Dolurrh, the Realm of the Dead

Every month, my Patreon supporters select a topic for a major Eberron article. This month’s choice was the plane of Dolurrh. Additional information about Dolurrh and all of the planes of Eberron is coming soon inExploring Eberron!

Endless caverns stretch throughout Dolurrh, bleak passages of gray stone. Wherever you go, shadowy figures reach towards you, imploring, but you feel only the faintest chill as their insubstantial fingers pass through you. Mist pools around your feet, and as you press forward you realize this swirling mist is moaning. This is no natural phenomenon; these are the remnants of souls who have forgotten their original form. This is Dolurrh, where mortal souls go after their bodies die, where memories fade and lives are forgotten.

Mortal spirits are drawn to Dolurrh within moments of death, and their memories begin to decay immediately. Within days, most spirits no longer have any desire to leave Dolurrh; within weeks, most only have the faintest memories of their previous lives. The faiths of Aerenal and the Blood of Vol assert that Dolurrh is the absolute end of existence, the last echoes of a life before it is gone completely. But when Dorius Alyre ir’Korran drew his classic planar map he used the octogram symbol of the Sovereign Host to represent Dolurrh, because he declared it to be the door through which all mortals must pass to join with the Sovereigns. This has come to be a common view: what appears to be memory fading is actually the soul slowly ascending to a higher form of existence, rising to a level of reality no mortal can experience. The vassals of the Sovereign Host say the faithful finally join the Sovereigns; followers of the Silver Flame say that noble souls strengthen the Flame. What is left behind is a husk—the cast-off remnants, like an abandoned snakeskin or the traces of memory that can be read using speak with dead. Thus, while Dolurrh has long been known as the Realm of the Dead, there are many who call it The Gateway. Ultimately, this is a matter of faith. Whether the other side of Dolurrh is oblivion or paradise, no one ever returns from it.

All living creatures will come to Dolurrh, sooner or later. Those that come here before death are almost always looking for something: a lost soul, a forgotten memory. But living or dead, any who come to Dolurrh can be trapped by its power.

Universal Traits

Everything about Dolurrh is gray and gloomy. Even the brightest colors seem faded, the most joyful sounds seem dull. The heavy weight weight of ennui settles on travelers the moment they arrive, making even the simplest tasks feel challenging. And there is a constant pull, tugging on memory and emotion, a desire to just sit down and let it all go.

  • Eternal Ennui. When you enter Dolurrh, you immediately gain one level of ennui (described below). This cannot be removed by rest or any other effect. It is immediately removed when you leave Dolurrh.
  • Impeded Magic. In order to cast a spell of 1st level or higher in Dolurrh, you must succeed on a spellcasting ability check with a DC equal to 10 + the level of the spell. On a failed check, the spell is not cast and its spell slot is not expended, but the action is lost.
  • Timeless. Time passes on Dolurrh at the same rate as on Eberron. But creatures on Dolurrh don’t age, and do not need to eat, sleep, or drink. Other natural processes may be delayed, though living creatures can benefit from resting normally and can suffer damage and die.
  • Inevitable Entrapment. Every time you complete a short or long rest, you must make a DC 12 Wisdom saving throw. If you fail, you gain one level of ennui. Each time you make this saving throw, the difficulty increases by 1. If you don’t complete a rest over the course of a 24 hour period, you must make this saving throw at dawn.

Ennui reflects the soul-sapping power of Dolurrh. It’s gained in levels, and duplicates the effects of exhaustion. However, it affects all creatures, including undead and other creatures immune to exhaustion. Ennui saps motion and memory. When a creature reaches six levels of ennui, its will is completely broken and it can take no purposeful action; if this happens to a living creature, its physical body dies and it becomes a husk bound to Dolurrh. Ennui is separate from exhaustion, and levels don’t stack. If a creature has both ennui and exhaustion, use which has more levels to determine the effects.

Undead cannot recover from ennui while in Dolurrh. If a living creature completes a long rest and succeeds on the saving throw against Inevitable Entrapment by 5 or more, they reduce their ennui level by 1. Creatures native to Dolurrh are immune to Eternal Ennui and Inevitable Entrapment, but still have to deal with the effects of Impeded Magic.

DENIZENS OF DOLURRH

The Quick

The native creatures of Dolurrh are bound to the cycle of transition, and all have some role to serve in this process. Nalfeshnee demons patrol the Catacombs of Dolurrh, dispersing melds and lemures and dealing with mortal intruders; Dolurrhi nalfeshnee appear as large humanoids whose features are shrouded by gray mist. Marut inevitables are more powerful guardians, and are occasionally dispatched to Eberron to intervene with acts of resurrection. No one is sure what triggers this deadly intervention, but Jorasco healers will always cast augury before raising the dead; if the result is “woe” they will refuse the job. Finally, the shadar-kai are servants of the Queen of the Dead, shades granted new life in this form. They serve her in the Vault of Memories and occasionally as her hands on Eberron, though their actions are almost always enigmatic. Other denizens of Dolurrh are unique. The Librarian is found in the Vault of Memories, while the Smith of Souls dwells in the Crucible; both are described later in this section.

The Dead

The spirits of the dead are omnipresent in Dolurrh. Shades are souls that are freshly arrived in Dolurrh, and maintain a portion of their memory and original appearance. They are insubstantial and can’t interact with material objects. Shades that are overcome by ennui become husks, which have only the vaguest memories of their past lives or awareness of their surroundings. Occasionally a group of husks cluster around one strong memory, forming an ectoplasmic mass called a meld that seeks more memories to consume; these are presented in more detail in Exploring Eberron.

Sometimes a shade clings to a memory with such intensity that even Dolurrh can’t eradicate it—perhaps a terrible mistake or bitter grudge. Other memories fade, but the creature lingers as a ghost and can be a danger to mortals. Other forms of undead are rarely seen in Dolurrh. The entities found here are the spirits of the dead, either undergoing transition or trapped in the process. Corporeal undead such as ghouls, skeletons, or zombies have no place here, while undead that hunger to consume life belong in Mabar.

The Lingering

Memories of joy and happiness do no harm in Dolurrh. But memories of pain, of cruelty, of anger… these don’t fade so easily, and they can hurt others. Even if they don’t trap shades as ghosts, this psychic residue can build up in the gears of the spiritual machinery of Dolurrh. Often it takes the presence of a mortal to trigger it; when this occurs, the lingering pain and hate coalesces into a solid form. The least of these are lemures, which are formed from hateful memories or deeds. The emotional residue of hundreds or thousands of people can form deadly sorrowsworn. In particular, the Last War and the Mourning created a lot of deaths that could fuel manifestations of the Angry and the Lost. When a character is struck by one of the Lingering, they may have a flash of one of the memories or deeds that drive the entity.

The Lingering are formed in Dolurrh and are immune to the effects of Eternal Ennui and Inevitable Entrapment. However, they are a waste product, not the desired result. Nalfeshnee, maruts, and other guardians will destroy the Lingering whenever they are found. 

The Queen of the Dead

The Queen of the Dead dwells in the great spire that rises up above the Vault of Memories. She is the most powerful being in Dolurrh, and has the ability to pluck shades from the cycle of entrapment and even to grant them new life. She appears to be an elf woman, robed in silver and black, her face hidden by a cracked alabaster mask. But little is known about her motives or her origins. She creates the shadar-kai by housing shades in new bodies. She saves other souls that she never restores; she preserves them in the Vault of Memories, saving them from dissolution for unknown reasons. She collects secrets and memories, plucking her favorites from those gathered by the Librarian and keeping them in her personal collection. Sometimes she seems to directly oppose mortal necromancers, especially Lady Illmarrow. At other times she seems to be interested in killing specific people, perhaps so she can preserve their spirits or their memories. But such direct action is extremely rare, remarkable if it occurs more than once in a century; most of the time she remains silent in Dolurrh, unknown and unknowable.

