Fantasy Economics

Part 1: Agriculture and the Economy

Socio-Economics have never been C&C’s (or AD&D’s) strong suit. The reason is there is no relationship between the value of a gold piece and the cost of goods and services.

According to the C&C Players’ Handbook, currency in the C&C default setting is decimal like modern American or British currency – while it is not historical is easier to keep straight.

For all calculations in this article we will use the standard C&C values for coinage which are as follows:

Coin Type Copper Silver Gold Platinum
Copper 1 1/10 0.01 0.001
Silver 10 1 0.1 0.01
Gold 100 10 1 0.1
Platinum 1000 100 10 1

For example, take the laborer who has manfully carried your pack for a day. According to the 3rd Edition Dungeon Masters’ Guide he should be paid 2 sp for his pains . He is expected to pay his room and board out of this. His meals for the day come to 2 silver pieces according to the C&C Players’ Handbook and he is expected to provide for his own room and family out of this!

With wages as depressed as this, it’s a wonder he doesn’t abscond with your pack and join the nearest bandit gang! The fact is, no one will work for less than a subsistence wage. So what is a subsistence wage in D&D terms? Well, let’s consider our expenses. The average household size in feudal Europe was 5 people. We need our breadwinner to feed, house and warm that many people at a minimum of squalid conditions. This means a 1 room shack (figure rent at 1 cp per week – based on the rate of 1 cp/day for a cot in the common room at the local Inn), food for poor meals for 5 people (50 cp) and firewood for each day (1 cp) that works out to about 60 cp per day (figuring a 6 day work week). This means 6 sp per day (16 gp per month) is our “minimum wage”. This is much higher than historical prices but then so are the prices given in the C&C Players’ Handbook.

That should stave off the Jacquerie for a little while. But is this reasonable given the quasi-medieval agrarian economy most C&C settings assume? At the bottom of everything, literally, lay the land.

A cottar or poor peasant farmer probably lives the same squalid existence that his urban laborer counterpart does. He tills 25 acres of land, of which about 19 acres is under active cultivation in any given year. Feudal agriculture was woefully inefficient. In an average year, a feudal farmer could expect to realize 8 bushels per acre (compare this to 150-200 bushels per acre in the modern USA). From his little farm, he could expect 150 bushels. Assume a bushel is 60 pounds of grain (really it varies by product but they tend to hover around the 60 pound figure). A loaf of bread costs 2 cp and a bushel of wheat will make about 150 one pound loaves of bread, allowing for profits by the seller, the wholesale cost for a bushel of wheat should be about 12 sp. This means the value of our peasant farmer’s crop is 1800 sp. Of this, he owes about 16% (or 288sp) in feudal dues and taxes (1/7 was the typical tax rate in feudal times but serfs paid additional fees so we charge him 1/6) and another 10% (180sp) was owed as tithes to the Church. This reduces his income to 1350 sp. He and his family of 3 will eat the same 864 sp in a year that his urban counterpart does, household expenses will account for another 360 sp. This leaves a surplus of 108 sp per year or a hair over 8 sp per month. Of course, in a below average year our little peasant family will be teetering on the edge of starvation (1 year in four on average in feudal times) and in the event of a crop failure they will be in real danger of starving. This confirms our estimate of the “minimum wage” as 6 sp per day or 36 sp per week.

Looking at a wealthier peasant, a kulak or a freeman farmer, we can get an idea of what lower middle-class folks should be making. His farm is about 40 acres of which 30 are under cultivation in any given year. His standard of living isn’t much better than the cottar but he can support a larger family (5 was the average in feudal times). His farm will yield 2880 sp, after taxes and tithes(15% to the lord of the manor and 10% to the church) he will be left with 2160sp, his family will consume the equivalent of 1440sp and household expenses will account for 600sp or a surplus of 120 sp (10 sp per month). This means a lower middle-class wage is about 10 sp per day ( 58sp per week).

A yeoman farmer is one of the wealthier rural commoners (generally only sergeants, innkeepers and smiths will make more). He will hold a farm about 85 acres and have a family of cottars working for him. Allowing 25 acres to be held by the cottars, he has 60 acres. Our yeoman can expect an annual yield of 4320 sp from his farm and 288 sp from his tenants, for a total of 4608sp (3455 after taxes and tithes). He will eat 1.5 times what a peasant does or 2160 sp per year and his household expenses will be similarly higher at 600sp. This leaves a surplus of 396 sp (or 33 sp per month), a man of substance indeed! This puts the typical wage of the middle class at about 384 sp per month or 85 sp per week (18 sp per day)

The rarest, and wealthiest, commoner is the petit sergeant – a non-noble light horseman. He will hold a farm perhaps 130 acres and employ two cottars. Allowing for 50 acres to be held by his tenants, our sergeant can expect to realize 5760 sp from his own crops and another 576 sp in rents for a total annual yield of 6336 sp (4752 after taxes and tithes). His household will eat slightly better than a yeoman. Let’s assume a standard of living two times what a peasant can expect or 2880 sp per year, his household expenses are similarly higher at 1200sp/year; this leaves a surplus of 672sp or over 56 sp per month! This sets the wage of the wealthier commons at about 127 sp per week or 528 sp per month (about 22 sp per day).

Let’s round out our examination of the rural economy by looking at the nobility, starting with a simple knight’s fee. This is a typical minimal manor house of a poor country knight. Our nobleman will hold about 10 square miles (6,400 acres). On this estate will typically live 5 petit sergeants (2880 acres), 10 yeomen (3600 acres), and 50 peasants (6750 acres) and some 15 cottars (375 acres) leaving 3425 acres under the direct control of the knight. Our petty lordling can expect 33,264 sp per year in taxes and fees and another 132,500 sp or so from his personal crops (165,764 sp per year). About 22 of these sorts of holdings (called Hydes or Knight’s Fees) can fit in a single hex on the master World of Greyhawk map (225 square miles)

Of course, he will owe taxes and tithes on this amount leaving him 124,323sp. He will support 10 servant families (28,800 sp), 10 men at arms (46,000), 3 sergeants-at-arms (31,500) as well as a smith (6336), an armorer (6400) a scribe (4600) and a cleric (4600). The cost of his staff is a staggering 143,977 sp per year. His household will eat very well – figure at twice the standard of a petit sergeant – or 5760sp. This leaves our petty lord a pretty tidy some left over – over 16,000 silver pennies (1600 gold crowns) or about as much as your favorite character made last week. His manor will require upkeep, typically 1% of its construction cost – let’s peg this as the equivalent of keeping a carpenter fully occupied or 4600 sp. Add to his house repair bills the cost of gifts and largess to his own lord, his feudal followers, the Church and other personages best kept happy may reduce his annual income to a mere 10,000 silver pennies but then again, 1000 gold crowns is nothing to sneeze at. It also places the wage of the upper classes at about 13,000 sp per month or 3120 sp per week (520 sp per day). Of course, you can’t hire nobles – they are generally settled on landed estates but this does give us a guideline for wizards, powerful clerics and other hard-to-find specialists.

