Dragonmarks 12/5: Siberys, Flame and Hybrids!

Soon I’ll start talking about the new setting I’m working on, but for now here’s another round of Eberron answers to chew on. As always, these are just my personal opinions & aren’t canon in any way.

What can you tell us about the status of Eberron in the next edition?

At this point in time, I have no new information. It’s my hope that it will be supported, but I haven’t heard anything positive or negative in this regard.

When will you write more novels? Are you writing one now? Write one now.

As regards Eberron novels, that’s up to Wizards of the Coast, not me. Eberron belongs to WotC, and they are the only ones empowered to authorize Eberron stories. There’s lots of stories I’d like to tell, and this is one reason I’m working on a new setting – so that I’ll have free rein to develop fiction in that world.

In the unlikely event that a Warforged gained a dragonmark, would it replace the ghulra, or be its own thing?

A warforged getting a dragonmark is going to be a one of a kind story, so it’s up to you, really. Is the dragonmark somehow manufactured? Is the Prophecy declaring this warforged to be a tool of destiny? This will likely manifest in different ways. However, I personally wouldn’t replace the ghulra. The ghulra is, essentially, the true name of the warforged: the symbol of its soul. It is unique. A dragonmark is not unique; it can be shared by many people. It touches the soul, but it is not the entirety of it.

Can you provide an in game explanation about how the only interracial breeding possibilities are between human with orcs and elves?

First off, changelings and kalashtar can both interbreed with other races, including humans, Khoravar, and elves. However, these crossings don’t produce hybrids; a human-kalashtar crossing produces a human or a kalashtar, not a half-kalashtar. So to reframe the question, why are half-elves and half-orcs the only hybrid races?

First off, I see no reason to assume that other hybrids aren’t possible; it’s simply that if they are possible, the offspring are a) not sufficiently different from one of the parent races so as to require new mechanics, and/or b) are sterile or otherwise not true breeding. Essentially, if you were in my campaign and said “I want to play a half-dwarf… mechanically he’s a dwarf, he’s just a little skinny and people make fun of his mother” I’d allow it. But I wouldn’t give you any special abilities for it – you don’t get to take human-only feats. So there exists the possibility that half-elves and half-orcs aren’t the only hybrids. But they are still the only true-breeding hybrid races that possess their own unique racial traits, so let’s keep moving forward.

We’ll start with the Khoravar… that’s the name the half-elves of Eberron have given their race, for those who don’t know it. First off, as noted in the Dragonshard on the subject the elves themselves were surprised and disturbed when they had viable hybrid offspring. Why is this possible? It could be that it has little to do with humanity and everything to do with the elves. Remember that the elves are the product of genetic engineering; when the giants enslaved the people of Shae Tirias Tolai, they altered them and stripped them of their ability to slip through the Feywild, transforming eladrin into the modern elves. They were bred to be slaves; as such, it’s not unreasonable to think that they intentionally made them genetically adaptable to help maintain their stock. We’ve never discussed the possibility of, say, elf-goblin hybrids… but if you want to make things interesting, you could say that elves can breed with anything. It would explain the fifty shades of elf you find in many settings.

As for half-orcs, personally, I think orcs work in the same way. I don’t personally consider half-orcs to be specifically half-human, half-orc. In my opinion, a half-orc might be part hobgoblin, elf, shifter, or dwarf. Basically, the orc genes are dominant enough to produce a uniform set of traits when bred with other creatures; though with that said, I’d think that you would see some differences between the hobgoblin and shifter half-orcs. But mechanically they are identical. Why is this possible? It could simply be a bizarre evolutionary trait that has allowed the orc to thrive in difficult environments. Or it could have been a gift from Vvaarak – a blessing of fertility upon the first race of druids.

What if Siberys was not killed by Khyber, despite false myths that say the contrary? Or could he resurrect?

Well, assuming you take the Progenitor myth at face value, it’s hard for Siberys to be alive because the pieces of his body are scattered across the sky. The dragons were born from his blood, and the radiance of the Ring is in my opinion the primary source of the energy mortals manipulate with magic. If he’s not killed, you have no Ring, no dragons, and no magic.

Could he be resurrected? Anything’s possible. But I don’t know what you’d do with him if he was. We’re talking about a dragon wrapped around the world… a dragon who, in his first life, created entire planes for fun. Which means if he was alive again, there’s no particular reason for him to hang around in this one; he’d probably go and see how things were working out in Syrania and Irian, then swim off into the Astral to think about what to do next. The gravitational impact of this celestial motion would likely wreak all sorts of havoc, and there’s then the question of if there would still be arcane magic in the world if he left.

