According to legend, Bloadlikk, one of seven brothers, was the progenitor of the Noble caste. Youngest and wisest, he was chosen king. Bloadlikk's children formed the Noble caste.
The Noble caste is composed of numerous houses. They were initially founded by a Paragon but some were founded by high caste dwarves not originally of noble stock, typically warrior caste or smith caste. Noble houses used to rule thaigs all across Thedas which were their ancestral homes and typically gave their name to the thaig. However almost all of them have now been lost to the darkspawn.
In Orzammar, the struggle to prove one's worth is central to dwarven culture and the relative power of each house is determined by the prestige a house acquires. Often, the noble houses connive and plot to eclipse each other in the Assembly, even resorting to intrigues such as assassination and blackmail to dominate their rivals. It is also common to increase their own standing by allying with another dwarven house via marriage. So long as the appearance of honor is maintained, the goal always justifies the means.
Dwarven houses earn rank and prestige when combatants loyal to them, or from their own bloodlines, win Provings. In addition to getting a share of the profits, the noble houses also earn prestige when artisans they patronize become sought-after or well regarded, or when the merchants they invest in become successful. The degrees of power that these achievements confer is murky however, even to the dwarves. In such cases, it isn't unusual for nobles to challenge each other to Provings over whose client is superior. Nor is it out of the ordinary to find the clients arguing over whose noble patron has won the most acclaim, for the rank of the patron is the rank of the client. Thus, the relationship between patron and client is mutually beneficial.
In combat, noble dwarves sometimes fight paired with another dwarf known as their "second". It is not known if other castes can have seconds. This form of team combat is a tradition in dwarven society as history has it that the style originated from the earliest days of the dwarven empire, when Kiotshett fought as King Bloadlikk's second. Seconds may also function as something of a personal bodyguard and companion, essentially being the right hand of the noble. If a second is not available to serve their superior, another dwarf may temporarily take his place.
The known dwarves who served as seconds are the following:
- Prince Bhelen Aeducan to Crown Prince Trian Aeducan
- Astyth to the King of Orzammar who reigned at the end of Divine Age
- Gorim Saelac to the Dwarf Noble
- Vartag Gavorn to Bhelen Aeducan
- Gorim Saelac's father, Lord Pyral Harrowmont, and the Dwarf Noble to King Endrin Aeducan
- Dulin Forender to Pyral Harrowmont
- Olaniv to Lord Darvianak Vollney
- Velanz to Wojech Ivo
The Royal House
The Royal family is the very pinnacle of the Noble caste, setting the mode in society and enjoying immense privilege and power amongst not only their own caste but all of Orzammar itself. The king or queen hold their position for life, unless they are removed or replaced. As the ruler, they are also the war-leader and have authority over the Legion of the Dead.
In modern-day Orzammar, royal power is kept in check by the Assembly, the dwarven governing body who chooses the king and from whom kings are typically drawn. Although the king rules Orzammar he must garner the support of the Assembly lords to maintain his position, for kings can--and have been--expelled from the throne. Unpopular kings and their heirs are deemed unfit to rule and the kingship then passes to another. While the chosen ruler is typically male, women have also been chosen by the Assembly to rule.
Members of the Assembly are known as "deshyr" though some call them "deep lords" which is its derisive equivalent. During the events of the Fifth Blight, the Assembly is composed of eighty deshyrs drawn from the most influential noble houses in the city. The right of a noble house to claim a vote in the Assembly is predicated on that house having a deshyr, general, or Paragon among their Ancestors. Therefore, the number of Assembly members can fluctuate. Any caste other than the noble caste is not represented in the Assembly.
Known Noble houses
Noble houses are listed in an alphabetical order and those whose status is unknown have their name italicized.
- Branka [note]
- (Brosca) [note]
- Fairel †
- Ferald † [note]
- Garen †
- Gorosmote †
- Harrowmont [note]
- Hirol [note]
- Ortan † [note]
- Tethras †
- Varen †
- Endrin Aeducan
- Anwer Dace
- The Dwarf Noble
- Orseck Garal
- Pyral Harrowmont
- Renvil Harrowmont
- Lady Helmi
- Jaylia Helmi
- Mayla: A noblewoman who fled to the surface after her husband brutally murdered Bardin, a smith who loved her.
- Endrin Stonehammer
- Darvianak Vollney
- 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, its last living member, during the A Paragon of Her Kind quest.
- House Brosca is founded if the Warden is of Dwarf Commoner Origin and survives the events of the Fifth Blight, thus becoming a Paragon.
- 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 becomes extinct if Bhelen Aeducan becomes the next King of Orzammar during A Paragon of Her Kind.
- House Ortan is re-established if the Warden completes the Lost to the Memories quest.
- Deshyrs hold their position for life unless they are removed or replaced. As the ruler, the monarch is the theoretical war-leader of Orzammar but in practice this means that the ruler merely commands the warrior houses sworn to his or her own house. The monarch can expand their army by appointing High Generals from other noble houses and thereby gain their warriors.
- "Deshyr" roughly translates to "assembly lord". To become a member there must first be an opening in the tightly closed ranks, and this usually occurs through death or resignation. An acting member then nominates a candidate who must be approved by one-third of the Assembly.
- Due to their never-ending intrigues, most noble houses of Orzammar employ one or several poisoners at all times.
- 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.
- Varric Tethras will joke in banter with Fenris in Dragon Age II about his gold-plated noble caste pin.