# Rules Clarification/Update/Discussion: Strongholds and Domains

If using the Strongholds and Domain Rules from Axioms Issue 3, it might be necessary to update the rules as follows?

Tribute Received: Tribute is revenue received from vassal domains controlled by the ruler but managed on his behalf by henchmen. Tribute is generally 3gp per family in the vassal domain. Rulers do not receive tribute from non-henchman vassals.

Tribute Paid: If a ruler holds a domain within the realm of a superior lord, he will have to pay a tribute to his liege of 3gp per family in his domain. Rulers do not pay tribute unless they are henchmen.

Discussion:

In the old rules, you could only have henchmen vassals. So maybe you could 4, 5, or 6 henchmen vassals. They'd pay you their tribute of 3gp per each of their families (or, originally 10% of their income as a whole in 1E). That was good and valuable. But THEY, in turn, would have vassals nested under them, and under them, in a tree.

Let's use a simple example: Duke (200 families) with vassal 4 Counts each (100 families), with vassal 4 Barons (50 families) each. Each Count collects 4x50x3=600gp in tribute; Duke collects 4x100x3=1200gp in tribute. All is well.

However, I changed the rules to allow you to have more vassals than henchmen. So let's imagine the Duke reorganizes his realm. Now he has as vassals 4 Counts (each 100 families) and direct to him (not to the Counts) 16 Barons (50 families each).

Now the Duke collects (4 x 100 x 3) 1200gp from the Counts before; but he also gets (16 x 50 x 3) 2400gp from the Barons in tribute; and the Counts get nothing. The total amount of money is the same but it massively centralizes it into the hands of the top lord, in a way that is bad for the game economy and ahistorical.

Whereas if you say that regular tribute requires the close bonds of feudal loyalty (or Roman patron/client loyalty), THEN the Duke has the following choices:
He can have 4 Counts, and collect tribute, and let the Barons pay them tribute - which makes for happy Counts! Or he can have 4 Counts and collect tribute, and 16 Barons that report to him and DONT pay tribute - which makes for unhappy Duke, and unhappy Count, and unruly Barons who are hard to manage.

Problems with Ruling
It creates an asymmetry in that henchmen have more obligations than non-henchmen, without receiving any benefit. Why would you WANT to be a henchman vassal?

Possible Solution
Dispense with Tribute (as revenue and cost) altogether. Instead, use only the Favors/Duties table to manage relationships between lord and vassals.

I'll have to run some numbers...

It may be possible to do requirements of the distribution of vassals.

So let's say you found your realm and you make your henchmen all vassals. So let's say that makes them barons and you're a marquis (going by the titles in Axioms).  So you rack up your 5-7 henchman vassal realms, and then you go to add an 8th baron (or maybe you go by the henchman limit, so this is going to be the 5th or 6th or whatever realm creates the first non-henchman vassal).

Now your subjects come to you and they say "hey now, you're saying you're a Marquis, but your realm is much too large to be a march. it's a county, which means we're marquises, which means we should have barons under us.  And you agree and name them marquises and name yourself count, but you say "aha, though I am a count, I am still the marquis of my personal realm, so I'm allowed to have barons too" and they nod but say "yes, but you can't just keep all the barons to yourself.  Every month that you have more barons than us, that counts as a favor." and you thank your stars they're henchmen and start doling out baronies to them.

Time passes and your realm grows. slowly but surely you dole baronies out to each of your marquises while filling your personal march with baronies.  eventually you run into the same problem and your barons say "this is far too many baronies to call this realm a march" and now you'll have to make them marquises, but then your existing marquises, if none have ascended the fuedal structure, will lament that the realm is too large for this many marquises, so you'll have to make at least some of them counts and grow their counties in tandem with your personal county.

The end result (and presumably the simplified rule) is that you can safely hold 1-7 vassals of each rank below you, depending on your charisma, and it's a monthly favor if you have more vassals of a particular rank than one of your other vassals at the next highest rank.

as an addendum: this also answers what henchmen get for being loyal to you.  You would naturally want your most loyal henchmen to hold your highest office since they are more loyal when you grow.

