Main Page » Domain action summary » Contest Holding action

This action is summarized in Domain action descriptions. This page expands upon the basic description and adds various alternative interpretations and options.


Since a holding is an organization that, in mechanical terms, produces gold bars and regency points a contest action is, in mechanical terms, any action that prevents a holding from producing gold or regency temporarily or permanently or otherwise reduces its influence.


When a holding is contested, the holding's ability to collect gold bars and regency is restricted. The holding does not need to be shut down or destroyed to do this, it may simply become so expensive to operate, or so inefficient, that it does not generate money, and inefficient/distant enough that it does not generate regency for the ultimate regent.

The descriptive flavor causing the mechanistic effect can have many interpretations. In general the person contesting the action explains how they intend to do the contest. If the description appears inappropriate then the DM will adjust the DC, rule by fiat, or alter the mechanistic effect to reflect the way that the agreed world of the game operates.
There are three basic ways to restrict a holding:

[top]Disrupt personnel

Keep the holding's people from doing their work by:

  • kidnapping or arresting leaders or key functionaries (the difference between arrest and kidnap is having the legal authority to seize a person)

  • getting leaders or key functionaries to leave the province by threats, ruse, or persuasion.
  • doing either of these to the bulk of a holding's labor force.
  • getting the followers of a holding to stay away from the holding by spreading rumors, using threats/assaults, or wooing them to a rival organization.
  • convincing key members of the organization to ignore the commands of the hierarchy.
  • encouraging corruption within the organization.
  • encouraging ambition, dissent or confusion within the organization so that it wastes energy in in-fighting or identifying its goals.
  • banning the members of the organization from under taking certain activities or making it expensive for them to do so (the requirement for new licenses for all smiths or wagoners, or the grant of a monopoly over some action the other organization currently carries out for example).

[top]Disrupt the location

Keeping followers and the holding from interacting by barring their locus of contact through

  • physically closing the location or making it hard to enter/leave.
  • forcing the location to keep moving, losing followers with each move (best used as an explanation after several failed contest actions).
  • damaging key assets of the holding.
  • challenging the ownership of/right to use the assets (i.e. legal challenges to right to buy/inherit/claim/be gifted the asset, appeal to 'sovereign' to be granted the asset / withdraw its rights of use by the organization, etc).
  • creating rival locations that draw away support, split audiences/workforces, etc.

[top]Disrupt the operation

Make the cost of operations so high that there is no surplus of good will or money left after the operation receives its income by:
  • imposing special taxes on the domain and its followers.
  • impose sumptuary laws on the domain and its followers.
  • harass them bureaucratically/through the legal system.
  • deny or restrict key services or resources.
  • encourage members to lower/divert rents, tariffs, etc reducing the surplus.
  • directly compete with the holding to reduce its influence (trade wars, temple charity to the poor, largess, etc).

[top]Outcome of a contest action

A contested organization may be eliminated or may just be reduced to irrelevance. A truly irrelevant organization makes no profit, has no special connection with the people and has no recognized dynamic leadership that might turn the organization around. In effect either the group no longer recognize the former regent, or they simply recognize no higher authority at all.
It would be highly unusual for the assets and people within the holding to actually be destroyed, that would indicate wholesale slaughter and destruction which is more appropriate to a pillage action. Key people/structures may of course be destroyed (particularly if they were considered 'evil', were unswervingly loyal to the former regent, or suchlike), but not the bulk of the group.


Some people see the 'soft' methods of attacking holding to be unrealistic, or better explained by espionage actions and the like. Particularly if holdings are considered to be ownership directly of assets and direct employment of people, then non-violent means to eliminate them become mostly ineffective. Under this approach a contest action will almost always involve violence - from widespread assaults/arson (or at least extermination of key people/assets), to outright street warfare.
This is a perfectly playable approach, but does require realm rulers to take a somewhat liberal interpretation of the rights of the ruler to monopolize serious (by medieval standards) violence, ban violence by law and so on to avoid realm regents immediately banning any contest action, or automatically supporting the assaulted organization. It may also link in with increased costs of creating/ruling holdings to reflect the number of structures to be built, people to be hired and trained, etc.
Source Holdings
Source holdings may not contain any recognizable people or structures under some interpretations of the holding type. As such the above descriptions of how a contest action might be explained are unlikely to be applicable. Source contest actions could however include persuading spirits to shun the source holder/divert mebhaighl away from them, directly interfering with the flow of mebhaighl to dissipate it from the manifestation, tapping the Shadow world awnmebhaighl to counter/pollute the natural mebhaighl of Cerilia, etc.

[top]Note: Methods of conflict

There are several ways for holdings to oppose one another, these form a lose scale of conflict as follows:
  • Decree: The regent asks people not to support the other holding, cease membership, etc. Generally this action has no legal standing (even if proclaimed by a realm ruler - tradition and law generally binds them almost as much as it does their subjects), or the other holding has equal legal right to refuse the decree.

  • Espionage: The regent uses covert/small scale means to undermine key aspects of the organization.

  • Contest: The two holdings directly compete and generally use legal means to reduce the others influence. The term legal may, of course, be heavily stretched depending on the favor and power of the local law holders, but generally contest should not include acts which equate to outright war as these are more appropriate for the pillage action and may be difficult to see as readily preventable by use of influence (gold and regency) as opposed to martial force.

  • Pillage: This is a form of war. Brute military force is used to ride roughshod over the other organization regardless of the law. This likely involves large scale murder, arson, vandalism, etc. Even a realm ruler who tries this will be pilloried as a tyrant, other regents are likely to find they abruptly have another rival in the shape of a furious realm regent. Pillaging a province leads to mass emigration, wholesale genocide, refusal of feudal dues to 'the tyrant' wholesale, etc and is likely to result in severe sanctions from all neighbors.

Metagame rationale. Pillage has no defense barring armed force, no amount of regency or gold spend can prevent it. Ergo it must involve armed force itself and should generally be a nuclear option - otherwise realm regents can simply wipe out any foes or demand extortionate terms for survival. Contest should be possible legally (in the sense that it can be ignored by the ruler without serious consequence), or the game stagnates and much of the competition is lost. Decree cannot give a ruler the godlike authority to remove holdings from another regent for obvious game balance reasons.

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