Dragonmarks: The Gnomes of Lorghalen

In September, my Patreon supporters chose “Gnomes Beyond Zilargo” as the topic of the month. In the next few days, I’ll be discussing the gnomes of Lorghalen and the Feyspires.

Two years after the founding of Zilargo, a pamphlet was distributed explaining the existence of the Trust and the role that it would play in the nation moving forward. This tract concluded with the words To those who follow the proper path, we shall be as invisible as any ghost. Trust that we have your best interests at heart. Trust that we will act only when we must. Trust that we will always look after the needs of our great family, and that we need your aid as much as you need ours. Today, the Trust is universally accepted as part of Zilargo, and it’s estimated that at least a third of the population works for the Trust in some capacity. But despite what the Triumvirate would have you think, not all of the early Zil embraced the Trust with open arms. Some demanded accountability, insisting that this Trust be drawn into the light. Others called it a coup, urging their families to end the experiment of Zilargo and return to their prior independence. But few spoke out against the Trust for long; deadly accidents and unlikely misfortune quickly stilled to voices that challenged this new order. It seemed it was too late for those who opposed the Trust to remove it from their nation… And so, most chose to remove themselves, leaving their new nation behind.

Many of these dissidents immigrated into the Five Nations, and most who did so abandoned their old ways and fully embraced their new nations. A simple indicator of this is name. Zil gnomes use three names: A personal name, family name, and house name. Alina Lorridan Lyrris is Alina of the Lorridan family in House Lyrris. Even if they have distant blood connections to a Zil family, a gnome with no direct ties to Zilargo won’t be part of a Zil house. So if the gnome sage you meet in Aundair calls herself Talia Lorridan Lyrris, you know she considers herself Zil; if she’s just Talia Lorridan, she’s likely Aundairian.

Other dissidents had grander aspirations and took to the sea. The gnomes had long been accomplished sailors, and while they never had a colonizing spirit, they’d explored the coasts and made note of interesting and unclaimed lands. Now these sailors dreamt of creating their own new havens, whose glories might one day outshine the land they left behind. Sadly, most of these rebel colonies came to bad ends. Tolanen was located on the Shadow Marches; some years after its founding, a trading vessel docked to find the town completely depopulated. While the travelers blamed pillaging orcs, accounts later confirmed that there were no signs of conflict—and that the only looting was committed by the merchants themselves. New Zalanberg was established on the coast of Xen’drik, near the modern settlement of Zantashk. Over the course of decades, it prospered and grew. And then, within the span of a week, its people tore the town and one another to pieces—one of the notable examples of what has come to be recognized as the Du’rashka Tul. There were a handful of others, but only one still thrives to this day: the principality of Lorghalen.

Glancing at a map, you might wonder why Lorghalen was uninhabited when the gnomes claimed it. This tropical island seems far more inviting than the icy mountains of Orthoss and Farlnen. But names tell a story. The Tempest Strait is lashed by storms as powerful as any found in the Thunder Sea. The southernmost island is close to Mabar and Dolurrh, and there are strange ghosts and hungry shadows in the depths of the Dreadwood. The northern coastline of Lorghalen is lined with hidden reefs and unusual stone outcoppings. These threats are exacerbated by unpredictable “currents” that can dash a ship against the rocks… actually the work of the many water elementals that dwell along the coast. The safest landing is Hammer Bay, northeast of the small island. But “The Hammer” isn’t a natural island; it’s a massive earth elemental. It never ventures far from its mapped position, but it has no love of ships; any vessel that draws too close may be shattered by a hurled stone or a mighty fist.

Gnome explorers chronicled these threats long ago, and the gnomes who sailed east knew what they were heading into. The Lorghalen expedition included a number of sages specializing in elementals and Lamannia… Scholars who hoped they could convince the Hammer to let them land safely. And so they did, establishing the town of Cornerstone on the shore of Hammer Bay.

Exploring the island, the gnomes found that it was poised on the edge of Lamannia. The land was bountiful, fresh water was plentiful, and much of the island was alive. Lorghalen has the most intense concentration of elementals found beyond the wild zones of Sarlona. Stones roll of their own accord. The earth rumbles. What seems to be a peaceful pond might unexpectedly move to a new location. Most of the elementals of Lorghalen are spirits of earth and water, but there are storms that follow paths of their own choosing and pits of endless fire. These elementals are creatures of Lamannia, pure and inhuman; there are no dao or marids here. There are also a number of megafauna beasts in the deep jungle; sailors may occasionally spot rocs hunting whales off the coast of Lorghalen. This is why the island had never been colonized in the past; what city could survive the ravages of an avalanche of earth elementals? But the colonists came prepared. The leaders of the expedition had long studied elementals, convinced that it was possible to reason with these alien creatures. Using these techniques they were able to secure the region around Cornerstone. Over the course of generations, the Lorghalen gnomes developed and honed these techniques, learning how to live in harmony with the elementals and even to convince the spirits and beasts of the land to work with them. This lifestyle has consequences. Cornerstone is the only large city on the island; other gnomes live in family estates along the coast, or on the edge of the jungle. But the deep jungles of Lorghalen are left to the primal forces. The gnomes know what they can harvest without upsetting the balance, but they are careful not to push these limits.

After a few minor clashes in the region, the Lorghalen gnomes were recognized as one of the Lhazaar Principalities. Their small fleet primarily focuses on merchant trade within the Principalities. There are many unusual plants in the jungles of Lorghalen, and the Lorghali produce medicines, drugs, and potent spirits. The wood of Lorghalen is exceptionally strong, rivaling the densewood and bronzewood of Aerenal; the Lorghali don’t export lumber, but they sell fine wooden goods. While there are relatively few ships in the Lorghalen fleet, Lhazaar tread lightly around a Lorghali vessel; not only are the hulls of their ships exceptionally strong, but most vessels are accompanied by one or more water elementals. These friendly spirits help propel the vessel, allowing Lorghalen ships to match the capabilities of Lyrandar elemental galleons. In battle, Lorghalen ships are known for launching small earth elementals at opposing ships, stone missiles that continue to wreak havoc after impact. All together, the Lorghalen gnomes are known and respected within the Principalities, but are largely unknown beyond it. For the most part they do their trading within the islands, allowing others to carry their goods to distant lands.