There are many mysteries about the Queen of the Dead. She takes the form of an elf and gives her shadar-kai elven bodies, yet she existed long before the elves. Her actions directly involve the Material Plane, in a way unusual for the great planar powers. This may simply be tied to her role as keeper of the gateway; or there may be some greater secret yet to be revealed.

LAYERS OF DOLURRH

Dolurrh is universally gray and gloomy. All layers that have been described in the accounts of explorers have appeared to be underground; no one has ever seen the sky in Dolurrh. Unlike most planes, the layers of Dolurrh don’t embody different ideas; instead, they serve different functions. Dolurrh is a machine for gathering, collecting, and perhaps transitioning souls; all of its layers serve that purpose. Here are four of them.

The Catacombs

Tunnels are carved into gray stone. In some places they are painfully tight; in others they widen into grand halls, with ceilings lost in the darkness. The dead are everywhere, shades pleading for release and husks keening in the shadows. Some chambers contain vast wells filled with moaning mist; in others nalfeshnee herd shades into pens or scrape lemures off the walls. There is no particular logic to it, just endless tunnels.

The Catacombs may be larger than Khorvaire, or even Eberron. A mortal could wander forever through these winding tunnels, or at least until they are consumed by ennui. However, there are junction points that transcend the logic of distance. If one knows the right symbols to follow, they can cross the vastness of the Catacombs quickly or pass to other layers.

The Kennel

All the mortals born on Eberron are bound to Dolurrh, but like spirits are drawn together. The Catacombs holds the spirits of dead humanoids. The Kennel is similar in appearance, but it contains the shades and husks of beasts and monstrosities. Here you’ll hear the howls of fading wolf spirits, and see flocks of spectral birds flying through grand halls… along with larger and more fierce creatures. Beast spirits rarely linger long in Dolurrh, as most have fewer memories to erase.

It’s possible that the Queen of the Dead has created special servants that wander these halls, just as she has made the shadar-kai; adventurers could be questioned by a clever raven with the soul of a poet. But nalfeshnee and maruts can be found here as well as in the Catacombs.

The Crucible

In the Crucible, the immortal spirit known as the Smith of Souls refines the essence of faded spirits and creates things out of this husksteel. The Smith forges the armor and weapons of the shadar-kai, and creates the maruts from the husks of brave souls. She also creates smaller and stranger items from husksteel. This is a comparatively small layer, but it is still a grand foundry, tended by shadar-kai and guarded by newly-forged maruts.

The Smith wears a mask of black steel and an apron that seems to be made from dragonhide. When forging maruts she is a giant; when crafting tiny trinkets she appears to be a gnome. It’s possible that she collects the memories of mortal artisans, and can replicate their works at her forge.

The Vault of Memories

The heart of Dolurrh is the Vault of Memories. It’s a tower carved up through gray stone, larger than any of the great towers of Sharn. The lowest levels are the Library. Here, the spirit known as the Librarian interviews each shade and makes a record of its life. The power of the Librarian is such that an entire life can be confined to a single large page. Every sigil inscribed holds a crucial memory; a character proficient in Arcana can read the symbol to experience that memory. The many floors of the library hold countless books of preserved lives, carefully tended by shadar-kai scribes. The Librarian himself is a massive hooded figure, and his books are enormous. It’s said that he can be many places at once, which is how he is able to speak to every shade before it fades. 

In the halls above the library, the Queen of the Dead keeps her many treasures. What seem to be obsidian statues are actually shades, crystallized to prevent them from fading into husks. Paintings and crystals contain memories that the Queen has chosen to isolate. Beyond these are countless trinkets and oddities, items collected by her shadar-kai over the vast scope of history. And higher still are the chambers of the Queen herself, where she usually sits in silent contemplation listening to the whispers of the countless shades in her domain. 

MANIFESTATIONS OF DOLURRH

Here are a few of the ways Dolurrh can affect the Material Plane.

Manifest Zones

Manifest zones tied to Dolurrh rarely possess the full properties of the plane. But they are close to the Realm of the Dead, and that means they are almost always haunted. Shadows may move in strange ways, and travelers may hear whispers they can’t quite make out.

Restless spirits yearn to return to the Material Plane, and it’s easier for them to do so in Dolurrhi zones. Sometimes they manifest as ghosts. Other times they’ll animate the corpses of people buried in the zone; these creatures are effectively zombies, but may display unusual intelligence as they seek to resolve their unfinished business. Raising the dead can be dangerous in a Dolurrhi zone; there’s a chance that the wrong spirit will be returned to the body!

While these are negative traits, Dolurrhi zones can have positive effects. In many zones it is easier to return people from the dead; you only have to spend half the usual material components when casting such a spell. In others, anyone can cast speak with dead as a ritual; this takes an hour to perform, and the caster must have the corpse they wish to speak with and a personal connection to the deceased.

The most dramatic manifest zones are those that serve as gateways to the Catacombs of Dolurrh. Opening such a gateway might require a special ritual, a significant sacrifice, an alignment involving the moon Aryth, or all of the above. It might only work if Dolurrh is coterminous. But under the right circumstances, you can use the gateway to enter the Realm of the Dead—and hopefully, to return. 

Coterminous and Remote

As with any plane, Dolurrh can become coterminous or remote when it serves the needs of a story. It has has a slow planar cycle, and becomes coterminous for a full year once every century. Fifty years after that, it is remote for a full year. Shorter phases are tied to the movements of the moon Aryth.

While Dolurrh is coterminous, it’s easier for ghosts to slip from the Realm of the Dead into the Material Plane, especially around Dolurrhi manifest zones. Any form of magic that restores life to the dead can also serve as a conduit for unwanted spirits.

While Dolurrh is remote, no form of magic that restores life to the dead—including revivify or reincarnate—will function. The only way to restore life to the dead in these times is by directly traveling to Dolurrh and pulling the shade back to the world. Ghosts are also especially common in this time. But these aren’t ghosts that return from Dolurrh; rather, if Dolurrh is remote when people die in the grip of great emotion or with vital unfinished business, their spirits can more easily resist Dolurrh’s pull.

Dolurrhi Visitors

 The most common types of visitors from Dolurrh have already been discussed. A marut may show up in response to resurrection. Ghosts may drag their way back into the world. And the shadar-kai—or other revenant servants of the Queen of the Dead—may come to the world pursuing her enigmatic missions.

Dolurrhi Artifacts

The most common Dolurrhi artifacts are the creations of the Smith of Shadows. These are formed of husksteel, the fused essence of faded souls. Depending on the nature of the object, it could be crafted from a single spirit—a dagger whose edge is forged from a single moment of pain—or from the emotional residue of multiple husks. Despite the name, husksteel can appear as dark metal, slick black leather, dark iridescent cloth, or other substances.

In creating a husksteel object, consider the memory or emotion that is the heart of the item. For a magic item, this should reflect its purpose; a husksteel cloak of elvenkind could be formed from a secret. A husksteel variation on a dagger of venom might be formed from a moment of absolute terror; when its power is invoked, the victim struck by the dagger must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or take 2d10 psychic damage and be frightened of the wielder for 1 minute. 

