The people of the Brass Coast are divided into three great tribes, named for the three founders of the nation, Erigo, Riqueza, and Guerra. The historical records show that the Founders departed Highguard with their extended families, and sought a new homeland far from the internecine squabbling of the Highborn. With the aid of powerful magic, they located a homeland where they would be free to pursue their own destinies. All Freeborn today see themselves as descendants of one of the three founders - whether literally via birthright - or spiritually for those who choose to join the tribe whose Founder's ideals most align with their own.
Until recently an individuals tribe was based on the tribe of the parent who gave birth to them, but records uncovered following the recent Grendel invasion of Free Landing showed that the original Founders were happy to welcome anyone into the Freeborn provided they followed the Founders ideals. In those times, choosing a tribe was not a matter of genealogy, but an expression of support for the Founder whose ideals most resonated with you and people could move from one tribe to another, the better to follow their calling. The Founders goal was to establish a nation based on the ideology that had inspired their departure from Highguard - choosing a tribe meant making a contractual commitment to those ideals.
Following this discovery, many Freeborn citizens have eagerly embraced an opportunity to return to the founding traditions of the nation. Learning more about the Founders gives each Freeborn citizen an opportunity to choose to have a more personal relationship with the Founder with whom they most closely identify. Those who have little interest in the Founders, their lives and their ideals, have simply continued to use the tribal name they were born with but those who have been inspired by the Founders are changing their name in response as they seek to emulate the Founder who has most inspired them.
The three Founders were idealists, visionary dreamers who believed that they could change the world. Now that their history has been reclaimed, there is a chance for each Freeborn to walk the path of one of the Founders and strive to live up to those heady ideals.
Choosing A Tribe
Each of the three Founders had a distinct ideology - a set of beliefs, ideals and a way of life that they hoped to impart to the tribe who followed them. The paths of the founders are largely complimentary, they could never have founded a nation together if that weren't true and Freeborn culture is largely a synthesis of these three traditions. All Freeborn share this common set of behaviours and beliefs to a greater or lesser extent, but choosing a tribe allows you to identify the elements of Freeborn culture that are most important to you. In this way choosing a tribe is a conscious decision that is about embracing one of the three Founders of the Brass Coast. The idea is to seek to emulate the Founder in some way - and thereby follow in their footsteps. As choosing a tribe is now a matter of who you are inspired by, rather than solely an issue of birthright, family and friends are all free to choose a different tribe if they wish.
Since the Brass Coast joined the Empire, the decision on who can join the nation is taken by the egregore spirit, based on how likely they judge a person to uphold and support the values of the Coast. Since the recent rediscovery of the founding traditions, the egregores are now encouraging those who seek to join the nation to also find the tribe that suits them best. The aspirant is encouraged to speak with the hakima, the guardians of the nation's tribal traditions, to receive guidance and acceptance. Only when someone has found one or more hakima in good standing who is prepared to vouch for their right to join their tribe are they then accepted by the egregore.
In traditional Freeborn style most people feel such a moment should be accompanied by an appropriate celebration. Where practical, the egregore will invite the hakima of the relevant tribe to attend the ceremony in addition to their friends and family so that everyone can stand witness to the event. This is a moment of great importance, so it is only natural that many Freeborn believe it should be marked with a suitable contract - the applicant signing their name to a written pledge to uphold the principles and ideals of the tribe they are joining. Of course Brass Coast traditions emphasize individuality, so rather than a set format, the new Freeborn is encouraged to work with a sutanir to create a celebration that can mark this important rite of passage, but which suits their tastes.
Children are being encouraged to adopt a tribal name when they pass their citizenship so that they can choose their tribe at the same time they become Freeborn citizens. Older Freeborn who are already citizens of the Brass Coast are now welcome to change tribe - and those that wish to embrace one of the founders are taking the opportunity to do so. Some are even choosing to make a ceremony of such a choice even though they were born into the tribe they are choosing - to show that this is now a matter of outlook and philosophy and not just their birthright.
