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I am designing a medieval fantasy world, specifically one mirroring an RPG realistically (don't laugh, I'm actually doing a good job at that) and I need to make sure I have my population proportions right.

You see, this world (Alendyias) is the result of the Fracture in Reality spreading and consuming worlds, specifically worlds that were already too chaotic to really withstand its power. These worlds would have magic (since that obviously makes a world more chaotic and therefore more vulnerable) and have been relatively unstable; think primitive tribes or early medieval (because things got crazy after the fall of Rome). Therefore, Alendyias is a medieval fantasy world.

Why does this matter? Chaotic energy is like radiation; if you're submerged in it, medical aid is necessary. Angelic beings called the Kanyeri supplied such aid to humans by organizing the chaotic energies infusing them into a manifestation of their true calling, their purpose in life: Classes.

Now, not everyone has Classes; 2/3 of society has no specialization and can develop whatever skills they like, but has no real gift in any one area. They have raw potential and nothing else; they choose exactly what they are to be. (They really exist because specialized careers were rare in the Dark Ages and because most people just won't fit one or even two Classes.)

Clarification #1: Potential for a Classless (they have the title of John or Jane) is just general potential to learn and grow (not physical growth, I mean growth in terms of one's capacity to do something and do it well). Potential for a Class-holder is measured in terms of one's potential for growth career; their maximum level of competence/capacity to perform in their Class.

However, in order to prevent everyone from becoming "super", I've made Tiers with corresponding Level Caps, based off population percentages.

Tier Three: 75% of the population, comprises the peasantry and middle-class. People in Tier 3 have a max Cap of 125, with barely competent slackers only capable of Level 30 and the most capable Tier Threes capable of reaching 125. If a noble has a child with a peasant, that child's Level Cap will be anywhere between 125 and 489. The resulting child's Level Cap will be proportional to that of their noble parent; higher status parent means higher Level Cap in the child. If a royal has a child with a peasant, they have the capacity to reach Level 500, if only they work hard and live long enough.

Tier Two: 20% of the population, comprises the nobility. People in Tier Two have a Cap ranging from 250 to 499 (depending on their status) and in certain circumstances can reach Level 500. Clarification #2: If something happens to the king so that a new king must be installed, a noble must be accepted by the people as their king in order to ascend to Tier One and gain the corresponding Level Cap. If a royal has a child with a noble, the child will have a Level Cap of 325 to 499.

Tier One: 5% of the population, comprises all royalty and the occasional peasant who beats the odds. Those in Tier One can reach Level 500 and hold the maximum potential of any member of their Class. A royal can also grant Champion status to a Tier One or Two individual, giving them the capacity to reach Level 499. (Please Note: There can only be twelve Champions per kingdom. Due to the general usefulness of adventurers as willing-and expendable-"heroes" willing to step in when danger threatens, generally kings promote adventurers to Champion status.)

Now, my question is, Is This Tier System Balanced?

Specifically, will this Tier system destabilize society, or will it help make society more stable?

My Thoughts:

1. Explaining the Caps: Level Caps are based on one's potential; it's not that peasants have low potential, just that they're suppressed by lack of education and resources (as well as those in power). There's also a psychological aspect in that peasants think of kings and nobles as superior, or at least above the rest of them, and that belief is a direct factor in how Tiers work.

The belief aspect is why a noble can reach Level 500 upon becoming a king, and if a democratic system was established (like America's three-part government or a king's council, perhaps) this same belief aspect would allow the branch leaders or council members to reach Level 500, as that would give those people power equal to the king or president.

EDIT: As for the children of a noble and a peasant, they have a higher max Level Cap because someone who knows how to work hard (anyone raised as a peasant) is capable of doing more than a noble who doesn't have to do everything for themselves. Nobles do work hard, in their own way, but they also have servants and various other conveniences.

2nd EDIT: SirTain asked for some information on how levels work. Each Tier comes with hard caps, determined by one's individual capacity to learn and grow. One gains levels as they gain experience, progress along their chosen career path, and personal growth. Now, someone who reaches their respective Cap does not stop learning; think of it instead as a person who reaches their prime. They may change and learn new things, their mind and spirit can still grow, but their body has reached its limits.

