Dragonmarks: The First War

A hidden alliance of rakshasa and other fiends, the Lords of Dust have manipulated the world since the dawn of time. The rakshasa wove themselves into the tapestry of human civilization in its earliest days. When the explorer Lhazaar gathered her expedition for Khorvaire, there was a rakshasa advisor at her side. Looking at the power of the Council of Ashtakala, people might wonder why the Lords of Dust haven’t conquered the world. A rakshasa’s first answer to this would be, “Haven’t we?”

“Eternal Evil”, Dragon 337

The aftermath of the Last War has produced many threats. The Swords of Liberty, the Order of the Emerald Claw, and the Lord of Blades are revolutionaries or extremists. The Aurum and the Dragonmarked Houses are driven by greed and ambition, capitalizing on the chaos caused by the Last War. People frightened or unhinged by the horrors of war may embrace dark powers, creating cults of the Dragon Below.

As an adventurer, these may be first threats you’ll encounter. But as you delve deeper and grow in power, you may face older and stronger threats. Now you’re not just fighting the Cults of the Dragon Below, you’re dealing with Dyrrn the Corruptor or one of the other daelkyr who destroyed the Empire of Dhakaan. You began by battling soldiers of the Order of the Emerald Claw, but now you’re dealing with Lady Illmarrow, who has spent two thousand years plotting her revenge. Perhaps you initially fought a street gang being manipulated by their dreams; now you’re dealing with the Dreaming Dark, who spent the last thousand years consolidating their power over Sarlona and are now reaching out for Khorvaire. You may have clashed with a rakshasa or dealt with a dragon; was it operating alone, or did you have a glimpse of a greater plan?

If you pull on that thread, you may come into direct conflict with the greatest powers of Eberron: the Lords of Dust and the dragons of Argonnessen. These forces have been fighting one another since the dawn of time. Humanity may think it’s fought the last war, but the first war has never ended. The dragons (and the couatl) bound the ancient overlords who once dominated Eberron, but the Lords of Dust—the immortal servants of the overlords—endlessly toil to release their dread masters and to return Eberron to an age of primal chaos. The dragons of Argonnessen will stop at nothing to prevent this from happened. Both discovered long ago that little can be accomplished with direct physical conflict; victory depends on using the Draconic Prophecy to shape the future, which requires them to manipulate the younger races. So as the opening paragraph relates, despite their vast power neither fiends nor dragons have any interest in conquering humanity; the nations of Khorvaire are unwitting pawns in a vast and ancient game. The lesser forces you fought in your first adventurers may themselves have been manipulated by one side or the other in the First War, and you may have received assistance from a dragon or fiend—something that was surely helpful at the time, but that drove you down a particular Prophetic path.

To sum up: Most adventurers begin their stories dealing with mortal, modern threats. As they progress they will face older and stronger powers, and they may see the hand of the Chamber and the Lords of Dust. As they come into their full strength, adventurers may finally see the full scope of the First War… and they may have the power and influence to stop being pawns and to become active players in this great game. The First War cannot be won, but powerful adventurers can choose the path for the future, rather than being manipulated by ancient forces.

Friend or Foe?

The Lords of Dust want to collapse the world into a fiendish apocalypse, which is clearly bad for everyone. Argonnessen opposes that, which makes it easy to see the dragons as the heroes—champions opposing demons! But it’s important to understand that the dragons are not friends to humanity. Think of how we humans interact with mice. Most of the time, we ignore them completely. A few of us think they’re cute, and keep a few specific mice as pets. When mice become pests, we exterminate them without a second thought. And when we need something—to test our cosmetics, to study cancer or psychology—we will use them for our experiments, torturing or killing them without remorse. So it is with Argonnessen and humanity. Yes, their battling the Lords of Dust protects us from the demons, but that’s incidental. They aren’t doing it for us, and if they have to wipe out a human nation—or human civilization—to protect Argonnessen, they will. It’s entirely possible that the Chamber caused the Mourning—killing hundreds of thousands of innocent humans—because it served their goals in the First War. The dragons aren’t our saviors; they are still monsters, who can inflict devastating damage in pursuit of their goals. Why don’t they stop the Dreaming Dark, or the Last War, or injustice against warforged? Because they don’t care about any of these things. A SINGLE dragon might take an interest and help lesser creatures—as Vvaraak did when she established the Gatekeepers—but note that Vvaraak was an outcast because of these sympathies. A dragon MAY help you when you are fighting the Lords of Dust, but that’s likely because your actions serve its purposes… and if your usefulness comes to an end, it will abandon you.

Again: any individual dragon—whether a rogue pursuing its own agenda, or an agent of the Chamber manipulating mortals—could become a friend or ally of the adventurers. Dragons are mortal creatures and unique individuals; they’re pursuing interests of their civilization, but they could always choose a new path, or simply develop an attachment to their particular mortal tools. Adventurers are less likely to develop a friendship with one of the Lords of Dust; as immortals, these fiends are literal embodiments of evil and won’t stray from far from their core purpose. But the thing to remember is that as a whole the dragons aren’t fighting to protect humanoids; they’re fighting to protect Argonnessen, and any benefit to humanoids is incidental. To most dragons, humanoids are necessary tools at best, annoying pests at worst. They will sacrifice individuals, cities, or even nations without remorse if it supports their agenda… and as the non-giant civilizations of Xen’drik can attest, collateral damage is a serious risk when Argonnessen unleashes its full power.

The Battleground of Prophecy

The Lords of Dust and the Chamber are battling to drive the direction of the Prophecy. But what does that MEAN? This article goes into more detail about the prisons of the overlords and the role of the Prophecy in binding them. The short form is that the Prophecy is a vast matrix of If-Then statements. The future isn’t set in stone, but anchor events can lock in specific consequences. If the Beggar King kills Queen Aurala in the light of five moons with the Blade of Sorrows, Then the Eldeen Reaches and Aundair will join together as the Kingdom of the Pines. If the Greatpine’s Daughter is slain by the Tyrant Kraken at the Battle of the Bloody Field, then the Wild Heart shall rise again. While the grand scope of the future is always fluid, anchor events lock in particular consequences. If the Beggar King (and is this an elevated urchin… or could it be Prince Oargev?) kills Aurala as described, Eldeen and Aundair will be joined. Exactly how that happens isn’t set, but seemingly random chance will keep pushing in that direction until it happens. Anchors don’t set the ENTIRE future, but they will ensure specific parts of it.

One thing to bear in mind about the First War is that it’s being fought on many fronts. We talk about the Lords of Dust as a singular entity, but it’s an alliance of servants of many overlords, each pursuing their own goals. Looking to the example of the Beggar King, the servants of the Wild Heart have identified a Prophetic thread that leads to their goal—a series of anchoring events, likely spread out over a vast span of time. The Beggar King killing Aurala is just one point on that thread. Let’s say the Beggar King is Prince Oargev. The servants of the Wild Heart had to make sure the Mourning happened, because it was the Mourning that destroyed Cyre and created the Beggar King. Earlier in the thread, they had to ensure the creation of the Blade of Sorrows, which involved manipulating a Dhakaani daashor… so that ten thousand years later the Beggar King could use that blade to kill Aurala, and ultimately, lead to the release of the Wild Heart. Keep that glacial pace in mind. There are at least thirty overlords, and different factions of the Lords of Dust are working to unleash all of them. But each overlord is bound to different Prophetic threads, and most of those cannot be resolved in the near future. The Lords of Dust may be working on a plan to release the Voice in the Darkness, and one of its anchoring events may play out in a campaign, but she still can’t be RELEASED for at least another two centuries; a victory in the present just gets them closer to the goal. So in creating a campaign, it’s up to the DM to decide which overlords COULD be released in this current time; the others can still be background threats, but they won’t be released in this century.

It seems like such a complex web of causality would be easy to disrupt. If the Wild Heart needed the Mourning to occur, why didn’t the Chamber stop it? The first point is that there are thousands of threads of the Prophecy in motion. While the Wild Heart needed the Mourning to occur to aid in its release, the Chamber may have needed the Mourning to occur to lock in five other threads that they want to have happen. The Chamber might also want to create the Beggar King, but THEY want him to marry the Queen of Words, because that’s what will ensure that the Daughter of Khyber remains bound. It’s also entirely possible that the Chamber doesn’t KNOW about the thread concerning the Beggar King and Aurala. The signs that reveal threads are spread across the world and are constantly evolving; a major part of the work of the Chamber is digging for new threads and monitoring changes.

Changes? Yes. A crucial point is that the Prophecy is a living thing. It’s entirely possible that after all the work the Wild Heart did—ensuring the creation of the Blade of Sorrows, making sure the Mourning came to pass—that someone will simply kill the Beggar King in a manner that prevents resurrection. Hurrah! Now he can’t kill Aurala and the Wild Heart will never be released, right? Wrong. What it means is that the Prophecy will weave a new possible path that results in the release of the Wild Heart. The Lords of Dust will search for it and start setting it in motion. This is what the war looks like; the Wild Heart has surely almost been released a dozen times (and may HAVE been released or partially released during the Silver Crusade), but it’s always ultimately been blocked and rebound, kicking the can down another few centuries as new threads are woven.

Keep in mind that the Prophecy requires the actions of specific individuals, though the identity of those individuals may be cryptic: the Beggar King, the Greatpine’s Daughter, the Tyrant Kraken. It would be easy for the Cult of the Wild Heart to kill Queen Aurala. They have an army of demons. But just killing Aurala won’t serve any purpose. They need the Beggar King to do it—at a specific time and with a specific weapon. They likely needed a specific daashor to forge the Blade of Sorrows. For all their vast might, both dragons and demons are dependent on the individuals through which the Prophecy flows.

