When Pandarat was first founded, near the beginning of the fifth age, the Pandarati were led by ten siblings known as the Dara (the Founders). Each sibling was given a province of Pandarat to rule, as well as a group of people (family and retainers and servants and artisans). Over time, the members of these groups become known as houses, each named after the sibling. The original lake-king was Lanimo, and his house became the dominant group in Pandarat. However ,when he died the next king was elected from Shinziro. Slowly a tradition of an elective Monarch became the norm, and the houses used to vie for political dominance.
Over the years the houses interbred until no group could boast of a pure bloodline. Instead, the houses would be elected based on their political values and public opinion. Five of the original houses were slowly assimilated into the others, until there were only five dominant Houses left: Margori, Vidiiri, Shinziro, Lanimo and Kedici. There were also many lesser Houses, most founded by dukes or guildmasters; some of these are short-lived, and seldom have large followings.
During the rule of the Death-Queen, official acknowledgement of the Houses was oppressed, and the lords of Vancumar killed any who claimed false allegiance to anybody but the Queen. The House names were often used by military factions, but even then only as nicknames. However, the Pandarati kept the traditions alive in their art, and still considered themselves members of a particular house.
Since the fall of the Death-Queen, the houses are re-emerged, and old loyalties and allegiances have returned. Most of the houses have different leaderships and members nowadays, yet the old values are still maintained. Bloodline is no longer essential to either lead or be a member of the Houses, and anybody is welcome to join. Nearly all Pandarati are members of a great House of their choosing. The leaders forsake their original surnames, and take the name of the House. Each House has a hall in most of the major towns, but the main Hall is located in the capital city of the Houses traditional province. The five main houses are described below:
House Margori is the most traditional of the Houses, and their main political policy is to advocate a return to the Pandarat of old, before the Vancumar Invasion. They seek to end the current Atlantean interference, though they bear the Empire no ill-will, and are grateful for their help in toppling the dictator. They feel that Pandarati values have been surpressed for too long, and it is folly to take imperial traditions now, neglecting their own. They ask the Imperials to leave, peacefully, and let them rule themselves.
House Margori are, traditionally, a House of wizards, and magic-users make up most of their members. As Pandarat was always a magic-rich country, the wizards prefer to return to the days when their power made them the dominant class. As such, their main supporters are wizards and scholars, as well as the patriots. They are the second most successful house (after Vidiiri), as patriotic Pandarati flock to them to try and erase the damage done by the Vancu. The Imperials would happily listen to the Margori requests to leave- except that some of the traditional values are considered archaic and cruel- the Margori still use Fanesians as slaves, and believe that might is right. Despite this, they are the most passive of houses, willing to bide their time and see what happens; they do not seek new members, though they happily accept all those who ask.
The tradtional colours of house Margori are white and red. They are named after Margori, the oldest female of the original Dara, and a great magician. The current leader is Houselady Carnilli Margori, who claims direct descent from the Dara. Margori is her surname, rather than a title, adding strength to the claim. Their capital is the city of ?.
House Vidiiri is the most popular of the Houses and its leader, Margulu Vidiiri, is the current River-King. As such, this House is currently the wealthiest- though that has traditionally always been the case. Its founder, Vidiiri, was a skilled jeweller and an excellent businesswoman, and traded with all the free kingdoms. The youngest of the Dara, she was also an excellent diplomat and charmer, and was sent by the River-King to other courts as a diplomat. Because of this, House Vidiiri is the chosen group for all traders, as well as diplomats. Inn-keepers, traders and even whores are typical members of this group. Some thieves also benefit from the House, though the reputation that all Vidiiri are thieves is certainly undeserved,
The House of Vidiiri has welcomed the Imperials with open arms. To them, an alliance means better trading opportunities, and therefore an improved economy- they recognise that Pandarat needs to improve its trade to once again become a powerful entity. They also preach that joining the Empire would be beneficial, and open up even more trading rights as well as protection. This stance has obviously endeared them to the Imperials, and the other houses are sceptical claiming that the Imperials put Margulu on the throne as an instrument. In truth, Vidiiri is a popular house, and its number of members ensured its dominance.
The typical colours of house Vidiiri are red and black, and their main city is ?.
House Shinziro is currently very unpopular, and has the least members of all Great Houses. Unlike the other Houses, they are in favour of maintaining the culture of the Vancumar. Though they do not desire a dictatorship or Orcs roaming across their lands, they do respect the power that the country had under the Death-Queen. They wish to maintain that power, and they believe that this can be achieved by maintaining the same military structure. They also wish to abolish an elected monarchy, and place somebody powerful on the throne. Despite their values, they are very patriotic and believe that Pandarat was weak before the Death-queen came, and wish to keep the country as powerful as it was under her regime. Also, they believe slavery is just and necessary, and that all property should belong to the reigning monarch. A police state should be formed to reduce corruption. Naturally, they wish to remove the Imperial presence from their land.