Part 2: The Unguilded Townsmen

For our purposes, we will break the urban workers into two broad groups, townsmen – the unguilded professions and guildsmen – the guilded professionals. Generally speaking the townsmen form the lower and lower middle-classes while guildsmen for the middle and upper classes of the town.

A master is a proprietor or an independent business owner, a journeyman is a fully skilled employee who has not, for one reason or another, left to start his own enterprise and an apprentice is a trainee just learning the craft. Apprentices are generally unmarried and need only support themselves while journeymen and masters will have families to support. Livings are in silver pieces per year.

Some of these unguilded merchants (especially moneylenders, wine merchants and mine owners) can be quite wealthy indeed. While their wealth can buy comfort and even political influence, they remain closed out of civic office because they have no guild to represent them.

D% Profession Master Journeyman Apprentice
01-05 Barrow Wight 4500 3000 450
06-10 Tinker 4500 3000 450
11-20 Peddler 4500 3000 450
21-25 Laborer-Porter 4320 2880 432
26-30 Mine Owner /Miner 5250 3500 525
31-35 Brothelkeeper/Harlot 4875 3250 487
36-40 Ostler (stablekeeper) 4500 3000 450
41-45 Cobbler (shoemaker) 4500 3000 450
46-50 Greengrocer 4875 3250 487
51-55 Moneylender 4875 3250 487
56-60 Cartwright 4500 3000 450
61-65 Harnessmaker/Tanner 4500 3000 450
66-70 Barber-Hairdresser 5250 3500 525
71-75 Butcher 4875 3250 487
76-80 Rural Blacksmith 7500 5000 750
81-85 Baker 6000 4000 600
86-90 Wine Merchant 9000 6000 900
91-00 Innkeeper 9000 6000 900

Part 3: Guildsmen of the Town

The journeymen and masters of the guilded professions form the middle and upper classes of the town respectively. However, even within the guilds there is a pecking order. Those professions marked with an asterix (*) cannot be elected to the post of guildmaster or syndic within their guild (and are similarly closed out of town offices which require guildmaster or guild syndic rank). They can hold lesser civic offices that merely require a master guildsman rank.

If a character comes from a guilded background, roll a D% to determine his father’s guild rank:

D% Guild Rank
01-69 Journeyman
70-89 Master Guildman
90-99 Syndic
00 Guildmaster

 

D% Profession Guild Master Journeyman Apprentice
01-03 Musician Entertainers’ Guild 5,625 3,750 563
04-06 Dancer Entertainers’ Guild 5,625 3,750 563
07-10 Troubadour Entertainers’ Guild 6,000 4,000 600
11-17 Actor Entertainers’ Guild 5,625 3,750 563
18 Sculptor Guild de Artistes 7,125 4,750 713
19 Painter Guild de Artistes 7,125 4,750 713
20 Poet/Bard Guild de Artistes 7,125 4,750 713
21-24 Cabinetmaker Cabinetmakers’ Guild 7,125 4,750 713
25 Chef/Cook Guild de Cuisine 7,125 4,750 713
26 Spicegrinder Guild de Cuisine 7,125 4,750 713
27-28 Foundryman Foundrymen’s Guild 7,500 5,000 750
29 Armorer Armorer’s Guild 7,500 5,000 750
30 Weaponsmith Armorer’s Guild 7,500 5,000 750
31 Shipwright Shipwright’s Guild 9,000 6,000 900
32-33 Ropemaker* Shipwright’s Guild 6,000 4,000 600
34 Sailmaker* Shipwright’s Guild 6,000 4,000 600
35 Sea Captain Shipmen’s Guild 15,000 10,000 1,500
36 Coastal Captain Shipmen’s Guild 12,000 8,000 1,200
37 Pilot-Navigator Shipmen’s Guild 11,250 7,500 1,125
38 Mate* Shipmen’s Guild 7,500 5,000 750
39 Ship’s Carpenter* Shipmen’s Guild 6,000 4,000 600
40 Ship’s Cook* Shipmen’s Guild 6,000 4,000 600
41 Sailor* Shipmen’s Guild 5,625 3,750 563
42 Architect Builders’ Guild 9,000 6,000 900
43-45 Mason Builders’ Guild 6,000 4,000 600
46-47 Carpenter Builders’ Guild 6,000 4,000 600
48 Cloth/Wool Merchant Cloth Guild 9,000 6,000 900
49-50 Weaver Cloth Guild 9,000 6,000 900
51 Dyer Cloth Guild 9,000 6,000 900
52-53 Tailor Cloth Guild 6,000 4,000 600
54 Embroiderer Cloth Guild 6,000 4,000 600
55 Perfumer Perfumers’ Guild 6,000 4,000 600
56-57 Glazier/Glassblower Glaziers’ Guild 7,500 5,000 750
58 Jeweler Jewelers’ Guild 11,250 7,500 1,125
59-60 Gold/Silversmith Jewelers’ Guild 7,500 5,000 750
61-62 Gemcutter/Appraiser Jewelers’ Guild 7,500 5,000 750
63 Financier Financiers’ Guild 15,000 10,000 1,500
64 Banker Financiers’ Guild 11,250 7,500 1,125
65 Moneychanger* Financiers’ Guild 5,625 3,750 563
66-70 Crafter Craftsmen’s’ Guild 5,625 3,750 563
71-74 Merchant Merchants’ Guild 11,250 7,500 1,125
75 Beggar Beggars’ Guild 5,625 3,750 563
76 Thief Thieves’ Guild 6,750 4,500 675
77 Military Engineer Mercenaries’ Guild 15,000 10,000 1,500
78 Captain/Kt. Errant Mercenaries’ Guild 19,500 13,000 1,950
79 Knight Errant Mercenaries’ Guild 19,500 13,000 1,950
80 Sergeant-at-Arms* Mercenaries’ Guild 9,600 6,400 960
81 Longbowman* Mercenaries’ Guild 6,900 4,600 690
82 Crossbowman* Mercenaries’ Guild 7,500 5,000 750
83 Pikeman* Mercenaries’ Guild 5,250 3,500 525
84 Spearman* Mercenaries’ Guild 4,875 3,250 488
85 Physician Guild of Physicians 15,000 10,000 1,500
86-87 Barber-Chirugeon* Guild of Physicians 7,500 5,000 750
88 Apothecary Guild of Physicians 11,250 7,500 1,125
89 Wizard (roll d8 for type) Guild Arcane
(1) Alchemist Guild Arcane 11,250 7,500 1,125
(2) Conjurer Guild Arcane 11,250 7,500 1,125
(3) Diviner Guild Arcane 12,000 8,000 1,200
(4) Enchanter Guild Arcane 11,250 7,500 1,125
(5) Invoker Guild Arcane 10,500 7,000 1,050
(6) Necromancer Guild Arcane 9,750 6,500 975
(7) Thaumaturge Guild Arcane 9,750 6,500 975
(8) Theurgist Guild Arcane 12,000 8,000 1,200
90 Philosopher-Sage Guild of Scribes 10,125 6,750 1,013
91 Scholar Guild of Scribes 9,750 6,500 975
92 Sage Guild of Scribes 9,750 6,500 975
93 Scribe Guild of Scribes 6,900 4,600 690
94 Paper/Ink Maker* Guild of Scribes 5,625 3,750 563
95 Barrister Guild of Litigators 7,500 5,000 750
96 Solicitor Guild of Litigators 7,500 5,000 750
97 Clerk* Guild of Litigators 6,900 4,600 690
98 Herald Guild of Heralds 7,500 5,000 750
99 Limner* Guild of Heralds 6,900 4,600 690
00 Bellman-Crier* Guild of Heralds 6,000 4,000 600

