Dragonmarks: The Gnomes of Pylas Pyrial

In September, my Patreon supporters chose “Gnomes Beyond Zilargo” as the topic of the month, and I partially covered the topic with this article on The Gnomes of Lorghalen. It’s no longer September, but I wanted to address the Gnomes of Pylas Pyrial before moving on to the next topic.

The Glamerwind River connects the Zil city of Oskilor to the Thunder Sea. There’s only a few small villages along the banks of the river. But choose the right time to sail down the Glamerwind and you may hear ethereal music coming from the Shimmerwood. At night, you might see swarms of glimmering lights dancing among the trees—flights of pixies creating dazzling displays of illusion. If you abandon your boat and follow the music or the dancing lights, you may find a massive tower rising up in a vast clearing, a spire of glowing white stone entwined with threads of gleaming gold. This is Pylas Pyrial, the Gate of Joy—a citadel of the Faerie Court, a wonder from Thelanis momentarily in the mortal world.

Pylas Pyrial is a feyspire. Most of the time it rests in the Moonlit Vale of Thelanis, at certain times it is drawn into Eberron. Usually this occurs when the moon Rhaan is full, but this alone isn’t the determining factor; according to Shan Pyrial, the ruler of the spire, it is the “tides of joy” that draw it to the material plane. Even when it is present, it can’t always be found; people have wandered in the Shimmerwood for days, trying to follow the music and yet never finding it. Additional information about the feyspires can be found in the 4E Eberron Campaign Guide. In general, most feyspires remain hidden from the nations that surround them and are known only from stories. Pylas Pyrial has been known to the gnomes since long before Zilargo was founded, and the majority of the inhabitants of the feyspire are gnomes. Many Korranberg scholars believe that the gnomes of Eberron are most likely descended from gnomes who left Pylas Pyrial long ago; this explains the natural talents for illusion and wild speech that many gnomes develop, both of which are common among the gnomes of Pylas Pyrial. The question is why these ancient gnomes would have left Pylas Pyrial in sufficient numbers to create a beachhead for a new species on Eberron… and adding to this mystery is the fact that Shan Pyrial refuses to discuss it.

While Pylas Pyrial is known to the Zil, they haven’t spread the news of its existence widely. It’s generally seen as a family secret shared by the Zil—told as a story that they know is real. But given how sporadically it appears, one can’t ever be sure of finding it. The region of the Shimmerwood surrounding the tower is a powerful Thelanian manifest zone, and those who have tried to clear the forest or build too close to the spire have always suffered disasters; and those who come to the spire driven by greed cannot pass through the gates. There are a few villages along the Glamerwind, whose people maintain ties with the spire and rejoice when it returns… and there are agents of the Trust in these villages, who monitor the tower and make sure the fey don’t pose a threat to the nation. But by and large Pylas Pyrial is allowed to be a wonder. While it’s shown on OUR maps, the Zil don’t mark it on the standard maps they produce; after all, most of the time it’s not there!

THE GNOMES OF JOY

When the Prince of Summer was betrayed by his lover, his heart froze and he became the Prince of Frost. So bitter was he that he tore the sun from the sky, swearing that there should be no light in the vale while there was no light in his heart. None of the lords of the court challenged him. Some remained silent out of fear, but most found that they preferred to live in moonlight, and so the Moon Court found its name. But there was a gnome who loved to dance under the sun and sought a respite from the somber shadows. She went to the prince’s palace of frozen tears, and found the doors frozen shut. She sang a happy song, and caught the notes as they rose to the sky, carrying her to the highest tower. The prince’s servants barred her path, but the gnome danced with them and melted their frozen hearts. She found the prince on his glittering throne, and begged for him to return the sun. The Prince challenged the gnome to dance for him, to maintain her high spirits while he spoke of every tragedy of the past and of those yet to come. The Prince was certain her heart would freeze as his had, but the gnome held fast to her hope and her light. At last the Prince relented, telling her: You shall be the Prince of Joy, keeper of the summer sun. But you must keep it within your own tower until all of the lords of the Moon Court ask for its return. And you must keep joy bright in your heart, for if it ever fades, the sun will fade with it.

Consider the basic attributes of the Forest gnome. They’re quick, they’re clever, they have a talent for illusions and the ability to speak with small beasts. Add to this mix strong curiosity and a general love of life. These are the gnomes of Pylas Pyrial. In dealing with a Pyrial gnome, imagine that they have stepped right out of a folktale—because in a very real sense, they have. They live in a world that is defined by storybook logic, a world where a good heart and noble intent will allow the reckless hero to overcome those who would do them harm. Some Pyrial gnomes are idealistic and naive, easily deceived; however, others are far more clever than their enemies expect, affecting trust to convince an enemy to lower their guard. However, even such cunning gnomes are never cruel or driven by selfish goals. Joy is the defining principle of Pylas Pyrial. The spire and its people celebrate life, embracing the brightest moments and pushing through the dark.