The First War and You

So, Why does this matter? What is the narrative purpose of the First War, and why did we make it part of the setting? First of all, it establishes the most powerful beings in the setting, factions that should be terrifying even to the mightiest player character. But having done that, it also provides a concrete reason why these forces don’t dominate the world, making all lesser beings and conflicts irrelevant. It’s that basic question — Why don’t the Lords of Dust conquer the world?—to which the answer is that won’t get them what they want. They COULD conquer Breland easily enough, but they don’t want to rule a kingdom of mortal mice; they want to revel in the immortal glory of the overlords, and that means following the thread. So, it establishes that there ARE powerful beings that can challenge any adventurer, but it clearly gives them something to do and a reason to keep a low profile. It also gives them a clear reason to work through mortal agents, meaning that they can be patrons for the heroes and villains alike—pushing the stories you want to have happen from the shadows. They can be mysterious benefactors and shadowy masterminds, working at any level of a story. A rakshasa patron could be assisting a bandit chief in eastern Aundair, someone who seems entirely unimportant, and who IS entirely unimportant in the big picture—except, that his rise to power and subsequent defeat at the hands of the adventurers is part of a Prophetic thread. So, the adventurers defeat the bandit chief; they get a cool magic sword, which seems way TOO cool for this thug to have; and they learn from defeated bandits that the chief received the sword from a mysterious sage, who also gave him guidance. That sage is nowhere to be seen. But perhaps, as the adventurers continue the journey, that sage will turn up again, helping another group of their enemies. Are the adventurers interfering with the plans of the Lords of Dust? Or are the adventurers themselves part of the plan—are their victories actually part of the thread that the rakshasa needs to release its overlord? You could have a campaign that is ostensibly about fighting the Emerald Claw and Lady Illmarrow, and only discover after she has been defeated that the “final fall of the Queen of the Dead” was a crucial key to the release of Katashka the Gatekeeper, and that the Lords of Dust have been helping them in minor ways all along.

As a DM, consider the following ways you could use the Draconic Prophecy and the First War in a campaign.

Who Needs Prophecy? You don’t have to use the Lords of Dust, the dragons of Argonnessen, or the Draconic Prophecy in your campaign at all. All canon is just a starting point for your stories; if you want, you can drop these elements from YOUR Eberron entirely. Even without changing any canon material, you can simply decide that nothing significant will happen with these forces over the next year, decade, or even century. Just as you can choose to run a campaign in which you completely ignore the Dreaming Dark and Sarlona, you can easily ignore the Chamber and Argonnessen. This doesn’t stop you from using dragons or native fiends in a story; it’s simply that they are rogues or loners and not involved in world-shaping schemes.

Weaving Threads. The Lords of Dust and the Chamber are both advancing threads, but there is no threat of an overlord being released, and they aren’t setting anything major in motion like the Mourning. One of these forces could have a particular interest in a player character (described in more detail). One of them could be supporting a faction that does play a major role in the campaign, but their involvement only goes as far as to ensure a critical triggering event occurs; they want a particular player character to destroy a specific lieutenant of the Lord of Blades in a particular battle, but after that battle occurs, they’ll abandon the Lord of Blades; he’s served his purpose. Essentially, a dragon or rakshasa may serve as a mysterious patron or sinister foe for any adventure or two… but this isn’t building to an epic conflict with an overlord or a showdown with Argonnessen. The First War touches the story of the campaign, but it’s not what the campaign is ABOUT, and the adventurers don’t need to ever know the true scope of the war.

Operation: Overlord. An entire campaign could be build around a single overlord; WotC’s Tyranny of Dragons campaign is an example of this form, with a plotline that slowly drives towards a final conflict with an archfiend. This can begin with clashes with lesser cultists or forces that don’t even know they’re serving the Lords of Dust. The adventurers might battle the Aurum in one adventure and the Emerald Claw in the next, slowly picking up the clues that reveal the true danger—Why are they all collecting pieces of a shattered Khyber shard? Who’s this mysterious sage who’s advising all of these groups? By the middle of the campaign they’re fighting more powerful foces—fiends, possessed mortals, perhaps even corrupted dragons. By the time they understand the nature of the threat (perhaps with the assistance of a Chamber advisor or a couatl) the overlord may already have been partially released, just as Bel Shalor was partially released for a year in Thrane. The overlord won’t be able to channel its full power or to leave the region of its prison, but it can manifest an avatar (which is the role of the stat blocks for Rak Tulkhesh and Sul Khatesh in Rising From The Last War), it can unleash more of its fiendish servants into the world, and it can exert its influence over a wide area. This may seem like an obvious time to rally an army, but the critical point is that numbers may not matter. If you raise an army and send it against the avatar of Rak Tulkhesh, the Rage of War will cause the soldiers to turn on one another; all you’ll accomplish is to send your allies into slaughter. Even the Chamber can’t destroy an overlord, and the only way to restore its bonds is to do so in a manner laid out in the Prophecy. The adventurers must build their strength and learn the key to victory—and then assemble the pieces they need for success. Consider Tiran Miron and the Shadow in the Flame. When Tira heard the call of the Flame urging her to fight Bel Shalor, the archfiend was already partially released; along the way she had to protect innocents from both fiends roaming Thrane and mortals corrupted by the overlord. And in the end, she had to defeat Bel Shalor in a very specific manner and with a great sacrifice. The adventurers can’t just charge into the final battle, because it’s not just about whether they can defeat the overlord’s avatar, it’s whether they can defeat it in the way that will actually restore its binding.

Players in the Great Game. The previous example focuses on a single overlord, leading to an ultimate battle with a semi-released archfiend. Another campaign could focus on a wider interaction with the First War, where the adventurers find themselves dealing with lesser schemes of multiple factions of the Lords of Dust. These aren’t schemes that could directly release a warlord, they’re anchoring events or plots that gather resources or information for the fiends. So the adventurers defeat a bandit chief—how’d he get that cool magic sword? They clash with an Aurum warlock—why has Sul Khatesh given him this power? The truth is that the adventurers are being used as tools by the Chamber. They could know this from the start (while dragons aren’t immortal, this is essentially the Immortal Being group patron), or they could come to realize that the helpful ally who keeps setting them on the right path is a Chamber dragon. At first this might seem great. They’re fighting fiends who are doing evil things! How can this be bad? But then they might learn that the Chamber has done terrible things in pursuit of its goals—for example, that the Chamber (in this version of Eberron) caused the Mourning. They realize that the Chamber is using them, that neither side in the First War cares about human lives. What will they do? What can they do? On the one hand you have an army of immortal fiends; on the other, you have a continent of dragons. It doesn’t matter how powerful the adventurers become, they can’t defeat these threats by rolling initiative and killing them one at a time. So what can they do? If they have Prophetic significance, they may be able to use that as leverage; the dragons need them to fulfill a particular anchor event, but they want the Conclave to make promises before they’ll play the game. If you want a truly apocalyptic solution, perhaps the adventurers can find a way to destroy the Prophecy, or at least cause it to become unreadable; this is something that would likely involve an unlikely alliance with daelkyr or Xoriat. This would be a pretty extreme step, but even having it as a threat would be way to give the adventurers real leverage over both sides.

The key is that a campaign could focus on a single thread of the Prophecy—a specific faction within the Lords of Dust, a particular overlord—or it could focus on the Prophecy as a whole, with the adventurers dealing with servants of different overlords and ultimately engaging with the broad scope of the First War itself.

Characters Bound to the Prophecy

The preceding section considers ways the Prophecy could affect a campaign. Another question is whether any of the player characters have a specific role to play in one or more threads of the Prophecy. Looking to the example given above, one of the player characters could be destined to become the Beggar King or the Tyrant Kraken; factions within the Chamber or the Lords of Dust could have a vested interest in the character’s future. The Prophetic Role table provides a few ideas…

So, a few examples to consider…

  • You must create a child with your mortal enemy.
  • You must destroy the Orb of Dol Azur while Fernia, Shavarath, and Mabar are coterminous.
  • You must restore Cyre while wearing the Crown of Galifar.
  • You must take control of House Lyrandar by betraying someone you love.
  • You must found a new religion at the cost of your own life.

A key point with a Prophetic Role is what’s the consequence? The Prophecy is a series of If/Then statements. It’s not that you MUST have a child with your mortal enemy, it’s that IF you have a child with your mortal enemy, THEN that child will reunite Galifar… or IF you take control of House Lyrandar by betraying someone you love, Eldrantulku will be released from its bonds. So a Prophetic Role could be something you WANT to happen, or it could be something you really DON’T want to happen, because even if it’s good in the short term it will have disastrous long-term consequences. But the servants of Eldrantulku WANT you to take control of House Lyrandar through an act of betrayal, and they will do their best to direct you down that path.

A Prophetic Role is something that must be approved by the DM, as it will play into the unfolding story of a campaign. Personally, I wouldn’t make a character a lynchpin of the Prophecy without at least discussing the idea with the player first (even if they won’t know the DETAILS of the Prophecy they’re tied to). I’d also be open to a player presenting me with a thread they’d like to have tied to their character… that they want their artificer to be destined to create a significant artifact in a distant land. Again, this doesn’t mean that this WILL happen, it means that if it does there will be a significant consequence for the future—and that there are powerful forces that want it to happen to that want to be sure it DOESN’T happen.

Dragonmarks and the Prophecy. Dragonmarked characters inherently have Prophetic significance, but that doesn’t mean they automatically have an important role to play. There are many ways to interpret the shifting threads of the Prophecy; just as some people read the future in tea leaves or the movements of birds, there are scholars who can gain information from gatherings or actions of dragonmarked characters. Essentially, think of dragonmarked characters as tarot cards; the individual card isn’t important, but it has symbolic meaning and one who understands the mysteries can gain information by interacting with it. It’s also the case that all of the previous examples have been extremely specific events with massive impacts on the future. But there’s also thousands of minor threads that are constantly in motion. IF someone with the Mark of Storms burns their tongue on hot tal at midday, THEN a conductor stone on the eastern rail will fail in the evening. These are micro-anchors with minor, short term effects, and in that example anyone with the Mark of Storms will do. So, dragonmarked characters have an innate minor tie to the Prophecy, but that’s not as significant as being the Beggar King. Though dragonmarked characters can ALSO have major roles to play in addition to their lesser significance; as noted above, the Tyrant Kraken is likely a Lyrandar heir who seizes control of the house by betraying a loved one!

