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The Law According to Dungeons & Dragons

posted Wednesday, June 27th 2012 by Jonathan Drain
None of the Above

Here are five reasons why you don’t want to live in the world implied by the Dungeons & Dragons rules – unless, of course, you’re an adventurer.

1. Theft is legal if the owner is already dead
Dungeons never belong to anyone. If they did, you wouldn’t need traps and monsters to guard your treasure – just an alarm spell that calls the police. Likewise, if you kill someone, it’s pefectly legal to take their stuff.

2. Orcs don’t have rights
Neither do kobolds, goblins or ogres. You want to live in uncivilized tribes, you don’t get the protection of law. In fact, it’s considered polite to murder you on sight. The exception is if they’re an adventurer. If you’re a crazy enough orc to steal from dungeons instead of raiding caravans, the law begrudgingly accepts you as a good guy.

3. Adventurers pay no tax, ever
Somebody must be paying for all these town guards, city walls, roads, abandoned fortresses and cultist-infested public sewers. The king evidently funds all of this with some kind of tax, but nobody ever taxes the adventurers. Impoverished farmers pay ten percent of their crop while millionaire dragon-slayers waste their savings on personal fortresses and marginally sharper magic swords.

4. Prices are fixed by the government
No matter where you go, a Magic Sword +1 costs the same amount. Whether it’s 2,000 gp in your kingdom or or 360 gp, you’ll never get a better or worse price. Why? Clearly, the king is secretly price-fixing to control the supply of magic items. Otherwise, supply and demand would eventually let every peasant own a magic sword and the people would overthrow their tax-happy king.

5. Beggars are the richest peasants in town
If you’re a farmer, you maybe earn the equivalent of one or two silver pieces a day. A hundred gold pieces is more than you’ll see in a year. Imagine how much more profitable it is for the beggar in a major city, when a high-level adventuring party drops him 100 gold in “spare change”. All he needs to do is sit outside any tavern with adventurers staying in it, and he has a hard-working man’s annual salary. No wonder the peasants are fomenting rebellion.


  1. Bobby Berry

    June 27th, 2012

    I wonder what a D&D world would play like if you broke all these rules.

  2. Lugh

    June 27th, 2012

    I read a great sig file on RPG.net a while back: In D&D, the definition of good and evil is simple. Killing people and taking their stuff is good. But, if you either kill people without taking their stuff, or take their stuff without killing them, that’s evil.

  3. JR

    June 27th, 2012

    In my current campaign, an orcish army has swept through the countryside “liberating” human towns at swordpoint. Give up allegiance to your king, accept an orc as your local law enforcement, and continue to pay taxes to an escrow account managed by a locally-elected elder. (Corruption of these escrow payments is punishable by impeachment at the hand/sword of the orcs, who ask only to be allowed to live in the caves and wildernesses between towns and come under flag of truce to the cities to trade.)

    The adventurers at my table — naturally selling their services to the king — were gob-smacked. Then they found out that the megabeast they killed saved the orcs from having to fight a losing battle. So the orcs and the mayor together voted to give the adventurers title to some of the lands they saved.

    So now they will be taxed *and* they have claimed lands belonging to their king. So that’s fun.

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  6. Sean Robert Meaney

    July 14th, 2012

    Estat di Marilenev

    One of the earliest estates established in Traladara, It occupies some of the better agricultural lands. Marilenev is self-sufficient in the production of grains, vegetables, fodders, meats, fowl, fish, salt, wine, honey & wax, timber & wood, and even a range of cheeses.
    There has been a distinct shift since the arrival of Duke Stephan Karameikos some thirty years previous, beginning with the crushing defeat of the Marilenev clan and its armies. Widowed, Lady Magda, finding sanity in her anger, began the long task of rebuilding the Estate, this time into an economic power. Despite this, the Karamekians consider her a bitter old crone in a crumbling monstrosity with little power and no allies.
    The peasant farmers of Marilenev are increasingly well off, with reasonable stability. No longer do armies of Knights ride through farms, torching vital crops, seize grain harvests, or march their children off to die in castle sieges. Now the small lanes that crisscross the estate and divide farmland are being paved in stone and even being repaired and maintained, as thousands of wagons continuously move vital produce to market.
    Geographical Area: 940 square miles
    Population (as of AC1000): 11,000
    Rural (8,500 Farming)
    Marilenev Village: 900

    The Village of Marilenev
    The village of Marilenev is in fact Castle Marilenev – residence of Lady Magda. The old fortress has become a fortified storehouse for the produce of the entire Western half of Marilenev Estate. Half of Lady Magda’s thousand Servants reside here in the “Village of Marilenev”, Others are spread across the estate where they tend the local agricultural districts.

