Overview

There are many households in the Marches, but only a comparative handful are involved in the affairs of the Empire (that is, attend the seasonal summits at Anvil. The influence of a household can wax and wane, and involvement in Imperial affairs is not always a reflection of their influence within the nation itself.

This list was compiled by William Guildenstern, shortly after the Autumn Equinox 381YE.

Households of Bregasland

A Talbot’s life is short. Not through lack of force, but because of it. They’d rather swing a pike, than make use of their wit.

Bolholt Saying

House Bolholt

  • Location: Ottermire, south of road between Odd's End and Ottery
  • Livery: Dark Brown and Heraldic Gold (mustard)

Known for fierce loyalty to the Empire, the Bolholt's welcome anyone, regardless of heritage, as long as they are true to the House and the Empire. The brown on their livery repreents the land on which they toil, while the gold represents their Loyalty. The house has a significant number of briars and merrow among its number. They also have a long standing rivalry with the Talbots of Mitwold.

During the Cousin's War, House Bolholt spied for the First Empress, forming an Intelligence network known as The Hounds of the Empire within the Marches. No longer a secret organisation, it openly recruits new members. The Hounds today seek to ensure that the Empire grows strong and does not fall prey to those with greedy eyes, whether externally or internally, and are aggressive in their defence of the Empire.

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House Fenner (of Blackhall)

  • Location: on the coast of the 'mere in the North Fens.
  • Livery: Rust and Green (a Black Otter Reguardant, in its mouth, an fish Azure).

House Fenner is an old but small house, being able to trace its founding to within 30 years of the march from Dawn, when its founder "Clumsy Tom" and "the Girl" (who'd been forced to Thralldom by the Jotun) escaped, and settled together in some of the worst territory in the North Fens. Rocks, mudbanks, sandbars, sucking, treacherous mud, and scrubby wild copses. The areas only saving grace was that it had the only sheltered bay for miles north or south.

Over generations the Fenners have improved the land, but crops still grow poorly in such brackish, waterlogged soil. The only crop that grows well, is a particular (and unique) cultivar of flax. Flax, whether as linen, or linseed oil, is the House's main trade.

The Fenners are insular, even by the standards of most Bregas. Indeed the only time Fenner are commonly seen outside their own lands is within the ranks of the Strong Reeds, with which the House has always had a stong connection.

Fenners will usually take the field as archers purely for practical reasons... In "dryfoot" lands, if you see an enemy 3 fields away you can run at them and strike them with a bill. Around Blackhall Bay, in the jumble of channels, ditches, marshes etc, that same journey may involve at least 2 boat trips... So bows become the only sensible weapon, and a skill that all Fenners practice from the age they're old enough to hold a bow.

Blackhall Bay is named for the ancient structure, that is its largest building. A huge drying hall, so coated in hazel pitch (to protect the wood from the harsh 'Mere winds) that it appears as dark as midnight, and is a welcome sight to any storm tossed traveller.

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House Greyshanks

  • Location:
  • Livery: Grey and Brown
  • Motto: Proud of the farm, loyal to those who tend it.

House Greyshanks, was formed from a union between House Hale of the Beaters Gate and House Shanks of Greywater and Sallow. The house is fiercely loyal to family, farm and home. Their livery represents the deep brown earth and the dark grey is the steel that both works the earth and protects the farm. The three stars that surmount the rampant, engorged, bearded eel of the Greyshanks are the symbol of House Shanks and the Bregasland Eel, which is known in family stories for its loyalty and the defence of those within its habitat.

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House Wheelwright

  • Location: Near the Gullet.
  • Livery: Claret and Blue

What use is a cart in the fens? How came the Wheelwrights to be living in Bregasland? A brilliant, if not smart, artisan in a thriving market town with dreams of owning his own slice of land out west somewhere meets a desperate widow from the Brega who seeks to be done with the place where her family fell to the Jotun.

It’s not until the deal is done that young George Wheelwright thinks to ask just how far out the land is. With a flash of dark humour the widow responds “Just keep ye going ‘til the Jotun start making you bleed, that’ll be the place.”