No-one is born virtuous.Riqueza
- An exuberant passion for life and for artistic expression in particular
- A preference for morality over the virtues and religious doctrine
- Disdain for the past and for anything that would prevent you expressing yourself honestly
Riqueza was the eldest of the three sisters, a mystically-inclined seer who was versed in night magic; a common tale of the founding claims that she used a crystal with a flaw in the shape of the rune of transformation to lead the Freeborn to their new homeland. Her message was that life is fundamentally numinous, an expression of the divine that should be celebrated accordingly. The Coast's motto, "Life is short - let it never be dull!" is ascribed to her. She was a patron of poetry, music, dancing, and art, encouraging those who followed her to take joy in life and in artistic expression in particular. Riqueza believed in the presence of the divine creator in all people and claimed that a joyful, uplifted spirit was closer to the divine.
Of the three tribes, this is the most spiritual, but with a creed based more on the essential morality of your actions rather than the Virtues. Riqueza didn't discount the Virtues, she just did not consider them to be fundamental to matters of decency, integrity, and justice. This is a chance to play a deeply religious character without needing to be pious - and you can resist the dour, orthodox vision of the Way sometimes pursued in nations like Varushka, Highguard, or even the League. You can embrace the Virtues, and encourage others to do so, but you can also argue that each person must make their own connection with the spiritual world rather then relying on a priest to do it for them. You could even sideline the virtues if you are happy to risk accusations of heresy or blasphemy - encouraging people to take moral actions rather than contemplate their virtue.
Choosing to embrace Riqueza is not just for religious characters however. The kohan, the warriors who find joy in battle, are a reflection of Riqueza's profound influence on the nation, encouraging people to exult in everything they do. Although there are no records of Riqueza in battle, it seems certain she would have approved of the joy that the kohan take in warfare as well as the intensity with which they celebrate victory and defeat. Following Riqueza is for anyone who strives to embrace every moment of life, and live it with it as much passion as they can muster, and to encourage others to do likewise. Playing a follower of Riqueza gives you a chance to play a character whose focus is firmly on celebrating the life you live now, rather than the Labyrinth and any past or future life. Tribe members can give short shrift to any character who tries to tell them that their character is important not because of what they have done but because of who they were in a past life.
Riqueza was passionate about honesty, valuing the freedom and courage to express yourself honestly, to say what was in your heart and to share the joy of others who do likewise. She argued that morality begins with an honest life; if you feel too ashamed to speak openly of the things you have done then that reflects your own self-awareness that your actions were morally wrong. Conversely, Riqueza believed that if you are able to speak honestly of the things you have done, then you will gain the strength to defend your actions from the disapproval of those around you. The reputation of the Brass Coast for unabashed speaking comes from Riqueza and this is the tribe to choose if you want to follow in that tradition.
One of the most influential historical Riqueza was Tomas i Suarez i Riqueza, a good friend and advisor to Emperor Frederick. Tomas spoke and wrote passionately about the need for the individual to be responsible for their own Virtue, and the requirement that a moral life grew from the idea of taking responsibility for one's own actions rather than seeking justification in the Virtues.
Without liberty, there can be no prosperity for nothing that you possess truly belongs to you. Without prosperity there can be no dignity, for hunger and need will make slaves of us all. Without dignity there can be no liberty, for liberty is nothing more than the freedom to choose.Erigo
- A commitment to hard work and prosperity as the route to self-respect and self-reliance
- A lust for adventure and risk-taking and the desire to protect your wealth and that of those you care for
- Disdain for thieves and those who cheat others, be honest in all your dealings with friends and allies
Erigo, the middle sister, was a daring captain who led the first corsairs into battle against the Coast's enemies and she remains a patron to many, but she is also an inspiration to every hard working Freeborn citizen whose ambition is to enrich themselves. She was famously bold, enjoying taking risks that others would not dare, to win victories they could not imagine. She was also versed in summer magic and was said to have been adept at weaving enchantment over soldiers and fleets alike, but she was famous for her skills with the bhuj which made her a deadly adversary on the battlefield. A significant proportion of her family were warriors and battle magicians, and when the Freeborn decided to settle on the Brass Coast it was Erigo and her tribe that took the lead in driving out the Grendel who lived there. She was relentless in her aggression towards any who threatened not just her own wealth or prosperity but also those she protected and several of the families descended from her line see it as their duty to protect the rest of the Freeborn, and a number of the oldest corsair families trace their lineage directly to her.