WHO ARE THE GNOMES OF LORGHALEN?

The gnomes of Lorghalen and share some traits with their Zil cousins. They love clever oratory and prefer to solve their problems with words instead of swords. But where the gnomes of Zilargo dive deep into intrigue, the founders of Lorghalen based their society on principles of freedom and honesty. The founders of Cornerstone swore that there would be no secrets on their island: that all knowledge should be shared, and all problems drawn into the light, not removed in the shadows. Ties to previous Zil houses were dissolved, and all gnomes of the island consider themselves to be one house; so a gnome of the island might introduce themselves as Tara Tan Lorghalen.

Families are still important to the Lorghalen gnomes, and each family maintains an estate—a farming village based around a central long house. Each family is known for specific crops and skills, and Cornerstone is where they all come together. While families maintain funds for dealing with the world beyond Lorghalen, on the island the economy is largely driven by barter and the exchange of favors. All of the families have lodging in Cornerstone, and each family has three representatives on the Cornerstone Council, which governs the island and mediates disputes. The council is led by the Prince of Lorghalen, but this is an unusual position with less power than in other principalities. The Prince of Lorghalen is recognized as the cleverest gnome on the island, and as such someone whose voice should always be heard and opinion considered. But they have no power beyond that. Any Lorghali can claim the title by defeating the current prince in a series of duels of wit and strategy. Sometimes decades go by with no challenges; at other times, challenges have been a weekly or daily occurrence.

The Lorghali produce excellent mediators, apothecaries, and farmers. But what makes them truly remarkable is their tradition of primal magic and their relationship with the elementals of the region. As discussed in this article, the elementals of Lamannia are alien creatures whose thought processes and perception of reality are quite different from those of the humanoids of Eberron. Rather than binding elementals, the Lorghalen stonesingers manipulate elementals and natural forces by communing directly with the spirit and convincing it to help. At its simplest level—producing the sort of effects associated with druidcraft—this is barely more complicated than singing a few words in Primordial. More significant requests require a deeper communion with the spirits, which requires both concentration and an expenditure of will in addition to the song—urging the spirit to comply, impressing the request onto it. These things thus carry all the standard limitations of casting a spell.

The most common and important work of a stonesinger is to work with elementals. On a Lorghalen ship, a stonesinger literally sings to the elemental associated with the ship, encouraging it to move the vessel swiftly. If the stonesingers are killed, the elemental will still recognize the vessel as friendly, but it can’t be compelled to perform any particular action and it may simply wander off. On the island, stonesingers negotiate with the elementals to establish the territories where the gnomes can build, and convince earth elementals to plow their fields and water elementals to provide irrigation. Remarkable stonesingers can manipulate elemental and natural forces in more subtle ways—charming beasts, encouraging plants to grow, even conjuring fire or drawing lightning from a clear sky. Others learn the melodies that define their own bodies, learning how to heal injuries or even change their shape. Almost every Lorghalen gnome knows at least a few simple songs, but those who can work greater magics—those with the powers of bards or druids, discussed in more detail below—are greatly respected. While the stonesingers are a unique tradition that plays a central role in Lorghalen culture, they have nothing against other forms of magic; in particular, Lorghalen alchemists are able to perform wonders using the unusual plants of their island. The original immigrants included a handful of dissidents from the families of House Sivis, and while the Lorghali have made no particular effort to cultivate the Mark of Scribing, there are still a few gnomes in each generation who manifest the mark; such gnomes often become the most gifted wizards of the island.

Overall, the gnomes of Lorghalen have little interest in dealing with the outside world. They consider it to be a dangerous place driven by greed and dishonesty. However, some are drawn beyond the island by sheer curiosity, others by the challenge of matching wits with a dangerous world, and some by a need to obtain resources or techniques unavailable on Lorghalen. Most strive to remain true to the principles of their culture even in hostile lands, solving problems through open discussion rather than treachery and subterfuge. They aren’t fools; a Lorghalen gnome won’t spill every secret to a stranger, and even is a gnome doesn’t want to lie, they don’t have to say anything at all. But they prefer Persuasion to Deception—believing that they can convince an enemy of the proper path. Intimidation is also an acceptable tool, but this is largely a matter of tone—not making ideal threats, but rather making sure an enemy understands just how dangerous the wrong decision could be.

Gnomes make up the vast majority of the population of the island, though there are a few others who have immigrated over the years. Because of the dangers posed by the Hammer, usually the only way to reach Cornerstone is on a Lorghalen ship. The Lorghali are largely gracious hosts and curious gnomes are often eager to talk to outsiders, but the gnomes are aware that outsiders don’t share their traditions of honesty and watch strangers with both eyes. In particular, over the last century a number of Zil have reached out to Lorghalen. The islanders are especially suspicious of their cousins and do not trust the Trust, but there has been a little cultural exchange; notably, a fascination with the Lorghalen stonesinging techniques led to the rise of the Power of Purity movement in Zilargo.

LORGHALEN CHARACTERS

You can play a gnome from Lorghalen using standard rules. However, here’s a few variants you could consider if both DM and player approve. These are as unofficial as can possibly be, and solely reflect what I’d do at my table.

Stonesingers

The stonesingers of Lorghalen aren’t druids in the traditional sense. Notably, few have the ability to change shape, and they generally don’t speak the Druidic language. This ties to the idea that the stonesingers are largely channeling the power of Lamannia as opposed to Eberron, and channel this power through song and force of personality rather than faith. You could reflect this in two ways.

  • The typical stonesinger uses the bard class, but uses the druid spell list instead of the bard spell list. Stonesingers have no particular knack for illusion or enthralling humanoids; they use their songs to charm the elements themselves. The College of Eloquence and the College of Lore are both sound choices for stonesingers.
  • Lorghalen druids learn the Primordial language instead of Druidic, unless they already speak Primordial. Add Perform to the list of skill proficiencies available to the class. Shapeshifting stonesingers are rare, but the stories of those who can sing new shapes speak of singers who can assume elemental form, so Circle of the Moon is a reasonable choice.

Variant Gnome: Lorghalen

The standard rules for gnomes can be used for Lorghalen gnomes, especially Forest gnomes and those rare few with the Mark of Scribing. However, Lorghalen gnomes are known more for their charisma than their intellect, and for working with nature as opposed to weaving illusions. With this in mind, a DM and player could choose to represent a Lorghalen gnome by making the following changes to the Forest gnome.