A key point here is that Siberys has no particular reason to care about humans. We’re children of Eberron, and late to the game at that. Even the dragons were born of his blood, not personally shaped by his hand; if anything, he’d be more interested in the outer planes, because those he worked on deliberately.

And worst comes to the worst, he’d want a second round with Khyber and might try to get Eberron to let her go. And Eberron is the world we are standing on. If Eberron were to rise, it would literally destroy the world as we know it.

So personally, I’d let sleeping dragons lie.

What kind of creatures dwell, by your reckoning and imagination as the creator of Eberron, within the distant Ring of Siberys.

Siberys is, in my mind, the source of arcane magic. Dragons are the children of Siberys and Eberron; as such they are mortal creatures whose blood is suffused with mystic power. Per Dragons of Eberron, the couatl were formed from “the pure blood of Khyber before it touched the earth.” So couatl are one example of creatures you might find in the Ring. The key to me is that natives of the Ring would likely be highly magical creatures, as much spirit as flesh; flight would also be a common thing. But beyond “look to the couatl as an example,” it’s not a subject I’ve given much thought.

Does Eberron exist in a specifically imagined Solar System; if so what are the other celestial bodies or major planets therein.

Nope. We defined the moons, and there are a lot of them; you could choose to spread them out as planets if you prefer. But we’ve never described other planets in the system. I believe there are other worlds – the daelkyr are described as having produced mind flayers when they destroyed the homeworld of the Gith – but we’ve never stated if these are physical worlds that can be reached through space travel or alternate material planes. It’s something I’m thinking about as I’m developing my new setting, but it wasn’t something that was considered for Eberron.

Why did Thrane reject Cyran refugees?

I’ll throw out a few factors.

  • Like all of the Five Nations, Thrane’s resources were stretched thin by the war. Krozen’s top priority was to make sure he could tend to the needs of his own people.
  • No one won the war. Cyre never conceded its position or acknowledged Thrane as a righteous victor. Many of those refugees are thus unrepentant enemy combatants. Even the civilians have the potential to form a hostile fifth column within the native population. Why should we put the safety and wellbeing of our own people at risk to help those who were, months ago, trying to kill them?
  • The Mourning is utterly terrifying. An entire nation has been destroyed. No one knows why or how. Is it divine punishment of the Cyrans, and if so, will it follow them wherever they go? We need to regroup, consolidate our forces, and find out what it is and how to protect ourselves from it; this is not a time to take unnecessary risks.

There’s three reasons. Jaela would likely argue for compassion for those in need. Krozen would counter that the closed border protects the people of Thrane. And in the end, Jaela is the spiritual leader; it was Krozen and the cardinals who chose to refuse refugees.

On the other hand, while I understand the motives for Thrane’s rejection of the refugees, it seems odd since Breland welcomed them, and this puts the Flamers to shame given their beliefs in helping others.

The key here is to look at the event in context. The people of Thrane follow the faith of the Silver Flame. But they are also the people of Thrane, and have secular concerns that drive their daily lives. This isn’t a case of peaceful innocents hurt by a natural disaster. At the time of the Mourning, Thrane and Cyre had been at war for almost a century… and the last few decades of the war were fairly bitter between them. Consider the following, drawn from The Forge of War:

  • In 978 YK, Cyre and Thrane were briefly allies. However, Cyre refused to aid Thrane against Brelish aggression. This led to a collapse of the alliance. One of the first conflicts following this was Cyre’s siege of Arythawn Keep. This was a brutal massacre. The Cyrans took no prisoners, and their warforged troops pursued those who fled, hunting them down tirelessly and slaughtering them. That’s an image that is very close to the minds of Thranes on the Cyran border: their own innocents being mercilessly pursued by Cyran troops.
  • In 993 YK, Jaela Daran came to power and immediately sought peace with Cyre. Queen Dannel refused her entreaties, and Thrane soon learned that this was because Cyre had an ambitious plan to bring down Thrane with a direct assault on Flamekeep itself.  Per Forge of War, while this plan was never executed, “Keeper Daran had no counter to High Cardinal Krozen’s claim that Cyre was a clear and present danger.” So again, when Cyre was seemingly punished by divine force for its folly, most Thranes felt little desire to aid the people who just years earlier had plotted to ravage Flamekeep.

In many ways, the question isn’t why Thrane didn’t help Cyre, but rather why Breland did. Breland and Thrane were allied against Cyre on the Day of Mourning. However, Breland had fewer bitter conflicts in its past – no incidents matching either of those I called out above. And to be more cynical, the fact of the matter is that the Cyran claim to the throne was always the best one. By taking in Oargev – keeping his former enemy close – Boranel put himself in a very strong position to control whatever future the nation may have. Breland’s actions may have been pure politics as much as humanitarian kindness.

