IFAQ: Humans of Droaam and Breggan Blackcrown

Breggan Blackcrown by Carolina Cesario

As time permits, I like to answer interesting questions posed by my Patrons. Recently, someone asked…

We know that Droaam is largely populated by monstrous races, but it also has a population of disenfranchised humans. What is life like for these humans? Are they treated much the same as everyone else? Are there any human chibs?

The denizens of Droaam have no love for the arrogant people of the east, who have long condemned them as monsters, claimed dominion over their lands, and occasionally sent templars or questing knights west to kill their people. When the Daughters of Sora Kell led their first attack against Brelish forces, the message was clear. From Exploring Eberron…

“Tell your rulers there’s a new power in the west,” Sora Katra told the people of Stubborn. “What you’ve called the Barrens, we now name Droaam. The land beyond the Graywall and below the Byeshk belongs to our people. Withdraw yours quickly and respect our claim; next time, there will be no survivors.” 

Katra’s message wasn’t your people are welcome to join our new society, it was vacate the premises immediately. King Boranel of Breland refused to recognize the new nation—and he still hasn’t—but in 987 YK he ordered all Brelish citizens to withdraw from the disputed region. Those that ignored his orders were driven east by force or slain. So by canon and Kanon, there are no human communities as part of Droaam. With that said, Exploring Eberron has this to say about humans in Droaam.

Most humans living in Droaam are easterners— brigands or renegades evading the law, or merchants seeking opportunities. However, a few are natives, serving Droaam as part of the Venomous Demesne. While the demesne’s nobles are tieflings, humans are a significant part of the population, and Demesne humans can be found serving as magewrights in other cities. The humans of the Venomous Demesne have little in common with the people of the East, considering them savages, and feel no kinship to the Five Nations. 

So first of all, there is a significant population of humans in Droaam: the people of the Venomous Demesne. However, the Demesne is an advanced civilization that still remains largely isolated from the other peoples of Droaam, and that is all but unknown to the Five Nations. As noted, humans of the Demesne can be found in the major cities of Droaam, providing vital magewright services that most of the Droaamite subcultures haven’t mastered; but they are relatively few in number and focused on their work. Demense humans stand out by their fashions and manners, and are largely recognized by other Droaamites and left alone; they provide useful services and are typically capable of defending themselves. If an Easterner is familiar with the customs of the Demesne, disguising themselves as a Demesne magewright would be one way to avoid trouble… until they encounter a tiefling lord who wants to know their lineage and loyalty!

Beyond the humans of the Venomous Demesne, most humans are brigands or renegades evading the law, or merchants seeking opportunities. The Graywall Backdrop in Dragon 369 had this to say about Easterners in the city: Humans, half-orcs, dwarves, and members of the other races are largely concentrated in the Calabas; those who live in Bloodstone are largely bandits or fugitives. The Calabas is a recognized foreign quarter with laws enforced by House Tharashk, and is the safest place in Graywall. What I’ve always told players entering Graywall is that if you see an easterner outside the Calabas, you can assume they’re capable of defending themselves… because eventually, they’ll have to. A merchant would be sure to travel with a bodyguard. But if you see three former Karrnathi soldiers, you can be sure that at some point, a drunken ogre will have taken offense at the presence of these expatriate easterners—and the fact that they’re still here shows that they can handle such a situation.

So in short, there are humans in Droaam, but they aren’t farmers. There’s merchants engaged in business—legitimate or otherwise—who will either be prepared to talk or buy their way out of trouble, or who will have some form of protection. And then there’s people who have chosen to abandon the Five Nations: War criminals, deserters, renegades, dissidents, mages pursuing forbidden research, followers of the Dark Six seeking to practice their faith openly. The main thing is that any human living in Droaam outside a foreign quarter has a reason to be there, and must be prepared to talk or fight their way out of any trouble that comes their way. Those who survive will earn respect and a reputation. Essentially, they’ll be remarkable people.

OK, but what about Brelish settlers? Aren’t there Brelish settlers? Yes, but not in DROAAM. Remember that Breland doesn’t recognize Droaam as a nation, which means there’s no official border. Sora Katra laid claim to “the lands beyond the Graywall and below the Byeshk” and the commonly recognized border is the Orien trade route that runs between Ardev and Sylbaran. The region around the road is contested territory. The road is patrolled by Brelish forces and Znir gnolls serving the Daughters, but the region around the road is far from any lord or chib. There are human communities and settlers who consider themselves Brelish. But there are also a few communities that have no loyalty to either nation. Much like the farming communities of the Eldeen Reaches, the inhabitants of these towns felt abandoned by Breland during the war; unlike the Eldeen, they lacked the unity or numbers to secede and form a new nation. Today these villages are havens for brigands or deserters, always at risk of being targeted by raiders from Turakbar’s Fist or soldiers from Orcbone. And there’s brigands who prey on the Border Road as pirates prey on trade routes on water. The most infamous bandit in the region is Breggan Blackcrown. Here’s an excerpt from Frontiers of Eberron: Threshold...


