Dynastic Merchant Houses of the Seven Cities

There are literally hundreds of merchant organizations in the seven cities area. Centuries of cutthroat competition, however, has ensured that each city only has room for one major dynastic merchant house. Each of these houses guards their home turf jealously. Other, smaller houses must find an unwanted niche or a mutually profitable arrangement in order to operate.

The Major Houses:

House M’ke—Silver quill pen on a red field
House M’ke is a mysterious and somewhat paradoxical house operating out of the city-state of Raam. They rose to power through ruthless tactics, supplanting the now-extinct House Comis as Raam’s pre-eminent dynastic merchant house. They show a strange mix of cruelty and honor, showing the latter to their more powerful rivals and the former to those weaker than they. House M’ke had briefly fallen on hard times due to the pressures of operating out of a city at the edge of anarchy and rebellion. Ironically, the conquest of Raam by Dregoth has seen House M’ke’s fortunes rise as the only merchant house with the resources to restart trade in the aftermath of the siege.

  • Truvo M’ke—Truvo is the patriarch of House M’ke. A wizened old man of incredible age, this quiet soft-spoken man clings to the Merchant’s Code even as his House takes the brunt of political chaos.
  • Rogil M’ke—Rogil is the great (or great-great, nobody knows) grandson of Truvo. He is a fop always seen in the company of beautiful women, and rarely the same ones two nights in a row. He consorts with the nobles and other movers and shakers of Raam.
  • Astara Leger—Astara is House M’ke’s chief wizard… although neither she nor her title officially exists.

House Shom—Three white dragonflies on a diagonal red/black field
House Shom is the oldest and largest of the dynastic merchant houses. Once they could claim to also be the richest and most powerful. Those boasts are long in the past, however, as the last few centuries have seen a slow decline into excess, hedonism, and inefficiency. They operate out of their ancient ancestral homeland of Nibenay.

  • Giovvo Shom—Head of House Shom, this corpulent man is known for rich clothes and extravagant drink. He rarely if ever leaves his sprawling estates in Nibenay.
  • Jebea Shom—Giovvo Shom’s youngest son by his youngest wife, Jebea is far from the apple of his father’s eye. He is a young idealist, trying to revive the house. He is in quasi-exile, inspecting the House’s farthest-flung outposts from which he has gained a considerable following.
  • Kalyani Shom—Kalyani is one of Giovvo’s daughters. She is careful, subtle, and scheming. Her current occupation is opening new markets to the south.
  • Nolan Shom—Nolan is the young nephew of Sollen Shom, the now-deceased head of Fort Melidor near the Lost Oasis. Nolan has inherited the position from his uncle… and some say a whole lot more.
  • Sinjin Shom—Temmnya’s brother and half-brother to Jebea and Kalyani, Sinjin is still a teenager, and appears to have inherited all of the cruelty and ruthlessness of his sister without any of the charms.
  • Temmnya Shom—Jebea and Kalyani’s half-sister and rival, Giovvo’s favorite daughter once out-performed her father in excess. Her parties were the talk of the town. She seemed determined to bankrupt the house. She was recently assassinated.
  • Farlahn Mordis—Farlahn is one of Shom’s leading agents. He is thoroughly status quo.
  • Shugriva—smuggler for house Shom, employee of Kalyani

House Inika—Plain gold circle on a black field
House Inika is a lean, tightly run operation out of Gulg, the rival city-state to Nibenay. Much as the two cities are natural competitors, so is House Inika the natural competitor for House Shom. Streamlined where Shom is bloated, tight-fisted where Shom is extravagant, the three-century-old House Inika has made consistent inroads into taking over a number of vital Shom interests in the last century.

  • Andiama Inika—The matriarch of House Inika has led her house for the last 18 years, an era of unprecedented prosperity.
  • Ranis Inika—Ranis was adopted into House Inika after preventing an assassination attempt on Andiama. She is House Inika’s top covert agent and spy.
  • Shalin Losya—Shalin is House Inika’s head Psion. She trains House Inika’s psychic warriors and other psionic assets.
  • Tomak Reslin—Tomak was once a famous mul gladiator in Gulg. His freedom was purchased and now he is the extremely loyal bodyguard to Andiama, and leader of House Inika’s most dangerous operations.

House Stel—A pair of crossed black scimitars on a white field
House Stel is the militaristic dominant house of Urik. While the house does engage in (heavily guarded) trade, they are far better known for their violent side.

