacorps, except the wealth does trickle down for once.
Tax the sale of ANYTHING on the King's Land. and make a point of it.
>That will be 100gp for the horse and another 25gp for the King's Tax my good sir.
I can only buy those longswords off you for 2gp each. Any higher and I wont make a profit because of the King's Tax. Hope you understand.
Then laugh as the players try to topple the kingdom over a 15% soup tax
You apply taxes to all their purchases, as per standard. You can only tithe them if they produce something, which they dont, and generally theirs no tax on ''thing found in cave''.
Either way, you still get the money because every item they buy has tax already applied, which goes from the seller to you.
In England, at least, taxation was a trickle down. The king demands tax from his nobles, they get the tax from the barons and landholders, the barons get the tax from the smallholders, the smallholders get the tax from the serfs and the serfs hope that there's enough grain at the end of the day to last through winter.
Feudal system is real good if you're on top and pretty shit if you're at the bottom.
I thought OP was talking hypothetical, not actually charging players taxes. To this I say "What the fuck? Why would you charge players... Taxes are the opposite of fun! Scientifically proven!"
Adventurers rely heavily on their gear.
Adventurers rely heavily on selling loot.
Basically force any outsider to buy and sell at king-approved, tax-heavy shops or trading posts.
Also it would create a wonderful opportunity for thieve's guilds and the like. Good luck getting caught without licenses for all that equipment you just got from Honest Joe the Gnome.
Lump it into a cost of living expense, as presumably if you're asking them to pay a tithe then you're tracking that sort of thing too.
Just describe it as part of the day-to-day minutiae that nobody wants to wrap a scene around.
Taxes can lead to fun. BBEG is a corrupt noble overtaxing the players. Make it annoying enough and they will eventually use it to topple the kingdom. And what isnt fun about that?
>Feudal system is real good if you're on top and pretty shit if you're at the bottom.
What systems is great for the guys at the bottom and bad for the guys at the top?
I also don't think the serfs were "taxed", they just worked the land in exchange for getting to live on it and getting a share of the profits from it.
Simply trying to tax them directly or act in anyway confrontational won't work. They'll just not pay taxes or bypass whatever tolls (these guys have bypassed evil demonic castle defenses for pete's sake).
You can't force them out of more money, you have to do it intelligently.
The answer is simple. Put the pressure on the middlemen. Get a cut out of the places they already spend money on and get more there.
Now, you could simply try to tax the merchants, innkeepers, and stables and increase the cost of living, thereby making them pay more for things they buy consistently. it's a step in the right direction, but still not a good idea as you could breed both hostile resentment in your people and in turn the adventurers, who would see you as an unfair tax monger, and you risk a rebellion.
The better idea is this: trick them into paying taxes.
All adventurers horde their gold and wealth for one reason and one reason alone: To buy better gear. All you have to do is nationalize all merchants and salesmen of any sort of adventuring equipment, weapons, and supplies.
Then, spend an amount of money to pre-emptively buy out all sources of the most advanceed and elite gear in the realm, give them an appropriate level and advertising, under some pretentious but unquestionably superior brand of equipment like "Royal Standard Elite Blades" or "Royal Standard Perfect Potion", marketing them as the best in the realm, and artificially increase their value and price.
In such a way, the heroes will be inclined to gather more gold for the same gear (and I must say, highly enthusiastically), be more willing to accept missions from us (which will be paid using some of the exuberant amounts of gold they paid us already), and we don't disrupt our average populace who want to buy average or mediocre gear.
Citizens pay (x), in taxes.
Noncitizen, pay (y). With Y being 25x's the citizen tax rate.
Make shops for non citizens be outside the city, and very limited on what they sale.
Shops in the city are for citizens.
>What systems is great for the guys at the bottom and bad for the guys at the top?
Good question. The change from capitalism to pure socialism, perhaps. Anarchism, perhaps.
>I also don't think the serfs were "taxed"
well that depends what you consider taxation. First of all these peasants were born on the land (most likely) and it's kinda rude to kick them off of it. They get a percentage of the food they grow and the landowner takes the rest, I don't really know of situations where the serfs are then rewarded from a share of the profit from the produce they made.
>nobody wants to wrap a scene around.
I made my players buy a licence to enter the "Executive Market" so they could buy magic items. Filling out the paperwork was a series of skill challenges, as well as some great RP negotiating with corrupt lawyers and guards who wanted bribes on top of the taxes.
Taxation and bureaucratic corruption can be fun if used right.
>>And brooding loner licenses.
>I learned Kung-Fu because I couldn't afford to keep up my swording license.
>I went from fashionably thin to holocaust gaunt.
>People keep mistaking me for a druid because I smell bad and constantly am covered in dirt.
>I can't afford my hair gel anymore.
