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Author Topic: Savage Age: Argyrian Empire  (Read 107339 times)
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« Reply #120 on: August 11, 2012, 10:30:27 AM »

House Triantis

Note

  • Family Name: Triantis (masculine), Triantissa (feminine)
  • Current Leader: Patrocles Triantis
  • Motto: A hidden hand is stronger than a revealed one

If knowledge is power, then secret knowledge is all the more so. This simple truth is taken to heart by every member of the machiavellian House Triantis. Masters of the clandestine game of espionage and blackmail, the Trianteis are a force to be feared and respected. Over the course of centuries they have carefully assembled a vast and perplexingly convoluted network of spies, infiltrators, conspirators and puppets, orchestrated via chains of expendable intermediaries so that any attempts to follow these links to their source may be easily halted, or diverted into a maze of false leads and decoys. With these eyes and ears placed in every corner of the Empire, there is very little that can be concealed from House Triantis. At the same time the noble family guards it's own secrets with such vigilance and paranoia that few among it's ranks are privy to them all.

To the outside, the house is always careful to show only a benign facade designed to alleviate suspicions. Although the Trianteis have inevitably acquired a somewhat insidious reputation over generations of extortion and intrigue, the true extent and depth of their operations remains a mystery even to the most perceptive of their rivals. The alliances they forge tend to be shaky and short-lived, albeit ones that usually serve their goals well. The Trianteis are not particularly focused on any one field of business, prefering to spread their interests far and wide so as to not keep all their eggs in one basket - like the hydra with it's many heads, their fortunes would be difficult to eradicate.

Members of House Triantis usually lead very successful and profitable political careers, climbing the ladder of promotions swiftly. Those who stand in their way often end up discredited by sudden exposure of scandalous information, or unexpectedly stepping aside of their own volition, conveniently clearing the path for the aspiring Triantis. Towns and cities ruled by governors from the noble family tend to be remarkably clean, orderly and bereft of crime, at least at the first glance. Malicious rumours sometimes imply that such state of affairs stems from illicit deals between the governors and the local crime-lords.
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« Reply #121 on: April 29, 2013, 03:54:54 PM »

Furies

Minor death-goddesses that revel in carnage. Drawn like corpse flies to the ominous scent of bloodshed, they scour fields of battle, hunting down the souls of the fallen and dragging them screaming into the Underworld. They occupy a secondary role as the dread handmaidens of Amazon, and intervene in mortal affairs on her behalf. Other gods sometimes call upon their services, dispatching bands of Furies to exact terrible punishments upon those that have desecrated temples or otherwise violated religious taboos; in this aspect they are seen as enforces or divine justice. In art they have been traditionally depicted as naked female figures with aberrantly vicious faces, vulturine wings and crooked fingers ending in sharp talons.

Furies are greatly feared, and various measures are taken to avoid accidentally drawing their attention, though it is acknowledged that they will inevitably haunt any place where violence has happened on a large scale. Curses on the other hand often invoke them deliberately, counting upon their formidable power as well as their willingness to meddle in the affairs of mortals. Due to their vassalage to Amazon, they are closely associated with the Cult of Amazon and it's warrior-priestesses -- indeed, it is sometimes claimed that particularly fierce Amazonids will join the ranks of the Furies after death.

There are no temples or shrines dedicated to the Furies, although some locations are considered to be sacred to them or otherwise connected to them; such places are wisely shunned by people.

Tritons

Minor sea-gods, generally considered to be descendants of Thalasses (with various mates) but sometimes said to have sprung from the loins of the enigmatic Old Man of the Sea. They are organized into tribes, each one ruled by it's founding forefather-prince. Tritons are fickle and hedonistic, but also highly aggressive and quick to anger -- in ancestral folklore they often follow bizzarre and inscrutable codes of conduct, taking insult from the most unexpected things.

In their wrath they might lay waste to entire coastal villages, emerging from the sea in the dead of night to slay and plunder with reckless abandon, leaving no survivors behind. They also have a more benevolent aspect, and may be persuaded to help mortals in various ways: protecting a boat caught in a storm, luring fish into a fisherman's nets, returning items lost at sea, etc. They are depicted as possessing many monstrous features: lidless fish-eyes, matted green hair that resembles seaweed, dark clammy skin, sharp pointed teeth, webbed fingers, and a scaly lower body resembling the tail of a fish -- except when they choose to walk on land, which they may do in the dark hours between dusk and dawn. They wear no clothes and make use of no tools but are fond of jewelry, especially pearls.

