Suppose that you have a simple online browser based game* in which the characters are all landed nobles - Barons.
When the game starts all players are on relatively equal footing.
There is a game mechanic that allows players to swear fealty to another player. However, it's easy to assume that no amount of asking nicely will get another human player to swear fealty to you, especially since he/she theoretically has just as much muscle as you do.
If you go to war with someone because you want them to be your vassal, what happens - realistically?
You defeat them, and they acknowledge your superiority and swear fealty.
They send you rage filled notes and continue to stubbornly resist, despite having no strength remaining to challenge you.
Due to a coded mechanic, when their armies are defeated, they auto-vassal to you, and then ragequit.
My goal at this point is somewhat experimental: Can players create an organic hierarchy? Could a bunch of players haggle and battle and create a pecking order - whether stable or constantly shaken up?
*browser based game: more a PHP based role playing game with some management and activity actions, not a clickfest flash game.