The Houses (2nd House Update)

241 posts / 0 new
Last post
From what I've read some seem to be having questions about how to run Dragonmark Houses, I’m going to try and do write ups on a few of them. I try to not conflict with any written information, but nothing here is to be considered canon. Only my ideas and to help DMs and players alike interact with these institutions.

I’m starting off with some of the less talked about Houses.

House Vadalis

Overview:

Growing up in the Eldeen Reaches, the human families bearing of the Mark of Handling found their powers to be of use against the wild creatures that roamed the untamed emerald sea of trees that grew to the west. The constant need for strong animal labour allowed the House to develop into a subtle but ubiquitous power that exists across the length and breadth of the continent.

While all Dragonmark Houses are a mix between family and business, Vadalis is the House that most closely slides towards the former. Despite its vital economic role in life on Khorvaire, there is an almost rustic charm and directness that permeates the House and its business practices. However they do take slights personally, and if you insult one, the whole family is probably going to hear about it.

Although they are closely linked, House Vadalis and the Handlers Guild are separate entities. The only way into House Vadalis is by birth, marriage, or developing the Mark of Handling; the Guild will hire anyone willing and able to do the work. The Handlers Guild is the actual business, but many positions of influence within are held by Vadalis heirs (not just the dragonmarked individuals). The head of the House controls the business, in fact as well as in name.

While Vadalis is a family before a business, they still can play hardball with their members. Tick off the family too much and you might be assigned to the Shadow Marches to head up the family’s still unsuccessful attempts to breed magebred horrid dire crocodiles. That project always seems to be short staff members. ;)


Business Operations:

At its most basic, the House runs breeding centres for animals. Enclaves are more likely to be found outside urban centres, where the open spaces allow for ranches to contain fantastical beasts and places for them to range. Cities are likely to have distribution centres and stables, but very little actual business is done at these sites. As a House that deals with living things, the heirs prefer to meet a buyer before a sale so as to get to know their customer. Well aware that livestock does not live forever, the heirs of House Vadalis are interested in getting to know their clients as they expect them to be repeat customers.

While the House has a general chaotic bent to it, personal honour and strength of character is valued. A person’s word is considered his or her bond.

Out of all the Dragonmarked Houses, House Vadalis is the most likely to have its members spread throughout many of the small hamlets and thorps across Khorvaire. As farming is still the occupation of the majority, there is always a need for strong work animals and the people who tend to them. A number of these members work with the local population as veterinarians, and not just on magebred animals. This has affectionately earned many of the House’s members the term, “Horse Healer.”

Because of their dispersal throughout the local populations, House Vadalis is seen almost as ‘one of the people’. This is one of the few Houses that can make the transition between noble and commoner without much fuss. As a member of a Dragonmarked House, you’re an elite, and as a member of House Vadalis, you understand the needs of the working world. It’s a unique position that straddles both worlds. Many nobles do have a patronizing attitude towards the House, considering a House Vadalis heir a, ‘country gentleman’ at best, but the power of the House demands their respect.

The secret of Vadalis’ success and monopoly lies both in their breeding of selected animals as well as the ability to bring hidden potential to the fore. A magebred animal is the result of centuries of selective breeding to highlight certain desirable traits, as well as a regulated diet of certain mystic herbs that coaxes these traits to their full expression as the animal grows to maturity. Without this magical feed, an animal won’t reach the potential offered by the magebred template. Once achieved, regular feed will not remove the template, making magebred animals no more expensive to care for.

The House maintains its edge over other breeders by controlling the secrets of their feed as well as spaying or neutering animals before they are sold outside the family. When you purchase from Vadalis, you are buying the beast, not the bloodline.

Why would someone buy animals for work when House Cannith can craft an elemental wagon and have the gnomes of Zilargo implant an elemental in it? The horse needs upkeep and will eventually die. Why not spend much up front and save in the long run?

Many nobles simply do not have the funds needed to purchase something so esoteric as an elemental powered combine. As well, an elemental cart built for tilling the land is good for that, but limited it what else it can accomplish. A magebred horse can till the land, uproot trees, serve as a mount; anything a regular horse can accomplish. A magebred animal also needs a human hand to help guide it. This keeps the workers on the lord’s lands busy. Elemental powered combines would leave many unemployed, and no noble likes the thought of having a large number of unemployed citizens on their land, annoyed at being put out of work.

There are also psychological issues. While adventurers are well known for embracing weird concepts, most people are far more comfortable with the notion of magically powerful animals than some soulless machine. And there is something about a majestic griffon standing at attention behind a lady as she holds court or a team of magnificent oxen steadily working away that can not be matched by an animated contraption.

Along with work animals, Vadalis also specializes in rearing beasts for guard duty or other roles. The Thranish air cavalry infamous for its wyverns gets these creatures from House Vadalis, as do other nations their griffons, hippogriffs, and other specialized beasts. It is an expensive, specialized market, but it has been a growth field for the Handlers Guild.

Smaller areas of work the Guild operates in include: caravan and coach drivers, regular animal trainers, and animal messenger services for out of the way locations. These less critical services keep the House interacting with the common folk on a local level.

With their continued work on improving the feed for magebred animals, Vadalis also holds a remarkable trove of herb-lore. There are even rumours that some heirs are beginning to adapt their skills to monstrous plants.

Even more unsavoury rumours suggest some misanthropic members of the House are attempting to use Dragonshard items to develop ways of Handling humanoids.

Personality:

The individual members of the House are rurally orientated, and have a casual attitude towards things like deadlines and timetables. Nature turns and returns according to its own schedule, so man-made concerns like “have it done by the end of the month!” don’t really mean much. (This attitude infuriates House Orien to no end.)

The House is strongly chaotic, with whom you know in the House being important to any relationship. Just because you work well with a Vadalis heir in Breland means nothing to the members in Thrane. Get to know the names of any Vadalis handler you interact with, because unless you can drop some names, you’re nothing more than an out of town stranger trying to cut a deal.


Allies:

House Orien:

The House of Passage has used magebred mounts for centuries, forging a close alliance between these two giants; personality conflicts notwithstanding. Nearly all couriers inside a major city and caravans will use Vadalis transportation to ensure the cargo arrives as quickly as possible.

The use of the lightning rail by Orien is mocked within House Vadalis. As the rail is expensive and only travels between major cities, Vadalis hasn’t seen it impacting too much on their business with Orien over the years. Caravans are still needed to travel from these cities to other locations keeping a steady business for the House of Handling. Still, the House generally frowns on the rail as a new-fangled gadget and will generally avoid it if possible. Their reluctance to use the lightning rail is summed up by the phrase, “If we can’t breed it, we don’t ride it.”

The close relationship between these Houses has lead to a few troubles over the long years. It is rumoured that a significant portion of the humans with aberrant Dragonmarks can trace their history to members of these two houses that developed a ‘close working relationship.’

Commoners:

Many people from bonds with the animals they work with, and as such hold those who provide the beasts or understand them in high esteem. The House is also seen (rightly or wrongly) as being made up of working stiffs you can relate to.

Nobles:

Less likely to support Vadalis on an everyday basis, many nobles can still fondly recall a treasured magebred dog or cat as a pet from their youth. While they might make fun of a particular heir behind his or her back, they do respect the power the House can bring to bear.

House Ghallanda:

Young handlers often are assigned work in the stables of Ghallanda inns, taking care of guest’s mounts and increasing the reputation of a stay at a House of Hospitality inn. The abuse outsiders often unknowingly inflict on their poor working mounts annoy many Handling Guild members, so these are not plumb assignments.

Rivals:

The Ashbound:

This druidic sect hates Vadalis’ practice of mixing arcane magic with natural creatures, considering the whole House corrupt, sick and inhumane. Small in numbers but still dangerous, the Ashbound represent the greatest physical danger to the House.

House Jorasco:

Many House Vadalis members spread throughout the lands possess information on basic medicine and knowledge of how to deal with injury in order to be veterinarians. As well, the need to develop formulas for the feed to produce magebred animals has resulted in a large amount of herb-lore existing within the House.

