Dragonmarks: Cyre

The Jewel in Galifar’s Crown. Wondrous Cyre. Cyre was the heart of the united kingdom of Galifar. But what was the nation actually like? Many sourcebooks have explored the cultures and cities of Thrane, Breland, Aundair, and Karrnath. Since Cyre has fallen, the focus is often on the current plight of the refugees and not on the nation they lost. But as a Cyran PC, what are the memories you treasure? What was your childhood like? If you hope to rebuild your nation, what is it that you aspire to recreate?

In this article I’ll explore some of the history and culture of Cyre before the Mourning. Bear in mind that this is not canon material, and may even contradict canon sources.

“WHAT OUR DREAMS IMAGINE, OUR HANDS CREATE”

Galifar Wynarn was a military genius, but it was his eldest daughter Cyre who imagined the warring nations working together as a single family: Karrnathi might, Daskari faith, and the wisdom of Thaliost working together for the greater good. In crafting the map of the united kingdom, Galifar declared that Cyre would be the heart of the realm. His daughter would govern the province, and have all that she needed to pursue her vision. The crest of the Cyre is a crown and bell on a green field, above a hammer and bellows. The seat of the crown, the bell that rings in change, and the tools to build the future; the motto of the nation is “What our dreams imagine, our hands create.”

The provinces of Galifar largely retained the cultures and traditions of the nations they had once been. In many ways, their differences were reinforced and celebrated. Each nation was given one of the pillars of the united kingdom: the Arcane Congress in Aundair, the King’s Citadel in Breland, Rekkenmark in Karrnath, the Grand Temple of Thrane. Cyre was the exception. Rather than building upon the existing culture of Metrol, Cyre drew experts and artisans from across Galifar. Cyre wasn’t the center of any one discipline. Rather, it was the nexus where all of these things came together: the best of what Galifar could be. When the Arcane Congress perfected the everbright lantern, Metrol was the first city whose streets were lit with them. Soldiers trained in Rekkenmark, but the finest warriors served in the Vermishard Guard. While Metrol was the showpiece—a city of wonders—this principle was applied across central Cyre. Education, art, even agriculture; Cyre displayed the best of what Galifar could accomplish. 

This continued and evolved over the course of centuries. Karrns are tough, Thranes wise, Aundairians clever. The people of Cyre can trace their roots to all of these nations and believe they share all of these strengths; but beyond that, Cyrans strive to be creative, innovative, and artistic.

Cyre’s artistic (and some might say whimsical) temperament was balanced and sustained by the presence of House Cannith, which was based in the great city of Making. Many of Cannith’s greatest forgeholds were spread across Cyre; this provided a practical, industrial foundation that supported the wonders of Cyre. And those wonders took many forms. Where the Arcane Congress of Aundair focused on the practical applications of magic, the Wynarn Institute of Cyre explored the artistic potential of the arcane. Metrol was a city of light and marvels. Visitors could speak to illusions of past heroes and kings, and watch re-enactments of historic moments. It’s said that no one ever went hungry in Metrol, and no one ever felt the bite of winter. Cyrans say that this reflects the generosity and selflessness of the Cyran spirit; critics point out that these social projects were only possible because of the taxes paid by the people of other provinces. Certainly, Cyre held the wealth of Galifar and had a standard of living higher than any other province. Was this decadent? Or was in a work in progress, a model that could have someday been applied to all nations? There’s no way to know. Cyrans mourn what was lost; the people of other nations criticize the Cyran lifestyle as parasitic and unsustainable. What our dreams imagine, our hands build; bitter outsiders point out that it may have been Cyran hands that built, but they used the resources gathered by the hard work of others. 

This bitterness was further fueled by the Galifar’s traditions of succession. Following the example of Galifar I, the monarch’s children served as the governors of the five provinces. The eldest governed Cyre, and upon the death of the monarch they would take up the crown and their children would take over the governing positions. The prior governors would serve as regents until children were of age and as advisors moving forward, and when a monarch lacked five children the previous governors would maintain the posts. But the principle was simple: Cyre was the heart of Galifar, and all else would shift around it. Over the history of Galifar, there were multiple rebellions and attempted secessions; the Last War was simply the largest and last of them.

OUTER CYRE

Galifar’s goal with Cyre was to create something new, a culture combining the best aspects of the other nations. In the newly forged Thrane, Aundair, and Breland, the people kept their old traditions and the ruling families were often incorporated into the new governing structure. But in the old kingdom of Metrol—which covered an area roughly the size and shape of the modern Mournland—the old systems and rulers were pushed aside to make room for Cyre’s dream. Some of the noble families of Metrol embraced this new path. Others were resettled by Galifar, granted authority over regions that had previously existed as independent frontiers.

Southern Cyre covered what is now Darguun. Largely unsettled when Galifar was founded, it persisted as a backwater in the shadow of the kingdom. Its people ultimately prospered and took pride in their identity as Cyrans, aping the customs of the central kingdom. However, they had little of the wealth invested in the north or the wonders that came with it. There were ongoing clashes with goblins, a few severe—but the Ghaal’dar largely remained in the mountains and dark places until the Last War.

By contrast, Eastern Cyre —what’s now Valenar—was effectively a separate nation with dramatically different culture and values… and it was arguably Galifar’s greatest failing. The region had first been settled by immigrants from the Khunan region of western Sarlona. Galifar I wanted the lands of old Metrol, so he gave the nobles of Metrol authority over this region, setting them as the feudal overlords of the Khunan settlers. The Blade Desert served as a physical and cultural divide, and having granted the nobles their lands, Galifar largely ignored them. The noble families thus held to the traditions of Metrol rather than embracing the new culture of Cyre. Many were dissatisfied with the arrangement, and took this out on their Khunan subjects. Overall, the nobles of Eastern Cyre were petty and proud, and all too often cruel to their tenants. Some wonder why it was so simple for the elves to seize control of Valenar; first and foremost it’s because the Khunan people had no love for their Cyran rulers (generally called “thrones”) and many feel they are actually better off under the new regime.

