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Social Standing in Traveller


My father was knighted in this year's honours list (for services to Physics), so he has a SOC of B. Well done him then. Anyway.

I know the Imperium is very different to the UK, but perhaps they will handle nobles in a similar way - i.e. they will ignore them. If he went around flashing his title people would think my dad was a bit of an arse, not someone to respect. He doesn't get free upgrades on BA flights. He can't carry a .44 magnum or even a sword. He certainly doesn't have a high 6 figure income, and lives in a standard 3 bedroom semi in Berkshire.

My point is that some refs have allowed their high SOC characters to take a lot of liberties that they just wouldn't have in real life.
IMTU Notification! The following opinion is just that.
Nobles in Traveller actually live in a semi feudal society. I would say that if your dad was knighted in MTU he would be advanced or placed in a good university or weapons research product to reward him and secure his loyalty.

His inferiors would have to show deference and if he wanted to wear a sword or chain of office as a mark of his station he should. I would argue that he could not become the department head at a good university unless he was a knight. The nobility in the UK has been completely stripped of its power by elected officials because of our current thinking about the nature of political power. In the 12th imperial century the Moot has no House of Commons. Real political, economic and military power rests in the hands of the nobles who use patronage to keep the Imperium together.

If my PCs want a high status I tell them that to be respected they have to have servants. A knight should employ a squire (read grad. student) and a page.
Greetings and salutations,

My observation of how nobles are handled in Traveller are as follows:
  • They are not ignored.</font>
  • Their rank aids/hinders the amount of influence they wield.</font>
  • They have sizable credit accounts (provided that they have not lost it due to a bad fortune of some kind and rank).</font>
  • Most have some form or access to some form of star travel.</font>
How a ref handles nobles in his/her game is a matter of personal preference.
Not all nobles are rich - unless their family is rich or they have a fief which generates income they're the same as everyone else.

In RL, I hear knighthoods tend to impress foreigners more (eg getting a good table in American restaurants).
In Traveller (IMTU)
Nobles "Should" be treated as "better" than everyone else because the Imperium has said "they ARE better than everyone else"
Having wealth for a Noble only comes if the Noble pattent has a fief that will generate income.
If my players want respect, they must seek power.
With power comes powerful enemies.
The easiest way to get power in MTU is to become a Noble. The easiest way to make powerful enemies is to insult another Noble.

Nobles seem to be treated better away from their own country than in it. A person with a noble title is treated as if they had $ millions (whether they do or not) because they are thought of more highly than the general citizenry.
I find it sad that in their own countyr they are not thought of so highly.
I've always seen Nobles as the TU's Congressmen/women and Senators. In fact, isn't that the whole point of The Moot? But not every Noble participates in the Moot, correct? Probably more a mix of the current British version of Nobility, celebrities, and Congresspeople...

Originally posted by sinistral:

I know the Imperium is very different to the UK, but perhaps they will handle nobles in a similar way - i.e. they will ignore them.
I agree, the times are barbaric... democracy, human rights, social welfare...

I think the biggest difference between peasants and nobles is that nobles will have poems written in their remembrance even when their actions don't actually warrant it. I would like to point to someone from times past (well 1808), who happens to be affiliated to me.

Poem: (by Runeberg)

Jag mins väl knappast, om jag talt tillförne
om mannen från S:t Mickel, gamle Törne.
Bland gråa hjeltar nämndes äfven han
och förde Savolaks vargering an.

Von Törne, vet du, var en äkta finne,
en gammal, knotig björk med masur inne,
det var ej lätt att öfver honom rå,
det skulle vara hugg, som bet uppå.

my own ad hoc translation:

I hardly remember, if I told of past
about the man from S:t Mickel, old Törne.
Among grey heroes also he was mentioned
And he headed the Savolax regiment.

Von Törne, you know, was genuine finn,
a stale, bony birch stubborn at heart
It wasn’t easy over him to rule,
It had to be slashes in order to hit.


vargering – don’t know the meaning of that, literally translated wolfovernment,
he headed the “wolfovernment” of savolax …

The poem goes on and on about how stubborn and aloof old man Törne is, how he ignores orders to advance from his superiors (general Adlercreutz). Finally, however, he decides to advance with his regiment anyway, but only when a stray bullet from the enemy (pesky russians) makes a nice hole in his coat…

That is so me… :cool:
And now to actually address the topic.

I think that whether the locals actually acknowledge a noble’s title depends a lot on local customs. A wealthy high-tech world would tend to ignore it more then a poor low-pop low-tech world would, generally speaking. I think that the one and only place where it is of extreme importance is among those who actually benefit from (or upholds) the system themselves, ie the nobility and by extension, the Imperial institutions. The power the title represents will be respected everywhere of course.

IMHO, a very important person from one of the megacorps will have a high Soc because he represents a lot of power/wealth, if that person lost his position or the megacorp lost a lot of power his soc should decrease as a result of that.

The linearity of the soc attribute is a fuzzy one.
On many planets, an Imp noble would be ignored just as handily as the rest of the peons. In an Imp setting, though, it would probably get through some otherwise closed doors. Of course, you could always have some "provincial" working in the Imp bureaucracy who couldn't care less:

Noble: "DYKWIA?!"

