Now that I’ve read Chainmail, I thought I’d go back to the OD&D books and see if I had a new perspective on them.
Chainmail was, for the most part, a historical simulation. It tried to produce results that were as plausible as possible given Earth’s military history. One of the inspiring things about OD&D is that it tries, in as few pages as possible, to provide an alternate world to simulate.
The few details on baronies and castles are tantalizingly incomplete if you consider D&D a stand-alone product, but make a lot more sense when you consider them as add-ons to the Chainmail Fantasy Supplement.
On my read-through of the OD&D rules, I was struck by the fantasy world simulated by the taxation rules:
“Top-level fighters (Lords and above) who build castles are considered “Barons”, and as such they may invest in their holdings in order to increase their income (see the INVESTMENTS section of Volume III). Base income for a Baron is a tax rate of 10 Gold Pieces/inhabitant of the barony/game year.”
On the other hand, “Clerics with castles of their own will have control of a territory similar to the “Barony” of fighters, and they will receive “tithes” equal to 20 Gold Pieces/inhabitant/year.”
Without much economic information to go on, the fighter’s 10 GP/year sounds like a pretty good profit from each peasant. But then we find out that the cleric’s “tithe” is 20 GP! Since a tithe is 10% of an income, that means that barons are levying a 5% tax on their peasants.
From the section “Relatives”, we learn that “the relative would inherit the estate of the character, paying a 10% tax on all goods and monies.” Estate tax is 10%!
Note to tax-hating libertarians: move to OD&DLand! Taxes are astonishingly low there. And no central government to speak of. But you might be eaten by a White Ape!