Perhaps I’ve been reading too much Harn Manor lately. Opinions solicited.

HENCHMEN EXPECTATIONS
Once a character acquires a realm large enough to provide him with campaign XP (e.g. domain exceeds the character’s GP Threshold), his henchmen will expect the lord to assign them a domain from the realm to manage. Moreover, the henchmen will expect that the domains they are assigned will be appropriate to their own level. If a particular vassal domain’s income is less than the henchman’s GP Threshold, he will begrudge his lord’s penuriousness, and his loyalty may be compromised.
To determine if a vassal begrudges his lord, consult the XP from Domain and Mercantile Income table. Starting on the first row, move down the GP Threshold column until the listed GP Threshold value exceeds the domain income for the vassal’s domain (which may be 0). Stop there and write down the class level associated with the GP Threshold on that row. If the class level you wrote down is less than the vassal’s actual level, his morale score is reduced by 2 per point of difference.
EXAMPLE: Duke Robert is a 9th level fighter with a domain of 2,500 families. Duke Robert wants to keep his own domain as large as possible to maximize his own XP, so he decides to give his four henchmen quite small domains.
One of his henchman is Howard, a 7th level fighter. Howard is assigned a domain of 50 families to rule. After garrison, taxes, tithes, and stronghold upkeep, Howard’s domain has a domain income of 315gp per month. Consulting the XP from Domain and Mercantile Income table, the Judge finds the first GP Threshold which exceeds 315gp is 650gp. The class level associated with that GP Threshold is 5th level. 5th level is two levels below Howard’s 7th level, so Howard’s morale score is reduced by 4.
Duke Robert learns of Howard’s unhappiness and decides to increase his domain to a more satisfactory size. He increases Howard’s domain from 50 families to 400 families, which increase Howard’s domain income to 2,560gp. Consulting the XP from Domain and Mercantile Income table, the Judge sees that Howard is now satisfied.
Duke Robert realizes his other three 7th-level vassals will be as upset as Howard if he doesn’t take care of them, so he assigns 400 families each to each of his three other vassals. Robert now has a personal domain of 900 families and four vassals, including Howard, each ruling 400 families.
Assigning a vassal a domain with a domain income greater than his own GP Threshold does not decrease the vassal’s loyalty, but it doesn’t increase it. Perhaps the vassal develops an overinflated ego, assuming that his lord is desperate for his services, or resent the excess responsibility being thrust upon. History is filled with betrayals by trusted henchmen shown a little too much favor…

NON-HENCHMEN VASSALS
Since the number of henchmen any character may employ is limited to between 1 and 7 (depending on his Charisma), very powerful characters may find that they have more domains under their control than can be managed even with all of their henchmen. Rather than follow the procedure in ACKS of assigning multiple vassal domains to a henchmen, who then has to sub-assign the vassal domain to his own henchmen, the ruler may assign vassal domains to non-henchmen.
Non-henchmen rulers have a base morale of -2. During any month, a non-henchman vassal can only be safely asked to perform one duty for each favor given (there is no “free” duty, as there is with a henchman). If the ruler demands duties in excess of this total, the non-henchman vassal’s loyalty must be checked on the Henchman Loyalty table for each extra duty.

###### Noncontiguous Domains

The maximum size of a domain is 500 square miles (1 24-mile hex, 16 6-mile hexes, or 576 1-mile hexes). Typically a domain will consist of one or more 6-mile hexes. Small domains might consist of one or more 1-mile hexes. Regardless of the size of the domain, it is easier to manage if its entire area is contiguous. However, for various reasons of geography, conquest, or feudalism, it is possible for a domain to be (or become) noncontiguous.

If an entire domain is encompassed within the same 24-mile hex, but some hexes of the domain are noncontiguous, then the domain suffers a -1 penalty to its base domain morale. If the domain is spread across two 24-mile hexes, then the domain suffers a -2 penalty to its base domain morale; if spread across three 24-mile hexes, it suffers a -3 penalty to its base domain morale; and so on.