In Conclusion…

Rising From The Last War provides a host of ideas and story hooks for using both the Lords of Dust and the Chamber, and this builds on that. The First War is a source of threats that can challenge epic characters, but there’s a reason those forces don’t dominate the world. Fiends or dragons (or their humanoid agents) can serve as patrons for either the adventurers or their enemies. It can be a reason for the characters to receive unexpected aid: A kindly stranger has a skill or spell they need; a local merchant has exactly the scroll in stock that will help them out; a watch patrol shows up at just the right moment, and they’re actually good at their job. However, when character receive such aid, there’s always the question of whether it’s a good thing. If one of the Lords of Dust is helping you, it probably means your actions will help them in the future!

Q&A

This article began with a few questions from my Patreon supporters, and grew into something larger. But I do want to address those questions…

What would be the biggest difficulties in exposing the Lords of Dust, the Chamber, and/or the Dreaming Dark to the nations of Khorvaire?

A major question here is whether you are exposing a specific plan versus whether you are trying to expose the vast scope of these conspiracies. Exposing a specific plan—An unnatural force is controlling the House Kundarak enclave in Sharn!—is going to be far easier than convincing people the Lords of Dust have been manipulating all of us for thousands of years and we must all rally together to hunt them down once and for all! In the case of that corrupted enclave, you don’t HAVE to convince people of the vast conspiracy and ultimately, it doesn’t matter who’s behind it; you are simply convincing people that there is a concrete threat that we can and should eliminate. That’s quite different from we need to rally together to stop a fiendish conspiracy that caused the Last War by manipulating our dreams.

A second aspect to this is how difficult do you WANT it to be? If you and your players WANT to explore a story where they expose the Lords of Dust once and for all, then for Aureon’s sake, tell that story! It’s YOUR campaign. YOU decide just how many agents the Chamber has hidden in Khorvaire and who can be trusted. But just to look at the things that COULD make it difficult to expose these forces…

Limited Knowledge. When you’re looking to the grand scheme of things, one question is how much you REALLY KNOW about these threats. Do you actually know what the Chamber is trying to accomplish? Do you know how many Chamber agents are operating in Khorvaire? Do you have absolute, unimpeachable evidence? Again, this is where it’s easier to convince people “Someone is manipulating the Boromar Clan in Sharn” as opposed to “Someone has manipulated human civilization since Lhazaar came to Khorvaire.”

Who Can You Trust? The Lords of Dust and the Chamber have been planting agents across the Five Nations since civilization began. In addition to hidden rakshasa and shapechanged dragons, there are families who have served these masters for countless generations, and others who have sold their loyalty without even knowing who they’re working for. These hidden agents could be watch captains, chronicle reporters, royal advisors. Do we know with certainty that Queen Aurala herself isn’t a quori mind seed? Often the sole job of these agents is to observe, collecting information and watching for people who try to reveal inconvenient truths… and either to discredit or eliminate them. So part of the difficulty of exposing these plans is whether you can truly trust anyone—or whether the moment you start spreading these rumors, agents of the Citadel will target you as a “threat to national security”, while a royal advisor presents Boranel with trumped up proof of your instability and unreliability. Tied to this…

Crying Wolf. These powers have had agents within society for ages. Which means they’ve had centuries to spread false rumors and get people to believe that these ideas are ridiculous. It’s not that people have never heard of the Lords of Dust, it’s that they’ve heard SO MANY ridiculous stories (King Jarot was possessed by a demon! The entire Wynarn family ARE demons!) that no one is going to take YOUR story seriously. It would be like trying to convince people on our world that world leaders really ARE reptoid aliens in disguise. While people know that dragons and demons exist, they’re sure all those stories of “vast demonic conspiracies” are rubbish. Besides which, if something like that exists, surely the Church of the Silver Flame will deal with it! Again, this is why it will be easier to convince a LOCAL leader of a LOCAL threat, using concrete proof, than to convince a NATION that there’s a GLOBAL threat (where again, you’ll immediately get loyalist pundits and chroniclers muddying the waters and presenting countering evidence). A secondary aspect of this is why anyone should trust you. Are you just a group of vagabonds and murder hobos? Or do you have an established reputation, with nobles or barons in your debt who will trust your word even when your story is ridiculous?

What Will It Achieve? One of the core themes of Eberron is that player characters are remarkable and that they can achieve things normal people can’t. For sake of argument, imagine that the adventurers discover that the dragons of Argonnessen are going to destroy Khorvaire in a week. Rallying all the nations won’t be too much help, because this isn’t a problem that can be solved by a human army. All the armies of the Five Nations combined would be slaughtered within minutes if they faced the full force of Argonnessen. King Boranel has no particular weight when negotiating the dragons; they don’t care about his crown or his nation. This doesn’t mean that humanity is doomed; it means that the adventurers will have to do something seemingly impossible. They’ll have to sneak into Argonnessen and find a way to make the Conclave listen to them. How? Maybe they can somehow channel the spirit of Ourelonastrix. Maybe they can threaten to release the Daughter of Khyber if the dragons don’t back down. Perhaps they can can find proof that the Conclave has misinterpreted the Draconic Prophecy. The point is that all the horses and all the king’s men may be useless in this struggle, while six bold adventurers may be able to do the impossible.

You COULD Expose Them… But SHOULD You? Another possibility is that you discover a plot, you have all the proof you need to expose it… and you discover a compelling reason why you SHOULDN’T. Imagine you discover that the Chamber is planning to trigger a second Mourning that will destroy Valenar. You’ve obtained all the information you need to expose this to the world, to prove with absolute clarity that Argonnessen is behind it. And THEN you discover that this second Mourning is the only thing that will prevent the release of Rak Tulkhesh who will collapse ALL the nations of Khorvaire into a brutal conflict that will make the Last War look like a play date. Further, you discover that it was Mordakhesh the Shadowsword who helped you obtain your evidence and he clearly WANTS you to expose the plot. So, do you? If you do nothing, you’re allowing a hundred thousand people to die when you could stop it. If you expose it, you may be dooming millions when Rak Tulkhesh rises. Do you take that chance, confident you can find another way to stop the Rage of War? Or do you allow Valenar to be destroyed? One of the central themes of Eberron is stories don’t always end well, and while this should be the norm, I love to present my adventurers with situations where there IS no good answer, where it’s a question of deciding what is the lesser of two evils. The second aspect of You could, but should you? is whether your actions will make you or your loved ones—or even your entire nation—a target for retribution. Generally these powers are so far above you that they don’t feel a need to take vengeance; yes, you stopped the second Mourning they had planned, but you’re human and in fifty years you’ll be dead, and that’s the blink of an eye to a dragon. But again, using the mouse analogy, when humanoids become pests they’ll be wiped out… and as Xen’drik shows, they have no concerns with inflicting massive collateral damage. Again, MOST of the time even what appears to be a serious setback doesn’t require retribution; the Lords of Dust and Argonnessen have been feuding for A HUNDRED THOUSAND YEARS, and if they have to kick the can down the road for another three centuries so be it. But if the adventurers KNOW that, say, revealing the cause of the Mourning might cause Argonnessen to kill everyone who has that knowledge—including Breland itself, just to make sure—are they going to take that chance?

Ultimately, this is the same principle you see in stories like Men in Black—why don’t they just tell the world about aliens? Often, the answer is because it would cause panic and wouldn’t actually accomplish anything useful. The player characters can solve problems that entire nations can’t. HOWEVER, again, ultimately it’s up to you how difficult it should be. If you WANT the final challenge to require the adventurers to unite the Five Nations, perhaps they can find a way to expose the servants of the Lords of Dust, or even present such a compelling case that these agents will change sides. Perhaps they can bring the Twelve and the Church of the Silver Flame together to create a device that can reveal rakshasa across Khorvaire. It’s not supposed to be easy, but this is always about the story YOU want to tell. 

If these forces are so powerful, why don’t they immediately kill player characters that get in the way of their plans?

There’s two basic answers here. The first is why don’t you kill the mouse that chewed through your power cord? An aspect of the Lords of Dust and the Chamber being so far above humanity is that they don’t really pay too much attention to specific mortals. If an Anchor event fails, what matters is finding the new thread that will take its place; why bother killing the humans responsible, when they’ll all have died of old age by the time the next thread comes together?

That’s fine as a general principle. But perhaps the adventurers have an ongoing, antagonistic relationship with a particular rakshasa. They’ve foiled its plans time after time. Surely THIS fiend will want revenge. One option plays on the fact that immortals have all the time in the world. Death is easy; this enemy wants to make the player characters suffer. It wants to wait until they have children, so it can kill their children or make them serve its overlords. It wants to wait until they have risen to great heights so it can make it all come tumbling down. It doesn’t want death, it wants pain, and it has ALL OF TIME to take it (and to be clear, when it DOES come for revenge, I certainly hope the adventurers will find a way to foil those plans!). A second approach is to say Good question… why ISN’T it taking revenge? The obvious answer is that it can’t kill or punish them because it needs them. If the player characters have a Prophetic role that serves the ends of one of the Lords of Dust, that fiend may have forbidden others from breaking its toys.

It seems like the Chamber and the Lords of Dust fill the same role that gods play in other settings. I thought one of the central ideas of Eberron was not to have incarnate gods?

