Culture and Caste

For all the seeming chaos of the city under the former regime, Raam is and always has been a city of rigid social order. The eight major castes, which each include dozens of sub-castes, determine a person’s fate from birth to the grave. Elaborate social conventions and traditions surround relations between caste members, and Raamites of all races fall within the over-arching caste-order, although some races are more prevalent at some social strata than others.

The eight castes, in descending social status are:

  • Saddhu – The priests and mystics. Their supreme spiritual merit grants them great privilege, but also prevents them from sullying themselves with lesser occupations such as politics. The Saddhu caste is unusual in that it occasionally accepts individuals from other castes or races if they renounce all earthly ties and demonstrate a powerful mystical devotion. It’s an informal process of acclaim by peers. Any hint that someone is seeking to “social climb” is automatic rejection. As a result, you can find Saddhus of all races, although the vast majority are human.
  • Nawab – The high nobles and former warlords of Raam. The Nawab caste has suffered the most upheaval under Dregoth’s reign. Although most are still human, there is now a significant percentage of Dray Nawabs amidst the smattering of Dwarf or other races.
  • Vizier – The caste of bureaucrats and public servants. This caste’s role is typically filled by Templars in other city-states, and Dregoth has begun large-scale initiation of Vizier’s into a Templarate. He has thus far not tampered with their hereditary rights or caste-rank, merely granted to those he deems worthy a fragment of his great power.
  • Warrior – Mansabdars, mercenaries, and other soldiers. The Warrior caste provides most of the military might of Raam. Formerly, they served the Nawabs in a wide array of private armies. Now the caste is being consolidated into a more centralized military structure.
  • Merchant – Those who buy and sell goods created by others. The Merchant caste has remained relatively untouched by Dregoth’s reign.
  • Laborer – Common artisans, farmers, herders, and other poor but free citizens. Laborers have flourished under the new order, no longer forced to pay exorbitant bribes and fees for Nawab protection.
  • Slave – The only caste whose members may achieve a new caste upon gaining their freedom.
  • Unclean – Those who handle carcasses or corpses fall into this category. If the shadow of an Unclean crosses a Saddhu, the Saddhu must spend days in elaborate purification rituals. Raam’s new undead citizens would technically fall into this caste, although many persist in claiming higher caste-rank.

Abalach-Re held herself aloof from the conventions of caste, wallowing in her hedonistic pleasures amongst members of any caste. Those of high caste, therefore, held her in contempt even as they acknowledged her incredible personal power. Her Templars, also, were selected on the basis of magical potential, regardless of their caste of origin. Since his conquest of the city Dregoth has attempted a half-hearted engagement with the caste system, integrating the Dray into it as appropriate to their various pre-existing roles. The sudden influx of an entirely new species into the city, one with the personal favor of the new King, has ruffled no small number of feathers, especially amongst those of high caste who must now treat the reptilian interlopers as equals, at least in public. Another complication involves the large numbers of undead that Dregoth has attempted to integrate. According to Raamite culture, the dead are unclean, and only the very lowest caste may touch a corpse. The undead citizens of Raam, however, sometimes hold high positions in Dregoth’s administration. Dregoth himself is undead, and makes no attempt to hide it. Such social ripples are still being smoothed out, and may well take generations.

Dregoth’s rule has also had significant impact on funerary customs. The new King has not been so bold as to impress into service the spirits and bodies of the Nawabs and other high-born, at least not the ones who seem reasonably loyal to the new regime. He has, however, dictated that the families of any citizen who dies must pay a tax from the estate of the deceased or must hand over the corpse to the King’s templars to serve the city in lieu of the tax. This has resulted in large numbers of undead swelling the armies of Raam and patrolling its streets tirelessly and sleeplessly. The high-born tremble at the thought of these legions of the deceased poor retaining enough of the resentments of their old life to make trouble for those who have avoided the “Death Tax.”

Culture and Caste

The Reign of Dregoth ardhanari