This has been bouncing around in my head for a while, taking up valuable real estate that could be used for other things (like, you know, STORY posts), so I figured that I ought to write down my thoughts, get it all out on paper … er … the interwebs, and figure out just how I’m going to make this work. 🙂
I may or may not get an actual story post up tonight — we’ll see how long doing this takes me. 🙂
Indentures? Guilds? What the heck are you talking about, Morgaine?
Good question! What this post is about is me basically trying to iron out my rules for changing classes, and how, story-wise, the class structure works in Albion. With my luck, as soon as I post this Andavri will tell me that it’s all covered in Part Nine of the Checkylist, but I do want to get my ideas out on paper anyway.
Anyway, before I go on, I think I need to zoom out a bit and have a look at Albion from the macro level.
Albionese law recognizes only two social classes: nobles and commoners. That’s it. Under the law, there’s no such thing as a “merchant,” though in everyday life it’s a different story. While some rights and obligations are fundamental for all citizens — the right to a fair trial if you’re accused of a crime, the obligation to pay taxes, some obligations to military service in time of war, the right to petition the government (i.e. the King) for redress of grievances — nobles and commoners also have some different rights and obligations. Nobles have far greater property rights (commoners can, for the most part, only own their own homes — there’s a big exception that I’ll cover in just a bit); they can own their own home, as many commercial properties as they like/can afford, vacation homes, and also own other residential properties that they can rent out using Simlogical’s Property Investment System. However, they also have military obligations to protect those people living on their lands to the best of their ability. Though law and order is ultimately the responsibility of the Royal family and the Chief Magistrate, most noblemen are responsible for keeping the peace on their own lands. The noblemen hire and equip the town guards; the Chief Magistrate provides procedures for training and standard procedures for investigating crimes, conducting arrests, etc. The Chief Magistrate also will handle a lot of the headaches of actually running the justice system — the nobles just pay for it. (The judiciary, by the way, is completely under control of the Royal family, in order to minimize bias/corruption.)
Commoners have fewer rights in that line — in a lot of lines — but they have fewer responsibilities, too, so it balances out. Well, sort of, this is the “Middle Ages” and not everything is going to be fair. However, while nobles are just nobles, commoners are subdivided (under the law) into three different groups: indentured, freemen (and freewomen) and vagrants.
Ah, now you’re getting to the point! So, indentures?
Yes, yes, I am. Indentured men and women are bound by oaths and law to one particular noble family. (Technically, one nobleman, the head of that noble family.) The status of being indentured is passed down from generation to generation, unless of course a particular family or family member manages to buy out its indenture. (More on that in just a sec.) The indentures started out, a long time ago in Glasonland, as bargains struck by groups of peasants and particular noble families. These bargains have remained for the most part in force up until now, with some changes as time went on.
I’ll start out with the indentured men and women’s rights first, then move onto the noble family’s rights. Most of the rights have a corresponding obligation: i.e., if the indentured men and women have a right to military protection and to peaceful lives, then the nobles have an obligation to provide it.
Anyway, indentured men and women have the right to:
- Military protection, law & order. The Crown is ultimately responsible for both of these things (the noblemen are, after all, vassals to the Crown), but the nobles provide it on a local level.
- Shelter. Nobles must provide a reasonably furnished house to every indentured family. (I’ve downloaded Pescado’s No20kHandout hack, so this will help Peasant families just starting out.) If the indentured family can afford it and the dwelling provided is a single-family home, they will buy this house outright. If not — and if the property in question is not a multi-family residence, i.e. apartments — the noble will charge them (reasonable) rent. The house, if it’s a single-family dwelling, can be bought at any time. (Game-wise, this is all accomplished with the Simlogical’s Mortgage Bushes/Property Investment System.)
- Guaranteed employment for one or more family members (i.e., people with that last name) on one of the lord’s commercial properties — either their lands, farming, or some other commercial property. If one of the members of the household is employed by the lord, they’re also entitled to a tax break.
- General advocacy. Basically, if an indentured man or woman gets into trouble with the law, with the Church, with a predatory freeman, they have the right to go to their lord and say, “HELP!” Some of these rights are pretty well codified in law/tradition; for instance, if an indentured man or woman gets in trouble with the law, the lord always pays for a lawyer to represent the indentured man or woman in court. How good of a lawyer depends on many things: the indentured person’s relationship with the lord, how much spare cash the lord has lying around for something like this, whether the lord thinks the indentured person is innocent or guilty of the crime of which they are accused, how devoted the lord is to the idea of justice and fairness, etc. For other things, it really does depend on the lord. For instance, if Brother Tuck REALLY went on a power trip and tried to take Leah away from Berach — assuming he managed to do this without Berach killing him and fleeing the country with Leah — Berach would go to Pellinore, and Pellinore would go to the monastery/orphanage and raise holy hell. Whereas if Berach was Bors’s peasant, he’d probably only get a lecture on the evils of seeing whores. (Unless, of course, Leah was Leo and someone pointed out that if the orphanage got their hands on “Leo,” he could end up indentured to anybody once he got out — then Bors might get off his duff and do something.)
