Prominent noble houses
- 1 Overview
- 2 House d'Acier
- 3 House Akella
- 4 House Aurelius
- 5 House de Carsenere
- 6 House de Casillon
- 7 House de Celeste
- 8 House de Coeurdefer
- 9 House Cordraco
- 10 House Dromond
- 11 House Devereux
- 12 House de Gauvain
- 13 House Griffinsbane
- 14 House De Ledure
- 15 House Lionsgate
- 16 House de Lusignan
- 17 House Martel
- 18 House Novarion
- 19 House Orzel
- 20 House Ossienne
- 21 House Rakshasa
- 22 House Remys
- 23 House de Roche
- 24 House de Rondell
- 25 House Rylas
- 26 House Sepulchre
- 27 House du Soleil
- 28 House Tallstag
- 29 House Tamerlaine
- 30 House Vandale
- 31 House Vexille
- 32 House Videre
- 33 Prominent Noble Houses in Play
There are many noble houses in Dawn, 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 house can wax and wane, and involvement in Imperial affairs is not always a reflection of their influence within the nation itself.
House Colours: Gold and green
House Heraldry: Black tower on yellow sun, flanked by stag and gryphon
At the eastern edge of the habitable d'Acier demesne the land rises towards the pass. On a large bluff facing the pass is Sunrise Keep, held by House d'Acier for hundreds of years. Cliffs to the east, north and south make access difficult to impossible, and these have been steepened over the years. The west face is a gentle slope, with a carved slope steepened, leaving a wide ramp up to the castle. The outer bailey is 5 score hands tall (6 yards) with small towers at the gate and walkway. It surrounds the inner bailey, the mews, storage, and the kennels. Also a herb garden and apothecaries workshop.
The inner bailey divides the court by another wall 5 score hands tall, with a fortified gatehouse. Across the inner bailey and as one building are, from north to south: A watchtower of four floors, with including guardhouse and storage. The library, armour and barracks, in a long building of three floors. The main keep, four floors with in a tall square formation, which includes the nobles suites, main hall, seneschal's offices, kitchens, storage and treasury. Then the grand tower, six floors of golden stone with a warning beacon at the top, and a view across the pass to the watchtowers to the east and to Roland's Grant to the west.
House Colours: White and Gold
House Heraldry: Wolf's Head
House Akella, a comparatively recent addition to the noble houses of Dawn, was formed in the winter of 379YE. Previously led by Soldier, a militaristic draughir knight with a vague and mysterious past he is reluctant to discuss, who fell in battle recently. They consist mostly of knights and yeofolk who were present at Drycastle in Dawnguard during the early months of the Barrens crusade.
They are a small, but ruthlessly aggressive house. Though the currently have no lands to call their own, they follow the Gryphon’s Pride banner into the Barrens to conquer fresh territory to call home.
House Colours: Azure and Gold
House Heraldry: A Golden, antlered, crowned maned lion's head.
Location: Barrens, Dawnguard
An old house of Dawn, bordering on the Barrens, this house has been worn from its battles with the Empire's Barren foes. Now with a penchant for the old ways and traditions, this house is said to have a close affiliation with the eternal Eleonaris. The house's main seat within its Drycastle estates is festooned with flags, and called The House of Pennants.
Much repaired after ceaseless attacks, the old traditions of Dawn can be seen in the abundant - albeit threadbare - heirlooms and adornments that bedeck the members of its house, their demesne, and their properties.
The house has a plenitude of changelings and is known for its impulsive, temperamental, playful and often haughty nature. Even more so than most Dawnish, they are known to never refuse a challenge.
House de Carsenere
House Colours: Royal Blue and Silver
House Heraldry: Silver Chimera
Location: Barrens, Dawnguard
A young noble house having been formed in 330YE when a charismatic cambion named Aramis split from House Videre and convinced several knights of the house that the his ambition of conquering the Barrens could be realised. The house claimed estates in Drycastle, and engaged in eight years of bloody campaigns - with little gain being made - culminating in the earl's death in 338YE.
Aramis was succeeded by Hagan, a changeling woman, who led the house to glory. She worked on coordinating with the Navarr, and defending Drycastle from the orcs. Passing away in 373 YE she was replaced by Tristram de Carsenere who once again began pursuing more aggressive tactics.
Following the appointment of Empress Britta to the Throne the house began making preparations for a full campaign in the Barrens. Tragically the young Empress died before such a campaign could properly begin so Carsenere made their political movements to Anvil to push the agenda. They have been successful so far, providing a senator to the Empire twice since Britta’s death.
