The way we address someone is important. It tells us that our relationship is to another person. It will often tell people about the social status of the people involved. These modes of social address are absent from most fantasy games.
Why is that? I’m going to chalk this one up to our modern sensibilities. In general, we do not tend to think about social classes. It is something that is fairly alien to us. While there are exceptions, we just don’t think about these things.
So why is this important to fantasy gaming? Since fantasy games usually take place were there are/should be different social classes, then it stands to reason, there will be formal modes of addresses for those of lower standing to those of a higher standing or certain modes of address during certain ceremonies. It should be noted that in many ways this is all about respect.
Most player characters tend to operate outside the class system. It is not that they don’t have a social class but rather they live, work, and die outside the normal social class constraints. In some ways, you can think of them as being of special social class. Otherwise, most characters couldn’t work together. Let’s face it, a lowly rouge (thief) is not normally going to be work with the captain of the guard. They just don’t normally socialize, but player characters with those backgrounds normally do.
So back to modes of address, it could effect how NPCs deal with the PCs. After all the Mayor of a town may be offended if the party fails to address him or follow protocol. I think the players should be made aware of the way to normally address him. Maybe the players want to be rude to the mayor or maybe they just don’t know how.
Not all races need to have the same way to address people. Take the title of this article, maybe it’s a Druidic title. Perhaps it’s the title of dwarven lord. Or maybe it’s the title from a race of rock creatures.
Titles and modes of address can be fun and add good atmosphere to a gaming session. One of my favorite sources is the old Chivalry and Sorcery set that I own. It had a good one page list of titles and the moods of address. It’s a good launching pad to create new one based on your game world.