There’s certainly some truth to this. Mechanically, the overlords in 3.5 actually used Divine Rank and possessed the power of gods. However, philosophically there are a number of important differences between these forces and gods as they appear in other settings. Gods typically depend upon and demand mortal worship, and reward those who give them devotion. The Lords of Dust and the Chamber are so secret that most people don’t even know they exist; they aren’t demanding human worship. The clerics and paladins of Eberron don’t get their magic from dragons or fiends; their power comes from faith, belief in something far great than a great wyrm. A second aspect is that gods often servant as ultimate embodiments of good and evil, while as noted about, Argonnessen isn’t GOOD; it just happens to not want a demon apocalypse, and we can all agree on that, but that doesn’t mean it won’t destroy your entire kingdom to achieve that. Generally you don’t WANT dragons to get involved in your story, because they’re NOT benevolent celestials; they are ruthless, powerful, and interested solely in what serves Argonnessen.

Rather than looking at Argonnessen as fantasy gods, I would go the other direction and consider them as a powerful alien race in a science fiction series—consider the Shadows and the Vorlons in Babylon Five. They possess science far beyond that of humanity and can accomplish things that appear to be miracles. They can raze a continent if they choose. But instead they largely remain in isolation, with their agents moving among the primitive people and carrying out secret agendas, while humanity may not even know they exist.

But why does the setting NEED to have beings of such power in the first place? Why not just leave them out?

One of the founding principles of Eberron is “There’s a place for everything.” That includes dragons. But we also like exploring the logical consequences of mechanics. The dragons of 3.5 possess great intelligence as well as power. A default gold great wyrm has a 32 Intelligence and the spellcasting ability of a 19th level sorcerer, giving it the potential to cast wish. A basic question was if creatures of such intellect and power existed—and had existed for tens of thousands of years—why would the be randomly sitting in caves waiting for adventurers to wander by? If we’re saying that human spellcasters have used their magic to build civilization, and all dragons eventually become near-epic spellcasters, shouldn’t they have the most powerful civilization in the world? Essentially, rather than follow the standard trope of a-dragon-is-a-monster-in-a-cave, we decided that dragons were masterminds and hidden manipulators, the ultimate illuminati. We gave them a place in the world, but that place is hidden in the shadows. Likewise, the mechanics for Divine Rank exist. It can be a fun challenge for epic adventurers to face a creature with Divine Rank… and in Eberron you can, by fighting the avatar of Rak Tulkhesh. It creates a PLACE for these epic threats, but keeps them from overshadowing the action from the very beginning. Argonnessen is a spot on the map where no-one returns from, a place labeled here there be dragons. The Demon Wastes is known as a place of ancient evil, but the people of the Five Nations are generally more worried about the monsters of Droaam than the Council of Ashtakala. And again, this is why you could choose to remove these forces entirely if you don’t want them in your campaign… or just say that they’re going to be dormant this century. They are so secretive that no one will NOTICE if they’re absent. So they exist for those DMs who want to pit their adventurers against great wyrms and archfiends, but they are so deep in the shadows that adventurers could go their entire lives without seeing them.

The Prophecy and the First War are both hooks you can use to shape and direct a campaign arc, with adventurers coming to realize that their early adventurers were all part of a grand cosmic plot. But you CAN choose to have your entire campaign stay grounded in the now, focusing on the Lord of Blades, the Twelve, House Tarkanan, the struggle the reunite Galifar. Ultimately it’s a question of the story you want to tell.

How could this conflict come to an end?

Under canon, there’s only one way it could actually end: if the Lords of Dust unleash the overlords, destroying all current civilizations and collapsing Eberron into fiendish chaos. The basic principle is that the overlords cannot be destroyed, and that as a result, no one—not the Chamber, the Church of the Silver Flame, even the player characters—can permanently eliminate the threat that they pose. Tira Miron can certainly be considered one of the “player characters” of her age, but she couldn’t DESTROY Bel Shalor; however, she rebound the archfiend and created a force that would fight on for the light even after she was gone. “Victory” against the overlords doesn’t mean that the conflict is OVER; it means that you have bought peace for a time, whether that’s years or centuries. But ultimately this is tied to the idea that Eberron will ALWAYS need heroes, that evil cannot be entirely and conclusively defeated; there will always been a need for the next generation to remain vigilant, to choose light over darkness.

You can of course change this if you want to. You could say that in YOUR Eberron the overlords can be destroyed. But in both canon and kanon, it’s a core part of the idea that the threat of the overlords will always require vigilance and courage, that there will always be a need for new champions to be ready to fight to preserve the light.

Thanks again to my Patreon supporters, who make it possible for me to write these articles. And if you haven’t seen them already, check out Exploring Eberron and Magic Sword: An Eberron Adventure Seed on the DM’s Guild!

66 thoughts on “Dragonmarks: The First War

  1. The struggles of the Dhakaani and the Gatekeepers against the Dealkyr invasion are known, but how did the previous empires and civilizations deal with agents of the First War? Jhazaal’s horn is listed as being made from a red dragon, for instance. Were there any agents of the Overlords in play during any crucial times of the Empire?

    • You said it yourself; the key is that the struggle against the daelkyr is KNOWN. The whole point of the First War is that its actions are often entirely invisible, or impossible to see for what they are. Most likely the Silver Crusade was tied to the Wild Heart, but people don’t KNOW that. Beyond that, we know almost nothing about significant events during the Age of Monsters. It’s highly likely that there were times when the influence of overlords grew, possibly even times when they were partially or entirely released, only to be bound once again (perhaps by Ghaash’kala champions, or perhaps by Dar heroes guided by the Chamber). The war has never stopped, but most mortals never realize it’s happening.

      Another point to consider is whether the dragons’ destruction of Xen’drik was purely tied to the actions of the Cul’sir, or if the other civilizations had fallen too deeply under the sway of the local Lords of Dust—or if they were close to an acheivement that would unleash multiple overlords at once. It’s entirely possible that the full extent of the devastation was because the Conclave determined it was best to wipe the slate entirely clean — even though this meant destroying their own schemes and agents—rather than allow the Lords of Dust to continue their activities. On the other hand, if that’s the case it’s also possible that it backfired and that they regret the impact of that destruction, which would explain why they haven’t unleashed such power since then.

  2. The idea of an Overlord being partially released has been brought up a few times, both on the site and in books. How does that work? Are there multiple verses of the Prophecy that need to be fulfilled, and if only a few are carried out, the Overlord is only partially released? Is this a “If you bash on X seal/shard/other thing connected to their prison long enough even without doing Prophecy things, they get a little bit out” kind of situation? Something else entirely? Or is this one of those things deliberately left vague so that you can use whatever reason you want for the partial release of an Overlord in your campaign?

    • There’s no absolute rules. It’s a way to for the DM to set a range of stakes: will the overlord be released by a single action, or can it manifest an avatar and have power in a limited area, while still being trapped in a particular region? This could be tied to two anchoring events: the first partially releasing it, the second completing the job. It could be a matter of time; you have one week to restore the bonds before the Unmaker regains its full might. Or it could be that the a secondary event is sufficient to generate a partial release—that killing Rhashaak would allow Masvirik to manifest, even if it couldn’t escape fully. I feel a little silly saying “What’s the story you want to tell?” again, but that is basically the point. The core principle is that the Prophecy is the key to the release of the overlords, but the exact details are flexible.

  3. Thank you for the comprehensive answer. It is more than I could have ever expected.

    I notice that your suggestion for GMs who are dissatisfied with the way certain major conspiracies are presented (e.g. the Lords of Dust, the Chamber, the Dreaming Dark) is for those GMs to simply relegate those factions to the background, or remove them from the setting entirely. But what of GMs who are interested in the overall themes and ideas of a given faction, simply not at the raw power level presented in the published setting? Surely, it would be possible to present versions of these factions pared down such that it is quite feasible for the PCs to topple them altogether?

    For example, in one of your old articles in the Bossy the Cow website, you discourage turning the Age, but present a scenario wherein it is possible for PCs to personally instigate the turning of the Age. That defeats the quori altogether. I do not see why it would not be feasible for some analogous scenario to apply to the Lords of Dust, or even the dragons of Argonnessen.

    In particular, in your “What Will It Achieve?” section, I think it is overlooking the possibility that the epic feat that the PCs achieve is unifying disparate and warring mortal factions against a seemingly impossible-to-defeat threat. In other settings and stories, to defeat a completely otherworldly and hyper-advanced menace, the heroes solve relatively smaller problems for various factions and then unite everyone together into a force that actually can stand against the eldritch and the ancient. I think it limits potential storylines to go, “Nope, all of those mortal allies are worthless. It really is all up to the PCs.”

    • I’d say if you wanted to use the Lords of Dust or the Dragons, but weaker, you should use the OTHER factions then. Because that’s one of their core elements, is their absolute ancient power compared to the younger factions (yes, even the Daelkyr were likely just forming something resembling their society when the First War was happening). The Quori, in comparison, are much weaker and have a built in defeat condition. It is not comparable in the least.

      If you want a story where a bunch of disparate factions unite together, that’s fine. Do that! Please, for the love of gaming itself, tell the story you want to tell as a DM, NO ONE (not even the part of the article you’re talking about) is saying that you can’t. Even if it WAS, you still can. But the overlord in question, the one that turns soldiers against each other, is going to be REALLY dissatisfying if his signature ability doesn’t work because a bunch of red shirts discovered the power of friendship.

