IFAQ: Noble Questions

My new book Exploring Eberron is available now on the DM’s Guild. You can find a FAQ about it here. My latest article deals with the Nobility of Galifar, and I want to address some of the questions that have come up regarding the nobles. Thanks to my Patreon supporters for choosing this topic and making these articles possible!

To begin with, I want to call out a general concept that applies to a lot of these questions, especially when dealing with nobles as antagonists in an adventure. Eberron is designed with two story poles in mind: pulp adventure and noir intrigue. This is a spectrum, and any adventure will fall somewhere in between the two. Pulp adventure thrives on over the top nefarious villainy, and it’s why we have groups such as the Order of the Emerald Claw. When adventurers encounter the Emerald Claw, they shouldn’t have to stop and think about it; they should KNOW that fighting the Emerald Claw is the right thing to do. If your local noble is a pulp villain, then they SHOULD be clearly terrible. They SHOULD be starving their people, hanging dissenters, holding Human Sacrifice Night on Tuesdays. By contrast, noir intrigue thrives on shades of gray, uncertainty, and on questions that don’t have simple answers. If your noble is a noir villain, perhaps hanging villagers, but it’s because they lost their children to an Aundairian attack in the Last War and now they are convinced that there are Aundairian spies in the village… and they might be right. If the noir lord has Human Sacrifice Night, it’s because the town is on a manifest zone to Thelanis and if they DON’T sacrifice someone, FIVE innocent people will die. The noir lord may be terrible, but are you so sure that if you remove them, the next lord won’t be worse? With that in mind…

To what extent is regional variation tolerated? How much autonomy do counts, viscounts and crown reeves have? 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?

Lore should always be a point of inspiration rather than something that concretely prevents you from telling a good story. If you need the local lord to be acting in a manner that seems un-Galifaran, that just means you need to find a way to justify it. With that said, most stories are more entertaining if they feel plausible—if we’re not just handwaving things. So let’s consider a few elements.

The first option is the grand duchy. The whole point of palatinates is that they’re largely independent and can ignore local laws and traditions. There’s not supposed to be very many of them, but if you really need a lord behaving in a way that’s way out of line with the laws of the land, make them a grand duke.

Beyond that, it largely depends on the nation and, specifically, the liege lord. So first of all, Karrnath has harsh laws that do place near-absolute power in the hands of the local noble. Can you put the story in Karrnath? In Breland or Aundair, the main point is that the local lord shouldn’t, for example, be denying the people their right to justice under the Galifar Code. But if the next lord up the ladder is rotten or ineffective, then they can get away with it, at least for now. A few other important questions is how much of a backwater we’re talking about. If the town has an speaking stone station and a lightning rail stop it’s pretty that people should know about Bad Lord Boggle and that people might just choose to leave. On the other hand, if it’s a small town that doesn’t have these things (or the stone station was closed three years ago and never reopened, or the stonespeaker only works for Bad Lord Boggle, etc) then it’s easier to explain how the lord is getting away with their behavior. With that said…

If the local lord does behave badly, why is the intervention of the adventurers necessary, as opposed to just petitioning the duke?

This comes back to don’t let the lore ruin your story. In a perfect system, the adventurers shouldn’t be needed, which means that things aren’t perfect. The people SHOULD be able to go up to the next rung of the ladder to get help; if they can’t, is it because it’s out of reach? Missing? Rotten? Is it something that can be fixed by the adventurers or is it deep and systemic—again, the player characters can solve today’s problem, but they can’t abolish the Code of Kaius in Karrnath.

One of the basic principles of noir is that the system is unreliable—either corrupt, blind, or toothless. With this in mind, the Why Can’t The Duke Help? table provides a few suggestions. Other things to consider are that the locals may be too afraid to take action, or too ground down by systemic oppression. Sure, in THEORY everyone has a right to justice under the Galifar Code, but we ain’t never seen that code in Blackwood, mister. Beyond that, there could be any number of concrete reasons the liege lord won’t listen to the adventurers. Do they have any sort of reputation, or are they just a bunch of armed vigilantes and professional tomb robbers? Are they all from the local nation, or might some of them be enemy spies? Do you have one of those untrustworthy warforged? It’s a well known fact that the Duke HATES warforged because of that incident at Orcbone at the end of the war…

With that said, if the player characters DO have a good reputation, and have for example a noble whose Position of Privilege specifically allows the to request an audience with a noble, you should LET them go petition the duke. There’s no reason that can’t be just as valid a solution to the problem as stabbing the evil count. You just want to make sure it’s a good story and that it’s as interesting for the players as the fight would be. Do they have evidence? Is there a conspiracy or cult manipulating the duke that the adventurers can expose? If the duke is being blackmailed or enchanted, can the adventurers solve the problem? A little court intrigue can be just as much fun as storming the castle…

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

It’s not established in canon. I’ll arbitrarily say “Sixteen!” but I’m making that number up right now and at least one leader—Jaela—breaks that rule, though she’s obviously a weird case. There’s also the point that there are non-human nobles, so the age would vary for, say, dwarves. But I think human-sixteen is a good baseline.