2. Explaining Tier Proportions: I want my Tier proportions somewhat realistic, and I was thinking that the peasants would drastically outnumber the nobles and royals of their world. I understand 25% is still a rather large proportion of the population, however, I want to reflect the ridiculous amount of royalty in fantasy (without getting out of hand, of course).

3. Preventing Inbreeding: This and the belief aspect is the only reason why I made it advantageous for a peasant to have a kid with a noble or royal (and vice versa). Logically, since in order to preserve one's pedigree (legitimacy was key in medieval times) one had to marry only one of the proper station (which caused inbreeding), the solution is to encourage people to not restrict themselves to their own tier.

However, this may have the side effect of encouraging all sorts of naughty behavior, including but not limited to polygamy, and I don't want that; I understand there will be naughtiness no matter what, but I don't want things getting out of control. Clarification 3: Considering this is a realistic medieval fantasy, there are things like children born of wedlock and brothels, and I believe my tier system will encourage that. Given that spiritual corruption and naughty behavior go hand in hand, and that one's level of spiritual corruption is directly proportional to the risk of demonic possession, I want to avoid that.

Clarification (thanks Bukwyrm):

  1. What are the rules of leveling up? Leveling up is determined by XP, which is the magical manifestation of experience. Levels are an expression of one’s accumulated personal and career growth. One thus Levels Up when one reaches a new stage or level of achievement in one’s career or life (either one).

  2. How long does it take to level up different abilities? It depends on the person; we all learn at different speeds and have different aptitudes besides. In other words, it depends on how quickly someone can master barley or wheat farming after mastering the other.

  3. Are levels general? Yes and no. Think of levels like going through the school system. If you’re a good student, you increase in general ability and intelligence over time. However, you get particularly good at the things you work on the most. Levels are the same way.

  4. Are Tiers and Levels visible? I didn’t envision them that way, but now? Definitely. One’s Tier is Manifested by a symbol emblazoned on one’s wrists. For Tier Three, it is a diamond (a Shard). For Tier Two, it is a rectangle that comes to a point on the bottom and has a triangular notch for the top (a Notch). For Tier One, the symbol is a Crown; a box with an upside-down triangle on the bottom and three points on the top. One’s Level is expressed by a number “printed” on one’s Tier symbol.

  5. Could a Lvl. 500 Farming king feed his kingdom? Oh my goodness, yes! This would solve so many things; underfed peasantry, low workforce, the peasantry’s near inability to take career paths other than farming, and it would most definitely strengthen the king’s hold on his subjects. So yes, I’d say a Lvl. 500 king could feed his kingdom, if he was a farmer. If he’s a soldier, well, he’d be capable of defending his kingdom almost singlehandedly. Think Arnold Schwarzenegger a la Braveheart.

Specifications For Best Answer:

  1. As stated above, the best answer will account for the percentage of the population in each Tier. Those in Tier Three are good or mediocre in their Class, Tier Two are slightly better than a Tier Three or an expert in their Class, and a Tier One blows all the others out of the water. For perspective, a Lvl. 125 Warrior is as good as ten regular (Lvl.1 or below) troops, a Lvl. 325 Warrior is as good as a small army (enough troops to hold a fort), and a Lvl. 500 Warrior can wipe out an entire medieval army by themselves. For this reason, it is critical I have my proportions right, especially for the royalty!

I understand that one needs to know population numbers in order to determine the impact of these percentages, so for the purposes of this question, please assume 81 million. Yes, I know it's a lot, but because Druids and Healers exist, there is an unusually high medieval population.

  1. The best answer will also account for the effect of Level Caps, namely pairings between Tiers, on society: peasant-noble, noble-royal, and royal-peasant. It should also account for the fact that a noble's Level Cap is directly proportional to their status, with a noble only second to the king being capable of reaching Level 499. This will likely encourage ruthless politics among the nobles.

  2. Finally, the best answer will tell me if my Level Caps are just plain crazy and need to be reset and have suggestions on which numbers to put instead.

I appreciate your input and feedback, so if you decide to VTC or downvote, please tell me why so I can improve this question. Thank you.

