Dragonmarks: Mordain the Fleshweaver

Children in Breland, Aundair, and the Eldeen Reaches are raised on stories of Mordain the Fleshweaver and the monsters he creates. He was born into House Phiarlan and was one of the most gifted wizards of the Twelve; it’s said that the standard House Jorasco potion of healing is Mordain’s recipe. But his obsession with creating and improving life drew him down dark paths, adapting the techniques of the daelkyr and delving into the secrets of Sulk Khatesh. According to one story, he sought to magebreed a new dragonmarked house but instead produced a line of aberrations that consumed his own family before they were destroyed. Parents warn their children that Mordain steals disobedient children and carries them off to his living fortress, leaving perfect simulacra in their place so even their friends won’t miss them. Whatever the truth of these stories, Mordain was excoriated from House Phiarlan in 797 YK. According to the records of Salyon Syrralan d’Sivis, the Twelve tried to execute Mordain and failed. Salyon’s account states that Mordain was bathed in acid, burnt at the stake, drowned, and even dismembered, but after each attempt “he rose again, his vigor unchecked and flesh rebound.” He was petrified and sent to Dreadhold, but escaped before reaching the island prison; Salyon speculated that “no lesser mage could set his will over the flesh of Mordain.”

The first confirmed sighting of Blackroot – Mordain’s tower – occurred in 873 YK. In the heat of the Silver Crusade, a troop of Aundairian templars pursued a few werewolves far to the south of modern Aundair (a region now considered to be part of Droaam). Weeks later, another patrol encountered a lone survivor from this force, half-mad and delirious. The templar spoke of a tower “with blackened, leathery walls, twisted as the limb of a dragon reaching up to grasp the sun.” The soldier couldn’t account for his companions, but his own condition was testimony to the horrors he had seen. His upper torso had been fused to the lower body of what was posthumously confirmed to be a werewolf. His mental state quickly deteriorated and he soon died of self-inflicted wounds.

Mordain is the most powerful wizard living in Khorvaire today, and the region surrounding his tower is warded against divination and teleportation. Paladins of Dol Arrah have attempted to destroy the foul wizard and his works, while emissaries of every nation sought Mordain’s aid at some point in the Last War; knights and envoys both met with failure, and only a lucky few survived to share their stories. Mordain remains a sinister enigma, a dark legend on the edge of Droaam. Some believe that he has an arrangement with the Daughters of Sora Kell, but many believe that even the hags fear Mordain.

Using The Fleshweaver

The basic principle of Mordain is that he’s the mightiest mortal wizard in Khorvaire. He’s as powerful as you want him to be. His specialty is creating and transforming living creatures, but he can easily have other talents. Notably, you could substitute “Mordain” for “Mordenkainen” in spell names in Eberron; this gives us Mordain’s private sanctum and Mordain’s magnificent mansion, suggesting that he has a talent for manipulating extradimensional space; this would imply that Blackroot is far larger than it appears to be, and also makes it easy to say that Mordain has a few extradimensional back doors scattered around the continent… which allows him to drop his experiments wherever best suits a story. With that said, part of the idea is that Mordain isn’t simply using the sorts of magic that player wizards and artificers might use. His techniques are adapted from the daelkyr and the Overlords, and involve channeling the energies of Kythri and Xoriat. While he can place his experiments wherever he chooses, most of his magic can only be performed in Blackroot, which is essentially a vast eldritch machine. It’s quite possible that through his centuries of work he has essentially become Blackroot—that his physical body is just a shell he creates to interact with people, but that the true Mordain is merged with his tower. This is a way to limit his impact and adds a reason for him to work with adventurers.

Mordain pairs unmatched arcane power with an utter disregard for the suffering of others. At the same time, Mordain has no interest in wealth or influence. He’s not trying to conquer Khorvaire, and while he’s indifferent to the suffering his creations can cause, he’s not actually trying to harm others. A DM could decide that Mordain wants revenge on the dragonmarked houses for driving him away; but by default he considers the houses to be as pointless and irrelevant as the Five Nations. All that he cares about is his work—creating and perfecting life. While his tower is in a dangerous region, his location is known; adventurers know where he can be found. With this in mind, there’s a number of ways Mordain can enter a campaign.

MORDAIN THE VILLAIN

Unlike most of the major conspiracies, Mordain has no grand plans for Khorvaire, which makes him an excellent source of one-shot problems that have to be dealt with but that have no long-term consequences. While he rarely leaves his tower (assuming he even can), he can use scrying and teleportation to target his experiments across Khorvaire. Consider the following options.

