“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
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 Khorvaire is of Cannith design.
From a few bands of roving artisans and tinkers, House Cannith has risen to dominate commerce and industry in Khorvaire. 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 Mournland.
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 Day of Mourning, the house splintered into four 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 the four would-be leaders.
Makers of History
Since its incorporation prior to the War of the Mark, 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 Zilargo, the house created the elemental ships that cross the seas. In partnership with House Orien, it forged the lightning rail that once spanned Khorvaire.
Cannith’s most indelible mark on history was in 965 YK with 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 King Jarot, the last king of Galifar, the warforged instead went to battle on behalf of his children during the Last War.
Merrix’s son Aarren gave sentience to these living constructs. For thirty years, the sale of warforged kept Cannith prosperous, with each of the Five Nations commissioning troops from Whitehearth, Cannith’s ancestral forgehold. The house seemed destined to prosper as the Last War dragged on. Then came the Day of Mourning.
On the Day of Mourning, a blast of arcane power obliterated Cyre, leaving empty wasteland. Most Cyrans 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 Day of Mourning, none can say. It seems that of the cities of Cyre, Eston suffered the greatest damage. Whitehearth’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. Whitehearth had been the center of Cannith ingenuity and invention for centuries. Only projects concurrently researched in Sharn by Merrix d’Cannith, grandson of the first Merrix, survived. Whitehearth 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 Whiteheart one day; others wish to turn their backs on teh tomb of the past and focus instead on the future.
The Treaty of Thronehold
Two years after the loss of Cyre, the Treaty of Thronehold was signed, putting an end to both the war and the nation of Galifar. No one profits during war like a weaponsmith, and no one suffers as much from war’s end.
For House Cannith, the treaty brought more than the end of a profitable market: The signatory nations recognized the warforged as a free people, due the same rights as other sentient races. The treaty also forbade Cannith from creating more warforged, ensuring that the house’s crowning achievement would be remembered as little more than a bloody postscript to past glory.
Having no choice but to agree to the treaty’s terms, the heads of the fractured house returned to their respective homes, plotting in silence while they went through the motions of retooling House Cannith for peace. Merrix, however, never intended to let his grandfather’s legacy pass away. HIs stronghold in Sharn holds a secret creation forge, known only to the sworn heris of his line.
Today, those who gain entry to Sharn 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 secret rebellion leads Cannith along a dangerous path. Should Merrix’s deception be discovered, Breland and the other nations will have to enforce the treaty – even if it means striking the blow that shatters House Cannith for all time.
The Three-Headed Gorgon
“We alone have created a new form of life – and that will be the least of our achievements.”
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 Cyre 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 patriach’s seat, a more problematic set of candidates would be hard to find.
Merrix d’Cannith 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 to 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 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 Twelve, and the personal magnetism to lead, but the Cannith elders distrust her judgement. In her youth, Jorlana 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 after the War of the Mark. However, when she finally resumed public life, she did so alone. Today, whispered rumors of her indiscretions haunt her, and critics use them as proof of her lack of judgement where the good of the house is concerned.
Zorlan d’Cannith is a distinguished, shrewd scion of the house. His talent with finance and eye for profit made him a trusted advisor 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 Karrnath is rumored to have drawn him into the customs of that land, including worship of the Blood of Vol. Some fear that Zorlan’s ambition could lead him to make pacts with dishonorable groups.
“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, Sharn Watch
Under Merrix d’Cannith, Cannith South is considered by many to be the closest replacement for Whitehearth the house will ever see. With his enclave concealing the last Cannith creation forge, Merrix rules his house’s southern interests with an iron fist.
Cannith South workshops and enclaves dot Breland, Zilargo, and even Darguun, making Merrix the most expansion-minded leader House Cannith has seen in an age. Some say he plans to open facilities in Xen’drik 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 Stormreach. Only Merrix himself knows that he plans not just a workshop, but a second Cannith creation forge – outside of Khorvaire, where the Treaty of Thronehold has no sway.
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 Traveler in his artificer aspect has taken a slow hold among the members of Cannith South. This affiliation with one of the Dark Six troubles members of Cannith West in particular, but Merrix shows no sign of sharing their concern.
The relationship between Aundair and Cyre was close during the Last War. When Jorlanna d’Cannith was sent away in disgrace, she wen to Aundair, 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 Eldeen Reaches through the Wardens of the Wood, allowing Cannith sages to study ruins and magical locales under the druids’ supervision.
Members of Cannith West are expected to be socially adept. In Aundair, they engage in scholarly pursuits, especially those connected to magical sites in western Khorvaire. They have more contact with other dragonmarked houses and local nobility than other Cannith branches do. Jorlanna plans to rebuild the goodwill of the Five Nations toward the house and make a greater investment in the Twelve, with hopes of seeing it regain its power. Since the Twelve is headquartered in Korth, it vexes Zorlan that Jorlanna’s status within the organization exceeds his.
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 the Lords of Dust. The fiend’s immediate goal is to fracture House Cannith permanently, and he manipulates Jorlanna to that end.
Though Zorlan grew up in Cyre, he traveled to Karrnath as a house emissary along with the first warforged by that nation. He took up residence there, advising Kaius II and strengthening his house’s influence. He used profitable arrangements with the Mror Holds and the Lhazaar Principalities to fill his coffers and make himself an advisor to the Gorgon.
Where Cannith once had only an outpost in Karrnath, Zorlan’s leadership has seen the house’s wealth and prestige there grow. Before the Day of Mourning, many Cannith heirs were sent to Karrnath 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 “Karrnath years.”
Though the steady stream of warforged into Karrnath has ceased, Cannith East still has expertise in siege warfare, and house members serve as advisors to Karrn generals.
The Karrnathi culture has left is 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 on 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 Karrnathi 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.
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.
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 fine, 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.
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 Khorvaire. 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.
Though Cannith lost Whitehearth, Merrix d’Cannith’s enclave in Sharn has taken over the house’s creative work. The Sharn 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 Sharn for new wonders, but Cannith is not limited to one facility. The house has holdings across the continent, and beyond. Though Sharn 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 Xen’drik. The Tinkers Guild and Fabricators Guild are found in every major city in the Five Nations, and in larger centers in the lands beyond.