Fiefs are the villages, towns, and castles scattered about the map. Each one is owned by a lord or, in the case of the capital city of a faction, the ruler of that faction. They can change hands a few different ways, the most common way being during wartime. Villages, unlike castles and cities, cannot be captured directly. Instead, they are associated with a nearby castle or city and when the castle or city is captured, so is the village.
Every time you start a new game, the ownership of villages and castles is randomized with only a few exceptions. Cities are assigned to powerful lords and do not change unless the lord that owned it defects or gets exiled.
Acquiring a fief
There are a few ways of getting hold of fiefs, most of which involve capturing them after a siege.
Personal fiefs can be obtained by capturing a city or castle while not a vassal of any lord. This can be difficult as defenders of cities and castles are generally hundreds strong and if you are not a member of a faction, you will not have any allies to help you. A good strategy can be to wait until a castle or city has just been captured and then siege it, as it will only have a smaller garrison. Once captured, it can be very hard to keep a fief under your control because you will most likely have insufficient numbers. Contrary to popular belief, right to rule does not affect the likelihood that others will declare war on and attack you (It only affects the chances of other lords defecting to you). Factions may decide to declare war on you at any time, as your claim would be weaker than theirs, leading to an attack on your petty castle (or city, but it's unlikely you are able to capture one by yourself) with huge armies. In some cases, you may be faced with more than a thousand men (in a cohesive realm), attacking villages one by one until they reach your capital castle/city, which is extremely difficult to stop. Unfortunately, the only way to decrease wars against you is to have a lot of power and land.
But if you've spent enough time in Pendor as mercenary for a faction, you can raise armies without fear and at the end of your contract quit the faction without any penalties. If you have been smart and have been sending companions to spread your claim (beware as some companions' claims for you conflict) then you'll usually only have to deal with the kingdom you attacked.
Becoming a vassal
When you become a vassal, you will be granted the poorest village in the faction you've joined, usually a village that recently has been looted (as it will have the lowest Prosperity). Sometimes, the lord who owns the castle associated with that village will dislike you, and deny you entry to his castle. Once your relation with that lord improves, you will gain access to it.
If you are playing a female character, the king of your chosen faction will say that giving a fief to a woman will cause other nobles to think he has been 'bewitched'. You can choose to fight fiefless for the king, or reconsider taking your vows of allegiance. However, when a female character with a lot of renown (in the order of 700+) becomes a vassal she will probably have no trouble getting a fief like a male character. Having a much lower renown isn't a hindrance as long as you're on good terms with your liege.
A vote is cast to decide which lord gets the property every time a castle or city is captured by your faction. By telling a vassal that you support his choice, you will be rewarded with some points in relation towards them, unless for some reason they deny your support. This can be done once for each village, city, or castle your faction acquires, which should net you a lot of friends in the long run. Another way is to work as a mercenary against the faction you'd like to join, and any time you capture a lord (especially the king), you will usually gain a bonus to your relationship with that lord along with bonus honor when you release him from captivity. Once many of the lords in that faction like you (again, especially the king), you should have no trouble gaining fief after fief once you swear fealty.
A king may ask you to become his vassal. This may occur after winning several tournaments, or after achieving a certain level of renown while having a neutral or better standing with that faction. The monarch that will send this offer to you will be the one of the kingdom you are in.
Capturing fiefs as a member (vassal) of a faction can only happen when your faction is at war with another faction (never provoke a war as a vassal, except for one special Lord's Quest, called "Start a War"). The marshal of your faction will summon lords of the same faction, then ride into enemy territory, possibly capturing castles and cities along the way. Keeping a captured fief for yourself (even if you captured it without the help of allies) is not guaranteed. The calculation to decide who gets a captured fief is based on renown, the current number of properties they own, and an element of luck:
- Take renown and add 500 as a base value.
- Divide by the 'ownership factor' which is
1+(owned cities*4)+(owned castles*2)+ owned villages. If you own two castles and three villages, the score would be
- Multiply by a random integer number between 50 and 99 inclusive.
- The one who conquered the fief gets his score multiplied by 1.5.
