The caste system has existed in Alsean society since before the first text was written. There are six castes, which are equal in theory but not always in practice. Only two of the castes, the warriors and the scholars, can hold high empaths and put forth a candidate for Lancer.
Warriors work in the protective services and positions that are physically dangerous. As a caste they greatly value honor, and an oath sworn on their honor is considered unbreakable. Many warriors, especially those in the protective services, are guided by an ancient teaching known as the Truth and the Path.
Warriors are stereotyped as being arrogant, but they are also the most common protagonists in books and video entertainment.
The warrior caste color is crimson red. Its flag features a pair of crossed swords with five stars beneath the blades, signifying the five castes who depend on the warriors to protect them.
Scholars value learning above all else. They are the healers and educators, the scientists and philosophers, and often the inventors. As a caste they are divided into two segments: secular and religious. Religious scholars, known as templars, run the temples that are found in every village of decent size. Secular scholars make up the great majority and are found in all corners of Alsea.
Like warriors, scholars are thought of as arrogant, not to mention out of touch with real life. At the same time, many parents pray to Fahla that their children might be scholars.
The scholar caste color is dark blue. Its flag features a partial circle ending in an arrow pointing up and out toward five stars, indicating the search for knowledge and the duty to share that knowledge with the five other castes.
Builders are the designers and manufacturers, the engineers, carpenters and stonemasons. They build and maintain the architecture and infrastructure that Alsea depends on. They are either thought of as dependable and honorable, or as the laziest grainbirds that ever walked the land, depending on whether or not something has broken.
The builder caste color is light blue. Its flag features a housing dome with a road passing in front of it. Five stars marching down the road represent the five castes who depend on the builders for roofs over their heads and roads on which to travel.
The producers fish the ocean, grow the crops and raise the livestock that feed all of Alsea. As a caste they own vast tracts of land, but the wealth of the caste is not equally distributed. Landowners have a duty to provide for their workers, and all producers have a duty to their land whether they own it or merely work on it. They are caretakers, sworn to protect their resource and pass it intact to the next generation.
Producers are stereotyped as extremely hard workers with a sometimes mystical tie to their land, but they are also looked down on as one of the less powerful castes.
The producer caste color is a deep green, the color of life. Its flag features a stylized tree with five branches ending in stars: the five castes that depend on the producers for their sustenance.
Merchants are the distributors and vendors; the caste responsible for the intricate web that moves products from the producers, builders, and crafters to those who wish to buy. In an overlap with the builder caste, merchants may run manufacturing and repair shops.
They are often stereotyped for valuing credit over honor, yet merchants are the lifeblood of the villages, towns and cities.
The merchant caste color is purple. Its flag features a stylized Alsean holding out one hand toward five stars, signifying the caste responsibility to deliver goods and services that the other castes need.
The crafters are always thought of as a caste apart. They are the creative ones, the artists, the musicians and poets and jewelers. With the producers, they are one of the least powerful castes, but since they have little interest in politics or power, they don’t much care. Crafters are thought of as a little flighty and hard to understand, but admired for the beauty they bring to the world.
The crafter caste is unique for having not one but three colors: blue, green and yellow. It is said that in the dawning days when the castes chose their colors, the crafters in all of their artistry could not settle on one.
Their flag features a line swirling around itself, moving ever outward until it explodes into five pieces bracketing five stars. The pattern represents imagination, and the five stars the castes who benefit from it.