A master guildsman owns his establishment as is assumed to be married with 4 dependents. A journeyman is also assumed to be married, with 4 dependents. In order to become a master guildsman, he will need to have saved 3 times his annual salary on hand (to start his own business) and will have to prove to the Guildmaster that he is competent at his trade (a successful skill check or charisma check will suffice). A journeyman is legally able to work for guild rates and may legally be employed in the town in his field.

An apprentice is unmarried and eats at his master’s table and lives in his master’s shop (obviating the need for guard dogs). His pay is basically pocket money given him by his master. To become a journeyman, he must be 16 years of age and make a successful charisma check to convince his master that he is sufficiently competent to be regarded as a journeyman.

Guild Officers and Elections

Guild elections are exercises in graft and populist electioneering. Any character seeking election to guild office must spend no less than 25% of his annual income on the race.

A master guildsman may seek the office of guild syndic if he has been a master for more than two years. To be eligible for the office of Guildmaster, one must first serve three terms as a guild syndic (not necessarily consecutively). Each guild has one Guildmaster and 6 Syndics (members of the Guild’s Board). A guild syndic will increase his income by 50% and the guildmaster will double his income since they can regulate commerce in the city to their own benefit.

Assume that there are 1d6+1 candidates for guildmaster in any given election and 1d6+6 candidates for guild syndic in addition to any player characters seeking the office. Roll D% plus any loyalty bonus from Charisma. A candidate may also seek to press the full weight of his personality in the election and can spend an additional 1% of his annual income per point of Charisma he possesses and may add any charisma points he has purchased in this manner to his election roll. The money is spent on bribes, parties, gifts, and other forms of electioneering.

For example: Aelfric seeks to be elected guild syndic. He has a charisma of 14 giving him a +1 to his D% roll. He really wants the job so he decides to put on the full court press to get elected and spends 25% + an additional 14% – a total of 39% – of his annual income on electioneering (he has been saving for this for some time) allowing Aelfric to add another 14 percentiles to his election roll. There are 6 syndic positions open and 9 candidates besides Aelfric seeking them. For NPC’s assume no charisma bonus and a +12 for electioneering payouts.

Let Aelfric roll first: he rolls a 34+14+1 = 49

Candidate 1 (Boris): rolls a 15 +12 = 27

Candidate 2 (Carl): rolls a 12+12 = 24

Candidate 3 (Donal): rolls a 6 +12 = 18

Candidate 4 (Erik): rolls a 36+12 = 48

Candidate 5 (Ferdinand): rolls a 50 +12 = 62

Candidate 6 (Garelon): rolls a 90 + 12 = 102

Candidate 7 (Hugh): rolls a 38 + 12 = 50

Candidate 8 (Isadore): rolls a 62 + 12 = 74

Candidate 9 (Jives): rolls a 76 + 12 = 84

Candidate 10 (Karol): rolls a 5 + 12 = 17

Our six winners are Garelon, Jives, Isadore, Ferdinand, Hugh and Aelfric. Aelfric has just barely finished in the top six. Guild officers serve for 3 years and may seek immediate re-election.

Civic Officers and Elections

Guildsmen of master or guild officer rank may also seek office in the civic government. Like guild offices, they are held for 3 years and the same procedure as is used in guild elections is used in civic elections except the number of positions and candidates varies by office. Civic elections are only held in towns with Royal Charters, giving them independence from direct feudal control. The offices of Lord Mayor and Lord Justice are confirmed by His Royal Highness and bring a baronetcy and a seat in the Most Loyal Order of Grand Sergeants of the Throne Room (O.G.S.):

Office Minimum Guild Rank Required # of Positions # of Candidates Monthly Income *
Lord Mayor Guildmaster 1 6+1d6 50 sp
Lord Justice Guildmaster 1 6+1d6 35 sp
Alderman Guild Syndic 5 5+2d6 35 sp
Town Clerk Master Guildsman 1 3 + 1d6 25 sp
Town Scribe Master Guildsman 1 3+1d6 25 sp
Tax Collector Master Guildsman 2 2+2d4 25 sp
Militia Captain Guild Syndic 1 5+1d6 375 sp

* multiply income by town population/1000. For example: The mayor of a town of 10,000 people makes 500 sp per month (6,000 per year) in addition to his regular income as a guildmaster.

