Jun 19, 2008
Big Update Time. Thanks to those who have read the wiki lately... this probably won't be news to you though. =)
Instead of going into any sort of solid detail on the potentially vast histories of each house, I instead elected to just give a bit of flavor in the form of a bit of prophesy song.
The Houses of the Empire
House Resentis, The Imperial Family
"A thousand sorrows to you, Resentis.
Rising as though braced by pinions,
Yours shall know loss and gain
Forever fanned by blood, bathed in fire,
Revealed, retaught, redressed,
Current Residence: The Imperial Capital of Solanthis
Coat of Arms: A golden outline of a lion’s face, set upon a red background.
Notable Characters: Emperor Fedarik Resentis III, Empress Salerin Resentis-Gadris, Princess Nenial
Alliances: The Imperial Throne has an alliance with Barony, Meridia, The Ironhelms, and Vesulathi.
Rivalries: Veldrgeist maintains a claim of the Sun Throne despite their relocation to Veld over a century ago.
House Solant, First Dynasty of the Sun Throne
"Caught on a crown that yours shall not keep,
Seven your siblings, golden the sap,
Down grind the world-bones, Solant.
The opus of kine, the truth of the sage,
How dare you claim the sun from your cage?"
Current Residence: The First Holding, Erath
Coat of Arms: A sun above an open book, set upon a white background.
Lord Heiran Solant, Lady Amagha Solant, Heir-Lord Heiron II, Heir-Lady Gradise
Long standing antagonism by House Deuteros has, on more than one occasion, brought calls from Solant for an open war.
House Brenstroke, Second Dynasty of the Sun Throne
Never crack high walls of Esty,
Be a bastion, a salvation, a prison of stone.
Still shines the sun, still lofts the moon,
And bloodied fingers to carve their rents
Across the gray, until only mists remain.
Current Residence: The Second Holding, Esty
Coat of Arms: A white curtain wall set upon a green background.
"Mark how even the fair cheek of Deuteros
Turns from the cruel sand winds.
Where is your cloak, where is your veil?
What silver threads weave in your
Black tongued tale?
Where is your guile, what is your guise?
What deep in the nightsands
Swallows your lies?"
Noble Title: The House of Iron and Sand
Current Residence: The Third Holding, Barronor
Coat of Arms: An iron sword thrust up through the sand by a pale hand, set upon a blue background.
Duke Agamemnos Deuteros
Duchess Rin Deuteros-Gadris
Kator Deuteros, the Duke's son
Eris Flawn, Speaker of the Faith
The Ironhelms, Dwarven Clan of Cloudcleft Mountain
"Let the hammers fall, said your grandsires.
Let the anvils stand, said your granddames.
Let the forges burn hot, said your sires.
Let the bellows blow cold, said your dames.
And all said naught of the things they made,
And Harad-Halas holds still."
Current Domain: The Fourth Holding, Harad-Halas
Coat of Arms: A helmet with a four-pointed visor, set upon a gray background.
House Veldrgeist, Third Dynasty of the Sun Throne
The silent fane of memory, Veld,
Sat upon a lonely hill.
The wind passed it by, as did time,
And rains washed it,
And the sun touched it,
And after all was said and done,
it was still a lonely hill.[/i]
Current Residence: The Fifth Holding, Veld
Coat of Arms: A sun with one protruding downwardly protruding point that touches a green hill, set upon a blue background,
House Meroch, House of Deep Winter
Blind Meroch sat by the fire,
Telling stories of colder days,
While his family seemed silently listening,
And as the hall brought a guttering draft,
He threw them in as kindling.
Noble Title: The House of Deep Winter
Current Residence: The Sixth Holding, Nevermorn
Coat of Arms: A black, lifeless tree on a white background
House Title: House of the Basalt Cliffs
Current Residence: The Seventh Holding, Seahold
Coat of Arms: Blue waves on a yellow background.
We have heard of your sorrows in Tharmas.
The long march home through the Trollmeres of Esty.
We know of your glories in the campaigns and how
You earned your title with your loyalty and bravery.
Edelgros, may the world know of you when it knows no other.
May the world know you as the last flesh is flayed,
As the last sodden patch is seared by flames.
No words may damn you.
Be praised. Be praised.
House Title: House of the Empty Chalice
Current Residence: The Eighth Holding, Gralt
Coat of Arms: A golden chalice on a blue background.
House Milast, House of the Wolf that Whispers
Current Residence: The Ninth Holding, Fellfen
Coat of Arms: Three red wolves on a black background
House Arad, House of the Glass Paradise
Current Residence: Meridia
Coat of Arms: A golden gear on a white background.
House Barony, House of the Heron Above the Hills
Current Residence: Barony
Coat of Arms: A white heron on a blue background.
Vesulathi of the Eladrin
Current Residence: The Glimmerdowns of the Feywild
Coat of Arms: A silver, curved symbol that resembles a blossoming oak, set upon a dark blue background.
A Primer on Border Communities
(This was made as adventures often start or involve such areas)
Prior to the discovery of lodestones, cities were formed out of a natural progression dependent upon a few key factors: Water, relative safety and distance from hostile wildlife, and central locations that encouraged trade. Townships and villages were usually as old, or older, than most cities, and cities were almost never built with a purposeful intention, but rather just came into being as population density swung in their favor, and as the economics of the region favored their existence.
