In defence of home and hearth - hardening fiefs.

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Sergeant at Arms
A discussion in this thread regarding defending villages from attack has led me to think about alternative ways to protect your fiefs and villagers as the game progresses.

Multiple birds, one stone:
Firstly, during the mid to late game, the player moves past levels 20 and keeps going. As this happens, bands of looters and bandits begin to surpass the ability of villagers to defend themselves while transiting to their nearest town. These larger bandit parties also increasingly make trade caravans financially not worth the investment. Essentially, non-aggressor (or prey) parties on the map become increasingly vulnerable to attack, as their means of defence plateau well below the level of their aggressors (predator parties)

Secondly, as the player moves from wanderer or trader to land owner and magnate, they can make additional parties. If the player is independent, or is in a kingdom with only one clan, when these parties are set to 'defensive' - they will wander about owned lands and deal with bandits and looters - improving villager and caravan survivability in the process. However once a player is in a multi-clan kingdom - either as leader, or noble, their parties are drawn away to war as part of the vassalage requirements. Leaving fiefs undefended against bandits, looters, and also now predatory enemy parties (which villagers are also ill-equipped to deal with)

Current solutions:
The current solution to this scenario is to 1. no longer run caravans (which no-longer earn their establishment cost). 2. Patrol fiefs with the player party (to hunt down looters, bandits and enemy raiders) while other parties are away or 3. Leave them to their own devices while the player is campaigning. Leading to constant drains in the local economy, and a bottlenecking of player actions when they do make it back.

Proposed solutions:
Several proposals might be considered - independently or together, dependent on game world impact or developer timelines. I'll outline them below.

Possible solution 1: Fortify villages: The scope of this solution varies. But essentially, players could 'throw up a palisade' - either literally, visible on the map, or symbolically, through fortification buffs to defenders. This could be triggered automatically as a village grows, through a governor perk, or through a literal checkbox in fief menu. This solution addresses raiding, but does not address wandering predators.

Possible solution 2: Share garrisons: If the player's economy could support it, town/castle garrisons could be shared with local village parties. Thus villager parties (and while present, the villages themselves) could benefit from a buff in unit quality. These units would no longer be available to defend the city or castle, unless their village party was present for market. This solution could be triggered by slider in the clan fief menu and could be balanced by the usual impacts of lowering a town garrison.

Possible solution 3: Home guard: Perhaps the easiest solution to implement, would be to give the player the ability to withhold a party from army obligations. The player has the ability to raise 3 parties outside their own, 2 of the 3 could be enough to fulfil feudal obligations. If one party was held back, it could then have a defensive posture and patrol the player's fiefs for bandits, looters and raider parties. This would have the side effect of improving caravan success through lands, but it would reduce the overall potential deployable size of faction armies, while also increasing the likelihood of encountering defenders when attacking other factions - strengthening faction's defensive capacity. This could be implemented by check box on the party screen, after which parties would be greyed out in the army menu.

Thanks for the time and conversation!
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