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    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Where should fantasy feudal lords put their castles?

    So I am following the cues from my players on what direction they want my RPG to go in. I thought the PCs would want to travel the world, but they actually like the sock shaped nation of Fumaya they are in so they are in now, so I feel that creating more detailed maps would be useful. The nation has a gazillion problems so heroic adventurers have plenty to keep busy with.

    I'm using a homebrew system. It's very similar to D&D but it's not D&D. Among other things. One of the changes I did was deflated the economy. There is no such thing as a 200,000 gold piece magic sword. The most legendary magical items in my world probably cost 50,000 gold in rare materials. My PCs are holding about 10,000 gold in hard currency and about 5000 gold in trade goods and about 20,000 gold in magical items which means they are pretty darn rich

    I set my feudal economy based on this.

    Normally, a knight's fief is likely to generate between 1000 and 3000 gold pieces worth of goods every year (after the peasants get their cut). That's usually enough money to replace his horse, armor, and weapons. You can usually tell the relative status of a knight by the quality of his horse, armor, and weapons.

    Most barons and baronesses typically have land that generates between 3,000 and 8,000 gold pieces worth of income every year.

    Most counts and countesses have land that generates between 5,000 and 12,000 gold pieces worth of goods every year.

    Most dukes and duchesses have land that generates between 7,000 and 25,000 gold pieces worth of goods every year.

    Most kings and queens have a personal demesne that generates between 15,000 gold and 100,000 gold pieces every year.

    Typically a noble's ransom value is approximately what their annual income is.

    The nation the PCs are currently in, the lords tend to average towards the poorer side of these ranges, especially the king. The previous king was a wasteful spender and a lazy manager and the current king is trying to reverse the damage done by his late father's thirty year reign.

    So nobles can get income from agriculture, timber rights, fishing rights, mineral rights, hunting rights, and in my world reagent harvesting rights. "Reagents" is the generic term I use for "stuff that can be processed into potions and other magical items." They might also control a town with varied industry and collect taxes from the burgher class.

    I figure most knights have a plot of farmland and little else, but most nobles above the rank of knight are going to have farmland plus at least one secondary resource that generates side income like a mine or some timberland, and some low value land that is mostly undeveloped (because monsters and fantasy creatures have to hide somewhere).

    Assuming Barons have such small fortified structures they barely qualify as castles, Counts have small castles, dukes have modest castles and kings have very mighty castles. Where do the castles go?

    I am assuming castles are a long term investment and a typical castle is going to cost three to five times the annual income of the land they are protecting, but that castles are capable of standing for many generations. I figure most castles are magically warded to prevent someone from bypassing them entirely with magic (my world does not have teleport spells but it does have fly and stone shape). This probably costs 5% of a lord's annual income to maintain the magic wards.

    If a lord's land includes several different types of terrain and resources, where is the logical place to build a castle. The biggest question I have is assuming a lord controls a lot of farmland, a small town, a patch of untamed wilderness, and perhaps a small localized special resource like a mine or a fertile reagent ground, should the castle be guarding the heartland of their cropland, the main population center of a town, or the special income producing resource?

    Or do you just ignore the location of all your resources and pick the most defensible spot in your land regardless of how valuable the and around it?

    A lord needs to be able to defend against hostile foreign armies, small scale monster attacks, assorted brigands (humanoid and goblinoid), subversive cults and potentially peasant uprising (though in Fumaya relations between the noble and peasant classes tend to be pretty good).

    Also, I am just barely dipping my toe into the water of Game of Thrones and Crusder Kings style intrigues, but it is feasible that lords want to defend themselves against their peers. If a valuable resource is near the border between the fiefdoms of two counts, the two counts are probably going to bicker over it despite their collective liege wanting them to get along.

    And of course fancy castles help a lord's image.

    So where is the logical or thematical appropriate place to place castles.

    I guess on a related topic, where would abandoned castles exist infested with goblins or other baddies?
    Last edited by Scalenex; 2021-02-06 at 10:26 PM.