The Houses main members are soldiers, originally from the Vancu armies, who suddenly find themselves without jobs, their brutality no longer required. Individuals who once enjoyed power and prosperity in Vancumar are also members. Ironically, the corrupt are also keen to join, remembering their prosperity under Vancumar; thieves, smugglers, slave-dealers and outlaws, all of which were employed by the Death-Queen, make up a lot of the membership. Foreigners, sellswords and mercenaries often join the ranks, too.
The House is named after Shinziro, the youngest male of the Dara, who was a great warrior. His House once executed a Vidiiri river-King, and usurped power, until he too was assassinated. Their traditional colours are black and yellow, and the members wear armour converted from the old Vancumar uniforms. The current leader is Jarello Shinziro, who rules from his great palace in ?.
The members of House Lanimo are mainly craftsmen and artisans. Most of the major guild-leaders are members, as are those traders who deal in their own goods, such as tailors and smiths. House Lanimo take a neutral standpoint compared to other Houses; they neither want traditional values nor Imperial rules; instead, they believe a short period of isolationism is in order, to regain their strength and rebuild their country. Naturally this appeals to many of the craftmen, who will benefit from the lack if imports and, more importantly, the high taxes they can levy on their goods. The guilds, conscious that a lot of their products are not to the standard of their neighbouring allies, fear the superior imports, and desire time to trade internally and improve their craft (and wealth). A lot of smugglers have also joined this house, knowing the wealth they can make.
House Lanimo, whilst not a powerful house, is slowly gaining popularity- especially now that artisans no longer need a license to practice their trades; more and more craftsmen are emerging.
The house is named after Lanimo, who was a creator of magical weapons and artifacts amongst the Dara. Their traditional colours are red and yellow. The current leader is Rannu Lanimo, who is also the head of the Goldsmiths Guild. Their main city is ?
The House of Kedici was once one of the greatest Houses, and have held the throne more times than any other House. House Kedici is currently ruled by a Heingoer warrior named Ündolf Kedici. The warrior usurped leadership when he attacked and killed the pervious leader, Goraldo, and his heirs. Although most of the Houses frown down on him, and do not recognize his claims (nor do the Empire), he has nevertheless amassed a large following; Ündolf has no politics as such, and simply wants to build a large army, big enough to kick the Empire out and steal the throne for himself. Whilst normally few people would support such a tyrant, there are many out of work soldiers since the Death-queen was toppled, and Ündolf has promised them all land and wealth. Despite this support for Kedici ia only marginally more than for Shinziro. Only soldiers join this house, with the occasional Smith or Armourer who hopes to make his fortune.
Kedici is named after the Dara Kedicu, who was once a great general and leader of men. The House wears heavy Black Armour, in the Heingoer fashion, with blue trimmings. Their capital is the city of ?, close to Heingoer border.
HOUSE DI-LACUHouse Di-Lacu is a new House, and is rarely acknowledged by the others. It was formed shortly after the Death-Queens demise by Ramicci Di-Lacu, the high Priestess of the Lakelords. Her goal was to make Pandarat into a theocracy, ruled over by the priests. Whilst most respect the religion, very few are willing to join or support the House; its political regime doesnt extend much beyond the church, and only priests would really benefit from its aims. Most of the Pandarati scoff at the suggestion that Di-Lacu is a House, though few would openly mock the church. Ramicci is taking the current political drought with optimism, assuming that the people will accept her House over time. Needless to say, nearly every priest in Pandarat is a member of House Di-Lacu, and the occasional Starlord or Stonelord adventurer has joined.
As the Di-Lacu is a newly formed house, it has no history. Ramiccis hall is a large manor situated near the high Temple in ?, on the edge of the lake, though she claims the whole of Pandarat as her territory. The Di-Lacu generally wear the priests uniform. Non-members of the religion who join often demonstrate their loyalty by wearing the Lakelords symbol on their person. Any priest of the Lakelords is automatically invited to join the House.
In addition to the Houses mentioned above, there are numerous other Houses- some small, others with the potential for greatness. Most are short-lived, and often have selfish goals. Anybody from a great Knight to a whore, from a native Pandarati to a foreigner, can establish his/ her own house. The GM should feel free to make up any Houses necessary for his game.