For the Old World social class is not an indefinite concept, but a real and definitive stricture on the rights and respect that a character is entitled to. Essentially, Nobles have the full rights and freedoms which we might expect a person to have in a modern setting. Military characters have less than that, and Commoners have less again. Noble or Common characters are always born to their station, while Military characters – regardless of the circumstances of their birth – have left behind any outside social rank in favour of a lifetime of service.
Uruk society is a lot more fluid, making this choice less important for them.
The Old World Social Classes
The Nobility of Sollundom is ancient and powerful, often descended from the Old Blood of the distant past. They are the landowners and governors of every nation of Sollundom, extending and maintaining their familial holdings down through generations. There is a level of interconnectedness and mutual respect that extends across borders, since the nobility know that they are outnumbered and retain their power mainly through terror of the Blood.
The New World colony in Osterheim represents both an opportunity and a threat to the power of the nobility. An opportunity because it means that noble families can expand their lands and power across the sea, bringing wealth back home. A threat because it means that so can the upstart merchants, wealthy commoners whose richness means that some of them feel entitled to land ownership and other rights previously denied to them. Players of noble characters should think about whether they’re playing offence or defence in the great class war.
The Military class is made up of people whose life and upbringing is grounded in a fighting organisation. They are officers and professionals whose civilian social standing has been left behind for a lifetime of service. They could be part of the formal militaries of the various Old World Nations, or of an order of combatants outside those structures, but what military characters have in common is an adherence to a system of ranks and a proximity to organised violence. They straddle a middle ground of power and authority that varies by context: in times of peace, they take orders; in times of war, they give orders. Military characters are not only active troops, but also their supporters, servants, retired soldiers, commanders and assorted hangers-on. By the same token, not all soldiers are from the Military class, but might be nobles serving part-time, or recent conscripts from the lower orders.
The New World colony in Osterheim might be either an obligation or a free choice on the part of a military character. They might be there against their will, as part of an overseas deployment on the orders of a superior; they might be there by choice, seeking glory and coin, or they might simply be there as loyal troops, doing what’s necessary. You’ll need to decide what your character’s disposition is towards the colony as a whole, but also – more than other classes – what your disposition is with regards to the local population. It’s the military characters who are most likely to come into conflict with them, after all.
“Common” covers wealthy merchants, poorer workers and everything in between. Legally, they have very few rights throughout most of Sollundom (although some cities give special rights to merchants in Iskaland and Tassanos). Land ownership, tax exemptions, legal protections and the like are largely denied to them. They vastly outnumber the nobility, but are far less likely to possess the Old Blood that can turn someone into an invulnerable killing machine. It’s mostly this disadvantage which has kept them in line, historically.
The New World colony in Osterheim can serve as both a refuge and a step-stone for commoners. Commoners who’ve been cut off from society or are victims of violence or oppression might find safe haven and a new start in Osterheim. Alternatively, some might come to the New World to accrue wealth from new opportunities, stepping outside the rigid class structures of the Old World in the process. Others might even seek to use the colonial distance as a chance to challenge the status quo…
The founders of the Nation of Charleston chose to abandon these strictures. They claim all within Charleston to be of equal standing and rights. This does not prevent groups vying for power, and some of the old prejudices and conventions are still present. There is a notable difference between those who helped found the Nation and those that have arrived since that time.
The Founders and Early settlers of Charleston have worked hard to establish their lands and their status as an independent nation. They have a vision for what they want this nation to become and they will fight to make it happen. As it was their backs on which the nation was built so it will be on their backs the nation will be carried. In difficult times they generally chose to support other founders over newcomers regardless of what skills or resources the newcomers may bring.
Word of the independent nation of Charleston has spread far and wide. The appeal of abandoning the shackles of the Old World welcomed by many who now voyage across the sea. Once there they have found they are not necessarily welcomed, as in the harsh environment with scarce resources the founders will preference their own concerns before those of the newcomers. When food is scarce they will force out extra mouths rather than seek to feed them. However there’s opportunity here for those willing to seize it.