Each of the five different old kingdoms of the Compact and the five great houses that held sway of them have a distinctly different flavor and set of guiding principles. These principles that are firmly held by the NPCs in each of the five regions guide the reactions of NPCs to the actions of player characters, and what a player character does that might win respect in the Oathlands could earn them disdain in the Lyceum. Player Characters gain respect and affection with different organizations, and while affection is approval over taking actions that better the lives or generally help those NPCs, respect is gained only by only taking actions consistent with the principles held by those NPCs and working to further their ideological goals. Each of the five different great houses will have its own more detailed helpfile, but here's an overview of those principles.
-House Valardin and the Oathlands
"We know not what awaits us beyond the Mirror, when we die and pass into the Shining Lands. We know not if the gods will be there to greet us, or if we go to a long and dreamless sleep. But if I should die and face Gloria and she asks if I lived and died with honor, I should hope I can provide a satisfactory answer. I must then politely decline your offer to yield." - Last words of Sir Erec Redhill, the Sentinel of Redhill
While every house in the Compact holds honor in high regard, no one else comes anywhere close to being as unyielding on issues of honor as House Valardin and the Oathlands. Idealistic to a fault in the eyes of other houses, Oathlanders respect those who are uncompromising on matters of honor, and hold Lycene style pragmatism in contempt. For many in the Oathlands, a life without honor simply isn't one worth living, and they are willing to endure polite mockery to be in the right. Oathlanders might not like plays with actors parodying an inability to tell white lies to avoid catastrophe, but that's fine. They'd rather be right than have the admiration of those who simply don't understand honor as well as they do. Disciplined and dignified, they respect traditions and authority, provided none conflict with living an honorable life in accordance to the virtues of the Faith of the Pantheon.
-House Redrain and the Northlands
"Southerners live in the past. They harbor grudges for so long that sometimes their houses don't even remember why they hate one another and need their leaders to beg them to let go of slights. Some of them look at the Northlands and see an undisciplined and fractious people with ancient feuds, but that's not so. When the Northlands quarrel, it's a fire that burns white hot then is done. We don't roll around in the ashes and breathe deep poisonous fumes and see who dies first from a cancer. Grudges are madness." - Prince Sherrod Redrain, Prince of Farhaven
Fiercely independent, some marvel that anyone is able to rule over the Northlands. Everyone in the Northlands has an opinion and feels they should be able to share it, fights happen easily, and the sort of discipline that the Oathlands or Mourning Isles take for granted is largely foreign to the Northlands, where rugged individualism is prized and respected. In the Northlands, one is responsible for their own actions... for better or for worse. Certainly they understand house honor and can respect it, but it is not anywhere near as bone deep in importance as other fealties, and House Redrain is about living in the present and planning in the future- and letting the past stay in the past. There are few things worse in the Northlands than holding a grudge- it makes one look spiteful and petty, and open to mockery, as a sign that they simply don't understand the free life of endless possibilities still ahead. Once a matter is settled it's over, and other fealties are astonished by the ability of House Redrain and its people to set aside a grievance and work with former enemies once a wrong has been made right. Win them over with hope for the present and the future, and anything can be forgiven and forgotten.
-House Velenosa and the Lyceum
"Every once in a while an Oathlander will ask a question that shows such a stunning lack of understanding that it stops one in her tracks. I was asked the other day 'do the ends justify that means?' What a silly question. The ends are the only thing that -can- justify the means. Our ideals are stars that help us guide our ships through darkened nights, as we shepherd our people below decks to safety. They are no excuse to stay blissfully ignorant and sail into a coming storm and drown everyone that depends upon us." - Princess Ducleali Valardin nee Velenosa, the Fox Dragon
Pragmatism is the single most important guiding principle to the Lyceum. A transactional approach to politics isn't just understood and expected, it's respected as the best way to approach ruling over the diverse Lycene city-states. The stereotype held by more idealistic fealties that the Lycene are only self-interested and amoral isn't necessarily true or particularly fair to them, however, just even the Lycene most focused on improving the lives of their house and the subjets of their city-states tend to think in terms of the simplest and most effective means to produce results to the common good. Caring intensely about the bottom line makes the Lyceum more of a meritocracy than other fealties, with a willingness to reject tradition if a clearly superior method comes along- once the failures have been discarded and politely forgotten, of course. Whether a Lycene noble is formal or informal, dignified or salacious, courteous or crass comes down to a simple question... what works best in this situation? Destructive quarrels and disrespect born of pique are frowned upon the Lyceum often not because they buck noble expectations of dignity, but because they might be selfishly wasteful. A respected Lycene noble throws a fit and makes a scene only if it is to their advantage.
-House Thrax and the Mourning Isles
"The Compact has not lasted for seven centuries by luck and the grace of the gods. It is not good fortune that has kept our isles free, it is not happenstance that we wax powerful enough to be respected and feared. No. It comes from the mighty institutions we have built, the houses that have weathered the storms of the ages, and the traditions that have served us so well. Anyone wearing a crown is just a man, but when they speak, they speak with a voice that echoes with a thousand years of tradition. Our way of life has led us from triumph to triumph, and those who seek to unravel it are enemies who will be destroyed." - Prince Durian Thrax, the Monster of Maelstrom, on his address before the Campaign of Bloody Isles, crushing the Great Thrall Revolt of 705 AR
The Mourning Isles can be summed up with the word 'traditional'. They are not a meritocracy, seeking to test the strong and weed out the week, for the strength lies in the blood of the nobles born into power houses who seek to be the next link on a chain stretching back a thousand years. High born nobles have immense expectations of them, for they represent the institutions they are born into, and those who fail in those expectations are often immediately discarded. Strongly disciplined, the Isles are far more authoritarian than any other fealty, with a bone deep respect for the established order. Pragmatic rather than idealistic, they are willing to take utterly ruthless measures to ensure the continuing success of their houses, and anyone can be sacrificed to those ends. Ever mindful of being cast out as an embarrassment to their houses, the Mourning Islanders tend to be seen as somewhat obsessive over appearances, with formality and courtesy as an ever present shield against social missteps that could cost them dearly.
-House Grayson and the Crownlands
"All of us are called to serve. From the lowest among us working in the furthest field in the Compact, to the Sovereign of Arx sitting upon the Elfbone throne, we all serve. The least of us honor their oaths of service when called to battle, and the greatest of us must never forget their obligations in turn, tirelessly working for the betterment of their lands and peoples. The greater one rises, the more deeply they should feel their obligations to diligently see to all lesser than them. Fidelity with Limerance requires nothing less from the powerful. It is the duty of the greater to help the lesser, and 'None Greater Than Grayson.'" -King Alaric Grayson III
Power must be wielded responsibly. House Grayson perhaps benefits from feudalism representing the natural order of things more than any other house, but they are the ones that constantly reinforce the idea that they bear a responsibility from that power to safeguard and improve the lives of their social inferiors. They simply expect and demand more from their nobles to rise to the lofty ideals that any commoner could hope for. Bold, decisive and daring leaders that lead from the front is simply expected of House Grayson, and never taking advantage of the trust placed in them by their many vassals.