Society & the Laws of the land

This document tries to describe some of the general laws of the lands and living conditions. They only give an overview of the way society works and the interactions between the various classes. The campaign is set in a period equivalent of the last 10 years of the 14th century.

The class society

At the top is the King. He has ultimate power over everybody or so he likes to believe. The king runs a court with earls, barons and knights in attendance. The king parcels out land to his earls, barons, and bishops in return for taxes and people to serve him for a given number of days free each year. The earls and barons in turn hand out land to knights for the same reasons.

In towns the authority would go something like

The kingdom is generally a feudal society with freemen tending to congregate in the towns. Unlike 14th Century England there are additional factors to take into account in a fantasy setting namely magic.

The ruling classes

The ruling classes can be divided into three categories, nobles, priests and wizards, though knights are not considered part of the ruling elite. Their job is to fight wars and dragons.


The order for nobility is

  1. Duke
  2. Earl
  3. Count
  4. Baron
  5. Knight of the Order of the Dragon
  6. Knight Commander of the Wyverns.
Realm Westeros Southron Easteros
Empire Emperor Shah Khagan
Large county Duke Sultan Kahn
County / City Earl Emir Pasha
Town Count Caliph Bey
Castle & village Baron Vizier Agha
None Knight Sheik Beg



Earls, barons, lords and knights all have many duties in addition to raking in the taxes. As described above they must provide number of knights for annual service, they must also run manorial courts, ensure the peace is kept within their bounds, keep up the highways and protect the serfs within their domain.

The serving men usually consists of a number of knights with each knight accompanied by a number of men at arms and page boys. The weapons and armour necessary for each type of man will be proscribed. This would typically be mail, lance and 3 horses each.

The king can call on the days service whenever he likes for anything ranging from guard duty to oversees expeditions. All expenses except those of transport are carried by the serving men.

Barons are not allowed to build castles or other fortified residences without a specific charter from the king. No non-magical persons of any class are allowed to use magical defences of any kind to protect their property. Although the Baron generally sets the laws within his own lands the king would have absolute control within 12 miles of wherever he was camped regardless of the owner.


Priests are treated similarly to the barons, that is they have a rigid structure with the High priest at the head of the temple. In return for the same rights as a baron the temple will agree to provide priests when required to the king. The use of the priests will depend upon the god of the priests. Warrior priests may be grouped into a regiment to provide a fearsome fighting force whilst the healers would be spread around the various regiments.


Wizards tend to be loners however they do have a magicians circle to control the activities of members in a similar way to the merchants guild. Kings do have agreements with the magicians guild to provide personnel if required however due to their personal power which is not granted by any lord they tend to decide themselves when and where they will turn up in any emergency.

In reality the Kings request the assistance of the mages and thank them if they turn up.


The guilds are the organisations who look after the interests of the merchants. In smaller towns there will only be a single guild for all the professions whereas in the larger towns and cities there will be a guild for each profession and sometimes one for the masters and one for the journeymen. There are many guilds in towns which are devoted to the various professions such as wool merchants.

There are no special fighting guilds, however in some towns you may find informal bands of mercenaries with a tenuous contact system.

When the wizard has gained the ability to cast 7th level spells in any discipline they may attempt to enter the circle of mages.

Thieves are generally brought up in the back streets of the town living in the pseudo world of thief masters, guilds and a nocturnal lifestyle. Occasionally you do get the high living thieves using their station in society to gain access to the houses but these are very few and far between.


They are there to prevent a breach of the peace,suppress unlawful assembly and as a representative of the King looking after his land. They also are resposible for collecting the kings' (as opposed to local) taxes.


Elected by public majority (from those eligible to vote, maybe 1 in 200). They act as judge and jury are the head of the council, implementing laws and trade taxes. They are the highest authority and ambassador for visitors.

Population Spread

Most people (95-98%) live in the villages and the countrside outside towns and cities. Towns are likely to be 40-50 miles apart and cities 150+ miles. Villages will be dotted every few miles in agricultural land. Overall there are 10 times as many people living in the countryside as in the towns,


20 - 1000 people serving an area 1-5 miles diameter.

There will be 50+ villages and hamlets for every town.


1000 - 5000 people serving an area 5-40 miles diameter.

There will be 10-15 towns for every city.


