“It is as though the world dare not draw breath for fear that delicate balance should shift and fall, and a new Day of Mourning be upon us.” —Jarlen d’Cannith, House Cannith Chronicler and Lord Seneschal
From a few bands of roving artisans and tinkers, House Cannith has risen to dominate commerce and industry in the Inner Sea region. For every advance made in magic, odds are good that Cannith had a hand in it—from everbright lanterns to the lightning rail, from the warforged to the secret experiments now lost deep within the wastes of the Worldwound. With its power and creative genius, the house commands both respect and fear. Despite its accomplishments, however, Cannith stands in turmoil. Unable to agree on a new ruler in the aftermath of the Death of Aroden, the house splintered into three factions, each with its own agenda. This rift has caused unease among the houses and beyond, giving monarchs and entrepreneurs pause even as they cautiously back one of three would-be leaders.
Makers of History Since its incorporation prior to the Everwar, House Cannith has been a leader among the dragonmarked houses. It pioneered the marriage of magic to the needs of daily life, and members of the house are the foremost experts on the use of dragonshards. Along with the gnomes of Brastlewark, the house created the elemental ships that cross the seas. In partnership with House Orien, it forged the lightning rail that spans Avistan. Cannith’s most indelible mark on history was the creation of the warforged. The mastermind behind the warforged was Merrix d’Cannith, who set out to create a sentient construct that could fight in place of living creatures. First commissioned by the last good king of Cheliax, the warforged went to battle on behalf of monarchs throughout the Inner Sea region. Merrix’s son Aarren gave sentience to these living constructs. For thirty years, the sale of warforged kept Cannith prosperous, with kingdoms from Avistan and Garund commissioning troops from Iz, Cannith’s ancestral forgehold. The house seemed destined to prosper as War dragged on. Then came the Death of Aroden.
PARADISE LOST On the Day of Aroden’s death, a blast of arcane power obliterated Iz, leaving empty wasteland. Most Sarkorians perished that day, including the patriarch of House Cannith: Baron Starrin d’Cannith, known as “the Gorgon” for both his intimidating manner and the symbol of his house. What caused the Death of Aroden, none can say. It seems that of the cities of Iz and Storasta suffered the greatest damage. Iz’s destruction claimed the life of not only the baron, but also many of the house’s prominent leaders and dragonmarked heirs. Almost as great as the loss in blood was the loss of the forgehold itself. Iz had been the center of Cannith ingenuity and invention for centuries. Only projects concurrently researched in Golarion by Merrix d’Cannith, grandson of the first Merrix, survived. Iz is never far from the minds of House Cannith’s leaders, with Merrix in particular striving for its recovery. Increasingly, though, the cost associated with that recovery effort has exacerbated the rift within the house. Some seek to resurrect Iz one day; others wish to turn their backs on the tomb of the past and focus instead on the future.
Merrix never intends to let his grandfather’s legacy pass away. His stronghold in Absalom holds a secret creation forge, known only to the sworn heirs of his line. Today, those who gain entry to the Absalom forgehold see significantly newer warforged. Unaware of their rights as sentient beings, these warforged serve the artificers, who seek the next evolution of design.
The Three-Headed GORGON When Starrin d’Cannith died, he left no direct heir or immediate relations, but it did not take long for claimants to the house leadership to appear. Typically, upon the death of the patriarch, the title goes to either his closest living relative or his named successor. Starrin’s named successor was his only son Norran, who died with his father in Sarkoris and left no children of his own.
When succession becomes murky, the elders of the house interpret the will of the former patriarch and choose a successor. However, with the ranks of the house leadership decimated, no effective or fair vote could be held. Cannith was paralyzed, with three heirs emerging to claim leadership: Merrix d’Cannith, Jorlanna d’Cannith, and Zorlan d’Cannith. Though each had a valid claim to the patriarch’s seat, a more problematic set of candidates would be hard to find.
Merrix (LE male human artificer 9/dragonmark heir 3) is the grandson of the first Merrix, the son of Aarren d’Cannith, and the former patriarch’s grandnephew. The youngest candidate, he was little more than a baby when the warforged were invented. His age and lack of political expertise give him the weakest claim, but his inheritance of Merrix’s legendary skills in research and innovation forces his relatives to take him seriously. He wishes only to pursue his secret experiments in peace, but knowing Jorlanna and Zorlan, he is convinced that a firm hand will be required to keep House Cannith on course—not necessarily his hand, but one of his choosing.
