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Northeastern-most country among the countries of the dreaming west, Brythunia is still young compared to its more established neighbors in the south and west. In this remote corner of the civilized world, the wheel of progress turns at a slower pace than to the west — and, in fact, it appears that the Brythunians sometimes drag their feet to halt the forward march of progress.

From a political perspective, Brythunia is broken into four major territories, with generous overlap between each border. These territories — kingdoms, more accurately — are held together by a ruling clan or family backed by the peasantry to secure their sovereignty, and with cooperating families and clans to enforce the rule, collect taxes, and so forth.

These alliances are fluid and shift freely, as often as the wind changes direction. The kingdoms are named after their ruling family. Each house has a fortified keep and land holdings in a defensible area, usually near favorable land for farming and raising livestock. The rest of the kingdom’s holdings consist of rugged farmland, stark plains, rockstrewn hills, and a rawboned, healthy people who live in villages and try to eke out a life for themselves.

Brythunians are tall, rangy people, with fair to ruddy skin color. They are built for the cold climate and harsh living conditions. Hair color is blonde to light brown, with eyes of hazel, green, and blue.

Geography[]

Brythunia is located north of Corinthia, East of the Border Kingdom and Nemedia, and south of Hyperborea. The nation's borders are defined by mountain ranges on all sides except for its borders with Nemedia, which is defined by the Yellow River. The land is hilly and covered with forests, and is fairly fertile.
City-States of Brythunia include Berthalia.

History, background and politics[]

Brythunians can trace their lineage back to the Hybori in the north, themselves the descendants of Hyperborea, who moved north and east through the steppes and came to the cradle of the mountain range. There they planted their flag, encountering no resistance in this dim country.

For many generations, Brythunians became their own worst enemy as greed, ambition, lust, and worse sent the giant clans scurrying to secure property and hold onto it. For hundreds of years, the clans stole and murdered and ravaged indiscriminately.

Eventually, attrition and commerce conspired to do what morality and scruples could not, and the four kingdoms eased into a kind of peaceful truce. This allowed the Brythunians to establish roads, trade routes, agriculture, and other bartering necessities.

Now the country of Brythunia is healthy, but that has not stopped the clan leaders from plotting and scheming to better their political situation. No one wants to go to war and so diplomacy, arranged marriages, and the occasional political bribe do much of the work.

There are rumors of dire plots, as is always the case, but the Brythunian clans have their own agendas, some of which may be considered hostile to their neighbors. The country is awash in spies, both within the families and without, to feed information back and try to keep things under control, lest a costly war break out.

Almost all farmers in Brythunia are also fighters. The entire kingdom is one massive army waiting for a battle, making villages and townships while it waits. This make the average Brythunian more dangerous in a chance encounter. Only in the halls of the kings and queens does the influence of civilization bring about corruption of mind, body, and spirit, as the leaders vie for political control and engineer elaborate plans to avoid having to go to war over farming rights. The leaders themselves may have been battlefield generals in their youth, but their sons and daughters are already used to a life of relative comfort and never wanting for food or drink.

These family members, then, are the most vulnerable political targets, and they tend to spend their time well out of sight, or far behind the walls of their sanctuary. Women are married off as soon as possible to avoid becoming a political liability, and the sons are sent away to school in neighboring countries under false names. Those sons and daughters who end up staying are taught to fight and trained to lead armies and command forces from a battlefield camp.

The population is well spread out; instead of clusters of cultured cities, a multitude of hamlets and towns litter the countryside, connected by crisscrossing roads and buttressed against acres of farmland. There are four major kingdoms in Brythunia — although by the standards of most other nations of the Hyborian Age, these “kingdoms” are scarcely worth the name.

Major Kingdoms of Brythunia[]

The four major kingdoms include trading posts, villages, farms, and forts, all loyal to the ruling family or one of the extended clans of families that pledge fealty. These peasants are taxed in goods and gold in exchange for protection, security, and sometimes advancement.

Despite their uneasy political alliances, the four kingdoms would rally under a single banner against a foreign threat, the leader the one whose border was threatened. In this manner, Brythunia maintains its sovereign status despite refusing to conform to the more progressive advances of Nemedia and the ancient, corrupt wisdom of Zamora.

  • Corrow: The northern king is Dreuvis Corrow, latest in an unbroken line several hundred years old. Land and king see Corrow as protector of the realm, ready to halt the barbarian horde across the mountains. The folk of Corrow are proud and honorable in their dealings, sometimes to their detriment.
  • Gorric: Prince Valcuss is the young leader in the east, a hot-tempered, impulsive, and charismatic man. Gorric raises fierce fighting clans, hungry for battle, who bicker and fight constantly.
  • Wulfstan: King Pendrys is the leader of the prevailing power in the south. Wulfstan is a cautious kingdom, its people sullen and untrusting of strangers. They value intelligence and knowledge and are known for their cunning in battle.
  • Hilder: The most progressive kingdom is steered by Queen Rainnic, leader of the richest and most powerful family in the west. They have profited from many lucrative business arrangements with Corinthia and Zamora. Their political ambition is as deep as their coffers.

