Dragonmarks: Riedra in 5E

Rising From The Last War focuses on the continent of Khorvaire. Humanity thrives on Khorvaire, but it didn’t begin there; humanity came from the continent of Sarlona. Today, Sarlona is largely a mystery to the people of the Five Nations. It is dominated by the Unity of Riedra, and while this nation isn’t hostile to the Five Nations—indeed, it provided humanitarian aid and assistance to many nations during the Last War—its borders are largely closed, with outsiders only welcome in the port cities of Dar Jin on the east coast and Dar Ulatesh to the west. Most people know that Riedra is ruled by the Inspired, nobles said to be be bound to celestial spirits; and many have heard stories of the strange forms of magic used in Riedra. But most commoners know nothing more about the realm of the Inspired.

Sarlona is described in detail in the 3.5 sourcebook Secrets of Sarlona. I personally wrote the Riedra section of that sourcebook, and my vision of the rest of Sarlona doesn’t perfectly match the canon depiction. My current goal is to expand on Secrets of Sarlona rather than to rewrite it. I may present my approach to Adar, Syrkarn, and Tashana in future articles, but these articles focus on Riedra. This article explores the narrative role of Riedra and the Inspired, and how to approach both of these in fifth edition given the limitations of the current mechanics.

THE PURPOSE OF RIEDRA

What does Riedra add to the world of Eberron? Why did we create it in the first place, and what does it offer to a campaign? Before we consider what it is, let’s take a moment call out what it isn’t. Riedra is not intended to reflect any nation or culture on Earth. It’s home to psychic warriors and soulknives, not to samurai and ninja. It’s not supposed to be some sort of version of the Soviet Union—in Eberron, the cold war is being fought between the Five Nations, not between Khorvaire and Riedra. From the beginning Riedra was always supposed to be unique and alien. It’s a culture shaped by overlords from the Realm of Dreams. It’s a realm where people craft tools and towers out of solidified emotions and where the rulers weave dreams for their subjects. It fills the pulp trope of “mysterious, isolated nation with exotic traditions.” But in looking for inspiration, don’t look to our world or our history. Look to your imagination; this is a realm that should feel as if it’s shaped from dreams and nightmares.

The core idea of Khorvaire and the Five Nations was civilizations where arcane magic has been incorporated as part of society. The most basic, core idea of Riedra was a civilization where psionics are the foundation of society. With Eberron we wanted to look at the logical consequences of magic existing; with Riedra, we wanted to do the same for psionics. At the same time, knowing that many DMs don’t LIKE psionics and feel that they clash with classical fantasy, it felt appropriate to make Riedra isolated and mysterious. DMs who WANTED to delve into psionics could either take adventures to Sarlona or simply have more contact with Riedran and Adaran characters. But that core idea was simple. Psionics are a well-established part of D&D that feel out of place directly alongside arcane magic. Let’s create a place where psionics BELONG—where they are a key tool of civilization.

The second purpose of Sarlona and Riedra is as the birthplace of humanity. We decided from the start that humans weren’t native to Khorvaire; that while they are the dominant species on Khorvaire, they are colonizers and on a fundamental level they are on the wrong side of history. But while humanity came from Sarlona, it’s no longer the land they left behind. In Riedra we have a new nation built upon the bones of those ancient realms, with many forgotten secrets waiting to be found.

Riedra is a dystopia where tyrants even control the dreams of their subjects. Or is it a utopia without crime, hunger, or doubt? We as players and DMs know that it’s an oppressive dictatorship, and yet it’s not the enemy of Khorvaire and many nations want its aid, which is again part of its story role: what do you do when your country allies with an oppressive nation? One of the fundamental principles of Eberron is that things aren’t supposed to be simple. WE know that the quori have stolen the freedom of the people of Riedra, but the greatest trick of the Dreaming Dark was convincing the people to build their own chains; the Riedrans don’t WANT your freedom. So we look at Riedra and feel that they SHOULD be the enemy; they are an oppressive dystopia, a vast and alien empire. But by default, they aren’t the enemy. So how do you deal with them? It’s the base of the Dreaming Dark, but the common people of Riedra don’t even know the Dreaming Dark exists.

So from a design perspective, here are the things Riedra brings to the world and to a campaign.

  • It’s a source for psionic content. Characters with psionic classes or abilities can be from Sarlona or have learned from a Sarlonan teacher. It provides an opportunity to introduce psionic villains and it’s a source for psionic artifacts. If you want a deep psionic campaign, it’s a place to run it. While that’s currently complicated by the lack of deep psionic rules, those rules are under development. I suggest alternatives later in this article, but if you do want to use the psi knight fighter or the soulknife rogue, this is where they belong.
  • It’s a dystopian tyranny, more inspired by 1984 or The Giver than any nation in our history. If you want to play out an underdogs-against-the-empire campaign, it’s better suited to that than any nation in Khorvaire… whether on the Adaran front, as a band of Akiak commandos, or a group of unchained dreamers hiding in the heart of the empire. Yet Riedra is also a place to explore what would we give up for security? Riedra has no crime, no hunger, no doubt. Are we so sure Khorvaire is better, with its greedy Houses, warring Wynarns, and Boromar Clan?
  • It holds the hidden bones of the nations that gave birth to humanity. Which means that it may hold many secrets lost in the Sundering. What did Khalesh know about the Silver Flame that the people of Thrane have yet to discover? Did the Pyrineans have ways to invoke the Sovereigns—new divine spells—that never made it to Khorvaire? What wonders and terrors are hidden in the war-mazes of Ohr Kaluun?
  • It’s closer to the planes than any other continent. In addition to massive manifest zones, it has wild zones—regions where a plane essentially projects into the material—and reality storms. This is a point that will be explored in greater detail in the upcoming article on the provinces.
  • Tied to a number of these points, Riedra is alien. It is shaped by spirits from another plane. It uses a supernatural science that’s all but unknown in Khorvaire, and it’s built on a foundation of nations that tapped the planes in strange ways. After a thousand years of Galifar, Khorvaire is known; Riedra is home to thriving civilizations, yet still unknown.

So in bringing Riedra into a campaign, you have a number of choices. If you have no interest in psionics you can ignore it completely. You can use it in the background, as a source for psychic characters and tools—the home of a single recurring villain or PC. You can highlight its role as an enigmatic ally—highlighting its presence in Q’barra, dealing with the Inspired ambassador at the Tain Gala—noting that it is a force that is technically helping and that the Five Nations want good relationships within, while also invoking its alien nature and dystopian aspects; if the Inspired ambassador offers aid, do the adventurers take it? If you choose to make the Dreaming Dark a major foe in the campaign, Riedra can become far more important, as diplomatic immunity and embassies serve as shields for Riedran villains. You could take the campaign to Riedra; perhaps the adventurers are fighting the Dreaming Dark or working with the Adarans, or perhaps they need to find a relic lost in a ruined temple in Khalesh or hidden in a war-maze in Ohr Kaluun. Or you could set your entire campaign in Riedra, focusing on the struggle against an all-powerful alien dictatorship that holds the common people in its thrall.

A RIEDRAN INVASION?

Riedra is a massive, tyrannical empire. The Dreaming Dark yearns to control all mortal lives. On the surface, this seems like it’s a set-up for a vast invasion. And if that’s a story you really want to tell in your campaign, your ally is Lord Zoratesh, the kalaraq quori who commands Riedra’s armies. However, in canon Eberron, it’s not a scenario that’s likely to occur. Secrets of Sarlona says…

Both the Devourer of Dreams (leader of the Dreaming Dark) and Lady Sharadhuna (leader of the Thousand Eyes) believe that (open war with Khorvaire) would be disastrous, providing a common enemy to unite the people of Khorvaire, destabilizing Riedra, and risking the ire of the dragons, the Lords of Dust, and other conspiracies currently watching from the shadows. 

Lady Sharadhuna believes that the quori don’t need Khorvaire—that dominating Sarlona is sufficient for their needs. The Devourer of Dreams does plan to conquer Khorvaire, but not through brute force. Secrets of Sarlona notes that “The unity of Riedra succeeds because the people believe that the Inspired are saviors, not conquerors.” The quori created Riedra through manipulation. They tricked the old kingdoms of Sarlona into fighting each other, eroded faith in the old religions, played on prejudices and fears. And then they created the Inspired as champions who rose up from among the common people, uniting the people to fix the disasters the quori had carefully engineered. So the PEOPLE believe that the Inspired are heroes—legends who guided them through a terrible age of darkness and into a golden age.

