Rank, Status, and Social Stigma (Among Gamesmen and Pawns)

In The Land of the True Game, the “True Game” is a place, a game, a political order, a religion and a military hierarchy similar to feudalism. Since this is all merged together it doesn’t make much sense to model it separately as distinct GURPS ranks, statuses, social regards, reputation bonuses, etc. And everything is patterned after the fundamental distinction between gamesman (who have talent) and pawns (who don’t).

To put this another way, there are no separate “churches” or “armies” or “governments.” There are no clerics who are powerful because of their religious rank but who are not gamesmen. There are no soliders who have high rank in a military but aren’t gamesmen. And so on.

There also isn’t much high status around, as the political world in this setting isn’t that organized. The Council, who might actually rule things, is a secret. So you could be the head of it and no one would know. (And if you said that you were, they wouldn’t believe you.) Similarly, the head of the Magicians (in Magician lingo, “the Dean”) would be a powerful person, but no one believes that the Magicians exist.

Status Table

So, among gamesmen and pawns, and possibly also immutables, the following table holds:

StatusExamplesCost of Living
5-6Lord of a Major Demensne,
Governor of all Immutables
$600k-$6m
3-4Lord or Retinue of a Demensne,
Gamesman City Mayor
$12k-$60k
2Powerful Gamesman,
Gamesman Town Mayor,
Gamesman Head of Schooltown House
$3,000
1Minor Gamesman$1,200
0Free Pawn,
Skilled Tradesman Pawn (e.g., tailor, sailor)
$600
-1Poor Pawn (field hand)$300
-2Enslaved Pawn, Pawnish Beggar$100

Rank independent of status is not worth modeling separately.

That means that every gamesman template is going to get at least Rank 1 [5] in this setting.

Relevant Social Stigmas

These stigmas are straightforward applications of the ideas in the Basic Set:

Social Stigma (Heretic, Disowned, or Outcast). Your demensne has cast you out, publicly denounced you, and/or withheld privileges that you would normally be entitled to. -5 points.

Being cast out from one demensne is only worth -5 because you can always walk down the road and pledge yourself to another one. They may not want you if you’ve been thrown out of a neighboring castle, but someone will probably take you in.

Social Stigma (Disowned From Talent). If your talent is organized enough, they may decide to tell everyone that you aren’t really one of them. Everyone from the talent will refuse to speak to you or work with you. If your talent provides a home (as shapeshifters do) or magical abilities (as wizards and healers do) these are denied you. -10 points.

This state of affairs likely comes to pass because of your heresy. Of the primary eleven talents, only the healers, wizards, and shapeshifters are organized enough to do this to one of their own. If your talent is not clannish and organized as we might think of a tradesman’s guild, they can’t be organized enough to disown you.

Who Runs Things

The “lord” of a demensne or the “mayor” of a city or town are also game pieces with specific talents. Some talents are more typical than others.

You can become a leader by killing the previous one, but to stay ruling you’ll typically need some sort of knack for it. That’s why the most usual lords of demensnes have talents of beguilement: typically King / Queen / Prince / Princess. However, it is also normal for wizards to be the lords of their demensnes. If the demensne is related to a particular talent in some way it may have a ruler whose talent befits the location: a demensne of tombs could be ruled by a gamesman with a necromantic talent.

A demensne segregated by talent will clearly be ruled by the appropriate talent–shapeshifters keep separate from other gamesmen and only shapeshifters rule over shapeshifter keeps. As I alluded to above, some talents maintain what is effectively a guild with a separate system of government that might grant status–e.g., the head of the wizards or dervishes.

It is possible, but rare that some other kind of game piece could become lord of a demense.

The mayors of cities and towns are much more varied. If the city has an important merchant community, it is common for the mayor to be a Trader (or maybe a Trader who is secretly a Gifter).

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