During the long between-event break, we on staff have been working hard on a bunch of different edits and modifications to the game. In future you can expect explanations of some highly mechanical edits (professions and so on), but for now I have a few addendums and clarifications that I would like to knock out.
Without further ado, here goes.
More About How to Address Nobles
The nobility is a tangled web of etiquette and forms indeed. I’ve gotten a few questions from various participants on the following two issues, and am here to provide clarity:
- How should I address someone who is set to inherit a title, but whose parent is still alive? This one is easy! Heirs are addressed by whatever title they are set to inherit. Thus, the eldest child of a still-living baronet is addressed as a baront/ess; of a still-living baron is addressed as a baron/ess; and so on. These nobles simply don’t have the lands yet to back up their titles.
- How should I address a younger child who is neither set to inherit anything, nor training to become a squire? The solution we devised here is meant to streamline and simplify. These individuals should be addressed as “gentle lord” or “gentle lady.” Specific ranking can be established separately by listing family connections, as in, “Allow me to introduce the gentle lady Abigail Harris, daughter of Baronet Robert Harris of Stemma.”
Differentiating Commoners and Nobles
This has been a fairly oft-discussed issue by both staff and players alike, and for good reason–some people who have exceptionally nice kits look like nobles even if they are playing commoners; some cultures do not emphasize differences in garb between commoners and nobles; and generally speaking it can just be difficult to tell sometimes who’s who. For this reason we are instituting a new rule for all players depicting a noble character:
All players depicting noble characters must wear a pin decorated with their families’ heraldic crests on their persons at all times, pinned over their hearts.
Note that the pin does not need to be huge or fancy; it need only be immediately visible to anyone looking for it. If you are unsure what to design for your heraldic crest, we encourage you to get in touch with us, as we are more than happy to help you in any way that we can.
Noble Trust Funds
We will create a formalized document on this topic soon, but I wanted to give extant or would-be nobles a head’s-up about another important change to a noble’s relationship to the game world.
When a player submits a noble character for our consideration, the GMs will consider the player’s history in order to establish a “trust fund” for that character. Evaluations will focus on the following elements:
- Relationship between character and family
- Duchy and county the family is from
- Family’s relative social prestige or precedence
- Any goods or services the family produces, backs, or trades
Based on these elements, and within given limitations, the GMs will assign that character a “trust fund” consisting of a certain amount of money. PCs will not have automatic access to this fund, but will rather have recourse to it via in-game means–writing home to ask their parents for X silvers in order to purchase a deed of property, for example. The GMs will apportion the money as we deem fit and taking a variety of factors into account, including but not limited to: Is the noble child representing the family well? Are there negative rumors floating around about the noble? or, by contrast, positive reports? Is the request reasonable, from the standpoint of the family? What exactly does the noble want to do with this money? And so on. Players are welcome to open negotiations with the GM to set up an income-like system whereby their characters receive a small amount of money every event, but it should be noted that this regular stipend may be halted or adjusted at any time if staff decides it would be appropriate for in-game reasons.
This new system is not intended to create an imbalance among players, but rather (1) to supply noble characters with a source of income that is otherwise unavailable to them (since nobles are expected not to work or craft, as commoners do, and thus often end up quite poor) and (2) to help improve the depiction of the nobility as a whole and encourage players to use their connections wisely.
One of our participants made a very canny observation in a PEL recently; that is to say, that people tend to have a good grasp on their characters’ home duchies, but might be a bit shakier about inter-duchy relationships and politics. With this in mind, I’ve put together the following facts to help illuminate the topic a bit more.
- In general, the southern duchies–Stemma, Southlight, and Gavell–are considered more “cultured” than the northern duchies–Hawksworth and Blacknall. Caxton is often left out of these discussions, which are historically grounded, because it is so relatively new.
- Stemma is the center and the beating heart of the country. This is an agreed-upon fact, even by persons of other duchies, although they might not see it with the same level of pride as Stemmans do.
