Empire of Dominia Great Houses
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"His Majesty Emperor Bolesław Keeser, by the Grace of God and the Tribunal, King of the Holy Nations of Moroz and Chief Precenator of Moroz, Grand Emperor of the Imperial Alliance, Holy Lord of Ofassel, Eternal President of the Confederate States of Sovereign Findasuh, King of Sparta, King of Alterim Obrirava, King of Alterim Balteulis, Overseer of Sun Reach, High Lord Commander of the Dominian Imperial Armed Forces, Holy Liberator of Moroz, Ten Medal Immortal of the Tribunal Commandos honoris causa, First of the Great Houses, Lord Noble of House Keeser, Doctor of Laws honoris causa of the Juro School of Genetics and Bio-Sciences, Pirate King of the Orion Spur and the Tribunal's Divine Instrument." - Full title of Emperor Bolesław
House Colors: Red Shades
House Keeser are the long-standing rulers of the Empire of Dominia, having led the Empire for its entire existence. With only a handful of direct members House Keeser is much smaller than the five great houses and is instead solely made up of the royal family, their immediate relatives, and any associates they may have. Despite its small size, however, House Keeser wields incredible power in the Empire’s absolute monarchy and the current Emperor, Boleslaw Keeser, is widely respected throughout the Empire as a visionary that has helped make Dominia an interstellar power.
Their status as the royal family of Dominia has granted the Keesers immense power and prestige both at home and abroad, and the continuation of the family’s status as the Emperor of Dominia seems all but guaranteed due to the extreme popularity of Crown Princess Priscilla Keeser, the current heir to the throne. But with Emperor Boleslaw Keeser, famed and venerated architect of much of Dominia’s recent prosperity, growing older and older day by day, the Empire waits with bated breath for what will come when the Emperor joins the Goddess and the Crown Princess ascends to the throne.
House Colors: Dark Red Shades
Leader: Grand Duchess-Electress Dorothea-Frieda Strelitz
The traditional backbone of the Imperial Army, House Strelitz has a storied and venerable tradition as a military power in the Empire of Dominia. This house is descended from the colonial security forces of the landing sites, and has - over the centuries - developed into a highly martial and honor-based society centered around defending the Empire from enemies within and without. Much of the current principles of honour held by the Empire’s nobility - and the common hobby of fencing - can find their origins within the meeting halls and barracks of House Strelitz. They are highly regarded throughout the Empire for their military prowess, and the High Lord General of His Majesty's Imperial Army has traditionally been either a member of House Strelitz or a member of their close allies, the Volvalaads.
The pride of House Strelitz is its officer corps, which are recruited from both the house itself and commoners in order to retain a competitive edge over their competitors. These officers are rigorously trained and educated in matters both military and civil (with a particular focus given to the importance of honour and noblesse oblige) in order to produce a class of officers that uphold the highest standards of Goddess and Empire both on and off of the battlefield. Many officers from House Strelitz itself are geneboosted thanks to the close alliance of House Strelitz to House Volvalaad and the Empire’s long-standing expertise in genetic engineering. A common mark amongst graduates of House Strelitz’s military academies is a fencing scar below the eye, in order to show that one is brave enough to take a hit without flinching. As a result of their extremely high standards of training House Strelitz and its allies form an overwhelming majority of the Empire’s general staff.
House Strelitz’s second pride is its joint control of the Imperial Armaments Company with House Zhao: Streltiz dominates the military sector, while the Zhao dominate the naval sector. The talented engineers and scientists of the house have produced many innovations throughout their venerable careers, and are often regarded by others within the Empire as the true reason for their victory in the War of Moroz. As a result, many of House Strelitz’s most renowned holdings can be found in and around the Morozian industrial heartland of Jinxiang. The House is perhaps the group most involved with Zavodskoi Interstellar in the Empire of Dominia, with many of its members working for the megacorporation in various positions, and rumors allege that House Strelitz was a major factor behind Zavodskoi Interstellar’s entry into the Empire of Dominia.
The current leader of House Strelitz is Grand Duchess-Electress Dorothea-Frieda Strelitz, who also serves as High Lord General of His Majesty's Imperial Army. Although not geneboosted due to health concerns she is nevertheless considered a genius at both matters of strategy and decently adept politics. However the Grand Duchess-Electress leaves much of the day-to-day and otherwise nonmilitary matters of her house to the care of her wife and a privy council of adept commoners and house members, instead being concerned with grander matters of Imperial external politics.
