IFAQ: Lhazaar Princes

While we’re all trapped in our bunkers, I’ve asked my Patreon supporters to present some interesting short questions on topics that are infrequently raised. Today’s question comes from Joseph.

When did Ryger become High Prince of the Lhazaar Principalities? The ECS says he represented the Lhazaar Principalities as High Prince at Thronehold, and that this was necessary for the Principalities to be recognized as a nation. Rising says he awarded himself the title AFTER Thronehold. While other sources—this Dragonshard and ECS in talking about Thuranni—suggest that there’s always been a high prince. What’s the story?

Needless to say, I can only give my opinion. But given that I wrote all of the Lhazaar material referenced above, that should count for something.

In this case, the most accurate source is the Dragonshard. The Rising section was simplified for the sake of brevity; the goal of Rising was to focus on the present rather than delving too deeply into how we got there. With this in mind, the crucial first step is to understand what it means to BE “High Prince.” In most of the principalities, the title of prince isn’t hereditary. You have to EARN it; you become a prince by being a leader the people of your principality will follow, whether you achieve it through charisma or wealth. With that in mind, the question posed here says that “there’s always been a high prince”… which is inaccurate on one crucial detail. Consider this quote from the Dragonshard…

The Lhazaar princes have always been willful and independent, and the history of the region is filled with feuds between princes. Powerful alliances have risen and fallen, but the islands have never been fully united under one prince. There has always been at least one lord who has claimed the title of high prince. This claim usually reflects the power of the lord’s fleet, and as a result the high prince usually has the respect of the other princes — but this doesn’t make their word law. They can make requests of the other princes, but unless they intend to use force, they cannot make demands.

So: Lhazaar herself was the first high prince, the first captain whose influence stretched across the entire region. Since then, there’s always been at least one lord who’s claimed the title. The key points here are that there’s been times when there’s been two or even three people who have CLAIMED to be the high prince; and that giving yourself the title doesn’t mean anything on its own. You don’t wield power because you’re the high prince; you can call yourself the high prince BECAUSE you wield enough power to back it up it.

What does this mean for Ryger? Let’s turn back to the ECS.

The largest fleet currently operating in the Principalities is the Seadragons, led by High Prince Ryger ir’Wynarn… The prince has ruled the Seadragon Principality for fifteen years, and throughout that time he has claimed to have the blood of the Galifar kings running through his veins. Whether this claim is true or not, Ryger has demonstrated remarkable charisma, a gift for leadership, and a head for strategy that makes him one of the deadliest captains plying the waters off the eastern shores… Pirate, privateer, merchant—Ryger has worn all of these hats and more since wresting the prince’s crown from the head of Horget Black, the previous high prince of the Lhazaar Sea.

As high prince, Ryger is seen as a leader among equals, and most of the sea barons and pirate lords bow to his wisdom and counsel (though not yet to his rule). Those who refuse to pay heed to Ryger do so quietly, so as not to attract the attention of his warships and loyal warriors. It was Ryger who gathered a council of captains and went to Thronehold to represent the Principalities in the talks that ended the war. Now, working mainly as a merchant fleet for House Orien, the Seadragons hope to gain an even greater advantage in peace than in war. High Prince Ryger wants to unite the Principalities under one banner… the banner of Prince Ryger ir’Wynarn.

Let’s break this down.

  • “High prince” is a title that implies that the bearer is the most powerful captain in the Principalities and wields influence throughout the region.
  • Ryger has been a prince for 15 years, but he didn’t start as high prince.
  • Horget Black was the previous high prince. He was in power at least 25 years ago, when he welcomed Thuranni to the region. At some undefined point in the last 15 years, he was defeated by Ryger, who “wrested the prince’s crown from his head.” While this could be a literal crown, the main point is that Black was acknowledged as the most powerful and influential captain in the Principalities and Ryger defeated him, thus implying that HE was now the most powerful captain.
  • Ryger gathered the delegation of princes that represented the region at Thronehold, and used the title of High Prince while there. No one else in the region challenged this, and this means that the other NATIONS assume that Ryger is the recognized leader of the Principalities.
  • … Which he kind of is, because no one else has challenged him and he has the strongest fleet. However, he WANTS the Principalities to join together as a true unified nation with a clear hierarchy, and that has NOT happened. He’s the high princes, and other princes will RESPECT that, but he can’t actually COMMAND any of them–he can only make requests and threats.

