Dragonmarks: Nobility of Galifar

So you’re making a character, and you take the Noble background. What does that actually mean? What are the titles commonly used within the Five Nations? Is a noble title purely hereditary, or can it be purchased? Do nobles have duties, or is it largely symbolic? This article answers these questions and more, exploring the practical impact of noble birth along with the role and form of the nobility in the nations of Khorvaire. Thanks to my Patreon supporters for choosing this topic; I’ll be posting a bonus “deleted scene” to the Inner Circle on Patreon, describing a few notable past rulers of Galifar and the Five Nations. Because of the scope of the topic, this article primarily deals with the Five Nations and other nations that have inherited the traditions of Galifar. If there is interest, a follow-up article could explore those nations of Khorvaire that have quite different approaches to nobility, such as Darguun and the Lhazaar Principalities.

PREFACE: DESIGN INTENT

From the very beginning, one of the goals of Eberron was to make sure that the experience of adventuring in the world still felt like D&D. This is why people still fight using swords and crossbows, why you still have knights in plate armor, and why you have nations ruled by kings and queens. We knew from the start that an important theme of the setting would be the steady rise of industrial power and the shifting balance of power between the dragonmarked houses and the established aristocracy. We knew that Breland in particular would be shifting away from the medieval vision of monarchy. But we wanted both of those things to be relevant in the campaign, in 998 YK. D&D is stereotypically medieval. Our goal was never to completely abandon that flavor, but rather to present a vision of a world that’s actively evolving and straining against it. As I discussed in my previous post, when making history you always want to know why it matters. In creating the setting we wanted adventurers to be caught in the middle of these changes, to have to deal with the Sword of Liberty and overreaching houses, to have to decide whether to challenge tradition or defend it. So while it may seem strange that the Five Nations still have as many medieval trappings as they do, that was always the intent—that Eberron would be a world actively caught between the traditional medievalism associated with D&D and the active pull of social and industrial evolution.

With that said, both Exploring Eberron and my previous article discuss the idea of Untold History. No one’s saying that the semi-feudal status quo of Galifar remained unchallenged for nearly a thousand years. In my opinion, there were many uprisings and social experiments. It’s entirely possible that there was a thirty year period in which Aundair broke away and existed as the Republic of Thaliost before being pulled back into Galifar; this early rebellion might have laid the foundation for the more successful secession of the Eldeen Reaches in the tenth century. So it was always the intent that as of 998 YK there are still traces of medieval flavor to the culture of Galifar; but you can always explore untold moments of history if it makes your campaign more interesting.

And as always: this article is my vision of the setting. While I’ve tried to remain consistent with canon where possible, canon sources aren’t always consistent and there are certain sourcebooks I disagree with. So make of this what you will, and as always, do what’s best for your story.

THE FOUNDATION: POSITION OF PRIVILEGE

What does it mean to be a noble? In most of the nations of Khorvaire, nobles are actively involved in the governance of a region, whether large or small. They collect taxes, maintain lands, manage tenants. Nobles may not administer justice directly within the Five Nations, but they are responsible for ensuring that there is justice within their domains, maintaining the courts and sustaining the forces of the law. In the wake of the Last War, nobles are working to repair the damage to their domains, to reintegrate soldiers into civilian life and deal with the impact of casualties, and to address the needs of refugees seeking shelter in their lands. The short form is that with great power comes great responsibility… and that as such, few landed nobles have the time to go on adventures. It’s not impossible to make the story work, if you and the DM are determined; perhaps you have a younger sibling who’s doing all the work, or a truly remarkable steward. But it’s more likely that a “noble” adventurer will be the scion of a powerful family—the heir, not the holder of the title. Your blood grants you prestige, but you don’t carry the responsibilities of your rank and you don’t have access to the full resources of your domain.

This is reflected by the benefits granted by the noble background. As a noble, you have proficiency with History and Persuasion. You have a set of fine clothes and 25 gp in your pocket. But you don’t have an army at your beck and call. You don’t have a treasury filled with coffers of coin… just as you don’t actually have to do the work of collecting taxes. What you do have is a benefit called Position of Privilege.

Thanks to your noble birth, people are inclined to think the best of you. You are welcome in high society, and people assume you have the right to be wherever you are. The common folk make every effort to accommodate you and avoid your displeasure, and other people of high birth treat you as a member of the same social sphere. You can secure an audience with a local noble if you need to.

So: the precise duties and powers of nobles vary by nation. But the defining, practical benefit of being a noble is respect. Note that this says nothing about “While in your home nation.” The principle is that as a noble—or even as a significant heir of a noble family—you will be recognized as a peer by local aristocrats and generally accommodated by “the common folk.” You’re not above the law. You can’t get away with murder. But people “are inclined to think the best of you,” believing that you are someone who will uphold the honor and dignity of your noble position. Just as in wartime, an enemy might be more inclined to ransom you than to simply kill you; your rank will be recognized even when you hold no actual authority in a region. Within the Five Nations, this is tied to the romantic notion that Galifar may someday be restored; all nobles are treated with respected because someday we’ll all be one kingdom again. Even in Darguun or the Mror Holds, you’re likely to be treated with respect because of your connections.

Having said that: Position of Privilege represents the respect and recognition that come from your position and title. But not all nobles receive that recognition. If you’re a noble from Cyre with this background benefit, it means that people DO still afford you the respect due your title, even though you no longer have your estate or your fortune; presumably your family was so beloved or well-connected that the respect lingers. But most Cyran nobles don’t receive this recognition. If you’re playing such a noble, you could take the variant Retainers benefit instead of Position of Privilege; your estates were lost to the Mourning, but you still have three loyal servants who are sworn to follow you to the bitter end. You could also say that you were an earl of Cyre, but having lost your fortune you were forced to turn to crime, and thus take the criminal background (or anything else) instead of the noble background; from a STORY perspective you were once a noble, but you don’t receive any practical BENEFITS from your lineage. The advantage is that this allows you to actually have BEEN the landed title-holder, as opposed to an heir; you HAD many duties and responsibilities in the past, but they were stripped away with your fortune, and now you are merely an adventurer.

This same principle can apply to a noble who’s lost their lands for any reason. Maybe you were a Lhazaar prince driven from your throne by a treacherous sibling. Perhaps your were the Lord of Stubborn, the Brelish settlement in Droaam now known as Stonejaw. Whatever the circumstances, the impact is the same. If you take the noble background and the Position of Privilege benefit, people still treat you with the respect due your rank. If you take the Retainers benefit, you no longer wield any authority but you still have an entourage sworn to serve you. And if you take any other background, it means that your nobility may be a plot point, but it will rarely have any direct impact in an adventure.

When is a Noble not a Noble?

Just as you can be a noble without the noble background, you can also take the noble background even if you’re not part of the nobility. The Position of Privilege benefit means that you are treated as an equal by nobles, that you can request an audience with local authorities, and that common folk are generally impressed by you. This is often the case with especially wealthy or influential members of dragonmarked houses. As a dragonmarked “noble” you are either close to house leadership or part of an especially wealthy or powerful branch of the family, and critically, people know it; being this sort of “noble” means that you are a recognized celebrity. With that said, your Position of Privilege is a courtesy, not a right… it reflects the fact that people recognize the power of your family and show you respect because of it.

Gaining Privilege…

Noble may be a background, but just as adventurers can become soldiers or criminals during a campaign, it’s possible to be raised to the nobility. The traditions associated with this are described in later sections, but a greater question is the practical impact of this elevation. Does a new noble gain the benefits of Position of Privilege? What are their duties and responsibilities?

An adventurer could gain a noble title as a reward for service, or depending on nation, they might win their title through battle. A critical question is whether it is a substantive title—one that is associated with land and subjects, which can be passed down to heirs—or whether the title is simply a courtesy that doesn’t carry lands or duties. Being granted a knighthood may not confer the benefits of Position of Privilege, but it alway won’t get in the way of adventuring. Becoming a Lhazaar Prince might grant that privilege, but it also means that you need to manage your principality… or employ people to do it for you (the Valenar method) and hope they do a good job. Personally, if I grant player characters substantive titles in a campaign I’m running, I’m going to make the management and defense of their domain an integral part of the campaign moving forward. On the other hand, if Boranel grants someone the title of Shield of the East, it’s a symbolic courtesy that will carry significant weight with Brelish nobles (as it reflects the favor of the king) but carries no actual responsibilities and doesn’t have the impact of Position of Privilege in other nations.

… And Losing It

Just as a lowborn adventurer can gain a noble title, a highborn character can lose it. The simplest path to being stripped of a title is to be convicted of treason. However, in the Five Nations nobles have duties, and if the family fails in those duties the sovereign can strip them of their title and property. In the Lhazaar Principalities, a character could lose their title because someone else takes it by force. And, of course, countless Cyran nobles lost their holdings in the Mourning, and the Treaty of Thronehold effectively stripped them of their privileges. Should a player character be stripped of their title, it’s up to the player and DM to decide how this affects their Position of Privilege. If the character is widely known and beloved, it’s possible to say that the benefit lingers based solely on that goodwill, as with a PC Cyran noble who takes the benefit. As a DM, if I was to remove the benefits of Position of Privilege, I would grant a new benefit to replace it, based on the circumstances of its loss. Was the noble convicted of treason because they opposed a tyrant? They might lose Position of Privilege but gain the Rustic Hospitality of a folk hero… or perhaps the infamy of their deeds will earn them the Bad Reputation of a pirate, or a Criminal Contact. Shifting benefits can be an interesting way to have the character’s capabilities reflect the story; the shift from Position of Privilege of Bad Reputation gives real weight to events that may have taken place off-screen. This sort of shift can also be a great way to drive a new arc of the campaign: if their family was unjustly convicted of treason, can the adventurer redeem their honor and restore their title?

THE TRADITIONS OF GALIFAR

The culture of the Five Nation is a blend of the united traditions of Galifar and the preserved traditions of each nation. There are two vital things to bear in mind. The first is that the Last War was fought in an attempt to reunite Galifar; it wasn’t a war of independence, it was a war fought to determine who would rule the united kingdom. With a few notable exceptions (Thranish theocracy, the Code of Kaius) the Five Nations intentionally preserved the traditions of Galifar, because they always hoped that within another year or so their ruler would be the sovereign of the reunited Galifar.

