Domain sizes, titles, and titled vassals

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Domain sizes, titles, and titled vassals

Postby Sharrukin » Thu Sep 11, 2008 9:05 pm

Picked up the PDF, was favorably impressed, will probably order the hardcover when that becomes available again.

In the meantime there are a couple of things I'm not clear on. Maybe you folks can give me some insight.

Page 235 seems to suggest that there's an expected amount of land attached to a title. A Knight is associated with one or more Regions but not a whole Province. A Baron is associated with at least one whole Province. A Count is associated with at least three Provinces, since he has to have three Barons under his shadow. I'm guessing that a Marquis is associated with at least nine Provinces, and a Duke with at least 27 Provinces, by the same reasoning.

Now, on the same page it says that a noble can assign any noble title junior to his own to one of his supporters or Vassals. In fact, one of the Vassal types is Roadmen or a Master of the Road, which seems to be equivalent to a Knight. The text doesn't seem to require that a noble hand over full control of any of his own land to a newly ennobled Vassal, although he can if he wants to - it depends on what the contract attached to the new title says.

On the other hand, a player-character noble will usually have a liege lord, and yet the text seems to assume that the PC does get full control of his own land. Presumably a PC's contract with his liege is assumed to be set up that way, even if not all "contracts patent" follow suit.

To put it another way, it appears that a noble's title indicates how many Regions or Provinces he's (at least nominally) in charge of . . . but it may be that he's actually just helping to manage that land on behalf of his liege lord. Only some nobles - those whose lieges offer a lot of independence, or the "bold lords" mentioned on page 52 - have the complete control over their lands that is assumed for player characters.

Am I reading all this correctly?
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Re: Domain sizes, titles, and titled vassals

Postby JohnWick » Fri Sep 12, 2008 12:12 am

As a Baron, you are (more than likely) the vassal of a greater noble. If not, then you are all alone with no higher noble to help you out when you're in trouble.

That's the upside and downside of it. Be someone else's vassal or stand alone.
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Re: Domain sizes, titles, and titled vassals

Postby Sharrukin » Fri Sep 12, 2008 4:36 am

Sure, I grok that.

What I'm trying to get a handle on is, what happens when I as (e.g.) a Count take one of my supporters and make a Baron out of him? As I apparently need to do, since a Count isn't a Count unless he has at least three Barons under his shadow.

A player-character Baron will have some amount of land that he's controlling directly in the domain-management system. That's at least one whole Province, but usually less than three (otherwise he's ready to declare himself a Count). The default assumption seems to be that he owns that land, he controls it, he makes all the decisions for it. He holds it, so it's his. He probably has a Count he reports to, but the rules don't seem to assume that the Count owns or controls the Baron's land.

On the other hand, if I'm a Count creating a Baron, the rules don't seem to indicate that I'm required to take one of my own Provinces and hand it over to the Baron for him to own and control outright. Instead, we draw up a contract that outlines our responsibilities to one another, and that contract can say that he will help me manage about one Province of the land that remains mine (i.e. he uses his Season Actions on my behalf).

So both kinds of relationship seem to be possible: the one where the Baron helps to manage about a Province of his superior's land for him, and the one where the Baron has about a Province of his own land that he manages for himself (while still owing fealty to a superior in most cases).

Am I understanding all this properly?
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Re: Domain sizes, titles, and titled vassals

Postby JohnWick » Fri Sep 12, 2008 9:04 am

Sharrukin wrote:Am I understanding all this properly?


Yep. You got it.

It's a tricky, sticky situation that requires delicacy and finesse. It's not clear cut. It's messy. And it requires you to convince other people of your authority.

That's ven Law.
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Re: Domain sizes, titles, and titled vassals

Postby CodexArcanum » Fri Sep 12, 2008 11:11 am

It's probably helpful to consider: "Where does authority spring from?"

In our world, authority comes from those with greater authority, and (in the US) that greatest authority is handed over by the collective will of all people in the nation. In theory. Practically speaking, authority is the ability to get folks to do what you want by one of two powers: force or will. If you have "Will" then people follow you because they allow you to lead them. Maybe you give them something they want. If you have "force" then people follow because you can coerce them into it.

In ven society (as I read it), "Force" is somewhat neutered. You aren't allowed an overt army to threaten, though certainly you have knights and secret armies and loyal vassals that you can use as threats to enforce your order. Mostly, you have Will: the authority granted you by the favors you can grab and the loyalty you can keep.

Don't forget also, "You own what you can keep." If a Count grants you a province to rule, and you go out and conquer two more provinces, carving them from the wild ork lands, that land is yours. The Count also assumes it's his, you are supposed to be working in his name after all. But now you have a choice: you can be loyal and he might rise in rank. Then he might bring you with him. You become Count of your lands, and he becomes a Marquis (thanks in part to the land you claimed for both of you.)

Or you tell him to bugger off, claim all three lands to yourself and raise your stature to that of Count before the Senate. It's not like he can invade to enforce his claim with an army! But he might have other tricks, so always make sure you know where all the Swords of your master are hidden before you seek to stab him with one you stole.
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Re: Domain sizes, titles, and titled vassals

Postby JohnWick » Fri Sep 12, 2008 11:18 am

CodexArcanum wrote:... always make sure you know where all the Swords of your master are hidden before you seek to stab him with one you stole.


That's great. :)

Also, a very good description of the problem.

Yes, your lands do belong to the lord above you. You are a governor. But, at the same time, you are the one holding the lands. So, you have a choice. Do you betray the lord who protects you or do you remain loyal to him in a position of weakness?

Good summation. (And great quote.)
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Re: Domain sizes, titles, and titled vassals

Postby Sharrukin » Fri Sep 12, 2008 2:20 pm

Excellent. Glad I was understanding the implications correctly - and in fact I much prefer it this way. Yields more story potential than a more narrowly defined hierarchical system.

It's also a nice bit of setting design that much simplifies the domain management rules. Start requiring that every noble divide his lands into his own demesne and the lands enfeoffed to his supporters, and the system gets complicated very quickly. I've tried a couple of times to design similar domain-management games, and this is an easy issue to get hung up on.

Thanks.
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