Kingmaker in Eberron
Breland, our Breland,
Land of freedom and bravery,
Forever will the Bear and Crown
Stand upon this land we love.
Breland, our Breland,
Realm of gold and wonders,
Always will we sing of thee
Across this land we love . . .
—“The Song of Breland,”
Breland’s national anthem
Breland at a Glance
Data based on parliamentary census records, 997 YK.
Population: 3.7 million
Area: 1,800,000 square miles
Sovereign: Boranel ir’Wynarn
Major Cities: Sharn, Starilaskur, Galethspyre, Xandrar
Climate: Temperate in the north, tropical in the south
Highest Point: Erix Peak in the Blackcaps Range, elevation 13,256
Heraldry: A roaring bear surrounded by gold wyverns on a crimson shield
Founder: Wroann, fifth scion of King Jarot
National Motto: “We gain what we give.”
Distance allowed Breland to develop in ways that were distinctly different from the other human nations. While each of the human settlements that eventually became the Five Nations took root in the rich land surrounding the Scions Sound, the ancestors of the Brelish nation felt confined along the shore of the Brey River. The original settlement, built near where Aruldusk stands today, was quickly abandoned and its people moved south, following the river until they found a site that pleased them.
The original nation of Wroat grew up around what is today Vathirond.
The frontier nation didn’t stop there, however, and soon those within the settlement who wanted more open space and more freedom continued to move south and west. It was about 2,400 years ago that Breggor First King led most of the pre-Brelish settlers to fertile fields where the Howling and Dagger Rivers converged and established the nation of Wroat. Meanwhile, as the humans of the Lhazaar expeditions landed on Khorvaire’s eastern shores and migrated inland, one of Lhazaar’s most powerful lieutenant’s struck out to map the southern shores of the new land. With four mighty warships and more than a thousand warriors, Malleon explored the coast of southern Khorvaire. Along the way, Malleon earned the name “the Reaver” as he plundered the settlements of goblins, gnomes, and lizardfolk he discovered.
Then, about twenty-five years after Lhazaar first led them to this new continent, Malleon sailed into the Hilt of the Dagger River. When Malleon first set eyes upon the ancient city on the bluff, a city that would eventually grow to become the greatest in the land, he knew that his days as an explorer and pirate had come to an end. Malleon and his loyal warriors conquered and enslaved the goblins and erected a fortress atop their ancient ruins. What was once Duur’shaarat and would one day be Sharn now belonged to Malleon. He named the place Shaarat.
For six hundred years, Malleon, his warriors, and their descendants built Shaarat into a powerful and wealthy city on the bluff overlooking the Hilt. By this point, Breggor First King had established the nation of Wroat some 500 miles north along the Dagger River. It was inevitable that the two settlements would come into conflict. Breggor wanted Shaarat for his own, but Malleon’s descendants refused to yield. The siege of Shaarat lasted for almost a year before Breggor ordered his wizards to destroy the place. Shaarat fell, but Breggor claimed the ruins and renamed the city Sharn.
Over the next eight hundred years, the towers rose and the city grew, becoming the second jewel in the nation of Wroat’s crown. The glory of Sharn was lost during the last days of the War of the Mark, when the remnants of the aberrant mark forces took refuge in the City of Towers. Rather than fall before the onslaught of the armies of the pure dragonmarked houses, the leaders of the aberrant mark forces destroyed themselves and their followers in a display of arcane power that left Sharn in ruins. The city remained abandoned for more than five hundred years.
It was Galifar I, king of the newly united kingdom, who came to the City of Tower’s rescue. In 35 YK, Galifar ordered Sharn to be rebuilt so that it could serve as the southern bastion of his kingdom. It took more than five years to make a portion of the city habitable, then another fifty years for the towers to rise over the ruins, but by 150 YK, Sharn was well on its way to becoming the largest and most powerful city not only in Breland but in the entire kingdom. Meanwhile, the rest of the nation grew and prospered. It maintained ties with the other nations, and when it became part of Galifar’s united kingdom, it served as a valued and powerful realm within the larger country. But the distances between Breland’s capital and the seats of power of the other Five Nations allowed for new ideas and attitudes to develop. No matter how prosperous and large Breland became, it was always seen as “the frontier” by the other nations. And on this frontier, new ideas such as personal freedom, inalienable rights, and individual thinking thrived.