  • Mordain might engineer a magical plague and inflict it on an isolated village to see what happens. Can the adventurers find a cure? Perhaps he’s experimenting with a new form of lycanthropy: how does it differ from the traditional form?
  • Mordain could introduce a dangerous monsters into a region as an isolated threat, most likely just to see how things play out. Do you want a gargantuan gelatinous cube in the heart of Aundair? Blame Mordain.
  • With that said, Mordain could also introduce a significant population of monsters to a region, introducing a nest of kruthik or a band of yeti into an area. A twist on this would be if he created these creatures by transforming a village. Can the victims be restored? If not, can the adventurers find a way to stabilize the situation?
  • Mordain’s creations don’t have to be monsters. Mordain could transform the inhabitants of a village into tortles, or create a murder of kenku. This can be a simple way to introduce a small population of an exotic population into a location; no one knows WHY Mordain put a tribe of tabaxi into the King’s Forest, but he did.
  • Likewise, adventurers could stumble upon bizarre experiments. Dolurrh’s Dawn—originally presented in Dragon 365—is an isolated village in Droaam where Mordain has recreated legendary characters from history. His motives are unclear; but it’s certainly an interesting thing for a group of adventurers to discover.
  • Mordain could also be supplying or supporting an organization that the adventurers are fighting. He could be providing them with symbionts or other magic items, or giving them access to monstrous forces (you kill the leader of the organization, but a week later he’s back as a flesh golem!). The main question here is why? How is the group interesting or useful to Mordain?

A twist on this is for Mordain to take a personal interest in the adventurers. Will he turn their friends into monsters, or grant strange powers to their enemies? Is he testing the adventurers, or is there something about them that poses a threat to his experiments? Does he know something about one of the adventurers they have yet to discover?

SECRET ORIGIN

Mordain can be an interesting backstory element for an unusual character. Perhaps a player wants to create a character using a race that has no established place in Eberron, such as a Loxodon or a Simic Hybrid. Simple answer: they were created by Mordain. This path could also be used to explain class features. Perhaps a sorcerer’s arcane powers stem from being magebred by Mordain. A character who’s mechanically a half-orc barbarian could decide that they’re actually an artificial lifeform created by Mordain and that their “rage” reflects a hulking-out battle mode. A monk could likewise describe their Unarmored Defense and enhanced abilities as being tied to Mordain-crafted mutations. An idea could be even more exotic than this; tied to Dolurrh’s Dawn, a character could say that they are a clone of a famous historical figure—that they are Karrn the Conqueror or Tira Miron reborn… or even a clone of a young Mordain the Fleshweaver!

With any of these ideas, there’s a few critical questions. Were they created in an isolated incident, or are they part of a larger experiment (like Dolurrh’s Dawn)? Did Mordain release them into the wild, or did they escape captivity? Do they know the purpose for which they were created and are defying it, or could their adventuring career be part of Mordain’s plan? Which ties to the next option…

MORDAIN THE ALLY

Mordain has much to offer, from magic items to mysterious boons. Mordain could easily serve as a patron for a warlock or a mysterious mentor for a wizard… or even an entire group (following the model of the Immortal group patron, even if he may not be immortal). What would he want from adventurers? A few possibilities…

  • Mordain wants the adventurers to clean up his messes. Use the same seeds from the previous section, but Mordain dispatches the PCs to minimize the collateral damage. He still feels a need to drop a gargantuan gelatinous cube into Aundair, but once he’s learned what he needed, he’s happy to have the PCs deal with it.
  • Adventurers encounter a lot of exotic creatures. Mordain wants them to harvest organs of monsters they defeat, and will pay them (in gold or in other ways) for unusual finds.
  • Mordain is always interested in relics of the daelkyr, and could send players into dangerous dungeons.
  • The lesser of two evils: a Cult of the Dragon Below, the Lords of Dust, the Dreaming Dark or a similar force could be interfering with one of Mordain’s experiments; he sends the adventurers to resolve the problem.
  • Mordain could want the adventurers to mediate a local problem with some of his neighbors in Droaam (likely a last resort before resolving the problem in a horrifying and deadly fashion).

Working with Mordain should never be an entirely comfortable experience. There should always be the sense that he’s incredibly dangerous and could do something terrifying at any moment. But again, Mordain is motivated solely by his experiments; as long as those current experiments aren’t harming innocents, there’s no reason he can’t be a useful ally.

