Dragonmarks: Arcane History

This is my third article on this topic, following Arcane Science and The Arcane Arts. Arcane magic is a part of everyday life in Khorvaire. But how did we get to this point? If you travel back a thousand years, what sort of magic did the Princess Aundair using in battle? Who were the Teslas and Edisons of Khorvaire… or, if you prefer, the Tashas and Mordenkainens?

One way to approach this would be to a big timeline of specific dates: “535 YK: First confirmed use of the phantasmal killer spell.” However, this is impractical. Among other things, there is no single path of development in Eberron. Over the course of tens of thousands of years, many different cultures have developed arcane traditions. Take fireball; the externalists of Khunan invented one form of fireball, but the Siberyan wizards of Thaliost independently created a different form of the spell, and Brelish sympathists created a different version of the spell… Meanwhile, the Sulat giants were flinging fireballs forty thousand years ago. So the goal of this article isn’t to tell you who invented fireball. Instead, it’s a broad overview of the history of Arcane Magic in Khorvaire over the course of the last two thousand years, noting a few specific developments, movements, and individuals. It is NOT comprehensive; it is a foundation for DMs to build upon. If you’re looking for older civilizations, a few are touched on in the Arcane Arts article. If you’re interested in the weapons of war, check out Exploring Eberron.

Beyond that, this article assumes you have read the two preceding articles—that you know the difference between Siberyan theory and externalist magic, and that you know that magic is more complicated than it may appear. If you haven’t read those articles yet, now would be a good time to do so.

As with the previous articles, where this article references rules, it assumes the use of the fifth edition of D&D. This specifically addresses the development of ARCANE MAGIC as opposed to psionics, divine magic, or primal traditions. And as always, this is what I do at MY table, and what follows may contradict canon material. Use what you like, ignore what you don’t!

THE NOT-WIZARDS: Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Dragonmarks

Sorcerers and warlocks typically manipulate the same forms of energy as wizards. However, neither sorcerers or warlocks need to understand the powers that they wield. Later sections will discuss their role in history, but on the whole warlocks and sorcerers didn’t band together or seek to apply scientific knowledge to the development of their gifts; however, they served as an inspiration to those scholars who believed it was possible to replicate their powers through scientific means. While sorcerers and warlocks were scattered individuals, dragonmarks were a greater force in history; due to their hereditary nature, they served as the foundation of powerful guilds, ultimately becoming the houses that continue to shape the world today. Here’s a quick look at these three paths.

SORCERERS

Sorcerers appear in every humanoid society, spread out across history. Generally, sorcerous power isn’t as reliably hereditary as dragonmarks are, so families of sorcerers haven’t become a powerful force in Khorvaire. There are exceptions—notably the Houses of the Sun and Moon that ruled ancient Corvagura in Sarlona—but even there it is likely the case that ongoing exposure to the wild zones of the region was the primary factor in the development of sorcerous power, not simply bloodline; those few Corvaguran nobles who came to Khorvaire failed to pass their powers on to their children. There might be similar regional pockets of sorcery in Khorvaire, or families with a greater chance to manifest dragonblood talents; however, this still isn’t reliable enough for sorcerers to wield the same sort of power as the dragonmarked houses. In general, sorcerers are considered to be remarkable and unique; during the Dark Ages they were valued for their power but didn’t seek to form any sort of fellowship of sorcerers or explore the science behind their gifts. While sorcerers generally don’t need to understand the science behind their powers, the most common forms of sorcerers do map to the common theories of arcane science. Those with “Planar Power” are effectively using Externalist magic, while “Dragonblood” sorcerers are channeling Siberyan power. The other most common manifestation of sorcerers are dragonmarks themselves… though there is also the possibility of sorcerers whose gifts are in some way engineered. Here’s a quick breakdown of these paths.

  • Planar Power. In the past, the most common form of sorcerer was touched by the power of one of the planes. This is believed to be tied to planar conjuctions, being born in a manifest zone, or perhaps because a parent attracts the attention of a planar entity. However, it is still extraordinarily rare; Sharn is in a manifest zone to Syrania, and of the tens of thousands of children born there every year, only a handful develop sorcerous gifts. While there’s no absolute limitations imposed on player characters who choose this path, generally the origin and spells of a planar sorcerer will reflect the influence of the plane they’re connected to. A sorcerer tied to Irian might be a Divine Soul with powers of light and healing, while one connected to Daanvi might be a Clockwork Soul with spells that enforce order. Keep in mind that the title of an origin is implied lore, not an absolute restriction. A sorcerer with the Draconic Bloodline could be tied to Shavarath or Fernia, with their “Draconic” features resembling the characteristics of a denizen of the plane. In general, however, planar sorcerers don’t manifest dramatic physical mutations. This is something that distinguishes them from tieflings and people with aberrant dragonmarks, both of whom are seen as dangerous. The powers of a sorcerer are generally seen as a blessing; even before the sorcerer learns to control them, they rarely trigger accidentally or pose the sort of threat associate with aberrants and tieflings.
  • Dragonblood. As arcane science advanced, sages discovered a new form of sorcerer: individuals with an innate power to channel the ambient magical power known as the Blood of Siberys. These sorcerers use the techniques and trappings of Siberyan wizardry to harness their power; they study Arcana and apply it to their magic. But a dragonblood sorcerer doesn’t prepare spells as a wizard does; instead they must discover the spells they are naturally attuned to—the spells they are innately prepared to cast. This is the “Harry Potter” model of sorcerer; they resemble wizards and study alongside wizards, but their gift is tied to an innate talent, not simply learned. The Arcanix scholar Iria ir’Rayne believes that there may be more people with latent dragonblood talent than has been realized; it’s simply that there’s no widespread method to test for this talent. Dragonblood rarely has any obvious physical manifestation and as such generally doesn’t involve the Draconic Bloodline origin, but most other origins could be tied to this form of sorcerer.
  • Dragonmarks. Characters with dragonmarks can present sorcerer or warlock abilities as expanded powers of their dragonmark. A halfling could be a Divine Soul sorcerer who presents their healing and strengthening spells as being channeled through their mark, whiile a Lyrandar heir could be a Storm Sorcerer. Such a character doesn’t have to present all of their spells as being tied to their dragonmark, but the point is that they have learned to channel power through their mark in ways that most of their kin cannot… and along the way, discovered a few other dragonblood talents or planar gifts.
  • Aberrant Dragonmarks. This follows the same principle as the dragonmarked sorcerer, with the added note that aberrant marks are typically destructive or dangerous. An aberrant sorcerer possesses greater power than someone who solely possesses the Aberrant Dragonmark feat, but they are still channeling their power through their mark, and as they gain Sorcerer levels their mark may grow, spreading across their body. A core idea of aberrant dragonmarks is that they are dangerous: that while a player character may be in full control of their mark, there may have been tragic incidents before they mastered its power—and that they still may have to deal with some sort of quirk or manifestation of the mark that continues to be a burden, as described in Rising From The Last War. Sorcerer-grade aberrant marks have been rarely seen since the War of the mark, but over the last century they’ve been appearing in ever-increasing numbers. Iria ir’Rayne has advanced the idea that some aberrant dragonmarks (notably not the “mixed marks” that occur from mixing dragonmarked bloodlines) could be the result of untapped dragonblood potential “spoiling”—that if a child received guidance and training before the manifestation of a mark, they could develop the talents of a dragonblood sorcerer instead. However, this is controversial theory has largely been dismissed by the Arcane Congress.
  • Magebred Sorcerers. Actual draconic ancestry isn’t commonly seen as an origin for sorcerers, but as Erandis Vol shows it’s not entirely impossible. Celestials and fiends don’t reproduce biologically, but it’s possible that a sliver of an immortal’s power could be imbued into a sorcerer; in this case their origin and spells would likely reflect the powers of that being. It’s also possible that either of these options—dragon or immortal—could be infused into a bloodline as a result of arcane experiments as opposed to any voluntary interaction on the part of the donor; a sorcerer with the Draconic Bloodline origin could be the result of a Vadalis experiment.