House Colors: Blue, Black
Leader: Grand Duchess-Electress Landi Volvalaad
Based on the genetic scientists and leaders of the original Moroz colonies, House Volvalaad’s power is in its research and diplomatic dominance. Believing strongly that it is the Goddess’ will that Humanity improves upon itself genetically, they have innovated new gene-therapy techniques based upon their roots as horticulturalists, along with bio-chemical enhancements tailored to the environment of Moroz. House Volvalaad sponsors the Empire's renowned Juro University, and are known to send exceptional commoners through the school before integrating them into the family. They are the House most in favor of integration with human nations, and have successfully pushed for trade and diplomacy channels to be opened with other nations. Some members of the House wish to push for even further diplomatic openness, particularly a loosening of citizenship restrictions and a replacing of the sponsorship system with a bureaucracy. House Caladius, a key player in the Imperial bureaucracy, has already come out in support of this effort.
House Volvalaad is responsible in one way or another for a large majority of the Empire's research, on topics ranging from weapons and agriculture to medical areas such as gene modification and augmentation. They work closely with all the other Great Houses, particularly House Zhao in areas related to their focuses. Many members of House Volvalaad travel outside the Empire seeking experience in relevant fields to further improve the knowledge base of their House. The Volvalaads are the forebearers of the geneboosting techniques that the Empire of Dominia is now famous for, and contain a greater percentage of geneboosted individuals than any other house in the Empire of Dominia. The demand for geneboosting has brought great prestige and wealth to the Volvalaads, and has made them perhaps the most prominent great house aside from the royal family themselves.
Aside from research, the Volvalaads are heavily involved in the Imperial Army thanks to both their geneboosting abilities and their close alliance with House Strelitz. Many Volvalaads attend a House Strelitz military academy and become officers of the Imperial Army, while conversely many of House Strelitz are geneboosted in the facilities of House Volvalaad. Both houses have a famously competitive, although friendly and sporting, fencing rivalry and will often compete with one another for the bragging rights that come with one’s members being the greatest fencers in the Empire.
With their eyes focused upon the outside world, and many of the great house traveling abroad, House Volvalaad represents the stronghold of the Empire’s liberal and reformist factions. Support for the royal family and its reforms is higher in House Volvalaad than any other great house, and the royal family considers the house to be a close ally. This liberal inclination has led the Volvalaads to possess perhaps the best interstellar image of any great house, and as a result, the royal family tends to appoint members or affiliates of the Volvalaads to perform duties that often involve showcasing Dominian medical and scientific prowess to foreign governments. House Caladius’ liberal faction still serves as the main instrument of Imperial diplomacy abroad, however.
The current leader of House Volvalaad is Grand Duchess-Electress Landi Volvalaad. Doctor Volvalaad is both a very talented genetics researcher, an adept player of the great game of Dominian politics, and has worked tirelessly to keep the Volvalaads as the Empire’s most prominent house both at home and abroad. Under her leadership, the Volvalaads have come to prominence under the employ of Zavodskoi Interstellar, something that has further improved the Volvalaad’s image abroad. It is clear that the Grand Duchess-Electress wishes to further liberalize the Empire in order to improve its interstellar image, but it is uncertain how far she will go or how she will manifest this intention.
House Colors: Orange, Red, Yellow
Leader: Clan Lord Commodore-Elector Salak Kazhkz
NOTE: Characters bearing the name of Khakhz and Han'San are considered part of House Khakhz in the eyes of Dominian Society and Nobility.
An odd mix of two separate Unathi clans, House Khakhz and Han’San represents the small and often sidelined Unathi minority in Dominia. The house is descended from Unathi pirates that arrived in Imperial space and pledged their loyalty to Emperor Keeser, and is divided into two factions: the Han’Sans, more traditionalist Th’akh leaning Unathi descended from the marines of the pirate fleet, and the Kazhkz, more modernist Tribunal Unathi descended from the sailors of the pirate fleet. The “official,” name of the house changes depending upon which clan grows stronger, though most Imperial documents refer to it as House Khakhz-Han’San. The two clans inside the house often feud with one another, and constant internal conflicts have ensured that this house - despite being a great house on paper - has power comparable to a strong minor house.
The wealth of the Kazhkz is based firmly in privateering, and these spacefarers provide many skilled seamen for the Imperial Navy. However the officer ranks of the Imperial Navy are dominated by House Zhao and many Zhaos look upon the Kazhkz as an undisciplined rabble, with some flag officers refusing to allow any of the Unathi pirates to serve aboard vessels under their command. Often those of House Kazhkz that do not formally join the Imperial Navy, or (more typically) wash out of its training, instead become quasi-legal privateers. Like House Han'San they also shy away from augmentation, as even their younger members believe it trivializes the trials before them, or allows them to "cheat," at life and battle.
The Kazhkz desperately cling to their pirate tradition with some of their privateers operating without a Letter of Marque from the Emperor in a display of relative autonomy, though the Emperor and some of the human great houses are attempting to curb this practice. This means any Kazhkz captured while operating without imperial permission won't be protected by Dominian authorities if captured, and those that are inteterred are often summarily executed by patrol and anti-piracy fleets of the Coalition of Colonies. Rumors that the Imperial Navy leaks the location of unauthorized privateers have been firmly denied by the admiralty.