FIGHTING MORDAIN?

The 4E Eberron Campaign Guide included a stat block for Mordain. I’m not including one here, because in my opinion fighting Mordain is simply a bad idea—both in terms of difficulty, but also because it won’t really accomplish anything. Remember that according to the legends, the TWELVE couldn’t find a way to kill him—and that’s when they had him as a prisoner, not when he was in Blackroot surrounded by his creations and defensive spells. One option is to use the statistics of a lich as a base, though I’d consider him an aberration as opposed to undead (or humanoid) and I’d add high regeneration. But there’s another approach, which is to say that his combat abilities aren’t that dramatic but that it doesn’t really MATTER… that at this point he has essentially become Blackroot, and that he simply produces a humanoid body when he needs to interact with outsiders. So he doesn’t need to be a terrifying force of destruction, because if you kill him he’ll just make a new body within a few rounds. This ties to the basic point that his role in the story isn’t really to BE a monster himself; it’s to create monsters and challenges.

Mordain or Daelkyr?

One valid question is how Mordain differs from a daelkyr. Why use Mordain instead of Dyrrn the Corruptor? There’s a few simple answers. The first is that Mordain operates on a smaller scale. He doesn’t have cults or armies of minions spread across the continent. Likewise, the daelkyr are mysterious but unquestionably destructive; they will destroy civilizations if left unchecked. Mordain, on the other hand, has no desire to destroy civilizations; his experiments are on a smaller scale and collateral damage is generally incidental, not the point. A final critical factor is that Mordain is an eccentric sociopath, but he’s not as completely ALIEN as the daelkyr are. You CAN have a conversation with Mordain. You can talk to him about what he’s doing with his latest experiment, and he’d be happy to pay you for those remorhaz entrails you discovered on your last adventure. He’s infamous and he’s deadly, but he’s more grounded than the daelkyr, and his schemes are generally more focused.

Why So Powerful?

One of the core principles of Eberron is wide magic, not high magic. Spells of over 5th level are all but unknown in the Five Nations. So how is it that Mordain wields this level of power? Why hasn’t it had a greater impact on life in the Five Nations? Why don’t people just copy what he’s doing?

Ultimately, this is based on the idea that Mordain is a pulp villain. He’s not SUPPOSED to logically fit into the structure of the world; if he was sane and reasonable and willing to lend his skills to House Vadalis, Khorvaire would be a better place. Instead, he’s channeling powers normal artificers and wizards can’t understand and using them for dangerous and selfish reasons. But beyond that, the idea is that these powers can’t be easily duplicated and have come with a terrible cost. This ties to the idea that at this point I’d consider him an aberration, and that he may be bound to Blackroot. Even if people in Arcanix could copy what he’s doing, they might not WANT to; anyone who could master his techniques would likely lose their humanity in the process.

Have you ever used Mordain in your campaign? if so, share the story below! Thanks as always to my Patreon supporters, who make these articles possible!

Q&A

We’ve never heard much about Mordain’s life before his horrific experiments were uncovered and he was excoriated. His excoriation happened two hundred years ago. Within the lifetime of elves, gnomes, and dwarves. To those who knew him before… How shocking was the discovery of his experiments. Was he well regarded and liked within The Twelve before?

I think that Mordain was a prodigy who was always pushing beyond the limits of acceptable arcane science. I think his RESULTS were respected, but I think he probably angered many seneschals and stepped on a lot of toes—and took a lot of paths that were forbidden. “Dammit, Mordain! Look at what happened to the Closed Circle in Sharn. There’s a REASON no one’s revised Dyrnin’s techniques!” I suspect that he was passionate and brilliant, and that may have won him some friends or followers. But I also think that his revelations came with a cost. I’ve suggested that at this point I’d consider him to be both a sociopath and an aberration. I think Mordain today isn’t the person he was when he started at the Twelve; and I think that by the time the Twelve failed to execute him, those who knew him were horrified by what he’d become.

With that said, the sourcebook City of Stormreach mentions Elira Dawn, a wizard and war criminal who was a protege of Mordain’s—though it incorrectly states that Mordain taught at Arcanix. One possibility is that Elira studied alongside Mordain at the Twelve; suggesting that he did have a following before his fall. The other possibility is that she worked with him AFTER he was excoriated, as I suggest could be an option for a PC wizard or warlock.

