Reasons for giving land to vassals?

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SilentTempest
Joined: 2015-02-28 03:07
Reasons for giving land to vassals?

I'm trying to understand why, mechanically, and pretending for a moment that henchmen don't have feelings too, you wouldn't build a domain to its maximum size (24 mile hex, if memory serves) before you even thought about taking more land and gifting it to vassals. As far as I can see, you're better off holding the land in your own domain and getting full benefit from it, with no risk of a vassal deciding he'll betray your trust. Is there any reason, purely mechanically speaking, to give land to vassals before you have a maximum sized domain?

Following on from this, can anyone explain to me the historical reason that a lord might grant someone a bit of land? I get that it's a gift, but wouldn't it have been SUCH a valuable gift that a lord would prefer to just give money or some other favour if he could?

And one last game-mechanics question: Are vassals always henchmen? Or can you have a non-henchman vassal? (Because, y'know, you might want to dole land out to vassals but still have your mean posse of henchmen close at hand for when a dragon needs beating into submission, and you can only have so many henchman in the game (rules as written)).

Jard
Patreon SupporterDomains At War ContributorSinister Stone of Sakkara ContributorLairs And Encounters Contributor
Joined: 2012-07-11 23:23

Are you going off of just the Core Rulebook?  On the Patreon, revised domain ownership rules are given and one of the new constraints is that only a max level character can reasonable hold an entire 24 mile hex in their personal domain without morale penalties.  Thus, in order to allow a realm to grow at a reasonable size (and to more easily gain the domain XP you need to rule that extra land) you have an incentive to give out some land to your vassals.

Another possibility is, depending on your DM, the vassal might go off on their own and acquire more land through the use of their own resources.

As for henchman vassals, this is also covered in the Patreon article.  Essentially, you can have as many vassals as you want, but only henchmen vassals will give you on free favor per month.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

In ACKS Core Rules, there is seemingly little incentive for a lord to parcel out a domain of less than 24 hexes. It's only when you add Domains at War into play that you see the reasoning - individual domains are occupied and concquered individually. If you have one big domain, an invading army has occupied it the moment they enter it, and conquered it the moment they've taken the stronghold. If you have one "hub" domain surrounded by a "wheel" of vassals, then your "hub" is not occupied by an enemy that invades a vassal's domain, and your "hub" is not conquered if you lose one or more vassal strongholds. Since occupation and conquest can cause disastrous morale problems, looting, pillaging, and more, a liege-and-vassal arrangement makes domains much, much  more resilient. 

Historically speaking, feudal-arrangements tended to emerge in regions that were subject to constant enemy attack, whether that was Arab invasions of the Byzantime themes, Viking raids on Frankish shores, etc.

Beyond that, I will offer an incredibly over-simplified answer to a question that perennially rages in history circles ("why feudalism") with some arguing feudalism is not even real.

In pre-modern settings, the wealth of the land was not highly portable. Extracting wealth from the peasantry was complex. Government had to be local, because there were no immediate long-distance methods of communication, no digital means of transfering wealth, and so on. So if you had large land holdings, you had to have subordinates. Your choice was to rule them via stewards (employees) or to parcel them out to vassals. 

A steward assigned to manage land in the short-term was incentivized to exhaust the soil and the peasants to his own enrichment. This works to the detriment of the ruler. The steward is also incentivized to scheme for how he might become a landowner, which reduces his loyalty.  

A lord given ownership of land, that he will pass to his heirs, is incentivized to keep the soil and the peasants flourishing. However, the lord is still incentivized to figure out how to keep the wealth of the land to himself as much as possible and pass as little as possible to his liege. The feudal solution to this is to require that the vassal lords pay their liege in something other than land-products - for instance, in soldiers. The liege lord can then say "I don't care how you manage your land, provided you send me 100 soldiers per year. But if there's less than 100 soldiers, there's going to be problems."  

 

SilentTempest
Joined: 2015-02-28 03:07

Thanks Jard and Alex. I was going off the core book, although do see the rules for morale penalties now that I'm looking at the revised rules. (I'm not on Patreon, FWIW, although have thought about it. I assume you get access to all the back-content?)

In ACKS Core Rules, there is seemingly little incentive for a lord to parcel out a domain of less than 24 hexes. It's only when you add Domains at War into play that you see the reasoning - individual domains are occupied and concquered individually. If you have one big domain, an invading army has occupied it the moment they enter it, and conquered it the moment they've taken the stronghold. If you have one "hub" domain surrounded by a "wheel" of vassals, then your "hub" is not occupied by an enemy that invades a vassal's domain, and your "hub" is not conquered if you lose one or more vassal strongholds. Since occupation and conquest can cause disastrous morale problems, looting, pillaging, and more, a liege-and-vassal arrangement makes domains much, much  more resilient.


-Alex

I'm curious as to how this plays out in practice. Do you gloss over domains well below the level you're operating at? For instance, (using default ACKS terminology) if two Emperors are at war and Emperor A is romping around Empire B taking land, would you basically "zoom out" and treat the smallest level of "domain" as a kingdom (or maybe principality)? Surely you wouldn't bother the Emperor with worrying about every barony and dinky little speed bump of a wooden keep?

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Thanks Jard and Alex. I was going off the core book, although do see the rules for morale penalties now that I'm looking at the revised rules. (I'm not on Patreon, FWIW, although have thought about it. I assume you get access to all the back-content?)

 

 

In ACKS Core Rules, there is seemingly little incentive for a lord to parcel out a domain of less than 24 hexes. It's only when you add Domains at War into play that you see the reasoning - individual domains are occupied and concquered individually. If you have one big domain, an invading army has occupied it the moment they enter it, and conquered it the moment they've taken the stronghold. If you have one "hub" domain surrounded by a "wheel" of vassals, then your "hub" is not occupied by an enemy that invades a vassal's domain, and your "hub" is not conquered if you lose one or more vassal strongholds. Since occupation and conquest can cause disastrous morale problems, looting, pillaging, and more, a liege-and-vassal arrangement makes domains much, much  more resilient.

 


-Alex

 

I'm curious as to how this plays out in practice. Do you gloss over domains well below the level you're operating at? For instance, (using default ACKS terminology) if two Emperors are at war and Emperor A is romping around Empire B taking land, would you basically "zoom out" and treat the smallest level of "domain" as a kingdom (or maybe principality)? Surely you wouldn't bother the Emperor with worrying about every barony and dinky little speed bump of a wooden keep?


-SilentTempest

Whatever "level of zoom" the adventurers are participating in, I worry about the details two tiers below them. So for an emperor-level war, that would be at the level of prefectures. In the borderlands campaign, which was at the prefect level, we tracked down to the legates (castellans of the keeps).