Sorcerers have always been uncommon. People know they exist, but because sorcery isn’t something that can be learned it’s increasingly less common that wizardry or artifice, not to mention magewrights. With the exception of aberrant dragonmarks, sorcerers generally aren’t feared. Sorcerers have always been allowed in arcane institutions, but because of their lack of flexibility have often been dismissed as flawed students. During the last century, Iria ir’Rayne has fought for greater recognition for sorcerers and to find ways to expand and embrace the potential of sorcery.

WARLOCKS

Like sorcerers, warlocks can be found in most civilizations throughout history. This article examines warlocks in more detail, discussing both possible patrons and interpretations of the class that don’t rely on patrons. But the classic warlock is someone who draws their power from their ongoing, active relationship with a powerful patron. They don’t have to have any sort of supernatural heritage and they don’t need to understand the powers that they wield; they simply need to earn the favor of a powerful being. This has led to a largely negative view of warlocks over the course of history, for a few reasons…

  • Wizards and arcane scholars often see warlocks as reckless fools, wielding powers they haven’t earned and don’t understand.
  • The Cults of the Dragon Below—both those devoted to daelkyr and those tied to overlords—are the most common source of warlock powers. Both tend to draw their warlocks down malevolent paths, eroding their morals and sanity and compelling them to do terrible things.
  • Even warlocks devoted to less malign powers are still serving supernatural entities. There is a common sense that this comes before faith in religion or loyalty to a nation—that warlocks are essentially spies serving unknown powers.

This is a simplistic view, and the actual reaction will depend on the nature of the patron, the views of the people the warlock is dealing with, and local customs. In Aundair, many noble families have longstanding pacts with archfey. In Breland, the wandslinger who won magic powers by gambling with an efreeti may be celebrated for their wit rather than reviled. The members of the Court of Shadows are arcane scholars lured into the Court by a hunger for knowledge. In the Mror Holds, there are warlocks who have stolen their powers from the daelkyr rather than earning them with allegiance… but Mror purists argue that any use of such powers has a corrupting effect. One could argue whether the relationship of a warlock and patron is really so different than that of a cleric and their deity, but the general opinion is that it is—that warlocks are driven by greed and the desire for personal power, that patrons likewise seek to meddle with the natural order, while the Sovereigns are the natural order.

Warlocks with different patrons have little in common with one another; they may have access to overlapping spell lists, but an Archfey warlock who’s working for Fortune’s Fool and a Great Old One warlock drawing power from Dyrrn wield very different powers; depending on their choice of spells, it’s possible that the GOO warlock could be considered to be wielding psionic power. Aside from the differences in the nature and source of their powers, patrons may have very different goals and limitations. A particular archfey could be limited to only having a single warlock at a time; they can’t imbue another mortal with power unless they dismiss their current agent. On the other hand, a cult of the Dragon Below might grant power to anyone who swears an oath… But it might also sink hooks into the psyche of the newly minted warlock, corrupting them and remolding them in the image of the patron.

The average commoner can’t tell the difference between a sorcerer and a warlock. It’s not that a warlock will inherently be distrusted the moment they step into a room; but if they announce their status—”Well, I was talking to Sul Khatesh last night in my dreams, and she taught me this new spell… Neat, huh?”—they may have to deal with fear and prejudice. Arcanix accepts Archfey warlocks and studies other paths, and other warlocks might be allowed as curiosities—but Arcanix forbids trafficking with overlords, daelkyr, or other entities defined as malefic forces. This isn’t a crime under the Code of Galifar, and even in the Arcane Congress there are ways a scholar to defend interactions with such entities—but it can be cause for inquiry, censure, or even expulsion. This is discussed further in the section on Arcane Research.

DRAGONMARKS

A dragonmark is a lens that allows the bearer to focus magical energy for a specific purpose. From the moment it manifests, it provides certain innate gifts—a few minor spell effects, an intuitive talent for a particular skill or tool. But the potential of the dragonmark is far greater than that. Heirs who learn how to channel magical energy can use their mark to produce greater effects, as reflected by the Spells of the Mark. And as noted before, a character could ascribe their class abilities to their use of their dragonmark. A Lyrandar Storm Sorcerer might have unlocked the greater powers of the Mark of Storm, while a Jorasco Life Cleric could attribute their healing abilities not to divine power, but rather to their dragonmark. A Thuranni rogue could even class features such as Uncanny Dodge or Evasion as manifestations of their dragonmark, as they conjure concealing shadows.

There was a time when cantrips were all but unknown to the people of Khorvaire: when those tinkers who carried the Mark of Making were the only humans capable of casting mending, when the Ghallanda gift of prestidigitation was a truly remarkable gift. Likewise, there was a time when the Spells of the Mark could only be cast by those with the Mark—when knock and arcane lock were the sole provenance of the Mark of Warding. But beyond all of this, the core strength of the dragonmark has always been focus items. The idea is simple: it is easier to produce a magical effect that channels the power of a dragonmark than one that doesn’t. It’s easier to make a serpentine mirror than a crystal ball… Not to mention eldritch machines like the creation forges or storm spires. Over the course of centuries, the Arcane Congress and other mages have worked to reverse engineer these powers, discovering how to mend, to detect poison, to feather fall. By default, all such spells are now in the public domain. But again, dragonmark focus items allow heirs to provide services no one else can offer. And beyond this, while player characters can learn any spell, a DM who wants to emphasize the power of the houses can assert that magewrights are more limited—that there are rituals that can only be learned by magewrights that carry a particular mark. Looking to page 318 of Rising From The Last War, it could be that healer magewrights must carry the Mark of Healing, and that locksmiths require the Mark of Warding—or, if you want to be less restrictive, it could be that any magewright can master these rituals, but that the guild trade schools tied to Kundarak and Jorasco have the best teachers.

The key points to bear in mind when moving forward are that there was a time when most Spells of the Mark were known only to the houses, and when many useful magic items existed only as dragonmark focus items. The fact that such spells can now be learned by wizards and that such items can be created in a form that anyone can use reflects centuries of effort on the part of the Arcane Congress. The houses aren’t happy about this gradual erosion of their monopolies. But while Lyrandar may be able to suppress the development of airships anyone can pilot, not even the Twelve can block the slow and steady advancement of arcane science. It’s still easier and cheaper to produce a serpentine mirror than it is to make a crystal ball… But the Royal Eyes of Aundair have a surveillance network employing crystal balls.

