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Nobility

In the modern Empire, there is a very limited structure of nobles, mostly related to the Emperor/Empress, the Holy Emperor and the Holy Prince, and high court members. Beyond this, people are mostly simply styled as Lords and Ladies, and it is the role of heralds to track who holds precedence over each other.

In Ptolus, however, the oldest familes are stilled afforded great degrees of respect and deference. Of course, they fall below the commissar in rank, but to most other members of the city's population, they are considered the pinnacle of the social order.

Abanar Seal House Abanar
Head of House: Lord Dered Abanar (human male)
Other Members:
many many - more than any other house

A mercantile family, House Abanar commands great wealth. Abanar is the largest house as well as the wealthiest—although probably not the most powerful or influential. In Ptolus, people say, “wealth breeds contempt,” and that’s true of the merchants of Abanar. The members of the house have a poor reputation. Most people think of them as greedy, usurious cheats and liars who use their power, position, and wealth to gain greater power, position, and wealth.

Abanar is unique among the noble houses, due to the fact that one can quite literally buy one’s way into it. For approximately 10,000 gp, anyone can buy a minor title and position within the house hierarchy. This enables the titled individual to attend house functions and participate in house business (from making investments to actual employment in a house-owned business at a managerial level). This is what makes the house so large. The house has as many as one hundred titled members, with an extended association of another two hundred individuals. (Most houses have five to twelve titled members and an extended association of perhaps forty to eighty.)

Dered Abanar is the very old head of the house. Most believe he is not long for this world—most, that is, except for Dered. If he has made plans for what will become of the house leadership when he is gone, he hasn’t let on, much to the consternation of his many children and other high-ranking members of the house. Dered is worth millions of gold coins when one considers all holdings and controlling interests in various businesses in addition to liquid wealth. He is still quite sharp mentally but has grown feeble in his old age. He floats about the house’s estate on a huge magical chair, never leaving the premises; he conducts all business by proxy and agent. His wealth has not made him kind or happy, but instead always deadly serious, spiteful, and even quietly paranoid.

 

Dallimothan Seal House Dallimothan
Head of House: Lord Kristol Dallimothan (human male - though rumored to be a dragon)
Other Members:
Grandmama, Uncle Favil, Narris, Utresh, Aunt Klaron

To the people of Ptolus, House Dallimothan is “House Dragon,” although no member of this noble house would ever use that name. In fact, while it is fairly common knowledge that the lineage of Dallimothan extends back to dragonkind—and
some would speculate that most family members are dragons or half-dragons—the members of the house make no such claims. In fact, they would look upon an outsider doing so (or even asking whether it were true) as an insult of the highest
degree. The house’s official position is that “Dallimothan is a friend to dragonkind.” This hardly needs stating, however, since as often as not there is an actual dragon roaming, sleeping, or even romping about the grounds of this noble house’s
estate.

The truth is that the Dallimothan family does indeed descend from dragons who could take human form. It goes back to at least the time of Father Claw and Ni-Gorth, some eight thousand years ago. Only House Vladaam is older. Occasionally, humans or elves would join the family by marriage, producing half-dragon sons and daughters. Of the current family, there are five half-dragons and six full-blooded (or nearly so) dragons. Strangely enough, not all the dragons that have been, or currently are, part of the family have been of the same type. Most have been metallic, but there have even been a few chromatic wyrms as well. Of the six dragon family members, four are silver, one is gold, and one is bronze. This draconic interbreeding has produced interesting offspring over the millennia. One type or another almost always breeds true, but the individuals sometimes possess unique abilities. They usually seem in some way superior to a typical member of their type.

 

Erthuo Seal House Erthuo
Head of House: Lady Peliope Erthuo (half-elf female)
Other Members:
Cordelia Erthuo (human female), Vaethir Erthuo (elf male)

Scholars and gentlefolk, House Erthuo normally avoids confrontation and rarely gets involved with the various rivalries or intrigues that seem to be the lifeblood of other houses.

Like most of the other noble houses, Erthuo started out as an aristocratic human family, but over the years the family has become more and more devoted to the culture of elvenkind. Family members have married elves, producing half-elf Erthuo offspring, as well as making the members’ elven mates full members of the house. Of all the titled Erthuo members in the family today, only three are humans; seven are half-elves, and three are elves.