With the discovery of lodestones however, came the Holdings--purposefully designed and constructed city-strongholds that sit atop precious materials. Holdings take decades to complete and, given their distance from the Solanthian Province, are always situated in wilderness regions. From these central hubs, farmlands are established through a methodical approach of deforestation and village construction.
Border communities are typically fortified with tall wooden walls that rival the size and design of pre-Imperial redoubts. Farmlands are typically portioned out from points along the walls of a farming community, fanning out in the degrees of a circle. Early settlers may own fifty acres of land, five of which nearly touch the walls of the farming town, while late settlers must usually walk as many as five miles each day to reach their farms. If an observer were to look down upon the ideal farming community from a great height, it would resemble a wheel as many as 10 miles across. Rarely are conditions so ideal however, as these communities appear near sources of fresh water and other criteria that originally allowed the formation of pre-Imperial cities. The patterns of easily accessible arable lands also tend to limit these circular patterns, but always, farmlands extend from the relative safety of walled communities, and the walled communities always extend from the Holdings.
Border communities are designed as they are not only as a consequence of the potential dangers of the wilderness, but also because of the economic and political circumstances of the Holdings. Due to the population growth of miners, military enforcement, nobles, and representatives from all walks of the Solanthian Province, the population density of the Holdings is often higher than the region would normally support. Farming communities bear this burden, but also gain a clear benefit from the great demands for agricultural produce and raw materials. Lesser nobles and savvy merchants are often referred to as Iron or Wood Barons as they lay claim to resource rich claims on the fringes of Holdings, and create almost separate governmental bodies which the Great House of any particular Holding would rather secretly acknowledge and interact with for their own benefit, rather than consider a threat or nuisance and stamp out, with much economic and administrative strain as a consequence.
Border communities also have to deal with a very simple, and very real fact: the Great Houses usually will not or cannot intervene effectively on the outlands of their territory. Excluding prohibitive geographics, the ideal pattern for expansion of a Holding is circular, and the greatest resources of that circle are central (the residuum deposits). Excluding prohibitive embargoes or an excess of residuum production, the Noble House of any given territory will attempt to maximize its profits by giving priority to the protection of its center, and providing only what law enforcement is necessary to ensure that grains, produce, and other necessary materials reach the capital, and that uncovered brigand's dens (read: those who interfere with/steal aforementioned materials) are routed out as quickly as possible. Even if a report of an eminent threat were to arrive by chance, say a passing skyship spotting a roving gnollish band on an open field, a Great House is not likely to deploy its limited military forces to the most extreme border communities for their protection. As such, border communities are left to their own devices, usually training a small militia force, and establishing their own permanent defenses (as mentioned earlier, wooden walls and palisades).
Law enforcement and protection in border communities tends to come in a few forms:
Sheriffs: Typically assigned to an entire Holding's borderlands, sheriffs have the power to arrest, detain, and transport criminals to court. Very often, sheriffs appoint deputy members to help in his duties; such appointments are usually done out of necessity--sheriffs know that the Great Houses will rarely act upon threats to the common folk with expediency, and often round up fighters to help capture or kill outlaw bands.
The iconic sheriff is a mounted citizen, typically armed with a weapon denoting the station of protector (usually a mace or warhammer; a mounted swordsman is more often associated with nobility), bearing the embroidered crest of office upon his tunic's left breast (a shield with scales upon it), or as a large insignia on a brown tabard worn over armor. The ideal sheriff is a scholar and a warrior, grim in the face of his duty, but willing. Merciful to those who surrender to authority, but uncompromising and unrelenting in the face of opposition or deceit.
Warrior Guilds: Collections of sellswords whose income allows them to spend their days training and honing their skills, warrior guilds are usually small bands of fighting men and women who can act as a deterrant through their presense. The Great Houses have been known to use worthy warrior guilds as auxillary forces in times of need, and stories of successful warrior guilds cause a general ire amongst lesser nobles, who often find their chances for ascension limited, their victories less personal, when sellswords can claim a portion of the credit without being able to claim title or prestige within the court. Sheriffs rarely interact with warrior guilds, sometimes considering them little more than protection rackets who would be driven away--if they weren't often more than a match for a band of deputies.
Low Courts and Militia: Technically, the villages have no right to prosecute suspected criminals or those considered guilty of some crime or another within the community, but this rarely stops the formation of "low courts" that try and punish local miscreants. Often communities must wait weeks for the arrival of a sheriff, and detaining and feeding a criminal seems a punishment to the community itself. Also, those long weeks are large windows in which a community can, in the words of many a villager, "handle their own affairs." When sheriffs come across such trials, they tend to break them up, and when they see a person in a stockade, they often release them only to then detain them and gather information regarding the individual's crimes. Ultimately though, the low courts are something that the true courts turn a blind eye towards, as they relieve the number of petty cases to be dealt with, and more often then not, the lower courts reach similar verdicts to what the true courts would anyway. The greatest real threat of the low courts occurs when distant communities develop odd, dangerous, or heretical superstitions which can lead to witch burnings and the like. Although the Church has taken great strides to keep such information private, travelers have, on occasion, come across border communities that had been destroyed entirely from within, burnt to the ground.