A second important point is that Galifar was a united kingdom, but not a single monolithic culture; the idea of “the Five Nations” was a constant throughout its history, and people thought of themselves as Thranes and Aundairians even while they also considered themselves to be citizens of Galifar. Galifar I began by conquering the neighboring kingdom of Metrol, and Metrol was almost entirely transformed in its transition to Cyre. Galifar displaced existing nobles and instituted new systems, making Cyre the heart of Galifar. But the other three nations were ultimately brought into Galifar by diplomacy, not by absolute conquest (though Galifar’s clear military superiority was the iron fist that drove these negotiations). Galifar instituted changes at the highest levels of society, appointing his children as the rulers of each nation; but he largely did this by marrying them into the families of the existing rulers, building upon the existing structures of authority. So Galifar redirected the existing feudal structures of the Five Nations, making clear that all power ultimately flowed from the sovereign of Galifar. Over time, he streamlined systems and added new universal concepts—the Galifar Code of Justice, expanded education—while also nationalizing and expanding the role of institutions such as the Arcane Congress, the King’s Citadel, and Rekkenmark. He instituted a standardized currency—the crown-sovereign-galifar-dragon values still used today—and established the Karrnathi dialect as the Common tongue used today. So all the nations of Galifar were united by a vital set of shared customs and laws, but they also still maintained their own unique traditions and quirks, some of which will be discussed later in this article.

Sovereigns and Sovereigns

The faith of the Sovereign Host played a crucial role in the foundation of the united kingdom. Galifar I believed that he was guided by Aureon, and was fulfilling a destiny laid out by the Sovereign; given his remarkable successes, it’s entirely possible that Galifar I was a paladin of host, possibly even a subtle aasimar. This is a vital cornerstone of the Galifar monarchy: the inherent belief that the Wynarn bloodline is blessed by Aureon. It’s this bedrock principle that prevents a consort from claiming the crown and that has stood against uprisings and would-be usurpers. This is not something that’s called out often in the present day, and the modern monarchs vary in their piety, but the belief underlies the traditions of Galifar. The Galifar Code of Justice invokes Aureon, and there are other aspects of law where a casual faith in the Sovereigns is assumed. The faith of the Sovereign Host has never been a monolithic or powerful institution in the same way as the Church of the Silver Flame, but just as nobles are required to maintain courts, collect taxes, and levy troops within their domains, they’re required to sustain the Vassal faith. Based on the size of a community, this could involve maintaining a grand temple; a small temple with a single priest; or just a small shrine. For most nobles of Galifar this wasn’t seen as a hardship, but rather as an opportunity to display piety; especially zealous nobles would lavish resources on their favored temples, or raise monuments or shrines to a particular Sovereign. Vassal dukes often competed to lure the most accomplished scholars to their seminaries. Within the Sovereign faith anyone seen as guided by the Nine can fill the role of priest, and there are have been a number of renowned nobles who have also acted as priests of the Sovereign Host.

Despite his deep faith, Galifar never sought to FORCE his beliefs on others. The principles of Galifar presume simple faith in the Sovereigns, and nobles must support the faith, but they aren’t actually required to practice it and Galifar never sought to stamp out divergent sects. Throughout the untold history of Galifar, there have been pious nobles who have gone further—hunting down and publicly executing followers of the Dark Six (real or imagined), or persecuting “heretical” sects; historically this has included the Three Faces sects, which are why these tend to operate as mystery cults. So today the Five Nations are largely tolerant and many of the monarchs aren’t especially devout, but the principle of Aureon’s Blessing remains at the heart of the myth of Galifar.

The Role of the Nobility

When Galifar was founded, the Five Nations all employed forms of medieval feudalism. Nobles governed lands tended by tenant farmers in exchange for providing taxes and military service to the leader of the nation. In many nations, the nobility was also responsible for the administration of justice. Galifar was built on this framework. It was acknowledged that all power and authority flowed from the sovereign, through the princes and princesses that governed the land, and then down through local nobles and administrators. Throughout Galifar, the nobility remained the foundation of the united kingdom. Nobles were responsible for maintaining their territory, including collecting taxes and raising levies for military and national service. Under the Galifar Code of Justice, the nobles didn’t administer justice, but it was their duty to maintain the system, appointing justices and maintaining the local courts. As the kingdom expanded and as life became increasingly more complicated, this produced a class of dedicated civil servants and landowners—initially ennobled viscounts and crown reeves, but ultimately expanding into gentry and merchant classes. But at the start of the Last War, it remained the case that the majority of property was associated with a noble’s domain, and that it was the local lord who appointed justices, mayors, and other officials. A crown reeve was responsible to the count, the count to their duke, the duke to the prince, the prince to the king.

As noted earlier, there has always been a distinction between courtesy titles—titles that carry respect and prestige, but nothing more—and substantive titles, which are associated with land and the duties of maintaining it. The eldest child of a duke or duchess is allowed to use the title of count or countess, the second heir has the title of viscount, and other children are lords or ladies… but these titles are merely courtesies, and the heir has no actual authority over the domain. Likewise, an important administrator might be granted a courtesy title to reflect their service, but no land would be tied to that title. Typically courtesy titles are tied to the holder and cannot be transferred to heirs. Courtesy titles allow an adventurer to be a count or shield of the realm without having to make sure that roads are being maintained and taxes collected in their domain.

Noble Ranks and Titles

The following titles were instituted by Galifar I, and remain the common ranks of nobility to this day, listed in descending order of status. This also reflects the practical reality of land ownership and chain of command. A crown reeve holds territory within a county, and is responsible to a count. Counties are tied to duchies, and counts are bound to dukes. Anyone holding one of the ranks given below is allowed to use the ir’ prefix with their surname.

  • King / Queen. The ruler of the united kingdom of Galifar.
  • Prince/Princess. A child of the king or queen. As a governor of a nation, uses the title “Prince/ss of (nation).”
  • Archduke/Archduchess. A duke or duchess married to a prince or princess.
  • Grand Duke/Duchess. A duke or duchess governing a palatine region.
  • Duke/Duchess. The ruler of a duchy. Originally synonymous with “Warlord.”
  • Shield. Ruler of a county seen as a dangerous border. Such a noble typically uses count/ess as a courtesy, but is styled Shield of (county) in formal address.
  • Count/Countess. Ruler of a county.
  • Viscount/Viscountess. This is an appointed, nonhereditary title, typically granted by a count or duke to someone performing important administrative duties within their domains.
  • Crown Reeve. This is the lowest rank of nobility, roughly equivalent to the traditional use of baron. Crown reeves typically administer lands within a county, but this title was also given to members of the gentry who purchased lands from the crown. In common speech, a crown reeve is addressed as “lord” or “lady.” This rank can be hereditary (as in the case of the landed gentry) but is often tied to service.

Knighthood is an honor, not a title of nobility. Traditionally, a duke or higher noble can appoint a knight; this carries status as it reflects service to the nation, but it isn’t hereditary and it isn’t associated with land. So while there were Karrnathi nobles among the original Order of the Emerald Claw, many members of the order came from the gentry; among the Karrnathi chivalric orders, the Order of the Inviolate Way is noted as only accepting members who are also of noble blood. Many other titles fall into the category of honor or office: for example, in Aundair Darro ir’Lain is the Duke of Passage and Second Warlord of the Realm. That second title is an office he holds, not something he carries for life. If he falls out of favor with Queen Aurala, there would soon be a new Second Warlord. Likewise, “Minister of Magic” is an office, not a noble rank.

Princes, Archdukes, and Grand Dukes

The succession traditions of Galifar are a tangled web, and it’s a miracle that the united kingdom endured as long as did. The principle is this.

  • Each of the Five Nations was divided into duchies.
  • Each of the Five Nations was governed by one of the five eldest children of the Wynarn ruler of Galifar. When this child came of age, they would be married into one of the duchies of that nation. They would be acknowledged prince/ss of that nation, and the previous prince/ss would become a duke or duchess. If the reigning monarch didn’t produce five heirs, the title would remain with the current prince/ss and their heirs; there were certainly cases where a governing prince survived multiple kings.
  • The leader of the duchy the prince/ss married into became the archduke of that nation, taking this title from its previous holder. Should death create a vacancy with no Wynarn heir of age to rule as prince/ss, the archduke would reign until a prince/ss came of age.

The net result of this is that the balance of power between duchies would regularly shift, with the rise of a new king or queen ultimately displacing the current prince and often the current archduke or archduchess as well. As we’ve noted, the Last War wasn’t the first time a nation or duchy resisted this change. The current Archdukes are thus those duchies associated with the princes who governed when the Last War begin; there are archdukes of Fairhaven, Korth, Wroat, and Sigilstar.

Grand dukes are rulers of palatinates, more typically referred to as grand duchies. These are regions recognized as holding a degree of independence from the surrounding nation and having a direct relationship with the sovereign, thus having the right to enforce local laws and practice customs that might be at odds with those of the surrounding nation. The first palatinate was the Grand Duchy of Atur in Karrnath, but the most significant palatinate was Zilargo. When the armies of Galifar passed the Howling Peaks, they were met by Zil diplomats. These envoys negotiated the incorporation of the region into the overall mantle of Breland, but as three grand duchies—with the net result that the Zil became part of Galifar while still maintaining nearly complete autonomy. The three grand duchies of Zilargo were Zolanberg, Trolanport, and Korranberg; further impact of this is discussed in the Zilargo section below. It is up to the DM to decide if there are any other grand duchies in Khorvaire.

Gaining a Title: Elevation, Inheritance, and Marriage

Under the traditions of Galifar, a hereditary title passes to the oldest child of the title-holder regardless of gender. If there is no living heir, it passes to the siblings of the noble or their heirs; failing that, it falls to the noble who oversees the domain to reassign it. A number of royal lines were lost in the Last War (or convicted of treason and stripped of rank) so there are dukes with counties to dispense and counts in need of qualified crown reeves. While the local noble has the power to make such appointments, they must always be ratified by the sovereign.

In most of the Five Nations, marriage doesn’t convey title. This stems from the principle that only a Wynarn can rule; when the Wynarn monarch dies, their consort has no claim to the throne. Often, a noble consort is granted a courtesy title, as seen with Queen Etrigani of Karrnath; but if Kaius III were to die, the crown of Karrnath would immediately pass to his eldest heir, not to Etrigani. This principle generally holds throughout the ranks. Someone who marries into a royal family is a consort. They may be granted a courtesy title, but they are not the equal of their noble spouse and it is up to the DM to decide if their status is sufficient to justify gaining Position of Privilege. This would largely depend on public perception: do the nobles and common folk respect the consort? While many nobles limit themselves to a single consort, this isn’t enforced by law. A monarch could have multiple consorts, and the child of any official consort would be considered an heir. There was a lengthy period in which it was accepted tradition for a reigning sovereign to have a consort from each of the Five Nations, in part to spread out the burden of producing five heirs. In the wake of the Last War, some of the nobles have continued this tradition—Kaius III of Karrnath maintains harem, though only Etrigani carries the title of queen. On the other side of things, Queen Aurala of Aurala has a single consort, but has not granted him any title.

