Lords of Britain (All Societies)
This is an excerpt from Knights and Ladies of Pendragon, Vol 1., but is useful for general purposes.
This lists, with definitions, every type of lord that your knight may be a vassal to, or that might have been his father. (Many of these are defined already in the King Arthur Pendragon 5th ed. core rulebook.)
Banneret: A banneret is a landed knight who has several other knights who follow him in battle. He is allowed to have a small banner on his lance to serve as a rallying point for his men. (See Pendragon 5th ed., pages 134–5.)
Baron: A baron is a tenant-in-chief of a king. Thus earls, dukes etc. are also barons.
Bishop: Bishops, acting for the church, are noblemen and landholders, especially in and around the old Roman cities.
Bretwalda: A Saxon High King.
Clan Chief: Clan chiefs are individuals who lead their clan in its decisions and who are accorded respect and income as a result. Sons of chieftains are motivated to embody the virtue of honor, which reflects favorably upon the prestige of the clan.
Churchman: Christian churchmen are not necessarily celibate during the Pendragon period, so they might have sons who take up the profession of arms. Alternately, a player knight may have retired from knighthood and entered the church during the time when his son was growing up. In either case, this information is used for his son’s background. Otherwise, it is not possible to have a character with this background without GM approval.
Clan Chief: The chief of a clan is more like a family leader than an elected official. He directs the efforts of several families, most of whom work the fields to provide the leaders and warriors with arms and armor. They are not peasants, they are free men and women (who might have slaves). They can remove the chief if they wish, so the demands of his leadership are quite different from appointed noble lords.
Count: Count is the continental name for Earl. The titles are often used interchangeably and the wife of an earl is a countess.
Druid: Gamemasters must give permission for this background; it is intended only for generating a player knight whose father was a druid.
Duke: A duke is the highest noble rank beneath king and queen, generally conferred upon someone who holds a duchy. A duke’s wife is a duchess.
Earl: An earl is the noble rank below marquis and above viscount. It is the equivalent of count, and earl’s wife is titled countess.
Equites: An Equites is a Roman nobleman who has taken up the profession of knightly arms. The “liege lord” is really the family itself. The old aristocratic families have a duty to defend the realm and to provide military leadership. Thus, from among them come the proud equites (knights) of a family.
Esquire: An Esquire is a nobleman who has not been knighted. The term “Squire” in Pendragon, always indicates a squire-in-training, who will become a knight. An esquire differs from a squire only in that he has reached his age of majority, and that he is not going to become a knight. See the nearby essay, “Esquires in Play” (sidebar).
Esquire at Arms (mounted): An Esquire at arms (mounted) is a nobleman who has undergone knightly training but somehow not qualified for knighthood, yet who serves as a mounted combatant—a knight in everything but name and honor accorded. Such men may work for a specific lord, but are often mercenaries as well.
Esquire at Arms (superior man-at-arms): An Esquire outfitted as a superior man-at-arms is a nobleman who has undergone knightly training but somehow not qualified for knighthood, and who now serves as a foot soldier. Such men may work for a specific lord, but are often mercenaries as well.
Famous Warrior: Leadership in tribal culture is heavily dependent on personal charisma and reputation. Famous individuals attract sworn followers through acts of courage, leadership, and generosity. They are not kings or nobles, just successful.
Equites of Aristocrat Family: The aristocrats of the city are the wealthy urban elite. They are the plutocrats, the owners of industry, keepers of trade, and leaders of the city council.
Famous Warrior: A famous warrior is well equipped and has considerable training or experience, thus rising well above an ordinary warrior.
Feudal Officer: An officer is a knight who has been given responsibility to oversee some specific duty in the domain. There are no “general officers,” but each is given a specific job as listed separately below.
Freeholding Equites: All cities own the lands surrounding them, and those lands are owned by the “lieges,” who are the aristocratic families. So the “liege lord” is really the family, once again. The “freeholders” owe their allegiance only to themselves and the city, without a formal feudal-type of oath.
High King: When a king rules over other kings he is called a High King. In Britain King Arthur is the High King. A similar position is held in Ireland, and among the Saxons is the Bretwalda. In some cases Emperor is used in the same sense, and after King Arthur conquers Rome he is sometimes titled Emperor.
King: A monarch, or head of state, with no higher ranking noble. The wife of a king is a queen and their children are princes and princesses.
Knight, Household: Household knight is the most common form of knighthood. The knight lives in his liege lord’s castle and serves as a guard there, both as bodyguard to the king and as the standing army.
Knight, Vassal: A vassal knight is one who has his own manor to oversee; he lives off of its income. (See Pendragon 5th ed., page 134.)
Lord: A lord is a nobleman of higher rank than a knight. All lords are also knights. (See Pendragon 5th ed., pages 135–8.)
Sergeant: A sergeant is a combatant who is outfitted as a knight, but who is not a nobleman. These men generally serve as mercenaries during the warring season, and live off their earnings the rest of the year (though many are also bandits during the off-season…).
Man-at-Arms: A Man-at-Arms is a professional, elite soldier, generally not a nobleman or descended from noblemen, but respected for his skill.
Marquis: Marquis (pronounced mar-ki) is a noble rank below a duke and above an earl. The wife of a marquis is a marquise (mar-kiz). An alternative spelling (and pronunciation) is marquess (mar-kwis) and marchioness (mar-shi-oh-ness).
Officer to High Court: An Officer to the High Court is an officer who works directly for High King Arthur. These men are generally well known: Sir Kay is Seneschal, Sir Griflet is Marshall, etc. To start a character who is a son of one of these famous men is extraordinary and requires the permission of the Gamemaster.
Officer to Higher Nobleman: An Officer to a Higher Nobleman is an officer who works directly for one of the dukes, earls, or lesser kings of the land.
Queen: The wife of a king s a queen; also the title of a female sovereign.
Tribal King: A tribal king is the ruler of many clans. He is generally of a royal lineage, the descendant of a god or ancient hero. His bloodline allows him to be king, but his personal leadership skills and success determine whether his followers will obey him. He must satisfy their needs and desires to keep his office, unlike appointed nobles.
Tribal Officer: An officer in tribal culture is a warrior or holy person whom the king or chieftain has appointed to oversee some specific duty. These jobs are not inherited—they are awarded for merit, kinship, or favoritism. They can be removed at the king’s whim.
Unit Commander: Unit Commanders are the leaders of the City Watch and various City Militia units. Their job is to police the city, put out fires, man the walls, etc. The Watch never goes outside the walls, but the Militia sometimes does.
Urban Officer: Urban officers are leaders who have been given a specific job by the City Council.
Vassal of Nearest Earl or King: Nearby lords have vested interests in the cities in their territory. Though the knight (or equites) comes from the city, he holds his land or knighthood from a nearby feudal lord.
Viscount: A viscount (pronounced vy-count) is a noble who ranks above a baron but below an earl. The wife of a viscount is a viscountess.
Warband Leader: A warband leader is a warrior of great renown who has gained the personal loyalty of several other warriors who will follow his every word.
Warrior: The basic fighting man of the tribal peoples is the warrior. He is usually a farmer by profession, with some training at arms and a developed warrior ethic.