Other husksteel items are largely curiosities. Adventurers could find a monocle that shows the last thing seen by a dead man, or a journal containing poems written by a celebrated poet—after they died.

CONCERNING RESURRECTION

Returning life to the dead is not a reliable service in Eberron. There are many characters who are capable of casting the necessary spells, from clerics to adepts of House Jorasco. But just because it can be cast doesn’t mean that it should be cast… or that it will work if it does.

The first and simplest limitation is time. The longer a spirit remains in Dolurrh, the more it falls under the sway of ennui. Any spell that returns life to the dead requires the spirit to want to return. Once the shade becomes a husk, it can no longer make that decision and can’t be raised or reincarnated; note that most religions maintain that this is because at this point the true soul has moved on to a higher level of existence; you can’t easily pull someone back from their union with the Sovereigns. So you only have about a week or two—depending on the strength of will of the victim—to pull them back. But even before that time, it is quite possible that the spirit will simply choose not to return. What is it they have to live for? Is that worth fighting to lulling ennui of Dolurrh?

The second limitation is risk. The appearance of maruts is extraordinarily rare, but in part that’s because Jorasco knows to check beforehand and won’t raise someone if there’s a risk. Essentially, the question is whether this person is supposed to come back… or if this is, indeed, their time to die. If so, a marut may appear to challenge the resurrection.

The final risk is the direct intervention of a higher power. It’s said that the Keeper can snatch souls before they reach Dolurrh. It’s up to the DM to decide if there’s any truth to this myth; the story says that such souls must be recovered from the Lair of the Keeper in the Demon Wastes. The Keeper itself may or may not be there, but it’s certainly the abode of a powerful dracolich! Alternatively, the Queen of the Dead can crystallize a shade and prevent it from being restored, or she can catch a spirit that’s about to be restored and set a price on its passage. The flip side of direct intervention is that the Queen of Death—or another power that seems dramatically appropriate, as chosen by the DM—could offer to return a shade to life for a price. This is a way to bring a low-level character who can’t afford resurrection back to life, while adding a hook to their story. This article provides some ideas about the possible cost of a life.

Perhaps your augury warns you of woe. Perhaps Dolurrh is remote. There’s one way you can always bring someone to life: to go to Dolurrh, find their shade, and drag it back out to the Material Plane. All you need to do is to locate a single soul in the endless Catacombs (perhaps with the help of a native guide, the records in the Vault of Memories, or powerful divination magic) and evade the many guardians to return to the world. But if you succeed, the victim receives a new body, just as if you’d cast true resurrection; and while the defenders will try to stop you from leaving, they won’t interfere once you return to Eberron. It is theoretically possible to restore a husk in this way as well, but it won’t restore lost memories. Most resurrected husks are effectively mindless. Some can relearn new skills, though their original memories are forever lost. This is why people don’t try to bring back the Tairnadal ancestors or Galifar I; you could bring a body back, but it’s not the original person in any meaningful way. This is why the Queen of the Dead (and perhaps the Keeper) preserves certain shades from decay—so that it could be possible to restore them, even after centuries.

In the Age of Giants, the Cul’sir Dominion sent an army into Dolurrh to recover the spirits of a family lost in the Quori Conflict; none returned. The Queen of the Dead doesn’t care if a shade or two are stolen every century or even every decade. But her power cannot be contested in Dolurrh, and thieves who attract her personal attention will find their shades torn from their bodies in the blink of an eye.

DOLURRHI STORIES

Dolurrh can inspire many simple stories through its manifest zones or escaped ghosts. A husksteel trinket could provide a flash of memory that sets the adventurers on a particular path. And finding a way to rescue a shade from the underworld is always an epic tale. Here’s a few deeper stories to consider.

The Once and Future Queen of the Dead. The Queen of the Dead is an enigmatic figure who wields great power in Dolurrh. But there’s another being who uses this title: Erandis Vol, the last heir of the Mark of Death. Through her agents in the Order of the Emerald Claw and beyond, Erandis seeks to restore the power of her dragonmark; no one knows what godlike powers she might wield if she unlocks its full potential. Meanwhile, the Queen of the Dead seems to oppose Erandis, and often sends her agents—both shadar-kai and adventurers she’s restored to life at a price—to interfere with Vol’s schemes. This could be exactly what it appears. The Queen of the Dead may despise necromancers, and Vol is seeking to depose her. But perhaps there’s more to it. Time works in strange ways when dealing with the planes and beings of vast power. Perhaps the Queen of the Dead isn’t trying to stop Erandis; perhaps she’s guiding her down a very specific path. Perhaps Erandis will become the Queen of the Dead, in which case, she always will have been her. Or perhaps that’s what’s supposed to happen, but there’s a way in which it could still go wrong… which could destroy the Queen of the Dead and throw Dolurrh itself into chaos.

Agent of Death. After the adventurers kill a nefarious villain, their foe reappears alive and well. This happens time and again. How is the villain escaping from Dolurrh? Are acting as an agent for the Queen of the Dead, or have they simply found a back door to the Realm of the Dead? Either way, what can the adventurers do to lay them to rest once and for all?

Devastating Sorrow. When Dolurrh becomes coterminous, a powerful sorrowsworn emerges and devastates the region. The adventurers may not have the ability to defeat the sorrowsworn in battle, but if they understand the circumstances of its creation—the emotion that drives it and the event that triggered it they might be able to disperse the deadly monster by defusing this emotion. 

That’s it for now. Thanks again to my Patreon supporters for choosing the topic!

100 thoughts on “Dolurrh, the Realm of the Dead

  1. ” If you don’t complete a rest over the course of a 24 hour period, you must make this saving throw at dawn.”

    If no one has seen the sky, Is there a dawn, or is this just the side-effect of a 24 hour game mechanic?

    Does anything grow in Dolurrh or is it all mists and rock?

    This is an amazing article.

    • Nothing grows in Dolurrh, and dawn is an artifact of 24 hour day cycle. There might BE a sky in Dolurrh, but no one’s ever found a way to see it.

  2. Do the followers of the Sovereign Host believe the Keeper steals the souls away from Dolurrh or is it seen as a function of his godly role to wander in and snatch souls? Or is the taking done before the soul crosses over?

    Somewhat important for a member of the Restful Watch to know

    • Hmm, good question. The myth has always been that he snatches them ON THEIR WAY to Dolurrh, and that grave goods are based on “Distract the Keeper with something shiny.” But in practice the spirit goes to Dolurrh immediately and doesn’t wait for a funeral. So seems more likely that they’re snatching you from Dolurrh.

  3. “But if you succeed, the victim receives a new body, just as if you’d cast true resurrection.”

    So if your mortal friends die while in Dolurrh, just save their husk (and gear) and get back to Eberron?

    • It could be kind of fun to play your own absent minded shade after your character dies in a Dolurrh adventure.

      “This way, Bob!”
      “Why?”
      “Because we need to get you out of Dolurrh!”
      “Right! … Um, where’s Dolurrh?”

  4. How do warforged fare when traveling to Dolurrh?

    Does Exploring Eberron go into their relationship or lack thereof with the plane?

    • Warforged fare just like anyone else in Dolurrh. The fact that warforged spirits CAN go to Dolurrh is what proves that they have souls, which is in turn the big mystery: where do warforged souls COME from? However, just because WE, the readers and gamemasters, know that warforged have souls because they can become husks in Dolurrh, doesn’t mean that anyone IN EBERRON has managed to prove this; going to Dolurrh and tracking down a warforged soul is a pretty epic quest.

