Seven great noble houses dominate the political landscape of Brevoy, most dating back to before the arrival of the Conqueror, when they existed as powerful tribes of raiders and barbarians. Choral apportioned lands and titles to those lords willing to pledge fealty to him, reordering the houses into their modern forms. The past two centuries, coupled with various marriages of alliance, have shifted and expanded the influence of the noble houses, extending well south of the rivers and Lake Reykal.
House Garess: The valleys and lowlands of the Golushkin Mountains are the domain of House Garess, founded on both the defensibility of the mountain terrain and the mineral wealth the house has brought out of the peaks for generations. House Garess once had a profitable alliance with a clan of dwarves living in the Golushkin Mountains, serving as brokers of a sort for the ores, metals, and worked goods the Golushkin dwarves produced. Lord Howlan Garess (LN male human artistocrat 5/expert 2) even took Toval Golka (N male dwarf aristocrat 2/expert 4), the son of the clan-chief of the dwarf hold, as his ward (some say more as a hostage than a guest in Grayhaven Castle). This proved fortunate for young Toval, as Grayhaven lost all contact with the dwarf hold of Golushkin during the same winter as the Vanishing. With his own son Bren lost inside the mountains, Lord Howlan, a widower with no other children, has named Toval his adoptive heir. This has earned the dwarf, now a skilled young warrior in his own right, few friends in Grayhaven.
House Garess’s crest is a snow-capped mountain peak in gray against a dark blue field like the sky, with a silvery crescent moon in the upper right corner and a black hammer across the base of the peak, head toward the left. Its motto is “Strong as the Mountains.”
House Lebeda: The Lebedas of Lake Reykal are known as the most “Rostlandic” of Brevoy’s noble houses, having inherited a good deal of Taldan blood and tradition, including a fondness for sword fighting and an appreciation of the finer things. Their family seat of Silverhall is one of the grandest castles in Brevoy, its spires rising above the shores of Lake Reykal. The Lebedas earn and maintain their fortune as merchants and brokers between the northern and southern reaches of Brevoy, and control much of the shipping across the lake. Dame Sarrona Lebeda (N female human aristocrat 11) has ruled the house as regent since the death of her husband, but their son Lander (LN male human artisocrat 2/warrior 1) is approaching his majority, when he will become lord of the house. His older sister Elanna (NG female human aristocrat 4) spends a great deal of time representing their house in New Stetven, and rumors claim the Lebedas are looking to arrange a marriage between her and Noleski Surtova. Naturally, Natala Surtova hates the young and charming Elanna Lebeda with a passion.
House Lebeda’s crest is a white swan, serenely sailing across a blue expanse, with the sun on the horizon behind it. Whether the sun is said to be rising or setting depends on the house’s fortunes, but the Lebedas’ sun appears ascendant at the moment. Its motto is “Success through Grace.”
House Lodovka: Whereas House Surtova slowly changed their waterborne ways to focus on their lands and political affairs in Brevoy, House Lodovka has remained strongly interested in maritime affairs. They have steadily grown their fleet of ships in the Lake of Mists and Veils and their influence along their lakeshore lands and the trade routes crossing the waters. House Lodovka claims comparatively little land in the northernmost areas of Brevoy, and much of the land they hold is unsuitable for farming, but the house has many vessels hauling catches of fish and freshwater crabs from the Lake. Lord Kozek Lodovka (CG male human aristocrat 2/expert 3/warrior 2) is at heart a cunning old pirate with a love of the water, looking to do right by his house, his family, and his people.
House Lodovka’s crest is a greenshelled crab climbing from the blue waters toward the gray band of shore surmounted by a gray tower-keep in the center, against a backdrop of black. Their house motto is “The Waters, Our Fields.”
House Medvyed: The easternmost house, Medvyed claims lands nestled against the Icerime Peaks and the Gronzi Forest, and rules them from the fortress of Stoneclimb in the lower peaks. They are a hardy folk, raisers of mountain goats and sheep, hunters in the Gronzi Forest, and cultivators of what good land can be found on the edges of their harsh territory. The Medvyeds and their people hearken back to the “Old Ways” of worshiping nature in its myriad forms. Isolated forest and mountain shrines to Old Deadeye (and, it is rumored, Lamashtu) are more common than temples of Abadar or Gorum. Lord Gurev Medvyed (NG male human aristocrat 1/warrior 5) loves to hunt, ride, and feast with his men, and dotes on his wife and children.
House Medvyed’s crest is a black bear, rampant against a red field, with a spread of black antlers above the bear’s head. Its motto is “Endurance Overcomes All.”
House Orlovsky: From Eagle’s Watch on the slopes of Mt. Veshka, House Orlovsky seeks to remain above the conflicts in Brevoy, both figuratively and literally. Unfortunately, the house’s role as a staunch ally of the Rogarvias has placed it in an awkward position under the current regime. Thus far, House Orlovsky has refused to acknowledge Noleski Surtova as anything other than Lord Regent in the absence of King Urzen or a true Rogarvian heir, but it is becoming increasingly clear which way the political winds are shifting. Lord Poul Orlovsky (LN male human aristocrat 4/warrior 4) will soon be forced to either declare for the man he considers a usurper and opportunist, or seek to overthrow him and claim the Dragonscale Throne for himself (or another he finds worthy). An alliance between Orlovsky, Garess, and Medvyed could divide the nation, and cut the Surtovas’ travel and supply routes between Port Ice and New Stetven, but any such arrangement must be cultivated discreetly.