How does noble inheritance and succession treat rare resurrections?

It’s an excellent question. Sharn: City of Towers establishes that the Galifar Code doesn’t consider undead to be citizens, and undead nobles can’t hold property. On the one hand, I could see a case being made that death is death, and if you die you lose your rights; on the other hand, especially with lower level spells such as revivify, that seems a little extreme. I think I’d probably institute a two-week grace period, essentially, allowing the soul to pass through Dolurrh. If you’re raised from the dead in that time, you retain your rights and privileges. After two weeks, you are considered dead and all the legal aspects proceed; if you are returned to life after that, you are essentially considered to be a new person with no claim to your old titles or property. There’s likely a legal term for this; if someone brought Queen Wroaan back now, she wouldn’t take over Breland, but they might give her a room at the palace and call her “Queen-Posthumous”.

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?

This again comes back to How do you want the story to go? Because for sure, “everyone is entitled to justice under the Galifar Code” includes the evil reeve, and unless your adventurers are appointed justiciars, a bunch of random lowlife vigilantes killing a noble is not something that should end well. The question is what story do you and your players want to experience and how do you point them toward it?

  • Justice With Murder. If the crimes of the reeve are extreme, the evidence is entirely clear, and the public is on the side of the adventurers, it’s entirely reasonable to say that the locals will cover the adventurers’ tracks and that the law won’t care about hunting them down because it’s clear that they did a good thing.
  • Justice Without Murder. The reeve has committed crimes. There’s tons of evidence. But she should be brought to justice, not killed. Player characters get to DECIDE what happens to a creature they reduce to zero hit points. As DM, you can make clear “If you kill her, the rest of the campaign will be about all of you being on the run from Sentinel Marshals until you’re hauled in front of Brelish justice… is that really what you want?”
  • No Justice, No Murder. If you’re going full noir, it’s entirely possible that the adventurers CAN’T bring the noble to justice. If they kill the noble, they’ll be hunted down as murderers. Or perhaps if they kill the noble, the Mabaran manifest zone adjacent to town will expand and kill everyone. Or perhaps the noble has blast disks on a deadman trigger. If they don’t kill the noble, there’s no evidence and no justice will be done. This can be a very interesting story, but as a DM building such a scenario you have to consider how is there a satisfying conclusion for the adventurers—even if they can’t get the answer that they WANT, can they get an answer that they can live with and take some pride in having done the best they possibly could? And also, because adventurers have free will, if you set up a scenario like this you have to be ready for them to kill the reeve anyway. This isn’t YOUR story, it’s EVERYONE’S story; and if they players say “We don’t care about the blast disks, we’re killing the damn reeve” are you actually prepared to go through with it? Or was it, in fact, a bluff?
  • Forget it, Jake. It’s Callestan. Depending where you are, it’s entirely possible to say that the law simply doesn’t apply here. This isn’t to say that actions won’t have consequences, but that it may be that the corrupt count and the local watch won’t give a damn whether you kill the crown reeve… but the Boromar Clan, who she was working for, might.

Basically, this is a stylistic question that you should work out with your adventurers in advance. Is this a world in which the player characters can get away with murder, or is this a world where killing a noble in cold blood will ultimately destroy the campaign? The goal of all of this is for people to have fun, and while I’d like to believe that people can have fun without murder, the DM and the players need to be on the same page.

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?

The 3.5 Eberron Campaign Setting has this to say about the Brelish Parliament.

Breland’s parliament consists of both elected legislators and hereditary noble legislators. The citizens of Breland elect legislators every two years. These elected lawmakers, selected by popular vote (one from each village or town, two from each city, and three each from the metropolises of Sharn and Wroat), are sent to the capital to participate in all parliamentary proceedings. The noble legislators gain their seats in the parliament based on the status of their families; each noble family holds one seat in the parliament. Each year, the recognized head of the family appoints a family member to parliamentary duty. In many cases, the yearly appointment is symbolic, and each family has one representative who serves year in and year out. Twenty-seven noble families serve the crown of Breland.