In most of the nations of Khorvaire, only the sovereign can create a new title. Lesser nobles can assign vacant titles within their domains, though this requires the approval of the sovereign. Many domains are associated with a specific set of courtesy titles that can be dispensed at the discretion of the local noble. For example, the Count of Threeshadows may have the authority to appoint a Viscount Threeshadows and two knights… though again, these are honors that aren’t passed on to heirs.

In most nations, it is illegal for anyone to sell a title, whether it is their own or a domain within their jurisdiction; Breland is a notable exception to this rule.

What About Dragonmarks?

The Korth Edicts prevent members of dragonmarked houses from owning land or holding titles. A noble can marry a dragonmarked heir, but one of them must completely sever all legal ties to their family. A noble who marries into House Deneith must renounce their title and rights, while for a Deneith heir to marry into a noble family they must cut all ties to their house, including their family name. Of course, this doesn’t prevent such a union from having important diplomatic implications. The 3.5 Eberron Campaign Setting observes…

Some tension exists between the houses and the crown since the marriage of Queen Aurala to Sasik of House Vadalis. Traditionally, the dragonmarked houses and the royal families have avoided mixing to maintain a division between rulership and commerce. Even though Sasik, as the royal consort, has severed his claims to the House Vadalis fortune, he nevertheless maintains ties that make the other houses nervous about what advantages Vadalis might be gaining in its dealings with Aundair.

It’s also the case that not all nations care about the Korth Edicts. The elves of Valenar are effectively appointing Lyrandar viscounts, though they aren’t using that title; these Lyrandar administrators don’t severe ties to their houses. To date this has gone unchallenged, in part because it’s not entirely clear who would challenge it and in what forum; this is touched on in this article. Even though dragonmarked heirs had to abandon their house ties to marry into noble families, they brought their blood, and this means that there have been nobles who carried dragonmarks. However, the frequency with which dragonmarks appear in the houses reflect the intentional mingling of strong dragonmarked bloodlines. We’ve noted before that foundling marks are quite rare, to the point that someone who develops a mark may not even realize that they had a connection to a house in their history. So the dragonmarked nobles are possible, but by no means common.

The Wynarn Family

Galifar Wynarn believed that he has been blessed by Aureon, and this belief underlies the united kingdom that he built. Only someone of the Wynarn bloodline could hold the throne. An underlying question is what defines the Wynarn bloodline? There are nobles of all races, and there have been a few Khoravar reigns; however, these have often ended poorly, with rival heirs using this as a basis to say that the sovereign isn’t truly of Wynarn blood. Following a short but brutal civil war in the seventh century, all Wynarn sovereigns have been human. Kaius III has declared the elf Etrigani to be his queen, but he has yet to produce an heir with her. Kaius III maintains a harem, and it’s largely assumed that this is to ensure that he has a human heir, though he has yet to either produce an heir or appoint an official consort within this harem.

Military Service

Under the traditions of Galifar, every duchy was obliged to contribute a certain number of soldiers to the Army of Galifar. Soldiers were paid a wage, and often this quota could be met with volunteer forces. If not, it was the responsibility of the duke/duchess (who might delegate to counts) to make up the shortfall, by whatever methods they deemed necessary. While conscription occurred in the earliest days, in time it became common practice for nobles in peaceful regions to pay for Karrnathi troops to enlist in their name; as Karrnathi had a tradition of mandatory military service, this worked out well for all sides.

With the outbreak of the Last War, sovereigns continued to rely on nobles to levy troops. Thrane and Karrnath had little trouble meeting quotas, but other nations did fall back on conscription when necessary. In the present day, most nations are reducing their current forces. Nobles are responsible for maintaining the local watch in their domains, and are entitled to maintain a household guard, though numbers are limited (with the amount varying by nation).

Why Does This Matter?

As with any element of lore, a key question remains: why does any of this matter? Why should player characters care about the laws of inheritance or the difference between a grand duke and an archduke? Here’s a few possibilities.

  • If an adventurer is from the Five Nations and isn’t a noble themselves, they grew up in the domain of a noble. Who was their lord? What’s their relationship with them? Were they a fair ruler the adventurer might try to help, or who might serve as a patron for the party? Or does the adventurer want to expose the lord’s cruelties or crimes?
  • Perhaps an adventurer’s family use to hold title or land within a nation, but lost it due to treason, war, or treachery. The How Did You Lose Your Title table provides ideas. Does the character want to reclaim their title? If so, what would it take?
  • An adventurer who follows the Blood of Vol could have ties to the Grand Duchy of Atur. The grand duke fears that the warlords are preparing to formally conquer the duchy and assimilate it into Karrnath. Can the adventurers prevent this conflict from occurring?
  • When a noble character comes into their inheritance, they’re suddenly responsible for the maintenance of the domain. How will they balance this with their adventuring life? Will they find a steward to administer the lands in their name… and if so, can the steward be trusted? Will they abdicate the title in favor of a younger sibling?
  • For service to the crown, an adventure is granted a title and domain… but the domain is land seized during the war, and the adventurer is expected to quell unrest. How will they handle this? Can they justify and enforce their sovereign’s claim to the region?
  • The adventurer is involved in a romance or business affair that can’t proceed unless the character acquires a title (even if it’s just a courtesy title). What can they do to gain status?

THE FIVE NATIONS

What’s been described is the standard traditions of Galifar. However, even while Galifar was united the nations had their own unique customs, and there have been further changes over the course of the last century. What’s the different between nobles of Breland and Karrnath? Find out below.

Aundair

Aundair has held closely to the old traditions of Galifar, and its people have a romantic view of the nobility. Perhaps it’s due the influence of Thelanis; whatever the reason, Aundairians have always entertained the notions of noblesse oblige and chivalry. The common folk value self-reliance and ambition, but most believe that the nobility is noble in all senses of the word, that their leaders will do what’s best for the country and for their people. This idealism doesn’t extend to all nobles; Aundairians have long believed that their people—both nobles and commoners—possess a dignity and decency beyond their neighbors. With that said, over the last two centuries a rift formed between the farmers of the west and the grand cities of the east; this led first to the embrace of the Pure Flame, and eventually culminated in the secession of the Eldeen Reaches. Nonetheless, most remaining Aundairians are proud of their rulers and feel a bond to their local lords.

Noble Ranks. Aundair uses the standard ranks of Galifar. Accomplished arcane spellcasters will also often add a title that describes their primary school of magic, along with a designator indicating the highest level spell they can cast; so a noble might be introduced as Alara ir’Lain, Countess of Askelios, Diviner of the Fourth Circle. Bear in mind that NPC spellcasters may not have the full capabilities of a PC class. Countess Alara is capable of casting at least one 4th level divination spell, but that doesn’t mean she has all the versatility of a 9th level wizard; it’s also possible that she casts her spells as rituals, like a magewright.

Playing an Aundairian Noble. Aundairians have high expectations of their nobles. Aundair is a land that values wit, knowledge, and arcane talent, and a noble is expected to possess all of these. Nobles may not be accomplished spellcasters, but if you can’t at least perform a cantrip your peers will chuckle and your parents will push you to study harder. Likewise, Aundairian nobles have high standards of honor and duty, and crass or selfish behavior will reflect poorly on your family.

Noble is a logical background, but if you’re a second child or further down the line, both soldier and sage are good choices for Aundairian nobles; many Aundairian officers were drawn from noble families. You could also be one of the “Lost Lords,” nobles whose domains were lost in the secession of the Eldeen Reaches. While a few of the Lost Lords still have enough influence to justify a Position of Privilege, this is a sound basis for taking the Retainers benefit instead; if your retainers are members of long-lived species, they might have served your family long before the Eldeen rebellion.

Aundair has a significant population of elves and Khoravar, and these are folded into its noble families; there are also a few noble families of comprised of gnomes. A significant number of noble estates are close to manifest zones tied to Thelanis, and many of the oldest families claim to have ancient agreements with fey (which could range from a formal pact with an archfey to a simple understanding with a dryad who dwells in the local wood). It’s also the case that Sul Khatesh is bound beneath Aundair, and some families have secret ties to the Queen of Shadows. In creating an Aundairian noble, consider whether your family has any ancient compacts in their history, and if so if this is a point of public pride or a secret.

Breland

The kingdom of Wroat was founded by reavers and bandits, and its rulers held their power through a blend of charisma, cunning, and force. Wroat was a collection of city-states, loosely aligned under Wroat as the greatest power in the region. It was clear from the start that Wroat would ultimately fall to Galifar’s disciplined forces; those leaders who wisely chose to ally with the invader became the nobles of the newly-forged Breland.

While Breland accepted the feudal structure of Galifar, its people never fully embraced the nobility. It’s always been said that a Brelish farmer sees themselves as the equal of any king; they accepted that the nobles had the power, but never bought into romantic ideals of divine bloodlines. This was tied to the fact that Breland was an active frontier. When Galifar was formed, the lands west of the Dagger were still home to ogres and gnolls, and goblins and gnomes held the lands to the east. Zilargo was quickly incorporated into the united kingdom, but it took centuries for Breland to achieve its current borders. The shield lords of the west were far more practical than the grand lords of Aundair. The common folk relied on the nobles to direct military action and to bring the resources of the crown to bear, while the lords relied on the people to be more self-directed than in other nations; Brelish communities chose their own reeves and lesser officials, and even simple matters of justice would be resolved by the people instead of going to the courts.

Throughout the history of Breland it was vital for the nobles to maintain the respect of their subjects, not merely to rely on tradition to keep them in place. As long as they respect their leaders, Brelish are proud and loyal; but Breland has also seen more minor uprisings than any of the other Five Nations. The Brelish Parliament existed before the Last War, and was established as a representative body that advised the Prince of Breland. At the outbreak of the Last War, Princess Wroaan ir’Wynarn promised to make Breland a place where “People would be judged by word and deed instead of social class.” In 895 YK Wroaan granted greater powers to the Brelish Parliament, granting it the authority it has today; the parliament makes the laws, and the crown enforces them—as well as conducting all business related to foreign affairs and national security. As noted throughout the canon sources, King Boranel is an exceptionally popular ruler, but there is a strong movement that believes that the Brelish monarchy should come to an end with Boranel’s reign—or at least be relegated to a purely symbolic position.