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 1, and your Charisma score increases by 2. This trait replaces the Ability Score Increase traits of both the Gnome and the Forest gnome.
  • Song of the Elements. You know the Druidcraft cantrip. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for it. In addition, you can speak, read, and write Primordial. This trait replaces the Natural Illusionist trait of the Forest gnome.

Other Elements

Any sea-related background can be an appropriate choice for a Lorghalen character. Lorghalen pirates are rare, but sailors, fishers, and shipwrights are all common on the isle. An entertainer could be the first stonesinger to actually perform on the stages of the Five Nations. A Lorghalen hermit’s discovery could involve something about Lamannia or elementals—perhaps a terrible secret about the elemental binding industry! Lorghalen gnomes generally use the forest gnome or Mark of Scribing subrace.

While stonesingers are the most distinct aspect of Lorghalen culture, a Lorghalen gnome could pursue any class. An Alchemist artificer could make their potions using strange herbs and elemental ores brought from the island. The Lorghali aren’t especially religious—they don’t see a divine hand at work in nature, instead interacting with the spirits directly—but a Lorghali paladin could present their Oath of the Ancients as being tied to Lamannia.

Of course, a crucial question for a Lorghalen gnome is why have you left? Most islanders are quite content on their elemental paradise. What’s cause you to travel into the deadlands of Khorvaire? The Reasons For Leaving Lorghalen table can provide some ideas.

LORGHALEN ADVENTURES

As with anything in Eberron, the ultimate question is why does it matter? What can Lorghalen add to your game that you can’t find anywhere else? What could bring adventurers to travel to this isolated island, or to cause a stonesinger to cross their path? Here’s a few ideas.

  • While Lorghalen’s fleet is small, its ships and fast and powerful. Traditionally it hasn’t been deeply involved with the politics of the Lhazaar Principalities, but in the wake of the Treaty of Thronehold the gnomes could play an important role in securing the position of the High Prince.
  • When adventurers stumble through a manifest zone to Lamannia, they re-emerge in Lorghalen. What will it take to return home?
  • The Lorghali dislike deception and rarely engage in piracy… until now. A Lorghali warship is terrorizing the region around the Dreadwood, supported by a host of elementals. Who is this pirate, and what are their motives?
  • There are many wonders in the deep jungles of Lorghalen: megafauna beasts, massive elementals, plants charged with the energies of Lamannia. Adventurers are sent to Lorghalen to retrieve something from the jungles. Perhaps a Cannith alchemist needs a legendary berry, or an Aurum showman wants them to capture a megafauna beast. Can they get past the Hammer? Will the Lorghali interfere with their quest?
  • The Lorghali have forged an alliance with the Power of Purity and the Ashbound druids and are launching a concerted effort to disrupt Zilargo’s elemental binding industry and sabotage elemental vessels. Is this just a matter of principle, or do they know a terrible secret that could lead to a far worse catastrophe?

GENERAL QUESTIONS

A previous article on the Lhazaar Principalities said that the gnomes occupied Lorghalen before Lhazaar arrived, whereas this suggests they claimed the island after Lhazaar.

That’s correct. What I’m now saying is that early gnome explorers discovered Lorghalen long ago, but only settled it after the rise of the Trust.

Do the Dragonmarked Houses have outposts on Lorghalen?

They don’t have a significant presence on the island. I’d rather explore the story of the houses taking an interest in Lorghalen and actively trying to expand their presence there rather than have it be established. So there’s no Orien outpost or Lyrandar docking tower in Cornerstone. I might give them a Gold Dragon Inn that’s just opened in the wake of the Treaty of Thronehold. It could also be interesting to have a Sivis outpost that’s recently established and working with Lorghali foundlings with the Mark of Scribing. House Sivis would certainly be interested in tapping a new supply of heirs—but the Council of Cornerstone is suspicious of Sivis and anything that could give the Trust a foothold on their island.

What’s the religion of the Lorghali?

The Lorghali follow a tradition of concrete animism. They live in a land that is literally alive with spirits; they refer to the lands beyond the island as “Deadlands” because of this, finding it depressing to wander in realms where the wind and waves aren’t singing back to them. There are a number of exceptionally powerful entities, including elementals like the Hammer and legendary megafauna beasts. So the Lorghali don’t believe in distant, abstract deities; instead, they focus on concrete, local spirits. They respect nature, but in a much more CONCRETE way that a druid who reveres Eberron as a whole; they have a personal relationship with the well that provides their water and the boulder that roles by every day, and they likely have festivals in which the greater spirits are invoked. But this isn’t about FAITH, it’s a practical, concrete relationship—which is why they tend toward primal magic as opposed to divine.

What are the Lorghali’s beliefs in regards to death and the afterlife then?

They’re largely laid back about it. They’re focused on living their best life, and when it’s over, it’s over; whatever happens next will happen. It’s essentially the opposite of Aerenal and the faiths that are obsessed with avoiding Dolurrh; at the end of the day, the Lorghali don’t care what happens after death, as long as they live a good life. Having said that, they also live right next to the Dreadwood, which is tied to Mabar and Dolurrh; I imagine there’s at least one story cycle that essentially presents Lorghalen as the isle of the living, and Dreadwood as the isle of the dead. But the ultimate point is that the Lorghali don’t care about the afterlife; they care about living their best life now.

How much strong do you see The Hammer in CR terms?

I don’t think you could measure the Hammer in CR terms. You’re talking about an earth elemental so large that it shows up on the map as an island. Imagine trying to destroy a mountain by hitting it with a sword; it’s a crazy concept. If I was to use it in an encounter, I’d be inclined to treat it almost as an environmental effect rather than a creature; every X rounds a boulder will impact, can you get out of range before destroys your ship? Or I’d have adventurer literally fight its hand… if they do enough damage to that, it retreats. But it’s on such a vast scale that I wouldn’t treat the Hammer itself as a standard creature.

That’s all for now. My next article will look at the gnomes of the Feyspires! Thanks to my Patreon supporters for choosing these topics and keeping this site going—I’ll be posting the stat block for the Lorghalen cannonball on Patreon!

