Hey all! Steve here, and as promised, I wanted to give you a little look into a few of the Great Houses, since they are going to be major factors in how your ruling House fares – and of course, youself!
The first Great House is your own! You will get to name this House whatever you want, along with assigning its primary and secondary colors (these will be by default the Empire’s colors as well) and its crest (also the Empire’s crest). Your House has been gutted by the history of Imperia, and you are the last heir (one reason that humanity’s position is so precarious). As a result, there are very few characters that are actively part of your House. It will be imperative to build a power structure where you have at least one or two Houses on your side – it might be expensive, but even the combined resources of the Empire can not stop a civil war from bringing down your House.
House Hawken (est. 2940)
One of the newest Great Houses in the Empire, House Hawken rose to power in 2940, when the brilliant young Octavius Hawken discovered a way to convert aluminum to keramium, an incredibly light and strong substance that could be used to coat traditional metals, but provide incredible protection using only 1/10 of the metal required. Naturally, this cut down tremendously on costs, particularly with aircraft and military craft, as well as lessen the stresses on starships.
The House, as a result of this discovery and a savvy negotiation with the War Prime of the time, resulted in the House being given a tremendous grant for further research on their House seat of Illitch. As a result, over the last 110 years the House has been given over to war research for the Empire, to the disgust and some fear of the other Houses. They are also the only House that is allowed a personal military, for purposes of experimentation. The current leader, Grand Duke Altus Hawken, is seen as somewhat more expansionist then his predecessors, and with the idea that his House is ‘new money’, is watched with equal parts scorn and trepidation. The affiliation of the House means that the War Prime is heavily influenced by this House, which could lead to trouble should the House move too far away from the Emperor.
From ‘The Complete Imperial Who’s Whom, entry on Grand Duchess Francia Hawken, 30.2.3014:
Francia, Grand Duchess of the Hawkens 2998-present day
Throneworld: Illitch, home of the famed Illitch shipyards.
Parents: Grand Duke Altus Hawken, Duchess Consort Lydia Hawken
Ancestry: Great-niece of Grand Duchess (formerly Junior Technical Officer) Octavia Hawken, who claimed her throne from Gaius III Calabar in 2912 with the assistance of the Emperor Magnus VI Skye, who (unrelatedly) owed the Calabars a lot of money.
Noteworthy Achievements: Francia’s impeccably even-handed approach to the sale of her shipyards’ products have induced several quite-profitable planetary conflicts to develop into extremely-profitable interstellar wars, thereby vastly improving her House’s capacity to produce yet more lucrative, definitely-legal military innovations. Alongside this philanthropic work, she has also made sure to do due honor to her superiors, in particular the Marshal Prime – the dignity of whose office would be sorely wounded were it not for Francia’s selfless and unfailingly generous aid.
Biography: Francia was born at the Hawken palace outside Lorem City, Illitch, whilst her young parents were in stellar orbit, inspecting progress on their latest cruiser. This rather set the tone for her childhood as a whole…’
House Waldegrave (est. 2744)
“One of the numerous Houses tracing their station to their role in Pierce’s Revolution, the Waldegrave clan’s carefully-maintained martial traditions evoke ancient Earth’s Spartans as much as any modern dynasty’s drill program. Nurtured in the harsh worlds of the Outer Rim, their austerely vigorous way of life was always ill-suited to governance, and as a result – to their great shame – Maarten Waldegrave lost the family’s throne world to a popular revolt in what they refer to as the Catastrophe of 2744. Since that day, the family have repeatedly sought Imperial permission to retake the world, without success – and no child of theirs has been named Maarten.”
’ – RevenantWiki, entry on House Waldegrave, retrieved 4/4/3049
House Horlock (est. 2415)
This House was originally formed as a reaction to keep power from the Emperor’s hands. The first Grand Captain, Howard Horlock, was violently opposed to allowing so much power in the hands of an Emperor who did not represent the many. He was killed attempting to assassinate the first Sun Emperor, Magnus I, but he left with his son Zed a history and the knowledge to continue the crusade. While House Horlock has never been aggressively expansionist, what they do hold they manage well; their scions and staff are considered experts in wringing every last bit of efficiency from a planet or system. Though they publicly deny it in categorical terms, many Horlocks still yearn for the day they will rise up again against the Emperor, and take the Empire for their own, to protect it in the manner they deem best – with uncompromising force.
