The Great Houses were the controllers of the Spiral Politic in the Faction Paradox series. They were the main combatants in the War in Heaven against the Enemy. The six major Ruling Houses were House Dvora, House Tracolix, House Lineacrux, House Arpexia, House Xianthellipse, and House Mirraflex.
Ten million years before the outbreak of War, the Great Houses created the history of the galaxy by rooting their biology directly into the most fundamental levels of the time continuum. As a side-effect of this process, they inadvertently released the horrific Yssgaroth into the Universe, creating an empty space called the Caldera at the heart of the Homeworld. The Yssgaroth were defeated after a long and bloody battle, and the Caldera is now the centre of history; anything that occurs in the Caldera has the potential to rewrite all of history from the beginning. The Homeworld remained static for ten million years, its inhabitants observing the course of history but rarely participating in it. This changed when House Dvora somehow produced a despotic God-Emperor, the Imperator President, who attempted to conquer the outer galaxy. The Great Houses managed to capture and execute him, but the incident had made the rest of the Spiral Politic aware of the Great Houses’ existence. The same generation also produced a figure who decided to found a new House based on the principles of paradox. This was seen as an affront to the Great Houses, whose biology was firmly rooted in the structures of Time. The new House’s founder took on the name Grandfather Paradox, and wore ceremonial armour made of bone as another affront to the Houses; not only did it remind them of their biological origins, but it seemed to have been made from the bodies of Homeworld agents from an alternative history in which they’d lost the battle with the Yssgaroth.
The protocols of the Homeworld were effectively the laws of nature as they were written into the basic structure of the Universe during the “anchoring of the thread" — otherwise known as the creation of history. 870 years before the outbreak of the War, the Imperator became the President of the Great Houses and allied himself with a number of less species. The Imperator was denounced and he attacked hundreds of cultures throughout the Spiral Politic with his allies. This attack on the Spiral Politic forced the Ruling Houses to capture the Imperator, put him on trial, and execute him. 396 years before the outbreak of the War, House Paradox broke free of the Great Houses. Four years later, the Great Houses attacked Dronid and imprisoned the leader of House Paradox, Grandfather Paradox. 151 years before the War, Grandfather Paradox broke out of his imprisonment and transformed House Paradox into Faction Paradox. Around one hundred years before the War, the Great Houses had encounters with their Homeworld's future and began to discuss the possiblity of timeships with military applications.
In the remaining decades before the War, the War King returned to the Homeworld and spoke of the Enemy that the Great Houses would face in battle. He was widely ignored as the Great Houses saw it as an impossibility. The Houses eventually gave in to the evidence provided and made the War King the head of House society. Due to Faction Paradox selling House technology to the lesser species, the Houses attacked the Faction and forced them off their homeworld. At the same time, the Houses became aware that the Enemy had established their presence on Dronid, and sent spies to test their defences. The War in Heaven began on Dronid and the planet was devastated by both sides. Shortly after the Homeworld was attacked by the Enemy, but the attack was repelled. The outbreak of the War in Heaven caused many changes on the Homeworld, including the creation of newblood Houses that embraced diversity rather than conformity.
The War Council was the leading body of the Great Houses. It was led by the War King and later the War Queen, Lolita.