Part 4: The Nobility

Unlike the lower classes, the nobility don’t work. They live off those that do. We have already touched on the poorest tier of the nobility, a landed knight holding a single knight’s fee (the minimum holding needed to demand the services of one knight). He would owe the services on 1 knight, 1 squire, 2 sergeants, 3 yeoman archers and 3 men at arms for 30-60 days per year to his overlord for this land grant.

Feudal holdings are all built from this basic unit, sometimes called a ‘hyde’. Some pre-calculated baronial holdings are on the tables following this article.

In return for a grant of land, a vassal assumed obligations to his Lord. These obligations were attached to his title to the holding and failure to discharge them could result in dishonor and loss of the fief.

The Overlord was also obligated to guarantee the right of his vassal to hold and enjoy the lands granted to him. One should note that many of the rules governing the behavior of Chivalric Characters are based in the actual customs and laws of feudal society. Characters who do not conduct themselves as proper Knights are a travesty of Chivalry and, at best, appear silly and ignorant representations of a real way of life and thinking,

Military Service

A vassal is obliged to provide fighting men for 40-60 days when his lord goes to war. (for our purposes, this means ⅓ of his private army plus ⅛ of his vassals’ total forces), All costs are at the vassal’s expense for the period, after which everyone goes on mercenary pay provided by the Overlord or else returns home.

Scutage

Instead of military service, a Knight can pay the cost of hiring mercenaries for the number of troops owed. Scutage was usually paid when the overlord was at peace. Scutage will never be accepted in lieu of defensive aid (see below).

Defensive War

When an Overlord or his vassal is attacked, each is under a strict obligation to come to the aid of the other. No time limit is set on this form of military service. The duty does not require suicidal measures, but it does demand an honest effort. Failure in this duty by a vassal is considered treachery. Failure by an Overlord is abandonment, which frees a vassal to negotiate his own terms, and in flagrant cases to declare independence and freedom to seek another Overlord.

Escheat Propter Delictum Tenentis

If a vassal commits a felony, the land escheats to the Overlord upon his conviction. Treason and breaches of faith between overlord and vassal are the most common causes of reversion of holdings. A trial may be conducted in a Court, but the accused has in the Early and High Chivalry periods the right of Trial by Combat a l’Outrance (to the death!). Deliberate refusal to answer the charges is admission of guilt, end the land reverts through trial in absentia. The convicted vassal is declared outlaw and may be legally slain on sight.

Private War

Again in the Early and High Chivalry periods, e Knight or Lord had the right to go to war to settle grievances. Generally, the Overlords do not extend such a right to their vassals, but they do resort to battle to settle differences between themselves. A Knight could resort to private war if he regards himself falsely accused by his Overlord-· but he had better win or else acquire powerful allies If he wants to avoid the consequences of treason and rebellion. The same is true of great Lords at war with their suzerain, the King.

Relief

When a new tenant succeeds to land (as by inheritance), the Overlord is entitled to ⅓ of the yearly income of the fief or baronial holding in the first year. Also, proof of title has to be shown if the lands are held directly from the King, costing 5% of the annual income in addition to relief. This is essentially an estate tax.

Aid for Ransom

When an Overlord is captured, he can require his vassals to pay ¾ of the amount of his ransom, divided amongst them according to their net incomes. Ransoms are only subject to Aid in war (ransoms owed from losses at a tournament are not subject to the Aid), and can be required only once in any given year.

Aid for Knighthood

The knighting of an Overlord’s eldest surviving son is an expensive business because honor demands a lavish ceremony end tournament. To help defray the costs, a once in an overlord’s lifetime an Aid of 1 month’s net income can be demanded of each vassal.

Aid for Marriage

An Overlord usually married off his eldest daughter to cement an important political/military alliance. A considerable dowry was necessary. Thus a once in an overlord’s lifetime an aid of 1 month’s net Income can be demanded of each vassal.

Wardship

When an existing tenant dies, leaving a male heir under 21 or a female under 25, the Overlord has the right to control the estate and enjoy all of the revenues until the ward comes of age. The Overlord does not have to account for his use of the money, which is rightfully his, but he cannot mortgage or sell the lands and buildings. He also can choose a marriage partner for the ward. If the ward refuses, he is entitled to a full year’s income once the ward assumes control of the lands. If the ward marries without his consent, he is entitled to two year’s income from the estates. Finally, upon coming of age, the ward must sue for livery to enforce delivery of the lands to his/her control. For this the Overlord is paid 25% of the net yearly income of the lands.

Wardship is also assignable and can be given to a faithful follower as a reward for good service. It should be noted, in closing, that wardship was incredibly valuable to the guardian, but not all guardians gouged their wards to the limit permitted by the law. A 50% cut of the revenues during wardship was considered to be quite reasonable, with the remainder used for the ward’s best interests. A larger proportion would tend to create bad feelings between the ward and guardian promising rebelliousness later.

Paying Court

A vassal was expected to wait upon the pleasure of his Overlord whenever his suzerain required a great retinue to give him prestige in his baronial court, at tournaments, etc. At such times, a large retinue reminds other lords that a noble has ample military power at his disposal.

Also, a vassal might be called upon to sit in judgment in the Overlord’s legal court- a matter of great responsibility and honor. A vassal failing to pay due court tended to earn his Overlord’s displeasure and disfavor.

Hospitality

A vassal was expected to render his Overlord proper hospitality when honored by a visit. For his part, the Overlord will avoid taxing a vassal’s resources to the limit by bringing a great entourage which will despoil the castle larder for months thereafter. Needless to say, such visitations are regarded with mixed feelings by many vassals.

Largess

Any Lord, including even lesser Knights with small fiefs, is expected to give largess. This includes honors and gifts given to trusted vassals for services rendered, and alms to the poor and needy.

Loyalty

Both Overlord and vassal are always expected to render due respect and support to the other. Vassals must never betray secrets to which they are privy nor go over to the enemies of the Overlord. To do so is treason most foul. Nor may an Overlord abuse the rights of a vassal. To do so gives good cause to renounce feudal vows of homage and fealty (although a vassal had better be ready to fight hard, for his Overlord will then accuse him of treason even when he himself forced the whole situation).

Homage and Fealty

The bond between vassal and Overlord can be best understood by examining the ceremonies of homage and fealty which seal the relationship between suzerain and vassal. The homage of the vassal and the Overlord’s response are as follows:

Vassal: ‘Sire, I enter into your homage and faith and become your man, by mouth and hands, and I swear and promise to keep faith and loyalty to you against all others, saving only the just rights of those from whom I hold other fiefs and rights (alternatively, list those fiefs. For example: “saving only the just rights of the Earl of Dumbolton from whom I hold a manor house and the Baron of Rhubarb from whom I hold the right to fish the Tranquil River”) and I swear to guard your rights with all my strength and my life’.

