HOUSE OF OBSIDIAN: House H’JoQ
This is a Klingon House I created back in the day of Running a Star Trek RPG by Decipher games that was a nod to the ruthless Soviet Union Style Empire from The Original Series instead of the 'Space Viking' Empire that the Klingons have been shoe-horned into. I may be designing some Foundry Adventures with the H'JoQ in mind when it goes live. This is meant to be a font of ideas for players and Devs who want to give the Empire a bit more meat to grind on.
HOUSE OF OBSIDIAN: House H’JoQ
Few houses in the Empire inspire a combination of loathing, grudging respect, and some time fear as well as House H’JoQ. Formed some centuries ago, they have been a remarkably quiet and unassuming house, noted only for their excellent craftsmanship of ships and weapons through the centuries and their singular lack of interest in personal glory. Until relatively recently, this remained true.
Then came the first war with the Federation. Like many Houses, they couldn’t stomach the concept of losing to what was perceived to be a weaker opponent. Unlike other houses, they had the engineer’s predisposition of asking why they had lost and the capacity to swallow their pride when reality stared them in the face.
The Federation, while pacifistic (relatively speaking), was composed of several species that had rejected violence not because they were weak, but because they had nearly wiped themselves out in previous spasms and conflicts on their homeworlds, and regarded themselves as too destructive to allow things to go that far again. A distinction lost upon most Klingons, but a very important one from the H’joQ point of view. Races with such mindsets, once awakened properly, would make formidable opponents if pushed hard enough. Adding into the mix the warrior races of the Federation such as the Andorians and the Skorr and the Empire had a difficult task ahead of it.
Bearing this in mind and wanting success in the next war, The head of House H’joQ, Qu’az The Executioner (so named for his meticulous planning in battle and flawless execution of said battle plans) went to the High Council and petitioned to speak to the Chancellor. Exactly what was said between Qu’az and the Chancellor remains the subject of debate amongst Klingon scholars, but it was tasked by the Chancellor that House H’joQ would “produce the strength of arms of the Empire and find the enemies weaknesses.”
H’joQ, now with financial backing of the Empire, set to expanding their arms and ship design facilities. To their credit, they were responsible for designing the infamous Kolodhe (D-7), K’tinga (D-7m), and B’rel (D-12) class warships, all which proved immensely popular and sources of fear and consternation to all of the Empire’s enemies. With the acceptance of the designs came wealth and power that allowed them to research large and more powerful weapons and ships, as well as influence Klingon military and political thought. Which, of course, made many other Houses jealous.
Noting the other House’s ire, House H’joQ, ice-hearted killers by the Empire’s standards, had been quietly gathering information for it’s own political and military survival through a system of silent bribes, murder, intimidation, and outright manufacture to make sure that if it went down, the Empire would go with it. After releasing a few particularly ugly pieces of information to the Chancellor through several proxies (who had no idea who they were working for), showing that Houses Daa’Moq, Duras, and Mergh were involved in a conspiracy to overthrow the council (while not completely true, the evidence was twisted in such a fashion that it could have been taken as such).
The Chancellor ordered a surprise attack upon the three Great Houses shipyard’s as chastisement and the heads of the three great houses brought before him for execution. While the deception was crude by most standards, it fooled the Chancellor and the other members long enough for the damage to be done to the Klingon war machine and allowed H‘joQ to expand it’s territory at the expense of the Daa’Moq and Mergh. When the deception was uncovered, the H’joQ had reinforced it’s borders and dug in for a protected seige. The Daa’Moq and Duras howled for vengeance and launched a combined fleet against the H’joQ, while the Mergh remained busy assessing the damage.
Information from the warzone received at the High Council was sketchy at best, with indications of some form of trap. Long range sensors indicated a massive battle. Several days after the battle, the H’joQ flagship dreadnought, the Glorious Fist of Vengeance (C-9E), along with a wing of newer D-7C class heavy cruisers appeared over Quo’nos from seemingly nowhere, weapons targeted on enemy house ships from the most vulnerable positions.
After disposing of several House flagships and making their point, the Chancellor requested to speak with the head of the H’joQ, Qu’az’s son, K’rath. Once again, what came between the Chancellor is subject of debate, but the Chancellor declared the H’joQ under his office’s personal protection and to make war on them was to make war on him.
