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Port taxes

by Bruce Heard

Now that we have a simplified port rating system, here's a note about taxes. In general, the assumption is that each harbour has some sort of port authority or an official working for the local ruler. The port official will meet the oncoming ship either outside the port or upon it's mooring at a dock, to inspect the ship.

This is what I think should take place (just a guess): some discussion about the ship's nationality/owner (papers in order?), where it came from, its business, and intended length of stay. Passengers are likely to get screened. Merchandise will be inspected more or less effectively, depending on the administrative ability of the port (varies a lot with the settings in the Known World, although in times of war, inspections can get pretty obnoxious).

At this point, money comes into play. The ship is probably going to be assessed a port fee for using the docks (say 1sp per HP per day at the dock, but this could vary). Port authorities may require a week paid in advance, subject to reimbursement when the ship sets sails. Merchandise or treasures entering the port will be taxed (say 10% of overall value, more or less). I'm saying "merchandise entering port" rather than "disembarked" because it would be too difficult to control after the ship docks, especially in a large port.

Of course, a ship captain may pull into a deserted cove to unload his merchandise, but that would be considered contraband which is illegal and punishable if caught (don't get caught doing this in Ylaruam!) :o)

Here are some guidelines for taxes and port fees:

Port Class A: Tax 8% Port Fee 1sp/HP daily
Port Class B: Tax 8% Port Fee 8cp/HP daily
Port Class C: Tax 8% Port Fee 5cp/HP daily

Port Class D: Tax 8% Port Fee 1sp/HP weekly
Port Class E: Tax 8% Port Fee 8cp/HP weekly
Port Class F: Tax 8% Port Fee 5cp/HP weekly


Thyatis (whole Empire): add 4% tax Darokin, Minrothad, Five Shires: reduce tax 4%

Port Incomes...

The juicy part for those who run nations. All this tax is added to the budget of the local ruler (be it the city guild itself, or the city's monarch). Now, one more thing needs to be established for each port: the volume of activity there.

High: port functions at or near capacity, with an average stay of four days per ship. (This port is likely to keep growing)

Medium: port functions at 2/3 capacity, with an average stay of a week per ship. (Business is steady -- not much change expected anytime soon).

Low: port functions at 1/3 capacity, with an average stay of two weeks per ship. (Parts of the port are abandoned or run down).

My guess is that Minrothad and Five Shires ports are running at full capacity. Everybody else functions at 2/3 capacity. The only reason why ports might function at 1/3 is because the area is economically depressed, a war is going on (such as may be the case with Ylaruam, and soon Karameikos), or a port is simply unpopular (Crossbone, Fort Doom) or unsafe (Filtot, Stronghold).

Picture this then. If Thyatis' main port (15,000 HP) functions at 2/3 its capacity, this means that about 10,000 HP are always at the port's docks at any given time. If the average length of stay is a week, this means there is a daily traffic of 1,428 HP worth of ships sailing in and out. Figure an average 100 HP per ship, therefore fourteen ships sail in and out daily... This may seem a bit puny compared to real life Byzantium, but it helps figuring things. I'm just throwing numbers around -- by all means, please feel free to play test this more completely.

Another piece of data is the amount of port fees generated daily -- in the above example, this would be 10,000 HP worth per day, therefore 1,000gp/day income. Merchandise taxes? That's a good question -- if a ship's average ship load costs somewhere between 4,000-5,000 gp (???), that's 500-600gp in taxes per ship, time 14 ship arrivals per day, which adds up to about 7,500 gp. So the total estimated income of that port is 8,500 gp per day! Not too shabby...