The Kazhkz are led by Clan Lord Commodore-Elector Salak “Grudgedrinker” Kazhkz, the leader of the pirate fleet “The Grudgebearers.” A fat Unathi set on revenge, Salak’s father was Seryo Kazhkz, a High King and Warlord in the Coalition against the Izweski Hegemony that desperately sold his kingdom to purchase human-made shuttles to be used as landing craft on the Izweski capital and end the Contact War. Seryo’s plan failed dramatically when half the fleet was shot down by artillery, and his child son retreated the shuttles from Moghes. He has displayed little political cunning upon Moroz, and is often regarded as a buffoon by other nobles - especially for his fleet raids on Izweski merchant shuttles. Loud and with a great amount of bluster, Salak is very much a pirate’s pirate and not suited for the social intrigue and skullduggery of the Empire’s internal politics. Salak is known for boarding shuttles he raids himself, and demanding the ‘hosts’ prepare a feast to pay for what the Izweski dogs did to King Seryo - and to celebrate the eventual defeat of the Hegemony.
The Han’San are the smaller, less powerful, and - according to some within the Empire - less relevant faction of the house. They are an extremely militant faction, and are regarded as the most conservative mainstream group in the Empire of Dominia. While undefeated before their arrival in the Empire, the sound defeat of their traditionally-minded forces by the Fisanduh Freedom Front during the insurgency in Fisanduh disgraced the clan and reduced them to a mere junior partner of the Khakhz. The Han’Sans are considered conservative even by their fellow Kazhkz Unathi, and are often seen as little more than outdated relics only kept around by their connections to the Kazhkz by the rest of the Empire.
The Han’San are led by Lord Marshal Kasz Han'San, an older Unathi career soldier and veteran of the Contact War. While Salak Kazhkz is the official leader of the house, many suspect that Kasz decides much of the house’s direction and policy despite the apparent position of weakness that the Han’Sans hold. Originally a General under Salak Kazhkz’ father, he was the one that ordered the landing which killed Seryo Kazhkz. He is a calculating and clever leader who, despite his age, is able to hold his own against competitors in duels of both mind and body.
According to a legend often told by Moghesian sailors, the Han'san flagship named 'The Han'San Wardrum' is always surrounded by the spiritual "ghost fleet" of Seryo Kazhkz, summoned by imprisoned Th'akh shamans below decks forced to aid in battle against any unfortunate enough to cross the Han'San Wardrum's path. Perhaps this is just an explanation to attribute losses to Dominian privateering, or perhaps the story was created by the Lord Marshal himself to give him a spiritual edge against his fellow Unathi foes. Kasz Han'San's kin and crew tell tales of the undefeatable Wardrum - whose crimson spectral armor allows it to deflect even the mightiest blows. Zhao officers cite this tale as “absolute lunacy” as, according to naval logbooks, a vessel named the Wardrum has been lost beyond repair on four separate occasions. This has not stopped the legend amongst Unathi sailors, much to the frustration of some captains.
House Colors: Purple Shades
Leader: Grand Consul-Elector Marcus Caladius
Based upon the Holy Kingdom's priestly and administrative classes, House Caladius is considered to be the wealthiest noble house in terms of sheer economic power. Using complex and efficient administrative systems, House Caladius manages to squeeze every Imperial Pound out of every inch of land that they control, before they then take this money and invest it in new infrastructure and businesses. One example of large infrastructure funded by House Caladius was the Imperial Railroad, turning huge profits in the recent years. House Caladius manages the central bureaucracy and bank of the empire, headquartered at the Keeser Imperial Bank of Moroz in the capital. The efficient bureaucrats of House Caladius play a large part in the inner workings of the Empire, especially in areas related to fiscal and administrative areas. They work closely with the Emperor, as well as the commanders of the Imperial military, to ensure adequate funding is received each year.
House Caladius manages to keep itself relevant politically by the sway it holds over the Holy Tribunal, more so than any other noble house. Due to its meritocratic founding as a merger of the priesthood and administration, House Caladius adopts more Secondaries than any other noble house, with Secondaries making up approximately 30% of the house. Unlike any other great house, the leader of House Caladius is elected every five years by all registered members of the house in order to theoretically ensure that the most qualified leader is selected. A great number of the Empire’s clergy are still drawn from, or eventually integrated into, the ranks of House Caladius. Many Tribunalist temples are named after the nobles of House Caladius, which is and remains the largest sponsor of the Holy Tribunal and its associated Caladius-dominated bureaucracy.