Because of this, many commoners see the ‘Horse Healer’ as more pleasant and friendlier than the business of healing House Jorasco runs. A Vadalis enclave is likely to have quite a bit of medical knowledge, and have a few healing potions for sale to members of the local community; adventurers passing through are probably out of luck. As this really isn’t a focus of the House, just a by-product of their ways, the House of Healing maintains cordial but cool relations with Vadalis.

The Valenar:

As the Guild that deals with living things, Vadalis boasts a sizable number of elves amongst its members. These are not blood heirs to the house, but trusted employees of the Handlers Guild.

Thus, the House thought it had a good grasp of elven psyche. They believed they would have no trouble negotiating with the Valenar to get some of their excellent horses. What trouble could there be?

More than expected it turns out. Since the Valenar can trace their mounts’ bloodlines back 40,000 years to those ridden by the heroes of Xen’drik, they see their mounts as companions in their ride for glory. It is a matter of honour. They would not sell.

Unable to understand this different kind of elf –as the old joke goes, “Sure we like horses… just not in the same way those elves do!” :D -- Vadalis attempted to do some horse rustling about twenty years ago. The Valenar were outraged, but their honour also hindered their response: killing an animal breeder does not bring glory to your ancestor. In a huff, the elves banned Vadalis from their lands and to this day, the two groups do not get along.

In an odd case of good luck within bad, this ‘standing up’ to the militaristic elves increased House Vadalis’ reputation among the war weary civilians of Khorvaire.

House Deneith:

While the House of Sentinel controls the private army market in Khorvaire, Vadalis does sell a low but steady number of guardian beasts to certain clients, cutting down on the need for mercenaries. The fact these beasts roam around Vadalis enclaves while there are being trained also means the enclaves do not require Deneith security.
Great write up! waiting for your Lyrandar "shard" ;)

Isran
I can actually see Deneith being a customer of Vadalis. Sentinel Marshals have to ride something when fugatives flee into the boondocks. Also, a member of the Defenders Guild is that much more menacing while atop a Vadalis griffon -- just the thing for a powerful noble when he wants to flaunt his wealth. As for less expensive guarding, I think Vadalis would fill the niche of continuously guarding property (guard dogs and so on), while Deneith is better at guarding people.
Great write up! waiting for your Lyrandar "shard" ;) Isran

Thanks! It was fun to write, although it did take longer than I thought it would.

If feedback suggests there's enough interest to continue these, I'm going to be trying out the smaller/less-PC-interactive Houses first, to cut my teeth on them as it were. I'll hit the big PC-interacting ones: Lyrandar, Cannaith, Deneith, etc, near the end when I've got more experience writing about them.

I can actually see Deneith being a customer of Vadalis. Sentinel Marshals have to ride something when fugatives flee into the boondocks. Also, a member of the Defenders Guild is that much more menacing while atop a Vadalis griffon -- just the thing for a powerful noble when he wants to flaunt his wealth. As for less expensive guarding, I think Vadalis would fill the niche of continuously guarding property (guard dogs and so on), while Deneith is better at guarding people.

When I say Rivals, it covers anything from the Ashbound: who will try and kill a Vadalis heir in a very messy way if they can get away with it, to House Jorasco: who simply are minorly perturbed at the fact Vadalis sells a few healing potions.

With Deneith, of course Deneith buys from Vadalis. If you want the best mounts you buy from the best breeders. But the fact is in some cases Vadalis' guardian beasts are taking business from the House of Sentinel. Deneith doesn't like losing business like that, but it doesn't mean they're about to wage economic warfare on the Handlers Guild. It just means a Vadalis heir can't expect a Deneith heir to cut them any slack.

Again, this is all my vision and nothing is canon, but I see Deneith as offering both personal protection (bodyguards) and location protection (well trained security guards). Vadalis is taking away some of this business (although not as much as House Tharaskh is now). A Vadalis dire wolf is an effective security guard (and in some ways more effective). And for a noble's personal protection, consider how loyal griffons are in D&D fluff. A noble who has a griffon imprinted on them gains a very loyal guard.

Of course there is a trade off. A griffon can't go everywhere a Deneith guard can, but a griffon gives a sense of majesty that even a platoon of Deneith's finest can't.
Great stuff! I'd love to see more. Its strange how some of the houses fell by the wayside. I even forgot a few of them existed. Its natural I guess. You have to concentrate on something. And your fleshing out of these "lesser known" houses is really inspiring.
Excellent, great work. With the Deneith providing security, I really see house Medani being the high priced rent-a-cops of the world, if you have an important location you want kept safe, get some half elves, if theres people involved get Deneith. I just noticed that there are 3 houses overtly about saftey of some sort,Deneith, Medani, Kundarak and Vadalis is to a lesser extent as you point out. Dragonmarks, The Prophecy, saftey, hmm, mabye a connection, or is my mind running on a few hours of sleep making wild conjectures?
This is excellent Fireballed Mage. It reads like a dragonshard. Not only is it very well-written, you captured what House Vadalis ought to be. This is exactly the way I'd conceived the House. I especially liked the way you explored their relations with other powers.
Sarlax Chicago, IL --- Find local gamers via Google Maps @ http://nearbygamers.com/
You had better write more, lest I get off my lazy but and finally invent that device to stab people over the internet.

Because this is pretty good stuff, and we all want more. And if it doesn't come... well, let's see how creative I can get. ;)

:P
In order to avoid the threat of stabby death over the internet, I present to you the next House I've done.

These will probably work out to about one a week. I am getting pretty busy right now, and I also want to stay a few Houses ahead of what I'm posting.

Anyway...


House Medani

“Exactly why am I paying you again? I’ve never seen you do a thing.”

“Good. If you ever see me working, it means your life is in real danger.”


Overview:

The War of the Mark was a vicious affair as Dragonmark fought Dragonmark. Anyone bearing a mark but not in a recognized House was thought dangerous and hunted. In return the aberrants fought back with mace and magic, but also by attempting to create legitimacy through breeding their marks true.

But an aberrant mark does not breed true, and these attempts failed. However, despite all the horror of those turbulent times a new House did form.

The powers of the Mark of Detection gave its members the ability to sniff out trouble before it found them. This capability allowed the half-elves with the mark to survive and band together for protection. They earned their entry into the Dragonmarked Houses by using their abilities to uncover many of the more dangerous mixed marks that were in hiding. Numerous aberrants who know the history of their marks hold Medani in contempt as traitors and sell-outs to this day.

Still considered a young, upstart House among the Dragonmarked, Medani does its best to toil away quietly, drawing as little attention to itself as possible. Their job is to see, not be seen. The House is relatively small, with fewer members and limited resources compared to a giant like House Cannith. It makes up by promoting a strong, almost driven work ethic; very few in Medani are slackers.

The House of Detection and the Warning Guild it controls are primarily urban creatures. Most of the Guild’s customers are nobles or other persons of wealth and influence. The specialized services the House offers are simply not needed by the majority of the population.

The Warning Guild also makes use of a large number of changelings. While they cannot become heirs to Medani, many changelings find the Guild’s watchful nature to be intriguing and a good fit with their natural curiosity. A spy must know about the people she’s infiltrating; but a counter-spy gets to learn about the people she’s protecting and the people who are trying to sneak in. Medani likes this arrangement as well; who better to help prepare against deception and trickery than changelings?


Business Operations:

The Warning Guild offers personal security for a world filled with unseen dangers. A person of wealth is less likely to know personal violence on a routine basis; such things are the dangers of lower class living. But the noble must worry about poison in the food, an assassin who infiltrates the cleaning staff, or money from a rival that is used to conjure and send forth a deadly spectre. Eberron is a world of terrible wonders and fantastic dangers; someone has to know how to watch out for such things.

The House of Detection generally acts in a proactive manner, seeking out dangers that could harm their clients and eliminating them with the least amount of fuss. Ideally a client shouldn’t ever realize they were in danger, the agent taking care of the problem before it is made apparent. It does make it hard for the Warning Guild to advertise its successes, but it is well known that those who hire Medani agents are more likely to die of old age than those who do not.