- Stability. Indentured people are not slaves, nobles cannot sell them to some other noble. Granted, another noble can buy out an indentured person’s indenture, thus transferring the indenture to them (or manumitting them, if that’s what the noble intends to do — like what Mordred did with Rosette), but the indentured person has to give permission to do this. Legally, they cannot be forced into it.
Nobles have the right to:
- Taxes from all peasant families indentured to them. Hey, military protection costs money, and money doesn’t grow on trees! … Er, well, it does, but not that much of it!
- Reasonable rents and reasonable purchase prices for any homes they provide. If a particular peasant family can’t afford any of the homes the noble has available, the noble has to either build or find someplace else for them to live (like a royal village complex).
- Guaranteed tenants for any houses they provide. Indentured men and women can’t move off their lord’s lands, unless it’s to special royal village complexes. (This is how I’m explaining Berach and Joyce living in the same village, even though they have different lords.) The peasants have to have the lords’ permission to move into these royal villages, though.
- Guaranteed labor for their lands or any other commercial ventures they may choose to open, and for beans too! To see just how much my nobles aren’t paying their indentured folk, see the My Playstyle section. Note that the lords don’t have to hire more than one peasant per family, and where that peasant will work is completely up to the noble.
- Approve all marriages indentured folk might make. Generally this is just a rubber-stamp approval, since most lords don’t give a damn who their peasants marry. The only time they might get upset is if an indentured woman wants to marry a freeman, since that would make her free. (Wives take their husband’s status, and children born to married couples take their father’s status.) Of course, if the prospective groom or the bride’s family is able to pay for her freedom, the lord will generally allow the marriage to go through. (He’ll kind of have to if the family is smart enough to pay for her freedom before he realizes that there’s a marriage to a freeman in the works.)
So what about free people?
Free people are just that — free. They’re not indentured to a lord. They can live wherever they want, they can marry whomever they want (unless it’s an indentured person). On the other hand, they don’t have many of the same protections of the indentured. Though they do get military protection and the right to scream for the town guards if someone is trying to break into their house, they don’t have guaranteed shelter, or guaranteed employment, or a general advocate if things go wrong. However, they do have to pay taxes equal to an indentured person’s taxes for military protection, except for under special circumstances that I’ll explain in a minute. These are collected by the Crown and split up among the four main noble families. Story-wise, this covers most of the “natives” of Albion (i.e., the townies). Game-wise (and story-wise), this also covers Nicole Saquina, since she immigrated to Albion of her own accord. Of course, instead of sending Nicole’s tax money to Arthur and then having Arthur split it up, in-game I just eliminate the middleman, divide the “Noble” taxes Nicole owes by four and send out equal payments to all the noble families.
Just for the record, Neil and Ailís Porter are, game-wise, in this position, but not really story-wise. Story-wise, they’re eventually going to become the Ferreira’s first indentured family. I guess I’ll just say that they’re indentured to the Gwynedds for now, and that the Gwynedds transfer them to the Ferreiras (with their permission) when Richard finally gets that barony. (I.e., when Freddy graduates college.)
How does an indentured person become free? And for that matter, how, story-wise, did Neil Porter end up indentured to the Gwynedds? He wasn’t from one of the original families that moved into Albion!
No, no, he wasn’t. My background story was that Neil was very poor, though — too poor to buy out Ailís’s indenture when he wanted to marry her. So he opted to become indentured to Pellinore instead. Now, before anybody goes melting into giant puddles of, “Aww, how romantic,” Neil stood quite a bit to gain by this arrangement: guaranteed shelter, the possibility of guaranteed employment (though now he’s working for the Ferreiras, I’m saying, and Ailís is popping out babies and not working at all), a general advocate if things go wrong. Basically, becoming indentured to a lord is a very attractive option if you’re one of Albion’s poorer citizens. So I imagine, if any of my other peasant-indentured daughters marry townies, they’ll stay indentured to her current lord.
Now, as for becoming free … well, that costs money. Lots of money. The baseline prices are as follows:
- Single adult: 20,000 simoleons — twenty silvers by Albion’s way of reckoning.
- Married couple: 30,000 simoleons/thirty silvers.
- Children age 17 or under: 10,000 simoleons/ten silvers each. Note this only counts for children already born, any children born after the parent achieves free status are automatically free.
So if Grady Brogan were to buy his freedom tomorrow, it would cost him 70,000 simoleons/seventy silvers: 30,000 for he and Toinette, and 10,000 each for Katie, Paddy, Nora and Sean.