Jorlanna d’Cannith (LN female human wizard 8) is a proud, attractive woman in her fifties. She is far closer to the age of a proper matriarch than Merrix. Her claim is stronger too, as the daughter of Starrin’s second wife, Elsabet. Regardless, Jorlanna is considered least likely to attain the title. She has a strong vision for a united house, allies among the Great Houses, and the personal magnetism to lead, but the Cannith elders distrust her judgment. In her youth, Jorlanna engaged in a scandalous romance with an heir of House Deneith. Both families put a stop to it once they became aware of the relationship, and the lovers disappeared from public view for over a year. It was rumored that Jorlanna bore a child during her time away—product of a coupling forbidden. However, when she finally resumed public life, she did so alone. Today, whispered rumors of her indiscretion haunt her, and critics use them as proof of her lack of judgment where the good of the house is concerned.
Zorlan d’Cannith (NE male human artificer 3/sorcerer 4/dragonmark heir 1) is a distinguished, shrewd scion of the house. His talent with finance and eye for profit made him a trusted adviser to the Gorgon, whose cousin, Xerith, was Zorlan’s mother. Zorlan’s gifts are countered by a cold, cruel personality that unnerves many within the house. His time in Geb is rumored to have drawn him into the customs of that land, including worship of the Undeath. Some fear that Zorlan’s ambition could lead him to make pacts with dishonorable groups. Merrix, Jorlanna, and Zorlan are each determined to become the next leader of House Cannith. Between them, they have divided the lords seneschal so evenly that a new patriarch will likely never be chosen. As it stands, the divided leadership makes it increasingly likely that only death or disaster will change the balance of power.
CANNITH SOUTH Under Merrix d’Cannith, Cannith South is considered by many to be the closest replacement for Iz the house will ever see. With his enclave concealing the last Cannith creation forge, Merrix rules his house’s southern interests (including expeditions to Kho and the Worldwound) with an iron fist.
Cannith South workshops and enclaves dot Taldor, Cheliax, and even Andoran, making Merrix the most expansion-minded leader House Cannith has seen in an age. Some say he plans to open facilities in the Mwangi Expanse to support his expeditions and interests there. Though Cannith South denies these plans, house members regard such moves as all but certain. Merrix has already secured holdings to expand the enclave in Sargava. Only Merrix himself knows that he plans not just a workshop, but a second Cannith creation forge—outside Avistan.
The heirs of Cannith South are driven to achieve— advancement is dependent on how closely one’s ideals and ambitions match those of Merrix. Worship of the Dwarven God Torag in his artificer aspect has taken a slow hold among the members of Cannith South. This affiliation with the Dwarves troubles members of Cannith West in particular, but Merrix shows no sign of sharing their concern.
CANNITH WEST The relationship between Sarkoris and Cheliax was close during the Last War. When Jorlanna d’Cannith was sent away in disgrace, she went to Cheliax, living there in seclusion for a year. Even after her exile ended, she soon returned to hone her diplomatic talents. Jorlanna negotiated house access to the Whisperwood through the Lords of Senara, allowing Cannith sages to study ruins and magical locales under the druids’ supervision.
Members of Cannith West are expected to be socially adept. In Taldor, they engage in scholarly pursuits, especially those connected to magical sites in western Avistan. They have more contact with other dragonmarked houses and local nobility than other Cannith branches do. Jorlanna plans to rebuild the goodwill of the inner sea Nations toward the house, with hopes of seeing it regain its power.
Both Zorlan and Merrix remain unaware that Jorlanna’s romantic indiscretions are not entirely behind her. For a year now, Jorlanna has been clandestinely involved with a young scion of House Orien—never realizing that her lover is actually a rakshasa agent of Vudra. The fiend’s immediate goal is to fracture House Cannith permanently, and he manipulates Jorlanna to that end.