CYRE AND THE LAST WAR

Under the reign of King Jarot, Cyre continued to shine. Aspiring artists and young nobles made their way to the heart of the kingdom, while the most promising artificers settled in the city of Making. King Jarot lavished attention on Cyre: expanding the Vermishard Palace; working with House Orien to expand the scope of the lightning rail within Cyre; spending hundreds of thousands of galifars on the Wynarn Institute of Art and the Cathedral of the Sovereign Host.

Following the death of Jarot, Galifar spiraled towards war. Initially, Cyran morale was high. Queen Mishann had centuries of tradition behind her. And everyone knew that Cyre had the best of everything: the finest wizards, the best soldiers, the foremost artificers. And on one level, this was true. But a single unit of exceptional soldiers means little when set against the martial cultures of Karrnath or Thrane. Cyre’s finest wizards were artists and theoretical scholars; Aundair had long worked on magic as a tool of war. And the expert artificers were largely tied to House Cannith, which remained neutral in the war. If you consider the nations as characters, Thrane is a paladin; Karrnath is a fighter; Aundair is a wizard; and Breland is a rogue. In this party, Cyre is the bard: elegant, clever, and doing a little bit of everything… but best when working with others, not well prepared to go toe to toe alone against a powerful foe.

Cyre adapted; it had to. Initially it relied heavily on mercenaries; it was the seat of Galifar’s treasury, and had the gold to spare. But as time passed and the scope of the conflict became clear, Cyrans devoted themselves to war. Cyre lacked the martial spirit of Karrnath or Thrane, but its people were sustained by the absolute belief that they were in the right. Beyond that, in the eyes of the people, Cyre was Galifar. It embodied the ideals of the kingdom, the best of what it could be—and that was something worth fighting for. Nonetheless, the struggle was a tremendous blow to the Cyran psyche. For centuries Cyrans had seen themselves as the stars of the show, beloved by all; now all hands were raised against them, and some at least could see their former beliefs as arrogance and narcissism. Cyre had indeed had the best of everything, but that’s because it was freely given. Now the Arcane Congress devoted its knowledge purely on the good of Aundair, Rekkenmark trained only Karrns, and the King’s Citadel served Breland. Cyre had echoes of all these things. Its wizards were still a match for any nation other than Aundair; the Vermishard Guard formed the core of Cyre’s new military academy. But it was clear that the Cyran dream had been sustained by many hands, and now the nation had to learn to stand on its own. 

TRADITIONS AND CUSTOMS

Cyran culture blends the traditions of other nations. A Cyran can play Conqueror with a Karrn, sing an add-a-verse song with an Aundairian, and debate religion with a Thrane. This reflects the founding principles of Cyre—to gather the best aspects of Galifar and to build upon them. Some call this the Cyran appreciation, and considering it an admirable thing. Others call it appropriation, depicting the Cyrans as carrion crawlers who steal from others and have the arrogance to say they can do better. But the Cyran appreciation is rooted in love, not arrogance. It’s based in the idea that there is no single perfect path, and maintains both that diversity is a source of strength and that there’s always room for improvement. Cyran culture is thus a strange chimera—a blend of familiar elements from across Khorvaire, combined with a steady, ongoing evolution. A Cyran musician might play Karrnathi funeral dirges in the style of a Thrane devotional. It’s a puzzle where the pieces are known, but they’re constantly being arranged in new ways. 

The Last War built walls between Cyre and the other nations, and every nation evolved in this isolation. Cyrans know the old add-a-verse songs beloved by Aundairians, but few know the Epic of Valiant and Vigilant, a tale of martial bravery close to the heart of every modern Aundairian. They don’t know the maxims of Beggar Dane that now serve as a cornerstone of Breland. But Cyrans still see their culture as being founded on the best principles of Galifar, and can still find some common ground with people of any nation. In playing a Cyran, you can find familiar things anywhere you go. But what is it that you treasure in your memories of Cyre? Do you cling to the past, or do you embrace the Cyran principle of always striving to find a new and better way?

Fashion

Cyran fashion blends practicality with endless diversity. Cyran clothing begins with a simple foundation: this base layer may be colorful, but it is first and foremost practical and durable. Breeches and skirts, shirts or gowns; a Cyran starts with whatever the individual finds most comfortable. Again, this base level is well made, but it is more functional than decorative. It’s what comes next that adds flair. Cloaks and gloves are both integral parts of Cyran fashion. Gloves can be short and sturdy for work or war, or long and decorative for more formal occasions. Cloaks likewise vary between the practical and purely decorative: a heavy cloak for traveling, a short cloak for a casual social event, and a long, light cloak with a glamerweave lining for an evening at the Grand Stage. In addition to gloves, boots, and cloaks, jewelry is an important part of Cyran fashion. Cyran jewelry is often made from copper, leather, wood, or glass; it’s not a display of wealth, but rather a way to express individuality. Feathers and bells are also common accessories; there is a Cyran dance that involves belled bracelets and anklets. Finally, masks are often worn at formal or festive occasions. Cyran masks aren’t intended to conceal identity or intent; rather they are a way of enhancing identity and expressing a mood.

Traditionally, Cyran fashion is filled with color (often accentuated with glamerweave). In the wake of the Last War, many Cyrans have adopted Mourningwear—clothing cut in the Cyran style, but entirely in black. Others celebrate their nation by preserving its styles. Because of the emphasis on durability, a Cyran character may still have the clothes they were wearing on the Day of Mourning. What was that outfit, and do you still wear it? Do you favor a mask, and if so, what is its design?

