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In the Campaign my group is running, they have obtained a fortress that I honestly never intended them to be able to get. And yes, I know as a GM I could have denied them the fort, but they really did earn it. My question is what is a fair amount of gold to for them to pay to maintain the fort?

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Can you give the players level and a brief description of the fortress in question? – C. Ross Jun 8 '14 at 17:40
The players are level two. I have purposely kept their level low. They managed to talk their way through to the "boss" of the one story fort. There they challenged the "Immortal" King to a battle of the mind and won. Upon his defeat, the spell keeping him alive ended and everyone in his service died, leaving the fort unoccupied. It is located in the middle of an ancient forest with a once-overrun road leading to it (they paid to have it cleared). – AngelicProgrammer Jun 8 '14 at 17:55
I don't have it in front of me, and it's been years since I've looked at it, but the Stronghold Builder's Guidebook may be useful, too. – Bobson Jun 9 '14 at 13:08
Don't forget it can also be revenue generating. If it comes with surrounding lands, they likely get a cut of those lands crops, and possibly taxes from artisans under its protection as well. Even without that, rooms can be rented out, visitors that can't be charged may well give valuable gifts, etc. – TimothyAWiseman Jun 9 '14 at 16:41
up vote 20 down vote accepted

Another aspect to consider is the non-monetary costs of owning a fortress. Particularly if it's out of their power scale (which you seem to imply that it is), a fortress is going to be a target for all manner of unsavory folk trying to claim it for themselves. Your players should expect to have a small adventure relating to the fortress at least once every six months, more often if the place is especially awesome or in a dangerous area. Not only that, but these adventures won't always come at the best time for the players, and they won't be something that can be put off.

Additionally, your players are now, for better or worse, political agents in whatever realm that the fortress is located in. The rulers of the realm (and any nearby, likely) are going to ask the party for favors in a variety of ways due to their newfound position. They may be asked to shelter refugees from a war zone, contribute levies to the King's army, or collect taxes from nearby villages, all of which can be excellent role-playing experience.

Of course, if the players aren't keen on handling these things, they could always hire an administrator. But this will cost them even more each month. And you never can trust those administrators, always scheming behind your back to take over the real power.

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There is so much here that I will love to throw at them. I hadn't thought of so much of these. I will have to figure out so much so they can feel all the pressure of their new found roles and power. – AngelicProgrammer Jun 8 '14 at 18:38
A relevant question here is how (in)conveniently located the fortress is. From the OP's description, it doesn't sound like it would have much if any strategic significance; with no nearby settlements or trade routes, it might be a decent shelter for a band of brigands (or, you know, adventurers), but nothing much more. Given that, I could indeed see a local / nearby king agreeing to reward the players with official title to the fortress (maybe even with no obligations for taxes or levies), on the condition that they agree to swear fealty and keep any less savory characters from settling in. – Ilmari Karonen Jun 9 '14 at 8:34
It has to have some positional value. Nobody builds a fortress to secure nothing. It's expensive to create and maintain. Also - if they took the fort from some power who held it legitimately, whoever bestowed the fort may not be interested in letting the PCs keep it. – gomad Jun 10 '14 at 23:29
@gomad: To answer an old comment, the fortress might've had strategic value in the past, but lost it. Maybe it was a border fort on a border that has moved, or no longer exists at all (one side conquered the other), or maybe it used to guard a trade route that's no longer used, or lands that are no longer fertile since the climate changed. From the OP's decription ("in the middle of an ancient forest with a once-overrun road leading to it"), it sounds like something like the latter might be the case. – Ilmari Karonen Mar 6 '15 at 1:38

There are two directions you can go here.

  1. One is to use the rules published in Ultimate Campaign to handle the management and use of the fortress. Most of this information is also available for free on the PRD under Downtime. The advantage of this is that the rules are written for you, and if your players are interested in managing a fortress an a team it will provide a fuller experience for them. However these rules add significant weight to your campaign, can be confusing, and may not be overly robust.

