The Joint Stock Corporation

Once again this text is rules.
This text is commentary for the blog.

To avoid confusion with the companies sent out from colonies on expeditions, the organization which owns the colony and employs all of its inhabitants is referred to as a corporation. The default assumption is that it literally is a joint stock corporation formed by wealthy investors who elect a board of directors who hire officers to make them profits, but the rules will work just as well for representing a department of government, a thieves guild, or any other sort of organization that might dispatch adventurers to far off places in search of wealth.

Corporation Experience and Levels
Corporations gain experience like characters and increase in level when enough experience is earned. As a corporation increases in level, its available capital increases and its ability to acquire useful materials and recruit new employees improves. These improvements are represented by its Wealth Rating and its resource modifiers. When a company increases in level, it’s wealth rating goes up by one and it may increase any one of its resource modifiers by one.

Corporations gain experience at a rate of one experience point per unit of treasure received from its colonies.

Wealth Rating
Food, Building Materials, or Population Resource Modifier

Okay, so I’m really not sure on the experience levels. As a starting point I went with a fighter’s experience track, but scaled to treasure units instead of silver pieces. What worries me is that a fully loaded ship could get a corporation up to ninth level. I figure that’s okay because the big bottleneck will be the treasure collection, but that’s super hard to speculate on without actually running the thing.

The treasure returning from the colonies is taxed before it can be converted into experience. Whether the treasure is paid to the crown or to smugglers in order to avoid official taxes, 20% of all treasure returned disappears into someone else’s coffers.

Honestly this might not be high enough if we’re going for anything approaching historical simulation, but considering it’s a flat percentage, the only reason not to just adjust the experience requirements per level other than flavor is in case people want to modify it separately or introduce other benefits to leveling up like favorable tax rates or whatever.

Wealth Rating and Resource Modifiers
When corporations wish to acquire resources to send to their colony, they must roll equal to or under their wealth rating, modified by applicable factors described in the acquisition section.

The idea I have for acquisitions is a mishmash of how Profit Factor and acquisitions work in Rogue Trader and more familiar D&D style roll under approaches. I tried to figure out a way to use the logic of the Target Twenty system and do nothing but add stuff together, but it resulted in some bizarre contortions. Instead, I was swayed by Arnold’s recent post on the merits of roll under systems. Briefly, when you want to purchase something, you’ll modify your wealth rating based on availability, amount, quality, and your resource modifier, then try to roll under on a D20. I just realized I’ll need to add in a timing element on purchases to avoid just re-rolling until you get what you want. Maybe you only get one roll per thing per voyage dispatched, that seems about right.

Once a quarter (every three months) roll on the table below to determine the corporation’s fortunes. This roll represents the vicissitudes of the stock market, the efforts of management, and other factors affecting the corporation’s performance outside of its core treasure extraction business.

Fortunes for the Quarter
Disaster! Terrible managerial decisions, rampant embezzlement and scandal reduce the corporation’s wealth rating by 2.
A poor quarter. Bearish investors, poor hiring decisions, and absenteeism reduce the corporation’s wealth by 1.
Business as usual. No more than the normal amount of fraud, waste and abuse produce no change to wealth rating.
A good quarter. Bullish investors, renewed interest in exotic foreign goods, and solid management raise the corporation’s wealth rating by 1.
Great success! Ruthless efficiency, dedication to the nobility of profit, and charismatic managers raise the corporation’s wealth rating by 2.

Here I have gone with a sweet, sweet normal distribution for the general fortunes of the company, rather than a percentile or d10 approach, as seen in Rogue Trader and Al-Qadim Arabian Adventures. I went with 2d6 rather than 3, though, because I wanted a little more swinginess to be possible, even if the normal result is “nothing special”. The huge possible swings in wealth value are on purpose and meant to potentially dwarf the effects of leveling up (you’ll notice resource modifiers never change, though).

With that, I think I’ve wrapped up what I want to present for running the parent corporation, and I’ll be starting in on the purchasing/acquisition rules shortly.

Adventuring Company Voyages

[UPDATE 1/6/21: I no longer support spending money on products that benefit Zak S, or giving him positive attention and connection. The short version is that I find credible claims that he has engaged in unacceptable behavior and not made up for it. For more detail, see here for the core of the accusations. To get Zak's side of things, he maintains this separate blog from his main one to post updates on the legal status of these complaints. 
Please consider these claims and make your own decision on their validity, and the implications thereof, before either supporting or shunning Zak.]

Once again, blog/design commentary looks like this, but if you don't care about my pontificating:
Actual rules looks like this.

“Voyage” is the generic term for any travel between the colonists’ home territory and the site of their colony: it might mean a literal sea voyage, a journey by caravan, or some complicated magical ritual. The only required distinguishing characteristics are that it take a reasonably long time, has limited cargo capacity, and is exposed to danger en route.

Distance from Home to Colony
The distance from the adventurers’ home country to the colony can be chosen or determined randomly. The length of every voyage is randomly determined as indicated by the distance
- 2. Borderlands (1d2 weeks)
- 3-5. Distant Lands (1d6+2 weeks)
- 7-8. Far, Far Away (2d6+12 weeks)
- 9-11. Half a World Away (3d6+12 weeks)
- 12. A World Away (3d6+18 weeks)

These travel times are roughly extrapolated from the following times I found doing some research. It turns out travel by sail is insanely complex! One of the big complexities I’ve totally ignored is the predictable differences in travel time depending on which direction you were going. For example, sailing *to* North America from England takes much longer because you’re going against the prevailing winds and currents, but the return trip is much faster. Like I said, I ignored this except for the fact that every voyage is of random length. I also ignored the quality of ships or sailors, but you could modify the voyage length rolls with these if you like.