Of the three tribes, the Erigo are the most concerned with trade and profit. Their Founder came from a long line of traders, and she encouraged all her followers to see prosperity as much more than just the accumulation of money. For Erigo, the purpose of wealth was to secure independence. She claimed that prosperity gave you the ability to support yourself and your family, and that the only true freedom was the freedom to choose your own destiny. Money gives you the freedom to be independent, to do as you choose, rather than as you must. Erigo was happy to work with others, provided she did so from a position of strength, rather than as a supplicant. Where Guerra was focused on escaping the oppressive rule of the patricians, Erigo was concerned with ideas of positive liberty, the notion that true freedom was only gained by those who have the agency to make their own choices. In here eyes that amounted to having sufficient wealth to do as you please without concern for hardship or impoverishment. It was followers of Erigo that insisted that the guarantee on dignity, freedom, and prosperity be included in the Imperial Constitution.
All the Freeborn are encouraged to be as honest as possible - but Erigo saw this as primarily about honesty in your financial dealings with other people. Crucially she believed that dishonest merchants were profiting from the good reputations of their fellow traders, in effect stealing the benefits of their hard work. She despised thieves and robbers, but saw cheats and swindlers as no different. Many members of her tribe also cite Erigo's defence of their right to spend their money as they please. If you work hard then being a member of the Erigo tribe gives you a great justification to resist any and all attempts to tell you what you should do with your money. You don't have to be selfish, you can be as generous as you like as a follower of Erigo - provided that your choices are your own and not the result of attempts by others to persuade you that you should give your wealth for their cause.
Following Erigo is not just for merchants or characters that want to count their coin. The Founder was passionate about the importance of securing your own prosperity and that of your family - and of taking the wealth of your enemies so that they cannot use it to attack you. She was far and away the most martial of the three Founders and the first corsairs were followers of Erigo. She was also fiercely independent; choosing to embrace Erigo gives you a motivation for ensuring that you always make your own decisions, rather than just blindly following others. The followers of Erigo were not fools - they see the value of armies and navies for example - but they absolutely believe that each individual should make their own decision about how these things should be created or supported. The exemplar Zemress was born into the Erigo tribe. Her life is often seen in the Brass Coast as being exemplary not only of the pursuit of Prosperity, but of many of the ideals of Erigo herself.
Joining the Erigo tribe is a great idea for anyone who loves to take big risks. Erigo's family sold their vast holdings in Highguard and risked everything to found the Brass Coast. She was famously daring and bold in everything she did, and many members of her tribe try to be courageous enough to live up to this ideal. In part they are driven by the desire for success - but just as often they do it for the joy of playing the odds. Corsairs, merchants, politicians - anyone who likes to take risks is welcome in the Erigo tribe.
Anyone compelled to take the orders of another is a slave.Guerra
- A idealistic drive to fix what is broken and change society for the better for all
- The courage to challenge vested interests and the honesty to unpalatable truths
- Disdain for the powerful and those who have authority over others
Guerra, the youngest of the Founders was a radical, a demagogue and idealist, she dreamed of creating a better world where all people would be Freeborn. She was renown as an exceptional Day magician and considered to be one of the foremost astronomancers of her age. Some hakima claim that it was Guerra, not Riqueza, who lead the Freeborn to the Brass Coast, using a dowsing pendulum marked with the rune of discovery. She was famous both for her quick temper and for the courage with which she spoke her mind, but she was a committed reformer, a passionate opponent of slavery who was driven to build a better world. She was the most worldly of the three founders, and is said to have negotiated treaties of recognition with Sarvos and the scattered Navarr stridings as well as founding the city of Siroc.