While this did not sit well with the houses that had been attacked, the Chancellor mollified them with access to the new H’joQ ship and weapons designs. K’rath for his part, took his fleet back home and the H’joQ went back to what they did best, designing weapons and ships.
Or so the Empire thought. K’rath continued in the tradition of his father and those who came before him, using an almost Vulcan-like logic and saw that the Empire was vulnerable to the constant infighting plaguing the various houses and was weak compared to the Federation and the House's nominal new ally, The Romulans. K’rath was no fool, and knew a predator when he saw one, and so he suggested a cultural exchange be initiated between the two species with all the great houses allowed to become involved.
Or course, the Romulans agreed to such an exchange, hopeful that they might get access to newer and more powerful warships and technology. K’rath knew that several of the houses would attempt to undercut H’joQ’s position and allowed it to happen, quietly noting which houses were more successful at bargaining with the alien scum and which were more likely to annoy them. While many of the greater houses mocked the H’joQ to letting a gem slip through their fingers, K’rath was realistic enough to see that Romulan treachery was eventual. And he could always have his spies in the other houses gather the Romulan technology the other Houses presumed they would have exclusively.
After a time, the H’joQ became so effective at intelligence and counter-intelligence work within the Empire and dealing with the Romulans, who on more than one instance attempted to infiltrate the H’joQ (and were promptly killed), the H’joQ attempted infiltration into a small Federation outpost through the use of bio-sculpted traders using captured cargo haulers. The Federation was quite sloppy compared to the Romulans and the H’joQ began a long term project to destabilize the Federation from within as well as gather military intelligence.
The project met with varying success over time, with quite a few intelligence windfalls for the H’joQ initially, increasing their prestige and power, including information that led to the capture of several Federation ships. It also had lead the H’joQ to engage in clearly dishonorable behavior by the rest of the empire’s standards, so the Chancellor’s office was satisfied in simply receiving the information and utilizing it while pointedly ignoring whatever else the H’joQ were doing.
The H'JoQ, for their part, divested themselves of their contacts with the Romulans, allowing even enemy houses access to the potentially treacherous foe, becoming perceived as less powerful as time went on. Several Houses attempted revenge over this period but were strongly rebuffed but H'JoQ defenses and the Chancellery fleets. After several failed attempts and the destruction of one minor House, the rest of the Empire decided it was better the leave them to their own devices.
The destruction of the Praxis moon came as a moderate surprise to the H'JoQ, but not a complete surprise. They had been aware of the dangers of over-mining on the moon, but since it was not one of their holdings and controlled by a rival (House Kor), they did little else than send a report to the High Council. the detonation of the moon caused them and every other house to scramble for position within the Empire.
While other houses grabbed territory and fought with one another, The H'joQ committed a systemic campaign of assassination, black mail, and outright theft of information to allow them to cement themselves into the framework of the Empire. When the dust had settled, the H'joQ had petitioned to form the secretive and ruthless Imperial Intelligence organization.
The new Chancellor, Azetbur, was taken aback by their brazen behavior, but after having enough evidence dropped at her feet of incompetence and back stabbing amongst the Empires various Houses, she gave her acquiescence for the formation of the I.I, all completely under the table.
The H'JoQ, now with Imperial license to kill and remove potential traitors, stared with crippling the Duras and the Daa'Moq with evidence they had had built up over decades. Not enough to destroy them, but enough to severely hamper their maneuverings in the Empire while the H'joQ continued to cement themselves into the New Order.
They also monitored maneuverings across the borders with the Romulan Star Empire and the UFP. The Federation for it's part, was scrupulously following it's agreements it had with the Empire to the spirit and letter of the agreements, to which they reported as such to one degree or another depending on the mood of the High Council.
They monitored the Duras heavily for it's ties to the Romulans, occasionally providing 'assistance' to the Duras in exchange for their silence on the matter, to which the Duras could only gnash their teeth in frustration. When the inevitable betrayal by the Romulans came at Narendra and later Khitomer, the H'JoQ helped cover up the Duras's involvement for favors to be specified later.
