Jun 30, 2003
“Run, and I will hunt. Hide, and I will Find.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.