My Theory about House V'neef
This is just my unofficial view on a matter which my home Exalted game has been forced to address. I run a Dragon-Blooded chronicle called Far Shores, which is simply my latest Exalted home game. One of my players plays a Terrestrial Exalted who hails from House V'neef, and dealing with the presentation of his House within the story of our game cemented some issues which I feel were previously outstanding.
Let us begin with the evidence exhibits:
Exhibit A: Houses of the Bull God says that House V'neef established wineries more than 90 years ago in Harborhead (pp.63-64) and that V'neef Jegan is an Earth Aspected Dragon-Blood with over 300 years of wine-making experience.
Exhibit B:Savage Seas states that Merchant Fleet Admiral V'neef Ririon is "almost 70 years old" (p.78).
Exhibit C: V'neef herself is exactly 60 years old. (Exalted, p.39)
It would seem that we might have an issue here. Individuals who are older than V'neef herself bear the House identity in their writeups. I once read that J.R.R. Tolkien approached his work with the idea that things he had previously written were not mistakes, even when they seemed utterly and completely contradictory. Supposedly he would look for a deeper angle, an explanation which made the apparent mistake make sense without any assumption of mistake. I don't know if this is true, but it's an idea that appeals to me. Thus, when I find things like this, whether in my own work or elsewhere, I try to do the same (assuming that I have any creative use for the material, that is).
So, anyway, here's my theory:
V'neef (the woman) is the product of a breeding between the Scarlet Empress and a man who belonged to a powerful patrician house. Say perhaps House Jegan if we require a canonical derivation for the house's original name. Jegan was clearly important enough to swing doses of Imperial anagathic drugs. Anyway, V'neef was a favored child (as I suspect most of the Empress's children were). She is described as being the Imperial cupbearer at one point. My guess is that Wood Aspects are the best people to use for poison detection, and it was an excuse to show favor to her new daughter. When the Empress decided to raise the house of her daughter V'neef to the level of an Imperial Dynastic House, it was given the V'neef name specifically because she was the Empress's sole blood link to the House (and that's what the Dynasty really all means).
Thus, V'neef belongs to a house which contains at least two Dragon-Blooded older than herself, whom she is given authority over by the decree of the Scarlet Empress. This means that her house is larger than the mere 60 years of its existence would suggest. Given that the Empress clearly sought the presence of the V'neef to offset the naval power of the Peleps, it makes sense that she would seek out a house with some already existent power. It also gives greater political ramifications to the House when one considers that there are potent older Dragon-Blooded, who previously held patrician status, to back up their House's scion.
Of course, the House of V'neef has also been very aggressive about recruiting outcastes. V'neef Odessa (from Aspect Book: Water) and V'neef Keersa Kalla (from Aspect Book: Wood) were both born as outcastes. Canonical counts of outcastes are not easy to find, but potentially House V'neef thus far has the single highest count of canonical outcaste figures. This might not mean anything, of course, but it certainly makes sense.
Oh, yeah. Another theory that isn't proven anywhere. I think that it would be really cool if V-apostrophe was the High Realm equivalent for "of the House of" or "von". Then we could assume that the woman we all think of as V'neef would have actually been called "Neef" or perhaps even Jegan Neef.
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