The Ties that Bind
The bulk of the peasantry are firmly involved in the farming and rural life. In everywhere but the New Empire, craftsmen are still considered peasantry. Usually possessing a special skill though generally elevates one above the standard regardless. Naturally because of this elevation, most craftsmen tend to enjoy a greater quality of life.
Coming from the rural areas also means that most peasants are a pious and god fearing people, whose worship is centred on the pantheon gods. Most peasants generally direct their worship to Solemaeus and Agria to bless their fields. If the peasants do not worship these two though, they tend to worship the pantheon as a whole.
With regards to magic, most of the peasantry see magic as a dangerous and uncontrollable quality in a person. They will also generally be quite hostile to a magic user unless said person is accepted in the community, or they will be tolerated grudgingly if the user is college trained, and comes from an official background. It is not unusual though for a pogrom to feature the peasantry lashing out with mob violence at perceived witches.
In regards to other races, depending on how much of a backwater the community is; reception of non-humans range from suspicion to an open welcome. The only exception is those living in Aesmoor as they are openly hostile to all non human races.
In regards to authority though, in general it can be said that unless there are gross abuses of power or unreasonably hard times that the smallfolk believe themselves to be governed properly and that the nobility have their best interests if not at least an even hand at governing. The peasantry are also quite fond of the church and by extension the templars. Many clamour to live in any territory that the templars administrate, as living in their territory or earning their patronage means that in general they pay less taxes when compared to their non-templar sponsored brethren.
The only exception to this view of kingly governance though, is in the nation of Kronslund. In Kronslund the peasantry have an actual hand and representation in their governance. What this usually means is that they may be less downtrodden compared to their peers, and they also tend to have a more defiant and questioning attitude when it comes to the nobility.
Merchants in Morinar are either of the travelling variety, or of the variety that has managed to entrench themselves in a community. The first true merchants sprang up from those who moved to the cities, and began businesses allied to no lord. This has created a rising middle class between what was once just the nobility and the peasantry. Not all the lords have taken to this aggressive development in a very welcome manner.
On a whole, merchants are a largely pious group, as they often pray to Profectus to safeguard their caravans on the various travels. Despite this though, more often than not, merchants tend to take the more economically viable view when business matters and faith come to a head. As they say, money does make the world go round.
On the topic of magic, unlike the common masses, the merchants of the western kingdoms tend to take a more pragmatic view of magic. Provided it doesn’t take away their business or negatively impact their sales, then more oft than not magic users are welcomed to browse a merchant’s wares. Magical items too are seen as a boon as they can provide a large haul of coin for a merchant should he or she sell it for a good price.
More than anyone else, merchants tend to be accepting of all races (excluding the hostile ones of course) as they see any coin as good coin. It also helps that dwarven and elven craftsmanship also fetch high prices on the market. The only exception of course are the merchants of Aesmoor, who strictly refuse to trade with any non humans, and will at times, even take their business elsewhere should they discover the establishment they are negotiating in has had extensive dealings with non-humans.
In regards to state and government, so long as their trade isn’t being negatively affected or taxes taking too much of their profit, merchants tend to see little reason in complaining about authority. They simply take the bad with the good. Most merchants also welcome the templars with open arms as having them as their patron often relieves them of their tax burdens to the state, for usually a much smaller deduction. The clergy are also welcomed because as stated before, any coin is good coin.
Knights mainly come in two varieties, landed or unlanded. Landed knights are those who possess some property, and unlanded knights are those without any property to speak of. Both kinds can be found in the service of a noble. Having lands is usually a signifier of trust and importance, but this does not necessarily mean that having no land means that one is a vagabond. Unlanded knights in a lord’s service can be found in many different positions, from a castellan, to being the master at arms. Naturally since the arms and armour of war tend to be quite expensive, knights also tend to be the sons of nobles more than anything else.
In addition, knights are also supposed to be pious, but more oft than not, they tend to do what they need to fulfill their duty over any responsibility to religion. Though in theory they are all supposed to abide by a set code of conduct, it is not unknown for less scrupulous houses to rise in renown through more… unsavoury means.
Knightly views on magic vary wildly depending on who you talk to. Some knights will see it as the bane of the kingdom, where as others view it as an integral part of any military or civil endeavour. Unregistered magic users though tend to be hated by knights as a disruptive force. However, no matter who you turn to, magical arms and armour are valued a great deal, and tend to be handed down from generation to generation.
In regards to other races, again views tend to vary wildly. Some knights do not wish to associate with them, whilst others eagerly hire them for their specialist skill set. Again the only openly hostile knights are those of Aesmoor.
Knights generally agree with the state as more oft than not. In the feudal society, the state is what is preserving their rights and privileges above those of the peasant masses; despite the privileged making up very little of the population. The only times that the knighthood would have an issue though, is when the governing bodies start making erratic or irrational decisions. They also view the templars as meddlers because when they move into town, they often have similar interests but act completely on their own regard, a fact which infuriates the knighthood to no end. Most disputes with them tend to be jurisdictional in essence. The clergy is occasionally seen as no better as they occasionally interfere with governance over some perceived slight of the peasantry.
Mages, as they feature in society are either college trained, or folk wizards. The main difference here is the calibre of training and registration that the mages have. Untrained and unregistered mages are not viewed kindly in the kingdoms. Mages can come from any strata of society, from the lowliest beggars to the mightiest noble families.
