Guard uniforms is something that has been discussed a lot, and mentioned a few times on this thread. I'm personally of the opinion that rank and file members of house guard units (and merchant family guard/hunter units) should have minimal uniform/marking, if any. Perhaps a tassle on the shoulder or some other small, inexpensive alternative. Fancier gear should either be awarded in response to performance (or percieved performance, at least -- ie., can you fool your boss into thinking you're good at your job?), or tied to rank/tenure (or some combination of both). You shouldn't get a full uniform as the result of a couple of months of service (especially when some of these uniforms are themselves worth several thousand coins), and certainly not as a "sign-on bonus" on day one. Higher ranking personnel might have more obvious markings, but I don't think even they -- yes, not even a lieutenant -- would have, for example, a full suit of silt-horror plate.
I'd similarly like to see the standard for noble attire drop somewhat. Instead of being swaddled head-to-toe in silks, perhaps a proud junior noble has one particularly clean, fancy -- if slightly threadbare, -- silk shirt that everyone oggles enviously. That may be going to far, I know a lot of people enjoy the "fancy dress" aspects of the game, but even a few shades futher in that direction would give me the warm-fuzzies.
Of amoeba's Webster's definitions, I like #3, but I also think it's worth adding #2 to the mix. Also, yes, there's a piece of this whole thing that has to do with seeing the -world- as grittier and more real, but I think even the nobility and the wealthy should lose some of their shine and polish.
Cindrak's "arms race" analogy is interesting and perhaps apt. There is definitely a viscious cycle competition amongst nobles to dress the best, look the best, etc., and that is a prevalent enough aspect of Allanaki society to be included in their documentation. The hope here is that we can all evolve our expectations down a little, and also be less perfect at meeting the expectations that are placed upon us. Maybe you don't remember EVERY time you step into a tavern to dust yourself off from head to toe, noble or otherwise... It is a desert world, after all, and if you spent the time required to really remain wholly dust-free, you'd have absolutely no
time for mudsex or world domination.
Attaching stigma to "upstaging" people beyond your rank is an interesting idea, but I'm not sure how playable it is. I would hate to see people forced to use accents that don't necessarily suit their own personal style, or impose poor grammar on themselves, simply because of a barrier like this (IC though it may be). Certainly more people SHOULD be trying to find "lower" personae, but it is challenging... and it can also be challenging trying to read and understand some of the accents and poor grammar-styles people invent (which can be fun or just plain frustrating, sometimes). I can definitely see a stigma like this forming around clothing, though. It's always bad form to out-dress your superiors... you make them look bad.
Some people have mentioned salaries. My current thinking on the salary situation is that we (those of us running clans that pay/feed/water PCs) are too quick to give ourselves unlimited resources ("Sure, hire as many guys for the guard unit as you can!")... I think a good solution to this would be to give PC nobles more control and responsibility for the wages and benefits they provide. Perhaps a larger stipend (or the same stipend) for a noble comes with this burden of having to really think about how you're going to manage it. Can you really afford to give free food and water to everyone you employ? Would you rather pay consistent salaries, or buy that fancy new silk shirt you saw Lord Fancypants eyeing the other day, before he can get his hands on it? Do you really need a 10-man guard unit, or would an aide or two, plus some less visible back-alley style "thugs" to get things done? What about spies? And do you really trust these filthy commoners to actually guard your person? Maybe you should be saving up for one of those trained slave bodyguards, I've heard they NEVER turn on their masters (yeah, I know a lot of PC nobles and merchants get NPC bodyguards for "free" right now... maybe that should be rethought?). Maybe Lord Fancypants should really be trying to work out ways to turn his small stipend into MORE, instead of just spending like a madman?
The mingling of commoner and noble is really hurting the grit idea. Lords and Ladies hire aides so they don't have to mingle and don't have to be offended. After all, you can't kill off all the unwashed masses.
I somewhat disagree with this... if the divide between noble and commoner were somewhat narrower, this inconsistency wouldn't happen. Yes, of course nobles are better than commoners, but that doesn't mean they actually ACT any better... in fact, why not let nobles be MORE vulgar than commoners. They're nobles, after all, they can do whatever they please.
Another poster here mentioned racism. I definitely think we don't play out the ingrained racism of our various breeds often enough.... sometimes, this lined becomes blurred for OOC playability purposes, and sometimes people are "sweetness and light" because they really are trying to exploit their target, and this comes off as being too friendly. But more often than not, people are just trying to be nice, and other people have an expectation of being treated kindly. It would be neat to see more people expecting cruelty, and being surprised or paranoid (or even offended) by others' niceties.
Money is a big issue. And yeah, if you know how to tweak the right systems, it can be easy to amass a small (or even a large) fortune. That doesn't mean that you should be socking away every cent, and you certainly shouldn't be dressing in silks. One good way to spend a healthy chunk of your money is to get an apartment. Another good way is to fill your apartment with junk (not nice stuff, just stuff people need to live... or stuff you think suits your character for some reason.), and don't be angry (well, at least not OOCly) when it all gets stolen! Another really great thing to do with your money is to try to find ways to get a hold of spice, even if its illegal where you are. Way more people should be way more addicted to spice. You should probably try to find ways to be drunk more, also. Would your character drink himself into a coma? Maybe you should give that a go a few times. You won't have much 'sid left after a few black-outs, and I guarantee you, you'll be having a great time OOCly. Maybe you should help support your virtual family (buy food, etc., and junk it after RPing out whatever steps you like)....
Those are my thoughts for now... thanks for pushing this thread along, I'm seeing some really solid ideas here.