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    $\begingroup$ @Rottweileronmarket-day.: good question. I'd say it'd be the people, since if they don't consider him king, then he won't be believed to have the same status and therefore won't have the corresponding cap. That's actually under Tier Two's information; should I edit to clarify? $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Mar 18 at 1:04
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    $\begingroup$ Does your world have brothels? What about out-of-wedlock children? Also, please, do not assume that nobility are parasites that do nothing and learn nothing. True, they do not have to plow fields, but it does not mean that they do not have to work hard for anything. In an early medieval setting, nobles are professional warriors, judges, diplomats/politicians, and managers. These occupations require extensive training and huge time investments. You also need to clarify 'potential'. Is it martial arts potential? Or career growth potential? Or magic potential? Or something else? $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Mar 18 at 2:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Draft85: thank you for your notification, I have now added points of clarification and some edits to the OP. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Mar 18 at 17:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Otkin: Answering in order, yes and yes, thank you for enlightening me, I've clarified what I mean by potential and added an edit to the OP on nobility. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Mar 18 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ What's to prevent a king from granting Champion status to all his citizens so that their potential level caps are increased, thus gaining a more efficient workforce? $\endgroup$
    – SirTain
    Mar 18 at 17:48
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The top 5% rule the world.

Here is an oversimplified example: Suppose two armies each with 100 identical soldiers fight. It's 50/50 which side wins. Even if one side has 100 soldiers and the other has 101, this does not change the odds by a significant amount, since we have only changed the sizes by 1%.

Now suppose instead, we have two large armies with 2000 troops each. According to your system, 5% of each side has the potential to reach lvl 499. Since they are professional soldiers, they have a lot of experience and are already max level.

So each side has 100 Strong Soldiers and 1900 Weak soldiers. Since a Strong soldier can easily take out an army of Weak ones, each army is worth between 100 and 101 Strong soldiers. That means the weak soldiers contribute only 1% total strength to the army.

If the strength of a lvl 499 person is the same regardless of class (meaning a lvl 499 Baker/Tailor/General/Diplomat can do the work of 1000s of lvl 1 Baker/Tailor/General/Diplomats) then this pattern will be the same in every field. Between them the high level people can do much more than the low level people. Moreover a single lvl 499 person is much more coordinated than an army of low level people.

These two things combined should ensure they world is ruled by a relatively small number of high level individuals.

Edit: Will the system destabilise society? I predict it will. For example one lvl 499 baker moving to a different part of the country will have a huge economic effect, considering the influence of that one baker, and the amount of people they were feeding in their past home, similar to (in the modern world) a company going out of business. Essentially you have a large number of people whose whims have a big effect on the rest of everybody else. Sounds pretty unstable to me.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good news; one can only have one, maybe two Classes in some rare cases. In other words, you can have a Baker/Diplomat or a General/Tailor but not a Baker/Tailor/General/Diplomat. Also, is a relatively small number of people ruling the world necessarily bad? $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Apr 2 at 0:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Alendyias I mean a lvl 499 Baker can outperform 1000s of lvl 1 bakers and likewise for all the other classes. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Apr 2 at 0:50
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, that is a potential problem, but I really want adventurers capable of defending the kingdom when some expendable heroes are required to take on Rage Chthulhu! Should I take steps to fix things? $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Apr 2 at 0:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Alendyias It is bad in the sense that each of these powerful people can cause a lot of trouble for all the others. I put in an example about a high level baker moving home and effecting 1000s of jobs worth of normal bakers. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Apr 2 at 0:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Alendyias You should change things if you want the rest of the world to be similar to the real medieval world. Perhaps you are happy with a world ruled by an ultra-productive elite? In that case change nothing. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Apr 2 at 1:01
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There are two questions you are asking

Now, my question is, Is This Tier System Balanced?

No. But you know that already. Your goal is not to have the system be balanced or fair, your goal is to have a system where some people with vastly more power than others.

Specifically, will this Tier system destabilize society, or will it help make society more stable?

This system will destabilize medieval society on a level so fundamental that either society as you know it will collapse into barbarism or democracy and it is hard to say which. There are three factors.