      The end of the Savage Tide (by Paizo and adapted for Eberron by Mr. Baker, SPOILERS in this paragraph) sees about five disparate factions fighting the demon prince Demogorgon. The eladrin, half of Demogorgon’s own army, the army of one of his rivals, and the adherents of a powerful witch along with invading forces from Baator, serve as armies against the demon prince, bolstered by two of his allies and the reluctance of his third rival. Even then, the PCs are expected to be fixers, running into the battle to solve key problems and finally confront the demon prince in his place of power. If the PCs waver or start dying, or were damaged too much up to that point, the DM is encouraged to send in an npc ally to help them through the final fight, but the role of the PCs as the big movers in the battle is important. The battle can be played exactly like that in Eberron. Mind, I replaced the Eladrin with the Undying Court and Orcus with Katashka (meaning the party helps an overlord to stop an upstart demon prince), but the kind of big bombastic faction alliance can be done (and likely was in the history of Eberron, in the Sundering, among mortal rival nations). You just need to understand and accept that faceless nameless npcs shouldn’t be doing the PCs job for them.

      The downfall of the quori occurs because an entire plane experiences the big crunch (note that the quori may not in fact come out any more benevolent). In comparison “ending the threat of the Lords of Dust” is an almost scopeless concept. Imagine, in normal settings, marching down to do a boss rush on the Nine (ten) lords of Baator. Bel/Zariel, Dis, Mammon, Fierna and Belial, Glasya, Levistus, Mephistopheles and Asmodeus all in succession, each with their alliances against each other and with each other, culminating in taking out a guy that BLEEDS pit fiends. Now consider that in comparison, the Nine are actually weaker than the Overlords, and that there are more than ten of them. Like three times more, with nine times the complexity (math!) of alliances and rivalries. And that’s with them being ultimately non-divine, limited and bounded creatures, immortality aside.

      • I personally do not buy the idea of “I’d say if you wanted to use the Lords of Dust or the Dragons, but weaker, you should use the OTHER factions then.” There are many things I like about the Lords of Dust and the dragons of Argonnessen as factions, but, for the purpose of the way I prefer to run my own personal interpretation of Eberron, I am uncomfortable with their as-published power level as factions.

        You bring up “normal settings” and the various archfiends and similar entities there, but I gravitate towards Eberron precisely because it is supposed to be different from a “normal setting.”

      • But the overlord in question, the one that turns soldiers against each other, is going to be REALLY dissatisfying if his signature ability doesn’t work because a bunch of red shirts discovered the power of friendship.

        It’s not the path I’d personally take, but I think it’s somewhat interesting to say that defeating Rak Tulkhesh could require creating peace; in some ways it’s more interesting that hitting a big monster with a bunch of fireballs and swords! The point to me is that this shouldn’t be easy or quick. But I’m fine with the concept that diplomacy could be a crucial part of weakening Tulkhesh so it could be rebound, but if I were to go this route, I’d definitely add a lot of complications. Great, you’ve convinced the armies of the Five Nations to join together and lay down their arms. So… what do they do when the Carrion Tribes start sweeping through Aundair and slaughtering people? It will take time to bind the overlord; how do you defend your people without embracing the Rage of War?

        And, of course, for me a defining part of the overlords is that any victory is temporary. You couldn’t DESTROY Rak Tulkhesh with this army of peace; but perhaps you could weaken it long enough for it to be rebound.

        • What if the story I want to tell is the permanent defeat of an overlord, if not the permanent defeat of all overlords? I have my own ideas for this, but if you had to do it, how would you handle such a preposterous idea?

          • Personally, I wouldn’t. For me, part of the idea is that the overlords aren’t CREATURES, they’re IDEAS. We can’t eliminate the overlords any more than we can utterly eliminate evil; even if you could wipe evil from every single mortal heart today, completely eliminate hatred and fear and greed, all it takes is one person to choose an evil path tomorrow and it’s back. It’s not a battle you can simply win and forget, evil is gone forever! It’s a constant struggle to choose light over darkness.

            But that’s ME. If I HAD to do it, I’d take one of two paths. The first would be to involve the heart realms, somehow destroying or unraveling the heart realm. The concept is that the overlord returns to the heart realm to be reborn; if you can destroy the heart realm, perhaps it will be eliminated. However, how you destroyed a heart realm—which is a supernatural, metaphysical construct—is an open question. The second thought would be to transform the overlord. As an immortal, it can’t be destroyed, but perhaps you could find a way to CHANGE it into something else. We know that it’s POSSIBLE for fiends to rise and celestials to fall; perhaps there is a way to turn an archfiend into a celestial. So it’s not destroyed, but it’s also no longer the evil force that it was.

          • Thank you for your ideas.

            I am still unsure of how the heart demiplanes actually function; Exploring Eberron explains them only in very vague terms. Do they effectively make the overlords function in a similar way to the Yozis of Exalted?

          • I’m not familiar enough with Exalted to say. Essentially, you can think of the demiplane as the “body” of the overlord, and the manifestation that appears in the world as its “soul”. What the Silver Flame has done is to bind the soul, which keeps the overlord in torpor and prevents it from acting in the world, but the body/demiplane still exists.

            Again, demiplanes are part of the metaphysical architecture of reality, and it’s a valid question if somehow destroying them could have serious ramifications on the world; note that the dragons DIDN’T try this. But it’s possible that the dragons didn’t understand the role of the heart planes, or couldn’t enter them, or that the adventurers have some unique element that allows them to do something the dragons couldn’t.

    • Sure! Again, the core statement I’m trying to make is tell the story you want to tell. I’ve said that an army would be useless against Rak Tulkhesh. But perhaps it’s not about fighting; perhaps the act of UNITING people is what defeats the Rage of War. Likewise, it’s what I suggested with “Perhaps they can bring the Twelve and the Church of the Silver Flame together to create a device that can reveal rakshasa across Khorvaire. It’s not supposed to be easy, but this is always about the story YOU want to tell.”

      So: you could remove these factions altogether. You could weaken them so it’s more plausible for them to be defeated by an alliance forged by the adventurers. You could leave them exactly as they are but say that the actions of the adventurers have ruined their schemes for the next thousand years. Or you could introduce something that dramatically alters the paradigm, like something that hides the Prophecy from them. Personally and in canon, the point is that these are the most powerful threats—that they are forces that cannot be defeated, only forestalled. But no one says you have to run you game the way I do.

      • To my own mind, defeating an Overlord for good is the kind of goal that would fit scaling Eberron’s Material Plane up from the current canonical pocket universe. The reason an Overlord has never been defeated before could just be that there haven’t been thirteen spacefaring adventuring parties trying to accomplish it, twelve of whom have succeeded in their various goals on twelve out of thirteen planets each, in order to set off the necessary chain reaction to alter reality itself on such a fundamental level.

  4. Crazy question first: So it’s noted that Lhazaar had a rakshasa as an advisor and I’ve seen previously that this is assumed to be a disguised one, perhaps with a polymorphed dragon onboard also playing a game of conqueror with the fiend. But is this “Lhazaar was advised by a rakshasa” tidbit common historical knowledge? If so was the fiend revealed, or was Lhazaar in on the situation? One need only remember Lhazaar’s home kingdom was rife with manifest zones and the idea of striking bargains with fiends isn’t too odd in a pre-Sundering Sarlona. And slightly more seriously, was the expedition of humans to Khorvaire something which might have played into the Prophecy? No humans forever and then suddenly both Bel Shalor and the Wild Heart also get free within 600 years of each other. Major human institutions feed the power of two of the most powerful overlords. And so on.

    Are dragonslaying/dragonhunting items as common in Khorvaire as they are in other settings (which is to say super rare but they’re made for a purpose)? In 3.5 there were a plethora of classes, spells, items and whatnot that targeted dragons, bolstered them, guarded against their attacks, killed them outright. Trackers and archers able to pierce scale and hide, knights in dragonscale plate, bards who could sing the songs of dragons, thieves who stole from dragons. Artifacts which control dragons of a certain type or are made from old wyrms. Aerenal has a reason to have such items and I can see old Xen’drik having giant-sized weapons, but do the knights of Khorvaire spare much thought for ways to kill a dragon? Are the stories of dragon’s hoards and hides and teeth enough to make would be slayers dream of items made from their corpses? And most importantly, would such items be brought about because of fiends setting ideas like this in motion?

    • But is this “Lhazaar was advised by a rakshasa” tidbit common historical knowledge?

      No. It’s first mentioned in an article about the Lords of Dust, and not in a context that suggests humanity is aware of it. It could be interesting to say that it WAS revealed or even that it opening advised Lhazaar as a rakshasa, but the intent was as an example of “No one realizes how deeply they manipulated history.

      Are dragonslaying/dragonhunting items as common in Khorvaire as they are in other settings (which is to say super rare but they’re made for a purpose)?

      Anything is possible. The main source for such items would be either Aerenal or as relics of the Age of Demons, but the tools and techniques could continue to be spread by rakshasa. We’ve called out that rogue dragons have occasionally taken actions to inspire legends—such as Sarmondelaryx—but that’s not much call for traditional dragon hunters.

      With that said, just as dragons play a different role in the setting, so could dragon hunters. Rather than the dragon hunter being trained to hunt hoarding dragons lurking in lairs, there could be a secret order of dragon hunters that hunts agents of the Chamber, believing them to be a threat to humanity. Odds are good this would be created and supported by the Lords of Dust, but its members might not know that…

    • On the subject of dragonscale armor, it didn’t necessarily come from a true dragon (at least in 3E), just a creature of dragon type. Khorvaire has domesticated wyverns, which should provide ample supply of materials.

  5. How do other interpreters of the Prophecy, or prophets who seem to have no connection to THE Prophecy, fit into the overall puzzle? In 3.5e, there was a prestige class of Dragon Prophesiers, who, mentored by a dragon, got into interpreting the Prophecy. Do they still have a role in canonical 5e Eberron or in KB Eberron? What about arcane and divine diviners? How about Flamewind, the gynosphinx who lives at Morgrave Univ.? Or, at the top of the prophetic pyramid in modern Eberron, what about Sora Teraza? Do there various entitties tap inot the Dragonic Prophecy, or are they reading possibilities from a different perspective?

