Ber
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Kingdom of Ber
Capital: Seobriga
Government: Absolute monarchy
Head of State: Bruse Shantus
Official Language: Common, Draconic, Giant, Goblin
Common Races: Orc 26%, gnoll 18%, goblin 16%, minotaur 10%,
kobold 8%, goliath 6%, dragonborn 5%, other 11%

Ber’s history is tied to dragons. Until just a few centuries ago, the land was in constant flux, with different dragons battling for supremacy while the mortal races served as their slaves. Tribes of dragonborn, goliaths, gnolls, minotaurs, and orcs ascended to tiny nation states under the banners of their draconic overlords, built cities and strip-mined mountains to gather wealth for these kings, and eventually collapsed into chaos when their rulers fell. Newborn nations conquered each other like a ring of serpents devouring their tails, and whenever a dragon had willpower enough to unite all of Ber, it would inevitably make the mistake of pressing into Risur or Elfaivar, and be slain in retaliation.

Despite the endless turnover of rulers, Ber did manage to establish a few long-lasting cities—Ursaliña, Reo Pedrecoso, and the capital Seobriga, among others—and develop a shared culture, often thanks to wandering minotaur bards who were seen as neutral. After the death of the last dragon king Inatch the Hex-Eater two hundred years ago, Ber splintered into racial and tribal factions. Only in the past forty years has a semblance of unity returned to the land.

Civilization in Ber

Centuries ago, what is modern Ber was a patchwork of kingdoms ruled by dragon tyrants who kept savage races as their subjects. The last of those tyrants fell 200 years ago, and an era of chaos and decline followed.

Then, forty years ago an orc named Vairday Bruse united the shattered cities, the squabbling warlords, and the roaming tribes under his banner, naming the new nation Ber. He negotiated with other countries, brought fresh wealth to his people, and developed a cult of adoration centred on advancing his people toward the civilized cultures of the rest of the world.

Throughout Ber, men and women whose parents lived in mountain caves or tents on the grasslands now struggle to adapt to fancy attire, refined etiquette, and enlightened education and philosophy. Some rebel or simply don’t buy into Ber’s cultural revolution, and indeed some of the most unwilling converts were those who had long lived in cities, slaves to the dragon masters. But most loved Vairday Bruse for the safety and dignity he brought them, and they see it as their duty to civilize themselves.

Eight years ago Vairday died and passed on his position to a minotaur, Shantus, who helped him in the founding of Ber. Taking his predecessor’s name instead of the title king, Bruse Shantus has kept Ber stable and has negotiated for more foreign investment, though he is less devoted to cultural and social reforms.

Races of Ber

Orcs are the most common race, concentrated in the northeast. Gnolls dominate the south. Minotaurs are prominent to the west, while lizardfolk are prevalent in the thinly-populated central river lands. Goliaths live in the Anthras Mountains, close to human lands. Other races like goblinoids, kobolds, and dragonborn are rare. Aside from the gnolls, every race in Ber grudgingly gets along with all the others.

Though humans stereotype all these races as savage, Berans have their own clichés about their neighbors, viewing gnolls arguably the worst:

  • Orcs are drunkards who sing badly and are always trying to be clever and failing.
  • Minotaurs are lazy, take credit for what others do, and have sex with anything.
  • Lizardfolk are thieves and all look alike.
  • Goliaths are all homosexuals, not to mention spies for Risur.
  • Goblins have disgusting food like spiked pickles, and they are confused by any technology more advanced than ropes.
  • Gnolls are superstitious, uncivilized criminals who can never lead themselves, which is why they all miss their dragon tyrants.
  • And kobolds, the joke goes, don’t really exist.

Notable Locations

Seobriga

Usually when a nation falls it is after much war and bloodshed, but under the dragon tyrants most of the power was possessed by the rulers themselves. So when Widoreva, the female blue dragon who was the last ruler of Seobriga, died, the city was left mostly intact. Today the city is much as it was two centuries ago, full of massive squat buildings with dramatic spires that dragons once perched on. Where before a single dragon might treat several such buildings as his lair, now most of the old buildings serve as homes for multiple families.

The poor camps and hovels that surrounded the city were abandoned when the former subjects of the dragons realized they could move into their masters’ abodes. Because the dragons preferred stone structures, even the worst of the riots and fires did relatively little damage. Only recently has there been a need for new construction, which the wealthier families have seen as a means to demonstrate their civility, hiring Danoran and Risuri architects and gardeners to create beautiful homes.

Of course, this has left the city center mostly to the poor, and as they have grown frustrated with the slow improvements they have reverted more to old tribalism. Though the area around the city center is still safe and well-patrolled, there are pockets of neighbourhoods where skull and hide totems mark territory that should not be violated unless you’re willing to fight.

The city’s harbour on its western shore has a few dozen factories, the most of any city in Ber but a pittance compared to Flint. The city is blessed by favourable winds, and since Berans were already so good at building spires, their smokestacks keep the soot and other foulness high above the city.

Industrial traffic keeps most docks busy, and Seobriga was never much for fishing anyway. Huge farms and ranches to the east, filled with five-foot-tall goats and bison the size of a small house, feed the city. Since Seobriga’s lush peninsula has relatively few streams or freshwater wells, wine is the drink of choice, and vineyards are common to the north, where fog rolls through the hillside forests. The dragons trained their humanoid subjects to cultivate multiple levels of plant-life, so shade-grown berries share soil with massive sequoias that were grown for lumber. The greatest wooden structures are long gone now, but they rivalled anything men have ever built for sheer size.

Dotted through the city and the surrounding landscapes, monuments to the dragons remain, some defaced but many restored. The late Vairday Bruse likened it to mounting the heads of bears and deer, a pretty decoration and nothing more.

Reo Pedresco

Western end of the Cantabrilla Railroad. Ber’s second-largest city, and most racially-diverse.

Renza

Eastern end of the Cantabrilla Railroad. A small city originally ruled by dragons who warred with Seobriga. Surrounded by high walls, it serves as a key defence against unincorporated gnoll tribes to the south.

Citado Cavallo

Walled hillside city on the shores of Marrajado de Oro (the riven sea of gold). Ruled by Cavallo de Guerra. Bastion of orc might, weak separatist desires against Bruse Shantus.

Shantre

Port city with labyrinthine canals, controlled by minotaurs. Shipyard for Ber’s western fleet.

Ursaliña

Mountainous city renowned for art and beast training. Long had close trading ties with Risur.

Pezarillo

A small fishing village a couple hundred miles northwest of Ber’s capital, the most notable thing about it is the sunken temple recently discovered a half-mile offshore. Scholars say the temple is connected to Mavisha, and archaeologists are working to finish excavating and recovering what they can from the site. The Selesta Railrod from Seobriga to Citado Cavallo passes near the village, but construction is currently on-hold due to funding issues.

Abismo Condendado

Cursed wetlands near the Catabrilla railroad that are covered in an eternal winter.

Isla dola Focas

A 50-mile long sliver of land off the southeastern coast of Ber. Home mostly to gnolls, the largest settlement is the coastal city of Karch on this iron-rich volcanic island.
An odd weather phenomenon floats near the island: on the west coast, stretching between the island and the mainland, there is a constant storm system that produces incessant rain and erratic winds but, eerily, never any lightning or thunder.

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