I do believe that individual followers of the Flame quite likely provided aid to Cyran civilians in need, both before and after the Mourning; and remember, there are followers of the Flame in Breland as well as Thrane. But these incidents were the acts of compassionate individuals as opposed to the policy of a nation. Thrane’s refusal to aid Cyre was a secular act, not driven by faith; it was the act of a nation scarred by war, one that had offered the hand of peace in the past and been answered with betrayal and aggression.

Speaking of Cyre: was there ever anyone doubting what they were doing, when they were planning on attacking Flamekeep? That is, literally, the most important city for the Church of the Silver Flame… I can definitely imagine the shock people of Thrane felt, for those who found out about this (did it become public knowledge? because if so, yeah, Krozen is right in that you can’t expect Thranes to help the people from Cyre all that much)… Kind of insane, really, to consider destroying Flamekeep.

Who said anything about destroying it? We’re going to liberate it from the corrupt cardinals and false Keeper. And don’t forget, there are followers of the Flame who believe the theocracy is a mistake and source of corruption. Under Cyran rule, the church would be restored to its proper role.

Well, I mean, being seen to march against Flamekeep with the purpose of killing the Keeper, that would still cause some unrest, surely? Sure, the Church might have been too involved in secular matters, but going in there to try and kill Jaela Daran still wouldn’t go very well with most followers of the Church, even those outside of Thrane – Cyre isn’t exactly noted as a gathering point of the Silver Flame, so they can’t even do what Aundair might be able to pull off, and say they’re working towards protecting the true purpose of the Church, at least not while also being particularly convincing. Also, the Keeper was chosen by the Flame itself – then again, the queen could be trying to sell it as Jaela being false, so that could work, for those who would believe her.

Let me preface this by saying that the attacking Flamekeep scenario comes from The Forge of War, which I didn’t work on. As such, while I’m going to explain what I consider to be the logic behind it, it wasn’t my idea to begin with. But let me try.

The plan was not publicly known, nor did it involve fighting through Thrane. According to Forge of War , the idea was to defeat Thrane with a single massive naval assault on Flamekeep, with the idea that if Flamekeep could be seized Thrane would be forced to capitulate. With this in mind…

  • This plan was driven by the fact that there was a new, inexperienced Keeper… and surely enhanced by the fact that she was a child, something unprecedented in history.
  • I don’t think the plan was ever to “kill the Keeper.” Rather, it would be a matter of taking her as a hostage. Dannel would have a couple of angles she could work. First of all, she would be dissolving the flawed theocracy and restoring the church to its proper role as spiritual guardian. Second, she would be essentially serving as a regent. This child Keeper is too young to handle such responsibility; Dannel will protect her and guide her as she grows into her role. With the subtext being “she is our prisoner and we could kill her if we wanted.” Many followers of the Flame had doubts about the theocracy, and false Keepers aside, the idea of a child Keeper would seem strange to many. So Dannel presents herself as a protector restoring things to their proper place… not a destroyer or assassin. Rather, she kills Krozen, pinning all the blame on him for corruption and leading the church astray.
  • The plan wasn’t publically known. I would imagine that the force being chosen for the assault would be carefully vetted, either being loyal vassals of the Sovereign Host who would be happy to weaken the Flame, or followers of the Flame who strongly opposed the theocracy.
  • When Krozen exposed the plan, you can be sure that he painted it in the worst possible light. He likely accused them of wanting to kill Jaela, and if it was me, I’d say that Dannel planned to declare Oargev as a new puppet Keeper (doubly infuriating because the Keeper is chosen by the Flame, not by mortals). So yes, this infuriated both Thranes and other loyal followers of the Flame in other countries. The plan was thus never carried out; once warned the Thranes surely bolstered their defenses, and beyond that the public sentiment in all nations would make it an unwise move.

But yes, you can see why this would make Thranes unsympathetic to the Cyran refugees… if you go with the idea of Krozen presenting Oargev as Dannel’s would-be puppet Keeper, you can doubly see why there would be no hope of setting up a New Cyre in Thrane; I’d further play up a large segment of Thranes – and even Flame loyalists in Breland – bitterly hating Oargev in the present day.

Can the SF be a good deity and not just an impersonal force?

The Silver Flame isn’t an impersonal force. It’s a force of positive energy that holds mighty demons at bay. When Bel Shalor escaped his bonds and threatened Thrane, it reached out to Tira and gave her the power she needed to defend her people. Since then, it has continued to empower noble souls to defend the innocent. It calls paladins to service and grants its power to the most faithful of its servants. It’s not an impersonal force. It doesn’t grant its gifts to everyone. When Overlords ravage the land, it doesn’t ignore the people in need.