Following a mortal wound dealt to Earl Tristram, Lady Vivienne de Carsenere took up the mantle of enchantress. She was succeeded in her turn by the current Earl, Lord Escalados.
House de Casillon
House Colours: Azure, Gold, and Violet
House Heraldry: A hand with fingers spread marked with a spiral
Location: Weirwater, Weirmoor
The de Casillon are an old house who hail from Spiral Castle, a pre-Imperial keep that stands at the heart of a powerful Summer regio. Their estates lie in Weirmoor in the territory of Weirwater, and until very recently they lived in voluntary internal exile protected from the outside world by a wall of swirling magical mists.
Many of the nobles of the de Casillon family claim to be descended from Empress Richilde, and are said to cultivate their bloodline in the way a vintner might cultivate a strain of fine grapes. They are usually possessed of a strong changeling lineage - it is very rare for anyone who is not a changeling to seek the Test of Mettle from the house and even rarer for them to succeed. Much of their business in the outside world is handled through the Castellan of Spiral Castle, an Imperial title that has recently been re-established.
Almost all the de Casillon nobles are witches, and their earls have always been potent enchanters. Their yeofolk are likewise trained in magical arts, although many of them choose to embrace the path of the artisan. Even before their seclusion behind their wall of mist, they were known for hedonism and self-indulgence and it seems that several decades isolated in a Summer regio have merely heightened these tendencies - left to their own devices they would while away their lives in tourneys, in hunting, in feasting, and in other diverse amusements. There may be some weight to the concerns of some troubadours who worry that the de Casillon have become more like the inhabitants of the Summer realm than inhabitants of Dawn.
OOC Note: House de Casillon is an NPC noble house.
House de Celeste
House Colours: Purple and silver
House Heraldry: Silver star on purple background
Location: Weirwater, Culwich
House De Céleste is a relatively young Dawnish house, having existed for 87 years. It was formed by a splinter faction of the House Grotte, which was ruled with an iron fist by the so called tyrant, Enchanter Dorian Grotte.
His younger brother (and heir apparent) Alinar defied his brother, set forth with the a few loyal vassals, his new Urizen bride, and her family; who had come to settle in Dawn, thus House De Céleste was born, under the stars for all to see. Over the following years many in House Grotte defied Dorian's tyranny, and sought to join the rising House De Céleste. House Grotte, however, still clung to life. Forcing the young Earl Alinar to face Dorian in single combat. Though he lamented the act, Alinar slew his brother, ending his reign, and the House Grotte along with it.
Since that time House De Céleste has lacked an enchanter, but it is tradition for the ruling Earl to seek guidance from a witch, known to the house as 'Counsellor of Stars'.
House De Céleste had remained stable in the years since. Seeking the glory and adventure befitting a House of Dawn. However, in recent times the De Céleste finds itself again destabilised. A series of events saw leadership of the House change in recent years, and currently Earl Hannasmyth has stepped up to rule, vowing to strengthen her faltering House
House de Coeurdefer
House Colours: Black and silver
House Heraldry: Silver armoured fist gripping a crescent moon, flanked by a crescent moon on either side on a field of black.
Location: Astolat, Winterbourne
One of the ancient Houses of Dawn, House De Coeurdefer have been led by Draughir Earls for as long as anyone can recall. They settled in Winterbourne and built Ironheart Keep, a castle crafted from stone, bone, and iron where it is said that the chill of Winter never really leaves any of its halls. Their furnishings are constructed from the bones of enemies, a constant reminder of past Glory and victories and below in their crypts lay the bones of their fallen heroes.
The scions of the House have a reputation for ruthless Ambition and unwavering Loyalty to any they regard worthy and no mercy for those they call their enemies. Their current Earl has sworn an oath of loyalty to House De Rondell, promising to answer any call for aid
The House has spent recent years fighting in the Barrens, conducting raids and assaults on the Druj that occupied the lands, almost all of the House's resources were used to prosecute the fight against the Orcs and reclaim territory for Dawn and the Empire, nearly bringing ruin to the Coeurdefer name. As such they are now smaller and less prominent than they have been but their return to Anvil looks to stop the rot and restore the House to its former Glory.
House Colours: Gold and Purple
House Heraldry: Two dragons facing each other, their tails intertwined.