Tritons are venerated by all the peoples dwelling near the sea (which includes the majority of all Argyrian peoples), and communal rites, taking place on the beaches, are diligently observed in all shoreside communities. Sacrafices are offered by drowning piglets and chickens, and by pouring wine into the sea. Most temples of Thalasses include a shrine to the local tribe of Tritons, and small idols of carved stone have often been erected to overlook ritual sites.
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« Reply #122 on: April 30, 2013, 01:41:38 PM »

S the furies will haunt/inhabit old battlefields, etc...can certain rites, rituals, or spells negate/minimize this?
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« Reply #123 on: April 30, 2013, 03:40:46 PM »

Probably not negate, but there should be rituals to lessen the danger of drawing their attention. Not that such a danger would be very high to begin with, it's more like something to be used when plot demands it.

P.S. It's not just the Furies that (are assumed to) haunt such places. Bloodthirsty ghosts should be the bigger concern, at least if you listen to the peasants that refuse to go near yonder hills with all the uncremated dead left there a few generations back...
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« Reply #124 on: June 29, 2013, 02:25:36 PM »

Therania


One of the largest of the Empire's regions, Therania is a land of contradictions. In times of old it was a rustic frontier land known for it's abundance of game. It has since those days become the heart of the Empire, home to the glorious capital city of Atarneon and a host of lesser cities. It is urbanized, sophisticated and prosperous. Yet it's population is largely concentrated by the southern coast and along the great Triton River, which meanders slowly across the land.



The flood-plains and valleys are carefully cultivated, covered by seemingly endless stretches of fields and orchards fed by irrigation canals. Beyond this rural zone sprawls a great and menacing wilderness; primeval forests and feral highlands that yet resist the encroachement of mankind. Nowhere is this disparity manifest as starkly as in the ancient Forest of Satyrs that marks the northern border of Therania. It's impassable thickets, haunted by sylvan spirits, stand as a reminder of the untamed primal world that preceded the rise of civilization.
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« Reply #125 on: June 29, 2013, 02:28:13 PM »

Orestia


Orestia is the Empire's eastern borderland, guarding against forays of the Erytanians and the savage tribes of the Numerians. Located on the opposite side of the Polemos Mountains from Acropalaea, Orestia is markedly less developed and wealthy, though it does take it's share of the mineral riches from beneath those infamous peaks. Towns and cities are scattered along the southern coast and by the swampy floodplains of the great river Ladon.



The landscape is dominated by jagged, rocky hills, punctured by narrow ravines and river gorges. Gaunt parapets of military fortifications stand austerely upon the desolate summits, overlooking serpentine roads vigilantly patroled by companies of Imperial troops. Population is concentrated on walled towns and palisaded villages of tightly-packed buildings along narrow streets. Despite the cramped conditions these centers are rife with vibrant activity and traffic, a flow of people and carts going to and fro.
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« Reply #126 on: June 29, 2013, 02:34:53 PM »

Auria


Auria was once host to an old and illustrious civilization, one that plays an important role in the epics of Argyrian mythology. Little now remains of the ancient Aurians, save for their language and local customs. Their land, once so fabled, has long since been conquered and colonized by the Argyrian Empire. It is a rich land, blessed with fertile valleys and deposits of red-hued gold. It's cities are old but vigorous, centers of thriving industry. The people are pacified but maintain their ancestral grudge against their neighbours to the north, the Cerberians, over a centuries-long violent rivalry.