The contiguous area of the domain which encompasses the lord’s stronghold is called the lord’s demesne. Each separate and noncontiguous area of the domain is called a manor. A lord may purposefully divide contiguous areas into manors if desired.

EXAMPLE: Jory’s domain of 300 families is spread across 3 24-mile hexes. Hex #1 contains the domain’s stronghold, along with 200 families in two contiguous 6-mile hexes. Hex #2 contains 50 families in one 6-mile hex. Hex #3 contains 30 families in one 6-mile hex, and another 20 families in another, noncontiguous 6-mile hex.  The domain therefore consists of one demesne of 200 families and three manors, of 50 families (in Hex #2), 30 families (in Hex #3), and 20 families (also in Hex #3). Jory’s domain suffers a -3 penalty to it base morale because it is spread across three 24-mile hexes.

 Officer Title Level Cost/Month Stewardship Manor Home Steward 3rd 100gp 25 families 500gp Steward 4th 200gp 50 families 1,000gp Steward 5th 400gp 100 families 2,000gp

The morale penalty on a noncontiguous domain can be alleviated by employing a steward on each manor. A steward is a specialist who organizes and manages a manor for an absentee lord. Stewards range in level from 3rd to 5th level and can manage manors of between 25 and 100 families. Manors of larger than 100 families require multiple stewards. Each steward must be provided with a manor home of the minimum value listed and paid the monthly wage shown on the accompanying table.

If desired, manors can be tracked as separate “mini-domains” or can be tallied as part of the overall domain. If the former, treat the manor home as the manor’s stronghold. If the latter, the cost of manor homes is added to the domain’s stronghold value for upkeep purposes. In either case, the steward’s wages count as an expense for purposes of calculating domain income. Families in a manor must still be protected with a garrison and feasted with festivals, as usual.

EXAMPLE: In the 50-family manor in Hex #2, Jory builds a 1,000gp manor home and installs a 4th level steward. In the 30-family manor in Hex #3, Jory also builds a 1,000gp manor home and installs a 4th level steward. In the 20-family manor in Hex #3, Jory builds a 500gp manor home and installs a 3rd level steward. Jory’s stronghold value is increased by 2,500gp for purposes of upkeep, and he must subtract (200+200+100) 500gp per month from his domain income to pay his stewards. However, his domain morale penalty is removed.

The intent of the above rules is to simulate the following real-world conditions of rulership:

1. The fact that feudalism arose out of necessity to maintain the loyalty of powerful henchmen, who otherwise would prove rebellious, mutinous and unhappy. (This is doubly highlighted by the fact that non-henchmen vassals are quite disloyal (-2).) Conversely, a ruler needs to make sure his vassals don’t receive so much of his realm as to be more powerful than he.

2. The fact that many rulers had far more direct vassals (or tenants-in-chief) than ACKS allows. William the Conqueror had dozens of direct vassals. Conversely, most of these rulers frequently dealt with rebellion when they asked for tribute or troops, as was the case in England and the Holy Roman Empire.

3. The fact that historically, a king, duke, baron, or earl’s “domain” might actually consist of many manors spread over a wide area. These manors would not be subinfeudated - they were still ruled by the noble, albeit indirectly via a steward - but they were not contiguous domains.

This is fascinating stuff, and as an avid player of Crusader Kings II, I love everything here. That being said, everything described besides non-henchmen vassals sounds like something players would go to great lengths to avoid. I could see the henchman loyalty penalties very quickly becoming “thresholds” that a player would never dare go below.

Speaking of which: When Duke Robert gives over families to Count Howard, what happens if Howard is suddenly in possession of more hexes than his personal stronghold can secure?

Henchman Expectations:

I don’t particularly like this one.

