The Marches groups
There are many important households, landskeeper circles, market towns, and monasteries in the Marches. Despite the number, only a comparative handful are involved in the affairs of the Empire (that is, attend the seasonal summits at Anvil). Their influence can wax and wane, and involvement in Imperial affairs is not always a reflection of their prominence within the nation itself. This page presents in-character information about the groups that attend, or have attended, Anvil — the kind of thing that someone who asked about them might uncover from talking to their peers. In each case, the information is provided by the players and edited before being put on the wiki.
The majority of groups listed here are made up of player-characters. You should not create a character who is part of a group, or has personal history with one, without first clearing it with the appropriate players. You should also check before including other players' groups in your background. The background team are unlikely to approve a background that significantly impacts or involves another player character group without their permission. There are also a handful of prominent NPC groups included for completeness, but they are not intended for use by player characters.
Households and Monasteries
Households of Upwold
- Location: Birchland
- Livery: Blue and green
- Motto: Balston Forever!
- Symbol: Rampant badger
- Steward: William Hooke Jr
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. Its members, many of them beaters and yeomen have a reputation for both sanguinity and ferocity.
After many years of attending Anvil, the Household suffered heavy losses when disastrous fights saw Steward Sam and Pyp Balston, their famed General Farstrider, and then later General Rickard fall. Yet those who survived bounced back and saw their proud household put onto even footing as their ancestors had done many times before. If not fighting in their iconic blue and green livery, "the Badgers" as they are often known can be found making merry - or making trouble - across Anvil.
Birchland Forest Patrol
- Location: The Bones, Birchland, Upwold
- Livery: Halfed green and black
- Steward: Richard Steward.
Made up primarily of beaters and threshers from the forests of Alderly Alderly in Mournwold, after the Mourn was liberated they found a new home in the forests of Birchland, becoming Birchland Forest Patrol.
Mainly concerned with internal threats to the Empire the patrol is dedicated to using the pillars of the Empire to root out sorcerers and cultists, but maintain a special grudge for the Feni and the Jotun.
- Location: Upwold, Stock March
- Livery: Mustard Yellow & Burnt Orange
- Symbol: Crossed axes below an autumn oak
- Steward: Alfred Dunholt
Perched atop a flowery hillock in Stock March is the ancestral home of House Dunholt. A site as old as its nation, whose founders had slipped away into the ranks of passing rebels and took with them an eternal aversion to authority. An aversion which would lead to their decline.
At the outbreak of the Cousins War, House Dunholt was a major producer of barley and their steward Adam “Two Fingers” Dunholt was a very vocal opponent to the Empire. They pledged the household to the independence of the Marches, mustering a force of archers to meet those encamped towards Hepton Bridge. They never made the journey there, ambushed upon the way. Nearly all of them were fought to the death, leaving few left to tend the barley. The great fields were converted into a graveyard orchard and those who remained began anew.
Now House Dunholt is known more for its cider and mead than barley - most often trading in Stockland. Preparing the more popular inns and pubs for those out-of-towners who would turn their nose up at the local ale.
- Location: Stockmarch, Upwold
- Livery: Burgundy and Bottle Green.
- Symbol: Manticore leaping over a star
House Guildenstern is one of the many houses of the Marches that traces its roots back to the original exodus from Dawn. The woodlands and hills around the Guildenstern estate are particularly wild and home to dangerous and according to stories, “other worldly” entities. Still to this day opting to use larger swords than billhooks. 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 as well as many Hedge-mages, fighting against the sorcerers serving Alderei the Fair as part of Tom Drake's retinue in the army that would become the Drakes. House Guildenstern continues their involvement in the more magical aspects of the Marches and the Empire, in many cases aiming to treat with eternals. Their banner with is a manticore leaping over a faltering gold star as a nod to their traditional way of thinking (although some link it to an ancient story of the House before the March, another sign that the house is a little peculiar by Marcher standards, their banner being almost Dawnish in its outré imagery). The Guildenstern are very aggressive towards the Feni. They are a part of the Unbound Union
- Location: Tower March, between King's Stoke and the Eastern Guard
- Colours Blue and Red
- Motto: If you want to hold the land, first build a tower
- Symbol: Blue, a Silver Tower crowned by a Red Stag's Head
“If you want to hold the land, first build a tower” speaks the proverb, and it speaks truly. The monks of Pickham Monastery live by a Rule that demands readiness for action, simple living, and watchfulness in all things. The monastery’s founder was Major Joshua Benson, Exemplar of Vigilance. A sharp-eyed sentry, he foiled a Dawnish raid on the village of Pickham, and became a renowned local priest of Vigilance. His followers once claimed only Pickham's run-down peel tower, but Pickham Monastery grew to dwarf its namesake village.
