If the attitude of the nobility could be described in a bumper sticker, it would be “He Who Dies With The Most Toys Wins.” Toys can be belongings, minions, useful allies, great accomplishments, defeated enemies, etc. Your goal is to have more than the other guy.
Creating a Concept
Don’t pigeonhole yourself too much into a certain type of character unless you’re positive it’s something you want to play every minute you’re online. A lot of players decide to create elaborate concepts for noble characters that involve mental illness, addiction, mommy issues, etc. Save the telenovela for when you get in-game and start creating your own. It will come much more naturally.
Do think of a few hobbies or interests your noble might have. They can always develop new ones, but it helps to have something to hire others to help you with right off the bat. If you’re having trouble thinking of hobbies, think of what sorts of interests you might share with other nobles (making alliances through them, like playing golf in the corporate world), or a way to become renowned among your peers (for example, by authoring widely-read books), or a way to defeat more enemies (studying the use of poison), etc.
The First Hours in Game
Do not go shopping. I know you have the equivalent of a bank heist in your pockets, but don’t spend it.
The first thing you need is not more silk. The first thing you need is minions.
A newbie noble is a leader without any followers. Without followers, it’s hard to get more followers. Without more followers, it’s hard to do anything at all; the irony of nobility is that it is powerless without commoners and slaves.
Hire the first hirable person you meet, and don’t be too picky about it, either. Yes, I really mean that. Obviously if you’re an Oash you can’t hire anyone with elven blood, and a Winrothol wouldn’t hire a Nakki, but the first person who’s even slightly acceptable should be on your payroll in some fashion. Even if you’re just hiring some 13 year old as a page to put out the word that you’re hiring, or contracting with a hunter to bring you something from the wilderness, start doing something your first hours.
The only exception to this is if you’re coming into a House that already has a PC noble in it. In that case, politely ask the other noble if you can borrow the services of his aide/top employee in finding yourself a number one minion. This means your first hire will almost certainly be a good one.
And even if the first person you hire is a double agent, or an idiot, or a liability, you can always get rid of them later. As long as they bring in more minions, they will have served their purpose.
Using Your Minions
Every employee you have should be your spy. If you have enough people reporting to you, even the most mundane things and snips of conversations, you can put things together and know what others are up to. A good social noble makes people think they must be a mindbender (or a staff member) to know so much about everything that’s going on.
Of course, the employees need a cover story, too. Hunter, aide, guard, tailor, chef, whatever. They should always be sources of information along with whatever else they do.
Pay your employees well, but not quickly. Don’t give money to people upon hiring them, or you’re just asking them to get bored and go die in the wild. Give them a goal and a day when they can expect their first pay, if they’ve performed to your satisfaction, and give them access to food and water if they’re hungry or thirsty. People get bored when money comes too easily. Give bonuses for performance and you’ll get performance.
If you want loyalty, establish rapport with each employee individually. Make them feel unique by taking them aside when it comes time for them to report. Praise can often go further than a ‘sid bonus in encouraging hard work. Let them feel like they know a little bit about what you’re thinking and planning, without actually revealing all that you know. (but also read Advanced Strategy Tip 1)
But I want to Do Something ™!
By the time you have 2-3 minions, which should be plenty for a newer noble, you’ll have met most of the other nobles, some merchant types, and an assortment of riffraff. By now your minions should be reporting back to you anything they hear about everyone else. You should start looking for:
*What are the weaknesses of the other powerful people? Secret lovers, a nasty spice habit, connected to criminals, everyone has a secret. Find it and take note of it, but wait until you need something from them, before you exploit it. Unless you need money, then you could try blackmail. Blackmail is sadly underused in Arm.
*Whose needs and ambitions match what you want, and might be fun to team up with?
*Who just annoys the everloving crap out of you and needs to stop breathing, pronto?
And there you have tools, “allies” and “enemies”. If that doesn’t give you something to do, then you, sir or madam, need more murder, corruption, and betrayal in your diet.
I put allies and enemies in quote marks because you also shouldn’t get too attached to thinking of people as only one or the other. There are times when you should arrange a truce with your enemy, and times you should backstab your best friend. Don’t get into the mindset of thinking that you “can’t” turn on someone. If you’ve gotten to that point you’re their loyal minion, see section above.
On the other hand, don't play too hard, too fast. If your enemy is someone that has been around much longer than you, and is playing smart, you're not going to be able to mount a full frontal assault on them right away. Full frontal assaults aren't what you should be going for in most cases, anyway.
Advanced Leadership/Strategy Tips
1. Being a leader is a lonely role. It's best if you get used to it and don't try to become best buddies with your minions. It's inappropriate ICly. Your minions should be aware of the barrier between you and them, and should understand that while intelligent suggestions and ideas are welcome, democracy doesn't really exist in Zalanthas.
2. To use people effectively, you need to be able to interact well with them personally, but also analyze them impersonally. If you need a false rumor spread, you need to find a gossip. Say you choose a young GMH agent who seems congenitally incapable of keeping his mouth closed. Your intelligence network tells you that he drinks too much, is sleeping with one of his merchants, and that he loves to read and has an inquisitive mind. Your analysis of his character is that he won't spread a rumor unless he truly believes it himself, and he's no fool. So you have a few options available to you, insofar as how you're going to "sell" this rumor to him. You could drink with him, pretend to get drunk really fast, and 'spill' the rumor. You could have one of your minions also sleep with his merchant and 'spill' the rumor in pillow talk. Or you could invite him over to your place, and leave him alone in a room with a book in a prominent spot that has the rumor written in it.
3. To avoid detection, you need to think ahead. With the above example, you need to think about how not to get the rumor traced back to you. The only way here is by using your minion and his minion as intermediaries. How you do this depends on your analysis of the minions--is your minion loyal enough to be told that the rumor is false, is your minion subtle enough to drop the rumor without it seeming forced, is your minion likely to be subverted and turned against you by his minion, can your minion even get into his minion's pants or do you need to combine two of the strategies and have your minion get drunk with his minion? If you analyze people well, you have a better chance of predicting how they'll behave in a specific circumstance.
4. Don't put all your eggs in one basket--diversify, have a finger in every pie. Don't put all your trust in one ally or minion. Don't base all your hopes on one plan, and be ready for people to do unexpected things (I talked about prediction, but they're still people, and people aren't always logical). Don't get so focused on one goal that you miss other opportunities. Some people play nobles with the single-mindedness of a dwarven focus, but what's wanted in a noble is multi-mindedness. You should eventually be working on multiple 'foci' which is why you shouldn't pigeonhole your concept too much at the start, because you may block yourself from picking up some interesting ambitions in the natural course of play.
5. Think beyond assassination. With the enemy you know, you have intelligence, possibly moles in his/her camp, and you know about them and how they'll act. If have them assassinated, you have to learn about someone new, who might be even more of a pain in the ass than the person you had assassinated. In some cases the risk will be worth it, but you might consider one or more of the following options: libel and defamation, knocking away their support, blackmail, theft, sabotage, scapegoating, provoking them into trouble with the law, stealing their minions and projects, biological warfare, etc.