House Pyxis (The Compass) is one of the Houses Minor of the Empire. It was formed out of separatists who split off from the Major House Vela in the latter half of The Shining Star's reign due to differences in policy toward exploration of Acheron Rho.
Still mainly nomadic romantics ever searching for their next adventure or grand discovery, the Houses of the Empire recently elected Pyxis to be the next Imperial House. Many wonder how the youngest of the Houses will be able to take on this responsibility.
Roleplaying a Pyxis can be quite challenging as the House is quite young and the population can contain a wide variety of personalities, if you would like some help please visit the page How to Play a Pyxis.
House Pyxis is the youngest House in the Empire. In 3120, House Pyxis split from House Vela when longstanding differences regarding the exploration of Acheron Rho came to a head. While the popular voice of House Vela felt that exploration was no longer necessary and the map of the sector complete, the dissenting nobles who would come to form House Pyxis insisted that there were was still much left to be uncovered.
Main article: Vela-Pyxis Split
Pyxis generally looks back on their former "Mother House" with disappointment rather than contempt, and until the events of 3200 they maintained a relatively friendly relationship.
House Pyxis' campaign for the Imperial Throne was one of harmony, unity, and hope. It is expected that the X. Emperox will form their reign on these values.
House Pyxis' homeworld is not on a planet within a planetary system like other Houses. Instead the House is based out of the Lodestone, a massive space object of unknown origin outfitted with unique and unexplained technology that allows it to reconfigure the drill lane configuration of local space.
In addition to that the families of House Pyxis tend to be scattered among the galaxy, usually on smaller ships, and will rarely see each other outside chance encounters, return to the Lodestone, or the Annual Moot.
Organization of House Pyxis
As a very young House with a focus on exploration, House Pyxis doesn't have a very involved hierarchical structure. Pyxis titles do not indicate a clear line of command, and titles are always earned through hard work and great explorations. Structures are fluid and in constant flux.
While members of House Pyxis seem to be able to navigate this social construct without major accidents, for most other nobles it looks more like a hopelessly anarchic system. But they have to admit that it works.
The Role of Granny Pyxis
Main Article: Granny Pyxis
Granny Pyxis is the closest thing House Pyxis has to a single cohesive leader. Credited with the Discovery of the Lodestone, she wields enough respect to demand almost anything of most Pyxis. She uses this power to coordinate what would otherwise be a hopelessly anarchic system. Most Pyxis, who possess some capacity to make meaningful choices for the House, including all of those on Lodestone, rest their authority on the nigh universal authority held by Granny.
Hierarchy and Titles
Main Article: Pyxis Titles And Epithets
House Pyxis does not have a system of inheriting titles, choosing instead to award titles based on achievement by common consensus at the Moot. Within the House, a title is earned through the work one has done in their life, whether they were a Seeker, an Echo, an Orator, or something else entirely. Each title shows insight into the individual member who chose their title. They believe themselves all to be equal, choosing to place trust in and listen to the experienced and proven members of the House.
There are two ways to receive recognition in the House, a title and an epithet. A title is a monumental award, most only ever receiving one, if any. A few Pyxis, who have become pivotal societal leaders, can accrue two, or perhaps even three. An epithet is more easily obtained. An achievement of great renown that is not necessarily so fundamental that it justifies becoming a title, can become an epithet. While the line is not normally exceptionally clear, epithets tend to be matters that do not relate directly to the house's core ideals, they're just awesome.
SeekerThe majority of the house is made up of Seekers. All who are born of House Pyxis originally hold this title. The members of House Pyxis are destined to scour the universe for knowledge. When they make their discovery, they will typically modify their title to one that reflects their discovery. For others of House Pyxis, they keep the title of Seeker for there is always discovery to be sought among the stars.
EchoA rare title for the bravest and best pilots of House Pyxis. Echoes take control of high-grade spike drives at suicidal speeds in order to keep the house connected. They are often used as couriers and transporters within the house. Their work is prone to catastrophe, often using notoriously dangerous variants of Pyxis mapping for their routes, and it is said that most Echoes perish before old age. Those who do survive tend to be VoidTouched.
RangerThe Rangers are members of the Pyxis Ranger Coalition, the paramilitary special service contingent of House Pyxis. The members of the organisation, long since evolved from their founding principles, are now deeply involved in multidisciplinary civilian and military operations for the noble house.
OratorThe voice of House Pyxis. There are 5 Orators in total: Orator of the North, Orator of the South, Orator of the East, Orator of the West, and Orator of the Rose. They act as the diplomats of House Pyxis for the other Houses. The four Cardinal Orators are tend to be highly respected fixtures of Pyxis Society and are elected at the annual Moot.
The Orator of the RoseActing not just as a voice of the people, but the face as well; the Orator of the Rose acts as the tie-breaker between the other Orators and functions as the highest level diplomat in Pyxis governance, representing Pyxis at the Houses Minor Council. This position has now been formally retired, the Rose Lottery having been discontinued following the The Eternal Rose being bestowed the title for life upon her ascension to the Throne.