Location: Astolat, Oldheart
Cordraco is a recently formed House that completed a test to become officially recognised at the Spring Equinox of 380YE, slaying a mighty drake to claim their place among the noble houses.
They are the result of a glorious amalgamation of several old noble houses of Dawn, L'Oreal, Bascombe, and Arwood, whose fine knights and yeofolk formerly fought together in the Lance of the Dragon Heart, and realised that the path to true glory was to unite, and to see themselves strengthen as a result.
Led by the glorious, and forward speaking Earl Geraint Cordraco, they pride themselves on their camaraderie, ferocity in battle and their love of life. A house that truly values all that it means to be Dawnish.
House Colours: Sea-green, silver and gold
House Heraldry: A silver sea serpent beneath a golden chalice, on sea-green.
Location: Semmerholm, Causse
The keep of House Dromond is a well defended harbour and shipyard, it is sometimes known as the Anchorage by the far-flung ships of the Dromond nobles. Looking to the Semmerlak and the seas beyond, this house are either naval enthusiasts or brutal raiders, depending on your point of view.
Traders and enchanters, wanderers and privateers, the Dromonds have a tendency to search beyond the horizon, finding trouble and riches in equal measure.
They invested heavily in the fleets of Emperor Barabbas, and were almost ruined with them. An unusual attitude to money and a house dedicated to Prosperity have seen a recent rise in their fortunes, and the current earl, Argent has ruled the house since 378YE and is set on balancing Glory and Prosperity for his house and nation.
House Colours: Emerald green and silver
House Heraldry: A silver tree on green field
Location: Semmerholm, Semmer's Rose
House Devereux is a small noble house which was established in the reign of Emperor Nicovar. Its main seat of residence is a medium size, moated castle near the banks of the Semmerlak, surrounded by a couple of hamlets. It’s just slightly north of Semmer’s Rose.
Since the death of the current Earl’s wife, the House has been rather reclusive. The Earl has remarried twice, but never recovered from the death of his first love, leaving him to be exceedingly over protective of his house. Perhaps this is because, unusually, a lot of its members are related by blood, and are either children or assorted relatives of the current Earl. The house has a long standing rivalry with a bandit clan, led by the disgraced Mariot Devereux, who lost a test of resolve with her sister, the former Earl, many years ago. The bandits have somehow managed to evade capture, and continue to plague the House relentlessly.
Despite the earl’s misgivings, the younger members of the house are eager for glory, and in 379 YE House Devereux forged an alliance with House Cordraco, and for the first time in years, sent representatives to the summit at Anvil.
House de Gauvain
House Colours: Red and Gold
House Heraldry: Golden Phoenix on flames
House de Gauvain can trace its origins back to the time when their forebears came to these lands to carve out a new kingdom. First established by Gawaine de Gauvain it was a proud and strong house and while it rarely held political seats of power in the early history of Dawn, it always found itself able to guide those in power.
As a house it took care of all members equally ensuring that nobles, yeofolk, practitioners of magic and craft and its troubadours could all benefit from the wealth that came to the house and it prospered both politically and economically. It gained renown and glory for the number of knights willing and able to take the field, however its highest source of renown was for the finely crafted fabrics of its weavers which were made into battle banners for the houses of Dawn.
During the Marches revolt, Earl Henry de Gauvain was startled and surprised when all but a few of the house yeofolk and a number of nobles decided to leave to make a new life in new lands. This threw the house into chaos with the core of those who left forming the Talbots. The prosperity that was taken for granted was no more as the lands held were not farmed; the mines left derelict and the crafthouses empty and silent. The political strength rapidly began to wane and membership of the house followed suit.
This has changed in recent times, with the house’s long history of excellence in weaving magics leading to many yeofolk seeking glory to approach the house for a Test of Mettle instead of joining a cabal.
House Colours: Red and Black
House Heraldry: A red Griffin rampant on a Gold field
Location: Weirwater, Weirmoor
House Griffinsbane are an old house, from the region of Weirmoor in Weirwater. It is thought by many that the house’s name comes from the tradition of the house where yeofolk, wishing to perform their test of mettle, must travel up the Weirmoor Mountains and slay one of the many griffins that dwell in its peaks on the Karov border. This is an important duty, for otherwise they will grow too large and be a danger to livestock and maybe children.
There are stories of the creation of the house, where a young noble of House de Casillon bested a herald of the eternal Hayaak to protect his cousin, Richelle. He formed his own house to the north of Spiral Castle.