Overlord: ‘We do guarantee you, our faithful vassal, that we and our heirs will guarantee to you the lands held of us to you and your heirs against every creature with all our power, to hold these lands and enjoy their use in peace and in quiet’.

The oath of homage is the vow to serve the Overlord faithfully and is utterly tied to title in the lands received. To break the oath is to renounce title, and the Overlord can repossess them. The vow of the

Overlord is a vow to personally protect all of the rights of his vassal.

The oath of fealty is sworn by the vassal upon some holy thing:

‘In the name of (the god of the place) and in reverence for these (holy things), I swear that I will truly keep the vow which I have taken and will always remain faithful to my liege lord’.

Upon swearing fealty, the vassal receives a lance, glove, baton, or other symbol from his Overlord, indicating that he has been invested in the possession of his fief.

Fealty can only be sworn once, but homage can be sworn any number of times. Indeed, a wise Overlord will insist on it every so often since a vassal who swore homage last spring is far more likely to answer the ban (the call to arms) than one who last swore homage twenty years ago.

Part 5: The Clergy

Like the nobility, the clergy don’t work; they tend to the spiritual needs of the community and in turn are cared for by the community. In Feudal Europe, the clergy meant the hierarchy of the Roman Church (although there were pockets of Jews across Europe, they and their Rabbis had no place in the feudal system). In a Fantasy setting, no such restrictions need apply and there may well be competing, licit cults in society either due to polytheistic cosmology or prevailing religious tolerance. The legal status of clergy is the same in any case.

A legal religion is exempt from taxation, its clerics cannot be tried in feudal courts (they are subject to ecclesiastical justice instead), it may demand a tithe (theoretically 10% of one’s income) from its adherents and its tenets are protected from heresy and blasphemy.

The rights of licit religion are protected by secular law – it is illegal to assault a clergyman, to desecrate a holy place or to blaspheme a recognized god. Religions without such legal standing do not have these protections (e.g. Jews in the middle ages, Scientology in modern Germany, Christians and Jews in Saudi Arabia, etc.)

Tithes are paid first to the local religious establishment, the local clerics keep ½ the revenues and pass ½ to their immediate superiors. The regional establishment likewise remits ½ its revenue to their superiors and so on until the global head of their order is reached.

The church is also a feudal land holder, they can hold the fealty of knights (who may but are not necessarily part of a religious fighting order). A cleric is not usually suited to leading men in war, so each local institution will have an ‘Advocate’, a neighboring allied noble who will command its forces in war. Such appointments are affairs of great honor and the advocate keeps ½ the scutage if the diocese is at peace – an incentive to not misuse the military power of the church.

A noble might also finance the construction of church or other religious institution in return for the right to appoint (or at least approve) its head cleric and a percentage of its tithes (typically ¼ – ½) either in perpetuity or for a period of years. Such an arrangement is called patronage, in feudal times a noble would boast of holding the patronage of five churches just as he might boast of holding a castle and two keeps.

The church also had the right of excommunication (or cherem in Judaism, takfir in Islam). One subjected to such a penalty was cast out of the faith – his vassals relieved of their responsibilities to him and his right to the comforts of religion suspended until such time as he was readmitted to Ghostly favor.

Some religions also had the rite of Interdiction where not only was the offending noble denied the comforts of religion but so were his vassals and subjects in the hope that they would pressure him to capitulate to the demands of the church – in a world with only one main religion this is an effective tactic but in settings with competing religions (such as a polytheistic environment or historical campaigns set in the Indian Subcontinent or in East Asia) it is less effective since the affected nobleman could simply declare for a rival religion.

Another common religious practice both among pagans, Catholics (including Eastern Catholics or ‘Orthodox’ Christians), Muslims, Hindus and Taoists is the concept of ‘indulgences’ – forgiveness for acts normally considered sinful (even, occasionally, capital crimes) – would be offered in return for large monetary contributions to the religion. Indulgences do not figure in Protestant Christian or Jewish practice but are common in most other religions ancient and modern.

The priesthood may be limited to one sex – Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Orthodox Jews, and Muslims limit the priesthood to men. Many pagan religions, especially cults dedicated to magic, the moon, the earth, family, fertility, wisdom, victory, agriculture or prophecy restricted the priesthood to women (the Oracle of Delphi being one of the more famous examples). Some religions – particularly ancestor cults, sun cults and spirit cults (like Shinto) – did not restrict the priesthood to a single sex.

Among pagans, some practices that modern (and even pre-modern) minds would have regarded as secular were considered religious avocations. Examples include prostitution (the fertility goddess – Venus/Aphrodite most famously), the practice of law (the ruling god – ex. Jupiter/Zeus), international commerce (the wealth god – ex. Mercury/Hermes) and even inn keeping (the wine god – Bacchus/Pan). Each game master will have to decide for themselves whether to make their setting monotheistic, polytheistic or both.

The game master will also have to decide if the religion followed by the masses is real or just wishful thinking. For most of human history, some form of polytheism has been the norm – it’s just since the advent of Judaism some 3300 years ago that monotheism became popular and it didn’t become the majority opinion until after the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 C.E. Of course, the cosmology of the universe didn’t suddenly change from having many gods to having just The One, The pagans were mistaken, there is no sun god – Sol is a rather typical and decidedly inanimate yellow dwarf star. Likewise there is no sea god, no moon goddess… despite the sincere belief of billions over the millennia. In a fantasy setting, any number of things might be worshiped but that doesn’t make them divine.

But, unlike our mundane world, even the lowliest cleric wields magical powers; so how can the gods not exist? Well, while atheists will likely be a lot rarer in a fantasy setting than in our own world, there is still some room for skeptics. One could argue the priests are just another class of magicians – using conventional sorcery to dupe the masses. Indeed, in the biblical account of Moses the priests of the pharaoh are denounced as sorcerers pretending to divinely granted powers until Moses disabuses the masses of that particular delusion. Of course, Moses did have divine backing so while it helps explain how a monotheist minority can be right and a polytheist majority can be wrong it doesn’t entirely help the atheist, but it gives him a point of departure.