Going ever further, tax quest givers. Are you going to put a 1000 GP bounty on Traxx Elfücker's head? Well you gotta pay the state, like everyone else.
Bonus points if "legal" quests can only be fullfilled by adventurers with santioned equipment.
The other upshot of this is that we also stand to substantially increase the prestige and profit of our nation.
If we make efforts to insist and prove that our brand of Elite adventuring gear is the best, buy pre-emptively buying out or removing any competition (possibly via said heroes through weapons discounts for raiding other manufacturers), more and more adventures both in and beyond our realm will believe our brand to be superior. Our weapons effectively DO become the best weapons.
Our nation will be renowned as superior craftsmen, and adventurers far and wide shall flock to us.
You know what, easiest way? Lure them in.
What do you get for paying taxes? Well. for starters, don't tax:
1)Recovered loot and gold
2)Churches/Divine based characters(Paladins and Clerics get a pass for their holy work)
3)Based on party's gold
Base your system of taxation upon monies paid for services rendered(quest rewards) and items sold by the party they have made, and any earnings from Profession skills.
Now, how to entice them into willingly accepting taxation? A few thoughts.
>Taxpayers earn citizenship
>Citizenship means you can buy land and the crown will consider selling crown land
>NPC interactions where they show that they're citizens and the increased stature that comes with it
>Very minor, pittance tolls but NPCs they witness with citizenship flash a medallion and walk right through
>Citizens don't pay sales tax(assume it's already accounted for with normal prices)
>Citizens therefore pay no sales tax(1 or 2 percent discount)
>Only citizens hold public office
>Becoming a citizen is as easy as making a stop at any town, finding the tax collector, and paying tax
>Make up a divination spell for the fluff aspect and use it as a tax detector
>Only tax the party 5% or less of hard currency
>Have NPCs respect and admire your adventurers
>Paragons of the nation, heroes beyond mere martial prowess or arcane power
>Commemorative bridge/building/statue built in their honor
You've got to make them want it. You've got to make them demand it. You need to make them want to pay tax.You need to make taxation look like the best thing since twenty sided dice.
why in the FUCK would you want to tax adventurers
they're essentially mercenaries, but instead of just fighting they probably have more skills than all the people in your actual employ combined, and they're an actually powerful and unified group.
apparently you give man fire and he tries to eat it.
the peasants are for taxing. the merchants are for taxing. even the nobility are for taxing if you can get away with it.
adventurers are for getting away with all of the above. they are a weapon and a multitool, but they are not edible.
>Taxation and bureaucratic corruption can be fun if used right.
This. My current campaign takes place too used to adventurers and every city takes advantage of them. I don't even have to point them in the direction of new adventures, the trouble they get trying to get away from the fantasy IRS is often enough.
By giving them land and titles. Thus making them contribute indirectly, and giving them something to threaten.
Border forts, monster infested mountains, haunted forests all great places to hand adventurers.
Sure, but imagine doing that once per in-game week, along with them buying groceries at the market and feed for their horses.
Now it's starting to sound something like Discworld with a dash of pic related.
You make an example of other less useful adventurers if you need the coin. Their weapons may or may not be in violation of existing laws if they're commoners and there may or may not be other infractions. An arrangement of coin or something else for certain allowances like operating with some degree of freedom inside kingdom borders isn't out of the question. Just remember that if they start causing trouble, the benefit of hosting these people may be overshadowed by the damage they do.
>Overpriced superior gear sold soley for pilfering mercenaries and adventurers of their wealth, who also sell us their older weapons and perform for us at prices we control, ensuring profits at every corner
We Borderlands Manufacturers now
>they probably have more skills than all the people in your actual employ combined, and they're an actually powerful and unified group.
High level ones? Maybe. But low level adventurers should not pose a threat to any state in a moderately serious setting.
>trying to tax literal hobos
Good luck dealing with the lobbyists for "adventurer rights". I knew adventurers would become a problem once we started artificially inflating the minimum wage.
if adventurers have anything worth taxing they'll use it on things that make them hard to tax.
in any case "skills" refers to people who go "okay" when offered dangerous and complicated missions. most people value comfortable and steady lives.
You don't. You find ways to absorb them into the government. The last level you can reasonably coerce them into paying taxes without either having to half-kill them or discourage other adventurers is level 6. Past that, the big guns start coming out and you have to seriously mobilize to force adventurers to do anything, and it's not worth the effort.
Bear in mind this isn't going to be commonly applicable anyway. Druids and rangers don't need civilization to be okay. Wizards and sorcerors can just fuck off to another plane. Clerics are probably covered against taxes under canonical law, likewise paladins.