The H’JoQ remained neutral during the Klingon Civil War between the Duras and Gowron, trusting that the strong would come to rule, as it should be. Gowron was an embarrassment to the empire, a prancing politician, and egotistical prat more concerned with advancing himself than the Empire’s safety. While they trusted that the more honorable houses would eventually remove the fool, the cluster of hangers on and other arrogant sycophants he appointed to various positions caused more damage to H’joQ and I.I. operations than any foreign power.
Annoyed at the interference, the H’joQ pulled out their files on the various new lords of the Empire and once again began the systematic campaign of murder, intimidation, and blackmail that they had become famous and despised for. The H’joQ, for their part, had little patience for what they perceived to be glory-seeking, self-aggrandizing fools who were as dangerous to the state as any foreign power. After the removal via ‘hunting accident’ of three of Gowron’s closer supporters, Gowron became incensed and demanded to speak to the head of the H’joQ while the Houses whose members had been assassinated prepared for war.
The head of House H’joQ, Kurak, Daughter of K’rath, arrived on the new Quo’nos-Class (E-9) Dreadnought Bortas, along with a wing of the H’joQ’s upgraded BOP’s and E-7 Command Cruisers and quietly asked how the H’joQ would be able to serve the Empire. Gowron, ever the politician and realist (in that his neck was on the line), asked the H’joQ why they were destabilizing the Empire when it needed to be consolidated after the war.
Kurak simply responded that Gowron’s appointees were digging into areas outside of their station, and as such, were removed as potential security threats. Only the Chancellor was authorized to know of their maneuverings as Imperial Intelligence. As House H’joQ, they were removing potential impediments to their duties, as a good portion of Gowron’s appointees were from Houses that had been damaged by the H’joQ rise to power. They also informed him that they were making an example of House P’kal, a minor house formed of the remnants of several houses that had annoyed the H’joQ during it’s rise to power. By invading their holdings and executing all the nobility to the last.
Gowron, nervous at the monster that had remain relatively silent for many years, aside from the unsavory business it had normally engaged in out of necessity, and had now been awakened, asked what Kurak wanted. Kurak wanted to have her clan be allowed to do it’s job unmolested, gathering information on the Empire’s enemies and create the weapons for which it would project it’s power. No higher honor could be bestowed on the H’joQ as fast as they were concerned. Gowron shook his head and agreed, if anything to keep the H’joQ out of his hair.
The Dominion War greatly increased the H’joQ’s power as they allied with several of the economically based Houses in the Empire, creating a military-industrial complex that ran constantly creating newer and better ships as well as repairing vessels and treating warriors during the war. While many houses lost warriors in droves, and allied houses ship building facilities were attacked by Dominion Forces, the H’joQ’s secretive nature allowed a majority of their M-I complex to come through the war unscathed. The H’joQ, while not leading the Empire directly, have had their influence stretch to encompass the entirety of the Empire, and they have begun to squeeze…
PLAYING A H’jOQ
H'JoQ honor is quite a bit different from regular Klingon honor and is more than a bit disconcerting to other Klingons and aliens who think they may have a handle on them.
1)EMPIRE BEFORE HOUSE, HOUSE BEFORE SELF
The H'JoQ are close to what could be called altruistic for the good of the whole Klingon Empire, but that wouldn't be entirely accurate. The H'JoQ have taken a page from looking at the Federation and Romulan Empires and realize that the Klingon Empire would be far more powerful and effective as a unified whole, than as a collection of squabbling houses.
Bearing this in mind, The H'JoQ have looked for ways to make the Empire stronger. The first, and most obvious, means to make the empire more powerful is the construction and refinement of the Empires weapons, ships, and infrastructure. When The H'joQ build, they build to last and to project power. While the other Houses may personally disparage them, they are more than willing to use their weapons.
The other, more indirect, and perhaps more effective means of reaching their objective is their intelligence gathering network. The H'joQ don't place much stack in personal honor (relatively speaking), since that would get in the way of protecting the Empire on more than one occasion, and more than make up for this 'lack of Honor' in pure ruthlessness, cunning and efficient killing of threats. This in practical terms means they will go to lengths most Klingons wouldn't even consider to achieve results that they are looking for.