House Griffinsbane has been small and not very politically active for a long time.
House De Ledure
House Colours: Silver and Gold
House Heraldry: A gold star on an argent field
A relatively new house that was once part of House de Rousillion, they split from that house in in 358YE, ten years after Hugh de Rousillion took the Throne. Several knights of House de Rousillion and other knights who were after more action rather than tournaments joined the house.
The house’s estates are based in Weirwater, and under Earl Hugh’s reign, the house was successful in having a senator twice - whilst they were at the peak of their power. Today the house is led by the Enchanter Geoffrey de Ledure, who is from a line of powerful summer witches. It is believed that the house has won some powerful boons from the eternal Hayaak, and they generally refuse to deal with other eternals.
In 378YE a marriage between House de Ledure and House Blyrale was disrupted when the youths involved ran off to join the Navarr. This act cemented a union between the two houses and House Blyrale joined House de Ledure. According to gossip, the two houses are partially united by their anger at the Dawnish nobles who encouraged their scions to abandon their duty and flee the nation.
OOC Note: House de Ledure is an NPC noble house.
House Colours: White, Red, and Black
House Heraldry: Two red lions facing each other before a black gate
House Lionsgate was founded in 283YE by descendants of the disgraced House Lyongate, who disbanded shortly after the disastrous loss of the original Gryphon's Pride army in a failed attempt to capture the Barrens. The founders attracted a number of knights-errant and questing knights, and slowly rebuilt their house - although they never again enjoyed the prominence they had lost along with the army.
The Lionsgate estates in Astolat are small but well maintained, and lie in The Chase. In recent years, the House has reclaimed some of its prominence as it has forged closer ties with a number of smaller noble houses - especially the cunning de Coyne of Dawnguard and the proud de Helios of Astolat. In 379E, then earl Lady Cassandra contacted several Dawnish nobles active in Imperial politics and offered aid in the re-establishment of the Gryphon's Pride. The loose coalition of smaller houses managed to secure a number of wains of mithril to help with the mustering of the fourth Dawnish army, seeing in this endeavour an opportunity to reclaim some of the pride they had lost over a century before. it remains to be seen if, now the army has been completed, they will continue to involve themselves in Dawnish politics or retreat to their estates.
OOC Note: House Lionsgate, House de Coyne, and House de Helios are minor NPC houses whose role in modern Dawnish politics is unclear.
House de Lusignan
House Colours: Black and red
House Heraldry: Bare White Tree
Location: Semmerholm, Axmure
A cabal of magicians, primarily practitioners of Winter magic, the house was founded in the pre-Imperial past by the legendary Gui I, an enchantress. Many years later, Gui II fought alongside Empress Richilde in the conquest of Semmerholm. She was rewarded with ample lands in the dark forests of Axmure.
They may not have been virtuous, but you cannot say they were not glorious.Anon
The house tended to remain quiet and involved in its own affairs - its proximity to the Barrens mean that although many tried to make it a "last friendly house" on their journey - they have never found it particularly friendly.
The most recent enchantress, Isolde, a draughir, was known for setting particularly difficult tests and being insular and spiteful. She did not make many friends, and was not particularly successful in making fostering agreements with other houses either. Her son Gui IX succeeded her following her death in 378YE and led the house out from the darkness of Axmure. However, it came to light in 380YE that Gui and most of his house were Freedom heretics, who had been working against the Empire for some time, cursing much of the Empire and almost bringing the Empire’s war efforts to its knees with famine.
The leaders of the house took their own lives at the Spring Equinox of 380YE – their name now looked on with disdain by most of the Dawnish. As a consequence, the status of the house is somewhat unclear.
House Colours: White and black
House Heraldy: Three white stars on a black field
Location: Barrens, Murderdale
House Martel are an old house; they claim to have settled in the Barrens as the forebears of the other Dawnish houses were still traveling across land from overseas. They are composed of several families, including the Rookwood, who’s own family motto is "keep it in the family." They live in the Murderdale, on the edge of the forest of Peytaht, in a fortified estate called "the Rookery". The estate is said to be impenetrable, and has had many Druj adorn its trees. Rookwood and Martel fought against the Freedom Heresy, concerned about the threat posed by Montane. It was seen as a matter of pride to take arms in this matter.