You’re not going to find a Medani heir standing guard in the corridor outside the lord’s bedchamber; any thug with a sword can do that. Instead the Warning agent will:

• Be out drinking in a local pub, getting to know the local criminal elements. Using the natural abilities of half-elves (+2 to diplomacy and gather information checks), they will befriend those most likely to know if something is going down.

• Hire adventurers to acquire information on potential dangers that may threaten her client. This gives the agent’s employer ‘plausible deniability’ if the party messes up.

• Attempt to sneak into their own employer’s compound, discovering its weaknesses. A racial +1 to listen, search and spot checks (and an additional +2 to spot for those with the Mark of Detection itself), gives the members of House Medani a good grasp of holes that exist in the security of their client. A hole known is a weakness that can be plugged before someone less savoury uses it.

• Know the grapevine that exists in the client’s social circle. Information is power and power attracts attention. Knowing who dislikes the man you’re supposed to protect tells you where to focus your attention.

• Defend their employer from unseen threats. The detect magic, detect scrying and detect invisibility powers of their Mark allows Medani to intercept a threat before it moves in to strike.

• Keep an eye on the staff. Poison is the favoured seasoning of the nobility, so knowing the lives of those who run the household is critical to keeping the lady of the manor alive. Detect poison is one of the services most requested from Medani.

• Perform escort duty. That gorgeous half-elven blond hanging off Duke Such-and-such’s arm is not his new mistress, but instead a trained Medani agent. She may look like a ditz with that vacant smile, but that’s because she’s listening, not talking. She hears what people are saying, and what remains unsaid. If she senses a threat she can subtly remove her charge from danger without anyone being the wiser.


Along with such actions, House Medani also offers protection of a more cerebral nature. Public relations, diplomacy, protecting political and social reputations are all things the Warning Guild does as well. The natural camaraderie that half-elves extrude permit them to smooth over difficulties, and their ability to gather information allows them to be aware of such problems before things become public. Someone wishing to improve their standing at court should probably have an agent coach them on ways to make a good impression and faux pas to avoid.

Because elvish blood and the gift of magic run through their veins, there are a fair number of mages in House Medani. The Warning Guild has many members with a few levels of wizard or sorcerer, and the lack of a half-elf favoured class restriction means this is not a deterrent to further advancement. The House uses these specialists to augment their regular protection services. Abjuration, illusion, and divination are the schools of focus in Medani; generalists are much rarer, while evokers and warmages are almost unseen.

Experts make up most of the House Medani work force. They take skills such as diplomacy, sense motive, gather information, listen, search, spot, knowledge (nobility and royalty) and similar choices. Rouge, bard, scout, specialist wizard and master inquisitive are all common classes for advanced Medani members.

Personality:

Because of their focus on dealing with unseen and sudden threats, many members of the House have difficulty relaxing in the presence of others. While as friendly and open as any other half-elf, ‘tightly wound’ is a phrase often applied to members of the Warning Guild. ‘Paranoid’ is another.

As a Guild, Medani embraces a lawful view as they must offer consistent, reliable and meticulous services. However, the nature of unseen, unexpected threats often requires individual Medani agents to ‘think outside the box’ and play hunches, a chaotic trait. Collectively, the House is neutral, leaning towards lawful.


Friends:

Nobles:


Having a long working relationship with many noble houses gives Medani the ears of a number of powerful people. Many know they would be dead but for the hard work of their Medani employee.

House Deneith:

These two Houses have a professional/competitive relationship. While on the surface it would seem as if they are in competition with each other over how to guard a target, the fact is that their different areas of expertise means they often have to work together. Medani agents often point out targets for Deneith people to deal with.

While they work together, there is respectful antagonism. Medani often refer to Deneith mercenaries as, “my loud and crude friends,” while Deneith call Medani agents, “that sneaky, paranoid wuss.”

The kingdom of Breland:

The current head of Medani is an old friend of King Boranel. This gives the House a large amount of leeway in their operations in the kingdom.

The Church of the Silver Flame:

As the goal of the Church is to protect the world and those in it, a House that can sniff out unseen dangers is seen as a natural ally. The assistance Medani provided in unveiling hidden lycanthropes during the final stages of the Purge is seen as proof that the House and Church are working towards similar goals.

The Silver Flame is a popular choice for religious minded half-elves in the House, with protection and exorcism being the domains of choice. Medani is careful to retain a respectful working relationship with the clergy, but not get too close. Their job is to protect their clients, and some fear that a crusading zeal for purity may one day demand secrets the House is sworn to protect.


Rivals:

Ex-Medani agents:


The pressure of constantly watching for invisible enemies is hard on the psyche. Many elder Medani members suffer from some level of paranoia. While it is part of their job to be paranoid, in a few cases all that stress causes them to crack. With the amount of inside knowledge these agents possess, what form their insanity takes can lead to serious problems.

Nobles:

Medani works closely to protect the secrets of the rich and powerful. This gives agents access to a remarkable amount of blackmail material, if they so choose. You have to walk a fine line with such knowledge, and in some cases, one side or the other misjudges their relationship.

And there is always the danger that junior doesn’t want to wait for his inheritance. Accidents are easier to arrange if the specialist is somehow ‘indisposed.’ Amongst Medani agents, you often are as busy looking for danger within the walls as from without.

The Dreaming Dark:

An insidious force, the Dreaming Dark is slowly working its way into the lives of the rich and powerful. House Medani has uncovered and stopped many Dreaming Dark agents, but remains unaware of the true nature of the nightmare they are struggling against. If the agents of Dal Quor can infiltrate the House of Detection, their job of quietly turning people to their way of thinking will become much easier.

The Lords of Dust:

Loving to sow havoc and misery, the Lords of Dust enjoy infiltration and manipulation, sometimes just for the fun of it. Medani agents are often on the frontline in this eternal battle.

Houses Phiarlan and Thuranni:

The Houses of Shadow are about acquiring information and (occasionally) assassination. These objectives put them in direct conflict with Medani’s goal of protection. The Houses do not get along, with the elven Houses almost fondly patronizing towards their half-human cousins, and Medani doggedly working to keep the secrets of their clients safe.

The Chamber:

The dragons find it an infuriating paradox that an element of the Prophecy gives this lesser race a way to discover several of the dragons’ own methods of spying. Some dragons see it as proof that the progenitors have a twisted sense of humour.
Another good article. I'd suggest that you say not only that Medani employs changelings but that there are actually many changelings in the family. Over the centuries, those close working relationships will often developed into romances and marriages.
Sarlax Chicago, IL --- Find local gamers via Google Maps @ http://nearbygamers.com/
Bravo Fireball Mage!
Both articles were a joy to read, they gave a real insight into the dragonmarked houses. I am currently playing an heir of Vadalis, so the ideas you have provided will be very valuable in indeed! You have done a great job with Medani, you have really helped me to define what it means to be an heir of Medani, and provided several great ideas for plot hooks and NPCs along the way!
Once more, excellent job :D
The Dragon Above - Eberron news and new content for both 3E and 4E. Home of the Eberron Bestiary.
Request: Do House Orien. They seem to get a lot of attention in official material, but most people think of them as teleporters and the operators of the lightning rail. I was surprised to find that my players didn't even realize that some of the Mark of Passage powers allowed flight and summoned mounts.
Another good article. I'd suggest that you say not only that Medani employs changelings but that there are actually many changelings in the family. Over the centuries, those close working relationships will often developed into romances and marriages.

Not likely: while it is entirely possible that changling agents and Medani heirs may develop romantic attachments, they won't be accepted into the family because they cannot carry the mark within their bloodline and will never be able to say lawfully that they are a d'Medani. Read City of Towers and see how the matriarchs/patriarchs tend to marry the 'marked with other 'marked in a attempt to devlop more children with dragonmarks.

As for the article, excellent work. I shall be expecting them every week, towards the end of the week. If this schedule is inturrupted for some reason not explained, expect several e-mails poking you to post from me. Just to remind you. ;)

And stabbity death is always a good death. Most people just don't realize it.
Bravo Fireball Mage!