THE DARK AGES

When Lhazaar’s ships arrived in Khorvaire approximately three thousand years ago, they brought little in the way of arcane magic. The Khunan externalists were powerless in a land without wild zones, and the shadow lords of Ohr Kaluun didn’t join Lhazaar or the expeditions that followed her. While these explorers didn’t have wizards, they still had magic. The divine magic of the Pyrinean missionaries played an important role in ensuring the survival of the settlers, which in turn helped to cement the strong faith in the Sovereigns that remains to this day; however, the evolving role of divine magic is a topic for another article. The explorers, settlers, and reavers also counted sorcerers and warlocks among their champions. While celebrated or feared, those that followed these paths couldn’t simply teach their gifts to others, and were limited by their own heritage or the whims of patrons.

At this moment in history, none of modern nations existed; human civilization was an assortment of warlords, colonies, and small city-states. As humanity carved out its place on the continent, the first dragonmarks were appearing. The houses didn’t emerge fully formed. Each mark appeared on multiple families, and it took centuries for some houses to unlock the potential of their marks and to come together. This is discussed in this article, as well as in the 3.5 sourcebook Dragonmarked. The Scribing families were relatively quick to form the Sivis League, but the Sentinel families were actively opposed for centuries. Even before the houses were fully formed, the reliably hereditary nature of these powers meant that the dragonmarked had a degree of organization and unity—that they were able to explore their potential in ways unmatched by the warlocks and sorcerers of the age.

Another crucial element in this age was the arrival of the elves. The eradication of the line of Vol resulted in both the exile of Vol’s allies and the voluntary exodus of the Phiarlans and other elves who feared persecution. There’s a few important things to understand about this process. This wasn’t an orderly step by a nation seeking to establish colonies; it was a scattered wave of exiles and rebels. These were elves who fought against the Undying Court, or at least opposed its goals; they weren’t seeking to preserve its traditions or values. The Bloodsail Principality and House Phiarlan were the two places where these immigrants sought to retain some element of cultural identity; but the majority of exiles dispersed among the masses building nations. There are many reasons that these immigrants couldn’t raise humanity to the level of arcane sophistication seen in Aerenal. The everyday magic of Aerenal relies on an arcane infrastructure built up over tens of thousands of years. The exiles were removed from the powerful manifest zones of Aerenal, the ancient eldritch machines, the deathless mentors, and the underlying support—not to mention traditions that might call for a magewright to spend a century perfecting their skills. Even had they wished to, a single elf exile couldn’t reproduce the wonders of Aerenal in Khorvaire. Instead, most exiled wizards chose to use their talents to achieve personal power and influence. In the northeast, exiles laid the foundation of what would become the Blood of Vol. In the northwest, some helped powerful families forge ties with the local fey.

So overall, the exiled wizards of Aerenal filled the same role as sorcerers and warlocks: individuals feared or celebrated for their powers rather than the cornerstones of institutes of learning or the forces of innovation. However, merely by existing they served to inspire others—sages who recognized that these powers weren’t simply the gifts of immortal patrons or mystical mutation. Another important point is that Aereni magic hasn’t actually changed much over the last few years. So the spells of these wizards were much like those used today… and precisely because they were severed from Aereni culture (and had in many cases rebelled against it), they’re a possible source of unique spells or rituals that could be useful to a player character wizard. Consider the story of the Queen of the Burning Sky, still told in parts of Breliand even though she predates their nation. Raela Solaen was an Aereni wizard. She opposed the Undying Court and chose exile; making her way west she married Breggor Firstking of Wroat. Her arcane might was a key element of Breggor’s success; in the tales of Breggor’s siege of Shaarat (a former incarnation of Sharn), Solaen devastates the defenders with massive waves of fire. These stories may be exaggerated; Raela may have just been using fireballs and flaming spheres. On the other hand, it’s possible that the Queen of the Burning Sky developed unique war rituals—likely spells that inflicted less damage than a fireball, but with a far greater range and area of effect. As she had no interest in sharing her knowledge with others, her secrets died with her. But if Solaen’s spellshards were found today, her war rituals might be a boon to the nation that obtained them.

The key point is that in this time, few of the civilizations of Khorvaire had actually embraced the idea of SCIENCE. Warlocks and sorcerers gained their power through bargains or accidents of birth, as did the dragonmarked houses. The wizards of Aerenal were likewise considered to be enigmatic wonders; this wasn’t a path a normal person could follow. It would be centuries still before people recognized that magic was a tool that anyone could master, not some sort of divine gift.

FIVE NATIONS RISE

Two thousand years ago, Karrn the Conqueror sought to dominate Khorvaire. Five strong nations emerged from this conflict: Karrnath, Metrol, Daskara, Wroat, and Thaliost. While only shadows of the powerful nations of the present day, these young realms possessed greater resources and brought together larger numbers of sages than had been possible in the past.

During Karrn’s conquest, magic was still largely a thing of wonder rather than a tool of science. Kings and warlords employed mercenary sorcerers or exiled elves. But there were a number of crucial developments in this period.

Dragonmarks: The War of the Mark and the Twelve

It was in this time that the dragonmarked houses coalesced into something resembling their modern form. Cannith and Sivis were the first true dragonmarked houses, and both actively worked to identify other houses and to encourage them to adopt similar traditions and structure. These early houses wielded far less power than they have today, in part because they didn’t have the tools they have today; there were no airships, no lightning rail, no message stones. But Kundarak could craft arcane locks, Jorasco could cast lesser restoration, and Cannith excelled both at the creation of mundane goods and at the creation of magic items—though at this time, even something we’d now consider to be uncommon would be a great treasure. The houses were still learning what they could do: but even beyond their active magic, the intuition granted by a dragonmark meant that the house heirs excelled at certain fields. An Orien heir is faster than an unmarked courier and excels at the operation of land vehicles, while even before elemental vessels, any marked Lyrandar heir has a knack for navigation. Artisan’s Intuition provides a Cannith heir with a bonus to any ability check involving artisans’s tools. The heirs of the dragonmarked houses were simply better at certain things than unmarked folk, and even as they learned the full powers of their marks, they also worked to establish their dominance in those fields.

In addition to their innate powers, the houses were pioneers in the field of wizardry. Cannith and Sivis were foremost in this. Having observed the exiled elves of Aerenal, recognizing the power of words and the fact that their own marks were manipulating a form of energy in a measurable way, the members of these houses dug deeper into arcane mysteries. Sivis explored the science of sigilry and the paths of divination and illusion, while Cannith delved more deeply into conjuration, abjuration, and transmutation. Two of the greatest pioneers were Alder d’Cannith and Lyssia Lyrriman d’Sivis. Were you to meet either of these two in combat today, their magic might not be so impressive; as discussed in previous articles, they required higher level spell slots to cast spells we know today. But it was Lyssia who developed the basic foundation of the elemental sigils—the verbal and somatic components used by most modern externalist wizards. Alder developed the earliest form of the modern magecraft spell, as well as pioneering techniques of spell preparation and aspects of artifice.