Today, Breland stands as a benign monarchy that combines a system of heredity and nobility with an elected parliament. (The parliament existed prior to the creation of the independent kingdom of Breland, during which time it helped the governor-prince administer this portion of the realm. Wroann established it as a true legal force in 895 YK, shortly after the start of the Last War.) Of course, some feel that the monarchy should be supplanted and replaced by an elected leader, but King Boranel remains firmly in command. Still, no other nation enjoys such power, such diversity, and such freedom for the majority of its citizens. The opportunities are endless, and the wealth of ideas that flow from the cities to the countryside is truly amazing.
Breland weathered the storm of the Last War amazingly well. The size of the nation, the strength and determination of its people, and its abundance of resources gave it the ability to carry on when others fell back, to choose its own course and not be dependent on allies of convenience. Breland did earn friends over those years, and ties between Breland and Zilargo remain strong now that the war has ended.
The central and southern regions of the nation saw little if any direct conflict over the century of battle, but no one in Breland made it through without losing a friend or loved one to the war effort. While the farms north of Wroat and Galethspyre never suffered the indignity of invasion, it was the sons and daughters of the farmers who went off to fight for Brelish honor and glory. They fought at the borderlands, repelling invaders, and they fought across the borders, taking the battle to whatever nation was considered an enemy that season.
Today, the borderlands of Breland remain strong and on the alert, even as reconstruction takes place to repair the ravages of battle.
In the west, Orcbone and Shadowlock Keep watch for any incursions from Droaam. Drum Keep, in the north, watches the Eldeen border, where so many on both sides fell in some of the worst battles of the Last War. Sword Keep and Brey Crossing protect the borders with Aundair and Thrane, while Sterngate keeps an eye on the passes into Darguun. Perhaps the most active post in the current day is Kennrun, where knights and warriors must constantly deal with threats emerging from the dead-gray mist surrounding the Mournland.
Breland is a progressive nation that welcomes all who come in peace with open arms and the promise of honest wages for honest work. Its progressive nature, however, provides a home for those who wish to engage in less than honest work, especially in the larger cities. The nation works hard to maintain the Treaty of Thronehold, for King Boranel believes that peace is a better road to travel than war.
King Boranel is well and truly loved by the majority of the Brelish people. Unfortunately,
Boranel’s age is beginning to show, and none of his heirs have demonstrated even a modicum of his intelligence and charisma. Many believe that Breland’s strength relies on Boranel’s leadership, and many of his enemies beyond the borders of the nation can’t wait for him to fall. Will the hope of many who covet the Brelish countryside come to pass? When Boranel falls, so falls Breland?
The people of Breland have a strong tradition of independence and free thought. They are fiercely loyal to the kingdom and to the Brelish crown, but at the same time they don’t want the laws interfering with their daily lives. The Brelish always speak their minds, and while they treat aristocrats and officers with the respect due to rank, they still consider themselves to be the equal of any other person. While the Brelish expect their voices to be heard, they also take the time to listen to others, and they are known for their tolerance. There is also a strong strain of skeptical pragmatism in the Brelish character; the Brelish always try to find the catch in every deal, question what others take on faith, and look for a personal advantage in any situation. This attitude has its dark side, and the major cities of Breland have the highest crime rates in Khorvaire.
The Brelish are proud of the size and power of their nation. Where Aundairians are often smug and slightly condescending, the Brelish tend to be brash and loud. They know their nation is the greatest power in Khorvaire. This strength gives them a bit of an overbearing presence when traveling. They often like to visit other lands and see new sights, but they carry their nationality on their sleeve (sometimes literally), and won’t hesitate to compare the accomplishments of others to things “back home.”
In 986 YK, ten years before the Treaty of Thronehold, King Boranel forced the Brelish parliament to pass the Warforged Decree. This decree recognized warforged as sentient beings and granted them the rights afforded other Brelish citizens—once the Last War was over. This edict allowed Boranel to emancipate the warforged while still guaranteeing their service for the duration of the war. It had the secondary effect of making the Brelish warforged more committed to the Brelish cause, and it attracted warforged from other nations to rally to the Brelish banner—especially warforged from the northern nations of Aundair and Thrane.
