First, some general notes and thoughts:
1) In TnS, Anumbar (haradrian city west of Umbar) seems to be loosing trade income when I upgrade it's market from lvl 3 to lvl 4. Haven't tested this with other cities yet.
2) How about allowing Dunedain to hold jousts in the top lvl of their stables?
3) About the Nomadic Camp and Town of Tents I suggested earlier. How about having them as a Rhun variant of haradrian caravan buildings?
Also, here are some improved descriptions for existing buildings: the farms.
Pastures (all factions)
Some of the main advantages of cattle-breeding over agriculture are the lesser dependence on soil fertility and the comparatively little amount of working-power. Instead of the many hands required for plowing, sowing and harvesting, a couple of herders with their dogs are more than enough to take care of their community's pigs, cows, sheep and goats.
However, output will be rather low when compared to the surface used, and large herds are therefore mostly suited for sparcely populated areas with little infrastructure. A shift to agriculture will be inevitable if this region's population is to increase significantly.
Cottages (all factions)
Most cottages of this size are run by a single family, who, with a couple of workers, cultivate the fields, and usually maintain some cattle, orchards and vegetable gardens to enrich their diets and prevent food shortage in the event of a bad harvest.
The farmers themselves are simple people, who are likely to live and die on their lands without ever seeing much of the world. They are the first to suffer during dark times, and yet rarely appear in tales about great people and their deeds. Even their most well-meaning lords have a tendency to belittle them, even though it is their unending hard work and their harvests that will ensure the food supply of their people.
Especially newer farms usually bring in much smaller crops, since many rocks and rootstocks still remain in the ground, and the farmers have yet to adapt to the particularities of their land. But over time, the local farming techniques will surely improve.
Productive Farmlands (Dunedain)
In wars and other hardships, the dunedain of Gondor and Arnor have always protected their vassals and smallfolk to the very best of their abilities. As a consequence, many areas under their influence have become peaceful and idyllic places whoose inhabitants, mostly farmers, have tended to their fields without worries for generations. Although their conversation topics may rather... unsophisticated, their knowledge about the many subtleties of agriculture, such as the crops suited for a specific soil, what plants should or shouldn't be grown next to eachother, or how to attract or deter certain kinds of insects is unrivaled in all realms of man. Through meticulous three-field rotation and alternance of various crops, each draining and enriching the soil in a different way, they have over years created some of the most fertile fields in all of Middle-Earth.
Irrigated Farmlands (Harad)
Arid lands do not necessarily lack fertility. Often enough, when rain finally falls for the first time in several years, even the desert itself will suddenly turn green for one or two short days. As a consequence, if water were to fall regularly on dry soil, logic dictates that the ground's fertility should manifest itself just as much.
The dams and ditches needed to divert water from nearby streams and rivers onto the fields require much working-power, and are a project that not all communities can hope to realise. Those who can, however, or those who receive help from their lord, will reap in the reward and benefit from harvests they would never even have dreamed of before. They should however keep in mind that irrigation is a complex technology, and isn't just about flooding fields. If not done right, salination will gradually render the soil dead and barren for generations to come.
Communal Farmlands (others)
Communal Farmlands are fields that are not farmed by a single family, but by an entire village. While such systems also exist in more advanced cultures such as Harad and the Reunited Kingdom, they take on a whole new meaning in tribal societies, or those who still remember their tribal days.
In areas where war and misery constanly threaten the ordinary folk, there is little use in pretending that someone ''owns'' a specific parcel of land. What does he know about whether or not the next raid or disaster will chase him away and force him to settle elsewhere? Rather than clinging to one's own parcel and fending for oneself, it is more adviseable for all able-bodied men to help eachother and tend to the fields together. While farmers of other cultures would consider this a terrible blow to their pride and self-esteem, the advantages are obvious. The available working-power increases exponentially, and many tasks that would otherwise require much time are completed in the blink of an eye. Agricultural knowledge is shared and spread, and the cohesion of the entire community as a whole is greatly increased.
Extensive Farmlands (Dunedain)
For countless years, the dunedain had been a dwindling people. Wars, pleagues and general decay had taken their toll on their realms, and even today, their population is much lower than it was in their best days. Only after king Elessar's ascencion to the throne did this decline come to an end. Encouraged by the sudden peace and prosperity, many families settled in areas that had been abandonned centuries ago. Brushlands became fams once more, forests gave way to orchards, and many swamps and marshes were turned into arable land.
But this work is far from over, and its completion will take many more years and much effort from the people and their rulers. Some also say that the land should not be exploited so intensively, but such is the price of progress. Trees and woodland critters are unlikely to feed a nation, nor the soldiers who protect it.
Estates are enormous farms that a normal family could never hope to manage. This explains why the local workers are almost exclusively slaves, who work their backs off under a scorching sun to keep an entire nation fed while being only one step away from starvation themselves.
While estates require unimaginable amounts of working-power, getting your hands on so many slaves requires an equivalent sum of money. That is why they belong to the wealthiest men of Harad, people who also have the connections needed to disown smaller families and landowners and thus claim the best farmlands for themselves. Such powerful people usually being politically active, it is not rare for them to use the output of their estates as a political tool by manipulating food prices to either soothe, stir up or coerce their fellow citizens.
Rural Settlements (others, I already suggested this one in an earlier post)
Vast areas in Middle-Earth are only sparsely populated. Travellers can walk, or even ride for days without seeing a living soul. The inhabitants of these lands, however, don't necessarily view this as a bad thing: there is room to come and go as they wish, room to settle down on a promising piece of land and live there as well as fate will permit.
Cities are much smaller in these parts than the cramped, noisy and hectic places in the self-proclaimed 'civilized' parts of the world. They are usually centered around some trading hub or the court of an important lord, while most of the population lives in smaller farms and villages, located in the middle of nowhere, as people would say who are not used to such distances. But whatever they say, if farmers are few and land is abundant, why shouldn't they spread out and make the best of it?
The last levels could also have some other bonuses, to reflect their significance for their respective cultures: +law for estates, +health for rural settlements, and additional farming for extensive farmlands.
I also wanted to include some buildings for Khand and Far-Harad (Oasis Agriculture and Nomadic Pastures), to explain why agriculture is severely limited in these regions, but the team seemed not too fond of them, since they would make the building browser a little confusing. Just to make sure, I'll explain my intention one more time:
Farms currently have 4 levels, with a lvl 5 in Minas Tirith, the Pelennor Fields. If the fifth lvl were to receive a variant for Harad (Oasis) and Rhun (Nomads), these lvl 5 farms could be present at the start of the game in all settlements that should get them. Since they are already lvl 5, they can't be upgraded, which fits their purpose just fine. Bonuses would be those of a lvl 1 farm.
I have tested this by giving a second Pelennor Fields to Pelargir. Since Pelargir couldn't grow beyond lvl 4 (city size), the Pelennor Fields didn't appear in the building browser. All other farms did, however, and were marked as already having been built. I don't know if this still counts as messing up the building browser. Of course, it's up to the team to decide if they want these buildings or not.
EDIT: Omg, text wall!