That's Fireballed Mage. Small change, big difference. :D


Both articles were a joy to read, they gave a real insight into the dragonmarked houses. I am currently playing an heir of Vadalis, so the ideas you have provided will be very valuable in indeed! You have done a great job with Medani, you have really helped me to define what it means to be an heir of Medani, and provided several great ideas for plot hooks and NPCs along the way!

Excellent...

I am glad that people are finding these useful. I've been on the boards since before the Eberron roll out, and have noticed a lack of love about the Houses. I don't think most DMs or players deal with guilds on a regular basis in their games, except for thieves guilds, so providing ideas is something most will benefit from.

Another good article. I'd suggest that you say not only that Medani employs changelings but that there are actually many changelings in the family. Over the centuries, those close working relationships will often developed into romances and marriages.

Like Solarious suggested, the bloodline you bring into the House is a serious issue. I see even the most open of the Houses as being pretty elitist when it comes to marriage and the blood. You can have lovers and affairs on the side, but marriages affect the future of the House bloodline and the Mark in question, so outsiders with no chance of strengthing the blood of the House are only rarely let in.

Besides, with how paranoid most Medani members are, I doubt they really feel comfortable with anyone outside the family.

Request: Do House Orien. They seem to get a lot of attention in official material, but most people think of them as teleporters and the operators of the lightning rail. I was surprised to find that my players didn't even realize that some of the Mark of Passage powers allowed flight and summoned mounts.

I hope to get to all the Houses eventually (although, maybe not the ones Hellcow does Dragonshards on). Orien is not on my short-list of completed ones yet, but I will get something on it at some point.

If this schedule is inturrupted for some reason not explained, expect several e-mails poking you to post from me. Just to remind you. ;)

And stabbity death is always a good death. Most people just don't realize it.

Maybe I should try it; it would be a nice change. Most of the time I die from my arcane experiements detonating in my face. So much so that I get a bulk discount on my raise dead at the local Jorasco enclave. :P
As you command: when I come for you, it will be with a dull, rusty, jagged dagger adressed to 'occupant'. :evillaugh

Don't worry, I'll leave enough of you to drag back to the enclave...
Excellent work. This will also be useful in my campaign. So far, the PCs have dealt with both House Medani and House Vedalis and these writeups will greatuly assist in fleshing out the world.

Cheers
Like Solarious suggested, the bloodline you bring into the House is a serious issue. I see even the most open of the Houses as being pretty elitist when it comes to marriage and the blood. You can have lovers and affairs on the side, but marriages affect the future of the House bloodline and the Mark in question, so outsiders with no chance of strengthing the blood of the House are only rarely let in.

Besides, with how paranoid most Medani members are, I doubt they really feel comfortable with anyone outside the family.

Blood is a very effective way to ensure loyalty. The issue of "outsiders" isn't so strong that it would prevent intermarriage. After all, we are talking about human(oids), a notoriously active group. Although marriage itself might not be common, affairs certainly would be. There's a reason why changelings have a borderline monopoly on the brothel business in Sharn.

Additionally, it's already been noted that other houses can have members of other races. House Orien and Cannith certainly have half-elves and a few half-orcs in their numbers. Even if they'll never have a mark, they're still family.

I'm reminded of Goodfellas here when Henry Hill narrates that he and Jimmy will never be made. They're half-bloods. They can be soldiers, but only a full-blooded Italian can be a made-man.
Sarlax Chicago, IL --- Find local gamers via Google Maps @ http://nearbygamers.com/
Blood is a very effective way to ensure loyalty.

Medani probably thinks differently. After centuries of preventing clients from being bumped off by family members, the House probably finds the phrase "Blood is thicker than water," to crack them up everytime.

Additionally, it's already been noted that other houses can have members of other races. House Orien and Cannith certainly have half-elves and a few half-orcs in their numbers. Even if they'll never have a mark, they're still family.

I never meant to say that the Houses never accept 'outsiders' in, only that it probably is pretty rare. Every time you allow a blood heir to marry someone who can't carry the Mark, you're sacrificing the future profitability and power of your House.

Welcoming someone into a guild is fine. Letting them marry your sister...

In my games there will be 'outsiders' in the Houses, but each and every one of them will have to have their own story of how they and their loved one overcame the disapproving glare from the rest of the family.
Ex-Medani agents:

The pressure of constantly watching for invisible enemies is hard on the psyche. Many elder Medani members suffer from some level of paranoia. While it is part of their job to be paranoid, in a few cases all that stress causes them to crack. With the amount of inside knowledge these agents possess, what form their insanity takes can lead to serious problems.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE that aspect of the house. If i may make a suggestion............. SLEEP, EAT, BREATHE LESS; WRITE MORE!!!!!!!!!!!! you are offically one of the bestest (i know no such word exists but it does for now) posters on these boards. keep em comming,
House Medani

“Exactly why am I paying you again? I’ve never seen you do a thing.”

“Good. If you ever see me working, it means your life is in real danger.”

LOL wery god indeed

:heehee
I'll pipe in to say that I love these as well. Medani is my favorite (I can't wait to use them now). My vote would be for Kundarak next
Bravo! Maybe these articles aren't canonical, but they'll serve as such for my game.

I especially like the way you remind us that a difference exists between the Houses and their Guilds, and how you took the half-elven racial qualities into account for House Medani. Excellent attention to detail.

I suspect that before approving (or arranging) marriages, the Dragonmarked Houses are big on "background checks" to avoid embarassing things like planetouched in-laws and aberrant marks. Going by Fireballed Mage fluff, would such investigations be the province of Medani (Mark of Detection) or Tharashk (Mark of Finding)? Or is such a matter more likely to be handled in-house?
Fireballed Mage, I am seriously impressed! Your write-up of House Medani is *exactly* how I play them in game. Thank you!
Going by Fireballed Mage fluff,

Now there's a phrase I'd never expect to have been applied to me.

I suspect that before approving (or arranging) marriages, the Dragonmarked Houses are big on "background checks" to avoid embarassing things like planetouched in-laws and aberrant marks. Going by Fireballed Mage fluff, would such investigations be the province of Medani (Mark of Detection) or Tharashk (Mark of Finding)? Or is such a matter more likely to be handled in-house?

I see the Houses as keeping their own records. Something so important as the bloodline of your Dragonmark and the prevention of aberrants is too imporatant to leave to outsiders, who may have agendas of their own.

House Sivis probably keeps duplicate records of people of note (royalty, nobility, Dragonmark Houses), but information on merchants and commoners are probably not kept at any level beyond that needed to tax people.

The Houses would be extremely interested in doing background checks on any potential mate entering the family. A Dragonmark affects future prosperity and purity, so ensuring your line produces more marked individuals is of great concern. This kind of research is something for the scribes of House Sivis, as opposed to Medani and Tharaskh. Hunting down birth records and geneology is more library work, and that isn't the Warning and Finder Guild's focus.

I can see the members of the two Houses tasked with finding midwives or family friends, though.

The House records are probably very good, although there will be some gaps and some intentional misrepresentation. (Don't like Cousin Fred? Make a forgery that while your Aunt Edna is pure, that fool she married got some elf blood from his great-great-great-great- well, you get the idea.) As well, not everyone wants to admit to every dalliance, affair, or one-night stand. I dare say quite a number of the orphans left on church doorsteps in the middle of the night probably have the potential to be Marked.

New blood is welcomed into the House, but only after careful research. A highly successful self-made person would be welcome, because they've proven their abilities and the whole House would benefit from their joining. So long as there is no risk (or no discovered risk) of mixing Marks, the House would grow stronger from the addition.

Each House probably keeps its own records at their main headquarters. This raises some issues with the loss of House Cannith's HQ in Cyre. Because of this, whole lines of the family are now in question as to who can marry whom. I see some possibilities:

1) There are going to be an increase in the number of aberrants born to House Cannith for the next few generations.

2) House Cannith becomes a very closed shop --as it were-- with regards to marriage, because of the fear.

3) A mix of both, as this is most likely to give naferious DMs things to work with. :lightbulb:

Matchmaking is probably the full-contact spectator sport of choice in the Houses. I also see the elder women of the House as having great power over the final decision whether to allow a marriage or not. A Marked House matron looking over your future mate adds a whole new meaning to the phrase Dragon Lady.

