Sunday, March 26, 2017

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.

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