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.
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:
- In the absence of modern technology, rulers needed to appoint local representatives who could make decisions locally and collect taxes locally.
- Taxes, often paid in kind, are typically not sent to the central government, but are spent locally.
- Managing subordinates and maintaining their loyalty takes time and effort.
- Power corrupts, and the further a local power is from its overseeing authority, the more likely it is to be disloyal.
- 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.
- Local military activity requires quick, local action.
- 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.
- 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):
- 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.
- 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.
- Rulers are limited in their number of vassals by their Charisma and proficiency.
- Non-vassal henchmen who rule non-contiguous domains are more likely to be disloyal.
- 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.
- Calling to arms takes longer depending on the size of the realm in question. SEE BELOW - COULD BE THE SOLUTION
- 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
- 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.