Sample travel times:
England to North America: roughly 30-60 days
North America to England: 20-30 days
Europe to India: 7-8 months
India to Europe: 5-7 months

Voyage Frequency
By default, voyages are dispatched from the home country once every six months. Certain events can alter this frequency, and it should be marked on the colony record sheet. The date that the founding voyage left the home country is considered the first voyage for determining frequency (so for long enough voyages, a resupply voyage may leave before ground is broken on the colony).

Voyage Events
Roll on the Voyage Events table once every 4 weeks or portion thereof (example: 4.5 weeks = 2 rolls)

Utterly lost! Shipwrecked or baking in the sun of a desolate land.
Attacked by Pirates or Bandits. Lose half carried cargo value. If rolled again, lose voyage.
Uneventful month, the seemingly endless sea or landscape rolls on.
Pleasant travel conditions! Reduce total voyage time by 2 weeks.
Excellent Travel Conditions! Reduce total voyage time by 4 weeks

This table’s a bit weak sauce compared to the colony events table, but I decided that the focus of these rules is on the colony and its expeditions, not on the voyages to and from them. If you want to insert a more comprehensive table, by all means do. I figure there’s plenty of stuff out there for doing naval stuff with D&D, like Zak's wavecrawl rules.

Cargo Capacity
Voyages use the same cargo rules as expeditions (one unit = one cargo slot filled). It is assumed that any distance that would simply be walked can be handled by an expedition, and so voyages assume ships, riding animals, or other means of conveyance. Therefore, each passenger/crew member takes up 10 cargo slots.

Example Ships with Required Crew and Cargo Slots
Crew Required
Total Cargo Slots
Cargo Slots After Crew

See my last post for my assumptions that led to treating each unit as roughly 20 lbs, and I assumed that each person weighs roughly 150-170 lbs plus their equipment/supplies not counted as a cargo gets to around 200 lbs, which makes for an easy 10 slots per person. This might be assuming fairly skinny people, but blame malnourishment in the early modern period. I’m not sure if the cargo values from LotFP that I used as a starting point count weight from passengers or crew, but I’m hoping all these intersecting assumptions even out overall.

I arrived at values between 10,000 and 68,500 units for ships by taking LotFP cargo capacity values in tons and multiplying by 100 (which is itself a simplification of tons multiplied by 2,000 pounds per (American or “short”) ton divided by 20 pounds per unit). I then cherry picked a few of the ships that seemed most relevant to the implicit setting and useful as examples without wanting to over-complicate it with options.

Adventuring Companies: Colonies

(All money is in LotFP’s “Silver Standard”)
Current version of rules text looks like this.
Commentary for this blog entry looks like this.

General Description
Food (~5sp) - one unit feeds one person for one week
Building Materials (~5sp) - Wood, stone, et cetera used to construct buildings
Treasure (~40sp) - Gold, loot, art, spices, furs, other trade goods - sent home as profit

The way I’ve worked out the resource values is a crazy scaffolding of assumptions and handwaving. Feel free to skip this section if you’re fine with using the values as is, but if you want to weigh in on why any particular assumptions are egregious and terrible, please do.

First the easy one: food. I decided for mostly gameplay reasons that it made sense for a person to be able to carry his own food for a one week out and one week back trip with no issues, plus one more “thing” if he’s willing to be encumbered. The gameplay logic is an adventurer can march to a dungeon, raid it, then march back with loot. This is how I determined the “3 cargo slots per person” value. To get to a money value, I assumed 1sp per day (LotFP rations), but I rounded 7sp per week down to 5 for easy math - you can probably justify it as bulk company supply of food rather than market prices, if you like.

Okay, now we’re gonna get a little more complicated. Using this assumption that all three resources need to be broken down into units that equal about half of what a person can carry unencumbered (or ⅓ of what he can carry encumbered) has some implications for building materials. This is probably the hand-waviest portion of the resources, so bear with me.

I started with ACKS building costs and converted them to the silver standard as a starting point. I’ve read Autarch’s blogs about a “ground up” economy and I dig it, so I use ACKS as my go-to “economically sound” D&D pricing. So, in a colony context, I figured the “default” building material is logs, so I checked the ACKS buildings and found something that is just a long row of logs: the 100’ long 10’ high palisade, which costs 125sp . I assume 1’ wide logs for ease, and divided by 100 to get 12.5sp per log. I figured it would be easiest to assume that one person can carry roughly the one log if he’s encumbered. That’s being generous considering our assumptions are 10’ long 1’ wide logs (short telephone poles), but rather than picturing caber toss, think dragging behind you or something. Anyway, I divided by 3 to get to inventory/cargo units, which comes to 4.167, which I rounded up to 5 to make it easy. Therefore, I decided each each building resource is roughly worth 5sp (you’ll see how I used this value in the building section below).

A quick note about weight. A somewhat trained fellow can march with ~35 - 50 lbs normally, ~60 lbs for encumbered (you can get much higher with training and proper equipment, but I didn’t want to assume either a completely untrained novice nor an expert sherpa as the default). Divide that by 3 and each unit is assumed to weigh approximately 20 lbs (that’s about 9.1 kg for you godless metric heathens), which is good enough to go on for now.