The head of the house is Peliope Erthuo, a female half-elf. She enjoys the placid tranquility of her home and the calm that comes from staying well away from intrigue, politics, and conflicts.

 

Kath Seal House Kath
Head of House: Lady Devina Kath
Other Members:
Matrenus, Ethisha, Tallaeth, Sallina, Raule, Katerin

If there are stars on the Ptolus social scene, they are the Kath family. These wealthy aristocrats possess striking talents, winning charm, and extreme comeliness. People in the city follow the exploits of House Kath with wonder and admiration. Kath concerns itself almost exclusively with the arts, and most members of the family are trained musicians, dancers, painters, sculptors, or writers.

House Kath administers the respected music Conservatory in Ptolus (also called the Imperial Academy of Music). It owns the Crown Theater and serves as patron of a number of theater troupes and opera companies, as well as small dancing and singing groups in the city. Kath also employs talent scouts to search the city for young, beautiful, and talented individuals to recruit as house associates, trained for free at the Conservatory or apprenticed under master artists. Such recruits are treated extremely well. They are set up for life financially, as long as they remain diligent and perform well—and remain always loyal and obedient to House Kath.

House Kath has strong and ancient ties to the Knights of the Chord and can call upon them for assistance when needed. Likewise, it is in Kath’s interest to support the knights and keep them strong, well-funded, and secure. Among the members of House Kath, decorum and etiquette are the rule of the day. This is particularly true among their extended association, such as Garin Vnata, a haughty effete who serves as Vice Chancellor of the Conservatory, or Myalla Wurt, the estate’s severe house matron, who greets guests with a cold, suspicious eye and insincere but properly polite compliments.

 

Khatru Seal House Khatru
Head of House: Lord Dorant Khatru
Other Members:

Famous for its military leadership and martial prowess, House Khatru is made up entirely of headstrong warriors and fighters. Most believe them to be arrogant, self-righteous warmongers—and that opinion isn’t far from the truth. Members of the Khatru family are poorly equipped to hide their nature even if they wanted to. They have no respect for spellcasters or rogues: only for those who live by the skill and strength of their sword arm. To Khatru, might makes right . . . and they have the most might.

House Khatru possesses its own private army, numbering around a hundred extremely welltrained troops. Almost to a soldier, these fighters also belong to the Order of Iron Might warriors’ guild. House Khatru does not hesitate to use this army if needed, putting them at the city’s disposal in times of crisis as well as in private disputes.

Although they have neither the time nor the patience for religion, the members of Khatru have regretted the Church’s abolition of the Edict of Deviltry ever since it happened some eighty years ago. They think of all arcanists as cowards at best, and diabolists at worst. Even most clerics, in their eyes, are likely demon-lovers, weak in their hearts and overly dependent on others—even if the “others” in question are in fact gods.

 

Nagel Seal House Nagel
Head of House: Lady Fransin Nagel (half-elf female)
Other Members:
Yarek (human male), Nillia (human female)

An older house, Nagel has recently fallen on hard times. The former head of the house, Kurtlan Nagel (male human), was placed in the Prison for murder. Lord Kurtlan was never formerly tried—just tossed into one of the darkest corners of the Prison and left to rot. The exact circumstances surrounding this are unknown, but thus far, none of Lady Nagel's efforts have had any effect on releasing her husband, or even getting him a formal trial.

In days of old, House Nagel possessed a reputation for altruism and charity. Its members opposed those who would exploit or abuse the common folk and did much to help the impoverished and otherwise needy. To a very small degree, the house agrees with the Republicans, though more in support of reforms to improve the average citizen, and not that Ptolus needs to secede from the Empire.

Lady Fransin Nagel, wife of Kurtlan, is mistress of this house now. She devotes virtually all her time and energy to recovering her husband. Lady Fransin looks for aid wherever she can find it. Despite her current straits, she remains an elegant, regal lady full of class, grace, and pride with a kind heart and undaunted courage.

 

Rau Seal House Rau
Head of House: Lady Verrana Rau and Lord Kalbir Rau
Other Members
: Bellas Rau, Vara Rau

The Rau, as they like to be called, have earned a reputation as rogues, pirates, and scalawags. Long ago, Rau ships prowled the Whitewind Sea looking for prey under the guise of explorers. Today, their past privateering and profiteering ventures are no secret, giving rise to the phrase “a deal with the Rau,” meaning a cheat or swindle. They still own a fleet  of ships that serve as merchant vessels or sometimes as mercenary craft hired to escort other vessels for the right price
(the employer always keeping one eye on the Rau ship for a sudden betrayal).

