Continuing my series on the Noble Houses of Psi-Wars, let’s have a look at the conservative, elitist Grimshaw, and why people see them as “obvious” bad guys and how they can be much more than that.
Who are they?
House Grimshaw, one of the great pillars of the Federation, was also one of the last to join. Following the execution of Shio Daijin, Grimshaw distanced itself from the feuding that had enveloped the Galactic Core, patiently watching over the Alexian homeworld of Maradon, the great factory cathedrals of House Alexus, and the central archive held on the moon of Atrium, waiting for a true successor to claim them once more.
When the Federation arose, Grimshaw reluctantly admitted that no such heir was likely to be found, and so as the last remnant of the Alexian government, they gave the Federation the legitimacy of their approval. Over time, they grew to become the great industrial base of the Federation, and in the days before the rise of the Empire, Bale Grimshaw was counted as one of the leaders of the noble houses.
Despite their prestige, the Grimshaw never truly considered themselves a member of the Federation, and kept their power concentrated in their homeworlds of Maradon space. This proved wise, for following the Emperor’s coup, Bale Grimshaw was able to escape with a largely intact power base.
Disgusted with the petty squabbling and the erosion of traditional noble values that they see as leading to the uprising, Grimshaw now calls for a return to the ancient ways, with an aristocracy dedicated to the duties their heritage brings. That this would also promote the power of Grimshaw is a burden they are willing to bear.
How do the common folk see them?
Cold, distant, and ruthlessly efficient, there is little love for the Grimshaw among the people of their worlds. Yet, they have also maintained order in their region for centuries, and their government functions with the regular, predictable pattern of clockwork.
While this desire for efficiency and order led Grimshaw to be a leader in the adoption of robotic labor, they took great care to avoid the disrupting effects found in other noble domains. Where they could, they retained their current workforce as technicians and overseers, and where they couldn’t, Grimshaw attempted to find new roles for them.
The price of this order is freedom. House Grimshaw expects that its people will know their place in society, and to keep to it without complaint. In many cases, this place is also hereditary, where if someone’s father was a factory overseer, it is likely that his children will eventually assume oversight of that factory.
Despite Grimsahw’s best efforts, there is a growing population of people without such a role. Use of robotic labor displaced more people than they could accommodate, and addressing this is a primary concern of the house, with the specter of another uprising haunting them.
How are they seen by the nobility in general?
House Grimshaw’s position as the stewards of the legacy of Alexus affords them respect by traditionalist, and their economic might draws both admiration and envy. Their support for the traditional rights and privileges of the nobility is another point in their favor.
However, Grimshaw’s devotion to duty and order is seen as insufferably self-righteous by many, and while other nobles respect their traditionalism, their call for a return to the days of the Alexus and the Oracular Order is considered terribly antiquated. Still, the stability of the Grimshaw realm lends weight to their arguments, and some are starting to take the idea seriously.
Others fear Grimshaw’s claim to moral authority as a cloak for their political ambitions, and they see in Bale Grimshaw someone who wishes to revive the Alexian Empire with himself at its head.
What are the strengths of House Grimshaw?
The economic power of Grimshaw is one of the keys to the Alliance’s continued survival, for while not a match for the Empire’s full power, it is sufficient to keep ahead of the losses in the ongoing conflict. Without it, the Alliance would not collapse immediately, but attrition would eventually force them to sue for terms with the Empire. House Grimshaw has parlayed this power into influence, exchanging the output of their factories for support from lesser houses.
House Grimshaw’s continuity with the government of Alexus, the stability of their realm, and their support for traditional noble privilege affords them a moral authority. While this is denigrated by many who would rather break from the legacy of the Alexian Empire, many others have come around to Grimshaw’s point of view, and represent a growing bloc within the House of Lords.
Stewardship of the remaining holdings of House Alexus is another asset, though it is one that Grimshaw, strictly speaking, cannot make use of. But if an heir to Alexus could be found (or fabricated), then House Grimshaw is in a position to support their claim to the throne.
What are the weaknesses of House Grimshaw?
Grimshaw’s distance from the people and their promotion of traditional noble rights and privileges earns them many enemies in the House of Commons. While much of the nobility is hesitant to undermine their own position by backing the Commons, if Grimshaw looks to be growing too powerful, other nobles may choose to do so.
The conservatism of House Grimshaw, while well-founded and also one of their strengths, could also hamper them. The Empire is rapidly developing new technology, and Grimshaw’s desire to carefully consider the impact of technologies they adopt could leave them at a disadvantage in the arms race.
How can House Grimshaw be the good guys?
Grimshaw is right. The galaxy is meant to be ruled by the aristocracy, who have been carefully bred over the years to produce better rulers and a better fit for their Communion role. Their insistence on order, while it may seem stifling, truly is for the benefit of those they rule. The unbridled populism of the Empire and the slower egalitarianism of the Alliance goes against the proper order, and will lead to a dark age.
The discovery of a true heir to Alexus would strengthen Grimshaw’s position. A revival of the Oracular Order, perhaps precipitated by the discovery of their lost lore, would also do much to enhance their position.
How can House Grimshaw be the bad guys?
Bale Grimshaw is cynically using the concepts of duty and order and tradition as a means of promoting his own power. Under his rule, the common people will be oppressed and confined to their prescribed roles, the rest of the Alliance subjugated to his will, and a new Empire will take shape under his direction.
Alternatively, Bale Grimshaw himself is sincere in his beliefs, but he is being used by a resurgent branch of the Oracular Order, who have promised him that following his path will lead to a new golden age for humanity. This conspiracy seeks to topple the Empire, only to rule the galaxy through their own puppet Emperor.
Which Communion Paths do they follow?
Grimshaw’s dedication to duty and the preservation of order inclines them to follow the path of the Righteous Crusader, though more as inquisitor and upholder of the regime than as a standard bearer of righteousness. The Mystic Tyrant is another common path, stemming from their distance from the people and their belief that only they have the vision to rule.
Less commonly, Grimshaw’s isolation from people leads them to fall into the path of the Other, becoming strange, distant monsters without a shred of human empathy.
What role does House Grimshaw’s psionics play?
In many ways, Grimshaw’s psionic talents plays to a sense of theatrics. With Light Amplification, Presence, and Flash, a scion of House Grimshaw can make themselves very obvious, serving to both awe and intimidate onlookers. Their most dramatic ability, Lightning, is as much a display of power as it is a damaging ability.
More than that, Grimshaw possesses the power of ergokinesis in a setting dominated by technology. The implications of this become readily apparent when you consider that all weapons in common use are susceptible to it, droids and computer systems control the machinery that society relies upon, and people routinely carry communicators and other devices on their person. With a contemptuous wave of their hand, they can completely knock out all of those.
With Electric Vision, you’re not going to sneak spy gadgets past a member of House Grimshaw, nor could an Imperial Commando sneak up on them in the dark. If they try, they’re going to be lit up like a beacon!
Those with an even stronger gift and access to the full power of Ergokinesis are even more potent. They have no need for fancy gadgets to compromise your computer system, for with Data Retrieval, I/O Tap, or Remote Control, all they need to do is touch them to make it give up its secrets, catastrophically compromise the systems they control, and more. Those with higher levels of these abilities only need to be near it!
Just imagine what they can do in the Empire, with all of its highly centralized systems!