The War King was the leader of the Great Houses during the War in Heaven. The War King was one of four "mutations" in his generation, four members of the Great Houses whose character and personality were so at odds with the staid values of the Homeworld that they had a drastic effect on the Spiral Politic. The other three were the Imperator, Grandfather Paradox and the Evil Renegade. During the events of the War in Heaven, the War King was captured and interrogated on his world by agents of the Enemy. He escaped, but the torture deeply affected him. It made him realise how he cared for his people. The War King concluded that he would help the Great Houses in any way he could. Common rumours said he took advantage of this opportunity to gain immunity for his past crimes and power over the Homeworld. The War King arrived on the Homeworld and told the Great Houses what he had witnessed. He vowed to help the Great Houses in any way they wished. President Umbaste refused to accept the Enemy's existence and their threat to the Homeworld and she warned the War King that if he ever returned to the Homeworld to unsettle the Great Houses' society with talk of a war, he would be arrested for his earlier crimes against the Great Houses. The War King's actions on the Homeworld had caused some of the Great Houses to investigate the existence of the Enemy and their threat to the Homeworld. The Great Houses discovered the Enemy was a credible threat and had the power to destroy the Great Houses. Some of the Great Houses took this further and suggested that the War King be pardoned of his crimes to become part of a future war effort. The War King saw this banishment as a mere setback and began to devise ways for the Great Houses to combat the Enemy. He spent over forty years creating plans for new weapons and devices. With the plans he had created, the War King returned to the Homeworld in his Timeship and was captured by the House Military. He denied none of his offences. He asked for an emergency meeting of the High Council to propose his plans. During the emergency session, the Great Houses accepted that the War King had told the truth and concluded that the Homeworld would need a new leader with military experience. The War King was the obvious candidate and the Great Houses wiped all records of his past and made him War King of the Nine Homeworlds. Two years after coming to power, the War King negotiated a pact with Compassion, creating a "second front" for the War. One evening when the War King was at a banquet, Compassion materialised in the room, looking for "answers". After a lengthy conversation, Compassion told the War King that when House Lucia emerged, the true threat to the Homeworld would be revealed. Fifty years after the battle on Dronid, the War King hired House Lolita to destroy the Faction Paradox powerbase of the Eleven-Day Empire. This would stop the Faction supplying weapons to the Enemy or signing a treaty of reconciliation with House Tracolix. The War King later understood the true motive of Lolita, a sentient Timeship, who had evolved from one of his own previous Timeships. Lolita planned to reach the Eye of Harmony on the Homeworld, to contaminate the entire universe with her own biodata. She could rewrite the Spiral Politic to suit her own ends. As a last resort, he allied with the last members of Faction Paradox against Lolita. The War King's alliances failed and he was consumed into Lolita's internal dimensions, killing him. The War King had many scars from the days when he was a criminal in the eyes of the Great Houses. After gaining office, the War King decided to keep the scars to illustrate his suitability for the role.
The Homeworld is the ancient seat of the Great Houses. The citizens of the City of the Saved referred to the Homeworld as the Houseworld, as not to confuse it with Earth. The site of the Caldera where the thread of history was anchored. It stood in a special relationship to history, which made it no longer anything so simple as a planet. As a defensive measure in the early stages of the War, eight false Homeworlds were crypto-formed. The rulers and residents of each naturally believe themselves to be the "true" one, and it is even possible that the Homeworld now perceived to be occupying the centre of history. Christine Summerfield wrote her diary on the ruins of one of the Nine Homeworlds.
The Nine Homeworlds were a number of planets that were Crypto-formed by the Great Houses as copies of the Homeworld. They were created to serve as strategic decoys for the Great Houses culture during the War against the Enemy. This was to ensure that some part of the Great Houses' society would survive even if the Homeworld was destroyed. The War King was the leader of at least one of the Homeworlds. It was rumoured that not even the War King knew which was the real homeworld and which was a duplicate.
House Dvora (also known as the House of the Devouring Hounds) was one of the Great Houses, although not among the newer of the Newblood Houses. Of moderate size, House Dvora was nevertheless a cornerstone of the ruling six. The Devouring Hounds title should not be taken as indicative of wild savagery but rather of the controlled dominance of a pack leader, for Dvora is one of the few elements of Homeworld society to which tribal anthropology would apply. The House's character is that of the alpha male. Its most notorious cousin was the Imperator.
House Tracolix was an ambitious Newblood House, arguably prone to recklessness and over-concern with fashion. The House was given to furthering its interests in the universe by employing agents from other species, which could range from elegant dandies to Sontarans. In the timeline in which the War in Heaven took place, Tracolix had risen to become one of the six ruling houses, alongside Xianthellipse, Arpexia, Dvora, Mirraflex and Lineacrux, filling the space in the social hierarchy that had previously been filled by the six Chapters; Arcalian, Cerulean, Dromeian, Patrex, Prydon and Scendles. During the War, Tracolix entered into a pact with House Lolita and hired the Seventy Ninth Sontaran Assault Corps. House Lolita betrayed them during their combined invasion of the Eleven-Day Empire.