So, for treasure we’re going to have to get even more complicated. I initially ballparked 20sp as a rough value for one treasure unit, but then I decided to work through an example and realized it sucked, so instead I ended up with a value of 40sp per unit by the following method:

I figure one expedition should be roughly equivalent to one adventure (heck, it most likely will be one adventure). I decided that 2-3 adventures should be sufficient to get a level one fighter to level two (you may feel differently on this, feel free to adjust). Using LotFP experience values, that’s 2,000 xp per fighter, and I figured all treasure becomes xp.

So, I came up with an example to use as a roughly “standard” expedition (based on nothing more than what seems reasonable to me). I assumed an expedition with 4 officers (all level 1 fighters), three groups of mercenaries, three groups of laborers, and one teamster group with 5 mules. They plan for two weeks of exploring.

That’s a total of 98 cargo slots unencumbered or 142 encumbered. Each person needs 2 rations for two weeks (the mules can forage), so that’s 68 rations, leaving 30 slots unencumbered or 74 encumbered. I assumed these guys load everyone to the eyeballs with treasure and don’t carry any special equipment.

For the four fighters to get to level 2, they need 8,000 silver. Divide that by 2 expeditions to get 4,000 or divide by 3 to get 2,667. So, using our hypothetical expedition of 34 dudes and their mules with 74 slots, I got an expected treasure per unit value of somewhere between 36 and 54. I decided to keep at the low end and a nice round number, so I arrived at a value of 40sp per treasure unit. If these still seems low to you, I’m trying to capture a mean between something like prepared spices (tiny and extraordinarily valuable) and statuary or relics (huge and unwieldy but extraordinarily valuable).

Perhaps as part of the modularity I’ll leave a section to determine the sp equivalents for each resource, but that might have a lot of domino implications. I guess we’ll see.

Gaining Resources
All three resources can be received as part of resupply voyages, collected, or traded for.

Resupply Voyages
As detailed in the voyage section, the home company can send resupply voyages to the colony with new settlers, mercenaries, and supplies. Early on in a colony’s life, most of its food and much of its building materials will likely come from resupply voyages. It will be rare to receive treasure as a resupply, since the business of the colony is assumed to be extracting treasure.

All three resources can be traded with rival adventuring companies, visiting merchants, or locals. Trade between players can consist of any mutually agreed upon terms. For trade with NPCs, the basic assumption is that one unit of treasure can be traded for eight units of food or building materials, but that can be modified by the demand of the particular trading partner (check demand for both resources separately). Trading food for building materials or vice versa is assumed to be on a one for one basis, but it can be modified if the situation requires it.If you have defined different relative values for food, building materials, and treasure, you can use the same distribution for demand and modify the ratios accordingly.

Number of Resources Tradable for Treasure by Demand

Tiny (2)
Low (3-5)
Standard (6-8)
High (9-11)
Excessive (12)
Food or Building Materials
This section needs some more loving, maybe. I think a better table can be constructed to show the effects of differing demand in trading each resource for each other resource. I’ll work on that some, but suggestions are welcome.

Food: can be grown in farms or harvested from the wild. Each farm requires one group to provide uninterrupted work and produces 60 units of food a month. One group harvesting food from the wild can collect 1d4x10 units of food per month.

Building Materials: can also be harvested from the wild (trees chopped down, rocks quarried, et cetera) at a rate of 20 units per month per group.

Treasure: is primarily gained from sites of interest by launching expeditions, as the collection of treasure is the central purpose of the colony. However, trade goods can be created at a factory for a cost of 9 food or building units per unit of treasure per group working per month.

I’m a little worried about the rates of collection and exchange here. I wanted to make treasure more expensive to create than to go get (in order to drive exciting expeditions), but I also wanted a temptation to turn your essential survival materials into profit. Also, I hope it is clear here and elsewhere that things being given “per month” doesn’t mean you can’t do things weekly if you prefer (note that everything is nicely divisible by 4 )

Resource Storage
Each type of resource has the potential to degrade over time. Each resource also has a particular kind of storage building that lowers the chances of degradation for that resource. Food requires structures like granaries and smokehouses, building materials require warehouses or fenced in lots, and treasure requires strongrooms, or vaults.

Resource Degradation
Every month, test each category of resource for degradation. Food and building materials can rot, treasure can be stolen, and so forth.

Each resource has a “storage rating” that is tested to determine if it degrades. The storage rating is modified positively by the number of appropriate buildings for storing that resource. It is modified negatively by each full 100 units of that resource.

At the end of each month, roll 2d6: if the roll is equal to or under the storage rating, no degradation occurs, but if it is higher, lose 1d100% of that resource. A roll of 2 always passes the check and a roll of 12 always fails.

Base Rating
Bonus per Building
Penalty per 100
Building Materials
I’m not sure on these numbers, I haven’t tested them out, but the idea is that food goes bad easily, but is relatively easy to store in a scalable way. Building materials do better with being left out in the open, and you only need a few warehouses to make a big difference. Treasure is reasonably secure, but it gets easier and easier for things to walk off the more you get. Fundamentally, accumulating treasure at the colony rather than sending it home is a bad bet

Buildings take 1 day per 5 units to construct, and require a group to build, but you can reduce total time by 1 day per extra group, down to a minimum of half the original construction time (no less than one day).