The geography of Auria is quite hospitable. The eastern portions of the land are the least populated, being ridged by mountains and canyons. The southern section, bordering Carantia, is dominated by a series of lakes connected by navigable rivers that form a heavily trafficked waterway. It is along this corridor of extensively cultivated river valleys that the greatest cities of Auria are located. The interior of northern and central Auria is characterized by picturesque landscapes of deciduous forests, pastoral valleys and gently sloping hills often terraced with vineyards. Population centers are mostly found along rivers and the coastline. The northeast is a small but densely populated area squeezed between the Gulf of Cerberia and the Aetic Mountains, dominated by the great city of Sophoris.
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« Reply #127 on: June 29, 2013, 02:38:16 PM »

Cerberia


The land of Cerberia takes it's name from the great Cerberos River, known for the bitter black waters that stream through it. The origins of this waterway stream out of limestone caves puncturing the western slopes of the Aetic Mountains; unexplored caverns believed to be an entrance into the Underworld. Much of the region is comprised of the river's basin, riddled by branching tributaries and streams. These lesser rivers course through austere highlands and densely forested hills, cutting valleys across the terrain, which gradually flattens into vast floodplains around the main branch of the Cerberos and near the coast. These flatlands are cultivated where arable, but much of them is made up of treacherous marshes and fetid swamps.



Throughout much of the Empire's history, Cerberia has been either foreign soil fiercely defended by it's proud natives, or else a loosely controlled frontier plagued by internal unrest and border incursions. It is only in the time of the latest generations that the region has begun to be more securely integrated into the Argyrian sphere, although most Cerberians still cling strongly to their traditional ways. The western portion of Cerberia now forms the Empire's border against the Minarians, and those Cerberian tribes that yet live free from it's yoke. This stretch of land is thoroughly militarized, fortified by numerous strongholds, watchtowers and defensive walls.
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« Reply #128 on: June 29, 2013, 02:41:02 PM »

Ophidiana


The southern quarter of the island of Thymbria, Ophidiana is a treacherous land in many ways. It is a hotbed of volcanic activity, wracked by frequent tremors, fissures and eruptions. The landscape is scarred by old lava flows from the volcanic peaks of the southern Ceratops Mountains, and geysirs and volcanic springs are scattered across the terrain. The soil is quite porous and sometimes forms sudden sinkholes that may swallow entire houses. Despite the natural hazards, the land and the fishing waters along the shoreline provide adequate livelihood for the population.



Urban settlements are largely confined to the coast, in natural harbours that receive much maritime traffic. Inland areas are relatively inaccessible, being wilderness dotted with isolated villages. The lack of a proper road network makes overland travel slow and dangerous. The range of uninhabited land forms a haven for wildlife, and Ophidiana is known for it's abundance of fauna - poisonous snakes in particular.
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« Reply #129 on: July 24, 2013, 02:04:44 PM »

Theatre
Theatre is among the most highly regarded forms of art in the Empire. It boasts a long tradition that stems from the very dawn of civilization, allegedly taught to mortals by the goddess of inspiration. Argyrian theatre makes use of a minimal number of actors on stage, rarely exceeding three speaking roles. In addition to the actors, theatrical performances include a chorus that narrates the story in verse and sets the mood for each scene. Musical accompaniment is provided by a flutist playing an aulos (double pipe).

To the masses, theatre may be simple entertainment, but for the upper classes it provides avenues for social intercourse and intrigues. The ability to proficiently discuss the deeper aspects of a play, drawing comparisons to renowned classics, is an effective way to cultivate a public image of oneself as a sophisticated connoisseur. The stirring drama of Argyrian theatre can excite powerful emotional reactions in the most stoic of men, and such reactions can be quite telling, revealing aspects of one's character that one might normally keep concealed. By observing the reactions of one's rivals in the theatre, a perceptive aristocrat might learn valuable information about them.

Genres
There are three recognized genres in Argyrian theatre: tragedies, comedies and satyr plays.

Tragedy is the oldest and original form of theatre, which arose initially as a part of ritual - of myths and legends being acted out during religious festivals. For a long time, ALL theatrical plays were tragedies, and to this day tragedy continues to be the most prominent genre by far, to the point that all other genres are considered to be inferior to it. A playwright will not garner any respect or recognition until he has produced at least one adequate play of tragedy, no matter how good his works on other genres may be. Traditionally the plots and subject matter for tragedies have been drawn from mythology, especially the many tales about deified heroes. However, the more modern tragedies may also base their plots on historical events and characters, and even on entirely fictional ones.

