Fiefs are the villages, towns, and castles scattered about the map. Each one is owned by a vassal or, in the case of the capital city of a faction, the ruler of that faction. They can change hands a few different ways, the most common way being during wartime. Villages, unlike castles and towns, cannot be captured directly. Instead, they are associated with a nearby castle or town and when the castle or town is captured, so is the village.
Every time you start a new game, the ownership of villages and castles is randomized with only a few exceptions. Towns are typically assigned to powerful lords and do not change unless the lord that owned it defects or gets exiled.
Acquiring a fiefEdit
There are a few ways of getting hold of fiefs, most of which involve capturing them after a siege.
Personal fiefs can be obtained by capturing a town or castle while not a vassal of any lord. This can be difficult as defenders of towns and castles are generally hundreds strong and if you are not a member of a faction, you will not have any allies to help you. Once captured, it can be very hard to keep a fief under your control because you will most likely have insufficient right to rule. Factions may decide to declare war on you at any time, as your claim would be weaker than theirs, leading to an attack on your petty castle (or town, but it's unlikely you are able to capture one by yourself) with huge armies. In some cases, you may be faced with more than a thousand men (in a cohesive realm), attacking villages one by one until they reach your capital castle/town, which is extremely difficult to stop.
But if you've spent enough time in Calradia as mercenary for a faction, you can raise armies without fear and at the end of your contract quit the faction without any penalties. If you have been smart and have been sending companions to spread your claim (beware as some companions' claims for you conflict) then you'll usually only have to deal with the kingdom you attacked.
Becoming a vassalEdit
When you become a vassal, you will be granted the poorest village in the faction you've joined, usually a village that recently has been looted. Sometimes, the lord who owns the castle associated with that village will dislike you, and deny you entry to his castle. Once your relation with that lord improves, you will gain access to it.
If you are playing a female character, the king of your chosen faction will say that giving a fief to a woman will cause other nobles to think he has been 'bewitched'. You can choose to fight fiefless for the king, or reconsider taking your vows of allegiance. However, when a female character with a lot of renown (in the order of 700+) becomes a vassal she will probably have no trouble getting a fief like a male character. Having a much lower renown isn't a hindrance as long as you're on good terms with your liege.
In Warband, a vote is cast to decide which lord gets the property every time a castle or town is captured by your faction. By telling a vassal that you support his choice, you will be rewarded with some points in relation towards them, unless for some reason they deny your support. This can be done once for each village, town, or castle your faction acquires, which should net you a lot of friends in the long run. Another way is to work as a mercenary against the faction you'd like to join, and any time you capture a lord (especially the king), you will usually gain a bonus to your relationship with that lord along with bonus honor when you release him from captivity. Once many of the lords in that faction like you (again, especially the king), you should have no trouble gaining fief after fief once you swear fealty.
A king may ask you to become his vassal. This may occur after winning all tournaments, or after achieving a certain level of renown while having an overall positive standing with that faction.
Capturing fiefs as a member (vassal) of a faction can only happen when your faction is at war with another faction (never provoke a war as a vassal). The marshall of your faction will summon lords of the same faction, then ride into enemy territory, possibly capturing castles and towns along the way. Keeping a captured fief for yourself (even if you captured it without the help of allies) is not guaranteed. The calculation to decide who gets a captured fief is based on renown, the current number of properties they own, and an element of luck:
- Take renown and add 500 as a base value.
- Divide by the 'ownership factor' which is
1+(owned towns*3)+(owned castles*2)+ owned villages. If you own two castles and three villages, the score would be
- Multiply by a random number between 50 and 100.
- The one who conquered the fief gets his score multiplied by 1.5.
- Add twice the relationship value with the king to the score.
- If you captured the fief yourself and did not request that the fief be awarded to you, your score is reduced.
The player is only given the fief if they get the highest score of all lords in their faction.
In Warband, you can try to persuade other vassals that you deserve the fief. If successful, their renown may be added to yours in the calculation. You can also recommend other vassals for fiefs, and this sometimes seems to have the odd reverse effect increasing the likelihood of the recommending player getting the fief, rather than the lord they recommended. There may be other elements in Warband that aren't linked as exactly to the formula above. For example, new lords have a strong likelihood to receive a fief if they have none. As an example, once one takes vassalage, it is rarely too long before they receive a fief, even though the renown of other lords in the faction is much higher.