If this sounds extremely optimistic for the noir-touched world of Eberron, it’s because it is. Pylas Pyrial isn’t a mortal city. It’s an idea, a story about the happiest place on Eberron. It’s a place where the sunlight never fades, where there is always music and laughter. It’s a city where everyone looks out for each other, where people give the happiness of a neighbor the same weight as their own. If it’s hard to imagine how this works, the answer is to not look at it too closely. Because again, on a certain level it’s not real. The gardens always produce a surplus. The golden light of the Summer Sunbanishes disease. Most of its people have never experienced hardship or bitter loss. Some are artisans, creating the wonders that are part of everyday life in the Spire. Some are entertainers, tasked to sing and dance, raising the spirits of those who see and hear them. Others tend the gardens and work in the kitchens, for in Pylas Pyrial every day ends with a grand feast and celebration. Regardless of their position, the people of Pylas Pyrial love what they do, and love bringing happiness to those around them.

Pylas Pyrial typically only appears in Zilargo for a few days each year. Its people welcome guests, but those carrying greed or cruelty in their hearts cannot pass through the Gate of Joy. This is a trait of the gates themselves, not something the guards can control; generally, the guards will talk with those who cannot enter, trying to learn what burdens them and help them to find a path to joy. Once within the spire, strangers are celebrated. The people of Pylas Pyrial are always curious to learn more about the “Sunlit World” (their name for Eberron, in contrast to the Moonlit Vale where the spire spends most of its days). Visitors are encouraged to tell stories, and display whatever talents they might possess. Entertainers will find an enthusiastic audience, and the day always ends with a glorious heroes feast.

The people of Pylas Pyrial trade with the local villagers, and it’s possible to obtain wonders here; common magic items truly are commonplace, and more powerful items can be obtained. But the Pyrial gnomes have no need of gold and no interest in profit. They seek things that bring joy, and may be willing to trade a magic item for a fantastic joke or a heirloom that has brought delight to many despite having no real value. They may also trade things in exchange for promises—a promise to spread joy or to help those dwelling in darkness. But bear in mind that those driven by greed cannot pass the gates, and further that as Pylas Pyrial is on the edge of Thelanis, promises made here carry great weight. While the spire can be a source of wonderful magic items, the creations of Pylas Pyrial cannot easily be replicated in the Sunlit World of Eberron; Zil artificers have long tried to reverse-engineer these gifts, but the magic woven into them is tied to Thelanis and defies all logical arcane science.

The spire itself is surprisingly reminiscent of one of the great towers of Sharn; it is a vast hollow cylinder, with people living on ledges around the edges and platforms and bridges crossing it. At a glance, it seems that the sun itself is at the top of the spire, but in fact this is a globe in a golden cage. The Pyrials say that this is the sun the prince plucked from the sky in Thelanis; on closer examination, it seems to be a crystal sphere about the size of a wagon wheel. Flights of pixies and sprites fill the air. There is always music, and yet it can dramatically change from platform to platform. The temperature is perfect, and there are delightful scents in the air… but both those scents and the temperature vary to match what delights you. On some platforms people play games; on others people dance, dine, or contemplate things of beauty. Many visitors might wish to remain forever, but few can. Most creatures of the Sunlit World will find themselves left behind when the spire departs, suddenly standing in the Shimmerwood. Those who do remain within find it easy to be lost in the endless celebration, losing track of time and whatever goals they might have had. However, those who keep their wits about them can venture out into the Moonlit Vale. In this way, Pylas Pyrial can both provide a passage to Thelanis and a safe haven for adventurers who wish to explore it or negotiate with the Moon Court.

Trouble In Paradise

At a glance, Pylas Pyrial is a magical wonderland… A literal embodiment of joy. Those with evil in their hearts can’t cross its threshold. But there are a number of ways to challenge the joy of Pylas Pyrial. Consider the following ideas…

