The Brink of Desolation

10 Things You Need To Know About Eberron

[Taken from the 4th Edition Eberron Player’s Guide]

What makes the world of Eberron unique? Here are ten key pieces of information about the world to bear in mind.

1. If it exists in the D&D world, then it has a place in Eberron. Eberron is all about using the core elements of the D&D world in new ways and interesting combinations, with some unique elements thrown in. It’s still a D&D setting, so any information for players that appears in another D&D core rulebook or supplement—from the classes and races in a Player’s Handbook to the new powers and other features in a book such as Divine Power—should fit right in to your Dungeon Master’s Eberron campaign. (Of course, your DM always has the final word about what parts of the D&D game are allowed and not allowed in the campaign.)

2. Tone and attitude. Eberron takes all the cinematic action and swashbuckling adventure of traditional D&D games and adds in a strong dose of mystery and scheming. In this campaign, stories don’t always end well, and there isn’t always a right answer to every problem. The Last War turned old allies into bitter enemies and destroyed an entire nation, leaving terrible scars behind. Crime and corruption lurk in the largest cities. Your character’s allies might become his or her enemies in the blink of an eye, and well-known agents of evil might provide assistance when it’s least expected. Hidden dragons shape the course of history. Sinister fiends influence the dreams of the unwary. An army of horrors lingers just beyond the edge of reality, struggling to break through. Nothing is exactly what it seems.

3. A world of magic. The setting supposes a world that developed not through the advancement of science, but by the mastery of magic. Magic allows for conveniences and services undreamed of in traditional medieval fantasy. Bound elemental creatures power elemental airships, rail transport, and high-speed ocean vessels. A working class of minor mages uses ritual magic to provide energy and other necessities in towns and cities. Advances in magic item creation have led to everything from self-propelled farming implements to sentient, free-willed constructs.

4. A world of adventure. From the steaming jungles of Aerenal to the colossal ruins of Xen’drik, from the towering keeps of Sharn to the blasted hills and valleys of the Demon Wastes, Eberron is a world of action and adventure. Adventures can draw your character and your allies from one exotic location to another across nations, continents, and the entire world. The quest for the Mirror of the Seventh Moon might take you from a hidden desert shrine to a ruined castle in the Shadow Marches and finally to a dungeon below the Library of Korranberg. Through the use of magical transportation, your heroes can reach a wider range of environments during an adventure, and thus deal with a diverse assortment of monsters and challenges.

5. The Last War has ended—sort of. The Last War, which plunged the continent of Khorvaire into civil war more than a century ago, ended with the signing of the Treaty of Thronehold and the establishment of twelve recognized nations occupying what was once the kingdom of Galifar. At least overtly, the peace has held for just over a year as the campaign begins. The conflicts, the anger, and the bitter pain of the long war remain, however, and the new nations seek every advantage as they prepare for the next war that they believe will inevitably eventually break out on the continent.

6. The Draconic Prophecy. The dragons, long-lived and patient in all things, seek meaning in the patterns found in the world and the heavens. These patterns play out in the Prophecy, a record of things to come that has been emerging since the creation of the world. The Draconic Prophecy is as complex and unfathomable as the dragons themselves. It hints at events of doom and dread as often as it helps push the world toward exalted events. It seems to point toward transformation rather than destruction, but to most people, the Prophecy remains as alien as the dragons themselves.

7. The Five Nations. The human-dominated civilizations on the continent of Khorvaire trace a lineage to the ancient kingdom of Galifar, which was made up of five distinct regions, or nations. These were Aundair, Breland, Cyre, Karrnath, and Thrane. Four of these nations survive to the present day as independent countries; Cyre was destroyed before the start of the campaign. The devastated territory it once occupied is now known as the Mournland. A common oath or exclamation among the people of Khorvaire is “By the Five Nations,” or some version thereof. The Five Nations refers to the ancient kingdom of Galifar and evokes a legendary time of peace and prosperity.

8. A world of intrigue. The war is over, and the nations of Khorvaire now try to build a new age of peace and prosperity. Ancient threats linger, however, and the world desperately needs heroes to take up the cause. Nations compete on many levels—economic might, political influence, territory, magical power—each looking to maintain or improve its current status by any means short of all-out war. Espionage and sabotage services create big business in certain circles. The dragonmarked houses, temples both pure and corrupt, crime lords, monster gangs, psionic spies, arcane universities, royal orders of knights and wizards, secret societies, sinister masterminds, dragons, and a multitude of organizations and factions jockey for position in the afterglow of the Last War. Eberron teems with conflict and intrigue.