There’s a number of ways to interpret this, but how *I* read it is that of the many noble families of Breland, 27 have the right to appoint a member to parliament. Personally, I’d consider this to be a royal appointment, acknowledging a family as part of the Lords Parliament; so like being Minister of Magic, this is an office and honor that exists separately from a title. In my opinion, there’s only ten dukes in Breland; it’s likely that all of the ducal families would be Lords Parliament, which leaves 17 seats for lesser lords. I think these are largely static appointments, and that they are hereditary until a sovereign revokes that status—and that this would be a dramatic action for a sovereign to take, especially if they removed one of the ducal families. Take note that the FAMILY holds the office and chooses the representative; this is an office that would typically be held by an heir of the house, not the head of it.

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?

While Sharn is within a duchy (which I’m arbitrarily naming The Hilt, referring to the cross-section of the Dagger river), the city is governed by the Lord Mayor, who’s appointed by the elected city council. So the nobles within Sharn don’t govern Sharn itself; it’s not like the city is broken into counties, and the actual leaders you’ll encounter there are city councilors and Watch captains. With that said, there are 25 noble families represented in Sharn, along with the 35 other powerful families that make up the Sixty, the social nobility of Sharn. Some of those families are true nobles who maintain estates in Sharn; even if the actual lord isn’t in residence, their heirs might be in Sharn to enjoy the season. Others are indeed courtesy nobles. Notably, the ir’Tain family—generally seen as the crown jewel of the social scene—draw their influence from vast wealth and have ir’Tains have served as Lord Mayor, but we’ve never actually said what rank they hold and if they have domains elsewhere in Breland. So if you assume that 12-15 of those noble families are “true” nobles, they’re likely from across Breland, and the title holders are probably only in Sharn occasionally.

Regarding “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?

Possibly, but the key point is that this “blessing” isn’t something that’s based on science or, for that matter, widely believed. It’s something that Galifar I believed a thousand years ago and because of that, it’s baked into the systems he created. But as noted in the article, it’s not something people tend to talk about in the present day. The Daskarans took it seriously, and some of the nobles of Thrane still do, but largely it’s just understood to be a faerie tale that justifies the customs of the monarchy. Beyond that, the “blessing” is really only something that’s supposed to apply to the active rulers—”Aureon smiles on a Wynarn king”—not a mutation that is passed down the line to anyone with a drop of Wynarn blood.

If an Aundarian noble can only cast 0-level spells, is there an “of the Xth Circle” title for that?

No. Including “I have the ability to cast cantrips” as part of your title in Aundair would be like saying “I graduated kindergarten” or “I have a learner’s permit”—it’s not something to brag about. Even most magewrights and wandslingers can cast at least one 1st level spell. With that said, this does bring up an important secondary point. I talk about the idea that everyday magic is more common in Aundair than elsewhere in Khorvaire, that nobles are expected to have some mystical talent. Yet by the 3.5 books they don’t; in Five Nations, Queen Aurala isn’t a spellcaster. Is this intentional? No. This is a point where both the concept of the nation evolved and where the SYSTEM now supports new ideas. 3.5 didn’t have ritual magic or wide cantrips, and NPCs in 3.5 used the same general rules as PCs. We didn’t have a good way to represent wandslingers in 3.5, but now we’re saying that wandslingers are a major part of Aundair’s forces. So with that in mind I would update Aurala’s statistics for 5th edition. I wouldn’t make her a mighty wizard; she’s not supposed to be the most powerful spellcaster in the land. But I’d definitely give her a few cantrips and a few one-use spells or rituals… essentially, on par with a gifted magewright.

What does knighthood mean in Galifar? You suggest that it’s typically not a landed title, but in medieval Europe it was typically the grant of land that allowed a knight to afford the equipment required to meet their obligations to their lord. Without that income, how would knights maintain their equipment?

Knighthood in present-day Khorvaire is NOT a feudal exchange of land for military service. It is an HONOR—often granted to someone who is already performing military service, but not necessarily. If you’re looking to emulate the medieval arrangement, you’d have a crown reeve tasked with military service who is also granted a knighthood.

