Legends of Belariath

Society and Honor

Belariath is not like many places on IRC where scenes are played out in limbo. It is an ongoing fantasy world which characters inhabit. As such, whatever you do will be remembered by others and they will react to it, either immediately if they witness it, or later if they hear about it. The guy you beat up won't have forgotten next time you meet him. Nor will the girl you raped. However, this is Belariath not Earth, so events tend to take a different slant. There's no particular shame in losing a fight and there's no social stigma attached to being a rapist. Others may even envy you if the victim was especially desirable! But nevertheless, you have to be aware that everything your character does carries consequences, so if you don't want to face them, don't invite them.

Aside from the social conventions of Belariath, personal honor tends to be strong in such a society. Fighting your own fights, taking the abuse and walking away with your head still high, things like that are important to most characters. They're unlikely to thank you if you feel the urge to 'save' them. More likely they will feel more humiliated by your kind intervention than they were by losing in the first place.

A note about rape and consequences: In a society such as this one, witnessing a rape does not tend to engender any public-spirited impulse to rescue the victim unless your character has a close relationship with them. If it's a stranger, you might feel a greater impulse to join in instead! Exceptions would tend to be if the victim was your mate or slave, though even there reactions will depend on the individual. However, to avoid future problems, it is expected that when giving OOC consent to forced sex, the intended victim makes the attacker aware of anyone who is likely to seek revenge for the assault.


Using a basic feudal system, a noble is appointed by the emperor, either for services rendered or from an hereditary standpoint. Lands based nobles have control of an area of the empire on behalf of the emperor, making it profitable and peaceful. Their main residence should be there though they may also have a smaller one in the capital, or perhaps lodge at the palace during visits. Their primary responsibility is for keeping order in their fiefdom, while collecting income from the local peasants who they 'protect'. Of course a good part of that money is sent to the empire if they want to retain their lifestyle (or life). There is also a responsibility for training and maintaining household troops which can be sent when needed to form part of a larger imperial army.

Obviously from this, nobles have a right to administer justice upon and on behalf of their people. Though as with any aspect of life, the blend of compassion, self-interest and indifference will vary from individual to individual. To assist in their work they have two primary helpers, the seneschal who manages the household and the master at arms who manages the troops.

In OOC terms certain nobles have defined areas as their fiefdom (IE Viceroy with Valencia and the north), others are currently more vague or off the map. Specific areas may be identified in the future as belonging to an actual noble when it suits their roleplay. Certain nobles might hold titles relating to lands which are not even officially part of the empire, signifying a future intention to claim those lands based upon what is likely a dubious but politically useful rationale such as an exiled leader who could be restored to their previous position when a suitable time is found. Other nobles may hold significant positions within the empire while not being ones associated with administering a specific area of land.

So there are various nobles, with various jobs, who in OOC terms equate with the channel Ops. Those who control an area of land take the standard seneschal and master at arms as their primary assistants and have staff based upon maintaining an army and a household. Other nobles take on assistants and staff appropriate to their position.

Imperial Interests

Specific locations such as the towers are considered outside a feudal noble's control even when they are physically situated within that noble's territory. The town of Nanthalion and its surrounds are considered under SB's direct control. Protecting those designated imperial areas is the business of the IG, not any individual noble's followers. So for example, a noble who runs one of the towers has staff for the building but not a company of guards. Instead they rely upon the IG for that aspect. Sensible cooperation is expected by a landed noble working in harmony with IG stationed within their fiefdom but there is no direct chain of command from one to the other.


Now in a practical OOC sense, we don't want unlicensed gangs running about, nor protection rackets; something that the changes in OOC consent may encourage. And also in practical terms, a lot of characters will not go and work in a noble's retinue because they would have to give up other jobs such as shop sales. So to get around both problems, we have a system of fealty. Basically this means a character can acknowledges the lordship of a specific noble based upon where they live, where they were born or just who they choose to follow. The character does not have to directly work for that noble but may become available for following the noble's banner in a war, or have involvement in other events. In return, the noble assumes certain responsibilities towards 'their' people.

This is entirely optional. A character can decide to offer allegiance to a noble or they can remain a loner. But they can only become a follower of one noble at a time (notwithstanding the interesting roleplay that develops by having a character actually serving one noble by pretending to follow another in order to spy upon them). Switching allegiance too often will obviously make a character suspect and it is, after all, the choice of a noble to accept or decline an offer of fealty.

Note that only certain nobles can formally accept fealty, depending on their position. Any landed noble can do so but in general, whilst a positional noble such as a tower head can offer protection to their own followers, they cannot use the term fealty. It would not be appropriate, for example, to have someone such as the IG commander using their position on behalf of individuals outside the ranks of the IG. They may have personal arrangements of protection but there is no implication that this is part of a feudal system.

All nobles can, of course, act unilaterally if they witness anything outside the codes of the Empire.

Personal Honor

Was there ever any warrior society which did not have a code of honor, either formal or unwritten? Over time the concepts become ratified into rigid laws but even in the early days people needed something to live by and something that enabled them to interact in whatever primitive form of society they had started to develop. So too it is within the Ilfirian Empire.

Of course this is Belariath so the code of honor is not Arthurian by any means. It doesn't say you should protect the weak or ensure ladies reach their destination unmolested .

Rather the code of personal honor is about self-respect. In a land where might makes right, it is considered unworthy not to at least try to fight your own battles even if you are outmatched. It is considered unworthy to rely on a gang instead of upon oneself. It is considered unworthy to kill or beat up anyone much weaker than yourself without a good reason. Good reasons would include rape, revenge and because they were asking for it by mouthing off a bit too much. Poor reasons would be things like just because you can and just to get a yield fee.

As with most such societies, the top layers of those civilizations have the most to gain by such concepts, so they are the ones who will tend to enforce them. At the lower levels, individuals may have variable degrees of living an honorable life depending upon circumstances, and certainly such as assassins, find room to operate even when their actions appear to go against any sort of societal code of honor at all. But at the higher levels, for public consumption at least, the nobles are generally seen to uphold those beliefs. This gives them an inherent right to go after such unworthy characters as stat hunters or those generally being a bully in a socially unacceptable way.

This works in association with fealty by one of those who has given their loyalty going to their noble with a complaint. For example, 'Joe beat me up without any provocation and then demanded all my money to avoid killing me'. The noble can decide if Joe acted in a normally acceptable Belariath manner or if they were probably using OOC knowledge to throw their weight around. Based on that the noble can either tell the complainant to just get over it, or they can take some advantage of the complainant in return for caring, or they can just go seek out Joe and thrash him severely.

All this is done IC, with the nobles having a good grasp of how things should work in the roleplay and using their levels to encourage other players to fit in properly and play nice. Naturally it does not preclude OOC action against a seriously silly player but in general poor roleplay (relating to how a character interacts with the world of Belariath not how eloquently they post) results in IC responses designed to either guide the player into more useful behavior or as a prelude to them being removed from the game completely.