Rookwood and Martel joined as one house on the fateful night of the Battle of Sisters Causeway, whereby a wedding party, held by House Martel and guests, were ambushed by Druj. This wedding was an acknowledgement by Dawn of House Martel’s great import in fighting against the Freedom Heresy, and therefore the union was of politics as well as passion. However, all were slaughtered on that dread-filled gathering, including children. After this, Martel’s swore to never marry. Their heraldry also stands a reminder of this event, which strengthened union through blood. Nothing motivates this house more than securing the Barrens, avenging their forebears and covering themselves…in glory.
House Colours: Red and gold
House Heraldry: Phoenix in flames
A house that fell to ruin four generations ago and now encourages its members to accomplish great deeds in distant lands or other parts of the Empire as an important part of its tests of mettle.
Formed in YE 52 by a young warrior named Novaria, she gathered like-minded warriors to her banner during battles around Semmerholm. In recognition of this feat she was granted land and many of her warriors remained by her side and pledged to form a new house. Using the wealth and slaves rescued from the orcs they built a fortress on one of the highest hills in Applefell and were charged with its defence. The Novarion were popular with the troubadours of the time and several of their deeds are remembered in traditional folk songs such as Sir Isobel and The Novarion Phoenix which are still sung today.
Years later, a large portion of the house died in a great fire following a strange magical event caused by their insular nature and only a handful escaped. The house's wealth and reputation were in ruins. The earl began the slow process of rebuilding the house, swearing to never again let those of his household grow to be weak closeted individuals.
From then on, tests of mettle were always written so that extensive foreign travel was required. Insulation and clannishness was dangerous and should be avoided at all costs by prompting its members to seek glory from distant lands. Any person seeking entry into the house is often set difficult tasks that require extensive travel and perseverance to complete, thus encouraging them to grow into headstrong individuals with allies in unusual places.
House Colours: Red and Black
House Heraldry: Eagle and Primroses
Location: Weirwater, Sandling
House Orzel is a union of two migrations from Varushka to Dawn, blending bloodlines and customs but embracing the martial culture with great traditions of the Empress Richilde’s most noble people. With focus on martial training, warlike preparation and enthusiastic adoption of tests and trials which involve quest and adventure, House Orzel finds a natural home in Dawn and has welcomed an increasing number of native Dawnish knight-errants into its nobility through trials of mettle and achievement.
The Orzel have always measured and tested themselves against competence and skill, giving respect where earned and laughing at pomposity, false claims and weak authority in equal measure. Generous with praise and friendship for the accomplished - the Orzel care more for talent and achievement than they do for name or family history alone. In youth children are encouraged to demand their elders "prove" their claims of skill or knowledge rather than taking such claims on trust or simple faith. A teacher is only respected if their knowledge is valuable, a tutor at arms needs to demonstrate superiority with blade to be worthy of attention. Orzel children are wild and reckless with tales of the youngest laughing at the snarls of invading wolves and hurling stones and chanting "Prove It!" to call the bluffs of ancient evil and bestial threat alike. Orzel youngsters grow up with battle-scars experience and confidence if they grow up at all.
Though sardonic humour and jokes still run strong with Orzel,
none should be denied hospitality or chased out into the night.
Though wilful boldness, irreverence and challenge mark daytime traditions, Orzel hold hospitality and guest rights sacred when the sun sets, and friends gather to eat, drink and share tales of exploits and adventure. Music and song and storytelling are great pleasures of the hearth and all should be offered hospitality in the household of Orzel and none mistreated when it is accepted. This includes those of a monstrous disposition and the Orzel of northern descent remember well the tales of mora and wolves with mortal guise and though the house is bound by sacred oath to oppose the influence of Winter and volodny alike, darkness is a time for tales, wisdom and preparing for the hard battles to come.
House Colours: Orange,gold and white
House Heraldry: A crowned skull and golden rose with thorns
Location: Semmerholm, Ulvenholm,
Ossienne's home used to be in Astolat, but following Empress Richilde's conquests, moved to the forests of Ulvenholm near Arnet where they dwell in the Castle of Bones.
There has always been a Castle of Bones, said to be built from the golden, gilded bones of their enemies. There has always been a family in the colours of the dawn who resided there. In their blood and bearing flows the riches of royalty. Their ranks of nobles made up of dread knights and beautiful but terrible witches.
Glory crown the skull and glory pluck the rose
And let none call an enemy “friend”
They have always offered assistance to those in emotional turmoil, and provided great and terrible challenges to those seeking to prove their worth. To capture a golden rose from the Ossienne garden or a gilded bone from their art collection is to be sung in a tale that will live forever.