The Devourer of Dreams plans to use the same script in Khorvaire… and most likely is already doing it. Over the last century, a stable kingdom collapsed into chaos and civil war. This war was driven by the paranoia of the last king and by the ambitions of the heirs—exactly the sorts of emotional states that could be engineered or enhanced by quori manipulation. We’ve never said conclusively that the Dreaming Dark DID cause the Last War, because ultimately we want each DM to make that decision themselves. But it certainly fits their style. They don’t conquer with invading armies; they conquer by tricking people into tearing their own nations apart. The trick here is that if the quori DID ignite the Last War, they surely DIDN’T cause the Mourning. It’s the Mourning that has brought a sudden and immutable end to the war, as the nations are afraid to continue their battles until the mystery is solved. So if the Dreaming Dark caused the war, the Mourning is surely a deep source of frustration for them… and they are likely trying to solve this mystery themselves!

But if you want to explore the quori conquest, there’s a crucial second piece of the puzzle. The quori don’t need the people of Khorvaire to adopt Riedran customs. The Dreaming Dark wants to create a stable civilization where it controls the dreams of the public, using a system similar to the hanbalani monoliths in Riedra. But they don’t NEED people to worship the Inspired or to follow the Path of Inspiration. They created the Inspired because it fit the situation they’d created—because they were saviors who rose from within to solve the problem. If they’re using the same script in Khorvaire, they will create something local and new—a force that the people of Khorvaire will accept as their saviors. Consider a few possibilities…

  • The Sovereign Swords. Presented in Dragon 412, the Sovereign Swords are an order of selfless heroes guided by the Sovereigns and strengthened by their angels. Or are they? The Swords truly are devout champions who seek to aid those in need. But are their powers and visions coming from the Sovereigns? Or are their “angels” actually quori, and their visions carefully scripted by the Dreaming Dark? The original Inspired were heroes who rose up within the common people, guided and strengthened by celestial powers. The Sovereign Swords could be unwitting tools of the quori, following the same script… but how can adventurers be sure?
  • The Dragonmarked Houses. Again, the Dreaming Dark doesn’t need Khorvaire to resemble Riedra; it just needs the situation to be stable and it needs people to accept their quori-designed monolithic dreams. One of the basic themes of Eberron is the balance of power between the old monarchies and the dragonmarked houses. Perhaps the quori are working within one or more houses to drive this—pushing for a future in which the common people accept that the old nations are irrelevant and that the houses are the future—creating a functional dictatorship run not by godlike Inspired, but simply by gold. In such a future, the monolithic dreams could be presented as a SERVICE: House Cannith and House House Sivis working together to provide you with OneDream™, the latest in somnambulant entertainment! Tasker’s Dream is a House Sivis think tank working on the potential of telepathy; could it be a quori front?
  • The Once and Future King. Alternately, the Dreaming Dark could have helped to tear down Galifar in order to rebuild it… to its own design. The Dreaming Dark could choose one of the existing candidates and work to present them as the true, destined savior who will restore Galifar. Queen Aurala is a possibility since she is known to want to restore Galifar, but an exotic option would be Prince Oargev of Cyre—if the Dreaming Dark helps to create a narrative of how the prince who lost everything is the one destined to save us all. This option is a way to have a LITTLE bit of a Riedran invasion, since Riedra could lend troops to support Oargev’s claim—but again, the goal of the Dreaming Dark would be to convince the common people to support Oargev; they don’t want to CONQUER, they want the people to build their own cage. So using dreams and agents, they’d work to convince people that Oargev IS blessed, that the Sovereigns are behind him, that he’s the one who can sweep away the corruption and terrors of the war and restore a golden age, where even dreams are always happy.

The net point is that Riedra is a looming and powerful force, but it doesn’t want outright war with Khorvaire; instead, the Dreaming Dark seeks to rebuild from within. But who will be their figureheads and catspaws?

RIEDRA AND THE INSPIRED IN FIFTH EDITION

The basic concept of Riedra is that it’s a society built on a foundation of everyday psionics… and there’s no system for psionics in fifth edition. What’s the answer? How can you make a Dreaming Dark assassin feel suitably different from a mundane rogue? How do you make Riedra feel truly alien?

Psionic Characters and NPCs

While the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons doesn’t have finalized rules for D&D, Unearthed Arcana has explored a number of different approaches to psionics. Here’s the latest version, which includes a Soulknife archetype for rogues, a Psi-knight fighter, and a Psionic Soul archetype for sorcerers. The article also calls out that the Great Old One warlock has always had “psi-themed powers”—its class features grant telepathy, a thought shield, and the ability to mentally dominate a thrall.

So you can work with the options in Unearthed Arcana. If you want a psionics system that’s as entirely unique as the third edition system, there are third party options available on the DM’s Guild. But my personal approach is simpler. If you separate class mechanics from the default flavor associated with them, you have the tools to create a wide assortment of characters. A barbarian doesn’t have to be angry. A bard doesn’t have to be an entertainer. Consider the following ideas, which could be agents of the Dreaming Dark or heroic PCs.

  • Tactile Telekinetic. This is a human child—an urchin living in a bad part of Sharn, ignored by the world. Despite their childlike appearance, they display surprising strength—because they are channeling telekinetic ability through their body. When they are forced into battle, they’re surrounded by a translucent field of energy—a force field that reduces damage from physical attack and increases the damage of their melee attacks. As long as they are aware of threats, they can try to use their gift to shield them from threats that require a Dexterity save. That’s the STORY. Mechanically, this character is a halfling urchin barbarian. The halfling race is used to represent “young human”—small and quick. Mechanically, the character has a high strength, but they don’t LOOK like it; nothing says that a strong character has to have big muscles! The telekinetic shield is reflected by Unarmored Defense, temporarily supercharged when the character activates “Rage.” They describe “Danger Sense” as being able to deflect threats with their shield. Fast Movement? Kinetic enhancement. The point is that what Rage DOES is provide you with a temporary boost to melee damage, resistance to physical attacks, and advantage on Strength checks. It’s up to you what that looks like—whether it’s primal fury that allows you to only take half damage from physical attacks, or if you’re generating a telekinetic shield.
  • Thoughtstealer. This clever agent blends exceptional training with coercive telepathic power. They carry no weapons, preferring to strike their enemies with disorienting psychic blasts. They can use their telepathic gifts to guide the actions of their allies or to disable their enemies. And above all, they excel at beguiling their foes. This is a bard of the College of Lore, who fights with vicious mockery and describes Bardic Inspiration and Cutting Words as telepathic guidance or interference. Friends, charm person, and suggestion round out their powers of mental coercion; they could add sleep as the power to shut down enemy minds, and detect thoughts is an obvious choice. Bardic Inspiration and vicious mockery are limited by the fact that the victim has to be able to hear the target, but in MY campaign, if the bard is a kalashtar, I’d allow this to combine with their racial Mind Link power; the caster doesn’t have to speak aloud if the target is within range of their Mind Link.
  • Mindbreaker. Perhaps I want a more aggressive psion. Though they carry no weapons and wear no armor, this Inspired commando can shield themself with a kinetic shield, blast enemies with telekinetic force, and unleash devastating blasts of psychic power. When an enemy strikes them, empathic feedback causes the attacker to share their pain. This is a warlock, flavoring eldritch blast as telekinetic force bolts and mage armor as a kinetic shield. To add some flavor I’ve changed some damage types; the “empathic feedback” is armor of Agathys but dealing psychic damage instead of frost damage. The character is a Fiend pact warlock, but I’m changing the damage type on all their fire spells—burning hands, scorching ray, fireball—to psychic damage and saying that they don’t cause any damage to nonliving creatures… so the Mindbreaker can unleash a psychic blast that devastates a crowd (psychic fireball) but doesn’t burn down the building.

You can apply this principle to any character, PC or NPC. Mage armor or stoneskin? Wall of force or Bigby’s hand? Telekinesis. Detect thoughts or enthrall? Telepathy. Even disguise self could be described as planting a telepathic image in the minds of viewers; to add flavor, a DM could say that this spell won’t affect someone protected by a ring of mind shielding or creatures immune to being charmed. A fighter could describe Second Wind as psychometabolic healing, and Action Surge as momentarily altering their perception of time. A monk can easily present their qi-related abilities as being psionic disciplines, and for this reason we’ve always presented monks as being more common in Sarlona. Sometimes it makes sense to change a damage type or a detail of an effect; perhaps a Kalashtar quori-hunting paladin deals psionic damage instead of radiant damage with their smite, and Divine Sense and Divine Smite are effective against aberrations instead of undead. On some levels, this is a question of balance; radiant damage is a powerful tool against undead, and if my campaign was going to be all about fighting the Emerald Claw, I wouldn’t make that change to a PC. But if DM and player approve, there’s nothing wrong with having a “paladin” who smites with the power of their mind and lays on hands using a psychometabolic discipline. The EFFECT is extra-damage-on-melee-attack and heal-on-touch; nothing says it HAS to come from a divine power.