The general assumption of most fantasy setting is that the gods are real, or at least some of them are, 1st edition of AD&D gives us an out for explaining how followers of ‘false’ religions could also have access to magical powers. Clerical spells come from a variety of sources, 1st level spells are similar to wizard spells in that they come from the learning and education of the cleric – though unlike wizard spells they don’t have to be relearned every time the cleric wishes to use them. 2nd level spells are granted by lesser angels/demons/messengers of the god(s); 3rd level spells come from greater angels/demons/messengers of the god(s); and 4th level spells come from ‘name’ angels/demons/messengers of the god(s). 5th -9th level spells come directly from the godhead, with demi-gods able to grant 5th level spells only, lesser gods 5th – 6th level spells and intermediate gods able to grant 5th – 7th level spells, greater gods able to grant 5th – 8th level spells, and only the greatest of gods able to grant 9th level spells..

Thus, even in a monotheist campaign, even the demons can grant up to 4th level spells. This neatly ‘explains’ why even false gods can grant magical power. The lowest order of spiritual being can grant 2nd level spells and even the most blasphemous witch doctor can manage 1st level spells.

Other restrictions on the clergy – wearing special vestments, celibacy (required in the Roman Church) or marriage (required in Judaism and Islam) – or even mandatory polyamoury (required in certain pagan fertility cults), drinking or abstinence, limits on wealth, etc. will all vary from religion to religion or even from sect to sect within a religion.

Regular Clergy

At experience level one, a priest is a novice or seminarian – he is still ‘learning the ropes’ of the priestly vocation and will probably be a low level functionary at a regular house of worship or a school. A 2nd level cleric is promoted to assisting the ordained clergy run religious rites – a Deacon, Curate or Gabbi. At 3rd level, a priest is fully ordained and is entitled to the title Reverend, Father, Rabbi, Imam, etc. and can lead a congregation. At experience level 4, a priest can be a rural dean, or a local head rabbi or something similar and oversee several local congregations. Experience level 6 makes a priest eligible as a bishop, sheik, chief rabbi or head of a major school or religious court. Experience level 9 makes a priest eligible to be an archbishop, cardinal, or rebbe (if elected by his peers). Succession to international leadership like a caliph, high priest, pope, chief archbishop, etc. is handled similarly with a minimum experience level of 12 required.

Religious Fighting Orders

Most, if not all, Paladins will be members of religious fighting orders. Mithras’ zealots, Jewish Maccabees, Christian Crusaders and Muslim Mujahidin all fall into this rubric. The concept of the religious fighting order reached its highest development in the Roman Church and so Catholic fighting orders are the basis of our fantastic versions of such crusading orders of chivalry.

The Fighting Orders (such as the Knights Templar, the Knights Hospitalar, and the Teutonic Knights) are military men drawn to serve their god the only way they know how – by fighting the infidel and protecting pilgrims. They are the military arm of the Church, usually sworn to obedience of the Pope himself. They have the same attitudes as Knights, but tempered by their religious commitment, non-Fighting monastics are Lay-Brothers and do not acquire paladin powers, but some go on to become ordained as Priests so that they can serve as Chaplains to the Order.

Commoners enter as Sergeants-at-Arms-in-Training, while Nobles enter as Squires-at-Arms-in-Training. At experience level 3, the Squires are knighted. Sergeants attaining experience level 6 as paladins are also knighted. At experience level 9, a Knight can attain to Knight Commander of a unit. At experience level 12, he advances to Master of the Chapter House (the castellan of one of the orders fortresses). At experience level 19, he attains the rank of Provincial Commander in charge of several Chapters. At this point, he can enter into ‘politics’ and, by winning the approval of his fellow Provincial Commanders and Masters of Chapters, be elected, in succession, to Marshal of the Order (General rank), Seneschal of the Order (Field Marshal rank), and finally Grand Master (international commander and head of the order).

Monasticism

Monasticism is a common but not universal religious avocation. It doesn’t exist in Judaism and in most forms of Islam. It was common among pagans, Catholics, Vedics and Buddhists. The Monastic Orders are dedicated to the pursuit of prayer and meditation in cloistered surroundings of a monastery. Only men of goodly nature may enter Monastic Orders. Advancement is based on merit and experience. Each monastic rank requires 2 experience levels for qualification. For instance, an Experiencel5 Monk would be a Precantor. At Experience/1, the Novice spends time in the fields around the Monastery and in the Cloister at hard, backbreaking work. During Experience/2, he Is a Lay Brother and learns the chants and prayers of the Order. Entering Experience/3, he becomes an official a Monk or Brother. At Experience level 4, he qualifies for Cellarer in charge of provisions. At Experience level 5, he is promoted to Precantor or Choir Leader. At Experience level 6, he attains the rank of Sacristan in charge of the sacristy and ceremonial equipment and trappings. At Experience/7, he becomes Almoner and distributes alms to the poor. Experience/8 sees the character as Circatore, second in charge of the monastic establishment. Experience level 9 brings a priory or small monastery  (10+3D6 Monks). Experience level 1l brings an abbey or large monastery (30+4D10 Monks) and the exalted rank of Abbot, Finally, at this Point, the Character has a chance to advance to Father-General of the Order, using the ecclesiastical election system given below. Nuns have the same organization in their Orders, culminating with the rank of Mother-Superior of her Sisterhood.

Non-monastic teaching or evangelical orders (modern groups like the Franciscans, the Mormons, or even Chabad-Lubavitch could be considered evangelical, non-monastic orders) are organized on similar lines but eschew monasticism and live and work among the people.

Ecclesiastical Elections

Sometimes a religious leader (grand master of an order of paladins, father-general of a monastic order, Pope, etc) is elected. To simulate this election process, set or randomly assign the number of electors. Assuming 4 candidates, each has a 25% chance of getting the vote of any given elector (roll a d4 with each candidate assigned a number 1-4). If a player character is an elector, he may cast his ballot as he sees fit. A plurality wins.

Part 6: Feudal Law

No society has ever existed without some form of legal system to govern its operation. Even the most barbaric cultures had laws, taboos. customs, and traditions to set out prescribed and accepted behaviors, complete with a range of persuasions and punishments to bring wrong-thinking individuals into line

High Justice

High Justice is a right reserved to the nobility and favored Knights. In some realms, it is reserved to the King alone and his appointed justices. Because of the high station of the nobility, the only crimes they can be accused of under this form of justice are treason, rebellion, or conspiracy against a liege lord, The accused can elect for Trial by Combat a l’Outrance (to the death) or trial by court. Penalties that a court could impose are:

  1. Temporary loss of Honor. Dishonor could last for 1 month to 1 year.
  2. Disgrace (permanent loss of Honor), subject to performance of some great deed to restore that Honor.
  3. Disgrace and loss of lands.
  4. Disgrace, loss of lands, and banishment.
  5. Death.