Breland came out of the Last War in relatively good shape. Financially, the coffers are full and the nation’s industries are strong. Militarily, the Brelish forces remain alert and ready should war again break out across the land. But Boranel isn’t interested in fighting another war. He realizes that the nation must defend itself, and he knows that there are still hostile forces surrounding the country, but he hopes that through diplomacy and trade agreements, the remaining sparks of conflict can be doused.
Boranel works hard to keep the lines of communication open with Aundair and Karrnath, though
he doesn’t completely trust the leaders of these rival kingdoms. He has a grudging respect for the power of Thrane, but he has no love for the theocracy that at times was his most powerful and deadly opponent during the Last War. Boranel continues to extend the hand of friendship to the nations formed in the wake of the Last War, but he secretly fears that the next threat to peace will come not from the original Five Nations but from one of these upstarts. Finally, the king seeks to make good on the remnants of Cyre that have swarmed into his country after the destruction of their own.
When others turned them away and tried to ignore the horror that had befallen them, Boranel opened his borders and gave them a home. He prays that by doing the right thing, he won’t live to regret it.
Brelish tend to be loud, boisterous, and easygoing. They enjoy more personal rights and freedoms than seen anywhere else on the continent, and they carry an attitude that suggests they know this. They tend to be confident, liberal, and tolerant of others. Nothing seems to surprise or faze the Brelish. They love to engage in debate, especially regarding politics, though they enjoy conversations of all types. They have a rather special love of gossip, which is why the Sharn Inquisitive has such a strong readership throughout Breland, but usually fares poorly beyond the Brelish borders, where it is seen as light and inconsequential.
The people of Breland may disagree and debate the merits of their leaders among themselves in town halls and taverns, but don’t let them hear an outsider disparage their nation or their king. They take great pride in their country and its accomplishments, of its openness and tolerant views. Sure, things can be improved, but they will handle that themselves, thank you. Like the bear that serves as the symbol of their country, the Brelish can appear to be slow and sluggish one moment, but that appearance belies their power, ferocity, and ability to move quickly when the situation calls for it.
Religion is all well and good, and the Brelish have their share of priests and faithful. But religion is a private matter to most Brelish, not something to be shared or, worse, pushed upon others. Though tolerant and understanding of all things different, the Brelish have a tendency to show stronger emotions regarding king and country and other tangible things. “Gods and religion are all well and good,” Beggar Dane has written, “but get back to me when you see Dol Arrah walking the streets of Sharn.”
The nation’s heroes stand brave and ready in battle, fighting strongly for the things they believe in. This belief doesn’t extend to issues of ultimate good or ultimate evil, but instead center on the down-to earth matters of the rights and responsibilities of the individual. In many ways, the street sage Beggar Dane puts the ideals of the Brelish people into words: “Help those who need help,” and “Treat the beggar as you would treat the king.”
Breland combines the rich heritage of Galifar with the new ideas of its people. As is typical of a frontier nation, much of the Brelish countryside has a rustic, quaint feel that somehow finds a place even in the larger cities. The exception, of course, is Sharn, which has a style and feel all its own.
The diverse nature of Breland’s people tends to create a diverse number of artistic styles, and one can find almost anything if one looks long enough and hard enough. The Brelish spirit, however, is best demonstrated in the neo-Brelish renderings that advance the Galifaran form to a new level. Whereas traditional Galifaran paintings use a flat, shadeless, two-dimensional rendering style, the paintings of the neo-Brelish have depth and a more true to life depiction of what the artist sees. Much of this has been influenced by the artisans of House Phiarlan, but the Brelish have taken the style and made it their own.
Brelish art tends to convey a sense of freedom and energy, no matter the subject matter. Artists often create scenes taken from life, though they prefer to create portraits that place the subject within the grandeur of the Brelish countryside, as well as scenes of the fantastic wildlife that roams the land. The Brelish also have a fondness for battle scenes, and while many show the power of Breland on the battlefield, some show the darker, less inspiring side of war. King Boranel, in particular, used images of the dead and dying, remarkably portrayed in the work of Saranven d’Phiarlan, to help gain support for his role in the Treaty of Thronehold.
In the cities of Breland, from Starilaskur to Wroat to Sharn itself, Galifarn-style towers scrape the sky and buildings of stone connect one to another. In the countryside, however, the heart of Brelish architecture can be seen in the rustic houses and common buildings made of heavy logs and bricks. Through the use of magic, Breland raises impossibly tall towers above its cities, reaching heights that are rarely seen in the cities of the other nations. “For all the space they have horizontally,” Kothin of the Mror Holds once commented, “you have to wonder why the Brelish like to build vertically. It’s a mystery.”
