Characteristics and Skills
Each character in the game has the same set of characteristics (management, leadership, etc.), and a variable number of skills. Each of these characteristics and skills vary in strength from 1 (lowest) to 9 (highest). The skills are created a birth and for better or worse, they're yours. The most important characteristic for many tasks is Stature, which is also the one characteristic that goes up and down the most in the game. You can do something about stature because it is, in effect, your reputation as a noble.
The skills section of this help file contains extensive information on character skills.
Currently, the principal use of NPCs is as bailiffs, army commanders, siegers, kidnappers and assassins. As more features are implemented, NPCs will become useful in other areas.
A few tips on hiring NPCs as bailiffs, with regard to characteristics and skills:
1. Remember that if they don't speak the language of the fief, there is a -3 taken off of the total of Leadership+Stature/2 +<skills>-<skills>
2. Get into the docs and CAREFULLY look at the lists of skills that add and subtract from fief loyalty each season. Remember that you need to be in the + side for loyalty to go up. Usually a bailiff with a stature of at least 7 allows you to have a fairly high tax rate (20%) with few to no loyalty drops.
3. A good bailiff can keep the loyalty very high and make the fief surplus look really good, resulting in extra income for you to play with.
4. Be sure to check the skills that add and subtract from fief expense as well. You'll find there will be a trade-off with fief loyalty skills, so you have to gauge them carefully. In general, it's better to have a bailiff that can keep the loyalty high.
For army commanders, siegers, kidnappers and assassins, there are specific skills for each of these tasks. If an NPC has them, and it is a high (closer to 9 than 1) rating, then these NPCs are worth hiring.
Another set of guidelines that works are:
1: The 4 main abilities, Management, Guile, Leadership, and Stature must total at least 24.
2: Management should be at least 5
3: Loyalty should be at least 3. Loyalty has an effect on an NPC doing its duty effectively. Moreover, if an NPC is hired away by another player, you will not be told who the player is unless the stolen NPC had a loyalty of 7 or higher.
4: There should not be more than 1 negative skill (Lust, Envy, Epicure, Drunkenness, Gluttony, Generosity, Treason, Sloth, etc.) higher than 3.
5: Good skill such as Bailiff Supreme, Accountancy, Miser, Merchant, Bargainer, Charm etc. count for a lot.
Remember that the skills add or subtract a certain percentage (from 10%-90% depending on the level of the skill) from the main abilities (especially management and leadership.)
The Penultimate Manager