This is a draft document which will ultimately become a treatise on Wesnoth etiquette. It's currently an orphan. I am going to start by trying to define the basic terms. This is all subject to approval and discussion. Will link to the forums once I'm happy with the basic structure. Simons Mith 13:12, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
Factional Nobilities and Equivalents
This section attempts to define the various factional systems of nobility, or their closest equivalents. It covers who or what they respect and how they get their nobles in the first place.
One general rule of precedence to note is that, particularly where you wish to treat visiting dignitaries diplomatically, you grant them the precedence of the most senior rank for which they theoretically qualify.
I am also using the concept of 'ordinary politeness' and 'diplomatic politeness'; ordinary politeness is when you merely wish to avoid causing offence; diplomatic politeness is when you are actively trying to follow the correct protocols.
When you address a noble of any kind, the usual practice is to call them by their full title once, when you first address them, then to revert to a simpler form, usually just 'Sir' or 'Ma'am' thereafter. You don't need to call a king 'Your Majesty' every time you talk to him.
The core political entity for elves is, naturally, the forest. A forest gains power and influence by being large and/or ancient.
The two main elvish terms for nobility are 'Lord' and 'High Lord'. These both derive from the concept of 'Lord of the Forest'; the wisest, most senior and politically influential elves in a given forest. Large forests can have multiple Lords; when they do, the more senior one(s) become known as High Lords. You can become a Lord through merit, influence or martial prowess. To become a High Lord requires an exceptionally great deed or a hefty accumulation of seniority; not all Lords ever become High Lords.
Smaller forests or woods may not have a Lord at all. They may have minor nobles or leaders in charge, perhaps with more unique or unusual titles such as Guardian or Druid. There are many instances of 'Lord' and 'High Lord' already defined in the Wesnoth game. The lesser ranks do not appear to have been considered anywhere yet.
In terms of precedence, an elvish Lord is of roughly equal rank to an Earth human Lord, Count or Earl (all equivalent). An elvish High Lord would be given equal precedence with a Duke. If there were a conclave of several forests, the collective entity would be given the same precedence as a king, even if the individual members get lower precedence.
Lesser ranks would be given precedence roughly equal to that of a Baron (lower) or Marquis (higher).
The Greenwood elves (Fate of a Princess) are an interesting variation on the standard elvish theme. Having spent many decades, perhaps centuries living next to the orcish city of Dorset/Dorest, they have had to be constantly on alert to deal with orcish attacks. Henec they have a very strong martial theme throughout their society. Most senior Greenwood elves have some sort of military ranking, working up from Corporal and Sergeant to Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Colonel, then Lord and High Lord, and all adult members of the forest are subject to conscription.
The Dead Water campaign is the main model for Merfolk. A Merfolk 'king' is called a 'kai'. More details to follow later.
Leaders of the undead factions tend to be enemies to oppose, but if the need to be diplomatically respectful arises, terms such as Dark Archon, Dark Mistress or Dark Lord may be used. Normally, a mere Sir or Ma'am is the most courtesy such leaders will receive.
Trolls respect brute strength and age. Even where there is a pecking order among trolls it is unlikely to be readily apparent to non-trolls. If you want to be polite to a troll, 'Sir' is usually sufficient. If you need to be diplomatically polite, refer to the most senior or powerful troll as 'Great Leader'. Do not use noble titles; trolls don't have any equivelants.
Drakes have a highly martial society. They are organised around mountain enclaves, within which the most senior or martially-skilled drake is known as a (Drake) Lord. The larger drake enclaves may have several Lords, one of whom will be first among equals and will carry some sort of badge of office unique to that particular enclave. This is often an enchanted flaming sword or something similar. Drakes appear to be comparatively short-lived, individually (20-30 years??), thus there is not much need for a complex structured aristocracy. A Drake Lord is called 'Honored Drake' or 'Most Honored Drake' initially, thereafter 'Sir'. In terms of precedence they are generally ranked about equal to a human Lord. When the most senior Drake Lord dies, the next-most senior takes over the position. For an enclave to lose all its Lords before it can replace them is a serious mishap, as some important drake lore is only known to these most senior individuals. All enclaves but the very smallest need at least one Lord in order to function smoothly.
The Hammer of Thursagen is the major source for dwarvish lore and practices. Dwarvish Lords actually get lower precedence than other 'Lords' as its more of a martial rank, (like the human rank of Knight used to be, once upon a time), and the lesser-known Runemasters and Loremasters would actually come higher in the precedence list. A Dwarvish Lord is ranked about the same as a human baron. Runemasters and Loremasters are higher than Lords, lower than Witnesses, but are usually considered to be outside of standard precedence. (see Mages for further details.)
Fate of a Princess uses the concept of a Dwarvish Warden, who is a 'Lord of Lords', with an area of responsibility of an entire mountain range. His work includes fairly settling disputes between all inhabitants of the area under his control, dwarf and non-dwarf alike. A such individual dwarven settlements are expected to defer to him, although it may take considerable political skill on his part to fully exert his authority. Such individuals would be ranked equally to a human Duke, for a large mountain range, and a Count, for a smaller one.
Witnesses are above and outside the standard precedence, rather like human mages.