The sourcebook Five Nations has this to say about the modern Brelish:

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.

Noble Ranks. Breland uses the traditional ranks of Galifar, but there are a significant number of shields, especially west of the Dagger. Even though most of these counties have been secure for centuries, the shield lords still take pride in their titles and the deeds of their ancestors. Most cities and large communities have a council that manages local affairs, and in many counties these councils actually appoint viscounts, rather than the noble lord; a canon example of this is the Lord Mayor of Sharn, a viscount appointed by the city council.

Breland is the only one of the Five Nations that allows nobles to sell their titles and domains. Any such transaction must be approved by the sovereign, and the crown takes a cut of the proceedings. The new noble is required to fulfill the duties of their position and it can be stripped away should they fail. Notably, this is how Antus ir’Soldorak of the Aurum obtained his ‘ir’.

Playing a Brelish Noble. Brelish nobles need to be popular with their people to rule effectively. If you’re a noble with Position of Privilege, what’s the foundation of your popularity? Are you charismatic, or have you or your family performed great deeds that ensure the love of your people? Is there a song the local bards sing about you? Are you from a core county that’s always been part of the realm, or are you a shield lord whose ancestors took your lands from the monsters of the west? Is your domain secure now, or are you along the edge of the border with Droaam—in which case, why are you adventuring instead of standing with them? Can your family trace its roots back to the foundation of Galifar, or did they buy their title?

If you don’t want to take the noble background, one possibility is that your lands were west of the Graywall mountains and was lost in the rise of Droaam; perhaps Graywall itself was your family’s domain! As a minor Brelish noble popular with the people, you might take the folk hero background instead of noble; your deeds supporting the common folk are so well known that you’re celebrated even in other nations. Alternatively, if you’re from a small county with relatively little influence, you might take the criminal background instead of noble. Is this because your noble family has deep dealings with the criminal community? Or are your family criminals who’ve bought a minor title?

CYRE

The conquest of Metrol was Galifar’s first step in establishing his united kingdom. It was his bitterest enemy, and the realm that was most completely transformed in defeat. Hand-picked by Galifar I, the nobles of central Cyre were devoted to the ideals of the united kingdom and believed that they embodied those ideals—and that “What our dreams imagine, our hands create.” While some will argue that these dreamers were decadent and soft, they were devoted to arts, sciences, philosophy—though not to challenging the concept of the monarchy itself. To the Cyrans, the crown was the bedrock foundation of Galifar, and all of their dreams were built on that foundation.

Of course, things were quite different for the nobles of southern and eastern Cyre. To realize his dreams for central Cyre, Galifar claimed the lands to the south and east to resettle the nobles. The lands to the south were inhabited by goblins, and the distant region across the Blade Desert by farmers who traced their roots back to the Khunan region of Sarlona. Neither of these forces were organized into nations, and neither had the power to resist Galifar, but both regions were claimed by conquest. While outright slavery was forbidden, Galifar was willing to overlook the excesses of feudal serfdom. Central Cyre may have embodied the ideals of Galifar, but eastern Cyre was its antitheses. Due to its isolation, it was simply ignored by the rest of the united kingdom, its nobles allowed to rule their petty fiefdoms as they wished.

Following the outbreak of the Last War, the Cyrans continued to hold to the traditions of Galifar; after all, they were the rightful heirs of the true kingdom, and were fighting to defend it. Eastern and Southern Cyre were lost in the uprisings that formed Valenar and Darguun, and then central Cyre fell in the Mourning. As a result, most Cyran nobles now have little but their pride. The Treaty of Thronehold established Cyre as a fallen nation, and its nobles had no voice in shaping the treaty. While Boranel has granted Prince Oargev the land now known as New Cyre, the only power Cyran nobles now wield is what others choose to give them.

Noble Ranks. Cyran used the standard ranks of Galifar. Nobles of southern Cyre were often shields, as the land was taken from the goblins and there were ongoing conflicts over the centuries. 

Playing a Cyran Noble. Position of Privilege is extremely rare among Cyran nobles. If you take the noble background, the Retainer benefit makes more sense. If you have a Position of Privilege, it means that your family is so well known and liked that people grant you respect even though your family has lost its privilege; why is that? If you’ve fought to help the refugees, you might instead be a folk hero who can find shelter in any refugee community. Otherwise, with the approval of your DM, you could take any background and add a lost Cyran title to your story; you should be the Count of Woodbridge, but instead you were forced to become a criminal. In developing the story of a Cyran noble, an important question is whether your domain is within central Cyre (the Mournland) or whether it was in southern Cyre (Darguun) or east Cyre (Valenar). Valenar and Darguun were lost almost four decades ago, and if you’re human you may have never known these lands. On the other hand, if you’re from one of these regions your lands still exist and are in enemy hands; do you yearn to reclaim them from the elves or goblins?

Where I normally suggest that adventurers should be heirs as opposed to actively holding a title—explaining why you’re not bound by the duties of your rank and why you don’t have access to its resources—Cyre provides another answer to this. It could be that you were the Duchess of Eston, that you were part of Dannel’s councils—and now, you’re a refugee with only three loyal retainers left to show for it. Again, unless you have Position of Privilege, your title doesn’t mean much; once you may have been Duchess of Eston, but now you’re just a woman with a well-worn sword and the skills to use it.

KARRNATH

While first settled by raiders from Rhiavhaar, the seeds that blossomed to form Karrnath can be traced back to the ancient nation of Nulakesh. The Karrns are a hard people who have always valued martial discipline and strict order. It was Karrn the Conqueror whose deeds secured human dominance over Khorvaire, even though he failed to hold that power himself; and Galifar himself was a son of Karrnath. The Cyrans believe that they are the rightful heirs of Galifar because of the traditions of succession; but the Karrns know that it was their people who created Galifar, their language that is now the common tongue. And if Kaius III can’t reclaim the throne of the united kingdom, perhaps another capable Karrnathi warlord will be the next Galifar and start the cycle anew.

In Karrnath, the Galifar Code of Justice has been supplanted by the harsh Code of Kaius, a form of harsh martial law. This met little resistance and remains in place even today, in part because it reflects the overall character of the Karrns and the culture they had in place before Galifar I crafted a more enticing foundation for his united kingdom. While there are certainly exceptions, most Karrns are proud of their strict laws and view the other nations as soft and corrupt. This tendency is reinforced by the fact that all Karrns serve a term in the military and are thus used to operating within a chain of command. One might ask what Karrnath needed with such a sizable army, especially during the most peaceful years of Galifar; the answer is that the Karrnathi army is used for many purposes within the nation. Local law enforcement is largely provided by soldiers, with a small corps of career officers who maintain continuity of service. Soldiers perform public works. A term in the army is a term of service to the nation, where you are prepared to go in harm’s way for the good of your people; but the precise form of that service is up to your sovereign and the warlord.

Karrnath is notable for the Grand Duchy of Atur. This region’s independence was negotiated long ago in recognition for the work it does in containing the dangerous influence of the powerful Mabaran manifest zone at the heart of the region, and was reinforced in agreements with Kaius I in exchange for the support of Atur’s elite necromancers. This is why Atur remains a public stronghold of the Blood of Vol even after Regent Moranna and Kaius III turned against the faith. Atur is still home to the finest necromancers in the nation, and most of Karrnath’s undead troops are stored in its vaults. There are warlords who despise the Blood of Vol or who fears that the undead it maintains could be turned against Karrnath. But these nobles know that seizing Atur would prove disastrous unless they had the knowledge necessary to contain the power of the manifest zone, and so the City of Night remains inviolate.

Noble Ranks. Karrnath uses the standard ranks of Galifar. It’s common for dukes to use the title of warlord, but both titles are valid. Counts along the new borders of the nation take pride in the title of shield. Nobles are expected to levy a specific number of troops for the service of the crown, but they may maintain additional forces as they see fit within their realms; likewise, it’s understood that they are lending soldiers to the crown, and that those troops retain their loyalty to their duke.

Playing a Karrnathi Noble. As a Karrnathi noble, consider carefully whether you want the noble background or the soldier background. All Karrns serve in the military, and nobles were often officers (though only if they actually possessed the skills required to lead). The Position of Privilege benefit of the noble background reflects greater diplomatic influence; the Military Rank benefit of the soldier background reflects respect earned on the battlefield, deeds that will be respected even by enemy soldiers. Which is a better fit for your noble Karrn?

A second question for any Karrnathi noble is where you stand on the Blood of Vol and the use of undead. The faith has always had deep roots in Karrnathi. It spread when it was embraced by the crown earlier in the war, adn then withered when Regent Moranna turned against it. Are you from a proud Seeker family, perhaps tied to the Grand Duchy of Atur, and if so, how has the turn against the faith affected your family? Did your embrace the faith only to abandon it—and if so, are you still a believer in spite of your faithless forbears? Or are you a true vassal devoted to Dol Dorn and the Sovereigns, who believes that the use of undead in battle was a crutch proud Karrnath never needed?

Another question is where you stand on Kaius III and his efforts to strengthen peace. Do you believe that the current peace is best for all? Do you trust that your king is doing what’s best for the nation, even if you hope this is merely a stratagem in a longer game? Or do you believe that Kaius is squandering Karrnathi might, and hope that a new warlord will lead your nation to greatness? Do you think you could be that warlord, given time?

THRANE

Daskara was a nation devoted to the Sovereign Host, reflecting the influence of ancient Pyrine and to a lesser extent, Irian. Just as Karrnath has a number of powerful manifest zones tied to Mabar, Daskara (now Thrane) has a few noteworthy zones tied to Irian, notably the region where Flamekeep now stands. Like Galifar I, the people of Daskara believed their rulers were blessed by the Sovereigns and governed with divine right. This faith was shaken by their defeats at the hands of Galifar’s forces, but Galifar I was able to convince most that his united kingdom was part of the divine plan, that their blessed lords were meant to kneel to the Wynarn king; Galifar further strengthened this by establishing Daskara as the seat of the Grand Temple of the Host, the greatest temple in the lands. However, this new pillar was broken when the dragon Sarmondelaryx ravaged the newly christened Thrane, killing its prince and burning the Grand Temple.

