Nobility in the Imperium of Man
The Nobility of the Imperium is the result of a system of peerages and hereditary rights granted over thousands of years of Imperial history. The Imperium enshrines and romanticises these Highborn Citizens in its art and media, and, more often than not, a major victory will be attributed to a Highborn Commander or a regiment of renown made up of Scions of noble families, rather than to the Hive Scum legions who actually won it for the Imperium. So important are nobles that many of the highest ranks in the Military and the Imperial Administration will carry noble titles and, often, an array of honourific titles to go with them. Even senior Inquisitors, despite their independence, often wear self-styled titles ranging from the rather simple ‘Lady Inquisitor’ to the more ornate titles like ‘Inquisitor-Suzerain of the Inner Circle’, echoing the Imperial obsession with titles and status.
Because all but a few worlds within the Prosperitas Sector were awarded to their various governors as ‘prizes’ for military service and outstanding actions in the line of duty, the majority of the noble Houses in the Sector are young by Imperial standards. Most of them trace their lineages back to Imperial officers and war heroes who were elevated to noble status when they were granted dominion over their worlds. These Houses are too small and too numerous to cover in this entry, and their power is simply not enough to move things on the interstellar scale.
There are notable exceptions: the Primus Houses are descendents of Imperial Nobility that accompanied the first Warmaster Durovera when she left Terra at the head of the nascent Prosperitas Crusade. These Houses are capable of tracing their roots back thousands of years, some even to the founding of the Imperium, to parent Houses based on Holy Terra itself. They have history, they have prestige and, most importantly, they have connections. Each of the Primus Houses have considerable wealth owing to controlling several worlds through various sub-branches of the ruling family line of the House.
The Chartist or Trader Houses owe their nobility to the possession of an Imperial Charter granting them an effective monopoly to provide the Imperium with an essential service, or over the transport and sale of particular goods and services. They are essentially giant hereditary megacorporations, and what they lack in prestige and land (compared to ‘planetary’ Houses) they make up for in considerable wealth and resources. The wealthiest of these own the rights over one of the many trade routes throughout the sector, and are able to tax other ships for the right to use them — of which only a nominal fee makes it to the coffers of the Imperial Navy tasked with patrolling them.
Then, there are the Rogue Trader Houses. These dynasties are unique amongst the Imperium, let alone the nobility, for they are in possession of a document known as a Warrant of Trade. Though some warrants were granted as rewards, others are little more of documents of exile, charging individuals too powerful to be killed or prosecuted through Imperial channels with the task of exploring and exploiting the uncharted regions of the galaxy. Some Rogue Traders survive long enough in the wild-space of the galaxy to make a career and found explorer-dynasties that make their wealth conquering, trading and exploiting worlds beyond the reach of the Imperium. Outside of Imperial borders, a Rogue Trader is a law unto themselves. Within them they are simply considerably wealthy and, often, in possession of vast private armies and fleets, putting them on a par with other noble Houses. Within the Prosperitas Sector, there are three major Dynasties that possess a Warrant of Trade, but there are a number of individual Rogue Traders plying the expanse of the Rimward Marches and the myriad non-Imperial worlds in the region.
Finally, and almost distinctly separate, are the Navis Nobilitas, the Navigator Houses. These are unique in that Navigators — being an abhuman subspecies gifted with a ‘third eye’ — are so important to the Imperium that they, even as genetically deviant humans, hold a higher standing than even some Nobles. The Navis Nobilite never marry outside of their Houses: as their power comes from their unique mutation, they take care to ensure it is bred into every generation. As a result, inbreeding is rampant within the handful of Navigator Houses that exist within the Prosperitas Sector, leading to even more bizarre examples of genetic deviance that the Imperium turns a blind eye to. Navigators use their mutation to navigate Imperial vessels through the Warp, and without them the Imperium would collapse. So it is forced to treat them with respect, no matter how poorly it treats other genetic deviations from the human norm.