Even as the dragonmarked houses were carving out their places in the world, aberrant dragonmarks were becoming more common and more powerful. Aberrant heirs were by far the most common form of sorcerer or warlock in this age. Aberrant dragonmarks are a dangerous burden for those who bear them, but they can be mastered and wielded safely. There were places where aberrant sorcerers served in the military, or found other ways to use their destructive powers for the greater good. But any possibility for the peaceful integration of aberrant dragonmarks came to an end with the War of the Mark. This conflict occurred approximately 1,500 years ago and is covered in other sources, but it had two major effects. The first was the near eradication of aberrant dragonmarks and lasting prejudice against those who bear them. The second was to strengthen and unify the dragonmarked houses. It was in the final days of the War of the Mark that Hadran d’Cannith proposed that the houses work together to create an “institute for the application of magic“—a foundation that would study both the dragonmarks and ways to harness their power, but also other forms of arcane magic. It was Hadran’s charisma and dreams that paved the way for the Twelve, but it was Alder d’Cannith who made it a reality. It was Alder who designed the Tower of the Twelve, and who insisted on the name of the organization, and it was in this tower that Lyssia d’Sivis perfected the elemental sigils.

For the next five centuries, the Tower of the Twelve was the greatest institute of arcane learning in Khorvaire. While much of its resources were focused on the development of dragonmark focus items and other ways to harness dragonmarks, it also drove the development of wizardry and the earliest magewrights. A key point is that the Twelve didn’t seek to create forms of the Spells of the Mark that anyone could use. They weren’t interested in crafting an arcane lock that anyone could cast. But they were interested in the potential of arcane magic, and many of the spells and rituals they perfected could be learned by anyone with talent, marked or otherwise.

Hedge Wizards and Other Traditions

It’s a simple fact that magic works. Even in the Dark Ages, the priests of Aureon mastered a few basic principles of wizardry. Externalist wizards learned to tap the power of their local manifest zones, even if these spells were rough in form and only possible in specific rituals. Here’s a few figures known to history.

  • Heken Askarda was a Daskaran monk devoted to Aureon, who pioneered the development of utilitarian magic. Notably, she created spells—at the time, 1st level wizard spells—that produced the individual effects of prestidigitation (heating, chilling, cleaning, soiling, etc). Later generations would refine these spells to the level of cantrip and ultimately to the versatile spell that people use today. Early wizards were often focused on the combat applications of magic; Heken sought to show how Aureon’s gift could improve all aspects of life.
  • Duran perfected many of the basic techniques of arcane necromancy employed by the Blood of Vol. While Duran died long ago, some say that he was also the first human of the Five Nations to master the rituals required to become a lich.
  • Beren’s Hearth was a legendary inn located in a Fernian manifest zone. The innkeeper Beren had crafted externalist spells allowing him to channel the power of Fernia to heat food and the inn itself. According to the tales, when a group of bandits threatened Beren and his guests, the innkeeper called the fire out of the hearth, and it chased down his enemies and burned them. To this day, Brelish wizards often call flaming sphere “Beren’s blaze” and fire bolt “Beren’s blast.” According to the tales, Beren’s Hearth finally burnt down and the land was claimed for a Cannith foundry. There are many conflicting accounts of just where the Hearth was, and some who say that it was the Twelve—notably agents of Ghallanda and Cannith—who burned down the Hearth.

Beren and Heken are good examples of the wizards of this time. Both focused on narrow fields of magic. Heken’s spells were effects that can now be cast as cantrips, while Beren’s fire spells were strong but relied on a direct tie to Fernia; nonetheless, they were spells that they developed and improved in their lifetimes, and which were further improved upon by future generations of wizards. When a Brelish wizard casts Beren’s blast they aren’t actually casting the spell created by the Wroatian wizard, but they are using the pyromantic principles he pioneered.

The Mages of Thaliost

There’s a strong fey presence in the land now known in Aundair. The earlier settlers found ways to make peace with these spirits, and the great families that forged the nation of Thaliost attributed their success to their fey pacts. While this produced a number of legendary warlocks, such as Tyman Three-Cloaks and Vilina the Unseen, not all of the fey the families dealt with had the power to create warlocks—and those that did might only grant such gifts to one child in a generation. Thaliost also drew an unusual number of Aereni exiles during the Dark Ages. Some of these chose to settle in the Towering Wood, ultimately producing the first Greensingers. Others joined the ancient families, earning influence with their arcane knowledge. As noted earlier, it was no simple thing for the Aereni to share their traditions, and few wanted to; most of the exiles preferred to keep their secrets as a unique resource preserving their value. While the elf wizards and Archfey warlocks were rare, they were a part of life. Margana Lain was an early arcane pioneer, convinced that what the fey seemed to do by whim, mortals could master through will. Over the course of her life she made dramatic breakthroughs in the basic techniques of Illusion and Enchantment magic. While she was a wizard whose powers were based on arcane science, many stories that followed called her Margana the Fey, claiming that her studies allowed her to become an archfey. Arcanix-trained mages may refer to disguise self as Margana’s masque; invisibility as Margana’s veil; and minor illusion as Margana’s mirror (according to legend, Margana would weave images in a mirror, then pull them out into the world). In the present day, the ir’Lains are a proud Aundairian dynasty; Darro ir’Lain is Second Warlord of the Realm and Commander of the Knights Arcane.

Beyond her own accomplishments, Margana was instrumental in the creation of the Guild of Moonlight and Whispers, the first true wizard’s circle of the Five Nations. The Guild became an influential force in Thaliost, and soon other circles followed in its footsteps. These circles lacked the numbers or resources of the Twelve, and members were often distracted by petty feuds with other circles. But they also became an important element of Thaliost culture and fueled arcane research, ultimately forming a foundation for the Arcane Congress.

GALIFAR AND THE ARCANE CONGRESS

Approximately one thousand years ago, Galifar Wynarn of Karrnath succeeded where Karrn the Conqueror had failed, uniting the Five Nations under the banner of the kingdom that bore his name. A key element of his victory was the work of his daughter Aundair. Long intrigued by arcane science, Aundair studied with both the Twelve and the Guild of Moonlight and Whispers, and had come up with her own unique theories of magic—the basic elements of Siberyan theory. The people she worked with had great respect for her talents—and this in turn played an important role both in Galifar’s negotiations with the Twelve and in recruiting Thaliost mages to his cause. There was no question that Aundair would govern Thaliost in the united kingdom. As the princess took stock of her domain, she worked to quell the conflicts between the rival circles of magic. Aundair recognized that the Twelve was capable of accomplishing grander things than the little circles… but she likewise knew both that the Twelve would always approach magic with a desire for profit, and that their greatest interest would always be harnessing the power of the dragonmarks. Beyond this, she had witnessed firsthand the desire to the houses to prevent people from developing spells that replicated the Spells of the Mark; she concluded that her father’s kingdom needed an institution that would pursue arcane science for the good of the kingdom, not simply in pursuit of gold. In 15 YK, Galifar I established the Arcane Congress, which united the resources of the Aundairian circles… though the circles have always continued to exist as fraternal orders in Aundair, and additional circles were established across Galifar. 

The question has come up before: If you went back in time, how would the magic used by Aundair differ from that a wizard wields in the present day? Using the terms discussed in this article, the wizardry of early Galifar had higher spell slots (1-2 level higher cost than modern spells), lengthy preparation, and limited options. Notably, it would be centuries before any form of necromancy was part of the curriculum. Likewise, in the early days there simply weren’t many spells known over 3rd level. Today, the library of Arcanix includes spells created by the prodigies of the past even though few modern mages can cast them, but in the first days of the congress it would be possible for an exceptional wizard to have a 5th level spell slot… and simply not know any 5th level spells.