70 thoughts on “Dragonmarks: The Gnomes of Lorghalen

  1. The stonesingers you talk about have a very similar story to deep gnomes/svirfneblin as they’re written in the Forgotten Realms. Does this mean you would look for a different story or integration for deep gnomes in your Eberron, or prefer to take an entirely different bent for “khyber-gnomes”?

    • This is a reflection of my general lack of knowledge about Forgotten Realms lore. I’d like to write a short article about svirfneblin when I have a chance. The fact is that I’ve never used svirfneblin in Eberron and personally I prefer NOT to add new species into my campaign unless they add something compelling to the story. So if I were to add them, I’d want to look for a unique role for them to play.

      • As I talked in discord with Kanga, I really thought reading that Lorghalen Gnomes really would fit with deep gnomes. It is not perfect, still miss some really huge necessity of hide and maybe a worst environment, but a lot of things that I see on them essence are fit by Lorghalen. Anyway, I was thinking yesterday…in a future approach or minor article about deep gnomes a good start could be immigration of some stonesingers.

        But the Lorghalen Gnomes are really great and will be excellent this article for my character from there.

        • My point of writing a short article about Svirfneblin in Eberron would be to present a few different ways to use them. One simple option would be to combine them with the Lorghali. If I went that direction I’d say that the Lorghali don’t just live on the surface of the island, but also discovered a vast system of caverns underneath it with strong elemental resonance… and that the Lorghali who settled below were affected by the elemental power, becoming Svirfneblin. So the Svirfneblin and the Lorghali Gnomes I suggested in the article are one culture, but you largely find the more traditional gnomes on the surface and the Svirfneblin below (though again, they’re one culture and you can find both types of gnomes in any community).

          • This approach would slightly mirror the Akiak dwarves of Tashana in Secrets of Sarlona, who have both dwarves and duergar among them with little distinction in their cultural roles. I know you didn’t write that part and your Tashana may differ, but the idea of not having each subrace occupy one entire area on their own is a good one, keep the world from feeling disjointed.

    • Maybe? Part of the idea is that they don’t bind elementals TO things, they just work with the elementals. If you were able to position the graft as some sort of symbiotic relationship I could see it; but it does feel a little like an elemental being bound to a person.

      • If someone really wanted a Lorghallen gnome with an elemental graft, one could postulate that it’s a phenomenon like the lairbound dwarves: Living in the elemental-intensive zone, every so often a gnome is born with a natural elemental graft? If such a thing happened, presumably the Lorghallen would not be horrified by such a thing (though the gestation and birth might be a challenge!)

        • Sure, seems fine to me. I also don’t mind the idea that a graft can be a voluntary symbiosis, with the elemental choosing to bond with the host. The main issue there is that in such a graft, the elemental could choose to leave; it’s not BOUND, it’s helping by choice. Which is the main point with all the Lorghali interactions with elementals. The friendly elemental can allow a Lorghali vessel to match a Lyrandar ship, but the elemental could leave at any time, if it chose to.

  2. Hey, Keith!

    Amazing article.

    So, this month I start as player in campaign with a really old gnome pirate from Lorghalen (508 years old and he lost in time thanks to Thelanis, so he was born before Galifar and was know as Crimson Flamingo), but we still in minor adjustments phase and I have some questions after read this article.

    1. Can you tell a little more about religion and them? I don’t have sure if it is a approach more like classic druids, or as the goblins or maybe a variant of blood of vol focus on nature.

    2. Do you think that Bladesingers could be from there?

    Anyway, thanks. Really great article.

    • Can you tell a little more about religion and them?

      The Lorghali have a tradition of diffuse animism. There are spirits in the world and they bargain with them directly. They believe that there are greater powers—elementals like the Hammer, totems of Lamannia—but they don’t WORSHIP them. Some will seek to NEGOTIATE with them, though like elementals in general, these are very alien forces. But basically, they don’t have a tradition that relies on faith; they interact with the supernatural forces that shape their world on a direct, concrete level. So they don’t believe that Arawai or the Devourer are affecting nature; they believe that you stop a storm by negotiating with an elemental, not by praying to a god.

      Do you think that Bladesingers could be from there?
      I wouldn’t personally put bladesingers here because the Lorghali aren’t a particularly martial culture and I don’t feel they’d have developed such a unique and elegant martial tradition. They haven’t had to fight a lot of enemies because of their excellent elemental defenses, and if it comes to a physical fight they’d rather ask the earth elemental to crush you on their behalf rather than run up and stab you themselves.

      • A continuation of that question about faith & religion: what are the Lorghali’s beliefs in regards to death and the afterlife then? Do they pay respects to their ancestors, do they believe in souls, do the elementals play any role into that aspect of their culture? What are their attitude about the nearby Mabari and Dolurrhi manifest zones in relation to that?

  3. There’s no chance whatsoever that a married pair of Trust agents has been on Lorghalen since the beginning? Perhaps they founded a respectable family dynasty and have quietly relayed information to the Korranberg elementalists, fueling their advantage over Cannith in elemental magic. Trust me, that’s just a rumor spread by some conspiracy minded Lorghali out to discredit a rival who probably is also on the outs with their parents (Philbeth & Elzip) who come from long-established families in good standing that everyone knows as trustworthy.

      • It’s a possible fork in some, ‘if-then’ prophecies my Ebberron has; associated with a schism that forms at the Library of Korranberg. I’ve got it on the back-burner for now, it’s part of a larger narrative tied to the planar resource-rush that would go hand in glove with the race-to-the-moons idea you’ve previously covered. But as long as I’ve got you here, would you play the Lorghalan proximity to Lamannia as providing some, ‘dream insulation’ from the Quori?

        • But as long as I’ve got you here, would you play the Lorghalan proximity to Lamannia as providing some, ‘dream insulation’ from the Quori?
          We’ve never mentioned manifest zones as having this effect, but there’s some precedent in the kar’lassa. If people dream in Dal Quor, they can be influenced by the quori. Following the example of the kar’lassa, you COULD say that the powerful manifest zones of Lorghalen causes people to dream in Lamannia instead of Dal Quor. Which would definitely be very interesting, but it’s not something I’ve incorporated into the idea as currently described.

  4. Sounds like Lorghalen gnomes is a good origin for the genie warlock (confirmed for tasha!). Just with a lamannia elemental as opposed to a genie.

