Maybe you can acquire the house within the strongholdish keep/settlement, and someone else (another faction, or just another NPC) can actually own/run the stronghold while you just take advantange of it as a safehouse? So you could get access to some of the stuff there (merchants and stuff), but you don't really have to run things. And yet, it can still have its place in the narrative, run by you or not.
I suppose it's possible the house could be completely optional, as well, but I don't really see the lack of a simple lodging ever being really beneficial in any way. I guess maybe like the Druid example someone pointed out, with one of those "Even in times of trouble, I'd rather spend my time out amongst nature than bundled together behind the safety of any walls with some other people" types? I'm just not sure how far that can go before your Druid is basically disconnected from the entire narrative. "Oh, there's a threat, and it involves my interaction with PEOPLE and SETTLEMENTS?! Feh I say... u_u" being the extreme, heh.
In regard to the questioning (from multiple posts) of the optional nature of the stronghold management:
Just because a benefit's exclusivity hinges upon a given choice does not mean that one choice is automatically the right one, and another is automatically the wrong one. If you choose to play a party of Fighters, you don't get the benefits of any other class. But, had you chosen various other classes, you wouldn't get the specific benefits of a party full of Fighters. If you join one faction that another faction doesn't get along with, then maybe you miss out on the specific benefits of that other faction.
If you don't use the stronghold, the immediate benefit is that you get to spend all that money/those resources on other things, rather than pumping it into stronghold upgrades and having to wait around, etc.
If you think the benefits of the stronghold are worth it, then go for it, connect four! If you don't, then don't worry about it. The game doesn't inherently state that the correct way to play it is to 100% it. If you can get the items to build some potent equipment from the stronghold, and you can also get the items to build some OTHER potent equipment from not-the-stronghold, then you still get potent equipment.
It's just like the class example. Both a Fighter AND a Wizard can take down encounters and get through the game, but each is going to miss out on something the other can do. If you deem that specific means important (just like a specific bit of potent equipment, for example), then you do what you need to to acquire it. IF that's too tedious and troublesome, then so be it. But, no one's making you go through it. Hence the optional-ness.
I think an awful lot is being assumed about the tedious nature of the stronghold, too, since we hardly know how the messages and management is going to be handled over time. So, I urge people to maybe not jump to conclusions that arbitrarily set them against the system before we even know about it.
Edited by Lephys, 05 September 2013 - 12:57 PM.