Even within many of the towers and stone buildings in the cities, the Brelish tend to use elements of their rustic heritage. Large rooms decorated with natural tree trunks and logs give the stone interiors a sense of life and warmth. In the countryside, especially in the southern climes, buildings are designed to keep the coolness in and the heat out, and windows are plentiful. In New Cyre, in eastern Breland, the Cyran refugees have begun to fashion a city that harkens back to the wonders of lost Cyre. This makes the small city very different in look and feel from similarly sized settlements in other parts of the country.
Brelish cooking utilizes meats, vegetables, and hearty sauces to create filling and comforting meals. Northern Brelish cuisine tends to be simpler fare, with a sweet and savory flavor. This is the food of farmers, designed to satisfy even the most ravenous appetites before and after a day of work in the fields. Here one can find beef boranel, a favorite of the king, that features a bread and mushroom stuffing roasted inside a full side of beef. Other hearty meals from the northern and central regions of Breland include farmer’s stew, thrice-poached eggs and sizzling pheasant, and kettle fried spider and redeye berries.
Southern Brelish cooking is more adventurous, utilizing the spices and vegetables that grow in the more tropical clime. Food with a lot of heat dominates the menu, as do meals influenced by the diverse population of Sharn and then transported into the rest of the countryside. Traditional southern Brelish cooking is spicy and flavorful, and often too hot for those used to simpler fare. Fire-wrapped golden fish, spiced pork and orange peppers, and hot-spiced chicken in panya leaves are considered high cuisine in the best inns and restaurants throughout Breland. Sharn fusion, meanwhile, is a culinary experiment in combining traditional Brelish cooking with the exotic cuisine of the diverse people that regularly pass through or settle in the City of Towers. Taking ingredients and cooking styles from all over Khorvaire, the master chefs of Sharn combine these exotic dishes with their native presentation to make a totally new form of cuisine. Bold and exciting, Sharn fusion isn’t for everyone. But for those willing to try something new and a little different, this exotic culinary experience is worth the effort and expense (Sharn fusion tends to cost more than a traditional Brelish meal).
Brelish fashions tend to be simple and comfortable. Because of the heat, the Brelish prefer lighter fabrics and open, airy designs in casual dress. It is quite rare for Brelish clothes to cover the shoulders, and women often wear detached sleeves to keep their shoulders bare. The Brelish hate to be confined by rules, and aside from the demands of the weather, they follow few standards in dress. They do have one rule, however—cloth dyed with sayda. This rich sky-blue dye is made from shellfish found only in waters of the Dagger River near the Hilt. Sayda has become synonymous with Brelish national pride, making it more commonly known as “Brelish blue.” Natives of Breland traveling abroad make a point of always including at least a splash of Brelish blue in their clothes (unless traveling incognito).
When the Brelish dress up, they are as likely to wear more elaborate versions of their normal garb as to adopt styles from across Khorvaire; there have even been times when hobgoblin clothing has been in vogue in cosmopolitan Sharn. Jewelry is common, even among the lower classes, with copper wire being used for many everyday adornments. Anklets and particularly armbands are the most common, although any sort of jewelry can be found among the wealthy.
Bartis Lonn, a wheelwright from Galethspyre, shares his thoughts about foreigners, and his opinions reflect those of Breland’s popular majority:
Aundair: “Magic is all well and good, and Breland has as much arcane might as anyone, but the Aundairians drink up magic the way they drink their fancy wine—quickly and to excess. They fought well during the war, but we could have beaten them.”
Breland: “This is the greatest country in the world. We have the greatest king, the strongest army, the largest cities, the most land. We’re all about freedom and hope and honor, and while we’re extremely humble, we also know that we’re the best in all the land.”
Cyran Refugees: “King Boranel has extended the hand of friendship to these poor souls, so who am I to disagree with the king. Still, you have to wonder what they’re doing out there. They even named their settlement New Cyre. Is that sad or what? And a little disturbing, if you ask me. This is Breland, after all, not Cyre reborn.”
Darguun: “We’re trying to live in peace with the goblin nation, but I’d like to see some evidence that those savages are doing the same. I hear that their leader isn’t as in control of the place as he made out to be during the Treaty of Thronehold meetings.”