The most reasonable thing to do is to exempt lower-level adventurers from taxes, provided they are considered under retainer by the government and do freelancer work for fair pay. Once they get powerful enough, find a way to convince them to join the power structure through prestigious posts, arranged marriages, whatever. Let's be honest here, having a lot of adventurers of any alignment who are invested in your system is a net good that pays massive dividends.
Get them to buy land off you. Make the case it's a great earner for them, a source of magical ingredients, whatever.
Then tax the land via those working it while they're off pilfering.
Alternatively: outlaw all sale of certain magical reagents. Then sell from Crown Vendors at inflated prices only to licensed adventurers.
And you can, technically.
Its just ridiculously difficult and dangerous.
sorta like how the world would be if there was no taxes paid
To stay on topic, my general approach is to have all sales taxed and have toll roads, pretty much based off my probably poor understanding of the medieval approach in so far as it would apply to adventurers
>growing, and necessary, social benefits
It's a well known fact adventurers will literally give every single bit of gold and sell all hard earned equipment they have and eat nothing but scavenged food and rations if they think a higher level sword or armor is worth it.
Nah, we'll just take our business somewhere else. There have been more than a few businesses/organizations that just up and moved to another lord's land because the other guy offered them a better rate on tax levies.
that is still overdoing it, do you even economics
adventurers who find a pile of gold will use it to buy stuff off your citizens, who will use it to live in your country where you will tax it.
Basically to cover for the collateral damage and high low level guard mortality that usually come with adventures.
Adventurers are bad news for any city, might as well get something in return. Also, in my experience, it makes player more involved in the city. Rogues fucking shine in heavily taxed environment, gives them a chance to put their skill to good use.
>Sure, but imagine doing that once per in-game week, along with them buying groceries at the market and feed for their horses.
License is a one-time payment and lasts as long as the mayor stays in power. Also, they have since acquired minions to take care of their new estate and minor chores.
They really hate the town wizard tho. Store contains a magic items that magically compels you to make a purchase before leaving. They have left with unwanted alchemist's fire multiple times now. The party could make a fortune off of all the salt they produce, but luckily they channel that into forming a plan to topple the corrupt government
To be honest, Id imagine they're also good news. Who else are you gonna get to clear out the local goblin infestation? You need your guards in case a fucking dragon attacks.
And they provide influxes of items that otherwise wouldn't reach the city. Adventurers are the ones that retrieve ancient relics and stuff after all.
And, on top of that, they often have exotic stuff. Like I'll always buy silk or something if I can and the first city I find that lacks silk is the city where I sell it. Shit like that benefits the economy and if the adventurers give nobles gifts of the shit they cant sell and find to be useless then even better.
I use it as a plot hook.
Annoy the PCs enough with taxes and they will topple the entire kingdom just to avoid them.
Also could be fun tempting the players into becoming Enforcers and Tax-men, intimidating locals and insuring payment by any means necessary.
You know one of the things Taxes pay for are roads, right? And Police and Sewage Systems?
Its not all about getting more free shit. Taxes are necessary for running society.
Even back in medieval times, any road worth a toss was a toll road. Thats why I have toll roads in my games. Hell, sometimes Ill even have a thing where the PCs need to race somewhere and the faster route is the toll road.
You'll notice that he didn't complain about the part of the cartoon that mentioned roads and sewage however. He specifically highlighted the portion referencing social security benefits.
If you want to tax adventurers without putting greater tax strain on the general public I would go with sales tax on goods that only adventurers would ever really want, or you would have to be pretty wealthy to get. Things like enchanted weaponry and full plate armor come to mind as these sorts of items.
It can also be done by making adventurer style work need to be done through an authorized guild. With the source of income standardized you can then tax the guild. More of an indirect tax but it still works. The guild gets the job, contracts adventurers to do the job, they complete the job, guild pays adventurers, guild gets payed by the person whom originally requested the job be complete, guild gives of cut of their money to the lord.
flat tax on every good sold in a nation means the prices go up a tiny bit for everything the PCs want to buy
Taxes that specifically target freelance mercenaries mean that weapons and adventuring gear are more expensive in said nation because you collect the taxes from the vendors.
Well, fair point. I don't see how having a dole is a bad thing though. What the fuck are ya gonna do if you get fired and have no savings? Starve until you can find work again?
I've actually used that as a characters backstory, funnily enough. They were a lumberjack until they got fired for drinking on the job. They kept the axe though and, with no savings and no ties, they took to adventuring because the only thing they were good at was swinging that axe and they couldn't get hired elsewhere. Played as an alcoholic, bitter version of Ron Swanson if Ron was a barbarian.
Not at all, because most taxes in a medieval-ish setting are either paid on the basis of land ownership, on importing or exporting goods, in civil or military service, or on the basis of a census. Since they're neither merchants nor landholders and tend not to stay in one place, realistically they probably wouldn't have to pay anything other than tolls.