In Eberron, knights are typically part of an ORDER. You’re not simply a knight, you’re a Knight of the Order of the Emerald Claw, or a Knight of the Order of the Inviolate Way. Knightly orders serve three functions. A knighthood is an honor reflecting the favor of a duke or sovereign. Knightly orders are fraternal orders and members are expected to support one another in both war and peace. And knightly orders are also elite military units. However, that last part is essentially split in the same way as a courtesy title versus a substantive title. You may be appointed a Knight of the Order of the Blackened Sky because you’re an exceptional combat alchemist whose skills will serve Karrnath well on the battlefield. Or you might be appointed a Knight of the Order of the Blackened Sky because you’re one of the first citizens of Karrlakton and the Duchess of Karrlakton wants both to honor your service and to connect you to other members of the order—even though it is understood that you are not a soldier and will never serve the order on the battlefield. Sometimes a knighthood comes with an annuity, making it a concrete reward that will help support a non-noble knight. But also, this is where support the order both in peace and war comes in. In the example given above, the combat alchemist may not be a noble and may not have great funds. But the non-martial knight IS a wealthy man, and he may serve as a patron to the alchemist. The orders are ways to bring the finest citizens together, people who might normally be split by class lines; it is a way to elevate gifted commoners without actually raising them to the nobility, and to forge connections between nobles and exceptional commoners.

The most detailed description of knightly orders that we have in canon is on page 54 of Forge of War, which describes six Karrnathi orders. As I mentioned before, the Order of the Inviolate Way ONLY accepts those of noble blood—which highlights the fact that most of the orders are not so restricted.

What is the path to citizenship in the Five Nations?

Galifar is based on feudal principles, and most nations retain that basic foundation. To become a citizen of such a nation requires an audience with a local noble. The applicant swears fealty to the nation and its ruler, and also direct allegiance to that local noble; the noble in turn formally accepts them as a subject. This means that the noble is accepting responsibility for that individual, and the individual is promising to obey that noble, pay taxes, and answer any call for conscription, as well as to respect the laws of the land. The noble doesn’t HAVE to accept an offer of fealty, and most won’t unless the potential subject intends to reside within their domain. So it’s entirely valid for a Brelish noble to refuse to accept the fealty of an ogre from Droaam because either they don’t believe the ogre will uphold the laws or they don’t believe that the ogre intends to remain within their domain. Likewise, back before Droaam, the Barrens were considered to be part of Breland but the inhabitants of the region weren’t Brelish citizens, because they’d never sworn fealty to any Brelish lord; legally (from the perspective of Galifar) they were outlaws squatting in Brelish land.

In the modern age, much of this process is handled by bureaucracy, especially in the case of children of existing citizens. In some regions there are annual ceremonies where each child swears an oath to the local lord before being recognized as an adult. But in a populous region like Sharn, the parents will file paperwork when the child is born, and when the child becomes an adult they’ll file their own statement. But the underlying principle remains the same: someone needs to make a decision on behalf of the local lord as to whether to accept the offer of fealty, and this will be based on the applicant’s residence, reputation, family, and other factors.

That’s all for now! Thanks again to my Patreon supporters, and I expect to be posting the Patreon-exclusive article tomorrow.

60 thoughts on “IFAQ: Noble Questions

  1. How are the Brelish nobles who lorded over the Barrens treated? Did they get to keep their titles when Boranel pulled back to the Graywall mountains, do they still have hollow titles over lands in Droaam they can’t claim without assistance?

    • Honestly comparing and contrasting the Barren lords with the South Cyrans (and East I suppose) sounds like an interesting exercise

      • There’s certainly overlap. The primary difference is that the South Cyrans held their domains for centuries. The Barrens lords only claimed lands beyond the Graywall in the late ninth century; Stubborn was founded just before the Last War.

    • There’s not very many of them, and you’re talking about shields, not dukes. I expect there’s around three nobles who had lands beyond Graywall, and I expect that yes, they still have hollow titles over lands they can’t claim without assistance.

  2. What does purchasing a noble title, like what Antus ir’Soldorak of the Aurum did, actually do for someone?

    If it gives a meaningful benefit, then why has Alina Lorridan Lyrris, also of the Aurum, not purchased a title for herself?

    • What does purchasing a noble title, like what Antus ir’Soldorak of the Aurum did, actually do for someone?

      It lets you put an ‘ir in front of your name. Beyond that, it gives you dominion over a region of land, requiring you to collect taxes, maintain temples, ensure that justice is enforced, and so on. A noble keeps a share of the revenues generated by their lands, so it’s a source of income and it’s a source of status. But it also carries responsibility. Antus was amused by the idea of being a Brelish noble; it’s more of a novelty than a significant source of power or wealth. I don’t personally see why Alina would bother.

      • This clarifies a separate question I was wondering, is if you think Antus had made his way into the House of Nobles. This leaves it open for a separate, grander ploy he might make in the future if he felt having that kind of direct say in Brelish politics would be important.