The founder of the Guerra sought to create a fair society, one that protected and served all people. Choosing to follow Guerra is about sharing that same drive to change the world, it's a great option for any character who has an interest in Imperial or Freeborn politics - regardless of whether that's in the Senate, the Synod, the Military Council, or the Conclave. The Founder inspires those who follow her to pursue a moral purpose, giving you a purpose in the game. If you seek to change things for the better then being a Guerra gives you a reason to refuse to compromise on your principles. You don't have to help everyone who asks for aid, though you can if you wish. More than any other Founder, Guerra was driven by idealism, a desire to create a better world for everyone to share. Being inspired by Guerra is about trying to change the big picture of society rather than simply helping individuals. Guerra wouldn't give someone a fish, nor would she teach them how to fish... the Founder would build a school so everyone could learn how to fish.
You don't have to be interested in Imperial politics to follow Guerra, you can just as easily be a soldier, a scrivener, a sutannir, or anything else. What matters is the cause - and the people that you serve. Those who first followed Guerra did so because they believed in the dreams she espoused enough to want to pledge themselves to her cause. If you embrace Guerra then it makes the decisions about who to help and when a matter of deep importance for your character, something to be considered at every turn. You can still follow Guerra if you put your faith in others, and lend your strength to their cause, provided you ensure that they are pursuing the kind of ambition that the Founder would have approved of.
Many followers of Guerra share the Founders vehement opposition to the institution of slavery. She saw it as a deeply corrupting influence that must be opposed at almost any cost. The Guerra philosophy is that the freedom of the individual to live a life of their choosing is the single most important right of all living beings. Slavery in all its forms must be opposed wherever it is found in the world, she was adamant in her opposition to the idea that any one individual might command another. Slavery is illegal in the Empire, so if you play a Guerra you don't need to be driven by this cause, but picking some social or diplomatic cause to pursue can be a great impetus for any Imperial citizen.
Guerra's fight against the corrupt rule of the Patrician Council was one of the pivotal moments that caused the Founders to leave Highguard and conquer the Brass Coast. The idea of standing up to authority and challenging vested interests is a powerful inspiration to those tribe members who want to embrace the Founder. Guerra believed it was crucial for all those who provide leadership in civic life to be scrupulously honest in their public dealings. She did not oppose those who held high station being paid to make decisions - what she loathed was that anyone would lie about what inducements they had been offered. She was tireless in defence of those who spoke truth to power or had the courage of their convictions in the face of the hostility of others. It takes a lot of guts to speak honestly in public, but it will give you some incredibly dramatic moments for your character if you succeed. The reputation of the Brass Coast for saying what everyone is thinking no matter how impolitic comes from members of the Guerra tribe.
Emperor Ahraz was a scion of the Guerra line. It is often a source of pride to the Guerra that the only Freebon Throne to date embraced the ideals of their Founder, and did so in a way that had such a profound impact on the Empire.
Everyone in the Brass Coast has a tribal name, you can choose a Founder who you most strongly identify with but until recently most Freeborn took the tribal name of the parent who gave birth to them. If you were born into the Brass Coast - then you will have been born into a tribe, so being in a tribe doesn't mean you have to embrace your Founder and try to live up to their ideals if that doesn't fit with your character's ambitions. While many Freeborn are enthusiastic about the new opportunity to embrace their heritage and enjoy the kind of personal connection to the Founders that their forebears enjoyed, some see no need to change and are content to live their life as they have always done. Being Freeborn is their birthright and they pursue a path of their own, proud of their connection to their Founder, but without feeling the need to make their ideals the centre of their lives.
The material presented here is designed to bring out key elements of the existing Brass Coast background, but to anchor that in the personality of the Three Founders so that you can choose the key aspect that most appeals to you and embrace that. But that isn't the only way to play a Freeborn character, any character that exemplifies the existing Brass Coast brief is still perfectly valid. The Founders pursued a dream to create a new nation for them and those who followed them - they inspired others to emulate and follow them - but all three would have scorned the idea that everyone who followed them had to act just like them.
The new presentation for the tribes exist to give Freeborn players the validation to embrace a strong character concept and pursue it in game. It's a choice that players of existing and new characters can make - if they want to. But it's perfectly possible to play a Freeborn character who doesn't make a big deal of their tribe, and if there isn't a Founder who appeals to you, then that's a better option than trying to pursue something that doesn't grab you.