Parcels of Land

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OblivionGate
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Parcels of Land

Lady's grace, bashers.

I've got a bunch of adventurers playing in my 5e post-Faction War game. One of the berks crashed something big and expensive into an apartment block in Sigil, and now owes the landlord a lot of money (going for about 15,000gp in damages).
One of the bright adventurers decided that, hey, this property is in the Lower Ward, and we could just buy the land instead of pay for the repair bill. It'll be more expensive, but they can do something more interesting with it.

So here's my multi-faceted dilemma:

  • who do they buy the land from (the Sigil Advisory Council?)
  • what does the landowner do about the current person renting the (broken) structure?
  • how much is that going to set them back?

Any advice would be welcome. I've only found the value '300,000gp' with a quick search, but it seems like a pretty arbitrary number.

Thanks,
Oblivion

Simile
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Opportunities

Sounds like a lot of role-play opportunities...

I'm not sure if the Sigil Advisory Council deals with land purchases. They probably delegate this to another oversight committee which has sub-committees that deal with specific Wards. In this type of model there are opportunities to test whether the characters will follow the rule of law, or try to grease the wheels, or perhaps even subvert the red tape entirely.

Did the person(s) renting the structure survive? Were they injured? Are they seeking compensation for trauma? There are several ways the characters can deal with the renters from diplomacy through legal system, coming to an out of court settlement. Through to trying to discredit the renters claim and perhaps even making this source of problems disappear permanently - either themselves, or through a third party.

Throw in a romantic entanglement if it's appropriate and you've got a great pot of plots to stir.

If you're unsure of how much it will cost, get an NPC to challenge to the PCs about what they consider to be a reasonable cost. Perhaps try to exploit any disagreements within the group (if that advances the story) and see how they do in the negotiations.

If the next adventure involves bargaining / negotiating with some high power entities such as Baatezu for example, their previous experience in negotiating the Lower Ward House Crash should come in handy. Hope that helps.

Jem
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Ooh, real estate!

Your characters now have to clear the land around their new stronghold for 2 miles in all directions of monsters. This being Sigil, the attempt will probably get them Mazed. Just kidding!

The land itself anywhere in Sigil is probably owned by the Lady, inasmuch as she has absolute veto over anyone's activities and issues occasional orders. She's simply very hands off in most cases, but she's definitely the feudal lord of the area. The Sigil Advisory Council and various taxing authorities will wish to register a change in the ownership of the building, which is a matter of contract between you and the current owner.

You're purchasing an apartment block. The amount this should go for should depend on the income the owner expected to receive from it over the course of some period of time. In Sigil, a window of 10-15 years is probably reasonable. So now the question is how many people there were there, how much each of their rents is, and how much the upkeep on the building is expected to be. The first, times the second, then minus the third, is the profit the owner expects to make.

At 1sp per day, an untrained hireling makes 3gp per month assuming he works every day. If half goes for rent, his apartment is 1.5gp per month. In a crowded city where rents are tough, someone at this level is probably rooming with others in the same boat. 3gp per month is probably a decent Lower Ward rent. This will also house a small family of a trained hireling, a housewife, and a small child, maybe two. Boost it to 4 or 5 for a slightly larger apartment, someone doing a little better. (Adventurers get better housing if they bring home treasure.)

Next, how big is the apartment block? The ones we have today are huge compared to those that Rome had, which held 6 families plus businesses on the lower floors, but pseudo-Victorian Sigil probably has bigger ones with less height restriction; that means you might be able to fit a dozen families paying rent in a rather tall, low-rent building. (The businesses probably pay a bit better rent, but that's an extra layer of complication if you want it. Having an alchemist on the ground floor could be fun though!) Say it's a dozen families in the building. Then you're making at least 36, call it 40gp in revenue per month.

If the guy wants a 15-year return on his money and expects to spend maybe 100gp per year in upkeep and taxes, you're looking at a price of 7200gp - 1500gp = 5700gp. You might be able to bargain him down from there, especially with the building currently damaged, but probably not much. If he's ticked off he could easily demand double the price, 10,000gp or so.

Finally, if every family had their own Simple lock on the door, enough to give a Level 1 thief pause, that's a nice little amenity which would probably boost rents by perhaps half a gp per month. You'd probably have some working wives in the building. Multiply all the figures above, including expenses (occasional lock replacements) by about 1.2.

Jem
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Oh, and they're probably

Oh, and they're probably responsible for housing all the surviving families until they can get the apartment building rebuilt. Nearby landlords will, of course, cheerfully charge them double rents. If there are a dozen families to relocate, you're looking at ongoing expenses of 80gp per month until the building is repaired.

