House is the formal term for dwarven families whose members are tied with bonds of kinship. The laws regarding houses are dictated by the caste system as well as their stature and rank within dwarven society.
Honor, or the illusion of it, is fundamental to dwarves. It shapes their lives and behavior and all elements of dwarven society. Therefore, every house and family polices itself and the honor and behavior of its members in order to avoid one of the very worst fates a dwarf can endure: being named oathbreaker and consequently shunned. This is a matter of especial importance to noble houses, as nobles are considered to set the mode for the behavior of all other castes. A house's honor is directly tied to the honor and behavior of its members and their deeds. A loss of honor for any member connotes a loss of honor for all in the house.
Below are lists of the known dwarven houses, which are categorized depending on their caste. Houses of the same caste are then listed in an alphabetical order, while those whose status is unknown have their name italicized.
Houses which are part of the Noble caste are collections of noble families typically related by blood. Most noble houses were initially founded by a Paragon but some were founded by high caste dwarves not originally of noble stock, typically Warrior or Smith caste. The respect accorded to a noble house is proportional to its age and accomplishments. Sometimes impoverished noble houses will marry a child to a wealthy non-noble house to gain its wealth and to elevate the lesser house. Noble houses or important nobles alone often act as patrons to lesser houses or families as well as function as patrons to great warriors in Provings and artists of merit. The noble house gains honor as the subject of their patronage excels and achieves greater status, so the relationship is mutually beneficial.
- Branka [note]
- (Brosca) [note]
- Fairel †
- Ferald † [note]
- Garen †
- Gorosmote †
- Harrowmont [note]
- Ortan † [note]
- Tethras †
- Varen †
Houses which belong to the Warrior caste often pay the toll for Orzammar's safety and security. Indeed, there is not a single Warrior caste house or family that has not lost a child to the darkspawn. In spite of this, the Warrior caste is one of the most populous in Orzammar, perhaps due to the martial nature of dwarven society.
Houses belonging to the Smith caste have produced many Paragons, owing to the importance of smithing inventions to dwarven society. As a result, there have been many noble houses comprised of smiths, and these houses are often sponsors of exceptional young smiths.
Little is known of Artisan caste houses. The Artisan caste works in concert with the Smith caste to produce goods and thus their houses are presumably held in a similar esteem.
Houses of the Mining caste can be considered to have a great deal of influence, particularly in Orzammar, which was the ancestral home of the Smith and Mining castes, though they only rarely push their influence with the nobility.
Houses of the Merchant caste are involved in trading and commerce, which is an important task as it keeps Orzammar supplied while dwarven products make their way to the surface.
Houses of unknown caste
- Cad'halash †
- Zygmunt [note]
- Dwarves who leave for the surface forfeit any claims to their house only if they are from the noble caste.
- House Branka may become extinct if the Warden kills Branka, the last legitimate member, during the A Paragon of Her Kind quest.
- House Brosca is founded if the Warden is of Dwarf Commoner Origin. The Warden in the end of the Fifth Blight is elevated into Warrior caste and after months of deliberation of the Assembly is named Paragon (even posthumously), further elevating House Brosca to nobility.
- House Ferald's last member voluntarily joined the Legion of the Dead. Due to his great personal sacrifice, as well as his noble descent, the Legion can be considered to be the heir of House Ferald and be elevated to minor nobility, although with some restrictions, during the The Dead Caste quest.
- House Harrowmont ceases to exist if Bhelen Aeducan becomes the next King of Orzammar during A Paragon of Her Kind.
- House Ortan is re-established by Orta if the Warden completes the Lost to the Memories quest.
- According to Shaper Czibor, House Zygmunt lost its thaig to the darkspawn thirteen generations ago.