The way you profit off adventurers is by hiking up prices in adventurer towns and allowing predatory lenders to take adventure of their fortuitous combination of greed and ability to make insane amounts of money in the span of a single game session, and then you tax the vendors, whores, innkeepers and lenders instead.
People seem to forget that "he who will not work, he shall not eat" only works in a society where you don't need permission to work, but at least in a D&D-alike you can just start killing goblins and supporting yourself that way.
Come to think of it, wouldn't someone eventually start up some kind of for-profit "Adventurer Academy" and advertise it to parents as "let us turn your little angel into a real HERO!"
I've run that idea, yeah. They tend to end up catering to nobles with a lot of kids (first kid inherits, second goes to the military, third goes to the priesthood, fourth is the artist and thereafter they're all adventurers) and middle class people whom have more kids than their inheritance could support.
One of my players had their character retire to become a teacher in one. Given that he was a level 15 Barbarian, must have been a pretty terrifying teacher.
Yes. The logical progression for a society where adventuring as we understand it is a common enough profession would be regulating, taxing and controlling adventurers, low-level at least.
"Let's allow them to do what they like, they are adventurers" only work when you have never seen one. When they are part of the city life, like most DnD-like settings, you bet your ass that adventuring would require a lot of paperwork and state-meddling.
Generally I say that paperwork only kicks in around level 5. Up until that point, you're pretty much just like a wandering scholar, in the places that had those, but with more interest in murder.
You're still scary as fuck to the average person but you're beneath the notice of the state.
The most dangerous enemy, for any PC group... Is always old white money.
In d&d terms, that means nobles and above. Kings have unlimited coin. They can hire the best to teach troublesome PCs a lesson.
They can literally hire eliminster and above to come deal with issues.
Old money...very deadly.
>"TODAY, CLASS, WE'LL BE LEARNING ABOUT CRUSHING YOUR ENEMIES, SEEING THEM DRIVEN BEFORE YOU, AND HEARING THE LAMENTATIONS OF THEIR WOMEN. FIRST, I'M GOING TO NEED YOU ALL TO PICK UP YOUR GREATAXES."
My DM did this.
3 party group. Took 3 years of adventure training.
The mage, had to run laps, and shit. Got a +2 to his con. Learned to run and swim.
The fighter was trained to avoid spells and spot better. +2 wis and iron mind.
Was sorta fun. Trained up the weaknesses a bit. Helped make up for the missing 4th PC a little.
First you need to establish a setting power level. This is key, because you can't make any assumptions before you know how strong the PCs are and what powers the government has access to.
Assume Warhammer Fantasy. Most PCs are no stronger than a pretty average Joe. Now you need to ask yourself this: what type of laborer is an adventurer? He is a skilled tradesman. His job is not easily done by unskilled random peasants. What does he produce? Corpses. But more importantly, security and safety. Are there any special considerations to make? Yes, adventurers are generally speaking casually violent, so they may answer onerous treatment with naked force. They are also vagrant, meaning that if they don't like your tax policies, they'll just leave.
So, knowing this, how do we tax them?
The first way is tools of the trade. All tradesmen need tools. You could tax weapon sales and armor sales to non-government agents. Another way is licensing: make it illegal to sell their services unlicensed. This could create a black market for adventurers wIlling to work for less to dodge the license. You might reduce this problem by waiving the weapon and armor tax on licensed asventurers, or reducing it. Travel tolls should already exist in your land: incentivize licensing further with reduced tolls for licensed adventurers. They'll also provide pro bono road security, don't tell them that. Finally, if you offer rewards for certain things - wanted criminals, beastmen, etc. - factor for the tax before posting the reward notice. Offer better rates for more done to squeeze more work out of them.
So basically taxation policy is a complicated game. It's partly about impression management, partly about pragmatic use of force.
The first step is to establish what kind of taxes you collect. Pre-industrial societies don't have the communications infrastructure or the manpower to collect taxes the way a modern country does. And they certainly can't nationalize the economy (that only became possible at TL6).
Ideally, you want to tax something that's easy to measure and audit, hard to evade, can be presented as fair or just, and is collected from a party that lacks the power to resist.
So let's start at the end and work backwards. There's no way on Faerun you'll ever be able to tax adventurers directly. They have too much political and personal power, and usually aren't tightly rooted into your society anyway. So we have to go after their money indirectly by taxing the people who do business with them. Either the suppliers who sell them goods and services (thus raising their expenses, thus raising their prices, thus indirectly passing on the costs to the adventurers), or the buyers to whom adventurers unload their loot (thus raising their costs, thus lowering the prices which they'll willingly pay for loot, thus passing on the costs to adventurers).
You want taxes that are easy to collect and make some sense. This is the hard part, because adventurers are pretty self-sufficient. I think taxing high-dollar magic items and charging "salvage fees" to unload loot might be your best option. Even this is hard because people with high level magic items can evade your taxes by doing the transaction elsewhere.
