How's this for a rough guide to clan status?
The Emperor - Is;
The Imperial Clan - Are;
The Very High Clans - Always Have Been;
The High Clans - Did Something;
The Middle Clans - Do Something;
The Low Clans - Serve Someone;
The Very Low Clans - Do Something No One Else Wants To (or can or knows how to).
But how does it work?
(Does it even work? I think it does. It does for sure re. the Very High Status clans who all claim lineages stretching back thousands of years. I haven't tested it extensively for the lower ranks, however. Not yet, anyhow. And there are always going to be exceptions).
But how *does* it work?
Well, say you've got a clan you've made up, or have only a vague description of, and you want to know what status they are. Then you consult the guide.
I recently came up with the following description for a clan:
The Clan of the Third Eye Blue - note that this is a name borrowed from Glorantha. Perhaps we should use "The Clan of the Third Indigo Eye", even though that seems to have some sort of tantric/yoga connection IIRC.
"A very low status clan of nomadic smiths who travel in small family groups with their forges and tools carried in chlén carts. Found in rural areas across Tsolyánu’s central plains, as well as in Pijéna, Saá Allaqí and Yán Kór. They avoid cities and, keeping to the secondary roads, are often welcomed in small villages and towns where established metal-working clans are not as prevalent. Clan houses are small, used primarily for storage with a caretaker to look after it."
I already decided they are "very low" status. Does it "fit"? Well, they are nomads eking out an existence on the secondary roads. They "do something", but I think it is more "do something no one else wants to" so that makes them "very low" rather than "medium".
But that is one I just made up. I can decide what status they should have. What about a canon clan that is ill described? Recently I found a reference to the Clan of the Balanced Stone.
It is based in Ssa'atis, in Mu'ugalavya and is a source of Tsahltén judges. It is also stated to be:
"...famous as a source of reliable body servants, majordomos, chamberlains, accountants and judges of sporting events".
It is stated to be found across the Five Empires.
So what status should it be. Some say "medium", but I personally favour "low".
Does it fit?
It does in the Rough Guide as they "Serve" as their primary reason for being.
There is also a canon example - the Clan of the Granite Lintel - who are "cooks, body-servants and kitchen workers" and which is also "low".
But what about "majordomos, chamberlains, accountants and judges of sporting events"? Would they be "low"? Well, they are still servants, yes?
To say they were "medium" status would give them ideas above their station! :-)
As always...YTMV. :-)