The Assemblage is my collection of ideas for improvements to the commercial/economic side of M&B: Warband that I liked. Some are my own original ideas, some I found on the forums and have adapted. I give credit to the authors as the sections inspired/written by them come up, thank them in the OP of this thread, and have provided links to their original posts in the threads they inspired.
Please do not begin to discuss any of the specific ideas here. I have provided links in the post above to the threads for each idea. Those are the best places to engage in detailed discussion of them. This thread is intended to assemble in one place all of the ideas for improving the economic side of Warband that I like and their sources. If you want to discuss the collection as a whole or some of its major points please do so here. Some of these ideas you may recognize as having been posted by me less than a week ago. I have deleted those threads. Some of these ideas are already implemented in various mods but I'm talking about adding these to the native game, or, failing that, a mod that does it all. City and Merchant Prosperity
Credits: This section was originally a direct quote from Sir Smokey (find that here
) but I have edited it almost beyond recognition. The basic idea I credit to him. I have changed the wording and some of the details.
All cities and the merchants in them have a prosperity rating that can change throughout the game. The scale runs from 0 to 100 and is broken up into categories as follows: 0-20 = destitute, 21-40 poor, 41-60 average, 61-80 well-off, 81-100 raid-me-now rich. The prosperity of a city is the average of its 4 merchants' prosperity. When you speak to the Guild Master of a town you can find out how each of the merchants and the city are doing. Also, the merchants' level on the prosperity scale (destitute, etc.) is shown on the trade screen next to how much money they have available since the money they have on hand and the quality of their goods is dependent on that level. The exception to this is the goods merchant who has the same goods all the time but more money at higher levels of prosperity. City prosperity affects how much tax revenue its lord receives and how much plunder an army gets when it is sacked. Sacking a city severely depletes merchant and therefore city prosperity.
The PC can invest directly in the arms, armor, an horse merchants through the guild master to increase their prosperity. Moving a merchant up to higher and higher levels takes more and more money, however. Also through the guild master the PC can invest in trade caravans the goods merchant is launching. When these caravans return safely the PC can pick up his share of the profits (there are always profits so long as it survives) from the guild master and the goods merchant's prosperity goes up. Asking the guild master for jobs now also produce quests to acquire specific quantities of goods for the benefit of one of the merchants who is in a spot and needs help. Off the top of my head I'd say leather for the armorer, iron for the weaponsmith, exotic fruits for the goods merchant, and grain for the horse seller. Completion of these missions and/or investing raises their prosperity and the PC's relation to the city.
Tax income is determined by prosperity. Tax levels are set on a per fief basis at your Chancellor (or whatever appropriate staff member/spouse) with the options being: very low, low, average, high, bleed them dry. Any tax levels higher than average start to drain prosperity and lower your approval rating while levels below average have the opposite effect. The option of having no taxes is not feasible for this time period. Vassals are taxed the on the same scale, all together to prevent unrest, and with the same effects on relations. This will be a way to improve your relations with your fiefs and vassals without having to run around and do quests. All of the info on kingdom fiefs, approval ratings, and prosperity levels should be available from one or more of your staff members.
In sum, the main idea is to give some real incentive for players to develop cities and individual merchants within those cities to get better equipment, more taxes, more cash available to them when selling, and higher city relations AND give players options for medieval economics that can be as immersive as the intricacies of riding around on horse hitting people with various combinations of wood and steel. Companion Caravans
Allow companions to be entrusted with caravans to transport supplies and products to and from manufacturing sites as well as do basic trading with their trade skill an active factor. These caravans are different from kingdom caravans because they answer to you were as the kingdom caravans were assembled and funded by merchants in your kingdom. If the caravan is attacked and defeated any goods and currency carried are lost, the companion returns eventually and/or is found in a tavern, or has to be ransomed so a STRONG escort is advised. The companion could be given various combinations of instructions wherein the player fills in the blanks. The player could drag and drop these commands into a list of actions for the companion along with some basic parameters for the journey. Some parts of them would be selected from a list of options, some parts entered in a blank by the player. A full set of instructions could look like the following:
WARNING, WALL OF TEXT AND DETAILS AHEAD
Begin in Rivacheg
Buy Salt below 50 denars in Wercheg, Ruvar, Tihr, and Tulga.