9. Dragonmark dynasties. The great dragonmarked families are the barons of industry and commerce throughout Khorvaire and beyond. Their influence transcends political boundaries, and they remained mostly neutral during the Last War. The heads of each house, not technically citizens of any nation, live in splendor within their enclaves and emporiums located throughout Khorvaire. These dynastic houses of commerce derive their power from the dragonmarks—unique, hereditary arcane sigils—that manifest on certain individuals within the family, granting them limited but very useful magical abilities associated with the trade guilds the family controls. Dragonmarks are said to be the Prophecy written on mortal flesh—a supposition that incenses the dragons.

10. Dragonshards. Ancient legends and creation myths describe Eberron as a world in three parts: the ring above, the subterranean realm below, and the land between. Each of these world sections is tied to a great dragon of legend—Siberys, Khyber, and Eberron, respectively. Each section of the world produces dragonshards, stones and crystals imbued with arcane power. With the aid of dragonshards, dragonmarks become more powerful, elementals are controlled and harnessed, and magic items of all sorts are crafted and shaped. These shards, however, are rare and difficult to come by, making them expensive and often the goals of great quests and adventures.

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The Undoing of Cyre

It’s just past dawn on an early autumn morning. The air is cool as the individual PCs stand on a plateau of the Saerun mountain range. To the west, the mountain looms. Beyond that is the goblin land of Darguun. Just to the east the plateau drops off to a cliff, and they can survey much of the country of Cyre. The sounds of battle can be heard in the valley below as the sun rises. The golden Ring of Siberys is beginning to fade, and the twelve moons are now low on the horizon.

They have all been drawn to pass by this spot, for one reason or another.

An ancient, decrepit, black tower standing almost two hundred feet tall looms on the plateau. The PCs all spot each other, while at the same time noticing a group of elemental airships on a bombing run across the battlefield. Lightning crackles from the underbelly of the ship as it strafes the valley. While it doesn’t appear that the ships have noticed the PCs, they seem to be in the direct path of the strafing run.

The PCs make for the crumbling entrance to the tower. As they cross the door they can hear the quiet rustling of chains, though it is quickly drowned out by the hum of the warships passing by. Their skin vibrates, and hairs stand on end, as the ships unleash lightning onto the hillside. Pockets of brush outside burst into flames, and smolder, as the ship continues into the woods that climb the side of the mountain.

The PCs gather inside and introduce themselves; Elyas, a human with artificer technologies integrated into his armor and weapons; his assistant, Helper, an early version of the warforged with human-like tendencies; Kestor, a dragonborn on a mission of vengeance; Tordek, a young dwarf invoker, seeking an apprenticeship; and Chisler, a revelent, undead, and without a past.

There is a slight rumbling under them. Elyas is tossed a few feet as the flagstone beneath him pushes upward, and a young kruthik emerges from a tunnel below. It spots the PCs and rears back, slamming its metal-like talons at the flagstone, and screeches at the party. Three more come up from the ground to attack the PCs. The party bands together to defeat the threats. Three dolgrims emerge from around the corners, each holding a sword, shield, and crossbow in their four arms. They hurl insults, and attacks, at the party.

The PCs make short work of their attackers, and investigate the calls for help that they heard during the fight. As Chisler peeks around the corner he sees two prisoners blindfolded and chained to the wall. One is straining to see what’s going on, while the other languishes on the opposite wall; alive, but not really responding to what is going on around him. He is standing over a ten foot wide prophecy mark. The energy pulses, and swirls with ever-changing colors and patterns.

The group gathers around the mark to study it, while Kestor frees the prisoners. He releases the first, who introduces himself as Bren ir’Gadden, a nobleman and commander of the Brelish army.

He says that he, and his assistant, Aric Blacktree, were making there way up onto the plateau to gain a better vantage point, when they were attacked by a band of dolgrims. His men were killed and the two of them were brought to the tower. They have been chained there for weeks. He says that the dolgrims have been holding Aric inside the prophecy mark, and have been studying his skin, possibly for the appearance of an aberrant dragonmark. He was certain they were doomed, as the dolgrims were becoming increasingly agitated that a mark was not appearing.

Kestor carefully reaches into the prophecy mark circle to free Aric. The dragonborn can feel the arcane magic tingle, and try to attach itself to his scaled skin, but a moment later he pulls Aric free. Aric slumps against the tower wall, and then slowly slides into a sitting position, his head gently bobbing around.

The others in the party have been studying the patterns, as a sudden voice resounds in their heads, and in their native tongue they understand the prophecy; Five at the brink of the desolation stand as one against the tempest’s roar. They argue over the meaning; some believing that “the five” represent themselves, others believing that it refers to the five nations of Korvaire, uniting once again.