        • I don’t think Antus is currently in the House of Nobles; I think he’d have to pull a lot of strings to pull that off. However, I certainly think he could be actively pulling those strings, and that it could be a long-term goal associated with buying the title, yes.

      • If purchasing a noble title can give someone ownership of a region of land, then does Khorvaire has a market for the purchasing of land and noble titles? Is it essentially a nobility-scale real estate market?

        • If purchasing a noble title can give someone ownership of a region of land, then does Khorvaire has a market for the purchasing of land and noble titles? Is it essentially a nobility-scale real estate market?

          The only one of the Five Nations that allows the sale of titles is Breland, and it’s not something that happens every day. It’s quite plausible that there’s a broker who specifically works to connect clients and prospective sellers, but this is the sort of deal that typically happens once or twice a decade; it’s not that lordships are changing hands like pokemon.

          Note that while titles are associated with land, you can also buy LAND without gaining a title. With the permission of the sovereign, nobles can enclose and sell land, and those enclosures can be bought and sold like pokemon. There’s a limited number of enclosures, and the practice is more common in some nations than others (again, Breland is at the top of this list) but once enclosed, land is property and can be traded like any other commodity.

      • Also, is Antus ir’Soldorak simultaneously a Brelish noble in addition to being a Mror noble? Is dual nobleship possible this way in Khorvaire?

        • Yes and yes. Given that many of the nations that current exist weren’t even formally nations a century ago, it’s not something that has been ironed out as thoroughly as, say, the Korth Edicts. But as things stand, no nation has been specifically definined as saying that a noble can’t hold titles and lands in multiple nations.

          • How does this interact with laws in the Code of Galifar that check for a person’s citizenship/nationality?

          • Obtaining a title isn’t a trivial thing. Even in Breland, the sale of a title has to be approved by the sovereign. So back to the question of “Why doesn’t Alina buy a title?” it’s a valid question as to whether Boranel would ALLOW her to have a Brelish title. I would assume that Antus did a fair amount of lobbying to push his through.

            Having said that, once you have a Brelish title you’re definitely an honorary Brelish citizen. So for purposes of the Galifar Code, Antus could be considered a Brelish citizen or a Mror citizen, whichever is more advantageous.

      • I think one of the older editions listed Antus’ ‘ir title as coming from Karnnath. I actually like the idea that he’s going around picking up titles across the nations that have become available for various reasons. Gives him a reason to send adventurers around checking out what’s in this or that barony. There might even be an auction the players could get in on, though now I really want to see if the garage sale equivalent of purchasing nobility is called a, ‘moat sale’.

  3. Point of order with Daskaran – is Sarmondelaryx’s rampage intended to *replace* the fire of 699 YK, or are those two separate disasters that have cumulatively reduced the city to a town?

    • They are two entirely separate disasters. Sarmondelaryx’s reign of terror contributed to shaking Daskaran faith in the Sovereigns; by 699 Thrane was devoted to the Silver Flame, as shown by the fact that people evacuating Daskaran fled to Flamekeep.

  4. Awesome! I had kind of assumed the nobility stuff regarding resurrections, but having that clarified (and the sensible idea of a grace period for stuff like revivify) is much appreciated

    Seemed especially important to me since I’m running Tomb of Annihilation in Eberron *spoilers for that ahead****** because it means the death curse outs nobility that perhaps sensibly had been keeping their death vacation a secret.

    I have been also treating this similarly for the Dragonmarked houses, though whether that was a good move or not I’m not sure.

  5. ” 3.5 didn’t have ritual magic or wide cantrips”

    I would totally allow Magical Training (PGtF 41) for virtually anyone from Khorvaire, even if it is from a FR book.

    • Also speaking of weird stat blocks for nobles, there’s Boranel’s on FN58: Cunning linguist, master strategist, tutored by the finest instructors money can buy, 10 intelligence. I’d drop his dex to 12, and strength to 16 to boost his con and int to 14, then build him as a Aristocrat 3/Warblade 8.

      • I didn’t work on Five Nations and have no particular opinion on its stat blocks, but I’ll note that Five Nations was released before The Book of Nine Swords, so warblade wasn’t technically an option at the time that stat block was created. But certainly, Boranel as a warblade seems fine to me.

        • I always liked Legendary Commander levels as much as they can be included on Boranel, but yeah Warblade (especially White Raven based) goes a long way to marrying fluff and crunch

  6. I would like to ask you two short questions: have there been combats between the (feudal) armies of nobles from the same nation? And secondly, have the Brelish Swords of Liberty engaged in the killing of nobles, and do you think they may attempt to bring about some sort of French revolution? Thank you!