The default with this approach is that “psionic spells” are still treated as magic for purposes of detect magic, antimagic field, etc. The essential principle is that all forms of supernatural power—divine, arcane, primal, psionic—are different ways of manipulating energy, but that the results are similar enough to overlap. On the other hand, if a DM chooses, they could change the rules. Perhaps psionic spells can’t be countered with counterspell or negated with an antimagic field—in which case I’d likewise say that a psionic version of counterspell would only work on other psionic spells. This is a way to emphasize the alien nature of psionics—the diviner can’t even sense them!—but can raise balance issues.

So the primary question is what do you want from psionics in your game? If you WANT them to be entirely unique and to have nothing in common with other forms of magic, the best bet will be a third party approach. If what you are looking for is unique flavor, you can add that directly. So personally, I don’t have any problem using the Dreaming Dark in the current system; I just make a few changes to the creatures and characters I use as a base.

An Inspired as a PC? It’s possible someone could be set on playing an Inspired as a player character. While the obvious answer is to have them be a rogue Chosen who’s wearing a charm that protects them from being possessed by their quori spirit, perhaps they WANT to play an active Inspired. This isn’t as impossible as it sounds. There are factions within the Dreaming Dark; Lady Sharadhuna of the Thousand Eyes believes that the Inspired don’t NEED to conquer Khorvaire and that the Devourer of Dreams is chasing their own personal ambition, not working for the good of all quori. A PC could easily be a Chosen vessel of Sharadhuna or one of her top lieutenants, sent to Khorvaire to monitor and potentially interfere with the Devourer’s schemes. They’d be entirely loyal to Riedra and to their Quori spirit, but that doesn’t mean they are evil or intend any harm to the people of Khorvaire. Personally, I’d design this character as a kalashtar warlock—either using the Fiend patron and the Mindbreaker model I suggest above, or the Great Old One patron and more of a telepath/manipulation spell set. The point of the Inspired is that the powerful spirits have multiple Chosen hosts, intentionally spread around; so the character’s patron might BE Sharadhuna, but she very rarely actively possesses the character aside from to give them direction; she’s got far more important things to take care of in Riedra. As with any warlock patron, they teach the character to use their supernatural abiolities and give them direction; and the DM has the OPTION to have the character be fully possessed (temporarily gaining a boost in power) if it serves the needs of the story, but the character can’t trigger this.

Everyday Psionics

Here we run into a more basic problem. If we are using reflavored spell effects to represent psionics, than how is the psionic society of Riedra any different from the wide magic society of the Five Nations? And wasn’t that the whole point of Riedra?

The saving point here is that unlike Khorvaire, the economy and society of Riedra isn’t based on the widespread presence of low-level casters. Sarlona doesn’t rely on the psionic equivalent of magewrights. Psionic training and power is concentrated in the hands of a small group of extremely powerful people—the Inspired. Essentially, we always say that Khorvaire is “wide magic” instead of “high magic,” because it’s about a vast number of people employing low level magic, while high level spellcasters are very rare. Riedra is the opposite. It’s high psionic—a nation where a privileged corps of extremely powerful immortals have used their powers to create the infrastructure. Under 3.5 rules, there are 20th level psions among the Inspired; by comparison, Merrix d’Cannith is a 12th level character. Because of this, it’s less about what effects are used on a daily basis? What psionic powers might a local merchant use? and more what massive wondrous systems have been put in place by the metaconcert of the Inspired? This ties to the point that most dragonmarked tools require a dragonmarked heir to operate them. In Riedra, the infrastructure systems are powered by the psychic energy gathered by the monoliths; they don’t NEED the common people to do anything. Again, rather than widespread low-level casters, Riedra relies on the small corps of extremely powerful individuals creating self-sustaining systems.

The main point is that the infrastructure systems described in Secrets of Sarlona can be used as described even if we don’t have a perfect psionics system underlying them—because most of their effects are story effects as opposed to magewrights actively casting spells. Let’s take a quick look at the psionic infrastructure in place in Riedra.

  • The Hanbalani Altas. The most iconic element of Riedra is the massive ovoid monoliths spread across the landscape. These monoliths draw on the thoughts and emotions of the surrounding populace and convert this into psychic energy, which is used to power most of the effects described below. They are also planar anchors, slowly helping to bring Dal Quor back into alignment with the material plane. Where most of the services in Khorvaire are provided through individual dragonmarked enclaves and different focuses, the hanbalani represent a chokepoint for the Inspired; disabling a hanbalan is a way to essentially “cut power” to a region. This ties back to the basic point that the Inspired have great power in their SYSTEMS, but that power isn’t spread throughout the populace.
  • Nondetection. Each hanbalan is the center of a massive nondetection effect that prevents outsiders from scrying on Riedra. Once people are within the field, scrying and divination work normally, and people within the field can scry on those beyond it. But this field prevents diviners in Khorvaire from spying on the Inspired.
  • Dreamshaping. The quori believe that by stabilizing the dreams of mortals they can stabilize Dal Quor itself, preventing the prophesied turning of the edge that will end il-Lashtavar and reshape all quori. One of the most important functions of the monoliths is to broadcast the dream programming that is shared by all the people of Riedra. From Secrets of Sarlona: The typical Riedran dream is soothing and vague, blending images to project the wonder of Riedra, the joys of being part of a greater whole, and the celestial benevolence of the Inspired. Every so often, these soothing visions are interspersed with flashes of the dark horrors that lurk outside the borders of Riedra.” These dreams can be fine-tuned, targeting a region or village with a specific village, but the purpose is to have a single dream whenever possible.
  • The Voice of Riedra. Just as they broadcast dreams, the hanbalani allow the Inspired to broadcast telepathic messages over a wide area. Through the network, a message can be broadcast across the entire Unity. However, messages are usually tailored to a specific region or even a particular village. The Voice provides news, instructions, and encouragement throughout the day. It allows the Inspired to mobilize a region against a problem—for example, sharing a description of a dangerous group of rogue adventurers. It also provides the sense that the Inspired are always watching, even though the Voice is just an outward projection.
  • Teleportation. Swift transit is an important area in which Riedra has a significant advantage over Khorvaire. Riedra has a network of massive teleportation circles that connect points in space. There are two very important distinctions between the psionic circles of Riedra and the teleportation circle network House Orien is developing in Khorvaire. The Riedran circles connect two specific gates. The circle in the fortress of Kintam Lar connects to the city of Durat Tal and that’s all; it can’t be adjusted to teleport to Dar Jin. While that’s inherently more limited than the typical teleportation circle, where it has an enormous advantage is that it’s always on. As long as the portal can draw power from the hanbalani, it is always active. The Inspired can move entire armies across the continent, or transport vast quantities of food and supplies. Durat Tal is the central hub for this network—so in moving that army, it will march through the gate at Kintam Lar, arrive in Durat Tal, and then enter another gate to, say, reinforce Kintam Keera in Borunan. The kintam fortresses and bastion cities are thus connected by teleportation networks, and caravans deliver goods or troops from these hubs to surrounding villages. By contrast, House Orien is developing a system that works using the teleportation circle spell. This allows one Orien circle to connected to any other Orien circle, but an heir must have the ability to cast the spell to open the circle and it only remains open for one round. So currently the system is a novelty—a way for wealthy clients to move swiftly, but not a system that can be used to move armies or replace the lightning rail as a means of transporting goods. A key point of the Riedran system is that the gates are all heavily guarded and that this service isn’t available to the general public; Riedrans aren’t SUPPOSED to travel. But this ability to swiftly move forces across the length of Riedra is one of the most powerful tools of the Inspired.
  • Light and Heat. In Khorvaire, light is provided by individually enchanted everbright lanterns. In Riedra, the energy of the hanbalani flows into specially treated crysteel (a substance that has properties of both crystal and metal) and causes it to glow. In villages light comes from mounted crystal globes, while in larger communities the buildings themselves shed light; seen from afar, a bastion city is a stunning vision of glowing domes and spires. This same system can provide climate control, heating buildings in the chill north or cooling them in the tropical regions of the south. As such, fire is rarely seen in a Riedran community; light and heat are gifts of the Inspired.

These are systems that are immediately obvious, even to outsiders. Other systems are more subtle; the Thousand Eyes has a network of remote viewing (psionic scrying) that dwarfs the capabilities of even House Phiarlan or the Trust. The Inspired also have an interesting advantage in terms of communication, which is that any Inspired can leave its current vessel and return to Dal Quor at any time. There are Inspired whose sole role is to deliver messages; they have host Chosen in every major city and fortress, and can move between them to get news where it needs to go within seconds.