Institutes of Learning

This article talks about the education of magewrights, but what of wizards? The Arcane Congress was supported by Galifar, but it wasn’t the only institute of learning… And especially in the wake of the war, other nations had to develop their own

  • The Arcane Congress / Arcanix (Aundair). The Arcane Congress is a massive institution with campuses across Aundair. The most renowned among these is Arcanix, which serves as a center both for cutting edge research and for teaching the most advanced students. The original mission of the Arcane Congress was to improve the quality of life for the people of Galifar, and some of its greatest achievements were the development of the prestidigitation and mending cantrips, and the development of the everbright lantern.When Galifar collapsed, the Congress was immediately militarized. The core of Arcanix is located in a cluster of floating towers, and it was moved to its current location during the Last War to secure territory claimed from Thrane; while Arcanix is a school, it’s also an arcane citadel. All schools of magic can be studied at the Arcane Congress, but Aundair is particularly noted for diviners, abjurers, and conjurers. Aundair’s intelligence service—the Royal Eyes—makes extensive use of divination, and a skilled diviner may be recruited by the agency. 
  • Atur Academy (Karrnath). Based in the so-called “City of Night” in Karrnath, Atur Academy specializes in mystical studies shunned by other institutions. Atur is a stronghold of the Blood of Vol, and the Academy has no equal when it comes to the study of necromancy. While its coverage of other schools of magic is unremarkable, its researchers develop spells that others would consider to be horrifying, and its vaults are said to contain tomes and scrolls of many spells forbidden during the reign of Galifar. 
  • The Library of Korranberg (Zilargo). The gnomes of Zilargo place great value on illusion, divination, and enchantment magic. Most of Zilargo’s many universities teach at least one of these subjects. The Library of Korranberg is especially noteworthy, and its divination facilities rival those of Arcanix.
  • Morgrave University (Breland). Breland relies on the trade schools of the Twelve for general magical education, and the King’s Citadel trains spies and war mages. But Morgrave University is Breland’s best option for general research and private training. Morgrave’s faculty is eclectic, and its facilities are no match for Arcanix. But Morgrave still produces an impressive number of wizards and artificers. This is driven by a tradition of encouraging students to personalize their techniques, shifting verbal and somatic components to find a uniquely effective approach. Aundairian and Aereni wizards find this to be revoltingly slipshod, but it has produced some impressive results.
  • Rekkenmark (Karrnath). While its focus has always been military strategy and martial excellence, since the collapse of Galifar Rekkenmark has aggressively expanded its mystical studies. While still limited in scope, Rekkenmark has top-notch facilities for evokers and war magic, and reasonable instructors for conjuration and abjuration.
  • The Tower of the Twelve (Karrnath). Each dragonmarked house maintains trade schools tied to its guilds across Khorvaire, and many houses have their own facilities that engage in the secret or private work of their house. The Tower of the Twelve isn’t a production facility; rather, it is both a symbol of house cooperation and a center that brings together the finest minds of all of the houses to conduct shared research and to train promising heirs. It has access to unrivaled resources, drawing on bother the finest minds and vast resources of the houses. However, its primary focus is always on the applications of the dragonmarks and on things that can produce profit, rather than on purely abstract knowledge.

Two other noteworthy schools were lost in the Mourning. The Vermishard Academy trained promising nobles in the arts of enchantment, while the Wynarn Institute of Art (WIA) focused on the artistic potential of illusion and conjuration magic. Like other nations, Cyre embraced the martial aspects of magic during the Last War, but its war magic programs weren’t as developed as those of Karrnath or Aundair. 

The Pace of Innovation

If I had more time, this article would include a timeline of the development of key arcane tools, from the siege staff to the speaking stone and beyond. I’m afraid this will have to wait for a future article. But it is crucial to understand that arcane science in the Five Nations is advancing at an exponential rate. The first lightning rail went into service in 811 YK. The first true warforged was created in 965 YK. The first elemental airships took flight in 990 YK. The Last War dramatically ramped up the pace of innovation, and saw more widespread training in the use of offensive cantrips (resulting in the more widespread presence of wandslingers). Beyond this, House Tharashk’s ever-greater ability to gather dragonshards and evolving ability to refine them has helped to support the more industrial role of magic—something that will be discussed in the upcoming article of Arcane Industry.

Alternate Spell Names

This article suggests a number of alternate names for spells tied to historical figures; a Brelish evoker might refer to flaming sphere as Beren’s blaze, while an Aundairian illusionist could refer to invisibility as Margana’s veil. The goal here isn’t to replace names and demand that you use these new names. Rather, it’s an example of the fact that spell names—like fireball— are largely generic and that different nations and cultures may have their own names for them. A Cyran wizard might cast an externalist form of fireball they call Fernia’s fury, while a Karrn evoker might use a Siberyan form called red dragon’s wrath. Spells are tools, and it’s not like there’s only one version of a sword in the world. But the key point here is that I’m never going to come up with a complete list of unique Brelish spell names… and that it’s always ok to just call a fireball a fireball. Use my suggestions if you like, but as a player or DM you should always feel free to name your own spells. If you don’t want to just cast ray of frost, YOU can decide you call it ice drake’s tooth… though, or course, you may have to tell your DM “That’s ray of frost.”

The same principle applies in reverse to any spell in D&D that HAS a proper name attached, like Tasha’s hideous laughter. One option is to simply drop the proper name; the spell is hideous laughter. Another is to replace it with someone from Eberron; Tenser’s floating disk could be Heken’s floating disk. A third option is to create Eberron versions of these common characters…

  • Sora Tasha was a wizard of Thaliost who was adopted by the infamous Sora Kell. In some stories, Tasha was a beloved protege of her “grandmother,” who disappeared into the planes long ago searching for Sora Kell. In other versions of the story, Tasha was responsible for Sora Kell’s disappearance, stealing her mentor’s grimoire and trapping her in a planar prison. Some stories say Tasha is long dead, while others say her spells have preserved her and she has taken Sora Kell’s hidden sanctum as her own.
  • Mordenkainen d’Phiarlan is the original name of the wizard now known as Mordain the Fleshweaver. As Mordain, he is infamous for his mastery of transmutation magic; but he was a remarkably gifted wizard who came up with a number of innovative spells before he became obsessed with transmutation, and those that use this name are among his earlier works. The slight twist is that most of his spells draw on Xoriat in various ways. The phantom hound of Mordenkainen’s faithful hound is a many-eyed multiidimensional denizen of Xoriat. Mordenkainen’s blade is a shard of Xoriat itself. Mordenkainen’s magnificent mansion creates a pocket of space in Xoriat; fortunately, it’s impossible to breach the walls of the manor (probably…). Note that this has nothing in common with magnificent mansions created through other methods (such as Ghallanda’s manor key)… Again, one spell can have many variants. It’s also the case that there are few living spellcasters who could actually CAST Mordenkainen’s sword; it’s something that might be found in one of Mordain’s abandoned spellshards, deep in the library of Arcanix.
  • Bigby is said to be a giant wizard of the Cul’sir Dominion. He was one of the mentors (and slavemasters) of the legendary elf wizard Cardaen. When the warrior queen Vadallia rescued Cardaen from the citadel he was imprisoned in, she cut off the giant’s hand. Cardaen later perfected the series of spells, saying that he had bound Bigby’s hand to do his bidding. Cardaen’s spells are known both to Tairnadal and Aereni wizards, and could have been shared with wizards of the Five Nations.