In a region where bandits are as common as copper pieces, the Company of the Black Crown have earned their infamy. The core of the company were members of an elite unit of Brelish soldiers stationed at Orcbone. Their captain, Breggan, regularly ignored her orders and waged her own personal guerrilla war against Droaam, slaughtering goblin villages and leaving gruesome displays that could chill even a medusa’s blood. Some stories say that Breggan sought to avenge the slaughter of her own family at the hands of monstrous raiders. Others suggest that she admired the ferocity of her foes, that in seeking to match their cruelty she became a monster herself. One especially dramatic tale says that after losing an eye in a battle with a minotaur champion, she plucked out the eye of her fallen foe and pressed it into her own socket, so she could see the world as her enemies do. When she was finally called to account for her cruelty and violation of orders two years ago, she broke with Breland, and many of her soldiers followed her. Now she claims that she is a true daughter of Breggor Firstking, the founder of the ancient nation of Wroat, and that a vision from her ancestor guided her to find his black iron crown. She says that Boranel betrayed his people by failing to bring Droaam to heel, and that she is the champion of the abandoned people of the western frontier; she calls herself “the Queen of the Lost,” subject to the laws of no nation.

The Company of the Black Crown is a mobile force trained in the techniques of guerilla warfare. They have a few long rods and other military-grade weapons. They ride the very edge of Droaam and Breland, defying both nations and preying on the people of both lands. They frequently target other brigands and clash with Droaam raiders, and most believe that this is why the commander of Orcbone chooses to ignore them; others say that the commander is one of Breggan’s former lovers, or that he doesn’t want to send his soldiers to their deaths. Regardless of the reason, for now Orcbone isn’t pursuing the Black Crowns.

While the Black Crowns ruthlessly slaughter other brigands and raiders, they’re no angels. They rob small villages and caravans—never entirely, just “collecting the Crown’s share.” While they usually don’t kill villagers, they make a bloody example of anyone who challenges them.

Breggan Blackcrown is a human woman in her thirties, equally skilled with sword and wand. She’s more than just a wandslinger; stories suggest she could be some sort of warlock. She’s as charming as she is ruthless, and never underestimates a foe. Her success to date is no accident. Breggan is a brilliant leader and her soldiers are exceptionally loyal to her, willing to take any risk in her service. Her primary lieutenants are Hatchet (male halfling, an expert scout), her bodyguard Blessing (female personality warforged, a heavily armored defensive fighter) and Sigil (male human, the war mage who maintains the company’s artillery).

Rumors About Breggan Blackcrown…

… Breggan’s right eye is a crystal shard, and she can see people’s fears. 

… Sora Katra has offered to make Breggan a warlord of Droaam.

… In her raids, Breggan has acquired a number of mysterious artifacts—possibly Dhakaani relics, or weapons from the Age of Demons.

… Breggan Blackcrown attended a feast at Turakbar’s Fist. In some versions of this story she danced with Rhesh Turakbar; in others, she beat him in a bare-handed duel. 

Breggan and her Black Crowns have already made an appearance in my Threshold campaign, and if you’re a Threshold patron you know how that turned out. I’ll note that this section is from the player-facing gazetteer in Frontiers of Eberron; the DM section has more information, along with statistics for Breggan herself.

So are there any human chibs or warlords? None are mentioned in canon, but the Droaam is always changing; in a year, Breggan could be a warlord of Droaam, or she could be rallying the villages of the Trade Road to forge a new nation. What’s the story you want to tell?

Thanks as always to my Patreon supporters for making these articles possible. As this is an IFAQ and my time is limited, I won’t be answering many questions, but feel free to discuss this topic in the comments!

15 thoughts on “IFAQ: Humans of Droaam and Breggan Blackcrown

  1. Another great war criminal like Kolas Verdgrin Breland sure does produce them!

    I don’t suppose Droaam took prisoners after Stubborn? If a PC wanted to play someone who was captured during that time would it be better to have been captured or enslaved by a specific warlord? Rhesh Turakbar perhaps?

    • I don’t suppose Droaam took prisoners after Stubborn? If a PC wanted to play someone who was captured during that time would it be better to have been captured or enslaved by a specific warlord? Rhesh Turakbar perhaps?
      Per kanon, the survivors of Stubborn were sent east to carry their message. ExE notes “Katra’s vision is that all creatures of Droaam would work together, part of the greater whole. Ideally, a laborer who works hard should have no fear of abuse…” Slavery is the model of the old Barrens, not of Droaam. Of course, it follows with “But while the Daughters promote this ideal, it doesn’t always work out in practice; there are still lheshat that treat laborers cruelly.” So yes, I think what you’re looking for is a cruel warlord who might take prisoners; Rhesh Turakbar would certainly work for that.

