Dreans, also called Brolic, is a Golden Circle Kingdom ruled by the House Brolic.
A recent export fron Dreana is Urala
Dreana's commentary in the Diners of Amber article in the King Random's Deck
The tenth card shows a tower, a tooth of stone, rising out of a crystal clear lake. The House of Brolic rules the vast realm of Dreana, a Golden Circle Signatory, from this edifice. The trump delivers you to the point that this view is taken from. A way station prepares visitors for the trip down to the shore, across the ferry, and up the winding trail that leads to the top.
Someone really nervous created this royal tower, someone really afraid of attackers. I would not be eager to try and take it by force. Within the realm of Dreana, where the Brolics rule, sorcery, conjuration, and even shadow magic does not work.
The interior is suitably medieval and gothic. I bet Oberon just loved the place. I find it and its people dour and depressing. If they don't like that portrayal they can kiss my hairy red-freckled arse.
I was not going to talk about the Brolics, also called the Dreanans, but since Dworkin has me going to all the trouble of creating a whole new volume I guess I can heap some shit on my least favorite Golden Circle Kingdom.
Dreana, ruled by the House of Brolic, tends to breed true a depressingly hostile mindset. The world itself is heavily forested. Wood is one of their main exports.
Dreana provides something like 1/20th of the military of Amber, enough to make them a common presence in Amber. They are a fair skinned, dark-haired race as a rule with a shocking blotch of blue hair every so often. They have a heavy distinctive brow and a tendency towards square jaws. Their eye colors tend to change on a monthly basis based on the individual's current food intake. Weird. The Blue, those with blue hair, have deep light blue eyes, a more elfin stature, dramatically better balance and eye-hand coordination. Someone mated with something different somewhere in the ancient past. Dreanans tend to encourage the Blue to travel offworld.
They are fiercely pro-amber, and rumor has flown for a thousand years that the kings of Dreana, Lords of House Brolic, would jump like a cat if a Grand Ducal coronet were ever dangled before them. Trading in the royal crown of Dreana for an Amberian Grand Ducal coronet might make them citizens of Amber but it won't make them any more pleasant. Apparently the sticking point involves details of fealty and the acts of submission required to convert a sovereign realm into a part of the Kingdom of Amber. It figures that it would take a thousand years to get the Dreanans to bend q knee.
A disproportionate number of Dreanans become sergeants in the Amber military because they want to pick fights so often they need muzzles and the officer corp can provide this. The run-of-the-mill Dreanan is boring, loudly depressing, loudly pessimistic, mean-spirited, combative, and miserly. They rarely go in for the arts because they tend to be stupid and uncreative too.
If this seems a bit harsh then you go check them out yourself. Better yet, consider the following.
They export a dazzling variety of raw gems because the people in this shadow never developed the craft of stone cutting or adornment. Thus gems have no value in Dreana except as export items. After 12,000 years they still have not got the idea that gems look cool, and make great additions to daggers, crowns, rings, and other pretty things. Not that they would notice; 'Pretty' is lost on them. They have no tradition of jewelry beyond crowns and circlets, signet rings and household badges, unit insignia and pilgrims tokens. They wear crowns and circlets but they are nearly all the same. There are 12 levels in the Dreanan aristocracy and each level has a distinctive style of coronet. All dull, all plain, all made from silver. In a shadow with massive amounts of Mithril, far beyond normal proportions, these people make their circlets out of common silver.
I personally believe the reason the Dreanan's have not joined the Kingdom of Amber is that they can't figure out how to divest themselves of the 12th step of their coronets. I once had an argument about this with the King of Dreana. He refused to understand that he could simply start calling the King's Crown, the Grand Duke's Coronet. I pointed out to him that the Ducal Coronet and the King's Crown top the Dreanan scale of 12. He could swear fealty and then the ducal coronet and the Grand Ducal coronet would top the Dreanan scale. He argued that it was called the King's Coronet and asked how could he call it anything else. I asked if he wanted it to be a princely Coronet but he pointed out that the Dreanan scale does not recognize the rank of prince, except as a non-Dreanan rank. I wanted to shoot myself to end the argument but gunpowder does not work in Amber.
The crack about not recognizing princely rank made me think he was insulting me but you can usually tell when a Dreanan is insulting you because their lips quiver and they start throwing punches. I think he was just being stupid. I give them this; they don't go in for long drawn-out shouting matches. If they generate the brainpower to insult you they are ready to fight and throw the first punch. I hate to admit that this is one of the virtues I admire in the dreary dreanans.
The Dreanan social system allows advancement but is as rigid as any caste system in all shadow. As any historian will tell you, caste systems lead to social and technological stagnation and a lack of incentive to improve living conditions, develop medical advances, and expand mercantile activity. They also devalue historical study leading to 'unsound' historiography and a development of religious systems based on mythic characters. That’s the Dreanans to a tee!
I think the House of Brolic eventually conquered this world because someone in Brolic said, "Hey, lets make our duke's coronet a little bigger than everyone else's!" Thus are nations created in the stupid shadows.
They use the Amber currency system because despite vast gold, silver, and Mithril reserves, they never developed a metal-based currency or a currency of any form. Before Oberon and Finndo came to this shadow regional warlords stole whatever they wanted from each other and raided the subsistence farmers for their chow.
Understandably they do not go in heavily for mercantile trades and have developed a practice of hiring Calro merchants to sell their wares. In 12,000 years they have not gained the talent of double entry bookkeeping.
The Calro who have served the Brolics over the millennia have made themselves unbelievably rich, husbanding resources with skill, and flooding Amber markets from time to time. One must admire the Calro who have created this immense fortune at the same time that one can shake one's head about casting pearls before swine.