The monks have long supported the beaters and threshers of Upwold. Their library is stocked as much toward practical Vigilance as religious matters, and the monks themselves often train as intelligencers, ritualists, or exorcists. They are known for their careful study and cunning use of hearth magics, folklore and curses. A necessary expertise, as the Monastery’s lands have a reputation for hauntings and strange events around Wassail.
Siblings of Pickham often nurture grudges towards fools who act without thought. Dubious assumptions and shifty arguments are seen as falsehoods to be sought out and overturned by the faithful. As such, the siblings of Pickham are as dogged in the pursuit of Clemency or acquittal for the Virtuous as they are in the condemnation of criminals.
- Location: Birchland, Upwold
- Livery: Green and white
- Symbol: The rune Rhyv on an apple
- Steward: Nancy Smudd
The Smuddy Russets are apple farmers through and through. The house itself is a relatively small one now compared to what it once was, due to fighting for the empire or family tragedies. Living in Upwold, in Birchland, the family was shaken when their house and farm partially fell into “The Bloody Great Hole”. The family quickly acted to stop the house falling in, roping parts of it to the ground and reinforcing others. With this, the Smudds have been working to rebuild ever since and have continued to grow apples in what is left of their orchard as well as ‘branching’ out with having a side line in the pig business, bar their pet mini-pig, Bacon. He’s special.
As well as growing apples, the Smudds work to help the armies of the Empire by acting as physicks in any battles they are a part of, making sure that any Marcher that falls is picked back up and gets back home. With green and white tabards, the Smudds, with the rune of Rhyv on their banner to show how important blood is, strive to keep the land they live on and their friends and family safe and strong in ever changing times.
Households of Mitwold
- Location: Mead, Mitwold
- Livery: per pale Sanguine and bisque in
- Motto: That which is yet to be found we shall seek.
- Symbol: fess point a pair of keys yellow-ochre in nombril a corn sheaf yellow-ochre.
- Steward: Leof of Mead.
House Garamond is situated in one of the oldest buildings in Meade town centre and can trace their roots back to some of the oldest families of Dawn. The crumbling vaults of House Garamond were once used by the settlers of Mead to store their coin and valuables as well as the irreplaceable historical possessions which House Garamond had accumulated. Eventually folk trusted the Talbots over House Garamond and their dilapidating vaults to store their coin resulting in a shift of the House’s income to rely more on its crops and breweries. The artifacts stored in many of the Garamond vaults eventually decayed or were buried as the old vaults collapsed, leaving only a handful that are now proudly displayed for all to see.
To this day, Yeomen of House Garamond still have a particular interest in preserving ancient history and can be found travelling from town to town in search of interesting objects of historical importance and educating visitors on the history of their proud remaining artifacts. The keys depicted in their livery once represented the security of their vaults though now only two remain in service, they are considered by House Garamond to be one of the most secure places in Mitwold.
- Location: Meade Downs
- Livery: Red & Black
- Motto: Fort et Fidelis (Faithful and Strong)
- Symbol: Passant white hound
- Steward: Edward Talbot
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 Talbots are well known as landowners and manage well run estates. This business sense has led them over time to be 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.