These challenges didn’t shatter the faith of the Thranes, but they strained them. It took the overlord Bel Shalor to change everything. It wasn’t a prince who saved the nation from terror, nor the Sovereigns; it was a warrior of lowly birth strengthened by courage and the power of the Silver Flame. In the years and centuries that followed, the people of Thrane largely abandoned the Sovereign Host and embraced the Silver Flame. The Grand Temple of the Host had been destroyed by the forces of Bel Shalor, and the people chose to replace it with the citadel of Flamekeep; the Cathedral of the Sovereign Host in Metrol became the new seat of the Vassal faith.

This shift left the nobles of Thrane in an odd position. They had long touted their supposed divine blessing… but now the people were shifting away from the faith that supported it. Many nobles responded to this by embracing the Silver Flame—sharing the faith of the people and further, acknowledging the power that saved their nation. Others sought to balance both traditions; even if the Grand Temple was never rebuilt, the faith of the Silver Flame didn’t deny the possibility that the Sovereigns might exist and might have blessed the noble lines. And a few clung bitterly to the old ways and refused to acknowledge the new faith, struggling to limit the power of the church within their domains.

Following the death of King Thalin in 914 YK, Thrane officially became a theocracy led by the Keeper of the Silver Flame and the Council of Cardinals. The lands once held through the crown were now considered the property of the church, and both civil and military administration were taken over by the church. The roles of viscounts and blood regents were dissolved and taken over by church functionaries. Higher nobles were allowed to retain a single manor and estate, but no more. Many chose to work with the church, helping with the transition and earning rank within the theocracy through faith and service. Others were willing to remain in a decorative, ceremonial role. This is the position that Queen Diani ir’Wynarn finds herself in today. In theory, she is the Blood Regent and serves as adviser to the Keeper and the Cardinals. In practice, she is largely ignored. While she smiles at the services she attends, Diani believes that Aureon and Dol Arrah have plans for her, and there are loyalists—known as Throneholders—who dream of restoring the monarchy to its rightful place.

Noble Ranks. The nobility of Thrane uses the standard ranks, but there are no viscounts or crown reeves. Only the eldest heir of a Thrane noble receives a courtesy title. Thrane nobles cannot create titles or take any action that would require the approval of the sovereign. and most have no authority beyond their estates unless they also serve in the church.

Playing a Thrane Noble. If you want to play someone of influence in Thrane, the best choice is to take the acolyte or soldier background. An acolyte is the equivalent of a civil servant, and Shelter of the Faithful gives you the same sort of influence among the faithful and within the church that Position of Privilege gives with nobles. As a soldier, Military Rank reflects your role either with the templars or the general army of Thrane; either way, your deeds were significant enough that you are respected even by the soldiers of other nations. What did you do to earn this respect? What was your most noteworthy battle?

Should you wish to plan a disenfranchised noble, the Retainer benefit makes more sense than Position of Privilege. Beyond your retainers, your family still has an estate you can return to, but they have little influence or resources to spare. As a noble of Thrane, are you devoted to the Silver Flame, supporting the new direction of the nation? Or are you a bitter Throneholder determined to restore the old order? For a more dramatic twist, you might believe that you have been chosen by one or more of the Sovereigns for some divine purpose; is this the restoration of the nobility, or do the Sovereigns have a purpose for you that doesn’t actually place you at odds with the church?

GALIFAR ADJACENT

While most of the other nations of Khorvaire have their own unique traditions of nobility, a few have inherited some elements from Galifar, and these are briefly addressed below. A critical point to consider with any of the other nations is that the Position of Privilege benefit reflects a broad recognition of your authority. If you wield great power within a Lhazaar principality but don’t have any influence beyond it, you don’t need to take the noble background; you can be a sailor or a pirate, and work out the other elements of your backstory with your DM. Your background benefit reflects the aspect of your background that will regularly come into play. If you want to have an interesting story hook that may well never actually come up in the campaign, that comes down to the approval of your DM.

The Eldeen Reaches

The Eldeen Reaches seceded from Aundair in 958 YK, and its people swore their allegiance to the Great Druid Oalian. The Eldeen Charter affirmed that the land now belong to the Eldeen people and that the titles and claims of the nobility of Aundair were no longer recognized. Many nobles weren’t in residence at the time (which was part of the reason for the secession). Others fled to Aundair, becoming the Lost Lords mentioned earlier. But a few chose to stay with the people and to start a new life, working to be good community leaders even without the titles and privileges of their former lives.

Because of the timeframe, a human adventurer likely wouldn’t have actually held power in the Eldeen Reaches before the uprising. But as an elf or Khoravar, you could easily have been a noble in the Reaches. Are you a Lost Lord hoping to reclaim your birthright? Or have you embraced your new nation and worked to strengthen it?

Q’barra: New Galifar

The nation of Q’barra was founded by Ven ir’Kesslan of Cyre, once duke of the Dollen region. Ven named his settlement New Galifar, and claimed his intention to recreate the noble model of Galifar in this untamed land. The former duke thus became the first king of New Galifar, despite not being tied to the Wynarn bloodline. Those few counts that had supported his cause became dukes, and wealthy donors who had funded the expedition became counts. Having said that, New Galifar is small and still actively expanding. Newthrone is the royal seat, and the only two actual “duchies” are Whitecliff and Adderport. Q’barran counts rule over villages that would barely justify a crown reeve in the Five Nations. Most nobles are “claim lords”—they’ve been granted titles and parcels of land by the King of Q’barra, but they haven’t actually claimed or cultivated those lands. Adderport and Newthrone together have a kingdom’s worth of dukes and counts, but most only over a handful of retainers and a small city estate.

A Q’barran title currently means little in the wider world, and it’s unlikely that a Q’barran noble would have a Position of Privilege unless they were tied to some other office, such as being an appointed ambassador. With your DM’s approval, your character could be a claim lord, regardless of your actual background; as such you have a title and some influence when you’re actually in Newthrone, but it has no real significance elsewhere. While this would not provide you with the benefits of a Position of Privilege, your king could charge you to perform services in the name of New Galifar.

Valenar

As far as the outside world can tell, the Host of Valenar seized the lands of eastern Cyre, drove out the Cyran nobility, and replaced them as feudal overlords. High King Vadallia granted the fiefs to his war leaders, so there is a Count of Moonshadow and a Duke of Pylas Maradal. However, this was largely a show for the rest of the world; the Valenar have never cared about holding land or titles, as the ancestors they emulate didn’t rule petty fiefdoms. The Valenar nobles are rarely found in their supposed domains, and it is Khoravar immigrants who make up the civil service and administer justice in their names.

There’s little logical basis for using the noble background for a character from Valenar. Being the Count of Moonshadow won’t get you the benefits of a Position of Privilege in the wider world. If you want to be a person of influence within the Host of Valenar, use the Soldier background; among the Tairnadal, Military Rank is more important than some noble’s title. If you want to be a former Cyran lord yearning to reclaim your lands, you could take the noble background with the Retainer feature (bearing in mind that Valenar was seized 42 years ago)… or almost any background and simply say that your family has claim to a title in Valenar, if your DM supports the idea.

Zilargo

As described earlier in this article, when the forces of Galifar advanced to conquer the lands beyond the Howling Peaks, they were met by gnome negotiators. After lengthy discussions and a wide array of offers and enticements (many of which turned out to favor the gnomes more than they originally appeared), the region of Zilargo was recognized as the Grand Duchies of Korranberg, Trolanport, and Zolanberg, with the region being governed by triumvirate with a representative from each duchy. While ostensibly part of Breland, their status as a grand duchies allowed them to largely remain autonomous. To this day, there are three noble families in Zilargo—the ir’Korrans, the ir’Trolans, and the ir’Zolans—and heirs happily compete for the title of grand duke and hold elaborate coronations. But grand duke is a symbolic role that was largely only brought out for special interactions with nobles of Galifar, while the Triumvirate, the Councils of Nine, and of course the Trust actually maintain the nation.

In the wake of the Treaty of Thronehold, the Grand Dukes are even more toothless than they were before. The three ducal families are among the most powerful families in Zilargo, but the title of Grand Duke is more of a toy than an actual position of significance; these families often hold elabroate duels or games, with the victor claiming the title for a year. The actual positions of authority within Zilargo are elected offices—though these elections are often decided by vast webs of intrigue.

That’s all for now! As this article is already 11,000 words, I’m going to post answers to questions about it in a follow-up article as opposed to adding them to the end of this one. Thanks to my Patreon supporters for choosing this topic and keeping this site going, and I’ll be posting a Patreon exclusive article about a few notable nobles of Galifar soon for the Inner Circle. And if you’d like to know more about Cyre and the ruling clans of the Mror Holds, check out Exploring Eberron on the DM’s Guild!

67 thoughts on “Dragonmarks: Nobility of Galifar

  1. Is it possible for someone to own land and be referred to as “lord” or “lady” without having an ir’ or a d’ in the name? Is Jesel Tarra’az from Sharn: City of Towers a Karrnathi noble? What about Alina Lorridan Lyrris?

    • Is it possible for someone to own land and be referred to as “lord” or “lady” without having an ir’ or a d’ in the name?

      No. It’s possible in some nations for someone to own land without being a lord or lady. But if you’re a lord or lady, that means you are either a dragonmarked heir or a noble, which means d’ or ir’. Now, you can choose not to USE the ir’ in your style—that’s your choice—but if you’re a lord, that means you’re entitled to one of them.

      Is Jesel Tarra’az from Sharn: City of Towers a Karrnathi noble?

      Jesel is an oddity in the first place, as “Tarra’az” is a very uncommon name for any of the Five Nations; it looks like a Goblin word. I don’t think she’s a Karrnathi noble. She was “raised at the Crimson Monastery” and she has no contact with the Karrnathi embassy. I think this is a case where “Lady” is being used informally, as a courtesy to a wealthy woman, as opposed to a formal title of nobility.

      What about Alina Lorridan Lyrris?
      No, Alina isn’t a noble. She’s from a powerful Zil family, but she’s not one of the three ducal families. If she WANTED to buy a Brelish title, she could certainly afford it, but I don’t think she sees a reason to.

  2. Absolutely fantastic article, thank you for this!

    The Eberron Campaign Setting mentions the warlord fortress-towns of Karrnath called raths. Are these just more militant duchies?

    • A rath is the fortress-town of a warlord. The duchy includes the rath and the lands—and counties—around it. A duchy is a significant territory; there’s likely only 6-10 of them in most nations (and only three in Zilargo!).

  3. Hey Keith! Been waiting with bated breath for this one!

    In Breland, and specifically in Sharn, are the nobles there typically true nobles with the same requirements in taking care of counties and land? If so, how is that broken up within Sharn, or Breland as a whole? If not, how do people typically gain the benefits of being a noble, i.e. the “Position of Privilege” feature? Are they typically wealthy business-owners (legal or not) a la the Boromar clan? Are there other avenues to that type of respect?

