In the spirit of some other modifications I’ve made to the Rumors of War setting, I decided to cut one or two of the original six factions (or merge them, however you want to look at it) in favor of a simpler, more straightforward dog-eat-dog model. It follows on the heels of a realization I had that despite wanting slaves to play a major role in society, they had no place in the social model I made.

There’s been some reshuffling of importance and meaning, so not all the factions embody the same people or concepts as before, and I think they’re more abstract and/or universal at the same time. We’ll see, right?

At the top of the social totem pole, you have the princes, who represent the law of the land, justice, and civilization. They emerge naturally when large groups of people converge on one location and stay there for a couple generations. They represent large-scale organization. They’re the “next big thing” in social reform.

Next on down the list are the knights, who represent one of two old forms of leadership in the ancient world. They’re technically on the way out, but given their influence on the lower class, they actually have a fair amount of staying power. Waning power to be sure, but staying power nonetheless.

At the bottom of the social pyramid, you have the slaves. You can be nice and call them the “masses,” the “mob,” or the “unwashed,” but the fact of the matter is they represent most people most of the time. Their strength is relative to the strength of their leadership, and the strength of their morals relative to the same.

Next you have one of the more ambiguous social classes, which exists “outside” the social structure, the experts. Of all society, they’re both the most likely to organize and the most likely to pull up their roots and leave for a cause. Often found at the center of the culture, but not of it — they’re usually members of the intelligentsia.

Finally, there are the outlaws. By definition, they exist outside the bounds of society, whether for political, financial, spiritual, or other reasons. They may be bandits, exiles, raiders, slavers, mercenaries, or who-knows-what. Whoever they are, whatever they do, they’re “everyone else.” Not necessarily good, not necessarily bad.

The new balance that exists between the factions is key: princes maintain the status quo by keeping heroes and revolutionaries busy, knights direct labor and weed out undesirables, slaves overthrow corrupt rulers and keep the wheels turning, experts criticize poor leadership and organize resistance against forces of chaos and destruction, and outlaws keep tyrants in check and thin the herd.