The houses animal heraldic symbol being the loyal hound, the white dog of Talbot. Loyalty is the virtue prized highest amongst the Talbots. The family motto “Fort et Fidelis”, which is Asavean for “Faithful and Strong” echoes this sentiment. Although many of the prefer the unofficial motto “Never Knowingly Under Cater”, which is particularly popular around the Household gatherings and has yet to be proven wrong.
Households of Bregasland
The Black Vigil
- Location: Near Gravenmarch, Bregasland
- Livery: Quartered Black and Purple
- Motto: A Lantern Lit, a Shadow Felled, a Debt Fulfilled.
- Symbol: Barbed Crescent Surrounding a Lit Lantern
- Steward: Gideon of Graven Rock
Across the marshes of Bregasland, the lanterns of The Black Vigil can be seen cutting through the dark as they patrol the fens and guard against encroaching threats.
Unlike many houses of the Marches, The Black Vigil’s ancestry does not trace back to Dawn. Its founding members come from Kallavesa, Tassato and the heart of Bregasland itself. They are warriors, brewers, mummers - vagabonds all.
Each, in their own way, were without guidance before being brought together by Gideon of Graven Rock and given purpose in hunting monsters across the shadowed recesses of the world. A kinship grew, and now through the fog and the fens of Bregasland they come, each member equipped with a lantern to always be a light in dark places. The lanterns' importance and what it represents is proudly displayed on their livery. The Black Vigil believes that ‘monster is a state of mind', so for those who behave monstrously, be they beast, barbarian or Imperial, the hunt is on.
As highly skilled fighters The Black Vigil frequently offer their services as mercenaries, guards and enforcers, to any with coin who may require their aid. The Vigil values respect highly, and for those who have earned their respect they will drink, fight, and share in revelry with until their lanterns burn out.
With their lanterns lit, shadows will fall, and all debts will be fulfilled.
- Location: Near the Gullet, Bregasland
- Livery: Claret and Blue
- Symbol: Seven-spoked wheel
- Steward: Reg Wheelwright
House Wheelwright have a small plot of land near the Gullet. Originally just the Wheelwright family lived here with some farm hands, now this includes a few other families that have married in and taken a field as their own. The land is mostly used to raise small livestock that are able to thrive in the conditions. There is also a small church built next to the main farm house. All members of the Wheelwright household or attached church are encouraged to wear imagery of a seven spoked cart wheel. This hails back to the founder of the House, while also acknowledging the seven virtues.
House Wheelwright has lived here since their founder, George Wheelwright, bought the land from an old widow. Having always dreamed of a life outside of the town he grew up in, George didn't question the fantastic price, ending up right in the edge of Jotun territory.
As the name suggests, Wheelwrights like to make things, although there is more demand for mill wheels than the cart wheels they were originally named for. Various members of House Wheelwright have been seen in Anvil, including the steward, Reg, when he has the chance. When Reg is unable to make meets at Anvil, his sister Rosemary speaks for the Household.
House Wheelwright claims links to House Fenner, due to an aunt marrying into House Fenner.
Households of the Mournwold
- Location: Mournwold, Greensward
- Colours: grey and red
- Symbol: Prancing Cockerel
- Leader: Abbott Thomas Arch
Copperhill Monastery is dedicated to the virtue of Pride though all virtues are practiced here. The 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.
- Location: Freemoor and Graven March
- Livery: Black (for the peat), crimson (for the herbs)
- Motto: From dirt to stream to river
- Symbol: A Duck Sinister
- Steward: Nathaniel Drayton
House Drayton started its life in Freemoor, struggling to cope with scrubby farmland. Several winters were survived by trading skills and herbs picked from the local scrubland of their neighbours. As the years passed, trading became more important to the family. By the time of the Jotun occupation the family had adopted a non-traditional lifestyle living aboard several small river craft, farming the stream banks for herbs and collecting flotsam for trade. They moved much of this to the family members who had moved to Graven March. With the approach of the Jotun cutting off trade and being unable to sustain themselves by staying stationary, the Draytons were some of those who left the Mourn. Those at Graven March established a business trading in herbs and other resources - the Wanderin' Shop - that moved around, even as far as Anvil at times. The shop has a reputation for selling practically anything…
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.