Exploring the unknown can come at great cost. Sometimes our Seekers and Echoes return but have lost a part of themselves on their way. VoidTouched are treated with respect, as the members of House Pyxis see it that price they paid is a burden that they all share, and are sometimes said to have taken their first step toward the great expedition into oblivion.
A small part of House Pyxis that has traveled further than most and changed more than others. Their prolonged exposure to both the alien races, warp space and whatever else the void has thrown in their way has made this small group immensely knowledgeable, diverse and almost entirely alien in their ways.
WardenMain Article: Warden
Those who choose to center their lives around the Lodestone and taking care of it, whilst seeking out its deep, dark secrets. The Wardens work closely with Granny Pyxis to run the Lodestone, apportioning responsibilities between them to ensure the successful running of the planetoid.
Serfdom in House Pyxis
Main Article: Pyxis Serfdom
House Pyxis is not only the youngest, but also the smallest of the noble Houses. To survive and prosper as a House, the nobles have to heavily rely on theirs serfs support and loyalty. Serfs often work closer together with nobles than usual and are treated with more respect than in most other places in the Empire.
This is reflected in the fact that quite often the naming conventions of the serfs of House Pyxis are even longer and at times even more pretentious than of the nobles they serve. Great pride is taken with their names as more often than not, great care was taken in the decision of the parents on what name to choose.
House Pyxis utilizes a number of peer-to-peer programs, originally to ensure their autonomy from their House of Origin. Nowadays they are a chance for solving the looming navigation crisis.
These programs are loved by those on the fringes of society, whichever side of the Sector's conflict they happen to be on.
Main Article: PATHS
PATHS (Pyxis Alternative Travel Heuristics System) is used by almost every Pyxis to navigate the sector. It is a decentralized alternative system of navigation and map distribution. All ships equipped with PATHS and dedicated nodes share information with one another on a contact basis to keep their map and weather information up to date.
Main Article: PLANES
Lesser used, but gaining popularity in recent times, PLANES (Pyxis Legitimate Alternative Network Extension System) is a piece of software built on the peer-to-peer framework of the PATHS system. It is a digital distribution network for spreading content across the sector without the authority of any central entity.
Members of House Pyxis tend to be nomadic romantics ever searching for their next adventure or grand discovery, which they hone into dramatic tales vaunting themselves and extolling their virtues. These exploits make them notoriously hard to find, but also tend to show up in unusual locations. They are fond of the phrase "No one ever finds a Pyxis, they find you," for this very reason.
As a whole, the House Pyxis has varied cultural practices - no two Pyxis will worship, prepare a funeral or greet someone exactly the same. Below are guidelines to help a visitor learn more about the enigmatic Pyxis members.
Life in Space
House Pyxis doesn't have a ancestral homeworld in the traditional sense like all other noble Houses, instead members of the House live either on the mysterious planetoid Lodestone or on their own private space ships. Most Pyxis are born in space, spend most of their life in space, and die in space. Because of this a higher than usual percentage of Pyxis are not entirely comfortable on planets and are often overwhelmed by the intense colors and smells down a gravity well.
Pyxis customs and traditions are rather closely related to the customs and traditions of spacer culture. Most members of the House learn to perform the basic roles in a crew and are familiar with emergency procedures, basic maintenance and repairs, as well as first aid around space related injuries.
It is no wonder that an overwhelming majority of the House has at least a rudimentary knowledge of navigation and piloting, as many Pyxis families own at least one space craft.
Chance Meetings in Space: Formal Greetings and Parting Words
Living in space means spending a lot of time alone or in the company of only a few people. Therefore meeting other members of the House or even complete strangers is considered good luck and will usually be celebrated. When Pyxis meet friends, relatives or important guests traditional greetings are exchanged (Welcomed Crossing!) and the members will meet in-person on one ship.
When Pyxis meet others, or someone outside the House comes across a Pyxis the same courtesies are offered although perhaps, warily. The traditional greeting is offered, and the invitation is extended for tea and a meal. If accepted, the Pyxis member will offer refreshments. Pyxis tea preparation is meant to be a communal experience, and if the visitor knows of Pyxis customs, their participation would be most welcome and viewed as respectful that time was taken to learn about Pyxis.
If the Pyxis is a guest aboard another Houses ship, then they may bring a small offering of thanks - which may or may not be something only a Pyxis would find useful. Gifts for their fellow Pyxis are often of a very practical nature like needed spare parts, software upgrades, or information around space anomalies.
Depending on the size of a Pyxis ship, it is not uncommon to share a meal with a Pyxis on the floor of their ship, on soft pillows and mats. Although there are ships that have tables and chairs in their mess halls available for those who would prefer a more familiar setting.
When the meal and conversation die down, clearing up is the responsibility of the host and guest, and many Pyxis use this as an opportunity to gauge the personality of a non-Pyxis guest. However, there is no judgment if the guest does not help unless they are Pyxis (in which case, they should know to help). Guests are then encouraged to relax and enjoy another cup of tea while their host busies themselves with clean-up.