First off, it’s too likely for players to be screwed by the math, which they’ll hate, even if it may be somewhat intentional. e.g., A lord with a total realm income of 14,000gp and three level 8 henchmen (5kgp threshold) could turn his entire realm over to them, leaving no personal domain for himself, and at least one of them still wouldn’t be happy. Henchmen are already limited by CHA, the chance of leaving when they level up or suffer calamities, the cost of maintaining them (wages/loot shares), etc. There’s no need to turn them into an outright liability.

Second, there’s an established fictional (and, I presume, historical, though I can’t verify that offhand) tradition of powerful protagonists traveling with a band of slightly-less-powerful, but not enfeoffed, retainers. Not every knight demands to be a noble.

Finally, some henchmen are of classes that aren’t that into domain rulership in the first place. A Master Thief may prefer to focus on building up a syndicate and expanding it into a major guild rather than going legit and managing peasants. The reclusive Wizard who just wants to be left in peace while he does undisturbed research in his tower is an extremely well-established trope. Etc. Henchmen of these sorts would seem more likely to refuse rulership than to demand it.

Non-henchman Vassals:

Makes sense and seems consistent with the rules for mercenary commanders in D@W. More importantly, it fills a potential need for added flexibility in handling large realms. I like it, even if I don’t expect to ever see it actually used in my own game.

Noncontiguous Domains

Makes sense, adds flexibility, and seems more likely to come up in actual play than the non-henchman vassals.

From what Alex wrote I cant see a penalty for not giving out a domain, just one for giving out a domain that is too small.

Henchmen Expectations:

I’d agree with nDervish in that DND/fiction would indicate that some henchmen types are less likely to be desirious of a domain (an explorer, for example, whose leader has established a domain in a civilized area, or a human/demihuman mixed henchcouple). There’s a lot more things to do, unlike real life where oppressing the poors remains a valid pastime.

If it’s a matter of making sure gold is flowing out of the PC’s coffers, would paying off a henchmen to the level of the domain income he or she should be receiving be enough to offset morale penalties, if said henchmen is of the sort to want a domain?

I would, however, be interested in what happens with the 9th level henchmen who for some reason is requested not to establish their own stronghold of whatever type, or not given a domain to rule to put a stronghold in as above - at 9th that’s a class feature they’re being told not to utilize, which is a big deal “game” wise.

Nonhench Vassals:

Makes complete sense, and another reminder why Charisma stat is best stat.

Noncontiguous Domains:

This is good. In my mind where this would come into play (and ACKS doesn’t necessarily have this (yet…)) is perhaps claiming a resource into your domain that you want now, and then growing towards it as time passes. Like a gold mine. Or good fishing.

That’s my inner Civilization player talking.

The first sentence of the section makes me think there would be a penalty for not giving out a domain: “Once a character acquires a realm large enough to provide him with campaign XP (e.g. domain exceeds the character’s GP Threshold), his henchmen will expect the lord to assign them a domain from the realm to manage.”
He also says “Starting on the first row, move down the GP Threshold column until the listed GP Threshold value exceeds the domain income for the vassal’s domain (which may be 0).” Since there is no 0 on that table, it suggests that henchmen with no domain will suffer the morale penalties.

Change of topic to my opinion:
The first rule feels too fiddly to me. Maybe it would work better once it was in a layout and the necessary chart could be next to it, but it feels like a fair bit of bookkeeping for (relatively) little effect, since you have to track the gp value for each enfeoffment as each of them grows or shrinks, rather than tracking the domain as a whole.

I like the second and third rules. They’re simple and logical. I do wonder if the wording for the third should be slightly altered. The phrasing of “If an entire domain is encompassed within the same 24-mile hex” could be interpreted to mean that the domain is within a single existing 24-mile hex on the map. I think the intent is that the entire domain could be encompassed within a single 24-mile hex, so that if (for example) the domain exists within three hexes in the current campaign map, but a contiguous hex drawn around the territories would be a 24-mile hex or smaller, it doesn’t have the morale penalties.