So in comparing Riedra to the Five Nations, the INSPIRED have capabilities that far outstrip the nobles of Khorvaire. They have a system of swift communication, a vast network of observation, the ability to transport forces across the continent in a brief time. But the common people don’t have access to any of these services, and daily life is more limited than life in the Five Nations. There’s no casual equivalent to the widespread magewrights and wandslingers of Khorvaire. While there are humans trained in psionics or magic, they are devoted to very specific roles—notably the Edgewalkers who protect the people from supernatural threats. The people benefit from crystal illumination, the guiding Voice, the unifying dreams. But they are dependent on the Inspired for these services… and if a hanbalani is deactivated, these services will be lost.

Casual Telepathy. One more point to consider when working to present the alien flavor of Riedra and the everyday role of psionics is the casual, institutional use of telepathy. Street signs don’t bother with names (and many Riedrans are illiterate); instead, a subtle telepathic signal means that you always know where you are in a Riedran city, if you stop to think about it. Riedran monuments project feelings or images; in studying a statue of a hero you may feel a swell of pride at their achievements, and when you visit a memorial you may find that you remember the tragedy that it commemorates, as if you were there. All of this is perfectly normal to a Riedran, but it can feel intrusive or unsettling to people from Khorvaire.

Riedran Tools

While Riedrans make use of wood, metal, leather, and other materials commonly found in Khorvaire. However, they use a few materials that are less common. Crystal is a useful medium for psionic energies; as noted, crystal spheres provide illumination in most Riedran villages. Crysteel is a substance that has the appearance of crystal, but the durability and flexibility of metal; it is an excellent channel for psionic power and is used both to make buildings, tools, and weapons. Sentira is a substance that has the appearance of polished shell; it is actually a form of ectoplasm, created from pure, solidified emotions. Sentira is a critical part of Reidran tools, as it is an excellent channel for psionic effects tied to its associated emotion.

Should you use a unique psionic system, Riedra is the logical source for psionic tools. But as with character abilities, you can create things that feel like psionic tools but that use the rules for traditional magic items… perhaps with a twist or two. Consider the following…

  • A flame tongue sword that inflicts psychic damage instead of fire damage; it channels the rage of the bearer and directs it at the target.
  • A crystal that serves as a wand of fireballs, but deals psychic damage instead of fire damage and causes no damage to nonliving targets.
  • A shard of crystal that serves as a psionic equivalent of a scroll, holding a single charge of a psionic spell effect.
  • A psionic tattoo. This can be transferred to a willing creature by touch, and triggered as a bonus action; it duplicates the effects of a potion, and vanishes when its power is used.
  • A crystal figurine of wondrous power. When activated, the statue doesn’t grow or animate; instead, it projects an ectoplasmic construct of the associated creature around the crystal core.

… And so on. Effects that can be easily identified as telepathy, telekinesis, or teleportation are logical. It makes sense for a Dreaming Dark spy to have a cape of the mountebank, a ring of mind shielding, and perhaps a sword of life stealing that deals psychic damage instead of necrotic damage. Riedran wings of flying might work through telekinetic force rather than by becoming actual wings. An important limitation is that many “psionic magic items” can only be attuned or activated by people with some degree of psionic talent. Depending on how the DM decides to implement psionics, this could be a negligible issue; on the other hand, it could be a way to provide agents of the Dreaming Dark with powerful tools that can’t be immediately used by the adventurers (even if they can surely find people in House Cannith or Sivis who will be happy to pay for them!).

Speaking to the overall alien aesthetic of Riedra, most structures are built from stone, sentira, and crysteel. Structures are often shaped through metacreative techniques; spheres are more common than sharp angles, and sentira tools have the look of horn or shell—more grown than built.

Loose Ends

This covers the most basic issues, but there’s certainly other questions one might ask regarding Riedra in fifth edition…

What about elans and dromites?

Elans and dromites are races that were added in the 3.5 Psionics Handbook and given a place in Sarlona. Immortal elans were described as being living prisons for exiled quori, while the insectoid dromites leave deep below Sarlona and fight an ongoing war with the Inspired. Elans play such a trivial role in the setting that it’s not something I’ve personally taken steps to correct. For dromites, the simplest answer at the moment is to use the psionic version of the thri-kreen to represent them. It’s not perfect (among other things, dromites are a small race) but if you don’t want to design a new version of the dromites or use a third party resource, thrikreen are an existing option. I’d love to write more about my vision of dromite culture in Sarlona, but that’s another topic.

Do you see a way for PCs of Khorvaire to enter Riedra without being sneaky? A more lawful or proper way?

Sure, this is discussed on page 46 of Secrets of Sarlona.

The Iron Gate does not charge for transit visas, but it rarely grants them. Riedra isn’t for tourists. Travelers must provide a valid reason for entry and show that they have no criminal tendencies or intent, as well as enough knowledge to avoid accidentally breaking Riedran laws. A successful DC 30 Diplomacy check is sufficient to get an entry request considered, but even then the reason must stand on its own. Finally, mind probe (EPH 119) is often brought into play to ensure that the travelers have no hidden motives. If the request is especially intriguing or risky, the Iron Gate might allow travel but send a member of the Thousand Eyes along as a chaperone and observer. Unless the party is deemed a serious risk, this observer is a Chosen; the controlling spirit only takes possession of the vessel every few hours to check on the situation.

I would also be interested in finding out more about means for PCs or other characters to being able to lay low in Riedra after becoming targets. It sounds like they can be scryed up pretty easily.

Remote viewing essentially functions like scrying. So using the 5E rules, first the viewer must know SOMETHING about the target; they can’t just say “There’s some foreigners somewhere.” If the scrying force is simply working off a description of the character, the target gets a +5 saving throw versus the attempt and if they succeed, it can’t be repeated for another day. So I’d start with that; they’d have to deal with a daily scrying attempt.

If they can find allies among the Unchained or the Dream Merchants, they could potentially either acquire the equivalent of a Ring of Mind Shielding or something else that could help them hide. Perhaps a sentira ring with a strong resonance can essentially mask the wearer’s personality signature—not making them IMMUNE to divination, but providing a large bonus to saving throws against scrying. I could also see manifest zones as interfering. Scrying can only target creatures on the same plane of existence, and wild zones are described as essentially a chunk of the plane intruding into Eberron; I think it’s reasonable to say that the Thousand Eyes cannot scry into wild zones, so those become sanctuaries for rogues and rebels alike.

The kalashtar believe that by doing good works and promoting peace through the Path of Light, they will bring about the turning of the Age and create Il-Yannah, the Great Light. By that logic, one would think that the way to preserve Il-Lashtavar would be to spread war and suffering.

That’s not actually how it works. If that’s what the kalashtar believed, they’d be wandering across the world trying to spread peace and goodwill, and they notably ARE NOT DOING THAT. The Adaran kalashtar have remained in isolation for centuries, and even the Kalashtar in Khorvaire are called out as largely remaining in their isolated communities, not actually traveling around spreading goodwill. Those few who DO take this sort of direct action are the shadow watchers, and are called out as being few in number.

Here’s the idea. All quori believe that the Quor Tarai — the spirit of the age — has a natural lifecycle. It WILL change, regardless of what mortals do. It gets thirty or forty thousand years (as Eberron measures time) and then it changes. That’s just a scientific fact of how Dal Quor works, just like how the planes orbiting. So there is a clock counting down to the turn of the age. The kalashtar want to keep that clock counting down or, if possible, to speed it up. The Inspired want to break the clock – to freeze it and stop the hands from moving.

Here’s a crucial piece from Races of Eberron: The majority of kalashtar devote themselves to spiritual warfare. These kalashtar, called lightbringers, believe that the only way to truly destroy the Dreaming Dark is through spiritual change, that through their religious rituals they are slowly turning the wheel of the age, banishing the dark and bringing in the light. Thus, most kalashtar appear to be peaceful mystics, but in their minds, they are soldiers in the midst of a war.

A second point: The kalashtar want to reshape Dal Quor, and they believe that with their continued devotions they are doing so.

The Path of Light embodies the values of il-Yannah, so those who follow it actively seek to embody those values. But they aren’t trying to impose them on others, because that’s not necessary. THROUGH THEIR MEDITATIONS they continue to turn the wheel; and when it finally changes, the world will BECOME a better place.

Likewise, the Dreaming Dark doesn’t believe that they NEED to spread darkness. This is an age of darkness. What they need to do is to stop the clock. The Inspired are trying to cheat and freeze time by essentially freezing mortal dreams—creating a shared, static dream and simply stopping change. But they are still AFRAID that the kalashtar, through their meditations, are moving it forward — and so, they seek to destroy the kalashtar.