Any info on how Mordain has escaped the ire of the dragons? That level of power feels like something they’d be uncomfortable with, but more than that the last time someone tried to magebreed a new Mark into existence they destroyed an entire family line.

There’s a few answers to this. The first is that the dragons really don’t care about something unless it threatens the Prophecy or Argonnessen. The fact that they HAVEN’T destroyed Mordain implies that he’s done neither of those things. You’re correct that they took drastic action to deal with Vol, but part of that is because Vol succeeded—They DID create an apex mark, something that surely DID have Prophetic significance. By contrast, Mordain ATTEMPTED to make a new dragonmark and FAILED COMPLETELY. If he had succeeded, it might have spelled his doom; odds are likely that there was never any chance of his success.

The dragons aren’t peeking over the shoulder of every wizard. When adventurers get to 18th level they aren’t immediately killed by angry dragons. Mordain’s techniques are impressive, but compared to the epic magics the dragons used to destroy Xen’drik, they’re not THAT impressive. He’s a big deal in KHORVAIRE, but he’s hasn’t done anything that makes him a serious threat to Argonnessen.

59 thoughts on “Dragonmarks: Mordain the Fleshweaver

    • Mordain was born into House Phiarlan, but I don’t believe it’s ever been said that he HAS a dragonmark. It’s not unreasonable to think that his early interest in genetic modification was tied to the fact that he DIDN’T manifest the mark and was curious if he could force it. But this definitely falls into the category of “Would you LIKE him to have experimented or expanded the powers of his dragonmark?”

      • This was the first question that occurred to me. So maybe he has the Mark of Shadow, maybe not. The notions that Mordain has become Blackroot conjured up the amusing image that, if you approached the tower from the right angle, you’d see a giant Mark of Shadow traced along its twisted surfaces.

  1. I kinda like the idea of a member of a rare race getting thrown out of a random portal near him, (from another setting perhaps? starjammer/finder maybe?) all alone, and he goes “i haven’t seen that race before, they look neat, i’ll replicate them into a proper population to there are more of them around and keep a few for backups/tests”

    and thats how you get Stellifera in Eberron.

  2. One of the things that bubbled out of the server’s more unusual discussions was the possibility that Mordain has a relatively innocent “daughter” (mechanically a Simic hybrid) who doesn’t see anything unusual in Mordain’s experiments and might actually be sent as an envoy when Mordain needs a presence somewhere. And if she’s killed; well, Mordain made her once, he just makes another one. The name we ended up with was “You”. As in “Hey, You, pass me the centaur hooves.” Could be a contact for a Mordain-aligned party.

    • Original thought: have you heard of the Elder Scrolls character called Divath Fyr? He’s a centuries (at least) old elf who has four “test tube” daughters in a world where medieval stasis is very in effect. He also keeps an asylum/dungeon that he keeps sufferers of an incurable disease wander in, partly of protection and mostly because he wants to figure out a cure as an intellectual challenge. Finally, he keeps a series of locked chests with keys in said dungeon solely to tempt adventurers with.

      In short, is this the sort of character Mordain could be?

      • It could be, but I also see Mordain as projecting experiments into the world as opposed to having to lure people in. Dolurrh’s Dawn and the Forest of Flesh are both examples of him creating something IN the world, and to me it’s important that he has that capability—that he COULD transform the people of a Brelish village into tortles or drop a gargantuan gelatinous cube on Fairhaven. This isn’t to say that he does that sort of thing OFTEN—but that it’s something he’s capable of. He may not leave his tower, but he’s not just stuck in there waiting for people to show up.

        With that said, I could definitely see him creating a dungeon explicitly as a place to test out new creations and tempting adventurers to come visit.

        • “I could definitely see him creating a dungeon explicitly as a place to test out new creations and tempting adventurers to come visit.”
          I’m imagining him creating enough that he has it semi-automated by now…

          The Adventurers come to the end of a perilous dungeon, only for a magical image of Mordain to appear

          “Congratulations Intrepid adventurers, you are the 500th adventurers to challenge this Dungeon, you win a free goodberry sapling, if you wish to leave, take the portal to the left, which will transport you close to a random city or town, feel free to check out the gift shop on the way out, where you can buy many of my creations for reasonable prices, we currently have a special on Lime flavored Gelatinous cubes, cut a bit off and it turns into non-acidic, non-toxic Lime Gelatin after two minutes, just feed the rest of the cube biological material and it will regrow the missing piece.
          Warning, overfeeding the Lime Flavored Gelatinous Cube may have hazardous consequences, consuming pieces before the two minutes are up may cause health risks.