  1. Political or Succession Stability
  2. Economic Stability
  3. The Peasants' Ability to Survive.

Political or Succession Stability

Alexander the Great was an incredible military leader, and unifier of his own empire. From a historical stand point we look back on him as a generally good guy, but we forget that for everyone not already in his empire his conquest was the most disruptive event in their lives.

Genghis Khan was also a military genius who was able to establish the largest contiguous empire ever. While the various unsavory things that he did make us a little more sour to his memory, we again underestimate the destabilizing effect that he had on those he assimilated.

in your question you say

If he’s a soldier, well, he’d be capable of defending his kingdom almost singlehandedly. Think Arnold Schwarzenegger a la Braveheart.

These rulers were hundreds of years apart, and they would have to be, people of their intellectual, and charismatic power are exceedingly rare. However, with your system leaders like this are not just reasonably possible, they are nearly common. Every generation would see one or more super leaders take over, and lose their land. This means that none of the people who rule under these rulers know where their next pay check is coming from, the people don't trust any of their rulers, and long or even short term supply chain stability is impossible. If this is bad enough people will revert to tribal chieftains in under a decade at most.

Economic Stability

Lets say you make bread, you make as much bread as you can and sell it for money which is enough to feed your family. The amount you sell the bread for is reasonable, but your time is fairly expensive since you are doing this for your livelihood and there is an upper limit to how fast people can make bread in this town. However, then a super baker moves into town and can produce all the bread the town needs, furthermore, since the baker is so good the time they spend on each loaf is nearly zero, so they can charge near zero for the product. Now, you have no clients to sell to, and even if you did you are priced out of the market. You say in your question:

Could a Lvl. 500 Farming king feed his kingdom? Oh my goodness, yes! This would solve so many things; underfed peasantry, low workforce, the peasantry’s near inability to take career paths other than farming, and it would most definitely strengthen the king’s hold on his subjects. So yes, I’d say a Lvl. 500 king could feed his kingdom, if he was a farmer.

The problem with this is that suddenly doing this would have many negative effects on a kingdom. First, all those peasants you saved from having to farm now don't just not have a farming job, they are now unable to get a job in farming. sure you have saved the citizens from working, but now you have a problem, unless the king is doing all the work in the kingdom there still needs to be an economy. People need to work to produce things the king doesn't which means they need money and people need jobs. while you have successfully flooded the kingdom with cheap goods you have reduced the number of jobs which will cause poverty, which might ironically make food harder to obtain. So, fine, you as the king won't do that, but you can't control everyone, a few dedicated nobles could cause localized market crashes and use that to gain power for their super leader. So your super people would lead to great economic instability, like Weimar republic levels of instability. These levels of instability tends to lead to (arguably) charismatic leaders taking over the country

The Peasants' Ability to Survive

Given all this there is only one way for normal people to ensure their long term survival. An international and widespread populist movement. Dealing with these super powerful people will have to be treated as making a Faustian bargain, temporary power for longer suffering. Unions would have to exist to set prices for goods, and any attempt to sell goods for less than the set amount would have heavy punishments. Every local population would require a strong identity to maintain independence in the tide of encroaching super armies. Monarchs would be set up to define a set transition of power that will not fluctuate by the flavor of the month invader. If the people are enlightened they may instead decide on setting up a democracy, essentially electing officials to serve allowing them to take advantage of the royals, but ensuring strict term limits. The super powerful would have to chose between providing their services at dramatically reduced prices or not at all. Doing this would be very hard for peasants, since the reason most rulers can't just kill their subjects when they displease them is they need peasants to farm their land, fight in their armies, and make their commodities. However, in this case they totally can. In fact the most likely out come of these super people would be the eradication of the peasants to take their land and resources.

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  • $\begingroup$ All good points. I think my numbers and your examples pretty much answer the question. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Apr 2 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ I would also add that there'd be an incredibly destabilizing (and dehumanizing) effect of the tattoos that show everyone's grade level. The Rwandan genocide was set off by far less! $\endgroup$
    – workerjoe
    Apr 5 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ @workerjoe The only way tattoos can effect this is if this makes royals and nobles the target of violence. If it is the other way around then it just accelerates the normal process of the normal and noble people getting breed out. $\endgroup$ Apr 6 at 2:07
  • $\begingroup$ @CharlieHershberger I would disagree. I think it would encourage gang violence and class hatred, and work against natural human compassion by dehumanizing other people. You're labeling human beings as objects of economic utility, not as beloved children of the same God. $\endgroup$
    – workerjoe
    Apr 6 at 12:21
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, but the normal people and nobles will die out eventually. It is just a question of when. $\endgroup$ Apr 6 at 13:16
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By no means do I wish to disrespect Daron and Charlie Hershberger with this answer. In fact, I would like to make it clear that their answers are what made this answer possible and I thought long and hard about this.