Creating a Dynasty
Within a Noble House, name is everything. It means a lot more for a Scion to be listed in the family’s records than to be being related by blood. It is a common practice for Houses to adopt suitable individuals into the House if they believe it strengthens their line. Succession is not determined by progeniture or gender; instead, the Head of a House will designate an heir and determine a line of succession, that will remain flexible until the Head dies or abdicates. This issue is further muddied by the fact that, in the Prosperitas Sector, many Scions are created in artificial wombs and gene-designed by their parents, often bearing either little resemblance to them, or clone-like similarity. Therefore, it is unsurprising that familial backstabbing and intrigue are frequent, especially in families with multiple Scions who desperately want to earn the favour of the Head of the House.
As blood holds so little stock against a name, being exiled from the family and stricken from the records is one of the worst punishments imaginable for a noble, as it removes their status and any connection to their family in a single stroke. Keeping track of peerages and lines of precedent and succession is both a vital and monumental task, handed to respected Seneschals who are specially tasked with this duty. Some Houses take it even further and brand their Scions with tattoos and other markings that identify their ancestry and lineage – and prevent impersonators from claiming to be long lost relatives.
Members of a House, even the lowest ranked, will have a noble title (Lord/Lady if they favour gendered titles, or the non-gendered “Scion”), while the Head of the House will have the family title. Nobles who are also officers are normally addressed by their military rank. Titles that combine officer ranks and noble titles, like “Lord-Captain” and “Lady-General” are reserved either for the leaders of Rogue Trader families or very high ranking officers (in this case, the non-gendered title is “Liege”). The Imperium does not formally acknowledge the rank of “King\Queen” or similar, but this does not prevent some less civilized planets from bestowing the title. The actual designations of titles and ranks of the Houses of the Prosperitas Sector often vary from planet to planet.
Ties That Bind: Marriage
Marriage is a common tool of alliance, strengthening bonds between the main House and its vassal Houses, or creating unions and alliances between Houses. As most marriages are seen primarily as political tools at best and business transactions at worst, the desires of Scions are rarely taken into account. Unsurprisingly, most noble marriages are loveless, although there are some fortunate — and rare — exceptions. Gender is not a factor to these unions: the Imperium in M.41 has access to arcane sciences, allowing for the production of genetic heirs without requiring physical compatibility of two (or more) parents. With the need for descendents no longer a factor, the primary issues that will be taken into account when making a match are the Scion’s standing, wealth and place in the line of succession.
While unusual, it is possible for a single noble to have multiple spouses: it usually involves members of several vassal Houses marrying one of the Scions of their Liege-House; a three-(or more)way marriage between Scions of similar status (where all spouses are married to each other, instead of multiple spouses wedded to a single one) is much rarer, but not entirely unheard of.
Traditionally, when two Scions of different Houses marry, whoever has a lowest status will join their spouse’s family — giving up both family name and place in the line of succession — in exchange for an increase in status. In some cases, a higher-ranking Scion will accept leaving their family for someone of lower standing — usually in exchange for an exorbitant wedding gift (the immensely wealthy Trader Houses, considered to be of low status, frequently acquire Scions of a high rank in such a manner). When this happens, the higher-ranking Scion still abandons the line of succession, but is allowed to retain the original family name and title — this title is non-hereditary and will not be passed on the couple’s children. Instead, the children are allowed to choose which House they will join when they come of age.
Scions not considered important enough to be married off are often used to strengthen ties with other Imperial institutions. Having had access to the finest tutors and education in the Imperium, Scions are well-equipped to serve in any branch — but there is a strong tradition of sending them to either join the Priesthood of the Ecclesiarchy or the Imperial Military, especially the latter given how many noble Houses owe their fortunes to the Prosperitas Crusade.
Lifestyles of the Rich and the Noble
Scions will spend most of their lives without any contact with the working masses: their education starts at home, conducted by a battalion of tutors, instructors and masters. A basic education of history, imperial law, etiquette and knowledge of High Gothic is just the beginning. After all, being able to navigate the cutthroat waters of polite society requires so much more: how to dress, speak or even move are things that cannot be overlooked, and, thus, are drummed into their minds from an early age. Artistic accomplishments are highly appreciated and considered a mark of refinement, but so is martial skill. Unsurprising, in a culture that venerates war and conquest. All noble children have, at least, basic knowledge of strategy and tactics, and many a family evening is spent playing games like chess and Regicide. For the more traditionalist (or martially-inclined) families, combat training is likewise expected: being capable of defending yourself as well as the Head of the House is seen as the duty of any Scion.