- Add twice the relationship value with the king to the score, just for the player, this is not added for other vassals. In Warband, the effective relationship (K in the image) is capped to a minimum of -100 and a maximum of 100.
- If the fief is a village, the score of vassals that don't have any fief is multiplied by 10.
- If you captured the fief yourself and did not request that the fief be awarded to you, your score is reduced.
The player is only given the fief if they get the highest score of all lords in their faction.
You can try to persuade other vassals that you deserve the fief. If successful, their renown may be added to yours in the calculation. You can also recommend other vassals for fiefs, and this sometimes seems to have the odd reverse effect increasing the likelihood of the recommending player getting the fief, rather than the lord they recommended.
Owning a fief
Once you have a fief, there are a few things to remember.
Owning a fief allows you to collect taxes (rents and tariffs) from the populace every week. Taxes from every fief you own add up to your profits at the end of each week so you do not have to visit the fiefs to collect them. Towns earn the most base taxes, villages second, and castles the least. The prosperity of each fief also affects the amount of taxes they produce, which means a very rich village might be able to substitute a very poor city's loss of taxes.
The prosperity of a castle is affected by the prosperity of the village that is geographically attached to that castle, even if the village is not owned. Usually, it is the case that the player will not own a connected castle and village unless they have large numbers of both villages and castles.
You can raise the prosperity of a town by making sure that its caravans and villagers reach their destinations, avoid it getting sieged or sacked, build fief improvements and by completing quests from its Guild Master. For villages, don't let them be raided, kill the bandits if they infest the village, build fief improvements, get quests from their village elders, and make sure that their peasants can travel safely to the nearest town and back. Also, when repeatedly purchasing imported goods from a town or village, the prosperity will eventually drop due to the lack of these goods, and they will no longer be available until trade has returned them, which can take a rather long time. Selling trade goods has the opposite effect, they increase prosperity for the fief you've sold them to. For castles, the prosperity change is limited to fief improvements, the village attached to it and avoiding it getting sieged. The profitability (net income) of a castle can be improved by reducing the size of the garrison.
Tax inefficiency starts to take effect after you own 8, 10 or 12 "center points" worth of flefs in Good, Average and Poor campaign AI difficulty respectively. A town is worth 2 center points, whereas a castle and a village are both worth 1. The belonging tax inefficiency (tax loss) per excess center points are 4%, 3% and 2% in the same order (Good, Average, Poor). The maximum tax inefficiency is 65% by default, so you can't go above it, no matter how many fiefs you have.
Once a village belongs to you or to your faction, you can't loot and burn it, although you can still force the peasants to give you supplies. If you are already disliked by a village that becomes your fief, the villagers will remember and hate you, but you can still collect your taxes as usual. However, you will be unable to get recruits from this village. You can see your reputation in brackets in the description at the top along with a word describing how much they like or hate you, for example, "acceptive", "resentful", "hate you with a passion", etc.
If you intend to take part in sieges to earn further fiefs for yourself, you should avoid raiding nearby villages so that they will still like you when you own them. Burning villages decreases their prosperity to 0, which affects the taxes and recruits you can collect, so it is a good idea to make sure any villages you may come to own are in as good a condition as possible.
The taxes a fief generates are linked to its wealth, ranging from very poor to very rich. Improving a fief's wealth increases taxes and the number of recruits you can obtain there. Improving a fief's wealth is no easy task; once it is looted, the wealth will drop back to very poor for a rather long time. Improving the wealth is done by a range of actions. These can be checked here.
Some improvements may increase your relations with the fief, some will lower it. Some of these improvements will increase your prosperity, will give you an increase in the base income or even add some special functionality like recruiting nobles, spawning militia patrols or spawning red brotherhood patrols.
Some buildings can only be built in a specific fief (village, castle or city), some require other buildings to be first built, and others require specific skills to reach a predefined value. To do this last thing, you can talk with your steward/village elder and tell you want to train him, this will unlock a new option in the fief, this being training him. It will take some time but raise his skills (always limited to your party limits, for example, if your party has 3 engineering, engineering can't go over 3 for him).
Training the steward/village elder will also raise the relations with the fief by (missing number).