Winery Monks of St. Honorat: "Earn more to give more."

St Honorat
I just heard this lovely story about monks of St. Honorat who have taken their vows to an interesting direction.

The monks host a high-end luxury restaurant and create world-famous wine from their walled vineyards. All their items sell for top-dollar to the world's rich. However, the monks then pass along those earnings to numerous charities to fulfill their vow of poverty and charity all at once.

Naturally, I wanted to make this into a game. You must create and sell goods in order to donate those proceeds to charities. At the end of the game, your total charity is measured as a positive value. Any assets in your possession are a negative value.

I can see some nice emergent behavior coming from player-controlled pacing. So you could try to rush the endgame before the other monks have managed to make their goods, sell their goods or donate their proceeds.

Hmm... What are thoughts on how this theme could work in a board game?


  1. Once you produce your wine, you put on of your colored wine barrels on a central track that is laid out to look like a brix scale and acts as a turn counter. (brix is a scale used to measure the conversion of sugar to alcohol during fermentation) Each turn, you move the turn counter down the track. The sooner you put it on the track, the higher the value. When you sell your wine, you subtract the current value of the turn counter from that of the barrel you are selling. The longer you hold out to sell your wine, the more you can sell it for. The mechanic, the attenuation scale, and the rising value of aged wine produce a pleasant parallel.

  2. I'm approaching this from the angle of X number of (for current sake of argument) identical monastaries. To prevent a shortcut to the end and a runaway, I'd spread the game along a year divided in to seasons. Start in the planting, have some random weather events that could be damaging to the crops, harvest problems, you could skip fermentation problems if you don't want to get hideously detailed, then introduce the aging and the wine getting more expensive to sell as time passes. Since you mention a restaurant, that could be a whole different phase of complicating factors, might be better to ignore that part.

    I would also consider making it not easy to give money away. For example, a small charity that needs $20,000 to buy the building they're in providing services for whatever, would be totally gobsmacked and not to know what to do if someone came in and gave them a million dollars. Larger charities that can take nigh-unlimited donations are more likely to have a smaller percentage going out in actual aid, the rest being taken up with executive and fundraising overhead.

    Just my $0.002 worth.

  3. Quite right regarding limiting the charities. I'd perhaps make that a tableau of cards. Each card shows a charity that needs a specific amount of money for a specific purpose.

    The Kitten Orphanage needs cat food. $1,000
    The International Well Foundation needs to hire staff. $10,000
    The Red Panda Rescue needs a facility upgrade. $5,000

    Once that cause is purchased, it goes into your possession. You can certainly pay more than that amount if you wish, but you only score points for dollar amount on the cards in your possession at the end of the game. Thus, an incentive to save your funds.

  4. I couldn't find an image of a Brix scale, but I certainly like the idea of "holding out to earn more, but risk not having enough funds to pay for a good charity." That's a nice mechanical tension.

    I imagine the track would look something like this.

    Player 1
    [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ]

    Player 2
    [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ]

    And so on. Each player has their own track. In the beginning, you can only fill one space with one barrel, but perhaps with upgrades you can put more than one barrel in each space. Hm!

  5. So the main difference between this and Last Will is that you have to earn the money before you can get rid of it. How do you limit how quickly you give it away?

  6. There are a few ways, but the most obvious one limiting the number of available outlets for the funds. ie, There are fewer charities than there are monks.

    Another way is to reward bonus points for donating to charities of a particular type. ie, Brother Fernando gets bonus points for donating to children's charities while Brother Benedict gets bonus points for donating to overseas charities.

    You can also diversify the resources beyond simply money, then make charities require specific goods. ie, The children's hospital needs more space and equipment while the international charity needs only equipment.

    Anything else come to mind?

  7. I quite like the solution of requiring/rewarding donations other than money, since it limits options while staying well on theme. Maybe you can sell your goods and donate money anywhere, but for half the points.

    It might also be an option to have limited windows for donations. The Soup Kitchen can only accept 1 Food per turn but is always around, while Church World Service can use any amount of Food, but only for two or three turns during some foreign crisis.

    Probably not worth it, but I'd also consider combination donations. The refugee camp needs Food, Medicine and Housing, so you score an extra point for each triple you donate.

  8. Since no one mentioned it. Monks that are fighting about who can donate more? really? that does not fit the theme at all. If it was some kind of coop I could belive the story, but not like that.

    As soon as I have an idea how that could look as a mechanic I will let you know :)

  9. I could see it as a bit of friendly competition, I suppose. Perhaps they're competing to become the abbot of the monastery? Or perhaps each player represents separate monasteries?


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