House Argenti
Monopoly: Silver
Patriarch: Halidus Argenti

The second-oldest of the seven houses, House Argenti is responsible for all coinage and banking in addition to their silver mines. Uniquely among the noble houses, the Argenti elect the head of their house from all adult members for a lifetime turn not unlike the Lord Regent; for this reason they are often labeled the “Little Regents.” This strong egalitarian streak has led to the Argenti being the most eager to do business with, and extend more rights to, the surface city and its quick folk. This reputation is a double-edged sword, making them extremely popular with non-dwarves but also often regarded as weak or traitorous by their fellow dwarves.

House Heusos and House Isarnan and implacably opposed to House Argenti, and this rivalry (the “Gold-Iron Alliance”) has only grown more intense since Halidus Argenti was able to prevent Qana Heusos from being elected as Lord Regent. House Argenti also has relatively strong ties with the upstart House Makrana, with Halidus Argenti currently engaged to be married to Parian Markana the Younger’s sister.

House Heusos
Monopoly: Gold
Matriarch: Qana Heusos

By far the most wealthy of the seven houses, with a lavish lifestyle commensurate with their great wealth, the gold miners of House Heusos have dominated the city’s politics since its inception. Legend holds that the King Underground was a Heusos, and only his lack of direct male heirs has left the house forced to seek election to the post of Lord Regent. In addition to mining and refining, House Heusos uses its money to invest in many enterprises, though its conservative heads routinely refuse to extend loans and financing to non-nobles and non-dwarves. The majority of Lords Regent throughout the city’s history have been Heusos, but they are in the middle of an unusual drought, with no Heusos among the last five to hold that title.

Matriarch Qana Heusos was the strong favorite to succeed the childless Melah Gabelle, the previous Lord Regent, but enough of her fellows were upset by her hamhanded attempts at bribery and threw their weight behind Halidus Argenti. In the end, a compromise candidate was chosen, but Qana still seeks to bully, blackmail, dominate, or overthrow him, as her whims dictate.

House Galena
Monopoly: Lead
Matriarch: Ctesia Galena

The lead mined by House Galena is used in the city’s plumbing, in cosmetics, and in the various magical engines that help bring fresh air down to the dwarven city from the surface city. These products are naturally toxic, a state of affairs that House Galena alternately disputes, ignores, or embraces. The Galena dwarves are stereotypically famous both for their natural beauty and their savagery. Many rumors link Ctesia Galena, the house matriarch, with organized crime, protection rackets, and other unsavory activities.

Nevertheless, House Galena nobles are highly sought after as consorts, and indeed three of the current seven houses have a Galena married to their current patriarch or matriarch. This constant influx of blood ties has saved House Galena on many occasions, though it is also noteworthy as the only great house besides the new House Makrana that has never produced a Lord Regent.

House Verdigris
Monopoly: Copper
Patriarch: Koten Verdigris

The second-oldest of the seven houses, House Verdigris was once a supplier of bronze weaponry for the military but has since transitioned into offering high-quality metallurgy services and essential conducting pieces for electricity and magic. The copper roofs popular in the surface city are nearly all Verdigris products, and they are renowned for their commitment to the scholarly study of science and magic.

The current Lord Regent, Koten Verdigris, is from this house. He was chosen as a compromise candidate when the seven houses could not agree between House Argent and House Heusos. As such, Koten is well aware of the precariousness of his position and has adopted a policy of conciliation and appeasement, seeking not to make waves and not to anger the other powerful dwarves who might unite behind another candidate.

House Isarnan
Monopoly: Iron
Patriarch: Fergus Isarnen

Iron for steel has made House Isarnan the most martial of the Seven Houses by far, and the High General who commands all the city’s dwarven armies in the event of war has been an Isarnan for five hundred years. The current holder of that office is Fergus Isarnen, and he has been strongly criticized in recent years for holding back stocks of iron and steel for military use rather than allowing more to be used for common blacksmithing. A notorious conservative, Fergus has adamantly refused to extend any citizenship or recognition to the quick folk who dwell on the surface. He also opposes arming any non-dwarven troops, leaving the city watch as the only quick folk with arms of any quantity.

House Isarnan has not produced a Lord Regent in centuries, and privately many feel that “the sword rusts in its scabbard” as there have been few threats, internal or external, to test House Isarnan’s bluster. The consort of the current Lord Regent is an Isarnan, however, and the house hopes that their future children might inherit the position and even unite the two houses.

House Gabelle
Monopoly: Salt
Matriarch: Tuzia Gabelle

Salt, while not glamorous, is an essential facet of everyday life, used in everything from cooking, to preserving food, to making cheese, to raising livestock. Thus the salt mine monopoly operated by House Gabelle has served as a constant, if dull, source of profit and power, one that has produced ten Lords Regent since the founding of the city. Lord Regent Melah, the predecessor to the current holder of that title, is still widely respected.

The perception among the other houses that salt is base or common is deeply resented by members of House Gabelle, who tend to be rather ostentatious and open in flaunting their wealth and power as a result. They are patrons of the dwarven symphony, the annual gladiatorial games held on the surface for the quick folk, and other cultural events. This does not stop rumors that they are plain, boring, and on the decline, however.

House Makrana
Monopoly: Marble
Patriarch: Parian Markana the Younger

The youngest of the Seven Houses, House Makrana is barely a hundred years old and its first patriarch, Parian Makrana the Elder, has only recently died. Parian was able to rise from the rank of commoner, albeit a decorated military veteran commoner, by cannily partnering with quick folk to invest in marble quarries considered useless by dwarves but highly prized for building on the surface. By paying strong dividends to wealthy merchants in the surface city, he was able to build capital and establish a noble house while allowing his partners to “own” a monopoly despite not being dwarves.

House Makrana is currently the sole source of they mysterious element “bauxite,” which is used to make blades stronger and lighter than any yet known. Its source and forging are closely guarded secrets, and the other houses greatly fear that it will further disrupt a delicate balance already tottering due to House Makrana’s rapid rise to power.

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