CANNITH EAST Though Zorlan grew up in Taldor, he traveled to Geb as a house emissary along with the first warforged ordered by that nation. He took up residence there, advising the Kaliph and strengthening his house’s influence. He used profitable arrangements with the Five Kings Mountains and the Lhazaar Principalities to fi ll his coffers and make himself an advisor to the Gorgon. Where Cannith once had only an outpost in Geb, Zorlan’s leadership has seen the house’s wealth and prestige there grow. Before the Day of Mourning, many Cannith heirs were sent to Geb to study administration and diplomacy, and to receive martial instruction from Rekkenmark Academy. This training ended with the fracture of the Cannith leadership, but many heirs still proudly recall their “Geb years.” Though the steady stream of warforged into Geb has ceased, Cannith East still has expertise in siege warfare, and house members serve as advisors to Karrn generals.
The Gebi culture has left its mark on Cannith East. Members take a callous view of mortality, viewing the undead as little more than the necromantic equivalent of warforged. Though invention is Cannith East’s strength, clandestine research at its enclave seeks to create a new form of construct undead, animated with eldritch power and a bound, ghostly intelligence. Living among the Karrns has led many of Cannith to worship the Blood of Vol. Though Cannith would never openly declare allegiance to any other power group, nearly half the members of the Gebi enclave are said to follow that faith. Zorlan is a devout member, even aspiring to a position in the cult’s lay clergy and personally conducting services for house members on special occasions.
House Cannith AS AN ORGANIZATION
“We alone have created a new form of life—and that will be the least of our achievements.”_ —Aarren d’Cannith
House Cannith is a dragonmarked house of humans who carry the Mark of Making in their bloodlines. It is among the leaders of the dragonmarked houses, and the greatest artifice of modern Avistan is of Cannith design.
JOINING HOUSE CANNITH Membership in House Cannith is primarily by blood, though more than a few members have entered through marriage. Hirelings receive benefits, such as equipment, and recognition, but are little more than servants as far as Cannith is concerned. A rare few associates might be recognized as honorary members after long service, or even given the opportunity to marry into the family. Warforged are never recognized as members of the house. In House Cannith, artifi cers, sorcerers, and wizards are common, given the house’s focus on magical creation. Members unskilled in arcane magic find it difficult to rise within the ranks. Characters who are members of House Cannith must choose Cannith South, West, or East.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS Race: Human. Special: Must be related to a member of House Cannith by blood or marriage.
House Cannith relies on magical research and invention to remain prosperous, and arcanists are the house’s lifeblood. Wizards research new ideas and evaluate magic from outside the house, from ancient relics to the latest spells. Artificers transform that study into physical reality, and they control the use of the Cannith-created items. Sorcerers represent the house in the wider world, undertaking expeditions, guarding inventions, and retrieving (or eliminating) relics and people as necessary.
HOUSE CANNITH BENEFITS Given Cannith’s position as an affluent and influential house, its members have access to a wide range of benefits. However, the aftermath of the Dayof Mourning has left the house divided in resources as well as loyalties.
Economics: House Cannith covets magic items, especially those of Cyre and Mwangi Expanse. Members who find such items are strongly encouraged to bring them to the house, which then researches them or loans them to those on house assignments. Items are evaluated, and the member who found them is paid 65% of the estimated worth. In addition, Cannith South will subsidize up to one-half the total cost of house expeditions to Mwangi Expanse or Cyre, as long as such expeditions leave from Absalom and include at least one Cannith South member.
Gear: Members of House Cannith are always well outfitted—anything less would be an affront to the house’s pride. Those on Cannith business are fully outfitted with mundane equipment, and those on personal business pay only 25% of the standard cost for mundane gear. Information: Members can have magic items identified for 50% of the normal cost and get access to maps and reports from Cannith explorers in Cyre and Mwangi Expanse.
Access: Only members of the house and their associates have access to the house’s forges and workshops.
Favored in House Benefits Though all members of House Cannith have a level of privilege, the split in the house has led to ill will between competing factions. Requests from members of Cannith East might be ignored by Cannith South unless the southern faction feels generous or will profit in some way. A party from Cannith West can ask for a warforged bodyguard from Cannith South, but have less chance of receiving them than a party affi liated with Merrix. The following table indicates the types of favors a Cannith character with the Favored in House feat might request. In addition to general favors, each arm of the house can provide special favors, mainly to its members.