I have come to believe the good and proper solution is simple:

Power Distribution.

In the OP, I put that a Lvl. 500 king can feed his kingdom. One person cannot do that, or else I have seriously destabilized my world. However, IRL one can feed a country by leading (and working with) a large group, and that is the basis of Power Distribution (along with Synergis).

What is Synergis? Two things: Class Exchange and Class Communication. Firstly, Class-holders have an aura that enables the sharing of Skills and ability between mentor and apprentice (so an apprentice can gain the same skills and level of ability as their master). This comes at a cost; an apprentice gains their mentor's skills and abilities instead of the ones they'd gain naturally as they Level Up. This is called Class Exchange. Secondly, this aura allows telepathic communication with members of their group (like a thief's guild for Rogues). This is called Class Communication. For Tier One or Two individuals, there is a third phenomenon: Power Transfer.

Nobles have servants and royals have servants and subjects, and this is where their weakness lies. Every time a noble takes a servant and gives them authority over something, even if it's just overseeing the cleaning and maintenance of the stable, they lose power and a servant gains it.

This same power is what they draw off to power their Class's special abilities, like Barrier for Guards or Forceful Strike (or Force Blast) for Warriors, so while a Class-holding noble won't lose the (ordinary) skills they've gained, they won't be supernaturally powered since every time they give someone authority over something, they lose power to that someone.

The stable guy? The maid? The chef? The steward who basically runs the household for our beloved baron? (And don't forget to mention the bodyguards....) All empowered by said baron since if a noble gives someone a job or delegates authority to someone, they will lose power to that someone. The power loss is directly proportional to the importance of the position.

The same goes for royals and nobles; the king technically controls everything, but wait! Thanks to feudalism, the king will lose his power to the nobles overseeing sections of his kingdom! What about what you said in the OP, about an Lvl.500 King being able to feed or defend his kingdom alone?

That's where Power Loss kicks in again. In real life, one can only accomplish such a huge task by working with other people. Magic in my world is symbolic by nature, so when a king endeavors to defend or feed his people, his power is given to the people responsible for fighting for or feeding his subjects; the soldiers or farmers.

Can't the king avoid that? And the nobles? Nope, and here's why; both royalty and nobility have jobs, careers that ensure both our beloved baron and dear sovereign (may he live forever) are very busy and need to delegate authority to other people in order to function.

Even if you manage to shoot down that point, or counter with another good point (like how the royals will eliminate the nobles and commoners sooner or later under my system), remember how nobles can only upgrade to Tier One by being accepted by the people as their king?

That's where the transfer part of "Power Transfer" comes in; a king's power over his subjects comes from the subjects themselves, and is directly proportional to their devotion to him. The power of the lord who rules over a fief comes from the people within said fief, and once again, is directly proportional to their devotion to him. The power of any noble comes from the people he or she has authority over.

Wait, did you say she? Yes, I did. Thanks to Bewitching Dance, not to mention magical creatures like Sirens and Lamia (not to mention Fairies), the various medieval societies within Alendyias were forced to rapidly adopt principles of equality (share power with women), in order to prevent a single hot female from taking over.

Altogether, this ensures:

  1. A more stable and equal society

  2. That nobles and royals aren't unstoppable rulers and can't unbalance the economy, due to having their supernatural skills and power divided amongst their servants and/or subjects

  3. That royals and nobles can't be absolute jerks without severe consequences

  4. That a would-be 'conqueror of the world' must not just be good on the battlefield, as he must take not just win the territory, but the hearts of its inhabitants as well to become its ruler

I hope this is a worthy answer, this is my first time answering one of my own questions and I hope I did it right.

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