The point being that to US it seems like the Adaran kalashtar are trapped in their mountains and accomplishing nothing. But THEY believe that they are winning their war, because every day they continue their devotions moves us closer to il-Yannah.

How does this affect the two sides in their ongoing war? Do either have some kind of proof or evidence that their way is working? What else could this mean?

No, they have no way to measure success. Like all the religions of Eberron, this is entirely a question of faith. This is the point of the disagreement between the quori leadership. Lady Sharadhuna doesn’t think the Inspired NEED to conquer Khorvaire; she thinks they’ve already won the war. Zulatar thinks they must conquer Khorvaire. And the Devourer of Dreams may be pursuing its own agenda.

It’s possible that the idea that the Kalashtar believe they need to promote peace comes from Faiths of Eberron. I didn’t work on that book and I don’t actually recall what it says about the Path of Light. But by other canon sources, the kalashtar who actively meddle in the world are the shadow watchers, and they are a minority; the majority of the kalashtar believe that they are fighting the war by meditating in their monasteries.

Obviously this only scratches the surface of Riedra, but that’s what I have time to address here. This isn’t intended to invalidate Secrets of Sarlona, so you can find more information there. My next article will dive into the provinces of Riedra. Because of the length of that article (which is considerably longer than this one), I’ll be posting an excerpt of it here on the site, and posting the full text to the Inner Circle of my Patreon. Thanks to the Patreon supporters who keep this site going and who chose this topic!

66 thoughts on “Dragonmarks: Riedra in 5E

  1. I hate to say this, but you now have me absolutely dying to see what Keith Canon for Syrkarn and the Tashana are. The former feels tailor-made to be a homeland for heroic (or not so heroic!) PCs.

    • Syrkarn and Tashana are like music in my mind. They are these massive, beautiful panoramic views, savanna like oceans of green-gold in orange sunset, mist shrouded mountains, hissing jungles, marble white deserts under a sapphire blue night sky, ominous phosphorescent lakes in the south, marshland from horizon to horizon cut with winding rivers and beyond rolling crags and pine woods, rocky tundra with roiling storms of planar energy and icy fog-laden coastal stilt towns against the terror of a peninsula ravaged by eternal blizzards and wild cannibal barbarians in Tashana

      ….I like them, and that’s on top of loving everything in Sarlona. I don’t have anything useful to add I just wanted to share the emotion of it I guess.

  2. (Also, this a very small note, but I appreciate you saying humans are on the wrong side of history in Khorvaire. I love Eberron to bits, but there are times it has felt a little comfortable in pulp tropes and/or justified colonialism, and I’m glad to see that acknowledged more explicitly.)

    • It’s always been the intent that humans in Khorvaire are basically terrible. Let’s face it, one of the founders of human civilization in Khorvaire was called “Malleon the Reaver.” The whole point was to say that orcs and dar are in no way evil, but that they have valid reasons to be angry with humanity… because humans have stolen their lands, pillaged their tombs, and built on the foundations of their cities. I always wanted that moment when the adventurers are doing a standard dungeon crawl, find the magic sword—Yay! Magic sword!—and then have the Kech Volaar show up and have the adventurers have to face the fact that they are tomb robbing scum. Will they do the right thing and return the sword, or follow the past example of humanity and steal from the dar?

      • and poor Hobgoblins in the draakani empire!

        but it´s like a real anthropologic rise and fall of civilizations, crude and more realistic, making eberron a more complete setting i love.

  3. My vision of dromites is inspired by Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire. SoS calls out dromites as mining Khyber shards, so #InMyEberron, they use Khyber shards to hold the spirits of their dead … and then implant them in living dromites. A dromite in any specialist field has a gestalt consciousness formed of all its predecessors — each dromite a miniature Undying Court.

  4. > Even disguise self could be described as planting a telepathic image in the minds of viewers; to add flavor, a DM could say that this spell won’t affect someone.

    This sentence seems to be dropping a word? *Really* good article though, I’m excited for part 2

    • With an article this long, it would be surprising if there WEREN’T typos. Good catch: the sentence is supposed to read “…a DM could say that this spell won’t affect someone protected by a ring of mind shielding or creatures immune to being charmed.”

  5. I’ve long preferred to use Thri-Kreen in place of Dromites in Sarlona; I like kreen better, it gives them a bigger place in the world than just Menechtarun, and they’re more readily available outside of 3.5. It doesn’t even really require much change to the fluff.

  6. Very intriguing, thank you for all of this!

    We know of some of the races that originated in Sarlona, is there anything you can mention about ogres and oni? They (and trolls) have always felt disconnected from the rest of giant-kind.

  7. Thinking about ways to show Riedra and Dreaming Dark in a campaign, I think sometimes people discuss in terms of “all or nothing”. Do you understand? As options was “no one knows nothing about it on Khorvaire” and “someone knows everything about it”. I really prefer break information and give some for probably allies of PC. I think the best way of it is give for some distrust about Riedra as nation and some informations that some weird influence people and looks like have some kind of purpose. So, PCs are the guys that resolve the puzzle during the adventure and discover about Dreaming Dark as a whole.

    After say this, I would like hear what organizations or rulers you think that are better for this instance, know about a piece of the puzzle that Dreaming Dark and Riedra are, not the whole thing. What do you think?

    (For instance, I will run a campaign that start on Sharn, but they probably will do a trip for Karrnath and will have Riedra and Dreaming Dark. I like the idea of Kaius I be influence by Dreaming Dark, discover this when become a vampire [because the influence desapair when he becomes a undead] and part of what he did in the century that he desapair was not just discover about Vol, but too about what influence he before. What he knows is that something try makes he wants war and is it one of the reasons that he wants peace is because he don’t like not understand who wants war and exacly why. And he believes that King Kaius III have the same problem, the reason that he send him to Dreadlock. But here is the problem, I don’t have sure about how he could discover a part of the mistery. I don’t know what organization, place, people, etc… for it. I don’t want he knows everything, I want that he knows a piece of whole.)

    • The real trick here is that Riedra and the Dreaming Dark AREN’T the same thing. The common people of Riedra aren’t complicit in the actions of the Dreaming Dark; they don’t even know it exists. Even the Inspired ambassadors know the Dreaming Dark exists, but they aren’t privy to its plans; their job is to maintain RIEDRA. We’ve called out that Lady Sharadhuna of the Thousand Eyes actively opposes the current agenda of the Dreaming Dark. So part of why it’s a mistake to say “Why don’t people immediately figure out Riedra is up to no good” is because RIEDRA isn’t up to know good; the DREAMING DARK is up to no good, and they just both have the same long-term goal.

      The Kalashtar are an excellent path for general knowledge about the threat posed by the Dreaming Dark, but THEY don’t know what the Dreaming Dark is actually up to; they just know it’s no good. I think Kaius I is actually a fantastic idea. Given that he was one of the instigators of the Last War AND that he’s currently immune to quori manipulation, he’s ideally situation to have come to the realization that he was being manipulated… and that Aurala, in particular, displays signs of that same sort of manipulation, driven by dreams of glory and a Galifar united under her rule.

      • Yes. And use Kaius in this way give a more complex relation between him and Vol. Yes, he thinks she is a monster and put him in a kind of “prison”, but doing this free him of a worst “prison”.

        It is funny, because I just think about this because the stories that my players make for the campaign (after corona, right now we just do one shots because we don’t like make a major campaign online) converge to Vol and Dreaming Dark. So, I start think and Dreaming Dark works very well with Karrnath. Warlords desire for war, Kaius desire for peace, House Deneith influenced, trade deals for food with Riedra, etc… Even Kaius, besides weakened Blood of Vol, not completely vanish this could be explaned for the valor that he see in champions undead that cannot be influenced for “the thing that influenced him before”.

        But anyway, thanks Keith!

  8. I love getting to see more of the details of Sarlona (and really want to read more about the other regions of Sarlona outside Riedra)!

    So maybe this is covered in Exploring Eberron, but I’d love to have a better idea of a relative value of some of these materials like crysteel and sentira would have in 5e. Not the most important for magic items per se, but when you want to give say a kalashtar or other Sarlonan character some sentira items (jewelry, tools, etc), and the stuff is supposed to be valuable, it’s nice to have some guidelines on what that should be, especially when talking about starting characters (you wouldn’t want to give one new PC something that overvalued for what they should be getting and then turn around and sell it to get ahead). Sometimes that might not be as much of a concern, but it still feels like it is good information to have.

