In the early days of Rasennan history, wizards were wild cards. Those houses able to contract (or sire) wizards found themselves at the top of their competitors’ priority lists, as a sorcerer tended to shift the balance of power too quickly. Many houses spent huge amounts of money lining their homes with anti-scrying measures, hiring extra blades trained to deal with magic, and even purchasing the services of poisoners to eliminate the greatest threats. This frantic race came to a peak during the Year of Fire, when several wizards were assassinated at the bidding of paranoid house elders. Some of these assassinations sparked further rivalries between unaffiliated wizards and the houses responsible (or apparently responsible), leading to magical duels in the streets, further night-murders and even, in some cases, wholesale rioting. By the time the bloodshed had ended, Rasenna’s mage population was notably dwindled.
During the rebuilding following the Year of Fire, a few surviving Rasennan wizards of great presence and learning took it upon themselves to ensure that the Rasennan magical traditions would not fall casualty to another civil war. These wizards spent many years gathering their lesser colleagues under their respective banners, as well as seeing to the apprenticeship of as-yet-untapped youths bearing the Mark. Finally, in the year 2469, the five wizards came before the Council of Magisters and declared their intentions to be registered in full as five new Houses.
Although some house heads have had cause to regret their ancestors’ acceptance of the Sorcerous Houses since then, for the most part the five houses have proved invaluable. Certainly, the wizards of the houses have yet to offer their services at cut-rate prices, but the Rasennan galley that sails with a Verastin guard or a Bascho diviner finds their investment well worth the coins.
Their strength being in the arcane, the Sorcerous Houses play by different rules than the other Great Houses do, even in matters of blood. Even in a country that values blood ties as tightly as Rasenna does, the ability to wield the arcane is a rare thing, one that rarely breeds true. Like other arcanists across the continent, the Sorcerous Houses more often find apprentices and adopt successors than they are able to have children who can carry on their arts. Unlike other Houses where bloodline and adoption separate House scion from cadet member, in the Sorcerous Houses they differentiate between adept and cadet. When a new talent is found and brought into the House, the adept’s immediate family is also offered the opportunity to be adopted as well, as cadet members of the House. Within the House, it’s considered most proper for an adept to marry a cadet member, if he or she marries at all.
Rarest of all are the “truebloods,” those born into the House possessing the Mark. They are controversial figures when they arise. The cadet members born into the House rally behind truebloods, seeing them as the adepts most worthy of loyalty given their blood ties. Other adepts, those who were chosen from outside the House, tend to be more grudging with their respect. It is a common fear among adepts that a trueblood will wield authority beyond their actual merit by the accident of blood relation — a sometimes hypocritical approach, given that there are tieflings and genasi who draw power from their odd bloodlines.
The five Sorcerous Houses are:
• House Bascho, famed for their insight into the material as well as the arcane. The members of this house focus their efforts on the schools of noble alchemy and divination, all the better to unravel the “way of matter.”
• House Dusaam, influenced by magic from across the southern Jadesea. They practice the arts of summoning and high elementalism, like their genie-wise founder.
• House Sespech, the enigmatic House with a somewhat murky reputation. They delve into the arts of what they call “the dark portion” — necromancy and shadow magic.
• House Tyliel, witches by reputation and ability. This female-dominant House claims to master “lunar magic,” a blend of metamorphism and glamour.
• House Verastin, a House of war-mages focusing on purity and discipline. They are strongest in light magic and abjuration.