House Colours: Black and Teal
House Heraldry: A Silver Rakshasa on a field of black, edged with teal
Location: Weirwood, Weirwater
A new house formed by Grave Enchantress Rheged Rakshasa at the Spring Equinox, 382YE, following a test set by the late Dread Enchantress Orlene de Ossienne, House Rakshasa calls a decrepit, but functional manor in Weirwater their home.
Formed from a group of Saker from Wintermark who traveled to Dawn, they helped to cleanse the land of an infestation of husks. House Rakshasa is a house strong in weaver magic, with a focus in the realm of Winter, though its character and interests are diverse.
With a burgeoning reputation for implacability, and a growing interest in the ancient weaver and guiser arts, the people of House Rakshasa are keen to make their mark and burn their glory across the skies.
House Colours: Red and Silver
House Heraldry: A snake coiled around a silver goblet, poison dripping from its fangs
Location: Weirwater, Weirmoor
Chateau Remys stands on a windswept hillside on the edge of the Weirmoor forest. Once the land was fertile and produced fine wines but several generations ago the land was devastated by a sickness that wiped out many of the nobles and decimated the yeofolk.
The house was founded by a Varushkan boyar who left Volodmartz during the reign of Emperor Barabbas. Strongly touched by the realm of Winter, she began the tradition of tasking all aspirants to take on the draughir lineage as part of their test of mettle - to this day no noble of the house has borne any other lineage.
The house is headed by the Enchantress Remys, an ageing draughir who has crowned Lady Claudia Remys as her heir-presumptive and tasked her with attending Anvil in her stead.
House de Roche
House Colours: Blue, green and grey
House Heraldry: A grey mountain overlooking a blue river, backed by green
Location: Weirwater, Weirmoor
House de Roche is an old and inward-looking Weirwater house. Proud of their motto ‘Roche Solide’, de Roche’s nobles are as stalwart – and sometimes as sombre – as the crags that surround the family’s stony castle. In the past they have tended to rely on their own children to take Tests of Mettle and join the house, caring little for expansion beyond the occasional Test of Ardour.
The House was ravaged in the recent battles against husks in Weirwater. Many of its yeomanry perished, as did the Earl’s heir apparent, her son Raymond de Roche. Rumours that Raymond’s corpse was later seen marching with the army of the dead chilled the once proud and haughty Earl to the bone. She has retreated into her library, leaving her daughter Segoline de Roche to look after the houses affairs.
Segoline now seeks to rebuild the House, looking beyond the walls of its dour fortress. To aid in this endeavour, she has sent a delegation to Anvil to support her interests - but as de Roche nobles are in short supply, the House is currently represented by its somewhat down-at-heel (but never downhearted) yeofolk.
House de Rondell
House Colours: Blue and Silver
House Heraldry: Three crescent moons around a gryphon
Location: Astolat, Laroc
An ancient house existing from before the founding of the Empire, that has had its fortunes rise and fall many times over the centuries but proximity to the Castle of Thorns in Astolat has always kept them near to the political heart of Dawn (indeed there is some evidence that the castle itself was designed by a de Rondell in the earliest days of the Dawnish presence on the Bay of Catazar). This house has returned senators, generals and cardinals again and again over the centuries.
Serving Dawn by forming links with those outside of Dawn. As such the household places an ongoing emphasis on questing in other parts of the Empire and gaining the regard of others in this way, long after many houses expect their office holders to focus in other areas.
We have been there from the beginning of the Empire, we will be there at the ascension.
Until that day we shall steer it towards greatness and Glory
The House uses virtues as the inspiration behind their deeds and ancestral achievements, these virtues are immortalised in the three silver crescent moons on a blue background surrounding the house heraldry of a gryphon rampant or in the case of the other icons chosen by individual Nobles. The moons represent Pride in one's own worth and that which one's ancestors have won; Ambition to constantly reach out and grasp every situation and turn it the advantage of the house; and Courage to always step forwards into the fray or into the unknown.
House de Rondell's martial tests of mettle are quite difficult and can easily result in the death of the unwary; the other theme that runs through their tests is an emphasis on political acumen and the ability to influence others to act on their behalf and for the good of the empire.
House Colours: Red and blue
House Heraldry: Gold boar's head surrounded by silver flowers, on red halved with blue.