In Conclusion…

I had hoped to incorporate a more lengthy list of innovators and a timeline of some of the major developments, such as the everbright lantern and the siege staff. However, the fact is that this article has already taken more time than I have available—and that if I were to add every detail I’d like to add, it might be weeks before I could complete it. The next article in this series will cover Arcane Industry, and if time allows I’d love to do a shorter article speicifically about innovators and innovations—but time is always the enemy. I will note that Arcane Industry will cover the questions about the regulation of magical research that’s come up in the past.

Thanks to my Patreon supporters for choosing this topic. It’s your support that makes these articles possible, and that determines the amount of time I can spend on them. I’ll be posting a poll for the next new topic soon!

51 thoughts on “Dragonmarks: Arcane History

    • Does the Dream of the Blue Veil spell have any place in Eberron at all?
      DotBV is designed to allow travel between settings – Oerth, Krynn, Toril. I have no interest in mixing settings, so it’s not something I would ever use in my personal campaign. If I WANTED to mix settings, there’s a few logical paths. Rising From The Last War suggests that Eberron may be part of the multiverse, separated by a barrier established by the Sovereigns—but that the barrier may be weakening. So one option would be to make it a new discovery — a spell that only works now because the barrier is growing weak. A player character who learns it — perhaps creating it themself, perhaps taught it by, say, Sul Khatesh — could be one of the first people to actually use it.

      A different approach would be to tie it to Xoriat and the idea of the Maze of Realities presented in Exploring Eberron. In this case, the worlds you can reach through DotBV wouldn’t be other entirely separate settings, but rather alternate realities—different possible worlds that Eberron could have been. Were I to do this, I’d probably tweak a few things about those settings (I’d have to decide how to handle gods, for example) — and I’d explore the possible threat of one of those settings usurping Eberron’s role as prime reality.

      A third approach would be to double down on the title: it’s the DREAM of the Blue Veil. It could be that all the spell does is to transport you to Dal Quor… and that these “other worlds” are simply dreamscapes in Dal Quor’s ocean of dreams… that they aren’t truly REAL.

  1. In regards to Innovation, the immortals of the planes don’t need to cast spells the same way mortal wizards do. Are there magics that resemble innovations created on Eberron with spellwork that show up on the planes, or are those wonders that the immortals wield similar to what mortals can replicate but have always been a part of the plane? Would a war spell that was refined during the Last War by Karrnathi wizards be utilized by archons and devils on the fields of Shavarath… or have the armies of the Endless Battlefields always had access to these magical manifestations and it just happens to coincide with mortal discovery?

    • The answer is basically the same as this paragraph on Weapons of War in Exploring Eberron (regarding Shavarath):
      The battlefields of Shavarath contain engines of war unlike anything imagined on Eberron. Steel krakens in the Bloody Sea. Massive cannons that could bring down Sharn’s towers with a single volley. Immense monstrosities that serve as living battering rams. However, even the grandest of these creations isn’t a product of industry or arcane science—these too are conscripts. The mighty cannon isn’t forged in some great foundry, but formed by the layer itself, because it’s part of the idea of this battle. Fernia is a plane of industry where an artificer might learn amazing techniques from the dao; by contrast, in Shavarath, an artificer might be inspired by what they see, but most of the greatest weapons can’t be replicated.

      The same is true of spells—which are, after all, just another form of weapon created by arcane science. The fiends and celestials of Shavarath fling vast war magics far more devastating than anything imagined in Eberron, but they aren’t really casting spells. You might see something that reminds you of a war ritual you’ve seen in the Last War, but it’s NOT ACTUALLY A RITUAL. Shavarath might inspire someone to create a spell, but you can’t just get an angel to lend you its spellbook, because it doesn’t HAVE a spellbook.

      • “… fling vast war magics far more devastating than anything imagined in Eberron, but they aren’t really casting spells.”

        Are you referring to innate spellcasting abilities or other more powerful things here? If the latter, and not actually casting spells, this would mean stuff like counterspell wouldn’t function on it correct?

        • Are you referring to innate spellcasting abilities or other more powerful things here? If the latter, and not actually casting spells, this would mean stuff like counterspell wouldn’t function on it correct?
          I’m referring to other powerful things here. If it’s innate spellcasting, it will be innate spellcasting, using the defined abilities of the creatures found in Shavarath. But I’m talking more about things that fit the IDEA of war rituals—five demons join hands and chant, and a minute later the sky tears open and lave pours down on their enemies—but that don’t actually follow any arcane principle and can’t be replicated. It could be that counterspell has no effect because it’s not actually a spell; or it could be that counterspell works but that the effect is treated as if it was cast with a 20th level spell slot.

          I think a critical point is that if you took that demon war ritual crew and moved them to another layer of Shavarath, they might not be able to perform that ritual. If you took them to Eberron they SURELY couldn’t perform that ritual. Because it’s not actually a weapon that follows scientific principles; it’s merely an idea of something that could possibly happen in a war, something that fits the story that specific layer is telling. If you go to a layer that’s telling a different story, that “ritual” just won’t do anything. This is in contrast to their innate spellcasting abilities, which are part of the core concept of the demon itself and function wherever they go.

  2. Has nobody tried to plunder the Demon Wastes or Khyber for arcane resources during these many centuries in Khorvaire?

    • Sure, people have tried to plunder both, and sometimes they’ve succeeded. Exploring Eberron presents Sol Udar as a civilization that made great use of the resources of Khyber. The Umbragen drow are a culture who use the resources of Khyber, and the dwarves of the Mror Holds are seeking to plunder Khyber. And the wars both are fighting with the enemies in the depths shows why more civilizations don’t do it.

      Meanwhile, in the Demon Wastes, the ECS notes that “Blood Crescent serves as House Tharashk’s long dreamed-of foothold in the Demon Wastes. From this outpost, the house sends parties to scout for resources such as deposits of narstone and open pits of Khyber dragonshards. Finding the resources isn’t diffi cult; surviving the dangers of the Wastes is.” It’s quite likely that Cannith or Aundair have both sought to stake claims in the Demon Wastes before and ultimately determined the cost was too high. It’s not that it’s never been tried; it’s that people have tried and failed.

          • They were Kaluunite originally, the Carrion Tribes. Likely they experienced the same sort of thing the Lhazaar expedition experienced, losing touch with their previous externalist traditions and instead turning to warlock and sorcerer elites to bridge the gap. In this case that includes assistance from the Rakshasa of the Demon Wastes. So sort of like Thaliost but replace fey with fiends.

            Sul Khatesh isn’t centered in the Demon Wastes necessarily but it’s about as likely as anything else that the Carrion Tribes have dedicated wizards.

            Also the Demon Wastes are in Thaliost’s previous claim, I’d imagine there were enough notable passionate and driven explorers who TRIED to plunder it for resources, but likely most of them experienced the fate of Desolate (death) or Blood Crescent (limited success), if they weren’t killed by the Ghaash’kala on the way out (remember, it’s the leaving that they want to stop)

          • The Carrion Tribes certainly have magic items that have been given to them by fiendish patrons or that they have scavenged from the Wastes (dating back to the Age of Demons); so they can certainly have powerful magical tools. However, I wouldn’t personally say that they have a scientific tradition of artifice. If I did want to create a Carrion Artificer, I’d focus on them as following a “magical thinking” tradition—that they’re creating their tools by lashing together constructs of bone and sinew and infusing them with fiendish energy, not following the principles of arcane science recognized by Cannith or the Arcane Congress.

