Politics and intrigue are meat and drink to the sidhe. Divorcing a highborn from his political affiliation is nigh impossible. When a house suffers, all sidhe within that house suffer. In fact, most sidhe in the world today have been exiled from Arcadia because of their house affiliations. This affiliation can define a sidhe's personality, his politics and his approach to rulership. Although commoners can swear allegiance to a house or even receive titles in one, their bonds are never as strong as that of the sidhe. Fealty to a house is a measure of honor and pride. Even the circumstances under which a Seelie sidhe becomes Unseelie can be influenced by this alliance. During character creation, commoners can have membership in a house, but only with the permission of the Storyteller. Each house bestows a certain benefit (called a Boon) to the Kithain who support it. However, for each Boon bestowed, there is also a Flaw, a disadvantage that the members of the houses must endure. Many houses have conditions that they require of their members; upholding these is second nature to the highborns.

There are also countless stories explaining why the houses returned to Earth during the Resurgence. Unseelie believe that the sidhe fled Arcadia because it was dying. Extremists even believe that by questing throughout the mortal world, changelings may find a way to restore the balance between the two worlds and reopen the gates of Arcadia. Seelie and Unseelie debate how this balance should be restored. Some sidhe have memories of being sentenced to exile, but always have distorted memories of who or what exiled them. Perhaps it was the High Lords of Arcadia or the High King…or perhaps it was for another reason. The answers are hidden in dreams, yet the ruler of each house has an explanation that he or she firmly believes. Whether these explanations are true is highly debatable. The rationales for the exile of the houses are detailed below.

The Nine High Lords

Nine lords watch over the Earth-bound houses of the sidhe. Five are of the Seelie Court, three are of the Unseelie Court, and one is a madman who claims to speak for the Shadow Court. Though it is rare for all nine to gather together, collectively they speak for their respective families. Each holds a great measure of influence within the Parliament of Dreams, the august legal body of Kithain society. Each has developed an entourage to travel across the terrestrial sphere to gather information about house politics. In defiance of the Arcadian sidhe who exiled them, they refer to themselves as the High Lords of the Fallen World.

Seelie Houses

House Dougal

The members of House Dougal are perfectionists known for their technical acumen. Lord Dougal, the founder of the house, was a great faerie smith who devised a way to weave Glamour into steel, making it safe for faeries to use. Some say that Lord Dougal himself stayed behind on Earth during the Interregnum because of his fascination with metalwork and machines.

Members of this house are very precise, both in word and deed. When a plan is made, they insist that it be carried out to the letter. Efficiency is considered the highest of virtues. Very few of them rule, preferring instead to make sure everything runs like clockwork. Because of their orderly disposition, they often work as clerks and barristers, although they perform their tasks with an intellectual flair. The rare member of House Dougal who does rule usually governs his fief in a very matter-of-fact, practical manner, but tends to deal with problems better in theory than in practice. This ideal of perfection puts them at odds with many other fae. Few can live up to their expectations, which tends to make these sidhe even more elitist. They take their amusements far too seriously. Higher mathematics, mechanics, architecture and smithwork are common vocations for them. They're no strangers to hard work, and they firmly believe that "if you want something done right, you've got to get House Dougal to do it."

When reality fails to live up to their ideals, sidhe of House Dougal tend to display one of two solutions. Their first reaction is to roll up their sleeves and redouble their efforts. In fact, they can display an amazing display of willfulness when they're desperate to make an ideal work. Should this fail, they fall into their Unseelie Legacies until they find something that stirs their idealism again. Their penchant for precision also presents a curious weakness. When witnessing a well-maintained machine or a masterpiece of engineering, they can become enraptured. Some attain a state of reverie and can contemplate such things for hours. Through hard work, perhaps, reality can be fixed to imitate the ideal.

The blazon of House Dougal is an arm embowed maintaining a hammer sable on a chief gules three cogwheels. (Three gold gears on a red field above a black arm and hammer on a gold field.)

Boon: Members of House Dougal are strong-willed and known for their ability to invest Glamour into everything they do. Once per story, a member of this house can convert a portion of her temporary Glamour points into temporary Willpower points (up to the level of her permanent Willpower). This must be done during some sort of physical exertion: working, exercising or participating in combat.