      • … given the presence of an actual soulforge in the realm, there’s loads of scope there for interesting links.

      • Based on what I’ve seen elsewhere, it seems as though the “mystery of where warforged souls come from” isn’t really a warforged-specific mystery at all, since there doesn’t seem to be a canonical source for the origin of souls for natural living creatures. Is this just a matter of mortal souls in living creatures being taken for granted, so that the only reason a construct having a soul is noteworthy is because it *is not like us*, or because we know who created it and do not believe that creator is a god? Or are there common beliefs/assumptions about the origins of souls that just don’t easily fit warforged?

        It occurs to me that if some see Dolurrh as *the* gateway to the Sovereigns, and they believe the Sovereigns are responsible for mortal life, then perhaps a common idea might be that new souls actually come from Dolurrh — ushered through by the Sovereigns as pure potential, free from the influence of the husks of the formerly-living? There’s a certain symmetry to the idea that mortality both ends in and springs from the same place… but that symmetry also seems to go against some of the feel of the nature of the place, so I don’t know how readily that kind of idea might be accepted. Still, perhaps it is memory and experience that gives Dolurrh its pull; shorn of identity, what remains might be freer to move in either direction?

        The concept of warforged souls being ‘recycled’ somehow has been mentioned elsewhere… but it seems like there’s no conclusive evidence against the notion that all souls are recycled from the remains of other souls. Is this just a conceit of most mortals, or is there an actual observed difference behind some people’s belief that this is a thing not true of the souls of natural creatures?

        Finally, if Dolurrh is in fact a one-way phenomenon, draining mortal souls out of Eberron permanently… that raises the question of whether there is some sort of balancing fount, something that endlessly creates what Dolurrh endlessly consumes, or whether we are actually witnessing the bleeding off of a limited (but yet plentiful) resource of Eberron. This could put an interesting twist on the goal of the Blood of Vol: breaking Dolurrh could lead to many consequences that are difficult to imagine, if new souls are constantly coming to be and ever-present older souls have to accommodate a constant influx of more and more eternal individuals; however, if at some point the spawning of new souls would inevitably begin to taper off, breaking Dolurrh could go from the kind of thing many would write off as a mad quest to the kind of thing that seems suddenly urgent in order to preserve sapient life as we know it…

        • Every faith has a different opinion on the origin of souls. The Blood of Vol, for example, asserts that souls are the spark of divinity in the blood of living creatures. SO they think the act of life does create souls. Those who think warforged don’t have souls believe this to be the case because warforged weren’t born, they were MADE… and they don’t have blood. Standard Seeker doctrine doesn’t attribute souls to plants, and in some ways one could argue that warforged APPEAR to be more “alive” in the same way as a plant.

          The Path of Light does believe that the purpose of Dolurrh is to cleanse souls so that they can be recycles. This is likewise the central conceit of the Path of Inspiration, which specifically focuses on reincarnation and the idea of the same soul having an ongoing journey.

          The Vassals believe that souls are a gift of the Sovereigns; they forge the soul and send it out to the world. After you die, you go through Dolurrh and are judged (assuming you aren’t snatched by the Keeper). If you’re worthy you dwell with the Sovereigns. Accounts vary on what happens if you’re not worthy—thrown back in a new body, given to the Keeper for eternal torment, or simply dissolved.

          And yes, the idea that in breaking Dolurrh the Seekers could fundamentally mess up the universe is a very real possibility. But it’s one they might be OK with! I think if you told a Seeker “There’s going to be no more births, but everyone alive in this moment gets to become a god” they might say “Fair enough; better that we end the system than continue to create new mortals to suffer.”

    • That depends on your interpretation of specters, which has varied across editions. If a specter is a tomrented mortal spirit prevented from passing into rest due to its burdens, that’s Dolurrh. If it’s either a mortal spirit that actively refuses to die and consumes mortal lifeforce to sustain itself, or a hostile spirit that was never human to begin with, that’s Mabar. Given that a dominant trait of the specter is “Life Drain”, I lean toward Mabar.

      • The touch of a ghost is painful, but it doesn;’t drain life in the same manner as a specter or vampire. To me, that consumption of life is the hallmark of Mabar.

      • Given the numbers of intelligent undead that consume life like spectres, do Dollurh and Mabar have manifest zones between each other that allow some souls to travel between them? Or is Eberron itself the only plane with manifest zones?

        • The principle is that Eberron is the only place where planes overlap. The principle of Mabaran undead is that by serving as conduits for the negative energy of Mabar and CONSUMING life, they avoid going to Dolurrh. They’re not dead, after all; they’re undead. Ghosts are the primary exception, and the core of the ghost isn’t about draining life (for all that their touch is dangerous).

          So vampire and specter don’t straddle Dolurrh and Mabar; they avoid going to Dolurrh by forging a bond to Mabar.

  5. Is there any relation between Dolurrh and the Shadowfell? I’m torn on treating the Shadowfell as a kind of “way station” to Dolurrh proper, or keeping it as a mirror to the Feywild & just strongly tied to Dolurrh via gateways.

    • By default, Dolurrh and Mabar essentially replace the Shadowfell in Eberron’s cosmology. Dolurrh is the realm of ghosts; Mabar is the source of negative energy and most undead, and is a realm of shadows. But you could keep it as a transitive bridge between them.

  6. Thanks Keith, this article is great!

    Similar to the Dragon’s Dream in Dal Quor from your novels, do you see the spirits of departed dragons and extraplanar mortals going to different layers of Dolurrh as well?

    • Someone asked this in a previous comment. I go into more length in my response there, but the short answer is “Yes.”

  7. Would a Seeker find their condition to be any different from other folk if their adventure took them to Dolurrh? I guess they’re as susceptible as anyone. I find the relationship between The Blood Of Vol and Dolurrh fascinating, especially if an adherent takes the approach of explicitly rejecting Dolurrh and its mysterious relationship with The Sovereign Host.

    • The Seekers believe that the fading of Dolurrh is the eradication of the soul. They don’t fair better than anyone else, which is why they assert that death is a curse that must be overcome. They DON’T believe in the idea that Dolurrh is a gateway, and why should they? The whole principle of it is “There’s no way to no if it’s true, it’s about faith” — the Seekers maintain that Vassals are idiots for buying into that.

      So, Seekers see three ways out. Unlock your own Divinity Within, at which point YOU can resist Dolurrh. Become undead, at which point you don’t die, but you’re also severed from your spark of divinity. Or – and this is the one we hope for – find a way to BREAK DOLURRH so that no one will suffer eradication ever again. That’s the goal; the other two are just the things you can do while working towards it.

      • This reminds me of something that probably had been answered, but I can’t find the answer. How do Seekers feel about warforged? They can’t die of natural causes and don’t need sustenance, and they’re obviously not undead, so they seem pretty close to the form of immortality Seekers want. But warforged also don’t have any blood, which is pretty important.

        • This has been raised here before. Most Seekers don’t consider warforged to be living beings. At best, they’re like plants; at worst, they’re toasters. They are tools created by mortals. It’s nice that they can be healed by healing spells, but the mere fact that they can’t reproduce naturally makes it pretty clear that they aren’t alive in the traditional sense.

          Remember that Seekers don’t simply want immortality in a human body. That’s why they DON’T generally want to be vampires or mummies. They want to unlock the Divinity Within and TRANSCEND mortality. And they don’t believe warforged have that potential. So warforged are perfectly nice as allies or tools, but they aren’t some sort of ideal to strive for.

