The Nobility is a social class that ranks just below Royalty in terms of wealth, influence, and privilege in society. Many areas within the world of Once Upon a Nightmare recognize the Nobility in one form or another, but not all cultures handle Nobility or the inheritance of a noble title in the same way.
On Once Upon a Nightmare, Noble families are tracked in the 'Nobility Claim' which can be found in the 'Other Claims' section of the site. Some claims are reserved for Canon Roles that have yet to be filled, but many are open and available for players to develop with either Original or Canon characters of their choice. For the most part, the number of available Noble families within any given area are firm, and no new claims will be created when or if they are ever all claimed. Furthermore, if a character who is currently claiming one of the noble titles within the 'Nobility Claim' goes inactive, the claim may or may not be immediately reopened. If the character is going to be written out of the game rather than erased from existence, it may be necessary to label the claim as extinct rather than vacant.
If a 'Nobility Claim' is labeled as vacant, it can be claimed by any player for a Canon or Original role. If it is labelled as extinct, this means that the family which once laid claim to the title has completely died out and the title is no longer in use. It then belongs to the royal family of said kingdom and can then be given to a character as a means of reward for service. Plots for current character earning a noble title through deeds within the game should be addressed both with players who play royal characters within the desired kingdom, as well as with the staff of Once Upon a Nightmare.
Allutheria is the land of the Fae and is unlike the human societies of Ga'leah. After the Fae were banished into their own world, they created separate 'Courts' based on different ideologies to govern subsections of the Fae population. Similarly, some Fae who were not eager to be ruled over by a King or Queen instead formed Freeholds, or small settlements unaffiliated with any of the 'Courts' of Allutheria.
The Fae do not recognize noble rank and file as the humans do. A Court may bestow a title upon an individual within said Court, but the title itself will have no meaning to anyone outside of that particular Court. They may also give said member property or wealth, but again, rarely is this recognized universally throughout Allutheria as it is in human society.
Freeholds rarely, if ever, utilize any form of noble entitlement because the Freehold itself was first conceived of to avoid the complications of Court Life.
Because Fae have such long lifespans, there is rarely any issue of inheritance and Courts may or may not choose to recognize the right of family to claim the belongings of a deceased individual.
Caerleon is the smallest of the Kingdoms of the Ga'leah and was formed from pieces of Calladahn and Dokrayth that were surrendered for the construction of a Capital for the High Court. Because of this, there is not as much land to be divided among the nobility, though the population of Caerleon is much denser than that of the other kingdoms in Ga'leah and so taxation of tenants does provide a worthwhile income for what nobility does hold some claim in Caerleon.
Because of Caerleon's age and the manner in which it was made, there are no longstanding noble families who own ancestral property within the borders of Caerleon. Instead, noble titles are granted to individuals who serve the High Court in an important manner. The Seneschal of the High Court, Advisers in good standing, the Captain of the Guard, the Master of Coin for the High Court, and other positions of importance are all typically rewarded with a minor noble title and some land holding within the kingdom or the city of the Caerleon. In fact, every noble family in Caerleon provides an important service of one kind or another to the High Court. However, these individuals still pay taxes to the High Court as well.
Presently, the noble titles of Caerleon are directly connected to the jobs they correspond with. If the Master of Coin dies, unless his son is appointed as the next Master of Coin, the title and property that comes with that position will belong to the individual who next serves as Master of Coin. However, in such situations, the High Court often ensures that the family has more than enough money to set themselves up with a nice piece of property somewhere in Ga'leah, and many times will also help to provide things such as dowries for any daughters of deceased nobles of Caerleon.
Because of their close proximity to one another, as well as their immigration and trade relations, the structure of nobility in Calladahn, Dokrayth, and Xehacora is very similar with only a few marked differences.
Within the kingdom of Calladahn, there are six Houses considered to be of the High Noble class, they correspond to the titles of Duke, Earl, and Count. Similarly, there are eight Houses of the Lower Noble class which correspond to the titles of Lord and Baron.
Within the Kingdom of Calladahn, it is perfectly acceptable for a daughter to inherit the family wealth and property. This can occur either because there is no son to inherit, or simply because the eldest child of the family is female. There are little to no gender stipulations regarding noble title and inheritance, and it is acceptable for a noblewoman to oversee the land and tenants which accompany her title and in some cases even after such a noblewoman marries, she continues to see to the business adherent to her title, leaving her husband to his own projects and business.