House Lineacrux produced what might be thought of as archetypal Great Houses - ponderous old men, serene and loath to take action. However, behind this facade they were ruthless manipulators and committed pursuers of what they considered the Homeworld's best interests. The House's robes were yellow, and typically shabby and aged. During the War in Heaven, should it have taken place, House Lineacrux would have been responsible for creating the Homworld's nine 'cloneworlds' using crypto-forming, although they preferred to allow other Houses to take the credit.
House Arpexia was committed to reason, science and a belief in objective truth, even under Time War conditions, having maintained these values since records began. Engaged in a rivalry with House Xianthellipse, Arpexia exceled at the production of technical devices such as experimental models of timeship. In the timeline in which the War in Heaven took place, Arpexia had risen to become one of the six ruling houses, alongside Xianthellipse, Mirraflex, Dvora, Tracolix and Lineacrux, filling the space in the social hierarchy that had previously been filled by the six Chapters, Arcalian, Cerulean, Dromeian, Patrex, Prydon and Scendles.
House Xianthelipse was a minor Great House which would have risen to prominence in the War in Heaven. In the timeline in which the war rook place, just prior to its outbreak, the Homeworld's War King encouraged the Houses to consider how they might adapt. Xianthellipse took this to extremes, experimenting with new forms and biodiversity. They developed 'war forms' for the Great Houses that left them indistinguishable from monsters. This earned them the animosity of traditionalist houses such as Mirraflex and the rivalry of other technology-based Houses such as Arpexia. Nevertheless, Xianthellipse took its place with those two among the six ruling Houses, along with Tracolix, Dvora, and Lineacrux, filling the gap in the social hierarchy that had previously been filled by the six Chapters; Arcalian, Cerulean, Dromeian, Patrex, Prydon and Scendles.
House Mirraflex was an Oldblood House of the Homeworld. Founded by General Mirraflex, a noted leader in the war with the Yssgaroth, the House tended to produce great military leaders and madmen. By the time of the Deca's generation, when the Homeworld's Looms had started to produce rebels and renegades, those originating from House Mirraflex were uniquely aggressive. Fanatical about the Homeworld's heritage, Mirraflex distrusted the Newbloods, especially House Xianthellipse. Although capable of subtlety, House Mirraflex's preferred courses of action usually involved the overwhelming application of brutal military force. In the timeline in which the War in Heaven took place, Mirraflex had risen to become one of the six ruling houses, alongside Xianthellipse, Arpexia, Dvora, Tracolix and Lineacrux, filling the space in the social hierarchy that had previously been filled by the six Chapters; Arcalian, Cerulean, Dromeian, Patrex, Prydon and Scendles. Near the end of the universe, House Mirraflex wiped out the last surviving humans.
House Catherion was a Chapter House House which went extinct. A grotesque massacre took place at the Chapterhouse following the escape of an N-Form, leaving only one survivor behind as it mutilated and restructured its victims. The House's Loom had been used to create the N-Form and so was destroyed following the massacre. As well as preventing it from producing any more N-Forms, this also meant there would be no further generations Loomed to the House.
House Ixion was an ancient bloodline which, like House Catherion, went into decline following the social upheaval prompted by the Great Houses' imposition of history on the universe. As House Lineacrux and House Mirraflex rose to take its place, the physical House itself became all but deserted by the time of the Imperator. The Imperator used the House, remotely situated in the Homeworld's mountainous region, as a location in which to found The Order of the Weal, also employing the House's Chatelaine as the Order's head. As the Order declined, the House fell into true abandonment and the Ixion bloodline into extinction. It may have been subsequently used as a site for the rearing of babels.