    • “have there been combats between the (feudal) armies of nobles from the same nation”
      Well there’s the traitorous mercenaries that stole eastern Cyre… That aside, with virtual all combatants in the Last War speaking the same language and having the same general equipment for basic units (instead of distinct uniforms), I’m sure there have been accidents where forces in melee wound up attacking their allies since there’s records of happening in Greek and Roman history. There’s also a mention of two Brelish lords punching eachother during a battle in one of the WotC web articles, but that just seems to have been two people.

    • have there been combats between the (feudal) armies of nobles from the same nation?

      In what time frame, on what scale, and to what purpose? Under the Galifar Code nobles can’t just take land from one another; while that might work in the short term, as soon as the news trickled far enough up the ladder it would be dealt with, and harshly. For a noble during the Last War to use an army to attack another noble of their nation—thus squandering resources that could be used against the enemy and doing the enemy’s work for them? That’s definitely treason.

      On the other hand, might a SQUAD of soldiers have been deployed by one lord against another to make some sort of point—burning down an inn, stealing cattle, something of that sort? Something that a liege lord would see as a minor squabble, not worth persecuting in the middle of a war? Sure, that could happen.

      Why does this matter? What’s the story you want to tell?

      And secondly, have the Brelish Swords of Liberty engaged in the killing of nobles, and do you think they may attempt to bring about some sort of French revolution?
      Have they killed nobles? Possibly. They are a violent organization that seeks to abolish the monarchy. Will they attempt to bring about such a revolution? That’s basically their whole purpose: abolish the monarchy, replace it with a democratic government, and while they’re at it, restart the war so Breland can win it. However, by the current canon, they are an extremist minority group; while many Brelish are presented as having doubts about the monarchy, it’s not suggested that there’s a strong violent sentiment or that people would embrace something like the Reign of Terror; the popularity of Boranel alone weighs against this. It’s certainly a direction you could choose to take in your campaign, but by canon I think most people would prefer a peaceful transition—shifting the monarchy into a more symbolic role—than mass executions.

      • I was thinking that such a bloody revolution could take place after Boranel’s death (he died in my campaign), after heirs prove incompetent. And about inter-noble conflicts in the same nation, I plan to bring about one of them after the PCs are entrusted with management of a portion of a kingdom given their rank

    • How about one group of soldiers trying to stop a war crime (or at least, what the first group considers one) by another group from the same nation? There’s a handful of mentions that Eberron does have some kind of concept of “war crimes” since the Tribunal of Thronehold exists. That seems like a plausable occurance.

      • This is a fantastic suggestion Nanashi, thank you! And in line with online calls for making pc heroes in terms of bringing war criminals to justice, protecting refugee, etc. Perhaps another no le wants to expel or attack Cyran refugees in Breland, and another noble house has the means to stop the army of those nobles from doing so!

  7. Sorry, I have one last question: how many representatives are there in the lower chamber of the Brelish parliament? I’m wondering for two reasons: to see if it is larger than the upper house; and because I always create small towns in my Eberron that don’t appear in the map, so I was wondering if the number supports in canon the idea that not all villages appear on the maps, but only some

    • There’s no canon answer. According to the ECS, it’s “The citizens of Breland elect legislators every two years. These elected lawmakers, selected by popular vote (one from each village or town, two from each city, and three each from the metropolises of Sharn and Wroat), are sent to the capital to participate in all parliamentary proceedings.” I’d start by dropping villages from that equation, because in my opinion there are hundreds of villages in Breland. If you say one representative from each major town, two from each major city, and three from Sharn and Wroat, I think you could get away with something like 60 representatives.

  8. Hi, Keith. There’s a topic that has been of cosidreable importance in Terran history, and Terran legends/fiction as well that I don’t think has been touched on yet: the bar sinister, the wrong side of the blanket…liegitimacy. Do the Code of Galifar, or Five Nations tradition deal with the concept of legitimate vs. illegitimate heirs? I would guess that when Galifar I married off his five heirs to local nobility that it was implicit, if not explicit in the marriage contracts, that only the heirs from those marriages would be considered to be in the royal line, even if Aundair, Cyre, et al had had previous marriages or previous offspring. But even if that’s the case, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it applies today.
    But assuming for point of discussion that legitimacy is important, some other questions follow. Can a noble acknowledge an illegitimate offspring and welcome them officially into the family? If such an heir is older than the legitimate heirs, would they jump to the top of the inheritance list, or be at the bottom? If a noble dies without a legitimate heir, but someone could prove they were the biological offspring of said noble, could they claim the inheritance? (Aside: Does House Vadalis have the magical equivalent of a paternity test dragonshard device?) I would imagine that questions of legitimacy would loom more important if there is still a tradition of arranged, political merriages among the noble houses.
    I can imagine a number of stories that could proceed from these complications. Consider a sort of Henry VIII meets Arthur-Guinever-Lancelot meets the Three Musketeers: Prince X ir’Wynarn is married to Lady Y ir’Eminent. He deeply loves her, but they are childless. Lady Y falls for the dashing Captain z and bears his child. The Prince knows what’s happened but still loves his wife and would like to claim the child as his heir. But there are forces who want to see Y and Z disgraced and Prince X dishonored. Enter the PCs, loyal to Lady Y, who have to somehow thwart her enemies and destroy the irrefutable evidence which they possess that could esplode the scandal. Of course, since X is a prince of the realm, that means that Baby Heir would not really possess the Wynarn bloodline. Hmmm…