Coopting the local churches and mage guilds might help. If you organize all the magic groups into a guild system, then you get high level spellcasters to police each other.
>because adventurers are pretty self-sufficient
Cut access to shops to your adventurers for 2 consecutive sessions and tell me that again. They are junkies and random treasure alone can't satisfy them for long.
Shops are really adventurer's only weakness.
(post 2 of many)
Another possibility is to take those wizard/mage guilds (have several so you can play them against one another), and tax them heavily... but also give them the right to collect fees and taxes from their members. This gives them an automatic incentive to police one another and shifts the tax power to groups most competent to actually collect.
Keep in mind the danger here. You're handing taxation and enforcement powers to another organization, that creates a threat to your power. But it's likely unavoidable. This tension between the political power (nobility) and guild power was a recurring theme through most of history. They need each other, but also compete for power, money, and influence.
How so? I've done just that and my players are fine. They're one ranger or a cleric away from having access to unlimited incidentals even at very low levels. By the mid or upper levels, the players are mobile enough to just move to another jurisdiction.
Even without all that, only a little planning and some changes in behavior patterns can drastically reduce their dependence on local commerce. My players probably aren't shop junkies precisely because I've done this to them before. You'd be stunned how fast they can adapt, and how creatively they can solve these problems.
And how do you intend to cut off their access to shops, anyway? At best all you'll do is create a black market and collect zero taxes.
>At best all you'll do is create a black market and collect zero taxes.
Black Markets are in there own way a form of taxation. They usually have multiple markups on them and they could potential come with further undocumented issues. They are also only viable when the buyer can get things easier/cheaper through the Black Market than they can through legal markets.
For a modern example, income taxes in America aren't collected from the people earning the income. They're collected from businesses, who are fewer in number and easier to monitor. Less than half of the worker's actual tax bill is listed on their paycheck; the rest is hidden. Money is collected in advance of when it's due; on April 15 Americans file a lengthy application to get over-payments back. Meanwhile, like any large financial institution, the government rides the "float" on what is essentially an interest-free loan.
The system is designed to ensure that Americans overpay, and then under-estimate what's due back later. If this is discovered later, getting your money back is very hard and no interest is paid.
Tax rates are progressive in the sense that the tax rate is higher on the rich. In theory. In practice, the super-wealthy have innumerable loopholes to allow them to pay a low effective rate despite the high marginal rate. This is the reverse of what any economist says is healthy, but is smart politics. At the bottom end, half of Americans don't pay income tax at all, and for many the "income tax" is actually an entitlement program which "returns" to them more money than they actually paid. The middle class and small business people pay a far higher %.
This is all hidden behind an impenetrable wall of regulations so people have no idea what anyone is paying. It makes arguing about tax policy almost impossible because five pundits can quote five mutually exclusive statistics and all be technically accurate.
Americans do pay sizable taxes, but mostly in the form of hidden taxes on businesses which simply pass the expense on as higher prices.
Politicians in both parties agree that the taxation system is fucked up... but it's structured the way it is for a reason. It's highly efficient at dispensing graft and extracting political concessions and payoffs, as well as concealing from nearly everyone how much they do or don't pay.
Let's come at it from the other direction.
American farm subsidies work like this in reverse. Large cash payouts are given to farmers, who are desperate for the money because big agribusiness has them by the balls and they can't get good prices for their crops. When subsidies go up, agribusiness lowers the prices it's willing to pay (or raises the prices on farming supplies). So while the check is cut to the farmer, the net benefit goes straight through to ADM or whomever.
American college aid is the same. As grants rise, tuition rises with it. So the students are given money but the net benefit goes to the college.
Why is it done this way? Students and farmers are politically powerful in democracies. So you keep them hungry by cranking up their expenses or killing their incomes. Then you help them lobby the government for relief. When the aid comes, you raise tuitions or whatever and all that largesse comes to you, leaving the "beneficiary" no better off than before, only now he's in hock to the politicians.
In the case of college tuitions, it's even more insidious for three reasons.
1) students are charged ruinous prices, and then given "100% of need". Which is another way of saying "charged every penny they can afford".
2) nearly all the revenue growth to colleges from increased tuitions have gone to administrators and facilities-- ie empire-building. Faculty and teaching has seen little or no growth.
3) Much of the aid is actually in the form of sub-prime loans. Students are saddled with unpayable debt that they can't bankrupt their way out of. When they default, Sallie Mae gets the full amount from the government, and then their debt collection arm buys the loan back from Congress for pennies on the dollar and goes after you. Ever wonder why it's so hard to file your payments on their website? They WANT you to default.
