Monday, February 14, 2011

Construction Rules for Classic D&D

We are well into the second month in the great blank-slate world of Nowhere, and Domain Game players are busy taming—or being tamed by—this brave new world. While cyclopean ruins, mysterious golden barges, vast metal domes, white-furred apes, and other oddities have beguiled the expeditions from Elsewhere, they are making a go at the more prosaic job of settling into their new dominions.

Everywhere is the sound of hammers, saws, and the rest of the general din of construction. Ziggurats, longhouses, towers, stockades, mud huts are slowly and surely being raised in this howling wilderness.

And as goes the flurry activity so go the gnomes behind the scenes working to ensure the smooth flow of the natural laws of the new world—that is the in-game mechanics for the larger rules supplement project.

For the rest of you we give you this today: construction rules for your classical D&D game. For the full version including road construction, underground excavation, and all the lovely modifiers that give you that fine crunch you can find it here as part of the revised rules guidelines (including some other rules for would-be overlords).

To build a structure:
  1. the type of structure(s) to be built
  2. The number of ten-foot square cubes to be built of that structure
  3. Number of workers assigned
  4. Where the materials are to come from etc.
Example: Margrave von Schadenfreude wants to have 50 followers start working on five small one-story wooden cottages that are 10 feet by 30 feet (3 cubes).

Since the Margrave's project is in a wilderness area, he will direct another group of his followers to harvest the needed materials directly. Thatch from the grasslands will be used and timber cut from the adjacent light woods.

Total labor time for the project is 480 worker/days (15 cubes x 32, the base-rate for an average wooden structure). Since he has 50 workers on the project it will take them 9.6 days (480 divided by 50) to complete building the cottages–barring any delays.

Baseline Cost and Time
All work based on 10'x10' “cubes”. All prices applicable if structure is in a borderlands or civilized hex. Substitute gp equivalent amount of materials for wilderness area.

Any building over two cubes must have at least one semi-skilled worker for eight cubes. Any building over 24 cubes, must have an engineer or architect assigned for every 48 cubes.

Price per Cube
Construction Time
Primitive 10 gp 25 worker/days
Mudbrick 20 gp 30 worker/days
Wooden 30 gp 32 worker/days
Brick 110 gp 90 worker/days
Stone 140 gp 160 worker/days

Quality level
Building is assumed to come with basic furnishings, roofing, and flooring appropriate to the quality level. Additional or unusual furnishings must be purchased separately.

Cheap 75% price/time
Average 100% price/time
Comfortable 150% price/time
Semi-Fortified 200% price/time
Luxurious 250% price/time
Fortified 300% price/time

Vertical building
Second-story building is free. Add 25% to the cost for each additional story.

Misc. Structures

Construction Time
Wood fence
10' length, 6” wide
20 gp
5 worker/days
Wooden palisade
10' length, 2' wide
80 gp
25 worker/days
10' length, 10' wide
60 gp 20 worker/days
10' length, 3' wide
40 gp 10 worker/days
10' length, 5' wide
60 gp 15 worker/days
Stone curtain wall
10' length, 5' thick 250 gp 100 worker/days
Reinforced door
1 panel 40 2 worker/days
1 panel
15 worker/days
Secret door
1 panel
400 20 worker/days


  1. Wouldn't 10'x20' be two 10' cubes?

  2. Dang it, yes that should read 10 by 30 in the example.

    Thanks, Eagle Eyes, duly fixed in both versions.

  3. No problem at all! I'm enjoying following along as this set of rules evolves.

  4. Hey, what happened to all your followers?

  5. A quick application of the Iron Hand and Velvet Glove brought the wayward back in line.

  6. Damn dirty apes!

    Spurn my friendship, will they? They'll see...

  7. Seems like a good rule of thumb system to me, and a good starting place. I'd like to jazz it up in places, adding things in like the availability of labor (less in the wilderness than in a heavily populated area), the difficulty of the materials (harder vs. softer stone) and the height of the foundation above the surrounding countryside. You have me thinking, ckutalik. Great post.

  8. @Alexis
    Since I know from reading your blog that your praise is not given lightly, that means a great deal. Thank you.

    In fact, the deeper I get in with this project the more I feel like I understand some of what drives your own exacting work. I open one door with casual research and several new ones seem to swing wide open--which just drives me to want to dig more in an attempt to at least get it in the ballpark of the real world.

    Labor availability in the wilderness is easy to account for--at least inside what's happening in the Domain Game. Each player's expedition has had to hire (or buy in the case of serfs, indentured servants, and slaves), feed, house, and generally account for each and every potential worker.

    I agree though that we'd need some rules to help shoe horn this into other campaigns.

    Perhaps something to account for when I get the master hireling list wrapped up. Definitely something that will have to be accounted for play in "borderlands" areas as I assume the economic arena shifts from the hands-on direction of wilderness clearing to the more indirect ones of a more typical pre-modern economy.

    I have to think about the materials side. I have a fairly long list of extractable resources including some (but not all) building materials, but haven't quite figured out how to incorporate that subsystem into this one.

    The vertical element is a headache.I tried to tackle by giving a modifier by building storey. I feel like I am not quite getting this right though.

  9. Margrave von Schadenfreude sounds like he truly enjoys making the lives of his peasants terrible...

    Chris, this is about 4 billion times easier to understand than the stuff in the Rules Compendium and anything in C&S. Trying to detail something "realistically" usually results in a system that is entirely unplayable. I prefer gamist systems like this as they allow a definitive goal to be reached within the confines of a GAME; attempting to recall anything from my undergrad engineering classes in order to construct a simple tower or house in other systems is just annoying.

  10. @Brad
    He does have a family name to live up to.

  11. I know this is a really old blog post and things have changed however in the post you mention a full version of these rules. Where is it? Following the link does not produce the "revised rules guidelines".