  • Wounded in War. During the Last War Aundair launched a sneak attack against Zilargo, targeting a production facility in the Shimmerwood creating alchemical weapons for Breland. This force—which included ground troops, siege staffs, and a team of bombardiers on skystaffs—successfully made it up the Glamerwind, but mistook Pylas Pyrial for its target. The spire withstood the fierce siege, but sustained damage before it disappeared, and a number of residents of the spire who’d been wandering in the woods were left behind. Shan Pyrial was injured in this attack and her wound will not heal; some fear that the vision of war has wounded her sense of joy, and should that fade the tower will crumble and perhaps, the sun itself will be extinguished. It may be that the spire has not returned to Eberron since then, or that if it has the inhabitants have refused to open the gates.
  • Stranded on Eberron. The 4E Eberron Campaign Guide proposed the idea that a number of Feyspires have been trapped on Eberron since the Mourning, and that the cataclysm also stripped the towers of the defenses that have kept them hidden—along with the enchantments that keep those of evil intent from entering the spire. In the past, the people of Pylas Pyrial knew that visitors had to have good intent and that the visit would only last a few days. Now the spire is trapped, possibly forever. And the longer it remains, the more its fairytale magic may also begin to fade. What do they do if their gardens begin to fade and they don’t have enough food for their endless feasts? Can hope sustain the Gate of Joy even if its magic fades? Will they join the Triumvirate, and if so, will they accept the Trust, or will they defy it?
  • Hidden Serpents. The effect that prevents those with evil intent from entering Pylas Pyrial is powerful magic, but that doesn’t mean it’s impervious. Perhaps some evil force has taken root inside the citadel. One possibility is rival fey: the Prince of Frost may still yearn to see Shan Pyrial thrown into despair, and his agents could try to trick adventurers into being their tools. Or perhaps a rogue dragon has plans for the tower—or the Trust has managed to get a foothold, not realizing that their malign intentions could poison the spire itself. Perhaps someone seeks to steal the Summer Sun; this is a powerful artifact and immense source of power, but its removal could doom the spire.
  • Magical Mystery Tour. The spire rejects those who come with greed in their hearts, and the Zil don’t spread word of its existence. But the gnomes who dwell on the Glamerwind love the spire, and a Zil might want to bring friends to the Feyspire. Or perhaps House Ghallanda has learned of the spire and begun to arrange a few expeditions for those seeking something truly exotic; the tour guide’s heart may be weighed down by greed, preventing them from entering the spire, but they can still bring others to it! Pylas Pyrial doesn’t follow an entirely reliable schedule, but there are times it’s most LIKELY to appear. So adventurers could be invited to visit the spire by Zil friends or asked to accompany a Ghallanda tour, perhaps to protect high-paying celebrities from across Khorvaire…

Pyrial Characters

The first question with any Pyrial character is why you’ve left the Gate of Joy to walk the decidedly unjoyful world. A few possibilities…

  • Curiosity. You’re that storybook hero whose curiosity draws them into endless danger. You’ve always been fascinated by the Sunlit World and chose to leave the spire of your own free will. You may have a particular mystery you want to see or solve—Have tea with a dragon! Find a fey artifact stolen long ago! Meet every king or queen!—or you may have no agenda at all, merely trusting that the road will lead you where you need to go.
  • Agent of Joy. Shan Pyrial has charged you with a mission vital to the safety of the spire. If you’re using the Wounded in War plotline, you could be searching for something that will cure the wounded shan. If you’re using the Stranded on Eberron plotline, you might be searching for a way to return your home to Thelanis… perhaps by unraveling the mystery of the Mourning itself. Alternately, you could be trying to recover a treasure stolen from the spire by some clever mortal. A key question is how urgent this quest is. Is it the driving force of the campaign? Or do you have time to explore the world and pursue other quests—just always making sure to keep your eyes open for something that will help you as you go about other adventures?
  • War Orphan. Following the Wounded in War plotline, you could have been stranded in Eberron during the siege of Pylas Pyrial. You might have fled from the Aundairian forces, or you could have even been captured and taken back to Aundair as a prisoner. In both of these cases you may hope to return to Pylas Pyrial, though you may have realized that something’s keeping the spire from returning. Can you maintain your optimism even in the face of unrelenting adversity? Alternately, it could be that you were just a child when you were stranded, perhaps growing up as an urchin; you barely remember the Gate of Joy, but you still have the ability to weave its storybook logic into your artifice or spells.

Pyrial gnomes are defined by their optimism and their fey worldview. While they understand that evil and greedy people exist—most stories have a villain, after all—they hold to hope and to the broader belief that the world is a place of wonders and joy. Even when outwittng or battling a foe, a Pyrial gnome is never cruel. Cruel and greedy behavior on the part of those they consider friends will deeply disturb them, though they may try to draw their friends onto a brighter path rather than simply abandoning them. The key element is that Pyrial gnomes are used to living in a world that meets their expectations. The longer a Pyrial gnome dwells in the Sunlit World, the more they will have to come to terms with the cruelty and suffering that is a part of it. The question is whether hope and optimism will prove stronger than despair, or whether the gnome will be broken by the misery of the mortal world. A Pyrial gnome who’s been overcome by despair could serve as an interesting villain, as they seek to steal the hopes of others.

The second important aspect of Pyrial gnomes is that they carry a touch of Thelanis with them. They are used to operating under storybook logic… and often, that continues to work even beyond their spire. This is especially relevant with Pyrial artificers. These characters use the approach that Exploring Eberron calls “Magical Thinking”. A Pyrial Alchemist might use Cook’s Utensils as a spellcasting focus, producing baked goods with magical effects (have you ever seen someone killed by a catapult pie?). A Pyrial artillerist might use painter’s tools to paint bolts of fire that then become real. A Pyrial urchin artificer can use tinker’s tools just like any other artificer, but create things out of garbage—things that logically shouldn’t work, and yet somehow do.

