The hierarchal structure of Ostravia is based off German feudalism, which is in part because that’s not so far off of the Polish system but also because Ostravia’s political realities reflect a pitifully weak monarchy with princes that really vie for most of the power. For the sake of Ostravia, there are three major principalities within the boundaries of the royal kingdom of Ostravia. This is somewhat subject to change as the project draws on, but it serves as a foundation for characters and their social personae, motivations, and background.
The Bartosz family is known for producing merchants, power brokers, and soldiers. Strong foreign ties across the border into Moravia mean that they’ve benefited from their more economically viable holdings, giving them the dubious honor of being the most prosperous Ostravian faction. However, their power comes at a cost; in addition to being rife with scandals and poor decorum, sometimes brought on by wine and other times brought on by a cultural difference from the rest of Ostravia, the Bartosz dynasty faces a lack of legitimacy and influence as they are perceived as having only dubious loyalty to the Ostravian throne.
On the other hand, the Myslinski dynasty is known for being pious, faithful, and cunning. Despite their frequent contributions to both grand charitable works of the Church and the culture of Ostravia, they are still calculating and firm. While they tend to be more out of the spotlight than the Bartosz, the Myslinsky provide many of the king’s trusted advisers and counselors, and bear a position of much influence. The Church usually does their work in Ostravia through a scion of the Myslinsky, and while their lands are not frequently described as overly prosperous they have the distinction of having a stable populace and a just leadership.
The Zelezniki are a recently formed noble house, given lands from various Polish loyalists when Ostravia seceded. While they’re not known for their skill in courts or in trade, they are known for being loyal and trustworthy. In many ways, their lack of a solid reputation in any one area or another makes them doubly solid in the eyes of fellow Ostravians; a Zeleznik is unlikely to have an ulterior motive, and they are as dependable as the metalworkers they derive their name from. The only thing that can be said to be a fault of the Zelezniki is their isolation and perceived distance from the rest of Ostravian society, often emphasized by rumors of their maintenance of the Old Faith.
Kingsmen, on the other hand, swear allegiance directly to the throne. They are influential and powerful, without any major social penalties, but also have relatively little to look forward to. They are not allowed to swear oaths of fealty to foreign lords, and they have limited opportunities for advancement in the social ranks, as desirable positions within the Ostravian nobles’ hierarchy will usually go to a member of a prominent noble family. This does not, however, mean that Kingsmen are without recourse. A Kingsman other than a serf or peasant can travel unquestioned throughout Ostravia and has political protection, as well as economic benefits, according to his status.
Next week I’ll get a little more into the actual feudal structure, and what each person at each rank is actually responsible for and able to do within society, and touch a little on how social combat in Ostravia will model that.
P.S.: I’m not a Polish expert, but I did try to at least look up the vocative/pluralization that suits each family name. If anyone has corrections for me, feel free to tell me.