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A noble house is the basic concept for a group of Dawnish characters. Lead by an Earl, it is composed of nobles who have passed the Test of Mettle set by the house. It may also include some yeomen retainers, or a Seneschal.

Introduction

Dawnish Noble Houses are ancient and proud, and from the outside, may appear to be little more than noble families passing down titles. Look more closely, though, and the foreigner quickly discovers how little blood means to the Dawnish - until it is spilt. It is meaningless to talk of the "Earl's family" - every noble member of the House bears the same surname, and ties of blood are treated just the same as ties of adoption or fostering, or the ties of family honour to an unrelated yeoman who has passed his or her Test of Mettle.

The Noble House, seated in its ancient castle, provides a training-ground for young Nobles, a retreat and food-reserve for the local yeomanry in times of trouble, a centre for local art and culture, and a seat for the local bureaucracy and justices. The castle itself is inhabited by both yeomen and nobles, and each member has their role to play.

The "Earl" is the head of the household, the wisest and most honourable member of the House, whose duty it is to uphold the honour of the House while advancing its interests. The methods by which the Earl is chosen vary from House to House. The Earl is typically supported by two loyal and trusted yeomen, a Squire and a Seneschal.

While the squire of a knight is a younger man or woman set to train with, aid and accompany that knight, an Earl's Squire is a close and life-long friend, chosen for the advice that she can offer and the strength - martial, psychological and spiritual - that she can lend. The Senschal's work is more practical: he deals with the House's financial matters and its relations with the Imperial bureaucracy, carries out the will of the Earl in civil (non-military) matters, and makes sure that the needs of the House's nobles are catered for in the manner they have earned. Woe betide the noble of the House who disrespects either; he may often find that the Earl considers disrespect to such a close friend to be a personal insult.

Lesser Nobles of the House spend their lives seeking glory in their chosen path, most commonly on the field of battle as Knights and War Witches, and when at the castle, spend their time training and celebrating the trappings of nobility, which they have earned through their Test of Mettle and their achievements since. Each Noble House also usually has at least one Troubadour resident within, to act as the House's storyteller (and, sometimes, its conscience) - there needs to be someone to record the glory, after all.

The Earl's judgement is final, and though impassioned argument is appreciated, once word has been given, it is rare and potentially dangerous to disobey an Earl - to do so invites an honour duel, at the least.

Creating a Noble House

The Noble House is intended as the simplest way for most groups of players to create a Dawnish group. Dawnish Noble Houses are constantly engaged in a fierce struggle for honour and glory, giving players a chance to construct a group with significant interests and powerful capabilities in the game-wide martial and magical theatres, who can put on great displays with fantastic kit and costume, and who can charge headlong into danger because it's the right thing to do.

A Noble House group can be of any size. House members should all bear the same surname, and may be related by blood or marriage, though they don't need to be. The House may include dozens of off-screen noble members who never attend events, or it may be that you and your friends' characters are the only members of the noble House at all, but the high status of the group in Dawn means that it certainly has numerous NPC yeomen working for it behind the scenes.

The Nobles of a Dawnish house concern themselves with winning glory - mainly in battle, as Knights or as War Witches, although there is glory to be found in peacetime too. Whatever else your House does, it should always be on the lookout for the best chances to show off its skill and Virtue. The yeomen attached to your House are no exception to this, and the Dawnish should respect any (Virtuous) display of skill, whether it is in sword-and-shield fighting or cooking the perfect boar for a House of twenty. Every character should be looking for the chance to show off something in the name of the group.

Within the House, the Nobles represent powerful figures, who may own land and command military forces in Dawn. They are the Senators and Generals who make the major decisions which affect the House and its holdings, and which may affect the future of the Empire. The price they pay for their luxuries is the responsibility of defending and guiding the yeomanry. The yeomen with the Noble House group are there to make things happen at their Nobles' commands, and are often close companions to them - it's their job to deal with money and politics and generally to keep the world turning.

The individualistic nature of Dawnish glory-seeking doesn't lend itself to the group practice of ritual magic; if you and your friends are enthusiastic about this, and/or if you have craft skills which you want to employ making kit and costume, consider creating a Weaver Cabal instead.

The role of Troubadour is the best way to play a Dawnish priest-type character - as the group's myth-historian and teller of tales, it's often their job to make sure that glory doesn't get in the way of Virtue. However, if you'd rather have the simplicity of questing and fighting with a Troubadour by your side, without worrying about politics, then consider creating a Knights-Errant or Questing Knights group.

You'll want to pick a territory for your House to come from, and most or all of its members should come from that territory. If you're having trouble choosing, we recommend picking the territory with the fewest active groups in-game. After all, Dawn has never lost territory to the barbarian forces outside the Empire, and you're going to need to make sure it stays that way.