Social Class and Rank in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons-
|Government Forms||Royal and Noble Titles (Northern European)||Royal and Noble Titles (Asian Forms)||-||-|
There is no random table for determination of a character's social status to be found here.
That is because the inclusion
of such a factor will either tell
you little or nothing of useful nature, or it will abridge your freedom with
respect to development of your campaign milieu. That is, if such a table
tells you only a little so as not to force a social structure upon your
campaign, the table can contain nothing of use. If it states rank, it presupposes
you will, in fact, have such classes in your campaign when you
might not desire them at all. There are dozens of possible government
forms, each of which will have varying social classes, ranks, or castes.
Which sort you choose for your milieu is strictly your own prerogative.
While this game is loosely based on Feudal European technology, history
and myth, it also contains elements from the Ancient Period, parts of more
modern myth, and the mythos of many authors as well. Within its
boundaries all sorts of societies and cultures can exist, and there is nothing
to dictate that their needs be Feudal European.
In THE DRAGON magazine (#25; Vol. 3, No. 11, May 1979) there appeared an article written by me
which outlines this very precept and lists a number of government forms
which could be employed by the DM in his or her milieu.
Actually, some, all, or none of them could appear in the "world" of any given campaign.
To aid the harassed referee, I have listed these forms again.
<not all of them ... anarchism is missing>
Additionally, a list of nobility (or authorities) in various medieval cultures is given.
I have included the latter as many DMs prefer to base their campaign upon
a society of this sort, for they can then draw upon its historical data for
Once a set of social structures
and cultures has been devised for the
campaign, you may or may not find it useful to assign rank, class, or caste to player characters.
Will your society have hereditary rank?
Will it go only to males?
Will only the first-born inherit?
Will any inheritance of property be required to be the entire estate to one individual?
Deciding government form and culture might well delineate much of the social structure of the nation, state, or city in question.
Let us assume a social structure
of an aristocracy which is non-hereditary.
Members of this ruling class are those who have served in the military,
own property of 100 or more acres extent, and pay an annual tax of not
less than 10 gold pieces on their income. Land ownership may be waived
in the case of merchants and tradesmen whose business is such that they
pay not less than 20 gold pieces in taxes each year. In any event, the
aristocrats are the only persons eligible for any government office, command
of the military, and from their number are elected senators who pass laws and legislate in general.
Former senators are eligible to election to various tribunals and judgeships.
Former military officers are appointed by senatorial vote to keep the peace and police the land.
of citizens of this state are small land holders, tradesmen, and
various workers. They provide the food and goods and labor which make
the economy stable. These people are likewise obligated to serve in the
military, and if they serve with distinction, they will be awarded land or
stipends which will elevate them to the aristocracy. Of course, industry,
marriage or other means can move any of these citizens to a higher status.
Only a few persons are actually enslaved - criminals and captives of war.
A large number of the workers are bound to labor for a fixed period, and
some must likewise serve apprenticeships. These individuals have the
hope of eventually earning sufficient funds to become landowners or rich
merchants or tradesmen themselves.
a society, adventurers would come from the younger children of
aristocrats -- those who will inherit little and wish to remain in the favored
class. Some would come from the middle group - adventurous persons
who aim at becoming members of the aristocracy through successes in
such adventures. Few, if any, would come from the lowest class, i.e. the
bondsmen and common laborers. Assigning a social class to player
characters in such a society would not have any particular value unless
you also devised various rivalries within the classes.
<UA SC tables would fit
or link from here>
With this brief example in mind, it is easy to see how pointless it is to blindly plug in a set of "birth tables" based on some form of hereditary,
quasi-European nobility which may have absolutely no meaning within any of the states of your campaign milieu.
Furthermore, any use of such material must be carefully considered even if your campaign does have such a society and titles of rank,
viz. do you really believe that one of your PCs should be the first born son of a maior noble or a ruler?
If so, why is he adventuring?
Where are his guards and retainers?
Does his father know his whereabouts?
If so, why is he allowing the heir to his title and estates to risk his life in such a foolish manner?
