Originally, there were a total of 13 Houses, but time and infighting have whittled down the original families, and new houses have formed. At various points in Miir's 850 year history, there were as many as 18 Houses and as few as three.
Each of the houses has one over-reaching goal: to control the Tower of Miir. The head of a House that controls the Tower not only rules his house but sets policy for the entire city, and gains tremendous power. Plotting control of the Tower (and removing the current Ruling House from power) is a favorite pastime for all the House Rulers. In practice, however, the fall of a house from the Tower is cause for civil war, and most House Rulers prefer to work to keep the other Houses from gaining enough power to both take and keep the Tower rather than attack the Ruling Family directly and risk open warfare.
The current Ruling House of Miir is House Kaje. House Kaje is one of the older houses in Miir, with a line stretching back to the great war between elves and humans. The Kaje family controls the Mason's guild, and they like to claim that most of Miir was built by them. They also have a strong interest in peacekeeping around Miir, and fund the city watch. This gives them a lot of influence (It's easy to win an argument when you can say "we guard you while you sleep and keep your homes from caving in on you") and there are rumors that House Kaje masons have installed secret passages in many of the buildings they work on, passages that only the House Elders know about and can use.
House Kaje is also related to House Miir, the family line that founded the city. The Miir bloodline married into the House before House Miir fell to the machinations of the Von Hasturs, and Damien Kaje himself is a direct male descendant of Naros Miir, the first Lord of Miir. Strange rumors about Damien Kaje abound: he's never seen during the day, he hates holy symbols, he has wings and flies around at night, etc. None of these rumors have proven true, but of all the leaders of Miir he does seem to have the least to fear from The Shadows.
House Von Jeggett
House Von Jeggett is the strongest of the Houses in terms of force of arms, but the house is in serious trouble. House Von Jeggett has traditionally controlled Miir's military and was a formidable power during the Human-Elf wars that occurred during the start of the Current Epoch. However, Miir has faced no serious military threats in over a century. The constant vigilance that House Von Jeggett maintains is appearing more and more pointless with every passing year, and the mercenaries and bounty hunters of House Kaje have largely supplanted House Von Jeggett's role in protecting the precious trade caravans that supply Miir.
The increasingly desperate House elders are contemplating starting war with other Ivthain tribes, simply to get the resources they need from House Kaje. They have also been training Caliban, mutants born of twisted magic, into a fighting force in a bid to compete with House Kaje's forces. It remains to be seen how well this gamble plays out for the beleaguered house. There are rumors that the House has actually learned how to create Caliban within its ranks. One source of this rumor centers around their support of Le Cirque d'Aberrations, a traveling carnival that has set up shop in Miir, in which all members of the crew are Caliban and new members seem to appear with alarming regularity.
The current head of the house is Lord Oswald Von Jeggett.
House Mordok is the oldest of the six Great Houses. House Mordok was one of the original 13 Great houses and has survived mainly because the House Elders prefer to rule from behind the scenes rather than overtly control the Tower. This house has only gained control of the city 5 times since Miir's inception, but remains a power to be reckoned with because they control a resource none of the other Houses have yet been able to match: House Mordok has magic. It is an open secret that House Mordok controls the city's Wizard Guild, which regulates the use of magic and the availability of enchanted items. Practice of wizardry in Miir without a Guild registration is forbidden. The guild is very picky about who it allows to have a license, and very few non-humans make the cut. This exclusivity keeps magic in the hands of the "deserving," or so the House claims. This attitude, however, may prove the house's undoing.
House Dythanus has recently opened its doors to magic users who are unable or unwilling to bend to the Wizard's Guild rule. Many Half-Bloods, unable to find acceptance anywhere else, have been welcomed with open arms by House Dythanus, and rumors are spreading that Dythanus is secretly training magic-users and breeding Half-Bloods within its ranks. House Mordok has no proof of these rumors, but it keeps a watchful eye on the young house, waiting for any pretext to go to war.
Lord Wilhelm Mordok is the current head of this house, though his brother Cireulan Mordok holds the title of Archmage in the mages guild. The two do not get along.