Sell Salt above 130 denars in Any Town.
Buy Hides below 80 denars in Any Village.
Store Hides at my warehouse in Veluca, Sargoth, and Dhirim.
Collect Leatherwork in Veluca, Sargoth, and Dhirim.
Sell Leatherwork above 120 denars in Suno and Praven.
Wait in Ahmerrad at 12pm on March 21st, 1258 for 1 hour.
Buy Iron below 130 denars in Dhirim, Curaw, Ahmerrad, and (all their associated villages, nearby castle-bound villages included since they follow the same production patterns, I just don't want to list them for this example and perhaps "Villages bound to _____" could be an option).
Sell Iron above 250 denars in Any Town.
Return directly to Chalbek Castle when Fighting Strength of caravan is below 50, OR when Instructions have been followed 4 times.
Return to Any Warehouse I Own and deposit 5,000 denars when in possession of 10,000 denars.
Avoid All Villages and Towns if visited in the last 6 stops."
The player would start off with a blank section for instructions and drag a command line down. The first word of the command line determines what the rest of it looks like and can be chosen from a drop down menu. There would be 6 options: buy, sell, collect, store, wait, and begin. "Buy" and "Sell" would be followed by the same options (Buy/sell (good) above/below (price) denars in (location)) but "Collect" and "Store" would be a shorter lines (Collect/Store (good) in/from my warehouse in (location)); "Wait" causes the caravan to make sure it is at the appointed place at the right time to meet the PC for updated instructions or some other activity (Wait in (location) at (time) on (date) for (amount of time)). "Begin" is the shortest (Begin in (location)). To create the above example the player would drag down 9 command lines and set the first words of each one then go through each line filling in blanks for numbers and choosing options from drop downs for everything else. A similar structure would be applied to the Parameters commands.
As for the specific route a caravan would take as it followed these instructions it would first figure out which named location is it closest to. If it starts in Rivacheg then the village of Ruvar is the closest, I think. That being decided, Ruvar is the caravan's ultimate goal and will remain such until it is achieved or one of the Journey Parameters comes true so it plots a course to that destination. Since the entire list is not made up of specific names it would then see if there are any unnamed locations on the way. 'On the way' would be considered any location that traveling to it does not more than double the distance between the caravan's location and its current ultimate goal. By this logic and since there is only a castle between the caravan and Ruvar, the caravan would travel directly to Ruvar and buy salt if the price is right.
Having achieved its goal of Ruvar it then checks to see which named destination is closest and set that as its ultimate goal: Wercheg in this case. When it goes to plot its next move the village of...of... that one on the coast of the inlet to the south east of Wercheg is I believe within the 'on the way' parameters. So the caravan would proceed there first and buy hides if available at the right price. Once there they caravan would again assess itself relative to its current ultimate goal and head directly to Wercheg. After conducting its business there the closest named destination is Ruvar but the parameter to avoid locations visited recently (last 6 stops) keeps the caravan from looping back. It is still possible for a route to be established with a low enough previous-stop avoidance that a caravan could be found looping around but that would be the fault of the player for not setting other parameters that are guaranteed to draw it out of any possible loops.
Alternately, the player can chose to use a generic caravan master with an unimpressive trade skill and/or simply engage the native caravan AI:
The AI of merchant caravans at present sends them to a town, then when trading in that town they look for the most profitable target town to trade with given the goods of the town they are in. Then they go there and do the same, always picking the most profitable place on average. Traveling Merchant's Ledger
Available from the Book Merchant. This book would allow a player to record dates that towns were visited, the prices of all or just selected items when there, prices paid/received for goods including a category for looted gear that includes friendly troops killed to attain that loot and the total cost of all of their upgrading, a blank section for notes, a line graph displaying the history of an item's price at a location in and an average price for that item, enterprises invested in and their histories, a map of Calradia with that information available when clicking on villages or towns that can also be used to plot trade routes. The end result of such plotting would be a list of instructions in the same format as detailed above that a player can read and follow and/or can be given to a companion to follow. Some of the information in the ledger might need to be entered manually but most of it will be entered automatically once a player establishes their ledger recording preferences in the camp menu.