Structure Costs

Housing Rating
Defense Rating
Morale Rating
HP Modifier
Cottage, wood
60 units
House, stone
240 units
Hut, pit
3 units
Hut, sod or wattle
5 units
Hut, mudbrick or wood
10 units
Longhouse, wood
60 units
Roundhouse, wood
25 units
Tent, Large
2 units
These values might need to see some changes with some playtesting, but I tried to give every building a reason to exist, so that none are “strictly better”, but I probably messed up somewhere. Calling out any egregious errors would be helpful.


Storage Rating
Granary (Food)
100 units
Strongroom (Treasure)
300 units
Warehouse (Building Materials)
75 units


Defense Rating
Attack Rating
Morale Rating
HP Modifier
Palisade, wood (100’, 10’ high)
25 units
Rampart, earthen (100’, 10’ high)
25 units
Tower, wood
300 units
Tower, stone
600 units


Building, stone
Double frequency of resupply voyages (maximum once monthly)
600 units
Building, wood
Improve chances that merchants will visit by 10%
300 units
One group working for one month produces 60 units of food
150 units
Converts 9 units of building materials or food into one unit of treasure (all 9 must be same resource)
300 units
Lumber Mill
All building costs are reduced by 10%, rounded down
250 units
Improve demand of all visiting merchants by 1 step
800 units
These buildings are obviously a little more abstract in nature, and I’m also not sure if there are some broken interactions between these and other systems, but I wanted to have a way for colonies to improve and become more permanent settlements, even if that process in the real world was much delayed compared to how it could probably be accomplished here.

Round population to the nearest multiple of 5, rounding up. Initial population is determined by starting voyage, but increased population can come from supply voyages, captive natives, friendly natives, or deserters from other colonies

Like resources, population can degrade (people die or run off). Your population has a housing rating that is checked in the same manner as the storage rating for resources. The base number is 12 and the minimum rating is zero. Each housing building positively modifies the population check by an amount listed with the building. Subtract 1 from the check for every group (5 people or part thereof).

To check, roll 2d6. A roll equal to or under the housing rating indicates success, while a higher roll is a failure. A roll of 2 is always a success, and a roll of 12 is always a failure.

If the check is failed, lose (1d100)/2 % of your population. Round up (you can’t lose a quarter of a person). Keep track of the percentage of population that is made up of mercenaries. That percent of the losses come from randomly determined mercenary groups. Officers are considered invested enough and cared for well enough not to succumb to the generalized loss of population checks.

Keeping track of the mercenaries as a percentage of population is mathier than I really want the system to be, but I can’t think of a better way to make sure random population losses don’t disproportionately affect civilians only. The same rationale for officers could apply to mercenaries, I suppose, especially considering their greater likelihood of dying on expeditions.

Every month, deduct 4 food resources per person (20 per group) from the stores. Be sure not to double count people on expeditions or the food they bring with them. Anyone who cannot be fed at the end of the month is lost (either starved or run off to find food on their own).

Colony Administration
By default, all colony actions are resolved at the end of the month. If more granularity is required, it is possible to work out any actions on a weekly basis. If you wish to go to a daily basis, that may be a stretch for these rules. Resolve each of these actions in order as the end of month “Colony Turn”.

1. Check for Colony Events
2. Check Resource Degradation
3. Check Population Degradation & Consume Food
4. Building Progress
5. Collect Resources
6. Resolve Visits
7. Plan for coming month (optional)

Check for Colony Events
Roll 2d6 and add +1 to the roll for every month there has not been an event. If the score is 10 or higher, roll on the following chart.

This rule is probably best construed as optional, but in the final format I’m going to really stress through layout and organization that everything is optional, and that every rule is tool in the toolbox that can be added, not a required piece of a system.