House Lolita was a Great House so new that it did not exist prior to the War. As the name suggested, it was Lolita's house. She was its only member. In the early days of the House, Lolita attempted to recruit her sister. Allied with Tracolix, and by association with the Sontarans, House Lolita betrayed them both when it destroyed the Eleven-Day Empire. Lolita refused to allow any other lifeform to join her house. She claimed that the places were reserved for her future children, who, like her, were timeships. By that point, fifty-one years into the War, House Lolita had begun to produce a second generation and its prestige and political power had been so bolstered by its defeat of Faction Paradox that it received approval for the changes the House was making to 18th century history. Lolita predicted that the final confrontation between House Lolita and the survivors of Faction Paradox would take place in that time period.
The House Military was the military forces of the Great Houses which were unleashed to fight against the Enemy during the War. Several waves of the House Military troops were deployed in the conflict. The first wave consisted of traditional soldiers from the Homeworld, who had spent ten million years at peace and were completely unprepared for the violence of the War. The second wave was much more violent and tended to respond to every perceived threat by completely destroying it. The third wave was bred for change while the fourth as well as the fifth waves embraced genetic diversity and original thinking. Entarodora was a strategist for the House Military. The House Military were sent to the Great Houses' prison planet to stop a prison break involving members of Faction Paradox. Tonton Macoute once cooked with the bodies of House Military soldiers.
There have been several waves of House Military troops. The first wave consisted of traditional Homeworld soldiers, who had spent ten million years at peace and were completely unprepared for the violence of the War. The Second Wave was much more violent -- gratuitously so, as they tended to respond to every perceived threat by completely destroying it. The soldiers of the Third Wave were the first to be bred for change rather than as part of the status quo, and the Fourth and Fifth also embraced genetic diversity and original thinking. There doesn’t seem to have been a Sixth Wave, though a cross-reference to “Sixth Wave Defections” can be found under the entry for the Enemy. As the Homeworld and the enemy became more entrenched in their positions, the Seventh and Eighth Waves became more subtle in their attacks. As the War enters its 50th year, House Tracolix has apparently deployed a Ninth Wave, though they haven’t given any details about its nature.
The Cwejen were clones of Chris Cwej created by the Great Houses for use in the War. Each of the Cwejen came from a different timeline of the original Chris Cwej, giving a large range of abilities for their masters to utilise. There were three main types: the original (blond and handsome) "Cwej-Prime", the fat and balding Cwej-Plus, and the monstrous and heavily armoured Cwej-Magnus. Each type existed in multiple iterations, which the Great Houses planned to use as an "Army of One." One of the Cwejen was present at a mysterious incident in the Hollywood Bowl, which may have been a point of contact with the Enemy. Cwej-Prime was also involved in hunting rogue members of the Great Houses who escaped into the multiverse at the behest of House Mirraflex. To do so, he allied himself with a parallel Nazi Germany that was never defeated. With Great Houses technology, that Germany began to conquer its neighbouring parallel Earths.
The Great Houses developed solar engineering early in their history and have since mastered time travel, as well as multidimensional travel. The Great Houses have also developed several powerful weapons for use in the War. “Gravity spiders” scattered throughout the Spiral Politic are attuned to notice the change in gravity caused when an enemy timeship materialises; the gravity spiders are attracted to that particular moment in time and space, at which point they assemble into a critical mass and detonate. A truly horrific weapon, the D-Mat gun, actually rewrites all of history to include everything but its target, leaving behind only the concept of its victim, an idea which is aware that it no longer exists. Agents of the House Military are also occasionally made to regenerate into forms more suitable for specific missions, which has led to the formation of the Redemption Cult, a group of soldiers who seem to believe that the War is testing the Homeworld’s right to rule established history.
Many of the new technologies used in the War were created by House Arpexia, which is devoted to scientific study and experimentation. One of their experiments in “temporal vaccination” led to the bizarre incident of Kasper Hauser, a child of the Homeworld who was raised by human beings as one of their own. It was hoped that his biodata would absorb the best characteristics of humanity; this did not occur, but human culture was greatly influenced by his presence as a side-effect of the experiment. It is also known, in the War era, for paradoxical survivors of defunct timelines to appear as if from nowhere in human villages; usually to be treated as witches or prophets, they are known as the “hauserkinder,” although Kasper Hauser was not in fact one of them. For obvious reasons, Faction Paradox takes something of an interest in the hauserkinder.
