The RULES OF PLAY
Ronin is a contest for control of Japan. Players vie for territory in battles over castles. If a player owns a castle then the player controls the territory around the castle and receives income from that territory. Ronin provides a feudal social structure in which players are encouraged to make alliances and become vassals in order to avoid being eaten alive by other more experienced players.
The map of Japan is divided into territories, each of which contains one or more castles. A castle can be captured by attacking it with the player's army. If a player owns all of the castles in a territory then the income of that territory is given to the player. If a player only owns some of the castles in a territory then some income will be gathered but disorder will cause some loss of income potential.
Each player has an army with which to attack castles. The army can only attack one castle at a time and must have moved to a position outside the castle before beginning the assault. The characters that the player controls can be moved between controlled castles and the army.
Ronin money is in the form of koku. Each player has some income and expenses. An army derives income from looting and a castle derives income from its surrounding territory. A player's income either comes directly from these sources or from a salary (if the player is a vassal). The expenses of a player include upkeep of characters, army movement, and castle renovation. A player's expenses are automatically deducted. If a player does not have enough money then vassals and characters are underpaid. Underpaid vassals (human players) can decide how to react. The loyalty of underpaid characters will slowly reduce.
In this relationship the income from the vassal's territory goes directly to the lord. The lord gives the vassal a salary for the upkeep of expenses. The vassal can set a skim factor which determines how much of the territorial income is given to the lord. It is expected that a vassal will turn over all income to the lord but each player has an opportunity to skim off a little. Since fluctuations will occur naturally in income levels, it will be difficult, but important, for a lord to keep track of how much is being skimmed. Spies can be deployed to uncover skimmers. Depending on the financial condition of a lord, vassals may not receive their full salary. It is up to the vassal to decide how to react to such an event. Vassals are expected to obey the orders of the lord if possible, which will involve sending the army of the vassal player to attack or defend a castle. A player can be a lord and a vassal at the same time and have multiple vassals, but cannot have multiple lords. A vassal can have alliances that are not compatible with those of the lord, and it is up to the players to decide how to handle conflicts of interest. Players will only have access to information about their own relationships and not those of other players.