If a House dies off without an heir to claim the property and wealth, it will always revert back to the royal family of Calladahn who then typically rewards a particularly loyal or useful member of their Court with a noble title, though sometimes such titles and property can be handed down to those children of the royal family who are not set to inherit the crown, as well.
While common members of society can be elevated beyond their humble social status to become members of the nobility, it is incredibly rare for someone to climb more than one tier in their lifetimes. The King or Queen of Calladahn might reward a humble soldier with a lordship for his services, but it would be unlikely to see them reward him with an earldom or to elevate him again from lord to earl within his lifetime. It would, however, be within the realm of possibility for his son or grandson to be elevated to earldom for performing some useful or heroic deed.
Because of it's close proximity to and interactions with Calladahn, the structure of Nobility in Dokrayth is incredibly similar to that of Calladahn with only one exception.
Unlike Calladahn, within Dokrayth it is not currently acceptable for female members of the family to inherit wealth or property beyond any dowry that might be set aside to accompany a marriage. Property and wealth will always be inherited by the closest male relative, or become the property of any man the noblewoman weds.
The Maritanis is home to two very distinct groups of people whose cultures and social practices differ greatly despite their shared love of the sea.
Pirates do not adhere to the traditional conventions of nobility recognized by most of Ga'leah. Instead of counts or lords, the Pirates recognize only the Captains of the ships themselves as the nobility of their kingdom. To the pirates, a ship is very much like a castle and many ships typically patrol a specific parcel of land, confiscating 'taxes' on any who dare sail on their seas and raiding the ships of those who refuse to pay their dues to the Pirate Kingdom. Only a Captain who is willed the title or granted it by the Pirate King himself can call himself a Captain or claim ownership of a pirate ship. To do so without the blessing of the Pirate King is to find the full weight of the Pirate Kingdom bearing down on the offender.
Typically, the Captaining of a ship is passed on from father to son. Unlike many other areas of Ga'leah, it is not required for a Captain to will his ship to his firstborn son, but it is instead customary for the Captain to name his heir from any of his male descendants. This allows a Captain to select the individual he believes will best lead his ship after his death and protect the pirates from serving an inferior leader merely because of benefit of birth order. It is permissible for any sons overlooked when the heir is named to appeal to the judgement of the Pirate King in an effort to win back their birthright, but it is rare if not unheard of for the Pirate King to overturn such a Captain's decision since it is typically believed that these decisions are made with the best interests of the crew at heart.
If a Pirate Captain dies with no son to inherit, or simply has no son worthy of inheritance, it is possible for the Captain to will his ship to his First Mate who would then be elevated from a lowborn member of the Pirate Kingdom to one of the nobility. Such decisions must still be approved by the Pirate King and the First Mate must be presented to the King before such a succession can be finalized. However, it is also possible for the Captain to leave the decision up to the Pirate King himself, which typically means that the Captain does not believe that anyone on his ship is ready for the burden of leadership. In these cases, the Pirate King will name a new Captain from his own crew or the crew of another ship.
It is required for the Captain of a Pirate vessel to be female. Many older Pirates harbor superstitions about the presence of women on ships. While some ships allow women to serve as members of the crew, the idea of following a woman as a captain is something that most Pirates would be unwilling to consider. It is possible that when a new Pirate King is named, that he may encourage gender reform, but for the time being it is not possible for daughters or female members of the crew to inherit the Captaining of a Pirate ship.
Pirate Captains are referred to only by their title as 'Captain' though they are technically Captain Lords of the Pirate Kingdom and their wives, if they have any, are usually called 'Lady' by other members of the Pirate Kingdom.
The nobility of the Merkind is handled much differently than that of human society due in no small part to their isolation from humanity and distrust of the Pirate culture. Unlike human societies, the Merkind do not have ranking nobles such as Earls or Counts. Instead, they organize their people by a very strict class system. The nobles of this system are called Telesti (singular: Telesto). Merkind do not utilize surnames but instead recognize familial lines based upon sigils such as a conch shell or a sand dollar. The royal symbol is, of course, the trident.