    • Oh, sort of a Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas, but she’s on version Sally 4.3.3 with more patches in store for the future.

  3. I’m using Mordain as a not quite hidden threat with an interest in the changlings of Lost. One of my players is seeking out the village and just became aware that Mordain was using him as a stalking horse to reveal Lost’s whereabouts. Mordain created an oblex, replacing one the character’s contacts. The oblex was unstable, and though it absorbed & destroyed the population of one of Sharn’s larger casino cafeterias, the party escaped. Now the player still wants to find Lost, but has to do so without Mordain finding out. I’m thinking of involving the Cabinet of Faces but I’m not sure if they would oppose Mordain or be subject to surreptitious manipulation by him.

  4. It’s funny that you mentioned having him with work with an organization your group is fighting. I have him working with House Tarkanan and he has made the leader a large number of clones (similar situation of Alter Carbon and it’s many clones)

  5. I love Mordain the Fleshweaver simply because of how pulpy he is. He reminds me of a comic book supervillain or a classic mad scientist. Ridiculously powerful, can’t be killed permanently, full of wacky inventions, yet somehow never uses his power for conventional ambitions. Is there any way of using Mordain as the main villain of a campaign, if I were to go for a comics style tone? You’ve mentioned it’s possible for him to take personal interest in the PCs for one reason or another, and that sounds like a fantastic way to personalize a conflict.

    • “Ridiculously powerful, can’t be killed permanently, full of wacky inventions, yet somehow never uses his power for conventional ambitions” is pretty much a perfect summary of Mordain. You certainly COULD use him as the central villain of a pulp-style campaign, always coming up with a new threat (gargantuan gelatinous cube!). The main thing to me is that I don’t see him as having a grand conquer-the-world goal… so I would probably make it a situation where he keeps dropping monsters and threats in front of the PCs, and the question is WHY he keeps targeting their region.

      • Part of the reason I thought of using him as a pulpy villain is how perfect he is for the “monster of the week” genre. The PCs could fight a different creature every time they encounter his nefarious plans. I could even picture him jotting down notes and grinning evilly in his lair as he watches the fight through a crystal ball.

        My idea is to give him the grand goal of creating something extremely horrible and destructive. He doesn’t care about the destruction it would wreak, only that he succeeded in creating the impossible. Maybe he’s trying to grow a Daelkyr from scratch, just to see what would happen. Thoughts?

  6. Oh! I’d forgotten about Mordain, and he will work perfectly as an explanation for why one of my pcs is a pseudo-clone with a functioning dragonmark marred by a Khyber shard he cannot remove.

  7. Would Mordain be capable of recreating the sort of genetic/magical alteration that the giants or dragons possibly achieved? Elves and drow (possibly dwarves), dragonborn and orcs, that sort of thing?

    If he isn’t, would ancient Sulat ruins/Umbragen temples be something with valuable knowledge he’d value?

    Or is that all boring and small minded when he can be creating the next age instead of copying previous ones?

    • I think Mordain’s techniques have more in common with the daelkyr than with the Sulat giants. I think he could certainly get similar results—making a human into a tortle seems at least as significant as making an elf into a drow—but he probably uses different methods. I think he’d be INTERESTED in Sulat tools and techniques—it’s certainly the kind of thing that could be used as a drive for adventure—but I don’t know how much it would revolutionize what he can do.

  8. We’ve never heard much about Mordain’s life before his horrific experiments were uncovered and he was excoriated. His excoriation happened two hundred years ago. Within the lifetime of elves, gnomes, and dwarves. To those who knew him before… How shocking was the discovery of his experiments. Was he well regarded and liked within The Twelve before?

    • It’s an interesting question with a few aspects. I think that Mordain was a prodigy who was always pushing beyond the limits of acceptable arcane science. I think his RESULTS were respected, but I think he probably angered many seneschals and stepped on a lot of toes—and took a lot of paths that were forbidden. “Dammit, Mordain! Look at what happened to the Closed Circle in Sharn. There’s a REASON no one’s revised Dyrnin’s techniques!” I supsect that he was passionate and brilliant, and that may have won him some friends or followers. But I also think that his revelations came with a cost. I’ve suggested that at this point I’d consider him to be both a sociopath and an aberration. I think Mordain today isn’t the person he was when he started at the Twelve; and I think that by the time the Twelve failed to execute him, those who knew him were horrified by what he’d become.