  2. Another direction is simply to charge a flat rate. If your players bought the fortress they should probably charge a flat percentage of the cost, perhaps five or ten percent of the original cost annually. If you don't have the cost of the fortress, and without more information I would suggest hundreds if not thousands of gold annually. The Fort in Ultimate Campaign is priced at 6,050gp giving an upkeep of between 300gp and 600gp.

However, if this is a good thing your players earned, don't use it as simply a burden, use it as a benefit and especially an opportunity for drama. Let it attract unwanted attention. Surely someone will want to take it from them, there are dangerous monsters nearby, or a group of outlaws or refugees think it's a great place to take up residence. If the players think its something worth having, someone else will too.

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I was thinking more of a monthly fee than a yearly one, what are some of the ups and downs to having a yearly fee over a monthly one? – AngelicProgrammer Jun 8 '14 at 17:56
@AngelicProgrammer None whatsover, whatever works for your pacing. Just divide by 12. – C. Ross Jun 8 '14 at 18:01
I'm having trouble finding the actual amount of upkeep required in Ultimate Campaign if anyone wants to chip in. – C. Ross Jun 8 '14 at 18:06
as far as I know, buildings don't have upkeep unless you abandon them for long periods of time. Teams and managers do have upkeep though. – Eric B Jun 9 '14 at 14:38

The Dungeons and Dragons Rules cyclopedia has a good section on this if you can find a copy. It has flat monthly costs for various retainers and specialists. You'll probably want to adjust things to fit your own campaign setting and rules system but I'll lift some figures directly out of the book

At minimum I would say a fortress would need

A seneschal (4000GP/Month) to manage the fortress in the party's absence

A Castellan (2000GP/Month) to see to the fortress' military needs

A Chief Steward (500GP/Month) to manage the household staff

Servitors such as cooks, armourers, grooms, sheriffs, bailiffs, tax collectors, weavers, gardeners etc. are 5GP/Month Peasants don't require pay - but do require protection (they also pay tax ;) ).

If it were me I'd say roughly 7000GP/Month for a basic functioning fortress with a token guard force (maybe 20-30 men?).

Thats if they want to run the stronghold as a functioning dominion though. If they merely want to occupy the fort and hire some mercenaries to defend it then the costs would be significantly less - Using the rules cyclopedia again

10 light footmen - 20 GP/Month

10 Heavy Foootment - 30 GP/Month

10 Archers - 50 GP/Month

100 GP/Month for a token defence force capable of making a roving band of goblins think twice - maybe another 50GP to add in a couple of cooks, an armourer, and a captain (2nd level fighter) and a bit of petty cash for supplies.

As your party is 2nd level this is probably how I would start them out - as occupiers of the fort. Then ramp up the costs steadily as they advance in power and status and attract people to their banner.

Its a pretty cool situation though - there's loads of scope for some great adventures there.

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If you asked me for roughly 7000GP/Month I'd be more inclined to try and sell the fort right away to the Crown or whoever. Also Mercenary prices are for dangerous campaigns not for "babysitting" a castle in safety. Finally the main reasons for Forts are to collect taxes and defend. If there's nothing in the surrounding area to collect taxes then the fort is useless, unless there an external danger and the Ruler of the land (further off) pays to sustain that fort. – Simanos Jun 11 '14 at 9:52
At 2nd level - a party might be well advised to sell... if they can find a buyer. However to answer a couple of specific points. As previously stated the ruleset for those figures are from the D&D rules cyclopedia, and would likely need to be adjusted for pathfinder. Within the bounds of OD&D they are quite sensible however as characters are meant to become landowners at name level (9th level), by which time they should have amassed a fortune of several hundred thousand GP. Also the mercenary prices quoted are peacetime rates - wartime pay is double ;) – Richard Hannah Jun 14 '14 at 21:49

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