So the Wheelwrights uprooted themselves and moved into the fens. It wasn’t as dire as the widow made out, though close enough to the border that they never quite felt safe.

Now George’s children’s children live on that land. Until now they’ve felt it enough to support the Empire’s armies with food from their farms, the imminent return to hostilities with the Jotun has spurred the family and the others in their small community to come to Anvil to offer more aid they are famed for their smiths, although rarely do they come to Anvil.

The Order of the Hospital of Holdfast at Brant Hill

  • Location: North Fens
  • Livery: Black and White with a white Lann rune

Formed from dispossessed refugees from the war in the Mournwold, the order runs a hospital on Brant Hill in the North Fens. In addition to treating the sick and wounded, the hospital provides training for healers who can accompany armies as organised groups, providing battlefield healing. All members are trained chirurgeons.

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Households of Mitwold

Maidstone Mummers

  • Location: Maiden Downs
  • Livery; None - the Maidstone Mummers are a band of mummers rather than a household

Beatrice Greenhill and Benedick Goodfellow are the founders of the Maidstone Mummers and belong to a long line of families with strong changeling blood that have lived for generations in the shadow of the Maiden Hill and the Maiden Stone. Local rumour suggests that the proximity of these magical stones may be the cause of the strong changeling lineage among the families that form the 'Mummers.

The Cullach

  • Location: Mitwold, near the border with Upwold
  • Livery: Green and Black (Boar motif)
  • Motto: Befriend a Cullach you have many an ally; cross a Cullach and you make an enemy of them all!

The Cullach is a collective of small houses, farmers, landowners and inn-keepers, that have allied together to control and maintain hunting in the area near the border with Upwold. The hunt centres predominantly upon the boar, but also includes the stag. Given the nature of the working life of the Cullach they make for strong willed, huntsmen and trackers. They are committed to fight to the bitter end in a line of bills or, acting as skirmishers and scouts for larger army’s on the move. To this end a small regular fighting unit is maintained; staunch to respond to both Marcher and Senate needs with the least possible delay.

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The Talbots

  • Location: Meade Downs
  • Livery: Red & Black.

The ancient House of Talbot were once the seneschals of the de Gauvain noble house in Dawn. When they made the decision to March with the other yeomen families they bought with them not only military might but the administrative skills needed to run a successful household. Taking lands in Mitwold, they eventually sided with the First Empress in the Cousins War, being present at the bloody battle of Hepton Bridge - they claim it was their forces that took the bridge itself.

The Talbot household are not well known as farmers. They would often find themselves entrusted with the coin of other houses, using it to buy the stores their neighbours needed. This allowed, over time, the household to accumulate a vast wealth. Eventually they became a powerful household in Mitwold, especially around the trade centres of Meade and Hay. They have extensive properties in Meade but the seat of power for the house is the fortified Talbot Manor on the Meade Downs, situated in acres of sheep grazing land, from which their wool and subsequent wealth is harvested.

A Bolholt doesn't know the difference between a bill and a pike.

Talbot Saying

The family often finds its members in high office within the Empire, with members serving in the Senate such as in recent years Bridget Talbot, and several serving on the military council again recently including Richard 'Dick' Talbot, William Talbot and current Steward, Merry Talbot. The house holds the virtue of Loyalty high in their hearts. The houses animal heraldic symbol being the loyal hound, the white dog of Talbot. They are of course not universally popular - there is a longstanding rivaly between the Talbots and the Bolholts of Bregasland.

The Wickermen

  • Location:
  • Livery: Blue and Green quartered
  • Motto: Courage in adversity, Pride in Victory!

The Wickermen are a group of fighters, magicians and other assorted useful people based out of a school in Meade March called “Johannes Swabian’s Academy for Aspiring Champions” which offers various further education courses for those wishing to develop their skills to better serve as heroes of the Empire. The school specialises in combat training, but also offers courses in other areas such as crafting, military strategy and many more. A number of staff and students regularly attend summits at Anvil, giving the students a chance to apply what they have learned directly.