Of course, compared to the masses, nobles lead a charmed life: constantly in the public eye, dressed in fineries, and partaking of lavish parties almost every night, it’s unsurprising that they are treated as celebrities by many. Their excesses are easily forgiven in the face of how they are living embodiments the fantasies of wealth and fame of the lower classes.
It is considered scandalous for unmarried Scions (of any gender) to be seen in public in the company of other unmarried nobles while unchaperoned. Surprisingly, chaperones are not meant to protect the purity or reputation of the Scion in question. Instead, their purpose is to prevent more inexperienced young nobles from being seduced into doing something stupid by their more experienced (and ruthless) peers — like accidentally revealing family secrets or allowing themselves to be put in a compromising situation. Chaperones are usually relatives, but family friends or even hired tutors can also fill the role, especially if they knowledgeable of the ways of society. Unsurprisingly, young Scions will do all they can to escape their escorts and gather with their peers out of the prying eyes of their elders. Should two unchaperoned Nobles be seen in each other’s company too frequently, it will be immediately assumed that their families are in talks of marriage. If the marriage proposal is not forthcoming, the rumour mill will go into overdrive, and all kinds of justifications will be trotted out (ranged from one of them being made a patsy, to the family finding fault with them and cancelling the marriage).
After a Scion marries, however, chaperones are no longer required in the company of others. Since most noble marriages are more political agreements than relationships, it is neither uncommon nor controversial for married Scions to take lovers. Loyalty — not fidelity — is the virtue expected of a noble union, after all. In some planetary cultures, Scions are outright encouraged to assist finding a lover worthy of their spouse.
The Art of War
Strife between noble Houses is common, and, most of the times, clashes occur in the political and economic arenas. However, the Imperium of Man has a strong duelling tradition, and death and bloodshed have resulted from more literal conflicts. As long as the situation does not spiral out of control, the Imperial authorities are happy to turn a blind eye, and let them go at each other. In some ways, the Imperium is happy to encourage brutal and cutthroat competition between nobles — it functions as a form of social Darwinism, edging out those too weak to rule. All Houses keep deadly warriors on retainer with the single purpose of fighting in their stead. Many Scions train in the deadly arts of combat, in hopes of earning the position of Champion, which allows them to take (or issue) challenges on behalf of the House. As it is expected for a Champion to be member of the family, it is not uncommon for particularly skilled duellists to be adopted into a family for that specific purpose.
Dueling is usually a formal, but no less deadly affair, with very specific codes and traditions that often vary from planet to planet, and even from House to House: some will allow only one-on-one combat, while others will prefer vast and ritualised battles between House armies.
The universal protocol, however, is for a House to issue a formal challenge to the Scion that has offended them. If the offense was grave enough, the challenge may be issued to the Head of the House. The challenged House then will schedule the duel, and both sides will negotiate the terms (if any). Traditionally, terms include things such involvement of the Champion (assuming she did not issue or accept the duel already), location, consequences and conditions of defeat. By law, duels to the death are not allowed – normally, duels are to first blood, yield or until one of the combatants can no longer fight. However, when deadly weapons are involved, so many things can ‘accidentally’ go wrong, and ‘accidental’ deaths are prone to happen.
A duel is an honour afforded only to other nobles, although military officers are, sometimes, recognised as deserving of such a recognition. Should a lower class citizen have the nerve to offend a member of the nobility by challenging one to a duel, a swift and brutal retribution is to be expected.
Notable Houses of the Prosperitas Sector
House Durovera – Primus House and Rogue Trader House
House Durovera owes its status to its founder Lady Captain and, later, Warmaster, Durovera. In recognition of its hereditary contributions to the Imperium, the seat of Sector Governor was granted to the House as a hereditary title – though it is largely ceremonial thanks to the jurisdictional powers of the Warmaster of the Prosperitas Crusade. Almost immediately after Warmaster Durovera disappeared, the glory of House Durovera began to fade. By 586.M41, it had spent years of squandering its wealth on preserving the image of being one of the great noble Houses, while having a Warrant of Trade untouched for centuries, rising debt and dissatisfied vassal Houses. Worse still, it had lost its rights to the Sol-Prosperitas Passage to House Di Firro (in a bet, no less), and House Majid had managed to convince the High Lords to grant it rights over the Cadian-Prosperitas Trade Spine, effectively limiting the Duroveras’ power to the in-sector trade routes.