Cuisine

Cyran cuisine reflects all the principles taken above: working with the best of all traditions and then continuing to explore. In many ways this is similar to the Sharn fusion found in the City of Towers, and a number of Cyran refugees are rising stars in Sharn’s culinary scene. Cyrans blend the thrakel spices of Thrane with traditional Karrn stews, and add the heat of southern Breland to the delicate pastries of Aundair. While many refugees cling to family recipes as a way to remember the fallen nation, others continue the tradition of Cyran appreciation—adopting new favorites from the place they’ve found shelter, and looking for ways to improve them.

Magic

Traditionally, Cyrans viewed arcane magic as a form of art as well as a practical tool. On the one hand this lent itself to a wider study of illusion and enchantment than found in other nations. But beyond this, it’s also about the presentation of magic. Magewright, bard or wizard, a Cyran often puts more show into the performance of magic than even an Aundairian. For a wizard who’s studied at the Wynarn Institute, somatic components are almost a dance, and verbal components have the cadence of song or poetry. This ties to the Cyran love of capes and flowing clothing. As a Cyran spellcaster, you are truly a student of arcane arts; consider how your casting reflects this.

Religion

While the Silver Flame had some devoted followers and temples in Cyre, the Sovereign Host was the dominant faith. At the same time, religion is driven by faith and tradition, and Cyrans have always been encouraged to question and search for new paths. The war drove some Cyrans to embrace their faith more tightly, but for others it was another source of doubt. Likewise, the Mourning threw many devout Cyrans into a crisis of faith. With that said, there are many devout Cyrans. Followers of the Silver Flame don’t question the cause of the Mourning: they simply seek to protect the innocent from harm. Vassals of the Sovereign Host trust that there is a purpose to their suffering. And in the wake of the Mourning, some Cyrans have turned to the Blood of Vol or Cults of the Dragon Below, cursing the gods they once worshipped or following a darker vision. There are also a number of new strains of the old faiths: Cyran twists on the Flame and the Host that seek to adapt traditions to make sense of the war and the world.

The preceding paragraph primarily applies to Central Cyre. The nobles of Eastern Cyre were devout vassals, convinced that their leadership was a divine right. The people of Southern Cyre are less arrogant, but still tend to have a quiet faith in the Sovereigns.

In playing a Cyran divine caster, consider the impact the Mourning had on your faith. Are you conflicted and struggling to hold to your beliefs? Or was the Mourning a source of inspiration—you know you have a divine purpose, that your people need you? If you’re tied to an existing faith, do you follow the standard traditions or have you found an unusual path?

THE THREE CYRES

When most people say “Cyre” they’re thinking of Central Cyre. When they speak of Cyran refugees, they are talking about the people who fled the Mourning. But there were Cyran refugees long before the end of the war. The Tairnadal elves established the kingdom of Valenar in 956 YK, while Lhesh Haruuc claimed southern Cyre as Darguun in 969 YK. While Valenar was an unpleasant surprise, it had relatively little impact on the nation. Eastern Cyre had always been isolated, and the Khunan majority embraced elf rule; the refugees were thus a handful of nobles who were painfully out of touch with the traditions of the central kingdom. The loss of Darguun was a more significant blow. Southern Cyre was a backwater, but this was still close to home—and it resulted in a flood of refugees that the wartorn nation was ill-prepared to handle. In creating a Cyran character, consider which Cyre you’re from. 

  • Central Cyre. Odds are good that you yourself think of your home as the “true” Cyre. Before the Mourning, did you give much thought to the refugees of Valenar and Darguun? Even now, do you think of them when you think of your homeland? Are you devoted to the idea of rebuilding your nation and clinging to your memories and traditions? Or following the Cyran appreciation, are you instead looking forward and trying to find a new and better path, even if that means abandoning the dreams of Cyre?
  • Eastern Cyre. You’re tied to a noble family that can trace its roots back to Old Metrol, before Galifar even existed. You don’t accept any of the nonsense about Cyre being “the best of Galifar” or challenging tradition; if people had stuck to the old ways, perhaps all of this could have been avoided. Your people were devoted to the Sovereign Host and truly believed that Aureon had chosen you to rule. At the same time, your lands have been lost for over forty years, and the people of Central Cyre have never avenged you or shown your family the respect you deserve. You’re not as affected by the Mourning as some, because it wasn’t YOUR Cyre that was destroyed; now the others just get to see how you feel. As an Eastern Cyran, you have noble ancestry but you’re unlikely to have the noble background, as nobody cares about your claims. Do you despise the Valenar and hope to reclaim your long-lost homeland? Or do you want to rally Cyran survivors around the TRUE royal bloodlines, challenging Oargev and re-establishing the long-forgotten kingdom of Metrol?
  • Southern Cyre. Your people have been struggling for decades, eking out a life in camps and shelters. You were encouraged to take up military service; it was easier to send you to the front than to find a new home for you. Many of your friends and family chose to idolize the Queen and central Cyre, believing that she had a vision, that she would rebuild Galifar and restore an age of wonders. Did you feel that way? Were you an idealist and an optimist? Or were you bitter and angry at the nation that failed to protect you? Are you loyal to Cyre, or are you solely concerned with Darguun and taking vengeance on the goblins?