However, it’s not an anthropomorphic entity. It’s a gestalt of thousands of noble souls, many of which were never human. It doesn’t view the world as a human would, nor does it value humans more highly than other mortals; an orc and a human are equally worthy of its gifts, if they have noble aims. It exists to defend the mortals of Eberron from supernatural threats: demon lords who would collapse the world into chaos; undead forces that would drain the life from it; a plague of lycanthropy that could consume nations. It takes no stand on conflicts between mortals, whether that’s humans fighting humans or humans fighting orcs. It was kindled by couatls fighting demons before human civilization existed. It grants its agents the power to save humanity from demons; it is up to the humans to use that power wisely when no supernatural threat exists. In judging a mortal soul, it doesn’t view it the same way as we might. It responds to faith, selflessness, the desire to help others. Tira, Krozen, Jaela, and Dariznu all share faith and a fierce determination to help their fellow mortals, and it is this that binds them all to the Flame. It’s simply that they all have different ideas about the form this help should take. Dariznu believes that publicly burning dissidents alive is the only way to bring others to the righteous path; Jaela finds this to be horrifying, while Krozen considers it a necessary sacrifice to maintain order in Thaliost. All three believe that their actions and approaches help people… and that is what the Flame responds to. It’s also the case that the Flame can only act through its agents. When Bel Shalor threatened Thrane, the Flame couldn’t simply blast him; it could only empower Tira to do what needed to be done. The Flame isn’t an impersonal force. It was formed from a great sacrifice, and ever since then it has protected the world from evil. But it is only as strong as its mortal agents. It gives noble souls the power to do good; it’s up to them to live up to the promise of their own souls.

If you want the Silver Flame to be more active, I wouldn’t do this through the Flame itself; rather, I’d turn to the Voice of the Flame. Tira’s spirit is the bridge between Church and Flame. Per canon, her role is subtle and passive… it is the quiet voice that urges you to do good, set against the subtle influence of Bel Shalor pushing you towards darkness. If I want to give someone a divine vision from the Flame, I’d have it come from Tira. But personally, I don’t want the Flame itself to be actively intervening in the daily lives of most people, because it strips a depth from the stories. I want the PCs to be the ones who have to decide what to do about Dariznu – is he actually serving a greater good, as he believes? Do they have the right to bring him down, and have they thought about what happens after? If the Flame itself personally sanctions this action, it becomes clear-cut and to my mind, less interesting. As is, the Flame empowers your paladin because you have the conviction to do good, and the potential to do good. But it’s up to you to live up to that potential, and to make the right choices.

21 thoughts on “Dragonmarks 12/5: Siberys, Flame and Hybrids!

  1. As always, thanks for your answers. I was under the impression that Siberys was the ‘good aligned’ of the three progenitor wyrms, in case the myth reflected reality, and so would find it odd if he knowingly brings about the destruction of intelligent beings. On the other hand, while I understand the motives for Thrane’s rejection of the refugees, it seems odd since Breland welcomed them, and this puts the Flamers to shame given their beliefs in helping others. While I understand that the keeper has spiritual rather than political functions, her importance for the faith would make the authority and legitimacy of Thranes who reject her outspoken opinion on moral matters crumble. Just my two cents ;)

    • I was under the impression that Siberys was the ‘good aligned’ of the three progenitor wyrms, in case the myth reflected reality, and so would find it odd if he knowingly brings about the destruction of intelligent beings.

      I don’t personally think the progenitors fall easily into the alignment system, though murderous Khyber can certainly be called evil. They aren’t gods that interact directly with mortals in any way; they are shapers of worlds. We are, essentially, microbes living in Eberron’s skin (and bear in mind that Eberron is the source of most mortal life; Siberys accidentally contributed the dragons by bleeding on her). The progenitors created entire planes of existence; tracking individual mortal lives in any one of these planes would be like you paying attention to the bacteria in a house you’ve built. Which is my point with Siberys coming to life. Would he MEAN to hurt mortals? No. But you’re talking about a dragon so large that he’s wrapped around the planet. Him moving would be like ripping away Earth’s moon. There’s no way that sort of celestial activity wouldn’t have gravitational and environmental impact on the planet below. Sink Sharn and Stormreach, for a start. It’s not something he’d mean to do, but it’s like you swallowing dust mites when you breathe. Our world is built on the bones of the progenitors; if they come back to life, they can’t help but tear it apart.

      Regarding Thrane & Cyre, it’s a more complicated issue; let me address that in the main body of the post.

  2. Since we are speaking outside canon, wasn’t Drix descended from a long line of half-eladrin? My jusitifaction for half-elves has always been that elves have carried within them a spark of the divine; that they are not creatures of evolutionary genetics, but rather their divinity allows them to have children with humans. In fact, a lot of creatures that are considered fey in D&D might be described as minor divinities in greek and roman myths – such as the varieties of nymphs.