The lesser species often misunderstand the nature of the weapons used in the War, as they expect the weapons to have a physical presence. In fact, most of the weapons are conceptually-based, and the Homeworld regards gross physical technology, such as nanotechnology, as vulgar. Thus, weapons such as “anarchitects” alter the meaning of architecture without actually changing its physical structure. Some of the soldiers in the War have been physically erased from history; by using a chaotic limiter to fold back a being’s timeline upon itself, the entity’s future self can change events in its own past. Such entities enter a state of temporal flux, which eventually stabilises with the entity either dead or erased from history altogether, existing only as a concept with no physical mass, otherwise known as a Shift.
Before the War, the Homeworld was defended by casts, extensions of the Homeworld’s protocols that were called into existence whenever the Homeworld needed agents to act in the outside universe. An attempt was made, before the outbreak of War, to create semi-sentient casts known as babels, but the babels were incurably insane, and one of the experimental models escaped and slaughtered the inhabitants of House Catherion before it was found and destroyed. The babels’ breeding engine was still kept at House Ixion, however, and when the casts were destroyed in the initial attacks of the War, more babels were sent into the fray, their homicidal tendencies reined in by linking them to the lobotomised minds of former Homeworld renegades. During the Lethean Campaign, however, the renegades were killed -- possibly as a mercy killing committed by another former renegade -- and the momentarily confused babels were destroyed by waves of enemy attacks.
Other participants in the War include the planetesimals, living organisms the size of planets. One relatively significant group of planetesimals are the Beshielach, which were originally created by the Homeworld but subsequently struck up a symbiotic relationship with the Greater Autroluban Franchise. The Autrolubans were suspected of being enemy agents, and had developed a method of dating War-era events -- usually considered difficult at best, considering that several different events have been known to take place in the same time eras, sometimes several times over. Working together, the Beshielach and Autrolubans apparently negotiated with both the Homeworld and the enemy, and arranged for their sector of space to be declared neutral territory. But apparently none of that is really very interesting, which is why those entries are interrupted by a Shift with a story to tell about the future of the War. Following a series of complicated events that involved this Shift being marked by both the Celestis and the enemy, it finally ended up in a zoo of ideas on Mictlan. It managed to escape from the zoo by getting one of the Celestis’ indentured servants to think about it briefly and then pass its idea on to others; however, it remained stuck within Mictlan. Fortunately, Mictlan was attacked by a Memeovore, a creature that devours concept and meaning. The besieged Mictlan was cut away from the rest of the Universe by a group of timeships that had been sent on a suicide mission by the Great Houses, and in the confusion, the Shift and some of the Celestis’ more strong-willed slaves managed to board one of the timeships and escape. Now, the refugees -- including the fugitive timeships -- have found a safe refuge, perhaps billions of years before life developed in the Universe, or perhaps in another Universe entirely. The point of the story is: Mictlan is doomed to fall at some point in the future, and it’s still possible for people to escape the War.
The Spiral Politic was the orderly structure of time and space in the universe, those parts of history which can be overseen from the Homeworld. The Spiral Politic was created by the Great Houses at the anchoring of the thread. The maintenance of the Spiral Politic was one of the primary functions of the Great Houses. A backup of the Spiral Politic was stored on the Great Houses' prison planet, which stood outside of time so that it could be remapped onto the universe if ever time was altered. During the first battle of the War in Heaven on Dronid, the Great Houses would have discovered that the Enemy had constructed their own Spiral Politic to replace the Great Houses' meta-structure in the universe.