Here's where my head is currently as a design approach (using Axioms 3 as baseline):

1. Eliminate Tribute income.

2. Eliminate Tribute cost.

3. Add new cost: Maintenance, 1 gp per family (equivalent to old "stronghold upkeep" expense)

4. On Duties/Favors table, replace "Tax Demanded" as follows:
"The lord demands the vassal pay a tax each month until the duty is revoked. The tax is based on the vassal's title or title equivalent: King - 50,000gp; Prince - 25,000gp; Duke - 6,500gp; Count - 3,000gp; Marquis - 1,000gp; Baron - 400gp.

5. On Duties/Favors table, replace "Gift" as follows: "The lord gives the vassal a gift with a value based on the vassal's title or title equivalent (as above)."

By default, assume that rulers are charging this Tax to their henchmen followers as their free Duty.

6. On Duties/Favors table, replace "Loan Demanded" as follows: The lord demands a loan. The loan amount is equal to twice the tax (as above). The loan is repaid when the duty is revoked. Otherwise, the probability of repayment is equal to the adventurer’s CHA stated as a percentage, rolled monthly. No interest will be paid in either case.

7. On Duties/Favors table, replace "Festival" as follows: The lord celebrates a wedding, birth, military victory, or other event by holding a festival in all of the vassal’s domains. The vassal gains gp commensurate with his title (as above) applied towards liturgy spending.

For all ranges shown on the ACKS tables, these values work quite well. Range of values:
King  48,000gp to 62,500gp
Prince 22,500gp to 27,000gp
Duke 5,750gp to 7,500gp
Count 2,750gp to 3,350gp
Marquis 1000gp to 1,225gp
Baron 200gp to 600gp

Should I do an update of AXIOMS 3 with the above?

Maintenance - not paying it does what? Morale? If morale, is it worth splitting out from the liturgy expense, or just toss it in the liturgy bucket to simplify?

...and, after cogitation:

I like the flat fees by rank. It feels more "real" and less spreadsheety, and it allows a lot more wiggle room for vassal/lord interactions, say, a lord notices a PC just had a giant windfall, sounds like extra-duty-time.

Loans, same, more real/historical.

As far as henchmen, I kinda feel what's missing is the "family bonds" - something below henchman loyalty, certainly, just looking at history, but also something that cemented a lot of the lord/vassal sorts of relationships beyond what 4+CHA is able to do. That'd be a whole different subsystem though.

[quote="koewn"]

Maintenance - not paying it does what? Morale? If morale, is it worth splitting out from the liturgy expense?

[/quote]

I think it erodes stronghold value if unpaid.

[quote="Alex"]

I think it erodes stronghold value if unpaid.

[/quote]

Hrm. I did like the removal of stronghold upkeep from before...This might be a little out there, but what about some penalty to garrison readiness, vis-a-vis Wandering Into War? If we assume the garrison spends free time fixing up the tower, and you're not paying for that, they're spending more time on the stronghold and less patrolling?

That kinda abstracts in some sort of hireling castellan that's keeping track of that crap for you, and managing the garrison time...(insert picture of SImCity maintenance director complaining about your budget here)

these rules may need some more tight formalization of when you change ranks.  before, since it was based on their families, it didn't really matter much if you called them a baron or a marquis.  now it makes a fairly big difference.  it will be necessary to define when your vassals change rank, and how they feel about it. From a historical perspective, I assume vassals should want to attain the highest rank possible, yes?

As I think about this, it seems like there would be almost no value in creating a non-henchman vassal.  While certainly in the previous system, it was always more optimal to have non-henchman vassals than give your vassals sub-vassals, now the opposite is true: you're essentially giving valuable land to someone who will almost never pay you unless you have some other way to gain a favor from them (or you're willing to risk loyalty rolls).  There might be some interesting interplay in when to risk the loyalty rolls with high charisma, but a high charisma ruler is the one least likely to need to make use of non-henchman vassals. There's no harm in giving the option if it's a weaker option, but it might be simpler to just eliminate the option entirely.

[quote="Jard"]

these rules may need some more tight formalization of when you change ranks.  before, since it was based on their families, it didn't really matter much if you called them a baron or a marquis.  now it makes a fairly big difference.  it will be necessary to define when your vassals change rank, and how they feel about it. From a historical perspective, I assume vassals should want to attain the highest rank possible, yes?

