Following the cultural influence of the elves of the sea and the forests, who are the leading powers in Aeldreth, fame and reputation are highly valued across most cultural groups. Ambitious Aeldrethians devote much of their lives to rising through the ranks of their chosen careers, or several career paths, and amassing ever more prestigious titles. The Guilds feed this tradition by encouraging professional development and education and offering quests and tests to prove mastery of new skills, which come with prizes and titles.
Aeldreth celebrates the achievements of the well-titled with a vibrant cult of celebrity, in which the society and gossip columns are among the most popular sections of the newspapers, and avid followers collect the autographs, signet seals, and visiting cards of their favorites. Aeldrethian visiting cards rise often to the level of art as minutely intricate calligraphy is used to fit all the entitlements and ranks of their owners upon the little slips of paper.
Popular celebrities include sports stars, artists and performers, warriors, wizards, healers and scholars, and of course, aristocrats, among others. However, though there is a hereditary aristocracy in Aeldreth, earned titles are valued much more highly even for them than ones granted by mere birth.
When people put so much effort into cultivating their public images, it will come as no surprise that a person’s reputation is valued more highly than treasure. Lawsuits, gossip wars, and most seriously, duels are fought regularly over real or perceived damage to people’s reputations. Slander and libel are major offenses, which, though they may carry relatively light criminal sentences, will destroy the offender’s social standing and possibly the honor of his family forever.
A lost reputation may be reclaimed, but only by long and arduous effort, which may involve quests of atonement and enforced retirement from public life for a period of years, as well as hard labor to amass good works to cancel out the bad.
The hereditary aristocracy of Aeldreth is based on clan hierarchies. In the High Courts and monarchical nations, clan leadership tends to bleed into governmental leadership as well.
For example, their Serene Graces, the Duke and Duchess of the Grand Navigators, are also the High Lord and Lady of the House of Ereon. Their eldest child (by minutes), Peino Starhand, is Prince of the Sovereign Duchy and Scion of House Ereon (and if he had a sister, she would be Princess and Scioness).
Most aristocrats hold lordship over other lands as well, such titles being gained by accomplishment. Example: His Serene Highness, Peino Ereonis, Sovereign Prince of the Grand Navigators, is also the Lord Earl of Farind and Faurolia, a title granted by the people of those islands and ceded by the Floating Throne of Lyrion for service to the islands in the late war against the clans of the Five Swords. The title comes with a responsibility to protect the isles as well as the privilege of claiming a share of their tax revenues (which Peino chooses to turn back towards charity and public works for the islands). He has additional aristocratic titles of similar kind, in addition to his titles and ranks as a mariner, captain, naval warrior, explorer, and paladin of the gods, Lyr, Manawydden, and Macha.
The system of rankings and forms of address of the many possible levels of aristocracy in Aeldreth is so loose that it does not pay even to offer a guide. Better to pick it up as one goes along.