Households of Mournwold

Copperhill Monastery

  • Location: Greensward
  • Livery: Prancing Cockerel

Copperhill Monastery is dedicated to the virtue of Pride. A small abbey located between two hills in the Greensward in a region with a long tradition of copper mining. The monks have a tradition of taking in people with lineage who have nowhere else to go, and a result the population of Copperhill are mostly lineaged. With the war in the Mourn Copperhill was destroyed but they are working to rebuild and to restore the Pride and Prosperity of the Greensward.

House Drayton

  • Location: Freemoor
  • Livery: Black (for the peat), crimson (for the herbs),
  • Motto: From dirt to stream to river

House Drayton started its life in Freemoor, struggling to cope with the scrubby farmland several winters where survived by trading skills and herbs picked from the local scrubland to their fellow Freemoorlanders. As the years passed, trading began to become more important the family. By the time of the Jotun occupation the family had adopted a very nontraditional lifestyle living aboard several small river craft, farming the stream banks for herbs and collecting the debris and flotsam for trade. With the approach of the Jotun cutting off trade and being unable to sustain themselves by staying stationary the Draytons were some of the Freemoorlanders to leave the Mourn.

Even without land, though, the Draytons have never seen themselves as anything other than true Marchers. The head of family still takes the title of steward and the household gathers resources to secure the banks of their home. The Draytons know they come from the land, and though they are now more nomadic in nature than most, the Mournwold moor, its rivers and dirt are where they will return to.

Brackish water is common in the streams of the moor and no Drayton will ever turn down a request for a drink, just don't hold out for water.

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House Dunlain

  • Location: Haver-on-the-Hill north of Overton
  • Livery:
  • Motto: Together or not at all.

House Dunlain once had rich green iron mines that were lost when the Jotun attacked the Mourn. Little now remains of Haver-on-the-Hill (named for its location on a hill north of Overton), save a burnt-out watchtower. The mines themselves were collapsed by the Dunlains when it was clear they would fall to the Jotun, in an attempt to deny the orcs access to the rich seams of green iron. The Dunlains boast the first senator of the Mournwold in over thirty years - Robert Dunlain, known by the Mournewold as the former Sheriff of Overton. The Dunlains are rumoured to have close ties with the folk of Whittle Hill, having offered them succour since their re-emergence into Marcher politics.

House Stone

  • Location: Ore Hills and anon
  • Livery: Green above Grey, Stone on Hilt with Bluebell
  • Motto: All of us or none of us, we chose all! We beat down all who did not agree, we're the House of Stone!

House Stone came to prominence at the beginning of the Empire, when the First Empress came to the Marches. They were one of the most ferocious houses fighting for union in the civil war. Upon their eventual victory, the House stood depleted, and so took on many of those who had been divested of their own houses. After a period of rebuilding in their lands in Upwold, their Prosperity was again cut short this time by a sickness that claimed many of the household around 74YE.

This time, the remaining members took House Stone south into Ore Hills in the Mourn, where they built their "rock farm" with farmers working alongside miners to exploit the natural resources of the hills. Both miners and farmers were 'rock farmers', even if only one could vote, the priests in their ranks were apt to go on pious rants about Loyalty and landskeepers and beaters often focused on keeping the territory grounded, as if worried it was going to fly away. The loss of the Mournwold saw most of House Stone's people falling to the Jotun's blades. The steward of House Stone, Dunstan was key in taking the rock farm back and setting the house on the road back to stability. Sadly he was lost in battle in the summer of 381, and the stewardship then fell to his younger sister, Blayk Stone.

House Swindale

  • Location: Mournewold (originally)
  • Motto: If we can't bring back the bodies we'll take back the land.

Thirty years ago the Mournwold was taken from Marcher hands by the Jotun. Swindale was just one of many villages taken unaware by the speed and ferocity of the attacks. Many of the residents fled the orcs, becoming refugees scattered through the marches. In the last few years a few survivors from Swindale who were not much more than children when the Mourne was lost have reconnected at Anvil, they have been referred to as a house by other heroes at Anvil and the idea is slowly catching on .