          • Consider that Seekers have long made use of skeletons as a tool of labor; a warforged is in many ways just an intelligent skeleton made of metal and wood. And they HAVE intelligent skeletons, thanks to the Odakyr Rites—but they know those things don’t have the potential of mortals.

  8. You mention that not only shades, but husks can be revived by simply taking them out of Dolurrh. Would they remember who they were once resurrected?

  9. Do immortals ever venture into Dolurrh? What happens to them if they do? How about soulless constructs like golems? I’m guessing that homunculi (I mainly know them from 3.5 rules) would be vulnerable to Dolurrhi effects since they have a connection to the life force of their creator, correct? Are there Tharashk with the Mark of Finding who specialize in guiding the desperate into Dolurrh?

    • Do immortals ever venture into Dolurrh? What happens to them if they do?

      Only creatures that are native to Dolurrh are immune to its effects. So smart immortals DON’T enter Dolurrh. My inclination would be that immortals don’t lose MEMORY, but they lose ENERGY; they suffer the standard effects of ennui, can’t recover it while in Dolurrh, and if they reach six levels they discorporate. They will eventually reform on their own planes, but it will probably take considerably longer than usual.

      How about soulless constructs like golems?

      Up to the DM. One could say that soulless things are immune, or take the rules as written that only native creatures are immune and say that the golem will simply become inoperative at six levels of ennui.

      Are there Tharashk with the Mark of Finding who specialize in guiding the desperate into Dolurrh?

      In MY Eberron, going to recover a soul from Dolurrh is an Orpheus-level epic adventure, not something you could do as a living (among other things, if you DID do it as a living, sooner or later I’d expect a marut to show up at your office). You could certainly introduce it in your campaign, but in mine this is something that’s POSSIBLE, not something that’s TYPICAL.

      • The idea of a legendary Tharashk heir that’s Orpheus/Izanagi turned Stalker (Tarkovsky film of the same name) type guide after returning with the wrong husk seemed like a neat idea, till I remembered Tharashk is only about half a millennia old. Still, I guess it could work as a Shakespearean tale rather than a Homeric legend.

  10. “Ennui reflects the soul-sapping power of Dolurrh. It’s gained in levels, and duplicates the effects of exhaustion. However, it affects all creatures, including undead and other creatures immune to exhaustion. Ennui saps motion and memory. When a creature reaches six levels of ennui, its will is completely broken and it can take no purposeful action; if this happens to a living creature, its physical body dies and it becomes a husk bound to Dolurrh. ”

    So would a mindless construct just stop working until taken away from Dolurrh and repaired?

    • So would a mindless construct just stop working until taken away from Dolurrh and repaired?

      Yes, I think that’s exactly what would happen.

  11. “her agents—both shadar-kai and adventurers she’s restored to life at a price—”

    Are these agents necessarily restored to life in their original body, or would Reincarnation-like changes be “normal”?

    • There’s no normal. I’d expect it to be part of the negotiations on the term of resurrection. The shadar’kai are sworn to her service, and the new body is essentially part of that contract. If you’re just doing a single favor for her and then returning to your normal life, it seems more likely she’d let you keep your original body.

      • Ah, so they all have to agree to it. I was wondering if there was room for cosmic irony that could arise from agents picked, like bringing someone back as what they hate.

  12. Great article as always, and an interesting look at a plane that is normally fairly meh.

    Given that the greater Eberron/Eberron space/Eberron+Planes is something of a self-contained system where things are created in Irian before being broken down in Mabar in an endless cycle, what role does the dissolution of Dolurrh play? Predigestion of souls for Mabar? An “escape valve” for souls to leave that cycle?Something else?

    • Given that the greater Eberron/Eberron space/Eberron+Planes is something of a self-contained system where things are created in Irian before being broken down in Mabar in an endless cycle, what role does the dissolution of Dolurrh play? Predigestion of souls for Mabar? An “escape valve” for souls to leave that cycle?

      Souls are a mystery. The energy of LIFE flows from Irian and is destroyed by Mabar. Where exactly the soul comes from is a greater qestion – especially as Mabar doesn’t destroy the husks that linger in Dolurrh. Since there’s no absolute answer it’s about faith. Vassals say souls are the gift of the Sovereigns, and they return to the Sovereigns through Dolurrh. The Silver Flame and the Seekers both believe that souls are just PART of life—that living things come equipped with souls; the Seekers say Dolurrh destroys them, while the Flame believes they can join with the Flame if they are virtuous. The Path of Light believes that souls are “light” and that Dolurrh cleanses them so they can return to the cycle of life.

      The basic point is that the Vassals believe that it IS a closed system, but that the Sovereigns watch over that closed system from OUTSIDE it. The closed system is what mortals can experience; but that doesn’t mean it’s ALL there is to reality.

  13. In 4th Edition, I played an assassin who wielded the powers of shadow. Back then lore said assassins got their power by leaving a bit of their soul in the Shadowfell/Dolurrh, which I used in her backstory (spooky resurrection ritual).

    5th’s changed some things, so I wanted to ask for your thoughts: if a player wanted to draw on the power of death and shadow for their character, what kind of classes/subclasses do you think would help with that? Does the lore behind the 4E assassin still work with this version of Dolurrh? Shadow Sorcerer? Maybe some 3rd party source I don’t know of?

  14. Revivify has a time limit too short to cast Augury. Does Revivify have the same risks, since it has to be cast within a minute of death?

    Is there a legal penalty if something else beside the decased’s soul is brought back with a Raise Dead? I can see the wealthy wanting Raise Dead cast on them despite the risks, and their family having enough influence to sway a caster into doing so.

    Is it still true that Dragonmarks are tied to the soul, and remain even if the person is reincarnated as a different race?

    • Revivify has a time limit too short to cast Augury. Does Revivify have the same risks, since it has to be cast within a minute of death?

      There’s no rules on the chances of a marut appearing. It’s largely an explanation for why resurrection isn’t a common practice in the setting and is primarily a tool for PCs (because PCs ALWAYS have an unfulfilled destiny). I’m inclined to say that Revivify is usually safe, because “They’re only mostly dead.” But ultimately that’s up to the DM.

      Is there a legal penalty if something else beside the decased’s soul is brought back with a Raise Dead?

      No, I don’t think so. It’s not something the caster can control, beyond casting Augury ahead of time. I think it’s a known risk.

      Is it still true that Dragonmarks are tied to the soul, and remain even if the person is reincarnated as a different race?

      In principle, yes, though I’d yield that to the DM who has to figure out how it works mechanically. But the IDEA is that the dragonmark is tied to the soul and can be kept after reincarnation, but cannot be passed to offspring.

      • A tangential question. Raise Dead, Resurrection, and True Resurrection all require a diamond of some cost, which is destroyed in the process. While mechanically it’s obviously to make returning a dead character to life expensive, I couldn’t help but notice that it specifically requires singular diamond of that price.

        This makes me think that the diamonds used for resurrection need to have some specific properties. Now you could be boring and say that the requirements are simply a matter of size and purity; but I’d far prefer if resurrections are NOT “scientific” like common magic.

        So question is….how would you make resurrection diamonds special? I’m thinking something to do with being imbued with positive energy from Irian, or something.

        As a side note, I can just imagine a heist plot in Eberron about a group of characters being hired to retrieve a “true resurrection grade” diamond.

        • I’d make it a greater Syberis dragonshard, that somehow displays properties of the Mark of Death – they need to be shipped in from Stormreach.