    How is their relationship with the sea princes that strive to unite Lhazaar? Such as High Prince Rygar ir’Wynarn of the The Seadragons, Prince Kolberkon of The Diresharks or Roe Farwynd?

    • Sounds like Lorghalen gnomes is a good origin for the genie warlock…
      Certainly!

      How is their relationship with the sea princes that strive to unite Lhazaar?
      Up to the DM, as suggested in the story hooks at the end of the article. Up to this point they have largely remained neutral; however, a new Prince could urge Lorghalen to take a more active role in the Principalities, either supporting or opposing Rygar and his ambitions.

  5. Just so understand the timeline. The settling of Lorghalen was during the first founding if Zilargo pre-Galifar and the rise of the trust then, not during the Last War when Zilargo regained independence and The Trust once again because an active factor in society yes?

    • The settling of Lorghalen was during the first founding if Zilargo pre-Galifar and the rise of the trust then, not during the Last War when Zilargo regained independence and The Trust once again because an active factor in society yes?

      The settling of Lorghalen was following the first foundation of Zilargo as a unified nation, yes. But I’m not sure I follow the second part of the question, specifically “The Trust once again became an active factor in society“. The Trust never STOPPED being an active factor in society. Part of the point of Zilargo merging with Galifar is that it negotiated the status of a Grand Duchy, allowing it to maintain its own internal traditions—in many ways, it WAS effectively independent even as part of Galifar. So the Trust has been continuously operating for centuries; it didn’t just suddenly make a comeback.

  6. Not a true question, but I am forced to now assume the Lorghalen gnomes have a wicked surf culture. Competing on who can best ride the waves caused by an angry elemental or who can best bargain with an elemental to help them win a race.

  7. Love it! Once again the world is amazing, a new angle, a new place and a half dozen new character ideas!

    Ghosts, elementals and honest gnomes, a true fantasy island.

    On my end I’m excited by the prospect of Marcher gnomes not working out. I had previously assumed gnomes functioned as Zarash’ak go-betweens, but perhaps that’s only due to Sivis and the Zil?

    Interesting to imagine the possible reasons for the failed gnome colonies…I especially love that it might be the gnome penchant for deceit and backstabbing boiling over without the Trust to corral them.

  8. Yay primal magic gnomes! This was more than I could have hoped for! I love it!

    Would you say that Lorghalen is a large Lamannian manifest zone? Does Dreadwood have lots of Dolurrh and Mabar manifest zones? Or did you mean something else by these places being “close” to these planes?

    • Would you say that Lorghalen is a large Lamannian manifest zone? Does Dreadwood have lots of Dolurrh and Mabar manifest zones?
      Yes, that’s the idea.

  9. You mentioned in previous articles about the Zil that gnomes have a somewhat different psychology than humans that allows something like the Trust to emerge and be both trusted and not especially corrupt.

    Would you say that the Lorghalen gnomes are just a subset with somewhat more human psychology, or evidence that Zilargo is more a product of culture than biology?

    • My guess is that gnome mentality doesn’t make the Trust inevitable, but merely possible. Modern Zilargo is just one of a multitude of different social systems that could emerge in a gnome society, as is Lorghalen.

    • Would you say that the Lorghalen gnomes are just a subset with somewhat more human psychology, or evidence that Zilargo is more a product of culture than biology?
      I think Lorghalen is still a product of gnome psychology, just taken in a different direction. The Lorghali trust each other, which is an important part of their philosophy that all problems can be solved in the open. They prefer to avoid physical conflict. So the Trust and Lorghalen are different sides of a coin, but they’re still related.

  10. Is The Hammer being an earth elemental common knowledge to the outside world? I’m planning on having my players search for treasure buried on an island that isn’t on any map because the ‘island’ is an immense earth elemental that moves location every few hundred years and I feel like the Hammer would be perfect for this.

    • It’s up to you! Personally I’d say it’s a known fact by people who sail in the region, but otherwise no—it’s something people might have heard about in a story, but that most people would say “Oh come on, that’s ridiculous.”

  11. Another cool article, Keith! Having recently immersed myself (pun intended) in the Thurder Sea section of ExE, I’m curious about the waters around Lorghalen. Are the islands of Lhazaar, including Lorghalen, rising from the deep ocean, or are they all high points of the continental shelf, or some of each?
    Does the Lammanian manifest zone extend into the waters around Lorghalen? From the description of the elementals on the (north?) coast, it sound like yes. If so, are there also aquatic megafauna in the waters? (And you mentioned whales! Yay!)
    Are there any wetskin dwellers near Lorghalen? If so, what are their relations with the island gnomes?
    If you (or a random DM) buys into the notion that there are rare Lorghelan gnomes born with elemental grafts, is it plausible that some of these with water elemental grafts might have developed into a subrace of sea gnomes, with their elemental graft functioning as gills to enable them to dwell in the waters of Lorghalen? (If one didn’t want sea gnomes to become a widespread phenomenon, one could say that they can only function underwater in a Lammanian manifest zone.)

    • Are the islands of Lhazaar, including Lorghalen, rising from the deep ocean, or are they all high points of the continental shelf, or some of each?

      Some of each.

      Does the Lammanian manifest zone extend into the waters around Lorghalen? From the description of the elementals on the (north?) coast, it sound like yes. If so, are there also aquatic megafauna in the waters?
      Definitely, which is why the Lorghali have a strong relationship with water elementals. And yes, there are aquatic megafauna.

      Are there any wetskin dwellers near Lorghalen? If so, what are their relations with the island gnomes?
      There’s a merfolk kara in the region, but they’re mainly based in the Tempest Straits. They’re friendly with the Lorghali and sirens occasionally drop by to exchange news and songs, but there’s not a lot of constant interaction.

      is it plausible that some of these with water elemental grafts might have developed into a subrace of sea gnomes…
      It’s not a path I’d personally follow, but I’m not going to stop someone from doing it in their Eberron.

