Social Status as Levels tend confuse gamers of how they really worked back then. The Social Rank does not confer any abilities or privileges, instead the Person or the Lord's influence is what determines his pecking order. It is the lord's resource to appear powerful is what determines his social status. The best way to illustrate this is actually giving an example in history.
When Pippin the Short was crowned the Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Stephen is a good example where to start. If you look at the historical context as to why, Pippin the short was made the First Holy Roman Emperor (when Constantine was supposed to have the title 400 years earlier) was to get him to help defend Rome from its enemies. So its not that the Pope was Great enough to confirm Pippin, it was an audience who was ready to confirm what the pope has just said.
History and Status has a lot of bluff that becomes relatively true because people had reasons to believed it or tell people about it. In Game Theory and JDM Science we learn how political power works and influence through leverage is effectively maximized or how to peel back the actions to determine who really was behind events and how much of it is chance. Cognitive Science, behavioral economics, allows us to understand the irrationalities that can make words move people when there are rational reasons against the action.
The best way to show how Status works is by taking a Snap Shot of History and listing the capabilities of each piece. An quick example* I can give is from my research into the crusades, looking at the Status of Each Crusader Lord, by all accounts Raymond the IV should be the highest ranking Baron because of his wealth. But Godfrey is the most memorable symbol of the crusades and the most charming, or Consider that people ended up doing what Behomond was proposing and he was able to wrench himself from Alexius' pledge and own Antioch when all these lands was supposed to be returned to the emperor.
They all were called Barons, but it was the youngest son the landless one who ended up king of Jerusalem, Baldwin.
My opinion is to develop concepts of Assets for PCs and powerful NPCs to wield or use. It is their assets and their competence and effectivity that determines Status (which projects Power). I guess after all these history studies, I'm beginning to see Lords as Leaders and their Lands, Soldiers, Retainers etc as Assets. It is their effective handling of these resources and their skill in "playing the game". History's ventures, problems and risks translate to stuff to do and not just stuff that happened.
*still working on this with my freetime. It will take a while especially when I have to just guestimate the GDP of these resources and guess everything else. its not like Lower Lorreign is Listed Company with an IPO.
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