When sending out a companion caravan a player would be required to send a Traveling Merchant's Ledger with the companion (put it in the caravan's inventory when giving cash and goods to trade). The contents of Ledgers can be copied into each other or however a player wants to do it by a Book Merchant for a good fee. A companion's ledger returning from a trade run would contain a complete log of events and transactions in chronological order and a map to go with it so a player can see what happened when and where. If a companion's caravan is sacked, when the companion returns the ledger comes with him/her.
A very prolific trader could find themselves with a master Ledger with dozens of maps and logs detailing trade trips from the handful of companions running about the continent - any of which can be deleted, of course. Guild Masters as Merchant Banks
Back before banks merchants actually did have to trust each other with their money so they weren't always carrying coin around. In this addition one would have to physically collect money from Guild Masters who are entrusted with earnings from investments and money deposited by companion caravans. The logic here is that one's money does not simply appear in their pocket from businesses on the other side of hostile territory and couriers with sacks of coin are too likely to fail. Companion caravans can pick up and deposit money if you so choose.
The risk here is that if your relation to the city is less than stellar and/or you have too much money stored there for too long you risk the guild master taking some of it. Additionally, as you do better and better at trading other merchants including guild masters like you less and this is reflected in PC relations with cities. That means that if your companion caravans are doing all the trading worth the effort you could start finding yourself with negative relations in some towns from it. To remedy this, players can send/give gifts to guild masters and undertake more quests from him. The other risk is the town being captured. The guild master will always get out with a lot of coin but some of the PC's might get left, taken as a fee, or lost along the way. However it goes, when a town is taken less is lost with good relations.
An idea that I first saw at least partially implemented in the Floris Expanded Mod Pack that I can't believe I forgot to include since I've always complained so much - to myself - about the lack of this option is borrowing money. If the PC has too much money out for too long the guild master starts to demand non-monetary favors or take PC money he is entrusted with but has not been paid. A PC would be able to borrow little at a time at first though enough to get in trouble with then more as renown, relations, city prosperity, and strong history of repayment go.
Unlike the idea I saw implemented, however, players would not be able to keep an interest-bearing account with the guild master. Nowadays interest on such accounts exists so that the bank can get more money in its hands that it then invests to make money for itself, always leaving enough to pay some large portion of its customers but not all. Interest is both an enticement and a thank you. Given all the other investment opportunities I've thought up I don't think letting money just sit and earn money is such a swell idea. Shifting Trade Patterns
One of the things I like about Warband is that the major events of the game are decided rather randomly. Which kingdom will be destroyed first? Who will get indicted? What alliances will be made? This unpredictability makes for fun replayability and an interesting game. I would like the same to be applied to this expanded commercial side of the game so that the best and most awesome trade route in one game may not be the same for another. Shifting some values from one city to another - within reason - could be just the trick. Instead of Jelkala always being the silk and velvet place it's Veluca or Yalen. Subtle shifts from game to game, decided at the very beginning would give people something else to talk about when discussing their games. Additionally, there is the possibility of everything starting off the same and shifting throughout the game due to environmental effects or wars or something. Buying/Selling Arms, Armor, and Horses
I think it is sad that a game that involves both trading and warfare does not involve something so obvious as a weapons trade. When a lord gets beaten and has to raise up his forces again it causes a shortage of arms and armor in allied towns. This would cause prices to go up a touch in these towns but overall the price would only fluctuate badly when a campaign army gets destroyed and not for very long. A player could then sell a battered lord or town merchants weapons, armor, and horses but the lord is the better choice by far. A lord so supplied raises troops much faster - assuming he has the coin to cover recruiting and your supplies, something I know nothing about in terms of code but this guy does
under "Lords Info".
