What Makes "Royalty"

THE FIFTH WORLD has been designed to be less hierarchical than most feudal societies in order to encourage RP between characters of varying social spheres. Citizens do not need to bow and scrape before knights and nobles, and those esteemed positions cannot have Citizens punished simply for speaking rudely to them (although a Citizen who made a habit out of outright and extreme disrespect toward nobility would tend to be shunned by society once that habit became clear and might eventually be brought up on charges of Disturbance of the Peace if it got really out of hand).

Despite this more egalitarian approach to feudalism, there are still a few wider divides in social standing: royalty, the High Lords and Ladies, Heads of Vassal House and their Heirs, and Senators.

While the Royal Family encompasses anyone born with the surname Sauveur, only the current King or Queen Regnant and their immediate family is considered to be royalty. Only they gain the title Prince or Princess, only they are called Highness (or Majesty), and only they are provided with actual bows or curtseys from other nobles. Other members of the royal family are treated much as if they were a member of any Paramount House.

Within the remainder of the nobility, generally the Head of House and immediate family are of equivalent rank to the extended family of the tier above them (Lady Dalton's children and the Orelle cousins), but outside of the Princes, Princesses, High Lords, and High Ladies (and of course the Regnant), rank is a very blurred sliding scale.

Given the lack of great divides within the ranks of nobility, true power within the nobility — such as it is — is based on the respect gained from other nobles. A vassal of the Daltons who had made great scientific discoveries, for instance, might be given more respect than a drunkard of a Cindravale who has never accomplished anything, despite the difference in their Houses. Similarly, a member of a minor branch of House Khournas who is known as a skilled and intelligent knight would likely receive more respect than a child of High Lord Khournas who has done nothing with his or her life.

Senators are a special case, as they are elected directly by the Citizen populace, and cannot gain their position without the respect and support of their fellow Citizens. As such, they tend to be universally honored by Citizens — or at least by their supporters.

All of this is designed so that the best way for a character to be afforded respect is to have them get out there and impress other characters with their deeds and ideas. Of course, being born into a powerful branch of a powerful family helps but birth is trumped by actions to a large degree. Whatever the case, a noble's last name is a starting point for gaining respect, not a way to force others into a desired course of action.

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