I don't. My empire provides me with ample wealth. I have hundreds of mages and oracles to make sure people pay their due taxes.
Adventurers are useful for their deeds, not their gold. They automatically take care of border menaces the regular army can't and favor my expansions.
I also offer agreements to legalize their situation. If they become a 'sanctioned company' and pay a corvee tax disguised as "quest", they can acquire rights for settling, discounts from my mad engineer foundry's catalogue, ocasional prizes from the war treasury (looted arms from a hundred peoples) and acess to information from the spy legion.
The latest imperial census accounted for 285 sanctioned companies.
Correct, but two caveats. First, when we're talking adventurers and the people they do business with, their personal power is such that the risks of going on the black market are comparatively low. Most groups typically have a Rogue on staff who can grease the wheels if need be, but honestly it's a rare local crime syndicate that will scare even midlevel adventurers. Remember, if all else fails, you travel to the next closest town; there's a limit to how many groups of 15th level parties are sitting around running crime families waiting for the rare situation where a group of comparable power shows up to unload objects d'art. So the risk and cost of a black market transaction are low.
Second, we're talking about high taxes on adventurers already. Any significant tax is going to be evaded or avoided. Evaded via a black market, or avoided by doing business in another town.
OK so circling all this back to RPGs.
I'd form up an adventurer's guild. We've had a bunch of threads on retired adventurers; why not retire into a place in the aristocracy as a member of the Adventurer's Guild? The guild is given a monopoly on recovered loot; they are charged with returning valuables to their original owners (for a fee) if possible, or declaring the property recovered-ownerless if not. They register and track adventurers to ensure that they don't prey on law-abiding citizens or pose a threat to the public. They process, track, and verify party Charters-- perhaps even issue them on their own authority. They charge fees for all this. Guild leaders have some kind of official standing as either nobles themselves or persons of similar stature.
In return, they pay a heavy tax to the Crown-- enough that while it's lucrative to attain a high standing in the Guild you're still hungry to squeeze your fellow adventurers. They are also responsible for policing their own, and may be fined by the Crown if the local noble must curb a rogue party himself.
So now we have some fun effects.
First, it's hard to become an adventurer without some kind of official sponsor. And expensive to stay one unless you really grind hard to collect loot. That's a built-in incentive to get the party formed and out the door in a hurry.
Membership costs are not necessarily charged in a regular fee; it could easily be a long list of smaller fees that nickel and dime you down but amount to the same thing. They are high for low-level adventurers, but not much more for high-level adventurers (who have political influence in the guild itself and the physical power to defy the guild anyway). Probably their fees are high on paper but easily avoided or rebated as benefits.
It's the mid-level adventurer (level 5-15 in D&D) who really feel the pain. It need not be fees; it can also be loans that are readily available at low levels but whose interest adds up and screws you at middle levels. They're rich enough to be worth plucking, but not powerful enough to defy the high-level senior guild leaders. Who are in any event current or former adventurers themselves who know all the tricks.
Second, you get a built-in source of quests and assignments. You may even have to do some jobs just to get into the guild. The guild may also hire you (or simply order you) to crack down on another party that's violating the rules, late on its fees, or adventuring without a Charter.
Finally, you have an answer to the age old question of D&D-style games. If the local nobility is weak enough that they need adventurers to solve their problems, then how can they stop PCs who decide to defy or overthrow them? Answer: adventurers policing one another. By the time you're strong enough to defy the system, you're so deeply invested in it that you wouldn't want to.
The same way you go about collecting taxes from the majority of people paing taxes in the real world: politely asking and waiting for social pressure to do its job. The IRD doesn't have the resources to audit everyone, or even a noticeable fraction of everyone.
Won't they just leave your kingdom to seek fame, glory, and tax-free adventure in the next country over?
And then the more petulant ones will start pushing the dangerous monsters out over your territory, and you won't have any high level adventurers to deal with them?
>Government should employ people, and tax them after
I don't even really understand why they do this in real life? I guess in the case of people who have another job in addition to their government job, or massive capital holdings somehow to make capital gains from but really, couldn't they just pay less?
Anyway, adventurers do not benefit anywhere near as much as the common man from the services provided for with taxpayer money. Ain't no guards and army protecting them from the scary monsters in the woods; they're going there personally and beating up those monsters personally. They're as likely to be wandering around completely off-road than they are to be using the roads, if they aren't fucking flying around or teleporting.
A smart adventurer will simply pack their shit up and leave any country that won't let them go about their business unhindered. Unless there's a ton of money to be made. Then they'll loot that first, then leave the country and spend it somewhere else.
>I don't even really understand why they do this in real life?
It's cheaper and easier to have one system that's for everyone, rather than a whole bunch of systems depending on where one works. Contractors to the government who earn government money but aren't government employees also count.
Depends on how much trouble is in the kingdom.