    The Agricultural Districts of Marilenev

    The Logging Camps in the East
    With 358,400 acres of light forest, there is a managed harvest plan to ensure a permanent supply of firewood and timber for the estate.
    There are 200 families employed across this region, each family harvesting 17 acres of wood per year.
    17 acres x 20,000lb = 340,000lb
    340,000lb x 20 families x 10 hexes = 71,680,000lb

    The Coastal Fishing Communities
    Occupying some 40 miles of coastline are 100 families employed in fishing and salt production. 8 months a year, six days a week they fish from their small fishing boats.
    Salt Production for fish preservation provides for the
    manufacture of 4,800 firkin of preserved fish only
    leaving 96 firkin of Salt. This is representative of
    12 Cran of fish per year per fishing family
    (1 Cran = 37.5 gallons of fish or 750 fish).
    Firkin of Preserved fish requires 1/4 Cran fish & 50lb salt.
    12 Cran x 4 firkin x 100 families = 4,800 firkin of
    preserved fish.
    36 gallons of seawater x 6 days x 4 weeks = 216lb Salt
    8 months x 216lb x 100 families = 1,296 firkin of Salt
    4,896 firkin required.

    The Cattle herders
    Tended by 200 families over 35,640 acres of reasonably good grazing land, each family runs a herd of 74 cattle
    200 families, 178 acres, 74 cattle
    35,640 / 1.5 x 0.63=14,968 head
    Every year each family sends 20 head to the sale yards.
    20 x 200= 4,000 head

    The Vineyards
    The Vineyards along this part of the river are the work of thirty years, and the families who own these vineyards have reaped considerable wealth from the distinct change in Estate Policy that they represent: A change from warfare to commerce and production.
    400 vineyards x 70 acres @ 63% yield +20% (Bees)
    2 x 200 families x 71 acres = 28,000 acres
    28,000 acres x 2.5 ton x 0.83 = 58,100 ton
    58,100 ton x 2,240lb
    = 130,144,000lb grapes produced annually.
    130,144,000lb/90lb=1,446,044 (x 5 gallons)
    Wine produced is 7,230,222 gallons per year.
    (7,230,222 gallons / 9 gallons)
    = 803,358 firkin of wine per year.
    Honey & Wax
    400 vineyards x 7 skep hives
    400 x 7 = 2,800 hives
    28,000 lb honey
    2,800 lb wax
    1.4129 x 10 lb = 1 gallon of honey
    28,000lb / 14.129=1981.7 gallon of honey
    1981.7 gallons/9 gallons=220 firkin of honey
    803,577 firkin required.

    The Dairy District
    Dairy grazing on some 14,000 acres are 200 dairy farms
    200×70=14,000 acres
    1&1/2 acres per cow.
    14,000/1.5=9,333 cows x 0.63=5,879 cows
    29 cows per family
    Milking season 8 months per year
    29 x 140 gallons = 4,060 gallons
    10.31 x 4,060=41,858lb milk
    41,858 x (5/43.25)= 4,839lb cheese
    4,839lb x 200 farms = 967,800lb cheese/year

    The West Country
    These are perhaps the oldest and earliest parts of the estate of Marilenev.
    Consisting of 168 square miles of agricultural land, it includes in its heavily populated region the capital city (the once guild town) Specularum and the village and castle Marilenev. Of the 105,600 acres only 42,600 acres is held by farming families. This leaves over 98 square miles of countryside. Marilenev Village is a veritable storehouse of goods.
    With Six hundred families farming in the West
    71 acre farms: 3 fields of 23 acres @63% efficiency
    23 acres of barley x 57 bushes x 63%=825 bushels barley.
    825 x 50lb= 41,250lb grain
    825 x 213lb chaff = 175,725lb chaff
    23 acres of turnip x 25 ton x 63%=362.25 ton
    9 sheep overgrazing 23 acres with thirty ton of chaff as fodder support.
    9 sheep x 2.5lb wool = 22.5lb wool
    & Dairy 180 days @ 1/4 gallon
    8 ewes x 45 gallons=360 gallons
    360 x 10.31 x (5/ 43.25) = 429lb cheese
    808,473 firkin are manufactured across the estate each year using 7,276,257lb wood.

    200,000 FIRKIN OF WINE
    60,000 TON OF TURNIP
    180,000 SACKS OF BARLEY X 40LB


    Sometime I wonder why Adventurers even bother with Dungeons when they could be rolling the ruling class for their wealth.

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