The academic discussion is short lived as Bren insists that he must return to his troops below, and that Aric must be taken to Sharn for treatment. The PCs argue about some form of payment, while at the same time demanding to know of people that they are looking for. Bren seems to not know anything about anyone they are looking to find, and he also says that he doesn’t carry his wealth into battle, and has no way to pay them.

After more arguing, finally, exasperated, Bren says that if they are willing to walk down onto the battlefield he is able to outfit them with weapons and provisions for their journey, and when they arrive in Sharn they will be paid handsomely by Aric’s wealthy merchant family. This seems to satisfy the PCs, and they agree.

As they begin to exit the tower, the smoke is starting to thin, and several spots are still burning. Through the dissipating smoke, zombie rotters shuffle forward, moaning low. Behind them two sergeants of the Emerald Claw appear, along with a woman wearing a dark-hooded cloak.

The woman demands that they turn the prisoner over to them in the name of the Emerald Claw. The PCs ask what they will give them in exchange, and she balks at the suggestion, saying that no one refuses the demands of the Emerald Claw, and she raises her quaterstaff to begin the attack.

The rotters close in, slamming their putrid fists into the PCs, as the priestess uses ranged magical attacks that burst over the PCs. The dwarf rebukes the hordes of zombies, who immediately fall down, and don’t rise up again. The dragonborn hacks away at the sergeants with brutal precision. Helper, shifts around, trying to protect Aric, who is clinging to his back. Elyas dishes out healing, as Chisler shrouds his enemies in deep shadowfell magic. Bren, though unarmed, fires magic missiles from his fingertips.

Amid the battle, the party notices a grey fog rolling across Cyre. Lighting and fire erupt from within it, and the screams of men can be heard from the valley below as the fog envelopes everything in its path.

As the last of the Emerald Claw are dispatched, silence falls over everything. The screams have ceased, and all of Cyre is covered in the dead grey fog. Bren falls to his knees and weeps for the lost of his men on the battlefield. The battle for Cyre is over. Moments later, he regains his composure and tells them that they must press on to Sharn, and that it appears the only path is over the mountain and through the dangerous goblin land of Darguun.

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Traversing Darguun

For several days the party travels over the Sauren mountain range, and into the goblin land of Darguun, until finally making there way to the capital city of Rhuukan Draal. Hoping to find passage onto a lightning rail back to Sharn, they pass through the black gates and enter the filthy, loud, and dank goblin stronghold. They find there way to a tavern called the Black Boot. Inside they encounter a band of warforged brigands. The warforged gang are deserters of the battles in Cyre, and came to Darguun to escape punishment and make a criminal name for themselves. After attempting to intimidate the party, they offer up some work. Most of the leaders of the dragonmarked house of Cannith perished in the recent rolling fog in Cyre. The house in now in disarray, and the Tinkerers guild in Rhukaan Draal have gone into hiding for fear of losing their lives or being held as slaves. This has left Cannith’s warehouse unprotected, along with its stash of highly valued Kyber dragonshards. The warforged want to break in and loot the warehouse. They offer the party in on the job for a cut of the dragonshards.

The party argues about it at some length, until an agreement is struck; they will take the job, and then make haste to Sharn.

The PCs head through a putrid and stagnant sewer system; up through a grating; and into the basement level of the warehouse. As they round the corner they realized that they weren’t the only ones with the same idea. Several goblins garbed in Cannith security uniforms are attempting to break open the vault’s elemental lock. Two of the guards are working with a small glowing cube that is trying to interact with the spirit in the lock. The party engages the security guards. Two battle apes are released that attack with fury. Several smaller goblins line the scaffolding, launching attacks with hand crossbows. Amid the fight, one of the guards tosses the cube toward the PCs which cracks open revealing a smoky elemental spirit that immediately begins to attack the PCs minds.

Once the battle is finished the warforged gang lumbers down the spiral staircase. They see the locked vault, and with one swift kick, crush in the doors. Inside resting in a small wooden chest are the dark purple-glowing dragonshards. The warforged sweep them up, and tell the PCs that their payment will be them being allowed to leave with their lives. With that the warforged attack the PCs with a flash that momentarily dazes the party, giving the warforged a quick moment to rush out of the building and into the busy streets. The PCs are quick to follow, and adeptly chase them through the throngs of goblins occupying the streets.

They finally catch up with the gang in the center of the market district. They square off with each other. In addition to the four warforged gang members, more than a half dozen hammerforged appear, ready to fight. The goblins in the square see what’s about to take place and flee the area.

