The Shattered Lands
Due to the fractured nature of the Remnants those that survived the Shattering are a fractured lot. The factions of Kaltain represent not only the political factions that help to move the government along, but a number of academies that train specialists for the Great Houses, religious organizations, and a few others.
These factions fight in a power struggle often called the Shadow War, a secret struggle for power that tends to play out behind the scenes of the political machine. The desire for power and wealth drives those in power to manipulate events toward their favor. Though some houses, such as Kreon and Xerxes, attempt to shed light on the Shadow War, most factions are self-serving enough to stake high risks for hopefully high gains. The Shadow War exists because, even though they only intervened in humanoid politics once, the Wyrm Lords are out there, watching.
The Dragon Emperor
Backed by the power of the Wyrm Lords, the Dragon Emperor sites upon the Wyrm Throne in the central chamber of the Imperial Palace. The Wyrm Throne is a massive throne carved out of a single piece of jade. The Emperor is the primary ruler of the Remnants. The Emperor has the final say on all laws and through his Dragon Knights enforces them. The Imperial seat also carries the perk of a large number of Orbuculum shares. Though the emperor is considered neutral in house conflicts, they will often get involved.
The rules of succession were laid out by the Wyrm Lords themselves. A house remains the imperial house for as long as there is a direct descendent of the previous emperor able to rule as per the house’s traditional lineage. This means if the house only allows male children to rule then a daughter cannot succeed her father as Emperor. Most houses have a patrilineal tradition, though some let either gender rule, or a few follow a matriarchy. An adopted child does not qualify, but in some cases a bastard can. If there is no direct descendant then the house must give up the throne and a new house will be selected by the Parliament. An emperor can be deposed, but only if the deposing house manages to kill the emperor and occupy the Imperial Palace.
While sitting as the Imperial House a houses normal chivalric order answers to whoever has been appointed to rule the house’s home fragment. The Emperor has control of the Dragon Knights. These knights, though they are the Emperor’s to command, in theory answer to the Wyrm Lords themselves. The Wyrm Lords have, on occasion, banned the emperor from using the dragon knights.
The Dragon Emperor usually has a privy council made up of trusted advisors, often high ranking members of other factions, to advise him on his rule. The council has no power on paper, but can influence the emperor’s choices.
The Parliament of Blades
Set as a check on Imperial power, the Parliament of Blades is comprised of all the rules of the Great Houses save the Imperial House. The Parliament is divided into two estates, the Estate of Swords and the Estate of Daggers. For a law to be enacted it must be approved by both Estates before it goes to the Emperor who can pass it into law, or veto it. The Parliament must also approve any taxes the Emperor wishes to impose.
All Houses in the Parliament of Blades have shares of Orbuculum, some have more than others. The number of shares has some impact on whether a house is a major house, or a minor one, though there are other factors such as military and the houses own exports.
All Houses carry one of the twenty-five dragon blades. These blades represent the Coalition assembled to remove Gorboko from the Remnants, and they represent the houses power to rule. The major houses and the imperial house always have either a metallic or a chromatic blade. The minor houses carry gem, ferrous, and primal blades.
The Estate of Swords
Made up of the nine major houses, the Estate of Swords is the more powerful of the Estates. These houses tend to have the most shares of Orbuculum, as well as other ways of keeping wealth and power. A major house can fall and become a minor house. When that happens the Estate of Swords and the Emperor vote on who of the minor houses is to be moved up. The Emperor has a single vote ensuring there will never be a tie.
The Estate of Daggers
Though they have more members, collectively the Estate of Daggers has less power than the Estate of Swords. Despite the name it is worth noting that the dragon blades they carry are not all daggers. When a house slips out of being a minor house a new minor house is elected from those rulers who petition to be accepted into the parliament. All houses in the Parliament of Blades, and the Imperial house vote. Most often this will be the house with the most potential power, though sometimes the votes can swing to a house with less wealth and more influence.
The links below will take you to descriptions of the individual factions grouped by type.
A rogue house is a house that has, for some reason, opted to work against the Parliament or the Emperor. They tend not to last long in that position if they are powerful enough to threaten the powers that be.
A dead house is one that has somehow lost power can cannot regain status for some reason. Most dead houses are absorbed into other houses as a matter of course, but sometimes they chose to remain independent.
These houses do not fit the above categories. Some of them are new and are hoping to find a spot on the council, one is occupied by a rival house and so does not have a council seat.
Quite a few academies exist all over the Remnants. These schools train specialists for the houses, as well as others who join. These academies seem to be an odd result of the Shattering, as each school specializes in a facet of a class.