THE WONDERS OF CYRE

Cyre is lost to the Mournland, and all people have are their memories. But what are those memories? Cyre was a land of wonders… what are some of those wonders? Here’s a few of them…

  • The Vermishards. Seven spires rise up from Metrol, a natural (or supernatural) wonder. These plateaus held the ancestral homes of the noble lines of Old Metrol, and the Royal Vermishard was the seat of the Cyran crown. However, over the course of centuries other powerful forces—such as House Cannith and House Phiarlan—made their way to the Vermishards. Cannith and Phiarlan worked together with Cyran magewrights to embed illusory lighting into the Vermishards, and these glittering spires were a remarkable part of the Metrol skyline.
  • The Wynarn Institute of Art. The Wynarn institute was both one of the foremost academies of magic in Khorvaire and one of its most amazing museums. In addition to purely artistic exhibits, the Hall of Kings allowed rulers to converse with illusory replicas of the past rulers of Galifar. Treasures of the pre-Galifar kingdoms were displayed here, along with modern works of art.
  • The Vault. The Royal Treasury of Galifar was commonly known as the Vault. While there were reserves hidden around the kingdom, the Vault included both the mint, the primary reserves of both currencies and precious metals, and cultural artifacts deemed too valuable to be displayed. Salvagers have dreamed of finding the “Golden Palace,” but there are stories saying that the Vault is actually missing. The Mourning had strange effects on Metrol, and the Vault may have simply been physically displaced, or it could have fallen into another plane.
  • The Cathedral of the Sovereign Host. Following the spread of the Church of the Silver Flame in Thrane, the Cathedral of the Sovereign Host became the primary seat of vassal devotion on Galifar. Many of the rulers of Galifar would make an addition to the Cathedral as a way of showing their piety. By the reign of King Jarot, it was a wonder. Nine colossal statues encircle the temple. Illusory displays within depicted scenes from the faith, and there was a vast collection of relics and artifacts. The fate of the cathedral and its treasures remains unknown.

All of these are within Metrol itself, and they just scratch the surface of what was possible. Aundair has floating towers; Cyre expanded on this with floating gardens, flower petals falling on the wind to the cities below. Even small towns had crystal theaters when people could scry on the great performances in the Demesne of Shape. There was always music in the air and lights in the sky. With this in mind, feel free to create wonders. Cyre was the seat of House Cannith and House Phiarlan, and second only to Aundair in arcane sophistication. What your dreams imagine, their hands could create. And even if they DIDN’T create the things you dream of, people might believe that they did; the legends of Cyre only continue to grow now that the kingdom is lost.

FINAL THOUGHTS

As a Cyran, you come from a culture that strove to find the best in all things, a tradition that encouraged creativity and innovation. But your people have also lived through a century of betrayal and war, fighting enemies on all sides. How has this affected you? Are you an idealist who still believes in the promise of Galifar—someone who believes that the Five Nations can and should unite, someone who tries to bring people together? Or do you curse the traitors who betrayed Mishann and doomed Galifar? Are you scarred by the memory of the Mournign and determined to reclaim your homeland or rebuild it somewhere else, or are you always looking forward to what happens next? Do you have any living relatives, and if so where are they now and what is their condition? Will you send money to your family in High Walls or New Cyre, or are you alone in the world? Beyond that, where was your home and what did you leave behind? Is there anything you wish you could recover from the Mournland, whether it’s something with practical value or simply sentimental? What do you still have to remind you of Cyre? 

GENERAL Q&A

Do Cyran nobles still have authority even though their lands have been lost?

This depends on the family and on the people you’re dealing with. The nobility of Cyre was originally drawn from across the Five Nations, and many Cyran noble families still have strong ties to other nations. Some families had significant holdings in other nations and still have wealth and influence, even if it’s limited. On the other hand, many Cyran nobles have lost everything but their titles. Some Thronehold nobles treat these displaced aristocrats with courtesy, but many dismiss them: at the Treaty of Thronehold, Queen Aurala famously said “Cyre no longer exists, and refugees have no place at these proceedings.”

In regard to YOUR character, there’s a simple way to determine the standing of your family: Your choice of background. If you take the noble background, your Position of Privilege means that you are treated with the respect of any noble; this implies that your family still has holdings or at least the respect of other aristocrats. But you could also be a fallen noble forced down a dark path (criminal background), a dandy who uses charm to find your way into courts even though you no longer have influence (charlatan), or a hero who still fights to protect the common people of Cyre even though you have no rank (folk hero). You could also take the noble background with the variant Retainers feature, reflecting that while you no longer have a position of privilege, you still have a few loyal followers who have been with your family for as long as you can remember.

The Forge of War says that Thrane turned away or even attacked Cyran refugees fleeing from the Mourning. You’ve said that this is inaccurate and possibly Karrnathi propaganda. Would this be a pervasive rumor? Would Cyrans think of Thranes as butchers who turned their backs? Is Karrnath exempted from this? What about Breland and Aundair?  

The faith of the Silver Flame is founded on the basic principle of defending the innocent from supernatural evil. I’ve already called out that if followers of the Flame were serving on opposite sides in a battle and a group of demons suddenly appeared, I’d expect the templars to set aside their political differences until the supernatural threat was dealt with. The same principle applies here. I could easily imagine an initial violent response if the surge of refugees was perceived as an attack. However, once it became clear that thi sis literally innocents fleeing a supernatural threat, I would expect Thrane to be the MOST active nation in providing support and shelter.

So my initial reaction is that Forge of War is simply WRONG. The situation as described makes no sense and I don’t see it as a rumor that would stick, because anyone familiar with the church should know it makes no sense. Why would they do something like that?

WITH THAT SAID: Maybe you WANT it to be true. If this is the case, the question is what could MAKE it happen as described. The simplest answer is that the facts aren’t straight. The Mourning transforms things caught within it. So perhaps Thrane templars DID “slaughter a host of Cyrans fleeing from the Mourning”—because those Cyrans had been caught in the Mourning and transformed into a ravening pack of bloodthirsty killers. They weren’t FLEEING the mists, they were charging out of them to kill anything they could get their hands on, and the templars had no choice but to put them down. So it is an absolute fact that Thrane forces killed a host of Cyran refugees, and Karrnath or other nations have publicized the story. But the truth isn’t as they present it—and beyond that, I’d still expect people who hear the story to say “But that doesn’t make any sense!”

So as a quick overview of how nations have responded to Cyrans, here’s MY personal opinion.