House Von Hastur
House Von Hastur is one of the oldest houses in Miir, behind House Mordok. It is also one of the wealthiest houses, behind House Von Krueger. It has controlled Miir more times than any other house except House Miir. This has always been a problem for the House elders...House Von Hastur always seems to come in second best, and that thought gnaws at the elders and fuels their ambition.
House Von Hastur controls the Merchant's Guild of Miir, and has a lot of economic pull within the community. The House has the reputation of being power hungry, ambitious, and untrustworthy, and this reputation has worked against it. House Von Hastur is rapidly losing ground to House Von Krueger. Independent merchants have banded together in an attempt to fight against the Merchant Guild's oppressive and heavy-handed policies, and the house elders suspect Von Krueger support. The shadow war that is brewing between the two houses threatens the very stability of the city, and House Kaje has yet to step in to this dispute.
A very weird rumor circulating about this house is that the scions are all part of a cult dedicated to a figure known only as "The King in Yellow." The rumor has it that all the house scions are required to undergo bizarre and blasphemous initiation rights and have a strange glyph known as "The Yellow Sign" tattooed somewhere on their bodies, granting them magical powers. Most folk disregard this rumor.
The current head of this house is Lord Boris Von Hastur.
House Dythanus is the youngest of the Six Houses, having come into existence scarcely a century ago. The house was formed by a clan of Elven expatriates fleeing south for some unknown crime. The Elves quickly took root in the city, taking control of various gambling, vice, and prostitution rings. House Dythanus specializes in "entertainments." They work to provide a good time to anyone looking for it. They provide outlets for prostitution, gambling, and narcotics as well as more legitimate venues such as theaters and opera houses. House Dythanus is also one of the more cosmopolitan houses, accepting members who are human, Half-Bloods, or elven, as well as Shadow Fey and Caliban. This diversity has helped the house gain power, but has not helped its reputation among the other Houses.
Another reason House Dythanus is not taken as seriously by the other Houses is the fact that they were the ones who brought Ten Monkey 'Halfcheek' Xian, who later rebelled against the houses and formed the Gorgeous Gang, into Miir in the first place. This embarassing loss of face has never been entirely forgotten.
Hungry for advancement in Miirian politics, House Dythanus has recently opened its doors to magic users who are unable or unwilling to bend to the Wizard's Guild rule. Many Half-Bloods, unable to find acceptance anywhere else, have been welcomed with open arms by House Dythanus, and rumors are spreading that Dythanus is secretly training magic-users and breeding Half-Bloods within its ranks. House Mordok has no proof of these rumors, but it keeps a watchful eye on the young house, waiting for any pretext to go to war.
Lady Sylvia Dythanus is the current head of the house.
House Von Krueger
House Von Krueger controls the Miner's Guild, and is the wealthiest of the Great Houses. They are also seen as one of the weakest of the Houses, because the House has never yet gained control of the Tower of Miir. This perceived weakness rankles the house elders, for they control the most powerful guild in the city. Without the Miner's Guild, the city would grind to a halt, and the house elders have entertained the idea of creating an embargo on their minerals at one time or another to reinforce that fact. However, since such an act would likely result in an open House War, such plans have never seen fruition.
Another mark of weakness is the House's reputation for decadence and excess. Rumors of the house elder's sexual appetites range from merely lascivious to rumors of truly bizzare fetishes, incest, and extreme deviancy in the ranks of the scions of the House. No sane Miirian wants to know the truth behind the rumors of House Von Krueger "Parties."
House Von Krueger also controls the Miirian slave trade. Slaves, indebted criminals, and indentured servants make up the bulk of House Von Kreugar's workforce, and the House has been known to fund press-gangs when workers get scarce.
While the Miner's Guild is powerful, it has very little influence inside the city proper, since most of the mines are far from the city limits or deep beneath the city streets. Instead, the Merchant's Guild, run by House Von Hastur, has the most in-city influence, and rivalries between the two guilds are fierce. in recent years, House Von Hastur has been rapidly losing ground to House Von Krueger. Independent merchants have banded together in an attempt to fight against the Merchant Guild's oppressive and heavy-handed policies, and the house elders suspect Von Krueger support. The shadow war that is brewing between the two houses threatens the very stability of the city, and House Kaje has yet to step in to this dispute.
Lady Vanessa von Krueger is the current head of this house.