Given the current rate of NP accumulation, 50 nobles would require
roughly 8 years of play - knock off a year and a half for the starting
NP bonus. This means that none are oathed, none are mages/priests. Now,
SWEARing from other players is of course a way around this, but as
long as swear is there you're going to have that hole in the game.
(I think SWEAR is actually reasonable, although I'm a bit annoyed
at it because somebody tried to swear a major noble to me this game
and it didn't go off successfully, and my opportunity was lost :)
The only other methods of gaining nobles that I'm aware of:
Expensive and chancy. I guess there are points in the game
where it can make a big difference, but if people are
playing somewhat defensively (all of my nobles in _critical_
positions will be oathbound) it's difficult to gain too many
nobles this way.
This is something I'd certainly be doing if I knew of any
captives nearby. Last I heard, though, there was no restocking
of creatures - once all the initial captives are rescued, there
won't be any more. If this is true, I expect captives won't
bring more than 200-odd nobles into the game, and no faction
will have too many of those (I can see a faction with 3+ armed
ships rescuing _all_ the islandbound prisoners they come
across really raking in the NP, but otherwise, you're going to
need luck to get even a noble a month, and need to do a lot of
fishing meanwhile to support yourself)
Now, if the rumors I heard in the Times about a fountain that bestows
NP, or something like that, are true, then we could have a problem.
Who wasn't in the playtest, so I may be missing something, but you
seem to be forecasting a problem in Oly II based on problems in Oly I
most of which were fixed!