  12. Quetions on Dreadwood: Stable Mabaran AND Dolurrhi manifest zones? Wow! Is Dreadwood as difficult to approach by sea as Lorghalen itself, or are the approaches on the far side of Deadwood more navigable?
    Presumably the Lorghalen gnomes have a good idea of the nature of the Dreadwood…or is it simply marked on the maps with a skull-and-crossbones and “STAY AWAY!” Is its nature known elsewhere? The Bloodsail Elves would presumably be interested, as would Lady Illmarrow or any number of ambitious necromancers. Although…if there are no native humanoids to convert into undead, it might be less interesting to them. Which suggest an adventure hook” Raiders from Dreadwood have started somehow crossing the waters to Lorghalen and kidnapping subjects for unholy experiments. It’s up to the doughty PC adventurers to go to Dreadwood, brave the native dangers, and root out the powerful necromancers who have taken up residence, and, if possible, rescue the captives. Who is brave enough to undertake the quest??

    • There are approaches to the Dreadwood, but it’s definitely a legendarily hostile environment; generally it’s marked “Stay away!” on sea maps. But certainly, you could have an adventure hook where Lady Illmarrow has established an outpost there; are the adventurers brave enough to enter the Dreadwood?

  13. Keith, since the existence of gaudy tropical leaf pattern “Hawaiian” shirts was made canon in Explorer’s Handbook page 81 “The Professor and the drow are both disguised as human tourists dressed in shirts printed with gaudy soarwood leaf patterns.” Even though soarwood is not native to Lorghalen, can we assume this style of gaudy tropical leaf patterned shirts is in fact a “Lorghali shirt.”

    • …can we assume this style of gaudy tropical leaf patterned shirts is in fact a “Lorghali shirt.”
      I appreciate the concept and can certainly imagine the Lorghali wearing light clothing with leaf patterning — tropical environment, after all! But I wouldn’t imagine something being known as “Lorghali” in the Five Nations, because it’s so hard to get there — it’s not like it’s a common vacation destination. So I see them as being fairly obscure. But it could be that they’re called “Lhazaar shirts” and when someone says “Why are they called that? It’s freezing in Orthoss!” someone else says “I dunno, I just know they come from over there.”

      The big question is whether Lorghalen could possibly support soarwood trees itself. We’ve said they aren’t viable everywhere, but Lorghalen is an unusual environment. Because Lorghali on soarwood boards propelled by little water elementals…

  14. Oh, I have some new questions. I’m sorry for ask too much, but it is probably my favorite article ever and it is not ever day that we have so much love to gnomes.

    1. How much strong do you see The Hammer in CR terms? Tarrasque sounds the creature more similar to it, but too strong to me.

    2. Do they, Lorgahalen Gnomes, have a way to counter things like Trust (think that the Zil Gnomes would not let a major gnome nation alone)?

    3. Lorgahalen way to use elementals is not a threat to Zilargo? Seems to me that Cannith or Lyrandar could be very interest on this. And probably the Half Elf island that I forgot the name in Lhaazar too.

    4. A question about “wide elemental” (day life uses of elementals) could be a IFAQ or a major article?

    • Do they, Lorgahalen Gnomes, have a way to counter things like Trust (think that the Zil Gnomes would not let a major gnome nation alone)?
      There’s a few different elements here. First, I think it’s a little generous to describe Lorghalen as a “major gnome nation.” It’s a single island that only trades with other islands in the Principalities. The Trust doesn’t have some driving need to dominate all gnomes in the world; it’s purpose is to PROTECT ZILARGO, and as long as Lorghalen doesn’t threaten Zilargo there’s no need for them to take any sort of action against it.

      With that said, could there be some Trust spies hidden on Lorghalen? Sure. The Lorghali AREN’T paranoid by nature, and they aren’t going to have some sort of security system sophisticated enough to counter all the measures the Trust has at its disposal. The main challenge to a Trust spy would be maintaining their cover and their loyalty over the course of an extended period of time. The Lorghali ARE incredibly open and tight-knit. They keep no secrets and they WANT to know all about their neighbors, to share their burdens and help with their problems. So a) newcomers are highly unusual and will stand out; and b) if someone was replaced, it would be more challenging than usual to maintain the disguise, because everyone in the community knows you very well and they will expect you to BE an active part of the community. And eventually the question is, if a spy lives their cover, will they be won over by the Lorghalen way of life and potentially abandon their loyalty to the Trust?

      So the answer is: the Lorghali have no foolproof method to avoid Trust infiltration, and there probably are some spies; but the Trust doesn’t have much reason to act within Lorghalen, and any long-term agent would likely slowly be converted to the culture.

      Lorgahalen way to use elementals is not a threat to Zilargo? Seems to me that Cannith or Lyrandar could be very interest on this. And probably the Half Elf island that I forgot the name in Lhaazar too.
      It’s not really a threat to Zilargo or of much use to the others because it’s not INDUSTRIALIZED. The downside of the way that the Lorghali work with their ships is that it relies on a personal relationship between the stonesinger and the ship’s elemental, and the elemental could choose to leave at any time. I can’t SELL you a Lorghali ship, because the elemental doesn’t come with the ship, it comes with the stonesinger. So a Cannith artificer could move to Lorghalen and spend a decade learning their techniques, but that doesn’t help them to create elemental tools they can sell to other people. The Power of Purity is an example of an organization that IS trying to ADAPT Lorghali techniques and blend them with traditional Zil binding—but that’s a ZIL organization and it’s an ongoing experiment.

      So no, it’s not a THREAT to Zilargo, and it’s not really a viable alternative for Cannith. As for the Wind Whisperers, they are primarily using the Mark of Storm. Becoming a stonesinger isn’t simple; you’re talking about something you learn over a decade or more of being raised in the culture, on an island filled with elementals. You can’t just trivially say “Oh, that seems like a better technique, why don’t I do that instead?” And again, it’s almost impossible to GET to Lorghalen unless a Lorghali ship brings you there. So a Wind Whisperer might be INTERESTED in their techniques, but what are they going to DO about it?

      A question about “wide elemental” (day life uses of elementals) could be a IFAQ or a major article?
      It could be, if there’s sufficient interest. It’s pretty narrow!

      I’ll add the Hammer question to the main document.

      • Excellent answer, Keith! Really helpful.

        I just want clarify two points. Not necessarily need answer, but I always accept your comments.

