The Perilous journey into Kingmaker
“The dragon has two heads,” goes the Brevic saying. Some see it as a reference to the dual nature of the nation’s culture—Issian and Rostlandic—others to the division between the ambitious nobility and the often grasping priesthood, or between the noble houses and the self proclaimed swordlords, all with the common people caught in the middle.
The Lords of the Land
Apart from the king and royal family, the highest ranking nobles in Brevoy are its lords—the heads of the noble houses. The lords of Brevoy are male; eldest sons inherit their father’s estate and titles. Younger sons often receive some provision, but it need not be much under the law. Women exert influence through their husbands or sons, and may even rule as regents for sons who have not yet reached the age of majority (15 winters). Lords tend to have many children as a result, at least to secure a male “heir and a spare.” This leads to various cadet branches and lines of houses, as well as alliances by marriage, such that in the past 200 years the seven major noble houses have become both more closely related and more widespread. There is an ever-greater demand for land and titles, and more young, disaffected nobility looking to make a mark in the world.
Gold, Red, and Black
Although Brevans make it a point to honor all gods, three hold particular prominence among these hardy folk. Although worship of Erastil is not uncommon in far-flung rural areas, and cults of Lamashtu have a tenacious ability to endure all manner of cleansing crusade, the following three religions have the greatest influence over life in Brevoy.
Abadar: The Master of the First Vault is the unifying religious power in Brevoy, favored of the merchant and tradesman class, as well as those nobles more interested in prosperity through trade and the rule of law than the iron fist of battle. Temples of Abadar are places of judgment and trade, and the bearers of his golden key are often invested as neutral judges or arbiters.
Gorum: Our Lord in Iron speaks to the needs and interests of the nobility of Brevoy: strength through force of arms and prowess in battle. The household priests of the great keeps and strongholds of the land are ironclad followers of Gorum, wearing their red tabards and swinging iron censers heavy with pungent incense.
Pharasma: Our Lady of Gentle Repose is the divinity of the common people of Brevoy, more concerned with cultivation, birthing, and harvesting than wealth, and less involved in the outcome of battles than in the repercussions of the corpse-strewn fields they leave behind. Inhabitants of scattered villages are far more acquainted with the local bone-thrower, midwife, and black-clad mortician-monk than they are with the splendid clerics of Abadar or Gorum.
The Salt of the Earth
The vast majority of the Brevic people are simple peasants, primarily farmers and craftspeople who owe their fealty (and their taxes) to one lord or another. A Brevic peasant’s life is largely the same throughout Brevoy—up with the sun in the short spring and summer months to tend the fields in Rostland or fish and mine in Issia, with household chores filling the rest of the day. In the long, dark winter months there is no shortage of mending, brewing, carving, and cleaning. Men may visit the local tavern or taphouse in the evening, and such places host dances or revels perhaps two or three times a season. The wise man attends to his own house and avoids the attention of noble and priest alike, praying to all their gods simply for decent weather, good crops, a healthy family, and the peace with which to enjoy them.
The people of Brevoy are known for their somewhat pessimistic (they would say “realistic”) view of life, summed up in the many expressions on the lips of every farmer, trader, traveler, and tavern regular. Common Brevic sayings include:
“When the wolf shows you his teeth, he’s not smiling.”
“Riders at night carry no glad tidings.”
“Winter always follows spring.”
“As the stars see me” (a common oath asserting the truth) and “The stars see all.”
“The dragon has two heads” (referring to both the crest of the Conqueror and the duplicity of the nobility).
“The temple is close, but the night is cold. The tavern is far, but I have a cloak.”
“Fire is everyone’s ally, but it is no one’s friend.”
“Pharasma makes cradles for us all.”
“No man dies wishing he had worked more.”