Location: Semmerholm, Axmure
Located deep in the wilds of Axmure, House Rylas has always had a reputation for stubborn eccentricity, combined with great loyalty to their lands and people. The nobles of the house can as often be found patrolling the roads and trails of the region for threats and checking on the wellbeing of villages and settlements such as the great grey towers of Boar's Pike. Passing travellers can always find shelter at the castle and a quirky house tradition means that anyone travelling alone will receive an escort to their next stop - whether they want it or not.
However in recent years the House suffered a great setback - a vicious combination of disease and barbarian raiders further complicated by dire winter weather wiped out much of their fighting strength, including the earl and many brave knights. As a result the new earl has ordered the temporary relocation of all non-essential, non-combatants. The children have been fostered to other noble houses in Semmerholm and many adults have taken the opportunity to visit friends and relatives in other parts of the Empire. Where Boar's Pike was once a peaceful place full of families, it is now a stern garrison, looking south to the Barrens and the looming threat of the Druj.
House Colours: Red, gold and black
House Heraldry: Black hound
Location: Astolat, Winterbourne
House Sepulchre traces it roots to Mira (later Rolande) a warden of Varushka who came to Dawn to bury her family and eventually the sorcerer who killed them. Her bloodthirsty quest won her glory and land where she could mourn and remember in quiet contemplation.
Over the years the graves and gardens spread further and further as House Sepulchre sought to collect tales and songs of the glorious dead as well as providing a fitting resting place.
The house suffered something of a decline when it was revealed that a heretical cult of Hope had spread throughout the ranks of the nobility. It was only the swift action of the newly ennobled knight Melisande who put the heretics to the sword that Sepulchre endured.
At present the house is known for having a string of draughir earls, accepting errants from from all walks of life and setting tests of mettle often designed to encourage imaginative thinking and crush any lingering shreds of optimism in the aspiring noble.
House du Soleil
House Colours: Orange and blue
House Heraldry: Black tower against rising sun
Location: Astolat, Oldheart
Du Soleil is an ancient house pre-dating the Empire. Ancient records show members active within the ancient order of the Venatores Illustres Hunters, indeed the first earl, Alberic, may have been partly responsible for the formation of the order.
Based in Castle Soleil near Oldheart in Astolat, with extensive vineyards and orchards, du Soleil is famed for its red wine and calvados.
Earl Roger is rebuilding the house to its former glory, following the death of most of the house’s warriors in a surprise ambush by the Druj during a defence of the Towers of Dawn. A tower was added to the house sigil to commemorate the deaths of those brave folk.
Currently the house holds nobles and yeofolk of all ilk but battlefield skills are highly prized in House du Soleil.
House Colours: Green and Silver
House Heraldry: Silver stag's head on green background
Location: Weirwater, Weirwoods
In 380YE the house was formed by a young Dawnish nobleman, Earl Logan Tallstag, soon after his test of mettle. Choosing Weirwater as their home, he and his yeofolk built Keep Tallstag among the most infested woods in Dawn.
The people of House Tallstag work tirelessly to purge the Empire of vile beasts in courageous and challenging tests of mettle, taming the lands with an iron will, hunting beasts as close as their front door to monsters dwelling in the Weirwater Mountains. They take great pride in expanding their house's treasured bestiary and battling stronger and more vicious creatures.
Though young, the house already has sturdy traditions surrounding their hunts. The great halls of Tallstag are adorned by all manner of beast's heads, each one a trophy from a great hunt. Hung upon the walls surrounding the great hearth, many stories are told and drinks shared under their hollow eyes.
House Tallstag aims to bring all the people of Dawn the opportunity to rise and be heard among the older noble names.
House Colours: Green, black and silver
House Heraldry: Silver unicorn on black and green field
Location: Semmerholm, Semmer's Rose
Their lands lying near a sleepy hamlet to the south of Semmer’s Rose, House Tamerlaine is an old and small Dawnish house that faded and became more inactive over time. Both nobles and yeofolk of the House are very much focused on learning and perfecting their various arts, but have not much shared what they have learnt with the rest of the nation. When not ensconced in their compound, noble members tend to be travelling across the Empire, researching their arts.
"If the bird will not sing, we shall make it sing”House Motto
They are currently lead by an Earl named Thérèse. While the house is not made up of the strictest of traditionalists, challenges must always be met. Tamerlaine are prominent in encouraging that not every duel is settled by sword, but by words, brushes or songs as well. The relations between yeofolk and nobles is more relaxed than many - nobles are expected to take the lead and act as instructors to the yeofolk, helping them develop their craft.