Households of Upwold

Applewood Levy

  • Location: Applewood, Stock March
  • Livery: A full apple tree on a quartered field of black and green

The Levy is a group of allied households who live/farm/work in the Applewood region of northern Stock March. Their farms are scattered around the village of Applewood on the road between Stockland and Moot in Hahnmark, mostly on the west side of the road. Applewood is known for its abundant crop of apples, and for the Orchard Graveyard that lies to the west of the village where generations of brave Applewood residents rest beneath the soil.

Applewood has had regular problems with the Feni. Indeed, two months before the Winter Solstice of 376YE much of the village was burned by a major raid. As a result of the raid, several local households suggested forming a levy to act as a unified force and defend the area against future raids. The smaller households merged to form a single household, with a single steward. The Steward guides the levy, and also oversees the famous Applewood Arms in Anvil.

The Boundarymen

  • Location: Winterstoke Manor, near Ashill, Upwold
  • Livery: Yellow crescent moon on a dark blue bende
  • Motto: “The bounds don’t beat themselves.”

In the years leading up to the Interregnum, the woods and fields in and around the Silver Chase were becoming less hospitable. The local charcoal burners, woodcutters and yeomen grew fearful as the itinerant Feni became bolder, no longer seeming content with thieving the occasional sheep or run-of-the-mill banditry. The threat was constant enough that the informal groupings of beaters just couldn’t keep up. Thus, the Boundarymen were formed: a collection of beaters drawn from many different houses, joining forces for the good of all.

An unprecedented attack on the settlement of Applewood by Feni gave the Boundarymen their first real engagement as a unit and cemented their reputation as canny fighters and loyal Marchers. The relationship between the Applewood Levy and the Boundarymen has been strong ever since, although there is much kindship with other houses too.

More recently, the Boundarymen have concentrated their efforts on protecting the Empire from threats of a more sorcerous nature. Always happy to share their fire with newcomers, some of them have even made Winterstoke their home. Beating the bounds is a dangerous life, but Upwold’s safety is a rewarding harvest!

King's Stoke

  • Location: The village of King's Stoke, Tower March
  • Livery: Yellow and green
  • Motto: King's Stoke, first and always: first to march, first to stand, first to break the king.

The villagers of King's Stoke proudly trace their history to first Marchers who settled in Upwold, and repelled the Dawnish at the Battle of King's Stoke. The village has remained prominent in Upwold since, with notable historic residents including Cardinal Simon Kingstoke, spiritual guide to Empress Teleri. While the Mournwold was lost, the village was on the frontier with Jotun lands. Accordingly, it has always been proud to be represented on the battlefield; while battlefield losses mean it can no longer field the full bill block it once did, there is rarely a fight where the green and yellow of King's Stoke is not represented.

In Anvil, King's Stoke runs the noted tavern The Mandowla's Arms. Henry "Harry the Book" Ward of King's Stoke has been Senator for Upwold for most of the time since Britta's death, and the village has in that time provided a general, three adjutants, a cardinal, two gatekeepers and three members of the Imperial Bourse. The village has often funded historical research, and sponsored the second edition of the Book of the Empire. It was the home of prominent briars Rosamund Holt, Archmage of Spring, and Tilly Stoke, and has opened its doors to briar children rejected by other parts of the Marches. Away from Anvil, the village welcomes friends annually to its remembrance of the dead and celebration of harvest, the King's Stoke Wassail

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Pickham Monastery

  • Location: Between King's Stoke and the Eastern Guard
  • Livery: Blue and Red (Arms Blue, a Silver Tower crowned by a Red Stag's Head)

The Pickham Monastery is a close-knit order of monks of Vigilance that form the village of Pickham in Upwold. Considered to be one of the very early Marcher villages, and equipped with a once mighty tower, the Monastery upholds the memory of Major Joshua Benson, Exemplar of Vigilance. They live by the monastic Rule of the Tower, which exemplifies Virtuous behaviour in all situations of life. Collating information suitable to assess and prevent threats, questioning unwarranted assumptions and exposing their dangers, the virtuous use and eradication of curses, and a close focus on the reasons and developments of Marcher hearth magic play a strong role in the lived Vigilance of the monastery. As such, the monks try to balance a strong view of the importance of Marcher traditions with a caring eye on the spiritual well-being of all Marcher (and by extension, Imperial and beyond) individuals, independent of history or lineage.