    • In part this ties to the issue of consorts. By the traditions of Galifar I, it is all about the Wynarn bloodline, so yes, older heirs who are not of the Wynarn bloodline are excluded from the running. The point of consorts is that a Wynarn prince may only have a single queen, but any children of an acknowledged consort are considered legitimate. So the Prince can have legitimate children with both Queen ir’Someone and Lady ir’Somebody, as long as Lady ir’Somebody is acknowledged through official protocol as a recognized consort. However, if it turns out that he also had a child with Barmaid Secret, that child is not in the running. I expect that by the law Galifar established, the daughter of Barmaid Secret is just out of luck; I am also certain that this hasn’t stopped both some rulers from demanding their illegitimate heirs be recognized or charismatic and illegitimate heirs from challenging unpopular legitimate ones. This is the point of saying Khoravar rulers have been challenged; there’s no just REASON for them to be challenged, but it’s easy to imagine a power-hungry heir making a claim that the half-elf is a “flawed reflection of our glorious Galifar.” It’s just as possible that at some point the older daughter of Barmaid Secret rallied a following to place her on the throne in place of the unpopular and younger son of Queen ir’Someone.

      As always, the short form is “What’s the story you want to tell?” The more we rigidly define the laws, the more we risk those laws getting in the WAY of the stories you want to tell. This is why we HAVEN’T defined them too clearly in the past – because it leaves room for you to add those details that suit your story. Can an illegitimate heir be acknowledged? Well, do you WANT that to be possible, or does your story work better if it doesn’t?

      • Does Eberron have magic capable of determining paternity? The question of if Barmaid Secret’s child is truely even from the local noble in the first place seems like it would be an obstacle to that child being a potential heir

          • Could work, though at 5th level Cleric-only seems a little high level for regular use on noble heirs. At 5th level it’s still plausable to find somewhere and possibly a once or twice a generation thing on ROYAL heirs (Would suck to be the cleric that asks about Kaius III though…).

            Does raise the question on just how Commune works in Eberron with deities being as vague as they are. What do they know?

          • 3rd ed had a 3rd party book called Book of Erotic Fantasy. Oddly small parts of it are useful all around, and several of the spells I’ll use as inspiration for magewright rituals, such as animate image, detect bloodline or detect pregnancy.

            Vadalis and Sivis might take special interest in double checking bloodlines

          • With divining the right course of action, you could maybe get away with augury. Like the course of action being “acknowledging this person as a legitimate heir of _”. That certainly leaves some room for things to go wrong, but probably has a better track record than just guessing.

          • Seems like something Jorasco, Medani, Vadalis, Kundarak or Tharashk would be able to do with a Dragonmark focus item. A streamlined Commune for identify blood or lineage.

            Jorasco’s medical knowledge would make sense for understanding genetics.

            Medani would need to be able to identify false heirs.

            Vadalis would be able to ensure that animals are the correct offspring of prize Magebred steeds and could translate the magic to humanoid bloodlines.

            Kundarak could have wards ties to bloodlines, and testing if a potential heir can disable a ward would be proof of their bloodline (provided it’s strong enough. Children might work, but great-great grandchildren are probably too “watered-down” for this test.)

            And Tharashk could have a way to use spilled blood or personal effects to enhance tracking of a target.

            I could see any of these as reasons that the Dragonmarked Houses would be able to establish or confirm parantage. Not to mention that they would want to have a way to ensure marriages aren’t to anyone of another Dragonmarked family bloodline to ensure no Abberant Heirs are produced.

