I understand, but I think it's narrow sighted to look at a bard and think bard = merchant.
You're right, it is narrow sighted, because it's not that simple. Tuluk is not a simple place. Tuluk is a subtle place. I continue.
They are nothing alike career wise and I think a House family member should be used to being treated a certain way, though to a lesser degree then a Noble.
This is a fundamental flaw in your reasoning. If you look at the roles of a Merchant and a Bard, they are astronomically similar. A merchant deals with people to sell them goods. A bard deals with people for entertainment and ideological spin. At a fundamental level, merchants and bards both deal in public relations
. The actual pragmatic value of what they do is really of little consequence in determining their worth and influence. They both provide services that all four castes in Tuluk need and want. I could provide a lengthy list for both merchants and bards of things that they are asked to provide on a regular basis, and you'd see that the scope of what they do really extends beyond the face value of their positions. But again, at the root, it is public relations and they both partake in it.
A bard can't understand that, they weren't born to a life of luxury persay though they have the potential to earn it.
Says who? Have you SEEN some of the NPCs in Poets' Circle? For crying out loud...the bards have an entire SECTOR of the city devoted entirely to them. They have properties that they oversee, both from the residential and commercial side of things. Many bards are born into a luxurious lifestyle -- most notably the Driamuseks and Irofels -- so saying that "bards can't understand" this aspect of blood merchants is just false.
Even without a job in within a Merchant House as a family member, you are above the workers there.
Absolutely. Just like the bards are above the common laborers they hire collectively to do maintenance and grunt work around the Circle.
You are family, and you have been raised in silks, or your own outpost.
And bards are raised with an instrument in their hands from the day they are born. Learning how to play an instrument well, how to sing well, how to tell stories well, is tantamount to walking around in silks. You cannot insist that silks are what make merchants better than bards, because bards have their own array of "upper class" things that they are groomed with from a young age as well.
In many ways you hold a lot of power that a Bard does not.
This is another flaw in your reasoning. Of course there are plenty of ways that bards don't hold the power that merchants do. Bards, however, hold a tremendous amount of power that Merchants do not. I'll give one example here, and that is the spread of political ideas. If the whole of the Circle decided that they were going to wage a war against...let's say kalan bread...then they would probably have the abilities to completely marginalize kalan bread, and yes, even make a lot of citizens hate it. Merchants do not have this ability, because that's not what they are trained to do.
The point isn't that merchants have power that bards don't. The point is that they are different. They occupy different roles within the same social class. Merchants have a lot of power in one arena; bards have it in another. There is a lot of mutual respect here between the Merchant organizations and the Circle, because they all realize that merchants are good at some things, and bards are good at another. Neither really has abilities that are "better" than the others. You are free to argue that the abilities, influence, and power of the Merchants are in fact better than the abilities, influence, and power of the bards, but in my humble opinion you would be wrong.
And if a Merchant House family member has been raised their whole life in silks, training and luxury I think they are going to think they are not better then the nobles or Faithful not even equal but certainly that they are better then the average commoner.
Here is perhaps where the Bards' power truly shines. Most of them realize that they too are commoners, and thus they have a certain empathy with the common people (this isn't universally true, of course, but they are all at least aware of the fact that it is a possibility for them). This gives them a huge amount of power among the common caste, which is by far the largest caste (slaves may be larger but I don't think so). It's the basic 'love thine enemy' principle. If you think you're above someone, you can't understand them as well as if you consider yourself to be on equal status with them.
There is also the matter of education, and here you are basically neglecting the amount of education that bards receive. Bards are -highly- educated people, especially the ones born into the Circle. The learn history -- Arc of Lore. The learn the songs that people love, and how to compose new ones that people love -- Arc of Song. They learn how to debate, influence, slander, and propagate -- Arc of Words. They learn about satire and subterfuge -- Arc of Acting. They learn how to kill -- Arc of Blades. This collective knowledge among the bards has created a wide syllabus and educational system based on the master-apprentice relationship. To simply marginalize this by saying that it is not equal to the upbringing that merchants get is unfair, completely unfounded, and illogical.
I don't see any reason why a Bard would come to believe this about him/herself unless they had worked hard to achieve the status of say a Seeker or something. Status can change for each person individually despite any career.
I also see no reason for a merchant to think of themselves so highly unless they too manage to actually garner some bona fide influence for themselves. Like I said above, merchants and bards both have a cultured, educational upbringing. They are more similar than you think.
I just don't think that people should look at Merchant Family members as some hawker on the side of the road or like any other commoner.
I fully agree with you, and I sympathize. Too often, I see merchants being treated like little more than walking vending machines. This saddens me.
They are commoners but they are better then the average commoner and used to a life of power over their servants, slaves and workers and have no idea what the average life in the warrens would be like.
Again, this is a double edged sword. Merchants have power over their servants, but so do bards. And since Merchants neglect the downtrodden who live in the Warrens, they are missing out on influencing a huge section of the population. Even the lowliest of the low can pick up a blade in a violent peasant uprising and start killing people via mob mentality. Don't forget that.
They are rich, they are powerful in two city states. They just aren't "chosen" so to say.
Just like bards. Bards have an extreme amount of wealth, that I would argue is easily comparable to that of the Merchant Houses. Of course, you have to compare the entire Circle to the House, as organization to organization. The difference here, expounding on your point, is that a bard would -never- think that he is even close to being of the same worth as a Chosen. People have been disappeared for thinking this way in Tuluk. That is sedition, plain and simple.
I don't think people give merchant family members enough respect if they look at them like a bard.
This is of course your projected feelings onto other people, because you don't seem to give bards the respect that they are due.
If you grow up carrying around a little silk parasol in your fluffy pink dress while the other kids are playing with dried dung, the kid who grew up in the warrens is going to look up at the one who grew up in House Kadius or Salarr and think wow I wish I could be like that. They're not going to treat them like your everday run of the mill pal unless they develop that friendship.
If you grow up learning the Known World's history, and learning how to manipulte your dung-throwing friends' emotions through your words and songs, then the kid who grew up in the warrens is going to look up at the one who grew up in the Circle and think "wow I wish I could be like that". They are going to probable revere them like rock-stars until they learn that bards are common, every day people.