But Grady doesn’t just want to become free, because financially, that wouldn’t put him into any better position than he is in now. He wants to become a merchant — and that means joining the Guild.
Ah-ha! So now you get to this “Guild” thing! What is it?
Very, very vaguely based on medieval guilds, it’s a fraternity of those freemen (and, in theory, women) of Albion who run businesses: basically, the merchants. When Albion was first founded, they — and by “they” I mean Mark Wesleyan and Richard Ferreira — went to King Arthur and pointed out that, if he wanted his new country to succeed, it would need a strong economy. If he wanted a strong economy, he’d need to give the people who were running businesses, more than just food production (which the nobles had already cornered the market on), some kind of a break. I mean, if you’re paying 50% of the value of your property and your income every year in taxes and tithes, you’re not going to have a lot left over for expanding your business, finding new trade routes to Smina, buying another shop, etc. Arthur thought this made sense, and together Mark and Richard created the Guild (the Tradesman’s Guild, but just the Guild for short), and Arthur granted members of it certain privileges.
These privileges are:
- Buying commercial properties. Note that Guild members are still commoners, so buying commercial properties isn’t an absolute right — the Crown could take this privilege away at any time. (Practically, however, I don’t see this happening anytime soon. Arthur and Tommy are a lot of things, but they aren’t dummies.)
- Not having to pay taxes to the general “freeman’s fund” that gets split between the nobles. Instead, they pay 10% of their net worth to the Guild. The Guild then skims a little off the top of this for operating costs — say, 10%, so 1% of the merchant family’s net worth — and splits the residue up between the four noble families of Albion. The noble families don’t complain, however, that they’re only getting 2.25% of each Guild members’ net worth, instead of 7.5% (the amount peasants like Nicole Saquina pay), because the actual amount of money is so much more.
- I should mention, though, that in game terms I’m not shaking up my tax system. The merchants will continue to pay 2.5% of their net worth to the nobles, at least until I get enough Sims that I could set something like a Guild set up.
- Having the Guild take over other functions of lordship, like general advocacy with the Church or State, without the drawbacks. The Guild doesn’t give a damn where you live or who you decide to marry. They also don’t guarantee shelter, though, if and when I get an actual guild set up, I might have them offer loans to young Merchants just starting off.
I should mention that, story-wise, most of the “wealthier” natives of Albion joined the Guild. Though they don’t own businesses themselves in-game, they might belong to other professions — the medical profession, various craft professions — that would have their own guilds. THE Guild functions as an umbrella organization for these other guilds, granting members of those guilds the same privileges as those who are just straight-up members of THE Guild.
So how does one join this Guild?
You need the status of a free person, proof of competence in business (i.e., a Level 10 home business in-game) and a small, one-time entry fee of 10,000 simoleons/ten silvers. (This, in Grady’s case, will get split between Richard and Mark as the Guild founders.) Once you’re in the Guild, you can induct your sons and daughters into it for no extra charge. Being a member of the Guild makes you a merchant in regular RKC terms.
Hey, wait a minute! Rosette’s a merchant, and yeah, she’s free, but she doesn’t have a business! And she never paid any money to Richard or Mark!
Er … Mordred pulled some strings. Hey, he’s a nobleman, he can do that!
What about courtesans? You mention them as merchants on your My Playstyle page. How would they become members of the Guild?
… I’ll just let you think about that. 😉 Any more questions?
Yeah. What about vagrants? You mentioned them earlier. Who/what are they?
Ah, vagrants. Basically, they’re gypsies — rootless, shifty people who the nobles want nothing to do with. Well, maybe rootless isn’t the right word, given that Ash lives in a tree and all … and Marigold has that nice little whorehouse. But, um, the nobles still don’t want anything to do with them. (Unless the noble in question is Mordred.) So they pay twice as much to the royal family in taxes and nothing to the nobles.
So what’s stopping all the poor freemen from saying, “Screw it” and becoming vagrants?
A couple of things: first of all, the nobles are not going to let them get away with that. If you are living on their lands, don’t have leaves in your hair, don’t grow fur and howl at the moon at night, don’t stagger around and moan, can’t turn into a bat, aren’t a whore and aren’t a member of the Guild, you are paying taxes whether you want to or not. The only way to really avoid it would be to become a vagrant for real, always moving around, never in one place, and that’s a hard life.
Anyway, I think I’ve out-spieled myself for tonight. For your patience, I give you a a list of default replacements that I’ve recently put in, and a funny pic:
- Rensim’s Dumas Vampire Default
- Almighty Hat’s “Just a Little Growth” Plantsim Default
- Navetsea’s F-IN Evolution 4 Zombie Default
- Phaenoh’s Suit of Armor Servo
I totally had no idea that Sims could P&L at the stupid llama mascot. THIS IS AWESOME!!