        • Personally, I wouldn’t go in that direction. Sul Khatesh will work with wizards, but we’ve also called out that she empowers warlocks, and that’s the path we’ve usually promoted for the Carrion Tribes. The Carrion Tribes have been presented as violent and chaotic, and I’d personally expect most if not all of them to be illiterate; none of that helps with the idea of them both creating and maintaining a complex scientific tradition. So I think that Carrion spellcasters would be sorcerers or warlocks.

  3. Would such a Mordenkainen d’Phiarlan be the author of Mordenkainens Tome of Foes in eberron? As a study for his transmutation projects perhaps.

    • Could be! One possibility is that this was a project M began before becoming Mordain, and that it was specifically his deep study of the daelkyr that drew him into his current work. Another option would be to present it as almost a biological study: he seeks to fully understand existing creatures to inform his work creating new life.

  4. What was stopping people from returning to Sarlona once they heard of the Inspired restoring peace to the continent, and then bringing psionics back to Khorvaire to supplement arcane magic?

    • Some probably did return (though it would be their descendants), but I guess few would be able to come back to Khorvaire or tell willingly what they saw.

    • When would they have heard of the Riedran Unity restoring peace? Riedra started making overtures of trade with Khorvaire during the Last War, and have only JUST allowed foreigners to enter the country, and only if they have proper business to be there. Psionics in 3.5 IS suggested to be part of life on some islands in Lhazaar though, and they have A) the most trade with Riedra possible and B) trade with Tashana across the Lhazaar Sea (pending a Keith’s version article), so you can easily slot psionics into the Principalities

      Many of the people who fled Sarlona during the Sundering were, I’d imagine, the people who the Inspired were focusing the common folk uprisings on killing and overthrowing, sorcerers, clerics and warlocks of the old broken regimes. Why would they want to go back to a place that they haven’t been in centuries (almost millennia for most) and why would the Inspired welcome the descendants of the warlords of Nulakesh, the Sorcerer-Kings of Corvaruga and the fickle fey warlock slavers of Rhiavhaar?

      • When would they have heard of the Riedran Unity restoring peace? Riedra started making overtures of trade with Khorvaire during the Last War, and have only JUST allowed foreigners to enter the country, and only if they have proper business to be there.

        These are the main points, certainly. Let’s look to the first: to the outside world, Riedra didn’t “restore peace.” Riedra was a populist mob tearing down the traditions of the past and appointing “divine leaders.” The PEOPLE were happy with the change, but if your ancestors were Corvaguran sorcerers, this new mob wasn’t saying “Everything’s great! Come on back!” — they were saying “We have finally crushed the fiendish tyrants of the past and we will never allow their ilk to dominate us again! Let us utterly eradicate their traditions!” Beyond that, as Matthew points out, the Riedrans closed their borders and considered the outside world to be a foul, corrupt place; they didn’t WANT any vile fiend-touched foreigners showing up to their lands. Beyond that, consider that the common masses of Riedra aren’t trained in psionic techniques. They don’t have obvious schools where anyone can show up and study the psionic sciences; you’re only trained in such techniques if you’re part of one of the institutions of the state that deems you worthy of such training. Random tourists won’t qualify.

  5. You mention that there was a time when cantrips were virtually unknown but despite cantrips being a recent innovation in wizardry, I presume they were still employed by sorcerers and warlocks in the distant past? Or were cantrips actually a wizardly invention that was later replicated by sorcerers and warlocks, who hadn’t realised such a thing could be done previously?

    • It’s an interesting question. Part of what I like about presenting cantrips—specifically offensive cantrips—as a relatively recent development is because it meshes with the lack of cantrips in 3.5 D&D, presenting the idea of 3.5 as a more primitive vision of Eberron. I like the idea of wandslingers specifically as only entering wide use in the Last War, helping to explain why they haven’t yet supplanted the use of more primitive weapons. With that said, I don’t think there’s a problem with saying sorcerers and warlocks could perform cantrips in the past, because both sorcerers and warlocks were rare and couldn’t be easily duplicated—so it’s only now that we have magewrights and wandslingers casting cantrips that it really has an impact on the civilization overall.

  6. I really like these identities for D&D characters. Can we get more?

    Otto – Not a wizard, but a fairy-tale bard. In some Talentan legends Otto is a trickster (perhaps an alias used by Traveler) who fulfills wishes, makes misers dance until they lose consciousness. The story about the piper and the rats is also told about Otto.

    Melf – Mariel Av’v “Melf” Peralay, flashy, charismatic elven wizard, and one of Tairnadal ancestors. Melf was a skilled swordsman and an accomplished wizard, a handsome leader… which makes him big boots to fill for many Valenar elves. “Melf” was a nickname given to him by his goblin foes which he embraced – and encouraged others to use short names for the ease of use in battle.

    Nystul – Nystul Sharak, a middle-class goblin magewright living in Sharn discovered the simple illusion that was quickly put to work during the War. Despite house Cannith wanting to punish him for basically creating an entire branch of “magic item forgery”, he was ennobled by Boranel and is now comfortably retired.

    Rary – Rarishana was a kalashtar psionicist who instructed many arcanists at the Morgrave university. Today her identity is forgotten, but the general principle of Rary’s Telepathic Bond replicates and actually improves the kalashtar telepathic abilities.

    Drawmij – Not a real person, but a couple of dragonmarked researchers. A codename for a new project ran by house Sivis and Orien – now discarded for being too impractical. Drawmij’s Instant Summons survives as a collection of incomplete scrolls and notes, and instead of a sapphire it requires a large dragonshard.

    In a recent campaign I also featured gnome elementalist engineers Rigby and Digby (and his wife Elanor), just waiting for the first Bigby spell to pay off… sadly it never happened.

    • Evard has to have some relation to the daelkyr (even if it’s just studying them). After all, who else would use tentacles?

        • Huh, I expected Aboleths to be Daelkyr spawn in Eberron like most aberrations. Had to look that up to see they’re actually not.

          Still, it’s explicitly black tentacles. Of those, only Displacer Beasts have black ones. Displacer Beast is a very interesting idea though since it could tie into House Thuranni. Wouldn’t pin “Evard” as an elf name though.

  7. Were the war magics of Karrnath during the war limited to the institutions of the Twelve and Atur Academy, or does the Rekkenmark Academy teach warmages as well as regular soldiers?

    • I think this is actually specifically addressed in the article?

      Rekkenmark (Karrnath). While its focus has always been military strategy and martial excellence, since the collapse of Galifar Rekkenmark has aggressively expanded its mystical studies. While still limited in scope, Rekkenmark has top-notch facilities for evokers and war magic, and reasonable instructors for conjuration and abjuration

      Does that not address the question?

      • Yes! That is strange I went over it a few times by eye before asking that. Selective blindness I guess thanks for pointing that out

  8. Hello Mr Baker! You’ve mentioned before that Mordain fit the role of Mordenkainen for spell development. With this new examination of Arcane arts over the last few articles; where would the infamous wizard fit? Would he still be a spell developer or has he become more infamous for his experiments after his attempted death and exile?

