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Morien

BotE/W: Lots of damage (also, Squeezing)

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The Lots of Damage in Book of the Estate/Warlord are a bit ad hoc, and I think we can do a bit better. In particular, the drop of the Lord and Lady from Ordinary to Poor is just a flat £3, regardless of the size of the Estate, meaning that while it is -3 Lots in a £10 manor, it is a mere -0.1 Lots in a £300 honour. The standard of living for the rest of the people does scale with income, but while the step down to Poor is -50% to Ordinary, the step from Poor to Impoverished is just -25%, meaning the same relative change (half the before) is a smaller absolute change (-25% rather than -50%).

Finally, since the damage should also affect the Production (stolen horses and goods) from which the servants are paid from, you would actually need to save money in Servants at the same time you are making savings from the CR, or look at the total income instead, not just the CR.

So here is my suggested revision (more math in the very end), which should work for any landholding size:

Lots  Effect
-1       Lose Discretionary Funds.
-2       Servants drop down to Poor.
-3       The Lord and Lady drop down one level in Standard of Living (minimum Ordinary). The officers' bonus pay is reduced.
-4       The Court drops down to Poor.*
-5       The Army drops down to Poor. The Lord and Lady drop down another level (minimum Poor).
-6       Servants drop down to Impoverished.**
-7       The Court drops down to Impoverished. Sale of raw materials.**
-8       The Army and the Lord and Lady drop down to Impoverished.**

* A one-manor knight likely lets his Chaplain go at this point, being unable to afford such a luxury and preferring to keep his wife at Ordinary (or she will want to know the reason why!).

** Like it says in the Book of the Estate, you almost never see such perfect deterioration of circumstances. Rather than keep people at Impoverished, it is much more likely that the Lord downsizes his staff, letting people go. Of course, if times are bad all around rather than this being a result of a raid, this might mean sending people off to starve, but those are the breaks. Seeking extra income in the form of Squeezes (see below), adventuring, tournaments, raiding and war are also very likely. Especially in the case of raiding and war, if any of the knights or soldiers happens to die, that is one less mouth to feed the coming winter... so yay? Releasing retainers (squires, household knights and foot soldiers) from service costs honor (-3 Honor in Book of the Entourage) and risks banditry, as the armed men seek their sustenance in whatever way they can. So usually, the Army is the last to go, also because it is part of the vassal's duty to bring the Army to the muster when the liege calls.

 

SQUEEZING

Speaking of Squeezing, I think we erred a bit on the strict side on Squeezing, especially at the low end. After all, you want an evil knight to be able to be evil, right? As it is, Squeezing is more of a zero sum game, as you may lose Permanent Lots. With Squeeze 10%, you have 50% chance of losing what you squeezed, and that defeats the purpose. Squeeze 25% probably loses one Lot, too, and has a possibility of losing two, which means that he actually takes a total of -2 + -1 = -3 Lots of damage over two years. Squeeze 50% has the average result of -2 Lots (3 Lots of income lost over 2 years), but can lose 3 Lots, resulting in 3+2+1 = 6 Lots of income lost over 3 years. Squeeze 100% has average -4 Lots, resulting in 4+3+2+1 = 10 Lots of lost income over 4 years. The worst is -5 Lots, resulting in 15 Lots of lost income over 5 years, or a total of -5 'profit'. On the low end, Squeeze 100% can have -3 Lots, resulting only 6 Lots income lost over 3 years, a 'profit' of 4 Lots. Assuming in all cases that the recovery rolls are successful, which they might not be.