With the exception of the horses these goods are categorized by faction they are intended for and each faction type is only available in their original cities. Conquered cities retain their smithing practices. Arms and armor can only be sold for the highest profit to the proper faction but neighboring factions are the next best thing if the goods simply must be unloaded; anywhere else results in money lost. If a circle were superimposed on a map of Calradia that passed through all 6 factions initial territory then the factions next to each other on the circle count as neighboring: Nords --> Vaegirs --> Khergits --> Sarranids --> Rhodoks --> Swadians --> Nords. For example, Nord armor could be sold to Swadians and Vaegirs but for very little profit.
Horses are categorized by size/speed indicating suggested usage: smaller horses go to the steppe and mountain folk (Khergits and Rhodoks), taller and stronger horses go to the plains and desert folk (Swadians and Sarranids), and the third category of horses of some description go to the northern coastal folk (Nords and Vaegirs). Horse make the most money when sold to the proper factions, of course, but thin profits are still available with the others.
These goods would not be cheap and a single merchant would not have enough to supply a whole force so multiple stops would need to be made but impressive sums await those who work the system properly. Having some of these goods in inventory reduces the costs of upgrading troops. Horses may or may not help that because one could argue that mounted troops already have horses that are closer to being what they need than some random ones they are less used to who are not used to war. Trading outside Calradia
This does not mean the player leaves the area, just that he/she can invest in trade across the water and over the mountains, no need to send a companion. These expeditions would be undertaken by kings only and one would need a king's permission to invest. The contents and destinations of these expeditions are vague in the extreme. The martial size of an expedition is determined by the ruler launching it and only affects the normal chances of returning. The smaller the expedition, the more likely it is to never return. Also, in every expedition there is some likelihood of unavoidable disaster that no number of men will prevent. All expeditions that return are profitable but HOW profitable is up in the air. All expeditions face the same chance of disaster and the same random system that decides how successful it is. Expeditions can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months with longer expeditions being more profitable. Time of year launched and point of origin do not matter.
Players can launch expeditions themselves when they become a monarch on their own. These are best issued in good times when money and troops are in a plenty.
This addition is primarily a way to make money but also serves to deepen the game by showing that Calradia is part of a greater world, give kingdoms something to do with their men and money besides war, and serve as an entertaining gamble: profits are always there and often high but there are greater risks of loss than a similarly-manned trade caravan remaining within Calradia. Merchant of War
Sure, once you have a lot of money you can hire mercenaries every time you find them but you can only put them to use yourself and often there are not enough mercenaries available. Unfortunately, that is about as far as one's money goes: covering one's own expenses. Adding this concept would add a number of options and tools for very rich characters to interfere with other kingdoms. Most of these ideas are left general because the specifics need not be nailed down prior to actually starting to code them. If you have more suggestions I might agree that they are good but they will have to be really stand-out to get included here since I have no wish to list every possible action a bribed lord can take.
Bodyguards - Just talk to some of your troops or companions and raise their wages alarmingly to make them your body guards who will accompany you EVERYWHERE. No more tackling 6 bandits in a village on your own! You're a wealthy person and don't need to bother with such shenanigans! Just back up quickly and let your people work! These body guards can be put to other work as will be seen farther down this list and a PC can have quite a few of them if only for the prestige and bragging rights.
City/Castle Guards - Let the enemy in early, before the defenders are ready which causes fewer of them to be on the wall and smaller reinforcing waves.
Machiavelli's The Prince - was not written until 1513 or published until 1532 but it (with a different name) or something similar in content would be available for PCs to buy and read. Once read the options below become available and, if the PC has a Travelling Merchant's Ledger, that ledger would then suddenly develop extra sections for tracking the activities below. Without the ledger The Prince serves that purpose on its own and can be copied into a Ledger. For those of you not familiar with the work mentioned it was basically a manual on how to ruthlessly seize, retain, and exercise power. Whether political, military, or financial power is sought they all are run by people who can be controlled and when one is acquired and properly established the others will come.