        1. About Wind Whisperers, there is little information now and that can be the reason to me think in this way, but I always understood that if their Prince need steal a Air Ship, they for some reason, probably not good relationship with Lyrandar and Zilargo, don’t have how make it. So, Lorghalen stonesinger sounds a good alternative for this. They don’t want become a major player on biding market, they want Air Ships, probably to have more power. If I am not mistaken, the biggest fleet on Lhaazar is something as 20 war ships, so even in this case it is not too much gnomes that would be necessary for a partnership or alliance. It is a lot less stonesingers necessary to this than a industrialized market. So, interest and a good relationship with Lorghalen makes sense in my mind.

        2. When I ask for CR of Hammer, I was not thinking in stories about you know, the party is sail near or to Lorghalen and how would this happen. I was thinking in stories as “the new Prince of Lorghalen is evil and want awaken The Hammer and use against others principalities” or “a overlord was release in Lhaazar and the heroes need time! They went to the Hammer and heroically convence the elemental that always never moves to fight against the overlord until they find the item X to bind the demon again.” Of course, a DM always can do what fit in the story, but I was with doubts about how great would be the threat or help by kanon in a situation like this.

        • To the first point, sure, I can see the Wind Whisperers having interest and wanting a good relationship with Lorghalen. My main point is that just because the Lorghali have something the Wind Whisperers want doesn’t mean that the Lorghali are going to GIVE it to them. Ultimately, this comes back to the point that all of this is the backdrop to the stories we are going to tell. Rather than saying that there’s a long-standing alliance between the Wind Whisperers and the Lorghali, I’d say that the new prince of the Wind Whisperers has just hijacked a Lorghali ship because he wants to force the stonesinger to help him steal an airship… because now it’s a story that the adventurers can get involved in.

          For point 2, all of those are valid ideas. The point to me is that the Hammer itself is still beyond CR measurement. It could certainly destroy a city if it could reach one. But you wouldn’t defeat the Hammer by fighting IT, you’d fight the evil stonesinger controlling it, or destroy the artifact that’s being used to control it; the Hammer is essentially the environment of the battle. Or I’d use something like a zaratan to represent the core of the Hammer, with the understanding that defeating the zaratan will cause the Hammer to withdraw or become dormant. So yes, it could be a tool of an epic story. Having said that, I’d question whether the Hammer CAN leave the area, or whether it is sustained by the proximity to Lamannia through the local zone. It might be that in leaving the region its spirit would wither away until it was eventually just a mundane island.

    • The Zaratan, from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, seems like a good fit for The Hammer. In fact, all the Elder Elementals seem like they could be found in and about Lorghalen, since they are basically powerful elemental megafauna.

      • The main issue is that a zaratan is a gargantuan elemental, while the Hammer is an ISLAND — again, big enough to show up on a map! But I could certainly see using a zaratan to represent the “core” of the Hammer, where if the players can defeat it the Hammer will settle down to regenerate.

        In general, though, you could definitely have elder elementals in the region, and I could definitely imagine an independent zaratan that just sleeps in Hammer Bay.

  15. I’m surprised Cannith and Jorasco aren’t involved with Lorghali when “the Lorghali produce medicines, drugs”. The implications on the house monopolies are interesting.

    Actually, that brings up a good question: What’s the Shadow Cabinet’s position on/relation to Lorghali?

    • I’m surprised Cannith and Jorasco aren’t involved with Lorghali when “the Lorghali produce medicines, drugs”. The implications on the house monopolies are interesting.

      Not really. It’s a question of scale. There’s a store here in Portland that sells homegrown herbal remedies. It may be that it’s the best medicine in the world, but it’s not like there’s any threat that they’re going to put Pfizer out of business. Unless you live in Portland you’ve never HEARD of this place, and even if you live in Portland, you may decide place your trust in the established brand rather than Island Joe’s Homegrown Wonder. In the article I call out that the Lorghali don’t trade beyond the Principalities—which aren’t the main profit center for the houses. it’s entirely possible that the local market consumes all that they produce. Alternately, it’s possible that JORASCO BUYS their export—the same way Jorasco turned the Mror healers into part of their supply chain. But this is definitely the relationship between a Mom & Pop and Amazon; the fact that there’s a local off-brand alternative doesn’t threaten the overall monopoly of the house.

      Actually, that brings up a good question: What’s the Shadow Cabinet’s position on/relation to Lorghali?
      The whole idea of Lorghalen is that it’s a literal backwater, an obscure island that’s hard to reach even within the remote principalities. Most people in the Five Nations have never heard of it. Most of its resources and influence are intensely localized. As I noted in a previous comment, it’s not like the Lorghali could undermine the elemental binding industry, because Lorghali vessels require an ongoing interaction between stonesinger and elemental; I can’t sell you the ship unless I sell you the stonesinger with it, and even then, I can’t PROMISE the elemental won’t just leave, because its relationship to the ship is voluntary. So it doesn’t really upset the balance of power. Stonesingers could help enhance a specific group of ships, but even if they wanted to (and I really don’t see the average stonesinger being keen to dive into some form of wage slavery) there’s just not enough of them to completely undermine Lyrandar or Orien.

      With that said, I could see having a plot in an Aurum-driven campaign in which Solodrak has JUST STUMBLED ONTO Lorghalen and is trying to work it into his schemes in some way; the question is if this is through diplomacy and open alliance, of if he’s trying to force stonesingers to serve his purposes. Either way, it would be something adventurers could get involved in.

  16. Question upon Dreadwood Isle. Do you think the bloodsails could or would have a port there, and possibly have a neutral to friendly relation to the Lorghalen as trading partners through proximity? Possibly the elves could scavenge for survivors for those encountering the hammer.

    • If the Bloodsails take interest, I imagine it’s still a very dangerous prospect, even for them, since Mabaran undead and those dealing with Mabaran powers generally try to avoid all things Dolurrh. I imagine dealing with those zones risks their souls being caught up by Dolurrh.

    • The question is the role you want the island to play. Personally, *I* want to use it as a terrifying, untamed and unexplored spot on the map. So *I’D* be likely to say “The Bloodsails DID establish an outpost there a hundred years ago, and within a year all the colonists were dead and they’ve never returned” — making it another mystery, another ruin to explore, and emphasizing that even some of the finest necromancers in the setting couldn’t tame it. But I could also imagine the adventurers discovering that Lady Illmarrow has a stronghold in the Dreadwood precisely because everyone who heard about it would go “Noooo! That’s IMPOSSIBLE!” — and even adding the potential that LADY ILLMARROW is potentially biting off more than she can chew by laying claim to the Dreadwood.

