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Chapter 5

Agriculture & Holdings

Agriculture and Holdings Guidelines

This section is concerned with information about the detail of daily life that needs to be considered when dealing with populations. The average Character will need this information when the time comes that more and more NPCs are dependant on them.

The Castle Guide is available for players to download to use in game {this book was originally produced by TSR under their copyright} to help expand on the details of their lands and holdings.

Numbers used:

1 mile = 5,280 feet
1 acre = 43,560 square feet
1 nautical mile = 6,080 feet
1 acre = 1/640 mile
640 square acres = 1 square mile
1 hectare = 10,000 square miles (about 2 ½ miles)

What is required and what can be provided

Rations An average <150 pound> Man needs 3-4 pounds of whole grain (not ground so it won’t spoil as fast) per day. A Horse or Mule needs 10 pounds of grain and 10 pounds of fodder per day.


  • 5 pounds per man per day (double in dry or humid areas)
  • 80 pounds per horse per day
  • 160 pounds per oxen per day

Most (85% to 90%) of the population must actively engage in agriculture and raising stock to keep a community viable. It takes 148 man-hours to raise 2 ½ acres of wheat.

Horses take 20 acres of fodder to support; oxen take 40 acres of fodder to support not counting additional needed grain.

Farmland is divided into thirds for basic crop rotation. 1/3 of the land area is usable while the other 2/3 needs to lie fallow to rejuvenate for the next year.

A farmer can raise 500 pounds of grain per acre on a good farm (160 tons per square mile) under normal circumstances. Farmer's can raise 2 crops per year in a moderate climate June and October. Grain from October is spoiling in December and gone by January. The poor will be eating sparrows in March because of no salted meat put away.

What is available in bulk overall

Food Production in Tons (per 10 mile hex {78.5 square miles})
Area typeGrainFodderMeatVeggies% Of surplusOther
Rich Arable4,5006002215%500 pounds of butter, ale, cheese
Poor Arable2,2253001110%Small amounts of above
ForestNone12None2%Few berries, etc.
Wild Scrubland1002NoneNoneNoneFew berries, nuts
Wild GrasslandUnlimited3NoneNoneNone 
PastoralNone1000120None20%Only what the herders have

In January through May there is very little grain or veggies available at all and no surplus available.

  • Veggies includes Fruit
  • Meat in Forrest and Wild areas are wild game appropriate for the area, hunting is required and will take time
  • In Wild Grasslands hunters will be competing with the herds for food and water

Population Center Demographics

The distribution of people by level and alignment sometimes comes up also. In general the following guidelines give a quick estimate of who is living in an area.

For alignment distribution I have assigned a general number across the land, with additional concentrations in specific areas that are not in this range.

This works out to a rough break down of

I make these basic assumptions for game mechanics in determining who makes up the general populace. That statistics for the general populace are generated on 3d6 and that half of the people who qualify as adventurers will go up in level. The rest die or retire without going up in level. This population of adventurers is in most cases in addition to the general mass of farmers that are needed to maintain a society. Because of the bell curve to get the stats of a paladin or other similar restricted class there is only a 1 in 500 chance.

These do not take into account the Player Characters whose actions fall far outside the realm of normal experience for the general populace. These numbers are intended to show the vast NPC population that the Players move through.

Population to haveCharacter LevelAprox. # In 1,000,000 people# Of Supporting FarmersTotal Population of the area

What is needed for a population center

The labor of 15 to 30 families working 40 to 100 hectares is needed to support one knight, his family and his warhorse.

In historical France 300 square miles for a Baron or a Count was the standard.

General requirements for each type of fortifications

  • Fortified manor house requires - 40-60 hctr - 100-150 acres
  • Motte & Bailey requires - 100 hctr - 250 acres
  • Fortalice requires 150 hctr - 375 acres
  • Small Castle requires - 200 hctr - 500 acres
  • “True” Castle requires - 500 hctr - 1250 acres

Must have lands to support residents, “all the coin in the land will not buy food if there isn’t any”.

Types of fortifications

  • Fortified Manor House – any sort of wooden defense
  • Motte & Bailey – Mound of earth with wooden house at the top, palisade around open space at the bottom of the mound.
  • Fortalice – Curtain wall of stone, maybe a gatehouse, a simple keep inside (usually a tall tower) all of stone.
  • Small Castle – Adds ramparting and a barbican tower.
  • True Castle – Rings of wall, multiple towers, and stone houses.

Some Game Mechanic Notes

These show where some of the decisions came from. These are already taken into account in the averaging process below.

Farm Profitability (complete druid 22-23) (1d6 + Intel of farmer/supervisor and a random modifier from table 2)

1-5 disastrous year50% less than normal
6-10 poor yield20% less than normal
11-16 Average yieldnormal
17+ Bumper Crop20% more than normal

Spells that help outside of these rules: Slow Rot affects 100 cubic feet per level for one week per level

Spells that might help: Plant Growth better yield on crops, 20-50%, but not clear on effecting trees, effect covers 1 square mile, lasts for one season <winter stops it> Problems: Are trees affected, and only life cycle of plant, two crops a year In general this spell will only work in such limited capacity that it does not affect over all long-term production of the number of people that a farm can support.

Other spells: Fertility, Heal plants, Heal trees, Ripen

Simple Farming statistics

For ease of game play, an average production to support a population of non-farmers works out to the following. With one square mile to work (640 acres) a community of 35 people can provide enough surpluses to allow 4 non-farm workers to live there. Each person farming (ages <7 is 0 worker, 7-11 is ½ worker, 12> is 1 worker) contributes 2.8% to the yield.