Satyr Play was the first "new" genre to emerge and gain acceptance. It's invention is conventionally attributed to Lamprias of Saros, a controversial playwright from the Golden Age. Lamprias recognized that the harrowing melancholy of his tragedies tended to leave the audience deppressed and wanting for a relief, and thought to provide such by adding a brief sideshow to be performed after the actual play. These supplementary after-plays were outrageous spectacles, with actors dressed as satyrs and nymphs and shown engaging in obscenities that challenged the boundaries of common propriety. These minor sideshows survived the initial reaction of shock and revile leveled at them, and over time they evolved into the longer and more ambitious form of the present era satyr play. Although the modern genre retains the provocative nature of it's roots, these plays now also contain meaningful plots that engage the audience on a deeper level, and provide satirical commentary on social mores or recent events. Even so, satyr plays are almost never treated as standalone productions, but are instead performed as accompaniments to a "main" play of another genre.

Comedy grew out of the early satyr plays, as many playwrights and their patrons desired for a way to provide relief without resorting to the often uncouth, juvenilely rebellious (and not to mention politically dangerous) antics of Lamprian debauchery. The first comedies were similar, short sideshows with simple plots, played either after a tragedy or between two halves of one. Rather than seeking to shock the audience, they strove to entertain and evoke laughter. These shows proved extremely popular and quickly spread to all the major cities in the Argyrian world. The hardships and uncertainty of life during the Age of Chaos were a major catalyst to the development of comedy, as the people found in these jovial plays a means to brush aside their woes. Though it was met with some resistance from more conservative circles, comedy was eventually accepted as a full-fledged genre that could be performed on it's own. Present era comedies feature plots nearly as complex as those of tragedies, and are laden with subtle themes and intellectual wit that might escape the notice of those without a high level of education, although the masses tend to enjoy the more obvious humor all the same.

Architecture
Argyrian theatres are exclusively open-air sites, consisting of ascending rows of seats laid out on a semicircular stand overlooking a stage. Rising behind the stage is a background building with projecting wings, that contains the dressing rooms and storage for costumes and props. The wall of the building facing toward the stage and the spectators acts as a backdrop, and may be covered with painted panels to display illustrated scenes.
Where possible, the' rows of seats are laid upon natural slopes of hillsides, and all the older theatres have been built in such manner. In the more modern times (over the last three centuries or so) theatre stands have also been erected on stadiums supported by concrete vaults, allowing large stands to be built on a flat landscape.

The most advanced theatres are equipped with various mechanical wonders designed to make the plays more vivid. Such devices include rotating screens to change the backdrop scene, concealed trapdoors on the stage for actors to emerge from, and even cranes that can be used to suspend actors mid-air from wires - this latter invention is most commonly employed to represent gods in flight or descending from the heavens to address the mortal characters on ground.

Actors
The profession of an actor is rife with contradiction. Despite the fact that theatre is considered to be a refined art form and that playwrights are held in high esteem, actors are wieved with suspicion and outright contempt. All actors are men of humble birth, drawn from the unwashed ranks of labouring castes. Their profession is regarded as inherently unclean and morally suspect, often lumped in the same category of vulgar entertainers with dancing-girls and prostitutes. And yet, successful actors may attain a great deal of fame, command large fees for their performances and enjoy the backing of generous patrons.

In large cities, actors tend to be organized into collegiums that take in apprentices and instruct them in the dramatic art. This organization provides them with protection and promotes a high standard of skill and professionalism. Such collegia often offer refuge to orphan boys and sons of impoverished families whose parents cannot afford to feed them. Female actors do not exist, and thus all roles in Argyrian theatre are played by male or eunuch actors.

Masks
Actors wear stylized wooden or ceramic masks with attached hair while on stage. The most elaborate of these masks are veritable works of art in and of themselves, and can be extremely ornate and finely detailed. Their features are twisted, wildly exaggerated to the point of appearing deformed; the purpose being to emphasize particular emotions or personality traits of the character being portrayed. In some plays an actor may change masks between scenes, reflecting the changes in the character's demeanor or role as the plot progresses.


Since an actor's own face is concealed by the mask, he cannot make use of facial expressions to act out his role, and therefore has to rely on his voice and bodily movements to convey emotion. Because of this limitation, Argyrian theatre places much focus on skillful speaking, symbolic poses and gestures. Some masks have their mouth openings shaped so as to amplify the actor's voice, enabling his words to carry clear even to the rearmost rows of seats on the largest of theatres.

