What follows are some thoughts on Infernal Distinctions (and how to make them into more than just a free attunement).
The Knight’s Fee
Upon being elevated to knighthood, a demon may lay claim to an estate (or fee) within their Prince’s domain. The size of estate will depend on the region of hell. A Knight in Sheol or Abbadon might have a creepy if stately manor, while one of their peers in Shal-Mari would be lucky to claim a storefront or penthouse apartment.
Regardless of what form it takes. The fee will provide enough Essense to fuel all of the Knight’s current Rites. If the demon chooses to be lenient on their human livestock, they will need to succeed on a Perception roll every time they use a Rite. However, if the player comes up with new and creative ways to break the wills of the humans in their ‘care,’ they should be allowed to take an additional Rite.
If they player also purchases a Servant, you should give them occasional rumors from hell and a head’s up if they are about to lose control of their estate (not uncommon if their Prince or one of their enemies wishes to cut off their essence supply).
If a Captain has claimed their Fee, you may wish to give them a Servant for free (or grant a bonus Force to an existing Servant).
Upon reaching the rank of Baron, a demon has the right to claim a Barony as well as an estate. This is no small decision. Once a character takes a Barony in hell, they become a player in its infernal politics.
A Barony can contain anywhere between 6 and 30 fees, and the Baron is certainly free to call upon their Knights. However, it should be remembered that these Knights have been invested by the Prince, not the Baron. Most will be more than happy to see their ‘lord’ fail – as it provides a ready path to their own advancement.
A Baron who has claimed their holdings but still goes adventuring must trust one of their Knight Captains to rule in their stead – or provide a fledged (7 Force) Servant with enough resources to hold off multiple Knights.
A demon who attains the rank of Count may no longer shirk their infernal duties. Many set up a council of Dukes to lessen the load, but between infrastructure, Essense taxes, land disputes, and general administration – the count will be fairly busy (and what free time they do have is usually spent trying to gain influence within the court of their Prince).
Most Counts answer to a Duke, though a rare few may answer directly to their Prince. A Count may establish a personal and/or regional guard, and can call upon the aid of ‘their’ Knights and Barons. However, standing armies are definitely forbidden.
A Marquis technically ranks above a Count, though their duties and position are largely the same. The main difference between the two is that a Marquis is typically granted a large territory at the edge of their Prince’s influence while counts get reasonably developed holdings within the interior of their Prince’s lands.
Because of their role in defending or expanding their Prince’s Word, the Marquis are afforded more respect and granted greater freedoms than the Counts. Unfortunately, they are also further from the Court of their Prince, so the two classes are roughly equal in terms of influence.
A March is typically located somewhere undeveloped (like the Lower Hells), contested (Corporeal Tethers), or both (there is a reason why Beleth’s realm is know as The Marches).
Unlike the lower nobility, a successful Marquis actually stands a reasonable chance of having loyal Knights and Barons; faithful service provides plenty of opportunities for reward and advancement.
Even in a game of Infernal intrigue, it should be rare for a PC to attain the rank of Duke. This is not just a Distinction of to mark social standing, it is a declaration that the demon is part of a Prince’s inner circle – and would be trusted to (temporarily) run the Princedom while the lord is absent. Asmodeus’s chief prosecutor, Mastema, is a Duke.
A Duchy is a small country in its own right, and can only be managed with the aid of a full time staff. Because such loyalty is rare in Hell, many Dukes have been granted the authority to install Knights and Captains on behalf of their lord. Some even dare granting their own Baronies, but Counts and Marquis almost always have to go through the Prince.
Archdukes are rare in Hell. They are the Wordbound nobles who practically command a princedom already, but whom have not yet been confirmed by Lucifer and invested with ineffability. The Angel Soldekai, Gabriel’s chief lieutenant and Chamberlain of the Legions of Flame would be accorded the respect due to an Archduke.
A demon cannot be granted an Archduchy, they must seize it by their own efforts and have it recognized by at least one Prince (it should be noted that a declaration of war is a form of recognition). A PC with 18 Forces, a 20+ Word Force Word, and a Duchy might be eligible.
Unlike other nobles, Archdukes are Superiors – they’re just closer to Ethereal Superiors than Celestial ones.
It is rumored that one of Belial’s burning estates houses a trophy room where he has mounted the head of every Prince Candidate that he has killed (there are at least two, and he almost added Furfur to the list).