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Noble Farm Fief Budgets

      Each farm based fief has a set number of acres, some of which is woods, some cropland and orchards, some pasture and some wasted.  Each fief has a number of tenants, usually based on the amount of available land.   These tenants include freehold farmers and craftsmen, but are mostly populated by serfs.  The center of the fief is usually a village.

     A fief is rated on several factors.  The quality of the land, the quality of the infrastructure and roads, and the effects of the weather.  All of these factors play a role in determining how much money the fief generates.  The second factor, known as the fief index, can be improved by judicious spending on maintenance.

     The available cropland is divided between the tenants and the fiefholder.  All the tenants must pay rents for their land and the cottages they live in.  Serfs must also work the fiefholders fields, in addition to their own.   The budget for each fief is a yearly budget, and reflects the result of a year’s work.   From the total amount of crops harvested, some is subtracted for seed for the next season and some is subtracted to provide feed for livestock during the winter.   

     The fiefholder’s share of the harvest is then sold at market.  A portion of those sales is taken by the Reeves and the Charioteers.  A fiefholder also collects rents from tenants, taxes, tolls, fees, and possibly feudal payments from vassals.  The sum of these items is called the Total Income.

     The Total Income will usually be a very large sum of money.  But, your expenses will eat into that quite quickly.  Total Expenses include things like:

  1. Household. The entire reason you have a fief is so that you can maintain your own household. And it you won’t want to to be less impressive than another noble’s household. The Household budget will comprise the largest expense in running a noble fief.
  2. Feudal payments to the fiefholder’s liege, which are based on an arcane and highly complex formula based in part by the amount of land in the fief and in part by the Total income and the household budget.
  3. Tithes to the Church.  The church expects a flat ten percent of the Total Income.  More is better, less could get you into trouble.  If the church suspects you’re holding back, they could open an inquiry.
  4. Political Expenses.  These include basic bribes, fees, incidental taxes, and rote gifts to other nobles and officials.  There is an average minimum that equals about one firebird per acre of the fief.  Spending more is highly recommended and will increase your reputation.

     Everything after the Total Expenses is subtracted from the Total Income is yours to keep.  Of course, all of the player nobles in your household are going to want a stipend, which would come out of that money.  For example, your cousin John, who had no place else to live, will want spending money!  And while the household budget includes the cost for maintaining him in style, it does not include any stipend for him.  This is one of the difficult choices you must make as a fiefholder.   You want a big, grand household.  But maintaining it could leave you without any extra firebirds.

Non-Noble Fief Budgets

      The costs associated with running a non-noble farm fief are slightly different than a noble fief. In the first place, the cost of a household is remarkably less for a non-noble. But other than a negotiated payment to the person running the fief, all of the profits go directly to the faction. In addition, non-noble fiefs often serve as alternate bases for a faction's activities.

Vargo City Fief Budgets

Each faction has a fief within the city of Vargo, which is very different than farm-based fiefs. Revenue is based on rent paid by the people living in that faction's portion of the city, as well as other factional based incomes. Noble factions rely on the feudal payments made by vassal fiefs. Non-noble factions rely on the production of their farm fiefs, as well as their particular faction's activities.

Noble Household Budgets

      A well run noble household is an expensive, but necessary affair.  Each fief, including the faction mansion in the city, must account for the costs of its household.  The budget takes into account the rank of the fiefholder.   It’s more expensive to be a Count than it is to be a Baron! 

      The household budget takes into account two types of people, Nobles and Servants.

     Nobles includes the fiefholder, a spouse or significant other, offspring, relatives, squires (the sons or daughters of other nobles being raised in the household) and a Baliff or Steward (a baliff runs the fief if there is no fiefholder, while a Steward keeps the books for a fiefholder in residence).  Relatives in the MUSH would be landless noble players, who would require a place to stay.  The cost for a relative is the cost for room, board, basic clothing and other simple needs.  It is does NOT include any stipend or noble   Landless nobles can work in some capacity for the fief holder in exchange for money, or negotiate a stipend from them or the faction leader, or they can find another source of income.  Just because you are noble doesn’t mean you are rich!  A landless noble can also work as a baliff or steward for a fief.  This is a position for lesser nobles, those with no rank.  The position provides for a noble lifestyle, but the player would have to negotiate for any spending money.

     Servants include a chamberlain, cook, one or more assistant cooks, a gardener, nursemaids, domestic servants (one plus one for each noble in the household), a clothier/seamstress, harper, herald, mason, ostler (runs the stables), physick, sage/tutor, teamster/laborer, Weapons Master, and household guards and security guards. (Faction Leaders note:  You’re going to have to pay for those 20 guards!).  None of these positions is required.  However, no Noble worth his or her salt is going to have an understaffed household.

      All of the servant positions may be played by freemen characters, and they would then receive that salary.

      As an example, a Count’s household that included a spouse, two children, no relatives or squires, and a full complement of servants would cost almost 22,000 firebirds a year!   A Knight would pay less than 13,000 for the same household.  The real expense is all of those nobles.  That Count’s household budget shoots up to more than 30,000 firebirds just by adding three relatives, all of whom are going to expect to be enterained in style.

     Now, a careful player is going to want to know EXACTLY how much each and every member of the household might cost  But the point of being a Noble isn’t counting up every firebird.  What you may find is that your Steward will tell you you simply cannot afford to hire another pastry chef.  Or in the worst case, the Steward might tell you that there has been a crop failure and you’re going to have to ask for relief from your liege.  Oh, won’t that be fun. 

Church Household Budgets

The budget for a Church fief is slightly different.  There is an associated cost for the faction leader or fief holder, and for the various priests, deacons, canons and novitiates tied to that sect.  Those junior members of the sect also fulfill most of the requirements of the household.  Each sect has its own distinct needs.  For example, the Brother Battle doesn’t need to hire guards, while the Amaltheans and Orthodoxy do.   Any servant positions that are required can be fulfilled by freeman player characters.

Guild Household Budgets

The budget for a Guild fief is slightly different.  It is up to the individual fief holder to decide how to keep their household.  They can hire servants like a noble, or use guild members to fulfill those roles.  It is more prestigious of course to have actual servants, and more budget conscious to use guild members.   Each guild has distinct needs.  For example, the Muster doesn’t need to hire guards, but the Reeves do.  Any servant positions that are required can be fulfilled by freeman player characters.