      With that said, the sourcebook City of Stormreach mentions Elira Dawn, a wizard and war criminal who was a protege of Mordain’s—though it incorrectly states that Mordain taught at Arcanix. One possibility is that Elira studied alongside Mordain at the Twelve; suggesting that he did have a following before his fall. The other possibility is that she worked with him AFTER he was excoriated, as I suggest could be an option for a PC wizard or warlock.

  9. How interested do you imagine Mordain to be in Warforged? Could he have possibly helped created them, or be creating some mutant version of them?

    I also like the idea that Mordain had a dragonmark, but his first experiment was to turn it into an aberrant dragonmark, but over the centuries he may have removed it, or restored it or something like that. What are your thoughts on this?

    I love the idea of Mordain having brought Simic Hybrids to Khorvaire, or created something very similar to them. What would they be called? I was thinking something like Mordainspawn, or the Warped.

    Did you create Mordain? What characters inspired him?

    I am definitely going to have some form of appearance of Mordain in my current Eberron campaign. In my last session, my players saw a very large Siberys Dragonshard fall from the sky, landing somewhere in the Shadow Marches. I am going to have Mordain either send a simulacrum of himself to pick it up to be used in an Eldritch Machine, or try to find the object that knocked it out of the sky. What interest (if any) would Mordain have in creating an eldritch machine, and what would an eldritch machine of his design possibly do?

    • How interested do you imagine Mordain to be in Warforged? Could he have possibly helped created them, or be creating some mutant version of them?

      This is a YMMV situation. I wouldn’t have him directly involved in their creation because I think that creates too many cooks; but it could be interesting to say that Aaren d’Cannith studied with Mordain for a while and no one knows what he learned or what price he paid for that knowledge. In general, though, I think of Mordain as working with FLESH—even though warforged are partially organic, they’re more plant than animal.

      I also like the idea that Mordain had a dragonmark… What are your thoughts on this?

      It’s never something I’ve really utilized with him. The slight danger is that if he DOES successfully tamper with dragonmarks, he’s interacting with the Prophecy and could come into conflict with Argonnessen (consider the Line of Vol). As noted in the article, the fact that they’ve left him alone suggests that he HASN’T succeeded at this. But do what you want in your campaign!

      Did you create Mordain? What characters inspired him?

      On the one hand he fills the role of Baba Yaga: mysterious, powerful, sometimes an ally and sometimes a monster. He’s also certainly inspired by Victor Frankenstein and Doctor Moreau—scientists obsessed with creating or evolving life and tampering with forces mortals would be wise to leave alone. Also, to be very obscure, he’s isnpired by the mercenary The Black Hand from the game Divine Right, released by TSR in the ’70s: a powerful and disturbing wizard who is a neutral force in the midst of a war, feared by all but with no stake in the war.

      What interest (if any) would Mordain have in creating an eldritch machine, and what would an eldritch machine of his design possibly do?

      Most of the magic Mordain does is the sort of thing that could only be done using eldritch machines; there’s no standard process I’m aware of that creates gargantuan gelatinous cubes. Something like Dolurrh’s Dawn probably involved an eldritch machine. His experiments generally involve either creating new life or transforming existing life; I think the question is which of those would be most interesting in the region in question?

    • Also, if you’re dealing with a massive dragonshard falling in a swamp region and the involvement of Mordain, I’d definitely recommend you check out the movie Annihilation if you haven’t already done so.

      • Thanks for the recommendations. One of my players is a warforged Battle Smith Artificer that has a corrupted dragonmark half Mark of Making, with corrupted aberrant ends of the dragonmark. I know this is contradictory to the nature of dragonmarks, but the Mourning had an affect on it, also helped transfer a House Cannith’s dragonmark partially to his body. I asked what Mordain’s thoughts on warforged are because of this. If Mordain managed to warp his dragonmark (if he has any, I still haven’t decided) I think he would be very intrigued by this character, and I’m not sure what his reaction would be. I think it depends on how they meet and interact. They could be allies, or bitter enemies, or neutral.

        I agree it would be troublesome for Mordain to have a dragonmark and to have tampered with it, though I do think he would have attempted to do so if he had one. He may have kept it a secret.

        I like that Mordain is so mysterious and macabre.

        I like the idea of Mordain possibly stealing or borrowing energy and power from Daelkyr, I think I’d make him have some connection to Xoriat in my campaign, not direct, but it influenced him in some way, maybe he wandered into a Xoriat manifest zone during one of his experiments, causing an eldritch machine of his to malfunction, possibly driving him insane and warping his body a bit.