Which, this being Sigil, will be of absolutely as shoddy quality and as slow as possible, charged by the hour, unless they're on the ball about governing the workers!

I noticed you mentioned 15,000 in damages. This might be a very large apartment building, then, covering an entire block to several stories, and perhaps with some nicer apartments for more well-to-do sorts on the ground floor? I was going for a Lower Ward, grimy, slightly-better-than-slum small apartment building, one of several squeezed on a block, four or five stories high. But if you want to take all the figures I gave and make them triple, then just make it stretch out wider, and triple the number of families housed. Any other ratio will also work fine.

(Apartment buildings in the Lady's Ward, of course, are going to come with complicated amenities and artistic flourishes that basically turn the building into mechanical and artistic treasure hoards, where the price is whatever the adventurers and their plot can bear.)

Let me know what numbers you eventually run with!

OblivionGate
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15k!

The reason I went with 15k being the cost in damages is because it's a small airship (don't ask) that crashed into an apartment complex owned by some lawyers. They're squeezing out every penny that they can and manipulating as many loopholes as possible.

Also, I was using the Building rules in the 5e DMG for a fortified tower. The apartment block is probably a bit bigger than the size of a tower (40ft, five story building with each story being about 7-8ft), and while it's not fortified, I figure the extra price comes in with the lawyers milking everything out (fortified locks, rehousing costs, etc).
I'd be ecstatic if the party argues down the price with the idea of the running costs and costs of damages: "actually, we're not liable for the damages because ..."

I can adjust this accordingly, because the party has nowhere near enough to cover 15k. They're struggling to make ends meet currently, and have about 8k between them.
If I take your estimated 5.7k for my base, then amplify it by 1.2 (for the cost of locks and wife's work), it could squeeze out to a nice 6.8k.

Now I'm thinking that maybe I can leave the party with something nice:

  • Cost is 6.8k to buy the structure
  • Secret cost of the ongoing expenses of ~80gp a month, which is obviously in the terms and conditions of the contract you just signed, berk. Pay attention to the small print!
  • If they don't want to pay the secret cost, it's a cost of 960gp (80 * 12) to rehouse the families for a year, after which they need to find their own place to live
  • A certain cost to the Sigil Advisory Council to ensure that the correct forms are filed in triplicate
  • If they want to rebuild the structure, an additional labour cost to fix it, or dismantle it (depending: one of the party has bright ideas of building a tavern on the spot instead)

The real question I'm left with there is... now that they've paid for the building, do they need to pay an additional fee for the land as well? Or are the lawyers just getting greedy?

OblivionGate
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er, and...

Also, I forgot to mention:

The lawyers have the airship's crew held responsible. It's a bunch of gnomes that are definitely going to get sold to the Blood War if the situation isn't resolved. That's the party's main reason for actually paying off these debts as opposed to doing what adventurer's would and piking off.

So there's also the 'caring for' fees of the gnomes and the salvage fees for the airship to consider. I'm trying to come up with as many silly fees that the players can dismiss for some fun diplomacy. This would include trauma compensation, funeral fees for that one family's pet lim-lim, reunion fees for that wizard who lost his spellbook for a day...

Jem
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6.8k sounds like a very good

6.8k sounds like a very good ballpark, kudos.

I think any lawyers might try charging a fee for use of the land, but any actual claim of ownership probably gets looked upon very unkindly by the dabus, and the lawyers probably know that. However, this is strictly my view. It's possible that the Lady is so hands off about ownership that it's perfectly fair for someone to claim ownership of a lot, which would cost usually a fraction of the useful improvements above. Maybe another 1000 or so. Still, if it's the first case, that's probably something the PCs could argue off. "Nobody owns land in Sigil, it all belongs to the Lady." It's all handwavey at this point.

On the bright side, once all the shouting is done, your players own a little income source, saleable whenever they please, with potential to be a useful safehouse, and some entree to respectable circles in Sigil society -- after all, there are the renters, and there are the landlords, and this makes them landlords. "Oh, yes, we own some real estate in the Lower Ward. Nothing special, but of course it's income."

OblivionGate
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...

The good news is that they've decided against buying the apartment block.

The bad news is that they're now trying to buy the plot of land the Armoury once stood on from the Doomguard.
In my timeline (extended three years from the one found on mimir.planewalker), the Armoury has been left abandoned because of several monsters. The players recently cleared out those monsters.

It's good that my players don't dream small. :) Thanks for the help on the apartment block regardless, Jem & Simile. I'm sure it'll help someone in the future!