I didnt like the sounds of the names under Shrouded House in the RT core book, so I invented a new one... and a complete family history. Also, I figued I might as well crete a new family since our game is set in a non-canonical sector. (I'm sure the specifics could easily be modified to suit the Koronus Expanse... Comments welcome!)
Lineage Name: House Sovul
House Categorisation: Shrouded House
Adage/Motto: Est Satis Superque ("Enough is more than enough.")
General Description: Most Navigator houses boast a long and glorious history of exploration and service to the Imperium, providing Navigators for the Imperial Navy or even for the various chapters of the Space Marines. On the vessels on which they serve, they occupy places of privilege and prestige despite (and because of) their Warp Eye mutations. Born to wealth and luxury, many Navigators view this as their birthright, their just reward their role in sustaining the Imperium.
The fortunes of House Sovul, however, are far more modest. While the power and resources of any Navigator House, no matter how impoverished, are not insignificant, those of House Sovul are fewer than many even amongst the "beggar houses." The Xan'Tai and the Aleene of the Nomadic Houses nurture old alliances with the various Rogue Trader dynasties. The powerful Benetek and Vor'cle Magisterial Houses continue to play upon the pretended purity of their line and influence on Holy Terra and within the Imperium. House Sovul meanwhile ekes out an existence much as it has done so in centuries past, supplying Navigators for positions others would consider degrading or menial. They serve as navigators on prison ships, refuse barges, asteroid mining vessels or cargo ships for some smaller merchant cartels, filling a void as the Navigator equivalent of itinerant workers or day labourers. While some more enterprising navigators will occasionally take on contractual work for petty crime lords though such a stance is far from common or accepted practice within a family which prefers to remain out danger on the fringes of Imperial power.
From time to time, certain factions within the House will seek to consolidate the diasporic Sovul and formally increase the family's fortunes by courting exchanges with more powerful or influential groups within a given sector. Such initiatives, however, tend to be rather short-lived, the product of individual actors instead of a concerted and unified move on the part of the governing members of the Sovul's governing guild council, the Quorum Concursus. These plans often fall apart due to petty disagreements within the council or the House, from a lack of readily available resources, or simply from a failure of ambition and drive.
As the motto of the house suggests, most members prefer the wisdom of the status quo to risking what power they have on foolish or dangerous gambits. After all, House Sovul may not be wealthy, but its power base has long been stable and emboldened action may endanger what little they already posses by drawing unwanted attention to themselves. Historically, they see themselves as wisely aloof from Imperial politics, able to weather even the most drastic of political upheavals by remaining beyond notice. They place a high importance on self-effacement and survival.
Those outside the family have a much less flattering view of House Sovul. They see their legacy as ultimately stagnant and lacking in any true ambition, making them easy (if not always terribly useful) pawns. Outsiders are often dismissive of the family and see them as little more than a mercenary and fractious house, its services easily bought for the promise of even the most modest reward. Of course, they are just as easily dismissed when their employer deems them to have outlasted their usefulness.
Relationships with other Navigator Houses: The more established Magisterial and Nomadic Houses take little notice of the comings and goings of such a minor house though their endless ability to endure throughout the millenia has occasionally earned them some small measure of grudging respect from those individuals who value longevity. Navigators of House Sovul rarely interfere with the other houses’ plans lest they come under attack by these more powerful forces.
One advantage of adopting such a self-effacing attitude of non-interference is that many groups are willing to tolerate their presence within their own domains. Relationhips with the other Shrouded Houses operating in the sector are generally reserved but polite. So long as the members of House Sovul remain respectful of their host’s presumed authority and do not attempt to hinder their activities or band together, the others are content to simply let them be. Should they abuse this trust, the offended house will not hesitate to hunt down the offending parties.
Most members of House Sovul have little to do with the Renegade Houses, whom they see as dangerously provoking of the ire of Imperial and Inquisitorial authority. In turn, the Renegade Houses are content to simply ignore House Sovul in order to devote their resources to other, more significant faction.