    The explanation for orcs depends on whether they are Tolkienesque corrupted elves (in which case the above rules apply), or natural creatures such as in Eberron. On Eberron I would probably say that despite their appearance they are hominids closely related to humans, which allows cross-breeding; this is in keeping with theories I have heard of a certain amount of interbreeding between humans and other hominids such as neanderthals in our own history.

    I have always considered Syberis’ death to be more symbolic and mystical than literal – again, because I interpret the progenetors as being divine. Syberis continues to influence the world both in spite of, and because of the manner of, his death. In that sense he is a living divinity.

    BTW, I have payed close attention to your choice of pronouns with respect to the progenitors, and the clarity that brings. The canon materials are not always consistent in that regard…

    • Since we are speaking outside canon, wasn’t Drix descended from a long line of half-eladrin?

      Good catch! Of course, if we use that as precedent, he believes his parents to be Khoravar, which suggests that elves and eladrin may both produce Khoravar from a union with humans, as opposed to a special half-eladrin subrace.

      I have always considered Syberis’ death to be more symbolic and mystical than literal – again, because I interpret the progenetors as being divine. Syberis continues to influence the world both in spite of, and because of the manner of, his death. In that sense he is a living divinity.

      Despite my somewhat harsh description of the Progenitors earlier, I’ve always considered Eberron to be a generally benign force, as the source of natural life and the ultimate source of primal energy. I don’t consider her to be as directly involved in the world as traditional gods, because I see her as being a level above them. If you follow the Thir mythology, the Sovereigns began as dragons – Aureon as Ourelonastrix, etc. In this, the Sovereigns are the opposite number of the Overlords. Essentially, the Overlords are Khyber’s gods, while the Sovereigns are their counterparts produced by the blending of Eberron and Siberys. Thir maintains that the Sovereigns watch over mortals, while there are greater gods above them that tend to more cosmic matters, and that’s where I see the Sovereigns. Again, if the myths are true, the Sovereigns created entire planes, and our world was in fact the one with the LEAST planning involved; it’s flowers growing on a battlefield as opposed to a carefully planned garden. So I do consider both Eberron and Siberys to be benevolent entities; it’s simply that they are so much larger than us that they need intermediaries like the Sovereigns to serve as intermediaries.

      BTW, I have payed close attention to your choice of pronouns with respect to the progenitors, and the clarity that brings. The canon materials are not always consistent in that regard…

      Khyber is the trouble-maker in that regard, and personally I’ve taken the inconsistency as likely meaning that the myths themselves occasionally contradict when it comes to Khyber… how do you check the sex of a cosmic wyrm? I personally refer to both Khyber and Eberron as female because they have both given birth. Khyber is the mother of aberrations and demons, while Eberron gave birth to all natural things. Siberys is a creator, but not generally depicted as having “children” as such; again, the dragons and couatl are described as having sprung from his blood. So I have Khyber and Eberron as feminine forces and Siberys as masculine… but you are correct, canon doesn’t always agree on this.

  3. Great answers! You are truly a political mastermind, I had never thought of Brelanders accepting Cyran refugees in order to take advantage of the situation and benefit their interests; and I was not aware of the canon on the traitorous character of Cyre, which I like to be aware of: especially since novels usually depict them just as victims and innocents, and now I know they were not blameless in their war operations. On the other hand, I’ve always wondered about the alleged exclusive spiritual role of the keeper of the flame. Given the legitimacy the Thrane rulers derive from faith, it seems that Jaela’s criticism of even a cardinal would jeopardize his decrees. Thanks again!

    • I was not aware of the canon on the traitorous character of Cyre, which I like to be aware of: especially since novels usually depict them just as victims and innocents, and now I know they were not blameless in their war operations.

      Well, one nation’s “treachery” is another nation’s “doing what’s best for our people and completely justified by our rightful claim to the throne of Galifar.”

      On the other hand, I’ve always wondered about the alleged exclusive spiritual role of the keeper of the flame. Given the legitimacy the Thrane rulers derive from faith, it seems that Jaela’s criticism of even a cardinal would jeopardize his decrees.

      Jaela does have the authority to overrule Krozen. At the end of the day, she’s the ultimate authority. It’s simply the case that her primary focus is the spiritual needs of the people and meditating on the Flame, listening for the Voice. Krozen’s primary focus is secular administration. Therefore, when there is an important issue with sweeping secular effect, she listens to his counsel; he is more familiar with all the issues involved than she is. In the example above, when she came into power, she reached out to Dannel with a peace offer over Krozen’s objections… and not only did Dannel refuse, but they learned that Dannel was hoping to take advantage of their weakness in that time of transition to strike at Flamekeep and decapitate Thrane. Which gave Krozen the opportunity to firmly state “I’ve been doing this far longer than you; I know the political realities better than you; you need to let me do what I’m best at.”