Owning a fiefEdit
Once you have a fief, there are a few things to remember.
Owning a fief allows you to collect taxes from the populace every week (taxes accumulate, so you don't have to visit every week). In Warband, taxes from every fief you own add up to your profits at the end of each week so you do not have to visit the fiefs to collect them. Towns earn the most base taxes, villages second, and castles the least. The prosperity of each fief also affects the amount of taxes they produce, which means a very rich village might be able to substitute a very poor town's loss of taxes.
The prosperity of a castle is affected by the prosperity of the village that is geographically attached to that castle, even if the village is not owned. Usually it is the case that the player will not own a connected castle and village, unless they have large numbers of both villages and castles.
You can raise the prosperity of a town by making sure that its caravans reach their destinations, and by completing quests from its Guild Master For villages, stop it from being raided, kill bandits if they invade, build improvements, and get quests from its Village Elder. Also, when repeatedly purchasing imported goods from a town or village, the prosperity will eventually drop due to the lack of these goods, and they will no longer be available until trade has returned them, which can take a rather long time. For castles, the same methods can be employed on adjoining villages, but improvements cannot be built unless the adjoining village is owned. The profitability (net income) of a castle can be improved by reducing the size of the garrison.
Once a village belongs to you or to your faction, you can't loot and burn it, although you can still force the peasants to give you supplies. If you are already disliked by a village that becomes your fief, the villagers will remember and hate you, but you can still collect your taxes as usual. However, you will be unable to get recruits from this village. You can see your reputation in brackets in the description at the top along with a word describing how much they like or hate you, for example "acceptive", "resentful", "hate you with a passion", etc.
If you intend to take part in sieges to earn further fiefs for yourself, you should avoid raiding nearby villages so that they will still like you when you own them. Burning villages also decreases their prosperity, which affects the taxes and recruits you can collect, so it is a good idea to make sure any villages you may come to own are in as good a condition as possible.
The taxes a fief generates are linked to its wealth, ranging from very poor to very rich. Improving a fief's wealth increases taxes and the amount of recruits you can obtain there. Improving a fief's wealth is no easy task; once it is looted, the wealth will drop back to very poor for a rather long time. Improving the wealth is done by a range of actions.
Increasing reputation: This represents how happy the residents are with your rule. When your people hate you, they will leave first chance they get and the village will not grow beyond average, so you must improve the reputation to 0 or higher to gain any real wealth in your fiefs.
Patrolling: Villagers need to go to a nearby town to obtain new resources and to sell their own surplus. Patrolling your terrain to make sure your villagers are not attacked and taken prisoner along the route is needed if you wish to improve the fief's wealth, which can pose a problem to lords who have a wide range of fiefs.
Trade: If the town the villagers trade in is poor, prices will be high, resulting in less affordable goods. Your villagers notice this too, as the wealth of the town largely influences the wealth of the villages and vice versa. A town with two poor villages and one average will tend to become poor after some time, due to the lack of production in the villages, and therefore lack of production in the town itself. The town will increase back to average if the villages near it are at average too, as this allows the town to produce more trade goods which will attract traders who will also bring new goods. After some time, this will increase the wealth of the town and give your village a chance to increase its own wealth, as it is directly linked to the town.
Sometimes a town will get besieged, and when it gets conquered, it lowers its prosperity by -20. So to prevent this, you need to pile up rescued prisoners, no matter how worthless they may be (watchmen, camp followers, etc.) in the town so that enemies hesitate to attack it.
To successfully improve the wealth of your fiefs, you should do all of the above, and for an extended amount of time. Depending on your own goals, it might not be worth the effort to increase your fiefs' wealth as it takes a long time to actually do so. If you stop patrolling the region for a short amount of time, bandits will return and rob your villagers blind. A village requires 3000 denars to buy 1 unit of prosperity, but will only buy it when it has 3500 so that it still has a surplus should something happen, e.g. looting, change-of-hands, etc.
Subject to a bug in 1.143 which shows troop names instead of fief names in dispute dialogs.