Suggested Effect
Rats get into the food
Lose 1/4 of your food stores
Horrible disease!
Lose 1d20-5% of your population
Terrible weather.
All expeditions and voyages are delayed by two weeks
If the senior officer present passes a leadership test, execute the ringleaders (lose 5 population). If the senior officer fails, put down the mutiny forcibly and lose 1d20 people.
A witch begins hexing local populace.
Lose 1d2 groups from your population every week until the witch is dealt with. Place the witch’s home in a random location between 6 and 18 miles from the colony.
A violent pogrom against some category of the population (1-4 an ethnic group, 5 a profession, 6 a socio-economic class).
Lose 1d20 of each resource in the chaos and 1d10 groups in the resulting fighting. Lower the morale of the colony by 2.
Unsettlingly intelligent children decide they are far better equipped to govern the colony. You can't imagine how they got hold of so many sharp things.
The colony’s leader must make a leadership test. If passed, lose 1 group of population. If failed, lose 1d3 groups and lower morale of colony by 1.
In the worst possible way, the town learns that an important building was constructed on top of a native burial ground.
Lose one randomly determined non-housing building as the populace refuse to use it and burn it down “just to be sure”.
A wild animal has begun preying on the village.  33% chance that it is still somewhere inside a blood-soaked house, leisurely cracking open bones and sucking on marrow.
Lose 1d3 groups of population, continue to lose 1 group per month until beast is dealt with. Beast has 1d6 HD and an AC 1d6 better than an unarmored human.
When an expedition returns, the colony population has disappeared. The only clue is a cryptic word carved in a tree, and most of the settlement seems curiously untouched.
Lose all population and food not on the expedition, but all buildings, treasure, and building materials remain untouched. The lost population might be found though some sort of successful expedition.
A series of inexplicable "accidents" arouses suspicions that some colonists are undercover agents of a rival colonial power.
Roll 1d6: 1 - Lose 1d20 food, 2 - Lose 1d20 Building Materials, 3 - Lose 1d10 Treasure, 4 - Lose 1d2 groups of population, 5-6 - a random building needs to be repaired. Continue to check until the source of the accidents is dealt with.
Bribery and corruption inquiry
Roll 1d6: 1-3 - Internal 4-6 Home Office
Internal: If any officers have higher leadership than colony leader, all test leadership. Highest margin of success becomes new colony leader.
Home Office: If more than 100 treasure is in colony, leader is arrested for trial in home country and treasure is confiscated for the company.
Attack by pirates or rival power.
Work out an attack against the colony by a company with the following statistics: MV: 3 AC: 7[12] HP: 10 To-Hit: +1 Class: Fighter Level: 1 Skills: None Tags: Pirates (or Rivals) Equipment: Ship (or horses) Inventory: 10 Food, 5 Treasure Morale: 7
Your colony has dysentery!
Lose 1d3 groups of population and lower morale by 1.
Plague of Whores
Colony members find new means to entertain themselves. Reduce the output of all collection activities besides expeditions by one unit until issue is dealt with. Completely doing away with new diversions will reduce colony morale by 1.
The colony turns out to have been placed in a location especially susceptible to a natural disaster appropriate to the surrounding terrain (flood, fire, famine, etc)
All buildings damaged and must be repaired. Alternatively, an expedition can be mounted to a new colony site at least 6 miles away, and the building materials from the damaged buildings can be used to rebuild as if repairing them.
If original site is kept, same disaster has a 10% chance of recurring every month.
Internecine fighting breaks out between rival religious sects within the colony. The natives are not impressed.
Reduce colony morale by 1 and reduce reaction rolls with any natives by 1. Rival powers may try to sway members of sympathetic religious groups to defect.
Season turns out to be far harsher than anyone expected.
Lose 3d8 percent of population to exposure.
The supply ship from the mother country is delayed by unforeseen circumstances.
One inbound or outbound voyage currently underway is delayed by 1d6 weeks
Courier ship arrives from home: there's been a coup!
Some colonists side with the usurper (2d20 per cent), some with the ousted leader (2d20 per cent), and the rest want to remain neutral until it's clear which side prevails.
Colony leader must make a leadership check or else fight a battle between companies made up of the old guard and new.
The mother country is now at war with the mother country of a neighboring colony. We used to be friends, what happens now? Do they know it yet?
-3 to all reaction rolls with people from neighboring colony.
Neighboring colony is now a legal target of conquest.
Rivals invade!

A rival power does not recognize your exclusive right to colonize this territory and establishes a colony 4d6 miles away with 100 settlers, 2400 Food, 1500 building materials. Leader is a level 3 fighter with a level 2 cleric and level 2 magic user as officers.
The lower classes aren’t happy with their compensation plans
Lower morale by 1 until situation is dealt with
Native pirates constantly harass colony
Unlike pirates from rival powers, native pirates do not attack as one unit and prefer to target outlying assets or small groups. Every month roll 1d4 and lose 1 - 1 group 2 - 1 building 2-4 - 1d4 treasure until colony is moved or resolution is reached with nearest native settlement.
A pig's head on a spike speaks dire portents
Colony loses 1 morale. If portents are heeded, some disaster is averted, but 1 treasure must be sacrificed to this oracle every month or a new disaster will strike.
Rumors of witches cause a disruption amongst the public.

For next month worsen demand for your trade goods by one with any trading partners to reflect panic-raised prices.
25% chance of a riot - lose 1d10 units of each resource and damage 1d4 random buildings.
Doppleganger incursion; they always begin from the top with what they perceive as the leader (although their perception of this can be quite odd).
Colony leader makes a leadership check. If passed, make a check mark. Every week make the test. Once it is failed, leader must fight a doppleganger in one on one combat. If the leader dies, the doppleganger replaces him.
Lose one person for every check mark for passed leadership check.
Sinkhole devours part of the settlement. There are deep, deep caves underneath.
Lose 1d4 buildings.
New randomly generated site of interest at same location as colony.
An intelligent monster has asserted its claim to your territory
Replace colony leader with randomly determined intelligent monster (beholders and dragons are fitting) or else fight a battle against the same monster.
Displacement of local ritualists means ghosts/demons/other supernatural phenomenon no longer held in check.
Lose 1 morale for general spookiness and nearest site of interest now includes contingent of randomly determined supernatural monsters.
Colonists captured and enslaved
1d3 groups are captured by a randomly determined group and enslaved by them
Some religious figure declares colonization morally bankrupt
1d6 1 lone "crackpot" (-0 morale) 2-3 respected local priest (-1 morale) 4 noted continental writer and thinker (-2 morale)  5 influential hierarch (-3 morale) 6 pope equivalent (everybody risks excommunication and -4 morale).

Terrible storms with exceptionally high winds damage much of the local infrastructure.