Droaam: “Monsters of all kinds live to the west. Nation? Not likely. Savages, that’s what they are. King Boranel once met their champion in single battle. Did you know that? Beat that ogre to within an inch of its life and then let it go. His heart’s too big sometimes. Too big.”
Eldeen Reaches: “We fought the Reachers more than once during the war, and both sides remember the pain and suffering those battles caused. Still, trade with the Reachers is good, and I love it when Eldeen fruits reach the market near my home.”
Karrnath: “We didn’t fight the Karrns very often, but when we did we gave as good as we got. That’s a powerful and scary bunch living up there in the cold. Makes them hard and formidable. And more than a little cranky. And what’s all this talk about using undead to fight for you? Creepy. Still, I’d rather trade with them and drink with them than fight against them.”
Lhazaar Principalities: “Pirates every one of them. They even tried to take Sharn by sea once. Or was that Karrnath? When a Lhazaar ship appears in the harbor, though, you hold onto your purse with one hand and your sword with the other and hope they’ve come to trade not plunder.”
Zilargo: “A land of true friends to crown and country. The gnomes have done right by us over the years, and I think we’ve done right by them.”
The following turns of phrase are uniquely Brelish.
“Ogre’s eyes!” An expletive, similar to “drat!”
“Dagger take you.” An expression of annoyance or anger, referring to the fast-moving currents of the Dagger River which quickly wash away whatever falls in it.
“Tower spit!” An expression of discontent or an indication of nonsense, similar to “hogwash!” It refers to the spray that falls from the towers of Sharn during and immediately after it rains.
Brelish usually have a personal name followed by a family-based surname.
Male: Alain, Beren, Cord, Curlot, Destir, Duran, Erix, Jovi, Kaine, Kuven, Laren, Lis, Maal, Minyu, Nelt, Norn, Oarsen, Pater, Pol, Rand, Reesir, Saal, Stend, Tars, Teesen, Uthar, Verden, Vorj, Werem, Wrogarr, Yelfis.
Female: Aanna, Alike, Beaf, Channa, Dabren, Delru, Elazti, Fromm, Gersi, Glenas, Habra, Heeson, Isti, Itlani, Joherra, Ket, Khaal, Lorsanna, Margu, Maril, Monesti, Narcy, Nebra, Penti, Riki, Soranda, Tabin, Tolri, Wroaan, Wroenna.
Surnames: Aggan, Bakker, Colworn, Devir, Ebinor, Faldren, Graccen, Helmworth, Jonz, Kemble, Lanner, Lonn, Makker, Morrus, Nelview, Perryn, Riston, Roole, Smyth, Snarik, Thorn, Toppe, Wrighten.
Five Things Every Brelish Knows
1. The Galifar Code of Justice. Every citizen of Breland learns at least the basics of the Code of Justice, especially as it pertains to the rights afforded individuals in any situation. This knowledge boils down to the right to defend yourself, the right to confront your accuser, and the right to open debate. Of course, the code contains many additional rights and laws, but these tend to be the most important for the average Brelish citizen.
2. That different is just different. Tolerant and accepting, the average Brelish believes that different isn’t better or worse, good or bad; it’s just different. Different races, different faiths, different cultures… the Brelish, on the whole, are the most accepting and unifying people in Khorvaire.
3. Something about the weather. Everyone in Breland has an opinion about the weather, and they love to discuss their views and share them with others. This is especially true in the southern portions of the country, where the weather seems to vary between two states—hot and wet, and hotter and wetter.
4. The virtues of democracy. Unique among the Five Nations, Breland has long been experimenting with a new form of government. While the monarchy remains in place, many other duties of government, including legislation, falls to a partially elected body—the Brelish Parliament. Thanks to town meetings where all citizens have a voice and the right to vote for the elected members of the parliament, the Brelish understand the rights, responsibilities of democracy, as well as the great gift they have to live in such a progressive nation.
5. The wisdom of Beggar Dane. Out of the pages of the Sharn Inquisitive, the simple lessons for living popularized by this anonymous street bard have become ingrained in the Brelish mindset. These include: “A copper piece in the cup is a copper piece earned,” “Never borrow, never lend,” “The silent man has no one to blame but himself,” and “A magewright in the town is worth an army in the wilderness.”