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The realms of Calradia, although they represent different cultures, all adhere to the same basic political system: feudalism. Feudalism is based on the relationships between individuals: the oaths of loyalty given by a vassal to his or her liege. In exchange for this oath, the vassal will usually receive a fief, a parcel of land whose income will be used by the vassal to raise troops to support the liege in time of war. A liege also has an obligation to protect his vassals, and to treat them justly.

This is how it works in theory, anyway. In practice, vassals will not always work in their factions' interests, particularly as they are often quarreling with one another. Nobles have different personalities, and sometimes those personalities clash. Or, perhaps two nobles were once friends, but fell out in the aftermath of a setback or a defeat -- or because they both were wooing the same lady. Jealousies will also surface as they vie for the favor of the king -- perhaps over newly conquered lands, or over who will be given the coveted office of marshall, the lord in charge of organizing large-scale campaigns.

When one realm in Calradia makes war on another, the political unity of the each kingdom is as important as the quality or number of its soldiers in determining the outcome. In a cohesive kingdom, nobles will join together in a large force to sweep their opponents before them. In a kingdom divided by petty quarrels, lords will fail to respond to the marshall's summons, or drift away to attend to their own business if a campaign is not going well. A faction's political cohesion will also impact warfare when campaigns are not in progress. In a divided faction, lords will be less likely to join together on raids and patrols, and come to each other's defense.

If it seems self-defeating for nobles to bicker and quarrel when the enemy is just over the horizon, keep this in mind -- ultimately, a noble's loyalty goes not to a particular faction or culture, but to himself and to his family. If a noble fears that his faction is collapsing, or if he is being neglected by his liege, he can usually find a reason to withdraw his oath of allegiance, and change sides. Players should keep this in mind, as they may find that there are opportunities to turn discontented former enemies into allies.

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