  9. Is there any cultural preferences for what languages nobles learn after Common? Akin to how in the real world we had Latin as a language of the (virtually all upperclass or clergy) educated and English nobles of a certain period knowing French (likely as their first language). FN’s stat blocks (which, as mentioned above, make weird choices in places and you didn’t work on) go exclusively with the languages of the largest non-human groups in the kingdom (to the point medium sized Jaela knows dwarf but not celestial), but I figured I’d ask.

  10. I’m not sure if this has been discussed anywhere else, but-… Do you think noble families would have a heraldic crest or ‘symbol’, or is that something which would generally be limited to Dragonmarked Houses? If so, what do you think the heraldry of the ‘House of Wynarn’ would be like?

  11. Hello, I just love the process used for Position of Privilege and nobility in Eberron. But my question is, noble background has gaming set, so what sort of games is played by Eberron nobles (besides Conquest for Karrnath)?

    • We’ve mentioned a number of games in the past. Three Stones is a dice game (not to be confused with Six Stones, which is playing tag with a cockatrice). Conqueror is a popular game across the Five Nations, not just in Khorvaire. I’ve previously discussed how I’d use Illimat in Eberron. But a deeper discussion of games in Eberron would be a subject for a full article.

        • We’ve described the use of cards in novels, but I don’t think we’ve shared details of the games. I remember that I developed a basic concept of a common game while I was writing City of Towers, but it was 14 years ago and I don’t remember all the details off the top of my head.

  12. When two nobles marry, how do they determine which of family names they will bear and which of their noble houses their children will join?

    • Good question. It’s something that could be negotiated, but common tradition is that the person who’s further away from a title is marrying into the family of the person who’s closer to a title. If the fourth son of a duke is marrying the first daughter of a count, it’s the daughter who actually stands to inherit a title and so the duke’s son would take her name and join her family.

  13. If a dragonmarked heir marry a noble and give up of his/her house, when the noble dies, he/she have some kind of right in the land or is just if there is a heir? I don’t have sure if I am making a confusion with Galifar succession and all successions, but how much right a consort without heir have?

    How much power the noble of the land have about succession? It is possible broke this or choose a regent in testament?

    It is a choice for life, in case of dragonmarked heir that abandon the house, or he/she can change his/her mind?

    And the heirs? If they want become a member of the house? I know that exist foundling, but this seems different of the normal examples. It is not exactly someone ”lost” for be a orphan or a child out of marriage. If you give up of your ties with the house, but can choice a heir to maintain your land and other to go back to house this not sounds weak? How this is suppose to be?

    • For all of these, the key point is that there IS NO ESTABLISHED ANSWER. I can make up answers to these things, but I’ll literally be making up answers on the spot; it’s not something I’ve ever addressed in a story. So I’ll tell you my answers and the logic behind them, but there’s no particular reason that my answers are better than yours. If you like my answers, great. But if you don’t, and they ruin a really good story you want to tell, then who cares what my answers are? Tell your story. Again, this isn’t something I’ve carefully thought through and hammered out through dozens of campaigns; it’s a decision I’m about to make right now because you asked the question, and I don’t want those answers to ruin your story.

      So with that disclaimer, the entire point of the Korth Edicts is to prevent the Dragonmarked Houses from being able to infiltrate and supplant the nobility. The laws of inheritance will always favor the established lines of nobility over investing dragonmarked heirs—even those who have severed ties with their houses—with land and titles. As such, I would expect that a consort with no heir has few rights and cannot inherit land or title. I expect that a noble has the power to make a will specifically appointing someone unusual as their heir or regent, but I’d also expect that a truly unusual choice could be challenged and would ultimately be decided by the sovereign; so their could be a case of a noble investing his beloved consort with his title, but at the end of the day, the king would have to approve of it.

      I believe that it is POSSIBLE for a dragonmarked heir who cut ties with the house to return to the house (such as a widowed consort who produced no heir), and that a noble child with a dragonmark could renounce their noble rank and join the house. But I don’t believe that it would be trivial, and always, always remember that the purpose of the Korth Edicts is to serve as a wall between the houses and nobility; if the question is if you can end up with someone who wields power in both, that’s exactly what the edicts are designed to prevent and it should be exceptionally difficult. Of course, part of the point is that in the wake of the Last War, people are violating the Edicts…

      • Thanks Keith. I thought after post that maybe these are questions that you maybe never face in a story. Some was just abstract theory, but others I probably will have to face and only notice reading the article of nobility. Very helpful!

    • Thronehold was a grand duchy, but it wasn’t a hereditary fiefdom; its duke was the current sovereign of Galifar. King Jarot was the last Grand Duke of Thronehold; the Treaty of Thronehold finally resolved this by establishing it as a multinational province.

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.