And as I mentioned in another thread, the Dragonmark Houses probably see family reunions as a good place to meet chicks and/or studs. Your sister might be off limits, but your 3rd cousin over there is looking pretty cute... and her Dragonmark offsets the colour of her eyes nicely... :inlove:
Said The Fireballed Mage:
House Sivis probably keeps duplicate records of people of note (royalty, nobility, Dragonmark Houses), but information on merchants and commoners are probably not kept at any level beyond that needed to tax people.

Hey, there's another fun role for Sivis beyond notary public: heraldric college. Who better to check, approve, and register your coat of arms?
House Tharashk

“Run, and I will hunt. Hide, and I will Find.”

Overview:

Five hundred years ago House Sivis investigated the Shadow Marches and discovered vast fields of Eberron dragonshards, along with a previously unknown true mark. The gnomes were delighted with the wealth they had discovered, but absolutely euphoric that they had uncovered a secret of the world in the form of a new true breeding Dragonmark.

Some members with the Mark of Finding traveled back with the gnomes and saw the wonders and horrors of civilized Khorvarie. Rather than be overwhelmed with all they experienced amongst the Five Nations, the half-orcs and humans made a decision to preserve their lands against such encroachment. In order to achieve that goal they realized they needed power that outsiders would recognize. The travellers had learned much about the world from the gnomes and saw the influence Dragonmark Houses commanded.

Upon returning to the Marches, these half-orcs and humans utilized the bards among them to spread their plan to other clans. The vivid descriptions of nations held captive to unchecked civilization was enough to convince many to accept the need for new innovation, but limit it to their terms.

Possessing this vision, the clans that shared the Mark of Finding joined together to present a solid front to the outside world. The Shadow Marches now had a protector, and one that quickly became rich enough to keep most outsiders away.

Tharashk is less a House than an allied collection of individuals, clans and families. The solitary nature of investigators, prospectors, and bounty hunters usually means members look after themselves. When dealing with the outside world, they are a House. Inside, things are not so monolithic. Clan allegiance is usually even more important than loyalty your immediate family.

The House is strongly democratic, with leaders customarily seeking consensus before making important decisions, or a collection of elders being tasked with decision making. Most members will abide by the results and openly contested decisions are infrequent.

Also, there is no real stigma against individuals doing their own thing. If you have a problem with a decision you can go your own way. Provided the matter is not a serious issue nor involves too many acting against the decision, such individualism is usually accepted.

With humans, half-orcs, and orcs being blood members of the House, Tharaskh has a unique blend of cultures that few of the more selective Houses can boast. There is a vibrant sense of life to the House, with three distinct peoples contributing their vision to the whole. Crazy schemes such as prospecting voyages to Xen’drik or Demon Wastes excavations abound among the youth. While orcs cannot manifest the Mark of Finding, their strength, bonds with nature, and simple spirituality is recognized within the House. It is often they who act as a voice of reason keeping other members grounded in reality.

Shifters have carved significant places for themselves in the Finders Guild. Not too interested in prospecting generally, many weretouched find the idea of investigating or hunting down a bounty appeals to their soul-deep desire for the hunt. Clues left at a crime scene are just a different kind of trail to sniff out and follow, while a criminal who flees is prey to be gleefully stalked.

Scouts, trailblazers, trackers, trappers, investigators, miners; all can find a place in the Finders Guild as well. Many are experts or warriors, with feats and skills focusing on living amongst the wilds as opposed to saying pretty words. Rangers, scouts and rogues are common classes for the advanced Finder Guild member. Many a would-be bandit has been shocked however, to find that barbarians also fit nicely into these roles.

Druidic support at Finder Guild enclaves is prevalent across the continent. Wizardry and artificers are uncommon, but a number of the humans and half-orcs from the Shadow Marches display the talents of sorcery. It may be they have a connection to secrets of the Progenitors, or it could be lingering corruption from the Daelkyr invasion of long ago.



Business Operations:

It may be surprising, but even though the youngest house, House Tharashk is one of the richest. Their wealth comes from a number of different sources: specialized mercenaries, prospecting, bounty hunting, and their true money maker, Eberron dragonshards.

The Shadow Marches are made up of swamps, marshes, bogs, and fens. For reasons known only to the Prophecy, these harsh lands are filled with raw, unclaimed Eberron shards. This prized cargo is brought in by Finder Guild prospectors who till the watery fields, searching for the crystals hidden in geodes like some kind of mystic fossil. It is this flow of Eberron shards that forms the bulk of the House’s riches.

As this is the key to the House’s wealth, it needs to be well protected. Strange and deadly things lurk in the Shadow Marches, and Tharaskh is always on the look out for those brave enough to challenge the bogs.

Prospecting is the other significant money maker for House Tharashk. Possessing the Mark of Finding gives the members of the House and edge on those seeking wealth from the earth. However, many of these same prospectors are individualistic people with no interest in the shifty arts of negotiation. House Tharashk acts as an agent, bringing together those who wish to sell with those who wish to purchase.

The House successfully set itself up as the Finders Guild, buying the claims from these mountain men and women. The prospectors benefit, knowing Tharashk will pay them a fair price for their work. The House then operates the mine, or else approaches other mining guilds. The other guilds are eager to work with the Finders Guild, knowing that the odds a Tharashk prospector having found a viable vein of ore is above average.

Other services offered by House Tharashk include bounty hunting and private investigation. These locally offered services generally do not interest the House at any level above the individual contracted. These activities simply do not have the volume of work needed to occupy the attention of the House, but many members do quite well branching out into these fields. If you want something or someone found, acquired or hunted down, Tharashk is the House to talk to. Many deserters from the Last War were returned to their units by the Finders Guild.

For the desperate commoner, cash conscious noble or guildsman, a Tharaskh investigator serves the needs of spy. Houses Phiarlan and Thuranni have the best intelligence agents, but they only work for the big players. Much run-of-the-mill cloak and dagger work is done by Tharaskh people.

Law enforcement agencies in larger cities often have standing contracts with Finder Guild members to assist them with investigations. Sheriffs in smaller towns often know if a Finder Guild member operates in their area and will get word to them if they have work. If Guild members are occupied, adventurers are frequently called in to fill the void.

With the rise of Doraam and the stability provided by the Daughters of Sora Kell, House Tharashk is attempting a new business venture: the supply of monstrous mercenaries. Acting as broker and clearinghouse for the Doraam creatures, Tharashk uses their contacts with merchant houses to introduce the concept of monstrous guards. Deneith has held a lock on the professional soldier for hire market on Khorvaire for centuries, and finds this new competitor unwelcome.

The monsters possess an intimidation value that even a platoon of Deneilth’s finest can not match. Because of their savage nature most monsters are cheaper to upkeep: more meat in their diets, but conditions can be left almost barbaric in their simplicity.

And for truly specialized needs, nothing beats having a troll, or a medusa among the ranks. A harpy guard can sing an intruder to passivity, and deliver the unresisting miscreant to the authorities. (Or can dine on the fool, removing any evidence.) This is the key selling feature for Tharashk mercenaries: special abilities unseen in the common soldier, but still trained to take orders.

So far a number of people are still uneasy with the thought of monstrous soldiers. Many remember the Darguun rebellion and all that involved. Some places, like Thrane, find the whole idea of relying on monsters to be a grotesque practice. Still, the power of the monsters can not be understated, and the troops House Tharashk vouch for have been specially selected and trained to make a good impression. Many experienced soldiers are sick of war, and in some areas mercenaries are otherwise hard to come by. This is a new field of exploration for the House and it remains to be seen how successful the venture will be.

Personality:

The orcs, half-orcs, and humans of the Finders Guild tend to be very spiritual people. They don’t worship the Sovereign Host much, but instead have a simple spiritualism that supports them throughout their lives. Druidic rituals predominate, with worship of Eberron and appeasement of Khyber often mixing together. Appeasement of the Dragon Below can often slide into outright veneration, and Cults of the Dragon Below often find converts among the Finders Guild.

