Noble House Roles

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Noble Roles

These are the various roles fulfilled by nobles within a House. Many Houses of smaller sizes combine or omit some of them.

  • Head of House: Status = House Status. The noble who acts as the seat of power in a given House, holding all authority within it. In Ilbarych, this can be a man or a woman, given the titles "Lord" or "Lady."
  • Consort: Status = House Status -1. The Head of House's spouse, also given the title "Lord" or "Lady." This can be a same-sex partner, but almost never is, unless the Head of House has plenty of siblings and niblings from which to name heirs.
  • Heir: Status = House Status -1. Primogeniture assumes the Head of House's first born child of either gender acts as the Heir of House. Legally speaking, another child can be chosen, but this is seem as an embarrassment - it is tantamount to admitting that one's own firstborn is unworthy of the distinction. In the case of a childless Head of House, anyone whom the Head chooses is an acceptable, legal Heir.
  • Dowager: Status = House Status -2. The former Consort whose Head of House spouse has died, leaving their child (usually) as the new Head of House. Though they do not wield the authority of the Consort any longer, their influence is usually still quite formidable.
  • Other Children: Status = House Status -2 or greater. Other children are generally regarded as "spares," ready to shoulder the heirship in case of tragedy. As they reach adulthood, many of these children are used in marriage connections with other Houses, in the fulfillment of noble retainer roles for their eldest sibling, or become involved with other organizations and roles in the higher echelons of society.
  • Sworn Companion: Status = House Status -2. In Imperial times, the Sworn Companion was simply a title of honor and affection given to a noble's closest friends, a way of awarding them a place in the House that kept them at the noble's side. Over time in the Crowndom, this has evolved into a formalized role for a lover of the same gender as the noble in question, to the point where it is never used in any other capacity. Sworn Companions may also perform other functions within a House, including bodyguards or as any other noble retainer role, but many do not.
  • "Cousins": Status 2 or based on other role. Should a Sworn Companion sire or bear children (as they are usually permitted to maintain other lovers themselves in all but the most restrictive relationships), those children are accorded the favor of "cousins" to the nobles of the House. Because they often grow up side-by-side with the children of the nobles, these cousins may come to fulfill other roles for the House as well – many of them may function in some noble retainer role for the household.
  • Noble Knights: Status based on original House. Many of a House's knights may come from noble stock themselves – either kin of the House's main family, or hailing from other Houses altogether. Most such knights come to serve Houses of higher Status than their own original family, as a means of rising in the world. Such knights almost always find themselves in noble retainer roles, or being granted manors or lands.
  • Squires: Noble boys (and the occasional girl) who show promise and impress a knight may be taken on as a squire. From the age of thirteen on, the squire is effectively in an apprenticeship to the knight, learning the arts of chivalry and warfare. Noble squires almost always have noble knights as their sponsors, as only a noble knight can teach the squire how to balance the needs of House with the needs of chivalry.
  • Pages & Handmaidens: A noble child of at least eight years of age is accepted into the Coronet for education during the Summer Court. During the Winter Court, most such students are fostered with other Houses as pages and handmaidens, where they have the opportunity to put their training to practical use while also making connections with other nobles that will last the rest of their lives. By and large, only heirs are ever considered to be excused from fulfilling this role, and even then a wise House will still try and find their heir a place with their liege's House (rather than simply allied Houses as normal). Pages and handmaidens are both trained to serve at table and learn etiquette, history, and comportment, as well as artistic and musical pursuits. Pages also begin an education in arms, while handmaidens are usually taught the running of households. Once a page is thirteen years of age or so, he either is taken as a squire by a knight, or returns to his own House for further training. At the age of thirteen, a handmaiden returns to her own House, who are assumed to be seeking marriage opportunities for her. Betrothals may be made at the age of thirteen, although marriages cannot happen for another three years yet.

Retainer Roles

These are the folk who serve the noble House and its family, and who are accorded high honors. They are not merely servants, but considered important persons of authority in the operation of the Household. These retainers are often a curious mix of members of the House, nobles from vassal or allied Houses and particularly skilled armsmen or even smallfolk.

