From its beginnings as an order of mercenaries and soldiers to its modern incarnation as the human face of law and battle, House Deneith has maintained its position as the primary force of security and defense in the Five Nations. Though its fortunes rose during the Last War, the services of Deneith renders are no less valuable in times of peaces. Today, the house is as prosperous as ever, with its position of neutrality firmly established and a host of eager clients ready to use its services. This prosperity tells only half the story, however, and Deneith's past fortunes might not be enough to guarantee the house's future.
The humans of House Deneith carry the Mark of Sentinel. They put their powers to use in the Defenders Guild, which offers comprehensive bodyguard services to persons of position and wealth. The house also provides sentinel marshals that have jurisdiction across national boundaries. House Deneith originated in Karrath, but the Defenders Guild operates across Khorvaire.
The unmarked members of House Deneith work as bodyguards without the benefit of magical assistance.
Neutrality and Law
Throughout the Last War, Deneith maintained a position of neutrality, serving the whole of Galifar rather than nay of its fractured parts. Although this position caused unrest in teh house's home of Karrnath, the Deneith patriach, Baron Breven d'Deneith, saw the need for a balance of idealism and practicality. Although Deneith's military forces were nearly equal of any kingdom, joining with one side (likely Karrnath) would have overwhelmed the house's resources as it was targeted by the other nations.
As it happened, its neutral position served Deneith well. At the Treaty of Thronehold, the right of House Deneith to maintain a standing military force was recognized once more. Further, it was agreed to allow members of the house to travel unimpeded by national boundaries for the sake of defending the Five Nations against external threats. Before the war, Deneith bodyguards made up a significan portion of the royal retinues of Galifar, services that remained in demand both during the war and after.
The central philosophy of House Deneith is built upon fulfilling the letter of the law, with contracts and codes governing every action its members take. The Sentinel Marshals serve an ideal of justice, chasing down criminals no matter where they might hide. For the Defenders and Blademarks Guilds, the law of the land is not half as important as the law of their contract, wherein their services are pleged to a nation or individual under specific circumstances and for a specific length of time. No matter what side of the house one falls on, honor, ethics, and an adherence to oaths sworn form the build of a Deneith's heir's reputation. one who keeps his word and fulfills expectations is valued highly, wether his heart tends to good or evil. One who is unreliable or capricious, on the other hand, will find few friends within the house.
Dissent Within the Ranks
House Deneith's position of military strength and influence in Khorvaire goes largely unchallenged. Though Deneith is not preeminent among the dragonmarked houses, it has never aspired to be. By maintaining its neutrality and refusing tires to any one nation, Deneith has instead become a force that others must rely on.
Today, however, this reputation of strength and security means less than at any time in Deneith's past. In the aftermath of the Last War, the house is quietly buckling under pressure from within and without, and its resources are strained to a degree that few outside the leadership see.
House Deneith's headquarters is in Karrlakton, and its roots are set deep in Karrnathi soil. The features and temperament of the Karrns can be found at all levels of House Deneith, from Breven d'Deneith to the mercenary captains of the Blademarks. Deneith is proud of its heritage, but the day of reckoning for that birthright might soon be at hand.
When the Last War began, House Deneith had a good excuse to claim neutrality. It served Galifar, and would continue to do so even without a crowned king or queen. That neutral stance garnered an amount of respect among the Karrns, who were content that Deneith did not serve their king as long as it served no one else.
Galifar is little more than a memory now, formally dissolved by the Treaty of Thronehold. The king of Karrnath no longer fights for a place upon the Throne of Galifar, but rather clamors for peace among his brethren. In the eyes of many of his people, Kaius III's embrace of peace weakens his land.
This conflict of ideals is causing unrest in Karrnath, and could lead to Kaius' undoing. At the same time, those Karrns who long for battle against the upstart nations of Khorvaire now wonder how Deneith can refuse to fight for its rightful king, especially when they imagine the glories of a shared Deneith-Karrnath army against hte poor remnants of Khorvaire's other nations. Should Kaius III be deposed and Karrnath led again to war, Deneith's much-vaunted neutrality might be put to the test - and the sword.
Supply and Demand
For centuries, House Deneith cornered the market on mercenary forces in Khorvaire. The Blademarks Guild has done business with every major militia and town watch in the Five Nations, as well as provided security forces for other dragonmarked houses, private citizens, and expeditions across Khorvaire and beyond.
The Last War changed all this, drastically reducing the available pool of experienced soldiers and mercenaries. It was an unpleasant surprise, then, when House Tharashk entered the mercenary market in the dying days of the war. Deneith had never before encountered competition for its services on any meaningful scale, and for another house to engineer such a challenge with the help of the monstrous races of Droaam was a bitter insult.
House Deneith heirs are human, and humans make up the majority of their forces. Though a smattering of warforged, shifters, and half-elves can be found in Deneith ranks, half-orcs usually prefer to work with House Tharashka, and other races are rare. For Deneith's work within the Five Nations, human troops were once an advantage, but the outlook in Khorvaire has changed.
In urban areas such as Sharn, civilized monsters can walk the streets without fear as longa s they obey the laws of the realm. House Tharashk helped to pioneer this change, and its actions have palced the house squarely in Deneith's sights. Deneith is determined to conquer this new mercenary market, either by wresting controlf rom Tharashk or building its own pool of monstrous talent to draw from.