Flaw: Physical reality seems flawed to these fae, just as they are flawed. Only through hard work can they overcome these flaws. Sidhe of this house always have a physical handicap that must be compensated for. This is usually something that can be corrected by cunningly crafted smithwork: a mechanical leg for a club foot, an intricate eyepiece for poor vision, and so on. These handicaps are present, though not always as visible, in their mortal seemings.

Exile: During the Resurgence, the sidhe of House Dougal were exiled to Earth because of their fascination with technology. The current ruler of the house tells a story of building a massive siege engine, just prior to the resurgence, to defend the gates of Arcadia from mortal invaders. The threat was highly exaggerated, and the havoc wrought by the infernal device disgraced them. Sidhe troubadours tell and retell legends of the mechanical monster created by High Lord Donovan. Each tale ends differently, as no one can fully remember it. High Lord Donovan currently resides in a freehold built around a factory in the western lands of the Kingdom of Apples. While the factory itself is an empty husk in the mortal world, within the Dreaming, it is a fortress of chimerical inventions. A dozen nockers apprentice within the Freehold of the Forge each year.

Unseelie Houses

Three Unseelie Houses made the journey back to Earth from Arcadia when the five Seelie houses came through in 1969. One of them, House Ailil, spread its members across Concordia and Hibernia (and possibly other regions as well). The other two (Houses Balor and Leanhaun) initially limited themselves to entering through Hibernia (Ireland). Since that time, many members of both Balor and Leanhaun have left Hibernia and begun infiltrating Seelie holdings in Concordia, sometimes masquerading as members of other houses. Some few let their actual house be know but keep a low profile among the overwhelmingly Seelie kingdoms of Concordia. What they do in secret is another story.

The tree Unseelie houses have united with Unseelie from the other five houses and many Unseelie commoners to form the Shadow Court. Although each house has its own agenda, they all have some goals in common — chief among them being the overthrow of Seelie rule.

House Ailil (ay - LEEL)

Known for their Machiavellian political acumen, House Ailil is best known of the Unseelie noble houses. The house's founder, King Ailil, was the husband of Maeve, the queen who instigated the Cattle Raid of Cooley, in which the great hero Cuchulainn lost his life. Ailil was an astute politician, a philosopher and a great student of knowledge. Both House Ailil and House Eiluned hark back to his lin. It is said that Ailil stayed on Earth when the sidhe left in order to preserve his connection to the Dreaming, taking a new name and gathering around himself a group of changelings dedicated to protecting his sanctuary from Banality. Although Ailil himself can hardly be considered Unseelie, the house which bears his name is firmly entrenched among the Unseelie and are active participants in the Shadow Court.

Members of House Ailil tend to be masters of politics, intrigue and manipulation. They are rarely fully trusted by other Kithain, even those of their own house. They make the most of their talents and have an innate arrogance and supreme confidence in their ability to handle any situation and come out ahead. They love creature comforts, fine clothing and other evidence of their noble standings, taking these as their due, but they love power even more than the trappings that come with it. Ailil often fine tune their Ravaging to evoke as much pain and terror from their victims as possible, claiming that nightmares produce the sweetest and most potent Glamour. They have little regard for those whom they Ravage, believing that there is always more Glamour to be had.

Those of House Ailil often have dark hair and eyes. Regardless of their actual eye color, they are noted for having extremel compelling gazes. They prefer dark attire, with their favorite combinations featuring black clothing set off by silver accessories.

Because of their political skills, when they interact with Seelie Courts, are often found as advisors to kings, leaders of political factions and as the real power behind the thrones of weaker rulers. Fiefs ruled by House Ailil are hotbeds of intrigue and often suspected of Unseelie and Shadow Court activity even when they are not actively involved. Of course, they word "actively" can have so many meanings…

As a House, Ailil wants to overthrow the Seelie nobility and gain influence in the mortal world. They believe the Seelie have become stagnant and that Ailil is most fit to lead (through the Shadow Court) the far through the Endless Winter and into the coming Spring. They are not trying to bring one the Winter, just preparing to survive it and gain power while doing so. They plan to allow the Winter to demoralize and destroy their opponents and seize power when their foes are weakest.