The house is also known for its spellcasters as well. The talent for sorcery runs strong in the family bloodline. Rau spellcasters often specialize in illusion, enchantment, or abjuration rather than conjuration or evocation. They are subtle rather than overt.

The head of the house is Verrana Rau (female human). In his mid-twenties, her son Kalbir (human male) is her virtual
equal and helps manage all Rau business. Verrana’s cousin, Bellas, (male human) does little but use house finances to
indulge in his vices, but his wife Nara (human female) is an expert in appraising goods and people, making her invaluable to the family as they work with and manage various criminals.

 

Sadar Seal House Sadar
Head of House: Lord Renn Sadar
Other Members:
Enis Sadar, Naephos Worldsea

House Sadar is sometimes called the House of Shadows. The family has long been “shadowtainted”—gifted with a predilection for shadowrelated magic, but in turn unnaturally obsessed with darkness and saddled with an aversion to light.

Known for its long line of mages, this house was persecuted and hated by the Church during the Days of Blood. According to house legends, Sadar had almost faded into oblivion some two centuries ago, but a mysterious stranger appeared and gave then house leader Tal Sadar the shadowstaff. Things immediately turned around for the family. (It’s rumored that the Inverted Pyramid played a vital role in saving House Sadar in those days, a debt few speak of but no Sadar forgets.) Its current leader, Lord Renn Sadar, still wields the staff and remains one of the most powerful wizards in the city—and one of the highest-ranking members of the Inverted Pyramid. Renn is a confident, conniving, enigmatic figure in the city. He
rarely shows up in person at house functions or at council meetings, preferring instead to send his proxy, Naephos Worldsea (male elf), a charismatic and well-mannered diplomat. Meanwhile, Renn is off studying lore or conducting Inverted Pyramid business.

It is worth noting that Enis is no vacant, pampered noblewoman. Though she ignores most pursuits of the house (shadows, magic, etc.) she is, ironically, influential in the Church of Lothian. She works specifically with the Order of Dayra, helping the underprivileged and in particular orphans, and has accomplished much in this role.

Perhaps more than anything else, House Sadar seeks the aforementioned box of shadows. This mysterious artifact’s  origins are lost to antiquity, but it is said to have been the bane that Danar Rotansin was going to store away in the Banewarrens the day he succumbed to the evil of the Book of Inverted Darkness. Thus it was never placed in a vault but secreted away by a servant before fading into the mists of history.

 

Shever Seal House Shever
Head of House: Lord Thollos Shever
Other Members:
Redalla Shever, Mercad Shever

Known for their skill with machines, the members of House Shever made a great deal of gold long ago and commanded significant political influence. Their connections to the Empire were very strong—ties much more evident than the other noble houses’. Now, as the Empire partially built upon Shever technology fades (and the technical lore fades even faster), House Shever was until recently also fading in influence. Unsurprisingly, the house is a strong supporter of the Shuul.

House Shever is the youngest of the noble houses. Still, only House Nagel finds itself in more dire straits today. Shever’s finances are quickly drying up, and with each passing year the family loses more and more political influence. “Blossomed too fast, too early,” people say of House Shever—although that seems to be overstating a bit the plight of a family that still commands some power, wealth, and respect after a thousand years.

 

Vladamm Seal House Vladaam
Head of House: Lord Iristul Vladaam
Other Members:
Navanna, Aliaster, Gattara, Godfred

House Vladaam is not only the oldest of the noble houses but also the most decadent and corrupt. A fact that remains unknown to most, the members of this noble family trace their lineage back to the ancient race of dark entities called the
Natharl’nacna—or at least to their servants. The members of House Vladaam descended from a being known as Vladaam, one of the ancient Vested of the Galchutt. Today, the family is thought to fund (and profit from) a number of criminal organizations, profiting  from theft, extortion, smuggling, illegal gambling, assassination, and trade in slaves, drugs, and evil magic items. Even in a city where demons walk the streets (as the Fallen), the Vladaam family may hold its darkest depths of evil.