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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 11:07 pm 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
Relatively intelligent people today seem quite content to accept that nobody was intelligent after the Greeks/Romans and before the Renaissance. All was intellectual darkness -- superstition was rife, there was no science, etc. It is almost embarrassing in its desire to simplify the lives of our forebears. And very irritating, at a personal level.


Grettir wrote:
Ian, while I was quite certain that you held the view expressed in the above lines, I still can't tell you how good it is to actually hear them clearly expressed by a person who's not a professional full-time historian. Thank you very much indeed! :)


You are very welcome! See, all hope is not lost!

Without wanting to derail this thread, part of the challenge in presenting any historical campaign is to get the players heads at least partially into the medieval mindset. That involves removing preconceptions and stereotypes and replacing those thoughts with the far more challenging notion that the medievals were right to believe what they believed -- because there was no evidence to the contrary and perhaps they were even correct.

From a game-design perspective this means that you can't tell the players through their characters that something is true and then tell the players, through the rules, that it is not true. Contradictions such as this simply reinforce the notion that their characters are ignorant and stupid.

A good example of this is the concept of burning at the stake as a punishment for holding heretical views. To the modern mind this is nothing short of a barbaric and cruel practice, state-sanctioned violence against an individual's beliefs of the worst kind. Nobody here would disagree with that. But if a medieval player character holds that view during a campaign then, to me, that player hasn't made the transition to the medieval mind set. To help that player 'get it', the rules should codify what happens during the process -- that is, why it is of benefit to the victim and perhaps even why it is of benefit to the community.

Difficult, I know, and perhaps too much of an intellectual challenge for what should be an entertaining game. Yet there's a reason people want to play in an historically accurate setting.

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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 2:34 am 
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Do we know anything of the state of sailing, trade, and piracy during this era? Obviously it will vary some between the 1100s and 1300s, but anything that can be thrown out at me would be dandy.

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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 7:09 pm 
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Secondary topic: How is law enforcement handled during this period? Who makes the arrests? Who fulfills the duties of police, judges, etc? What rights do the accused have and what are the fundamental assumptions under which the law works?

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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 11:51 pm 
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KazianG wrote:
Secondary topic: How is law enforcement handled during this period? Who makes the arrests? Who fulfills the duties of police, judges, etc? What rights do the accused have and what are the fundamental assumptions under which the law works?


For 1350s Lyon...



That is all covered here.

For other places, and times, it is totally different. At this point in time the law has been codified -- the law is written. 200 years earlier the law is oral -- and handled very differently.

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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 12:10 am 
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KazianG wrote:
Do we know anything of the state of sailing, trade, and piracy during this era? Obviously it will vary some between the 1100s and 1300s, but anything that can be thrown out at me would be dandy.


It varies enormously over these 200 years -- as it does again over the next 200.

This is a really big subject. I have a dozen or so books on the subject, leaning towards the Venetians.

A couple of snippets:

The Rhone river is navigable by ship all the way up to Vienne -- not far south of Lyon.

A lot of trade sails by boat on the rivers. The salt barges that went through Lyon contained around 70 punts connected together (and must have been quite a sight).

Horses were often tethered to boats to move them upstream.

In Lyon great chains could be deployed to stop traffic on the Rhone or the Saone. The chain ran across boats that were anchored in the river and was tethered at either end by a small, squat tower.

At one point the Jewish Berbers of North Africa and the Venetians of Italy were roughly equal in their trading Empires. The reason Venice went on to become the dominant maritime trader and not the Berbers was a simple yet inescapable truth -- the prevailing winds in the Mediterranean make it far more efficient to sail from northern ports than southern ports.

There's no port and starboard on the ships of the era -- sailors use starboard, larward, and windward. The compass doesn't exist, but even so the circle of 360 degrees is many years away. Instead, the circle is divided by the practical difference in direction that a ship can take -- at a guess, something like 64 divisions.

Piracy is as common in the 1350s as it was in Roman times. No jolly-rogers of course -- that flag belonged to the Templars, of course.

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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 8:17 am 
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I would like to weigh in on the topic of piracy, because people tend to think too much of ship to ship action – and that took a backseat until at least the Elizabethan age. Late medieval pirates did prey on ships, but their first and foremost prey were coastal settlements. In picturing the medieval pirate, raiding Vikings are a much better role model than Caribbean freebooters.

On a personal level I would like to state that the questions posed here are not only overly broad but do in this their very general and unspecific nature also display an irritating lack of previous attempts to inform oneself by doing even the most basic reading on the subject and that I am therefore increasingly unwilling to devote my time on them. Sorry.

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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:10 pm 
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Woah, just finished reading this thread. Thank you!