To make the Squeezing a bit more fun and tempting, I would drop the 1d2-1 roll from Squeeze 10% and have the penalties just be the adverse Trait rolls: it is tough to be a peasant in Uther's Britain, and if the Lord is just taking 10%, you say 'thank you, milord', and continue working (heck, it is even called 'Negligible'!). I would also make 25% Squeeze into a 30% Squeeze: we don't really use half-lots as it is and this makes it a bit more tempting to do. Although I would add +1 to the trait rolls, making it 1d3+1 rather than preferable to do over the 10% Squeeze one. I think 50% and 100% Squeezes are fine as they are: such harsh squeezing should potentially be damaging over the long-term and should definitely be more of a desperation move. In short, this allows the Player to embrace the Arbitrary and often Cruel nature of Uther Period by Squeezing his peasants a bit whenever he wants to, and just see his bad traits accumulate. Or they can be the good guy in a bad world, and then reap the benefits when Chivalry becomes more of a thing with Arthur.


Math:

Servants are 37.5% of the total income (CR+Production), so dropping them down to poor ought to be -18.75%, and down to Impoverished is -9.375% more. The raw materials can't really go down by itself, since it is a fixed cost, but I figure once you are letting servants go, you might have some back log.

Court is only about 12.5% of the total, so going to Poor is just -6.25%, and Impoverished is just -3.125% more.

Family is just 5%, and losing all of that knocks you down to Ordinary. Actually Poor if you have kids, but we handwave that now and assume that the Lady finds the money somehow: it is just £1 which is easily enough taken somewhere else. It is just extra £4 to keep a Baron Rich, which I think is reasonable from any honour. For one manor knight, most of the standard of living is coming from the Army expense anyway.

Discretionary Funds are also just 5% of the total.

Army is 27.5% of the total, so -13.75% for poor and another -6.875% for Impoverished.

So:
-1  No DF, -5%. The other 5% handwaved.
-2  Servants Poor, -18.75%. Total -23.75%. Slight overestimate, but close enough.
-3  Family down a level, -5%. Total -28.75% and a bit from Officers' Pay Bonus, which also ensures that they don't live better than the Lord and the Lady.
-4  Court Poor, -6.25%. Total: -35%.
-5  Army and Family Poor, -13.75%. Total: -48.75%.
-6  Servants Impoverished, -9.3%. Total: -58%.
-7  Court Poor, -6.25%. Total: -61%, but handwaving with the sale of raw materials.
-8  Army and Family Impoverished, -7%. Total: -68% + the sale of raw materials.

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I like the light  squeeze modifications. In  play I had a evil knight get a hold of a manor and it quickly became apparent that squeezing the peasants only made sense if the knight was planning on moving on once the ran the place into the ground, and the whole evil lord squeezing his peasants was counterproductive. 

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15 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

the whole evil lord squeezing his peasants was counterproductive.

Yeah, although you could add an additional proviso that if the evil lord is applying cruel collective punishments on the peasants if some of them try to flee (up to and including separating children from parents or men from women to ensure that husbands can't flee with their families), then it might be a bit more of a gulag, turning the peasants more into actual slaves. Especially if the land is hemmed in by an enchanted forest or some other such thing that escaping might not be such a sure thing, either, and that there would not be any recourse from a higher power (Count, Duke, King).

The squeeze modifiers kinda assume that there would be a possibility for a peasant to leave and have a chance of finding a plot of land to farm under a kinder lord, or some manual labor in a town. You could even apply 'The Anarchy' modifier by reducing all Lots lost by one or so to reflect that the peasants value the security more during those turbulent times.

Anyway, with the fix in the first post, the Evil Lord can do Negligible Squeezes all he wants, doubling his DF. Light Squeezing would become a defacto +2 Lots yearly, tripling the DF (until you roll a 3, losing 2 Lots, and then you have to take it easier the next year to fix the damage). But of course with NPC Dark Lords you can go even further like the suggestions in the first paragraph: assuming that those would translate to something like a reduction of Lots lost by 2, then he could pretty much be doing 50% Squeezes yearly and double his army, especially since he is likely not spending all that much money to a civilized court, either. Again, it might not be a stable situation over the long term, but it could very well work for a few years, long enough to make a pest of himself, get some reputation, and for the PKs to hear about it and come kick his ass. :)

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