Landbond (Patronage Supplement)
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Abdication: The privilege to terminate one's own landbond.
In the real world, agriculture is relatively simple. First, you till the land, overturning the soil and removing the stones. Second, you sow the seeds and hope for rain. Third, you reap the harvest. In Patronage, however, none of this is possible unless the land has been bonded to at least two people: a patrician and a plebeian. Agriculture is impossible without a class of rituals known as "landbonds". Without the landbond, stones move back into the plows’ path, seeds refuse to take root, and no domesticated plants will grow. Without the landbond, people can survive only through foraging and shepherding. In the Free Kingdoms, only Minia has attempted to survive in such a manner, and that decision has left its entire population on the verge of starvation.
Here are some general rules that apply to landbonds:
- Contiguity. No bondholder may ever possess more than one landbond at a single time. A bondholder’s entire fief must be contiguous. Territories separated by a body of water larger than about 100 yards are not considered contiguous.
- Exile. If a patrician with no viceroy is absent from a fief for more than a year, or if a viceroy is absent from a fief for only a second, the patrician’s landbond extinguishes.
- Extinguishment. If a patrician landbond extinguishes, whether by abdication, death, dissolution, exile, or otherwise, all subordinate patrician landbonds extinguish a year later unless a successor to the late patrician accedes to the landbond (if noble), or is crowned (if a monarch).
- Halflings. Halflings may never be subject to a landbond (willingly or otherwise). Some halflings who join the secret society called the Testament may have learned the ability to extinguish landbonds.
A landbond grants certain powers and privileges to the bondholder. Not every landbond grants every privilege.
- Abdication: Any bondholder except a bondsman may choose to relinquish the bond at any time.
- Affinity: Every bondholder but a viceroy is connected to the fief on a spiritual level. This manifests as a feeling akin to homesickness or even love. Affinity causes the personality of the bondholder to match the geography of the fief, and vice versa. The more noble the bond, the more effect the bondholder has on the fief. The mode subordinate the bond, the more effect the fief has on the bondholder. A yeoman bound to a dark moor may become more morose, while a yeoman bound to a sunny dell may become more optimistic, and a person bound to craggy hills may become cranky and irascible. A generous monarch will find his fief to be more generous, while a cold duchess may find her duchy to suffer chillier winters.
- Custodianship: Every patrician receives a constant stream of information from the fief, usually in the forms of prophetic dreams or visions. Not every detail is revealed. Usually, only major changes, such as natural disasters or invasions, are transmitted.
- Dissolution: Patricians may sever a vassal's landbond at any time.
- Enfeoffment: Monarchs and nobles may create vassals bound to a portion of the bondholder's fief. The smallest amount of land to which a bondholder may be appointed is a single hide (about 120 acres). This is the amount of land that a single farmer can till; it will provide enough food to sustain a single family, and sufficient surplusage to allow the farmer to pay taxes and perhaps make a small profit besides (assuming no drought, flooding, pestilence, marauders, etc.).
- Farming: Any land to which a plebeian is bound may be farmed. The plebeian must take an active hand in the farming, though it is unclear how active that involvement must be. It seems to vary from fief to fief. The plebeian understands intuitively how much contribution is required.
- Mentorship: Patricians know immediately is a vassal's landbond is severed, as well as the cause. For bondholders with many vassals, this information is an almost constant buzzing in the back of the bondholder's mind. For a lesser noble with only a few hundred yeomen, this information can be invaluable in managing the fief.
- Rule: Every vassal must obey their lieges whenever the liege can be heard, and the liege is within the vassal's fief. If more than one liege is present, the command of the superior liege controls.
- Transfer: Any bondholder but a bondsman or monarch may transfer that landbond to a freeman, if the freeman and all lieges to that bondholder consent to the transfer.
- Privileges: Abdication, Affinity, Custodianship, Dissolution, Enfeoffment, Mentorship, Rule.
A monarch has no liege. All landbonds flow from that primary patrician bond, which is created through a coronation ritual. Each kingdom may have its own term for the monarch. Most call the monarch a "king" or "queen". The Caliphate uses "caliph", the Alabastrian Empire uses "emperor" or "empress", Ironguard uses "warlord", Duat uses "chieftain" or "chieftess", Dragonseye uses "grand duke" and Winteren uses "grand prince" or "grand princess".
Other landbonds can be expanded with the consent of a vassal’s liege, but monarch’s landbond can only expand through conquest, by conquering territory adjacent to the monarch’s fief and incorporating it. Conquest does not require an additional coronation. Somehow, the land intuits when it has been conquered and how the boundaries of the respective fiefs need to be redrawn.
The monarchical landbond cannot be transferred. Rather, when a monarch dies, a successor must receive a coronation ritual. The fief of any direct vassal of the prior monarch (i.e., any vassal whose only liege is the monarch) who does not consent to the coronation will not be included in that liege’s territory. Such a vassal will continue to have no liege, and if this state continues for a year, the liegeless vassal's landbond will extinguish. (Often, such vassals will abdicate their landbond and immediately have a coronation cast upon them making them monarch over that fief, assuming of course that they are confident they have the consent of their own lieges.
- Privileges: Abdication, Affinity, Custodianship, Dissolution, Enfeoffment, Mentorship, Rule, Transfer.
For a patrician with large amounts of territory, the burdens of affinity, custodianship, and mentorship can be overwhelming. However, these effects can be tempered if lesser patricians are appointed to manage a portion of the patrician's fief. That vassal then shoulders much of the burden of the privileges of affinity, custodianship, and mentorship that would otherwise fall on the patrician.