      So when the Mourning occurs, Jaela’s instinct is to help. Krozen says “Remember what the Cyrans have done to our people. Consider the unrest that would unfold among the border villages if they were forced to take in Cyran refugees; there are many who families who lost brothers and sons in the siege of Arythawn Keep, and there would likely be riots and murders in those towns, driven by both sides. Remember what happened when you failed to heed my counsel regarding Cyre in the past; I beg you, trust me this time.”

      Again, I am certain you would see individual Thranes helping individual Cyrans in distress; we’re just talking about the national policy.

      I’ll also point out that there are many followers of the Flame who actively oppose the Theocracy precisely because they believe the Keeper (and cardinals) shouldn’t be involved in secular affairs – that this distracts them from their spiritual duties and weakens the moral fiber of the church.

      • Keith, I hope you don’t find me annoying for further asking and discussing about the issues discussed herein, but I really find them interesting and, as I have said other times, I love the Silver Flame. Firstly, as to the passive role of Tira Miron, would it not make Bel Shalor more influential, since he suggests others to do evil in the name of the SF? I think that Tira could try to counter this influence (especially if the Flame imprisoned Bel, who should thus be weakened) and suggest good deeds as well, or subtly denounce actions that are actually contrary to the Flame.
        On the other hand, just as you said that Cyrans (and other nations, for that matter) may have believed they were “entitled” to do nasty things, perhaps Krozen truly believes he is furthering good and the wellbeing of Flamers, and thus considering his alignment to be evil may be questionable.
        Thirdly (I apologize for asking so much, really :)), what if divine punishment DID cause the mourning? Especially since its cause is left open for DMs to decide? What sins or dangers posed by them (weapons? with a greater capability than the mourning itself?) would have made them the target of divine retribution? I think that in the forge of war it is said that angels helped Thrane troops during the last war, so this could happen as well.
        Fourthly, I may be wrong, but I think one of the reasons why the SF church is Stormreach is considered somewhat heretical is its open denial of the theocracy. Would other flamers not consider this so before denying it? And why are they considered heretical for this reason? Perhaps Krozen or someone else has threatened with excommunication?
        Lastly, and a completely unrelated but silly question: I’ve always believed that if Batman ever lived in a DnD world, it would be in Eberron. Do you agree?

        • Firstly, as to the passive role of Tira Miron, would it not make Bel Shalor more influential, since he suggests others to do evil in the name of the SF? I think that Tira could try to counter this influence (especially if the Flame imprisoned Bel, who should thus be weakened) and suggest good deeds as well, or subtly denounce actions that are actually contrary to the Flame.

          In my view, Tira and Bel Shalor operate in similar ways, and I personally see Tira’s influence as stronger and more common. Some – such as paladins and clerics – may hear Tira’s voice clearly, in dreams or visions. But for the most part, both Tira and Bel Shalor are silent voices that speak in your heart and the back of your thoughts. Tira’s voice is the impulse to help others, even when it doesn’t help you; Bel Shalor’s is the impulse to greed and distrust. Neither make the normal person say “Tira just told me to do that!” – it’s the voice of your conscience coming to the surface.

          On the other hand, just as you said that Cyrans (and other nations, for that matter) may have believed they were “entitled” to do nasty things, perhaps Krozen truly believes he is furthering good and the wellbeing of Flamers, and thus considering his alignment to be evil may be questionable.

          I have always believed that Krozen believes he’s doing what’s best for the people of Thrane, and this conviction is what makes it possible for him to channel the divine power of the Silver Flame. However, by MY definition, this doesn’t make him “good”. I discussed this in more detail in this previous post on alignment in Eberron.

          Thirdly, what if divine punishment DID cause the mourning?

          It’s a perfectly plausible explanation, and one that many people in Eberron – especially Thrane – believe to be the case. Among other things, it’s comforting. If it was divine punishment, then it means as long as your country follows a noble path, you aren’t in danger of it happening to you.

          Fourthly, I may be wrong, but I think one of the reasons why the SF church is Stormreach is considered somewhat heretical is its open denial of the theocracy. Would other flamers not consider this so before denying it? And why are they considered heretical for this reason? Perhaps Krozen or someone else has threatened with excommunication?

