This document covers only social structures within the city of Allanak, and those areas under its direct control. Social structures in other regions, such as New Tuluk, Red Storm, or Luirs, will all differ. It incorporates the original "So You Want to Be a Noble" document produced by Azroen and Sanvean in 1994.
The social structures in Allanak have existed for, literally, centuries, with little or no change. 99% of individuals raised within this system will have it so deeply engrained that to question it would be tantamount to being an elf that rides a kank, or a dwarf without a focus. This structure is part of the noble role, and players who cannot remain within its boundaries might be better off choosing a different role.
Players running nobles should to keep the following in mind. Your character has occupied a position of power and privilege all of her or his life. She or he is well educated, and unaccustomed to questioning the class system which has created the niche they occupy, believing deep in their heart of hearts that the reason they occupy such a position is because they -are- better than other people. Nobles will generally have been raised with tutors in matters such as art, music and matters of etiquette. While they may choose not to respond to a breach of manners, they will most certainly notice it. Some characters will be very conscious of their House's position, and work towards advancing it through various political schemes, while others may choose to go the decadent fop route.
There are nine noble houses in Allanak, which are divided into three groups: the Upper, Middle, and Lower Houses. They are:
Nobles have two types of power: economic and political, which are often intertwined. Noble houses can and often do decide policy matters through the means of the Senate, and also exert power in the form of affecting popular opinion, which they traditionally do through sponsoring competitions, festivals, arena matches, etc. Politics is a game of subtle influences - while the merchant houses have little say in the Senate, they do have influence over prices, both citywide as well as at the individual level. At the same time, the Senate has control over the tax rates -- so an impolitic Kadian might find their house confronted with a sudden silk tax.
Each house also has some sway over matters related to their House. For example, Tors control the Academy, and might be the deciding factor in whether or not someone gets admitted - or how they advance once they're in there. Borsail has money, prestige, and resources in the form of slaves, which make useful gifts. Borsail would be very reluctant to give anyone slaves that would later turn out to be assassins or anything like that, since it might compormise their reputation.
As another example, the Fales, while having very little economic power, do have some in the form of controlling the arts, which can be used for the purposes of propaganda. A Fale harassed by another house might, for instance, pay bards to spread satirical songs about that house.
Nobles are, to a certain extent, above the laws of Allanak, due to their standing. This is not license to go out and kill commoners freely, but a noble who gets involved in a fight will probably not get hauled off to jail. The templarate prefers to handle things more discreetly, and a noble breaking the law might find fines levied on his or her House, unless it's something like treason, attempting to assassinate another noble or templar, etc.
While a noble can expect to have his or her wishes obeyed by a commoner, they do not have the power to enslave people. To do this, they must go through the templarate. Borsail and Kasix, as the slaving houses, garner a steady stream of enslaved criminals via this means.
Nobles and Templars:
The nobility is the ruling class of Allanak. At the end of every year, the heads of every noble house gather together within the senate, and they hammer out provisions, vote on law, reach agreements on foreign policies, etc. What is decided and ratified at these senate meetings goes on to become the laws that the templarate enforce.
This is what every citizen of Allanak hears, and what every noble and templar wishes the commoners to believe. The truth is that the Templarate often make "suggestions" to the voting nobles, and the stipend paid regularly to the noble houses by the city-state clearly reflects how the houses vote.
Of course, the nobility have long since noted that even the Templarate can't agree on how many votes should go, which has caused many squabbles, more than a few public executions, and numerous templar disappearances, assassinations, and assassination attempts.
The Templars need the Nobility, and the Nobility know it. The commoners are far more accepting of a wealthy but normal ruling class than they are of Tektolnes and his mystic minions, who tend to terrify, and not comfort, them. Thus, the Noble Houses, who are rarely happy with each other, use the Templars, who are known to be in constant quiet competition with each other, as pawns in their status struggles, voting to please a templar that is being particularly harsh on a disliked peer, or against the wishes of a templar whom they wish to see discredited.