While artificers are an obvious example of this, Pyrial gnomes can follow many other paths. The gnomes of Pylas Pyrial are gifted illusionists, although they generally use their magic to entertain others, not to harm them; but a Pyrial illusionist will happily use their magic to trick those who would harm others. A Pyrial rogue can describe their class abilities as being tied to remarkable luck; Sneak Attack and Evasion could both reflect being in the perfect place, an enemy stumbling, or something else that follows the story of the lucky gnome. While gnomes are naturally suited to being illusionist wizards and artificers, a Pyrial gnome could easily be an archfey warlock—especially if they’re following the path of the Agent of Joy.

Ultimately, the Pyrial gnome provides an opportunity to play a character who’s literally out of this world—a character who’s stepped out of a fairy tale and who expects the world to act like one. It can serve as a beachhead for a campaign that involves exploring Thelanis, allowing the characters to travel to the Faerie Court and serving as a safe haven while they’re there. If you explore the Wounded In War or Stranded On Eberron plots, it can be a tragic location, with its optimistic people being forced to deal with harsh reality.

Characters don’t have to be gnomes to have a connection to Pylas Pyrial. While gnomes make up a significant portion of the population, the spire is also home to eladrin and to a wide range of fey. Beyond that, any bard or archfey warlock could say that they were drawn to the spire and went with it to Thelanis, learning their skills from fey mentors.

Q&A

So are the Pyrial gnomes just normal gnomes? Or are they fey?

That depends where they are. Part of the idea is that the mortal inhabitants of Thelanis become more mortal when they leave it. Note that the 5E monster stat blocks for eladrin generally count them as fey—but eladrin player characters are simply humanoids. The gnomes of Pylas Pyrial generally use the traits of Forest gnomes, and they are especially adept with their illusions, which they use constantly to entertain; while in Pylas Pyrial, most residents also possess the abilties of prestidigitation. At the DM’s descretion, Pyrial gnomes could be considered as fey while in the spire. But when they are walking in the Sunlit World, their magic fades a little, and they are largely indistinguishable from their Zil cousins.

Has the Trust infiltrated Pylas Pyrial?

Most Zil assume that it has, but ultimately it’s up to the DM. It’s not a simple matter; agents have to be able to get past the gate, which means that they can’t have evil intent. So you could certainly have agents who just want to protect Zilargo by observing the spire—and again, protecting Zilargo is the mission of the Trust—but you couldn’t have people who hoped to somehow steal the power of the spire or profit from it. Second, you can’t be sure that your agents will remain with the spire when it returns to Thelanis; they could easily be left in the Shimmerwood. Third, for those that are taken with the spire there is a very real risk of them going native. The joy of the spire is infectious, and many would-be spies have likely been swept up in it and forgotten their original missions.

Having said that, there’s no question that the Trust MONITORS Pylas Pyrial and that it has agents in the Glamerwind villages. Someone who receives a remarkable magic item or has some sort of unusual dealings with the spire could be intercepted by Trust agents after leaving Pylas Pyrial.

Do the Dragonmarked Houses have dealings with Pylas Pyrial?

Ultimately this is up to the DM. The general idea is no: the Zil haven’t publicized it; the Pyrial gnomes don’t WANT to have a Gold Dragon Inn opening in the spire; and those driven by greed can’t enter. Given that the spire appears sporadically and that its wonders can’t easily be duplicated, it’s not the most logical investment. If I were to pursue this idea in a campaign, I wouldn’t say that the houses already have dealings with the spire—I’d focus on the idea that they have just learned about it and WANT to have dealings with it. Following on the idea of the Magical Mystery Tour, Ghallanda and Sivis could establish a Glamerwind village—a sort of amusement park on the doorstep—while Cannith could be determined to crack the secret of how fey magic works. All of these create possibilities for active interaction NOW that could involve player characters, rather than just saying that the houses have been working with the spire for centuries.

How do you pronounce “Glamerwind”?

As with anything in Eberron, you can be sure that there are people who pronounce it different ways. However, it’s “wind” as in “wind a clock”—because it’s the river that winds down to the Glamer Bay.

The Zil gnomes don’t identify themselves by clanholds like the Mror, but they do maintain deeply connected and widespread familial connections, yes? Are there family names you use when highlighting Pylas ties?

Zil don’t have clanholds, but they do have HOUSES, which are deeply established alliances of families (note that Sivis was a Zil house before it waas a dragonmarked house). However, the Pyrial gnomes don’t have any sort of concept like this, in part because Zil houses are often a foundation for intrigue and competition and the Pyrial gnomes don’t devote their energies to such things. It’s also a very small population, so a Pyrial gnome is more likely to have a name like Big Halan (because there’s only two Halans and he’s the big one) or Jala the Butcher’s Daughter. This adds to the general chicken and egg mystery of whether Zil gnomes were originally Pyrial immigrants, because you don’t have clear family links.