          Krozen hasn’t just threatened them with excommunication, he has excommunicated them. The church of Stormreach isn’t supported by Flamekeep. Many devout Thranes who themselves oppose the Theocracy have immigrated to Stormreach for precisely this reason: it is a place where they can openly practice their faith supported by priests who agree with their position. Beyond this, it’s important to note that the Silver Flame isn’t entirely unified; this is one reason that you saw followers of the Flame standing by their nations during the war instead of all flocking to Thrane’s side. The faithful of Breland were just as dedicated to the principles of the Flame (well, some of them, at least); they simply didn’t believe that the secular goals of Thrane were the same as the divine goals of the Flame, and chose to follow their faith in their own way. You then have people like Dariznu and the Pure Flame who maintain that Flamekeep is corrupt; many among the Pure Flame maintain that the Keeper herself is a tool of Bel Shalor, as Melysse Miron was before, and that they aren’t doing enough in the name of the Flame.

          As for Batman, the very first draft of Eberron had a pulp hero operating in Sharn called the Beholder (No evil escapes the eyes of the Beholder!). So yes, I could see Batman in Eberron.

  4. Great answers as always.

    About the awakening of the dragons, is a good plot for a cataclysmic event the players have to stop. Maybe the Prophecy is indicating that Syberys will be reborn, and release Eberron from her guard duty to have his rematch against Khyber. In other world, the total destruction of reality as we know it.

    And a suggestion of a blog post, a creative exercise: Eberron 1100. How the world is gonna be in a hundred years?

    • About the awakening of the dragons, is a good plot for a cataclysmic event the players have to stop. Maybe the Prophecy is indicating that Syberys will be reborn, and release Eberron from her guard duty to have his rematch against Khyber. In other world, the total destruction of reality as we know it.

      It’s certainly an interesting idea. The Children of Winter maintain that there is a coming apocalypse that will lead to a glorious new age. What if that’s the return and release of the Progenitors, which will destroy the world as we know it, but free them to make countless new worlds and planes? Is it right for us to stop the wheels of destiny and creation to hold on to our civilization? This is essentially the decision facing the Quori… what would we do in their shoes?

  5. So, if we’re talking about crossbreeds…can humans and shifters breed with each other?
    It seems like they should, but I’m not sure…

    Also, speaking of Cyre and such…was there ever anyone doubting what they were doing, when they were planning on attacking Flamekeep?
    That is, literally, the most important city for the Church of the Silver Flame…
    I can definitely imagine the shock people of Thrane felt, for those who found out about this (did it become public knowledge? because if so, yeah, Krozen is right in that you can’t expect Thranes to help the people from Cyre all that much)…
    Kind of insane, really, to consider destroying Flamekeep.

    (Maybe she had a voice whisper this idea to her…?
    Would be awfully convenient if Flamekeep was destroyed, after all)

    Also, speaking of Cyre refugees – Breland also has a weakness there, in that if the king dies, the people from Cyre seem likely to turn around and carve up a piece of the land for their own, IIRC.

    • Regarding your last paragraph:

      You’re right about Breland exposing itself to some risk with Cyran refugees, but I believe the risk was mitigated by clustering the refugees in two places — HIgh Walls in Sharn (which could be locked down in a matter of hours if it looked like the Cyrans were in revolt), and New Cyre (which satisfies Oargev and his followers among the more prosperous/higher-ranking Cyran expats by giving them something to build — and at the same time help repopulate the Expanse, link Kennrun to Sterngate and give the Darguuls something to think about before they emerge from the Seawall Mountains to raid or cause mischief).

      On the other hand, allowing some ten thousand former enemies to set up a semi-autonomous city inside Breland could become a rallying cry for the anti-monarchists (AFAIK, King Boranel’s decision was never put to a vote before Parliament, let alone the Brelish people), and in turn lead to a violent reaction by a group like the Swords of Liberty.

      And I’m sure that after Boranel’s death his likely successors will have to answer “the Cyran question” as they line up support for their claim.

      • You’re right about Breland exposing itself to some risk with Cyran refugees, but I believe the risk was mitigated by clustering the refugees in two places — High Walls in Sharn, and New Cyre.
        And as shown in my novel City of Towers, High Walls isn’t exactly an awesome place to live. With that said, while the Cyrans are concentrated in these locations, it’s not as though they are confined to them; it’s simply that these are the places where they are given space (which is to say, an enterprising Cyran blacksmith could get a job working in Wroat, if he could find some place to work).

        • Also true. Your Cyran blacksmith would do fine in Wroat (or Passage, or Korth) so long as she was 1) Competent; 2) Reasonably priced; and 3) Not an angry nationalist with a Mourning-sized chip on her shoulder (however justifed said chip might be).

          After all, I imagine that 900 years of united Galifar resulted in scores of thousands of “mixed” families — a Karrn hears the Voice of the Flame, settles in Thaliost, marries a Thrane girl and raises a family; an Aundairian, with no Mark of Making and no family tie to House Cannith, nonetheless shows talent as an artificer, moves to Cyre to practice her craft and catches the eye of a young nobleman…etc., etc.

