Age of Legends
Class in Caldoranth
aldoranth is a feudalistic, manorial society with a stratified class system. Centuries past this stratification consisted in: the the nobility, who were Caldoranth’s ruling elite; skilled artisans, who supplied the nation with goods and services, and the Peasantry, which worked the fields of Caldoranth’s towns and manors, supplying the nation with agricultural goods. Yet today this strict hierarchy has begun to be blurred somewhat with the rise of the Arriviste and the influx of adventurers sweeping into the North.
Caldoranth has always been ruled by a king, even when the nation was naught but a tiny city state dwelling at the base of the mighty Hammodrans. As the fledgling nation began to settle its surrounding territories, the monarchy vested local rule over these territories into the hands of strong feudal lords capable of defending his realm. As the territories of these lords grew, they in turn appointed lesser lords to rule over portions of their appointed realms. Thus a feudal hierarchy emerged early on in the nation’s history.
In the centuries that followed, this feudal nobility became further stratified by a system of ranks and titles specifying a given noble’s privileges and standing relative to his peers. The four primary ranks in descending order of priority are: Duke, Count, Baron and Knight. Traditionally the titles of nobility were strictly hereditary, with the exception of Knights of the Order of the Ram, who were granted the status of life peers. However in recent years the upper nobility has begun to grant a host of non-hereditary life titles to military leaders, adventurers and rich merchants who show themselves to be generous with their wealth. Due to this, currently there is a proliferation of noble titles amongst the nouveau riche merchant class known as the Arriviste. The lower nobility tend to resent this recent relaxing of the system of ennoblement by the upper nobility, and relations between the the Arriviste and the lower nobility have become strained.
The term “Arriviste” does not refer to any one particular faction, but rather to an emerging social class of wealthy merchants within Caldoranth. For centuries the nation had been organized around a feudal, manorial power structure ruled by the noble elite. However, in the last couple of centuries a host of events have converged to upset this political structure. The fall of the enemy nation of Taladun to the south opened a trade route to the southern lands that had previously been closed. In the years that followed hundreds of merchants hailing from all over the southlands began to stream into the north seeking to establish trade relations with Igladon, whose unique access to deposits of much sought after luminiad ore soon made them exceedingly wealthy. Seeking to capitalize on this new opportunity for trade, several guilds within Caldoranth formed alliances. In the west a powerful logging consortium arose to fill a need in the southlands for rare Sidoren Ash lumber. In the north, a mining consortium discovered new, lucrative luminiad mines.
The Guilds were not the only entities to capitalize on the growing attention being paid to the north however. A myriad of mercantile cottage industries and fashionable boutiques sprung up to cater to the needs of merchants, nobles and adventuring parties traveling through the northern reaches. While these independent entities have sometimes come into conflict with the larger, more established guilds, the two have more in common with each other than they do with the nobility. Together the guild-master and the independent merchant comprise a new distinct social class of upstarts in Caldoranth’s political economy. For the first time in Caldoranth’s history, the economic fortunes of the nation do not lay entirely in the hands of feudal lords.
The Arriviste have sought to secure political prestige in proportion to their new-found wealth, either through intermarriage with nobility, or through the purchasing of life-peer noble titles, or in some cases through economic sanctions. These attempts at social-climbing are generally resented by lower nobility who disdain the nouveau riche, and fear their growing importance. As such, the nation is undergoing a period of tense political turmoil, the outcome of which is uncertain.
In the years following the fall of Taladun adventurers from the southlands streamed into the Northern Reaches as never before. Some of them sought the the lost city of Eretanis rumored to lie somewhere beyond the Thengloran Waists. A few sought to conquer and tame the Eldernost dragons. Yet by far most came seeking the treasure of the Dwarves which lie buried in countless ruins scattered throughout the land.
Whatever their reasons for coming to the north, their presence has forever altered the course of events in the north. While explorers and adventuring parties make up only a small percentage of the peoples of the north, they exercise an influence upon the political and economic climate of the nation far in excess of their numbers. The gold, silver and luminied that have poured into Caldoranth’s economy as a result of a myriad quests has allowed the nation to expand into new territories and build up a sizable army. Moreover, such quests have also contributed to the rise of the arriviste as merchants began to capitalize on the nations new found wealth.
As to their place within the Caldoranth’s class system, adventurers are a bit of an anomaly in that they can arise from any class. Some adventures set out as mere peasants, and at the end of their careers, have attained wealth and political clout equal even to the nobility. In fact, the prospect of upward mobility has drawn many of Caldoranth’s peasantry to seek the adventurers life. For this reason, while nobles and merchants may look to adventurers to protect their lands and their investments from the ravages of the wild, they nevertheless tend to regard them with a good deal of uneasiness, and often distrust.