I read a PDF titled "A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe" which is a guide for GMs in creating their own kingdoms and cities in a fantasy setting. It should be more or less based on the real world (excluding the parts about magic, naturally). Now, there is a chapter that talks about allodial land:

"Allodial land is free from all obligations (close
to a modern concept of landownership if one did not
have to pay any taxes associated with the land) and is
a remnant from a less civilized past. Allods are rare
since most land ends up in the feudal system. In some
feudal society, strong barons still hold large amounts of
allodial lands, hampering the development of a strong,
effective kingship. Fiefs held from another lord are the
most common type of fiefs. A brief example explains this
clearly: Lord A owns allodial land X. Lord A grants X to
lord B who then grants part of X to lord C. Lords B and
C hold land in the typical magical medieval manner."

In a section that guides you to actually create a kingdom, it says:

"There are three considerations in determining a
kingdom’s government: the type of government, the
strength of the king, and the amount of allodial land
the king owns in the kingdom. These factors are used
to generate the income of the aristocracy, as well as the
strength of the king compared to the rest of the aristocracy
and the political atmosphere of your kingdom."

"The three levels of allodial land established for
magical medieval kingdoms are 85%, 50%, and 25%.
In the 85% model, a king owns 85% of the kingdom’s
land allodially. The 50% model gives a king half of the
kingdom’s land free from feudal obligation. The 25%
model has a king own a fourth of the kingdom’s land in
the form of allods. The remaining land is held allodially
by great landowners and nobles in ratio found on Table
VIII.2-Allodial Holdings. If a GM wants a different
percentage of land ownership, simple determine the
percentage of land the king owns allodially. Then give
75% of the remainder to great landowners and 25% to
the nobility. GMs may assign any percentage of land
as allodial land, but should alter all aspects of kingdom
generation accordingly.

Allodial holdings determine the amount of scuatage
or military obligation an aristocrat receives. It also
determines the amount of income aristocrats make on
mines in the kingdom. For example, if the king owns
most of the land in a kingdom, he receives 85% of the
total scutage collected in the kingdom. The same king
also receives a handsome amount of annual income
from mines, taking the king’s third from a mine’s
income. But if the king owns 25% of the land allodially,
he receives less scutage and mine income, with the great
landowners and the nobility absorbing what coin and
resources the king does not."

---

How was it in real medieval Europe (1100-1400)?

How did the allodial land holdings change during those years?

What relationship did the lords with allodial land have with the king? An oath of loyalty? An agreement to pay some royal taxes?

How about titles: If we had a powerful lord who owned 10 % of a kingdom's lands allodially, and had no feudal obligations to anyone (like the king), what would be his title be and what would his lands be called (as they probably were not duchies, counties, baronies etc)?


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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:32 pm 
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chade wrote:
Woah, just finished reading this thread. Thank you!


You are welcome!

chade wrote:
How was it in real medieval Europe (1100-1400)?


Nothing like this in the majority of countries at any of these times. :shock:

chade wrote:
How did the allodial land holdings change during those years?


You'll need to be more specific -- do you mean their size, their percentage, the laws that relate to them?

chade wrote:
What relationship did the lords with allodial land have with the king? An oath of loyalty? An agreement to pay some royal taxes?


Understand I'm only talking about France here. In France, if you are a landowner your goal is to maintain your historical rights. The French government is decentralised; the English government is centralised. Many landowner families hold land from times prior to the existence of a French king. Their lands became part of France through agreement rather than conquest in many instances. Those agreements -- those contracts -- specify the precise extent of obligation and responsibility. They are very individual -- there are no cookie-cutter contracts.

An oath of loyalty -- certainly. Anything more? Check the individual agreement.

chade wrote:
How about titles: If we had a powerful lord who owned 10 % of a kingdom's lands allodially, and had no feudal obligations to anyone (like the king), what would be his title be and what would his lands be called (as they probably were not duchies, counties, baronies etc)?


He was a Baron. He held a Barronie, an area of land governed from a castle. A Count, on the other hand, held a County centered on an area of population -- a town or city.

However, this doesn't mean he had no feudal obligations. It is far more complex than that.

Regards,

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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 5:44 am 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
Nothing like this in the majority of countries at any of these times. :shock:

What do you mean specifically? What are the most "incorrect" parts (if we assume that the text above is based on real medieval Europe)?


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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:53 am 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
Nothing like this in the majority of countries at any of these times. :shock:


chade wrote:
What do you mean specifically? What are the most "incorrect" parts (if we assume that the text above is based on real medieval Europe)?


Inherent in the phrase "...real medieval Europe..." is the idea that there was some degree of universality to aspects of medieval life across the whole of western Europe. There wasn't.