Do Pyrial gnomes speak the gnome language, Elvish, or Sylvan?

I consider Sylvan and Elvish to be dialects; Elvish uses Sylvan as its base, but has drifted and has a number of slang words and new concepts, and has lost other words. So anyone who speaks Elvish can understand Sylvan and vice versa, but there’s a noticeable accent and a few things that don’t perfectly translate. Meanwhile, we’ve said before that the Gnome language is an artificial, intentionally constructed language created by the early gnomes to replace what they considered to be their original, inferior language (presumably Sylvan). So yes, Pyrial gnomes speak Sylvan by default, not Gnome. There could well be some denizens of Pylas Pyrial who speak Sylvan and Gnome but don’t actually speak Common.

Regarding the Gate of Joy barring those with evil in their hearts: given Eberron’s take on alignment, does this apply to all creatures with an evil alignment or is this protection more particular than that?

It’s more particular. Note that when I first mentioned it I didn’t use the word evil, I mentioned greed and cruelty. The Gate rejects anyone who comes to the spire with evil or selfish INTENT, regardless of the alignment written on their character sheet. An evil character who truly means no harm to the spire and has no desire to profit from their visit could be allowed in, while a good character who’s there with a commercial agenda would be kept out, even if they BELIEVED their goal was a good one. You can’t come into the spire if you intend to cause harm, spread sorrow, or to take advantage of the spire or its people; it’s about purity of purpose, not just alignment.

That’s all for now! Thanks to my Patreon supporters for choosing the topic and keeping the site going. Voting on the next Dragonmark topic is starting now!

41 thoughts on “Dragonmarks: The Gnomes of Pylas Pyrial

    • My Pyrial character is an urchin (maverick) artificer who was separated from the spire during the siege and has grown up on the streets of Sharn. So they know almost nothing about their heritage, but they use magical thinking in their artifice and have a joyful and adventurous spirit.

  1. Can Pyrial gnomes develop the Mark of Scribing when the spire is on Eberron, or is it still considered too tethered to Thelanis?

    • It seems highly unlikely. Dragonmarks are tied to specific bloodlines; it’s not like any gnome has a chance to develop the mark. So you’d have to have a gnome from a Sivis bloodline conceive a child with a Pyrial gnome… and I’d personally say that unless the child gestated and was born on Eberron, they would be very, VERY unlikely to develop a mark. Dragonmarks are tied to Eberron, and a marked gnome in Pyrial would be a definite rarity.

      • But Keith, don’t have eladrins with shadow mark in Taer Syraen? I don’t have the article right now, so can be wrong, and I don’t have sure if you write (google says that was you), but I have almost sure that there is eladrins with shadow mark there… Is it something that you don’t consider kanon anymore or is there some reason for in this case be possible?

        • It’s an entirely different situation. In Taer Syraen, you specifically have a unit of shadow-marked elves who sought out the spire and who reside in it — not even an accidental birth, but an actual diverse population of heirs from THREE Phiarlan families (Thuranni, Shol, and Elorrenthi) who have become part of the population of the spire, known as the faeryvar. It is said that there COULD be eladrin with the Mark of Shadow, but this isn’t natural; it is specifically the result of MAGICAL EXPERIMENTS by First Snow, using fey-logic rituals that don’t follow the standard rules of magic. Such arcane genetic experiments are definitely a cold and dangerous thing to do, in line with the story of Taer Syraen; but the people of the Gate of Joy would never engage in such behavior, nor have they invited a significant group of scribe-marked gnomes to live in the citadel.

          So yes, there are shadowmarked elves and possibly even Eladrin in Taer Syraen; this doesn’t mean that they are or should be scribe-marked gnomes in Pylas Pyrial.

  2. The Zip gnomes don’t identify themselves by clanholds like the Mror, but they do maintain deeply connected and widespread familial connections, yes? Are there family names you use when highlighting Pylas Of risk connections; Mayflower familes as it were?

    • Zil don’t have clanholds, but they do have HOUSES, which are deeply established alliances of families (and the inspiration for the dragonmarked houses; Sivis was ALREADY a house and pushed the idea on the Twelve). However, the Pyrial gnomes don’t have any sort of concept like this, in part because Zil houses are often a foundation for intrigue and competition and the Pyrial gnomes don’t devote their energies to this. It’s also a very small population, so a Pyrial gnome is more likely to have a name like Big Halan (because there’s only two Halans and he’s the big one) or Jala the Butcher’s Daughter. This adds to the general chicken and egg mystery of whether Zil gnomes were originally Pyrial immigrants, because you don’t have clear family links.

  3. Does Pyrial gnomes have any relation with the Redcap/Madcap fey? Possibly taking joy to a more manic form or having their joy broken?

  4. What language do the gnomes in Pylas Pyrial speak IYE? I believe it may have been mentioned that Fey creatures may innately speak Elvish (rather than learning it), but I cannot source that at the moment.

