I'm going to be revisiting the way levels are designed, bringing along some knowledge that I picked up while doing some basic 2D tilesets for another of my projects. I'm not sure how it's going to turn out yet, but it could be much better than the current tilesets, and allow different heights in different areas of the level. I'll have to do a bit of testing to see if it works, but better to do it now before I get to much further in. This could be something that really adds to the design of the game.
Anyway, while doing that I've been working on the rule set. One thing that has opened up is the idea of professions, and what they mean to roleplaying.
In medieval times, social status was incredibly important. If a knight and his squire went on a quest, guess who would get all the credit, and guess who would do most of the work. If a man is in a battle and his bishop is there behind him, it would take complete panic for the man to run away before th bishop. If your king tells you to rid him of a troublesome priest, guess who's going to have no head in the morning.
With all that in mind, I'm working on a system of social status. There will be a range from AAA to X. (Though I'll probably augment this with an integer value to make it easier to code).
Where you are on the ladder will determine how others react to you, and to a certain extent, how you must react to others. This also fits in to the Faction idea I've been brewing up. The outlaw factions have ratings of XXX, XX or X. So an evil dragon would have more status than an evil priest within their own faction, but both would be below the merest beggar to a member of the lawful faction.
So far there are only two factions described here, Lawful and Outlaw, but later there will be other factions introduced such as revolutionaries, secret societies, cults etc... These will use a "secret" status factor, which could over ride your social status when dealing with other members of the faction. So for example, if a doctor was a member of a secret cult, he'd have to bow down to an evil priest of the cult even though the priest's position as an outlaw would usually make him less than scum.
It would be possible to disguise your social standing with the right skills, or even so, you'd be able to pose as a higher or lower member of your "band" without too much trouble when dealing with outsiders (so a beggar might pose as laborer in front of a Duke to avoid being flogged for vagrancy, or a prince could easily pretend to be a minor aristocrat when dealing with bandits if he wanted to reduce his ransom).
As usual one of the things I like about this system is how it helps to model a complex system with numbers, allowing me to open it up to procedural generation. It'll make it much easier to generate roleplay situations through the interactions of status and subordination.
It also makes some of the more interesting professions worth playing. Nominally priests are just religious scholars with few useful skills (They don't get healing spells or Undead Turning ability in this game), but their social status makes then good leaders able to bolster morale, and also good diplomats.
Later I'm going to revisit the table to define professions more clearly within the gameworld and to give starting bonuses and skills for each one.