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For vassal mechanics in general, see Vassal

Vassal is a gameplay mechanic in Total War: Three Kingdoms. Vassal mechanics returns in Three Kingdoms and have expanded significantly. The relationship between a Vassal State and its Lord is now multidimensional, offering many new benefits for both owning vassals and becoming one. There;s also a burden of responsibility, and a healthy dose of relationship management for a vassal lord to attend to.

BenefitsEdit

Benefits to vassalizeEdit

The core benefit for a vassal lord is that his vassals pay him a healthy percentage of their gross income each turn. In turn, he's expected to protect them militarily. Therefore, if a faction declares war on a vassal, it also declares war on the vassal's lord. And that protection is reciprocal: if you declare war on a vassal lord, its vassals will join the war against the aggressor. This makes military actions against a lord with multiple vassals a potentially very dangerous prospect.

The benefits to owning a stable and carefully managed network of vassals can be great. With the income they collectively generate for you, there's less reliance on funds generated by your own infrastructure, perhaps freeing you to pursue your other civic goals.[1]

Benefits to be vassalizedEdit

Becoming a vassal needn't be a bad thing, and while it can be forced, it can also be a choice – you can actually offer to become a vassal for another faction. If you're small, militarily weak and threatened by your neighbours, becoming a vassal for a larger power grants you those protections. You still function as a faction of course – vassalage is not a form of slavery – but with certain limitations in place. You'll pay the tithe to your lord each turn, and if you wish to initiate a war against another faction, you'll have to negotiate permission with your lord. If they agree, they will join you in that war. As a vassal, you can still engage in trade and general diplomacy with other factions, enhancing your empire in spite of your status.

Moreover, being a vassal lord does not mean your vassals are subservient to you in all matters. Diplomatic standing is still important – if your standing with your vassal/s drops below a certain threshold, they’ll declare their independence, which puts you in a state of war with them. But a vassal can also approach its lord and negotiate for liberation; cutting a deal for their independence instead, a far more diplomatic solution to regaining solo status.

OverviewEdit

IndependenceEdit

A lord can choose to grant independence to their vassal which, as you might expect, brings a huge benefit to their diplomatic standing. Even better, granting your vassal independence, then inviting them to an alliance you’re part of – essentially liberating them, elevating them, and treating them as an equal – will please them beyond compare.

AnnexationEdit

At the other end of the spectrum, a lord can choose to annexe a vassal, at which point the vassal’s territory, armies and characters become wholly owned by the lord and part of his faction. This carries a penalty however – it’s a dishonourable thing to do, and will be seen by all other factions as a major act of treachery. Even more so if the lord has already pledged never to annexe that vassal as part of a prior negotiation!

In a situation where a lord has multiple vassals and annexes one of them, the lord will suffer massive diplomatic standing penalties with all their other vassals. It’s wholly possible that some – or all – will declare immediate independence from, and enter a war against, their former lord. And who would blame them, fearing they might be next in line to face a hostile takeover from an honourless lord?

ReferenceEdit

  1. Diplomacy in Total War: THREE KINGDOMS – Part 1
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