From various texts:
‘At 22:16, 15/8/2499, an attempt was made on the life of His Grace by Grand Captain Howard Horlock, head of the informal Court faction of the same name, using a handheld pistol-type weapon. Due to the prompt and fearless response of Security Officer Pablo Yamaguchi, the assassin was inhibited with lethal force before he could complete his mission. We believe Horlock to have acted alone, due to his making the attempt personally on his own behalf, and the weapon’s being originated from his family armory and bearing his symbology. Our inquiries into his associates in aforesaid Horlock Court faction proceed apace and we will endeavor to provide His Grace with further information as soon as it becomes available to the Security Corps. Inquiries are also being made urgently into how Horlock was able to bring aforesaid pistol-type weapon into the presence of His Grace undetected.’ – Imperial Security Corps post-incident report concerning failed assassination attempt on the Emperor Magnus I Pierce, 16/8/2499, Red Archives
‘The Horlocks of the present day, however, have risen far from their ignominious origins. Loyal allies of the Emperor, they have a centuries-long record of ruling their domains with authority and unquestionable justice. The competence and stability of their administration make them vital players in Imperial politics, almost always for the common good.’ – Continuing History, edition of 3024
“Sorry Oss, bad news – we have to cancel all our plans. The guest of honor has a friend on our side somewhere. Looks like we won’t be able to hold that party after all. But I suppose that’s our family motto by now – ‘We’ll do what’s right – later'” – Intercepted letter from Priebus Horlock to Austina Horlock, 31/4/3024, Red Archives. ‘The guest of honor’ almost certainly refers to the Emperor Ensino.
House Ilioaia (est. 2644)
‘In the aftermath of the Second Xyl War, a young miner named Bengamin Ilioaia set out, as many other space wildcatters did, to look for new sources of materials to rebuild the shattered Terran Alliance. While most of his peers were not very successful, Bengamin discovered a comet that was incredibly rich in rare minerals. He made 3 trips to the comet, telling nobody but his wife and two brothers about his find. On the third trip, he found his older brother, Ivan, waiting for him with a smile and a kinetic cannon, obliterating his small mining craft.
Upon telling their younger brother, Mihai, about what he did, Mihai became furious and killed Ivan on the spot. With most of the bloodline now dead in a single tragic day, Mihai took Bengamin’s wife in marriage and set out to build the Ilioaia line once more. Years of surveying led the House to discover multiple sources of materials, eventually cementing their legacy as the most powerful mining house in the Celestial Empire.’ – RevenantWiki, entry on House Ilioaia, page retrieved 16/4/3029
“When they say blood is thicker than water, they never saw the blood running down the side of our family’s crest. It is our burden, some would say our tragedy, but I say it is our triumph that so much good has sown from the soil of such anger. Let our position in the Empire remain strong, and let us remember that while we stand firmly today among our fellow Houses, what shockwaves can occur from one heinous and narcissistic act.” – Speech from House Leader Wyllmson Iiloaia to his Council, 29/2/2994, Red Archives.
House Barwon (est. 2723)
House Barwon is unusual only in that it was not formed by a significant event or crisis; rather, it was formed through a steady progression of shrewd and intelligent moves that slowly allowed House Barwon to consolidate power. Masters at trading, they are best known for helping the then-reeling Terran Federation through the aftermath of the second Xyl War, providing food and basic materials to planets that had been devastated or even partially assimilated in the war. The First Lord of the House is traditionally elected by their House vassals, another difference from most Houses, and this traditionally gives House Barwon the most stability of any Great House in the Empire.
‘The Game is not to be taken too seriously.
The Game is to be taken very seriously indeed.
The Game begins when all players have entered the pitch. Players of name may enter by any tier. Players without name may enter by the second or third tiers. Players without property may enter only by the third tier.
The Game ends when the last board is destroyed, or when to continue would be fatal to one or more of the first- or third-tier players.
The boards are to be arranged by the Host. A single Host player may enter by the first tier, but no other players may be fielded by the Host.
The boards are to be as specified in Appendix A, sections 1, 4 and 5.’ – Lucrezia Barwon, Rules of The Game, 4th edition
‘In the brightest and most fragrant corner of the Summit Lounge is to be found the Princex Aletheiu Barwon, heir to the throne of Olympia, quing of the festivities that surround the Game, and – it is whispered – privy to every supposedly clandestine conversation and secret tryst that happens anywhere in Jeux over the course of those exciting summer weeks. Accompanied at all times by a retinue of stunning servants, each individually dressed by them alone, Aletheiu is happy to act as patron to the most dazzling fashion houses on Olympia – which is why the very best of them congregate in Jeux! Good luck getting near them, though – Aletheiu values their privacy, and the security at the Summit Lounge is the very best.
