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In my campaign, recently two players started laying plans to buy a part of land not too far away from city in hopes of building the base of operations for the team, or buy an already existing building for that. I know I can just go "Behold! The enclosed space, you can sleep here. Done.", but that seems bland and the idea of a building, maybe a small stronghold with some upgrades and all that seems very interesting to me. Alas, I do not know if I am as capable a GM as my players think, as I need to figure out everything from the ground up and be right on spot.

That's why I am asking if there are some sources on building/running/upgraiding/managing property/estate I could get my eyes on to get some ideas how to manage this. I am aware of some information presented in DMG about building a stronghold in downtime, and that's why I am asking about other ones, as I am going to completely disregard the existence of those from DMG, as they do not make any sense whatsoever, both in terms of cost, time and rules presented (if you do not oversee the building process personally, the time needed increases by 3 days for each day you are away, like, are your workers actively destroying it?), as well as not giving almost any useful information, save for some upkeep costs and staff, but no ideas for what is, or more importantly, what could be in there, how it could be used beside a warehouse, some overlay ideas, incorporating business, nothing.

I am planning on reading through the Kingmaker campaign book for Pathfinder to get some ideas, I heard it's quite good, but what about other sources? Are there even official ones for D&D? I would be glad for any ideas on the subject.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I suspect this might get flagged down as an (off-topic) product-recommendation question in its current form. \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 8:47

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I personally use this set of rules, because as you note the DMG has pretty bad rules for it and there aren't good official rules.

It has a full set of rules for building, customizing, and funding buildings and provides in much more detail useful roleplaying content.

If you're willing to spend more money, this is an even more comprehensive guide.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the ruleset, I will surely get something out of it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cezaryx
    Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 12:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Glad to help, I hope this makes for a good game. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nepene Nep
    Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 13:29
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This is covered by the DMG

The DMG covers the costs and staffing requirements of maintaining a property on page 127 under Recurring Expenses (that is not under Downtime Activities, which include the costs for Building a Stronghold).

For example, here are the costs for a keep or small castle from that table, or for a more modest noble estate.

Property Total Cost per Day Skilled Hirelings Untrained Hirelings
Keep or Small Castle 100 gp 50 50
Noble Estate 10 gp 3 15

The explanation for the table states:

The cost includes everything it takes to maintain the property and keep things running smoothly, including the salaries of hirelings. If the property earns money that can offset maintenance costs (by charging fees, collecting tithes or donations, or selling goods), that is taken into account in the table.

The 5e rules are very light on stronghold building and estate managment. It is mostly the "Building a Stronghold" prices for various buildings (DMG, p.128), the "Maintenance Costs" section (DMG, p. 127), and the overall equipment and price list for services (PHB, p. 159) with its cost for labor.

If you are OK to look at other sources, the 1e AD&D DMG has a flexible and rather comprehensive list of what various elements for building and maintaining a keep costs, too, down to individual types of doors, windows, and arrow slits (p. 107, Construction and Siege). If you want to convert the prices into 5e, based on all the equipment in 1e that also appears in 5e, 1 gp in 1e has about 26% more value than one in 5e. I think it is close enough so you can just use the prices as is.

Apart from that, if you think this is interesting, it might be fun for you to read some books about actual historical castle building (here is a very nice investigation from Delta's blog about it).

One thing I would recommend though, is to find out if your players are as excited as you about the administrative mini-game aspects of this. Most players I know really just want a safe place to put their stuff and retired NPCs/PCs, and are not that excited about spending time to manage it (hence the lightweight rules in the DMG).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for advice in the last paragraph, but I want to point out that OP asked for non-DMG sources. "I am aware of some information presented in DMG about building a stronghold in downtime, and that's why I am asking about other ones, as I am going to completely disregard the existence of those from DMG, as they do not make any sense whatsoever..." \$\endgroup\$
    – Dan B
    Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 12:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DanB Thank you! I included 1e for this under the assumption they refer to the 5e DMG (though the 1e one technically is a DMG, too). My impression is that they want to be able to expand and upgrade, raise levies etc. The 1e DMG is great for all that, you can build your keep tower by tower, wall-segment by wall segment, crennelation by crennelation. It's a very nice, flexible system, and I think well grounded in real historical costs. 1e in general was much more invested in running estates with henchmen, I believe. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 14:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DanB I also was not sure if they had seen the maintenance rules in the DMG, as they referred to the rules in the Downtime section. It is possible they did, as I think the Downtime section does not talk about staff, so they might have seen both. In any case, if they have seen all those then the 1e pointer is intended as the alternative solution (from official sources, even if not the current one). I think 1e is more thorough on that than 3.5, and the modular system is better too. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 14:12

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