  • Hargan Stel III—Hargan rose to patriarch the hard way, working up through the ranks. He is a grizzled warrior who leaves most business decisions to specialist agents.
  • Tara Stel—Tara is a young woman, yet already heads caravans and trading outposts for her house. She is considered the likeliest successor to Hargan at the moment.
  • Terric Avan—Terric has served House Stel nearly since birth and is the house’s top scout and caravan guard.

House Tsalaxa—A black banner bearing a pair of glaring, bestial yellow eyes
The leading merchant house of the city of Draj is infamous for its endless games of intrigue and espionage. The house is also infamous for its long memory. “Never cross the Dragon or House Tsalaxa” is a common proverb in Draj.

  • Ydris Tsalaxa—Ydris has ruled House Tsalaxa for fifty years. He embodies the house’s philosophy that profit is everything. He despises needless violence not because it’s cruel, but because it’s inefficient.
  • Yarsha Tsalaxa—Ydris’ granddaughter believes she could run the house better than her cautious grandfather. In the meantime, she is in charge of the house’s highly profitable grain and hemp trade.
  • Kargash—A cruel, mercurial man, if Kargash had a title it would probably be “master of spies.”
  • Garchom—Garchom is the captain of Ydris’ personal half-giant contingent of bodyguards.

House Vordon—A black diamond (representing iron) on a red-brown field (the mountains surrounding Tyr)
House Vordon was once the powerful and well-respected dominant house in Tyr. Currently, they’re teetering on the edge of bankruptcy in large part because of King Kalak of Tyr’s crazed obsessions. Kalak’s recent demise has not yet aided the House’s fortunes as the chaotic aftermath has not notably improved trade. Only Vordon’s monopoly on the iron trade keeps them afloat. They were once a merchant house operating out of Kalidnay, but when that city met its mysterious fate, they were able to relocate and rebuild in Tyr.

  • Thaxos Vordon—Thaxos has lived to be older than 100 years but looks no older than 50. He has ruled his house with an iron fist and his skill and power have done wonders to keep the house from dissolution during King Kalak’s insanity.
  • Derlan Watari—Derlan is Thaxos’ halfling bodyguard. He is a renegade from the forest tribes of his people. In public, he dressed in miniature versions of his master’s clothing and is considered an object of fun. Rumor indicates this is to cover his deadly skills.
  • Talara Vordon—Talara is one of Thaxos’ second cousins who has recently been withdrawn from a closed outpost. She is known as a just and fair-minded woman and is respected by those she leads.

House Wavir—A silver crodlu on a blue field
House Wavir’s success story has few equals. Barely two hundred years ago, the freelance adventurer Traxidos Wavir of Balic engaged in daring escapades including the daring plunder of ancient well-defended ruins. The proceeds of this life were used to found the house, and subsequent trade operations were characterized by a mixture of insight and luck. Wavir avoided being crushed by the then-largest houses of Balic, Tomblador and Rees, because the two rivals were involved in a bitter trade war. Before they knew it, House Wavir became one of the richest houses of the seven cities. House Wavir has since reached an accomodation with its two Balican rivals. All three houses jointly operate the client fortress-village of Altaruk.

  • Tabaros Wavir—Tabaros is old, frequently ill, but still leads his house in the tradition of the great Traxidos, with cunning and skill.
  • Targ Wavir—Tabaros’ 60-year-old son, he is preparing to take his father’s place as patriarch of the house.
  • Falman Durow—Falman is house Wavir’s half-elven master of agents.
  • Nnn’tkk—This solitary thri-kreen’s official designation is “Master of Hunters.” He is the house’s most skilled scout.

The Minor Houses:

House Ardian—A diagonal gold line bisecting a deep red field
House Ardian, until recently, held a stranglehold on the gold trade. Their headquarters in the fortress-town of Walis guarded the only known gold mines in the seven cities. A few decades ago, House Inika wrested away the profitable relationship that Shom once had with house Ardian, setting up fort Adros as a joint venture with house Wavir to guard the gold road from Walis. In the last year, however, disaster befell house Ardian. Walis was destroyed, and house Ardian disbanded, selling all its assets to House Mareneth of Celik. This caught Inika by surprised, and before they could send out troops from fort Adros to secure the mines, house Mareneth soldiers were crawling all over them. On a seemingly unrelated note, gold has once more appeared in house Shom’s emporium in Nibenay.

  • Eloyas Ardian—Nearly a century ago, the patriarch of house Ardian was an adventurer out of Balic. Much like Traxidos Wavir, he invested the fruits of his activities in hiring skilled people before setting out on what seemed a fool’s expedition to a remote corner of desert near the Ringing Mountains. How or where Eloyas learned of the long-forgotten gold mines there he has never said. Eloyas, most of his family, and a number of his agents and employees survived the destruction of Walis and the dissolution of the house, but their current whereabouts are unknown.

