Each Thursday this year, I focus on a different aspect of the world I’ve created and played D&D in for over 20 years, in the hopes of honing the ideas and cementing enough in place to settle the world in my own mind. This week, having finished the general histories and overviews, I am going to start winding down the regional information. This week, we work with remaining Old houses of Tyndaria
How Houses Work
Within the political structure of Tyndarian nobility, the Houses held a significant portion of the power for generations. Wanderer, the King of Tyndaria, has changed much of that recently, keeping his own council and limiting the positions and wealth of the powerful houses.
Houses in Tyrindal, thought traditionally run by consecutive generations born of the same blood, are not completely defined by that blood. While the leadership of a house may pass from parent to child, or child to sibling through a nested web of relationships, membership within a house is perpetuated through a process of adoptions and fosterage. Lowborn Tyndarians, along with people from other kingdoms, may seek out and present themselves for fosterage to, any member of any house. Acceptance into the fosterage will have a mentor assigned to the applicant to teach the student skills of their trade, the history of the house, and their place within Tyndarian society. At the end of this training period, as determined by the mentor and house leadership, they will be tested. This test is conducted by their peers within the house. If the test is passed, the individual will be granted membership into the house. If they fail, they will be forever exiled from the house, unable to test again.
A child of a member of a high house is not automatically granted into the house, and must also take the trials of mentorship and fostering. Only the members of the High Families direct line are granted automatic membership in the houses they are born to, granting them significant privilege over even others within the high houses.
A Crumbling Structure
For hundreds of years, Tyndaria survived through numerous internal and external threats, building stability that, while challenged, maintained through the generations. According to Tyndarians, the reason that stability persisted was the strength and power of the noble houses of the Kingdom.
There are, without exaggeration, hundreds of houses within Tyndaria. Each individually supporting their land and the peasants that maintain it. Some houses have more dastardly reputations while others shine with nobility. Each House claims land surrounding a manor or keep, with each land of varying importance. Many Houses play an interminable and destructive game of power, each angling for their own grasp on power, though few ever attain it, while others are content to maintain their holdings. Houses have risen and fallen over the generations, with these as the greatest, both current and former, in a generation.
The Lexium Tyranus, the foundational law document of Tyndaria, lays out how houses can be created, dissolved, and censured. Additionally, it creates a permanent hierarchy of houses, clearly delineating the High Houses, the lesser houses, and the low houses. While there are technical delineations between lesser houses and low houses, in common parlance they are generally lumped together. Additionally, it creates the structure for the Kings Council, creating an additional tier of houses who wield power within the council, advising the king.
Within the last decade, many of these traditions have cracked and faltered, while some have been completely cast aside. Today, the Kings Council has all 17 seats filled, but Wanderer’s only true advisor is his own conscience and the rule of law. Below are listed the 8 remaining great houses from before Wanderer’s ascension to King. These houses have much greater pull than the newly raised houses that are currently on the Kings Council, the ones with the most power and pull in the kingdom.
(note on heraldry – I have yet to find a site/style that allows me all of the freedom I want with creating heraldry. it will be unified one day, but for now, bear with me as I use multiple sites to get the image I want)
Head: Lord Maxus Dragonblade
Vassals: Sweetwater, Firehorn, Blackhammer, Greenguard
Demense: The Winged Citadel
Territory: Dutchy of Cragstone
House Dragonblade, since Moduru’s first war, has become one of the most powerful houses in Tyndaria in the aftermath that befell the Kingdom. The house has always been strongly militaristic, and at the start of the Silentknife rebellion, they threw their house behind Wanderer when he became King, fighting alongside his Blades in a number of engagements and steadfastly supporting his claim. It was not in the interest of the greater population, they hold, to fracture into multiple small kingdoms. The Leader of the House, Lord Maxus, was the youngest to become the head of the house in its short history has built on the foundation that his parents, Lady Cyabal and Lord Ord had put into place, and has proceeded to increase its status and power in the time he has led it. He has become an invaluable aid to King Wanderer, with his knowledge of both law and warfare serving both him and the Kingdom well. The banner of House Dragonblade now flies along the ramparts of Tyrindal, alongside Wanderers banner, declaring a city defended by two houses.
Head: Lady Cassia Shadowdancer
Vassals: Blackrider, Shadowblood, Icekeeper
Demense: Barthina Stronghold
Territory: Dutchy of Yimmoral
House Shadowdancer is the second oldest house, and the oldest surviving house, in all of Tyndaria. This gives their members a great sense of purpose and nobility, which they are happy to expound on at length, but it also gives them a fairly disparaged opinion among many folks who believe that their time has long passed. Their house, on the expiration of the Warfire Dynasty centuries ago, created a legacy and dynasty that endured for generations, until senile and febrile Lepis Shadowdancer publicly executed his elderly mother, attempting to wrest control of the house and the country from her. He succeeded, but the Blackblood Rebellion followed, sending the Kingdom into civil war, and losing the Shadowdancers their power. That his mother, Urilith Blackblood, was a known cruel and vile being who was rumored to drink the blood of virgins, was probably the saving grace of the event and likely prevented the house from being wiped from existence. The Shadowdancers castle at Barthina Stronghold overlooks some of the most vital agricultural lands to many free Tyndarian cities, and it is in no small portion the font of their power.