If a noble vassal is treated unfairly, he could stage an honorable rebellion against his suzerain. The ultimate rule, however, is that he win his fight, Losing is dangerous to one’s health in such cases. At the same time, an Overlord must be able to prove charges leveled against a vassal. The feudal bonds are based on mutual trust and good faith. Vassals take willful charges against one of their fellows as cause to examine their own loyalty.

Low Justice

Low Justice or Common Justice was largely reserved to the commoners and is administered by the King’s Justices or by Barons in their own private courts. There are five distinct groups of crimes in this area:

High Crimes

All crimes in this section carry the death penalty:

Treason, Rebellion, Conspiracy, & Espionage are punishable by hanging, drawing and quartering.

Murder is punishable by hanging by the neck until dead.

Poisoning is punishable by burning at the stake,

Cannibalism and Desecration of the Dead is punishable by being thrown to wild dogs or burning at the stake.

Perjury is punishable by hanging by the neck until dead.

Arson is punishable by death by hanging or burning at the stake.

Smuggling is punishable by fine (ldl00 SP plus confiscation of goods, 36 lashes or death by hanging, depending on the severity of the offense and the number of convictions. A ‘lash’ requires a constitution check-3 or a point of damage is suffered.

Riding a Horse is punishable by 10 lashes. Repeated offenses are seen as lese majeste and are punishable by death by hanging. However, Petit Sergeants and wealthy commoners may be granted special rights in this regard. Of course Knights and members of the military are exempt.

Striking a Fool is punishable by 5 lashes and a day in the stocks. Feeble-minded folk are protected from abuse. Unusually brutal treatment may merit the death penalty (hanging).

Drawing a Weapon on Gentility is punishable by death by hanging drawing and quartering for rebellion- if the offender survives the wrath of the Knight or Noble so insulted.

Assault carries a penalty of 20 lashes. If blood is shed or if there is a maiming or serious wounding, the penalty may be death by hanging.

Theft

Thievery carries a variety of punishments, depending upon the offense:

Piracy carries the punishment of death by hanging or by 1000 lashes.

Horse Theft is punishable by death by hanging.

Theft of Pepper or Silk is punishable by cutting of the throat.

Robbery on the King’s Highway is punishable by death by hanging,

Poaching in the King’s Forest is punishable by loss of a hand. The same is true of poaching in a forest belonging to a noble.

Slaying of the King’s Deer is punishable by death by flaying.

Theft of a Beast of Burden is punishable by 24 lashes.

Cattle Lifting is punishable by 24 lashes.

Mugging is punishable by 24 lashes. A second offense brings loss of a hand and branding. A third offense carries the penalty of death by hanging. If blood is shed Assault and Injury are also charged.

Purse Cutting is punishable by 24 lashes. A second offense brings loss of a hand and branding. A third offense carries the penalty of death by hanging. The offense includes all forms of non-violent theft from the owner’s person.

Burglary is punishable by 36 lashes. A second offense brings loss of a hand and branding. A third offense carries the penalty of death by hanging. All forms of breaking and illegal entry are included, and actual theft need not be proved only the entry itself.

Stealing is punishable by 12 lashes. The offense includes theft of items under the value of 5 GP from shop stalls, yards, etc.

Evasion of Taxes or Tithes is punishable by 40 lashes and double indemnification, recidivists are hanged

Torts

These offences are injury to person or property include both intentional and negligent damage. Nobles may bring actions against each other for torts and may also do so on behalf of vassals or folk of common rank.

Destruction of Property brings full restitution or compensation if unintentional and double or triple damages (punitive) if intentional. Commoners may also receive up to 24 lashes for intentional damage.

Injury brings compensation. A commoner receives 10 SP + 1d6 SP per hit point lost. A noble receives 1 GP + ld10 GP per hit point lost (tripled for titled nobles). If the offense was deliberate, a commoner may also be charged with Assault. A deliberate offense by a commoner against a noble is Rebellion. Nobles charged with the offense will always insist on Trial by Combat, as such matters are affairs of honor.

Replevin is an action to recover property in the possession of another. Nobles are forced to resort to it if they are not prepared to go to private war against another noble, if the property cannot be restored to the owner in fit condition, damages will be awarded.

Business Law

These laws govern most transactions:

Fraud is any false representation of goods or making false promises that lead to financial loss to the victim. Penalties lend to be 3 times the profit made on the deal plus restitution or full compensation to the victim,

Default is failure to pay what one owes in the agreed time period. The aggrieved party may sue for payment. This may result in the seizure of money, lands, cattle, or other goods to secure the repayment. Nobles secure their debts with sealed deeds (promises) which even a commoner can enforce in a Royal Court. Impoverished commoners can be forced into indentured service to repay debt. Refusal to make enforced payment by service is punishable by death if the debtor runs away.

Breach of Contract is failure to live up to one’s word, which need not be written down, only witnessed to be an oral contract. The Court will enforce the recovery of financial losses or order the terms of the agreement to be carried out in full.

Moral Law

These laws cover personal behavior.

Desecration of a House of G-d is punishable by burning at the stake.

Witchcraft or Trafficking with Demons is punishable by burning at the stake.

Malefic Sorcery is punishable by burning at the stake.

Sodomy, Rape, Incest or Bestiality is punishable by 40 lashes; recidivists are hanged by the neck until dead

Adultery is punishable by 40 lashes, recidivists are branded

Fornication is punishable by a day in the stocks, recidivists receive 40 lashes

Part 7: The Royal Bureaucracy

The Royal bureaucracy was a means by which the king sought to liberate some aspects of his government from interference by the nobility. The bureaucracy was most made up of commons and as such provided the king a way to exercise power, even in the lands of the nobles, and at the same time bypass the nobility. Smaller versions of the royal bureaucracy exist in the courts of the nobility as well.