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« Reply #130 on: August 20, 2013, 04:41:36 PM »

Wrestling, Boxing and Pankration

There are three kinds of combative full-contact sports practiced by the Argyrians: wrestling, boxing and pankration. The former two are considered to be "soft" civilian sport forms, despite their quite harsh nature; pankration alone is acknowledged as a properly martial form - it was invented by warrior-athletes who lobbied for the inclusion of a contest of personal combat in athletics competitions.

All of these sports are practiced in the nude under open sky, either on a field set aside for athletics or within the palaestra (enclosed courtyard) of a gymnasium. A rectangular patch of ground, flattened and covered with sand, provides the "ring" within which the contestants face off. Referees armed with wooden rods are tasked with ensuring that the athletes stay within this area - there are no ropes or other kinds of walls to fence them in. Matches are not broken into timed rounds like they would be in modern sports. A bout continues until one of the contestants either yields or is rendered unable to continue the struggle. Prolonged matches can turn very taxing and favour the contestant with superior stamina. The referees may also choose to end a match prematurely for any reason (mostly to prevent death in the ring, though they do not always do so timely enough).


Wrestling
Wrestling is regarded as the most sophisticated and elegant of the trio, largely because - despite being vicious by modern standards - it avoids the excess brutality of the other two. It is also considered to be the truest test of physical strength in the field of athletics in general. The elevated status of wrestling stems partially from the fact that it is strongly featured in the mythology of the Argyrians: many of the gods are said to enjoy wrestling, and the ancient heroes of legend were often accomplished wrestlers.

Wrestling is more restricted (some would say watered down) by rules than are boxing and pankration. Intentional strikes are wholly forbidden. A contestant is judged to have taken a fall if either his hip, back or shoulder touches the ground, or if any part of his body touches the ground outside the ring; three falls results in a defeat. Besides throwing his opponent to the ground, a wrestler may employ a variety of holds and joint locks to cause intense pain, strangulation, or the fear of breaking joints, so as to intimidate his opponent into yielding the match. Before entering the ring, wrestlers prepare themselves by rubbing their skin with oil and sprinkling fine sand over it.

Boxing
Argyrian boxing is very different from modern age boxing. A lot of moves that would be illegal or condemned as "dirty tricks" in a modern boxing ring are not only perfectly acceptable, but outright commonplace in Argyrian boxing. The boxers do not wear gloves or any kind of head protection. Depending on local tradition and rules, they either box barehanded, or may wrap their hands with leather thongs. Such bindings protect the fists but do nothing to soften the blows for the one being hit; they actually cause the strikes to tear more savagely into the opponent's flesh. Some boxers even reinforce their wrappings with pieces of brass or iron. Boxing is infamous for frequently resulting in ghastly injuries, and many boxers end up suffering permanent facial disfigurement. It is so common in fact, that stating someone has a "boxer's face" has become a popular insult, the implication being that the subject of the comment is particularly ugly.

Pankration
Pankration isn't a martial art - it is a contest of martial artists. It's rules are very brief and simple: no weapons, no armour, no biting, no crushing of testicles, and no gouging of eyes. Aside from those restrictions just about anything is legal within the ring, making for an extremely brutal sport. Because the minimalistic rules of pankration do not enforce any particular style, matches tend to see contestants from a variety of different "schools" - especially in large tournaments that gather entrees from different cities. Thus a pankrationist can hardly know what to expect from his opponent, unless he happens to know that particular opponent well from previous matches or from being trained under the same instructor. There is an ongoing argument among practicioners of the sport over whether it is a better tactic to strive to keep standing up as long as possible, or to try and take the fight to the ground immediately - most bouts do see the contestants end up grappling on the ground sooner or later.
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« Reply #131 on: August 21, 2013, 09:09:23 PM »

I love a good SA update! Always very informative and well-written.

How diversified are the "schools" in Pankration? Are there competitors from lands beyond or across distant seas, or is it more of a diversity amongst the known Argyrian world? Have mythical creatures (satyrs, minotaur) ever partaken in these events, or is that something more of legend?