Bureaucrat: "No sir, and you'll have to step to the end of the line like everyone else."
In one game we had a local/Imperial soc system.
Locally he was a big shot. In the Imperium no so much.
Soc: D/A Local/Imperial
I rule SOC as a double edged sword. For example; a nobleman trying to hide out as a ruffian runs a much higher chance to be recognized for what he is than someone of a lesser SOC.

So for every situation, I sort of designate a rough SOC for the group the PC's are interacting with and treat the difference as a crude reaction modifier.

If a ruffian attempted to persuade a noble, you'd expect the noble to act with a certain amount of disregard. The same would happen if the tables were turned and the noble was in the disadvantaged position.
I see what you mean.

Count Fopalot walks into a startown bar looking for some people to hire. Dressed in his custom tailored wool/silk blend Cr800 “rough living clothes” and Cr300 Coach shoes. Steps up to the bar and asks if they have anything better than Courvoisier at this bar.

So much for incognito.
IMTU Nobility IS feudal (See thread on Sollitude Cluster) unless your 'nobility' is actually corporate standing.

This means that if you are a Noble in the Government (Colonial Parliment, serving the Imperium) you are expected to either send troops, or show up with a gun, if so commanded. In exchange for doing so, you are given certain liberties (Tax breaks, weapons licenses, lands and holdings, etc.) along with certain extra duties, depending on your holdings (Provide foods, medical supplies, finished weapons and/or equipment, and the like).

As such, Nobles are seen as what they are. The higher ranking you are, the fewer other nobles you have to answer to. The lower ranking you are, the more likely other nobles are higher than you and will either ignore you or treat you (Not surprisingly) as a lower-class citizen. Because relative to them, you are. Now, keep in mind, if you're a knight, the vast majority of people you meet, you will outrank. Just be careful not to mistake that Archduke for a peasant, eh?
So, a MT character starts with a SOC of B. He joins the Navy where he gets a +1 for making Captain. (He also got a +2 :eek: for mustering out - haven't decided to keep that one, yet. Heck, he got enough 6's on his skill rolls to be Emperor!) He's now a Baron - what do you do?

How would you handle his fief, his stipend (if any), etc. (Bummer he didn't get a yacht - you have to actually be a layabout (you know, a Noble career) to get that prize.... :( )
Fief: none. IMTU, fiefs are for planetary nobles only, not reward.

Give up a level of Soc, and I'll let you have a stipend. Said stipend is going to be just enough to pay your monthly Soc costs for the final Soc. It actually will be megacorporate shares, paying quarterly dividends at a fixed starport location. You are not allowed to sell them, nor divide them up amonst heirs.

Should your character have children, one gets the title and stipend, the others get lesser titles (So they'd be Viscounts-Honorary). If you can scrape the cash, you can establish stipends for them, as well.
Originally posted by Fritz88:
So, a MT character starts with a SOC of B. He joins the Navy where he gets a +1 for making Captain. (He also got a +2 :eek: for mustering out - haven't decided to keep that one, yet. Heck, he got enough 6's on his skill rolls to be Emperor!) He's now a Baron - what do you do?

How would you handle his fief, his stipend (if any), etc. (Bummer he didn't get a yacht - you have to actually be a layabout (you know, a Noble career) to get that prize.... :( )
So he is a SOC E (I'd probably give only a +1 on mustering out as I view increaseing SOC above C to be very hard) Nevertheless, IMTU he wouldn't receive a fief automatically but he might get the opportunity to help run one and he'd be in line for one if it opens up. (Alot of adventure potential there). I'd extend him a line-of-credit so that he may live in a manner that reflects well on the nobility. (This could have strings attached, could be a set up) He may also be allowed the use of a yacht by a collegue. (This could have strings attached, could be a set up) IMTU he also is automatically a member of the TAS and a Imperial Citizen First Class. Finally, IMTU he is now of sufficiently high SOC he gets to vote for members of the Upper Senate, IMTU basically a House of Lords type of body who's members always head the various Senate Committees (Upper and Lower Senate). For background: The Lower Senate comprises representatives from various full member worlds, polities (megacorps) and houses (houses ala Dune). The number they get depends on a byzantine formula (basically power) as determined by the Upper Senate and ratified by the Emperor. The member houses/polities/worlds choose these Lower Senate representatives however they like. The Imperial Upper Senate is elected by members of the Sector Upper Senates. All nobility of SOC C+ and all first class imperial citizens are allowed to vote for the Sector Senate Member from their "home" Sub-Sector. ("Home" means where you pay taxes.) In fact it is a high crime to prevent, hinder or fail to reasonably aid one of the electorate in casting this vote.

Basically, IMTU his rise has opened doors for him that were previously closed and provided him with civil liberties non-citizens lack. He's now in the club. But it is up to the character to make something of it and be careful who befriends him, who he alienates, and who he owes favors to.
GURPS Nobles?. What number is it?

[Looks through collection of reprints.]

Well . . .tell me, TELL ME WHAT NUMBER IS IT!?

[breathing heavily with a manic twitchy look]

That’s what I thought. One of those books.

Ok . . .ok . . .I am ok, I just need a little brandy and water.
Thank you, gentlemen. As I thought, it becomes a ref-specific issue (except for that other set of books...
). Would it be easier/more fun to play a character of Soc=B in YTUs or Soc=E (or D for Aramis