          Or perhaps a greater Khyber shard of precise shape and size, as the soul is “bound” somehow to the stone? Perhaps the party need to protect the during the four rests of recovery, whilst it slowly loses it power and becomes worthless?

        • … Sort of.

          In a society in which raise dead was a common service and diamonds were the fuel, location of diamonds would be a MAJOR vital natural resource. In the Five Nations, raise dead is NOT a common service… and any expensive component can be replaced by refined Eberron dragonshards with an equivalent value. So it’s both easier to do, but not done as often because of the fear that a marut will show up and kill everyone involved, not to mention the timeline (even after a day, a shade may lack the will to want to return; it doesn’t become a HUSK until six levels, but it loses will immediately).

          Resurrection isn’t supposed to be a standard part of life in Khorvaire. Only spells of up to 3rd level are considered an everyday thing; revivify is a common service if your Jorasco EMT is on the scene, but raise dead is less common and resurrection is basically a miracle.

          • I’m not actually suggesting it’s a common service at all. In fact what I’m saying is that given how rare and miraculous resurrection is, the specifications of the ritual component (the diamond or dragonshards) shouldn’t be mundane and technical; ie. I don’t think that resurrection grade gems should be expensive simply because they’re large and pure. They need to hold miraculous spiritual significance in some way.

            So given that assumption, I’m wondering what kind of story these gems could hold?

          • I understand the question, but I’m saying that’s not how Eberron dragonshards work. Per Rising “When casting a spell, you can use dragonshard dust in place of any spell component that has a cost.” It IS mundane and technical. Essentially, if you DON’T have dragonshards, you do need something esoteric and specific. Part of the reason that magic has advanced so dramatically over the last century is because Tharashk has dramatically increased its harvesting of Eberron shards, allowing magic that was previously only possible using obscure and rare components to be performed using a single core fuel.

            Now: as a DM, you CAN say that resurrection magic is a specific exception to the rule. It’s not a bad idea, given that resurrection effects are supposed to be uncommon. But, if I were to do this, I’d throw out diamonds entirely. Diamonds have no inherent significance in Eberron; it’s an arbitrary decision a designer made long ago with no setting in mind. If I was going to give resurrection magic a unique component and say that residuum doesn’t apply to it, I would say that what it requires are Khyber dragonshards—not processed, but of a specific size and quality. Khyber dragonshards are specifically associated with the binding of spirits; it’s logical that the Khyber shard acts as a channel that pulls the soul from Dolurrh and transfers it back to the body. This is doubly relevant because we HAVE established sources of Khyber shards, and they have other important uses; I find it interesting to say that it’s a choice of taking a “reactor grade” Khyber shard and using it to create an airship or burning it to attempt a resurrection.

            In fact, I like that Khyber shard idea enough that I may just add it to Exploring Eberron…

          • “Calisti’s dead…”
            “Welp.”
            “… we’ve got 35 minutes before the Pride of Sharn leaves that hanger. Get your soft shoes and a crowbar.”

    • “I can see the wealthy wanting Raise Dead cast on them despite the risks, and their family having enough influence to sway a caster into doing so.”

      Personally, I’ve gotten the impression that even considering the objective risks and relatively low availability, resurrections happen less than one might otherwise think. Some of that is that many faiths have beliefs that conveniently discourage it… which raises the question, why, and why do even the weak of faith tend to stick to it?

      Where I personally go with this question is to imagine that this is in large part the result of a massive, secretive social engineering project by dragons, specifically Guides of the Weak. The purpose? To make Prophecy management easier. After all, it’s a lot harder to have someone killed to manipulate the Prophecy if there’s a good chance they’re just going to be resurrected.

    • It’s a symbolic environment, not a natural world. And no one needs to eat or drink while in Dolurrh, so it’s not necessary. If there’s a REASON for a location to have water—if the water serves some purpose or has some useful effect, sure. Otherwise, no.

  15. Hi keith! This post is very deep, but in my humble opinion raises a couple of questions, like:
    – to enter in fourth and save a soul looks difficult, but not SO difficult. A high level challenge for humans… but there are dragons. There were giants. Didn’t they ever try a massive “defeat death and live forever” plan?
    – similar question for eleven. Their religion is based on “we don’t accept death”.
    – can you tell us more about how a new body is created when you bring a soul out of Dolurrh?
    – how much is people in eberron aware of the Queen existence? Is she viable as a patron for a group or goddess for a cleric?
    – last but not least: did you get inspiration from Italian or Latin for the name of planes? Most of them has a feeling in Italian (Dal Qor is like Dal Cuor, from the heart; Dolurrh is like dolore/Dolor, pain; hernia is almost life Inferno, hell).

    • to enter in fourth and save a soul looks difficult, but not SO difficult. A high level challenge for humans… but there are dragons. There were giants. Didn’t they ever try a massive “defeat death and live forever” plan?
      Sure! They probably did and it did not end well. Think of the plane as a body. A single pinprick will largely be ignore. An actual threat will trigger the immune system. So when you, a tiny inconsequential human, sneak in and grab one soul? No one cares. But if you did it every week? Or if you brought an army? That’s different and will trigger a response. First we have maruts: a cr 25 threat, and she has as many as she wants. But more than that, we have the Queen of the Dead. The basic principle is that each plane has its great powers, and that you cannot defeat those powers on their home plane—just as you can’t defeat the Undying Court in Aerenal. THe Queen of the Dead may LOOK like an elf, but she is the conduit of the entire power of Dolurrh. ON DOLURRH, she is essentially more powerful than all the Overlords combined. It’s quite likely that she could pull the souls of an army of dragons out of their bodies with a single snap of her finger… in Dolurrh. This is why no one attacks il-Lashtavar in Dal Quor, or tries to reclaim fragments from Mabar.

      So stealing a single soul once a decade or so? Sure, that’s possible. But more than that is inviting disaster.

      can you tell us more about how a new body is created when you bring a soul out of Dolurrh?
      It is identical to the effect of the spell true resurrection — no more, no less.

      how much is people in eberron aware of the Queen existence? Is she viable as a patron for a group or goddess for a cleric?
      There’s stories, certainly. She’s not a goddess in that she has no direct influence over Eberron and isn’t a divine power source; technically it’s possible someone could gain spells from deep faith in her, but they wouldn’t be coming from HER; it would likely be a case that the power would actually come from the divine power source of the Keeper. But sure, she could be a warlock patron or group patron.

      last but not least: did you get inspiration from Italian or Latin for the name of planes?
      Inspiration for names comes from many source, and it was never the intent to be consistent about it. Both Dolurrh and Fernia are both inspired by Latin, yes.

      • I’ve clarified the greater difficulty of reclaiming a spirit from Dolurrh in the article, but here’s the relevant piece.
        In the Age of Giants, the Cul’sir Dominion sent an army into Dolurrh to recover the spirits of a family lost in the Quori Conflict; none returned. The Queen of the Dead doesn’t care if a shade or two are stolen every century or even every decade. But her power cannot be contested in Dolurrh, and thieves who attract her personal attention will find their shades torn from their bodies in the blink of an eye.

        • I love the sheer audacity of the Cul’sir Dominion and how they kept trying to conquer the planes. Always a fun little tidbit of planar knowledge

          Did they ever try to reclaim lost fragments on Mabar or other suitably hubristic projects on other planes?

          Though defying death and actually successfully building a fortress on Lammania take the cake for me

          • Did they ever try to reclaim lost fragments on Mabar or other suitably hubristic projects on other planes?

            Actually, one of the OTHER giant civilizations poked around with some of the other planes… but that is covered in ExE!