House Balston

  • Location: Birchland
  • Livery: Blue and Green, with a Rampant Badger

House Balston originated from a family of trappers and gamekeepers during the March from Dawn, and has been an influential presence in Birchland ever since. Yeoman and beaters of the household are a usual sight on the front lines of the Bounders army, eagerly seeking out enemy flaws to exploit. A recent series of calamitous events have caused the house to lose many of its older members, meaning the younger Balstons have had to take up the political and military responsibilities of their parents.

If not fighting in their iconic blue and green livery, the Badger Boys as they are often known can be found making merry at the various pubs and campfires around Anvil. During a recent disastrous battle nearly all of the attending 'Badgers' were lost in combat against the Jotun, among their number the General Alusair Farstrider.

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House Guildenstern

  • Location: Stockmarch
  • Livery: Crimson/Burgundy and Mustard Yellow

House Guildenstern is one of the many houses of the Marches that traces its roots back to the original exodus from Dawn. During the early years house Guildenstern settled in an forested area of northern Upwold. The woodlands are particularly wild and home to a dangerous beasts and, according to stories, other worldly entities. They largely kept to themselves, becoming involved in Marcher politics only during the Cousin's War. House Guildenstern still boasts that one of their house was present when the Empress accepted the Marches as part of her Empire. Due to their knowledge of "strange things" and a general reputation for being "not quite right" House Guildenstern has connections with the thresher movement, fighting against the sorcerers serving Alderei the Fair as part of Tom Drake's retinue in the army that would become the Drakes.

After the formation of the Empire, House Guildenstern went into decline and endured many years of bad luck. Inspired by Empress Britta, they reformed their banner with a manticore leaping over a faltering gold star as a symbol of a new way of thinking (and another sign that the house is a little peculiar by Marcher standards, their banner being almost Dawnish in its outré imagery).

House Merrick (Merrick’s Travelling Company)

  • Location: Atherton
  • Livery Brown and Gold; their heraldric device is a gold pig’s head on a brown background.

House Merrick are a group of pig farmers who, due to droving their pigs to various markets, discovered that they could earn a bed for the night in the towns and villages by performing music, poetry, short plays and telling stories. Whilst they have land in and around Atherton, their pigs create a nomadic lifestyle for many of the household at certain times of the year. The household had a travelling playhouse which they used to perform in and often had other bards performing there as a lucratie sideline to raising pigs. At Anvil the playhouse is often used as a community hall, a meeting place for drinks, games and singing.

Less martial than many other households, the Merricks plays their part in the struggles against the enemies of the Marches and the Empire by providing potions for the troops and as a center for the community to gather, meet and sing. There is always a cup of tea waiting in Merricks for a thirsty Marcher.

The Green Men

  • Location: Upwold
  • Livery: Green Black (Halved With With a Griffon)

Formerly Dawnish, and originally based in the Barrens, one of their primary aims was to reclaim their Orders home which had been lost to the barbarians. Originally consisting of noble Knights and yeofolk, the group worked for the best interests of the Empire; even when it meant putting their desires to reclaim the Barrens on hold. Now their nobles have given up their nobility, but still remain proud of their heritage and past achievements. In the future the Order hope to integrate better among their new neighbours in the Marches. They pride themselves on our military strength. "

Other Houses

House Fisher

  • Location: Fisher's Rock, North Fens (Bregasland)
  • Livery: A grey dolphin rampant (reversed) on a blue/green field with a sable bend sinister

House Ramsbruck

  • Location: Bregasland
  • Livery: Red and Blue

Prominent Households in Play

This list is by no means exhaustive; efforts are made to keep it up to date but due to the sheer amount of work involved the onus lies with the Marcher players to ensure the information is correct and current.

The majority of households listed here represent player-character households. It should go without saying that you should not create a character who is part of one of these houses, or has personal history with one of these households, without first clearing it with the appropriate players. You should also check before including other players' households in your background. The background team are unlikely to approve a background that significantly impacts or involves another player character household without their permission.