As one of your main objectives, striving for recognition is just as important as finding the best places for buying and selling goods. However, you must always be aware of the fact that whatever you do will be evaluated differently by the three social strata.
Actions you take for the benefit of the people (feed the poor for instance) will raise your social recognition. You will become a valued benefactor. Actions intended to better your monetary situation and that directly affect your social standing, e.g. great, lucrative deals or victories in sea battles, will raise your status, and you will become respected in the best circles. Your social recognition and your status should always be on par with each other. Although a trader rather belongs to the upper class, he should never forget that he depends upon the votes and opinions of all the people as mayor.
However, good deeds are short-lived. Even the most noble gesture won't be remembered forever: In hard times - during sieges, blockades, famines or epidemics - your kindness will soon be forgotten. However, a faux pas, wrong decisions or crimes will be remembered for much longer. The people are unforgiving.
Usually, good deeds and therefore your recognition remain local - a donation to Novgorod's church will not be cared for in Cologne. Some actions, however, will influence your standing throughout northern Europe, e.g. if you spend your free time as a merciless pirate. Make sure you enjoy the best standing possible in your hometown, or else you will have to wait till kingdom come to be elected mayor.
To gain a lot of recognition within a fairly short period of time, you must try to meet a city's demand. The regular satisfaction of consumer needs (which will vary according to the class) is always effective. Don't try to cheat: If the need is 10 bushels and you supply the city with 5 bushels twice, you won't be rewarded twice. And don't ruin your newly acquired standing with subsequent actions: Do not buy up rare goods or else the people will react most irritably and your standing suffers.
Certain events can have a positive impact on your standing: If you manage to supply a city suffering from famine with corn, fish or meat, your standing will improve twice as much as usual. Moreover, during boycotts, sieges, epidemics and fires, the people will gratefully accept anything they can get, and the merchant who anchors in times of trouble will be celebrated.
Meeting the demands of the people is by far not the only way to raise your standing. The construction of wells, for instance, is thankfully accepted by the people. The same applies to the construction of hospitals, the improvement of roads (an epidemic counter-measure) and the aforementioned donations to the church. Your standing also rises with the number of people you employ in your businesses. Moreover, the number of commissions you regularly issue at the shipyard, the capacity of your ships, your sheer wealth and your willingness to provide needy people with loans also affect your standing. The friendliness of your family (more on this subject further on), your membership at the guild, your discoveries during expeditions, the number of coastal patrol vessels you provide and your accuracy and effectiveness in fights against pirates influence your standing as well.
Additionally, you should try to fulfil a mission for the town of your choice once in a while. The town hall's notice board will inform you about all the missions available. Make sure you complete all the missions you engage in. Once you are known to be unreliable, you can forget about further missions for some time. Your standing also suffers.
By the way: The recognition you acquired is easily lost - disastrous festivals, high interest rates, pulled down businesses, delinquencies (instigation of burglary for instance) or failed bribery - those who are stingy at the wrong time will be punished.
Well, it's not quite true that you cannot 'cheat' at all when it comes to gaining recognition. You have the possibility of adjusting the difficulty level to make life easier for you. (see chapter 6)
No matter what you do or who you deal with - nothing remains unnoticed. The slightest faux pas will be remembered by the competition or at least by the underworld, even harmless feasts among thieves or pirates. The word is quickly spread; the world of the Hanseatic League is small after all.
Make sure you are regarded as reliable. Always fulfil your missions conscientiously, because if you don't, further missions will soon be refused. And if you repeatedly find no one to join your public convoys, this could be a consequence of your bad reputation - perhaps because you've abandoned your last convoy or been attacked by pirates. Disasters like that get around quickly. Illegal actions or piracy also impair your reliability - provided that you have been caught, of course.
Apart from your reliability, which you cannot really check anywhere, you also enjoy a public reputation which you are permanently judged by throughout the Hanseatic League. Your reputation is always named in one breath along with your name and represents the overall nature of your previous actions. If you are rather reserved and careful, you might be evaluated as inexperienced, nice, capable, experienced, successful, clever, sophisticated or simply as unbelievable. If, however, you are a boisterous old warhorse who hardly ever hesitates, you could be considered as inexperienced, impetuous, brave, daring, courageous, aggressive, ruthless or even dangerous.
Your reputation has little to do with your standing. Nevertheless, councillors are sometimes blinded by your reputation when voting - if you are present at the meeting. The more extreme your reputation, the more respect people will have for you.
Your reputation among the common people or the upper classes can be as good as it may; once you are involved with pirates or thieves, you get an entirely different reputation in the underworld. It does not matter whether these contacts become known to the public - thieves have their very own ways of spreading the news. A 'good' reputation (through recurring dubious contacts) in the underworld can be quite helpful: The probability of meeting one of the underworld's representatives rises, and under some circumstances, your ships will be totally spared during pirate attacks.
Those who care for a good reputation in the underworld should refrain from pirate hunts and provide no coastal patrols whatsoever: The underworld tends to get very upset when a pirate ship is sunk!
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