Composed of the one-hundred richest Lords and Ladies, The First House has as old a pedigree as Bormar itself. Based in Ereben, It takes its name from the fact that, in the old days, decisions concerning settlements were made in the home of its governing elder - their house. The “First House” was so named for its prominence, standing as a representation and authority for all Bormar.
The First House is the main governing body over the nation, and has final say on essentially everything. The First House (commonly called just “the House” in casual conversation) alone can make new laws, command the armies, appoint nobles and conduct diplomacy with other nations.
Lords And Ladies
Wealth has been a symbol of prosperity among Bormar since time immemorial. It is more than mere materialism, though certainly having nice things doesn’t hurt. To Bormar, riches are a sign of ability, a good life and the ability to care for one’s friends and community. It is in this spirit that the nobles of Bormar - called Lords and Ladies - are appointed: upon the end of the current Lord’s or Lady’s tenure, the First House examines the current citizenry of the holding and selects from among them the richest one. This Dwarf is then invited to become governor over that holding.
A noble essentially becomes a ruler over that holding upon their ascension to the title. They may make decrees over it and its people, decide the punishments and fates of criminals, direct public services such as the militia as they please and generally have final say on the direction of their holding. Most importantly, they have full rights to all of its revenues, principally from taxes and tariffs. All nobles are rich - they would not be nobles if they weren’t - but those whose holdings lie near the busiest trade-routes can become richer than the rulers of some entire kingdoms.
They do well to be wealthy, because, much as all the revenue is theirs, so is every expense. A noble has to personally pay for the upkeep of roads, the wages of the militia, the enforcement of their decrees, ensuring the miners receive fresh equipment, keeping nearby wilderness from becoming too dangerous, making sure the holding’s people do not go hungry during the winter. Every last public expense and affair is the sole duty of the noble.
A Lord’s or a Lady’s lot is particularly busy when their holding oversees a trade route. A hundred-hundred tariffs, taxes, laws, regulations and things to oversee are all on the noble’s (and their assistants’) shoulders, and the First House is supremely quick to strip any Dwarf of their noble rank who is seen as harming trade - the nation’s lifeblood - by their negligence or mistakes.
Nobles still enjoy a life of riches and privilege, but not idleness - and it is not coincidence that Lords and Ladies tend to be ambitious, as this is not only necessary to gain their rank, but also to keep it.
Naturally, the obvious risk is that the meritocratic basis of this system would be undermined by nobles passing their fabulous wealth onto their offspring, but this has been provided for in the laws of Bormar: upon death, a noble’s offspring each inherit only a pre-determined, moderate stipend (compared to a whole share that the offspring of non-nobles do). The noble’s wealth then becomes possession of the holding and its next Lord or Lady. This keeps wealth from piling up in families.
Even so, the reality is that for most citizens of Bormar the chances of becoming a noble through their own work are slim. An average worker - a miner, a woodcutter, a blacksmith - will, it is very likely, not become rich enough even after a lifetime spent practising their chosen craft. Still, the wealth they pass on might allow their children, or their children’s children, or their children’s children’s children to one day become nobles. But it is the possibility that any dwarf could that allows the Bormar to boast year after year that their nation is ruled by the worthy, not by the lucky.
A noble’s relationship with their people varies from holding to holding. A noble is obligated to live within the borders of their holding (though they may of course travel), which means every noble is, more or less, within walking - and thus in complaining - distance by their constituents. Even so, a noble has broad privileges, and, so long as they stop short of wanton cruelty, the First House generally allows a noble to ‘get the most out of their people’ - or to put it less politely, the First House usually does not step in to help Dwarves treated unfairly but lawfully. More than one despised Lord and Lady has treated the people of their holding essentially as a private workforce.
In a similar vein of resentment, there sometimes - rarely, but often enough to mention here - arises a situation where a holding has no Dwarf rich enough to be able to execute their duties as a governor. Such situations are almost exclusive to smaller, poorer, more out-of-the-way holdings. When this happens, the First House opens up the position for any Dwarf rich enough, no matter where they live. Nobles who come into power this way tend to be derisively called “foreign Lords” or “foreign Ladies” by the people of their holding and have to work harder than most to earn the respect of their people.
For all that though, in most holdings the relationship between noble and people is at least cordial. A noble is, after all, ‘one of them’ - a member of their own city or community risen to power through (it is thought) their own work.
Roles within the House
The First Speaker of the House
This is a role officially declared to be impartial and the only elected position within the House. They facilitate debate within the Chamber, and are the authority whom officially pass and sign off laws. In order to become the First Speaker, you must first be nominated by 5 other Lords or Ladies who also sit in the First House. The house then goes through an election with elimination rounds until one candidate has an absolute majority and is officially announced as the new First Speaker. The Term of Speaker lasts roughly a decade, and elections are can be quite fierce and often become a spectacle the Public take interest in.
The Speaker has a number of duties, such as overseeing the First Treasury of Bormar, with assistance from employed officials within their office, and commanding the Nation's Armies if the First House decides to call on their levies in times of war. In addition, the First Speaker may vote on legislation and other matters if they believe it is necessary, which usually only occurs in “tie-breaker” scenarios - though it is not unheard of for past Speakers to have used their influence to vote often and sway peers, straying from their duty to remain as impartial as possible.
A highly sophisticated security team, named the First Wardens, ensure safety within the House and are the only entity capable of legal action within its grounds. They are sworn to secrecy of all they see, hear or witness and are comprised of only the most skilled fighting champions. Each region of Bormar is allocated up to five positions within the Warden team, and hold their own duels, fights, competitions or otherwise to pick the best of the best from the Molir of their towns and cities, hence most people feel extremely safe when within the House. Some Lords may go a step further however, and enlist their own, personal security teams.
The First Beadle
The First Beadle has a number of important duties within the House. They chair the team of staff that help organise and run votes within the Chamber, ensure that all of the fine dining and drinking venues within the House are functioning well and most importantly when directly On-Duty will, Upon the entry of a Lord, Lady or their approved Representative, ring a deep iron rib with a special hammer, causing a rich and warm resonance of the Deep Iron before announcing the Honourable Lords or their Representatives into the Chamber.
It's a position filled only by the most courageous, quick-witted, organised and dedicated Young Dwarves of Ereben, for each year a monumental competition and festival is held within the unofficial capital whereby extremely difficult and varied tasks are set, and there can only be one victor. It is such a sought after position for the people of Ereben, largely due to the sheer amount of prestige that comes with it. It's a duty that often leads to these aspiring dwarves finding themselves become Envoys, Representatives or Diplomats for one of the Lords they served in their year-long stint as First Beadle. Not only that, but simply being able to brush shoulders with the highest elite of Dwarven Society is the dream of any citizen of Bormar, and First Beadles will often find themselves with High Ranking Molir, respected members of Ereben and otherwise, all just as keen to get hold of a seat on the same table as a Lord in the House's dining venues.
The First House is filled with Dwarves who fulfil the lesser, but more numerous duties and schemes of the Lords and Ladies. Attendants, retainers, servants, secretaries, scribes, couriers, cooks, spies and bodyguards ensure that the First House is informed, operational, safe and powerful.