        In my last session, the party saw a large Siberys dragonshard, about the size of a car, be knocked out of the Ring of Siberys by a glowing purple orb. In my game, this is a Elminster just breaching the Ring of Siberys in an sphere of abjuration magic. He crashed down in South Eastern Aundair, and I was wondering what Mordain’s reaction to Elminster would be. I imagine he would be threatened by his power, and would either try to get rid of him, or work with him on experiments. What are your thoughts on this?

        Again, thanks for your feedback. I really appreciate it.

  10. Would Mordain be agreeable to providing Clan Soldorak dwarves with body modifications to counter the Daelkyr? What could he want in exchange?

    • Soldorak is known for its wealth, but Mordain doesn’t NEED wealth. One logical answer is that he wants daelkyr artifacts—which might even be things that have no value to anyone else, like “bile pods,” but which would be useful to his research. Another option would be something less pleasant: he wants to be granted full right to experiment as he sees fit on a particular town in Soldorhold, or that the Soldoral must send five noble dwarves to Blackroot (as raw materials) at the start of each year.

  11. Very intriguing character, not much scarier than an unfettered scientist/wizard with tremendous power and no particular focua beyond perfection.

    Since Mordain turned away envoys asking him to take part in the last war should he be read as apolitical or just that he’s too mercurial for the average politician to negotiate with?

    • Since Mordain turned away envoys asking him to take part in the last war should he be read as apolitical or just that he’s too mercurial for the average politician to negotiate with?

      I’d say some of each. He doesn’t care about wealth and crowns. People are essentially lab rats waiting to be used; he doesn’t care what one nation does to another. So he’s not interested in gold and he doesn’t want to get entangled in an ongoing conflict that would distract him from his work. Basically, they have nothing to offer that’s worth his time and trouble.

      • Then they were poor envoys; They have things he needs, raw material to experiment with; prisoners and criminals, for example.

        • Sure! The issue is that if he chose a side in the war—assisted Aundair against Breland—he’d also be inviting reprisals from Breland, which would be an annoying distraction from his work. Are a bunch of prisoners worth that distraction? By remaining neutral—with the underlying threat that if anyone DOES bother him, he might assist their enemies—he minimizes those distractions.

          It’s not that the nations have nothing to offer; the question is whether what they have to offer is worth the degree of distraction becoming involved in the war would have brought.

  12. Do creatures that can naturally or supernaturally change hold more of an interest for Mordain? The example lists him as sending spliced lycanthropes back, but what of mimics, changelings, dopplegangers or even the city of Lost? Would those be specimens Mordain would hold higher value for or a medium that he feels he has a better understanding of?

    • Looking to lycanthropes, my thought is primarily that lycanthropy is a supernatural DISEASE that can affect any humanoid; what he’d be interested in modifying is lycanthropy itself. So working with lycanthropy is essentially a bigger thing than experimenting with changelings. Changelings themselves seem fairly common to draw his interest, but I could see doppelgangers being interesting because of the daelkyr modifications (under current lore). As for Lost, he COULD certainly take an interest in it (and I think someone else has mentioned a campaign where he has). However, he’s been residing in the region for over a century, so my main question would be “Why now?” Which isn’t to say that he wouldn’t DO it — I’d just what to know what it is that has made it worth pursuing now, when he hasn’t bothered them in the past.

  13. Adore the writeup! I’m especially fond of him as an “excuse” backstory for a very weird PC; a friend of mine wants to play his heavily-fleshwarped former apprentice.

    Is there any chance we can get another EE preview soon? It’s so close, and I still have no clue what’s in it!

  14. Another great article, thanks!

    A few years back my party had to venture inside the Blackroot. We were sent by the Gatekeepers in order to retrieve a spy the druids planted there (no pun intended), and who felt ominously silent. Eventually, once we had our hands on our guy, we chose to flee with him instead of battling Mordain up front. I’m so glad to get confirmed here in your very words that “fighting Mordain is simply a bad idea”! ^^’ (…even if our DM playfully laments since then about the aborted occasion to see the paladin charge through the Reverse Gravity field that she prepared.) (We didn’t try either to open some heavily secured door we found on the basement. Strong suspicion there’s actually a Daelkyr imprisoned there.)

  15. To me Mordain is basically Eberron’s Mr Sinister; Obviously since I play a version of Eberron which is a bit more Hight Fantasy and Hight Magic, there are stronger wizards then him in the field.