  • Breland has been presented as the most willing to shelter Cyrans without strings, as shown by the establishment of New Cyre. There are certainly tensions between the common people of Breland and the refugees, and life in camps like High Walls is hardly ideal, but it’s better than anything offered by Aundair or Karrnath.
  • I think Thrane would have responded with compassion and provided significant support. However, I can imagine Thrane focusing on integrating refugees into Thrane society as opposed to trying to preserve Cyran culture or supporting Cyran nobles; consider that they already set aside the Wynarn monarchy in favor of the Church. So they’d provide support and opportunities—for a new life as Thranes.
  • Aundair has been presented as unsympathetic (see that quote from Queen Aurala at the Treaty of Thronehold), and that makes sense. Aundair is the smallest of the Five Nations and has its own problems with the Eldeen Reaches, and Aurala still believes she would be the best ruler for a restored Galifar; none of this suggests sympathy for Cyre.
  • Likewise, I think Karrnath would be VERY unsympathetic. Cyre and Karrns were bitter rivals; per Forge of War, the Mourning followed directly on the heels of a Cyran sneak attack on the city of Atur. Karrnath had long struggled with famines and thus lacks the ability to suddenly support an influx of outsiders, and Karrns are known for being ruthless and pragmatic. Beyond this, as I called out in my last article, the Karrnathi undead are perfectly willing to slaughter civilians. If anyone slaughtered masses of Cyran refugees on the border, I’d expect it to be Karrnath.

Several maps show parts of the Talenta plains (or the borderlands) as part of Cyre during the Last War. Were these wartime holdings? Provinces of Cyre? How was Cyre’s relationship with the Halflings?

This is covered on page 202 of the 3.5 ECS:

Karrnath and Cyre both claimed parts of the Talenta Plains during the Last War. Prior to the fall of the kingdom of Galifar, the halfling tribes were permitted to wander their ancestral lands as long as they paid tribute to the Galifar king. With the coming of war, the halfling tribes began to cooperate in unprecedented ways to protect the Plains that all the tribes revered. Warriors of different tribes banded together, repelling invaders from Karrnath and Cyre by using their knowledge of the ways of the Plains to confuse and confound the invaders. Later, when the Plains became the place for various combatant nations to clash, the halfling tribes tried to stay out of the way.

Cannith had a lot of holdings in Cyre, and almost invariably there would have been mingling with the locals. Do you see the Houses as having a mostly distinct culture or also being something like citizens of the nation they grew up in? Cannith worked a lot with Cyre during the war, was that more an accident of proximity and money or did a lot of the leadership sympathize with the Cyrans? For example, is there a Cannith style or are there Cyran Cannith, Brelish Cannith, etc. styles of architecture/production?

The houses definitely hold themselves as extranational entities. They take their neutrality very seriously, and the only house we’ve suggested as having a national bias is Medani: so Cyre’s heavy association with Cannith was certainly based on gold. Cannith heirs consider themselves to be Cannith first, nation second. However, there’s certainly a national component to the personality of a dragonmarked heir. Beyond interaction with the locals, you’ve got the fact that houses are comprised of different families and these families are based in different nations—so the Vown are Brelish Cannith, while Juran are (or were) Cyran Cannith. It’s also the case that different enclaves have different focuses, which also affects corporate culture. Cannith South is focused on general industry, while Cannith East is more driven by weapons research and recently, experimenting with necromancy.

With that said, the HOUSES hold themselves as neutral; the members of the houses often had their own sympathies. In The Dreaming Dark novels, Daine is a Deneith heir who cut ties with the Blademark in order to fight for Cyre. Dragonmarked discusses such characters, who are generally referred to as “orphans.”

Could you elaborate a bit on what would happen to the royals and their families of the other nations once they were done reigning/advising. Would they be demoted to “regular” noble status? Would they hold land, and how would they inherit?

The position of governor came with land, but those holdings were tied to the position and would be passed to the new governor. The tradition was for a governor to marry into one of the noble families of the nation they governed, which served both to strengthen their connection to the land and to give them estates after their tenure passed. So the warlord families of Karrnath include many former governors. But this does mean that when the nations rallied behind their “kings” and “queens” to start the Last War, it was a substantial change. Frankly, this reflects how easy it was for Thrane to shift to a theocracy; they weren’t deeply attached to Wrogar’s line. Likewise, we’ve said that Kaius III is still in a delicate position with the Warlords of Karrnath; they trace their lineage back to the founders of the nation, while Kaius I was a son of Jarot. But the short answer to the question is that the governors would marry into the local nobility, which helped both to keep bloodlines fresh and to strengthen ties between Galifar and the local nobility.

What would YOU like to know about Cyre? Post your questions below. And thanks as always to my Patreon supporters for requesting the topic and making it possible!

50 thoughts on “Dragonmarks: Cyre

  1. Adore this deep dive; thank you so much for it! This is probably my favorite article you’ve done

    It’s made me curious about pre-Galifar Khorvaire, which I’ve never really spared a lot of thought for. Something to chee on later!

    Is the info in Five Nations for the cultures of the other four in keeping with your view of them, or are there any juicy little bits of what it means to be Brelish or a Karrn that you think a player should try to work in?

  2. Oh I did think of a question, one sourcebook mentions magically inclined Cyrans might be born with white hair and that Mourners have taken to dying their hair white in custom.

    Is Lei’s red hair a trait of being Cyran or being a Cyran Cannith?

    • Oh I did think of a question, one sourcebook mentions magically inclined Cyrans might be born with white hair and that Mourners have taken to dying their hair white in custom.

      That’s not a detail I personally follow, but I’m fine if people choose to. I think Cyre is the most metropolitan of the nations as its people were drawn from across Galifar. But there’s nothing wrong with presenting a unique trait that has developed over the course of that melding.

      Is Lei’s red hair a trait of being Cyran or being a Cyran Cannith?

      Cyran Cannith for sure. On the other hand, her family were Cyrans before Cannith existed, so I do feel it implies the presence of a red-haired line (which could date back to Old Metrol, as Cannith predates Galifar and that influx).