Upon the death of Sector Governor Livia Durovera in 569.M41, the House was plunged into an inheritance crisis when Hermione Durovera, the heir, decided instead to take the family’s Warrant of Trade and the House Fleet, and go to make her fortunes in the Rimward Marches. This thrust the inept and unprepared Armelius Durovera into the position of Sector Governor, further damaging the House’s standing, and putting it on the precipice of destruction.
However, in 586.M41, Armelius’ attitudes changed after he survived an attempt upon his life. He began to claw back power, bringing the Vassal Houses into line, and starting to clear up the family’s standing. His successful appeal to the High Lords of Terra to be instated as the Warmaster of the Prosperitas Crusade, in 589.M41, marked a turning point for the House as the winds of change began to blow in its favour.
Currently, the House’s Primary holding is the Sector Capital, Duroverum, from which the newly-relocated Office of the Warmaster holds sway. Many of the spire-Houses of Duroverum are vassal Houses, and, as such, it is the center of their power. As it also holds the seat of Sector Governor, it draws considerable power by having control of Imperial Service Charters and so, is able to line its pockets by granting a lion’s share to Chartist and Trade Houses that are its own vassals. It cannot grant all of them, but it has a considerable monopoly over several resources and services.
House Di Firro – Rogue Trader House
The Di Firro family are an ancient and prosperous Rogue Trader Household, tracing their roots back to the first human settlement in the Prosperitas Sector. The current head of the Household is Lady-Captain Octavia di Firro. She holds the House’s Warrant of Trade, an ancient and obscenely well-guarded document reportedly signed by Malcador the Hero himself. The Di Firros hold the monopoly on the prestigious Sol-Prosperitas Passage, which they notoriously won from the weakened House Durovera over a bet.
According to legend, the founding di Firro Captain, Antonia, was an adventurer and explorer during the Great Crusade, leading the charge of one of the God-Emperor’s Expeditionary Fleets. After a series of highly successful offensive actions in the Segmentum Obscura in early M31, Antonia supposedly sent Expedition Fleet 611’s post-operational report back to Terra. The document was simultaneously so accurate in its victorious and heroic content, and so offensively worded, that Antonia and all her progeny were made fabulously wealthy, granted a Warrant of Trade, and ordered to “never to darken the Segmentum Solar again”.
The House prides itself on a swashbuckling, daring reputation in the image of its Founder. Younger sons and daughters are encouraged to attach themselves to whatever risky endeavours are currently afoot in the Sector, and are often found serving with Battlefleet Prosperitas, as senior officers in Guard regiments, or as bravos-for-hire on the outer reaches of the Tenebris subsector. Octavia’s eldest daughter, Servilia, currently stands to inherit if Octavia’s Juvenat-enhanced reign ever comes to an end. However, the favour of the Lady-Captain is fickle and has been known to turn from one favourite Scion to another in the past. Her youngest son, Lucius, died during the Caudican Exterminatus; she was reportedly distraught.
House Majid – Rogue Trader House
House Majid are best known for blazing passages to the galactic west of the Sector, and have the prestige and power associated of having found the stable warp route known as the Cadian-Prosperitas Trade Spine. Unlike other routes in the sector, which are holdings of the Sector Government, political maneuvering between the Head of the Dynasty and the Lord-Castellan of Cadia secured a ruling from the High Lords of Terra that House Majid would be granted a monopoly over the Trade Spine. Since that ruling, House Majid has made an enemy out of House Durovera, but also gained considerable wealth in return.
Openly, House Majid does its best to look like a reputable Noble House. Its ships and Scions can be often found accompanying Crusade forces, acting as scouts while asking for little in return. The current Head of the House, Lady-Captain Khadija Majid, has made far more profit off of her family’s good reputation, thus, has no interest on risking that good name on more daring ventures. Because of its support for the Crusade, the House has found itself repeatedly in conflict with their old rivals, House Durovera, thanks to the Warmaster’s desire to bring a stop to the Prosperitas Crusade.