    • Crysteel sounds like 3.5’s XPH’s Crystal and Deep Crystal (which I understand is a relic of Thri-Keen Dark Sun origin). The first type “Crystal” is the same price as steel (and still metal for Druids). For the type that passively generates light and heat, it’s just an item that generates light, regardless of how it works. Just give it a price a little higher (due to increased portability/hands free) or equal (due to less light produced) to/than an Everybright Lantern.

      I’m not too worried about characters selling sentimental items you give them in 5E. 1: Some backgrounds have items that could fall under this (the “trinket” for entertainer, Far Traveler’s “, a small piece of jewelry worth 10 gp in the style of your homeland’s craftsmanship”, ect.) 2: In 5E there’s so little actually given a GP price to buy.

      • While yes, PCs aren’t likely to just sell these things, they may also wish to buy them in the course of a game as well. And if you put a lot of one of those materials in front of a group that has the means to take a lot of it (or any really), they are going to be interested in its value (I once ran off with a magic anvil and mirror that were set in stone, because I had stoneshape and the means to get them out of there. See also, every group that runs into something like an adamantine fence). Even a rough “its worth about 1.5x the amount of steel/silver/gold/etc” is handy to have.

    • I’d love to have a better idea of a relative value of some of these materials like crysteel and sentira would have in 5e… when you want to give say a kalashtar or other Sarlonan character some sentira items (jewelry, tools, etc), and the stuff is supposed to be valuable, it’s nice to have some guidelines on what that should be, especially when talking about starting characters

      It’s hard to say, for a number of reasons. The first point I’d call out is that in Riedra both are used as BUILDING MATERIALS. So that sets some concept of quantity and value: Crysteel is presumably valued closer to steel than to, say, platinum. If I can build a CITADEL out of it, I can’t image that your crysteel ring holds tremendous value. The 3.5 ECS sets a value for a crysteel weapon at +1,500 gp to the base cost, but that’s because the weapon has a POWER. If you’re just talking about a crysteel necklace that DOESN’T act as a reservoir for psionic power or hold some triggered ability, I think it wouldn’t have a lot of value.

      Sentira is unusual in a different way: it is solidified ectoplasm. We know that crysteel is a limited resource—the Riedrans mine one of its components in Xen’drik—but sentira is created by psionic shapers, and is basically only limited by time and emotion. In my opinion, there’s actually many different forms of sentira based on the type and intensity of emotion involved; essentially, sentira may cover the full range of quartz to diamond in its value. Building-grade sentira may be made from a general sense of contentment—whereas the sentira used to create emotional armor has to capture an intense, powerful emotion that’s hard to come by. A second point is that we say that sentira is GROWN, not worked. I think once it’s shaped, its form is fixed; it’s not something that can be reforged. So the sentira ring is purely valuable for what it IS; I don’t think the MATERIAL has an innate value the way that gold does.

      Secrets of Sarlona says that you can treat sentira as mithral. But again, I think the value is highly dependent on what it DOES. A piece of sentira jewelry isn’t valued on the material, it’s valued on its emotional strength. The necklace worn by the Inspired might convey a sense of awe or joy to the people around it; THAT’S valuable. Another necklace might convey a sense of slight sorrow, solely to the wearer; the memory of a sad day. That’s not so valuable, except as a curiosity. So I wouldn’t have any issue with giving a kalashtar character a sentira trinket. In Khorvaire, people have no idea what sentira is, so its value is largely just as a curiosity.

      • Thanks! I seem to remember some rules being in Secrets of Sarlona about making things out of sentira, including a material cost for doing so, and thinking this seems awfully expensive for a 5e context (3.5e it would quickly become very cheap by standard wealth by level guidelines), especially comparing it to mithral. But basically it seemed like even those trinkets like a ring or headdress piece would be expensive to make, thus making any object regardless of use at least somewhat expensive.

        Thinking of it as something that can’t be reshaped or repurposed makes this a bit better, and perhaps defenestrating the material cost of making the material in a more generic sense (as opposed to ones that do particularly special things) altogether solves these concerns. Though, if the material always functions similar to mithral physically, that does bring up some concerns of how easily this could potentially be produced by someone. Maybe that isn’t a big of an issue as it sees.

        In any case, this was a very helpful response to this bit that had been bothering me.

        • This is why I’m suggesting that there may be different grades of sentira — quartz to diamond. It could well be that there is a “trinket-grade” sentira that’s made from relatively weak emotion and is more fragile; whereas “mithral-grade” sentira is made using more powerful emotion.

  9. And two small questions(I will understand if not answer, but it is not everyday that we have a article about Riedra, so I will try).

    1. Do you see a way that PCs of Khorvaire enter on Riedra without be rogue like? A more lawful or rightful way?

    2. We always talk about Riedra not having interest about attack Khorvaire, but can you see a nation of Khorvaire that goes to war against Riedra? I believe that Riedra is not protected by Treaty of Thronehold and maybe one nation could interpretate the way of Riedra (always trade things without some major plot) as fear or weakness from them.

    • We always talk about Riedra not having interest about attack Khorvaire, but can you see a nation of Khorvaire that goes to war against Riedra?

      It’s an interesting concept. But canonically it seems hard to imagine. Sheer size is a major issue. By canon, both Nulakhesh and Corvagura have more people than any of the Five Nations; combine them together and they have more people than the ENTIRE Five Nations, and that’s only two of Riedra’s eight provinces. Riedra’s a difficult nation to invade since they can quickly teleport troops to concentrate forces where they are threatened. So first, you need to have a nation that’s prepared to attack a nation that’s, say, seven times its size, and that is going to carry it out with an overseas invasion, which is a massive logistical undertaking. AND that would mean devoting military resources to a distant invasion leaving them extremely vulnerable if a neighbor decided to attack them.

      The only logical possibility I could imagine would be Thrane attempting it if it was conclusively proven that Riedra posed an immediate supernatural threat that couldn’t be addressed any other way. But frankly, I can’t imagine them having much success; the numbers just don’t work. If ALL of the Five Nations united and had the dragonmarked houses behind them? That could work. Which is exactly WHY Riedra DOESN’T want to give the people of Khorvaire any reason to unite against them.

      Do you see a way that PCs of Khorvaire enter on Riedra without be rogue like? A more lawful or rightful way?

      Sure, this is discussed on page 46 of Secrets of Sarlona.
      The Iron Gate does not charge for transit visas, but it rarely grants them. Riedra isn’t for tourists. Travelers must provide a valid reason for entry and show that they have no criminal tendencies or intent, as well as enough knowledge to avoid accidentally breaking Riedran laws. A successful DC 30 Diplomacy check is sufficient to get an entry request considered, but even then the reason must stand on its own. Finally, mind probe (EPH 119) is often brought into play to ensure that the travelers have no hidden motives. If the request is especially intriguing or risky, the Iron Gate might allow travel but send a member of the Thousand Eyes along as a chaperone and observer. Unless the party is deemed a serious risk, this observer is a Chosen; the controlling spirit only takes possession of the vessel every few hours to check on the situation.

  10. I would also be interested in finding out more about means for PCs or other characters to being able to lay low in Riedra after becoming targets. It sounds like they can be scryed up pretty easily. Are there limits on their reach, or are there ways for any PCs to be careful and take steps to avoid this, or would you just recommend the DM dropping tools to the PCs that allow them to avoid detection. There’s good stories either way I think, but it would be handy to have a better idea of what rogue PCs have to contend with to stay hidden in Riedra.

    • I would also be interested in finding out more about means for PCs or other characters to being able to lay low in Riedra after becoming targets. It sounds like they can be scryed up pretty easily.

      Remote viewing essentially functions like scrying. So using the 5E rules, first the viewer must know SOMETHING about the target; they can’t just say “There’s some foreigners somewhere.” If the scrying force is simply working off a description of the character, the target gets a +5 saving throw versus the attempt and if they succeed, it can’t be repeated for another day. So I’d start with that; they’d have to deal with a daily scrying attempt.

      If they can find allies among the Unchained or the Dream Merchants, they could potentially either acquire the equivalent of a Ring of Mind Shielding or something else that could help them hide. Perhaps a sentira ring with a strong resonance can essentially mask the wearer’s personality signature—not making them IMMUNE to divination, but providing a large bonus to saving throws against scrying. I could also see manifest zones as interfering. Scrying can only target creatures on the same plane of existence, and wild zones are described as essentially a chunk of the plane intruding into Eberron; I think it’s reasonable to say that the THousand Eyes cannot scry into wild zones, so those become sanctuaries for rogues and rebels alike.

