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From Arcanum Illyria

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Upkeep is the ongoing cost of many units or systems, in the form of resources (typically gold) withdrawn from a city's coffers at a continuous, hourly rate.

All units employed by a city (military such as soldiers and siege engines, diplomats like spies and scouts, and civic units like caravans) require gold upkeep. Holding sovereign claims also costs gold upkeep. Magic spells that are maintained require mana upkeep. Sovereign structures for anything other than boosting natural resources also require upkeep in each of the four building resources. City population also requires food upkeep, at the rate of 1 food per hour per unit of population.

Upkeep on a resource actually behaves as an income modifier--actual income is the gross gathering rate of that resource minus the total upkeep required. It is therefore possible for resources to have a negative income rate. Running out of various resources will incur various different consequences:

  • Running out of gold will cause sovereignty claims to begin dropping (being lost) and military units will desert (however many required to balance the income).
  • Running out of food will cause a city to refuse any new orders (with the exception of upgrading farms). Existing work queues will continue, however.
  • Running out of building resources has no impact, but large deficits of such resources will severely hamper equipment and unit production due to lack of required raw materials.
  • Running out of mana will cause any maintained spells to self-cancel, also inflicting the normal spell cooldown before it can be re-cast.