  3. First I’d like to say thank you this is everything I hoped it would be! It expanded my knowledge and challenged my assumptions.

    You implied in earlier q&a posts that the information in Forge of War is wrong (Thrane’s lack of archers), especially that Thrane did not turn away or attack Cyran refugees, and that this was likely Karrn propaganda (Karrnath being far more likely with a recent famine and recent bitter border skirmishes to react harshly)

    Is this a pervasive rumour? Would Cyran refugees think of Thrane as butchers who turned their backs? Is Karrnath undeservingly exempted from their part in it (or would years of brutal enmity counter that)?

    What of Aundair and Breland and any notable others? How were refugees received elsewhere?

  4. So my question is in regards to Thronehold and Metrol. Which one was the real seat of power? You said that the last king spent a great deal of money on the Vermishard Palace during his reign, Would he be living there? Is Metrol more like the Paris and Thronehold is like the Versailles/Reims, in terms of France Monarchy

  5. Excellent post! I just wanted to know what happened to all the money that has been deposited in Kundarak magical vaults? Did it disappeared, or has it been claimed by House Kundarak? And if it disappeared, how does House Kundarak have been affected by the mourning (considering that the ratio between bankers and the quantity of gold in a kingdom is mostly proportional)?

    • We’ve never mentioned the House Kundarak dimensional vaults as having been adversely affected by the Mourning. It’s logical to assume that the vaults have some sort of central focal point—a set of eldritch machines that maintain the network—but I wouldn’t expect those to be in Cyre. Beyond that, I doubt that vast amounts of wealth are routinely kept in the interdimensional vaults. The greatest value of the vault network is for the client to be able to access it from multiple locations, but it’s not necessarily the most secure system because there’s a limit on how it can be monitored—could someone fine a way to hack the network using a bag of holding? I think it’s more likely that a nation would have a certain amount of gold deposited in a vault specifically so it could be picked up elsewhere than that the majority of its wealth would be stored in the interdimensional vault indefinitely.

      • Thanks for your answer! I could definitely imagine a scenario where a minor cyran noble, who had all his riches stored in a Kundarak vault, become the richest person in New Cyre, and is always followed by aristocrats who once hold far more influence and power than he did!

        • It also allows for a player to play a somewhat wealthy Noble refugee, who is currently trying to claim his legal inheritance, while Kundarak dwarves discuss what kinds of proof must be provided first.

  6. Thanks you, awesome article. I feel drawn to create a Cyran character for the first time (for some reason I previously thought of them only as self absorbed emo-types like Kylo Ren).

    I feel like Metrol was regarded like Toronto is, or New York in the 80s – a place that other Americans (or Canadians) despise thinking of them as elitist, foppish, out of touch or entitled – but the reality of living in those places is not any of those things (or rather not mostly any of those things) if you know what I mean.

    I could see a citizen of a now destroyed Toronto constantly having to defend against other nation’s prejudices – being either defensive (chip on the shoulder), resigned and sullen, or “couldn’t care less” about it.

  7. Oh forgot the original question I meant to ask. Several maps show parts of the Talenta plains (or the borderlands) as part of Cyre during the Last War. Were these wartime holdings? Provinces of Cyre? How was Cyre’s relationship with the Halflings?

    In addition, though Dragommarked houses were neutral in the war was there any great effect on the members of the houses that were centered in Cyre like Phiarlan and Cannith, or were they able to recover due to having enough diffuse resources? Did members ever fight in the war and if so was that grounds for excoriation or was the punishment milder?

    • “The original family enclave in Cyre was destroyed along with
      that nation, but as luck would have it, all the leading members of the house were abroad on that fateful day.” -About House Phiarlan, ECS p.236

      “The destruction of Cannith’s ancestral estates in Cyre and the death of the patriarch have thrown the house into chaos. Three leaders have emerged, each intending to lead the house into the future.” -About House Cannith, ECS p.231-232

      I also remember reading something saying that a member of a dragonmarked house had to quit before getting involved personnally in the Last War…

      • Thomas is correct on all counts.

        The piece you’re missing about military service comes from Dragonmarked, specifically “The Orphan”:

        The Korth Edicts prevent members of a dragonmarked house from holding land, noble title, or rank in a national military. Over the centuries, a number of dragonmarked heirs have chosen to give up their birthright to be freed from the edicts. During the Last War, a number of idealistic heirs left their houses to fight for one of the Five Nations. Others have married into noble families, whether for love or greed.

        An orphan’s relationship with the members of his house depends on the circumstances under which he left. An heir who breaks from one of the prominent branches of a family, throws away an important arranged marriage, or publicly denounces the traditions of his house will have bad blood to deal with. On the other hand, an heir might leave his house with the blessing of his
        family. The Korth Edicts have come under attack in recent years, and a house might see the advantage of seeding capable heirs in influential positions.

  8. Loved the article; I’ve always tried to give Cyre a sort of “lost nation of Atlantis” vibe in my games, and this looks like I’m not too off-base.

    One question, though: you talk about the southern parts of Cyre as not benefiting from the same level of wealth; do you see it as an impoverished region doing its best, or more like a middle class region with some of the north’s amenities? Or a mix depending on the area?

    And if I were to go to Darguun now, what do you see as being left of the previous society? Does it still have many people there, living as they had but with goblins ruling now? Shacks with new owners? I imagine there’s lots of variety over that much space, but I’m wondering if there’s a general status.

  9. Hi Keith, off topic, but this post reminded me of it, any plans to make a mythology book for the Sovereign Host? Basically stories told by the people of Khorvaire about the Sovereign Host, like stories about the Traveler, the story of Aureon and the Shadow, how the Dark Six got divided from the Sovereign Host. Again not necessarily factual history but basically the Eberron equivalent of the stories of Persephone, Sun Wukong, Anansi, and Loki. Also showing how these stories are perceived in different religions and cultures, i.e. the Traveler’s gift to Jes’ children, the Shadow gifting “monsters” their powers, and the perception of these tales by the Blood of Vol. Side note, how does the Draconic Prophecy fit into that mythology?