The heavily meritocratic and “wide tent,” cast by House Caladius has caused it to run into some internal issues in recent years, however, as the mercantile and bureaucratic factions of the house conflict with the priestly and faithful factions of the house. The merchant faction supports further liberalization of the Empire along the lines of House Volvalaad in order to expand their operations and influence into the greater galactic community, particularly with Idris Incorporated and other megabanks. The priestly faction, conversely, supports the conservative status quo and is wary of most if not all sentiments regarding liberalisation from their mercantilist compatriots. With Crown Princess Priscilla Keeser, a staunch reformer, set to inherit the absolute power of the throne after Emperor Boleslaw Keeser’s passing, these factions are being brought into more and more intense conflict by the day.
The man at the center of this political maelstrom is Grand Consul-Elector Marcus Caladius, a longtime Keeser Imperial Bank of Moroz bureaucrat elected to the position of Grand Consul-Elector in 2460. The Grand Consul-Elector is an adept bureaucrat, holding a doctorate in economics, and a savvy player of the political games of both House Caladius and the greater Empire. However, he has been placed in the increasingly impossible position of peacemaker between the liberal and conservative positions of House Caladius. While Doctor Caladius has walked the tightrope of moderation between liberal and conservative for the time being, only the Goddess Herself knows if he will keep the peace with honor, or be voted out of power in failure. A non-geneboosted Morozian human himself, the Grand Consul-Elector is often viewed as a voice for the everyday Morozian amongst his fellow Electors.
House Colors: White, Gray
Leader: Grand Duke-Elector Imeral Zhao
With their background as engineers, House Zhao is responsible for much of the Empire's naval assets and provides a great amount of their line and flag officers. They rose in prominence when it came to the formation of the Navy, and used a large amount of their facilities and family funds to build shipyards and spacecraft when no other house was willing (or in some cases, able) to take on such a responsibility. Lucrative naval contracts for everything varying from shuttlecraft, to fighters, to capital ships have been awarded to the House. House Zhao has seen a great amount of profit from the recent expansion of the Empire's territories, especially after a much larger naval budget was announced for 2461. As a reward for their service and efforts to the throne, the Grand Admiral of His Imperial Majesty’s Fleet has been a member or affiliate of House Zhao for as long as the Empire has existed.
Similarly to their Imperial Army counterparts in House Strelitz, the true pride of House Zhao lies in its naval officers. The naval cadets of House Zhao and its affiliates, which often include talented commoners, will - over the course of their four years of training - become some of the most well-trained and well-educated naval officers in the entire Orion Spur, and take great pride in their naval prowess. His Majesty’s Imperial Admiralty of Dominia, the high command of the Dominian navy, is staffed almost entirely by members or affiliates of House Zhao and is regarded as one of the best-led naval forces in the Orion Spur. Naval cadets of House Zhao do not pursue the same “scar of honour” that their House Strelitz counterparts do, though the military academies of the Strelitz and naval academies of the Zhao are often known to hold fencing competitions between one another. Some of the best civil engineers in the Empire come from House Zhao, and their engineers are second to none in the design of naval weapons, armor, electronics, and munitions. Due to the demands of the Navy, both in research and funding, cooperation with Houses Volvalaad and Caladius is commonplace. The Zhaos maintain a cordial relationship with their Imperial Army counterparts, House Strelitz, and are a dominant force in the naval section of the Imperial Armaments Company. Unlike their Imperial Army counterparts, geneboosting is quite rare in House Zhao due to the space constraints present within spaceborne vessels. House Zhao commonly works alongside Zavodskoi Interstellar due to their prominence in naval weaponry, with many Dominian members of the megacorporation originating in House Zhao.
Much like the Volvalaads, however, the Zhaos have similarly pushed for the Empire to expand its intergalactic presence in the Orion Spur. But while the Volvalaads busy themselves with diplomacy and the Empire’s interstellar image, particularly in the Republic of Biesel, the Zhaos focus instead on expansion through naval supremacy. This has made them deeply unpopular in the Coalition of Colonies, where they are often viewed as the vanguard of Dominian imperialism. The Zhaos have an intense dislike of the Kazhkz, which they view as nothing more than an undertrained and undereducated bandit rabble unfit to fly the Emperor’s standard from their rickety vessels. The hatred held by some Zhao flag officers towards the privateers of the Kazhkz is so intense that House Zhao naval officers are rumored to be a key source of anti-piracy intelligence for the Republic of Elyra and Coalition of Colonies.
The current leader of House Zhao is Grand Duke-Elector Imeral Zhao, an aging naval officer and old warhorse of the navy. However, the true leader of House Zhao in all but the official title is known to be the current Grand Admiral of His Imperial Majesty’s Fleet, Duchess Huiling Zhao. The position of Grand Admiral commands immense respect in House Zhao and, in the rare event that the current Grand Admiral is not also the Elector of House Zhao, the Elector of the house will often bow to the Grand Admiral’s will in naval matters.