Tavern Keepers - When talking to tavern keepers a PC can run across a string of dialogue wherein the tavern keeper states that he/she knows you are person of great wealth and can you help him/her with something? A few different missions can arise similar to the merchant missions in the beginning wherein some combination of bandits, local officials, troublesome sons/daughters in love, prominent citizens, etc, etc, are causing him/her problems and can you solve this? If yes, then you might jump to immediately with your wealth and bodyguards at your disposal or might have to go somewhere else and do something else. Either way, you've made a friend out of the tavern keeper and after a couple more favors only someone so rich and influential as you can help them with you start to get information on other opportunities since we all know tavern keepers are linked into EVERYTHING dirty. All of the further options below must go through one tavern keeper or another since each one has a limited range of influence.
Servant Assassins - With a list of important men in a lord's army and the lord himself the servant starts at the bottom and heads to the top. There is risk that they won't make it through the entire list and will be forced to reveal their employer: you. Obviously this causes a huge relation drop and not just with the lord you attempted against either but also all the lords of that faction that like him. Some that REALLY dislike him might like you more. The varying levels of the assassin's success translate into varying levels of speed penalties for the lord's force from somewhat slower to not going anywhere until the lord has recovered.
Buying Disloyal Lords - If a lord's situation is devolving to the point where her is on the verge of indictment he can be bought. When this happens there is a certain risk that he will take all the money and run to the protection of another liege but he is SUPPOSED to pay his way into somewhat better graces so that he can remain with his faction. Once there as your agent he can use family connections to convince lords to go or not to go on campaign, he can plant evidence of another lord's imminent betrayal to get him indicted and when he goes on campaign he can even cause battles to start early or lords to abandon them, leaving those honorable and loyal out in the wind. Another useful power is to refuse caravans from certain factions access to his city. Such an action could even be followed by thuggish attack on the PC's part while the caravan is resting outside the safety of the city trying to figure out where to go. This would not be a full on attack but one designed to look like there is too much anit-Xyz faction sentiment there to risk coming back any time soon, causing other caravans of the same faction to stay away. Such an agent as this is SUPREMELY expensive and must always be provided large sums to cover his continued service and more for each act of sabotage and treason.
Mercenary Armies - Buy (or be helpful as per normal) your way into the very good graces of a village (through some means that will be mentioned later), leave a companion with great leadership abilities there then go to all of your loyal tavern keepers and present them with a sack of coins: a whole bunch for themselves and the rest to pay every mercenary that comes through to head to that village. When that companion is full up they will now obey commands like a vassal plus a few more such as attack caravans, villages, and villagers of this faction, accompany Lord Xyz, find and attack Lord Abc, besiege location Qrs, etc. Additional commands to have them store or sell their loot and deposit money somewhere would be employed as well.
Inspired by a contribution by Stildawn: At any time a player my send a stealthy messenger (a specialist that would have to be hired or a companion; the first risks death, the second capture) to a lord's army to try to bribe away his mercenary forces. Alternatively, this messenger could be safe from all risk, be nobody in particular, and be launched from the pre-battle screen with a bid for the enemy's mercenaries. When the battle starts the player finds out if he won the bid.
Money-Lending - Lend money to lords for weapons and recruits and collect payments with customizable interest.
I think it would be really cool if you were a vassal and your King asked you to finance/help finance the next war in return for X (x = fief, repayment, prisoners, troops, items, renown, title, marriage into family etc etc). The economics of war have been greatly overlooked in the game.
Honorable lords will pay you back, dishonorable ones you might have to tune up. That process requires finding and beating him several times, possibly even bribing his castle guards (very costly, done through the tavern keeper who is much more trusted by the guards that you) to let you and your bodyguards - without weapons - into his bedchamber for a chat (those of you thinking of having 20 body guards, just imagine the screenshot here: you in your merchant attire in the middle calm and cheerful, 20 armored men standing around the room, lord and lady terrified and sitting up in bed). Mostly though, that is going to be more effort than it is worth before he starts to cooperate and will minimize that cooperation when it comes. Lowering their interest rate or asking for other favors like your pet lords mentioned above - likely the lighter actions only though - could get you what you want instead.