          The actions of individual Cyrans post-Mourning would be just as varied as those of individual Thranes — some who disobeyed the edicts from Flamekeep and took in refugees, vs. others who were happy to close the borders and round up any Cyran they could find.

          But as a group, 5-10,000 Cyrans who have neither pledged fealty to King Boranel nor renounced Prince Oargev’s claim (however tenuous) to the throne of Galifar are likely to draw unwanted attention. By comparison, the Cyrans in High Walls “appear” to be beaten down and more interested in survival than revolt.

    • So, if we’re talking about crossbreeds…can humans and shifters breed with each other?
      I don’t thin we’ve ever said one way or the other. The key is that human-shifter matches don’t produce “half-shifters”. Either they don’t produce viable offspring, one of the races is dominant, or they follow the kalashtar model in which the child is a fullblooded member of one of the two parent races.

      Kind of insane, really, to consider destroying Flamekeep.

      Who said anything about destroying it? We’re going to liberate it from the corrupt cardinals and false Keeper. And don’t forget, there are followers of the Flame who believe the theocracy is a mistake and source of corruption. Under Cyran rule, the church would be restored to its proper role.

      • Well, I mean, being seen to march against Flamekeep with the purpose of killing the Keeper, that would still cause some unrest, surely?
        I mean, even if they did manage to go through one of the miltiarily strongest Nations in the war, who would be fighting to defend Flamekeep of all places, I can’t see the Queen being very popular with pretty much anyone else (hell, the other rulers of the various Nations would probably jump at the chance to paint Cyre as someone trying to kill the Church of the Silver Flame, something even the lycanthropes didn’t manage!).
        Sure, the Church might have been too involved in secular matters, but going in there to try and kill Jaela Daran still wouldn’t go very well with most followers of the Church, even those outside of Thrane – Cyre isn’t exactly noted as a gathering point of the Silver Flame, so they can’t even do what Aundair might be able to pull off, and say they’re working towards protecting the true purpose of the Church, at least not while also being particularly convincing.

        Also, the Keeper was chosen by the Flame itself – then again, the queen could be trying to sell it as Jaela being false, so that could work, for those who would believe her.

      • Also, thanks for answering the human/shifter question!
        Way I see it, it would make sense for humans and shifters to be able to have children together, even if there wouldn’t be any half-shifters, as such.

        Because, you know, it makes actions against Shifters more inexcusable, and that’s something I approve of.

        (Plus, there should be humans in Eldeen so there should probably be the possibility of a human and a shifter marrying and having kids, and there are humans on the borders, and who doesn’t love to have romance stories crossing borders?)

  6. I’ve been out of D&D gaming for quite a while, but my old crew of Eberron players recently conspired on Facebook to get us all together for a play by post game and I decided to check out what you’re up to. I’m really just pleased as punch that you’re still the same big-hearted Keith Baker that was so active on the Eberron forums in the old days. Consideration and care, not to mention a respect for your fans from here to Pluto, illuminate all your responses, even when it’s something you’ve had to say to one fan or another hundreds of times before. In fact, I daresay you even try to sneak in something new on some of those, which means less boredom for you and more insight for us!

    I’m actually doing a homebrew setting based around this amazing ruleset: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=252794 and your own scribblings on the internet about your experience designing Eberron and your design choices have always been in the back of my mind as I homebrew my own world. I’m keeping, for instance, your fantastic stances on faith/existence of deities as ambiguous as well as about alignment (and reading your post about how the Silver Flame’s alignment “overwhelms” to the extent that someone secretly worshipping Bel Shalor deep within the Flame would still register as good has given me some KILLER ideas for my own game), and trying to think about how to flip traditional D&D on its ass in ways that will excite/engage my players the most. The above-linked base class/rules system is helping a great deal with that, and my players will be RPing in the era where gramarie starts to spread from isolated geniuses to networks of minds undergoing a Science of Magic Revolution, but I’ve decided to parallel that with the birth of protoliberalism and protofeminism in a world of very medieval values and authoritarian power/social structures, so I get to mix my extensive knowledge of liberatory frameworks and their real world histories into a fantasy setting (which might be the most satisfying use of my Political Science degree that I’ll ever get out of it).

    Anyway, to end the rambling I just wanted to say that the ONLY other option on my mind other than homebrewing a setting collaboratively with my favourite group of gamers was to return to the setting that evolved all their RP (and my DMing) to the next level: yours. I am really, REALLY looking forward to your new IP, and I will be one of those superfans buying every supplement you churn out for it in hardcopy and digital. :)

    • Thanks, Dave – it’s good to hear from you again! I’m glad that you’re having a good time with your own world, and I look forward to your opinions as I start talking about my new project.

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