As I think about this, it seems like there would be almost no value in creating a non-henchman vassal.  While certainly in the previous system, it was always more optimal to have non-henchman vassals than give your vassals sub-vassals, now the opposite is true: you're essentially giving valuable land to someone who will almost never pay you unless you have some other way to gain a favor from them (or you're willing to risk loyalty rolls).  There might be some interesting interplay in when to risk the loyalty rolls with high charisma, but a high charisma ruler is the one least likely to need to make use of non-henchman vassals. There's no harm in giving the option if it's a weaker option, but it might be simpler to just eliminate the option entirely.

[/quote]

Hmmm. Some thoughts. We know that in many historical cases, rulers had more than 4-7 direct vassals. But we also know that, in many historical cases, rulers did divvy up land among vassals or subordinates, and that there were nested hierarchies. So the question we're facing is "why did they do that, and how do we simulate it"?

Here are some thoughts from a historical point of view:

1. In the absence of modern technology, rulers needed to appoint local representatives who could make decisions locally and collect taxes locally.
2. Taxes, often paid in kind, are typically not sent to the central government, but are spent locally.
3. Managing subordinates and maintaining their loyalty takes time and effort.
4. Power corrupts, and the further a local power is from its overseeing authority, the more likely it is to be disloyal.
5. In wartime, a leader needs other subordinate leaders he can trust. The easiest way to secure trust is to incentivize them by making them vested in the survival of the realm.
6. Local military activity requires quick, local action.
7. Ancient and medieval rulers garnered a major part of their wealth from their personal demesne, another portion from military service, and another portion from taxation.
8. It is clear that some money collected locally did reach central governments; but it is exceptionally difficult to understand what percentage of funds collected by, say, a baron, on behalf of a king, or a local district governor, on behalf of the Roman Emperor, made it to the top ruler.

Here are some ways I have tried to reflect this mechanically (matching point by point):

1. Rulers have a limited domain they can control. Beyond that size, domain morale beings to suffer. To avoid this, rulers can appoint vassals to collect taxes.
2. Taxes are collected and spent at the domain rather than realm level. On paper ("legally"), it may be the case that the Legate is collecting taxes on behalf of the Tarkaun, remitting that money to the Tarkaun, and then spending the Tarkaun's money on local roads and garrisons. But physically, the wheat/goods/services are collected locally and spent locally, and game mechanics reflect this.
3. Rulers are limited in their number of vassals by their Charisma and proficiency.
4. Non-vassal henchmen who rule non-contiguous domains are more likely to be disloyal.
5. A D@W commander must be of a particular level to command units of various sizes. The easiest way to "level up" your commanders is to give them appropriate-sized domains to rule. Mercenary commanders have lower loyalty.
6. Calling to arms takes longer depending on the size of the realm in question. SEE BELOW - COULD BE THE SOLUTION
7. ACKS rulers gain part of their wealth from their personal domain; part is reflected in the garrison and upkeep spending of vassals on their behalf (see #2 above); and part is reflected in "tribute" paid. SEE BELOW - COULD BE THE SOLUTION
8. This is the main issue I'm wrestling with.

OK, so now that I've written this up, I've conclued that arguably the main reason a lord wouldn't have a flat hierarchy is that it doesn't work militarily.

Consider Point #6. For instance, imagine King Jard has divided his realm into 50,000 domains, each with 200 families, all with vassal rulers reporting directly to him. When a raiding party of 500 Huns attacks, none of the individual domains has a force strong enough to handle the situation. A local Count (if any existed) could muster a force of 850 men in a week, but instead the King must do it, and it takes a season. By then the Huns have raided and left.

Consider Point #7: Even if the local lords did work together to try to get an army of 850 men, they'd all be 3rd level barons; none of them would be high enough level to command the 850-1000 men necessary to deal with the Huns.

King Jard therefore says, "I will create purely military leaders who do not have any rights to land or law, and station them with forces of varying size." This is doable within the game. And here is where I think we can add a simple rule:

Commanders of an other character's army are liable to be treacherous if the ruler is not present, unless they are invested with land and authority commensurate with their station. Calculate the monthly wage for the army. Then divide this value by the number of families in the commander's realm (if any) to calculate the commander's "temptation to rebel". If the temptation to rebel is 5 or greater, the commander must make a loyalty roll every month. For each point by which temptation to rebel exceeds 5, there is a -1 penalty to the roll.