Political Level Office Rank Required Annual Income (sp) Political Superior
Parish Bailiff of the Hundred Yeoman 5,250 LHS of the Shire
County Sheriff Knight 21,000 LHS of the Shire
Justice of the Peace Yeoman 5,250 LHJ of the County
Lord Justice of the Assize Commoner/Noble* 63,000 HRH
Lord High Justice of the County Commoner/Noble* 63,000 HRH
Royal Forester Yeoman 5,250 Chief Forester of the Shire
Forester Yeoman 5,250 Royal Forester
Chief Scribe of the County Guildsman 21,000 Sheriff of the County
Scribe/Accountant Guildsman 15,750 Chief Scribe of the County
Tax Collector Commoner 3,150 Sheriff of the County
Shire Lord High Sheriff Knight 21,000 Chancellor of the Exchequer
Lord High Justice Commoner/Noble* 63,000 HRH
Constable of the Royal Castle Knight 21,000 HRH
Armorer Royal Armorer 21,000 Cons. of the Royal Castle
Armorer Armorer 15,750 Armorer Royal
Chief Forester of the Shire Yeoman 7,875 Forester Royal
Chief Scribe of the Shire Guildsman 31,500 LHS of the Shire
Scribe/Accountant Guildsman 10,500 Chief Scribe of the Shire
Royal Commissioner of Custom & Excise Commoner/Noble* 63,000 Chancellor of the Exchequer
Town Lord Mayor Guildsman* 31,500 HRH
Lord Justice of the Town Guildsman* 31,500 HRH
Chief Clerk of the Town Guildsman 26,250 Lord Mayor
Scribe/Accountant Guildsman 10,500 Chief Clerk of the Town
Collector of Taxes Guildsman 15,750 Lord Mayor
Captain of the Mercenaries Knight/Sergeant 31,500 Lord Mayor
Captain of the Militia Guildsman 26,250 Lord Mayor
Province Royal Governor Noble 78,750 HRH
Lord Justice of the Court of Appeals Commoner /Noble* 63,000 HRH
Provincial Scribe-Royal Guildsman 21,000 Royal Governor
Scribe/Accountant Guildsman 15,750 Scribe-Royal
Governor of the Royal Gaol Knight 21,000 Royal Governor
Royal Torturer Commoner 3,150 Royal Governor
Royal Inquisitor-General Commoner 3,150 Royal Governor
Crown Prosecutor Lawyer 31,500 Royal Governor
King’s Counsel Lawyer 31,500 Crown Counsel
Armorer Royal Armorer 10,500 Royal Governor
Armorer Armorer 10,500 Armorer Royal
Chancery Chancellor of the Realm Commoner, Knight or Noble† 78,750 HRH
Keeper of the Privy Seal Commoner/Noble* 63,000 HRH
Keep of the Charter Rolls Guildsman 21,000 Chancellor of the Realm
Chief Scribe of the Chancery Guildsman 21,000 Chancellor of the Realm
Scribe of the Chancery Guildsman 15,750 Chief Scribe of the Chancery
Constable of the Tower Knight 21,000 Chancellor of the Realm
Ambassador Noble 63,000 Chancellor of the Realm
Captain of the Watch Knight 21,000 Keeper of the Privy Seal
Agent of the Chancery Commoner 3,150 Keeper of the Privy Seal
Chamber Lord High Chamberlain Commoner/Knight /Noble† 78,750 HRH
Keeper of the Rolls Guildsman 31,500 LH Chamberlain
Royal Astrologer Diviner 31,500 HRH
Royal Alchemist Alchemist 31,500 HRH
Royal Wizard Wizard 31,500 HRH
Royal Physician Physician/Cleric 31,500 LH Chamberlain
Interpreter-Royal Interpreter 26,250 LH Chamberlain
Master of Heraldry Bannerette 31,500 LH Chamberlain
Royal Provisionary Merchant 31,500 LH Chamberlain
Royal Jester Bard 26,250 HRH
Royal Musician Bard 10,500 LH Chamberlain
Poet Laureate Bard 26,250 HRH
Royal Chef Guildsman 15,750 LH Chamberlain
Royal Food Taster Commoner 3,150 HRH
Chief Scribe of the Chamber Guildsman 21,000 LH Chamberlain
Scribe of the Chamber Guildsman 10,500 Chief Scribe of the Chamber
Staff of the Chamber Commoner 3,150 Chief Scribe of the Chamber
Exchequer Chancellor of the Exchequer Commoner, Knight or Noble† 78,750 HRH
Chancellor’s Clerk Guildsman 15,750 Chancellor of the Exchequer
Chancellor’s Scribe Guildsman 15,750 Chancellor of the Exchequer
Scribe of the Exchequer Guildsman 10,500 Chancellor’s Scribe
Treasurer of the Exchequer Commoner, Knight or Noble* 78,750 HRH
Treasurer’s Clerk Guildsman 15,750 Treasurer of the Exchequer
Treasurer’s Scribe Guildsman 10,500 Treasurer of the Exquequer
Treasury Scribe Guildsman 21,000 Treasurer’s Scribe
Chief Assayer of the Treasury Alchemist 31,500 Chancellor of the Exchequer
Governor of the Royal Mint Commoner, Knight or Noble* 52,500 Chancellor of the Exchequer
Engraver-Royal Goldsmith 42,000 Treasurer of the Exchequer
Master of the Coinage Goldsmith 42,000 Treasurer of the Exchequer
Chief Scribe of the Mint Guildsman 15,750 Governor of the Royal Mint
Scribe of the Mint Guildsman 10,500 Chief Scribe of the Mint
Royal Army Marshal of the Realm Noble 78,750 HRH
First Lord of the Admiralty Noble 78,750 HRH
Chief Constable of the Realm Bannerette 52,500 Marshal of the Realm
Captain of the Royal Guard Knight 42,000 HRH
Knight of the Royal Guard Knight 31,500 Capt. Of the Royal Guard
Sergeant of the Royal Guard Sergeant 21,000 Capt. Of the Royal Guard
Captain of Royal Mercenaries Knight 21,000 Marshal of the Realm
Forester-Royal Ranger 21,000 HRH

* Appointment brings with it a Baronetcy

† Appointment brings with it a title (Baron or higher)

Titles in bold are members of the Privy Council

Titles in bold italic are not members of the Privy Council but have daily access to the king.

Some of the royal offices brought with them a Baronetcy (a lifetime, non-inheritable noble title) or even a bona fide patent of nobility. This provided the king with a means of diluting the power of the old noble families by building a noble faction around himself.

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