Damage 1d6 random buildings that must be repaired.
Supply ships bring strange mixture of supplies: something like large amounts of soap, canvas and sambuca instead of food and clothing
For the next supply voyage, the requested amount of food is replaced by building materials, requested building materials by population, and requested population by food.
Migration of strange, never-before-seen creatures.
There is a ⅓ chance these creatures are highly dangerous (any groups sent hunting them must fight a 3HD AC 5[14] monster).
Harvesting from the wild for the next month provides +4 food units.
Local fairy analogues decide to become acquainted in typical fashion.
Roll 1d4 to determine “typical fashion”: 1 - Murder 1 group and eat them, 2 - Hold a delightful feast! They expect a host gift of some value 3 - Invite themselves to a feast. Spend 5 food but they provide 5 treasure in exotic gifts. 4 - Lots of sex, with everyone (and the livestock) 50% chance +1 morale, 50% chance -1 morale.
Harvest festival gets somewhat out of hand upon the unveiling of a particularly large gourd.
All resource collection (except expeditions) provides -1 resource for next month as colonists recover, but morale +1
Uncommonly large birds land on rooftops and watch everyone menacingly.
-1 morale for general creepiness
Colonists come upon evidence of much earlier (and unrecorded) colony from their own civilization
Place new site of interest 3-6 miles from colony, populate with features, dangers, and treasures appropriate to home civilization a few hundred years in the past.
Displeased colonists run away from colony and attempt to join native culture.  
Lose 1d3 groups from population. 50% chance reaction rolls with nearest native group improved  +1 through improved cultural exchange, 50% reaction rolls -1 due to useless new mouths to feed
Colony's cat population quickly begins to decimate local wildlife.  The species they're wiping out has no native predators, and are regarded as being the exclusive property of deity. Prominent naturalist in home country requires specimens for vital work.
Colony Leader makes leadership check. Number by which he beats the target is number of specimens recovered. Each specimen is worth 2 treasure on the next resupply voyage. Fail the check and people are angry about their cats being mistreated, -1 morale.
Species of large tortoise discovered to be unfathomably delicious, populace eat all local specimens and demand more. MORE.
+1d20 Food units this month, -1 morale afterwards if the situations isn’t dealt with
New drug: officers the last to know.

Roll 1d6: 1-2 tied to native religions (-1 morale); 3-4 promoted to pacify labour (reduce all building times by 1 week); 5-6 slipped surreptitiously into food/water supply (+1 morale).
New craze: 1 food, 2 drink, 3 clothes, 4 novel habit like smoking or keeping pets, 5 religious observance, 6 art/music/theatre.
1-2 imported & low class, spread by hucksters; 3-4 imported metropolitan, spread by courtesans; 5-6 homegrown and exportable, quickly climbs the social ladder. +1 Morale, but all groups produce one fewer unit for a month as they overindulge.
Dogs constantly barking at night keep everyone awake.
Townsfolk start killing them to get some sleep as dark shapes begin flying across the moon at night. 50% chance no effect, 25% chance -1 morale, 25% chance -1d2 groups population
Contact is made with a group of natives that every other native group hates.  They happen to be excellent at harvesting 1. pearls, 2. smelly sea delicacies, 3. rare medicinal flowers from the high jungle canopy, 4. poisons, 5. musical gourds, 6. hate potions. 
As long as friendly relations are kept up with this tribe, +4 Treasure per month, but all reaction rolls with other groups are at -2.
The mother country sends new settlers: convicts
The colony leader makes a leadership check: fail, gain 10 groups and take -1 morale. Pass gain 20 groups and take -2 morale.
Violent change of government or shareholders in home country results in colony slipping through bureaucratic cracks
No resupply voyages arrive for next 1d6 months. Any further events rolled that reference the home country simply don’t happen in this time period.
Paramount leader of indigenous groups in the region shows up on diplomatic visit and offers you 2d3 groups of captives taken in war as slaves.
S/he'll be insulted if you refuse, but if you accept you'll have made enemies of the nations from which the enslaved originate. Take -2 to reaction rolls with insulted groups going forward.
Aerial battle between geometric shapes taken as sign of the end times.
-1 Morale from terror, but +4 Treasure this month as less “shrink” occurs
Local potentate challenges colony leader to single combat
His military forces will sweep in if challenge is not met. They are (1d6) 1 weaker, 2-4 evenly matched, 5 stronger, 6, overwhelming. If victorious, gain the trust and respect of his forces. If he defeats you, he demands 5d20 treasure in tribute.
Harmless but odd sexual proclivity (feet/swingers/etc) gains prevalence in colony
Mildly disturbing to new arrivals and religious figures. Temporary -1 morale for 1 month after every arrival of new settlers.
The communist vampire who was spirited away from the old country by his family is finally ready to act and create the egalitarian paradise he's been dreaming of for 500 years. What could possibly go wrong?
Colony Leader makes a leadership check: Success means that the population don’t buy the vampire’s spiel - immediately fight an 8HD vampire with all the powers. Failure means 2d20% of the population are swayed by the vampire and head into the wilderness to start an egalitarian undead colony.
The butcher makes meat pies even though most of our cows died out over the winter. "Local... wildlife," he insists.
+8 Food per month as well as (1d6): 1-3 -2 Reaction rolls with nearest native group, 4-6 -1 group population every other month, as long as butcher operates.
A new officer arrives, and he has Big Plans.
Add a randomly determined officer to the colony (combatant or non-combatant). His plans are (1d6) 1-2 Annex nearest native group 3-4 Fully clean out richest site of interest within 60 miles, 5-6 Double population of colony in one year.
The natives start carrying weapons the colonists have never seen before.
These weapons are (1d6) 1-2 bizarre looking but not especially functional 3-4 Especially well made versions of local weapons, 5-6 Advanced weapons that give the natives a decided military advantage.
The Crown nationalizes the company for the good of the country.
A new governor (colony leader) will arrive with the next voyage. Requirements to send back treasure are reduced by 20%, but every voyage will have 40% more settlers and expect commands to attack the colonies of other powers.
Plantation begins to grow nothing but bloody skulls.
Lose one farm, but gain a small randomly generated site of interest near the colony.
Indentured servants actually criminals
Receive 4d4 groups population, but take -1 to treasure degradation rolls for next 1d4 months
All booze loses its alcohol content.
Riots Ensue. Lose 1d3 groups population, but increase production of food and building materials by 1 unit per week per group as sobriety shows its benefits.
Some sort of mass hysteria.  Like koro (shrinking penis disease), zombisim, or running amok.
1-2 It’s all in their head (but no less real for that) 3-4 There’s some rational but bizarre explanation like fungus or mass suggestion 5-6 There really is some nefaroius supernatural influence.
A new group migrates into the area from farther away and disrupts the local balance of power.
Add a new local group faction to the region with randomly determined characteristics.
Enormous migrating beasts eat your crops, but they are delicious and stupid.
Lose one farm but all groups that harvest food resources this month collect the maximum amount.
A voyage from a rival power shipwrecks or limps into site of the colony.
If you take the survivors in, gain 4 groups of population, but your home company will insist on an extra 1d6 treasure be sent back on the next voyage as fees for colluding with competitors.
Native warlord insists on tribute, but offers his protection in exchange.
Pay 1d6 treasure to the warlord every month, but his group will fight any other native groups that attack you.
A small fleet of ships from a rival empire shows up.
1-2 they seek to resupply and are willing to trade, 3-4 they claim the land for their own prince and give the settlers 3 days to decamp, 5-6 they attack immediately and take no prisoners
Local indigenous informants assure colonists of the existence of deposits of yellow metal "just over those hills."
50% of site of interest within 18 miles. Colony leader checks leadership: if failed, 3d8 random groups do not produce this month as they instead search for gold in vain.
Friendly locals disclose the location of a site of interest
Randomly generate a new site of interest within 24 miles of colony
Reinforcements. A small group of military troops from the homeland arrive to bolster defenses
Next voyage will have 20 mercenaries or 20% more mercenaries than requested, whichever is larger.
Natives offer to trade gold (or some other valuable commodity) in exchange for cheap, manufactured goods (glass beads or something).
Trade food or building materials 1 for 1 with treasure as long as you like. Every month that you do this, there is a 1 in 6 chance the locals realize they are being cheated and become instantly, violently hostile.
Incredible luck! It turns out one of the natives is in fact one of your countrymen/women, shipwrecked here years ago and adopted into the local society.
S/he agrees to act as your interpreter with the locals. Gain a noncombatant officer fluent in all local languages with “Guide” skill at 3
Large cache of semi-valuable flotsam washes up on shore.
Gain 5d8 units of food and 5d8 units of building materials
Surviving pirates from an ill fated expedition are willing to trade valuables for basic supplies at an inflated rate.
Pirates have “Excessive” demand for food and “high” demand for building materials.  Anyone caught trading with them (10% chance) will be branded as pirates by the mother country as well. Only one punishment for piracy...

