User:Trevyr/Domain Income

John Harbord advocates a more realistic domain income system to add "a little more freshness and novelty to make it all that little bit more memorable."
The problem with making things more realistic, of course, is that it can
easily become very complicated, and be more trouble keeping track of than
it's worth. For my money, a lot of interest can be gained by informing and
encouraging your players to think and act like someone in a feudal
society. Nowadays, we tend to think of having overlords as a bad thing,
and often tend to associate kingship with tyrrany, but to a member of a
feudal society, the system of vassalage gave life order and safety from a
very real danger of chaos and barbarism. This is certainly applicable to
Anuire, where in a very real way their god, Haelyn, has clearly ordained
this pattern of governance as appropriate for His people. Some
implications of this, from my perspective: Law claims should be a matter
of course. Often guilders and priests are offended when a law holder
triest to "steal" their earnings, but I would argue that this is the
opposite of the way things should be. Non-law holders should EXPECT to
have to deal with Law Claims, and should view being exempted from law
claims as a very special, and temporary, privelage and sign of favor.
Guilders should also expect province holders to skim a reasonable portion
off their trade routes as well, or else not be surprized when she uses
her law holdings to Decree the trade route out of existance.
There has also been a movement to get rid of "province ownership"
altogether as a form of moneyraising, and instead base land-ownership fees
on law holdings. Solmyr, for example, uses this extensively in the new
PBEM he is setting up. It's an interesting idea--and makes the very
natural peaceful shifting of land from one overlord to another, based on
patterns of joint vassalage and inheritance, a part of the normal scheme
of things. In this conception province "ownership" is solely based on
who owns the majority of the law holdings. I agree that this is an
increase in realism, as political boundaries in the middle ages could be
incredibly fluid, but my own indication is to make this kind of
improvement in reality as part of the "role-playing" portion of the game
(i.e. setting, backgrounds, NPC's, atmosphere) rather than in the rules
(which I tend to try to shove to the background as much as possible). I
think it will work pretty well in the PBEM game, but I'm less impressed
with the idea in an actual face2face table-top game.
As for other ways of making money, as a fan of the Civilization computer
game, my tendency is to keep the rules as they are, but allow the PC's to
"design into" the game additional rules using the "Build" action. For
example, the rise of trade guilds can be seen as a very important part of
the late middle ages, with famous textiles produced in Flanders, wines in
regions of France, etc. etc., and the rise of annual trade fairs. I would
encourage players to plan, execute and build this kind of thing if they so
wished: a Famous Guild built in a city might allow the province and the
builder's holding to be treated as if they were one or two levels higher
for the purpose of generating income (or even allow an additional trade
route or two from the province). One of my players decided that Fairfield
in Roesone was perfect for an annual fair, which allowed him to double his
income from that province one season a year. This allows you to build more
reality into the game in a way that is still vulnerable to DM control (Oh
no! There's a huge fire in your Famous Guild! Could it have been caused by
your rival? No income bonus until you rebuild.) It also includes the PC's
in the process of improving the reality of the game, which is as it should
be, IMHO.
Mark VanderMeulen

December 1999

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