Neither house admits to any open conflict with the other, but covert clashes occur on a regular basis. If the situation escalates, the rift between houses might well become irreparable. The dragonmarked houses have traditionally abstained from interfering in intrahouse feuds, but no houses have ever before maintained their own standing armies. Open warfare between Deneith and Tharashk is a prospect few among the dragonmarked care to dwell on.
Security and ambition are uneasy companions at best of times. One requires safety, while the other demands risk. Though Deneith's position in Khorvaire is largely secure, some within the house are convinced that security is simply another word for stagnation. They see the house's position and wealth as resources to be spent in a larger plan, not treasures to be hoarded. With its martial strength and establiished presence across Khorvaire, Deneith could be the equal of any of the Five Nations and masters of all the houses. It could be Galifar reborn.
Those agitating for change within the house believe that the time for a Deneith dynasty is at hand. The house provides security for the crowned heads of the Five Nations and a substantial portion of the nobility, as well as important members of the Twelve and the dragonmarked houses. Deneith forces guard Thronehold, with the house holding the throne in stewardship until a new king or queen is crowned. How better to ensure that happens than to seize the crown for themselves?
Baron Breven d'Deneith is aware of this movement, but calls it madness. Taking the throne and setting House Deneith to rule Khorvaire would necessitate throwing away everything the house has built and stands for. Such action would pit the house against not just the Five Nations, but potentially against the Champver if the draconic Prophecy were thougt to be imperiled. Deneith would be irrevocably ruined - possibly even destroying the Mark of Sentinel as a result.
Other members of his house do not share Breven's perspective. In particular, Shirin d'Deneith, a minister within the house, keeps the dark dream of conquest foremost in the thoughts of house members. Though Shirin holds little power from his position alone, he is a charismatic individual. Well spoken and articulate, he has used these gifts to draw like-minded individuals to him. He has also joined the Blood of Vol, using the cult to grant him access to the Order of the Emerald Claw. In doing so, he takes a great risk, since opinion within the house might turn against him if his actions were known. If Shirin has his way, his association with the order will not be discovered until Breven is dead or deposed, and he has seized control of the house.
Guilds in House Deneith
House Deneith is more than just the sum of its parts, but how much more is open to interpretation. The house administers two guilds - the Defenders Guild and the Blademarks GUild - as well as the order fo the Sentinel Marshals. Active participation in one guild over the course of an individual's career is mandatory; serving in both is commonplace. Deneith views the guilds as the cornerstone of its mission to protect Khorvaire from its enemies, both within and without.
- Blademarks Guild
The Blademarks Guild is a mercenary branch of House Deneith. It employs mercenaries from across Khorvaire (some associated with House Deneith; some independent contractors), and guarantees both a high level of professionalism and steady work for its hirelings. Deneith's leadership often arises from within the guild, and the Blakemarks are considered the core of the house's financial success.
The cost to hire a Deneith mercenary depends on the experience of the soldier. Hiring fees may be lower in places wehre there is more competition, such as Sharn.
- Defenders Guild
The Defenders Guild is a mercenary branch of House Deneith. It consist of veterans of the Blademarks Guild, most of whom have at least one year of successful service behind them. The Defenders Guild contains a far greater percentage of dragonmarked heirs than either the Blademarks or the Sentinel Marshals. Its members are well respected within the house, and considered to be a vital part of Deneith's mission to defend Khorvaire.
The daily cost of hiring a Deneith bodyguard depends on the dragonmark of the character possesses. Bodyguards with greater or Siberys marks are rarely available for hire except at the behest of a high-ranking member of government or a dragonmarked house. Characters with the Leadership or Favored in House feats might be able to hire greater or Siberys marked bodyguards.
The Sentinel Marshals are an elite law enforcement order administered by House Deneith since the rule of Galifar I and upheld as a multinational force under the Treaty of Thronehold. Only the most trusted heirs of the house are honored with a position in the Sentinel Marshals, either after serving in both the Blademarks and the Defenders Guild, or by special dispensation of the house. The Sentinel Marshals are elite agents authorized to enforce the law across Khorvaire according to the needs of the regional authorities, and they have permission to ignore borders in pursuit of fugitives. They are never authorized to break the law, but are held accountable only to the Five Nations as a whole.
Although House Deneith has enclaves across Khorvaire, its seat of power is in Karrlakton, just across the river from the Mournland. Sentinel Tower is Deneith's ancestral home, named in honor of the mark its members bear.
Deneith families often send young hairs to be fostered here as children, creating a connection that lasts the rest of their lives. The Tower is the headquarters for all Sentinel Marshals, who return whenever their assignments permit.
Sentinel Tower is an ancient keep, reputedly older than Karrnath itself. It has undergone extensive expansions over the years, both for defensive purposes and to accommodate growth within the house. Even at its current size, Sentinel Tower cannot contain Deneith's entire complement of house members and hirelings. As a result, Karrlakton is filled with training areas, barracks, weaponsmiths, armorers, and taverns to serve the needs of the tower.
In addition to Sentinel Tower, House Deneith holds large enclaves in Sharn and Korth (where the impressive fortress sprawls over an entire hilltop), as well as estates in Flamekeep, Newthrone, Pylas Taaear, Stormreach, Taer Valaestas, Trolanport, and Varna. More outposts can be found in locations throughout Khorvaire, including Rhukaan Draal in Darguun and Graywall in Droaam (where Deneith keeps a low profile in teh shadow of the prominent Tharashk enclave). Members of House Deneith are also the protectors of Thronehold, and make up the elite unit of Throne Wardens charged with protecting the Galifaran throne.