Take knighthood as an example. Any number of gaming texts will explain who could be a knight, how a person became a knight, the obligations of a knight, etc. They are all based on one country and at one time (if the text is in English then it'll be England). All of the who, how, and obligations change as soon as you move to another country -- or even to a different region of a particular country (in France, the parliament in the 1300s recognised two distinct definitions of knighthood simultaneously).

Broad sweeping statements about medieval life can only be wrong for the majority of places and the majority of times within Western medieval Europe and throughout the period 1100 - 1400.

If you want to do a genuine medieval campaign, study one location at one time. If you want it to feel real yet different to anything you've ever played -- pick a location outside of England. We picked the French city of Lyon in the 1350s. It was fascinating.

To get back to the concept of allodial land. In 1350s France, many small nobility own land free of obligation. This, however, doesn't mean that they are free of feudal obligation. On the other hand, the most powerful of the Barons -- the Coucy -- while their lands are large and allodial they also own land for which they owe feudal obligation. Complicating the issue Coucy lands fall under both the French and the English kings...

Through marriage the interconnection of the nobility and their holdings is a tangled web often sent to the (legal) courts to untangle. Powerful nobility could owe military service to nobility far lower down the ranks throug these complex webs. In the end allodial land is a furphy -- what is far more interesting are the rights and obligations of the nobility within your area of interest.

Regards,

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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 6:23 am 
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It would be good to see some of this work published Ian.
I was on the Harn forum with Peter Leitchy and he mentioned he may have been doing some playtesting for you at one point.

Allan


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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:40 am 
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aprewett wrote:
It would be good to see some of this work published Ian.


It sure would!

aprewett wrote:
I was on the Harn forum with Peter Leitchy and he mentioned he may have been doing some playtesting for you at one point.


At one point we asked CG for a license to produce our Lyon campaign for the HarnMaster ruleset. They took a look at an excerpt from our material -- and let us know it wouldn't be in their interests to have a real-world campaign like that competing with Harnworld for HarnMaster players. That was fine by us.

Then they asked us if we'd like one of their Harn "French" cities and we'd produce our material for that city in Harnworld. We agreed conceptually -- and we could see the advantage to them in doing so. But then they started making demands about what we could and couldn't write and it became clear they wanted material that the reader could believe NRC had written. We didn't want to neuter our material to that degree and so we pulled the pin.

If Jake ends up producing his game then I will release our material at:

www.lyonpaedia.com

If he doesn't then I will still get around to loading all the material up into the wiki eventually.

Regards,

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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 10:57 am 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
If you want to do a genuine medieval campaign, study one location at one time. If you want it to feel real yet different to anything you've ever played -- pick a location outside of England. We picked the French city of Lyon in the 1350s. It was fascinating.

This could be interesting, though currently I'm needing this stuff for northern Weyrth: Stahl, Oustenreich, Farrenshire, Cyrinthmeir and Gelure about 150 years after the collapse of the Xanarian Empire. In "our version" of Weyrth magic and non-human creatures are extremely rare (if they even exist). I'm not going for extreme realism, but as there is some high level political maneuvering going on -- even though it's not at the center of the campaign -- I want to create a world with a semi-realistic and logical feeling.

But I get stuck so easily. And this would be easier if I was creating one kingdom only... anyway, I don't need to figure everything out, but I need a core concept of some kind for each kingdom.

Now a follow-up question:
Say the king of Oustenreich owned (only) a third of Oustenreich's lands allodially. The rest of the land is owned by 15-20 powerful barons and some other nobility. They have different contracts with the king, they have sworn oaths of loyalty and they have feodal obligations to the crown too.
- How large portion of his lands would the king enfeoff to his vassals (any vassals, not just the powerful ones)? Is it more like 5%, 50%, 80% or 95%? Why?
- What the about the powerful barons (15-20 of them in the whole kingdom)?


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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 9:07 pm 
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chade wrote:
Say the king of Oustenreich owned (only) a third of Oustenreich's lands allodially. The rest of the land is owned by 15-20 powerful barons and some other nobility. They have different contracts with the king, they have sworn oaths of loyalty and they have feodal obligations to the crown too.
- How large portion of his lands would the king enfeoff to his vassals (any vassals, not just the powerful ones)? Is it more like 5%, 50%, 80% or 95%? Why?
- What the about the powerful barons (15-20 of them in the whole kingdom)?


How this doesn't work in the real world (YMMV for Weyrth):

There is a large empty piece of land. A King arrives, he takes a third of it. Various Barons arrive and divide up the rest. The king divides up his land into a number of Earldoms which he allocates to various individuals that ghe likes the look of. The Earls then divide up their Earldoms into counties, barronies, and vicounties as they see fit. These are then allocated to various individuals.