    • In Breland, and specifically in Sharn, are the nobles there typically true nobles with the same requirements in taking care of counties and land? If so, how is that broken up within Sharn, or Breland as a whole?

      Brelish nobles as a whole are a mix of substantive nobles that govern land and those that hold courtesy titles. Because Breland already places many tasks (civic appointments, specifically) in the hands of the common people, it’s actually much easier for a Brelish noble to rule remotely; they can check in with the mayor via speaking stone, and head back at times when they know they will be needed. Sharn itself is NOT split into counties ruled by nobles; it’s split into districts, which are administrated by the city council, and the city as a whole is administered by the Lord Mayor, who is appointed by the council. I believe that there is a DUKE of the Hilt whose domain INCLUDES Sharn, but they don’t have much direct authority within the city itself.

      So: Sharn: City of Towers notes that there are 25 noble families have interests in Sharn (It mentions there being 27 noble families in total in Breland, which I think is a little low, but if you only include substantive dukes, counts, and shields it’s at least plausible). However, I see this as being “We’re going to our estate in Sharn for the week” not that you have 25 families whose leaders are in permanent residence in Sharn. I think the ir’Tains in particular are actually low-ranking in terms of nobility—it’s noted that an ir’Tain was Lord Mayor of Sharn, which is a viscount position—but are very old established gentry.

      If not, how do people typically gain the benefits of being a noble in Sharn, i.e. the “Position of Privilege” feature?
      That depends. If your campaign takes place ENTIRELY IN SHARN, then yes, you could call a powerful merchant or a city councilor a noble for purposes of Position of Privilege; I’d likely argue that any family that becomes part of the Sixty would gain Position of Privilege IN SHARN for as long as they maintain that status. However, the PoP of a Sharn councilor wouldn’t extend to Fairhaven or Korth.

  4. First, thanks for completing my backstory for my Zil noble thunder guide! A zany adventure that was spurred by becoming Grand Duchess of Trolanport in a duel!

    Also the idea of election coverage revolving around a series of schemes, double bluffs and embarrassing pranks rather than campaign rallies and speeches has inspired a little nugget for the next time I have a party passing through Zilargo!

    “Oh no, he dropped out of the running last night after the chicken feather incident…”

    Was the ignoble reputation of East Cyran nobles known in greater Galifar? Did central Cyrans, Aundairan idealists, Brelish citizens find this more oppressive feudal serfdom distasteful?

    Would half-orc nobility be considered rare/non-existent outside Marches (where folk hero is likely as useful considering their tradition as mediators and go-betweens?) or would orc adjacent areas not bat an eye at a noble scion being a “greenskin”?

    Would a noble face consequence for bypassing the appointment of magisters and insisting on hearing/adjudicating/sentencing all cases themselves? Would it be odd, or forbidden? Treasonous?

    • First, thanks for completing my backstory for my Zil noble thunder guide! A zany adventure that was spurred by becoming Grand Duchess of Trolanport in a duel!
      Perfect!

      Was the ignoble reputation of East Cyran nobles known in greater Galifar?
      I think the region was almost entirely overlooked by people as a whole and that the Cyrans considered them embarrassing backwater cousins. It’s not like the region HAS much of anything worth having, and it’s on the other side of a desert; they’re pretty easy to ignore. However, I could see them being brought up in anti-Cyran propaganda at the start of the Last War, for sure.

      Would half-orc nobility be considered rare/non-existent outside Marches?
      Unusual in the extreme, absolutely. But not impossible.

      Would a noble face consequence for bypassing the appointment of magisters and insisting on hearing/adjudicating/sentencing all cases themselves? Would it be odd, or forbidden? Treasonous?
      In which nation? Big difference between Thrane, Karrnath, and Breland in this regard.

      • Honestly all three would be interesting to know. I imagine the Brelish are more prone to their own law?

        Also, are the members of Kaius’ harem nobility? I always imagined comely commoners but noble appointment is cool too

        • Also, are the members of Kaius’ harem nobility?

          I seriously doubt it, especially since they’re kept in isolation. All that’s been stated in canon is that they’re young seekers. Notably, none of them have been officially acknowledged as consorts; the public knows they exist, but no details about them.

  5. “The Eldeen Reaches seceded from Aundair in 958 YK, and its people swore their allegiance to the Great Druid Oalian.”
    This is an interesting update; while in ECS it states that the Wardens of the Wood helped the Reachers gain their independence, the phrasing implies Oalian had a lesser, more advisory role. Significantly, ECS’s timeline states “under the protection of the Wardens of the Wood and the guidance of Oalian.”

    In general, I was under the impression that Oalian was largely characterized by patience and wisdom, perhaps even the semblance of inaction. If the Reachers swore allegiance to Oalian as their leader, how do you view him in your Eberron?

    • This is an interesting update; while in ECS it states that the Wardens of the Wood helped the Reachers gain their independence, the phrasing implies Oalian had a lesser, more advisory role.

      I’m afraid it’s not an update; I used that phrasing specifically because page 170 of the ECS says: “Angry at the Aundairian crown for abandoning them, the people swore allegiance to the Great Druid, breaking all ties with the lords of Aundair and resisting several Aundair attempts to regain control.”

      In my opinion, Oalian serves as a SYMBOLIC leader; swearing your allegiance to Oalian is more like swearing your allegiance to a principle rather than a person. But the governance and civil infrastructure of the Eldeen Reaches is definitely a significant topic — one I’d love to discuss, but it would need to be part of an Eldeen article.

  6. Previously it was mentioned that Galifar established that (known) undead could not hold titles of nobility. Could the arguments used then be cited against potential warforged nobles now? Forbidding the possibility of immortal kings?

    • It could certainly be argued. The countering argument is that undead are living creatures that have died — that there’s a state change, whereas the warforged are simply naturally immortal. But this would likely be a landmark legal case that has yet to be argued.

  7. Having been a PoW is a classic method for explaining why a Cyran was outside Cyre on the DoM. I note this applies particularly well to nobles who were held as for ransom, as it lends itself to much longer term incarceration in acceptable conditions. Such a longer term holding gives a character a reason to have adopted some bits of culture from another nation (for example, one held hostage by Thrane may have been indoctrinated into the ranks of the Purified).

    “the inherent belief that the Wynarn bloodline is blessed by Aureon”

    Galifar had 5 kids a thousand years ago. There’s many scholarly organizations on Eberron, and at least one group (Vadalis) that actively studies geneology. Is the simple math that a substanial chunk of Khorvaire’s humans should be of the Wynarn bloodline at this point general knowledge among the educated?

    (The typical real world example is, Genghis Khan estimated to be ancestor to 8% of Asia and his first kid was born less than 820 years ago)

    • “the inherent belief that the Wynarn bloodline is blessed by Aureon”

      To be clear, this is something Galifar I believed A THOUSAND YEARS AGO. I don’t think many people put a lot of weight on it in the present day. It’s more along the lines of a fairy tale that justifies the monarchy than something thought to have a scientific basis. The point of it making life difficult for Khoravar heirs is more tied to the idea of ambitious would-be usurpers grasping at anything they can use to justify their treachery, not because there’s real science to it.

      With that said, the idea that the Wynarn bloodline is “blessed by Aureon” really refers to the current Sovereign and their children… it’s not so much that it’s something you could inherit because you’re 3% Wynarn, like you could potentially develop a dragonmark; it’s more the idea that Aureon smiles on Wynarn monarchs.

  8. Wow, great article which has sparked my imagination. I have many questions.

    To what extent is regional variation tolerated? I’m asking mainly in the context of converting non-Eberron adventures. For instance, if the local lord in an adventure is imposing arbitrary and extremely un-Galifaran laws, is that best explained because he is acting outside of his authority, or because local variation gives him wide latitude (ie. the Grand Duke of Graywall has always had great latitude in the creation of the laws of his palatinate, and has delegated such powers to his Shields; and by long-standing treaty signed when her ancestors pledged fealty to Galifar, the Countess of Ringbriar, though not a Grand Duchess, has the right to create and enforce local laws and traditions).

    How much autonomy do counts, viscounts and crow reeves have? If the local lord does behave badly, why is the intervention of the adventurers necessary, as opposed to just petitioning the duke?

    Sharn:CoT has examples of local laws that are extremely classist. If the adventurers to remove an evil crown reeve with extreme prejudice, instead of going to the count, how is the law likely to view them?

    With respect to the Aundairan nobility who lost lands to Thrane, and the former Thranish nobility who lost lands to Aundair, would there have been a fair amount of granting lands in the new areas to lords who had lost land in the old areas? Would there have been any nobility who changed their fealty to the new sovereign in order to maintain contact with their ancestral lands?

    Were there, before, during or after the Last War, nobles who had lands in more than one kingdom (much like the French and English during the Hundred Years War)?

    Outside of Thrane, are there any grants of land given to religious orders associated with the Sovereign Host, for instance to support important temples or monasteries? I am thinking of the various monasteries in Audair, not to mention the Order of the Broken Blade (which may be complicated by its association with Deneith), paladins of Dol Arrah, orders devoted to Aureon, etc. I’m thinking about converting the village of Orlane from Against the Cult of the Reptile God, which would make sense if it was glebe lands of an order devoted to Arawai, contained in a manifest zone to Lamannia. If so, what equivalent rank would the local abbot or high priest have?

    If crown reeves report to counts, and counts report to dukes, and dukes report to the sovereign, who do shields report to?

    Did you choose the title “Shield” because hardly anyone is familiar with the titles “marquess”, “marquis” or “margrave”? (I feel like Karrnath should have some margraves.)

    • I know the first typo wasn’t intentional but you have inspired thoughts of an entity called the Crow Reeve in the Reaches for me.

    • I personally took the choice of Shield as a practical one because the associated territory names, “March” and “Mark” are already in use for a completely different and key parts of the setting

    • With respect to the Aundairan nobility who lost lands to Thrane, and the former Thranish nobility who lost lands to Aundair, would there have been a fair amount of granting lands in the new areas to lords who had lost land in the old areas? Would there have been any nobility who changed their fealty to the new sovereign in order to maintain contact with their ancestral lands?

