Spoilers follow for Sabres of Infinity and Lords of Infinity. If you haven’t played them yet, go do that.
Today, I’ll be going into a bit more detail about one half of the first arc of Lords of Infinity; specifically, the “estate” branch. At the end of Chapter 1, after your Dragoon Officer returns to his estate and becomes reacquainted with the life he left behind him, he has the choice of returning to Aetoria to make his name in politics, high finance, or influence-peddling, or to remain home and tend to the estate he’s inherited from his father. While there is a definite high level plot weaving its way through this part of the story, a lot of the Dragoon Officer’s time will be spent managing his barony.
In the Unified Kingdom of Tierra, an estate is more than just a country house surrounded by a few hundred hectares of empty land. For a member of the baneblooded aristocracy, the estate is the primary source of income. The noble families of Tierra sustain themselves by subletting out their land to tenants, who in turn use that land to earn an income (usually through farming) and use that income to pay their rents. This means that the Dragoon Officer’s main means of earning money is through the labour and prosperity of other people. If the tenants can’t make money, they can’t pay rent. If the Dragoon Officer doesn’t receive sufficient income from his rents, he can’t pay interest on his debts. If the Dragoon Officer goes bankrupt…
The Dragoon Officer does not want to go bankrupt.
What this all means is that the Dragoon Officer has a vested interest in keeping the money flowing, and to increase the flow of that money. Whether that is to be through improving the profitability of the land, attracting more tenants, or outright extortion is up to the player. These disparate approaches to estate management are reflected by the new stat system which will be introduced in Lords of Infinity.
With the war over and the Royal Dragoons reduced to peacetime strength, the Dragoon Officer will begin the game on half-pay, a sort of reserve status which leaves him without a command. The unit stats (Discipline/Morale/Loyalty/Strength) will be replaced by a fresh set of Estate Stats:
Tenants and Income are self-explanatory enough. One reflects the number of households currently paying rents, and the other denotes the amount of money the estate brings the Dragoon Officer every year.
Next is Respectability, which serves as a reputation stat for your estate. It reflects how your estate is seen from the outside, especially by your Dragoon Officer’s social peers and superiors, which means Respectability also influences the Dragoon Officer’s personal reputation.
Prosperity reflects the financial well-being of the estate’s tenants. Low Prosperity means that they may be on the edge of starvation, whereas high Prosperity tenants might even commit their own resources if you decide to improve the infrastructure of the estate, pitching in with a public subscription to raise money for renovating the water mill or building a new road.
Contentment reflects how happy and loyal the Dragoon Officer’s tenants are. Tenants on an estate with high Contentment will rally around their lord enthusiastically in times of crisis or hardship, while tenants on an estate with low Contentment are one bad day away from rebellion.
These attributes are all influenced by the player’s choices in random events, by outside influence, and by each other. For example, Respectability, Prosperity, and Contentment are all needed to attract new Tenants to the Dragoon Officer’s estate, which in turn leads to more Income. Naturally, any player planning to increase their Dragoon Officer’s income would have to manage all three of the former stats to increase the latter two.
The main way to actually do this is by commissioning upgrades to the estate. Upgrades come in two classes. Minor upgrades are relatively straightforward. They require an initial investment in cash and a few specific prerequisites, provide a one-time boost to the estate’s stats, and can be completed in a season (a management “turn”, if you will). Major upgrades are subplots in their own right, endeavours which will require vast investment in time, money, and effort, but may entirely change the character of the Dragoon Officer’s fief. A successfully completed major upgrade may turn a parcel of sleepy hamlets to a bustling market town, a local industrial centre, or a disreputable (but highly profitable) hub of illicit activity. However, major upgrades bring their own challenges. The local weavers might not like seeing a new mill take their jobs, your tenants certainly won’t be pleased if you decide to enclose the commons, and the Intendancy is likely to take an interest if you end up dealing with the wrong people.
All of this, of course, serves as only one plate out of the many you’ll be spinning as the Dragoon Officer. There’s also the issue of marrying and producing an heir, of keeping up with local and Cortes politics, and of of dealing with your neighbouring landed aristocrats. As Tierra deals with political instability, diplomatic uncertainty, and the looming prospect of economic ruin, the Dragoon Officer would be well advised to prepare for a coming storm in whatever way he can.
His life may well depend on it.
As usual, new installments of A Soldier’s Guide to the Infinite Sea and An Adventurer’s Guide to the Fledgling Realms are up. In addition, HMS Foraker now has its own page, in anticipation for its release later in the year.