Your reputation is the opinions or beliefs about you that other people hold.
These are not concrete things, unless you are the head of Holcim. They are someone else’s assessment of you, and can be coloured, changed, influenced, or bought. A wise Guild member knows how to manipulate a reputation from both ends – clean and dirty.
If you have a spotless reputation amongst the respectable people of the town – if you have never been detected in any questionable activity or associated with any unfortunate outcome…congratulations. You have a valuable trading asset. You can spin this carefully to generate a steady income, and if you are not greedy, the lustre of it will only increase as time goes by. Everyone loves a winner, even when he tramples them into the dirt.
If your reputation is spotty – or rather if it is markedly different amongst separate groups of people – you need to step more carefully. You are past the point of being the stainless banner that can float on high. But you can still be Old Glory to selected people. If the people who you wish to respect you are important or rich or good looking, do all you can to preserve their good opinion.
If you are admired by the demimonde or worse, you can also benefit, but remember that they do not have as many assets that you can acquire. Keep their friendship only insofar as they can do good for you – once they prove to be worthless, inform on them to the police. If you can derive no reward even from this, introduce them to noted religious and cultural figures and retire discreetly. You never know when they’ll prove amusing.
If you have what could only be described as a rotten reputation – if no-one has a good word for you, no matter how low they themselves are on the social ladder, rejoice. From here on in you can do no wrong.
Of course, all you do is wrong – that’s what reputation and opinion trade upon; judging you guilty for every word that you utter and every silence you hold. I mean you can do no new wrong. So there is no need to judge yourself at all.
Do what you like. If it is horrible, it is only what was expected. If it is charming, kindly, and good, you are also deeply wrong…but your critics can take no notice of it for fear of having to backtrack. You can make someone happy and the critics will feel worse than before.
It’s worth being nice, just to spite ’em.