many noble houses throughout the Known Worlds, five have achieved prominence
as Royal Houses and effectively rule most of human space -- under the wise leadership
new Emperor, of course. The Emperor Wars took a toll on many of the
houses, major and minor: the losers now struggle to regain lost lands or power,
perhaps biding their time until they can try for the throne again, while
fight to ensure that their
rivals stay down.
The life of a noble is not the leisurely idyll
one might expect: there are fiefs to manage, rivals to crush, and wars to wage.
While there is much
power to be gained, there is always the risk of humiliation or
loss of holdings and position. It is no wonder that they know how to party: their
gala affairs are lavish and
awe-inspiring -- but also rife with intrigue, innuendo, back-stabbing
and even sword dueling. To escape such pressures, noble sons and daughters often
take to the stars with
only a small entourage of friends and retainers, to better know
the worlds they wish to one day rule. Many such wayward children of the nobility
find their way to Vargo.
The exotic and inscrutable al-Malik are often accused of being mere merchants, for their
ties to the League are well known. But they have proven their noble legerdemain many
times, through the acquisition of land, and through shrewd political manipulation
of enemies and allies alike behind the scenes. Many believe the al-Malik are closet
republicans, yearning for a return to egalitarian days of old, but the blind eye
they turn to Muster slave-trading in the bazaars of Istakhr and Criticorum belies
their humanitarian facade.
|House Li Halan
This pious and disciplined family was
once the worst behaved of all nobles. Their immoral exploits
are legendary, as
is the tale of their overnight conversion to the Church.
now pursue the scriptures as fanatically as they once chased
pleasure. While other nobles may snicker at the faithful
lords, they more often fear the Li Halan, for this family
proved implacable on both the battlefield and at court. Their
vassals are fiercely loyal, for they know their place
in the Pancreator's plan, and that their lords
will look after them as shepherds of His flock.
Hot-blooded and intense, the
martial Hazat know how to field an army but are also no
strangers to intrigue. When they
can calm the vicious infighting from family to family,
they can present a formidable front against rivals from other
houses. They acquired less land
than the the other houses during the wars, and now pursue
a campaign against a barbarian world, seeking new fiefs outside
Empire. Hazat vassals are loyal, for they know that
sacrifices for their lords are rewarded, sometimes with land
and status as Estancia.
Prideful yet honorable, the Hawkwoods
have seen one of their own take the Emperor's throne. While
Alexius Hawkwood has since distanced himself from his family
to appear more
impartial, the Hawkwoods take such political setbacks with
stoicism - the same fierce perseverance with which they
beat back the barbarian raiders to their worlds. A Hawkwood
does not give up. House Hawkwood is more beloved by its vassals
than any other house, for
they treat them fairly and with justice.
Slimy, cunning and extremely successful,
the Decados have risen to power through treachery and an
uncanny understanding of their rivals - helped in no small
part, no doubt, by their
vast, invisible intelligence network. While the other families
accuse them of a number of crimes, the Decados are here
to stay and thus must be dealt with on their own terms.
Decados vassals despise their lords but are kept in line
through fear or the promise of
power for those who make good quislings.