    • Hi Keith, off topic, but this post reminded me of it, any plans to make a mythology book for the Sovereign Host?
      No one’s ever suggested it before. It’s a fun idea; if/when I write my own take on Faiths of Eberron it would be a fun thing to include.

      Side note, how does the Draconic Prophecy fit into that mythology?
      There’s a few different ideas. One is that Aureon discovered a cosmic prophecy that revealed how the ancient evils could be defeated. The other is that Aureon inscribes prophecies to reveal destiny to mortals. The true shape, form and function of the Draconic Prophecy isn’t something common people are aware of.

    • In my own Eberron, I imagine one popular short book among adherents of the Host to be something called The 105 Divine Relations — a series of vignettes, each a microstory illustrative of how a different pair of the gods of the Host and/or the Six relate to one another. I figure something of that nature would be a reasonable scale for a small PDF offering.

      I came up with the idea as an outgrowth of my having written up such a vignette to help the players of a pair of characters, a paladin of freedom who followed the Traveler and a cleric who followed Boldrei, figure out how they might regard one another. The vignette was as follows:

      Boldrei once found the Traveler looking weak and hungry. ‘Take this and its comfort,’ said she. Yet to her confusion, the Traveler refused; ‘Tell me not what to do,’ it replied, and left in search of a meal.

      Later that day, Boldrei prepared to make sandwiches for her followers, only to find the same loaf missing. She searched, only to find the Traveler eating it. ‘What is the meaning of this?!’ she cried. ‘You refused this, and now you steal it?!’ ‘It was all that presented itself in the end,’ the Traveler replied.

  10. Great article! Do you think the Eberron setting could have kept the same tone if it had been any of the other Five Nations that was destroyed? Or does Cyre’s reputation as a land of art and beauty stress that much more just how tragic and pointless the war was?

    • The Mourning is an event that threatens all nations, and I think that it would have forced an end to the Last War regardless of which nation was lost. But there’s certainly a particular tragedy to it taking Cyre.

  11. Thank you so much for posting this! One of my great frustrations with a lot of the published Eberron material is that most of the wordcount on Cyre goes into descriptions of the Mournland, when I’m far more interested in portraying the Cyran refugees, which is very difficult to do without an idea of what Cyre was like before its destruction. This piece has given me a lot to work with!

  12. We know that Eberron has identification papers. Do these list nationality, and if so are new identification papers with Cyran nationality still issued – even considering that, as of the Treaty of Thronehold, Cyre has officially ceased to exist?

  13. Keith, thank you so much for answering these long lingering questions about Cyre, pre-Mourning. It’s been a long missing chunk of the world that finally got filled in, and I can tell you’ve known a lot of this for a while because of how many holes it filled in to the world’s plot.

    I know you are currently working on Morgrave’s Miscellany, and do plan to do a book on the Planes when you get the chance one day. But if that’s going to be a long while off still, please do consider doing a blog post on each of those planes as a starter to this.

    I know you’ve done some already (Origin of the Planes, Shavarath the Blood War, Planes of Hope, Peace and Order, The Endless Night, etc), but please do consider writing another blog entry or two on some of the less written about planes in the meantime. They may not be asked for as often, but I suspect this is because people just don’t know much about those planes yet.

    Thanks for the great work!

    • I do a poll of my Patreon backers each month to choose article topics, and no one’s been asking for planes recently. It’s certainly a topic *I* enjoy, but it’ll depend on how much free time I have in the days ahead.

  14. (Somehow this website keeps eating my comments…)

    We know that Eberron has identification papers. Do they list nationality, and if so are new ones that list “Cyran” as nationality still being issued – even though according to the Treaty of Thronehold Cyre no longer exits?

    • It’s an excellent question. Cyran refugees might still have identification papers issued by Cyre—civilian or military—from before the Mourning. However, there is no Cyran authority that could issue new papers at this time. So refugees would either have to become citizens of one of the other nations or acquire a non-national form of identification. It’s possible that House Sivis issues a form of extranational ID; this would be relevant for Dragonmarked heirs.

      • Also worth pointing out that a Cyran national who took up residence elsewhere might be able to obtain identification from another nation based on some form of recognized permanent residency within that nation (similar to a green card). I went with something like this for a kobold refugee who took up residence in Korranberg since her circumstances didn’t readily suggest viability of obtaining Zil citizenship.

        It’s worth pointing out that the openness and resistance to immigration over history has significantly depended on how many people are involved; Cyrans who were already well-established elsewhere for one reason or another or who were among the first seeking refuge in a place may have faced an easier path than those who came later or among very large groups (or groups including people suffering mysterious illnesses due to exposure to the effects of the Mourning)…

  15. Excellent article, one of my favorite!

    Cannith had a lot of holdings in Cyre, and almost invariably there would have been mingling with the locals. Do you see the Houses as having a mostly distinct culture or also being something like citizens of the nation they grew up in? Cannith worked a lot with Cyre during the war, was that more an accident of proximity and money or did a lot of the leadership sympathize with the Cyrens?

    For example, is there a Cannith style or are there Cyren Cannith, Brelish Cannith, etc. styles of architecture/production? If Cannith is strongly tied to Cyren aesthetics, might Cannith have been something of an unofficial channel for exporting the Cyren vision to other nations?

    • I’ve added the broader answer to the Q&A section. Looking to the very last question, I see Cannith as being a practical and pragmatic balance to Cyre’s artistic vision; their focus has always been industry and profit.