The members of the House are usually neutral or chaotic, with very little lawful to balance it out. As such Tharashk and the Guild tend towards chaos, shown in the individualistic nature of its members and the sometimes extravagant plans of its youth. Older members tend to be more cynical and world-weary.

Many House members wander the fens and forests of the world in an aching search for something. They know not what, except that it is something unseen, indescribable by words. They feel that an epiphany to true understanding and contentment with themselves and the world will be found somewhere on their journey, or as part of the journey itself. Many of these who wander this way refer to their Mark as one of Seeking, rather than Finding.


Allies:

House Vadalis:


Many in the House of Finding are loners, roaming the backcountry and prowling the moors, glens, and hills of Khorvaire. As such they often require a strong animal to provide them with reliable transportation and muscle power.

Vadalis’ magebred mounts are the beasts of choice for the Tharashk traveller with enough coin. Their sturdy constitutions and ease of training make them popular choices for the wilderness wanderer. Vadalis’ down to earth nature makes that House the easiest to get along with a Tharashk loner.

House Sivis:

Having brought the Mark of Finding to attention of the outside world, the gnomes consider this discovery to be the epitome of a lifetime spent learning secrets. Just looking at a Mark of Finding brings childlike glee to a gnome as they imagine what it must have been like to unearth a secret of the Prophecy, and hope they might be the one to do it again. This sense of triumph makes the gnomes only too happy to work with Theraskh.

While the Houses have remained strongly united over the past few centuries, House Tharashk members still don’t really understand the gnomes. All they know is that the wee folk have acted with fairness. Fairness mixed with some very strange behaviour on occasion, but fairness nonetheless. In some ways not understanding each other in the slightest, these two Houses nevertheless manage to work together almost seamlessly.

House Lyrandar:

As the major shipper of Shadow March recovered dragonshards, the half-elves of this House are an important link in the chain of Tharashk’s wealth. The fact that House Orien has never managed to run a successful caravan through the Shadow Marches cements this union.

The highly civilized and debonair half-elves often have personality clashes with Tharaskh members, but the work the two Houses do together is simply too important to let such things interfere. Still, it wouldn’t take too much for one House or the other to take offence at something the other did.

The Daughters of Sora Kell:

Providers of most of the monstrous mercenaries, the Daughters have proven to be shred, competent business partners. Perhaps knowing their nation is being judged by the quality of their troops, the Daughters have made sure to provide Therashk with strong, well trained creatures conditioned to take orders and not eat their employers.

Quite a number of House elders think the Daughters are playing some kind of game, but so far the hag sisters have not done anything beyond the regular dirty tricks expected in business.

Or, at least nothing anyone has found out about yet.

House Cannith:

Most of the magic items the Finders Guild use to expand their Finding ability comes from Cannith. Many of the wonders produced by House Cannith can be traced to the raw materials provided by Tharashk. These two Houses have a strong working relationship.

Rivals:

House Cannith:


That strong working relationship also has its downside. Cannith is quite aware how much power Tharashk has over their continued operations, and is unhappy with the balance of power as is. Simply put, Tharashk can prosper without Cannith, but Cannith would be in trouble without Tharashk. The recent losses and three-way split of control in the House of Making has only increased this perceived imbalance.

Nobles:

At only five hundred years old Tharashk is the youngest of the Dragonmark Houses; younger in fact, than many noble houses of Galifar. This youth combined with the rather direct and unrefined nature of the half-orcs and humans therein make Tharashk almost an insult to those with better pedigrees. Seen as savages, simpletons and barbarians by ‘cultured’ people, only the House’s great wealth buys them entry to the halls of power. As many younger members of the House have often lived among ‘civilized people’ their whole lives, ‘savage’ may be an outdated stereotype, but an enduring one.

Some noble families, desperate to pay off debts, hold their nose and marry a Tharaskh heir. It is a good way to generate cash, though your invitations to formal balls tend to noticeably decline.

Sentinel Marshals:

Bringing criminals to justice is the goal of the Sentinel Marshals. It is also the goal of a Tharashk bounty hunter. But a Sentinel Marshal does it to uphold the ideals of law, where a bounty hunter is in it for the money. A Marshal sees profiting from bringing criminals to justice as tawdry, while a hunter dislikes the Marshals for robbing them of lucrative bounty. Although they work for the same goals, they do enjoy sticking it to each other.

Note: It was my intention to update the thread title each time I added a new House. Unfortunately, it appears I exceeded the limit limits for thread title modification after I posted the 2nd House. So I'm stuck without being able to update the thread title.
Wow... I've got lots of ideas, just having read this! Orcs and half-orcs. A secretive Tharashk encampment deep in the Shadow Marshes. Lyrander airships flying in during the night, taking on shipments and then flying off again. A mad stowaway that escapes into the swamp and must be stopped.

Hmmm... sounds like a fun way to start up a Tharashk campaign. :D
Exelent! I tokk that test to se what i was and i became a Half-Orc Bard! So i would have liked to see something on the Bards of the house if i was ever to make myself.. ;)
Wow... I've got lots of ideas, just having read this! Orcs and half-orcs. A secretive Tharashk encampment deep in the Shadow Marshes. Lyrander airships flying in during the night, taking on shipments and then flying off again. A mad stowaway that escapes into the swamp and must be stopped.

Hmmm... sounds like a fun way to start up a Tharashk campaign. :D

Thanks. Along with giving better descriptions on how to play the Houses, one of my other goals is to give adventure ideas. I've tried to leave at least one hint in each description that a DM can use to hook an adventure around.

I'm really glad you found something useful. Tharashk just didn't sing to me as a House, and so this one was quite difficult to write up. While writing this out for the boards, it has also helped me understand what it is the House is and how it should act.


Exelent! I tokk that test to se what i was and i became a Half-Orc Bard! So i would have liked to see something on the Bards of the house if i was ever to make myself..

Hmm... I would see bards as being the inter-clan messenger service. Without having much infrastructure and many illiterate barbarians around, there isn't that much formal 'education' in the Shadow Marches. Bringing news and stories is the main role of the bard, but they would also serve to be the few who could effectively teach the young.

As well, I mentioned that bards were instrumental in convincing other clans to join in Tharaskh's plan. Along with the druids, bards would be wise men and women who have a connection to the natural order, in this case through their music.

As Tharaskh probably lets Sivis run most of the House records, bards could be the ones who convay decisions the House elders make to other locations. And if the House makes any secret proclomations, bards would be the ones entrusted with the message.

Also: being a bard bounty hunter is probably a pretty good way to live. Just waltz into town and sing a song about how rotten the bounty you're hunting is. It saves a lot of legwork as the town's folk will probably point him out to you once they know he's a black-hearted rogue.

Even if he's a paladin. :D
Hmm... I would see bards as being the inter-clan messenger service. Without having much infrastructure and many illiterate barbarians around, there isn't that much formal 'education' in the Shadow Marches. Bringing news and stories is the main role of the bard, but they would also serve to be the few who could effectively teach the young.

As well, I mentioned that bards were instrumental in convincing other clans to join in Tharaskh's plan. Along with the druids, bards would be wise men and women who have a connection to the natural order, in this case through their music.

Excellent idea. I think that for most NPCs a nerfed Bard would work just as well in this kind of role. Simply give the NPC levels of Bard, but don't take any ranks in perform. That coupled with low Cha scores would basically give you Bardic Knowledge without any of the magic or music that usually accompanies a normal Bard. These guys basically store the collective knowledge of their clans as tales and mythologies and can recall them at a moments notice. I'm guessing that most of this knowledge would be passed down through the spoken word, but as bards ar litterate these might be some of the few in a clan that can read and write as well.

The same mechanics have been discussed before for Sivis scribes and those who work in libraries, etc... This is essentially the same thing, but with a flavor change.
Mmmnn... House Tharashk. I didn't even need to hunt ya down! :D

There isn't much to say other than what has already been said, so I'll just add my praise here and then wait for the next update... It, of course, will not be late. Right?
Thanks for adding a Bard bit
Thanks for adding a Bard bit

My pleasure.

