The Golden Wastes
THE CASTE SYSTEM
The Empire is governed by a caste system. The caste system is not followed by the barbarian tribes, but those barbarian tribes who enter the Empire eventually adopt it and divide their people into the appropriate castes.
The caste system provides stability within the Empire, supporting order over chaos and providing spiritual comfort to all who know that whatever their lot in life, it is their dharma to do it and that their work is needed. Of course, it also promotes stagnancy and undermines justice.
Within each caste are various ranks known as orders. They could be considered sub-castes and account for the great variety between prosperity, respect, and styles within an individual caste. There are too many orders to discuss in simple terms. The main thing to realize is that castes exist in only very broad, general strokes. Specifics will always vary from region to region and era to era.
In regards to roleplaying when characters of different caste exist, it is assumed that polite forms of language and behavior are exchanged. Ideally, each caste respects the dharma (duty) of the others and contributes to group harmony. To their credit, the Hieron do not exploit the caste system as much as they could.
While the higher caste characters may initially be looked upon for leadership, it is neither essential nor required. Lower castes have sometimes assumed leadership or advisory roles to those of higher station when such members did not desire to command, or perhaps were unfit to rule. It is considered an excellent quality among the Illuminati and Armigers to utilize the talents of the lower castes to the best of their ability. While there may be interactions with bigoted or narrow-minded NPC’s, it is expected that players assume the role of enlightened heroes.
Of utmost importance, players should pick the caste that best fits their character concept and can be enjoyed throughout the campaign. It should not be the case where a player seeks to overcome their character’s caste. Typically, the caste system will be used mainly as flavor text and background setting, and it will not be vital during actual play.
Caste will determine a few items that affect mostly flavor text. Background is the most obvious. Dietary requirements, professions, marriage partners, and life ceremonies are determined by caste. Not all members perform as expected, but there are expectations. Characters in the society take their duties very seriously, and will not excuse PC’s who do otherwise. Members of lower castes are expected to be polite to their superiors.
Adherence to caste depends much on the location and era. The centers of civilization are much stricter on the caste system than the frontier, and it is not unknown that between dynasties when there is chaos and confusion, that families are able to change castes. Barbarians, of course, pay no attention to castes; that is one reason why they are barbarians.
The caste system is found throughout the empire and among all races. Indeed, the caste system is a prime component of uniting the various races of man as castes cut across racial lines. Of course, different races interpret the caste system differently. The Prodigy are the least caste based, while the Calibani are meticulous.
There are six ranks of caste. Five are available to player characters.