Organisation: Unlike most navigator houses who are governed by a single Novator, House Sovul is governed (such as it is) by the Quorum Concursus, a body of five members called Tribunae whose primary responsiblity is preserving the Sovul's navigator gene’s purity through marriage and selective coupling. The Quorum Concursus is also expected to protect the temporal interests of the house in a more general sense in addition to supporting the well-being of its members. In reality, its ability to intercede on behalf of the house is limited by a lack of consolidated influence, not to mention the personal agendas of individual Tribunae. The primary benefit of this political structure, from the Sovul perspective, is that it prevents any singular individual from endangering the fortunes of the house. This is why, despite its shortcoming, the leadership structure of the House has remained unchanged in millenia.
A position on the Quorum Concursus is a lifelong appointment which is inherited upon the death of the previous Tribunus. During their tenure on the council, Tribunae are expected to select their successors through a process where the chosen candidate is formally adopted into the immediate family and welcomed into the Tribunus’ circle. During their tenure, Tribunae are free to add or change succesors, organising the structure of inheritance as they see fit. Most seniors members of the Quorum Concursus develop a kinship network of dozens of potential inheritors organises in a clearly defined path of succession which includes clauses for almost every imaginable contingency. In the rare circumstance where a Tribunus dies without a formal heir, the remaining members of the council will select a new member of the council through vote.
The familial ties which link the Sovul legacy are real enough though the nature of their cooperation is much more mercantile than many families in the Navis Nobilite, resembling a guild in many ways. In addition, as the family traces its roots back to five "tribes," some members choose to adopt their ancestral tribal names in interactions with others within House Sovul. Given the long history of the family, however, and the frequent intermarriage between the tribes in the past millenia, such a lineage is not always genealogically clear or definitive but is more often an indication of one’s political affiliations.
With their family and its assets scattered throughout the Eastern Fringe, members of House Sovul are encouraged to be self-sufficient and must often rely on relationships outside their house for support, something uncommon even among the other Shrouded Houses. Some members of the clan even adopt territorial attitudes towards other members of the family who move into their area, perceiving the newcomer as a potential threat to their own regional contacts.
Nevertheless, as Navis Nobilite, family members are expected to care for their own and band together to defend against outside threats to House Sovul and outright refusals for aid are heavily frowned upon. Those who refuse to render aid to their kinsmen risk being ostracised by their family until reparations are made to the slighted party. In extreme cases, the Quorum Concursus may even choose to repudiate the recalcitrant navigator by branding them a traitor to the family. Such individuals, however, are almot never hunted down or killed given the strain such an endeavour would place on the legacy's limited resources. Instead, the Sovul work in small ways to undermine and acquire the offender's influence and resources, hoping to benefit from their fall and isolate their abandoned kinsman.
While consequences are dire for those of House Sovul who refuse to come to their cousins' aid, requesting payment or bartering favours is a commonly accepted practice. In all cases, the Navigator is expected to deal fairly with members of his house though shrewd negotitors can often secure more advantageous exchanges and are not discouraged from doing so. Members of this mercantile legacy may amass quite a tally of favours, owing and owed, throughout their lifetime, and many choose to will these accounts of debtors and creditors to their descendants, an ancient practice supported by the example of the Quorum Concursus and the ancient traditions of House Sovul. An exception to this practice concerns general public information which is generally shared freely.
The house boasts a large population of Void Born individuals from various vessels, space stations and orbital ports in the sector. Others hail from impoverished or remote Imperial worlds, Hive world or even some Frontier worlds though most quickly abandon their estwhile dirtbound existence and adopt the itinerant lifestyle which is their shared legacy. These differing strains of the Sovul navigator gene are closely monitored by the Quorum and new births (and deaths) are always registered with one of the Tribunae of the council who keep scrupulous records of house membership which are used to arrange couplings to perpetuate the Navigator gene.
For the most part, the Navigator’s parents are responsible for providing protection as well as instruction in the use of their ward's Warp Eye throughout childhood. Upon reaching adulthood, a brief ceremony, performed by an emissary of one of the Tribunae, officialises one's membership into the family. Given their limited ressources, many Sovul Navigators will be content to accept whatever modest posting their immediate connections can secure. Of course, individual members are free to pursue whatever employment they wish, so long as it does not threaten the fortunes of House Sovul.
Resources: The ressources of the Sovul family, in both influence and wealth, are limitied and the Quorum carefully guards the few noteworthy Navis contracts they have, with little effort deployed to expanding the family's holdings. Truthfully, more ressrouces than they would care to admit are squandered in small-minded internecine struggles more often motivated by pettiness than any real desire to advance the agenda of House Sovul in the world.