House Azeth—A white mountain before a setting sun
House Azeth’s only operation in the Seven Cities area is an emporium they run out of Draj. Most of their interests lie further north in lands seldom ventured by the bulk of trade. They claim to be based out of the city-state of Kurn, although few have ever seen that far northern city.

  • Korik Azeth—The middle-aged patriarch of House Azeth is no more than a rumor to most other merchant houses.

The Dedys Consortium—A stylized palm tree with three leaves on a yellow field
This alliance of three small houses (Terg, Voyan, and Shakktur) operates out of Draj. The consortium was formed in response to heavy pressure from House Tsalaxa, and survives through cunning and generous support from House Tsalaxa’s enemies, notably House Wavir.

House Fyra—A rising red sun on a horizontally bisected field, black over white
House Fyra operates out of Salt View, a town consisting entirely of escaped slaves hidden in the Great Ivory Plain. They trade exclusively in salt, which is in abundance, yet valuable in far cities. They are an anomaly in that they elect their leaders every two years. This results in chaotic and nearly crippling infighting. Fyra maintains a single fortress south of Salt View which acts as both a strong point for the village and as a trading emporium for salt. Fyra prefers to let caravans come to them.

House Ianto—A green inix
House Ianto operates out of Tyr and is on the verge of dissolution. Unlike House Vordon, Ianto doesn’t have the size, power, or cash reserves to ride out King Kalak’s insanity. They have mostly hunkered down in their single fortress outpost ten miles south of Tyr trying to eke out survival through trade with the smaller communities of Altaruk and Silver Spring.
Strabo Ianto—The patriarch of the house, Strabo is trying to diversify into silk and spices to keep his house alive.

House Klethira—Three links of green chain on a white field
House Klethira operates out of Urik and has attempted to profit from the obsidian and slave trade with the halfling village of Ogo in the Ringing Mountains. Unfortunately, House Stel considers that route to be exclusively theirs, and constant attacks by Stel and their allies have driven Klethira to the edge of destruction.

  • Drynnia Klethira—Drynnia is the head of the house. She is considering packing up all the house’s resources and relocating en masse to Raam or Balic. If House Stel learned of such plans, though, they could launch an assault on the retreating caravans and wipe Klethira out entirely

House Lamnos—None
House Lamnos is more an extended nomadic tribe than a House. They have no permanent headquarters and operate in an extremely decentralized manner. While this structure has drawbacks, the strength is that it is very difficult to wipe out. Lamnos commonly wears or flies the colors of other houses, even major ones, much to the ire of those to whom such heraldry belongs.
Airos Lamnos—Airos, the head of the house, is hard to find. He moves from caravan to caravan and only his closest family and agents knows where he is at any given time.

House Mareneth—A stylized black eye on a yellow field
House Mareneth is a mystery to most people in the seven cities area. Once they were the chief rivals to House Vordon in Kalidnay. Somehow they had warning of the disaster that brought that city low and the house was able to save its most important personnel and wealth. Instead of fleeing north to Tyr, as Vordon did, they fled south into uncharted wastes where they apparently disappeared. Only in the last few decades have caravans flying the banner of House Mareneth returned to general knowledge, trading mostly with House Shom at Fort Melidor or with Houses Inika and Wavir at Fort Adros. Their biggest comeback “splash” has been the sudden occupation of the gold mines once monopolized by House Ardian. Agents of the house refer to their patriarch almost as if he were a Sorcerer King in his own right, lord of the “City of Celik” out of which they operate.

  • Korsun ne’Mareneth—Rumors and hints indicate that House Mareneth is ruled by a man named Korsun who claims the title of Lord of Celik. He has apparently set himself up in the ruins of a formerly massive city which he and his House have been painstakingly clearing of various dangers.
  • Annai Mareneth—Annai is Korsun’s eldest daughter, recently married into House Wavir as part of some obscure arrangement. She lives in Wavir’s estates in Balic.

House Rees—Three white pillars against a blue field
House Rees is the third and smallest merchant house to operate out of Balic. They were involved in a bitter trade war with House Tomblador when House Wavir began its rise, and soon House Rees was also surpassed. House Wavir has not pressed its advantage and crushed Rees, for which Rees is quite grateful. House Rees has entered into an arrangement with both Wavir and Tomblador to run the client fortress-village of Altaruk.