Spies - Depending on how many are employed to the same tasks and how much they are paid you can find out everything from the location of a single lord to the locations of every single lord (MAN, that would be expensive...). These men and women utilize locals and friendly tavern keepers to ascertain locations, dispositions, etc. for your use in manipulating the whole continent. They can even find out about debts lords owe to others, debts that can be bought and used against them. To be clear though, spies are information gatherers, not assassins or any other sort of hands-on operative such as would be needed to plant evidence of treason. For jobs like that the PC would have to visit the local tavern keeper to employ the right people. With the addition of spies I think the family information and details of NPCs available from the start should be scaled back. I mean, what means does a random adventurer have at his or her disposal to know how much controversy a lord across the continent has?
With the Merchant of War you now have all the tools you need to use the vast wealth you've gained trading and running businesses to tear entire factions apart then have them licking at your heels from the crushing debt they owe you, money you don't even need because the money they DON'T have you DO have. How do they think they got into such a terrible position so quickly?! Many of these actions cause lasting resentment in enemies and some even require burning one agent in order to promote another or a separate interest. As it has been said, the quality of a man can be judged by the quality of his enemies.
The best thing about all of this that for the most part it requires dialogue screens only. Some of the more advanced options require some new channels to be cut in the code and a few behaviors copied from here and there to be given to a new entity type. In my completely amateur opinion more work has been put into some collections of weapons than would be required to implement Merchant of War. Village Rework
Credits: This sections was heavily influenced by Ingolifs' ideas (find them here
) but overall I found them needlessly complex for a game such as this so consider what you see below as Ingolifs Lite.
Players care about only 3 things when it comes to villages: tax income, trade (items for sale and money on hand), and quality of recruits.
Tax Income - This is derived directly from the village's prosperity. Prosperity is measured on the same scale as mentioned above (0-20 = destitute, 21-40 poor, 41-60 average, 61-80 well-off, 81-100 raid-me-now rich) and that level is displayed on the trade screen next to their money on hand while the specific value is available by talking to the village elder. The factors that affect prosperity and their effects are: raids (deplete it by 70-80%), population (few people with a lot to do = destitute), amount of improvement to commercial efforts (harvesting raw goods and materials), and time spent on those commercial efforts (either all, half, or none of their excess labor available). In sum, a large village with fully improved methods for gathering raw materials that spends all extra manpower they have doing so is prosperous indeed and thus produces not only nice amounts of taxes but also makes itself a tempting target.
Trade - A village only produces raw materials - I'm going to say here and now that lumber needs to be added as a trade good and not multiple types but just one - but might have more refined trade goods on hand that they either bought in a city or received as partial payment for food. They do not have the skills for facilities at any point to produce that which should be left to the skilled craftsmen of towns (such as weaponsmithing, winemaking, cloth making). I am not saying that they didn't do it back then, I'm saying that though they did it well enough to trade in nearby cities, they didn't do it to a high enough level to be a legitimate trade good across the continent as is required for the game's purposes. The amount of coin they have on hand is a product of their prosperity as well as purchases made there before. Eventually the coin from those purchases fades. The amount of trade goods they have on hand is also a product of their prosperity.
Recruit Quality - A village that spends a lot of time training will produce militia-level (tier 2) recruits at best.
Villages, on the other hand, have their own set of concerns: Surviving (food and housing), defending themselves (from raids, duh), and prospering.
Surviving - A village that has just been raided is at its lowest population level possible. Some people are scattered, some dead, some still hiding which leaves few to do anything. At this point they have no spare anything for anyone. After a time they will have recovered to a point where they can spend a little time gathering more than they need to trade away or spend that time training to defend themselves. From that point on they can be taxed, traded with, and recruited from. As time goes on their population recovers and they repair their facilities and houses allowing them more spare manpower to train or gather materials to trade. Regardless of possibly spending all their spare manpower training, their population growth will continue to increase their prosperity as it attracts refugees to come back and new people to move in.
