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 the newest of the High Houses, recently risen from the Low Ranks.
The New Houses
Over the History of Tyndaria, many houses have risen in power and subsequently faded from existence. Through war, famine, rebellion and other calamities, the lifespan of a house, though longer than that of a single individual, is finite. Recently, King Wanderer has been forced as the kingdom fractures to raise multiple houses to the High Nobility. These Houses are granted the title of Archduke, and their lands raised to the rights and privileges assumed of an Arch Duchy. Each elevation has served to cement Wanderers power within the kingdom and create loyal retainers in a way that the previous houses could never be.
These new houses hold much less sway than the older houses with decades and generations of political influence and training and sometimes are novices in the mire of vassalage, kingdom-wide warfare, and the King’s whims. While Some will inevitably fade away swiftly, those that remain will have forged themselves an impressive legacy from these troublesome times.
Head: Lord Valkit Bonewalker, Lady Opana
Vassals: Bondbreaker, Windrider, Treesinger,
Demense: Charnel Keep
Territory: Dutchy of Adorin
The Bonewalkers have been a lowborn house for centuries, always nipping at the edge of society as a well to do house, but drug down by their barbaric and violent history. They were recognized recently by their valiant defense in truly horrific conditions at the Seige of Ulstan, where they withstood a besieging force for 8 months, holding up the greater part of the enemy army from crossing the Dulrith river for fear of a Bonewalker force at their rear. In the end, the siege was broken when the Dragonblade vanguard arrived and, with their force of thousands of cavalry, decimated the enemy force and caused them to flee. The story has been spread that this defense prevented the sack of Tyndaria while Wanderer and the Blades were engaged across the Kingdom, though few believe it to be true. Wanderer, however, noticed the family for their bravery and raised them to the council and into power.
Head: Lady Hiras Bronzepeak, Lord Jurith
Vassals: Breezecatcher, Mightaxe, Greenblade, Sirencall
Territory: Duchy of Halain
For ages and through long-standing tradition, the border between Drimm and Tyndaria has remained calm. While there would occasionally be the inevitable border flare-up Monarchs and Clan Chiefs would quickly step to negotiate an end to the conflict. Recently the borderlands have become much less stable, as the Drimmen have been pushed from their home and violent and savage giants and dragonkin occupy the territory. Unlike generations prior, the Baronies in the East have become Marchlands against constant incursions. Wanderer had the need to elevate three houses immediately upon his first ascension to the throne, and one of those houses he created was House Bronzepeak. While they were a high wealth trading household when Drimm was a thriving Kingdom, it had fallen on hard times with the collapse of their main trading partner. Called on by Wanderer to defend the border in the east, Bronzepeak, under the eye of Lady Hiras, has taken to the task of defending against the invaders of the east with gusto and Pride.
Head: Lady Nuria Dawnstone
Vassals: Edgewalker, Hostbreaker
Demense: The Shimmering Keep
Territory: Dutchy of Olaiath
When King Tor died, the new King Wanderer had to immediately elevate three houses, and he looked to the borderlands for the most worthy. To the East and South he found Bronzepeak and Greenguard, and on the western border, the Found Dawnstone. From the Shimmering Fortress above Bluemist Lake on the border with the Hrondring, the Dawnstone has kept the border for generations, spilled blood, fighting against the Killbarans, the Hrondring, and orcs from the wildlands for their liege lords. In recognition of this sacrifice, their martial prowess, and their unending loyalty to the crown, they were rewarded with the Title of Archduke and a new Dutchy, but also tasked with fighting against former countrymen as the first line of defense against the Kingdom of Virtus.
Head: Lord Foustar Greenguard, Lady Seema
Vassals: Tallson, Sundershield, Shadowalker, Firestorm
Demense: Airill Garrison
Territory: Dutchy of Lithrus
After the Silentknife rebellion, when it was clear that House Silentknife would not be rejoining the kingdom through either force or diplomacy, there was a clear need to elevate a new house to replenish the ranks of the high houses. House Greencaller, defectors from Silentknife and holders of Bralkun Pass. Though the Pass had been peaceful for hundreds of years, the defection of Silentknife reignited vital defensive importance. Invading armies are required to march through the pass in either direction or face weeks-long marches through the swamp, Killbarum, or primeval forest. The defection of the house and the pass was decisive in denying Silentknife higher further territory and precipitated the current stalemate, which Tyndaria feels it is favored. In return for their vital actions, the house was elevated and entrusted with the defense of the south.