How this works in the real world (again, not necessarily in Weyrth):

The head of a particular family is raised to the kingship with the support of his peers. That family owns various lands, holds various titles, owns various rights. All the land within the kingdom is similarly held by other noble families in one way or another (to be noble is to own land rather than rent land though that isn't the whole criteria). All the titles within the kingdom are already held -- most by the head of particular families, some by positions within the church. Sometimes a title becomes vacant and the successor to that title is determined by the law (not another noble, even the king, though the law may determine that the title passes to another noble or the king).

Nobles, by definition, cannot work and thus receive money in exchange for their labours. Instead they own "revenue streams." These come in many forms -- fishing rights to a section of a river, logging rights to a particular copse, road tolls, the administration of justice, rental of property, and many more (some quite bizarre, such as the right to the clothes of those who die in a particular hospice). Naturally the nobleman doesn't administer or enforce these rights himself -- he will hire a lieu-tenant to perform the duty or he will lease the right to someone else for a period or he will sell the right (usually for 5 years of its annual income).

Now all of these families are interconnected through generation after generation of intermarriage. They may not like each other but they won't battle each other (the conduct of war is a right jealously guarded by the king). Disputes are settled in the law courts.

The king can't simply strip someone of their title and give it to someone else. That would be challenged in the courts -- it is illegal -- but more importantly this would threaten every other nobleman. The king, even the English king with his high degree of centralization, wouldn't survive the ensuing revolt.

In short -- allodial land represents a tiny proportion of the kingdom of France. These are individual estates, not vast tracts of land. They may generate great wealth -- but that would be the rare exception to the rule.

Regards,

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 Post subject: Re: Of the Feudal System(AKA Michael - er, Ian! explains, ep
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:17 am 
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This may not be any help, but two books that sparked a lot of spin off material when the dinosaurs roamed are Aria Worlds and Rolepaying. The worlds book is full of society building guff, and roleplaying allows you too play the setting and like a normal rpg.
Interesting gear if a little heavy.
This link has some resources that can give you an idea of the material. Worlds has some good technology and society building blocks.
http://sfko.com/aria/main.html

Official Information
News | Products | Errata
News
LUG is no more!
As all of you are probably aware, Last Unicorn Games is now part of Wizards of the Coast (which is part of Hasbro, which...).
Products
Only two Aria products were ever produced:
Aria Roleplaying
In the Myth Creation Book, you will find all the fundamentals necessary to explore your own mythic vision. Guidelines for creating mythic species, races, and cultures are provided, as well as materials for generating unique societies that exhibit diverse social structure and vocational possibilities. Also included are suggestions for constructing the laws of an environment's magical and spritual Reality, rules for resolving social and physical conflict, and lastly, methods for playing societies, heritage groups, or magical orders through many periods of interactive history.
The Persona Creation Book provides a comprehensive outline for methodical Persona generation, including separate topical discussions which suggest methods for integrating Personas more fully into the environments and cultures from which they spring. While often representing archetypal patterns from myth, Aria Personas are first and foremost products of their respective environments. Whether manifesting as crusaders on a holy quest, barbarians striving to save their homelands, heroes bent on destroying fabled beasts, or magicians seeking to discover the source of magical essence, all Personas suffer quirks of nature and belief motivated by the fundamental orientations of their nuturing cultures and driven by the necessities of their present social environments.
Aria Worlds
In Aria Worlds, you will find the tools to craft the environments of your world; if you will, the kingdom of a stage, on which your personalize and societies will interact. Included are the guidelines for creating detailed social structures, beginning with a society's age and philosophical outlook, proceeding through an examination of its technology, subsistence, internal structure (political, familial, economic, and military), and humanities (religion, art, scholastics, and magic), and terminating with a hierarchical organization of its component social classes. Aria Worlds presents these considerations in a linear, comprehensive pattern enabling you, the player, to paint the back drops of your own mythic stage more completely and richly than ever before.
Moreover, the Aria system of society design is telescoping: a village, a manor, a market town, a city, a kingdom or continent or world can all be designed from the largest continent down or from the smallest village up. The descriptive elements of all social profiles can be interpreted in countless forms, ranging from long vanished kingdoms to primitive tribal communities.
Errata
The following table is missing from page 80 of Worlds:
Social Mobility Table
Mobility Values Mobility Class
0-5 Nomadic
6-15 Semi-Nomadic
16+ Sedentary
Pages ©Copyright 1998-2000 by Sixten Otto (aria@sfko.com); all rights reserved


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