War in the Heavens: Dark Energy
There’re currently five Major Houses, and numerous minor ones, as well as the Emperor himself, a force to be reckoned with in his own right, though he descends from one of these houses.
The Noble Houses maintain a grip on power through a variety of means— diplomacy, combat-readiness, and wealth are certainly major parts of this, but most important of all is the tradition of a priviledged standing in civilization, of which the bedrock are the cultural identities of the Houses. All the Houses make some sort of pretense, sometimes even a justified one,at a lineage of nobility that stretches back to ancient Urth culture.
In general, the Noble houses and Universal Church are mutually supportive of one another. In specific, often not.
- House Hawkwood
The Hawkwoods are among the closest to their subjects. They emphasize their own decency and honor, and its superior claim in ethics, church, and war. They find their cultural roots in ancient Brittania and Germany. Their feifs are familiar and relatively wealthy worlds near the heart of the Empire.
- House Decados
The Decados are among the most ruthless in inter-House intrigue and warfare, are relatively despotic with their subject populations. As they were not successful in their intriguies in the last Emperor War, they have been more or less forced to double-down on their claims of ruthlessness and cleverness. They hearken back to ancient slavic and central asian countries. Their feifs are many, and in some cases lucrative, but universally difficult places to live and govern, not to mention bordering on the unknowable and ultrapowerful Vau worlds. The Decados are amazingly resilient and independent. They are regarded as only nominal supporters of the Universal Church, and they have founded numerous trade groups that all but openly violate the monopolies of the major guilds in various areas of commerce and technology.
- House Li Halan
The Li Halan emphasize their devotion to the Universal Church, and their roots in ancient East Asian and Franco-Italian cultures. They are relatively despotic, but with strong Church outreach and support, are remain well loved. Their worlds are relatively isolated and productive.
- House al Malik
The al Malik emphasize their superior acculturation and education, and make much of their progressive politics (though how they treat their subject populations does not always meet their claims). They are not the Church’s strongest allies, but are on somewhat better terms with the Merchant League than other Major houses. Culturally, they claim descent from ancient Turkish, Hebrew, an Persian cultures. The al Malik feifs include diverse worlds, including hubs for transport or technological wonder worlds. They are also subject more than most to the threats of the Ukari, and the terrifying encroachment of the Symbionts.
- The Hazat
The Hazat emphasize their superior military discipline— in the main they consist of the military vassals of the extinct House Chauki whom they overthrew and intermarried. They claim kinship with and strive to emulate ancient Spanish, French, and Native Mezo-American Empires. Hazat worlds are generally beautiful and productive, but no the edge of Barbarian space.
- Emperor Alexius Hawkwood
Alexius, recently ascended the Phoenix Throne after the years of the Emperor Wars and the decades of the regency, is supremely powerful, well-advised, and nigh-universally beloved. His feifdoms include Tethys, the throne world of Byzantium Secundus, and Stigmata. His power structure is entirely distinct from that of the Hawkwoods, who remain both viable allies and viable rivals, after he distanced himself to become Emperor.
A house that dabbled in genetic manipulation of its own stock more than most. Nearly extinct, its members tend to have great longevity, inhuman beauty, and a higher-than-usual incidence of psi powers.
The minor house that holds the planet Grail as its feif. Emphasize poetry and culture, and links to ancient cultures of Malaysia.
- House Ramakrishna:
Lost house that holds a large portion of the planet Hargard (Vuldrok) as its feif, despite the world being a major staging point for Vuldrok invasions of the Known Worlds. Emphasizes culture and religious tolerance, and its ties ancient (subcontinental) India.
- House Shelit:
An obscure house whose only feif is a southern continent of the world Hira, despite it being held by Kurgan barbarians. Emphasizes technological abilities and cybernetic self-modification.
- House Xanthippe
A small, matriarchal house whose primary feif, since time immemorial, has been Holy Terra’s moon Luna. Noted for matriarchy and fine wines, it produces many men who are skilled artisans, and an elite fighting force of noblewomen mercenaries.