Because the rules are so complex and the
stakes are so high, many people blanche at the thought of
speaking with a noble with a title. For starters, it is important
to address them correctly, for just as no one likes to be
misnamed, no one likes to be mistitled. The problem is that
in High Rock, traditions of the peerage differ slightly from
region to region. The base rules follow:
There are eight kingdoms in High Rock in the
following regions: Northpoint, Daggerfall, Shornhelm, Camlorn,
Farrun, Evermore, Wayrest, and Jehanna. If a woman is ruling
one of these areas, she is called the Queen. The husband of
a Queen and the wife of a King is not necessarily of equal
rank -- they may not be Kings and Queens themselves. Their
children are Princes and Princesses. Their grandchildren are
also Princes and Princesses. If a male ruler dies, his wife
takes the title Dowager Queen, providing there is not a Dowager
Queen already. Like all rules, there are exceptions. One noted
exception took place recently in Daggerfall, when King Lysandus
died. In most regions, his wife Mynisera would not have become
Dowager Queen of Daggerfall, because Lysandus' mother, the
widow Nulfaga, still lived. In Daggerfall, however, it is
permissable for there to be two persons with the same title.
Thus, both Nulfaga and Mynisera have the title Dowager Queen.
If a female ruler, who does not share rank
with her husband, dies, there is no male equivalent to the
word Dowager. Widowers of Queens usually take another title,
either a lesser family title or one given by their children.
There have been a few men in the history of High Rock who
have fallen from being addressed as King to being addressed
as Mister at the death of their wife.
Other regions are ruled by Dukes and Duchesses,
Marquises (or Marquesses) and Marquises (or Marchionesses),
Counts and Countesses, Viscounts or Viscountesses, Barons
or Baronesses, and Lords or Ladies. This list is theoretically
listed from highest to lowest rank, but the ruler of a territory
outranks all other nobles, regardless of title. Dwynnen, for
example, is a Barony, and the Baron or Baroness of Dwynnen
outrank any other noble in that territory, even Dukes and
In theory, (again, this may not be the case
according to local custom) the eldest son or daughter of a
noble takes their parents highest family title below their
parents. Thus, the Duke of Northmoor, who is also the Marquis
of Calder, had a daughter who became the Marchioness of Calder.
Kings and Queens are always addressed as "Your
Majesty" in conversation; Dukes and Duchesses, "Your
Grace". All other rulers may be addressed with their
title and name, or Lord or Lady and their name.
A few hints may be needed to determine exactly
who rules a territory. You may rely on people on the streets
to make reference to their ruler, but that may not be enough.
After all, if the gossip involved Lord Bemmish and Viscountess
Byrd, neither or both could be the ruler of the territoy.
I have found that a more predictable method is to pay some
attention to the names of taverns and shops in a region. By
tradition, many of these are called "The Duke's Fox"
or "The Lady's Provisions." This, more often than
not, is the name of the ruler. If the shop's name is "Lady
Annisa's Provisions" or "Lord Boxworth's Fox,"
that is probably the name of a local titled merchant, not
the ruler. A store with a unnamed ruler's title has probably
been around for some time, and does not bother to change its
name with the new name of the ruler.
In speaking with any person, a ruler or not,
it is best to know what sort of a person they are first. Rulers
tend to stand on ceremony, and prefer that people addressing
them speak politely and deferentially. There are, of course,
acceptions to this, particularly among younger rulers, or
rulers new to their positions. They may prefer a bolder, slangy
style. If you are unsure, or unsure of your ability to adopt
the vocubulary of either an aristocrat or a criminal, choose
to speak as plainly and directly as possible. You will seldom
charm someone by plain talk, but you will also not alienate
by mangled politesse or dated slang. Alienating a ruler, I
need not tell you, can be the last mistake one can make.
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