5000 - 15,000 people serving an area 40-150 miles diameter .

Big Cities & Capitals

15,000+ people

Occupation Spread

The world is still a very male oriented society so 3/4 of the population are discounted as either women or children for the purpose of occupation

The following occupation charts show the approximate number employed in each profession for every 1,000 inhabitents in a town (including women & children). Towns are assumed to have no farmers or other similar countryside professions, in villages 9/10 of the population will be associated with working the land so the numbers can be divided by 10.

Occupations have been grouped to simplify the table, in reality each dealer in clothes would be limited to one or a few related item types, thus there would be glove makers, shoe makers, furriers, cloak makers ... however where you find a shoemaker you will probably also find a hat maker and a glove maker so you can use the numbers as a guide to find any particular type you are looking for. Some types will naturally be more prevelant than others

The numbes are also an indication of the number of establishments rather than specific people and each shop owner may well have an assistant and an apprentice.

Town pop
per 1000
Types in rough order of frequency
Knight or higher
Totalling roughly 10 priests of various levels
Ale & food
Weapon Smith
Daggers, swords
Helms, maille, scale, plate
Leather worker
Coats, flasks & pots, saddles, armour
Silver, gold, gems
Fine goods
Wine, silk, rare items
Alchemist 0.25 Useful ones, not love potion makers
General Professions
Knives, axes, tools, pots, simple pole arms, horse stuff
Carpenters, masons, plasterers, roofers
Butcher / fish
Fowl, fish (where appropriate) pigs,sheep, cows
Shoemakers, trousers, shirts, Milliner, (hats), glovemakers
Ship stuff (at ports only)
Household goods
All common items & furniture
Monthly market only. Oxen, mules, horses.

Priests are a special case, there were approximately 1 member of the clergy for every 40-50 inhabitents but these would be spread out amongst a limited number of temples to the different gods in the area. You will nearly always be able to find a druid in the countryside. Cities will have representatives of most if not all gods. The spread and power of the temples will reflect the local economy and landscape..

Several professions will be provided by itinerent workers or by a weekly market. There will not be a shop for items such as oxen or horses, these will only be available by monthly market or by knowing somebody willing to sell.

Ability spread

At each level of ability there are approximately half the number of people as at the level below.

City Life

Streets would generally start off cobbled or paved in towns but often degenerate to stones and thence to mud as the money ran out. Pot holes would abound and if the city was built on clay the potters would have no compunction in digging up the street to get the clay if they were short of money. People would live above their shops and be responsible for the cleanliness of the street in front of their shop. This generally meant sweeping the rubbish on to the next door neighbour who would then sweep it on. At the end of the street the last in line would sweep it into the next street. When streets were repaired they would lay another layer on top of the last one. Over time the centre of the street would rise by several feet and steps would be cut down to the houses. Unwary travellers would often fall down these steps.

The major streets would be about 8-10 feet wide, enough for one cart. This meant that all the carts followed the same track and created deep ruts. Carts with small wheel diameters would be unable to negotiate the streets as they would get stuck.

Other streets would be 3-4 feet wide.

Streets would have shelves sticking out from the shops narrowing the way and signs hanging from poles would connect with any unwary horseback rider. Shops of a particular type would be located next to each other and the guilds would control the prices. Thus you would often pay the same for a bad shoe as for a good one. If there were only one or two shops of a given type in a town there would not be a guild to control them. Generally shops would be about 8' wide with the owner living above the shop. The upper stories were built out over the lower ones to protect the goods from the weather.

Guilds were very strict about what a craftsman could produce. A shoemaker couldn't make gloves or mend shoes as this would be another persons work. Similarly one craftsman would skin the animals, another tan them and a third dye them.

A curfew would exist from 8pm in winter and 9pm in summer. People out after this time had to carry a torch to advertise their presence. Anyone caught carrying a dagger or sword would be jailed. However the nightwatch tended to be noisy and any undesirables would be incompetent if caught.

The nightwatch would consist of the general townsfolk drafted in at regular intervals. This would be decided differently in different towns but would be for example a set group of merchants or those who lived or were staying on a given street on a given night. This would of course be unpaid. The day watch would be a completely separate group of people.

Dogs were banned from the streets

Taverns - These places provided no food or lodgings, they supplied the opportunity only to drink (wine), gamble, sing and whore.

