Pride Goes Before
The Plight of Patricians
Knowing Your Place
Patricians occupy a simultaneously envied and unenviable position in the Realm.
They are the highest hereditary class a mortal can hope to achieve. They enjoy complete personal freedom and property rights, and are generally quite wealthy. Free to travel, free to invest, and some even have a chance to marry into the Dynasty itself.
On the other hand, Patricians are also expected to deal with Dynasts directly, and thus are sometimes simply too close to the sun. A Patrician who acts as an art broker for a Dynast might find himself exiled and humiliated if he offers with a piece of art that doesn’t meet the Dynast’s fancy. On the other hand, the citizen painter who created the art will most likely continue on with little to no repercussions.
For this reason, Patrician culture has evolved specific behaviors and customs to make the most of their station in life. The average Patrician relentlessly exploits their social position over other mortals. They wring every last obol of Jade out of a transaction. They invest in the best real estate right before the Deliberative votes to build a new road running past it. If they are challenged in any way by their social lessors, they go to extraordinary lengths to redress the slight and punish the offending party. Nothing else will do.
When dealing with Dynasts, Patricians use a few tactics to protect themselves and gain political advantage, where possible.
First, many Patricians, individually or as a family, work out “alliances” with members of households of Great Houses. This relationship generally favors the House, but benefits the Patricians economically and socially. Protected by the mantle of their sponsor, they grow rich. The key in these agreements is to negotiate and commit to Dynasts that are safe to work with. Many are the stories of a great Patrician house brought low by the death of their canny, fair-minded Dynastic patron, and the ascension of her spoiled, myopic successor.
Second, some Patricians simply avoid Dynasts. They carve out economic and social niches for themselves that allow them a measure of prosperity, and then they stay below notice. Many Patrician houses own extensive farmlands, pay their taxes on time, scrupulously observe Immaculate mandates, and are mostly ignored. In many cases, it is theorized that the Empress herself tacitly supports and enables these families, as they help preserve her rule, and prevent power consolidation.
Third, some Patricians create a niche where they are so in demand that crushing them is simply not an option. The Ignin Magnus family produces some the best Manse architects, mortal or Exalted. Their specialized work crews, supply chains, and design experience make them too valuable for any House to risk offending them. However, these families must ensure they remain an asset to the Realm as a whole. It’s one thing to be courted by the Dynasty. It’s another to spit in its face. The former path leads to wealth. The latter always leads to destruction. No resource is so valuable the Empress won’t sacrifice it to perpetuate her rule.
Patricians are either born or made. The differences in outlook and goals are worth exploring.
Rise, sir Knight…
Creating a Patrician is not merely a reward for service. it is permanently elevating a mortal and all their heirs to a state of incredible political power. For that reason, it’s a much sought, and little given reward. Most people elevated to Patrician status receive it posthumously, their ultimate sacrifice to the Realm buying their family a live of wealth and peace. Those who earn it and live are truly extraordinary, especially when one considers what it takes to grant Patrician status.
Every new Patrician is granted that status by the Empress. Generally, the Deliberative passes a motion to ennoble a person, and the Empress signs the decree. In many cases, these are done as a bloc, and favor trading over support for one’s favored nominee is common place. Generally, the Empress signs these grants after having them investigated. There is usually little threat in letting her extended family play patron.
Another situation involves a Great House directly petitioning the Empress on behalf of an individual. This is less common, as it draws more attention. Nominees who emerge from the Deliberative butcher shop have been vetted. One who has the unfettered, direct support of an entire House bears watching. So, the Empress tends to scrutinize these individuals more closely, and Houses therefore do it rarely.
Finally, as the supreme ruler and founder of the Scarlet Dynasty, the Empress can simply pluck a mortal from obscurity and elevate them at a whim. This is always a political move on her part. She does it to break up power blocs, indebt important mortals to her, forge alliances, or simply to send the Great Houses scurrying to discover her motive. The Empress does this but a handful of times in a century, and when she does everyone takes notice.
In any case, once a Patrician as been ennobled, they need to act, and fast. They have been thrown in the deep end, and there are no swimming lessons. Most of the time, a newly-minted Patrician had enough notice to seek out mentors and allies, but sometimes war heroes or simply lucky bureaucrats wake up one day to find themselves with a host of peers with big smiles and sharp teeth.
When Rich People Love each other Very, Very Much…
Patricians tend to raise their children in one of two ways. Some emulate Dynastic households, roughly like being selected to play major league sports at birth. Mental, spiritual, political, economic, and intellectual education begins almost before a child is talking. These Patricians are highly conscious that their legacy depends on the next generation, conscious that their grandchildren will likely serve the same master they do now. They want every advantage for their family, and can be especially tough on children who don’t fall into line. After all, if they get lucky, it might be their child who becomes a Dynast by marriage.
Others simply let their wealth raise their children. Surrounding them with fawning nannies, permissive tutors, and swathed in riches that would boggle the mind of a commoner, these parents believe that luxury and pleasure is their child’s birthright. This often leads exactly where one would expect.