Their alliances constantly shift, as business dealings fail, treaties are broken, and borders are crossed. Brythunia is more concerned with foreign neighbors, and accords with Corinthia and Zamora are reached and maintained with deliberate care.

Corrow[]

Corrow is cold, stark, and rocky. Farms are in short supply, but there are plenty of animals to raise for meat and resources, including goats, which fetch a premium as food and pack animals. The capital is located at the edge of a bluff, overlooking the plains in the north. It is an ideally defensible position, with high walls and ramparts and battlements, and siege engines ready to deploy. Only a fool would attack Corrow from the south.

King Dreuvis and his court have scant political ambition. They are content with their lot and seek only the advancement of Brythunia as a unified country. Personal honor is important to the people of Corrow, and they insist on honoring agreements, treating people fairly, and following the law.

Corrow's Relationship with the Other Kingdoms[]

Corrow’s insistence on all dealings being above-board is perceived as a weakness by the other Brythunian kingdoms. In truth, Corrow employs spies in the form of emissaries, vassals, political strategists, and diplomats, all the better to listen openly rather than covertly. These agents use bribery, threats, and other forms of persuasion, but King Dreuvis draws the line at assassination, for now.

Corrow spends a lot of time calming Prince Valcuss of Gorric. The two kingdoms are most alike in philosophy, if not temperament, and Gorric would be the first to assemble with Corrow if war was inevitable.

King Pendrys of Wulfstan and King Dreuvis are openly opposed to one another. Pendrys embraces all the tactics of Zamora, including assassins to achieve his political ends, despite his open hostility and contempt for Zamorians. All the kingdoms are a chessboard, its people the pawns. If Wulfstan could make a move against Corrow, it would.

Queen Rainnic of Hilder and King Dreuvis are cordial to one another, but Corrow doesn’t trust Hilder. Hilder tries to better relations with Corrow, because Hilder needs Corrow’s famed Iron Brigade as part of their defense against the other kingdoms. The Queen sees Corrow as naive and trusting to a fault, especially where Gorric is concerned.

Gorric[]

The harsh mountains in the west give way to hills and canyons, and eventually a vast grassy plain. The hill-bred folk of Gorric are proud, fierce, and live for battle. They hunt along the divide where the streams from the mountains feed into the plains. Situated in the middle of a high steppe, the capital of Gorric overlooks the sparse forests that flank the hills between the plains. From their lookout perches, Gorric’s watch can see for miles in every direction.

Prince Valcuss is new to rule, having lost his father in a hunting accident. What he lacks in wisdom, he makes up for in magnetism. As such, his political ambitions have yet to fully develop. His is the wild card in the Brythunian game of kings.

Gorric’s Relationships with the Other Kingdoms[]

Gorric’s famous fiery temperament makes it unwise political allies and worse political adversaries. Prince Valcuss knows he has much to prove to himself and his people, and is acting as a young man would act — beating his chest and daring others to fight him. But he is quickly realizing that there are more weapons at his disposal than just his lancers.

King Dreuvis of Corrow was friends with Valcuss’ father, and has taken an interest in Valcuss’ development as a leader. He hopes to teach Valcuss the folly of war before he gets a taste of it. The two kingdoms are close allies.

Valcuss of Wulfstan doesn’t trust King Pendrys because he doesn’t understand the machinations Wulfstan employs to survive. That doesn’t keep Wulfstan from its peaceful overtures towards Gorric, in hopes of swaying their considerable military might over to their cause.

Queen Rainnic of Hilder and Valcuss openly despise one another. Their forces skirmish constantly, moving their borders forward or backwards a few yards at a time. Rainnic thinks Valcuss too young to rule, uncontrollable, and he thinks she’s duplicitous and cunning to a fault. He suspects Rainnic had something to do with his father’s death.

Wulfstan[]

The dry, arid plains that run south and east into the mountains are harsh and unforgiving, a perfect match for the kingdom of Wulfstan. They are a careful people, taking every advantage, farming where they can, and hunting when they can’t. This adaptability makes them cautious and cunning, in both life and politics.

Wulfstan’s capital is nestled into a desert canyon with only one entry. The canyon and the arroyo it feeds into is honeycombed with tunnels, trap doors, and bolt holes. Death can strike from every direction before an army can make it to the walls of the city. King Pendrys is an older man, no stranger to complex political games, especially with his old rival, Queen Rainnic, with whom he shares a complicated history. His strategy is to let the other kingdoms destroy themselves so he can claim Brythunia without a fight.