  2. Hmm. Intriguing. I always felt that Droaam was not recognized by the five nations after the Treaty, but they are recognized. I think there maybe conflict at the Droaam/Breland border. Just Droaam asserting it’s independence from Breland.

    • It would seem King Boranel merely recognized that Brelish citizens remaining in the region Droaam claims is dangerous—not that the Daughter’s claims to the former Barrens as a nation are leigtimate. That seems like a reasonable assessment since raids do come from over the Graywalls.

  3. Would any of the Cyran refugees have immigrated to Droaam? Especially if they have a dislike of their treatment by the Brelish?

    Given the ‘Nightmare Logic’, if Dread Metrol returned from the mists/mabar would they likely find allies in Droaam? and if so would that lead to an influx of ‘Humans’ ?

    Do the people of Droaam have different opinions on the different nations? like do they hate Karrnathi but they can stand a person from Aundair? If so is it likely a Thranish missionary is K.O.S. ?

    • That’s certainly a possibility. The Cyran refugees who feel disenfranchised might go to Droaam. Depends on how you want to play it in your Eberron.

      I’m playing my next Eberron campaign in Aundair, though. So I’m not worried about *most* of the Cyran refugees.

    • Would any of the Cyran refugees have immigrated to Droaam? Especially if they have a dislike of their treatment by the Brelish?
      Not in significant numbers, no. First of all, remember that all the Five Nations were once Galifar. Despite their cultural differences and the rifts of the Last War, they still have a great deal in common. Most Cyrans worship either the Sovereign Host or the Silver Flame, and whatever you think of the Brelish, you can still find temples of the Host and shrines to the Flame in Breland. By contrast, you’ll find neither in Droaam. Consider also that the common language of Droaam is Goblin, not the Common tongue. It’s an alien society built by the monsters out of your childhood stories. And it’s a place where if you piss off a troll — and that’s not something that’s hard to do — the guards will take bets on how long you’ll survive rather than trying to stop the fight. So again, the humans who go to Droaam and survive are the ones who can look that troll in the eye and either talk him down, buy him off, or beat him in battle. There ARE Cyrans who are ready and able to face that challenge, certainly. But most wouldn’t want to leave every element of the world they’d known—from their gods to their language to their architecture—behind to live in a city of gnolls and harpies. However, there ARE Cyran refugees who have settled along the border—as seen in the significant refugee population in Threshold.

      Do the people of Droaam have different opinions on the different nations?
      Most do not. Exploring Eberron notes “they use the term aravaat—easterner—to refer to people of the Five Nations, and more generally, to refer to humans, halflings, dwarves, elves, and similar species. Most Droaamites don’t bother to learn the names of the different nations of Khorvaire. The West is the Shadow Marches, home to Tharashk and the former home of Sora Katra. The North is the Towering Wood, former home of Sora Maenya. Everything else is the East, and that’s all most people really care to know about it.” People who have regular contact with the aravaat—diplomats, merchants, mercenaries trained by House Tharashk—will know the differences, but even then they have no reason to have any sympathy for any of the Five Nations unless they’ve actually fought for or against one of them.

  4. which episode of threshold was that? and I’m having trouble find the DM section to find her stat block. I’d like to use Her as a plot anchor for my story

    • Breggan and the Black Crowns were involved in Episodes 5 and 6 of Threshold. I’m afraid that Breggan’s stat block is included in the DM section of Frontiers of Eberron, which isn’t going to be released until 2023, so it’s not very helpful in this moment.

  5. What does that mean, advanced civilization? Like more advanced then the country around them or even more advanced than the continent around them? Great article! So much information to dive into.

    • The Venomous Demesne has its roots in Ohr Kaluun in old Sarlona, before the Inspired took hold. The people of Ohr Kaluun were advanced in both arcane and divine magic, with a long pre-Galifar tradition, the progress of which was in part driven by extraplanar influence (Sarlona is rife with manifest zones and other extraplanar incursions).
      So they were advanced even before Galifar unified the majority of Khorvaire, but no longer have the same drive as they used to, due to the lack of extraplanar influence. Given that, the human nations of Khorvaire are probably still behind them as a society, though slowly catching up to them, due to the increased drive to invent provided by both the Last War and the current cold war.
      Based on that, you could argue that you would find a generally higher level of “wide magic” in the Venomous Demesne, with magical traditions that are strange and exotic by the standards of Galifaran Khorvaire.

      • Excellent summary! Indeed, the Demesne lies somewhere above the Five Nations and somewhere below Aerenal, not having a power on par with the Undying Court supporting its society.

  6. Thanks a lot! It’s very useful information for my campaign which is focusing on travel from Breland to Droaam. Breggan Blackcrown will definitely appear in the adventure as well as the border conflict.

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