Turning toward the shaded end of the bar, we encounter Duchess Mikhail of New Kent…’ – Camara Xu, ‘Olympia’s Capital Prepares for the Game’, in The Solarian, 15/1/2983
House Kiraly-Finn (est. 2390)
Heavily invested in the Technik movement, this dynasty’s family ties sit uncomfortably with the Technik ethos. More than five hundred years ago, General Zoltan Kiraly-Finn was one of Zed Pierce’s original co-conspirators in the foundation of the Empire. His loyal service earned him and his descendants a sector, and for centuries they were the Emperors’ most loyal stalwarts. But over the generations, especially with the rise of the trade houses in the 29th century, their star waned. In what seemed their fading years, the newly-inheriting Tera Kiraly-Finn refused to continue acquiescing. Instead, she turned to the nascent ‘Technik’ movement – which had begun as a niche subculture among the New Terran academic elite – and ran with it, pushing their innovations as far as she dared. More importantly, she made their ethos cool. Yet despite her achievements, the movement never quite trusted her, or her children and grandchildren. Their conversion to it was in the name of family loyalty, not true belief, and that suspicion still lingers…
‘Closest among the disciples of Father Sun’s chosen servant was General Zoltan Kiraly-Finn. Magnus conferred with him on almost every matter of note over the course of the Celestial Revolution, and for his wise counsel and fearless leadership, he would be anointed a Saint soon after his death in 2526.’ – ‘Personae of the Celestial Revolution’, Ecclesiastical History
‘But the opposite has happened: in the four years since her death, Nevsky’s sinister ideas have, if anything, found a wider audience. And they have friends in high places.
Loudest of the Techniks in high society is Tera Kiraly-Finn, direct descendant of St Zoltan. She has very publicly indicated her sympathies for certain of the ‘movement’s’ ideas, even going so far as to sport stick-on cranial stimulators at the Exclaim! Ball earlier this year. But investigation by this newspaper’s reporters suggests that she is not only disgracing her family’s name – she is doing so cynically and for profit. Inside sources have revealed that the Kiraly-Finn family own majority shares in over 45% of the Technik cyber-dens licensed across the entire Empire. By tacitly promoting this heresy, Kiraly-Finn is deliberately undermining the very fabric of our Empire for the crassest of reasons – a deeply irresponsible, even seditious, move.’ – Melchio Ignacci, ‘Lucida Nevsky’s Dangerous Legacy’ in The Solarian, 8/4/287
House Milak (est. 2915)
House Milak was a very minor House for most of their existence, only recently coming to power in 2915, when they uncovered a vast hoard of rare minerals during a routine mining expedition near their seat’s arctic pole. This allowed them to more or less corner the market on rare materials fabrication, and when the Empire is short on these critical minerals, as they often are, While technically a Minor House, House Milak is usually the final resort for Great Houses that do not wish to resort to the Empire’s draconian terms to secure the resources that their holdings need.
‘House Milak is a minor House whose throne world is Juthrbog. The present Head of House is Sir Krasivi Milak, b. 2868.’ – Entirety of the Continuing History entry on House Milak, edition of 2914
‘That can’t be right. Ask them to check it again.’ – Prospector-General Finant Anatol, on receipt of the first reports from the Northern Territory Mineralogical Survey, Juthrbog, 32/4/2915
‘EMP: Krasivi! My friend! So good to see you. How is your lovely husband?
KMK: [inaudible] the operation. We expect him to be much more, uh, docile. [laughs] And how is His Grace?
EMP: Fantastic, Krasivi, just fantastic. I’ve been renovating the old lodge at Lake Geneva, I must show you it sometime. Gorgeous place. Gorgeous. You must come by. Are you a hunting man?
KMK: I [inaudible]
EMP: You must be. Come, have you tried this? [clicks, sound of pouring drink]
KMK: I’m sure, uh, what-
EMP: It’s Calviador, grown on my personal estate outside New Berlin. Fantastic stuff. Very rare, you know, very rare. Speaking of rare things, actually, the Empire, as you may know, is presently terribly short of certain rare minerals…’ – Transcript of conversation between Emperor Eliezer III Housseini and Sir Krasivi Milak on 33/1/2916, in the Autumn Room, Vindoland Palace, New Terra. From the Red Archives.
These are just tastes of your opposition, to give you an idea of the Imperiaverse – much more to come!