I have used parts of DnD and Pathfinder but I think that the numbers are out of whack. I know that coins were rare in the middle ages but I am talking about the value of items compared to one another. For convenience I have expressed them in coins.

  1. Does the ratio between item prices and the living expenses match the accompanying description?

  2. Does the amount of tax income for the kingdom match a kingdom being at a high alert? (it is embroiled in a stalemate/cold war where both sides have a native massive home field advantage, and they have known it for decades. This home field advantage depends on the population to be content.)


Wretched. You live in inhumane Conditions. With no place to call home, you shelter wherever you can, sneaking into barns, huddling in old crates, and relying on the good graces of people better off than you. A wretched lifestyle presents abundant dangers. Violence, disease, and hunger follow you wherever you go. You are beneath the notice of most people.

Squalid. You live in a leaky stable, a mud-floored hut just outside town, or a vermin-infested boarding house in the worst part of town. You have shelter from the elements, but you live in a desperate and often violent environment, in places rife with disease, hunger, and misfortune. You are beneath the notice of most people, and you have few legal protections. Most people at this lifestyle level have suffered some terrible setback. They might be disturbed, marked as exiles, or suffer from disease.

Poor. A poor lifestyle means going without the comforts available in a stable community. Simple food and lodgings, threadbare clothing, and unpredictable conditions result in a sufficient, though probably unpleasant, experience. Your accommodations might be a room in a flophouse or in the common room above a tavern. You benefit from some legal protections, but you still have to contend with violence, crime, and disease. People at this lifestyle level tend to be unskilled laborers, costermongers, peddlers, thieves, mercenaries, and other disreputable types.

Modest. A modest lifestyle keeps you out of the slums. You live in an older part of town, renting a room in a boarding house, inn, or temple. You don’t go hungry or thirsty, and your living conditions are clean, if simple. Ordinary people living modest lifestyles include soldiers with families, laborers, students, priests, and the like.

Comfortable. A comfortable lifestyle means that you can afford nicer clothing and can easily maintain your equipment. You live in a small cottage in a middle-­class neighborhood or in a private room at a fine inn. You associate with merchants, skilled tradespeople, and military officers.

Wealthy. A wealthy lifestyle means living a life of luxury, though you might not have achieved the social status associated with the old money of nobility or royalty. You live a lifestyle comparable to that of a highly successful merchant, a favored servant of the royalty, or the owner of a few small businesses. You have respectable lodgings, usually a spacious home in a good part of town or a comfortable suite at a fine inn. You likely have a small staff of servants.

Aristocratic. You live a life of plenty and comfort. You move in circles populated by the most powerful people in the community. You have excellent lodgings, perhaps a townhouse in the nicest part of town or rooms in the finest inn. You dine at the best restaurants, retain the most skilled and fashionable tailor, and have servants attending to your every need. You receive invitations to the social gatherings of the rich and powerful, and spend evenings in the company of politicians, guild leaders, high priests, and nobility. You must also contend with the highest levels of deceit and treachery. The wealthier you are, the greater the chance you will be drawn into political Intrigue as a pawn or participant.

I have modelled 2 example population makeups to the Dutch city of Alkmaar. https://pure.knaw.nl/ws/portalfiles/portal/487052/18817_291_zanden.pdf

Example rural makeup of 10000 population. Tax revenue per month is 408960 cp (copper pieces).

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Example city makeup of 10000 population. Tax revenue per month is 54144 cp.

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Daily expense is the average amount you pay to have that kind of existence. It includes tax, housing, rent/repairs, necessities, and leisure expenses.

Tax is paid per “structure” (apartments, houses, shops, workshops, churches, warehouses, etc.) The amount is determined by the living conditions of the place. For example a private house with modest living conditions has a tax of 144 cp/day and is made of 1 to 3 small rooms of either stone or wood/mud.

An example country is the size of the BENELUX region (340km by 200km). And has 1.2 million rural residents and 230 thousand city residents.

A small room of a wood skeleton with mud walls 14400cp. A small room of a sturdy stone walls with strong wood doors 43200 cp.

These prices are from Pathhfinder but I have converted them to a base 12 coinage system. https://www.d20pfsrd.com/equipment/goods-and-services/furniture-trade-goods-vehicles/

coinage metals

common items

food items

attempted expenses split. (suggestion from JulianaKarasawaSouza)

on average 5 persons per structure. (from the report on Alkmaar) per structure 2 incomes are earned. 1 of the persons is working full time while the others do things at home earning a little each. bringing in a total of 72cp a day.

  1. 36cp for taxes
  2. 5cp meat/dairy
  3. 10cp wheat/potato/beans
  4. 5cp vegetables(same price as the starches)
  5. 3cp light alcohol for (water)drinking
  6. 6cp 1 small room is 10 by 10 and uses 0.3 cords of firewood per year or 3 pounds per day.
  7. 3cp clothing 10 years per article, 2 sq. yard, per article, 8 articles. shoes, hood, cape, overcoat, coat, shirt(dress), pants(dress), underwear.
  8. 3cp tools/utensils/cookware/bedding
  9. 1cp left over for other purposes
  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Sep 15, 2021 at 14:08

1 Answer 1


You can of course build your world any way you want, and the fantasy setting (low or high) isn't particularly well-known for being realistic.

That said, you're not describing a feudal society at all, where most people are serfs and both have a place and enough to (usually) not starve. In a feudal society (which in parts of Europe, didn't completely dissolve until the late 19th century), most people would rarely see any coin at all, maybe only a few times in their lives.

I'm not a history expert, but I believe that the earliest you might see something closer to your system is in the Renaissance in Italy, where you got a few more freeholders, a few more tradesman. Think Venice and the glassblowers, stuff like that. Sure, they were modestly wealthy, but in any economy there are winners and losers, and some were not nearly so fortunate as to have a skill that could comfortably earn them a living.

But really, you're almost describing something Dickensian, think Tale of Two Cities or the like. Though one of the urchins might not regularly see coin, they'd be aware of it, desiring of it, and pursuing it (any way they could). The "wretched" and "squalid" labels certainly fit. And certainly, if you were going for an economy that was viable, that time period and place are probably the closest you'll come. Proving that would require some absurd economics simulation though, which is probably at the level of a PhD dissertation, but might be more like "you eventually win the Nobel" level instead.

Just remember that if people are selling something and it is the only thing they have to sell, they starve too if the people who would buy cannot afford it. Rather than starve (most people try to avoid it), they will lower their price to meet a level where the buyers can afford it (and if they can't, they'll eventually be dead).

  • $\begingroup$ ill try to find some economic data during the Renaissance in Italy. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 13, 2021 at 20:53

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