Dragonmarks 8/23: Moons, Planes, Warforged, and the Zil!

First, just a reminder that I’ll be at PAX in a little over a week. I’m doing the following panels (follow the links for more information):

Eberron and Beyond – Tabletop, Friday 4:00 – 5:00 PM

Loving The Alien – Tabletop, Friday 6:00 – 7:00 PM

Setting The Mood – Tabletop, Saturday 4:00 – 5:00 PM

It Only Hurts When I Laugh – Unicorn Theater, Sunday 4:30 – 5:30 PM

Now, on with the questions! First, two related ones:

I wanted to know if there is news on supporting Eberron in dndnext (Mearls said that they have already thought on supporting other settings)

I haven’t heard anything specific, but this doesn’t mean anything. If you look to 4E, Forgotten Realms was supported out of the box and Eberron came along a year later. They have a lot to deal with right now with the playtest; the fact that there’s no official word on Eberron doesn’t necessarily mean anything. But if you want to see it, I imagine the best thing to do is to continue to show interest online; activity on the Eberron forums, requests for Eberron articles and the like will help them judge the size of the audience. 

If DnDnext hits Eberron do you think you would be tapped to spearhead the direction it heads, as Ed is doing with Faerûn?

Given that WotC brought me in to work on 4E Eberron and has me writing Eye on Eberron, I think there’s a good chance I’d be involved in some way on a D&D Next edition. But it’s really too soon to say.

Meanwhile, last time I talked about the fact that angels can fall and devils can be redeemed, but that these changes to the idea tend to produce physical changes – a fallen angel becomes a devil or radiant idol. In response to this, Aeith says:

Hmm, with this talk of Fallen Angels and Redeemed Demons, I have to wonder if a Daelkyr can’t change fundamentally to this degree. Then again it would be weird having immortal embodiments of sanity.

Surely a daelkyr can change; but I’m not sure I’d change it into an embodiment of sanity. Where I’ve dealt with transformed immortals in the past, the core idea is the same; it’s the focus that changes. Looking to the Kalashtar, this article discusses the fact that the core nature of the kalashtar spirits still deal with fear, fury, and similar things, just redirected:

Kalashtar with tsucora roots are comfortable with terror, but this could translate into a shaman who physically manifests fears; an ardent who disorients foes with implanted fear; or a paladin who seeks to use his or her own knowledge of terror to banish it from those around him or her.

The Kalashtar Tsucora is still, fundamentally, a spirit of fear; it hasn’t become a spirit of courage. But it uses its power in noble ways. Likewise, a daelkyr who becomes good might still be a force of madness, not sanity; but perhaps it is an inspiring madness that helps artificers and artists see the world in new ways, or otherwise helps people break from their shells and see the world in new ways.

Continuing with immortals…

I like how eladrin are depicted and how it gives fey-lords a place of power in Eberron – then again I love fairy tales. It effectively places the lords on more or less the same level as the other major powerplayers. Would these eladrin lords be effective immortal as well?

In The Gates of Night and The Fading Dream I present a number of powerful fey, notably the lords of the Feyspires. My opinion on their mortality is in line with Aeith’s earlier response: they are immortal as long as their story demands it. Certainly age alone has little meaning to such beings, and most would reform or rise again after a random physical defeat. However, if that defeat is, essentially, a satisfying ending to the story of that fey, then its existence will end. In this case, its title and power will pass to the fey most qualified to inherit it. In The Fading Dream, the Lady of the Silver Tree mentions her father being lord before her. So there you have one example of one archfey falling and another taking his place. But that’s not a common thing, to be sure; for the most part, these fey are as immortal as a story.

I don’t know if this has been discussed before, but I was wondering if Eberron is connected to other dnd worlds despite the difference concerning the planes in Eberron and the general Planescape one.

The general theory I’ve always heard is that you could reach it through the Plane of Shadow, which is to say Mabar. But the short form is, if you want it to be, create a way for it to be. Make an Eldritch Machine that bridges planar boundaries into new realms. Have a new Siberys shard strike that tears a hole in reality. And on that note…

How devastating is a Syberis shard strike? Could one hit Sharn?

Sure, one could hit Sharn. How devastating is it? That depends on the size of the shard, which is to say “as devastating as you want it to be.”

What is to be found on the moons of Eberron?

No one knows. They could be exotic worlds like Barsooom. Or it could be that they aren’t in fact solid celestial bodies; rather they are spherical gates into other planes, and when someone is finally able to reach them, they will be able to start regular commerce with those planes.

Are there other planets in the Eberron “system”?