Similarly, do such tables have a logical precedence and order?
Are there offices which do not logically belong within a feudal society?
Are there classes which are contradictory, anachronistic, or meaningless?
Unless you specifically tailor your milieu to fit such tables,
it is likely that there will be far too many "yes" answers to the above questions.
The intelligent verdict must be that each DM has to accept the responsibility of deciding for himself or herself if assigning class distinctions is a vital part of his or her campaign.
If such is necessary, then the DM must further accept the work of devising his or her own logical birth tables, drawn from a society, culture, and government form developed to fit the overall milieu.
This is unquestionably a tall order.
Those referees who lack time will find that it is perhaps better for them to utilize one of the several campaign scenarios commercially available, adding personal touches, of course, but basically relying on the cultural and societal developments of the unit.
Even with such ready-made
you may or may not wish to include social classes immediately for player characters.
My own GREYHAWK campaign, for example, assumes all player characters (unless I personally place one who is otherwise) are freemen or gentlemen,
or at worst they can safely represent themselves to be so.
(Note that the mascuine/human usage is generic; I do not like the terms freecreatures or gentlebeings!)
Outstanding activity can (and has) brought knighthood or social status to certain characters. <link:GH>
This was carefully planned as a reward if the characters succeeded, and it now allows them much latitude of action and assurance of reliable aid in certain realms --
but it likewise has earned them the enmity of others.
With all of that out of the way,
consider the list of a few of the possible governmental forms and then the lists of noble/official titles.
Note: Anarchy (
) is mentioned in the original of this article, in D25.
For some unknown reason, it was left out of the DMG. A mistake?
AUTOCRACY - Government which
rests in self-derived, absolute power,
typified by a hereditary emperor, for example.
BUREAUCRACY - Government
by department, rule being through the
heads of the various departments ond conducted by their chief administrators.
CONFEDERACY - Government
by a league of (possibly diverse) social
entities so designed as to promote the common good of each.
DEMOCRACY - Government by
the people, i.e. the established body of
citizens, whether through direct role or through elected representatives.
DICTATORSHIP - Government whose final authority rests in the hands of one supreme head.
FEODALITY - Government of
a feudal nature where each successive layer
of authority derives power and authority from the one above and
pledges fealty likewise.
GERIATOCRACY - Government reserved to the elderly or very old
GYNARCHY - Government reserved to females only.
HIERARCHY - Government which
is typically religious in nature and
generally similar to a feodality.
MAGOCRACY - Government by professional magic-users only.
MATRIARCHY - Government by the eldest females of whatever social units exist.
MILITOCRACY - Government headed by the military leaders and the armed forces in general.
MONARCHY - Government by
a single sovereign, usually hereditary,
whether an absolute ruler or with power limited in some form (such as
the English monarchs, limited in rule by the Magna Carta).
OLIGARCHY - Government by a few (usually absolute) rulers who are co-equal.
PEDOCRACY - Government by the learned, savants, and scholars.
PLUTOCRACY - Government by the wealthy.
REPUBLIC - Government by
representatives of an established electorate
who rule in behalf of the electors.
SYNDICRACY - Government by a body of syndics, each representing some business interest.
THEOCRACY - Government by
god-rule, that is, rule by the direct
representative of the god.
This listing is by no means
exhaustive, and you should feel free to use
other forms, or invent your own, as the needs of your particular campaign
<purple for the royals?>
Royal And Noble Titles: (Northern European):
Knights are non-hereditary
Their precedence (or importance) falls variously depending upon the order of knighthood they hold.
Various officials of the court will rank amongst the nobility;
an excellent discussion of this will be found in a good encyclopedia under Precedence, <Order of Precedence?> <Order of Succession?>
or in the appropriate section of TSRs WORLD OF GREYHAWK.
Royal And Noble Titles: (Asian Forms):
You may find it interesting
to mix titles, invent them,
and place the whole in the campaign setting you devise accordingly.
Research in various histories will be helpful, as will be a copy of a good thesaurus. <>