Beyond the fringes of the Imperium, in the Rimward Marches, House Majid vessels operate as the long-reaching fist of the Imperium, targeting threats to it before they grow to maturity. It is rare for a House Majid vessel to not be accompanied by a Missionary of the Imperial Faith, given that the House likes to project a reputation of faithful dutiful servants.
In truth, there have always been rumours that House Majid has an enclave within the Rimward Marches, a pocket Empire the House calls its own, where it stores and studies the plunder from privateering non-Imperial vessels and the worlds of the Marches. Certainly, it would be a surprise to many if the House wasn’t hiding a few skeletons. In fact, the more a House tries to project an image of absolute purity, the more suspicious others will find it.
House Ruttyer – Chartist House
Sometimes called the ‘Rat House’, House Ruttyer has at once one of the most valuable Charters in the Prosperitas Sector, but also the one that brings it the lowest standing, in the opinion of the other Noble Houses. For nearly five hundred years, the House has had an exclusive charter for the trade and transport of specifically fissionable materials and waste — making it both considerably wealthy and incredibly essential to running the Hive and Imperial Worlds. In addition to this, the House controls many of the Waste Management Guilds on the Worlds of the Prosperitas Sector meaning it can, and has threatened to, in the past, paralyse the waste recycling and disposal facilities across the Sector — a not meaningless threat, given how much waste the average Imperial world produces in a day.
The House is strongly suspected of running several illegal or semi-legal operations under the cover of its haulage business. However, it has always publically disavowed any of its Chartist Captains accused of or even caught smuggling. Nonetheless, it is approaching nearly two hundred years without an Administratum audit of its finances (to ensure it is in compliance with its charter) but it is impossible to track down the head of the House or any Scions, given the nomadic nature of its charter-fleets. Such investigations into its activities are almost-always ongoing and almost-always never resolved. Most Planetary Governors turn a blind eye to the small infractions, providing the waste is removed on schedule.
The House itself is almost entirely void-born — due to its standing no other House has ever married into House Ruttyer, and it adopts little to no outsiders into its number. It is easy to identify a member of the House by their unusual cranial structure as well as their odd-toned and slightly malformed bodies — but they still carry themselves like nobility, dressing in finery and showing the same education as other Nobles, even though most others would rather not consider them a member of their class.
House Monforte – Chartist House
The only House other than House Durovera to count a Warmaster as one of their renowned relatives, House Monforte are more widely known for their monopoly over interplanetary transport of live human cargo. Theirs is a fleet of grand liners and transports that ply the warp routes of the Prosperitas Sector. They are also infamous for the extortionate prices their Captains charge for transit tickets, and for cutting corners to pack their vessels as tightly as possible. It is said it is a good thing that their monopoly does not extend to Crusade transports, because the Imperium would have been bankrupted by the ticket costs — not that the House hasn’t tried to extend their monopoly to include the Crusade. Because their Charter gives them exclusive rights, there is little Imperial Citizens can do to avoid paying tickets, and the House’s Advocates are incredibly diligent in pursuing the Captain of any ship that tries to charge to carry human passengers. As if that wasn’t enough, the House has even been known to impose when transport is given freely, such as transporting refugees.
The House’s Charter does not extend simply to passenger transport, however. It is also contracted to provide the Imperium with slave and penal transportation. A far cry from the glittering ornate vessels of its transport fleet, House Monforte’s Slave Galleys are ugly things, bristling with defences, and actively avoided by all other ships. The bulging holds of these slave ships are often targets for pirates, and rumoured to carry Imperial citizens conned into signing away their rights to become indentured labourers in exchange for ‘free’ transportation aboard. Trading and transporting slaves has been an industry that Monforte has grown fat and wealthy from.
As one can imagine this makes them intensely unpopular amongst Imperial Citizens who see the House as money-grabbing parasites. Futhermore, the poor reputation Warmaster Monforte brought them by scoring few victories and more than a few humiliating military ventures, only adds to the low prestige of the family. Still, they are canny political manipulators, and they offset their reputation amongst common civilians by a system of marriages and alliances with other Noble Houses in desperate need of the financial support of the Monfortes. For this reason, they are in high standing amongst the nobility, and have a reputation for appeasing the Faith and other Imperial Institutions with considerable donations and impeccable delivery of their tax forms.