Very first sentence? “Once a character acquires a realm large enough to provide him with campaign XP (e.g. domain exceeds the character’s GP Threshold), his henchmen will expect the lord to assign them a domain from the realm to manage.” (emphasis added)

Plus, it just plain seems illogical that henchmen would be happier (by a huge margin - even a single 2-point morale loss is a pretty big deal; get a few levels difference in there and it quickly becomes “will automatically desert at the first opportunity”) with no domain at all than they would be with a domain that’s too small.

Regarding henchmen expectations, my concern is that without some mechanic to enforce this, situations like these can occur:

1. PCs can assign a large domain to a low-level henchman so he would quickly level up, while bringing their high-level henchman with them on adventurers.
2. PCs can give domains to characters they had built to be “domain studs” (leadership, command, CHA), disregarding loyal henchmen who had risked their lives for them.
3. PCs will tend to keep as personal domains much larger domains than is assumed in ACKS or typical in the historical sources its based on.

Perhaps as a modification of henchmen expectations:
Once a character acquires a realm large enough to provide him with campaign XP (e.g. domain exceeds the character’s GP Threshold), his henchmen will expect the lord to assign them a domain from the realm to manage. Moreover, the henchmen will expect that the domains they are assigned will be appropriate to their own level. If a character’s realm is providing him with campaign XP, while his henchman’s domain is not (because the vassal domain’s income is less than the henchman’s GP Threshold), the henchman will begrudge his lord’s penuriousness, and his loyalty may be compromised.

I’ll give further thought to ideas of whether, e.g., mages or thieves as henchmen would feel the same.

Having seen the problems you are trying to address stated out in the open, these restrictions make a lot more sense. I have a few thoughts on how the rule of henchmen expectations might actually work out, and this is more of a “thinking out loud” situation.

1. The rule is specifically for a “domain” generating campaign XP, not a realm. If it’s possible to negate the penalty by keeping the domain small enough to not generate XP, the player can slowly siphon off families to henchman realms whenever their personal domain is at risk of turning henchman eyes green. As long as the PC isn’t making XP from DOMAIN income, they stay satisfied, and the resultant taxes they pay could still allow a PC to gain XP from total realm income.

2. As far as a loyalty penalty of -2 per step, this is pretty bad but if my above interpretation is correct, it’s easy to skirt. Moreover, even if it DOES apply, keep in mind that by the time you are level 9, and your henchmen are between levels 5 and 8, many of them have been with you for 3-4 levels, which means they gained 3-4 loyalty. Adding in other factors like accepting with elan, gaining fanatic loyalty, or the PC’s charisma could mean you could safely handle 2 or even 3 penalties before getting back to “base”.

3. for classes with non-domain options, I feel like allowing those with alternatives an “out” is too much of a disincentive to the already bad-at-high-levels fighter. My suggestion is that it should only be a PC mage or thief’s decision to forgo domain management (or at least keep a domain so small as to not incite jealousy). If you start collecting domain XP, your mages and thieves will want a piece. If you decide being a ruler isn’t your thing and you want to build a sanctum or thieves’ guild instead, THEN your henchmen follow suit. This has the added benefit (in my mind) of creating synergy for when players choose henchman similar to their main PC, which helps discourage “utility belt” hiring of henchman to have something different for every situation.

In the replacement conscripts and militia thread, Alex said that a campaign usually doesn’t span more than 5 game years. Do henchmen expectations for obtaining a domain come into play over that time period? And wouldn’t the smart move for a PC with a henchman who wants a domain be to build the henchman a stronghold in an unclaimed hex rather than give the henchman part of the PC’s existing domain?

Or, better yet, take over a neighboring established domain and give it to your henchman.

Now you’re talking!

Give a henchmen a domain, and he’ll rule for a day. Teach a henchmen to conquer his own domain, and he’ll rule for life.