Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Aristocratic Caste (Part 2)

[ Note: This has been revised to account for the changes in the economic system inspired by attempting to write the subsequent parts of this post. ]

The Noble Hierarchy

Direct advancement within the Aristocratic Caste is nearly impossible unless one is either the acknowledged heir (or the "spare" that is maintained just in case something should happen to the heir). The exception to this is if some major disaster overtakes the family (such as a peasant rebellion from which the immediate family do not manage to escape), in which case it may be possible for a collateral line (a cousin) to inherit. However most members of the caste will only have a limited ability to directly progress above the status of Lord [Noble 4]. In particular, it is assumed that player characters have no such opportunity to directly inherit.

The other approach is to distinguish yourself in service to the Crown and be awarded a title (and the estates required to maintain it). The normal approach to doing so is either through the Military or via the Royal Bureaucracy. The other alternative, of course, is to find your fame and fortune as an adventurer – which is why despite being one of the smallest castes, the members of the Aristocratic Caste are equally represented amongst adventurers.

The Noble Hierarchy of the Aristocratic Caste is as follows:

17Emperor (Great Empire)620240 sp
16Emperor (Major Empire)619228 sp
15Emperor (Minor Empire)518216 sp
14Great King517204 sp
13High King516192 sp
12King415180 sp
11Sovereign Prince414168 sp
11Prince413156 sp
10Sovereign Duke413156 sp
10Duke412144 sp
9Marquis / Earl311132 sp
8Count310120 sp
7Viscount39108 sp
6Baron* (Large Barony)2/3*896 sp
6Baron* (Medium Barony)2/3*784 sp
6Baron* (Small Barony)2/3*672 sp
5Baronet / Knight Bannerette*2/3*560 sp
4Lord / Manorial Knight*2/3*448 sp
3Courtier / Household Knight*1/3*336 sp
2Gentleman1224 sp
1Provincial Gentleman / Bastard1112 sp
* In the traditional feudal society the lower ranks of the Aristocratic Caste are usually members of the Military Caste who have been gifted or granted holdings in return for military service. As knights they are considered elite soldiers, and thus default to being 3 HD creatures.

Hit Die: If the noble is not an exceptional character they are treated as being a creature of the listed HD. Note that those nobles who are feudal knights default to being 3HD because they are considered to be elite soldiers (usually using a d10 because of their combat training).

Social Status: Nobles automatically socially outrank the members of all other hierarchies of equivalent Social Status. The increase in Social Status for high level Nobles is die to the fact that the Aristocracy control the social hierarchy and purposefully rig the game in their favour. Not that Social Status is equivalent to Level in Social Situations, so any character with a Social Status above 12 is considered to be exceptional.

Monthly Expenses: This is the minimum monthly expenses required to maintain this status for the individual. It does not cover anything other than the personal monthly expenses of the character (such as maintenance of servants or holdings). For most nobles it is normally provided by the appropriate Noble Asset (for example a Baron requires a Type F Castle). Characters simply wishing to live like a king can expect to spend 180 sp a month (assuming that they are allowed to by sumptuary laws). Incidentally, when expressed in gold pieces (ie as an annual expense), this is also the accepted ransom for an honourably captured noble (although unfriendly or hostile individuals might demand two or three times that; an enemy wouldn't accept the character's ransom). Thus capturing a Count on the battlefield is generally worth a ransom of 120 gp to the lucky soldier.

Note that knights are generally considered members of the Military Caste as well as the Aristocratic Caste, although, depending on the cultural context, they may not hold an explicit position in the Military hierarchy.

The Aristocratic Caste (Part 1)

[ Note: This has been revised to account for the changes in the economic system inspired by attempting to write the subsequent parts of this post. ]

The Aristocratic Caste contains those who are born to rule over the rest of society. In the past they might have been the toughest or smartest thugs around, but as far as most of them are concerned that was in the distant past. They are simply born better than anyone else. It's all about the blood you see. Their ancestors were blessed by the gods to rule, and this mantle is inherited through their descendants. You'll find that life in this caste is all about the family, and your place in it.

Aristocratic Characters

Characters whose Birth Caste is Aristocratic gain the following benefits:

  • They get a bonus to their Charisma roll.
  • They gain an Experise in Heraldry. This is not just technical heraldry (the ability to blazon arms and make announcements in court), but also the ability to recognise to whom the different regalia belongs, their relative political and military strengths, and how closely they are related to to the throne. And more importantly, how closely you are related to the throne. Much of your youth is spent perusing Books of Arms and family trees.
  • They gain an Expertise in Courtesy. This is the official Etiquette skill for members of the Aristocratic Caste and deals with the proper (and even acceptable) behaviour at court, as well as minor factors such as navigating court intrigue and politics, claiming hospitality, fine dining, and even, in some cases, the ability to dance and recite the appropriate classics. Those without this Expertise will find navigating the halls of power much more difficult.
  • They are usually considered somewhat literate, educated, and tend to be reasonable good horsemen (although they are not trained to fight from the saddle). This allows them to perform the typical tasks required of these activities without the need to make a skill check, but they are not considered to have the Expertise when they are required to make a skill check (and thus their base skill check uses a d30 instead of a d20).

Aristocratic PCs are intentionally not in the direct line of descent for a noble title. There would have to be a significant disaster to happen to their family for them to stand a chance to inherit directly. They may be lesser siblings of a noble family, cousins of a noble, or born on the wrong side of the bed. The default status considers them to be Gentlemen [Noble 2], although they may elect to be a Gentleman-Farmer [Noble 1 and Commoner 2] or a Bastard {Noble 1].

Being a noble is generally twice as expensive as being a member of any other caste. Without an appropriate Noble Asset (a Manor, Keep, or Castle) to support them and provide their living expenses, it may be prohibitively expensive. For this reason many members of the Aristocratic caste will often seek a position in either the Military or Religious Castes (join the Army/Navy or Church). They are often aided in this endeavour by the Influence of the Head of their Family.

Alternatively they can formally renounce their family ties and attempt to make their own way in the world as an Adventurer, to rise or fall (mostly fall) on their own merits. Perhaps their actions may encourage a Titled Noble to grant or gift them with an appropriate Noble Asset, forming a new branch of their Family. The large preponderance of aristocrats who follow this path is the reason why adventurers are considered socially acceptable, and not immediately considered brigands or vagabonds.

A Brief Note on Random Events

One of the axioms of the game is that everything has a level. Including events. The level of the event determines the extent of the event, and mirrors the definitions of the nobility. Naturally events that affect a larger region have a greater severity.

17Great Empire
16Major Empire
15Minor Empire/Imperial City
14Great Kingdom
13High Kingdom/Royal City
11Principality/Large City
9March/Medium City
7Viscounty/Small City

Most random events have a level of 2d6. However major random events will have a level of 3d6, and local random events will only have a level of 1d6. It is assumed that World level and Cosmic level events won't be generated randomly.

There are two types of events that can be randomly encountered in the game. The first are generated via the encounter tables and are treated like any other encounter (which means that yes, you can encounter a wandering earthquakes); the second affect a character's domain and are rolled on the seasonal event tables for each domain. The level of the event is then compared to the level of the character's domain to determine the direct severity of the event on the character's domain, and the surrounding domains.