Alehouses provided only ale (a thick even chewy soup like substance made from barley).

Inns would be the only places to have lodgings and food (bread, vegetable soup, and water)

Town Life

Towns may be owned by a baron or free if they have been granted a charter. If they are free then they are under the same type of obligations as a baron. That is provide taxes and fighting men. Free towns are run by a mayor who is elected by the guilds.

The fee to become a citizen would be from 3s (8 marks) to £5 (250 marks depending upon the wealth of the person and the town involved). The person would have to prove that they had a yearly income or build a house of at least 12' frontage and 1 acre. They would forfeit their citizenship if they left for more than a year and a day and would have to prove their residence by appearing at the court once or twice a year. If their house was dangerous it would be pulled down at their expense.

If they sold their land their neighbour would have the right to buy it up to a year and a day after it had been sold.

Towns would have radically different laws depending upon their current political experiment and wealth. They would forbid outside traders, forbid all strangers from entering, say only citizens could buy from travelling merchants, force merchants to sell their goods, set the price for any good, set the watch and taxes…

Each house would hold on average about 5 ½ people

Country Life

A villein would own (rent) about 45 acres and a cottar less than that.

On a estate the lord could

Currency & costs

This section aims to develop a d&d monetary policy that is not only self consistent but also based on the values in place in medieval Britain (1200's to 1500's). During this period the supply and demand of money, tax laws, customs laws and excise duty were subject to continuous change though when compared to today things can be seen to be relatively stable. In Britain the cost of living has risen by over a factor of 10 since 1975, compare this to a factor of 2-3 over a 300 year period most of which occurred during the last 50 years and the economy can be judged to be stable.

The coinage of the d&d world is kept standard to avoid unnecessary complications. This does not mean though that all the coins will be the same everywhere. As in medieval Europe there were many currencies in existence simultaneously and the foreign coins were accepted by weight. This causes other problems like what happens when the monarchy debases the coinage, this too will be assumed to not happen.

Owing to the relatively small time period involved in a campaign (< 10 years) most factors affecting the currency can be safely ignored and assumed to be static. This does not preclude their use for special events but generally inflation, debasement, increase in number of pennies to a pound and change in relative values of gold and silver should not occur.


Modern Equivalent
1lb weight
Copper penny  
1.2 cm
2 mm
Silver schilling 12 pennies
1.5 cm
2 mm
Gold mark 10 schillings
0.7 cm
1 mm
Gold crown 10 marks
1.5 cm
1 mm

In order to make values of less than a penny the coins are cut in half or quarters. Quite how this works when coins were regularly clipped to extract silver is unknown. Clipping will be assumed to not noticeably affect the size of the coins.

Coins from other realms than a characters starting point will be assumed to be of the same value and freely exchangeable.

On this world gold is twice as dense as silver and worth 50 times as much by weight.Copper weighs the same as silver but is worth only a tenth of the value. For most of the time only copper and silver are used, though some gold coins are in circulation.

Medieval Life & Comparisons


The main factor affecting the cost of living is the wages of the various classes of people. A comparison is hard to come to with today's values due to the different expectations and methods of paying people.

In general most workers were not paid an annual or monthly wage; instead farmers (most of the population) would be expected to provide their labour free to their lord for a given number of days each week (2-3) with additional at harvest as the lord required it. In return they would be given a hut and rights to use a portion of the village common land. This would be typically 30 acres or so. Most of their crops would be used to feed their families with a cut going to the church (10% tithe), possible some to their lord and any excess sold or bartered for other goods.

Comparing this to a current average wage of around £20,000 including overtime payments is awkward. The modern consumer has to rent a house and purchase all their own food as well as other items. Assuming the rates of taxation are comparable a modern consumer has £1,500 per month to spend which after tax is about £1,000 per month.

Campaign use

For campaign use I am assuming that costs in schillings are equivalent to modern costs in pounds.