  • Lady Essen Rees—The “Lady” Rees was once the youngest daughter of a minor patrician family in Balic who was married off to the merchant lord of House Rees for significant financial contribution. After her husband died, she took over running the House. She has never lost her patrician airs which she exaggerates whenever she feels she can get away with it. Her leadership of the House is fairly benign.

The Renythi League—A bundle of sticks tied together with cord
The League is an alliance of smaller houses that stretches across the seven cities area. Leagues have existed before, and this one is a bit of an experiment. Meetings are held once every three or four months and decisions are often made by consensus. Bickering and political maneuverings keep the League from fully capitalizing on the sudden potential inherent in the decline of the formerly powerful houses Shom and Vordon. Nevertheless, the League is not powerless, employing agents and spies on behalf of its investors across the land.

House Sysra—An obsidian sword
House Sysra was begun by a band of adventurers and was doing well for itself until it fell upon hard times. First, dishonest agents made off with a rich caravan and vanished. Then a series of misfortunes struck subsequent caravans. The leader of the house, Andris Sysra, soon discovered that his closest friend and lover, the elf Tandysa, had been selling his secrets to House Vordon. In a rage, Andris slew his friend and has been in despondency since. The house consists of a single small outpost in the heart of the Great Alluvial Sand Wastes. All their hopes lie in a single remaining caravan.

  • Andris Sysra—The leader of the house, Andris hopes that now that the traitor is no longer in their midst they might make a comeback.

House Tomblador—A red ziggurat on a grey field
House Tomblador is the second-largest dynastic house out of Balic. They are older than House Wavir, but not nearly so lucky. House Wavir avoided being crushed by House Tomblador only because the latter had been going through a particularly rough patch involving a trade war with Rees and many of their best people defected to the higher-paying Wavir. In the last few decades, however, the two houses have reached a stable accomodation. They even cooperate with House Rees in maintaining the client fortress-village of Altaruk.

  • Draesha e’Tomblador—Draesha was only 24 years old when she was chosen to replace her grandfather Kaladon, the former patriarch of the house, after he died suddenly and unexpectedly. In the decades since, she has turned the fortunes of her house around, entered into arrangements with Wavir and Rees, and turned House Tomblador into a going concern once more.

Elven Merchant Tribes:

Clearwater Tribe
The Clearwater elves are a permanent fixture in the seven cities region. This large tribe consists of many clans that tend to specialize in a certain sort of activity. Each clan has its own symbols and customs. The Clearwater elves trace their history back to a mythical age when the sky was blue and water ran freely across the earth. Whether such fantastical tales of a golden age can be believed or not, they have enthralled visitors to their camps for centuries. The Clearwater elves are renowned for their ability to always be one step ahead of the Sorcerer Kings and their templars, selling illegal or contraband items only to have their market curiously devoid of any such thing when the templars come to raid. The Clearwater tribe has a centuries-long close relationship with the dwarves of North Ledopolus and are often a primary source of dwarven craftsmanship. They are fairly trustworthy as elves go.

  • Fireshapers—This clan reveres fire and symbolizes themselves with a single orange and red flame. They have a number of wizards and clerics of fire and their warriors participate in flame-themed ceremonies.
  • Graffyons—This clan is named after a mythical beast said once to inhabit the mountains of Athas. They produce some of the finest warriors in the Clearwater tribe, and by tradition they have no users of magic among them. They represent themselves with a four-clawed talon gripping a stone or uncut gem.
  • Graystar—Along with the Sandrunners, the Graystar clan serve the tribe as scouts. They often bear crudely carved six-pointed stars of gray stone.
  • Lightning—The Lightning clan specialize in weather and earth magic, ensuring that the movements of the tribe are as convenient as possible. They tend to wear black or blue tunics with stylized lightning bolts, and trade extensively in spell components.
  • Onyx—The Onyx clan specializes in espionage and assassination. They wear black on formal occasions and trade usually in stolen or forbidden goods.
  • Sandrunners—The Sandrunner tribe is another tribe of scouts. Unlike the Graystars, however, they value exotic and acrobatic dance performances and are much more sociable. Some have even performed before Sorcerer Kings. Their symbol is an obsidian crodlu in a circle of bronze.
  • Seafoam—Nobody really understands the origin of the Seafoam clan’s name. They are an all-purpose clan of traders, accountants, seers, and healers. Their symbol is a pyramid carved from green stone.
  • Silverleaves—The Silverleaf clan guards the tribe’s wealth. They are mostly accountants and traders and leave military or magical action to other clans. They tend to use their psionic powers to watch over elven markets. Their symbol is a small leaf of silvery metal or shiny stone.
  • Songweavers—The Songweaver clan learned many things from the artisan dwarves of North Ledopolus and are now the Clearwater Tribe’s most skilled craftspeople. They tend to deal in artwork, clothing, gems, and other fine goods. Their symbol is a coil of green and grey material.
  • Steeljaw—The Steeljaw clan takes its name from an extinct specias of vicious carnivore. They are the tribe’s finest weapon and armor crafters, although only a minority of such wares are actually made of metal. Their symbol is the snarling head of a long-muzzled, fanged, mammalian carnivore.
  • Wavedivers—The Wavediver clan holds most of the Clearwater tribe’s water clerics and provides much needed emergency water supplies for the tribe’s nomadic ways. Their symbol is a circle of polished stone with a stylized blue wave.
  • Windriders—The Windriders claim they once rode massive birds into combat before the species went extinct. Now they specialize in clerics of air and ranged skirmishing. Their symbol is a blue and white spiral.
  • Jentil Steeljaw—Jentil has served as chieftain of the Clearwater tribe for more than three decades. So respected is she that no one else has contested the position for years. She is an elf of great beauty and wisdom despite her advancing age, and the legends surrounding her are nearly as fantastical as the stories the tribe tells of an ancient age of blue skies and clear water.
  • Arvos Silverleaf—Arvos is the chief trader for the Clearwater tribe. While the other clans don’s have to listen to him, his word carries a lot of weight.
  • Keyvas Graffyon—Kayvas is the acknowledged as the finest warrior of the Clearwater tribe. He bears an ancient, ancestral enchanted blade and set of chain mail, both worth a fortune.