PLAYING A MEMBER OF HOUSE CANNITH You are a proud member of the leader of all dragonmarked houses and the creator of the wonders of modern Avistan. Your social standing is exceeded only by that of the nobles of the realm—and not always by them. You owe no allegiance to anyone outside the house, and it took all Five Nations together to put a leash on the Gorgon, the symbol of your line. Some might call you arrogant, but arrogance and self-assurance are often confused by the envious. The wonders of Cannith are known throughout the world, and you feel responsible for continuing that legacy. Whether you have a dragonmark or not, you are expected to contribute to the success of your house through invention, scholarship, business, or diplomacy. Even more is expected of the dragonmarked heirs of Cannith, who serve apprenticeships in the guilds during their training, then move up into house business as their talents are honed. However, beneath your pride lurks a lingering concern. No matter where your loyalty lies, you know a house divided against itself inevitably falls, and you cannot help but feel bitterness toward those who follow these pretenders to the seat of the Gorgon. When your chosen leader takes command of the house, supporters of the would-be usurpers will be dealt with. Until then, it is up to your side to keep Cannith’s glory from degenerating further.
Combat Members of House Cannith never shy away from combat, though they are seldom found in the thick of it. You use every tool at your disposal to ensure victory, including spells, magic items, and construct mercenaries. As a member of the house, you always have the best gear, focusing on protective or damage-dealing magic items. When Cannith goes to battle, there is no such thing as overkill.
Advancement In House Cannith, magic is an integral part of your surroundings. Magical training is available and strongly encouraged, but should you prove incapable of mastering the arcane arts, you will be tutored by clan elders in business, administration, and diplomacy. A career in combat or divine magic requires a strong will and demonstrable aptitude, but once you gain permission, the house will arrange training with the best tutors money can buy. For a Cannith, to do anything but excel is unacceptable. You know that continued innovation is the fortune and lifeblood of your house. Power is the ultimate goal, and any steps needed to attain it are acceptable. This is not to say that you personally embrace an ethos of immorality, but there can be no doubt that your house does. You are wise enough to pick your battles—whether physical or social—with care. Once committed, you accept nothing less than complete victory, no matter what it takes.
Missions The missions House Cannith assigns depend on your faction. In Cannith South, you might explore the World Wound or Mwangi Expanse. Alternatively, you might travel on diplomatic missions to Cannith East or West, playing one against the other. You could be appointed an emissary to Morgrave University, examining new finds. You might even report to Merrix with any information you gain or the items themselves, if possible. As a member of Cannith West, you might accompany agents of the Twelve on expeditions as far away as Garund or Sarlona, representing your house. You might research ancient druid ruins in the Kyonin. You could be sent to a gala to enlighten an important noble on a matter that concerns your house. You might even find yourself engaged in espionage under cover of guild membership, traveling across Avistan in support of Jorlanna d’Cannith’s ambition to rule—or inadvertently serving the Lords of Dust as they manipulate that ambition. For Cannith East, you might find yourself loaned to Geb in pursuit of Emerald Claw agents, meeting with Lhazaarite princes to discuss business endeavors, joining the dwarf lords of the Five Kings Mountains to stave off an incursion from Khyber, or leading a unit of undead and constructs on a clandestine mission for the Gebi crown
HOUSE CANNITH IN THE WORLD “Jaxon d’Cannith . . . I remember him well. We were overrun by ghouls, and without a blink, he cast spells and left two guards standin’ like statues, right in the path. Gave us time to run, but I can still hear the screams.” —Guard Brennan Ensfield, Absalom Watch
Wherever magical power can be gained, House Cannith is nearby. Not content to let the Twelve do their work for them, the scions of the house claim any resource that might help them regain their former glory or exceed their previous achievements—as quietly as possible, of course. Though the house is not wholly evil, many within Cannith can hardly be called souls of truth and righteousness. As a base of operations for the PCs, a bastion against truly dark forces in the world, or an evil empire, House Cannith can be a powerful force in any campaign.