    • There’s a difference between sages who STUDY the Draconic Prophecy to gain insight into possible paths of the future and oracles like Flamewind and Sora Teraza, who simply KNOW THINGS. The Chamber has agents spread across the world search for Prophecy signs and working to interpret them. Flamewind sits at Morgrave University and KNOWS THINGS. It’s possible that their information flows from the core of the Prophecy itself. Or it could be that they are actually drawing their revelations from Xoriat. But it’s also the case that not all divination is tied to the Prophecy. So magewright diviners and Medani seers simply draw from a lesser well of knowledge. Here too, it’s possible divination flows from Xoriat; you can peer into the future because in Xoriat, all future is now.

      With that said, I think you CAN have students of the Prophecy, and I played a cleric of the Prophecy in a long 4E campaign. This ties to the suggestion that the Prophecy can reveal trivial, close futures as well as the grand threads of destiny. So as that Cleric of the Prophecy, I COULDN’T demand to know the key to releasing Rak Tulkhesh; but my augury or commune reflected my peering into the possible paths of the future.

      • Thanks, Keith! Your answer stimulated a further question: The Draconic Prophecy is all about if-then statements, often cryptic in nature. What about oracles from other sources? If, say, Flamewind has seen something from Xoriat, will it be couched in if-then terms, or a possible future with no hint of what might cause/avert it, or a certain future? (I’m getting echoes of Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Future, or Sam at the Mirror of Galadriel!)

        • Ultimately it’s up to you. The core danger of using immutable prophecies is how you account for player’s freedom of choice. If Sora Teraza says “Boranel will die tomorrow” and there’s no way to save him, what’s the point of player characters? Whereas if Teraza says “If Sarin survives tonight, Boranel dies tomorrow” the players have a clear path for adventure; THEY choose the path of the future. Alternately, you can make things cryptic enough that you can shift the interpretation of the Prophecy to fit multiple scenarios based on what the players do; it WILL come true, but in what way.

          With that said, personally when I use Teraza or Flamewind, I often focus less on having them predict the FUTURE and more on them just knowing things that are happening NOW. So they can reveal the location of someone (or something) the adventurers are searching for; warn them of enemy activities or approaching threats; point them in the right direction; but not actually say “This thing WILL happen tomorrow.”

  6. Not sure if this is on your list of questions for another article, but since we’re talking Overlords: What’s the relationship between overlords and the planes, eg Katashka and Mabar, Rak Tulkhesh and Shavarath, or Dral Khatuur and Risia?

    • What’s the relationship between overlords and the planes, eg Katashka and Mabar, Rak Tulkhesh and Shavarath, or Dral Khatuur and Risia?

      I’m sure this is a subject debated in Arcanix and that there are many opposing opinions about it. But in my opinion? There is no connection between the overlords and the planes. Native immortals are NATIVE immortals, born in the heart of Khyber. The concept of war flows from Shavarath. But Rak Tulkhesh reflects the Rage of War ON EBERRON, not a grand universal concept. Katashka represents the fears of death and undeath made manifest on Eberron. It has no connection to the dark powers of Mabar. As a side note, in my Eberron it’s not possible for one of the overlords to travel to another plane; they are literally part of the spiritual architecture of the material plane, and any attempt to remove them from it would fail.

      Mabar is a universal expression of entropy; Katashka embodies the fear of death and the undead. It may draw on the ambient energies of Mabar while performing magic, but it has no bond to the plane or ties to its dark powers. And crucially, the overlords are strongest on Eberron; it’s questionable if they even COULD travel to another plane,

  7. “Imagine you discover that the Chamber is planning to trigger a second Mourning that will destroy Valenar. You’ve obtained all the information you need to expose this to the world, to prove with absolute clarity that Argonnessen is behind it. And THEN you discover that this second Mourning is the only thing that will prevent the release of Rak Tulkhesh who will collapse ALL the nations of Khorvaire into a brutal conflict that will make the Last War look like a play date.”

    That a character from Cyre can have legitimate mixed reactions to this (“Rewarded as traitors deserve!”) and still be heroes is why I love Eberron as a setting.

    • That a character from Cyre can have legitimate mixed reactions to this (“Rewarded as traitors deserve!”) and still be heroes is why I love Eberron as a setting.

      Mission accomplished!

  8. Is there any particular reason, short of prophecy, that the two sides haven’t made a concerted effort to remove the each other from the board?

    For example, the number of fiends is finite and you can bind such entities in khyber shards. They are fractious and presumably have been temporarily killed from time to time when they have to leave their place of power. Couldn’t Chamber have a millennia long side-project of stuff all the major demons in jars? Even when the Lords of Dust noticed this, they would still have to leave their places of power to manipulate people from time to time.

    Does the prophecy have any sort of tendency toward or against particular outcomes? Like are the threads to free the overlords generally harder to pull off than threads that oppose them?

    Does the prophecy always require conscious intervention? If the dragons boiled off the oceans, scoured all the continents to bare rock, and melted down every distinctive object would the new threads amount to “if the pointy rock falls onto the smooth pebble, or would the Lords of Dust be screwed until they could import some Gith or the like to get actual stories going again?

    • Is there any particular reason, short of prophecy, that the two sides haven’t made a concerted effort to remove the each other from the board?
      We’ve never really talked about world events in the Age of Giants. What was going on in Khorvaire at that time? I think it’s quite possible that the dragons and fiends WERE engaged in more active warfare in that time, which is why we DON’T know about giant-era civilizations in Khorvaire; they were all constantly crushed by conflict between fiends and dragons. Dragons could bind demons, but unlike Prophetic bindings, standard bindings CAN be broken; fiends could free their allies. Meanwhile, dragons are mortal, and an ongoing clash with immortals will take its toll. In my opinion, and some point both sides realized that it was a vast expenditure of resources that wasn’t achieving much and essentially established a truce; agreeing that both sides would conduct a cold war. This could easily be tied to the destruction of Xen’drik; we assumed that devastation was based on the actions of the Cul’sir, but if it was instead tied to the First War, that could have been the tipping point where the Conclave agreed that they had to find a better way. Because even if the dragons COULD boil off the oceans and scour the continents down to bare rock, they don’t want to live in that world.

      Does the prophecy have any sort of tendency toward or against particular outcomes? Like are the threads to free the overlords generally harder to pull off than threads that oppose them?
      If anything, I might suggest that paths to release the overlords could be easier than paths that conclusively oppose them. The binding of the overlords is fundamentally an unnatural state; this is why new threads form quickly when the existing ones are cut. I’d actually see this as a reason the Chamber won’t always cut an overlord thread the moment they identify it; as long as it’s not leading directly to the release, it’s better to follow the thread for a while and take advantage of the fact that they DO know what Ashtakala is trying to accomplish, whereas if they cut it, it will reform and the Chamber may not discover the new thread. Same idea as the Allies not revealing they’d broken Enigma.

      Does the prophecy always require conscious intervention? If the dragons boiled off the oceans…

      Dragons are mortals. If they destroyed all other life, it would presumably manifest through the dragons themselves. But also, the scope of destruction you’re talking about would essentially be killing Eberron. Assuming that the environmental fallout didn’t ruin Argonnessen as well, I could imagine the world unleashing forces in its defense… for example, the kar’lassa of the Thunder Sea might well rise from their slumber to stop such a wave of unnatural and global destruction.

      • My understanding was that the Dragons could not really fight much of a war against the Lords of the Dust anyway because any extended presence outside of Argonnessen causes Tiamat to stir.

        • I remember their attempts to conquer Eberron happened during the Age of Giants and awakening Tiamat caused them to draw back to Argonnessen, so it could be “civilizing” the other continents by eliminating the rakshasa more aggressively was what lead to them acting as conquerors in the first place.

  9. I had just been wondering about how to handle the Draconic Prophecy in campaigns, so this was great timing! (Sarlona + Overlords activity still haunts me a little bit though)

    You say wouldn’t involve a PC in a major prophecy role without discussing with it them first, is this meant to be specifically about scenarios where it *only* refers to that PC (as opposed to becoming the one to fit a role)? Can you elaborate how you might approach a player with this, especially if it is Prophecy the characters won’t be learning quite yet?

    • You say wouldn’t involve a PC in a major prophecy role without discussing with it them first, is this meant to be specifically about scenarios where it *only* refers to that PC (as opposed to becoming the one to fit a role)?

      It depends on the character and the player. For me, the collaborative aspect of RPGs is important. If I’m working with players I know, I probably already KNOW if player A would enjoy being the center of a strand of the Prophecy and don’t have to ask. Furthermore, if there truly is a CHOICE — the character really has a choice as to whether to embrace their destiny or not — then I wouldn’t feel the need to ask, but I’d also be prepared for the player to turn it down. What I’d never want to do is to take a player’s control over their own story away from them. If I’ve got a player who wants to play Batman, I don’t want to say “Oh, but you never knew you were actually an adopted alien and you’re really Superman” because that’s not the story they want to play. If I really think they’d love the story and that they’d actually have fun playing Superman, that’s when I’d at least talk to them about it– not necessarily revealing all details, but seeing if they’re open to the idea of a surprise revelation and new direction for their character. But ultimately, I’m making the story, but the CHARACTERS belong to their players—and I don’t want to do something that changes the story or direction of a character without being sure that it something that player will enjoy.

  10. Hey, Keith! Amazing article.

    So, I was thinking, in the sameway that you could try a alliance with Daelkyr to try “destroy” the prophecy, do you think that other planar entities could be useful to this issue? I say a way of confront the dragons or demons in a final solution. Not necessarily destroying or changing the prophecy

    I was thinking this days, maybe The Hall of Justice from Daanvi could work?Well, I know, they don’t have jurisprudence and never act in material plane…but PC find I way of make the solars change them jurisprudence could be a way. Or if they find Tyrala (the Solar of Dal Quor) and with her make a case against the dragons, for instance, about the magic that they teach to the giants.