2) YOU ARE ALLOWED TO DIE WHEN YOUR DUTY IS DISCHARGED.
The H'JoQ have more than a passing contempt for a majority of the rest of the Houses. Warriors which could be put to productive use elsewhere die needlessly in personal duels and other inter-House squabbles. The H'JoQ have better things to do with their time than get involved in such things. As such, the H'joQ are highly focused individuals and are not given over to distractions like most Klingons. Insulting a H'JoQ's honor, depending on what they are doing, will be ignored, noted and the offender will be informed when a formal duel can be arranged. Or they might simply kill them and move on. Duty to the Empire comes first.
In practical terms, a H'JoQ who is called out in the traditional fashion will stab the opponent in the throat with a Kat'luch ceremonial dagger (they all carry one) and allow whatever toxins they might coat it with to kill the subject, while they move on to whatever they were doing. Perversely, most Klingons, while perhaps annoyed with the breach of dueling etiquette, appreciate the ruthlessness in responding to the challenge, so little is made of this approach.
3) ALL IS FAIR IN WAR AND OTHER PURSUITS.
The H'joQ have a big job on their shoulders, limited resources, and they aren't very particular on how they get the job done. Reasonable negotiation will be attempted initially, followed by threats, then depending on the situation, theft, assault, kidnapping, or murder is the typical result. Any underhanded trick is allowed as long as it does not corrupt the overall goal of protecting the Empire.
4) MOVE AS THE WIND, EXIST IN SHADOW
In the Empire at least, the H'JoQ have refined their capacity at infiltration, stealth, and deception to a considerable art form, given that few of the Houses trust them with their position as Imperial Spies. Often the H'JoQ will act as more normal Klingons, if only to throw the others off and wonder what they are up to, while often achieving their objective right out in the open. Or more often than not, few will know they were ever in the area. A good portion of Klingon paranoia is inevitably the result of H'joQ maneuverings.
5) THE EMPIRE IS ONE
In what could be described as a nationalist movement, the H'joQ have been slowly chipping away at the Noble houses influence for decades in one form or another silently, usually citing Unity making the Empire stRonger. Few, if any of the houses are aware of this fact in actually.
Most of the suggestions come in a reasonable manner, such as standardization for ship parts for ease of repair across House boundaries, standardization of education of the warrior schools (which allow them access to lay the grounds for the concept of Unity amongst the new warrior trainees in indirect, but effective, manners), and other venues which most warriors pay little attention to.
VIEWS OF THE OTHER HOUSES
THE DAA'MOQ: While cunning in battle, their ferocity tends to overtax their thinking processes, thus leading to larger casualties than necessary. Useful as shock troops and vanguard forces, but not something you want to keep nearby for a protected length of time.
THE DURAS: *sigh* so much energy wasted for so little. They were once noble, but have fallen far. Perhaps Ja'rod will be worth salvaging and turning intoa piece to offset the House of Kang
THE KANG: Noble and worthy of leading the Empire. With a few minor adjustments, we can shape them into a proper ruling class. It is unfortunate that they despise us so. But no matter.
THE KOZAK: Access to their economic and industrial might has proven a good pairing for our houses. With them, We can arm the Empire and make it strong. They also understand our desire for Unity within the Empire, if for crasser economic reasons. But still, they have proven loyal allies, and should be afforded consideration in our plans. One should treat their allies well.
THE MARTOK: Well, that was unexpected. He was honest in his desire to make the Empire strong again, and there are many who would oppose that simply for his and his successor's low born position. That attitude will need to be corrected, mostly through leadership. Or some creative adjustment of certain opposing house members secret files.
THE MERGH: Ah, it is so gratifying to see a project go so well. They are ripe for takeover. So much the better.
THE MONG: Silent, secretive, deadly. They are so very like us. Thus bear watching.
THE MOGH: There is potential in the Son of Mogh. We will say little else
narry a comment? Very well
Runnin a fever of 102.1 at the moment or else I'd probably read that. I think one of the reasons you've gotten little response is people's attention span is shorter than your post.
Yup, I had trouble reading it as it was very long...... I think I almost nodded off...but then again I am tired...lol.
Long read, but sounds great.
Look forward to this in the foundry.