Rising meanwhile condenses this all down into a very simple form: Ryger has the best fleet, he represented the nation at Thronehold, he’s declared himself high prince, but he’s been unable to unite everyone. The timeline’s a little fuzzy, but the main point is that he called himself high prince before, but by using the title at Thronehold he gained international recognition as high prince and that really sealed the deal.

An important point here is that the Principalities are not a unified culture. The gnomes of Lorghalen, the Bloodsail elves of Farlnen, Mika’s Cloudreavers, the changelings of the Gray Tide—these are all proudly independent and unique. They have joined together against common enemies, and they have common traditions that unite them against the rest of the world, including the traditions of prince and high prince. But high prince isn’t a title that’s granted, it’s a title that’s claimed by someone who has the power to back it up. Ryger is high prince because he says he is and because no one’s challenged his claim. But he HASN’T managed to get Lorghalen and Farlnen and the Gray Tide to all come together and agree on a more concrete system of governance or greater union.

So: What happened to Horget Black?

Little has been said about Horget Black. Most crucially, it’s never said WHAT Principality he ruled. The ECS states that he gave Thuranni the right to set up shop in REGALPORT. There’s two ways to look at this.

The first is that Horget was himself Prince of the Seadragons. In this case, Ryger was a brilliant and capable Seadragon captain who served Captain Black for a period of time before seizing both his principality and the title of high prince. This isn’t in any way unprecedented; again, in most principalities, prince isn’t a hereditary title. The question is how it ties into the statement that Ryger has been Prince of the Seadragons for 15 years; whether that was also when he defeated Horget, or if it’s referencing that he was one of the most respected captains during that time—people were already calling him a prince even though he served Horget. It’s possible that as he called himself High Prince, Horget let his best captains be called princes.

The second option is that Horget was asserting his authority as high prince by inviting Thuranni to go settle on SOMEONE ELSE’S ISLAND. That’s the kind of thing you could get away with if you’re truly the high prince, and it would be a clear reason for Ryger to hold a grudge.

Where’s Horget now? It’s really up to you. We know he’s not a power player in the Principalities today. However, we also know that you are only prince as long as you can hold power; if he was legitimately broken—by an injury, by a crippling loss of reputation, or by age—it’s not unreasonable that he would accept his defeat and remain in a lesser standing. PERSONALLY, I’d do one of two things: I’d either have him sailing a ghost ship and occasionally popping up to take vengeance on Seadragon vessels… OR I’d have him as an old man missing a limb, serving Ryger in Regalport as a trusted advisor.

Have you put some thought towards how people travel between principalities? Given what you’ve said above, is it plausible to assume Rygar might enforce a set of rules around people who’ve fairly paid to travel between princes, or is it more like a mutual agreement that princes don’t sabotage each other’s ships when they’re carrying civilians/foreigners or trade goods?

Most ships in the region fly two flags: the flag of the ship itself (IE Breland, Aerenal, Lyrandar) and a secondary flag indicating the Principality with which they are doing business. So an Aereni ship carrying lumber to Regalport will fly a secondary Seadragon flag.

So: it’s more like a mutual agreement. If you plunder a ship bearing a Seadragon flag, you are striking at Ryger, and he may demand reparation or take retaliatory action. Conversely, if a merchant ship flies a Seadragon flag WITHOUT having legitimate business with Ryger, he may take offense at THAT.

I’ll answer more infrequently asked questions in the days ahead, and be posting a poll to Patreon to determine the subject of the next major article! Smooth sailing to you all!

37 thoughts on “IFAQ: Lhazaar Princes

  1. Hi, Keith, I promise the question’s relevant this time.

    Have you put some thought towards how people travel between principalities? Given what you’ve said above, is it plausible to assume Rygar might enforce a set of rules around people who’ve fairly paid to travel between princes, or is it more like a mutual agreement that princes don’t sabotage each other’s ships when they’re carrying civilians/foreigners or trade goods?