The Prison Planet of the Great Houses stood outside of space and time as an extra security measure. It looked like a rock suspended in space. From the prison planet all of history could be witnessed. If history were ever altered so the Great Houses never existed, a backup of the Spiral Politic was stored on Shada to be remapped onto the universe. Grandfather Paradox held there but escaped and created Faction Paradox. Faction Paradox members Cousin Justine and Kresta Ve Coglana Shuncucker were also imprisoned in Shada. Several members Faction Paradox infiltrated the prison planet and set all the prisoners free. Before the House Military arrived to keep order, Cousin Justine escaped in a timeship.
Crypto-Forming was a process used by the Great Houses to create the Nine Homeworlds. It involves the replication of an object via temporal paradoxes.
Timeships were vessels constructed by the Great Houses to travel through time. They could be ships in the traditional Earth navy sense of the word, physical objects that thrust their way through time and often space. Most timeships wore a humanoid form. Their interior was vastly larger than their exterior. The Evil Renegade had a timeship which had a large trophy room in its interior. The Homeworld’s timeships are elaborate models of mathematics and history, and they possess a form of intelligence entirely alien to that of their pilots, or indeed any humanoid life form. When the War first began, an attempt was made to create a timeship that could communicate with its pilots on an equal level, but the first experiments were dismal failures. The Homeworld first tried to build an intelligence, rather than nurture one; the resulting creature was entirely insane. The next attempts to create “pet” timeships by cross-breeding timeships with animals resulted in the timeships “eating” the research team and then vanishing into the continuum. Eventually, through a bizarre series of circumstances which have been related elsewhere, a Remote colonist named Laura Tobin -- later known as “Compassion” -- ended up being transformed into the first humanoid-timeship hybrid. Compassion eventually agreed to participate in the Homeworld’s breeding program, and thus can be considered the mother of all existing 103-type timeships, even though she is no longer directly involved in their creation. Compassion, considering herself a neutral party in the War, travelled through the Spiral Politic for quite some time, both on her own and with other travelling companions. The most famous of these companions, Carmen Yeh, later wrote a fictionalised account of her travels, including an incident that implies that Compassion eventually did choose sides in the War. Though Yeh herself was not privy to all of the events, it seems that Compassion found the remains of a timeship in the posthuman era, and subsequently kidnapped the War King from the Homeworld, accusing him of killing “Percival”. The War King managed to convince Compassion that Percival was killed by the enemy, and Compassion finally agreed to fight the enemy, albeit on her own terms. However, she still claims that the War is just a sideshow, and that the real threat to the Homeworld lies elsewhere. Yeh stopped travelling with Compassion shortly after these events, and now lives somewhere in the posthuman hegemony.
Ships of War were advanced timeships that were bred for war. The mother of them was Compassion. They could be ships in the traditional Earth navy sense of the word, physical objects that thrust their way through time and often space. Most timeships wore a humanoid form. Their interior was vastly larger than their exterior.
The Beshielach were a group of Planetesimals which were living organisms the size of planets. The Beshielach were created by the Great Houses of the Homeworld but struck a symbiotic relationship with the Greater Autroluban Franchise. The Great Houses created them to act as early warning system for the approach of the Faction Paradox to the Homeworld, to see them before they reached their destination, and alert the Homeworld in time. The Faction Paradox would see them as normal planets rather than a threat. However, after forming a symbiotic relationship with the Greater Autroluban Franchise, they became distracted from their jobs and were destroyed for their failure. The Greater Autroluban Franchise were destroyed for being part of their downfall.
The Anvil Stars were devices that harvested the seeds of proto-Universes and sculpted them into potential Leviathans, living creatures larger than entire Universes.
Ghost Clusters were a type of weapon used by the Great Houses. They were virtual bombs that were detonated in a model of the Universe. When the probability of their detonation increased, the bombs' victims as well as their descendants became less likely to have existed. These victims were referred to as the walking dead. They were deployed to erase any evidence on a planet of their interference.
Gravity Spiders were weapons developed by the Great Houses to use against the Enemy. They were scattered throughout the Spiral Politic and were tuned to notice the change in gravity caused when an enemy timeship materialised. The gravity spiders rushed to that particular moment in time and space, assembled into a critical mass and detonated.