    Or they can make a case using acts of them (or subordinates of them if just overlords can go to the planes) in the planes.

    I don’t know if other plane could work, but sound a fun way of confront this two powerful forces. And it is cool, because in the end if you WON, a question remains: Is it REALLY a good idea expand the jurisprudence of the Solars?

  11. Really great and inspring article. I have a few questions and I know I could decide almost everything just as I like #InMyEberron, I’d like to know your opinion:
    1) Are there specific individuals that have to fullfill thier prophetic role or is it more of a mantle that different person can assume?
    For example the Beggar King: I know the prophecy is ambiguous and it is not clear if Oargev is the Beggar King. Now let’s assume Oargev is the destined Beggar King regarding the prophecy. If someone kills Oargev (the Chamber for example), does that mean this thread is irretrievable prevented or could another person (not originally planned to) become the Beggar King and succesfully lock in this thread of the prophecy?
    2) If a specific thread of the prophecy is prevented (e.g. per interventeion by the Chamber or the LoD) or succesfully locked in, is this specific thread erased from the prophecy? Or somehow marked as fullfilled? For as new threads can form it may be possible for older ones to wither or fade away as they become irrelevant.
    In other words: Is it possible for skilled enough prophecy scholars to detect if something is an active or an ancient (= already solved or prevented) thread of the prophecy? Or do already solved or otherwise irrelevant branches fully disappear? Otherwise the prophecy would be a total overloaded mess full of old, irrelevant, already “used” statements on top of all the thread for present and future events.
    3) Is there (or was there) a specific prophecy thread for any major event in the history of Eberron or are some events (regardless of ther importance for human civilization) completely unrelated to the topic of the prophecy? For example: The invention of the lightning rail was certainly an important milestone for khorvairian civilization, but it’s possible that the prophecy doesn’t mention the lightning rail at all. Or would such a major event always find a reflection in a (maybe quite newly emerged) thread of the prophecy?
    4) Are the individual statements of the prophecy always if-then-clauses or are there “if-then-(if-then)-else”-clauses too? If these are always if-then-clauses it means you could prevent the if-part from happening and know that the then-part won’t happen, but you can’t know what else happens. It could be something even worse. This uncertainty bears potential, but it can be a little bit unsatisfying for the PCs not knowing, if they are making it worse by preventing a specific if-thread.
    5) The examples for prophecy statements in the books or here in the blog are already ambiguous and open to interpretation by their somewhat poetic and metaphorical wording. But as I understand it the prophecy is originally found as moon constellations, stone markings, mountain formations, etc. So the translation from symbolic, physical manifestations to language (and maybe from draconic or infernal to a common or another more usual mortal language) could be a source for even more ambiguity or mistakes – mistakes with dire consequences possibly. So the PCs could present the Chamber proof that something was a mere translation error (“one single letter missing …”), to prevent the execution of some horrible plan by the dragons. It would be a tremendous help for such a plot to have some more examples where some of the individual threads, branches or statements of the prophecy could be found in the world and in which form. And which skills or proficencies are necessary to find, decode or interpet them.

    Sorry for the wall of text and thank you in advance.

    • Good questions!
      1. I think it would depend on the specific role and thread. Typically the idea is that “the Beggar King” DOES refer to a specific individual, and the challenge is for those working to interpret the thread to figure out who that is… and if they are killed that does sever the thread. But I think it’s also entirely possible to say that the Prophecy says that the Beggar King kills the Sorcerer Queen with the Blade of Sorrows under the light of Five Moons that it’s possible killing Oargev won’t completely sever the thread, it will just kick it down the road — that they’d need to find the NEXT Beggar King and Sorcerer Queen (Because the Prophecy wouldn’t actually say “Aurala”, it would use a similar identifier for her). So it’s a plot device: Do you want them to have to start entirely from scratch, or can they simply try the same path again? A second point is that future threads can build on existing foundations. Even if the Beggar King is killed and that thread is severed, the Blade of Sorrows could still play a role in further threads.

      2. Yes, I think it is possible for deep students of the Prophecy to recognize when a thread has been severed or locked in. But this is part of the idea of why it’s only immortals or ancient beings with superhuman intellects who can study the Prophecy in depth—that it’s a vast amount of data points and tracking shifting elements, and it takes thousands of years to really grasp it. But yes, I think that the Chamber maintains a tapestry where they are constantly removing the threads that are confirmed as being dead and adding the new ones that have eben identified.

      3. No, I don’t think EVERY SINGLE SIGNIFICANT EVENT is tracked by Prophecy threads; if so it would be SO vast that it would be impossible to comprehend. I think that there is “local noise”, and this is what I was talking about with the Lyrandar heir burning their tongue, but this is more on par with augury; the swirling edge that shares local information about possibilities in the very near future, but that can’t be tracked in the same way as those major events. So it’s POSSIBLE there was a thread about the artificer who first created the lightning rail, but I don’t think there’s a thread about “And if everyone goes to work today, they’ll produce five lightning rail coaches at the factory this afternoon” — if such a thing does exist, it would just be that same sort of “local noise.”

      4. The “If/Then” format is a general concept, not an absolute rule. The key point is that the Prophecy doesn’t say what WILL happen, it says what CAN happen and the path it will take to make that happen. Within that concept, you could certainly change the format.

      5. The exact methods of reading the Prophecy have never been made entirely clear. In my opinion, Prophecy marks aren’t just SYMBOLS — it’s not like the Prophecy could place the message in Common but it’s an ass about it and uses a bizarre symbol. I think the Prophecy marks are magical, and part of interpreting them involves divination rituals/Arcana checks—thus revealing deeper information. It’s not that there’s a specific symbol that means “beggar” and another that means “king”, it’s that there’s a Prophecy mark which, when mystically read, conveys the message the Beggar King must die. But I also do think that it is possible to misinterpret threads, certainly. This article is already as long as I can go right now, but it’s possible that “Examples of the Prophecy” — with the skills or rituals tied to interpreting them — could be addressed in an IFAQ.

      • I’d definitely be interested in some bits regarding the means to interpret Draconic Prophecy stuff and how that can go well or badly.

      • Thanks for the answers, very cool topic for an article because the draconic prophecy is something I always had some problems to wrap my head around.

        ad 1) It certainly makes sense, that for some major figures the prophecy refered very specific individuals, but I still like the idea, that PCs can try to “cheat” the prophecy if things really going south. and get away with that. E.g. the Beggar King is killed by the opposition (and was tied to a prophecy statement with a positive outcome) and the PCs come up with clever ideas to create a new Beggar King, so that all pieces fall into place, even if the Beggar King isn’t the one, who was originally destined by the prophecy. Maybe they even travel to Thelanis and confer with THE Beggar Prince, Anchor Baron of the Leper Realm, to get to know, what defines a Beggar King.

        ad 5) Ok, this is really interesting, because I find it very difficult what the pieces of the draconic prophecy actually look like ingame. And connected with that: How I can present them to the players at the table. Of course, I can give them a written down transcription or let an agent of the chamber lecture it to them (and often exact that will do), but at some points of a campaign (especially in higher tiers of play) it would be very cool to let the PCs stumble upon a “new” piece of the prophecy and even if they need help by an superhuman, maybe immortal being to decipher it (I am onboard with the assumption that a human or demihuman can’t do this without help), I have to tell the players something as a description, how this “piece” may look like.
        Therefore it would be so great, to get an IFAQ with Examples of the Prophecy and some ideas how PCs can deal with it.
        And even examples for already decrypted parts and where they can found would be very useful: Above I mentioned written records (maybe by mortal agents of the Chamber) or direct lectures, but beyond that I don’t have many ideas. Maybe a spellshard-like memory deposit, an ancient docent or the “core story” of a specific prophecy thread woven in into a century old play handed down through generations of travelling actors. But more ideas would be very welcome.

  12. Dragons of Eberron establishes that Vyssilthar the Shadow-Seer was a personal friend of Lhazaar (if we ignore the odd note about her passing as a half elf).

    One has to wonder if a dragon noted for her uncanny ability to reveal snippets of the Prophecy knew about the agent of the Lord of Dust hanging out in the Lhazaarite fleet.

  13. Along with a matrix I think a decision tree is another good way of thinking of the Prophecy, just one that no one can fully grasp the shape of as it happens. The Chamber trims or prunes the branches of the tree while the Lords of Dust follow new growths if the tree metaphor holds.

    • Yeah, I had a similar image in my head, but a multi-dimensional decision tree, so it is almost inconsumable.
      Question is if it is always the Chamber who trims and prunes. Maybe there are “positive” branches and threads in favor of the dragons and in this case the LoD are the ones who try to do the trimming and pruning and the Chamber cultivates the branch.

      • Great point. Can lead to things like the old elf attendant who served a PC’s family for generations as a servant end up being a disguised dragon who played matchmaker with the PC”s parents to lead to the birth of the PC in the first place to upset a rakshasa or fulfill a prophetic clause. Something like Obi-Wan Kenobi as a Chamber dragon watching over a PC to protect them from a rakshasa in the shadows commanding a death knight fallen paladin who was born to bring balance to the Silver Flame…

        Also, was waiting for someone to call out that the Chamber isn’t monolithic just like the Lords of Dust aren’t since they have the Shapers and Preservers who have non-interventionist vs. interventionist philosophies on dealing with the threads of the Prophecy.

  14. Is the past of the prophecy (x wound happening because Y happened) able to be determined without someone noting that down before it happened?

    For example could someone determine the reason The Wild Heart rose again was because the Greatpine’s Daughter WAS slain by the Tyrant Kraken at the Battle of the Bloody Field?

    • Is the past of the prophecy (x wound happening because Y happened) able to be determined without someone noting that down before it happened?