With the upheaval of the past decade, Tamerlaine have begun to re-think their isolating ways and slowly reaching out. There has been a disinclination towards the martial in the past, the House motto defines the steely determination of its members.
House Colours: Purple and black
House Heraldry: Rampant wolf on argent
A proud and ancient house of historic influence, formally found at the vanguard of every major military campaign that Dawn has taken part in.
The Vandale star burned brightly for centuries only to wane in the rule of Empress Britta; where their most prominent Nobles and finest soldiers were all but wiped out in Britta's final stand.
Unbowed in the face of adversity the remaining Vandale swore to rebuild. Fiercely proud of their ancient Glory, this process is a slow one as any test set will be sure to drive the knight-errant to surpass their limits.
House Colours: Green, Gold & Black
House Heraldry: Dagger crossing a key
Location: Semmerholm, previously Barrens
A centuries old house, previously based in the Barrens, House Vexille have a reputation for their hard-line attitudes and no-nonsense approach to running a house, however with a penchant for luxury and excess alongside it. Further to this they provided succour and shelter - in their infamous pleasure house, The Lock and Key - for those wishing to test themselves against the hardships the Barrens have to offer, though this now lies in ruins at the Druj's feet.
Following the destruction of Dawnguard, and losing many nobles and yeofolk, many of the house have moved their residence to Semmerholm, their Pride firmly injured following the Druj's assault.Though their methods in achieving Glory have often been questioned, especially in recent years, which saw them declared as sorcerers for a time for their suggested abuse of magics. .
"A house of delicious green vipers…”Asenath of Felix's Watch
House Vexille proudly declares that they “Hold the key to Glory” and while this is considered metaphorical by many, the house believe that their extensive pushing of boundaries is the key to true Glory.
The tests of mettle set by the earls of Vexille are notoriously difficult; the current earl, Guissart Vexille, takes great pride in the fact that dozens of those wishing to join his house have failed to meet the exacting demands he places upon them. To this end, the house supports a larger than average number of yeofolk who spend years testing themselves personally before attempting to bring their requests to the earl to join the household.
Those nobles who have passed their test are usually arrogant as a result; inevitably embittered, grizzled individuals who display extreme character traits, their outlook on life influenced by the necessity of life on the Barrens' borders.
House Colours: Red, Green and Gold
House Heraldry: A golden gryphon passant, on a parted field of red and green
Location: Astolat, The Chase
An ancient, scarred House, striving to live up to the shadow it once cast. Conceived in days before the Empire, House Videre was built on traditions of duty and loyalty to an almost zealous degree. When the First Empress formed the Empire, Nobles of the House followed wholeheartedly, binding the Glory of their name to that of Dawn and the Empire itself. Knights are encouraged to perform feats of Glory that will be recognized beyond their Nation and to defend Imperial Glory at all costs – earning them a reputation for charging first and asking questions later. Over the years, the House was an ardent supporter of Imperial expansion, assisting campaigns for Semmerholm, Holberg and Karsk, as well as supplying fighters and captains for the Gryphon’s Pride army.
Their estate is built during the conquest of Semmerholm, on a forested hill in the southwestern edge of The Chase. Squat and imposing, designed for the garrisoning of troops, its thick walls now guard the Hall of Blooms: an enormous floral labyrinth, rumoured to contain a form of every flower found within the Empire.
Once a force for imperial conquest, the House was nearly destroyed in 276YE after a failed attempt to capture the Barrens. The split of House de Carsenere in 330YE sowed further chaos, and as Videre retreated upon itself, nursing its wounds, some began calling it “a House with great history, but no future”.
Still, House Videre endures, embattled and embittered. Now, a new generation of Knights and Yeofolk return to Anvil, determined to rise again and prove the name Videre is worthy of its great past, and more.
Prominent Noble Houses 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 Dawnish players to ensure the information is correct and current.
The majority of houses 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 houses, without first clearing it with the appropriate players. You should also check before including other players' houses in your background. The background team are unlikely to approve a background that significantly impacts or involves another player character household without their permission.
Included above are a handful of prominent NPC houses - you may be able to create a character associated with one of these houses but the situation will depend very much on your background and the house in question. It is unlikely that a player character will receive additional benefits for belonging to an NPC house, and may find their game limited - the earls of these houses are likely to remain NPCs for example, and are unlikely to give player characters much attention.