There is a certain point where collateral damage outweighs the good that adventurers do by defeating monsters and evil doers. Up till that point, having adventurers yields a net social benefit.
Show them a "Magic bag of Doubling" with one charge left. Offer to split the take with them if they help fill the bag with gold.
Once the bag is filled with gold / jewels / items, activate your contingency teleport and throw on a Nondetection effect for good measure.
That's the point where tax comes into play. Countries that have been dealing with adventurers for long would need adventurer taxes to fix the problems adventurer brings and all other cost. This means that, yes, you can go elsewhere to sell and buy your load, but chances are those places that charge no taxes would be small and wouldn't have a lot to offer to adventurers.
So, you want the real deal? Gotta go to a tax-paying country.
>The main point is, can a country sustain tax-free adventure for long?
Yes? It's not like having a bunch of people clowning around in caves and bringing back piles of gold is a net negative on society.
Besides, Items sell for half of what they buy for, largely non-negotiable. Surely you could just say the reason for that is because of sales tax, not because all merchants are somehow all uber-jews that can consistently barter all goyim down to half.
>Yes? It's not like having a bunch of people clowning around in caves and bringing back piles of gold is a net negative on society.
I envy you and your average party if you really believe that.
I was thinking more that countries pawn adventurers off on each other as is necessary.
So if you need the murderhobos to deal with that gigantic dragon that moved in, you ask your neighbors to bump their taxes up while you knock yours down to entice adventurers in. Then later when a BBEG sets up his nefarious tower in the land yonder, you jack your prices up while they declare anything goes.
Aren't selling prices for stuff less then half the buying prices (for the PC) in mosr TT RPGs?
Part of that goes to taxes.
Taxes should only be mentioned if the PCs have some sort of great holding that doesn't create any profit. Otherwise you can just deduct taxes from that profit
Well it didn't work out for Portugal or Spain, but to be fair, that was more the fault of terrible management than it was the fault of the guys bringing back tons of gold.
And I'm sure they had taxes, so it's not like that worked out wonderfully either.
if people just brought back piles of gold an nothing else then it would eventually just lead to gold losing it's value.
The only reason gold brought periods of prosperity in our history was because the economy was kept back by the lack of coins on the market. Once you have enough gold to mint coins then gold will start becoming less valuable
>It's not like having a bunch of people clowning around in caves and bringing back piles of gold is a net negative on society.
Uh, yes it is. Adventurers are barely-restrained murderous psychopaths that will burn entire cities if they get suitably pissed off (or if one of them just needs 15 more XP to level up after finishing the dungeon). They use violence as a first and only resort, have a dislike bordering on contempt for native culture, can't be trusted to keep their word unless you literally shackle their will with powerful magic, and have a habit of blowing off for some other town when the heat gets bad. Hell, half of them will probably get it into their heads to overthrow you at some point; not because they think your rule is cruel or they have a plan for civic reform, but just because they can kill anyone that gets in their way and thus they deserve it. Even if everything goes absolutely swimmingly and they do manage to kill that dragon that's been terrorizing the countryside, all the gold they dump into the local economy will cause massive inflation and almost immediately ruin your kingdom financially.
It wasn't so much that they were private ventures taxed by the government as they were government ventures with huge cuts of the booty delivered to the conquerors. It was essentially still a feudal system engaging in global conquest.
That's part of why the mercantile empires of the Dutch and British were able to make such powerful inroads so fast. They were public/private entities granted much more autonomy by the Crown and so could innovate and control their expenses and revenues better. In modern terms, they were a little like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Sallie Mae-- "government-sponsored entities" that straddled the line between government agency and private company. Not terribly efficient either but far far far more so than the Spanish feudal model.
50% markups for retailers is pretty standard in many industries. Here's some of the costs you're covering with that 50%: overhead like your shop and wages for your employees and yourself, covering the risk that the property you buy will be stolen or destroyed, the time value of money while you wait to find a buyer of your own, transport costs to get it to another location where there is a buyer, legal risks if the property is stolen*, and of course taxes.
Retailing in a medieval setting is fraught with risk-- so much moreso if you're talking a fantasy setting with monsters and magic. I'm surprised the markup on adventuring gear is as low as it is.
*that is, stolen from someone the law cares about. As opposed to kobolds and mind flayers.
Do you really want to collect taxes from adventurers?
Adventurers get most of their money from treasure stores that have been outside the economic system. If too much of it gets introduced back into circulation at once, it would cause massive inflation. What they already spend is dangerous enough, so taking more and using it for all the things a government needs could tip the edge into some serious economic damage.
Fortunately, adventurers spend most of their big chunks of money buying magical items, potions, scrolls, and other things made by high-level spellcasters (i.e. adventurers). So the majority of treasure remains circulating only among the adventuring class, and trickles into the rest of society chiefly through food and whores, where it's manageable, and those who provide those services can be taxed.