    • Most ships in the region fly two flags: the flag of the ship itself (IE Breland, Aerenal, Lyrandar) and a secondary flag indicating the Principality with which they are doing business. So an Aereni ship carrying lumber to Regalport will fly a secondary Seadragon flag.

      So: it’s more like a mutual agreement. If you plunder a ship bearing a Seadragon flag, you are striking at Ryger, and he may demand reparation or take retaliatory action. Conversely, if a merchant ship flies a Seadragon flag WITHOUT having legitimate business with Ryger, he may take offense at THAT.

      • So similar to coming into a office building, to get past security, you’ve got to be able to say who you’re coming to talk to and where your appointment is. And if you’re lying, that business might get enough trouble that they’ll come looking for you.

      • That makes sense. Current marintine law in our world holds you’re supposed to fly the ensign of the country whose waters you are in on your starboard yardarm, while your nation of origin flag flies to stern.

        You acknowledge authority of the country you’re in that way.

  2. Since we’re talking about Ryger, how did the other ir’Wynarns react to this Lhazaarite Prince claiming the name and ir’ of the Wynarn family.

    • Most dismiss his claim as being along the lines of someone declaring themselves to be an heir of Genghis Khan. It’s quite plausible that Ryger HAS Wynarn blood somewhere down the line, but so what? However, he hasn’t actually tried to DO anything with that claim—it’s not like he’s put forth a claim to the throne of Galifar or tried to insert himself into Brelish succession—so largely it’s just ignored.

  3. Thanks Keith. I realize Horget Black hasn’t been mentioned in any other sources I can find.

    Do you have any ideas for what sort of legacy the former high prince might have left behind besides being the one to invite Thuranni into the Lhazaar Principalities? Do you imagine he’s dead, in hiding, imprisoned in Dreadhold, haunting the high seas, or has that never come up again since ECS was first released?

    • Little has been said about Horget Black. Most crucially, it’s never said WHAT Principality he ruled. The ECS states that he gave Thuranni the right to set up shop in REGALPORT. There’s two ways to look at this.

      The first is that Horget was himself Prince of the Seadragons. In this case, Ryger was a brilliant and capable Seadragon captain who served Captain Black for a period of time before seizing both his principality and the title of High Prince. This isn’t in any way unprecedented; again, in most principalities, prince isn’t hereditary. The question is how it ties into the statement that Ryger has been Prince of the Seadragons for 15 years; whether that was also when he defeated Horget, or if it’s referencing that he was one of the most respected captaions even before he took the position.

      The second option is that Horget was asserting his authority as high prince by inviting Thuranni to go settle on SOMEONE ELSE’S ISLAND. That’s the kind of thing you could get away with if you’re truly the high prince, and it would be a clear reason for Ryger to hold a grudge.

      Where’s Horget now? It’s really up to you. We know he’s not a power player in the Principalities today. However, we also know that you are only prince as long as you can hold power; if he was legitimately broken—by an injury, by a crippling loss of reputation, or by age—it’s not unreasonable that he would accept his defeat and remain in a lesser standing. PERSONALLY, I’d do one of two things: I’d either have him sailing a ghost ship and occasionally popping up to take vengeance on Seadragon vessels… OR I’d have as an old man missing a limb, serving Ryger in Regalport as a trusted advisor.

  4. Thank you Keith for answering my question! Re-reading, I noticed that it’s Ryger in Rising but Rygar in older materials. Do you have a preferred spelling, or will this become the new pronunciation of Cyre?

      • Fun fact: *I* thought it was Rygar, which is why the Dragonshard uses that name. But in writing THIS article, I looked back over the ECS and noticed it was originally Ryger. So Ryger is the spelling found in print. But, y’know, his FRIENDS call him Rygar. Because ARRRRR!

  5. I never noticed the Lorghalen before, they must be secretly running things; Ryger is only the High Prince that you can see!
    So do the princes define themselves more by how they’ve left and/or stay separate from the mainland, or do they identify more from what they’ve established prior to or independent from Khorvaire? And that leads me to ask how much the various princes play Orion off against Lyrandar and how much the Twelve play the princes off each other? Do the Principalities offer, ‘legitimate’ competition with Lyrandar’s shipping and do the Twelve make sweet-heart deals with one principality over another in exchange for real estate, resources, & cargo space?

