The Medieval Pyramid

Foggy City

A Medieval Pyramid

The ancient Egyptians built their pyramids long before there were castles and knights in Europe.  But the European lords must of liked the pyramid design because they copied it, not in architecture, but for their society.  

Medieval societal structure was like a pyramid with the lower class creating the large base while slowly moving higher with more “royal” and less people occupying higher slots.  In almost all cases, your position in the pyramid depended on your birth status and nothing more.

At the bottom rung, were the serfs and peasants.  Almost 90% of the population of Medieval Europe were serfs.  Serfs were just the regular people of their day who lived in the villages and worked the land of the feudum.  In many ways, serfs were slaves.  They could not leave the land of their birth without permission and gave up much of what was produced to their lord.  Unlike slaves, however, they could not be bought, sold, or traded.

Serfs helds various jobs in a feudum - from working the fields, harvesting the resources of the land or working to make sure the buildings of the land were kept in repair, their lot in life was a hard one.

One small step up from serfs were freemen and craftsman.  While the great many serfs had no education or special skills, some showed promise and had an aptitude for woodworking or as a blacksmith.  Some were free by royal decree.  These enjoyed a better status in life although they worked just as hard to survive.

The next layer of the pyramid were knights and soldiers.  While common soldiers weren’t held in much better regard than many serfs, they had better quarters and were better clothed and fed.  The best of the best might become a knight. Only the most exceptional soldier had even a remote chance to move up and out of the ranks of the peasantry.  A soldier could be knighted by a monarch or their liege and could even become a landholder -  as a vassal to the king.


The next level up were the Nobles, or Lords, who ruled the king’s estates.  Even ruling class members had a social strata depending on the circumstances of their birth and how powerful the family was.  Nobles ranged from low-class (maybe even just titular, landless) nobles actually providing military service for their title and rank, to high-class nobles like the big landlords, holding several feudums and their own vassals, to the peers of the king - who could rival or exceeded their monarch in military or political power.  Each lord provided management over individual fiefs, or feudums, in exchange for their loyalty and military and tax support.

In the 4X MMO-Strategy game Feudums, this is the level where players will start.  Feudums take place in a land where the high king has died, leaving a power vacancy in his passing.  The lords of the land are all playing the “Game of Thrones” to see who can seize power and rule the land.  Initial MMO players will manage their conquered lands by organizing it into feudums, which are areas formed for administrative purposes.  They will then build them up all the while working towards taking power for themselves and their political faction.

High King is the title for which everyone is scheming for - it’s a winning condition of the game to declare yourself a high king and being able to repel attacks of the rivals until your position is solidified.

Factions are started by creating an alliance of lords and their respective vassals.  Vassals are players who accept a part of another lord’s existing lands in return for taxes, a pledge of loyalty, and military aid. This relationship is spelled out by a Knight Service request or an Oath of Fealty that players can draw up between themselves. Vassals are a lord’s “bannermen” as seen in the HBO series, “Game of Thrones.”

The game’s unique use of vassalization ensures that new players coming into the game or players leaving the game world do not cause balance issues.   New players can enter the game at any time and not upset the balance because their land is given from already conquered lands.  On the flip side, if a player were to leave, their lands would revert back to their rightful owner, the leaving players’ liege lord.

One of the best features of Feudums is its ability to link to players’ social media accounts in order to make it easy to invite friends into the game although the system is not limited to just a player’s real-life friends. Anyone can become a vassal to a nearby player - or to any crowned king - regardless of distance.  

The players in Feudums are all seeking to claw their way to the top of the feudal pyramid.  

And at the top of the feudal societal structure, the high king sits at the apex. A high king is ruler of all - even other kings.  That’s right, just as the noble class was structured with both minor and major houses, there can be more than one king operating at the same time.  

As throughout history, any lord in Feudums can crown themselves a king if they are sufficiently powerful enough.  In history, these “small-time” kings, are sometimes referred to as “petty kings” as they ruled over small kingdoms.  In just the first few seasons of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” there were as many as five kings all vying for control.

In Feudums, a player can become a king (or queen!) if he or she has built up their own part of the feudal pyramid - the accumulated value of lands, military power and/or political weight exceeds a given value.

As a player, you’ll be able to form a petty kingdom first, and then evolve it into a proper kingdom later (if, amongst other things, you spend a lot of Virtue on the process or if you're able to vassalize other petty kings).

But High King is the title for which everyone is scheming for - it’s a winning condition of the game to declare yourself a high king and being able to repel attacks of the rivals until your position is solidified.

Long live the King!