If anything, you should be trying to convince adventurers to hold on to their money. Then, when they die, they can build lavish tombs filled with treasure, or be buried in their castles and such, which over time will sink into the earth due to shoddy construction and become dungeons so that, a few generations down the line, new adventurers will have somewhere to rob.
Really, it's all sorting itself out already. Don't mess with it.
This brings to mind the california gold rush. Miners went out there to pan for gold. A few got rich, a few got dead, for most it never panned out at all. But for the guys selling the food, drinks, supplies, and whores it was a major payday.
Immigrant tailor Levi Strauss never found a speck of gold despite wearing out dozens of pairs of pants panning for it. He got so frustrated that he invented riveted canvas pants that would never wear out (later switching to blue denim). Other miners loved those pants, too, and wanted their own. Strauss made a fortune and built a commercial empire that lasts to this day selling those pants and their successors.
Actually, given adventurer's weird tendencies towards nonsensical (and sometimes requiring massive expenditures into local economies) personal projects, the gold would probably be much safer in the royal treasury. Rather than lower taxes for the rest of the realm Adventurer tax money could instead be set aside in a special fund as war or disaster chest used primarily to pay the lavish rewards adventurers usually require in order to be enticed into stopping dragons or the like.
In that way not only do you reduce inflation to the realm, you also prevent the royal rewards for particularly dangerous quests from being as economically ruinous to the realm as the threat may have been physically.
If you want to tax someone do not mention that there is a tax penalty involved.
For example, in brazil, people pay almost 60% of taxes without even knowing how much each item is charged.
Could be easir to just increase the price in X% than just stating that they are paying taxes.
The real problem there is not choosing not to pay it, it's somehow not using something that taxes pay for. You can't use roads, schools, waterlines, electrical lines, cant' eat food at the reduced price because of farm subsidies. It's a bureaucratic nightmare to try and regulate who does and doesn't use such ubiquitous services.
It's to the point that the only way to avoid using things that taxes pay for is to live innawoods
and at that point I highly doubt you are paying taxes
Depends, if they own some property you threten to take it away from them unless they pay their taxes, also sales tax. If you are a kingdome you most likley have a archmage or two and a army, shold be enough to deal with most partys if they get upity
>What systems is great for the guys at the bottom and bad for the guys at the top?
I don't think you understand the concepts of "the top" and "the bottom".
Know what you should do? Go to a gay bar, find a nice gay man, and have some gay sex with him. You'll have the concepts pounded into your butt in short order.
Basically, it all boils down to "if you're on the bottom, you're the one getting fucked".
The only reason I would even tax adventuring gold is if my Kingdom offered some sort of adventuring service that they couldn't just get on their own.
Otherwise I have a working economy and I have thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people who aren't adventurers and are just mundane people who wake up and go about their jobs.
You tax the normal people, and maybe the adventurers if they have jobs or products circulating.
Otherwise my Kingdom benefits entirely on them spending their foreign gold in my country.
Yeah I can spare a +5 Lightning Burst greatsword and some funny rings that give you a protoss shield for the huge amount of gold I'll be receiving indirectly.
Don't tax your adventurers, nationalize them.
I'm no economy expert but I don't think if the whole world sent all its money to America tomorrow that the direct result would be inflation(well we are on fiat currency so maybe it would).
Are you maybe thinking that because there's more gold that the demand of it would go down? Kind of like how we're rolling in diamonds but they keep them off the market to sell them at huge prices.
It is if your current economic system is based on the assumption of a steady supply of precious metals ensuring stable prices and wages.
The Spanish Crown had to declare bankruptcy three times during the 16th century, and in many sectors wages lagged behind prices as they were fixed by long term contracts. And Spanish industry declined as foreign competitors who faced lower inflation rates could undercut them.
This is an issue I have been meaning to spend some time thinking about
The obvious answer is gst but as much as I'm in favor if keeping my politics out of my game my opposition to gst is just to great for me to resist marking any country that does it as evil
It would be like a pro lifer trying to say abortion is not evil but nore pety and insignificent.
>They live on what's left after the taxes, ya dingus.
That's what I'm saying, you dingus. What they make off the land. The profits of their labour. They make X amount of goods from the land, give Y amount to their masters and keep Z amount for themselves.
A tax on the manufacturing and collecting of magical reagents, whereby indirectly taxing the adventurer though more expensive magical reagents. In order to offset the chilling effects this would otherwise have on the reagent business, low or no cost financing and training are offered by the government to help new businesses enter this critical market.
Also. we write a law that requires sales tax to be listed as part of the displayed price of a good or service, making it totally invisible to the end user, except when they have access to high quality real time pricing from areas outside of our control.