My party is coming up on their first House management session, which we are all very excited for, but we’ve already run two adventures that should have a significant impact on the House’s material situation, and I’m trying to figure out how to reasonably represent that here. I want to not only properly account for the logical consequences of what’s happened so far, but also work out how to make this system interact with their future adventures a bit more since it seems like otherwise development will be very slow given how much everything costs. I’m also going to do house management after every adventure going forward, and in-universe say it’s quarterly rather than annual, because I want to also use it as a way to advance time in-game and make the world feel more alive as NPCs set their schemes into motion – I guess you could compare what I’m trying to do to how Shadow of Mordor/War has the orc captain org chart all move around whenever time passes and/or you die.
In their first adventure, they destroyed another house’s secret spice stores, which turned out to have a lot more spice than expected due to a secret alliance with the Bene Tleilax. They stole several handfuls of pure spice from there, adding up to something in the neighborhood of 2 kilograms. If I wanted to give them the option to sell it for wealth/resources, what would be a good conversion rate? Assume that the 620,000 solaris/decagram figure from the original Dune novel is a historical peak and the current market rate is something lower but still very high. They’ll have to incur significant costs selling it surreptitiously so they don’t ■■■■ off the wrong people, so the resource/wealth amount doesn’t have to be too high since it’s modeling net profit rather than simple revenue.
In their second adventure, they worked out a deal with the smugglers on their planet to keep their rates from going up, so the house ruler and his family are still getting their usual supply of spice tablets at the old price instead of a new higher one. While this might seem like it shouldn’t translate into greater wealth, the fact that they’re getting a discount and all their rival houses on the planet are not seems to me like it would generate an economic advantage for them that would most easily be expressed as a wealth bonus. But what would be reasonable for that?
EDITED: Corrected from 620,000 solaris/decigram to 620,000 solaris/decagram, which is considerably more reasonable (decigram is 0.1 grams, decagram is 10 grams). At peak historical prices 2kg of spice would be 124 million solaris worth, but we’re not at peak historical prices.
I’d say you have two options depending on how the direction you take the campaign.
The first is just to give the PCs a one time Wealth bonus, probably 2-3 points for the spice. The actual amount and solarii cost doesn’t really matter. Its up to the GM tp say ‘what you have is worth X wealth’. Keeping thing a little vague makes the bookkeeping easier!
The other option is to allow each of these to be creating ‘facilities’ towards taking Spice as a new minor domain. The smugger contacts, spice stores etc might be considered 2 of the 10 facilities needed to claim a new secondary domain.
The others might be spice contracts, small operations on Arrakis or even more deals with smugglers. Not all the facilities need to be in the same place, they just need to be under the control of the House, and the GM is free to allow more intangible things like contracts to count as much as a mining operation.
Oh I should have clarified: none of this is on Arrakis. The party was engaged by their superior major house to punish one of their rival minor houses on their own home planet by raiding their private spice stores, and discovered a joint operation between the minor house and the Bene Tleilax. They were tasked with destroying the entire facility and everything in it, with no living witnesses to directly implicate them, leaving only an item given to them as a calling card to indicate this was done on the orders of the Emperor himself.
In terms of the amount of spice they’re usually getting from their smuggler contact, it’s a very small amount pressed into pills containing no more than a few milligrams per pill as the active ingredient. Just enough for the ruler and his family to extend their lifespans without other significant effects. A crate of these pill bottles only contains a few grams of spice in total. I decided a while ago this would be the only practical or affordable way for minor houses to have any spice for themselves, given how much it’s supposed to be worth.
They don’t know anyone who operates on Arrakis in any significant capacity, their smuggler contact is the guy running distribution on their own homeworld, and there’s no way they’ll have access to any consistent supply of raw spice, just this windfall. My players are much more interested in doing intrigue and imperial politics, Arrakis isn’t anywhere on the campaign itinerary.
As far as thinking about the solaris, it’s more that I want to keep costs in proportion. We know the Wealth cost of these various ventures, so a Domain Facility is worth X, and then the question is how that relates to the value of spice. Bringing solaris into it is me just trying to grab whatever data might be relevant for making the comparison.
Leto said a handful of spice would buy a home on Tupile. Assuming he only means the home itself and not passage to Tupile, and assuming that would basically be equivalent to a Planetary Feature (4 resources), that puts a handful of spice at 12 Wealth. Of course that’s assuming they could sell it openly, which they can’t, so the actual gain will be less, but this would be worth a LOT.
Is a “home” equivalent to a “planetary feature”? (I also wonder if perhaps the nature of spice buying a home on Tupile is more because of its value to the Spacing Guild, so a handful would grant you access to their secret world, rather than a 1-to-1 “purchase”. I’m not sure the equivalent amount of cash would get you access to Tupile.)
Anyway, my suggestion would be to not get too bogged down in the actual numbers or nitty-gritty of the thing, and award the players based more on fun and perceived risk/effort, while not making them too overpowered as they’re starting the House management.
I thought you were talking about a non-Arrakis campaign, and thats fine.
The reach of a House can stretch across the universe.
While for House management you ideally have a set of facilities on your homeworld to establish a new domain, you don’t have to.
As you might expect, spice is always a special case anyway.
So if the GM allows, your characters might set up a harvesting operation on Arrakis as a facility but they manage it from afar or via their agents using architect play if they need to get involved.
Otherwise, deals and contracts (legal or illegal) can also form the basis of a domain as they allow the House to acquire and supply the trade good in question.
I should probably do another blog on this as I’d not thought in abstract terms about House management before and its perfectly acceptable to have a small house creating domains with contracts rather than physical facilities, acting as a ‘middle man’.