Skysinger Tribe
The Skysingers are a semi-nomadic tribe that frequents the Ivory Triangle area. While not as old as their chief rivals, the Clearwater tribe, they also engage heavily in trade. They spend one season out of every three in the city of Nibenay, and they control that city’s elven market.

  • Dayjumpers—The largest clan of the Skysinger tribe, the Dayjumpers specialize in trade, understanding a city’s laws, and organizing the elven market. They are the largest clan, and members of the Dayjumpers tend to stay behind to keep an eye on things when the rest of the tribe makes their nomadic circuit gathering trade goods.
  • Dawnchasers—The Dawnchaser clan tends to look after the tribe’s animals, as well as take charge of the animal trade.
  • Twilightcatchers—The Twilightcatcher clan specializes the darker, more forbidden trade goods. There are a number of wizards among the clan and they take charge of smuggling and sale of contraband magic items and spell components.
  • Muuton Skysinger—Muuton is the chief of the Skysinger tribe, taking the tribe name to put him above conflicting clan loyalties. His current problem is a matter of blood vengeance. Nearly a year ago, the tribe returned to Nibenay to discover that every member they’d left behind had been brutally slaughtered. The biggest trouble is determining who was responsible in the byzantine intrigue of that city.
  • Guvaano Twilightcatcher—Guvaano is the head of the Twilightcatcher clan of the Skysingers. He is rumored to have contact with Nibenay’s Veiled Alliance, quite a feat considering how paranoid and insular it is even by the standards of such wizards.
  • Otkoti Dayjumper—Otkoti is the caravan master of the Sky Singer tribe. He seldom spends much time in the city, preferring to stay on the move.

Swiftwing Tribe
Emerging from the desert, racing like a hot, destroying wind across the dunes, voicing high, ululating war-cries… few things in the desert are more terrifying than the Swiftwing tribe of elves on the attack. Their raids are notorious throughout the seven cities; in combat they have few equals. The Swiftwings are the essence of a desert tribe: fast, cunning, and deadly. When not raiding, however, the Swiftwings often find time to trade. While not considered as “trustworthy” as the Clearwater elves, Swiftwings can occasionally be found in the elven markets of Gulg and other cities.

  • Targaz Swiftwing—The current chief is a very old elf, having served as a tribal warrior for 60 years. He is the chief who began shifting his tribe toward serious trading in addition to their raiding.
  • Yarma Swiftwing—Yarma is one of the council of “Learned Ones” who advise the chief. She is a grimly violent scout and raider. In Council, she invariably suggests the most violent option.
    Silax Swiftwing—Silax is the historian and wizard of the tribe. He is a wealth of lore but does not give his confidence or trust easily.
  • Dylauris Swiftwing—Dylauris is easily the tribe’s most accomplished trader. His name is surrounded by tales of his exploits throughout the seven cities, each more fantastical than the last.

Dynastic Merchant Houses of the Seven Cities

The Reign of Dregoth ardhanari