Okay, so if I understand the debate;
Generally speaking, the followers work for free. Or effectively free in the sense that whatever they are doing is assumed to be paying for their living expenses.
Barring something unusual of course.
While no rules says that overtly, that is the best effect you should see without diving into playing multiple optional sub-games.
So for the SBG, using the followers I would think would qualify for the -30% cost since they are functionally free labor.
Now the actual staff I'm less sure on. Particularly the ones that have a 30gp monthly wage.
I could see it as either they work for free for you and if you run out of followers then you have to pay for the extra staff.
You have to pay everything.
Again, that comes down to the multiple optional sub-games.
By egregiously strict RAW, leaders of the construction crew and staff above 1st level are "specialists" and would have to be paid individually. However;
Also; how do you folks interpret the part about independent income.
"Income Sources: ... Each income source provides 1% of the stronghold's final price annually as pure profit
--- above and beyond labor costs and other expenses...."
To me that sounds like it may pay for all your labor costs and then 1% on top of that.
Is that correct or am I reading it incorrectly?
Yes, but that is
your stronghold is built.
Which means you get to eat all the costs up front, out of your WBL, and then replenish it slowly over the next few decades.
Well, assuming you have
any income sources. For which there are, you guessed it, no actual rules beyond DM discretion.
I would also add that while you may not have to pay
your followers, you do have to equip
them. Arms and armor costs add up very quickly, again coming from your WBL, again having to wait for an income source to replace.
Which is why I suggest handwaving both, and letting the stronghold "pay" for itself and all associated costs, with any "profit" subsumed in ongoing costs to expand and become more important.
Regarding the comment about this being a 3.5 topic and it going all pathfinder;
Given the very minimal conversion work between the two (mostly just condensing skills), I see them as mostly interchangeable.
They really are.
And I would note that between the Business and Affiliation rules in 3.5 and the Downtime and Faction rules in PF, you can cobble together some "bonus feats" providing the PCs with greater social standing and titles, as well as "free" lifestyle (which everyone forgets to charge anyway) for maintaining a "proper" stronghold.
The post about the scepter above raised a question.
Heros of Battle, p97, has a feat that doubles the number of followers.
What would that scepter likely do in addition to that feat?
I would treat it like any other stacked doubling. Which is to say, it becomes x3, not x4.
Stratovarious mentions the Orc Warlord feat to double followers.
There is also the Extra Followers feat in Heroes of Battle which doubles followers.
Going by the handwave of the leadership score and thus follower level limit in Powers of Faerun, you might want to make some form of the Legendary Commander feat available to get x10 followers. Perhaps creating a version that gives x5 followers.
And if you want to get really egregious, Powers of Faerun notes that nothing stops a follower from having the Leadership feat and getting followers of its own, or having a ranking position in an organization and having command of a bunch of grunts. Just be aware that Powers of Faerun has a LOT of egregiously superfluous charts and tables to set up complex webs of power and control that require significant play/design time to use.
The purpose of these questions are two fold.
One is to be able to use it as a player.
The second is to apply it to a major villain as a DM and functionally build their organization as an expression of their followers and cohort (or cohorts).
Personally I'm inclined to think the combo of that scepter and the feat would equal 3x the followers since if you double a doubled number, it's quite a lot more than that.
Oh; and regarding the "Villan" leader, she has roughly 50/50 split on leadership and combat feats. The stronghold is functionally a hidden reinforced and built up ore mine that she uses as her main base and the overall organization uses as a major income source to keep functioning. She's functionally a general in said organization. If the PCs take out the mine it would be a very signifigant blow to the entire organization given the huge reduction in manpower, materials and income.
Oh, and she does have a evil cohort.
Villains open up other wonderful options to abuse.
Either Undead Leadership (3.5) or Vile Leadership (PF) gets you flunkies that you can abuse and replace.
There are a number of "bonus" cohort feats out there - dragon and wild companion.
Heroes of Battle has a number of feats for improving a cohort and making followers more mass combat "effective".
On the PF side, even if you do not go for the full mass combat rules, you can pick up the Troop subtype, which is a variation on the Mob template from 3.5 and the Swarm subtype, to make small units of low CR grunts into CR 5-15 (I forget the full range of their examples, but about that) "monsters" suitable for mid to high level PCs to fight.