    • Yes, that’s a reasonable analogy in the Marvel universe. The Lord of Blades is more of a Magneto, fighting on behalf of his people; Mordain wants to be left alone to do his enigmatic experiments.

  16. The mention of him making a dungeon for entertainment/test made me think of the infamous Tomb of Horrors. That got me thinking of what other modules Mordain could be used in.

    The mention of “talent for manipulating extradimensional space” could make him the ultimate creator of Skarda’s Mirror. That would give plenty of options for an interesting follow up considering what happens to the mirror dimension in the end.

  17. EARN YOUR WEIGHT IN SOVEREIGNS. Research assistants wanted to monitor field experiments. Duties include daily observations, enforcing containment protocols and site cleanup. The ideal candidate will have excellent notetaking and observational skills, training in arcana, and significant combat experience. Please send curriculum vitae to box 3745, Graywall Message Station.

  18. I like to think that Mordain is dragonmarked and a powerful illusionist by blood and talent, as well as a powerful transmuter from his studies delving into daelkyr magic. I like the idea of Mordain having hidden his worst experiments underneath powerful illusions of a more normal laboratory/work station/tower/etc. and his colleagues discovering to their horror what has been hiding among them the entire time.

    With regards to the Last War, remember also that anyone inviting Mordain to fight risks the mad scientist unleashing powerful and indiscriminate war magic on the battlefield. It may be just as well that Mordain not be asked to involve himself, for the betterment of everyone else.

  19. What would happen to a Doluhrri Tiefling in Ravenloft? One of my players wants to play one, and a lot of the Ravenloft one-shots on DMs Guild look like fun, but I can’t help but think they should be totally incapacitated by the screams of the dead once they enter the Demiplane of Dread. How would you handle it?

    • Maybe it could be the opposite? Free of Eberron’s proprietary planar system, Doluhrri included, for once in their life hears nothing.

  20. I’ve long thought that owlbears look like someone tried to make their own style of griffon but the result ended up with a hyper-aggressive madness that made them unsuitable for anything but terrorism. Maybe they’re an early product of Mordain’s Lab?

    • To quote Dragonmarked:

      “The dragonmarked houses have their own laws, some older
      than Galifar. An heir who violates the laws of a house is
      made an excoriate: stripped of the house name and forbidden
      from drawing on house resources. In its original
      form, this punishment typically involved true excoriation,
      or the cutting away of the skin bearing the outcast’s
      dragonmark. Despite a dragonmark’s ability to reform in
      time, this process (especially for elite heirs with a greater
      dragonmark) was often intentionally lethal.”

    • It is also an actual word

      https://lmgtfy.com/?q=excoriate

      “excoriate verb
      ex·​co·​ri·​ate | \ ek-ˈskȯr-ē-ˌāt \
      excoriated; excoriating
      transitive verb

      1: to wear off the skin of : ABRADE
      2: to censure scathingly”

      Making it REALLY appropriate to the context it’s used in

      • I know it’s a word. The reason I thought Keith made a mistake is because the dictionary definitions of “excoriate” don’t make sense given the context here. You can’t be excoriated *from* something, given the standard definitions. That would be like saying “I was criticized from my mother,” instead of “I was criticized by my mother.”

        None of this should be taken as a remark against Keith’s invented definition, which I think is super cool.

        Also, please don’t imply that I don’t know how to google something, when I know what “excoriate” means and apparently I have a better understanding of prepositions than you do.

  21. Keith, do you intend to ever reveal the story behind Mordain’s failed magebred dragonmarked house? I guess he tried to selectively breed and stabilize aberrant dragonmarks, or something like that, but the fact that Mordain’s own family was destroyed due to the fallout of his failure points to the experiment reaching a large scale before blowing out of control… It sounds really interesting…

  22. Would Mordain be responsible for the existence some of the anthromorphic animal races like Tanaxi and Tortles? I mean, races that are basically some type of non-primate twisted into the form of a bipedal ape doesn’t seem like something that would repeatedly happen naturally.
    I guess the larger question is what to do with the proliferation of races which have been added to the D&D mythos since Eberron was first developed 16 or so years ago. I know “if it has a place in D&D, it has a place in Eberron”, but I don’t want to ruin the flavor of the setting by cramming everything in randomly as Forgotten Realms tends to.
    Both worlds may contain the ingredients of a seven-course meal, but Eberron seems better at pacing them, while FR runs the whole thing through a blender.

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