  16. Fantastic and wonderful, as always!
    I ask you two “technical” questions because they happened during some games and I need some clarification from you.

    1. If a PC dies while in Dal Quor, does it immediately switch to Dolurrh or is it “hindered” by the fact that the Dream Realm is forever disconnected from the material plane?

    2. Is it too foolish to think that the Queen of Death is hindering Lady Illmarrow (Lady Vol) because she is considered contaminated by undead? Is it correct that Lady Vol is therefore no longer worthy of being his “emissary”?
    Would it be correct to imagine that the Queen of Death is willing to return the Mark of Death to Eberron?

    I ask you these last questions because in an old campaign, I made my friends on Xen’Drik find a girl who had the Death Mark at the Siberys level. After many vicissitudes in which the girl risked dying (too long to tell), they managed to protect and hide her in a temple in Adar. On many occasions they have been helped by “someone” whose identity they have never discovered. In fact (my friends don’t know…) I have never been able to find a real master of puppets that was really behind the protection of the reappeared Mark of Death. The Queen of Death would be perfect!!!!!!

    You say it could be plausible?
    Thanks!

    • 1. Generally it’s instant, but we have said that it’s POSSIBLE for a soul to linger in Dal Quor instead of going to Dolurrh; these are usually called vestiges.

      2. There’s no right answer her; the whole point of the Queen of Death is to be enigmatic. Any of these things are possible if you want them to be. So sure, that could definitely be what’s going on in your campaign!

  17. If Husksteel is made from FLESH and SOUL, and also the Smith can replicate any invention from Eberron… Could (and would) it be possible to use Warforged Husksteel to create a weird, shadow Warforged? Like the shadar-kai but made of shimmering black metal?

    • In principle, why not? In practice, the main question is if husks are unique or if souls are all souls: is a warforged soul somehow concretely different from a human soul, and if so, how? One of the basic theories that has been floated in-world is that if warforged have souls, they may be RECYCLED souls—husks that have somehow been harvested from Dolurrh and placed in warforged bodies.

      But again, why not?

  18. I know this isn’t related to the article, but I’m really curious, is Tavick’s landing named after someone in particular? Just curious.

    • Btw, if this is ignored because it’s not relevant, could I ask if you’d have an idea of when you’d be answering questions more generally?

    • It’s definitely named after SOMEONE, but we’ve never said who. I’d personally imagine that Tavick was a Lhazaar-era explorer who first discovered the ruins of Duur’Shaarat—which became the foundation of what is now Sharn.

  19. How the legal system handle the possibility of resurrection? It’s rare, but we have giants, elves, goblins, humans. All with some sort of hereditary monarchy or another. If you die, does your child inherits the throne/house/ship or there is a customary period of wait before those things?

    • I don’t remember if it’s called out in the Sharn discussion of the law or not. I’d expect the Code of Galifar probably has a “Resurrection Clause” that gives something like a two-week grace period during which the deceased can reclaim their property; two weeks is about the outside limit of how long it takes most shades to become husks, after which resurrection is no longer an option. If you come back after that, legally you’re starting over.

      With that said, part of the point is that with the time limit and the threat of marut intervention, resurrection isn’t actually that common. And looking to the time limit that’s two weeks on the outside; even a shade with only two levels of ennui might lack the will to want to return. Raising the dead is supposed to be a rare service that is available for player characters but that’s not part of everyday life in the Five Nations. Again, wide magic only extends to 3rd level – so REVIVIFY is a common thing, but even raise dead is rare.

  20. You said in a previous reply that on Dolurrh, the Queen of the Dead’s power is greater than all of the Overlords combined. And in the main article you said that she takes action that directly affect the Material Plane, so I’m curious about her power level on the Material Plane. For instance, how would she compare to, say, Katashka the Gatekeeper?

    Also, how would she feel about Katashka’s release? It seems like it might be a similar to Lady Vol where she might appear to oppose it, but maybe it’s complicated?

    (And this is a slight tangent, here, but I’ve been curious about this for a while now… how would Lady Vol feel about Katashka’s release? I’m thinking it could go either way – so maybe just whichever fits the story better. But either way, I’m wondering how plugged into the Draconic Prophecy she is, when it comes to things like this. Is she a player in that game, or a pawn?)

    • She takes ACTIONS that directly affect the Material Plane, but those actions are empowering warlocks or sending shadar-kai or maruts. The Queen of the Dead has no power to directly affect the Material Plane in the way that Katashka or even Lady Illmarrow can. But she takes actions through agents, which is more than many of the great planar powers do.

      Katashka is interesting because despite the general impression, Katashka isn’t a power OF death; Katashka embodies our FEARS of death and the undead. Tied to that, Katashka creates a lot of UNdead, which aren’t a think that the Queen of the Dead loves; undead disrupt the natural cycle of Dolurrh and are tied to Mabar. So on the one hand, Katashka is one of the local powers of Eberron and thus has rightful dominion — the same way no one can challenge the Queen of the Dead in Dolurrh. On the other hand, she is definitely happy to see him bound.

  21. Hmm, the Dreaming Dark in Dal Quor, Queen of the Dead in Dolurrh, the Dawn Emperor of Irian, the Empress of Shadows in Mabar, the ‘greater power’ in Lammania that might be Olarune-…
    Could it be that every Plane has a sort of central godlike ‘ruler’ entity such as all of these?

    • A more interesting question to me would be: are the planes themselves conscious? That consciousness could easily appear to mortals as some kind of ruler, but what if they aren’t actually beings simply living in the plane? What if they’re the personification of the plane itself?

      It’s certainly possible given how the material plane was essentially made from the bodies of 3 vastly powerful conscious beings, and these are the very beings who spawned the planes.

      • This is the deeper fundamental question that’s reflected by the archfey of Thelanis, the totems of Lamannia, even the dark powers of Mabar; as powerful as these entities are, are they just the manifestations of a greater consciousness that shapes the entire plane? Note that il-Lahstavar is called the “Quor Tarai”, the “Dream of the Age”; it’s quite possible that the reason that dream changes is because the plane itself wakes up and then goes back to sleep, dreaming a new dream.

        • Is there any intentional parallel between how powerful entities relate to their native planes, and how the Overlords relate to Khyber?

    • That is the general assumption; it’s simply that not all of them take a concrete, recognizable form. Note that il-Lashtavar isn’t an anthropomorphic entity; event the QUORI can’t talk to it, save for the visions it grants to the Devourer of Dreams. Likewise for Lamannia; it’s believed that there IS a power, but no one has ever had a conversation with it. This is the same point of the daelkyr: they are the most powerful creatures that LEAVE Xoriat, but they aren’t the prime movers than shape it.

      And it’s definitely the case that not all powers are equal. The Empress of Shadows in Mabar is more like the Archfey of Thelanis than the Queen of the Dead, who is a solitary ruler. The Empress may be the single strongest entity, but you also have the Bone King, the Queen of All Tears, and other powers that rule their own domains. Essentially, the Empress is like one of the totems of Lamannia. She’s the biggest and most powerful thing you can SEE, but that may mean there’s a greater motive force you CAN’T see.

  22. So the Queen of the Dead and her agents look like elves, and every single elven culture on Eberron had some obsession with death or the dead, whether it’s ancestor worship or necromancy (in both positive and negative forms). The Mark of Death also occured on elves.

    This all ultimately points to some kind of fundamental connection between elves and death. Is there any definitive answer?