  9. In the last Article, I asked about the Esoteric Order of Aureon and the Guild of Starlight and Shadows. Since you brought up the Guild of Moonlight and Whispers, I will modify my question from the last article for this one.

    Would you, please, list some of the other Wizard/Arcane Orders/Fraternities that make up the Arcane Congress?

  10. One of the biggest contributors to the Renaissance and then the Industrial Revolution was the increasingly better (in terms of fuel efficiency, labor required and max output) methods of refining iron ore into steel. Since Eberron’s science is magically based, how has magic progressed its metalurgy? I know The Delirium Stone mentions full armor wasn’t in use (or at least, was not common) during the War of the Mark, and almost everyone else there is wearing either light armor with a single elite wearing a full suit of chain.

  11. I totally agree with the idea of renaming spells to personalize them and express character. A character with five or six uniquely named spells is almost playable with no other details. An EMT-themed cleric from one of my players renamed Guidance to Don’t_Screw_Up, Bless to Don’t_Miss, and /Sanctuary to Don’t_Touch_my_Patient! For reasons that are as embarrassing to their respective faculties as they are acrimonious, you can tell a Morgrave graduate from an Arcanix graduate (if they both cast Magic Missile) based on whether their name & verbal component for the spell is, ‘Pew-pew!’ or ‘P-chew!’.

  12. In the years before the War of the Mark, were there any aberrant dragonmark wielders who contributed to arcane science? On the one hand, the inconsistency of aberrant marks would not have lent itself to study the way the Marks of Making or Scribing did. On the other hand, I could see where a fewaberrant wielders might have intensely studied magic as part of their efforts to control and master their aberrant powers. Or, one could argue that, yes, there were some aberrant wizards who made significant strides in arcane science but that any of their results were suppressed and erased from history by the Dragonmarked Houses after the War. Any thoughts?

  13. You mention dragon blood sorcerers as people who have control over their magic and and don’t have many strange physical traits. In 5e, all sorceress origins have their own thing like scales, wings, shadows, wild magic, ect. All of those things make it awesome to be a PC, but none make much sense for NPCs who’s magic isn’t like that. Should these characters simply be given no subclass? And what would you do if a player wanted to play a Dragonblood sorcerer?

    • Wild Magic, Storm Sorcery, Divine Soul, and for that matter Clockwork Soul and Aberrant Mind aren’t described as causing obvious physical mutations, and any of those could work for a Dragonblood sorcerer. Draconic Bloodline and Shadow Magic don’t make as much sense for these paths because of those physical mutations. But a Dragonblood sorcerer could easily have the unpredictable effects associated with Wild Magic or the gifts of a Storm sorcerer.

  14. Keith, thank you again for these in depth articles expanding on the lore of Eberron. Great stuff as usual :).

    The article says this:

    “There was a time when cantrips were all but unknown to the people of Khorvaire: when those tinkers who carried the Mark of Making were the only humans capable of casting mending, when the Ghallanda gift of prestidigitation was a truly remarkable gift. Likewise, there was a time when the Spells of the Mark could only be cast by those with the Mark—when knock and arcane lock were the sole provenance of the Mark of Warding.”

    Can you expand a little on how other people/families in the regions reacted to those that became dragonmarked? A Jorasco heir can heal with a touch and cure disease, even without spell slots. Passage humans can Misty Step.

    I know that now, the dragonmarked focus items are really what the marks are about, but at that time their spells were a remarkable gift as you say. So how did this influence the relationship between the dragonmarked and everyone else?

    • I know that now, the dragonmarked focus items are really what the marks are about, but at that time their spells were a remarkable gift as you say. So how did this influence the relationship between the dragonmarked and everyone else?

      This isn’t a question with a short answer; every house has a different history, tied to the culture and region it appeared in. Even looking to Cannith, the Vown and Juran families had very different experiences. With that said, sorcerers and warlocks had both been around for a long time, not to mention clerics. What distinguished the Dragonmarked was that their powers were consistent and hereditary (which ultimately meant there were more of them than there’d ever been of sorcerers); but it’s not like people had never HEARD of someone who could heal with a touch or teleport short distances. Some attributed their gifts to a blessing of the Sovereigns. Some used them to seize power, while others were content to focus on economic influence from the very beginning. Here’s an earlier article on the topic: http://keith-baker.com/ifaq-deneith/

  15. I don’t know if this has been covered previously, so my apologies if so, but on the subject of arcane history: where do you see notable D&D figures like, say, Vecna factoring into Eberron? How would you go about introducing them, or a Vecna-esque figure, if you wanted to include them in a campaign?

    • This is partially addressed in the end of the Arcane History article. In previous articles I’ve suggested that Vecna could be a Qabalrin lich, but another approach would be this:

      If I were to use it, I would probably use it as a TAIRNADAL tradition; after all, the Tairnadal seek to become physical avatars for their disembodied ancestors, and I could easily see the idea that grafting a preserved relic of an ancestor’s body is a way to be pysically closer to them. This would be an interesting approach to things like the Eye of Vecna; it’s not that Vecna was a lich, it’s that Vecna is a patron ancestor, and still sees the world through his eye.

  16. “The average commoner can’t tell the difference between a sorcerer and a warlock. It’s not that a warlock will inherently be distrusted the moment they step into a room; but if they announce their status—”Well, I was talking to Sul Khatesh last night in my dreams, and she taught me this new spell… Neat, huh?”—they may have to deal with fear and prejudice.”

    How much does the average commoner actually know about the Overlords? I was under the impression that even the most knowledgable non-dragons in Eberron understand very little about them, let alone random farmers.

    • How much does the average commoner actually know about the Overlords? I was under the impression that even the most knowledgable non-dragons in Eberron understand very little about them, let alone random farmers.

      The existence of the Overlords is common knowledge. The partial release of Bel Shalor devastated Thrane, and Tira’s sacrifice to restore his bonds is the source of the modern Church of the Silver Flame. Vassals believe the Sovereigns defeated and bound the Overlords in the dawn of time. Meanwhile, the Cults of the Dragon Below have been an ongoing threat since civilization began. So everyone knows that there were ancient fiends and that they still yearn to influence the world, whether through cults or by breaking their bonds. It’s why people DO respect the templars: because they know that fiends and warlocks are very real threats.

      However, the fact that people know those basic facts doesn’t mean that they know DETAILS. Any follower of the Flame can tell you about the Shadow in the Flame, but it would take a Religion check to know that its proper name is Bel Shalor. Most people wouldn’t recognize the name “Sul Khatesh” and they DEFINITELY wouldn’t know that her prakhutu Hektula maintains the library of Ashtakala. But they might have heard of the Keeper of Secrets or the Queen of Shadows and stories of them teaching people to work vile spells, and with an Arcana check they’d know those are both names for Sul Khatesh.

      The point is that people don’t know a lot of facts about the Overlords. They don’t know their true history, their true names, the exact nature of their binding. But they definitely know that they exist and that they are real, concrete threats. They know that there are cults and fiends at large in the world. But WHAT they know are largely stories and folktales; you need skill checks to actually know FACTS.

  17. So one could argue that the emergence of Dragonmarks could have been the Prophecy’s way of encouraging the development of modern scientific magical method, and in turn the modern age of wide magic in Khorvaire could be the catalyst for Sul Khatesh breaking free and destroying the world.

Leave a Reply to OHeyItsRick Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.