House Globex – Chartist House
Unique amongst the Chartist Houses, House Globex is one of the few Noble Houses in the entire Imperium that has been given dominion over industrial production of a range of technological items licenced by the Adeptus Mechanicus. For this reason, the House’s fortunes are tightly woven with those of the Priesthood of Mars, and it walks the knife-edge of balancing its devotion to the Imperial Faith, and demonstrating its loyalty to the Cult of the Omnissiah, to which it owes its wealth. House Globex provides a huge amount of products across the Prosperitas Sector, and is highly respected by many Imperial Citizens who consider it a fair and reasonable employer.
The Scorpius Family that leads the House is primarily based on Asteroid 24334-1. Known to its inhabitants as Cyprus Creek, the isolated satellite colony is renowned for its high quality workers accommodation, low pollution levels and relative safety due to the presence of defence platforms and the House Fleet. There are some frivolous rumours about how the family secured its House Charter and Asteroid territory through holding an Imperial world hostage with a kinetic kill-weapon, but such gossip is generally ignored by most citizens, who eagerly compete for a place on the colony when House Globex recruiters arrive on a world.
Nobody entirely knows exactly just what exactly House Globex has a Charter to produce. Certainly, quite a lot of common Household appliances carry the Houses Charter-Brand, but it employs considerably more workers than it would ever need for items that are easily produced by automated production lines. The Houses representatives tend not to answer such questions directly; the House thrives on the air of secrecy around what products it produces, and, so, most queries are met with quiet unending smiles.
House Caerlyn and House Palamyr – Primus Houses
House Caerlyn and House Palamyr have had a long and storied history of conflict and romance – hailing back to days long past on Ancient Terra where the Houses first came into conflict. For as long as everyone can remember, both Houses have been at each other’s throats — just as much as Scions of both Houses have made it the principle of youthful rebellion to take lovers or elope with members from the other House, in defiance of paternal and maternal convention.
What had began as youthful rebellion, quickly sprung into romance, and the now Heads of both Houses, Baron Peyton Caerlyn and Baroness Ysabella Palamyr, once became entwined and, eventually, eloped. The marriage was kept secret by their parents, who, in an effort to maintain face, declared them betrothed to marry, as to avoid a long-term scandal. However, before the marriage negotiations could finish, disaster struck both Houses. Almost simultaneously, the death of Peyton’s father catapulted him to the Head of his House; while Ysabella was forced to violently and bloodily take control of her own family, after her father exposed the House to censure due to participation in a heretical cult: the entire line of succession died in a single night — leaving her as the only viable option to take the mantle as Head of the House. As a result, neither was willing to take the name of the other– as to do so would, ultimately, lead to the family being absorbed, and the House name lost.
Of course, stubborn as Nobles are, neither spouse would accept this same reasoning from the other: and so, a new round of conflicts has begun, in the earnest. More like high stakes games, as each spouse attempts to collapse the other’s family through non-violent means, in order to force the other to live permanently under the banner of a single House. Given that the strange stalemate appears to amuse the two very enamoured Nobles, there is no sign of it changing anytime soon — much to the consternation of the vassal families of both Houses who remain unnerved by the unusual situation, and uncertain as to what to do to solve it.
House Vilas-Lobo – Primus House
All Nobles attempt to set cultural trends and remain fashionable, as appearance is everything in an Imperium that is obsessed with pageantry and celebration. House Vilas-Lobo takes that to its furthest logical extreme. This House is known for not only setting fashion trends, but also pushing the envelope of what is acceptable within polite society. The House thrives on causing a good scandal: after all, being scandalous means being noticed; being noticed means being talked about, and being talked about means one’s fame grows and spreads throughout the the Sector.
The House grew rich off of several inhospitable and poisonous worlds that would have been otherwise worthless were it not for their mineral wealth. In order to mine them, the House turned to talented Medicae and Genetors of the Adeptus Mechanicus to adapt the bodies of thousands of bonded workers to survive in the atmospheres of these worlds. Through this, they became intimately familiar with the arcane arts of genetics. Few of the House are born through natural means, as most are born from artificial wombs, and heavily tailored to be ‘fashionable’ and ‘unique’. To House Vilas-Lobo, the body is just another accessory to be changed and modified at a whim, and their Scions discard faces like others discard finery. The discomfort this causes the Imperium frequently attracts unwanted attention, but the House has endured several investigations from multiple Imperial institutions, and, each time, was found to be completely clear of taint.
