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[Sith Lore] The House of Exiles


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The Strands

“The House of Exiles”

(Written by Frond, or Nok)

 

 

 

“A strand alone breaks alone. A cord holds the weight of an empire.”

 - House Motto of the House of the Strands.

 

The Strands officially exist within Sith society as one of the Houses under the Dark King. Unofficially, they are a hodge podge of failed orders, disgraced Sith, and minor organizations come together as a more powerful collective. Among their numbers, the strong and cunning rise through the ranks. The rest are used up. The Strands makes no secret of its desire to use and toss aside any person or resource that it finds convenient. They draw these recruits from the refuse of Sith society. The dishonored, powerless, and broken find the Strands knocking at their door or taking the bar stool next to them, always with the same offer: a second chance at power. The name itself is a well-known double meaning. Publicly, it represents the ideal that multiple groups working together are far stronger than a single group trying to stand alone. In reality, it is an open secret that the Strands refer to the threads of a spider’s nest, ensnaring all who touch it, either to be devoured or become so entangled they become another part of the web. When interacting with other houses, the Strands prefer to grease the wheels through favors and use information as a tool and a bargaining chip. Manipulation, bartering, and intrigue are their preferred methods, and only rarely do they move openly against other houses.

 

 

Factions

 

 

“All those Sith lords and fancy folk up there, they all live so high. Thing about living high though is that you’ve got a long way to fall, and nothing but cold rock to greet your skull at the end. Well, not around here. Here, between them folks and the ground are the Strands. Unlucky buggers better hope they hit the ground instead.”

- Inebriated man in Onderon bar

 

 

Over time, the Strands have absorbed a number of groups, giving them a home and support while only asking that they support the House in turn. Most of these groups aren’t around now, having been picked apart, wrung dry, or mysteriously vanished in the middle of the night. The few mainstays have managed to keep their position amongst the cutthroat politics of the house by providing continual, steady, profitable service while not making too much trouble for their betters. While members of the house certainly exist outside of these divisions, many gravitate towards these groups in the hope of protection and camaraderie.


 

The Sable Weave

“We have seen the Sith glorified in the annals of history. The conquering warlords, the mad alchemists, the hidden killers... All earned infamy in their day, and were examples of power we can admire. But the one Sith who managed to rule the galaxy did something different from the rest.

He played politics.”

- Unknown member of the Sable Weave

 

 

It’s almost unfair to list this particular group amongst the other factions of the house, as the Sable Weave are the undisputed masters of the Strands. Originally a cult of assassins, betrayal within their ranks nearly wiped them out. Rumor and conjecture surround the night when the Weave unraveled, and for a time people thought they’d been destroyed altogether. They surprised everyone when they reappeared, founded the Strands, and began accumulating power. Originally the Sable Weave was known for a powerful mental link between all of its members, allowing them to act as a single entity within the Force. Indeed, that was where they got their name. After the traitor within presumably used that link to attack the rest, the technique was abandoned. Now, every member of the Weave is a tower unto themselves, keeping their own council, distrust and betrayal their new tools. The only law is that one cannot get caught in one’s treachery, or else face death at the unified sabers of the rest. Most Sith masters in the house who aren’t already commanding other factions find their way into this veiled council. Here they command, debate, plot, and make the decisions that bring fortune and glory to some while ending the ambitions (and lives) of others. To outsiders, they are among the elite info brokers within the Sith, trading secrets and manipulating the unsuspecting through careful interference. Evolving from their origins, the Sable Weave have since branched out from only including assassins in their ranks, and now welcome Sith from all paths. So long as you value power, ruthlessness, and pragmaticism, there is a place in the Sable Weave for you.

 

 

The Whispering Augurs

“The shadow veils the golden stars! Why have the dragons not come!?”

- Prophecy screamed by Darth Arasani. Currently uninterpreted.

 

 

An acquisition that no one thought would make it long in the House of the Strands, the Whispering Augurs have managed to forge themselves a place as the de facto authorities on matters of foretelling and divination within the house, though few outsiders trust their predictions. The Augurs’ peculiar method of divination involves using the Force, drugs, and torture implements to coax one of their members into a maddened, frenzied state of dark emotions to connect him or her fully to the Dark Side. They scream and rave until their voices are hoarse, and the Augurs interpret these manic diatribes as best they can. As a result, every Augur almost always speaks in a hoarse whisper, their throats recovering from their last divinations.

 

Once an independent order of minor Force-users, the Augurs lost favor after several unpopular foretellings and misinterpreted prophecies. Seen as mad and unreliable, their star was on the decline until the Strands scooped them up. Since then, they’ve maintained a small, quiet presence within the house, serving to provide useful intel to house leaders. Their sanctuaries are of course sound-proof. Guarding the Augurs are the Silenced. Augurs whose minds have broken under the repeated strain of emotional turmoil, they are little better than animals, and are implanted with shock nodes to train them through pain and punishment. The Silenced have their vocal cords cut to quiet their near incessant screaming, and they are modified with cybernetics to give them claws, fangs, or whatever else strikes the Augers’ fancy. Once prepared and trained, they are left loitering around doors and halls in the Auger sanctuaries, husks of sith turned into cyborg attack dogs to pounce on any who pass and don’t belong.

 

 

 

The Disgraced

“Let me make something clear to you. You do well on the battle line, you don’t earn a place in my company. You earn a day. Tomorrow, you’ll earn another.”

- Darth Zyntus, Commander of the 3rd Battalion of the Disgraced.