Example: King Jard has stationed Commander Bobloblah near the Hun border. Being a grasping fellow who wants all the sweet gold pieces for himself, he doesn't give a domain to Bobloblah other than the usual 200-family domain. Bobloblah, however, commands 480 light infantry (2880gp/month) and 240 bowmen (2,160gp), for a monthly wage cost of 5,040gp. That is a temptation to rebel of (5,040 / 200) 25! Bobloblah immediately declares himself King Bobloblah and begins to demand fealty of the local barons who have no force with which to oppose him. King Jard discovers this and begins to rally troops...it takes a season... Had Bobloblah been given a sub-realm to rule with at least 1,260 families in it, this problem would never have occurred.

For imperial-type realms, the Separation of Land and Law rules can be used, of course. The army commander can count families in his realm as either a landowner or a governor.

[quote="Alex"]

Commanders of an other character's army are liable to be treacherous if the ruler is not present, unless they are invested with land and authority commensurate with their station. Calculate the monthly wage for the army. Then divide this value by the number of families in the commander's realm (if any) to calculate the commander's "temptation to rebel". If the temptation to rebel is 5 or greater, the commander must make a loyalty roll every month. For each point by which temptation to rebel exceeds 5, there is a -1 penalty to the roll.

[/quote]

As an aternative solution, you could say that no NPC will accept an offer of vassalage that is not "commensurate with their station." In your example, Commander Bobloblah would scoff at King Jard's paltry offer of a barony, and instead offer his allegiance to a lord who appreciates his abilities. This solution is simpler and sounds reasonable to me, but it does dimish the risk-taking possibility that yours creates.

[quote="Mender"]

Commanders of an other character's army are liable to be treacherous if the ruler is not present, unless they are invested with land and authority commensurate with their station. Calculate the monthly wage for the army. Then divide this value by the number of families in the commander's realm (if any) to calculate the commander's "temptation to rebel". If the temptation to rebel is 5 or greater, the commander must make a loyalty roll every month. For each point by which temptation to rebel exceeds 5, there is a -1 penalty to the roll.

-Alex

As an aternative solution, you could say that no NPC will accept an offer of vassalage that is not "commensurate with their station." In your example, Commander Bobloblah would scoff at King Jard's paltry offer of a barony, and instead offer his allegiance to a lord who appreciates his abilities. This solution is simpler and sounds reasonable to me, but it does dimish the risk-taking possibility that yours creates.

[/quote]

Or Commander Bobloblah sees the opportunity inherent in King Jard's ill-advised offer and takes it for that very reason.

If you want to force a deeper hierarchy, simply limit the number of non-henchman vassals.  Maybe 1 or 2 times the number of henchman allowed by charisma and proficiencies. That still allows a trade-off of more direct income (more non-henchman vassals) vs. lower chance of rebellion/higher morale (only henchman vassals) without adding too much complexity.

Traditionally one of the most important duties of a medieval vassal to their lord was a guarantee of military service. The feudal system was designed to support an elite warrior class of heavy cavalry in a mostly agrarian society. The structure of patronage in the Roman Empire was different.   All cultures developed hierarchical government structures, but for different reasons, with different obligations.  ACKs domain management should be able to model different eras and different cultures.

ACKs handles some of these differences abstractly, converting everything to GP value.  That’s O.K.  There are lots of abstractions in D and D (hit points, to hit rolls, hijinks rolls, etc.).   Just like you can limit density by cultures, you can limit the 'flatness' or centralization of your system by culture, allowing more or less non-henchman vassls depending on the culture.

I also like the feel of a 'tribute' expense rather than a 'maintenance ' expense.  'Tribute' implies an ongoing duty, and is a great motivator for PCs to 'be free from the shackles of their liege lord', while 'maintenance ' is just, you know, 'maintenance '.  A PC knows they've made it in the world when 'the buck stops here'.   Of course that means that they have no one to run to when the sh*^ hits the fan, but that's the cost of being in charge.

The set costs according to 'rank' as opposed to a per family cost isn't too bad, but does add an extra table I have to consult.  It also formalizes the abstract feel of the levels or realm rulership.