      Quite possibly, but that would depend entirely on the lord and the sovereign. If Lady ir’X lost her border domain and King ir’Y gained a different region in the war, King ir’Y COULD offer her the new territory in its place. But does the king LIKE Lady ir’X? Have her actions been a credit to the kingdom? Has she helped with the king’s agenda? Or has she been a thorn in his side that he’s happy to be rid of? Likewise, COULD a lord switch allegiance to maintain their domain? They could certainly make the offer. But would the enemy sovereign trust them? Would they want their allegiance, or are they perhaps more interested in giving the territory to their loyal vassal Lady ir’X, who lost her domain in the war? All of these things COULD happen and some surely did, but it’s ultimately a question of what story you want to tell.

      Were there, before, during or after the Last War, nobles who had lands in more than one kingdom (much like the French and English during the Hundred Years War)?

      Before the war? Surely. I expect there were a number of important lords granted estates in Cyre for when they needed to do business with the crown, just as one example. It was a united kingdom, and all power flowed from the sovereign, so they could make a grant in any nation. But I’d expect almost all such domains to have been seized by the long ruler when the Last War was declared, among other reasons to reward officers. A sovereign would have to have a very good reason to allow an enemy noble to maintain a domain in their nation; I’d mainly see it in the case of a valued ambassador or an important person who the ruler believed could be won to their side—General ir’Someone, a Karrn by birth, Rekkenmark trained, but who served as Captain of the Vermishard Guard for decades. He returned to Karrnath with the outbreak of war, but Mishann was certain that she could convince him to serve Cyre, and thus kept his estates near Metrol intact.

      Outside of Thrane, are there any grants of land given to religious orders associated with the Sovereign Host, for instance to support important temples or monasteries?

      What I’ve suggested here is that lands generally weren’t GIVEN to the vassal faith; instead, it was the express duty of the lords of Galifar to maintain vassal temples (including monasteries, seminaries, etc). But those lands don’t belong to the priests and the priests don’t have an equivalent to noble rank. This is in part because of the sharp distinction between the Church of the Silver Flame (a militant order with a strict hierarchy and consistent creed) and the Vassal faith (an extremely divergent faith with no core leadership and or concrete hierarchy). It’s the duty of the noble to protect and provide for the vassal clergy; they aren’t expected to manage lands or gather revenue. A particular noble could make an exception, but it would BE an exception; it’s not common. For purposes of the adventure, is there a reason the land needs to belong to the order, as opposed to simply being dedicated to its use?

      If crown reeves report to counts, and counts report to dukes, and dukes report to the sovereign, who do shields report to?
      A count is the ruler of a county; a shield is a ruler of a county seen as a dangerous border. Note that “A shield may use count/ess as a courtesy.” A shield is essentially a count+, ranking slightly higher than a count in the social hierarchy because they govern a dangerous county. But both count and shield report to a duke.

      Did you choose the title “Shield” because hardly anyone is familiar with the titles “marquess”, “marquis” or “margrave”?
      I feel that most people are familiar with “marquis,” but not with what it MEANS; beyond that, we already use “marches” in a different context with the Shadow Marches. “Shield” provides immediate, obvious meaning; an adventurer being designated “Shield of the East” is straightforward, whereas “Margrave of the East” requires explanation.

  9. Really interesting stuff. For Breland, it canonically has a house of nobles as a bicameral parliament. It’s also the largest of the five nations by far. Would seats in the House of Nobles be limited to Dukes, or would counts be included as well?

    • If there are only 6-10 dukes per nation (as Keith mentions in the comments above) I expect it would have to include shields and maybe counts. Although if counts report to dukes it is hard to see how that would work.

    • I point out the real British House of Lords (clearly source of inspiration) is, as far as I can tell, a confusing mix of nobles appointed by the ruler, a subset of members elected by other members of the House, bishops of the state church, whoever is the current Earl Marshal, and whoever is Lord Great Chamberlain. As far as I can tell the actual “rank” is not relevent to being in the House other than those last two, just that they have to be a noble. Someone who actually begins to understand this will likely correct me.

    • Canonically, the parliament includes representatives of 27 noble families. Personally, I feel this is a low number of legislators (and families); the House of Lords has 92 life peers. I’m not opposed there being 27 legislators to keep the size manageable, but I feel that there are more than 27 noble families in total. So like population numbers and map scale, this comes down to “Pick a number that makes sense to you.” I do believe that it’s more than just dukes, because I’m considering duke to be a very significant position—with maybe ten duchies in Breland. With that in mind, I would see Lord Parliament as a separate title granted by the crown, similar to a chosen elector, and typically granted to a family for a set duration… so it’s an honor that would elevate a count, and potentially in certain social situations, a count of the Lords Parliament might be seen as outranking a duke without that title.

      • Yeah, the 27 is definitely far too few but it seemed like there’d certainly be too many if all counts counted. Making it a separate title though that’s a good solution. In my Eberron the dukes probably all have seats, with it being a scandal/point of intrigue for one to lose that title.

  10. Thanks Keith, wonder article as always and a special treat to get so much.

    How international (outside of Khorvaire) is PoP? Would Aereni nobles be well received in the nations? Would anyone Aerenal or Sarlona care that you are a relative of some dead human king on a different continent as opposed to any other run-of-the-mill foreigner? What about in places without much in the way of a noble system, like the drow of Xen’drik or the Dragons?

    • The question is mechanical as much as anything else, and ultimately in the hands of the DM. Can an urchin from Sharn use their City Secrets in Stormreach? Can a soldier from Khorvaire have their Military Rank recognized in Riedra? Can the Lhazaar folk hero find hospitality among the common people of Riedra? I COULD justify any of those if I had to (“the Riedrans don’t respect the soldier’s RANK, but they recognize their experience and treat them as a fellow soldier” or “The urchin just understands how cities WORK”) or I could easily say “No, you don’t receive any of your background benefits in other countries. Personally, my inclination would be to make it all or nothing—either all characters receive their benefits, or none do. So I might say that they all receive their benefits in Stormreach: because of its ties to Khorvaire, the noble is recognized and respected, the guards have heard of the deeds of the soldier and respect their rank, the urchin knows how cities work. But when they meet the Qaltiar? They don’t know a thing about nobles or soldiers of Khorvaire, and they have no city for the urchin to sneak in.

      For Aereni it’s the same thing in reverse. If an Aereni player character takes the noble background with PoP, it means they WILL be respected by the nobles of Khorvaire. The question is WHY are they respected? Why do the nobles (and common folk) of Khorvaire no about them? Are they tied to an important Aereni ambassador? Were they involved in an Aereni delegation that witnessed the signing of the Treaty of Thronehold? Or in this campaign, are Aereni held in such esteem that any Aereni noble is treated with such respect?

      This is a crossroads between story and mechanics, and it’s up to player and DM to make that final decision. There are places, as I noted above, where it simple doesn’t make much SENSE for them to produce a character with the noble background and PoP benefit. But if player and DM can find a way to MAKE it make sense, so be it.

  11. Dear Keith, I only want to say thank you for writing this. What an inspiring and fascinating post. You are a great game designer. I have many game ideas after reading this

  12. Thank you for this amazing post! I’d be really interested in a follow-up article about the nobility of Darguun and the Lhazaar Principalities indeed, and how do the nobility of these places mesh with the aristocracy of the former Five Nations? In the present day, do nobles of different nations intermarry? How do the various aristocracies of Khorvaire handle interracial marriage at all? How did they in the past? Would an elf noble rather marry a noble elf of a different nation rather than a half-elf serving the same queen/king?

    Also I would love to read more about Aundair nobility and their relation to the fey? You’ve written before here and there about families making pacts, but how well is that practice known to the people of Aundair and beyond? Do the mortal eladrin and the elves, khoravar, or even humans of Aundair intermarry at all between their respective nobility/courts? Although I get a sense the fey court don’t exactly hold the same office as human courts because of the nature of Thelanis, what recognition (if any) does a noble fey get in a human court? How prevalent are court intrigues between human/khoravar/elf noble families who are tied to “competing” archfeys? Anything you can think of adjacent to the subject would pique my interest.

    Also are there examples in Khorvaire of noble lines other than the usual humanoid races we can think of when we think of the aristocracy of Khorvaire? You answered half-orcs would be very unlikely, I assume it would be similar for shifters? What about changelings?

    I hope the the rapid-firing isn’t too much, and thank you for your time!

    • [I feel the need to mention that I’ve already read and loved your past articles or manifest zone podcasts on the elves, khoravar, and Thelanis!]

    • In the present day, do nobles of different nations intermarry?

      Certainly. Kaius III of Karrnath is married to Queen Etrigani of Aerenal. The Last War had constantly shifting alliances and I’m certain that there were various marriages made to secure those alliances, even if the alliances didn’t last.

      How do the various aristocracies of Khorvaire handle interracial marriage at all? How did they in the past? Would an elf noble rather marry a noble elf of a different nation rather than a half-elf serving the same queen/king?

      I’ve suggested that the Wynarns generally restrict the royal line itself to humans, and I would expect that you’d only see marriages between nobles of two races that can produce viable offspring (we’ve never suggested that humans can produce offspring with dwarves, gnomes, or halflings, for example). But humans, elves, and Khoravar (half-elves) can all produce viable offspring and I expect that there are many mixed marriages between those three races; I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a handful of half-orcs in the mix as well. We’ve called out specifically that in Aundair/Thaliost there was a period where it was the fashion to highlight elf blood in your noble lineage.

      Also I would love to read more about Aundair nobility and their relation to the fey?
      I’d love to write more about it, but it’s too significant a topic to address in a comment; it would need to be the subject of a full article.

      Also are there examples in Khorvaire of noble lines other than the usual humanoid races we can think of when we think of the aristocracy of Khorvaire? You answered half-orcs would be very unlikely, I assume it would be similar for shifters? What about changelings?

      As long as a pairing can produce viable offspring, it’s likely that such a pairing has occurred at some point. Part of the issue in how rare things are is the logical social impact of nobles of the species. It there were LOTS of changeling nobles, then I’d expect changelings to be held in higher esteem in the Five Nations; likewise for shifters. Given that both species are often outsiders viewed with suspicion, it suggests that they don’t have a lot of positive role models among the nobility.

      • Thank you so much for your reply.

        I’ve just subscribed to your Patreon; if any question about nobility (Aundair or other) in relation to the fey comes up in a future poll I’d certainly add my vote to that, then!

    • I expect that they’d leave it out. They might even leave out the first circle, as that’s common enough not to take it as a distinction. second is probably pretty common, third and fourth noteworthy, and above that would be darn impressive.

    • The title for someone who can cast cantrips is “Aundairian”… Or to be slightly more serious, “Magewright.” There’s nothing particularly special about being able to cast a cantrip; even most magewrights and wandslingers can cast at least one 1st level spell. It would be sort of like announcing yourself as “Lord Keith Baker, Baron of Portland, Student Driver” — drawing attention to a flaw rather than something you want people to celebrate.