      So personally, I’d lean heavily on the DREAD, as opposed to giving the Bloodsails a safe harbor there. But with that said, I could absolutely see adventurers pursuing a Bloodsail ship and their navigator saying “#^$&! They’re heading for the Dreadwood! We have to abandon the pursuit!” Even if they don’t have a HARBOR there, they could definitely be more willing to land there than others.

  17. Oh, I just notice that I have a last question (I will really try not ask more hahaha, but is really hard when is a topic that I love so much and I have a character from there and I am making adjustments)

    So, I love the idea of change my character to a Bard of Eloquence with Druid spell list (I talked with the DM in the beginning of the month that if some really cool ideas came with this article I probably would make some changes and he liked the idea), and I was change the things and notice one thing: the game that decided the Prince (my character was the Prince long time ago…long story that have Forgotten Prince saving his life)

    So, before this article I imagined the game as a intelligence game, because you know, gnomes. But after Lorghalen subrace, seems that would make more sense a charisma kind of game set. Do you have any idea of how this game would be? Some similar in our world to use as model and etc… It is strange to me, because usually when I think in a charisma game, deception came in my mind, but this don’t sound right for them.

    • So, before this article I imagined the game as a intelligence game, because you know, gnomes. But after Lorghalen subrace, seems that would make more sense a charisma kind of game set. Do you have any idea of how this game would be?
      The original Dragonshard says “the gnomes of Lorghalen allow would-be princes to challenge a ruler to games of wit and tests of strategy“. I’ll note the emphasis on games, plural; in my opinion this is a series of significant trials, not something that you can breeze through in a few minutes.

      I would see challenges testing Persuasion, Insight, and “strategy”, which in 5E might be a straight Intelligence check (I could see an argument for Investigation — evaluating a situation?). I’d see this as a sort of debate, possibly in the form of competitive storytelling. The Lorghali value Persuasion over Deception; the point is that you win people to your side through wit and reason, not through subterfuge. The strategic trial could be playing a game similar to Go (something about placing stones!) or it could be something like the battle of wits from the movie The Princess Bride… something that would rely on both knowledge and insight, based on both what you know and on your ability to anticipate the choices of your opponent.

  18. Definitely delighted to see an alternative, however obscure, to the existing options of Zil, Sivis, or just another minority for gnomish backgrounds. 🙂 (And for those of us still playing D&D 3.5, the Savage Bard variant from Unearthed Arcana would be the obvious substitution for the “use the druid list instead” advice.)

  19. Between the megafauna and the stonesinger’s almost intuitive use of elemental forces I get a strong Avatar the Last Airbender vibe from the island of Lorghalen.

    Would you say there is a place in the Stonesingers for a competing philosophy based around internalizing elemental connections such as the Way of the Four Elements Monk, Storm Herald Barbarian or Wildfire Druid? If not would such approaches be permitted/indulged elsewhere on the island or treated as taboo?

    Additionally, what would you think of the prolonged proximity to elementals leading to the creation of Genasi Gnomes similar to the creation of the Ruinbound Dwarves of Mror?

    • Would you say there is a place in the Stonesingers for a competing philosophy based around internalizing elemental connections such as the Way of the Four Elements Monk, Storm Herald Barbarian…
      I think my question is if these would have to be presented as “internalizing” or if they could be seen as “allying with”. The basic idea of the Stonesingers is “befriend the elements”, and I could see a Four Elements monk being played not as binding or forcing the elements to do their will, but simply calling on them for aid as they strike; likewise, I could see playing a Storm Herald as if the elemental aura is essentially a friendly minor elemental that is always with me, only manifesting when needed. So I think both of these could eb tied to Lorghalen without having to place them in opposition to the Stonesingers, simply as a different approach.

      Additionally, what would you think of the prolonged proximity to elementals leading to the creation of Genasi Gnomes similar to the creation of the Ruinbound Dwarves of Mror?
      I think Lorghalen would be an excellent place for genasi gnomes, though I’d still say they would be an exotic minority (though likely celebrated for their gifts).

  20. Hey Keith. Kinda late to the party, but I noticed you spell it ‘Lorghalen’ all throughtout the article but it’s spelled ‘Lorghalan’ on the map image you included.

      • Makes you wonder what else the House of trustworthiness and impartiality may have altered. After all, who would question it?

  21. Really enjoying this added texture as I plot out a homebrew campaign in Eberron very loosely based on “Elemental Evil,” in which fanatic elementally-oriented cults are attempting to liberate bound elementals through terrorist acts, secretly backed by various houses and other forces as they vie for power and whatnot.

    This is one of the few places where you mention Earth elementals as potentially useful in transport or other purposes. Wind, Water and Fire elementals seem integral to Larandar and Orien’s operations, but not so much Earth (unless they are used somehow in the conducting stones of the lightning rail?).

    The stonesingers obviously don’t bind elementals, but do you think in other areas Earth elementals would be bound by and used for some variety of transportation, fortification, etc? Couldn’t find much here on that, but maybe I didn’t look hard enough. Was think about a bound earth elemental vehicle that would allow miners to travel below ground between shafts, searching for new ore deposits by using the elementals’ Earth Glide property. Not a speedy form of transport but very useful for mining, and very unpleasant if someone liberates the elemental while you’re stuck underground.

    • Yes, I think that’s a plausible form of bound-earth vehicle. They aren’t described as much and aren’t supposed to be in wide use, but a few 3.5 sources talk about “elemental land carts” that use earth elementals — and one is specifically called out as having the earth glide ability.

      • Thanks for the quick reply!

        Gotta say, I love this world you’ve built. I’m a fairly recent explorer, having returned to D&D after a twenty-odd year hiatus, and Eberron pretty much solves all the things that make me cringe as I revisit a game I love but which has some problematic elements. The worst of these is “genetic evil,” which you have done a great job of challenging, and glad to see Matt Mercer following your lead on that.

        I also took a deep dive into your “Manifest Zone” podcast, which I found way more engaging and interesting than I ever expected. I just got to the part where Kristian left, though, and that is a real loss because he was really great to listen to both in terms of what he had to say, and how he said it!

        Great work on “Exploring Eberron,” by the way — most sourcebooks and setting guides I just skim over as quick references, but this one is actually fun to just sit down and read.

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