There are a set number of Telesti families amongst the Merkind. Because of their strict class structure, it is not possible for an individual to be elevated beyond their birth caste. The middle class Thestians cannot become Telesti, and neither can the Krill rise above the lowest social class. Because Marriage is practiced but not required or encouraged amongst the Merkind, they will also not recognize unions between those of different social classes. It is acceptable for a Telesto to bed a Thesitan or Krill if they so desire, but it is simply not recognized by the rest of society if the Telesto attempts to make the Thestian or Krill a life partner.
Merkind also does not recognize any stipulations upon gender. All children of a Telesti family are allowed to inherit wealth and often inheritance is split equally amongst offspring If a Telesti family falls upon hard times, they can often appeal to the royal family for assistance and receive it due to their social class so it is uncommon for a Telesti to ever fall from their birth caste. In addition, if every member of a Telesti family dies with no surviving relatives to inherit wealth or property, such items revert to the royal family. No one is given the sigil of the extinct family and no one is elevated beyond their social class to fill the place of the now missing noble family. Sometimes, the royal family sells the property they acquire from such inheritances, other times it is given to Telesto who are serving the royal family, but more often than not, the property is given to one of the offspring of the royal family who is not set to inherit the crown itself.
All members of Telesti families are respectfully referred to as Lord (for males) and Lady (for females.)
Solharan nobility is a bit more complex than the noble ranking systems of Calladahn, Dokrayth, and Xehacora partially because of their vastly different culture as well as their geographical isolation from the rest of Ga'leah.
The culture of Solhara includes nomadic tribes that call the vast desert of the kingdom home. These tribes are led by a lower tier nobleman recognized by the title Sheikh. His first wife is often called a Sheikha. It is not uncommon for Shiekhs to have more than one wife, but only the first wife would be honored with a noble title. Although the Powhatan of the Oasis are stationary, they are still classified by the Solharan Court as one such tribe and have taken to calling their leader 'Chief', a bastardization of the term Sheikh. The title, Sheikh, is hereditary and is passed on to the eldest and closest male relative of the Sheikh upon his death. Unlike many noble titles, one who bears such a moniker is not given any land to govern or collect taxes on, but they are given the ability to travel the lands of Solhara freely and unfettered by the Solharan Guard, as well as the ability to trade within the most populated areas of the kingdom at a somewhat discounted tax.
The Sayyid (feminine: Sayyida) is the Solharan equivalent to a lord in the other main Ga'leahan kingdoms. These individuals own property and land within the kingdom of Solhara granted to them by the royal court and passed on in a hereditary fashion. In most of Solhara the titles of Duke, Earl, and Count are replaced by the titles of Sharif, Emir, and Qadi respecitvely. In the Eastern villages, the titles of Duke, Earl, and Count are often translated as Gong, Hou, and Bo respectively.
It is not possible for a woman to inherit a noble title, wealth, and property from her family upon their deaths within the kingdom of Solhara. Such things are always inherited by the closest possible male relative, though girls are permitted to maintain any dowries that their parents might have set aside for them before their deaths. If a young noblewoman's family dies with no male heir of an kind, she often becomes a ward of another noble family who will oversee the property and manage the wealth until a marriage takes place, at which time the wealth and property belongs to her husband.
Because of it's close proximity to and relationship with the kingdom of Calladahn, the system of Nobility for Xehacora is very similar to that of Calladahn with two very important distinctions.
It is not possible for a female member of a noble family to inherit the property and wealth of a noble family beyond a dowery set aside for her eventual marriage. In most cases the property and title goes to the closest legitimate male heir, but can sometimes be held in trust until the noblewoman is wed, at which time it becomes the property and title of her husband.
Unlike with other kingdoms, even for the male heirs of a family, inheritance is not guaranteed. After the death of the patriarch, the heir must petition the Court of Xehacora to claim ownership of his father's title and property. This petition is often accompanied by hefty fees paid to the Court of Xehacora for hearing their request. Such petitions can be questioned by the King or by other members of the noble family, though most often the title and property is awarded to the first born son. However, in some situations where the petitioner's ability to carry out his duties as a nobleman are called into question, the Court has awarded the title to other male members of the family, or seized the title to bestow upon a new family. (Though this happens very rarely.)