  13. Dear Keith, if I may I would like to ask you if you think conflicts -even armed- between noble families within the same nation are unheard of, even during the Last War. Say, taking advantage of the chaos one house provides information to enemy nations or factions, as the swords of liberty, to weaken the rival noble house and take over their lands. Have there been combats between armies of rival nobles in the same nation, as in feudal times? Are the sovereignty host affiliations of Diani and nobles in Thrane concealed or known of? Has there been persecution or instead inter-faith harmony? Do you think some sort of French Revolution could take place in Breland, with (former to be) nobles persecuted? And I love the idea of Thelanis and Aundair, is it a hot spot with manifest zones? Thanks so much!

  14. Hi Keith, a great article!
    I really like to give PC’s institutional power as part of a campaign and these article will surely help me.
    You mention that if a character gets a substantive title you include “the management and defense of their domain an integral part of the campaign” .
    Which kind of challenges would you present your PC’s with in Eberron, now that they might have acces to a number of resources (soldiers, money, servants)? and How do you make them entertaining and enticing?

  15. Hey, Keith, I’ve been curious for a while about this. Where does the ‘Ir’ particle come from, both in universe and out? I notice you’ve mainly referred to Galifar I as ‘Galifar Wynarn’, leaving out the Ir’, which makes me wonder whether that’s because you imagine that tradition coming later.

    • In universe I see it as something introduced by Galifar I as a uniting principle of Galifar, a way of saying “This is a noble family RECOGNIZED BY GALIFAR” — so I don’t use it for him pre-Galifar because I feel that he coined it when he founded the kingdom.

      Out of universe? I honestly don’t remember. It is something that was developed during the general brainstorming with Bill Slavicsek, James Wyatt, and Chris Perkins, and I couldn’t tell you who came up with it.

  16. You’ve mentioned several of the other implications of bloodline with regards to bloodline as important to continuing the Wynarn line and addressed some of the issues with the number of heirs necessary in their strange succession system with mention of being able to have multiple consorts.

    I would like to ask specifically about the Wynarn queens though — having large numbers of children as a male ruler in our world is definitively easier than as a female ruler. Are there any interesting means of getting around this in your Eberron that satisfies that desire for a bloodline continuation? The importance of bloodline to me seems to rule out adoption.

    • I would like to ask specifically about the Wynarn queens though — having large numbers of children as a male ruler in our world is definitively easier than as a female ruler. Are there any interesting means of getting around this in your Eberron that satisfies that desire for a bloodline continuation? The importance of bloodline to me seems to rule out adoption.

      It’s a very interesting and logical question. I don’t think that the Eberron of the past is magically advanced enough for something like cloning/simulacrums to be logical. However, I could potentially see a Wynarn queen appointing one or more of her siblings as royal surrogates; much as a king can have multiple officially recognized consorts to help produce heirs, that the queen could appoint another sibling (thus, as close to her in blood as possible) as eligible to produce heirs.

      • Or maybe they *really* are paying top coin to find that mage that can cast some version of alter self on her! Given we are talking about nobility, going to such a extreme and extravagant notion (assuming someone like this would be harder to find at that point in history) doesn’t seem out of place for royals.

      • Wait, does that mean there’s reason to believe Mishann may have intended to appoint Wroann as such a surrogate? Or that politically she could have attempted an alliance by making Wroann’s children her heirs after the fact (to fill the five prince positions)?

  17. What age are noble heirs considered to be “of age” for ruling?

    How does noble inheritance and succession treat rare resurrections?

    • 3E established “adult” for humans as the relatively low 15, plus a random number of years for trade education, where 5e is more vague and only says maturity at the mid-teens. 15, 16 (minimum for most classes) or 17 (minimum for Clerics, Wizards, Druids and Monks) seems reasonable. Remember it would be unusual to actually rule at that age since it would require the parent be dead, retired, or otherwise unable to rule (Though after a century of war, perhaps not THAT unusual).

      • That’s just what 3e D&D says is adult. I’m less concerned about that than curious specifically what *Galifar* and the nations of Khorvaire consider to be “of age” to potentially rule as nobility. This article talks about scenarios where there may or may not be an heir of age to fill an opening, and I want to know what that line is. What 3e (or other editions) mechanically considers “adult” isn’t really important. I want to know what the specific cultural standard is.

    • Five Nations has a sidebar labeled Royal Succession (p.128) that suggests in pre-war Galifar “the preferred age to take the crown was nineteen, though some were allowed to be crowned as young as sixteen, some were denied until they were twenty-one, and many others were not afforded the option until they were much older, depending on the how long their parent stayed on the throne.”

  18. Earlier this year I came back on DnD, since 3.0. And only recently Ive discovered your work through ERftLW (even though I remember Eberron books on the store when they launched back then).
    Im in love with your work Keith, this is FANTASTIC. Im going to Patreon you: its a JOY to play this world of yours, and hopefully you ll keep expanding it on years to come.
    Also, next week Im getting my copy of Exploring Eberron.

  19. Hi Keith, first of all I wanted to tell you that this is a great article and an amazing resource, as well as a great inspiration. Now, given that my players are currently in Thrane and about to align themselves with the Throneholders, I have some questions.

    The first one concerns Queen Diani. Your article mostly paints the same picture as the sourcebooks, but your statement that “Diani believes that Aureon and Dol Arrah have plans for her” caught my eye. Is that just supposed to be along the lines of “the Wynarn line is blessed by Aureon” or is it indicative of a deeper devotion to the Sovereigns? Because that would be an interesting new addition to the lore.

    My second question concerns the financial situation of Thrane’s nobility. You mention that they lost their lands, except for their home estates, but did the church also confiscate some of their money? Did they confiscate the royal family’s money?

    • The first one concerns Queen Diani. Your article mostly paints the same picture as the sourcebooks, but your statement that “Diani believes that Aureon and Dol Arrah have plans for her” caught my eye. Is that just supposed to be along the lines of “the Wynarn line is blessed by Aureon” or is it indicative of a deeper devotion to the Sovereigns? Because that would be an interesting new addition to the lore.

      There’s very little about Diani in canon. Personally, I like the idea of adding that Vassal faith as an interesting twist—that she believes she does have an as yet unrevealed divine role to play. But it’s entirely open how dramatic and deep this is. It could be quite casual, just a source of philosophical comfort to her; or it could be that she has visions, or that she’s a secret aasimar or divine soul who’s yet to unleash her power. What works best for the story you want to tell?

      My second question concerns the financial situation of Thrane’s nobility. You mention that they lost their lands, except for their home estates, but did the church also confiscate some of their money? Did they confiscate the royal family’s money?

      They confiscated property, including physical assets on that property. I don’t think they actually drained their funds from the Kundarak banks as well. My intention is that the Thrane nobles ARE still wealthy and live in comfort, not that they are now wearing potato sacks. But they’ve lost most of their revenue streams; it’s quite possible that the church actually grants an allowance to the “Blood Regent”.

      • Hi Keith, thanks for your answer.
        I agree that the Vassal faith is an interesting addition, creating another point of contention between “the Crown” and the Church and giving án opportunity for new plot hooks.
        And my thoughts on the nobles’ funds were actually quite similar, I had assumed that they still had their money from their Kundarak accounts. The idea of an allowance for the “Blood Regent” was also on my mind, so it’s quite funny that you mentioned that.

        PS: Also wanted to say that I love ExE so far, an extremely well done and interesting book with such amazing art (that portrait of Tira Miron is just stunning)

  20. Thanks for this very rich article, Keith!
    I’d just love to ask if there is any law or practice protecting nobles (es: special courts, harder punishments for insulting or harming a noble, etc). Also, until 19th century, highest ranks in army were reserved to nobles in all European countries but France.
    I imagine karrnath as more rigid and oligarchy.

    Last but not least: you spoke of polygamy in this article. I never considered this option, since even the Sovereigns look to be in a traditional marriage. Is polygamy common or accepted? Is it just for kings? Or nobles?

    • I’d just love to ask if there is any law or practice protecting nobles (es: special courts, harder punishments for insulting or harming a noble, etc).

      The best source of information we have about the Galifar Code of Justice is Sharn: City of Towers, which doesn’t mention any special LAWS tied to nobles. However, I think it’s just generally understood that the laws are most likely to be ENFORCED when nobles are inconvenienced and that nobles may be able to get away with things that commoners can’t. Certainly, the Code of Kaius is far stricter and definitely does place more power in the hands of the nobility.

      Also, until 19th century, highest ranks in army were reserved to nobles in all European countries but France.

      I don’t think this is an absolute rule in Eberron, but I still think it’s common for officers to be noble, especially in a place like Aundair. I think Breland is definitely more open to having commoner officers, at least among the lower ranks.

      Is polygamy common or accepted?

      Canon evidence suggests that it’s accepted but not common. The 3.5 ECS established that Kaius has a harem and that this isn’t seen as a big deal. It’s not unreasonable to think that this would be a help in producing five heirs. At the same time, it’s not mentioned anywhere else in canon material, which suggests that it’s not common in the present day. Essentially, it’s up to you to decide what you want to do with it.

  21. How much influence does the Tain family have over Sharn as its preeminent noble family? What exactly has their noble status done to help them become the “slumlords” and main tenement owners of Sharn?

    Does this mean that the vast majority of tenements in, say, the Fallen district are actually Tain-owned?

    • What exactly has their noble status done to help them become the “slumlords” and main tenement owners of Sharn?
      What Sharn: City of Towers says is “An ir’Tain served as the first Lord Mayor of Sharn, and the first towers were raised with ir’Tain gold.” Essentially, the ir’Tains invested in Sharn at the birth of the modern city, and that investment has paid off.

      How much influence does the Tain family have over Sharn as its preeminent noble family?
      It depends how you define influence. They aren’t city councilors. They aren’t the Lord Mayor. But they are extremely wealthy, own property throughout the city, and they are POPULAR. Their main influence is supposed to be SOCIAL; they are essentially celebrities. Everyone wants an invitation to the Tain Gala, and you can be sure that whatever Cariana is wearing is going to become the next fad. They’re Sharn’s answer to the Kardashians; their power is based on wealth and fame more than on actual legal power.

  22. “…that Eberron would be a world actively caught between the traditional medievalism associated with D&D and the active pull of social and industrial evolution.”

    This is really interesting. It reminds me of Japan during the second half of the 19th century.

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