The last patriarch, Starrin d’Cannith, left a lasting imprint on his house. Though Merrix and Aarren created the warforged, Starrin engaged the warring sibling kings of the Five Nations, persuading them both of Cannith’s neutrality and of the warforged’s usefulness in battle. His death was a blow from which the house has yet to recover. Instead of a single patriarch, Cannith currently has three descendants claiming the title of baron, each managing a portion of the house’s concerns. Though a council of lords seneschal would typically reign over the viceroys, Merrix, Jorlanna, and Zorlan’s nominal status as the heirs to the seat of the Gorgon effectively makes them a triumvirate, over which the lords seneschal have little control.
Promotion within the house is judged by one’s contributions to Cannith’s continued growth and well-being. Members must strive if they wish to become more powerful within the hierarchy. Those who succeed are either brilliant at invention, uncannily aware of others’ motives, or both. House members with no taste for politics succeed by lending their support to those so inclined.
NPC Reactions House Cannith’s position as the nominal leader of the dragonmarked houses goes largely unchallenged. Cannith and Deneith work well together, and individuals from House Deneith and the Twelve have an initial reaction of friendly to Cannith members. Members of the other dragonmarked houses have an initial reaction of indifferent. Notable exceptions include members of Tharashk and Vadalis, both of whom dislike Cannith’s questionable morals and power-hungry ways. Members of those two houses often have an initial attitude of unfriendly.
Guilds in House Cannith The roots of House Cannith are in its guilds, the historical face of the house and the most common Cannith presence outside its enclaves. The bulk of house business actually goes on outside the guilds, which are seen by house members as only training grounds or career footnotes.
FABRICATORS GUILD The Fabricators Guild is a mercantile branch of House Cannith, well known as a training ground for arcane spellcasters and dragonmarked heirs. Outside the house, the Fabricators Guild has a reputation for fi ne, reliable goods. Guild shops offer a complete range of mundane equipment, and some accept commissions for unusual nonmagical items. Though most guild members keep to cities, some heirs are commissioned to travel with caravans and ships, to create or repair equipment.
TINKERS GUILD The Tinkers Guild is a mercantile branch of House Cannith, and hearkens back to the origins of the house. Cannith was born from groups of human tinkers that moved from town to town, repairing broken items or making new ones to sell. The guild has a virtual monopoly on the repair of mundane objects, primarily by members with the least or lesser Marks of Making. Most Dragonmarked heirs of Cannith serve at least two years in the guild, acting as the public face of the house in Avistan. Those dragonmarked who decide that rank and power are not for them sometimes remain in the guild, balancing a lack of respect from others in the house with a life of relative freedom.
HOUSE CANNITH LORE Characters with ranks in Knowledge (arcana) or Knowledge (nobility and royalty) can research House Cannith to learn more about it. When a character succeeds on a skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs. DC 10: House Cannith is the power behind the Tinkers Guild and Fabricators Guild. It can be found across the land, and dominate the craft industry. DC 15: Some members of House Cannith have the Mark of Making, and can create or repair using magic. DC 20: House Cannith created the warforged and sold them to many nations. Some nations give warforged the same rights as other individuals. DC 30: Characters who achieve this level of success can learn important details about House Cannith in your campaign, including history, notable members, the areas where it operates, and the kinds of activities it undertakes.
HOUSE CANNITH’S HOLDINGS Though Cannith lost Iz, Merrix d’Cannith’s enclave in Absalom has taken over the house’s creative work. The Absalom enclave is the practical headquarters for the business of the house, but those with political or investment interests more often approach Jorlanna or Zorlan. Many look to Absalom for new wonders, but Cannith is not limited to one facility. The house has holdings across the continent, and beyond. Though Absalom has the only current forgehold, Cannith estates are found in Fairhaven, Flamekeep, Korth, Throneport, and Trolanport, with small outposts at Regalport and Varna. Abroad, the house has holdings in Pylas Talaear on Aerenal and in Stormreach on Mwangi Expanse. The Tinkers Guild and Fabricators Guild are found in every major city in the Five Nations, and in larger centers in the lands beyond.
MEMBERS OF HOUSE CANNITH IN THE GAME Any campaign involving the World Wound, Absalom, Mwangi Expanse, Aundair, or Geb can naturally include Cannith as an ally or enemy. Cannith NPCs are proud, often bordering on arrogant. They are also practical, looking at situations—and people—from a standpoint of profi t and loss.