For younger folk, these meetings are often a good opportunity to meet potential romantic partners. Flirting and sneaking away for a tête-à-tête is not uncommon, although everyone involved can expect quite a bit of teasing about their behavior by the older Pyxis present.
Before Pyxis ships uncouple there is a discussion about whether an exchange of Pyxis members on either ship would occur. Often times, Seekers without their own ships are invited to move to another ship to continue their mission if that ship is heading to a destination they are interested in.
When parting the traditional farewell is uttered, “Until another star”, and the visitor will return to their ship.
Return to Lodestone
All Pyxis crews have the right to use the maintenance facilities on Lodestone. While most members of the House spent the majority of their life exploring the sector, it has become almost a tradition to return to the Lodestone on a semi-regular basis.
Most crews try to dock on Lodestone at least once a year. They usually spent about a week on the planetoid, catching up with old friends and making new ones, while their ship gets checked out by Lodestone's maintenance crews.
Most Pyxis make a big deal out of their return to Lodestone, informing family and friends weeks in advance of their arrival. This can lead to several crews of an extended family meeting up on the space station at the same time. Others prefer to keep their flight plans a secret. Not only friends can wait for you on Lodestone after all.
Main Article: The Moot
The Moot is an annual week-long meeting held in a new secret location each gathering. Those outside of House Pyxis may have only heard stories about the types of things that happen at these meetings. The members of the House share their tales and discoveries while having a party unlike that which most of the sector has seen. Many of Pyxis' most important elections also take place during the course of the Moot.
Among every system in the sector lies at least one of these small stashes left behind by a wanderer of House Pyxis. These often contain resources for other members of the House to stumble onto when they become stranded or lost, as well as a store of recent data and status of various Pyxis who have crossed the cache.
Many of the younger members of House Pyxis like to share travel stickers. Stickers may be general, such as popular symbols and greetings, well known discoveries, and popular locations, as well as more personal, depicting recent discoveries, favorite exotic locations, or family history. General Stickers may be mass produced at Lodestone, while the more personal designs are often designed and created in the time it takes to travel between caches and fuel stations, where they are often found layered centimeters thick.
Life in a Pyxis Family
Despite being their population being spread out across the whole sector, Pyxis families are tight-knit and well connected. Through a wide variety of message systems and dead drops, they know how to stay in contact and how to make long-distance work.
Perhaps it is no surprise, that Pyxis family gatherings and traditions are often loud and enthusiastic celebrations. Food and exotic delicacies often play a major role in these feasts.
Main Article: House Pyxis Weddings
As a young house, there are not many established traditions among the members of House Pyxis however it was quickly established that unique wedding traditions would be a vital part of setting the house apart from House Vela. These traditions rarely come up due to the small number of Pyxis nobles. So each time a Pyxis either marries another Pyxis or a fellow noble chooses to be married into House Pyxis it is a grand celebration. Some of these weddings take place at The Moot, but for those who are too impatient to wait there are other traditions to uphold. Rangers of House Pyxis notably have their own traditions with regards to marriage.
Funerals are often scattered through space, a long way from Lodestone, but they still manage to honor their dead. Due to their natures as storytellers, after the death of a Pyxis, they tell the stories of their kin. At a funeral where the body has been returned to Lodestone and the care of a Lyran Neshmet, rites are performed as per Lyran tradition and stories are told about the departed. Tales of their grand adventures and their discoveries are told before the departed is jettisoned into the void to continue on exploring forever.
In event a Pyxis is lost in space, or simply disappears, those close are invited to participate in a wake that tells the story of their lost one, before sending an effigy to symbolize the departed's eternal adventure. By telling their stories and remembering their exploits the members of the noble House Pyxis live on in the After.
At a Pyxis’ funeral, those in attendance each tell a story about the lost. After, every story they told at a moot is retold by those in attendance. In this way, every Pyxis writes their own eulogy.
With the death of a child the eulogy is replaced by an hour of total silence
A Pyxis ship is their home and companion among the stars. When a ship falls out of use, a ceremony is held to respect the ship where a part of the old ship (if possible) is incorporated into the new ship. These ceremonies vary slightly from family to family.
Food, Drinks, and Delicacies
Within House Pyxis, there are many who seek out new and unique flavors to share with the sector in creative dishes.
Main Article: Food, Drinks, and Other Delicacies of House Pyxis.
Secondary Article: Tea Pyxidis
Life in Style
Fashion and Aesthetic
Pyxis style varies wildly throughout the house. In general, Pyxis tend to wear loose, baggy layers inspired by Eastern European and Western Asian culture.
(Expand the gallery on the right.)
More House Pyxis style examples may be accessed here.
"Granny" Pyxis, the founder and leader of House Pyxis.
The Eternal Rose, tenth Emperox and current ruler of the Empire.
Extended Universe Player Characters
Profiles of various House Pyxis members may be accessed here.