- Southlight was technically the first duchy of Braelin, but Gavell is usually considered to be “closer” to Stemma than Southlight. There is a long-standing argument between the two duchies, especially within the nobility, about this. Gavell and Southlight also compete over wine production (Gavellese wines are commonly considered better overall, by persons of other duchies/countries) and sailing prowess (Southlightee sailors are commonly considered better overall, by persons of other duchies/countries). Usually the “Gavell versus Southlight” arguments are good-natured if a bit sharp, but a few have been known to end in duels, since citizens of both duchies take great pride in their homes’ reputation.
- One thing that the Gavellese and Southlightees do agree on is that Hawksworth and Blacknall are both “backwoods duchies.”
- Hawksworth and Blacknall, for their parts, share a close bond–the cultures value similar things and both peoples have a highly independent approach to life and thought. They often find common ground in disdaining the “fripperies” of the south. It is important to remember that, during the reign of Aaron the Terrible, Blacknall and Hawksworth alike were on the brink of seceding from Braelin until the arrival of the rightful god-chosen queen–a Hawksworther.
- Blacknalleers specifically are sometimes openly contemptuous of the highly ritualized chivalric practices of Gavell in particular. This is not to say that chivalry is not practiced in Blacknall, but rather that it is treated with a different kind of gravity–not as a form of “play,” but as a form of deep respect.
- Caxton is generally thought of as a kind of “younger sibling” by the other duchies–a fact that Caxtoners do not really care about one way or another. The engineering, scientific, and magical achievements of the duchy over such a short period of time have been impressive indeed. Combined with the Caxtoners’ easygoing natures and ongoing duty to guard the Wall, the people of Caxton do not feel any stirring need to “prove” themselves to anyone else. This attitude is sometimes misinterpreted as arrogance among the Gavellese and–to a lesser extent–the Southlightees, and so Caxtoners typically find it easier to get along with the northerners than with the southerners on the whole.
- The Xiros and the Braelinese regard one another with no small amount of suspicion and wariness, but ultimately also a grudging tolerance. Many Braelinese, especially knights and soldiers, have a deep respect for the Xiros people’s strength–both mental and physical–but are uncertain about their traditional shamanistic practices, which are seen as morbid, primitive, or both. Some Braelinese view the alliance with Xiros as a kindness and feel indulgently obligated to guide the Xiros on their way to becoming an acceptably cultured, respectable nation; others consider it an example of a stronger, superior people triumphing over a weaker, inferior people. The Xiros, for their part, find the Braelinese approach to the world–the notions of ownership, the structure of the feudal society, the insistence on superfluous customs like chivalry, the pervasive fear of death and the dead–confusing and backwards. That said, during the past few centuries, the Xiros have forged some strong ties to the citizens of southwestern Hawksworth in particular, and tend to trust Hawksworthers more readily than other Braelinese people.
- Finally, Zikarians are typically seen as savage but ultimately harmless curiosities and, as such, are often treated as a type of pet or a culture of children. The islanders owe Braelin a great debt, and therefore most Braelinese do not feel the least bit threatened by the Zikarians–and will sometimes gently remind any “uppity” Zikarians of this debt. The Zikarians, who do feel a culture-wide affinity to Braelin for its role in their liberation, do their best to be patient and understanding with the Braelinese during awkward social interactions. Still, there are many Zikarians who feel a certain exasperation at the Braelinese unwillingness to view them as real people. Sometimes they are able to shrug it off; sometimes they seek out local Xiros or other foreigners they can relate to within a given region; sometimes they play along with the Braelinese conception of their culture for their own benefit; and sometimes–though only rarely–they grow frustrated and bitter.
I think that covers everything on a basic level, but I would also encourage anyone who is interested in this kind of thing to go through and read the available documentation regarding the cultures, Braelinese history, and the world as a whole. Often these will help to fill in gaps and/or clarify relationships.
All right, that is it for now–but please keep an eye out for further announcements about updates, edits, and addendums to the game that are coming soon!