    • Good point! I consider Sylvan and Elvish to be dialects of one another — there’s certainly a notable accent and a number of slang words that aren’t shared, but they are close enough that a Sylvan speaker can understand Elvish and vice versa. And yes, Pyrial natives would Sylvan/Elvish instead of Gnome; we’ve noted elsewhere that the Gnome language is an artificial artifact, created by early gnomes as a superior alternative to their original tongue (presumably Sylvan).

  5. This is great. I would love this for the Court of the Silver and the rest of the towers. Thank you so much for this.

  6. Awesome article! Question regarding the Gate of Joy barring those with evil in their hearts: given Eberron’s take on alignment, does this apply to all creatures with an evil alignment or is this protection more particular than that?

    • Good question! Note that when I first mentioned it I didn’t use the word evil, I mentioned greed and cruelty. Eberron does take a looser approach to alignment, and the general point here isn’t about what it says on your character sheet, but rather why are you coming to the spire? I’d happily allow a player character with an evil alignment to enter the spire as long as the player assured me that the character meant no harm to anyone in the spire and had no malicious or selfish intent in entering it. While on the opposite side, someone could be technically good, but still have a goal that involved monetizing the spire, and they wouldn’t be allowed in—even if they BELIEVED that this was a noble goal. Basically, the spire keeps out people who intend to bring sorrow to the spire, or to take advantage of it or harm it in some way. Among other things, as a DM, the last thing I WANT is to plan a cool adventure set in Pylas Pyrial and then say “Oh, but Bob’s evil, he can’t come with you.” But in that scenario I would have to say “Bob, the spire won’t let you in if you have evil intent. Can you honestly tell me you don’t mean to harm or profit off of the people of the spire?”

  7. Hey, Keith!

    Later I will post some questions, but now I just want say thank you for the two amazing articles about gnomes! And later maybe a article about Deep Gnomes!

    Besides I liked too much Zilargo as amazing place to explore as DM, I always felt that was not a place that as a player (and lover of gnomes) that I could use to make a gnome character in a way that fits more with what I prefer (of course, I always could make city gnome, but it is not the same thing…). This two articles fit very well in archtypes that I love play (after all, I’m already using Lorghalen article for my old Bard of Eloquence pirate) and I really grateful for the time and love that you put in all your work.

    I already said that, but thank you so much!

  8. Pylas Pyrial uses the Elvish word Pylas, which I believe means port. That makes sense given its location in Eberron, but does that also mean it’s on the water in Thelanis? Or did it start being called Pylas Pyrial by native Eberronians(?), and because of the story nature of Thelanis, take on that name? Or something else?

    • Something else. It is using the word Pylas as “Gate”. The Elvish term is commonly used with port cities, because ports are gateways to the wider world. But the Sylvan definition is “Gate”, not “Port.”

  9. You use the mechanics of forest gnomes to help explain Pyrial gnomes, but where do rock gnomes abilities come from? The fact that there’s a sizeable percentage of gnomes that just naturally know how to work with tinker’s tools in a way that no other race does seems unique. I know in the past it has been “well some gnomes are rock gnomes and other are forest gnomes, and that just represents how different gnomes specialize in either illusion or artifice,” but if forest gnome abilities come from Thelanis, it feels like rock gnome abilities should too.

    • Honestly? I just don’t like Rock Gnomes. Largely it’s because I associate them with Krynn’s tinker gnomes and because the default flavor focuses on “clockwork” and MECHANICAL tinkering, which doesn’t really fit Eberron’s approach to artifice, so I just tend to ignore them in my campaign. However, if you choose to say that the tinkering ability of the Rock Gnome is MAGICAL — that it’s not that they create a clockwork mechanism that’s mechanically sound, it’s that they create this impossible toy and it somehow works — then there’s absolutely no reason they couldn’t come from Pyrial as well; that style of artifice is very fey in flavor.

  10. About questions:

    1. Reading this article, I feel that the theme of Pylas Pyrial is similar to Shae Joridal. How would be different the fairy tale logic of Pylas Pyrial compared to Shae Joridal? Because a Feyspire that have a ruler (and probably the theme is similar to it) that inspire optimism even in dark times looks like Pylas Pyrial.

    2. Do you have possible answers to the origin of gnomes? I know that in kanon is a mistery and they didn’t come from Thelanis, but I don’t have any idea of answers that could be interesting and matter in a story.

    3. After reading this article Pylas Pyrial gnomes looks like so nice and the Prince of Joy too. Why her and the gnomes didn’t answers the call against giants from Taer Lian Doresh?

    4. The gnomes of Pylas Pyrial don’t have any concerns about Zilargo and the Trust? Because I’m thinking, probably in the migration that makes Lorghalen or Tolanen born, some went to Pylas Pyrial. And across the years in other moments probably happen too. So, they have some concern or just believe that their magic system will resolve any thing that Trust or Zilargo attempt?