      • Perhaps a sentira ring that grants advantage on saves against such effects. I was getting an impression that they were a lot more capable in locating people potentially here (and forgot about the scrying resistance clause, although that doesn’t stop multiple people from trying if they are really intent on finding you). I imagine that the rebel types already there mostly rely on more consistent methods than a bonus to saves, like the wild zones or other areas that might be scrying dead areas, or using mind shielding rings or equivalent. They certainly wouldn’t want a hideout’s location relying on something that’s inevitably going to fail eventually.

        Another question I had been thinking about, was I was having trouble coming across how exactly the Unchained remove themselves the influence of the hanbalani altas and dream freely. Which brings me to another thought, how easily can a quori find specific dreamers in the edges of Dal Quor? That seems like it would an excellent vantage from which to assault their enemies or potentially probe them for intel.

  11. If Riedra is not a good equivalent to the Soviet Union, do you think Breland could fill that role if they got rid of the monarchy?

    • Zilargo would be a better option. They already have a KGB/Stasi in The Trust (which actually brings how much Riedra and Zilargo overlap). In one RPGA module they’re willing to kill in order to kidnap a possible source of information on Brelish state secrets.

      • Riedra it´s 1984 totalitarian applied to fantasy medieval feudal setting; people it´s controlled by a real higher power that owns their will to make their bid.

        That´s a good design for a powerful regime that could control your very emotions. that makes them good to be great “antagonists” spreading the power of what they belong. The all mighty Empire of Riedra.

        Breland it´s most of the most generic vanilla kingdom on the verge of social and magi-industrial revolution. Saved by being prosperous and united since have many menace surrounding them, hart to compare to modern systems since it feels like protagonic heroic monarchy.

  12. There is an aspect of the conflict between the Quori and the Kalashtar that I’ve always wanted to ask you about. It involves the nature of their goals and how they conflict with each other.

    The kalashtar believe that by doing good works and promoting peace through the Path of Light, they will bring about the turning of the Age and create Il-Yannah, the Great Light. By that logic, one would think that the way to preserve Il-Lashtavar would be to spread war and suffering. To perpetuate Darkness.

    But the Inspired aren’t doing that. In their own admittedly messed-up way, they’ve brought more peace and stability to Sarlona than the kalashtar ever have. They don’t seem to believe that Dal Quor works that way at all.

    From the outside, it doesn’t look like their goals conflict at all. How does this affect the two sides in their ongoing war? Do either have some kind of proof or evidence that their way is working? What else could this mean?

    • I’m sure the Kalasthar would argue enabling survival isn’t what’s good, what’s good is enabling someone’s self actualization, which the Quori effectively quash by rendering “their” people slaves with no need for innovation or excellence.

    • The kalashtar believe that by doing good works and promoting peace through the Path of Light, they will bring about the turning of the Age and create Il-Yannah, the Great Light. By that logic, one would think that the way to preserve Il-Lashtavar would be to spread war and suffering.

      That’s not actually how it works. If that’s what the kalashtar believed, they’d be wandering across the world trying to spread peace and goodwill, and they notably ARE NOT DOING THAT. The Adaran kalashtar have remained in isolation for centuries, and even the Kalashtar in Khorvaire are called out as largely remaining in their isolated communities, not actually traveling around spreading goodwill. Those few who DO take this sort of direct action are the shadow watchers, and are called out as being few in number.

      Here’s the idea. All quori believe that the Quor Tarai — the spirit of the age — has a natural lifecycle. It WILL change, regardless of what mortals do. It gets thirty or forty thousand years (as Eberron measures time) and then it changes. That’s just a scientific fact of how Dal Quor works, just like how the planes orbit. So there is a clock counting down to the turn of the age. The kalashtar want to keep that clock counting down or, if possible, to speed it up. The Inspired want to break the clock – to freeze it and stop the hands from moving.

      Here’s a crucial piece from Races of Eberron: The majority of kalashtar devote themselves to spiritual warfare. These kalashtar, called lightbringers, believe that the only way to truly destroy the Dreaming Dark is through spiritual change, that through their religious rituals they are slowly turning the wheel of the age, banishing the dark and bringing in the light. Thus, most kalashtar appear to be peaceful mystics, but in their minds, they are soldiers in the midst of a war.

      A second point: The kalashtar want to reshape Dal Quor, and they believe that with their continued devotions they are doing so.

      The Path of Light embodies the values of il-Yannah, so those who follow it actively seek to embody those values. But they aren’t trying to impose them on others, because that’s not necessary. THROUGH THEIR MEDITATIONS they continue to turn the wheel; and when it finally changes, the world will BECOME a better place.

      Likewise, the Dreaming Dark doesn’t believe that they NEED to spread darkness. This is an age of darkness. What they need to do is to stop the clock. The Inspired are trying to cheat and freeze time by essentially freezing mortal dreams—creating a shared, static dream and simply stopping change. But they are still AFRAID that the kalashtar, through their meditations, are moving it forward — and so, they seek to destroy the kalashtar.

      The point being that to US it seems like the Adaran kalashtar are trapped in their mountains and accomplishing nothing. But THEY believe that they are winning their war, because every day they continue their devotions moves us closer to il-Yannah.

      How does this affect the two sides in their ongoing war? Do either have some kind of proof or evidence that their way is working? What else could this mean?

      No, they have no way to measure success. Like all the religions of Eberron, this is entirely a question of faith. This is the point of the disagreement between the quori leadership. Lady Sharadhuna doesn’t think the Inspired NEED to conquer Khorvaire; she thinks they’ve already won the war. Zulatar thinks they must conquer Khorvaire. And the Devourer of Dreams may be pursuing its own agenda.

      It’s possible that the idea that the Kalashtar believe they need to promote peace comes from Faiths of Eberron. I didn’t work on that book and I don’t actually know what it says about the Path of Light. But by other canon sources, the kalashtar who actively meddle in the world are the shadow watchers, and they are a minority; the majority of the kalashtar believe that they are fighting the war BY meditating in their monasteries.

  13. And of course, there’s also the option of using one of the many ports of Psionics to 5E as both DMsguild content and OGL supplements.

    “the teleportation circle network House Orien is developing in Khorvaire”

    Is this new or was this established before?

    • And of course, there’s also the option of using one of the many ports of Psionics to 5E as both DMsguild content and OGL supplements.

      Sure. That’s what I mean when I say “If you want a psionics system that’s as entirely unique as the third edition system, there are third party options available on the DM’s Guild.”

      Is this new or was this established before?

      It was introduced in 4E and is referenced in 5E. The issue is that teleportation circle is a 5th level spell in fifth edition – thus within the reach of Khorvaire’s everyday magic – while it was a 9th level spell in 5E, definitely OUT of reach. But its role is limited at the moment.

      • What do they do to mitigate security risks of giving an important location a waypoint that (hypothetically) anyone with the right magic and knowledge of the sigil sequence could then infiltrate from anywhere in the world? Are the sigil sequences a closely guarded secret? Are they working on including limitations that only give magical access to specific people?

        • That’s the point: Riedran teleportation circles don’t HAVE sigil sequences. They don’t operate on the same principles as arcane circles. They permanently link two specific points. You CAN’T use the circle in Dar Mun to go to Dar Jin; it ONLY connects to Durat Tal. However, in Durat Tal, there’s a circle that connects to Dar Jin, so you just have to make two hops.

          But there’s no way to connect to a Riedran circle using an Orien circle, or vice versa.

          • Oh, sorry, I wasn’t clear; I was asking about House Orien’s circle network, not Riedra’s.

        • Now understanding that you’re talking about Orien circles, yes, Orien sequences are a VERY closely guarded secret. Beyond that, circle chambers are extremely fortified; imagine a bank vault, and like a bank vault, they are generally kept sealed from the outside.

          If you read the novel The Fading Dream, there is a specific sequence involving a Cannith artificer essentially hacking the Orien network. It’s supposed to be possible, just not easy. And again, part of the point is that it IS cutting edge; they are still figuring out how to deal with these issues.

          • By sheer coincidence, I started reading your Eberron novels during quarantine and I’m pretty sure I’m right about to reach the part you’re describing!

  14. Riedra it´s my favorite subject since i love aberrations and the inspired thing, how it bring to eberron on the Quori.

    I like the rules choices you give and i´m figuring a way to play a campaing on sarlona, since there are still lot of wildlands with duergar, ogres and kalashtar (could be an interesting party to play off)

    I really like how things go with eberron, thanks for this great setting and cheers From Venezuela #WEDOPLAY

  15. I’ve been waiting for this ever since playing a Kalashtar character. (Or rather – a Warforged imbued with a Kalashtar’s spirit. It’s a long story).

    So I guess I have no choice now and write a space-race campaign in which Riedra is competing with the Dragonmarked houses for Siberys ring domination!

