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Minstrel

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#1Jyu 

Minstrel Empty Sat Oct 30, 2021 12:40 am

Jyu

Minstrel



There are many lords and ladies in Minstrel.

And I mean this literally. Once, the system of noble titles in Minstrel was labyrinthine: There were barons and baronnes and baronets and sur-barons and a horde of others, each with its own origins and its own nuances of comparison. The Minstrelian aristocracy is ancient and much given to competition. All the nobility play the Grand Game, as it is known, whether they wish to or not. It is a game of reputation and patronage, where moves are made with rumors and scandal is the chief weapon. No gentle game, this. More blood has been drawn as a result of the Grand Game than any war the Minstrelian have fought. Of this, I am assured by almost every gentleman here.

As far as titles went, everything changed with the coming of Emperor Bonaparte, who established the Minstrelian Empire as it exists now. There is no more venerated figure in Minstrel; in Rosailles, the statue of Bonaparte stands as tall as the statue of saints. Bonaparte determined that the Grand Game was tearing Minstrel apart, so he abolished all titles besides his own, and lord, and lady.

I am told, with some twittering amusement, that this action did not end the Grand Game as Bonaparte had intended. Now the lords and ladies collected unofficial titles rather than official ones, such as "the exalted patron of Tassus Klay" or "uncle to the champion of Tremmes." It is a headache to remember such titles, and one winces to think of the poor doormen at the balls who must rattle them off as each guest enters the room.

The aristocracy is different from Ferelden in other ways, as well. The Minstrelian's right to rule stems directly from the Church. There exists neither the concept of rule by merit nor the slightest notion of rebellion. If one is not noble, one aspires to be—or at the least aspires to be in the good graces of a noble, and is ever watching for a way to enter the patronage of those better placed in the Grand Game.

And then there are the masks and the cosmetics. But that is another story.

— Chronicler

Culture


Languages: Minstrelian (French).

Religion: Illuminian.

Religion Equivalent: Abrahamic (Catholocism).

Citizens: Fair-skinned. Hair and eye color vary widely.

Politics


Government System: Monarchy.

Head of Government: Queen.

Current Leader: Beatrice.

Grand Game: "The game" refers to the perpetual competition for influence and esteem between the Minstrelian nobles. Every Minstrelian of noble birth is subject to their peers' manipulation, if not as a player, then as a pawn. While the Illuminian Church and its affiliate organizations may seemingly be a way 'out' of the game, they too are still susceptible to manipulation.

The goals of the game are personal prestige, reputation, and patronage, and its "rules" are as simple as "anything goes". Nobles often employ assassins or, more often, bards to accomplish these goals. Social engineering is also important in this aspect of Minstrelian culture, and masks, elaborate dress, and social engagements are important tools to further the Game.

The lower classes of Minstrelian society also attempt to participate in the Game, even though it would be assumed they would view it with contempt. However, despite the Game offering a veneer of genuine social mobility through accumulated wealth and patronage, with the ultimate aim of a title, the chances of this happening are in reality very slim. Though it appears meritocratic, the Grand Game offers most commoners only a faint hope that "is enough to keep the poor preoccupied and the rich in power.

History: Under the rule of the legendary Bonaparte, the fledgling nation of Minstrel rose to prominence. He used the Demonic Incursions of millennia ago to expand its borders. While Minstrel nowadays is nowhere near as large as it was under Bonaparte, it remains a powerful nation in Earthland, and Bonaparte's legacy continues to heavily influence Minstrelian laws and social customs.

In Minstrel, land is owned exclusively by the aristocracy, and titles are granted by the Council of Heralds. Power rests solely in the King or Queen as in many monarchies in Earthland where power descends from the throne. There exists neither the concept of rule by merit nor the slightest notion of rebellion. If one is not noble, one aspires to be—or at the least aspires to be in the good graces of a noble, and is ever watching for a way to enter the patronage of those better placed in the Grand Game.

Many Minstrelian nobles belong to its renowned knightly order, the chevaliers. The martial training of the chevaliers is legendarily harsh, instilling in the knights a fierce discipline and code of honor that takes precedence over the value of their own lives. The penalty for dishonor is death, something that a chevalier would welcome if he or she has failed their lord. They are honored by many and are considered amongst the best of all soldiers but they also have unlimited rights when it comes to handling the peasantry; a cause of many conflicts.

Society


Architecture: Minstrelian architecture is heavily influenced by secular Gothic style. Just the same for clothing, no expense is spared for rich materials for prominent buildings, and architects do not shy away from color. Blue, gold, and white in particular are distinct colors for nobility. White marble with gold detail is a signature style for interiors. Impression is the biggest goal; it does not matter if a building is weak, so long as it does not look weak. Even the smallest objects are built with flair. Aesthetics trump practicality every time.

It is not uncommon to see religious iconography in secular buildings. Angels, saints, and other Illuminian figures are frequently incorporated into ornamentation. Expensive renovations to keep up with trends occur as the ages pass, but under it all is the same, rotting wood. The further away from the heart of the rich, you go, the less extravagant things get, and the more flaws become visible.

Fashion: A bare face in Minstrel is considered gauche, especially in the presence of a foreigner or a commoner.

The Minstrelian nobility, and those who serve publicly, are prone to wearing very intricate—as opposed to simply gaudy—masks in public. These masks, often half-masks specifically, are hereditary and identify one's family and social class almost as unique as the heraldry on a crest: a family might be associated with a lion crest, and matching lion masks will identify them in public. Retainers and servants wear a simpler form of a family's mask. Family symbols are well known among the Minstrelian public, and anyone attempting to wear a mask that doesn't belong to their house runs the risk of a quick death if discovered.

Wearing makeup is another popular tradition for both men and women in Minstrel. Even chevaliers may wear cosmetics. There is both masculine and feminine makeup, although outsiders may have trouble telling the difference. Makeup can be a strong indicator of social standing. The quality and rarity of one's makeup—uncommon hues and consistencies are prized—speak volumes of one's status.

Minstrelian nobility has clothing that is made of rich dyes, complex patterns, and fine fabrics. Rare colors and materials are used to imply wealth and status. They often lean towards flowing, layered garb.

Class divide: Minstrel is a nation where class and social politics frequently rule the day. As such, the concerns and lives of the various classes can differ greatly. Among the nobility a penchant for high fashion is common. Both men and women wear cosmetics of various kinds, with subtle differences that indicate social standing. In public, they are also prone to wearing very elaborate masks. These are hereditary and identify one's family almost as uniquely as the heraldry on a crest. Servants also wear masks in public that are simpler and not so elaborate as their masters' which indicate the noble household they serve

Aristocratic society is vicious and marked by fawning envy to the powerful. Bards often entertain nobles in their courts despite their roles as spies, assassins, and saboteurs for their employers who are usually other nobles. Nobles welcome such entertainers with full knowledge that any could be a bard; the thrill of outwitting a spy is a notion the Minstrelian aristocracy can hardly resist.

The lives of Minstrelian nobility may give the impression that life is easy and prosperous for all. However, the lives of commoners are often much more difficult, while all aspire to the lives of the noble class. Many Minstrelian are hardly well-to-do and work as freeholders, or else laborers on another's property, often leading to general discontent and simmering resentment. Furthermore, Minstrelian commoners are at the mercy of the nation's needs in a way that the nobility, and even the Church, are not. During war times, press gangs led by the nobility commonly force Minstrelian peasants into military service willingly or not. Those who are not conscripted may be left starving by the demands of the army or else taken as slaves by opportunistic bandits.

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