    • How would be different the fairy tale logic of Pylas Pyrial compared to Shae Joridal?
      Shae Joridal and Pylas Pyrial have some similarity, but they are fundamentally different. Pyrial is JOY, while Joridal is LIGHT… but more than those broad concepts, they are defined by the story of their archfey. And the story of Taranel Tanaer will have to wait until I write an article about Shae Joridal.

      Do you have possible answers to the origin of gnomes? I know that in kanon is a mistery and they didn’t come from Thelanis…
      Kanon is a mystery and they MAY have come from Thelanis; this article specifically says “Many Korranberg scholars believe that the gnomes of Eberron are most likely descended from gnomes who left Pylas Pyrial long ago“. But ultimately, I’m not particular concerned with where each species came from; I’d rather focus on the now. Perhaps species came from demiplanes, perhaps they were created by overlords, perhaps they just naturally evolved on Eberron; the basic point is that looking to, say, gnomes and halflings, their origin isn’t a story they actually know the answer to, and it’s not something that defines them as a species. Look to humanity; how long have we actually known our origins — and note that people still argue about the origins of humanity today! NOT knowing the answer can be a thing that drives a story, as people try to find it and to prove their theories correct.

      After reading this article Pylas Pyrial gnomes looks like so nice and the Prince of Joy too. Why her and the gnomes didn’t answers the call against giants from Taer Lian Doresh?
      Because they’re not warriors; because they felt that going to war with people of the material plane was a mistake; because they felt that Shan Doresh was pursuing a crazy dream… and after all, he was the Lord of the Dreaming Citadel.

      The gnomes of Pylas Pyrial don’t have any concerns about Zilargo and the Trust? Because I’m thinking, probably in the migration that makes Lorghalen or Tolanen born, some went to Pylas Pyrial.
      It’s not that simple, for a number of reasons. First, you can’t just decide to move to Pylas Pyrial. Again, even if they let you through the gate, most of the time when the spire departs it leaves outsiders behind. You only travel with the spire if it wants to take you, and generally it doesn’t want to take you. The material plane is where you belong, little gnome!

      Second, I think you’re casting the Trust in a somewhat harsh light. The Trust doesn’t somehow desire to control the fate of all gnomes. It’s not a conquering force. It doesn’t have any REASON to take hostile action against Pylas Pyrial. The Trust acts to protect Zilargo and to enforce its laws. It’s willing to act preemptively—taking action to prevent a crime from occurring—and it has no public accountability. But it still only acts to protect the people, which is why the people of Zilargo support it; they truly TRUST the Trust, and believe that it has their best interests at heart. Pylas Pyrial wouldn’t allow the Trust to hold authority in their spire (and Trust assassins likely couldn’t enter), but it’s none of their business what choices people make beyond Pylas Pyrial. Yes, the previous article called out that people who opposed the Trust in its early days often had “accidents”, but even then the Trust was acting to enact a system it truly believed would benefit the people; its mandate is to PROTECT Zilargo, not to RULE it. Provided that Pylas Pyrial takes no actions that threaten Zilargo or its people, it isn’t a risk, and Pylas Pyrial has no desire to take such actions, so it’s not really an issue.

  11. How do aging and death work in Pylas Pyrial? I assume that Shan Pyrial herself is now an immortal archfey, but what about the rest of the gnomes? Are they still mortal? You said that the people of the Sprie don’t know bitter loss: if they’re still subject to death, is it like the passing of Aragorn in LOTR, i.e. the gnome decides it’s time, bids a fond farewell to family and friends and gnetly passes? Is it perhaps that Pylas Pyrial works like Brigadoon, and the residents only age when the city is in Eberron? Do the souls of those who die when the city is in Thelanis (assuming they do die) still pass to Dolurrh or is their a special fate?

    • How do aging and death work in Pylas Pyrial?
      While in Thelanis, mortals essentially function as the supporting cast of the story of their Feyspire. They age more slowly, but they are also less fertile; births generally only occur as necessary to maintain the population of the spire (so if many inhabitants are killed, birth rates would subsequently soar, but then they’d drop again). This ties to that point of them being consider fey while in Thelanis, but becoming humanoids when they leave; because while dwelling in Thelanis, they aren’t entirely mortal.

      With that said, they aren’t IMMORTAL either. They do eventually grow old and die, but indeed, death in Pylas Pyrial is a gentle, and painless; the victim realizes it’s their time, closes their eyes, and gently dissolves. As for Dolurrh, if creatures of Eberron die in Thelanis, they still go to Dolurrh. But when planar mortals die, their fate is unknown. One possibility is that they go to a different layer of Dolurrh than creatures of Eberron; but if so, not explorer has yet found that layer. Another possibility is that their soul energy remains in the closed system of their plane and is recycled (tying to the principle that the mortal population generally remains constant). A third possibility is that they simply bypass Dolurrh and go directly to whatever lies beyond. All of this suggests that it would be difficult to raise them from the dead, and in my Eberron, I’d likely say that it is; but don’t let what I’d do ruin the story you want to tell.

