Property Law

You wait patiently for a post, and then suddenly two come along almost at the same time. However, one thing leads to another – and it was the last post on settlements that made me think about property. While much of this post could be generally useful – all the examples come directly from the game I run at RPoL. In part that is because I am in the middle of developing a new element for my house campaign rules.

Land Ownership

This section refers to large tracts of land that are owned by Kings, Nobles and Aristocrats.  This ownership is heritable, and can be passed down from generation to generation.

Alloidal – this is the absolute land ownership enjoyed by absolute monarchs.  The land is held by the grace of The Gods and The Sun – or by conquest.   There is no higher authority who can make laws or take the land away from its ruler, except by conquest.

  • This is how Coral the Conqueror held Brevoy.
  • Before Brevoy existed – Lord Surtova,  Lord Olovsky and Sword-Baron Aldori held their land Alloidally. 

Palatine – Palatine states are one stage down from Alloidal states – the ruler owns the land but has a responsibility to a higher authority.  Palatine states are generally required to follow military  policy set by their overlord, use a national currency and pay Simple Tax.  Beyond that, they are free to rule their land as they see fit – they decide the laws, run the courts, tax their people, award titles and make any other decisions they want to.

  • Examples – House Lodkova’s lands.

Manorial – Manors are land granted by a higher ranking authority.  The owner can charge taxes and rent, sell or lease land and properties as they see fit. However, they are required to follow military policy set by their higher ranking authority, use a national currency, pay Simple Tax and follow all the laws of the land.   Manors are a single hex – but an individual may own more than one manor, which combine to create an Honour.

  • Examples of manors include – Ringbridge, Oston, Silverton.
  • Examples of honours include – the leMaistre estate (Newgate, Eastgate, Westgate) and the Vallani estate (Feyfalls, Whiterun)

Tribal Ownership – land owned by a particular tribe and the land is used for their communal benefit.  There might be a chief, and there is probably an elite – but the land belongs to the tribe.  There may well be a treaty arrangement between a tribe and the surrounding manor.

  • This fits the Sootscale Enclave (Kobolds) in Midmarch.

Property Ownership

This section applies to individual properties, rather than to parcels of land. However, It can also include livestock such as farm animals, mule trains etc, wagons, ships, boats and personal property such as weapons and armour.

Freehold – The owner has the right to sell or lease the property onwards but must pay Ordinary Taxes to their higher authority.  The authority normally retains the right to take it back into ownership if the property is abandoned or unused.  This type of ownership is normally reserved for the aristocracy and can be passed down through the generations.

  • Examples include – Henry/Adoven’s estates in Tusk –  and every other building listed in the spreadsheets. 

Leasehold – The owner buys the right to build and use a property for a limited amount of time (often 100 years).  For that time the owner has all the same rights of a freeholder.  However, the property must be returned to the authority at the end of the lease or a new fee paid for an extension. Many buildings in towns and cities are leasehold and are often ‘owned’ by low ranking aristocrats, or NPC craftsmen. They are not recorded in the financial spreadsheets and don’t affect their town’s balance/stats in any way.

  • Examples include – Many of the tenement buildings in Tusk are leased by House Hananki and Lily Teskertin,  who are junior members of the Tusk Aristocracy.  They are then rented out to commoners and other NPCs alike.

Copyhold – most commonly found in the country side, Copyhold is a way for commoners to own property.  Normally this comes in the form of a small piece of land that can be used as a small holding, in return for a fixed service.  That might, for example,  be a responsibility to maintain and repair a section of road.  So long as that obligation is met, the Copyhold remains valid and the commoner holds onto their land.  It can be sold, or passed on to the  next generation –  although that must be approved by the local lord / authority.

  • Examples include –  most of the smallholdings in rural Midmarch.

Owners

There are many ways that a property’s owner can be defined – here are some examples.  These  types of ownership apply to  Letters Patent and can be a signatory of a contract.

Personal – Cass Mordane owns land at Silverton (with Manorial Rights) as well as a Hotel and a Tavern (both freehold property).

Family – DELEM trading is the property of the leMaistre family.  It owns freehold property in Midmarch and across the southeast of Brevoy.

Joint – WSM is jointly owned by Domitius Solanus and Kendrick Winters.  It also works well for established adventuring parties and mercenary companies.

Charity – The Three Ladies School was set up to be self-funding and self-supporting.

Administrative – The Governor of Midmarch own a small estate that provides services to Midmarch.  Tusk Council owns a number of buildings in the city.

Communal – some properties are built and owned by the whole community,

Letters Patent

Letters patent are a way for a ruler to assign titles, land or a privilege to people, groups or families.  In many cases they can be granted by a representative on behalf of their ruler.

Patents of Rights – A Patent of Rights is a document that confers a specific right on an individual, often as a reward, or as payment for a service.  Patents of Rights are heritable and can be passed on to succeeding generations.

  • Examples Include Marik’s exclusive right to negotiate business with the Sootscale Kobolds.

Land Patents – Patents of Palatine land ownership must be signed and delivered by a ruler.  Patents of Manorial land ownership are often signed and issued by the ruler’s representatives.  Other types of land or property ownership do not need a Patent, just a contract with the Local Lord –  as they do not confer any special rights.

Patents of Nobility – The document that confers a title on an individual.  Peerage Titles (such as Duke or Count) are only conferred by Kings.  Kings, Dukes and Princes can all appoint Barons.  Lord and Lord-Dominus titles are often issued by the king’s representatives against given criteria.  In Midmarch the Governor can award the title of Lord-Dominus and can recommend the title of Lord – according to The Military Policy.  Patents of Nobility are heritable, but normally contain a clause that links them to the manors that triggered the ennoblement.  (Those manors / resources are inherited alongside the title – other properties may be left to other hiers)

The Terms

In Midmarch, Lord Henry LeMaistre, Governor of Midmarch is the ‘overlord’.

Simple Tax –  In Midmarch,  Simple Taxes are paid to the Governor to support provincial running costs. They are the fee you pay to ‘buy’ the land from Henry the Governor and the income from any roads that pass through your lands.

Ordinary Tax – in Midmarch Standard Tax is set at 29% – and is calculated and paid automatically (by your business managers) within the Campaign Rules.  It goes to fund and support the settlement the building is in.

Military Policy – Different levels of Noble title are awarded to those who provide different levels of military support to the state/province when required by the Overlord\Governor.  (Lord Dominus = 5 defence points, Lord = 10dp, Baron 15dp)

Posted in Role Playing Aids, World Building.

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