    • Perhaps it’s the other way around. Elves, for whatever reasons, became obsessed with death in their culture, and Dollurh responded to their thoughts and feelings by making its ruler seem to be an elf.

      (There’s also the whole Vol bloodline thing if you’re interested In that idea.)

      • Death is part of the Draconic Prophecy.
        And the Draconic Prophecy guides the fate of the universe, ever since the three ancestor dragons created the plans, including Dolurrh.

        If the Queen of Death has the features of an elf, we could say that Death and everything related to it will “tend” to resemble her.

        When the first elf was shaped by the Giants of Xen’drik, he was perhaps imbued with the essence of Death. Therefore it is not the Queen who has the appearance of an elf, but it is the elves who embodied her appearance !!!

        Here then, according to a sort of universal law, every being who tends to Death, will end up looking like the Queen.

        Continuing with my delirium, could we say that elves are creatures indissolubly and unconsciously linked to her?

        • So basically, you’re suggesting that when the giants enslaved eladrin out of their towers, they created elves out of them by severing their connection to Thelanis and replacing that planar connection to Dolurrh instead.

          • Oh yeah!
            Too visionary, I know.
            But since I read about the Queen of Death, this idea has been whirling in my head and not abandoning me…

  23. Another wacky question: You establish that all entities are subject to ennui in Dolurrh, and Inevitable Entrapment. What happens to a lich who leaves their phylactery back on the Material Plane and ventures into Dolurrh? If they succumb to ennui, do they reappear back at their phylactery just as if they were “killed” in a mundane way? (And yeah, since liches do what the do to themselves specifically to AVOID going to Dolurrh, it’s a rather unlikely scenario, but desperation and/or greed can produce the unlikely.)
    Wacky question 2: Dragonmarks are attached to the soul. When a dragonmarked heir dies, does the mark evaporate with the shade, or does it remain attached to the husk? If the latter, does the Smith of Souls make unique itesm of dragonmarked husksteel?

    • What happens to a lich who leaves their phylactery back on the Material Plane and ventures into Dolurrh? If they succumb to ennui, do they reappear back at their phylactery just as if they were “killed” in a mundane way?

      Yes, I think so. That is the purpose of the phylactery; to keep the shade from Dolurrh.

      Wacky question 2: Dragonmarks are attached to the soul. When a dragonmarked heir dies, does the mark evaporate with the shade, or does it remain attached to the husk?

      I think that if you dragged a dragonmarked heir’s husk out of Dolurrh, the body would still have the mark, so yes, this is certainly a possibility.

  24. Awesome article! I love these planar articles and look forward to buying Exporing Eberron. Proud to be one of your Patreon supporters as well. I like how your mind works!

    Two questions, if you have a minute:

    1) Do souls start their journey through Dolurrh at the Tower/Vault with the Librarian collecting their memories while they are still fresh? Or do they end their journey there, just before they fade?

    2) I saw that you mentioned keeping the Shadowfell as a gateway to Dolorrh. I’m also kind of “locked in” to the Shadowfell a sDolorrh from 4E mythology. Would it also work to have the Shadowfell as a “top” layer of Dolurhh, do you think? A bleak, empty twilight landscape that is a reflection of Eberron, devoid of creatures; then you’d go “down” (so to speak) to get to the Catacombs, Kennel, and Vault?

    • 1. I tend to think that they are processed in the Vault before being released into the Catacombs. The point of the Queen of the Dead crystalizing shades is to do so BEFORE they fade, likewise for the Librarian. Of course, this does mean that if someone dies and is resurrected within 24 hours, the Librarian may have already done their entry interview – so their may be some living people whose lives are recorded in the Library.

      2. The challenge is how it relates to Mabar (search “The Endless Night” on the site if you haven’t read that article). Mabar is the source of most undead aside from ghosts, and it is also a realm of shadow; so Mabar and Dolurrh really split the traditional 4E role of the Shadowfell between them. But I have no problem with the idea that there could be a top level of Dolurrh above the catacombs that is a shadowy, empty reflection of Eberron.

  25. Keith,

    One other question! How does this Dolurhh lore intersect with your lore on the Shae Tirias Tolai, the City of Silver and Bone Feyspire that is the gateway to Dolurhh? It sounds a lot like the Vault!

    “Study the lore of ancient cultures, and you’ll find a recurring story of a city that stands on the edge of life and death. A shade is drawn to Dolurrh, but along the way it passes through a wondrous city of silver and bone, a city with tapestries of fine glamerweave and bone fountains filled with blood. The librarians of this final city record the tales of the ghosts, a last record before their memories are lost in Dolurrh. The artists work with creative shades, offering a last chance to complete unfinished works. And then there are the necromancers who make darker bargains, offering a chance to return to the world of the living… but at a terrible cost.” http://keith-baker.com/silver-and-bone/

    • What you’ll find is that Exploring Eberron either contradicts or expands upon previous dragonmark articles. The dragonmark articles aren’t canon, and in many cases are me thinking about a topic for the first time… and often I’ll suggest multiple different answers to a question, so you can use the one you like best. So in this article, I suggest that Shae Tirias Tolai is one way to incorporate the Raven Queen into Eberron – but that contradicts the idea I presented in another article, of Erandis’s future role as Queen of the Dead, and that’s the one I decided to use in ExE (which includes an expanded version of this article).

      With that said, the piece you quoted says “This was Shae Tirias Tolai…” Because the feyspire was sacked. So it is entirely possible that Shae Tirias Tolai was essentially a story-shadow of the Vault, and that both could exist. But essentially, the Vault does combine a number of previous ideas I explored.

  26. I know I’m late to the game here, but why Nalfeshnee? They seem like an odd choice for custodians of the dead.

    • It’s a holdover from 3.5, and I prefer not to ignore prior canon without a strong reason. With that said, the point is that these are entities with the STATISTICS of nalfeshnee, but they aren’t winged warthogs. They are humanoids shrouded in gray mist. The idea that it “feeds on despair” can be seen as generally thriving on the ennui inspired by Dolurrh, and its Horror Nimbus can likewise be seen as a form of existential dread.

      And they aren’t custodians of the DEAD; they are custodians of the catacombs, literally scraping the lemures off the wall (and eating them) and making sure mortals don’t cause trouble.

  27. You mentioned that the kennel hold the souls of beasts and monstrosities. Do all the major faiths believe that beasts have souls or do some think that’s restricted to humanoids?

    • Remember that just because WE have a book of all knowledge doesn’t mean that a thing is known by the people of Khorvaire, or that even if it is, that it’s accepted as fact. There have certainly been heroes who have gone to Dolurrh to recover shades in the past, but part of the point of the Kennel is that beasts and humanoids are separated, so it may be that no humanoid has ever been there; at best, it’s something that would require a difficult Arcana check to know. But my quick take is this: The Silver Flame doesn’t address beasts: the focus is on humanoids protecting humanoids. Likewise, the Blood of Vol believes that humanoids have the potential to achieve the Divinity Within but doesn’t attribute this possibility to beasts. The Pyrinean Creed of the Sovereign Host states that Arawai (who holds dominion over livestock and domesticated beasts) and Balinor (who holds dominion over the hunt) intend for beasts to serve the good of the people.

      Now, I think that the Path of Light encourages a vegetarian diet and the avoidance of animal cruelty; set aside Dolurrh, the kalashtar would point out that beasts dream. I could imagine a sect of the Sovereign Host (“Arawai’s Mercy”) that goes further and decries all forms of animal oppression. But in general I think the faiths don’t engage with it; they’re humanoid-centric.

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