Not that we’ve ever described.Tied to the zany moons-are-planar-gates idea, this is where one needs to decide if Eberron exists in a normal physical space as we understand it, or if it’s a very different sort of universe. Certainly, this is something I’ve thought about with other worlds and will cover in more detail in the next setting I develop, but it’s not something that is defined in canon Eberron.

Where does the life-spark & consciousness of a warforged originate?

This is one of the key mysteries of the setting, and one that should never be given a canon answer. The artificers of House Cannith generally assert that it’s something artificial that they have created; others, such as the kalashtar, maintain that this is impossible, and that no mortal agency can create a soul. With this in mind, a number of theories are out there. One is that they are reincarnated spirits of soldiers who died during the war, thus explaining their natural talents for war. Another is that they are quori vessels waiting to be filled; it’s a back-up plan that would allow the quori to escape Dal Quor if the age turns, and the soul is a sliver of the quori. For a third, turn to the Sovereign Host theory that the spirits found in Dolurrh are just the husks of the true souls, which must strip away these worldly trappings to ascend to the realms of the Sovereigns… so the Warforged soul is essentially the recycled compost of a previous soul. Anyhow, there’s a few possibilities – I’m sure you can come up with more!

Warforged can (by rules) be of any class. But what sort of challenges would the 1st warforged clerics have faced?

I think you need to start by deciding who the first warforged clerics were – and if their creators intended them to be clerics. For example, it’s possible that a Cannith artificer-cleric of Onatar could have decided to make a group of warforged for the express purpose of honoring the Sovereigns – or that the Church of the Silver Flame could have expressed an interest in creating warforged capable of directly harnessing and channeling the power of the Silver Flame (which is, after all, a concrete source of divine energy) as a supplement to the Templars. Taking the ideal of these “Silver Templars” – they might not be seen as equals of other priests, because at least initially no one believed that warforged had souls – but if they were designed to channel divine energy, their ability to do so wouldn’t be questioned.

On the other hand, if you had a warforged designed to be a simple soldier, who found faith on the battlefield and learned to channel divine power through faith alone… Reactions would vary. Looking to the Church of the Silver Flame, there are orcs, yuan-ti, and couatl who channel the Silver Flame; it’s not like it’s somehow blasphemous for a warforged to do it. Some would likely see it as miraculous, a wonder of the Flame and a sign of the noble spirit of the warforged. Others would dismiss it as some sort of trickery; it LOOKS like a priest, but surely it’s just got built in wands producing these effects.

Turning to a different topic…

How do you see Zilargo dealing with adventurers, particularly in bigger groups? I know there’s been mentions of Zilargo, somehow, managing to force other Nations to play by their rules, despite them being tiny and far less important to be friends with than other bigger groups (I’d prefer to be friendly with Breland any day, over Zilargo, for one), but I’ve been curious; how does Zilargo deal with a group that it’s not exactly easy to get control over, that they can’t reasonably blackmail?

How does Zilargo deal with anyone? By not making enemies. You say that it’s far less important to be friends with them than bigger groups, using Breland as an example. The first thing they do is to make sure that you’re never forced to choose between them and Breland. Instead, they have solidified their alliance WITH Breland. Zilargo does its best not to have obvious enemies; the only major potential conflict they’ve got is with Cannith/Lyrandar over elemental binding, which we discussed to death in a previous page. That one thing aside – which again, is really only Cannith’s issue, and not a particularly big issue given all the other things Cannith is doing – they aren’t exactly trying to force other nations to “play by their rules.”

Meanwhile, how does Zilargo handle adventurers? Allow me to refer you to a Dragonshard on this topic, which observes “a gnome may be no match for a half-orc barbarian in a fair fight — but the gnomes of Zilargo seldom fight fair.” I’ll also point to the Eye on Eberron article which details the Trust and the tools and weapons at their disposal.

The first tool in handling adventurers is information. The eyes of the Trust are everywhere. Anyone could be reporting to the Trust: the barmaid, the blacksmith, the beggar, the bard. Even where there are no gnomes, the wind itself reports to the Trust (see the EoE article for details.)  Adventurers generally stand out, whether due to unusual party composition, special equipment, or reputation gained in prior land. The eyes of the Trust are always watching for potentially disruptive influences. So step one is simply to be aware of the adventurers are what they are doing. As long as they don’t do anything wrong, no one will interfere with them in any way; but a Trust agent may well use a whisp to monitor them and listen to conversations.

The second tool is direction. Once the Trust is aware of the adventurer’s presence, it can stage any number of scenarios to place information it wants in the hands of the PCs. Remember that roughly one in three Zil is connected to the Trust in some way. Combine this with the fact that the Zil have a natural talent for illusion, and there’s all sorts of ways for them to stage scenarios that provide the PCs with information they’d like them to have… or simply point other people at the PCs. So there’s an Emerald Claw unit in Trolanport? Great – the Trust can easily find a way to point them and the PCs at one another, and then at least one of these problems goes away.

