Merindric Culture

Social classes from top to bottom:

  1. Nobles and merchant-princes (hereditary)
  2. Enchanters Guild (merit,intellect)
  3. The Watch (merit,martial)
  4. Merchants & crafters (heredity, with occasional new grants)
  5. Beggars, thieves, elves

It’s a mercantilist society, where city-states are ruled by a combination of land-owners and production-owners. Both have assigned themselves various titles, but the only real rank among them is wealth. (Rogue Trader dynasty style, with profit factors.)

The Enchanters Guild “own” the means of production of spells, with a massively dominating market share of spell research. The reason for this is that their structure is so over-arching that it’s usually possible to gobble up any competitors that arise, and just let them be another bureau in the Guild. Individual campuses of the Guild often favor one bureau or “school” of wizardry.

Each city-state has a book of laws. The book is a magic item, entries can only be made/altered by means of a ritual. Trials are conducted by another ritual in which the book, the accused, and the accuser must all be present. There are material components required for these rituals, which are expensive and by tradition are supplied by the accuser. Elaborate suits are broken down into discrete claims, each requiring its own ritual. Thus the Preservers are sometimes used for vigilante justice because they are cheaper. The Watch is sometimes directly punitive as well.

An Enchanters Guild bureau exists to keep the book and to administer its use.

Most penalties meted out by the book are financial, or involve property exchange. This keeps the lowest class out of court for good or for ill. Those that cannot pay are bound to some kind of hard labor.

Merchant Princes

These are the owners of the means of production: land, companies, libraries. They often assign themselves titles, and rulership of each dynasty is passed down to specific successors. Tradition says children inherit dynasties, but it is possible to construe other inheritors.

The MPs have a perpetual strain with the EG, who are indispensible yet loathsome in that the EG are based on wizarding ability and not wealth. Wizards, the MPs say, are merely a certain type of craftsman, and should be subject to the same grants as craftsmen are. MPs often deliberately make no distinction between wizards, warlocks, and artificers. Because of the massive advantages to using magic, however, there is nothing that the MPs can do about the situation.

Non-business interaction outside of the nobility is not strictly forbidden, but it tends to bring social consequences. The exception is that some MPs are also members of the EG, and although this is a tension they must constantly play off on both sides, it is not entirely frowned upon for nobles and powerful wizards to interact socially. Bucking tradition is considered a serious offense, and MPs will go to some length to show they are respecting the traditions of a dynasty.

The more serious conflict is against the merchant/crafter class, who are forever trying to acquire their own means of production. With the help of the EG, who are currently in a fashion of making spells “anyone can use,” the merchant/crafter class is at present always sprouting up entrepreneurs who do not need the patronage of the old masters. Thus the MPs keep having to find ways to put these upstarts down and reassert authority.

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