Wulfstan’s Relationships with the Other Kingdoms[]

Wulfstan’s watchword is patience. They wait for the opportune moment to act. King Pendrys keeps a steady eye on the other kingdoms, looking for exploitable signs of weakness.

There is no love lost between King Pendrys and King Dreuvis of Corrow. Their acrimony goes back hundreds of years in their lineage. Corrow can’t overlook Wulfstan’s lies, and Wulfstan can’t understand why Corrow does not lie.

Prince Valcuss of Gorric keeps his distance from Wulfstan, recognizing he is out of his depth. King Pendrys, though, extends the olive branch, trying to drive Corrow and Gorric apart.

Rumors and a couple of bawdy songs tease about what happened between King Pendrys and Queen Rainnic of Hilder in their younger days, an event that drove a wedge between the kingdoms that has yet to be mended.

Hilder[]

The western fields, wide open save for the rolling hills, are home to Hilder. The smallest, but richest, kingdom, Hilder attempts to do what the other kingdoms won’t: compromise for peace. Without massive military resources, the soldiers of Hilder must outthink their opponents, or better, never engage the enemy. Hilder’s capital sits at the mouth of a major river, ensuring abundant farmland and room to raise livestock. This is the garden spot of Brythunia, making Hilder a target for the rest of the kingdoms.

Queen Rainnic is aware of her precarious position, and has cultivated relationships with nobles in Corinthia and Zamora who would ride to her banner, if the need arose. She is not above using her access to foreign powers to completely overthrow Brythunia, if she thought she could reclaim it after the dust settled.

Hilder’s Relationships with the Other Kingdoms[]

Hilder wants to rule Brythunia. They have made inroads with their neighbors, and have a progressive outlook on the future. The country’s strength is in its deep purse. Mercenaries, assassins, and other tools of empire-building are readily purchased and ferried in and out of Brythunia on its eastern trade routes.

Queen Rainnic thinks King Dreuvis of Corrow to be charmingly naive in matters political. She has tried several approaches to make peace with him and quickly run out of patience. But she recognizes his strength as an ally, especially against Wulfstan.

Hilder was first to acknowledge the sovereignty of Prince Valcuss of Gorric. She considers Gorric dangerous because of his unpredictability, and tries to manage her expectations of what the Mad Prince may do.

Queen Rainnic hates Wulfstan and spits to the south whenever the name is mentioned. Their mutual hatred is legendary and keeps either side from advancing politically.


It is likely that Brythunia has a monarchy, and is ruled primarily by local lords. One thing that is known is that Brythunia is constantly raided by brigands and slave-takers. Brythunia entered an alliance with Nemedia against the rise of Aquilonia and continued aiding Nemedia in defensive wars. It was in the plains of Brythunia where the Aquilonians defeated the invading riders from Turan. In later times Brythunia was reduced in a series of whirlwind wars. Shortly after the fall of Aquilonia to the Picts, a united force of Hyrkanians swept over and subjugated Brythunia and became part of their eastern empire. A Hyrkanian army on the borders of Brythunia was overthrown by Cimmerians who migrated southwards fleeing the Nordics and the ice fields of the glacier age. These were followed by the Nordics themselves. A band of Æsir (Aesir) drove the Hyrkanians out and occupied the former kingdom, adopting its name. Millennia later thee Nordics would be known as Brythunians, Brythons or Britons.

Population and Culture[]

Brythunians are primarily of Hyborian stock. It is known that they tend to have blue eyes and blond hair. The eastern Brythunians have intermarried with the dark-skinned Zamorians. Their women are often of unsurpassing beauty, and favoured by slavers in foreign nations. Being so close to Cimmeria and especially Hyperborea, the people must be constantly ready to fight raiders. Brythunians usually worship Mitra, although it seems possible that small cults might still worship Bori, the founder of the Hyborian people.

Sample Names[]

Male[]

Achila, Alaric, Braga, Finnian, Gaiseric, Gilduin, Golven, Griffeth, Hunulf, Jagor Watkin, Kervran, Kireg, Kormark, Lennick, Maddock, Morvand, Pierig, Prothro Davies, Segalen, Sigeric, Sisbert, Tadek, Telor, Theodoric, Valamir, Videric

Female[]

Aliss Manoun, Amiere, Anja, Anwyn, Brynir, Catelinne, Cati, Elfrida, Estir, Glynnis, Greta, Gweneth, Hildegard, Lina Flavier, Lonore, Maegan, Merial, Natasa, Rhiann, Sabri, Sibille, Sigrun, Siriol, Sunilda, Thea, Tonwen, Ulrike, Zlata

Stories set in Brythunia[]

Characters from Brythunia[]

  • Natala — Conan's slave girl
  • Aratus — a rat-faced pirate
  • Prince Clewyn
  • King Typhas

References[]

* Xuthal of the Dusk [wikisource] * Iron Shadows in the Moon [wikisource]
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