Head: Lady Ilyanna Griffinsbane, Lord Vice
Vassals: Highroost, Firesmith, Windblade, Kingbreaker, Lifebringer
Demense: Dawnglow Keep
Territory: Dutchy of Illrain
House Griffonsbane is a strong and elderly house, one that stands on the accomplishments of giants to attain the heights it sits at today. While they fought the Kingdoms enemies over the course of generations, the descendants of Yaran Griffonsbane never truly lived up to their martial and political genius. They did, however, continue to support the King and his powers, regardless of the House who held the throne. So ingrained was this loyalty that the Griffonguard, assigned to the King from the house’s most promising young children, even guarded the King in their sleep. The Griffonsbanes are at the forefront of the battle, fighting side by side with the Dragonfires, in the ongoing war against the False King, Dressus Soulshammer.
Head: Lady Darina Wisperwind, Lord Ferix
Vassals: Westhall, Amberbow, Marshstone, Redland
Demense: The Gemstone Palace
Territory: Dutchy of Rilus
It is rumored that House Whisperwind has a secret plot to overthrow the Kingdom, killing wanderer and taking the throne for themselves. They are ill trusted by many of the other high houses and are seen as both upstarts and imposters who only hold on to their status through trickery and deceit, not the noble pursuits of political and battlefield strategies. The Whisperwinds find this assumption to be useful, though tiring, and have cultivated it over the years to their benefit. Few people think deep and long enough to realize that, had the Whisperwinds had the plot to take the throne, the day Wanderer vanished would have been the perfect opportunity to execute it. Now, the Whisperwinds try subtly to influence the King every time an opportunity presents itself, though they are careful not to overstep their welcome. They believe that by following the Old Code and the Lexium Tyranus, their time and Dynasty will come.
Head: Lord Aliv Bloodstrike, Lady Pelera
Vassals: Hillsinger, Ravenbridge, Feathertusk, Killinglove, Foxwood
Demense: Boar Run
Territory: Dutchy of Azain
Bloodstrike is a household name like no other. There is no single individual more renown and revered within the entirety of Tyndaria, and even the whole of Tysis, as Tarin Bloodstrike. A hero and defender of the weak, he represents the best and boldest reputation of the house, embodying within himself the traits of determination, dedication, and valor that the house represents tp so many. House Bloodstrike, even given all of that, can be a terrifying blunt weapon. Their soldiers and knights believe in the predetermined correctness of their lord’s decisions, and rarely question or waver in their duty. Thankfully, over the generations, few Bloodstrikes have proven to be black of heart or mind, and the bloodline remains chivalrous and noble to its core. it was from, and into, the Bloodstrike lands on the border with Killbarum, that many wars were waged and copious blood spilled. even now they stand ever vigilant against their old foe.
Head: Lord Mer Mindcrusher, Lady Haven
Vassals: Copperbrew, Nightguard, Ashfoot, Yellowclaw, Tigershield
Demense: Highmind Ramparts
Territory: Dutchy of Kalkrom
House Mindcrusher is one of the youngest houses in Tyrandall, Founded during the Flamefist rebellion when the arcane knight Juria Windrider used his powerful psychic magic to halt a battle before it even started, crushing the general’s mind, turning him into a gibbering fool. Raised a lord on the spot, House Mindcrusher is both smaller and less influential than other great houses with long and illustrious histories. Mindcrusher has taken a page from the Killbaran book, and trains as many of their warriors and mages across both disciplines as can be allowed. Knowing that their numbers are few and that their alliances with other powerful houses will keep them as a great house longer than going it alone, they had created beneficial alliances with both Griffonsbane and, prior to the rebellion, the Soulshammers. Choosing to remain within the King’s graces has, for now, proved to be the correct choice, but who knows how long a young house can maintain its existence in these trying times.
Head: Lord Dyllin Swordfall, Lady Cecilia
Vassals: Eaglecliff, Stonetomb, Ironwater, Goldhammer, Skyshifter
Territory: Dutchy of Photia
House Swordfall is a small house with very little power, very little prestige, and very little popularity. They have maintained a low profile over the years, keeping to themselves, rising when called upon, and returning to their lands when their duty has ended. The House contains immense patrons of the arts, including music in all forms, painting, sculpting and many other forms of expression and joy. Many bards, minstrels, wanderers, and other artists claim patronage by the house, but few truly have it as the house is extremely discerning when it comes to giving their explicit approval. Within the Great hall of Bleakstone Isle are galleries of knowledge and beauty, wonderful architecture, beautiful tapestries, and glorious art, all sequestered from the rest of the world for the Swordfall to enjoy at their leisure.
Head: Lord Gabrith Spellshaper (Shadowdancer.)
Vassals: Worldshaker, Firecry, Slivereye, Hammerblade, Stonesunder
Demense: Irons End
Territory: Dutchy of Yerk
When Wanderers Crisis took hold of the Kingdom, one of the houses stood up and declared what must be done, according to the Old Code, the Lexium, and the Laws of Uran. House, Spellshaper has long been known for clinging to the old law, even in the face of impossible improbabilities, contradiction, and enemies of all houses aligning against them. Thankfully, the house is rarely wrong in its finding, and its knowledge of the deep laws is sought out by those wishing both to exploit the law and avoid it, For a fee. Spellshaper believes that, when it wrote the treaty of the 6 houses and joined the young Tyrandall forces, the documents they wrote were strong and binding, and that though some ideas may change, this document and the ties that bind the houses together would not. Unfortunately, this blind obedience to the law means that they are neither as respected or as loved as they would hope. They are often looked down on, both by Nobility and Commoners, as it is common knowledge that you cannot trust the word of a Spelllshaper. Though they have a reputation for duplicity, it is their complete dedication to the law that renders them such a harsh judgment. While many the other houses appreciate this it is also looked upon as Spellshaper being weak and unable to fight for themselves. They often take up the defense of nobility and other powerful people against the commoners and peasants, as it is the proper direction of the law, though this wins them no friends.