Actually, now that I've got into a pattern for these things, I am interested in what you people would like to see in the write ups.

What is it that would help you to understand the Houses or use them in your games? A detailed history is right out of the question (I don't have that much time), and NPCs are best left up to individual DMs or other threads. But what information would be of assistance to you that I'm not providing?

So far I'm writing out:
1) Overview
2) Business Operations
3) Personality
4) Allies
5) Rivals

What else do people want to know about?
House Kundarak


“You can’t get blood from a stone.”

“True. But if I squeeze hard enough, gold pops out. And be honest, which is more useful to you?”


Overview:

Once their watch of the banished clans was complete and their old homeland reclaimed, Clan Kundarak fell into a slump for a few decades. What was their purpose in this new world? With no more gate to guard, what were the guardians to do?

Fortunately, the rest of the world found something to occupy Kundarak’s energies. The dwarves’ gold was sought after by the people of Khorvaire, and someone had to watch over the wealth accumulated. The Mark of Warding, long wondered about amongst the dwarves themselves, gave the clan instant credibility in the halls of power.

Clan Kundarak did some restructuring, and soon presented House Kundarak to the outside world. Ever since that day, the dwarves have been as solid as their mountain homes, and just as wealthy.

The House runs two enterprises: the Banking Guild and the Warding Guild.

The Banking Guild is where most clan members test into. It is by far the larger and better known of the two guilds. Promotion in the Guild is steady but slow, and most of the shorter lived races simply can not put in the required time to advance to upper levels. Because of this, dwarves make up the vast majority of Guild members.

For the dwarves, banking is a magnificent way to live. While they do not own the precious objects that pass into their vaults, it is the fact they possess these beautiful, prized items that gives them joy. The rich wonders held in the vault may belong to you, but so long as they’re in my vault, they’re mine as well. A banking dwarf also sees the gold in his bank as a sacred trust placed in him. “I place my most valuable items in your protection,” a customer is implying when they bank with the Guild. “I know you will not falter.”

Gnomes, both belonging to House Sivis and as part of the Banking Guild itself make up a large group in the Guild. These gnomes do the paperwork and behind the scenes organization of the bank, generally leaving negotiations, security and policy to the dwarves. While the dwarves enjoy the trust of holding precious items for others, the gnomes get an almost visceral thrill from knowing what people are squirreling away.

The Warding Guild is the divided into two branches. The first is the Guardians. These are the warriors and soldiers of the Guild. Favouring heavy armour and defensive feats, these stalwart defenders hold the line against intrusion.

The other Warding Guild branch is the Engineers. These specialists use their knowledge of construction and building to design and create structures that resist invasion. This section also includes security consultants and artificers who work on magical protection.


Business Overview:

The Banking Guild is one of the most widely known institutions on Khorvarie. Everyone has the fear of loss; Kundarak allays those fears. For the dwarves it is not entirely about holding most of the money on the continent, it is about possessing a duty.

As an institution, the Banking Guild holds money and property. It provides capital and investment for large entities such as nations, Dragonmark Houses, and other recognized guilds. Smaller groups are generally seen as too risky for the Guild to trust with other’s money. In a world of changelings, mind clouding enchantment and tricky illusion magic, a Banking Guild dwarf can never be too careful.

While the Banking Guild does offer small safety deposit boxes that can teleport items to any recognized Guild branch, Kundarak is not interested in competing with House Orien in the transportation business. The amount that can be transported at a given time is small (maximum of 10 pounds), also the arcane system involved is finicky and requires expensive alchemical ingredients to upkeep. It is provided as a convenience to clients, and those who attempt to abuse it for personal profit will have their accounts suspended.

As the repository of large amounts of wealth, the Banking Guild has need of a large number of well trained guards. They are the primary employer of the Warding Guild, but support troops hired in times of need are not unheard of.

These support troops are often used for clandestine missions. With the belief in their work as a sacred trust, the Banking Guild needs deniability for any break-ins. If something is stolen the enclave manager is more likely to hire adventurers on the sly to recover the property than go to the authorities. In order to prevent such events from occurring again, adventurers are expected to problem solve ‘with extreme prejudice.’

The Banking Guild held great amounts of property in old Cyre, the cultural and business crossroads of Galifar. The Mourning wiped out these facilities and vaults, trapping them forever behind the dead-grey mists. The Guild has sponsored attempts to recover portions of their lost property, but the rate of success has been abysmal. It appears the proud defences of the Banking Guild are made even more deadly by the horrors of the Mournland.

In their youth, dwarves of Kundarak undergo a battery of written and physical tests to determine proficiency. The clearer minds of the House generally choose Banking. The more militant minded and the best craftsmen (or, those with the craziest ideas) are assigned to the Warding Guild.

The Guardians serve as the protectors of the vaults and security in a Banking Guild establishment. While the services of the Guardians are available for purchase, relatively few are on the market since the Banking Guild employs the lion’s share. As well, most Guardians are interested in long-term contracts that provide a sense of stability. Protecting your warehouse until you can clear out the current season’s product would not interest them. But they might contract to protect the warehouse for the next fifty years. This long-term view of things limits the use of Warding troops outside Banking Guild enclaves.

Guardians also run Dreadhold, Galifar’s most secure prison. The dwarves signed an agreement in perpetuity to run the place and guard prisoners. However, they quickly discovered that keeping disreputable people out was more enjoyable than keeping disreputable people in: you actually have to deal with the scum if you’re running the prison. The dwarves will do their duty at Dreadhold… but you haven’t heard a dwarf truly curse until they learn they’ve been assigned to that barren outpost.

Skills common for a Guardian include spot and sense motive. Listen is relatively frowned upon in order to protect the privacy of customers’ transactions. Many Guardians pick up a few levels of spellcraft, just to recognize if a customer is casting something on the sly (blatant casting being pretty obvious). Visitors casting in a Banking enclave are escorted out at axe point or arrested. While Guardians generally do not follow the ‘cleave first and cast the divinations later’ school of thought, once on their bad side no amount of skill focus: bluff is going to help you.

Engineers are the specialists of the Warding Guild. They design, craft, and evaluate the protections for the Banking Guild, as well as manage most of the magical protections. Along with that they offer consulting services to people and institutions outside the Guild. Only a fool would build a castle or a manor without consultation from a Warding Engineer, who are considered to be the sneakiest, dirtiest, most downright nasty people when it comes to thinking of ways to impede (or impale) an intruder.

It is the Engineers who are assigned the task of enscrolling the diaries of young nobles. This is absolutely the lowest of the low assignments; many members seriously consider a transfer to Dreadhold rather than protect some simpering twit’s attempts at poetry. Countless dwarves would as soon eat their own beards as do this work… except for the fact this job is insanely profitable.

Over the past few centuries the dwarves have been advancing their artificer skills. Under direction of Engineer artificers, the magewrights of Kundarak have been creating a remarkable number of magical wards to protect buildings and locations. The Houseward (ECS p. 262) was initially created by Warding artificers, but their lack of practical magical experience at the time required the Mark of Sentinel to complete creation. The dwarves recently overcame this limitation, and a new generation of magical defences are expected from Kundarak enclaves soon.

Many bad people would pay good money to know what devices will soon be out there.

The magewrights of the Warding Guild ensure that most entries to a Banking Guild establishment have a constantly functioning detect magic effect in play. A more recent upgrade has a targeted dispel hit anything that trips the detect upon entering.

Surprisingly, there are a remarkable number of kobolds working as unsung Engineers in the Warding Guild. Despite themselves the dwarves are impressed with the clever nature of kobold traps, and just how vicious the contraptions they make can be.

Personality:

Being trusted with holding the line against all comers, House Kundarak and all its Guilds are strongly lawful. Put two Kundarak dwarves together in the same room and you’re more likely to see the middle of Argonnessen than the dwarves change their position on a subject.

On their own however, the dwarves can be surprising risk takers. They would never gamble with the money entrusted to them, but for the chance of a good return many dwarves are willing to bet their personal funds. Always remember, the heart of a warrior beats inside the breast of every dwarven banker. Even if they never swing a bloodstained axe or risk their life in combat, nothing gets the blood tingling like the danger of your personal fortune riding a long shot.