The more traditional members of the house are member of the Purist faction. They see the need to right the balance: The Seelie ruled for 600 years; now there needs to be an Unseelie time, then a return to alternating rulership. The younger members and the real movers-and-shakers want total Unseelie rule. They control the Reformist party. Many Ailil, particularly those of the Reformist party, masquerade as Modernists, promising equality to the commoners in exchange for their loyalty. These are usually marker as cannon fodder; Ailil has no intention of giving up their noble rights and privileges.

The blazon of House Ailil is sable, a rampant dragon argent, between four stars argent. (A silver dragon rampant between four silver stars on a black background.)

Boon: Sidhe of House Ailil are expert political manipulators. All rolls involving Manipulation are made at -1 difficulty. Members of House Ailil can never Botch on Subterfuge of Politics rolls.

Flaw: Those of House Ailil come form the line of kings. Because of their belief in their own fitness to riles, they are complacent. Members of Ailil take on things others would shy away from, believing that they will succeed just by virtue of their own cunning or talent. They must make a willpower roll in noncombat situations (difficulty 8) to admit they are wrong, even when its is obvious. If they back down from a situation (such as a battle they cannot win), they suffer +1 difficulty to all social rolls until they can gain some sort of victory that restores their confidence and face. This make take the form of abusing those underlings who cannot fight back.

Unaffiliated Houses

House Scathach

The most mysterious sidhe on Earth are those of the enigmatic House Scathach. The house is named after its founder, the famous Scathach n Uanaind. Scathach was the most famous of Ireland's female warriors. Born of a union between human and fae, her house continues this tradition. Unlike all other sidhe, the nobility of this house chose to introduce themselves into human bloodlines, much like the common kith. As a result of this, they fared better during the Shattering. Many other sidhe (especially Traditionalists), however, consider them impute and question whether they are true sidhe at all. Whatever their heritage, they are considered to have the best Soothsayers among the sidhe. Most of their actions are in accordance with the advice of their Morphean Oracles.

Fierce, silent and deadly, members of this warrior house are adept at all forms of combat. They neither possess nor desire political power in noble society. Theories about their true agends run rampant (though they are obviously Selie). Most of the members of this house dress achromatically (blacks, whites and grays). They have garnered the nickname "Gray Walkers" because of this practice. Their eyes are usually gray or icy blue. They are usually reserved in their demeanor. The sidhe of this house are widely traveled than the other houses (even House Liam) and are, as a result, even more ethnically diverse. During the Interregnum they spread as far as the Middle East, where they still maintain a strong presence.

The house has a near-legendary reputation among the commoners. They are, however, rarely seen. Despite their strange ways, they are generally well regarded by the commoners, who learned to trust them during the Interregnum. House Scathach patrols the fringes of fae society. Many believe that it protects the far (noble and commoner) from powerful enemies of old. Certainly, it forges strange alliances. Among the fae they are closest to the eshu, who also share their love of the road. They are also rumored to have contacts among the Prodigals, most notably the vampire Gangrel, the Silent Striders and even the Ahl-i-Batin. Few, if any, outsiders know what their blazon is.

Boon: Those of House Scathach are silent and efficient warriors. They rarely make any sound, even while fighting. (This causes great consternation in their foes.) They receive an extra die on all Brawl and Melee rolls. Additionally, they make all Stealth rolls at a -1 difficulty.

Flaw: Because of their human heritage, sidhe of this house do not have Banality's Curse. They do, however, exhibit a strange madness in combat. Once entering a fight, they lose sight of almost everything else. Although a member of this house will not attack friends (or even bystanders), she has great difficulty leaving a battle until either she, or her enemies, are defeated. (Willpower roll: difficulty 7, three successes needed to retreat.)

Special Note: House Scathach is looked down upon by most nobles. All Social rolls with other sidhe (expect Houses Fiona and Liam) are at +2 difficulty. Furthermore, because of an ancient blood pact, they are forbidden to use the Art of Sovereign. This ban is enforced by the full weight of the Dreaming.