 

 

Perhaps the longest standing faction within the house outside of the Sable Weave, and certainly the largest, the Disgraced are the public arm of the Strands. In truth, the Disgraced are not a singular faction, but rather a fractured military order with a high turnover rate. Comprised of failed apprentices, broken mercenary companies, crippled warriors, and any other student of war desperate enough to join the Strands, they form the muscle of the house. As the only faction of the Strands where a non-Force user can achieve rank, some see this as a way to improve their fortunes in Sith society where use of the Force is a mark of class and status. The Disgraced fight in war games and gladiatorial matches constantly to improve their standing in the house, the most extravagant of these contests turned into sporting events for public viewing. Those who fail to perform well enough to meet their masters’ standards find themselves “volunteered” for suicide missions, or broken up into separate companies they never arrive to. What the Strands do with the missing soldiers is anyone’s guess, but all agree it’s nothing good.

 

The broken military orders and lone warriors are organized into a strict hierarchy, with the general overseeing the entire faction, and a series of colonels commanding battalions of 500 soldiers apiece. Five majors in each battalion commanded 100 troops, and captains commanded squads of 20, with various support officers appointed as needed.

Perhaps the most well known aspect of the Disgraced are the Bladefield Triumphs. An elaborate war game played every three years on the Bladefield of Onderon, so called for the skyscraper built along it's edge nicknamed the Blade, the Triumphs is one of the largest war games in recorded history. The Blade acts as a spectator stand for the wealthy and influential of the Empire, as the entirety of the Disgraced engage in battle on the field below, a battalion free-for-all. Victory or defeat earns each battalion their ranking, with the 1st battalion title yielding preferential treatment, better quarters, and higher pay.

 

 

 

The Carver Guild

“They do what?!”

- Strands retainer after being informed of the particulars of the Carver Guild.

 

 

The latest acquisition by the house, the Carver Guild was originally a group of Sith Academy students seeking to increase their power by any means necessary. Seeking any hint of an advantage, they eventually stumbled onto a bit of esoteric lore that convinced them the power of the dark side saturated the blood, bones, and flesh of the Sith Masters. And so the Carver Guild began graverobbing. Not for trinkets. For corpses. 

 

It became a secret custom of the Academy for the students of the guild to attend “dinner parties” where scraps of old Sith were doled out and eaten in rituals of questionable effectiveness. Scholars and alchemists argue that any observable growth in power among those consuming the bodies of their masters could easily be attributed to their own fanatical belief pushing their abilities further. The Carvers however were convinced, and sought more.

 

After finally being caught and reported by a cadre of necromancers, it seemed the Carvers would all meet with a saber to the throat. In a surprise move, the Strands appealed their case and took them in. The Carvers remain obsessed fanatics, but the Strands keep them in check...for now. Beyond their questionable methods, the Carvers provide knowledge both historical and arcane to the house, and a presence in the underground markets of relic trading, alchemy, and academia. Their alchemy and rituals can be potent, but it’s unlikely even they understand what they’re doing. Only time will tell how long this faction will last.

 


 

The Starmasters of Varaka

“All praise our lord Varaka the Eternal, Darth of Darths, King of Gods, Eye of the Void, Hand of Ages.”

- Opening to the Hymn of Varaka the Unholy. When recited properly, the hymn requires an hour to complete.

 

 

Ages ago, in the Sadow-era Sith Empire, a Sith master named Darth Varaka built himself a kingdom on a remote planet whose name has been lost to time. As legend has it, while there he became the perfected example of the Sith code, ascended to a form of being beyond mortal understanding, and set out to conquer the universe. He saw across time and space, and realized that the time for his conquest and ascendance to ultimate power was not yet here. Instead, he took his most loyal followers to the legendary planet of Iego, where they would wait immortal and plot for his Unholy Age. He left a holocron that those who found it might learn of his plan and prepare the way for him.

 

Most scholars consider the legend a fanciful tale, nothing more. Certainly a few historical records of Varaka exist, but none corroborate the power and perfection the legend describes. His supposed holocron was never found. Until the Starmasters.

 

The High Priests of Varaka supposedly found the holocron of Varaka and unlocked its secrets, spreading its teachings among the more impressionable Sith. They copied down his wisdom into scrolls, which every member of the religion was required to keep on them at all times. That way, even if they died in battle the victors would find the scriptures and learn of Varaka’s inevitable return. They called themselves the Starmasters of Varaka, and their service to the God-King attracted the attention and irritation of more powerful Sith. The Starmasters seemed on the brink of annihilation, until the Strands interfered. Taking the initiative, the Strands wiped out half of their following, then pressed the rest into service under a very public contract. Since one of Varaka’s principles was adherence to the letter of a contract on pain of damnation, the religious zealots acquiesced and quieted down, under the condition they be allowed to practice their religion so long as they obeyed their house masters in any way that didn’t damn their souls.

 

The Starmasters believe that, upon their death, if they have served faithfully they are reincarnated at Varaka’s side to join his growing army on Iego, waiting for the right moment to descend upon the galaxy. If they are damned for some sin they have committed and not paid penance for, then they are cast aside and their souls thrown into the void to suffer. While their scriptures can be hard to decode for the layman, the base principle is that following the Code of the Sith while praising Varaka’s name earns you power and honor at Varaka’s side, while failing to do so earns you damnation.

 

To a Starmaster, their sacred duty is to prepare the way for Varaka’s arrival. They do this mostly by mapping the universe and expanding Sith influence. Every Starmaster of Lord rank or higher is expected to captain a ship and make occasional forays into unknown space. Anything they find they report, and exploit if possible. This makes them the Strands’ primary naval force to contribute to Sith fleets, and they fight with zeal and fearlessness bordering on the insane. Their complex clerical hierarchy and byzantine scriptures make them difficult to understand, but any Sith may join. None may leave.

 

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