    • Every Principality is different. Some are tied to a particular species and culture, while others are as much of a melting pot as any of the Five Nations. Farlnen was founded by EXILES from Aerenal; they maintain their old traditions, but those traditions are no longer practiced on Aerenal. Likewise, there is no parallel to the Gray Tide on the continent; it was established as a haven for changelings from across Khorvaire, and they’ve built their culture from the ground up. Meanwhile, the Seadragons were formed by a diverse range of species and cultures.

      Lyrandar, Orien, and the Twelve all definitely make deals with different principalities and the players on all sides of the equation try to play each other off against one another, both through legitimately favorable arrangements and covert actions.

      • Where would I go for more details on each of these fleets and their unique micro-cultures? I assume they’re in the new book, but is there anything I can go to in the meantime?

        • The Lhazaar Principalities AREN’T in Exploring Eberron. This article discusses some of them:
          http://archive.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/ebds/20050516a
          … But it’s old and a little out of date; in particular, Dragon 410 does a much deeper dive on the Bloodsail Principality that overwrites some of what’s said in the Dragonshard. Lorghalen has never been discussed in depth that I’m aware of.

  6. Hi! Can you tell us how they handle with some everyday life things that we normally demand to a government like coins? Is there anything like enforcement and tribunals?

    Also: knowing that Vol is physically somewhere there, I always had this image of a pirate shop full of ghosts and/or zombies in Lhazaar Princes. Is anything like that in canon or in your eberron?

    Last one. I realised in my last question that, as far as I remember, in canon 3.5 eberron at least, there are a lot of corporeal undead but I cannot remember any single relevant uncorporeal one as png. Am I wrong? Is it intentional, or just is it something that doesn’t stimulate your imagination so much?

    Thanks from Italian quarantine 🙂

    • Can you tell us how they handle with some everyday life things that we normally demand to a government like coins? Is there anything like enforcement and tribunals?

      The Lhazaar don’t mint their own currency; they use the coins of other lands, and in a Lhazaar market you’ll encounter coinage from MANY different lands. Laws are covered in the Dragonshard linked in the main article. A relevant passage:
      Few laws bind all citizens of the Principalities. Despite the long history of the isles, the Lhazaar Principalities have never subscribed to a comprehensive system of laws on par with the Code of Galifar. According to Lhazaar’s edicts, temporal power rests in the hands of the prince: Each lord has the right to administer justice in his domain, appointing officers as they see fit. As a result, customs vary significantly from principality to principality. High Prince Ryger goes to great pains to maintain order in Regalport, creating a safe environment for foreign emissaries and traders. But Port Krez in Krag is a wild and dangerous place for outsiders, where street justice is the common answer to social transgressions.

      Also: knowing that Vol is physically somewhere there, I always had this image of a pirate shop full of ghosts and/or zombies in Lhazaar Princes. Is anything like that in canon or in your eberron?

      Necromancy is an important part of daily life in the Bloodsail Principality, based around the island of Farlnen. It’s described in detail in Dragon 410. Beyond that, there are Mabaran manifest zones on both land and sea, and there are certainly ghost ships.

      There are a lot of corporeal undead but I cannot remember any single relevant uncorporeal one as png.

      I’m not sure what the word “png” means here. Aside from that, this is a good question, but one that isn’t really tied to this topic and that I’d prefer to address in a more relevant article. Short form: Noncorporeal undead tend to be less independent and free roaming. Ghosts are usually bound to specific locations or people; per the Monster Manual “A wraith is malice incarnate, concentrated into an incorporeal form that seeks to quench all life.” Both are examples of things you don’t WANT to be: restless and tormented spirits. There may be exceptions, but again, that’s a topic for another article.

  7. Who’s living beneath the Principalities? I think there’s been mention of merfolk between Khorvaire and Sarlona, and you know I’m always curious about that.

  8. Does the Principalities trade with Tashana have any effect on their culture and the feel of the region? Are the narcotic/medicinal lichen of the shifters a known commodity in these parts? Are the Maenad/Shifter merchants of Whitetooth and the Lhazaar of Regalport aware of the various goings-on in each other’s lands or do they simply not care about the “savages across the sea”?