Holdings and Fortifications for Characters

There is very little in the actual game mechanic rules defining what is needed when a character decides to establish them selves and hopefully attract followers. The game mechanic reference from the 2nd edition (ph26) says, “to attract the men, the fighter must have a castle or stronghold and sizeable manor lands around it.” In the 1st edition (ph22) there is little more, “This is done by building some type of castle and clearing the are in a radius of 20-50 miles around the stronghold, making it free from all sorts of hostile creatures.” Some other ideas in other sources can help. “Care of Castles” and an “Army travels on its stomach” articles from Dragon Magazine provide some more clues. With also adding in information from the Castle Guide (cg72-74) some basic guidelines can be developed.

Normally it takes ½ day on horseback to travel to the edge of the cleared land, giving a 12-mile radius. Some other ideas pertain to non-human races. “Elves on the other hand measure their construction times in decade”, they will “rarely if ever enlist non-Elven races” to help, “nor is it necessary to claim a large tract of land”. In Complete Elf wood elves are mentioned as not having permanent dwellings.

To qualify for followers

Classes that earn followers each have slightly different guidelines of what happens. Here is what can be gleaned out of the source material that these new rules are based on.

Classes allowedLevel earned

What is needed

  • Fighters and Bards – stronghold
  • Ranger – nothing
  • Thief – unclear, a guild gathering place
  • Priest – place of worship
Number of followers grantedLevel of those followers
Fighters – 70-1500-7
Rangers – 2-12variable
Priests – 20-2000
Thieves – 4-241-8
Bards – 10-600

Other details about these followers

  • Bards and Fighters followers are not the same. Bards do not have levels and are not replaced. Fighter’s followers seem not to be replaced.
  • Priests are the only one that states being replaced as losses happen
  • It is implied that a thief needs a base of operations to attract followers to.
  • Priests only get backing at 9th level, but if done on own followers will come at 8th level.
  • Priests need “a place of worship of significant size”
  • If building a character with character points purchasing the ability to gain followers is required if there is ever to be a hope of recruiting them.

These collected ideas result in the following complied rules for attracting followers.

Ranger’s followers are unchanged from the standard rules in the player’s handbook.

Thieves need a building or buildings large enough to house the average amount of followers (12-16 people & room to live, practice, etc.) in a typical setting.

Fighters/Priests/Bards need to clear land in a radius of at least 20 miles around a minimum of a manor sized building. This means no other large dwelling areas (orc villages, etc.) and no large wandering monsters in the area. Then they need to clear (no large stands of trees, out cropping of rocks, etc.) land in a 6 miles radius around the proposed keep. This is for farmland to feed the manor population, as well as for defensive purposes. The character can build any type of keep desired that can be constructed in the area. After it is built, then the followers start to appear. Type and amounts are variable depending on class, race, alignment, charisma, location, kits, location, and any additional clearing from the minimums expressed above.

This gives roughly 112 square miles of farmland (if all cleared), of which 1/3 would be in use at one time. That gives 38 square miles of farmland or 24,320 acres. That will support 1,330 farmers contributing to 152 non-farmers living in the area. Most people will not clear this amount of land and convert it all to farms. However at least 640 acres will need to be converted to support the smallest livable manor (4 non-farmers living there).

There are some additional issues for other non-human races as well.

Halflings require everything to be “grand” for luxury, which gives a +50% to all costs involved in building. Gnomes require personal workmanship to go into everything they do, similar to the dwarven restrictions. Dwarves and Elves both are similar special cases in that their strongholds are built with craftsmanship and racial ideals that causes the construction time to be measured in decades. This precludes most adventurers from having a “true” Elven or dwarven stronghold. They may still build a normal human stronghold and attract some members of their own race, but not in the percentages that a true stronghold would bring.

Some of the other issues to consider include that the farmland created must provide for the average number of followers that could appear, as well as creating adequate housing for them. If greater number does migrate in, they will be able to start from this baseline to create the infrastructure needed. Calvary units will only appear where there are adequate fodder and grain supplies. There will be a large variety of types of units that show up based on location, race, class, kit, etc. Woodland creatures instead of fighters in a sylvan setting, ship instead of a cavalry unit for a shore-based area are examples.

When setting up in an urban setting (for thieves, bards or some fighters and priests) the clearing of land is not required, but building requirements remain. Also food supply must be considered, followers will not come to an area without enough farmers to supply the new inhabitants. This could entail the character recruiting additional farmers and helping to add to the cleared land around the population center.

Followers appearing

The single largest change to the standard tables is that all followers that are gained come in at 1st level or higher. This means that they are able to gain experience and go up in level. If they leave service they will be replaced at the level that they originally joined.

There are several factors that affect the Amount of followers that appear and the Level of the followers. The character can enhance some to increase (or decrease) the results. The players do not know the exact numbers or modifiers for these tables.

Area clearedAmount & Level
Building TypeAmount & Level
LevelAmount & Level

There are two separate tables to roll on.

One is for the amount of troops the other for the level of these troops.

Amounts can vary from 47 to 151 followers, with an average between 60-90. Levels of troops can vary from 1st to 8th level with the majority at 1st level.

The Type of troops will be determined after the Amount and Level are known.

BOB details