In public, however, everyone recognizes the importance of the appearance that the Nobility are polite to one another, if not friendly, and that the Nobility and Templarate work as an effective team. Nobles address one another as "Lord" and "Lady", followed by their given name and their house. Ie, "Lord Thomas of Oash" is a formal introduction, and "Lord Thomas" would be an informal usage. Nobles address templars as "Lord Templar" and "Lady Templar" followed by their given name, or as "Lord" and "Lady" followed by their given name and rank. I.e., "Lady Templar Elaira" or "Lord Garrick of The Red" would both be formal introductions, while "Lord Garrick" would be an informal usage. Nobles are exempt from all laws of Allanak, with the exception of rioting or massing forces against the city-state. Thus, if a noble wishes to bear arms, or proceed to kill a commoner, then that is their perogative, as long as it is not against a member of the militia.
Nobles may ask favors of a templar, and in most cases, expect it to be granted. The politics driving the requests can influence the results, and it's not unheard of for a templar to outright refuse a noble with whom she or he is irritated. Generally, the Templarate are good about their duties to the nobility, though the lower-ranked templars are far more easily manipulated than those of high rank. Most templars come originally from noble houses, but most will disregard such ties, feeling their primary allegiance is, of course, to Tektolnes.
A templar may ask a noble to perform a favor or task for her or him. The noble is then obligated to follow the same rules as if the reverse had happened. In this way the nobility and templarate maintain the appearance of strength and unity, which are beneficial for all concerned. Should a single Templar go too far in failing to give proper respect to the nobility, or too frequently fail to do her or his job properly... accidents happen. And vice versa.
Nobles and Commoners:
One of the important keys to noble/commoner roleplay is to remember not to carry attitudes over from real life. On Armageddon, the vast majority of Allanak commoners, who live and die by the mercy of the Highlord, firmly believe that nobles are nobles because they're better. The same holds true for the nobles, who assume their privileged position is correct because they are of better blood and finer material than a commoner. This attitude is reinforced by their benefits: literacy, which acquires near-mystical dimensions in an illiterate society; vast wealth; social status; and freedom from most of the laws of the city.
Nobles can, and often do, take concubines and catamites from the ranks of the common folk when an especially attractive individual catches their eye, and the position of such individuals is comparable to that of other influential house servants. Concubines and catamites can expect to be kept in style and lavished with gifts. The wiser of them tuck these gifts away for old age, when all but the most subtle and gifted of them can expect to be discarded by their master or mistress. They may be resented and feared by other House servants, due to their influence over a particular member of the House, but their role is accepted.
Nobles do not marry commoners. It is unthinkable, and a monstrous violation of social protocols. Children of such alliances often become servants of the House - since they have been raised within a House, they know its ways, nuances and history better than most, and often these bastard children will rise to positions of status and authority among the other servants. Few will go to work for other Houses, who would suspect that their loyalties would remain with the original House, and that the individual was seeking to spy on the second house. Noble marriages are only in extremely rare cases prompted by romantic considerations; the majority are carefully thought out political or economic alliances planned by the elder members of the house and are accompanied by formal contracts setting out dowries, inheritances, and obligations. One partner, which can be either the male or female member, is assumed to have been subsumed by the other's House, and loses all legal and financial ties to their former House. A noble may have more than one such partner.
Nobles are very conscious of social class, and the first consideration in their head when meeting someone new will be a calculation of their social standing. Socializing with commoners is an odd thing for a noble, much like talking to a household object or their kank.
Playing A Noble:
Subtlety of play is expected from a noble. They are political creatures, given to scheming and machinations in order to increase their House status, and overt actions are viewed as unsubtle and, worse yet, tacky. While constant strife between Houses exists, it plays out as schemes to discredit and undermine each other, never outright attacks.
While nobles are certainly wealthier than anyone else, these funds are usually still limited, and large expenditures will need to be approved by House Elders, who will want some justification as to how the expenditure will enhance the House's status.
OOCly, the noble role is intended to enhance the game, and players who accept such a role should agree that they will play in a way that contributes to the game. That includes initiating events, providing employment for other PCs, cooperating with staff requests, etc. While it is acceptable to make another PC's life difficult for IC reasons, the focus of a noble's existence should not be harassing commoners, trying to enslave people who don't bow, or using NPCs to pkill.
Submitted by Sanvean / firstname.lastname@example.org
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