Still, the House continues to court controversy, having recently presented Baroness Palamyr with a grandiose gown grown from a genetic sample of her own skin, sparking general outrage. Nothing new to the House that knows can rely upon the extensive defences arounds its poisonous holdings.
House De Sousa – Navis Nobilite
Once upon a time, House De Sousa considered Nilvalis its home, and its close relationship with the Ecclesiarchy made it see the planet as a safe haven. However, the exposure of the Navigators of House Mal’Dracor as heretics triggered a planet-wide riot. This lead to the deaths of several innocent Navigators, including several from the De Sousa Family. After this disgrace, the House, like many other Navis Nobilite, fled their holdings, abandoning possessions and years of ties with the Ecclesiarchy. Since that day, the House has become nomadic, unwilling to return to Nilvalis with its newly appointed Ecclesiarchy overlords, and the brutal presence of the Order of His Sanguine Tears holding the reins. The De Sousa’s fortunes do not appear to have improved over the last few years; a number of its vessels were lost to Pirate raiders while traversing the Cadian Trade Spine, and this state of affairs means that many of its more lucrative contracts to provide Navigators to Imperial vessels have fallen through, in favour of Houses better positioned to snap them up.
In recent years, the desperation for allies and finances has seen the once-proud House turn to less conventional sources of income, trading its Navigators to serve aboard the vessels of less reputable Rogue Trader dynasties and, it is rumoured, the service of the Inquisition — a bargain many Navis Nobilite consider to be a dangerous one, for the Houses that become too entwined with the Inquisition often disappear from the records of the Paternova on Terra, bound by ancient laws to provide solely for the needs that sinister organisation.
The current Novator of the De Sousa family is Sereaus de Sousa, an aging woman, well past her prime and wracked with a number of hereditary diseases, consequence of the inbreeding of the Navis Nobilite. The Scions of her House are nervous that she is reaching the end of her years, and few of them are prepared for the role, having lost so many senior Navigators to the violence on Nilvalis. There are rumours that her youngest son fled the family several years ago, as he has not been seen in public for some time. Plus, there is the possibility that the family may simply become extinct by its Scions fleeing or marrying into other Houses of the Navis Nobilite.
House Solon – Navis Nobilite
The Navigators of House Solon have the prestige of once having been the companions of Warmaster Durovera, as it was a Navigator of this House who guided Durovera’s fleet and her flagship the Manifest Destiny through the winding warpways of the Sol-Prosperitas Corridor. Thus, to the Navigators of House Solon goes the lion’s share of postings aboard the most prestigious ships of the Prosperitas Crusade. The House’s main branch is located on Durovera itself, where the Navigators lay claim to a vast fortified spire atop the planet’s Northern Pole. It also has additional holdings aboard Polarnus Station, close to the beating heart of Crusade High Command, where the Novator of the House often visits and is welcome at the Warmaster’s table.
It is said that the Paternova of the Navis Nobilite on Terra once cast out the House, exiling them for crimes against their kind. But through Durovera’s patronage, they were able to bury and obscure their darker past, and be welcomed amongst the most powerful Navigator Houses within the Sector. Unlike many patrons of House Durovera, House Solon did not turn its back on the Primus House during its worst years — a loyalty that has been rewarded when the Duroveras finally reclaimed the title of Warmaster. The current Novator of the House, Caius Solon, is one of the few members of the Navis Nobilite that actively engages with high society on Durovera, as he feels that partaking in Noble society is an essential tool for securing more clients for his House.
As the leading House of the Navis Nobilite within the Prosperitas Sector, Solon does have its enemies, many of whom are other Navigator Houses who envy its position and power. To this end, Solon is protected by a network of spies and other agents who keep an eye on its enemies, and end any threats to the House swiftly and quietly.
House Roshan-Fikran – Primus House
House Roshan-Fikran has its origins as a vassal House of House Durovera, a bond of loyalty which has remained unsullied through its liege-House’s variable fortunes. Its founder, Nethaniah Roshan-Fikran, was a scholar and academic from a Terran university whose name is lost in the mists of time. Accordingly to legend, Nethaniah was ennobled by an edict of the High Lords, when she successfully computed a safe warp pathway for the Navigators of Durovera’s Crusade to bring the thunder of the Imperium to the Prosperitas Sector.