  • Castellan: The commander responsible for the defense of the castle. Usually a knight or proven military commander. In the Lord's absence, the Castellan acts to ensure the security of the castle.
  • Master-at-Arms: The fighting man responsible for seeing to the castle's armories, overseeing the training of its troops, personally training the House's sons and pages, etc.
  • Master of the Hunt: A man who not only leads the hunts nobles choose to take, but also acts to keep an eye on the populations of animals on House lands. He is often in charge of a small handful wardens whose jobs are to prevent poaching by smallfolk. Check out a description of a "ghillie" who acts to lead hunting and fishing excursions and acts as a gameskeeper when he's not doing that. If there is a hawking mews, the Master of the Hunt oversees those, as well.
  • Master of the Kennels: The one in charge of the House's dogs. He is reponsible for their general welfare, for their medical care, for training them and for overseeing the purchase or breeding of new dogs to the kennels. Often works closely with the Master of the Hunt.
  • Master of the Stables: The one in charge of the House's horses. He oversees the servants of the Stables (see below), and acts to oversee purchase of new horses or the House's breeding program (if it has one).
  • Chaplain: A monastic or knight-sanctified who is given authority over the Household chapel, seeing to its maintenance and rites. They possess no spiritual authority over the House or any of its inhabitants - they are caretakers overseeing a spiritual retreat, though sometimes some may come to the chaplain with questions about the unctæ.
  • Steward: A retainer whose job is governing the House. In the Head's absence, the Steward acts to keep the castle running. The steward is also usually in charge of both Household and Service servants.
  • Tourney Master: A retainer who is in charge of organizing any tourneys the House might hold, as well as be the one who keeps an ear to the ground for upcoming tourneys thrown by other Houses, so that the home House and its knights might make an appearance. Such retainers are also often responsible for helping with public festivals and major House events, like name-day celebrations or weddings.
  • Other Specialists: Anyone with particularly rarified skills might be taken in as a retainer. A falconer, an alchemist, a minstrel, an armorsmith - people like that. Also mention the existence of retainers who have vague or even fake titles to cover up their actual purpose (a widowed Lady's lover as the "Master of the Solar," for example, or a "Master of Missives" that is the House's spy-master).

Armsman Roles

These are the fighting men in general within a noble House's seat or other holding.

  • Knights: There are three "degrees" of knightly trust and responsibility given by a lord: household knights (who live in the House's seat or other holding), estate knights (who are given an estate in one of the House's Domains to govern), and landed knights (who are given a full Domain to govern as a vassal/banner, with hereditary right to do so, though without the Right of Pit & Gallows).
  • Armsmen: These are non-knightly fighting men. Though some fulfill this task as a profession (particularly in the case of garrison troops), most armsmen are yeomen, or peasantry who work the land but also serve in a military capacity in lieu of paying tenant taxes on their crops.

Servant Roles

There are two "ranks" of servants: Household servants have lodgings in the House's holdings proper, work solely to fulfill their responsibilities, and are usually given the lion's share of authority within the staff. Service, on the other hand, are those whose work in the household is part of their taxes, owing a certain amount of labor per year. They may also be hired to perform additional work if their labor is needed.

Household Positions

  • Chamberlain: Answering directly to the Steward (or Head of House if there is none), the chamberlain acts as the overseer for all a House's servants, Household and Service alike. The chamberlain is also responsible for maintaining household goods and supplies. A chamberlain keeps the keys to the silver, crystal, and other household valuables, including the wine cellars.
  • Housekeeper: Directly beneath the chamberlain is the housekeeper, who trains, organizes, oversees, and punishes the chamber-maids and chamber-jacks of the household. A housekeeper keeps the keys to the various rooms and dry storages of the household.
  • Cook: Also directly beneath the chamberlain, the cook oversees the kitchens and food stores for the household, running a staff of kitchen-maids and kitchen-jacks. A cook keeps the keys to the pantries and cellars.
  • Groom: The groom tends to the day-to-day functioning of the House's stables, seeing that its mounts are groomed and healthy, and that its equipage is in good shape. The groom answers directly to the Master of Horse if a House has one, or to the Steward or Head of House otherwise. The groom commands a small group of groundskeeps whose efforts are allocated to the stables.
  • Kenneler: Like the groom, the kenneler oversees the House's kennels and its hounds, answering to the Master of Hounds, or to the Steward or Head of House. The kenneler also commands a small group of groundskeeps.

Service Positions

  • Chamber-maids & -jacks: Laborers who work at repair and cleaning within a House's holdings, in nearly any capacity save that in the kitchens. Chamber-maids and chamber-jacks answer to the Housekeeper, and to the Chamberlain. Those with specific skills may be given titles in accordance to their specialized duties.
  • Kitchen-maids & -jacks: Laborers who work at cleaning and food preparation within a kitchens, according to their skill and experience. Kitchen-maids and kitchen-jacks answer to the Cook, and to the Chamberlain. Those with specific skills may be given titles in accordance to their specialized duties.
  • Grounds-maids & -jacks: Laborers who work at upkeeping the House's grounds, including the gardens, stables, kennels, and hawking mews. Grounds-maids and grounds-jacks answer to the Masters of the Hunt, Stables, or Kennels when they are assigned to those places, or to the Steward otherwise.