by thomas "a little fish in a big pond" weigel (email@example.com)
A roguish adventurer of mine purchased a finely crafted knife from some dwarves (a double-edged, very narrow blade perfect for inserting into crevices, door frames and chain mail, as well as good for opening letters from his love) and then had a lovely enchantress put some basic utility spells into the pommel.
Although it fatigues him somewhat to use, he is quite happy with his replacement flint and lantern.
For the paranoid, this trinket is invaluable, especially since the meal you then enjoy counts as resting time to recover the 3 fatigue you spent...
Noticing that the cost to enchant a cloak as shown above, and the cost to armor a soldier in padded cloth was the same, the frugal General decided to go with enchantment as the standard issue for his troops. Note that he armored all of his troops with the cloak - heavy infantry simply added the cost of mundane armor beneath the cloak.
Aside from the self esteem boost his soldiers got from having "custom-crafted, individually enchanted" cloaks, the four lb cloaks dropped a sizable chunk out of the weight each soldier was forced to carry to survive. The real benefit to the General's wisdom showed up only later, however, when spring rains very nearly rotted the enemy into oblivion; Korubann did not have to pay nearly the maintenance costs and had armor on a consistent basis. An unexpected goodie was the fact that the armor was "one size fits all"...
Later, as his budget was increased, Korubann began having the cloaks enchanted to deflect rain, snow, etc. This also saved him money (in reduced wear and tear), but not nearly as much as his other projects.
Components: Pot ($10), Cook 3/day ($90)
For a flat $100, one time cost per soldier, the General was able to provide for the soldier's cooking needs. Each soldier was provided with a gallon bowl of iron which cooked any raw ingredients they had into an edible (and often tasty) stew.
This saved the General in several ways. For one, a good cook costs around $700 a month (for assuming the same risks as a soldier), and can service around 50 soldiers, making the cook a rough cost of $7 per soldier, per month.
Secondly, the raw materials for cooking were considerably cheaper than the often prepared ingredients the cooks needed; this cut food costs from around $6 per day per soldier to $4 per day per soldier. Between this and the cook, the pot had paid for itself after the first 50 days of the campaign, and then continued to save around $67 per soldier per month for the General.
Third, a lot of time was saved. Each meal could be ready in two minutes - one to load the pot, one to wait for the food to prepare. This actually started a small crime wave of "pot theft" until the General started offering to sell the pots for $80 each (but only after the soldier who had the pot had had it for six months).
Fourth, when supply lines were cut, raw roots and animals could be turned into a passable stew in those same two minutes. Living off the land became a bit more "luxurious".
And finally, it eliminated the need for camp fires except in cold periods (fires were still built when the soldiers felt they were needed, of course).
With an army of 6000 under his command, and an annual budget of $13.5 million for feed and care, he ended up paying $1.3 million for the first month (as opposed to $1.1 million for a cook and food), but then only ended up spending another $7.9 million over the rest of the year (opposed to $12.3 million for the cook and food). The rest of the money was channelled into the other side of his food budget...
This innocuous seeming box holds five pounds of raw materials for food safely, and keeps the contents preserved; this approximately equalled what Korubann referred to as "one soldier-day" of raw food materials. He purchased two of these per soldier for $1.44 million, and then used them for a variety of perishable goods that would keep his soldiers healthy.
Oddly enough, this actually saved him money on food; fruit was cheap in the eastern regions, and meat that wasn't prepared for a journey cost less. Overall, it cut his food costs per soldier from $4 a day to $3.60, which added up to an annual savings of $864,000. While it didn't quite pay for itself, the General was convinced that the good morale, better health and fighting form were worth the extra half million. That and the enemy troops who surrendered "in return for food and lodging".
One of the few costly things Korubann did was to commission the production of 300 cornucopia quivers for his archery units. Costing $0.33 million, they were intended to allow archers to carry an infinite number of arrows in a small quiver (total mass of quiver plus current arrow is 0.25 lbs).
Korubann's archers became quite rightly feared; most wore leather armor and the standard issue cloak, were highly trained, well motivated, and able to pepper the enemy with arrows until doomsday.