Allies:

House Medani:


Offering detection services, the half-elves of Medani are often hired to run scrying sweeps through Kundarak enclaves. As they both focus on protection, the dwarves look favourably on the young House.

And the rampant paranoia that exists within many Medani agents is seen as a ‘fine, upstanding character trait’ by the dwarves.

House Sivis:

Scribing is a gift the gnomes brought to the dwarves. It was Sivis gnomes that first came to the barbaric clans of the Mror Holds and helped them rediscover many of their lost literary traditions.

In the modern age the gnomes serve as record keepers and scribes, providing the background work to keep the wheels of commerce flowing. As the two Houses both promote a policy of non-intervention in the business affairs of others, dwarves and gnomes find they have little conflict in their world view. In some places, the two even share a Banking facility and a Speaking station in a joint enclave.


Rivals:

Nobles, Dragonmark Houses, Guilds:


As Kundarak holds the wealth of these groups, they also hold great power over them as well. This does on occasion breed resentment. Some would pay great sums to have certain Banking information or items in Kundarak vaults… disappear from sight.

House Cannith:

As the House of Making, Cannith’s reputation for building wonders is unequalled. However, the Engineers of the Warding Guild are known for creating and building some very excellent fortresses over the years. As the Warding Guild tends to focus on specialized projects and consultation there isn’t too much bad blood, and many projects have both Kundarak and Cannith people working side-by-side.

Although… the tension levels on such projects are pretty high.

The Aurum:

As a polite society of the rich and influential, many member of the Banking Guild consider joining the Aurum a way to mix with the right people. The copper concord has many branch managers listed among its members, leaving the many who are not members feeling somewhat left out.

The truth is much more sinister. This collection of the ruthlessly wealthy is always looking to expand their wealth and power. Having influential Banking members as low ranked lackeys gives the true leaders of the Aurum a good grasp on what happens in the Bank. When large sums of money are moved around, the Aurum is one of the first groups to know about it.

So long as Banking Guild members want to join the Aurum, those who controls the acceptance into the club hold a great deal of quiet power over the actions of the Bank. In some quickly hushed up cases, assassins have been paid for by the accounts of the very person they were sent to kill.

Clan Soldorak:

One of the the more vicious and bloodthirsty dwarven clans during their banishment, Clan Soldorak have always begrudged Kundarak their role and position. Now that the dwarves are a civilized and cultured peoples, Soldorak is incensed that those who sacrificed the least during the banishment occupy positions of so much power. The dwarves who suffered those long centuries of banishment were forged into a strong people, but those who hid behind their walls in comfort were not tempered with the same steel.

Using their great wealth, Soldorak opperates a competitive Finance Guild. This is a much smaller organization than the Banking Guild, and without the added support of the Warding Guild and the Mark of Warding, they have yet to achieve the same levels of success as the Banking Guild.

However, the Finance Guild is willing to accept ambitious people into the fold, and promotion is far quicker and based more on performance than in the Banking Guild. This gives them a sense of vitality and drive that many Bankers don't show. Soldorak is also eager to deal with smaller organizations and individuals, a niche that Kundarak does not support as heavily.

However, because of their willingness to delve into riskier ventures, Soldorak is also a whole lot meaner than Kundarak. Sure they'll give you that loan, but the interest rates are punishing, and the Hosts help you if you miss a payment. Failure --both for employees and customers-- is not accepted by the Finance Guild.

Soldorak is heavily involved in risky enterprises, financing a number of businesses in Stormreach. It is rumoured they have contacts with, or back several criminal organizations, but so far any witnesses have taken any such information to their (early) grave.
another masterpiece
you should make a website locale for these or send them in to someone else's website that the WoTC ebby board knows about like Jonny's website.
This is great. I'm DMing for a party that has been contracted to thwart an Ocean's Eleven style caper that is about to happen to the Kundarak Bank in Sharn. This is just the background material that I needed. Thanks!!
This is one that I wanted to see, and I am not disappointed at all! I especially liked the fact that you managed to work kobolds in as Engineers :D. I also like the distinction between the Banking Guild and the Warding Guild.

Here are some questions:

1) What is the relationship between House Kundarak and House Phiarlan and Thuranni? It seems like these two houses would butt heads on occasion with one trying to protect secrets (Warding Guild) and the other trying to find them out.

2) What is the relationship between House Kundarak and House Thurashk? I can see some conflicts arising here, partly for the same reasons as mentioned above, and partly because dwarves and orcs/half-orcs have a history in the Mror holds. I can't remember the name of the clan of orcs at the moment.

3) There is also (or so I gather) some bad blood between Kundarak and Soldorak (and possibly other dwarven clans as well). What kind of relationships do you see happening here?
This is one that I wanted to see, and I am not disappointed at all! I especially liked the fact that you managed to work kobolds in as Engineers :D. I also like the distinction between the Banking Guild and the Warding Guild.

Thanks to all who comment. I need to hear that this is helping people, because at 5 pages (roughly) for each House, I'm going to have written about 70 pages if I get through them all. That's a fair size of any sourcebook they might put out on the Houses in the future.

And I'm not getting paid to do it.

Here are some questions:

1) What is the relationship between House Kundarak and House Phiarlan and Thuranni? It seems like these two houses would butt heads on occasion with one trying to protect secrets (Warding Guild) and the other trying to find them out.

These Houses probably are on cordial business terms, but not friends. The Houses of Shadow are more interested in information as opposed to wealth, so I doubt the elves would be breaking into the bank too often.

If someone was storing important documents or evidence in the Bank then the Houses of Shadow might try a Shadowrun ( even I think that's a bad joke), on an enclave. But mostly I see the elves as going after personal information and doing intelligence gathering by footwork and coaxing knowledge out of their targets. Defence against that is Medani's job.

The Warding Guild most likely deals with Shadow House infiltration more often, so as a guild they probably are less happy with the elves. But recall that most people don't know Phiarlan and Thuranni are spies. The leaders of the Guilds would know, but the workers and lower branch managers just chalk it up to more rumours about "them strange elves."

Kundarak probably doesn't like the Houses of Shadow, but I don't see them as being actual rivals.


2) What is the relationship between House Kundarak and House Thurashk? I can see some conflicts arising here, partly for the same reasons as mentioned above, and partly because dwarves and orcs/half-orcs have a history in the Mror holds. I can't remember the name of the clan of orcs at the moment.

With House Tharashk initially coming from the Shadow Marches, that's a pretty long way away from the Mror Holds. The orc clans in the Holds never developed the Mark of Finding, so there is very little to suggest Tharashk has much to do with their eastern cousins.

Dwarves may have a natural distrust for the orcs and half-orcs of Tharashk, but that would be a personal trait of the dwarf in question. As institutions, because House Tharashk has no direct connection to the Mror Holds orcs, there would be no offical conflict between them.

3) There is also (or so I gather) some bad blood between Kundarak and Soldorak (and possibly other dwarven clans as well). What kind of relationships do you see happening here?

Yes, you are absolutely right. I entirely skipped over that part when I was doing my research for this one. I've added a section into the House Kundarak post about the other clan. Thanks for pointing it out.

This is great. I'm DMing for a party that has been contracted to thwart an Ocean's Eleven style caper that is about to happen to the Kundarak Bank in Sharn. This is just the background material that I needed. Thanks!!

Your welcome. One of my main goals is to provide the DM and players with adventure hooks and things to use. Hearing things like that just makes my day.

you should make a website locale for these or send them in to someone else's website that the WoTC ebby board knows about like Jonny's website.

I have no complaints to that idea. I don't use my own webspace, so if someone is interested in finding a place for these when I'm done, just drop me a line.

Unless you're the legal department of WotC. In which case I'm out. On an extended vacation. To somewhere without computers. Or phones. Or mail. Or roads.
Thanks for taking the time to produce such high-quality work. and I love your explanation of House Kundarak, since I love dwarves I have been trying to disect Kundarak, and the financial dwarves, and this has helped
fantastic work so far please keep it up.
:pile:

this is for you