Is there any official ruleset for claiming abandoned land in DnD5e? 🤔

Last session we've entered an abandoned dwarven fortress. My dwarven character, a child of thunder, wants to lead the dwarves into a new century and increase the reach of the dwarven empire.

So I think about claiming the fortress, restore and re-populate it.

Are there any rules or common ways for how to do it? Or can I simply go in and say "it's mine now".^^

If it's important: it's about Axeholm in Sword Coast, Faerûn.

My dwarf is an artificer but wants to be a Hammers of Moradin paladin and is a strong believer in Moradin and his values.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This probably has more to do with Forgotten Realms lore than rules. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Nov 7 '20 at 13:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ All you need is a flag. LOL, not an answer, just the question reminds me of an Eddie Izzard comedy show. \$\endgroup\$ – aaron9eee Nov 7 '20 at 14:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Nacht That suggestion would be better served as an answer, along with an explanation how what it provides and probably an overview of how it works, and how that 3rd party material is useful for a player in this situation. Short of that, it might be a useful addition to a more complete answer. (I'm not saying it isn't potentially useful, but we prefer not to have it in the comments on the question.) \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Nov 9 '20 at 13:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil I wrote it as an answer originally, but I am not familiar with the material myself, so I couldn't add much detail. I thought it would be better having something than nothing! \$\endgroup\$ – Nacht Nov 9 '20 at 21:20

There is no general guidance in the rules

As far as I have seen, there are no official rules for claiming parcels of land. I doubt any rules like this will ever be written, or at least they will be very vague if they are. Historically speaking, claiming land was very dependent on which region you are in, and who you were operating on behalf of.

Some things to keep in mind is that the Forgotten Realms are a medieval-adjacent setting meaning that the rulers of a region typically have total say on land-ownership if they want to (and they often do for fortresses). I would strongly recommend trying to get the go-ahead from the ruler of the region before restoring a fortress to prevent the rule from simply staging their own claim, since theirs would be backed by their governing authority.

This is further reinforced by the appearance of land being granted as an alternative reward in the Dungeon Master's Guide:

A parcel of land is just that, and usually comes with a royal letter affirming that the land has been granted as a reward for some service. Such land usually remains the property of the local ruler or ruling body, but is leased to a character with the understanding that it can be taken away, especially if his or her loyalty is ever called into question.

Since a ruler is the entity mentioned that can grant you land as a reward, it is likely the same place to go to stake your claim.

In your specific case, Axeholm isn't definitively in any ruler's territory. The Sword Mountains are in a state of tribal conflict. However, getting the backing of either, or better yet both the Lords of Waterdeep, and Lord Protector Neverember of Neverwinter (the two closest major settlements) would help keep competing claims off of you, at least from the civilized world (such as Dwarvish heirs). Then you just need to protect the fortress against the orc tribes, and their ilk, in the region.

Example in existing adventures

There is a similar example in existing modules that illustrates how this process might look. In Rise of Tiamat, there is the following excerpt in Chapter 9:

Rian points out that the Zhentarim have a keen interest in Xonthal’s Tower. Ownership of the tower is under discussion by the council, but the tiefling wants to deal directly with the adventurers, who have claim to the tower by right of conquest. The Zhentarim are willing to purchase the adventurers’ interest in the tower for 50,000 gold pieces

As you can see, claims on strategic properties, likely including fortresses, is debatable. However, right of conquest is at least something that exists in Faerun. A suitable, but likely lengthy, argument to either of the powers I mentioned before could land you a deed to the fortress. That being said, once you've restored the fortress, other interested parties will likely make their own claims (whether legitimate or not). Holding such a property is as much a political exercise in the civilized world, as a militaristic one against the tribes.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The DMG does have some mention of players being granted parcels of land by a greater authority as a sort of reward, though that doesn't strictly cover the party independently laying claim to some unclaimed or disputed territory. \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer Nov 7 '20 at 15:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Carcer thanks. I added a note \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Nov 7 '20 at 15:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks a lot for this answer! 🙏 \$\endgroup\$ – Gummibeer Nov 7 '20 at 19:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ "In your specific case, Axeholm isn't definitively in any ruler's territory." -- it will probably be, in various legal systems, in the territory of many rulers. Because claims are cheap. Some king somewhere was owed money by the fallen kingdom, and will argue that this means the fallen kingdom's land is in default. Three others will have a blood claim. Another will claim that a gift given 300 years ago by the then-dwarven kingdom implied fealty, hence the land is also theirs. None of these claims will be pressed until the place is worth claiming; once the PCs have made it worth claiming... \$\endgroup\$ – Yakk Nov 8 '20 at 17:35

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