Excellent summation of the nationalism sparked by the Napoleonic Era. Your comparison to Moscow, where the communist regime always held more to the principles of Russian nationalism than anything resembling Marxist ideology is a wonderful seasoning. (I still view Soviet Communism as simply a new designer opiate for the masses.)
An excellent foundation for an epic plot. Two lines strike me as perfect for this theme. One is the "Descent into Madness" where the emphasis on empire leads to dishonor and insanity. After all, getting what you wished for in your youth is not nearly so frightening as your children getting what you wished for in your youth; Their agenda and experience will use it in ways one may very well regret. Indeed, what mistakes might occur if some leader of this house were to perceive BORG technology as the "Next Stage" in protecting the empire? Frank Herbert's Dune series subtly points out that when you change the evolution of what you are to become something better - the result will replace you and it will no longer be you. Will they in trying to protect what is tlhIngan teH destroy it?
The other plot is "Redemption". The most tragic redemption story I have ever read is that of Elric of Melnibone the first of his species to be born with a conscience. With tuq H'joQ on the slippery slope of nationalism at any cost, what storyline could allow one of its own to save it, both within and without, when the Night of the Long Knives catches up with them. Something that they seemed to have missed is that these actions do not remain unnoticed forever. While it took nearly 60 allied nations to defeat expansionist fascist regimes on earth, no less exists in the Star Trek universe. That person, complicit in all the houses dishonor, may convert to the hero needed to prevent the house's destruction (and the Empires) by creating a compromise which embraces the virtues of both Klingon and UFP while sacrificing a more radical section of the house for control of future outcomes. Vladimir Lenin has been painted by some as controlling both the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks in order to make one look more radical while the other seemed like the middle of the road compromise thereby getting opponents to choose what he wanted in order to avoid the more radical proposal. A similar play could be written where the pivotal character does indeed sacrifice the more radical side of his house to save and to eliminate it for the good of the house and the empire; a move which convinces that radical sect to accept their sacrifice as a ruse, while in reality this main figure truly wants them eliminated in order to prevent the radical shifts they are bringing about in Klingon society.
As to the H'joQ, one thing I had not mentioned is that they are also ruthless opportunists and are also very dangerous in that they plan for the very, very long term. The average H'joQ might not see the fruition of their Houses plans, but they will carry out their Houses plans with little question or compunction is they think it will get The Empire (thus, themselves) ahead.
For the 'Descent into Madness' idea, I had something which I had run in the background in my original campaign, namely that the H'joQ invited in any and all Klingons who had not been killed or discommendated from their families ones their ridges were gone and their thought processes had been altered by the Augment Virus, and treated them as family (much to the distaste of other houses). But their plans were more pragmatic which involved swelling the houses ranks, intelligence on the other houses, and a rather dark objective to be accomplished over the long term: the reconstruction of the Augment Genome and the superior abilities exhibited by the Klingon Augments.
The H'joQ have been slowly successful over the years in reconstructing it, and within the last 100 years have been seeding the genome into their own population while teaching their children to hide their traits and shunting their traits to where they would be most useful (the sciences and engineering). Their eventual goal is to have the population of the House become Augments. Many of the Houses intelligence masters are already Augments, and they intimately understand the houses precarious position and the the slow blade approach will be the one that guarentees survival. And the House's eventual cultural conquest of the Empire.
A horrifying idea by any Klingons Standard. And would resist if they had any idea it was going on. But the H'joQ I designed to be a long term threat to both the Empire and Federation and they usually act through unwitting proxies.
The H'JoQ are The Dark Mirror of Klingon Ambition in perhaps the most literal sense. Instead of Personal Ambition in a Traditional Klingon acting as the lone warrior crushing all in his path, they are the silent pack of Targs, snipping and taking bits out of and enemy while he flails about blindly before leading other predators to him, all the while husbanding their strength for striking when the time is right.
When Designing adventures with them, the H'joQ are masters of the Xanatos Gambit http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph.../XanatosGambit (To prevent Villain Decay) and creators should take this into consideration. It makes them more interesting over the long run.
I currently starting to work on script for a Klingon Adventure where the players will be come aware of them perifierally to begin with. I might create it as several adventures.
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