Defending Themselves - By building defenses (that upgrade to a maximum of a gated palisade, shallow trench, archer platforms in various places along the top of the palisade, and a defensive tower somewhere within the palisade) and training to fight, villagers increase their ability to resist raids. At the very best, 2/3 of their population will fight and 1/2 of that number will be militia.
Prospering - As mentioned above, population growth alone will increase prosperity up to a point. After that they must devote time and effort to harvesting the land to trade. If left alone and set fully toward trade they will eventually reach raid-me-now rich.
Players and villages interact through the village elder. A PC that is not a village's lord must have renown and relation with the village enough before they listen to what he/she says when it comes to village improvements and how they spend their spare time. The options there are spending all, half, or none of their time and energy on defensive efforts (building defenses and training) or commercial efforts (building better mills, mines, paddocks, etc., harvesting the land, and trading with the city) with all remaining effort going to the other (all of one or half of both). To speed things along a PC can donate money specifically for them to pursue one of those three options but if they don't like or respect him/her enough they'll just take the money, nod politely, and do whatever they want but they will like the PC more afterwards. A lord of a village needs neither renown nor positive feelings to order them around and his permission is required to make donations above a certain amount. He may also choose to be thankful or upset at the PC for amount below that limit. Additionally, when the PC saves a village (engages and wins against an enemy who doesn't run away but continues raiding) he/she gets increased relations with the village and lord AS WELL AS A LOOT SCREEN, DAGNABBIT!
When encouraging training a PC will know when he/she is being listened to because the Elder will ask which tier 2 units for that faction the PC wants the peasants to become. A troop tree with only 2 tier 2 options would be best for this because then the options are all of one or half of both. When encouraging commercial pursuits a PC will know he/she is being listened to because the Elder will ask what goods they should concentrate on and give options, only two of which can be selected and will be worked on equally. The reason for this limitation is to prevent players from turning villages into dedicated stockyards or iron mines. Remember that we are trying to play in a time period, not modernize it to maximize profits.
Without player interaction villages will respond to the world around them by applying more or less effort to defending themselves and trading. If a village is raided a lot or there is a lot of fighting near it, it will build defenses and train, thus producing better recruits. If it is left alone it will have a lot of goods and coin on hand, thus producing better trade and tax income. All improvements to villages cannot be destroyed, just damaged in raids and in need of repair. They come back on-line when the village starts trading again.
As a lord of a village a PC may, in times of great peril, levy up to 2/3 of the population, effectively decimating prosperity. Your relations with the village take a huge hit and the conscripted men are a major drain on morale. Some of the men are happy about victories so morale WOULD rise but then others are sad about being away from home so they are at best Average, at worst miserable. These conscripts can be trained up to higher levels, taken out on campaign and returned to their village (by talking to the village elder). When this is done, prosperity will begin its steady climb back up but all of the population capable of being militia now are - assuming you didn't get everybody killed. Recruitment after that is quite difficult and still only produces militia. If several villages are levied and some of the conscripts are killed then proportions of survivors are returned that are equal to the proportions of conscripts taken. So if you draft 300 men, 125 from 2 villages and 50 from the third and get 100 killed, you return 83 to one village, 84 to another, and 33 to the last. Get it? Investments in Cities
The first two that come to mind are a training yard to improve the quality of recruits from cities up to tier 3 (obviously would need to add recruiting from cities...) and a school (villages get schools but no cities? Really?) to increase prosperity. Like villages, investing in these up to a certain limit would be allowed (unless the lord hates the PC) and after that permission would be required. The training yard would add soldiers to the city's defense as well. After that, I don't know. My brain is melted. Maybe no more are needed since higher quality goods are taken care of in the Prosperity section at the top and these would take care of better troops and EVEN MORE tax revenue. What else do you need from a city after that?