Shimmering Kingdoms FATE
In the formal society of the Shimmering Kingdoms, the legitimacy of parentage is very important. When a child is born to unwed parents, he or she is declared a bastard. The child, for the rest of their lives, carries a religious and social stigma, and are seen by others (specifically the Noblesse and other pious folk) as untrustworthy, lascivious, and deceitful. Bastards have few rights under the law and are rarely eligible for inheritance. Only if there are no other trueborn children or no stronger claims — such as an uncle or cousin — may a bastard inherit a family’s lands and titles (and even this is subject to higher authority).
Bastards may be male or female.
Bastards are not allowed to inherit their father’s lands or titles, and have no claims to the privileges of their father’s House. It is up to their father, if he knows they exist, on how to raise or treat them. At worst, they are unacknowledged and ignored by their father and left completely in the hands of their mothers. Some may fare better and be discreetly sent funds to ensure their well-being. At best, a lord will acknowledge his bastard children but send them away to be fostered out at one of his distant castles, raised away from his lawful family, and never given their noble name, but allowing them to take on one of the special bastard surnames such as Lake, Rivers, Sand, Snow, Stone, Hill, or named after trees such as Birch or Willow, after flowers such as Rose or Daisy. The choosing of their last names is usually determined based on the region of their birth (a bastard born and raised near lush fields might be named Meadows, for example). For bastard children to be raised by their father in his own castle alongside his trueborn children is considered extremely unusual.
Bastards are treated harshly in the world, seen as second-class citizens who are conceived under a mantle of lust and lies, and many believe such a child will be predisposed to treachery and evil. Considered the product of deceit and debase acts, they are therefore seen as creatures to be mistrusted and reviled. Whether this is merely an attitude or a metaphysical truth, bastard born humans are treated with mistrust and disdain by most of society, specifically (but not exclusively) the Noblesse. Bastard daughters face limited prospects outside of the clergy or a good marriage.
It is possible for the king to legitimize a lord’s bastard children, but this special dispensation is difficult to acquire and does not happen frequently. It will usually be granted only if a lord has no legitimate children (or at least no male children) to carry on the name of his house. However, the social stigma is not automatically removed after the bastard is formally legitimized.
Worse than merely hailing from an affair between an unwed Noblesse couple, is when the father is Noblesse and the mothers hails from Seitsman blood. Even worse are the Bastard children born to couplings between barbarian races and either Seitsmen or Noblesse. Such children are considered abominations.
Cross-race children usually take after one parent’s race or the other. Those who do frequently attempt to hide their true parentage. Then truly unfortunate individual who clearly shows a mixture of both parent’s races are mistreated worst of all (and should take an appropriate Aspect representing the “deformaties”.
Note: Playing a Bastard does not mean that the character is parented by a member of Nobility. Most player character Bastards will be illegitimate sons (or daughters) from lesser houses, whose parents are not officially titled or landed. It is remotely possible, however, to be born into a ruling house, but this must be worked out with the GM during the creation process of the character, and choosing appropriate Aspects, and perhaps Stunts to represent the social standing (or lack thereof) of the character.
There is no outright law punishing noble men or women for having bastard children. Instead it is considered a social and religious disgrace. In any event, since a highborn bastard carries the blood of a noble house, rival claimants may still consider them a potential threat.
Bastardy Racial Traits:
• Suggested Aspects: Aspects relating to the character’s circumstances, illegitimacy, family, being spurned, etc.
• Suggested Stunts: TBA
• Stigma: When dealing with people who are concerned with issues of parentage, your illegitimacy can be compelled (and invoked), causing you to suffer penalties to social interactions. Bastardy is usually more problematic in areas that keep to the Church of the Pantheon. Additionally, despite any status belonging to your noble parent, your starting Social Station is considered LL Bastard (2).