Fiefs are the villages, towns, and castles scattered about the map. Each fief is owned by a vassal or, in the case of the capital city of a faction, the ruler of that faction. Fiefs can change hands in several ways, the most common way being during wartime. Villages, unlike castles and towns, cannot be captured directly. Instead, villages are associated with a nearby castle or town and when the castle or town 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. Towns are typically assigned to powerful lords and do not change unless the lord that owned it defects or is exiled.
In Mount&Blade: With Fire & Sword, due to the game's historical setting, fortresses as well as towns are given to fixed lords, while villages are still randomly distributed.
Acquiring a fief
Fiefs can be acquired in several ways, most of which involve capturing fiefs after a siege.
Personal fiefs can be obtained by capturing a town or castle while not a vassal of any lord. This can be difficult as defenders of towns 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 town has just been captured and then besiege it, as it will only have a small garrison of around 50-60 troops for castles and 80-90 troops for towns. Once captured, keeping a fief under your control can be difficult 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 (right to rule 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 town, but it's unlikely you can capture one by yourself) with huge armies. In some cases, you may be faced with over a thousand men (in a cohesive realm), attacking villages one by one until they reach your capital castle/town, which is extremely difficult to stop. Unfortunately, the only way to decrease wars against you is to have a lot of power and land. This catch-22 is what makes starting your own faction exceedingly difficult for new players.
But if you've spent enough time in Calradia as a mercenary for a faction, you can raise a large army and quit the faction at the end of your contract without penalty. If you have been sending companions to spread your claim (beware as some companions' claims for you conflict) then you will 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 have joined, usually a village that has recently been looted. 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 his castle.
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 high renown (over 700) becomes a vassal, she will have no trouble receiving a fief like a male character. Having lower renown is not a hindrance if you are on good terms with your liege.
In Warband, a vote is cast to decide which lord gets the property every time a castle or town 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, town, 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 all tournaments, or after achieving a certain level of renown while having an overall positive standing with that faction.
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). The marshall of your faction will summon lords of the same faction, then ride into enemy territory, possibly capturing castles and towns 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 towns*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.
- In Warband, 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.
In Warband, 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 generates taxes from the populace each week. In Warband, taxes from every fief you own add to your profits at the end of each week, so you do not have to visit your 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, meaning a rich village will generate more in taxes than a very poor town will.
The prosperity of a castle is affected by the prosperity of the villages that are geographically attached to that castle, even if the villages are not owned. Usually 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 ensuring that its caravans reach their destinations and by completing quests from its Guild Master. You can raise village prosperity by stopping it from being raided, killing bandits if they invade, building improvements, and completing quests from its Village Elder. 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 long time. For castles, the same methods can be employed on adjoining villages, but improvements cannot be built unless the adjoining village is owned. The profitability (net income) of a castle can be improved by reducing the size of the garrison.
Once a village belongs to you or to your faction, you cannot 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 taxes. 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 also decreases their prosperity, which affects the taxes and recruits you can collect, so you should ensure any villages you may come to own remain in good condition.
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 amount of recruits you can obtain there. Improving a fief's wealth is difficult; once a fief is looted, the wealth will drop back to very poor for a long time. Improving the wealth is done by a range of actions.
Increasing reputation: This represents how happy the residents are with your rule. When your people hate you, they will leave first chance they get and the village will not grow beyond average, so you must improve the reputation to 0 or higher to gain any real wealth in your fiefs.
Patrolling: Villagers need to go to a nearby town to obtain new resources and to sell their own surplus. Patrolling your territory to make sure your villagers are not attacked and taken prisoner along the route is needed if you wish to improve the fief's wealth, which can pose a problem to lords who have a wide range of fiefs.
Trade: If the town the villagers trade in is poor, prices will be high, resulting in less affordable goods. Your villagers notice this too, as the wealth of the town influences the wealth of the villages and vice versa. A town with two poor villages and one average will tend to become poor after some time, due to the lack of production in the villages, and therefore lack of production in the town itself. The town will increase back to average if its villages are at average too, as this allows the town to produce more trade goods which will attract traders who will bring new goods. After some time, this will increase the town's wealth and give your village a chance to increase its own wealth, as it is directly linked to the town.
Sometimes a town will get besieged and conquered, which lowers its prosperity by -20. To prevent this, you can garrison rescued prisoners, no matter how weak (watchmen, camp followers, etc.) in the town so that enemies hesitate to attack it.
To successfully improve the wealth of your fiefs, you should do all of the above, and for an extended amount of time. Depending on your goals, it might not be worth the effort to increase your fiefs' wealth as it takes a long time to do so. If you stop patrolling the region for a short amount of time, bandits will return and rob your villagers. A village requires 3000 denars to buy 1 unit of prosperity, but will only buy it when it has 3500 so that it still has a surplus should something happen, e.g. looting, change-of-hands, etc.
- New goods appear in the emptied market of the village every 5 days
Subject to a bug in 1.143 which shows troop names instead of fief names in dispute dialogs.