On the other hand, such a scattered group of vagabound pariahs and outcasts provides the House with immense amounts of information on the social, political and military realities all over the sector. While they may not occupy prestigious positions on Ultramarine battleships or Adeptus Arbites frigates for instance, Sovul Navigators lifestyles makes them likely repositories for rumours, stories, news and information about the people with which they have served and the places they have travelled. As they are often considered little more than necessary menials, "mechanicals" in the basest sense, they frequently have contacts with more downtrodden and neglected elements in the underdecks of ships on which they serve, granting them a perspective on the Imperium which is beyond that of the more prosperous houses. For those willing to deal favourably with the House, it can be a source of unsought and unexpected information and aid.
Foundation and History: For most of the Shrouded Houses, their current state of affairs is the result of some cataclysmic event: perhaps the revelation of a secret shame which undermined the trust they had garnered within the Imperium of Man, or some other catastrophic political failure. Whatever the case, most Shrouded Houses draw inspiration from their presumed former glories and past in order to strive in the present to bring about the fortunes and honours of the past. House Sovul, however, is not and never was one of these great Houses.
The history of the house stretches far into the past, to the 32nd millenium, towards the end of the Great Crusades. The exponential increase in warpfaring void vessels heralded an unprecedented demand for skilled Navigators to accompany the Imperial armies in the Emperor's grand efforts to unify humanity under His banner. The fortunes of the Great Navigator Houses rose rapidly as more and more forays were made into the deeper regions of space. Those houses most successful at leveraging their power during this time became what are now known as the Magisterial Houses. Countless others, unable to consolidate and secure their power, have since been forced to retreat to the margins of Imperial Space, have vanished or been declared Renegade.
It was during this period of expansion and the ensuing scamble for power of the various factions that the founders of House Sovul established the traditions and Navis contracts that have sustained the house for 10 000 years.
While the other Navis Nobilite families jockeyed for position with the major Imperial factions, the soon-to-be House Sovul had anticipated a rise in the need for able Navigators to man the vessels of this newly-created support infrastructure. As the Emperor's troops passed through the various fractious human holdings to bring about the unification He sought and which would cultminate in the Age of the Imperium, they caused great disruptions in the local infrastructure. In the wake of this disruption, small groups progressivley arose who followed the fleets as they headed deeper into the Segmentum Ultima. As they advanced, they began consolidating minor Navis contracts in recently "liberated" systems and would form alliances with local unaligned or destitute Navigators, banding together in loose guilds for work and protection. This process continued for several decades during which these groups began to consolidate into major groups, each adopting a sort of tribal leadership model based on a structure of rule by council. After a few generations, these divisions become more formalised with each individual tribe gravitating towards specific types of work and trades. Together, these groups provided Navigators for colonial transports, mining vessels, refuse barges and other menial assignments. For a time this loose structure persisted, with the five major groups content to operate within their proscribed spheres of influence.
The disruptions of the Horus Heresy, however, brough on a necessary change. Like most of the Imperium, the five guilds or tribes were not spared the devastation that nearly tore the galaxy assunder. In the aftermath of the war, when the Ultramarines Primarch Roboute Guilliman began the work of securing the Milky Way, the tribes were decimated and left scrambling. Not only had their numbers been drastically reduced, but the tribes were now spread so thin as to have almost completely lost contact with its members.
The surviving members of the councils of the various tribes decided ban together and formalise their alliance. Each selected a single representative from among their councils who would then form the first Quorum Concursus and adopt the common charter which is at the heart of the Sovul family to this day. They agreed to install their power base on the fringes of the Ultima Segmentum, throughout which most of the tribes were spread, and quietly returned to their individual duties, agreeing to meet at least every three years to assess and discuss the situation of their newly-founded Navis household.
With the restructing of the Imperial forces into the Imperial Guard and the Imperial Navy, and the adoption of the Codex Astartes, the Imperium consolidated its hold over the Milky Way during the following decades and centuries. As the Great Navigator Houses tied their fortunes to one group or another, and settled into their now-traditional alliances, few even noticed the creation of the alliance which was House Sovul or that this house had now moved in to occupy the unwanted and forgotten positions at the fringe of the Navigator's world. They simply accepted it as accomplished fact.