A new source of food is discovered with some help from the natives. It's not the right season to harvest, however.
If you harvest now, gain 180 food units, but lose the food source. If you wait 1d6 months, gain a farm for free.
The trees near the settlement bear strange fruit.
1-2 Delicious! +1 Morale 3-4 Nutritious! +4 food units every month 5-6 Dangerous! Lose 1 group of population, gain poison supply
New method of cultivation learned that is better suited to climate.
All farms produce +4 units of food a month
Nearby trees found to be excellent for construction.
All building materials costs reduced by 5%, and exchange rate for building materials to treasure improved by 1.
Persecuted religious movement sends hard-working, productive settlers to escape the home country.
Gain 5d20 population, all resource gathering produces 1 extra unit per group.
Visiting local religious figure gives warning about local supernatural dangers.
Take +1 to all supernatural related challenges at sites of interest (or an equivalent bonus if resolved in greater detail than the expedition rules).
A native group becomes enamored of one of the colony’s recipes, demand as much as they can get their hands on.
For next 1d4 months, one local group treats its demand for food as “high”
Local magnate wants to promote peace between his people and yours. He offers to send gifts in exchange for wives.
If the colony leader accepts, gain 20 treasure, lose 1 group of population.
Powerful concentration of magical energy discovered nearby.
Any magic users in the colony count as one level higher while within 18 miles of colony.
Settlers begin cultivating a plant formerly thought poisonous when they discover it is actually both delicious and nutritious.
The colony gains +1 morale from a distinct lack of scurvy and spicier meals.
Dedicated militia sergeants greatly improve the mandatory weekly training programs for settlers.
Improve the armor class and to hit score of the colony by 1.
An especially useful species of tree is discovered nearby.
Any groups harvesting building materials gain +5 units
Magical ways through the countryside discovered.
Randomly determine 1d3 points within 6 miles of the colony. Each connects to another point 1d6x6 miles away in a random direction. Treat the connected points as adjacent for travel.
Extraordinarily good weather.
All farms produce an extra 4 units of food this month.
Rising tensions with rival empires and competitors demand an increased military posture at the colony
The next voyage includes 1d20 mercenary groups and enough building materials for a wood tower and 500’ of  palisade
Shares in the company have soared in value, raising an enormous amount of capital.
1-2 Voyage size upgraded one “step” (about 5,000 cargo slots) 3-4 Voyages are now twice as frequent 5-6 Reduce the amount of treasure required by the company to be sent back per month by 10%
A powerful local supernatural being adopts your colony as its people.
Once a month, you can modify any die roll affecting the colony by 1 in a favorable manner.
Stories of wealth and adventure in the far away colony spur a wave of enthusiastic new recruits.
When the next voyage arrives, +1 morale to the colony, provided any settlers were aboard.
A new natural source of treasure is discovered, something like animals with luxurious fur or a freely growing spice plant.
Your factories lower the cost to convert materials into treasure by one.
While trading with the natives, they reveal the location of an ancient place that they avoid, but is said to be full of riches
Place a new site of interest within 18 miles of the colony.
Excellent fishing/hunting/growing this month.
All groups that harvest food from the wild return with maximum units.
Powerful local group proposes alliance to destroy rival.
If accepted, second most powerful local group will be friendly to you in all actions cooperating towards fighting the most powerful local group.
Superior route discovered.
Whether it is due to better current and winds, previously unknown passes or straits, or some other reason, all voyages to and from the colony are reduced in length by 3 weeks.
A rich vein of minerals is discovered!
Treat as a farm that produces 20 units of treasure per month if one group works it.
Recognized by the company and the crown for distinction in duty.
The officers all promoted and the colony leader receives  a title of nobility (or an upgrade to an existing one).
Local beasts domesticated, excellent pack animals
All teamster units have +2 inventory slots.
Local group impressed by your majesty, ask to join your colony.
Gain +5d20 groups population, but -1 morale for next 1d6 months as settlers learn to live with natives.
I broke these out into “description” and “suggested effect” so that in a game with a referee, he can just go with the logical conclusions of the events as he would in any other game, but in a game without a referee there is an effect that doesn’t require much interpretation.