    • I don’t think there’s a big cultural impact, no. The Tashana trade is still relatively new. Whitetooth and Winterstead are still described as VILLAGES and the interest in art has happened “in recent years”; it’s not like they’ve swelled to become cosmopolitan ports. People in Regalport likely know STORIES about the crazy shifters on the ice, but I wouldn’t say that they’ve adopted their customs or know much about their culture, and the same is doubly true for the people of the Tashana; the foreigners are exotic and mysterious, but they come with wonders to trade.

      In part this ties to the question of what makes an interesting STORY. For me, it’s more interesting as a NEW trade where the two still know little about one another and where adventurers who follow this route are on some levels pioneers as opposed to making it a well-established path. But you could go in a different direction if it seems more compelling to you.

      This likewise ties to the fact that I’d make Icewild a NEW and largely unknown thing – it’s a craze that may be causing trouble in Regalport and spreading to the Five Nations, not a long-established custom.

      • I saw a Reddit comment the other day talking about trade between the Tashana and the Marches; any chance that could go into the hat for a topic someday?

        • There’s a comment about that earlier in the comment stream. I could certainly discuss it in more detail in another post. Ask on Patreon. 😛

  9. I will likely be taking my players to visit the Gray Tide in a few months. I can’t find it anywhere on the map. I could of course, place it wherever in the islands I please, but I was wondering if there’s any canon material about this community, or if you have non-canon stuff you use in your eberron?

  10. Orien and Lyrandar are both involved in moving goods and during the Last War the Lhazaar Principalities had a bunch of pirates with some degree of state backing. Was there any kind of taboo on raiding Dragonmarked stuff? If not, how did the two houses deal with attacks from people who were essentially state actors?

    Who in Eberron would handle marine insurance? Would this be the domain of a Dragonmarked house or “mundane” companies?

    • These are good questions. However, the idea of IFAQs is that they are narrow in scope and can be quickly answered: this question is, simply, “How and When did Ryger become high prince?” These questions are unrelated to that and require a much deeper discussion of Lhazaar piracy: Where did it usually take place? What ships were targeted, and how? What was the reaction to piracy, and what steps were taken to deal with it? Even the characterization of Lhazaar pirates as state actors is something I could discuss at length, and I don’t have time to do that right now. So: good question, but my answers will have to wait for a longer discussion of Lhazaar Piracy.

  11. The Gnomes of Lorghalen have been mentioned a number of times in various Eberron materials. Do you have any ideas about what their culture would be like? How it would differ from Zilargo?

    • They’re definitely distinct from Zilargo, but if I address them it will be as their own article. I’ll add it as a topic on the monthly poll and see if people are interested.

  12. Hi Keith! In this article about lhazaar http://archive.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/ebds/20050516a I read for the first time that 300 years ago there was a kind of purge in Thrane and Karrnath against changelings.
    This raise a lot of questions about
    1) pre-war galifar. States were so independent that they can exterminate a race of citizens whilst other states don’t?
    2) you always pointed out that Silver Flame can do mistakes, but it is inherently good. That the purge was a necessary evil. What in this case? Did the church help changelings to flee from Thrane?
    3) do you think that grey tide/cabinet of faces is a viable patron for players, or it has to be more mysterious for being interesting?

    • You misread the article! Look again; it says these things occurred “Thirteen hundred years ago”——meaning three centuries before Galifar was united and six centuries before the Church of the Silver Flame even existed. It was not long after the War of the Mark, so there was recently precedent for people to seek to exterminate something considered to be an unnatural threat.

      I think the Cabinet of Faces is an acceptable patron for characters, though *I* prefer to keep it mysterious. The main question is if the Cabinet IS based on the Gray Tide, or if it’s in Lost in Droaam, or if it’s somewhere else entirely.

  13. If I’m a merchant sailing through Lhazaar wters, but I’m not headed for a port of one of the powerful princes, is it possible to buy protection from one of the powerful houses? Either in the form of an escort, or in being allowed to flly a Seadragon flag, even though I’m not directly trading with them? If such cases exist, would (for example) Ryger charge a flat fee, or a percentage of the value of the cargo?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.