House Orlovsky’s crest is a black eagle against a gold field, wings spread, feathers almost touching at the point of the base. Its motto is “High Above.”
House Rogarvia: Looking to secure himself and his progeny as high a place in the new order as he could, Nikos Surtova offered the hand of his daughter, Myrna, in marriage to Choral, binding the house of the Conqueror with his own. Since Choral’s final victory in the Valley of Fire, House Rogarvia has ruled Brevoy, until the recent mysterious disappearance. The house built the Ruby Fortress in the city of New Stetven as its stronghold, and Urzen Rogarvia sat on the Dragonscale Throne up until 4699, when the entire family vanished overnight. The Rogarvias were well known as ruthless rulers, determined to hold Brevoy together in the Conqueror’s name by whatever means necessary. Still, while their loss was not overly mourned, the stability they represented has been. Loyalists have continued to call for investigation into the Vanishing and make much of the fact that their rule lasted precisely 200 years, but it has become increasingly clear that House Rogarvia will not return soon, if ever. House
Rogarvia’s crest is a two-headed red dragon, one head breathing flames, the other bearing an unsheathed sword, representing Choral’s legendary conquest, against a quartered field in white and gold. Its motto is “With Sword and Flame.”
House Surtova: The most influential house in Brevoy, House Surtova, is also the oldest, established in Issia centuries before Choral’s arrival. The Surtovas were infamous pirates and raiders in those early days, and with the Conquerer’s coming were able to parley captured wealth into lands and titles. What started out as a defensible fortress became Port Ice, a settlement that has been the seat of Surtova power for generations. Nikos Surtova’s alliance with Choral secured House Surtova’s place at the right hand of the ruling house, and allowed them to move quickly into place after the Vanishing. The Survotas established a “regency” in the absence of King Urzen, which has quickly become the de facto succession to the crown. King Noleski Surtova (N male human aristocrat 5/warrior 3) sits upon the Dragonscale Throne, while his sister Natala Surtova (LE female human aristocrat 6) reigns as unofficial “queen,” as her brother is as yet unmarried. Rumors say Natala enjoys her role (and her influence over her brother) far too much to embrace the idea of a proper sister-in-law. Still, there is considerable pressure for Noleski to choose a bride and produce heirs for his new dynasty.
The Surtova crest is a gray ship against a field of blue below and black above, the upper shield spangled with silver stars. Its motto is “Ours Is the Right.”
Free City of Restov:
Nowhere is the Rostlandic spirit more alive than in the Free City of Restov. The city owes its allegiance to the Brevic crown, and Lord Mayor Ioseph Sellemius (NG male human aristocrat 3/expert 2) must bend his knee before the Dragonscale Throne like any lord, but otherwise Restov belongs to no house, making it a haven for the lost glories of the Aldori swordlords and those who look back to the old days before the coming of the Conqueror. Restov is a city of both refinement and rough-and-tumble manners, as only a colony can be in fondly recalling and imitating its motherland. The gentry of Restov consider themselves sophisticates, although a Taldan visitor would consider their ways quaint, and touched with no small amount of northern barbarism. The city is a bustling trade center along the border. Restov’s relative wealth supports no small number of idle and titled lordlings and merchants’ sons. They frequent the various Aldori and Taldan dueling schools, as well as the alehouses, and fight each other in street corner challenges at dawn and dusk. The schools, salons, and taprooms of Restov are also hotbeds of rebellious talk against the reign of King Noleski Surtova, with young firebrands in search of a leader to rally them to the cause.
The Aldori Swordlords
Bandits from the River Kingdoms and Issia nearly spelled the end of the Taldan colony of Rostland in its early years. Sirian First’s reputation as a duelist drew the attention of a bandit chieftain, who offered the baron a wager: half his fortune against the bandit leader’s head, if he could best him in a duel. Baron First accepted, and lost. He paid his due and disappeared, too ashamed to show his face any longer, most assumed. Yet Sirian returned years later as Baron Aldori and, in a highly-publicized “rematch,” defeated his foe in seconds and reestablished his rule in Rostland. Baron Aldori then issued his own wager: 100,000 gold pieces to anyone able to best him in a duel of blades. Thousands flocked to Rostland to answer this challenge, and the “Sword Baron” defeated them all. He founded the Aldori school of sword fighting, and established the influence of the Aldori swordlords over Rostland for centuries. With the change in regime, many swordlords fled Brevoy to other realms, such as the River Kingdom of Mivon. A few became sell-swords, prostituting the arts of the Aldori School for the coin needed to buy them food and shelter. The rest primarily settled in or near the free city of Restov.