Mages also tend to be rather pious as they worship Mannus, the god of magic. Certain mages though, have no faith, instead choosing to make their way in the world based on their own skill alone.
Mages tend see magic as a nothing more than a force in the world, much like how water is a necessary requirement for survival or how the wind weaves through the trees. It just is, and denying that fact or labeling it as evil would not change it at all. However not all mages share this view. Certain mages see magic as a natural force that exists to be controlled instead of just being. Yoking magical force under their grasp as one would bring horse and ox under control is not an uncommon view for a mage to have. Whatever their individual views may be though; all agree that magic is an essential element in the world.
Mages also tend to be very open to all races. Having been on the receiving end of much hate and intolerance, they tend to wait before they judge in this regard. Most mages also tend to value the company of elven wizards as their mastery of the magical arts is unmatched in the world.
Views on authority tend to vary wildly from mage to mage dependent on who they have been assigned to and how they are treated. Despite this, they all share negative feelings in regards to the templars, as many of their magic wielding brethren have died upon their blades in either justified, or unjustified witch hunts.
The clergy are drawn from every strata of society, though coming from a wealthy family doesn’t hurt your chances of promotion. Often times, nobles who have nothing to inherit, end up becoming a member of the clergy. It is also seen as an honourable way for an aging member of a family to depart from their duties. Naturally they are for all intents and purposes “dead” to their family for inheritance matters, and pass on their material wealth to their children. Unfortunately this method of forced retirement has been used to usurp power on more than one occasion.
The clergy actually share similar views with the mages about magic. However that is only in regards to controlled magic. Perhaps more than anyone, they see folk wizards and hedge mages as being potential avenues for possession by the demonic. The fact that there has been no solid proof of this has not deterred the more militant brethren from leading their witch hunts and pogroms.
The clergy care not about race, as all they wish, is to spread their faith to all races no matter what they are.
The clergy generally leave the governance of authority to the various kings. So long as they don’t tread on clerical rights, their congregation, or actively enforce rules that are contrary to the wills of the various gods. Naturally they are not afraid to enforce the issue with steel from their templar brethren if they deem it necessary.
The Nobility are the cream of society. They are the privileged few under which all others owe them their fealty. Members of this class are essentially the rulers or are in charge of large amounts of land in each of their respective nations. An example of this would be House Martin of Andorria.
Because they are surrounded by such opulence as well as responsibility they tend to vary in their piousness. Many find a middle ground in doing both their duty, and enacting their faith. However should they come between a rock and a hard place, more often than not faith is what is discarded first.
Nobles also tend to see magic as a necessary fact of life. In fact most tend to have a mage as part of their advisory council solely to deal with magical issues when they occur. Hedge mages tend to also be actively prosecuted when in a noble’s jurisdiction as gaining a reputation as one tolerant of witches is never a good reputation to have, especially when the clergy can enforce their views with steel and flame.
Nobles also tend to be open to other races. Again they value them for their specialized skill sets. On top of that they have trade and diplomatic relations to consider as naturally it is never wise to have belligerent neighbours.
In regards to their views on authority, nobles are in a position to influence if not outright dictate the laws of the land. This will almost always include some type of mandate that generally keeps the status quo between the peasantry and the upper class.
Differences in the New Empire
The peasantry in the New Empire live in much the same way as their western cousins. One of the few differences however, is that in the New Empire the peasantry have largely stayed away from moving into the cities. Their belief, in their civic duties and caste has largely prevented that migration.
In the scheme of the New Empire, merchants are afforded less respect than one would think their money would buy. Theoretically because merchants do not produce any goods of their own, it should be that they are simply afforded less respect. In this sense they are viewed more as leeches if anything. Unfortunately reality is not so simple, and as they always say, money does make the world go round.
Like their western counterparts, artisans do enjoy a better standard of living over the other peasantry. Unlike their counterparts though, they also have the state’s quasi religious backing to enforce the respect that they get. By and large, this has allowed the New Empire to better codify the knowledge that they have, which has gone a long way in advancing their way of life, a fact that anyone would be thankful for.
Sages are a term that the New Empire gives to the mages and advisors that reside within their courts. They are afforded a respect on par with the knightly class in the other kingdoms. Of course this means that most college mages wish for a posting in the east, as despite the constant threat of orc attack, to be treated with respect and as an equal by most of society is a fair trade in many a mage’s eyes. The clergy are also placed into this caste; and to stand on par with mages is no doubt a fact that rankles in many hearts.
For the people outside of the New Empire, the warrior caste is possibly the most known as well as the most feared. It is a caste whose numbers rise and fall with the coming and going of war. For many, to serve their Empire is a noble duty. Without fail, when the call to war comes, the Empire lacks no volunteers. However these are only temporary members of the warrior caste which are usually used to fill out the auxiliaries. The permanent members of the warrior caste consist of the Draconi High Guard, the Legions, and the newly fledged Imperial Navy. The rank amongst the warrior caste is not hereditary, but instead merit based.
The royalty of the New Empire function in almost the same way as the nobility in the rest of Morinar. The only exceptions to this is that this caste only includes the royal family and that the successor is chosen by vote amongst the elders of House Drago. Large landholding families, no matter how prosperous or wealthy they are, would never find themselves as a part of this. House Drago rules the east alone.