Socage is a levy on the crops that are produced within a hex that enjoys the protection of the realm — in effect, anywhere in the civilised world worthy of the monarch's scrutiny. Persons dwelling on farmland in hexes without a coin symbol are free from socage, strictly because they happily fall outside authority's attention. All other common persons are expected to surrender a quarter of their total agricultural produce each year, usually sometime before the last day of October in temperate climates. Free landowners, whose rights were officially recognised, have this socage reduced to one fifth.
The equivalent value can be paid in coin, but as most agricultural farms have little or no access to monetary wealth, the socage would be paid in weighed product, under the eye of a royal officer who would remain within a district over a two month period, with a military guard for support. Members of the military elite, such as knights, are exempt from the socage as the equivalent of this levy is paid through specified duties owed to the realm, as personal service.
Royal officers are able to grant mercy in cases when a resident is unable to pay the socage, in return for services that can be provided for ecclesiastical powers or towards the state itself, in the form of military service or as a labourer on an ecclesiastical farm. A time of four months is asked for, which can be fulfilled by any member of the household above the age of 13. This is generally considered better than forfeiture of the resident's holdings, which can be imposed if no member of the house is available for service. So long as the service is fulfilled, the property remains in the possession of the resident's family and the tax is considered paid.
If the socage is not paid, the officer is permitted to forestall the payment of the debt for up to a year, so that the following year the farm would have to pay all that it owed or else the land would be seized and held in perpetuity by the state. In addition, one or more members of the household are placed into debt bondage, for a period of 2-5 years, or even longer, during which time the individual is effectively a slave. Such persons can then be sold and taken to any part of the world. It's not uncommon for persons of this kind to be bought and taken to distant colonies, only to die there on account of hard labour and disease.