- Location: Ore Hills
- Livery: Grey above Green, Millstone 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!
- Steward: Blayk Stone
House Stone's earliest records start at the beginning of the Empire, when the First Empress came to the Marches. Fighting for union in the civil war, the house went from building mills to breaking skulls. Upon the eventual victory, the House stood depleted, and so began a tradition of taking in odd ducks by accepting members divested of their original households. 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, and the remaining members took House Stone south into Ore Hills in the Mourn. It was here that they built their first "rock farm", with farmers working alongside miners to exploit the natural resources of the hills, as a way to assuage internal conflict over voting rights. The loss of the Mournwold saw most of House Stone's people falling to the Jotun's blades.
The current steward of House Stone, Blayk Stone, succeeded her brother Dunstan in the summer of 381, and since then has been rebuilding the house for the third time. Today the rock farming tradition continues, even if only half the rock farmers can legally vote, spearheaded by the House Stone Rock Farm, the official central holding of the House. Loyalty is considered one of the more important virtues for the House as a whole, while the traditions are often focused on the soil and stone, drawing on its connections as if worried it is going to fly away.
Towns and Circles
The market towns are prosperous, but their businesses give them little opportunity to wield political power directly. Likewise, each landskeeper circle has its own agenda, often tied to the protection or prosperity of a single region but again they have no direct say on who will lead the territories of the Marches.
- Location: Maiden's Menhir Inn in Hay, or the Applewood Manor in Upwold
- Motto: Serve the Marches, Reap the Rewards
The Reapers aren't so much prominent as everywhere and useful. They came to Anvil after Auld Grimm died at the same time as Empress Britta, and have gotten quite skilled at cat herding and ritual shenanigans. So if you wondered who gave the Mourn its prosperous year just after the conquest, it were them. They still gather up small household covens, stick their noses into most of the powerful rituals, and push the borders of what the Marchers can do with magic. Rather a lot of them are what you might call Rainbow Wizards, mainly spread around the realms of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Night.
If you're looking for where they're based, then the closest I can get you is the Maiden's Menhir Inn in Hay or the Applewood Manor in Upwold. Nicholas Reaper, who's officially their if-landskeepers-did-leaders-then-he-would-be, has a favourite seat at the both of them and visits every few weeks. If he's up for taking business, his staff will be outside the door.
Other Player Groups
These groups are made up of non-player characters; their members are portrayed by Profound Decisions NPC crew.
It should contain the following information:
- Group archetype (household, market town, monastery, landskeeper circle). If your group doesn't have one of these archetypes, it will be listed in the "other" section.
- Territory and region where the groups lands are physically located. Households have estates and farms, while market towns and monasteries are built around actual structures. Even a landskeeper circle will have a specific location where they meet, such as an old monolith, or the backroom of a certain tavern.
- If you are a household, then a description of your livery is appropriate
- Any Marcher group that has a particular symbol associated with them can include an image; likewise many Marcher groups have a motto or saying that sums up their history or attitudes. Both can be included with your contribution.
- The name of your steward if you are a household. If there is someone in your market town, monastery, or landskeeper circle that serves as the in-character leader of the group, you can mention them and their title here
You should also include up to 250 words of description, detailing the kind of things that other characters might know about your group. Have a look at the description for a Marcher household, or at the pages for the appropriate archetypes for ideas on the kind of information that is useful. You must also include a few sentences of history, especially around the circumstances of the group's formation or origin.
Some other questions to consider include:
- Does your group have any notable grudges against another group, class of people, region, territory, or concept? What's the basis for that grudge?
- Are there any particular archetypes the group is associated with that might be unexpected?
- Is there anything notable about the land your group claims?
Things to avoid include:
- Too much worldbuilding detail — this represents information other characters may know about your house. It's not a place to define elements of the game world
- Lists of character names — this isn't a place for getting your name on the wiki
- Too much emphasis on the past — while it's useful to have a few lines of history, what matters in Empire is what your house does on the field at events
It's possible to update the information on this page over time (for example if your in-character group leader changes) with an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.