The ordering of Valyrian society is not handled in the way that being a part of a gaming “clan” may have been handled in the past. There are no “clan ranks.” In Valyria it is entirely normal to be a subject of the realm who lives and works in Valyria without having any part of government or the ruling of the kingdom, much like it is in any real life nation.
Instead, in keeping with our loyalty to our own vision of immersion, as well as with the new potential provided by new mechanics in Chronicles of Elyria, Valyria adheres to the class system of medieval society. Players who are a part of Valyria are categorized by social class in a familiar feudal pyramid. Being of a certain tier is a prerequisite for holding certain jobs or roles in Valyrian society, whether that role be in the fields of private enterprise or else in the governments of Valyria’s various provinces and domains.
Because the nomenclature of these tiers can vary between different gaming groups that have assembled under the Valyrian banner, both because of a group’s gaming history and former “clan theme” as well as because of the different “lore titles” accorded to different Elyrian races, the Valyrian royal administration uses neutral terms to define these social ranks. These terms are Latin and are meant to encompass all of the synonyms and idiosyncrasies of a given social class while reducing them to a single universal concept. For example, the Kypiq “Guardian of the Forest”, the Brudvir “Alpha”, and even flavor-based Neran alternatives to Count, like “Earl” or “Jarl” are all classed under the Valyrian Latin “Magnate.”
The social class pyramid is arrayed as follows:
At the very top, Rex: Rex is the King of Valyria, considered the “fount of law” – the source of all order, policy, and enforcement in Valyria. Only one person may be King or Queen at one time. While Rex is a social class with a membership of one, “The Crown” is a separate government construct that overlaps with, but is not entirely synonymous with the personage of the King. The Crown and its powers are explained in “Kingdom Government.”
Second from the top, Magnates: Magnates are the “peers of the realm” – noble lords who hold the titles of either duke or count (or any equivalent) in their own right. The are considered peers to the King out of respect for their bloodline, since their inheritance also entitles them to rule a given land by right. Only the title holder of a noble family qualifies as a magnate, however. The wedded spouse and children other than the eldest are considered noble, but not magnates. In Valyria, being a magnate qualifies one to sit in the House of Lords, the upper house of the Valyrian Parliament. The House of Lords and the Parliament are explained in “Kingdom Government.”
Third from the top, Domini Minores: This is the class called “Aristocracy” by Chronicles of Elyria. While there is no definable class called aristocracy that was separate from the nobility or the gentry in history, this in-between class consists of landholders who hold the noble title of baron or else the de facto or elected title of mayor. Whether we consider them higher gentry or lesser nobility, this class is entitled to be styled “lord.” As such, the non-inheriting children of magnates as well as their spouse consorts who do not rule may also be classed within this social rank. The king also grants the style “lord” as a courtesy to anyone of any class who is holding a Royal Cabinet position or a magistracy. The Royal Cabinet and the Law Courts are explained in “Kingdom Government.”
Fourth from the top, Equites: Equites are gentry, which was once called “horse-rank.” The gentry are the lowest rung of titled landowners who bear heraldic arms. These gentlemen are often sworn in fealty to greater liege lords like magnates or barons. Gentry can include armigers like knights, dames, squires, baronets, or ordinary gentlemen. The non inheriting children of barons are classed as gentlemen, as are the grandchildren of magnates who are the offspring of their non-inheriting children. Individuals of the equites class are also eligible for election to the lower house of the Valyrian Parliament, called the “House Comitates”, for which two seats are allowed from every Valyrian county. The “House Comitates” and the Parliament are explained in “Kingdom Government.”
Fifth from the top, Homines Liberi: This class is understood as “freemen.” It is unique among all the six Valyrian social classes because it is the only one that by its very definition is excluded from the system of feudal bonds. A freeman of Valyria is still a subject of the king, but is not bound in direct fealty to a liege lord the way a knight, a serf, or any landholder would be. A freeman might be a minor landholder who does not possess a coat of arms, or else a true “citizen” of a township or boroughs which holds fealty of a lord collectively. Most of the player subjects of the Kingdom of Valyria are expected to be freemen, and could include any who make their living as franktenants, mercenaries, burgesses, guildsmen, yeomen, court employees like reeves or clerks, and simple adventurers.
Last from the top, Coloni: Coloni are the lowest rank of Valyrian society, and correspond with our medieval concept of a serf, villein, or socager. This class consists of servant, slave, or bonded laborer NPCs, as well as player characters who choose to rent rather than own land. It is also the class of any subject with a sworn debt of service, be it a debt of labor servitude, tenancy, or sworn military service rendered by a character without heraldic arms.