The family's current goals are much as they have always been, with its leaders busy safeguarding their ancient contracts and searching for new niches their family can fill.
Center of Operations: Unlike most other Navis Nobilite houses, the Sovul legacy does not possess an ancentral home from which, by virtue of their sanctioned mutation, it lords over the normal masses of humanity. Certainly the house recognises the need for some sort of commonly held center of power or, at least, some small part of the Imperium which they can call their own and from which they can govern their affairs. As such, they do maintain a commonly held base where the members of the house can meet to discuss their shared fortunes or simply seek refuge among those of their own kind. Their main holdings also house records of the family's history which are still extant after these many centuries as well as artefacts held in common by the family. In addition, each Tribunus maintains personal headquarters and power base from which they govern their own personal or tribal interests.
Throughout its history, the the nominal headquarters of House Sovul has been moved countless times as Imperial history and politics has displaced them in favour of other parties. Ever anticipating these inevitable relocations, the leaders of House Sovul have always adopted the mentality that their current base of operations was semi-permanent at best. Most often, their headquarters are the fruits of opportunistic finds, retooled or reclaimed to serve the purposes of the family.
The current headquarters of House Sovul located in the lower-right quadrant of the the Sagitarius Arm, on the far reaches of the Realm of Ultramar. For the past 200 years or so, House Sovul has occupied the abandoned space station Decius currently in orbit around the small dead planet of Letho V. The solar system in which this planet is located was devasted by the battles between the Ultramarines and Hive Fleet Behemoth in the eigth century of the 41st millenium. Recent Imperial surveys and starcharts rarely mention Letho, indicating it simply as a dead world of little interest the Imperium of Man. In keeping with the family's desire for obscurity, most members of the house are reluctant to discuss the location of their communal headquarters, though there is no explicit prohibition against doing so.
During the incursions of Battlefleet Kraken, the primary headquarters of House Sovul were lost. They were forced to evaculte their small planetray asteroid base Patreus, hidden in the Sagitarius arms, above the Tau Empire. Ancient cargo and shipment manifests from the decades and centuries prior to the Tyranid confictssuggested the prior existence of a shipping grid which linked this presumed former network of space stations and orbital platforms. The Quorum Concursus then set about exploring this neglected space for any traces of the remaining infrastructure. They located a dessciated station once used as a deep space ship servicing and refuling depot which had since been abandoned. Many of its systems were no longer functioning but the hull itself was in relatively good repair. Consulting their ancient charts and manifests House Sovul settled on a perfect location for their new headquarters and the Quorum Concursus arranged to have the station secured and towed over many lightyears into arbit around Letho V.
Over the course of many years, House Sovul has repaired, explanded and fortified the station so that it has become largely self-sufficient. They do engage in some moderate trade with various discrete and minor independant interests, barganing their special talents, knowledge of the Warp or skill as astrographers in exchange for rarer or more difficult to obtain ressources. The modest size of their space station makes it impossbile for ships larger than a frigate to dock with the station though Decius does possess a small complement of light transport vehicles.
Prior to the emergence of Battlefleet Behemoth the planet Letho V was home to city-sized manufactora and industrial complexes. Advance Tyranid scounts discovered the world and implated its mycetic spores into the population. The Hive Fleet later arrived to complete the reaping but was intercepted by the might of the Imperial forces.
While the Ultramarines were able to defeat the Hive Fleet and push it from the sector, the bio-mass collection process was nearly completed by the time they were successful. The oceans were almost entirely boiled away and much of the breathable athmosphere was consumed by the fleet. The resultant changes in pressure and disruption to techtonic plates has dramatically increased the planet’s seismic and volcanic activity. Its manufactora were further damaged by the Imperial forces' relentless orbital bombardment of the Tyranid on the surface. House Sovul occasionally sends men to scavenge materials from the planet either for bulding materials or in the hopes of discovering some forgotten artefact or treasure. While most excursions turn up little but basic building materials, some scavengers have been known to return with weapons or ancient artefacts.
Planet Letho V is now classified as a dead world by Imperial cartographers and House Sovul keeps its forrays to the surface of the planet a secret from most. They themselves jealously guard access to Letho V and are liable to intercept any parties found venturing to the surface without their explicit consent.