The party battles there way through the warforged gang, using the dense market environment in their favor. Once the gang has been defeated, the local Ketch Volaar (Word Bearers) police force arrives. As the hobgoblins begin to examine the bodies, the head of the group, Taagaan, steps forward and thanks the party for taking care of these criminals. He explains that local guard had been looking for them for some time, but to no avail. He offers the party a reward of 100gp as the guards collect the dragonshards hidden on the body. He asks if he may be of any assistance to the heroes, and they tell him of how they are attempting to get aboard a lightening rail back to Sharn to deliver Aric to his family. Taagaan offers some forged travelling papers and assists the group aboard a rail out of the country.

Once on the rail the PCs take a much needed breather. Unfortunately, near the border of Thrane, Ketch Sharaat (Blade Bearers) goblins mounted on warwing drakes suddenly flank the sides of the train. Heavy footsteps can be heard on the roof and the sound of breaking glass comes from the front as soldiers take over the lead car. The Pcs move forward to the controller car, only to see the hobgoblin bandits drag the captain from his seat and start to push him up a ladder toward the roof of the car. The players are able to kill the minions before they get him up through the hatch, and, free, he runs through the doorway toward the rear of the train.

After defeating the goblins in the car, they party hurries up the ladder, and onto the roof, where they encounter a hobgoblin warcaster along with two warwing drakes that he is controlling. The party battles the warcaster, and is intermittently attacked by the drakes. Once the warcaster is defeated, the drakes are freed from his control and fly away.

Control of the lightning rail is regained, and the party safely makes their way back to Sharn. Bren parts ways, thanking them for their help.

Aric is delivered to his family, who rewards them with gold. Just before closing the door to the house, Aric looks back at the PCs and utters the first words they’ve heard from him, “Five at the brink of desolation stand as one against the tempest’s roar.”

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Four Years Later…

It is four years since the tragedy in Cyre. The war has ended, and a fragile peace treaty has been agreed upon by the remaining four nations. The Treaty of the Thronehold has also recognized several splinters of land as sovereign nations, including Darguun. Thousands of Cyran refugees have been displaced, with most settling either along the border regions of Thrane or in and around Sharn, in Breland.

16

Since the end of the last war, a not-so-secret arms race has begun by the remaining four nations. Each of the nations believes that one of the others created the Day of Mourning as a massive weapon. Now each country is using much of their resources to build armies, and devote research to great destructive elemental and eldritch weapons. Spies also run rampant feeding the paranoia of the governments and kings.

On this morning, at daybreak, as if by fate’s hand, each of the party members have converged on this spot in Sharn; a roof ledge along side one of the many towers in the city, at a memorial service for those lost in Cyre on this day four years ago.

Amid dignitaries, officials, and ambassadors, the group spots each other. There is a moment of joyous celebration as they update each other on what they have been up to for the past four years since parting ways.

Kestor has continued his mission of vengeance, and his search for his long lost brother has brought him back to Sharn, but the trail has recently run cold.

Chiseler has been continuing his quest to find out who he was before he died, and was reborn by the Raven Queen. This quest has mysteriously brought him to Sharn.

Tordek has continued his studies as a mortician, and has been apprenticing at a mortuary in Sharn for the past few years.

Helper, along with Elyas, has returned to Sharn, using the Truespark clan as a home base of sorts, as the two continue to search for clues of their missing father.

The celebration is interrupted though as a door on the far side of the balcony is thrown open, and a wafting grey mist enters. Shrieks and screams can be heard as the party is once again united in battle.

The mist moves onto the balcony and takes form. Gnashing smoky jaws appear, and horns occasional form within the grey mist. The heroes take action. Battling the haunt, they are able to destroy it, but not before it claims some of the bystanders as its victims.

As the haunt is destroyed it dissipates into the ground, but not before briefly forming the symbol seen in the prophecy mark four years ago, at the black tower.

Questions arise from the crowd as to what it was, and where it came from. The PCs immediately realize that the source of this demon must be found. Through a series of clues, and interviews the party finds themselves in front of a townhouse at the base of Dalannan Tower, in the Center Bridge district of the lower Menthis Plateau. The house looks ordinary enough, except upon close inspection they notice that a few small wisps of fog can be seen at the landing of the house, and the upper windows have been hastily boarded over.

The Helper and Kestor join together to try and break through the front door. After several attempts the wood gives way and they are through the front door. The interior appears to be a normal, expensively furnished, yet shabbily maintained home.

A group of goblins have quickly stood up from a card table and have drawn their weapons. The fight ensues. Guard drakes running from the adjacent rooms, and a gnoll stands at the back of the room firing arrows at the invaders. Eventually all are dispatched. As the room quiets, a sudden clanking, and what sounds like thunder, erupts from the floor above. Faintly, voices can be heard shouting, “Check over there! What’s happening?!”

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