A farmer (at subsistence level) today would earn £10,000 but in Medieval times only £4. This is a factor of x2,500

If 1s (campaign)= £1 (now) a farmer's yearly wage of £4 (medieval) would be 10,000s (campaign). Costs are therefore x250 in gold marks (campaign) of cost in pounds (medieval). {This is near enough to 1d (medieval) = 1g (campaign)}



1s (medieval) ~= 10g (campaign)

£1 (medieval) = 250g (campaign)


Note :

(Note : Each level earns approximately 1.5x the previous level)



Income Campaign (Marks)

Medieval (£ p.a)

Other income Notes
1 acre of crops 0 250 1    
Shepherd / Ploughman 1 500 2 5 acres  
Farmer 2 1,000 4 20-50 acres  
Man at arms / Archer 3 1,500 8 Food & lodging on campaign + loot Normally only 3 months campaign
Parson 4 2,000 7 50 acres + tithe of 10% from village (2/3 to church)  
Mounted man at arms 5 5,000 20 Food & lodging on campaign + loot Normally only 3 months campaign
Knight 7 10,000 40 Land at home In charge of 20-50 troops
Baron 9 25,000 100 Land at home, village/small town In charge of 100-500 troops
Bishop / Sheriff 11 37,500 150 Land  
Count 13 50,000 200 Land, town+  
Earl 15 500,000 2,000+    
Duke 20 1,250,000 5,000+ Land  

Table of wages (Campaign and medieval)



Wine (cask)
Beer (quart)
Spices / lb
Ruby ring
Diamond ring
Inn bed only (poor)
Inn + food (poor)
Inn + food (avg)
Inn + food (good)
Inn + horse (good)
food / day groom
food / day knight
Sword - cheap
Sword - good
Sword - best
Leather armour
Mail (full suit)
Lance Armour
Total Knights armour
War horse (best)
Town House
Luxury town house

Costs (actual medieval & Campaign)

Medieval Living costs

There were a great many general living costs that had to be born especially for the upper classes. Knights would have to serve their lord for 40 days a year though this could increase in times of war. These duties would include garrison duty, escorting their lord between manors and being a justice for specific manorial courts. In return they would be granted a piece of land and the status of being a knight. There could well be a couple of hundred landed knights in a typical English county. The unlanded ones would be the second and subsequent sons of a lord or knight.

Death duties would amount to 250 marks for a knight up to 5000 for an earl. A knights robes for the knighting ceremony would cost between 400 and 1500 marks.

Towns would have taxes for non-residents, merchants would pay taxes to the king for the right to export or to the lord of the land to move goods between towns. In addition they often formed guilds for their mutual benefit with yearly fees.

Tolls and Taxes

Tolls would be in place for non-residents coming into the towns unless there were carrying foodstuffs to sell. Carts would pay a toll of 50d (2 marks) for light materials and 150d (6 marks) for heavy materials. Those with iron rimmed wheels would pay double as they carved up the streets more. (The tax for entering Rye was 3s 4d or about 8 marks.

Those carrying food would generally be citizens as only the burghers would be allowed to trade in the marketplace anyway.

Drawing a knife in public would incur a fine or 40 days in prison. Actually causing a wound with a sword or knife would incur a 60s (150 mark) fine or imprisonment for a year and a day or having the hand pierced with the weapon involved. A thief would have his ear nailed to a post and have to pay a shilling (2 ½ marks) fine.

Town charters would cost the town dearly, the annual cost would be £10 (5,000 marks) up to £100 (50,000 marks) for a city. In addition if the king or lord died the charter would have to be renewed at a cost of £20-£50 (Canterbury was £36)

Only people living within the town walls would actually pay taxes


Town criers were used in the market places to pass on all the news of the town and other cities. This was true for everybody, even the lords and barons who would generally have someone gather any news for them.

Towns had to pay the players and troupes that came round giving performances whether they liked it or not.

Buildings are generally thatched.

Most disputes would be about land rights between lords and mayors or lords and lords. there would frequently be armies of hundreds on each side to prove a point armed with bill hooks…

Sports during off days would include Camp ball (with hands); kicking ball; wrestling; knocking maids off a stool and bowls

Common Names

Christian Surname


William Forest
Robert Corn
Thomas Baker
Mark Banks
Walter Freeman
David Stevenson
Roger Walker
James Fox
Philip Hayward
Simon Smith
Walter Wright
Hugh Hill
Alan Carter
George Croft
Richard Hyde
Steven Cook
Henry Clerk
Geoffry Gray


In 1087 (Doomsday) there were only 18 towns with a population of > 2000; 6 with > 4000; London = 20,000


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