Head: Lady Celliana Highcaller, Lord Braken
Vassals: Giantkiller, Greenbeard, Ironsides, Earthrupture
Demense: Skyraker Fortress
Territory: Dutchy of Caraine
As the Silentknife rebellion raged on, with Tyndaria losing ground and fighting on the defensive, it took Wanderer by surprise when two additional high houses joined the rebels against the kingdom. While Rockheart and Moonfire were eventually defeated, it was clear that their loyalty was shaky. When they rebelled again following the vacancy of the Throne when Wanderer vanished, Grady was quick to demote House Moonfire and House Rockheart and Raised two houses in their stead. House Highcaller was one of the houses raised thusly. Highcaller had been slowly courting the favor of Wanderer throughout the years prior to him abandoning the Kingdom and had done so through Grady primarily, so they were uniquely positioned to take advantage of his sudden Wardenship. Their maneuvering ways paid back with returns they could not have imagined within just a few days of the new rebellions, and they marched their soldiers in support of House Swordfall, who they had long-held allegiance to prior to their elevation to a High House. Swordfall, though bitter about having a valuable vassal removed from them, were appreciative of the presence of a second Archduke and their military on the battlefield.
Head: Lady Oprath Redsun
Vassals: Galescream, Boneater, Bellwater,
Demense: Seigebreaker Fortress
Territory: Dutchy of Veral
Seigebreaker fortress, home of House Redsun, was originally named such when the Alorans held it against Occuraian invasions, Tyndarian aggression, and Thraxian Hordes. Over the ages, it has come to symbolize the absolute determination of House Redsun. When they were brought into the Kingdom of Tyndaria with the Aloran Alliance, The family that held the fortress was allowed to keep the barony and became sworn vassals to the Soulshammers. Like many of their vassals, when the Soulshammers broke with Tyndaria and declared their rebellion, the Redsun stood firm, siding with the rightful king. There, Seigebreaker fortress once again earned its name and held off the Soulshammer army on their first excursion south. Since then, the Soulshammer Crusades have skirted the fortress and gone around the Dutchy of Veral and the Redsun forces, though the House continues to ride out to engage the enemy forces whenever possible, making even going around them a perilous position.
In recognition for their dedication and prowess on the battlefield, Grady elevated House Redsun to a High House after the first campaign season against the Soulshammers, and they have remained stalwart allies even after the return of Wanderer.
Head: Lady Helgan Steelbringer, Lord Harald
Vassals: Shieldbreaker, Bloodtremor, Claystream
Territory: Dutchy of Nuliran
When house Strongbow declared independence from Tyrndall and joined the fracturing Kingdoms peeling off from its corpse, Grady had his hands full with political and military threats both internal and foreign. Unable to provide military aid to the Duchies and Baronies around the new rebellious kingdoms, they were left to defend themselves. The following battles destroyed House Thunderheart, and sent Shadowdancer and Mindcrusher reeling and they begged for a reprieve. Needing to replace house Thunderheart, Grady attempted to respond, listening to his advisors and he elevated a wealthy trading house in the north in their stead. This house had merchant ties to other kingdoms and would have a vested interest in keeping faith with Tyrindal, preventing her downfall. House Steelbringer was ill located to provide swift military assistance to the War against the Strongbow however, and the campaign season came to a close with Strongbow in a dominant position in the region. They were, however, able to bring their forces to bear the following campaign season, the influx of fresh troops pushed Strongbow out of Mindcrusher and Shadowdancer territory, where they remain to this day.
Head: Lord Merin Wyverncrag
Vassals: Blackbellow, Heartfire,
Territory: Dutchy of Ulstin
When the Soulshammers rebelled and created the kingdoms of Virtus and Erdiz, they took the grand Dutchy with them, and the northern border of the kingdom shrunk. This created the opportunity for Wanderer to raise a new Arch Duke. He selected one that had stalwartly come to his call, taking their troops south to fight against, and defeat, the Rockhearts of Vale in the First Rebellion. House Wyverncrag has held the fortress of Cragstone for the Soulshammers for generations without recognition, valiantly sacrificing when called on by king and liege. Even now, as their liege lords stand in open rebellion against the proper King of the Realm, Wyverncrag does not waiver. They have raised their banner in support of the king, and have marched against their former lords. In response to, and reward for, that loyalty, Wanderer has elevated the house and tasked them with defending the north from all invaders, Tyndarian or others.