A second aspect of this is hospitality. If adventurers aren’t there to cause trouble, there’s no reason TO interfere with them. On the contrary, the Trust will do its subtle best to ensure that the PCs have a pleasant stay and to push obstacles out of their way, precisely to avoid the temptation to cause trouble. The Zil recognize that adventurers are potentially useful tools themselves; setting aside the Trust, independent Zil will be happy to befriend adventurers in the hopes of taking advantage of that friendship later. So adventurers will find Zilargo to be a very pleasant place, as long as they don’t cause trouble.

But let’s say they DO aim to misbehave. The wizard wants to start blasting people in the town square. If he’s planning this out in the back room of an inn, well, see the Dragonmark for an example of how it might play out; the Zil are big believers in eliminating problems before they become problems, Minority Report-style. But say he doesn’t talk about it in advance. He’s in the market square, he gets in an argument with a merchant, and decides a fireball is the answer. What do the Zil do when faced with six extremely powerful and violent people? Step one: A ghost sound message whispers in the wizard’s ear, before he’s even cast that spell – “Stand down and we’ll ignore this. Otherwise, any injury you visit on one of our people will come back to you threefold.” If the wizard ignores it and starts blasting? Unless the Trust has an assassin on scene (which they might, depending on the reputation of the adventurers), they’ll let it play out. People will flee. The wizard will do what the wizard will do. And then what, exactly, will he do? Because from that moment on, anything he decides to eat or drink could be poisoned. There could be invisible assassins around him waiting for him to sleep. His location could be passed along to his enemies – again, the Zil are very happy to have other people fight on their behalf.

Now, I mentioned invisible assassins. I’ll point to Madra Sil Sarin in Sharn: City of Towers as an example of a Trust elite assassin. She wears rings of invisibility and sustenance, and has a telepathic bond to her Trust handler. Even the gnomes of the Sharn embassy don’t know where she is. She doesn’t sleep. She is a ghost, watching and waiting for her handler to give her the next assignment. At that point, it’s time for a death attack. Now, the Trust has few agents on par with Madra, but the whole point of the Trust is that you never know when one is there. Yes, they probably don’t have anyone on the scene who can stop you from blasting the marketplace. But is it worth it? Do you really, really want to take that chance? Do you want to worry about poison in your ale for the rest of your life? Isn’t it just a little simpler to keep the peace in Zilargo and let the little people do things their way?

In any case, I didn’t get to all the questions, but that’s all I have time for now. Check back next week!

6 Responses to “Dragonmarks 8/23: Moons, Planes, Warforged, and the Zil!”

  1. Nicolas Carrillo (paladinnicolas) says:

    Another thing that may be done for Eberron to be supported is buying the electronic versions of Eberron books once they are released. Then again, this will likely imply that Eberron in 5e may need some changes that justify selling new fluff (e.g. concerning the timeline, etc), which doesn’t scare me but is interesting if Keith is involved

  2. Shadow Whispers says:

    I’ve always been a fan of the “moons as gateways to the planes” theory, if only because it makes possible plots where your artificer loses a loved one and then decides to build a rocket ship to Dolurrh to get him/her back.

    Really I just approve of anything that involves artificers building rocket ships >.>

  3. LonePaladin says:

    That last part is what really sold me on Eberron. In every other significant D&D setting, gnomes get the short end — if they even get mentioned at all. In most of them, that race doesn’t get its own region, or much of a history; they just piggy-back on someone else.

    In Eberron? Totally different story. The Trust can make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. A gnome PC could easily be a member and never have to do anything openly to show it.

  4. Nicolas Carrillo (paladinnicolas) says:

    Would it also be possible to travel to other worlds via Thelanis, since it resembles the Feywild? On future Eberron releases, are new novels planned? Would you ever write a novel with a Silver Flame hero (will Daine recover his body and believe in the Flame again?)

  5. Aelth says:

    I could think any of the Planes could be used to travel between Worlds, though maybe I’d use the Astral Plane/Sea, the one Transitive Plane I actually like.

    Not to mention it leaves the Githyanki open for use. :P

  6. Axe says:

    I agree that Eberron has some of the nicer gnomes out there (which is why I asked the question!).


    Going to Zilargo is something done reluctantly, and you want to get out of there as fast as possible, interacting with as little stuff there as possible.

    The reason for some to act like this, I believe, is that a common perception exists that, well, either you’ll be messed with by the Trust, or you’ll be made to do something that you don’t want, somehow.

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