Many of these entries came from the wonderful responses I got to this post:

Check Resource Degradation
Check for resource degradation as explained in the resources section, then modify your totals. This is done before the other steps to represent shortages throughout the month and to prevent a last minute “stock up” before checking making as large a difference.

Check Population Degradation & Consume Food
Check population degradation and adjust population accordingly, then deduct the appropriate amount of food from your stores for the remaining population. If there is not enough to go around, unlike with population degradation, you are able to decide who does and does not get food.

Building Progress
Check the build time of any buildings begun or continued this month, and make sure there are still the appropriate number of workers for that build time. Make a note of progress if not completed, or if the building was completed during the past month. If completed, add it to the complete buildings section of your colony record and adjust any modifiers to housing, defense, or storage rating appropriately and note that the workers are available for new tasks in the coming month.

Collect Resources
Receive the resources for the groups set to harvest, farm, manufacture, or otherwise collect resources and add them to the colony’s totals. Expeditions are an exception to the “colony turn” order and the resources gained on expeditions can be added to the colony’s totals as soon as the expedition returns.

Resolve Visits
Finally, conduct any trade with visiting merchants or expeditions, add the resources received in a resupply voyage, and deduct any resources being sent on a voyage to the home company.

Plan for coming month
This step is primarily useful in a solitaire or competitive game without a referee, especially if played by mail or post, but may be useful in a more traditional game as well. If used, take this time to assign workers, plan expeditions, and otherwise determine your actions for the coming month. This “announce actions” step can instead be taken on a weekly basis, even if the other colony turn actions are resolved monthly.

Colony Defensive Attributes
Like a person or a company, a colony may be treated as an individual for quicker resolution of large scale events like raids on the colony. Such events can also, of course, be handled “zoomed in” to the company or individual level, in which case defenses, buildings, and so forth should be handled more concretely. The statistics for a colony are:

Armor Class
Begins at 10 and is modified by the defense ratings of buildings. The default assumption is an ascending armor class, but the values can be made negative for descending armor class.

To-Hit Bonus
Begins at zero and is increased by buildings with an attack rating and by 1 for every 5 groups of mercenaries (25 people) and 1 for every combatant officer.

Hit Points
Hit points are equal to one per group (so, 20 per 100 population) plus any hit point modifiers provided by buildings

Morale is equal to the leadership of the most senior officer present as modified by any relevant buildings.

Resolving Attacks on Colonies
Using the statistics determined above, an attack on a colony can be worked out as a fight using standard combat rules. If the colony is reduced to zero hit points, it is utterly destroyed and its people scattered. If it fails a morale check, then it is surrendered to the attacking force (if applicable) or else the population mutinee and flee if possible. In either case, the population turns on the officers and either hands them over to the attacker or kills them.

Making Morale Checks
The colony must check morale when it takes its first HP damage, when reduced to half HP, again when reduced to ¼ HP, and upon the death of the commanding officer.

Aftermath of Colony Attacks
Assuming a colony is neither destroyed nor routed, work out the damage to a colony in the following manner:
1) Apply HP damage to defensive structures, if any. Any building that takes it’s full HP is “damaged” and must be repaired for ¼ of its original building cost, rounded up. Repairs take an amount of time equal to constructing a building with the required building materials cost.
2) Apply 1/4 of remaining HP damage to other buildings. Any damage in excess of existing building HP modifiers carries over to population
3) Apply the rest of the remaining HP damage to population. For every 2 points of damage, lose 1 randomized group of population.

If the attack was somehow special in nature (large monster, fire, flooding, et cetera) you may consider altering the ratios of damage appropriately.

This defenses section is almost entirely speculative in nature, but I wanted to stick with my established theme of using familiar D&D mechanics applied at a different scale, but with rules for interaction between the scales. I haven’t tried this out yet, and I may have failed horribly.