Nethaniah’s legacy of study and enlightened thinking remains to this day. Following their Founder’s legacy, the scions of House Roshan-Fikran value academic achievement above all other Noble virtues. Children born into the House are ruthlessly assessed and tested for signs of intellectual ability from the day they are conceived, and placed in teaching programmes designed to make the best of their natural talents. House Roshan-Fikran has produced some of the Sector’s finest mathematicians, rhetoricians, artists, astrogation engineers and musicians. Many of these are sent to a career furthering their liege-House’s interests in one way or another, but it is not uncommon for minor Scions of the House to join the Priesthood of Mars, exchanging a life of frivolity and privilege for the chance to use their razor-sharp intellects dissecting the secrets of the Omnissiah. Many also find valuable employment in the Ecclesiarchy, and some of the finest doctrinal minds of the Sector began their lives in Roshan-Fikran womb vats.
The unparalleled wealth that even a vassal Primus House attracts has not sat idle in Roshan-Fikran hands; its hordes of economist-savants and speculator cortices are constantly at work to ensure that the House’s income is put to most fruitful use. Among its investments are a number of works which other, more mercenary Houses sneeringly dub “charity work”. The House endows several thousand academies and Scholae on Imperial worlds across the Sector, taking in clever children from deprived backgrounds, and teaching them Imperial doctrine, rhetoric, mathematics and the theory or warfare. These institutions demand no repayment, and many an Administratum Praefectus began their career as a Roshan-Fikran scholarship child. Very rarely, the best and brightest students are offered a chance to be adopted into the House, raised to a life of unimaginable splendour in return for nothing more than a guarantee that their genetic material will be codified into the gene-vaults.
The House’s traditional seat is at the heart of a hollow moon designated Mazar-63, in orbit around a sterile world in Subsector Primus, among the aged and academic splendour of the chancellor-artisans whose lifelong duty is the crafting of young nobles into finely tuned instruments of the Emperor’s Will. The reputation of Roshan-Fikran House tutors is so great that other Noble Houses, interested in rounded their progeny’s education, will sometimes send them to be fostered at Mazar-63 for a few years, in early childhood. The current head of the House is Abichael Roshan-Fikran, a kindly and maternal figure whose gentle demeanour hides a terrifying intellect. She has no current heir, and has publicly stated that the House will be inherited by any Scion who can defeat her at Regicide two games out of three. In the last forty years, no noble of the House has yet met the challenge.
House Sarandeen – Chartist House
At the centre of a vast trade empire, House Sarandeen holds the Munitorum charter for the production and distribution of all conventional solid-slug ammunition across the Prosperitas Sector. With a number of vassal worlds under its sway dedicated to mining metallic ores, producing propellant and recycling millions of tonnes of spent casings, House Sarandeen owes its origins to the fertile worlds of Subsector Primus. Originally a minor merchant cartel, the House was elevated to nobility by the influence of House Majid. They have been its loyal vassal House ever since.
The scions of House Sarandeen, sensitive about their House’s position as one of the youngest in the Sector, are at pains to prove their rightful position at the head of of the Imperial citizenry. Their effort to make Sarandeen parties more lavish, their jewellery more elegant, their duels more elaborate than any other House in the Sector is constant. This excess results, perversely, in nothing but contempt from the House’s more elevated peers – particularly from House Vilas-Lobo, who see the Sarandeens as nothing but upstart pretenders to their well-earned place at the social heart of Sector society.
The current House head is Corrino Sarandeen, a level-headed and steady young noble who recently emerged into the light after the unexpected death of their mother, Zansu, a vicious and charismatic woman who ruled the House with an iron fist for the two hundred years since its elevation. Corrino has already stated their intention to make a determined effort to secure the Sector charter for las power packs, a contract which is currently assigned at Crusade High Command’s discretion to a combined cartel of merchant Houses. There are persistent rumours that House Majid are less than pleased with Corrino’s ambitious intentions, perhaps out of concern that should the House gain a full monopoly on ammunition sales, the resultant stranglehold on arming the Crusade would lead them to forget their loyalty to their erstwhile liege-House.