  12. So what should a DM do when a player inevitably fools them into thinking their character has no greedy/cruel intent, then proceeds to perform a greedy/cruel act while in Pylas Pyrial? Does the magical effects of the place just send them outside?

    • That’s the simplest answer—that there is no violence in the spire, and that it will simply expel anyone who causes trouble. If I took this path, I’d say that the Pyrials don’t even make a big deal about it — they don’t want to embarrass you by calling attention to it — but yup, sometimes people just vanish and appear outside, and oh darn, unhappy thoughts are weighing them down.

      But ultimately, the question is what story you want to tell. If you WANT someone to be able to steal the Summer Sun or try to assassinate Shan Pyrial, then maybe all they do have to do is get past the front game. But even if there’s no foolproof system that instantly teleports malefactors away, keep in mind that it’s a fey citadel FULL of pixies, illusionists, artificers and more. They may not want to FIGHT you, but they can charm you and ask you to leave, confound you with illusions, put you to sleep, and so on. So it may not be a FOOLPROOF system, but that doesn’t mean that they’re just helpless to deal with people who suddenly turn out to be awful people.

      • Would be interesting if you could use enchantment magic to create a sleeper agent. They’d be the happiest person in the world, enter Pylas Pyrial and only when they got in the same room with the Summer Sun would their memory return. . .

  13. Fascinating article! Loving all this info about gnomes, ‘plus I love learning more about Eberron’s fey as always. Thank you for sharing.

  14. Were the ancient Dhakaani (insofar as they traveled into the area which became Zilargo) familiar with Pylas Pyrial? As the ancient enemies of the future Zil (along with kobolds) I’d imagine a giant magical spire showing up unpredictably would ruffle some feathers in the old days, before the gnomes really got settled into civilization. Or did those enemies more occupy the areas AROUND Zilargo?

    Also, love the Wounded in War plotline, gives the PCs something to work on and fix that ties back to the conflicts of Khorvaire. I especially love that it’s Aundair, themselves possessed of a connection to Thelanis and a love of the ideal and passionate devotion, who bring this war to the “innocent” gnomes of Pylas Pyrial

    • Were the ancient Dhakaani (insofar as they traveled into the area which became Zilargo) familiar with Pylas Pyrial?
      No, I don’t think so. The Shimmerwood resists intrusion, and the Dhakaani dislike things that they can’t tame; in general, I think they’d avoid Thelanian zones. So they just never had any particular reason to BE in the area of Pylas Pyrial. It’s a big world!

      • Oh, i haven’t realized this until now, but everything connected to Thelanis with it’s storybook logic must be a horror for the hardcore realistic and pragmatic Dhakaani.

  15. Great article, Keith! I’m curious if the 4e canon that the feyspires were stranded in Eberron was one of your ideas, and whether you use it in your own campaigns.

    • I was one of the people who came up with that idea, yes — and the stranded feyspires play a central role in my novel The Gates of Night. But part of that was because eladrin had a more significant role in base 4E D&D, and it was a way to give Eladrin a unique place in the world that didn’t change the basic setting. But in general I prefer to present it as an OPTION rather than a CANON FACT. There’s lots of interesting plots you can do with stranded spires——I’m a fan of Shae Joridal——but I also really like the Wounded By War idea, and letting each spire have its own story.

      • I’m not sure that the stranded in Eberron scenario and the Wounded by War scenario are mutually exclusive. I was thinking of using both, with the stranding interfering with healing the spire. The spires in Karrnath and the Mournland already have their individual struggles from being stranded, why not others?

        • Sure, if you wanted to have the Wounded in War scenario be the REASON they’re Stranded In Eberron, that makes perfect sense.

  16. Amazing and very inspiring article. I’d love to read similar ones for every fey spire.
    A few comments, rather ideas than questions:
    – I love the idea of a Trust spy who fooled his way into Pylas Pyrial and goes deep undercover is goint native with the years. Considering the influence of Thelanis I imagine him to become a happy, upbeat storybook spy – a gnomish Austin Powers 🙂
    – As a variant to the Agent of Joy I can see a Knight of Joy, an Oath of the Ancients Paladin, very chivalric and maybe a little Parzivalesque as an Orphan brought up by an Pylas Pyrial mentor in the Shimmerwood and destined to bring back joy to the (War Wounded storyline) Shan Pyrial.
    – I really appreciate the possibilty of using Pylas Pyrial as a gateway to Thelanis, for one can wove in a little Zilargo-Pylas Pyrial-Thelanis detour/intermezzo into a campaign with quite other focus.
    Just my 2 cents at the topic

Leave a Reply to Parker W Wimberly Cancel reply

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

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