This is a new series I’ve been wanting to do for some time (since yesterday when I watched Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy again). So to begin with we’ll start with the lowest rung of the ladder, the peasant.
This is Bob.
Bob unfortunately was born a peasant, son of a peasant, grandson of a peasant and the list of hereditary peasants goes on till the beginning of time. As a peasant Bob pretty much belongs to the Lord which he finds himself being born on, whilst not a slave (he can earn money, most of which goes in taxes to his lord) Bob never really goes anywhere or does anything exciting.
Bob is one of those characters in the background. He’s either doing his job quietly and efficiently. Making barrels for the wine that will be served in your protagonists party or harvesting the wheat for the bread that your guy eats for lunch. Then there’s another possibility:
King A has declared war on King B, King C doesn’t know what all the fuss is about with King B, but both King D and King E agree they’d much rather talk to King F. When King A marches on King B he calls in his loyal men. His knights flock to him on horseback. His Master of the Guard prepares the Men at Arms. The Royal Smith takes the dents out of King A’s armour that King S made last year. Then there’s Bob… Bob has a pitchfork, maybe his wife, also called Bob for simplicity’s sake, has made him a gambeson. Bob is pulled out of his quite life of keeping Fantasyland going and sent to fight in a war. Used in battle as a massive meat shield for all the shiny knights Bob can either die a brutal death or survive and maybe lose an eye for characterisation purposes later on.
But then there’s the worst option for Bob and Mrs Bob, and maybe Junior Bob. Bandits, dragons, wyverns, giants, snakes, wolves, demons, armies, other peasants, typhoid, malaria, black death, dysentery, paper cuts, mad wizards, elves, dwarfs, orcs, gnomes, fire, floods, crop failures, earthquakes, the sudden appearance of falling anvils/pianos, bullets, arrows, throwing stars and throwing axes are all things that could kill him, his village or his entire world.
Moral of the story? Don’t be born as a peasant, be born as a horse. Yes they are the next step up the ladder in the social-political landscape of Fantasyland and will be covered next week in The Wayward Wanderer’s Guide to Fantasyland.