Also, Magic the Gathering has an upcoming block called Theros that might be worth drilling for inspiration, if you'd be so inclined. It seems right up your Argyrian alley.
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« Reply #132 on: August 22, 2013, 08:21:56 AM »

Weave

I love a good SA update! Always very informative and well-written.
Glad to hear that! smile

Weave

How diversified are the "schools" in Pankration? Are there competitors from lands beyond or across distant seas, or is it more of a diversity amongst the known Argyrian world? Have mythical creatures (satyrs, minotaur) ever partaken in these events, or is that something more of legend?
There are not really any organized schools as such. Simply that different instructors tend to have their own styles (what they learned from their master, and probably developed further) which differ, sometimes less and sometimes more, from one another's. Some instructors may be so well-known that stating you've been trained by one makes an effective boast. There's probably more variation in styles between regions than there is within a region, though.

Such sports (or variations of them) are also practiced among other civilizations, and definitely among those that border the Empire. At rare occasions extraordinarily distinguished foreigners may be invited to participate in Argyrian athletics events, but by default only citizens have the right to compete.

There are certainly legends about heroes wrestling with powerful creatures such as giants, though not in the context of a formal athletics contest (which are mostly held as part of religious festivals and funerary games).
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« Reply #133 on: August 25, 2013, 01:35:35 PM »

House Coresses

  • Family Name: Coresses (masculine), Coressina (feminine)
  • Current Leader: Arcadios Coresses
  • Motto: To find yourself, think for yourself


Philosophy, especially in it's classical sense as love of wisdom, has always occupied the highest place in the heart and soul of House Coresses. This sagacious noble family cherises it's ancestral pursuit of knowledge and understanding. No expense is spared in ensuring that the young members of the family are provided with the best possible education and tutelage. Perhaps owing to this high standard of upbringing, along with their penchant for critical thinking, the Coressai are exceptionally altruistic for an aristocratic family. They genuinely believe in the betterment of civilization as a whole, including the lot of the underclasses, through the discovery and propagation of truthful knowledge. Even more radically, they are generally pacifistic, dismayed by the violent nature of the world they live in.

Members of the Coresses family are justly famed for their sharp intellect, keen perceptions and skills in debate - talents that serve them as well in the realm of politics as they do in the realm of academics. Due to their reputation Coressai are widely sought after as advisors, councelors and adieutants to governors and other high-ranking bureaucrats; positions that lend their House a great deal of influence over and insight into the plots and machinations being woven throughout the Empire. They are not afraid to leverage this influence, though they do not merely wield it for their own benefit - they also strive to protect the Empire from destructive influences, and to steer it's course toward peace. House Coresses is relatively small for a Great House, and primarily derives it's wealth from patronage over various manufacturing crafts and industries such as potters, glassblowers and cartwrights.
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« Reply #134 on: August 25, 2013, 01:40:41 PM »

House Panaretos

  • Family Name: Panaretos (masculine), Panaretina (feminine)
  • Current Leader: Herondas Panaretos
  • Motto: Nothing is arduous for the willing

Note

Infamously uncompromising in their stoic idealism, the Panaretoi are ever at odds with the more decadent elements of Argyrian society. They firmly believe that weaknesses of the flesh and spirit alike must be culled through practices of discipline and self-denial, that strength and enlightenment are to be gained by enduring hardships, that is it by mastery over his base impulses that Man elevates himself above beasts and closer in likeness to the gods. It is perhaps due to this philosophy that the fortunes of their house have waxed during times of crises and waned during times of prosperity - they have been likened to the stalwart cactus plant, which thrives in the most inhospitable of environs.

Although House Panaretos in fact possesses significant wealth, this is anything but readily apparent. Their abodes are spartan affairs, modest in size and unadorned by luxuries. Members of the family dress in plain linen rather than embroidered silks or cotton, and choose to walk on their own feet rather than being carried on palanquins. Much of their riches lie hidden in secure vaults, or are invested in farmland, cattle and slaves. Their business practices are conservative, focused on self-sufficiency and avoiding high-risk ventures. Panaretoi tend to be most adept in pursuing careers in the spheres of military and bureaucracy, although their stubborn refusal to accept or engage in any kind of bribery hampers their ability to ascend the ladder. The house has also bred many great philosophers and athletes (and not rarely in the same persons) down the history.
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