Nobles are created through enfeoffment, which requires no ritual caster. The liege merely touches the freeman and, if the freeman consents, the recipient is granted the landbond. Any subordinate nobles who would become vassals to this newly enfeoffed noble may accept the new liege, or abdicate the landbond.
All nobles must have a liege. (Only monarchs have no liege.) If a the landbond of a noble's liege extinguishes, the extinguished liege's liege becomes the noble's liege. If there is no superior liege, the noble's landbond will expire within a year unless the noble finds a new liege. Alternately, the noble can have a coronation ritual cast so that the noble becomes a monarch. However, the monarch loses any fiefs of the monarch's patrician vassals who do not consent to the coronation. Unless properly negotiated, the monarch may end up will a much smaller fief than the patrician had as a noble.
Each kingdom has its own terms for nobles. Most use "duke", "duchess", "baron", or "baroness". The caliphate uses "emir", "sultan", and "sultana". The Alabastrian Empire uses "satrap". Ironguard uses "consul" and "proconsul". Winteren uses "boyar".
- Privileges: Abdication, Custodianship, Dissolution, Enfeoffment, Mentorship, Transfer.
Patricians must often leave their fiefs, to serve their liege, to fight in wars, or to travel on diplomatic missions. In order to prevent the extinguishment of their landbond through exile, a patrician may use enfeoffment to appoint a "viceroy" to oversee the fief in their absence. A viceroy cannot be appointed to less territory than the entire fief. The viceroy gains all the privileges of the liege except Affinity and Rule. Without Rule, the viceroy's only leverage against lieges are any armies under the viceroy's command, and the threat of dissolution of the liege's landbond. However, with respect to bondsmen, the latter is no threat at all. Thus, viceroy's must be very sensitive to the possibility of slave revolts.
The added complication of being without affinity to the land often strains relations between other bondsmen and the viceroy, as the viceroy's personality is often incongruous with the personality of the other bondsmen, and often in subtle ways the viceroy may not immediately understand. Serving as a viceroy can be a complicated affair, and it is unsurprising that viceroys are often portrayed as the villain in many romantic tales.
The existence of a viceroy prevents the patrician’s own landbond from dissolving due to exile as long as the viceroy remains in the fief. However, if the viceroy leaves the fief, for even an instant, the viceroy's landbond extinguishes. If the liege has been absent form the fief for more than a year at that moment, or does not return to the fief within that time, the liege's landbond extinguishes as well.
- Privileges: Abdication, Affinity, Farming, Transfer.
A yeoman bond is created through enfeoffment, just like any noble bond. The yeoman often identifies himself or herself by the rank of the person who granted the bond (i.e., the king’s yeoman or the countess’s yeoman), and these distinctions occasionally have legal significance, even if the liege subsequently appoints a lesser noble to oversee the yeoman's duties. A yeoman can never be bonded to more than a single hide of land and no hide of land can have more than one yeoman.
It is customary that, in return for the yeoman landbond, the yeoman must often pledge service to the liege. This service varies from fief to fief. It almost always involves the payment of rent, but may also involve services to be rendered to the liege, including military service, or assistance to be rendered in public works such as irrigation or fortification. It may also require the yeoman to provide labor (often the yeoman’s child) to work the liege’s manorial estates for part of the year. These obligations are often spelled out at the creation of the yeomanship. Most importantly, however, the yeoman is expected to farm the land, so as to ensure that the monarchy does not starve.
A yeoman’s bond never dissolves due to exile, regardless of how long the yeoman is away, although the feelings of homesickness and longing are always present. However, the fief of an absent yeoman cannot be farmed, so the yeoman's absence will eventually attract the attention of one of the yeoman’s lieges and the liege may decide to dissolve the absent yeoman’s bond. There is usually no legal penalty imposed on a derelict yeoman beyond loss of the landbond.
- Privileges: Affinity, Farming.
The least desirable landbond belongs to the bondsman. Only a bondsman can be bonded to the land unwillingly, through a ritual known as enserfdom. The bondsman landbond is particularly onerous because it prevents the bondsman from ever leaving the fief. A bondsman who leaves the fief immediately fall ill and die within a month. Moreover, the bondsman’s liege can immediately determine the direction that the bondsman has traveled beyond the fief, making the bondsman’s recapture relatively easy.
While there are few benefits to the bondsman, the bondsman’s liege gains several benefits. First, there is no limit to the number of bondsmen that can be bonded to a single hide of land and a bondsman can be bonded to as much as ten hides of land, provided those hides are contiguous. This means that many people can farm a single hide, allowing for more produce. Second, the liege need not worry about the bondsman abandoning the land. Third, the liege (although not the liege’s viceroy) has the ability to command the bondsman as long as the liege remains within the bondsman’s fief.
The bondsman landbond, however, does present problems to a liege. Most crucially, as the bondsman cannot leave the fief, the bondsman cannot supplement the liege’s armies, as can a yeoman. Nor can the bondsman offer other services at court or on the liege’s manor. Finally, as the liege’s viceroy does not have the power to command a bondsman, the liege must worry about peasant revolts whenever the liege travels beyond the liege’s own fief. For these reasons, only Alabastria, Duat, Ironguard, and Winteren make use of bondsmen for agriculture.
A more common use of this landbond is to detain prisoners. However, the minimum amount of land to which a bondsman may be bound is one hide. Thus, one cannot be made bondsman to a prison cell. However, making criminals into bondsmen has proven effective to limit the risk of prison escapes, as long as a sympathetic halfling does not liberate the bondsman prematurely.
The ritual that creates a monarch.
The ritual that can sever a landbond even against the bondholder's wishes.
The ritual that creates a bondsman, even unwillingly.