  16. I have a couple of questions related to material from Magic of Eberron (which I know you didn’t write.)
    1) Psionic artificers. MoE deignates this as a parallel class to )agical artificers, but notes that they are so different that a single character CANNOT have levels in both types of artificing. Do you think that there are psionic artificers in Riedra, or is all the creation of psi-items done by the high-level Inspired? Are there, then psionic artificers in the other regions of Sarlona?
    2) Psiforged. In MoE, psiforged were created in Khorvaire, but the origins of the original batch are shrouded in mystery, and they are believed to have fled to the Frostfell to get away from humans, whom they drive mad. In your view, are there Psiforged in Riedra? If so, were they first dveloped there? Or first developed in Xen’drik by the Age of Giants Quori or by Giants trying to emulate Quori psionic agility, and then were discovered by House Cannith, who, as usual, stole the intellectual property and claimed it for their own? Or, did House Cannith really create them originally, perhaps in an attempt to emulat the powers of the Inspired?
    3) Frivolous question: Am I a bad person because I now imagine that the Voice of Riedra sounds exactly like the ever-cheerful public address system in The Village? “Good morning, citizens! It is another beautiful day!”

    • Do you think that there are psionic artificers in Riedra, or is all the creation of psi-items done by the high-level Inspired?

      Chosen are trained in critical skills; remember that the Inspired primarily uses the skill of the host, even though I’ve suggested that the Kalaraq add skill levels to their hosts and the highest-level Inspired likely aren’t so powerful when they aren’t possessed. But there are certainly Chosen artificers who perform lesser, vital tasks — maintainance, creation of lesser tools — when they aren’t possessed, while the high-level Inspired do the greater tasks.

      Are there, then psionic artificers in the other regions of Sarlona?

      The Akiak dwarves definitely have psionic artificers; it’s suggested that the Inspired relied on their techniques when they first established Riedra. It’s possible there would be psionic artificers in Adar as well, though it’s not a particularly industrial society.

      In your view, are there Psiforged in Riedra?

      As you said, I didn’t work on Magic of Eberron. I’ve never used psiforged. I’m not inclined to attach them to the modern quori. I’d either say that they’re the work of a specific rogue Cannith artificer — not the house as a whole, but some heir doing their own experiments — or that they are actually relics of the Age of Giants that have only recently returned to consciousness. Bear in mind that just because they have psionic ability doesn’t mean that they are an attempt to mimic the Inspired. The Kalashtar are far more common in Khorvaire than Inspired, and psionic ability also manifests in certain Cults of the Dragon Below. In House Sivis, Tasker’s Dream is experimenting with telepathy simply because it’s a known phenomenon, not because they’re mimicking Inspired.

      Am I a bad person because I now imagine that the Voice of Riedra sounds exactly like the ever-cheerful public address system in The Village?

      Not at all! It’s another beautiful day in your Riedra.

  17. I have always played Riedra as the Soviet Union; after all Soviet Union existed for decades before the Cold War; If the Last War was World War I then Riedra will be a protagonist in World War II (By the way, I have changed the last War to include Sarlona; My Riedra is quite more recent than canon one, being born only 20 years ago.)

  18. I just discovered about this “Sentira” material and i had a question, does its name come from the latin word “sentire” that means “to feel” or maybe from “sentira” that in spanish is “will feel”?

  19. Hi Keith! I am happy to read more about riedra. I always loved the idea of the Turn of the age. It gives great implications to Dal Qor. I wonder if it can be a plot device too. I mean: if the age will turn, will Eberron stop to be “a world in need for heroes”? Or just a sign that this time heroes will win? Will it affect overlords someway?

    Also I’d like to ask a question about dragonmarks in riedra. There are a lot of mysteries in Eberron that are left to the DM. But, in 13 years, you advanced a lot of hypothesis about the mourning or giant civilisation… do you have hypothesis on why there are no dragonmarks in Sarlona?

    In your eberron, is there any contact between riedra and the sisters of Dora kell?

    • I mean: if the age will turn, will Eberron stop to be “a world in need for heroes”? Or just a sign that this time heroes will win? Will it affect overlords someway?

      It’s up to the DM. But this isn’t the first time Dal Quor has turned. Essentially, it means that DREAMS will generally be more pleasant and uplifting — that the spirits of Dal Quor will seek to inspire hope rather than fear. This won’t suddenly stop the daelkyr from being a threat or completely eliminate human cruelty, but it might HELP make the world a better place.

      Do you have hypothesis on why there are no dragonmarks in Sarlona?
      No, it’s one of the intentional mysteries. Secrets of Sarlona says:
      Tied to this phenomenon is the utter absence of dragonmarks. Sarlona was the birthplace of humanity, and today humans make up the vast majority of the dragonmarked population, but no dragonmarks have ever appeared on the people of Sarlona. Early signs indicate that the children of dragonmarked parents don’t develop dragonmarks if they are conceived in Sarlona. The Twelve has no explanation for this phenomenon, but many believe that it is one of the keys to the ultimate mystery of the dragonmarks and their purpose in the world.
      This could be tied to the Draconic Prophecy. It could be that dragonmarks were created by Dyrrn the Corruptor and that he isn’t active in Sarlona. To answer the question, you need to decide why Dragonmarks exist.

    • In your eberron, is there any contact between riedra and the sisters of Dora kell?

      No. Personally, I think the Inspired are afraid of the Daughters; If you’re working on a nefarious scheme, the last thing you want to do is to get in a room with the greatest oracle of the age. They know the common people won’t LISTEN to the Daughters, but I think they are avoiding having anything to do with them.

      On the other hand, I could possibly imagine them engaging with the Daughters as equal partners: dropping all pretense, not trying to TRICK the Daughters, but simply proposing a scenario where both sides get what they want from the bargain.

  20. So, as soon as I learned that Sarlona is a nation where technological advancement is driven by psionic power instead of arcane power, the first thing that came to mind was that I could easily see telepathic abilities being developed into an internet-like communication network that covers Riedra. Combined with the general “oppressive government that wants to run people’s lives through mental propaganda” stuff, this feels like a really cool opportunity to make a Riedra adventure be like entering some sort of fantasy-cyberpunk setting. I’m not quite sure where to go from there, though… what else could I do (and/or what sources could I look to for inspiration) to adapt something like this to a cyberpunk story while still giving it a distinctly Eberron feel?

    • Personally, for Eberron as cyberpunk I always kicked around the idea of making a joke writeup for an “Eberron 2000” where the Five Nations are no more and have been replaced by the dominance of The Twelve.

    • the first thing that came to mind was that I could easily see telepathic abilities being developed into an internet-like communication network that covers Riedra.

      There’s already two analogues to that. The first is Dal Quor. The Inspired already HAVE a network that allows them to communicate with one another across the entire world. Instead of plugging into a computer, they UNPLUG and return to Dal Quor. They maintain their data and conduct their communications in Dal Quor. So essentially, they don’t NEED to create something for the common people to use, because they don’t WANT the common people communicating with one another; isolation and concrete control of information is a critical part of their success.

      Having said that, Secrets of Sarlona introduced the idea that the actions of the Inspired may have already created such a network, in spite of their desires: The Dreamspace. The Unchained are a dissident organization in Riedra that uses the Dreamspace to communicate with each other and to share true dreams, as opposed to the programmed dreams of the Inspired. You could certainly expand the role of Dreamspace to have more traditional cyberspace elements.

  21. I cannot help but voice my suspicion that these articles are a form of directed advertisement meant to make me want to buy Exploring Eberron. I must also admit that they are overkill in that regard. 😛

    You mention in this article that magic is used in Riedra. My memory is imperfect, but is that something new? I thought the Inspired tended to avoid the proliferation of magic.

    Is it just that the presence of powerful entities with psionic power means there is a relative advantage and more cultural interest/attention?

    • Well, he does need to eat. While it’s wonderful that he publishes so much on his website, if he didn’t sell things now and again he’d have to cut way back. I’m definitely ordering the book as soon as it comes out.

    • They avoid the PROLIFERATION of magic and it’s not something they excel at. It’s primarily associated with the Edgewalkers. From Secrets of Sarlona: While the Inspired have purged arcane magic from the common populace of Riedra, when it comes to defending against extraplanar threats, they are willing to make exceptions. The Edgewalkers feature a few diviners and abjurers, and if a Riedran child develops the talents of a warlock or a sorcerer, he might be claimed by the Edgewalkers. Such characters believe that it is dangerous to use arcane forces, but that devoted service to the Inspired is a shield—an Edgewalker warlock should never use his powers for his own benefit, but as long as he uses them solely in defense of Riedra, his devotion should save him.

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