A brief comment on money and the Dreanans. Since the usual Dreanan is confused at best about money and oblivious to it at worst, you can cheat a dreanan outrageously. You can charge nearly anything you want for worthless junk and most dreanans will pay it. You can convince them a one room apartment in the harbor district of the city is worth the same as a manor in the hills because its close to the water and the water is great. Despite having vast amounts of mithril in their world they frequently mistake mithril ingots for silver ingots and pay for a bottle of Bayle's with mithril. They don't even think of asking for change or saying something to the bartender like; "Start me a tab." I know this having seen it done. I told the bartended to start the Amber guardsman who made the mistake a tab. A couple of months later heard that the same guard was shocked to be asked for payment despite having drunk 'for free' for months. I laughed so hard i gave the establishment a very large amount of mithril and told them to never charge the man again.
However.The Dreanans are not all stupid. Remember, shadow has vast diversities. If you are cheating one and they say something like, "Hey, i think you are cheating me." Flee immediately. If they figured it out that far, you have only a moment to escape before they lay hands on you and pummel you to pulp. Conmen beware, the Dreanans are willing to beat you senseless and take the punishment for lawbreaking if they think you needed killing. They don't kill lightly though. If you cheat them they may only break your arm bones. Each and every one. Each and every one every time they see you, for the next thousand years. Persistent and determined are our dour friends in brown and blue.
There are no native musical styles. The people of this shadow never conceived of a need to record the legends of their ancestors in any format other than long, dreary, unbelievable recitations of facts, odd magical occurrences, and gossip. No bardic performers, musicians, or minstrels, theater or drama, Dreanan histories read like laundry lists and are heavy on genealogy, light on details. Off-shadow historians classify Dreanan histories as 'unsound'; a technical term for worthless.
The history of Dreana is so crammed with vicious warfare that the architecture of the world developed a siege mentality that is unbelievably stout. The Tower of Brolic is but one example of thousands of incredibly stout fortresses, albeit the pinnacle of such edifices. This is what brought Oberon and Finndo to this shadow in the first place. They were looking for theories of castle construction and they sought in shadow for a place where local conditions created strong fortifications. Once Oberon and Finndo found a household they could manipulate they helped the vicious weasel in charge of it to conquer the world. This was the great Duke Agnot Brolic; a more miserable bastard 'sound' histories have rarely documented.
A note to the Dreanans who read this. There are beginner classes in business theory and trade at most of shadows universities. Universities are those places people go to learn things. I mention this because the Dreanan have no universities themselves. Education is a family affair and many families never bother. Some ship their kids off-world to get an education, especially if they are Blue.
To their credit, most dreanans sent offworld to attend universities never return home to live. They may visit home, or gain posting in the Dreanan embassies in the GCST worlds, but any Dreanan smart enough to survive college and avoid the military realizes how miserable their homeland is and spends much of the rest of their lives staying away from it. Dreanan ex-patriots have done well in many different endeavors including, art, business and science showing that despite their origins these people are intelligent, and capable after a little eye-opening experience. Even some that have not had such enlightenment have done well and raised to the command levels of the Amber Military.
Dworkin told me once that the problem with this world has more to do with the parameters that Oberon and Finndo used to find the place. That they looked for a place that siege-mentality had dominated the growth of the people in the shadow. Sure, blame it on cosmology.
Maybe the Dreanans can be forgiven for their dour ancestry but not for failing to adapt over the 12 thousand local years since the House of Brolic signed the GCST in 1202.
I mean come on guys. Bang some sticks together and pick up the beat. Even military music would be an improvement.
Its been a few years since I wrote the above addendum. In that time I have taken a ration of shit from a lot of Dreanans about it. What amuses me about this is that it comes from different angles.
One group, lets call them the Conservatives, decried my insulting tone when talking about their beloved homeland. They claim that I clearly did not understand the importance of tradition to them. I was incapable of grasping the true complexities of their kingdom and the importance of the Tier of Coronets. I was obviously too dense to see the nuances in their histories. And lastly, and my favorite, I did not grasp the vast importance of their inter-shadow mercantile industry.
The second group, lets call them the Blues told me that I was letting their ruling classes and merchant classes off too easy.
The conservatives would tell me of their vast contribution to the military of Amber and their deep involvement in the navies, and hence the commerce, of Amber. I agreed.
The Blues would howl drunkenly at how I didn’t go far enough about the THOUSANDS of years it took their royalty to grasp simple concepts of rulership and industry. I agreed.
The conservatives would go on about the lordly nobility of their ancestors and their lives lost in the defense of their homeland and of the Kingdom of Amber. I agreed.
The blues would ask me to kill their King and put a blue on the throne. I hemmed and hawed.
Clearly though, I am in the Blue camp.
What makes me write this is a shocking occurrence in the House of Brolic’s ruling line. Regicide, fratricide, lese majesty and all other kinds of bloody messes are common in the politics of Dreana. So after a prolonged round of assassinations and bloody carnage the Line of Brolic has just raised a new King to Throne. The new wearer of the 12th Coronet is King Dunran Brolic. He is a sickly man who has never been able to benefit from Amber medicine. He came to the throne after a convoluted political argument among the ruling family that took twenty years and killed off 59 members of the royal family. For Dunran the Sickly to have survived the gross stupidity of his kin, once they decided to go to the mattresses, is amazing.
But the really amazing thing is that as all this foolishness played out Dunran’s son was safe and sound at Fantalin, learning about double digit accounting and the value of diplomacy. Dunran’s eldest son is Markosi Brolic, the first Blue the ruling line has ever produced.
Everything exists in Shadow. Perhaps even hope for the Brolics.