      There’s no way for someone with no other knowledge of the Prophecy to determine “This event is a consequence of Prophecy fragment 251.” Someone with access to the Library of Ashtakala or a similar stockpile of Prophetic knowledge could cross-reference to make those connections—”This fragment established the Kingdom of the Pines, which needed to happen to produce the Greatpine’s Daughter.” But I don’t think there’s some way for someone to just say “Tell me all the events that led to this one” without having access to prior research. Part of the point is that neither the Chamber or the Lords of Dust have access to all threads of the Prophecy (and as neither of those forces is monolithic, difference factions within them have access to different threads), which is again why they can’t always interfere with one another; they haven’t always discovered the threads the enemy is pursuing.

  15. And a small question: Beyond dragons, demons and rare characters (as Flamewind and Tereza) there is some organizations in canon that know about prophecy or study it, as House Sivis. How much you think they know about this war?
    And spies organizations as Trust, Citadel, Houses of Shadow know absolute nothing about dragons and demons that fighting a so ancient war? Everytime that they found a rakshasa or a dragon infiltration (because I believe that besides rare, sometime this is must happen… they are not imune to failure), they think is just a single individual plain and don’t think there is a major plot on it?

    • I’d say the Aereni and the Riedrans probably do know the most about them; especially Riedra which is High Psionics. Clairsentience is usually better at this type of divination than any arcane or divine magic and likely has the greatest interest to keep the local Overlords sealed since their plans demand complete stability but even then if you went by 3.5 only Metafaculty can pierce Mind Blank and I’d wager Riedra has at most a handful Seers of that level (and it comes at an XP cost no less). So they probably do make an effort to identify LoD agents but then likely they tail them with more conventional means.

      As for the lower magic organizations of Khorvaire I think they’d know that demons and dragons are among them but they probably lack any detail beyond that; a couple of incidents would be known but that’s it. I’d say any organization that studies the prophecy is probably infiltrated already, just so that either side can get additional eyes on the field.

    • You can see the answer in action in the Thorn of Breland novel series, because the protagonist is a pawn in the First War and doesn’t piece it together until the final book of the series (and had the series continued, she would have moved to become an active player in it).

      You are certainly right: these forces aren’t infallible and operations have surely been exposed over the course of centuries. This is the issue I discussed in the main article in “How difficult would it be to convince people…” It’s EASY to convince people of a small, localized threat, because you’ll have concrete proof. *A* dragon was clearly backing the Boromar Clan because we have the body of a dead dragon. The question is where it goes from there, and that’s where the “Who Can You Trust” factor comes into play. ALL of those groups have agents of the Lords of Dust and the Chamber in influential positions—not necessarily LEADERSHIP positions, but INFLUENTIAL positions. While some of these agents may be disguised fiends or dragons, MOST are simply loyalist cultists—actual members of the culture whose families have served the dragons of fiends for countless generations. And it is these agents who will quash or discredit reports that harm their faction. So the point is, as Dark Lanterns you can report how you stopped a dragon who was manipulating the Boromar Clan. Your superior will say “That’s fascinating! I’ll pass it up the chain of command”… And no one will ever speak of it again. Somewhere along the chain of command, some will discredit it, prove conclusively that it was just a rogue dragon, or just lose the report.

      So sure, there are some records and reports, but SOMEONE always works to block important conclusions, to alter the details, etc. Again, this comes back to the point that by and large, the Lords of Dust and the Chamber don’t CONTROL things — but they are able to influence them, and they have been exerting that low low level of influence since human civilization began. But you could certainly have a player character sage finding various reports and saying “Why were these events never linked? They’re clearly related!”

      • I’d think those small lapses are probably the origins of smaller organizations (such as those in the Twelve and Houses Sivis and Thuranni); a few disparate lapses in counterintelligence from either side that a few members of long lasting organizations (and relatively long-lived in the cases of both elves and gnomes) that showed there was a conspiracy at play.

        My issue with such deep level conspiracies is handling player vs character knowledge. It’s simply hard for players to compartmentalize and in a world with so many layers of conspiracy as Eberron the player’s mind easily wanders off. As a GM I just make the call to be straightforward with the narrative with my players to avoid that (but ofc that’s my style and every group should go about it their way)

      • “So the point is, as Dark Lanterns you can report how you stopped a dragon who was manipulating the Boromar Clan. Your superior will say “That’s fascinating! I’ll pass it up the chain of command”… And no one will ever speak of it again. Somewhere along the chain of command, some will discredit it, prove conclusively that it was just a rogue dragon, or just lose the report.”

        Which seems like another good reason why the PCs can solve threats these organizations can’t: The Dark Lanterns keep things secret by nature, but when the PCs stop a dragon working with criminals, it’s in the papers and there’s no way for the file to get “lost”.

  16. Given the immortal nature of the dragons and overlords. The threads plucked might not be immediate? Such as mentioned a noble in Aundair might have a secret pact with Sul Khatesh (an idea I borrowed for a character) for a purpose that wouldn’t happen for generations?

    Or is it more of moving the pieces to the right if/then? Such as having the last war to then a hundred years later have the mourning to make a beggar prince?

    • Such as having the last war to then a hundred years later have the mourning to make a beggar prince?

      Exactly. It can take a long time for the consequences of an anchoring event to come to pass. In the example I gave, if the Beggar King kills Aurala, Aundair and the Eldeen Reaches will be united as the Kingdom of the Pines. But that could take DECADES to come to pass. It’s not that it’s immediate, it’s just that it WILL happen. This is why the primary manipulators of the Prophecy are immortals or long-lived dragons—because for the most part, it’s a very long game to play.

  17. Well, I personally have dwarfed down both factions, Argonnessen is busy in a violent civil war and the Lords of Dust have been imprisoned by theyr Tiefling underlings which transformed the Demon Waste in the Kingdom of Ashes and signed Thronehold.
    I have also designed a way to destroy the Overlords, it involves travelling to the Ring of Syberis and retrieve the Heart of Syberis. That can destroy forever any Overlord. How exactly, will be up to the character to find it out.

  18. We know that the Prophecy manifests itself in physical form on rocks, cavern walls, etc. If a thread is fulfilled or blocked, does a physical manifestation of it change or vanish? Also, does a physical manifestation of a given thread appear only once, or can the same prophecy of, say, the Beggar King manifest in more than one place?

    • Yes, Prophecy marks DO change or vanish. Many of them are impermanent to begin with; a mark appears in the fissures caused by an earthquake, or even in the foam left on the sand by a wave (that last one may appear more than once and in multiple locations, but you’d still have to catch it quickly when it does). It’s worth noting that many individual Prophecy marks don’t make sense unless you cross-reference them with others or add in other elements (position of moons, etc), which again, is why humanity hasn’t been able to really get a sense of the big picture.

  19. > If you want a truly apocalyptic solution, perhaps the adventurers can find a way to destroy the Prophecy, or at least cause it to become unreadable; this is something that would likely involve an unlikely alliance with daelkyr or Xoriat.

    Maybe even more interesting: an alliance with the Dreaming Dark. If the Prophecy specifies things changing in Riedra, which seems likely, they’d probably be very motivated allies in this project.

    > This would be a pretty extreme step, but even having it as a threat would be way to give the adventurers real leverage over both sides.

    Muad’Dib concurs.

    • I don’t see how the Dreaming Dark would be able to do that tbh while it is very much within the theme of Xoriat to do something like that. Heck I think Keith has already suggested it as a possibly intervention of Xoriat through the creation of the Dragonmarked; by binding the Prophecy in a mortal canvas, they’ve made it far easier to destroy.

    • Something to note here is that Sarlona (and by extension, Riedra) are absent from the Prophecy. So you’d need to also orchestrate circumstances in which such Prophecy crops up, or deviate from this established detail.

      • Sarlona being absent from the Draconic Prophecy isn’t necessarily a fact when you look at multiple sources. Secrets of Sarlona says Sarlona is absent from the Prophecy, but that’s just one of many theories offered in Dragons of Eberron to explain why dragons generally avoid talking about Sarlona and have a smaller presence there.

        Even in Secrets of Sarlona the continent being absent from the Prophecy is proven false when it comes to Adar in particular. Clearly the dragons were planning something there—Chanaakar has a hook related to the Prophecy, Ahdryatmin has some association with the Prophecy, and the Storm Guardians still roost in Korrandar and guard the Teeth of the Three in the Spheres of Korrandar which is believed to be a major component of the Prophecy. Sarlona being absent from the parts of the Prophecy mortals have discovered seems more likely than it being absent as an absolute rule.

        The other theories put forward were that there is some coming cataclysm in Sarlona, that Sarlona is central to future events but in the far distant future (would explain Adar and why it seems to have draconic protectors still as well as its own series of Prophecy-related plot hooks), and the last one that you mentioned of it being absent from the Prophecy as mentioned in Secrets of Sarlona as supported by the absence of dragonmarks. The lack of dragonmarks seems like a suspect reason for Sarlona being absent from the Prophecy, since Xen’drik doesn’t have dragonmarks cropping up on the drow or giants but it still seems to matter to the Prophecy.

        • I’m aware of the Adar stuff, but as far as I see between other canon sources (and kanon commentary), this section of Secrets of Sarlona seems to be contradictory with such things (and it that’s far from the only case where there is conflicting assertions in Eberron material). I will admit I do need to review Dragons of Eberron on this matter, I’m less familiar with that source.

  20. Thanks Keith for going into so much detail and answering so many questions! You may have brought this up before at some point, but my question is about the Dragons

    What are the Dragons’ goals? The Evil fiends want to bring back the Overlords, the Good couatls sacrificed themselves to bind them, are the dragons the Neutral protectors of Eberron? Not immortals, but still a manifestation of the world in some way? But what are the dragons seeking to protect besides “prevent Overlords from rampaging,” especially since their means (Xen’drik, mark of Death, maybe even the Mourning) seem to be just as disruptive and damaging to Eberron?

    Thank you!

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