  16. A few weeks ago, I started DMing a campaign in which two PCs are Cyran refugees. This is definitely a post I will point them toward. With Cyre’s destruction being such a huge key point of the setting, the relative lack of official intel about how it was prior that was a bit disheartening. Thank you very much for covering and developping that, with, as ever, some great ideas.

    If I can make only one suggestion for a future sourcebook, could you please think about including somewhere a map of pre-Mourning Cyre? If only because that’s the type of map adventurers would have nowadays, and not a map of the Mournland as it is.

  17. Keith – What a rich troveof lore! Thank you! One bit that caught my eye: “The Wynarn Institute of Art. The Wynarn institute was both one of the foremost academies of magic in Khorvaire and one of its most amazing museums. In addition to purely artistic exhibits, the Hall of Kings allowed rulers to converse with illusory replicas of the past rulers of Galifar.” How did these “illusory replicas” work? Are they based on the magical equivalent of holographic video recordings of their subjects, or are the more like animated portraits/sculptures of their subjects? And for the interation: Does a given image have a limited set of stock responses? Or have they been somehow “programmed” by historians with what they think their subjects would know/believe/do? Or do some of them have copies of the actual memories of their subjects? I love speculating on what the Mourning might have done to those exhibits! Imagine a party of PCs come to loot…I mean, recover…the treasures of the Institute only to find themselves attacked by a living spell replica of Galifar himself!

    • Personally I see them as having been programmed illusions—a magical version of animatronic displays. So they’d have limited interactive ability, but they weren’t fully sentient replicas. But the Mourning could certainly have brought some of them to full life, or fused them with outsiders.

  18. Hi Keith,

    This is a great article—I love all the lore! I have two quick questions.

    1) I remember reading somewhere that Galifar I was a Karrn, possibly descended from Karrn the Conqueror himself. Why then would he choose Metrol (Cyre) as the heart of his new empire, rather than his home kingdom of Karrnath?

    2) If I were to play a Cyran refugee, is there a particular background that you would use to capture a dispossessed common person. S9meone who watched their hometown be destroyed/consumed in the Mourning and witnessed some of the horrors of the Mournland firsthand?

    Thanks!

  19. In the post’s picture there is some kind of circular ring shaped wall with… teeth? spikes? curving up/in, what is that thing? It seems kinda ominous & exceptionally odd for a well not filled with blood for Athas’ cannibalistic halflings to drink & all I can think of is some kind of public teleport circle… but that seems a few steps too far

  20. Thank you very much for this excellent and extensive article. 🙂 It dovetails well with what few scraps we had to work with. Based on those scraps, I suspected the one new organization I add to my Eberron might have originally been centered in Cyre; now I’m fairly certain of it.

  21. Thank you for filling so many gaps. Even the line of succession seemed a blurred thing beforehand.
    Eventhough its off topic to cyre could you elaborate a bit on what would happen to the royals and their families of the other nations once they were done reingning/advising. Would they be demoted to “regular” noble status? Would they hold land, and how would they inherit?
    And since marrying other royal within galifar would be an incestious affair, the Prince/ss of cyre would have to take a noble. Would this allways be another cyran noble, or would a powerful karnn ir’something try to marry into the royal line in order to attain more influence? How would the nobles maintain a some what balanced galifar through arranged marriages?

    • The position of governor came with land, but those holdings were tied to the position and would be passed to the new governor. The tradition was for a governor to marry into one of the noble families of the nation they governed, which served both to strengthen their connection to the land and to give them estates after their tenure passed. So the warlord families of Karrnath include many former governors. But this does mean that when the nations rallied behind their “kings” and “queens” to start the Last War, it was a substantial change. Frankly, this reflects how easy it was for Thrane to shift to a theocracy; they weren’t deeply attached to Wrogar’s line. Likewise, we’ve said that Kaius III is still in a delicate position with the Warlords of Karrnath; they trace their lineage back to the founders of the nation, while Kaius I was a son of Jarot. But the short answer to the question is that the governors would marry into the local nobility, which helped both to keep bloodlines fresh and to strengthen ties between Galifar and the local nobility. 

      • Is this also true to cyre? Would the regent of cyre marry a cyran noble, like his farther before him? Were there enough cyran noble blood lines or didnt they run the risk of inbreeding

        • Cyre would be the exception. Part of the point is that Cyre/Metrol DIDN’T retain its pre-Galifar aristocracy as the other provinces did (resulting in the original aristocrats being pushed to Southern Cyre and Eastern Cyre). Marriage to the reigning Wynarn noble would be an important political tool, and I’d expect it to have been used to strengthen ties across the provinces as opposed to consistently marrying within a single province.

          This is also a reason why young nobles from across Galifar would be courtiers in the court of Metrol—promoting the interests of their families.

  22. In the Elder Evils sourcebook from 3.5, each Elder Evil has suggested adaptions for an Eberron campaign. I can imagine the creation of the Mournland be related to Cyre making a gamble to harness the power of such eldritch powers – and failing. Specifically, I can imagine the place Pandorym is bound being right in the middle of the Mournland; that’s actually the suggested adaption.

    I wonder if the forbidden planar magic that the giants of ancient Xen’drik used could be made to be related with that? Pandorym’s strongly related to incorporeal undead in general, and… well, they say history repeats.

  23. So, maybe this is because I only got into D&D in 5th edition (though I’ve gone back and read the Eberron books for 3rd & 4th editions, too), but how do you actually pronounce Cyre & Cyran? Are any of these correct?
    Cyre Cyran
    Kigh-er Kigh-ran
    Kigh-reh
    Sigh-er Siren
    Sigh-re
    However you decide?

    • However you decide! Our official stance is that it’s pronounced many different ways — it’s a tomato/tomahto situation, and how you pronounce it probably tells us where you’re from. If you’re from Metrol you say SIGH-re, while people from the south say SIGH-er.

  24. Hopefully a quick question:

    I notice that the Palaces of Vermishard don’t have listed a method of access to the palaces atop the spires. I’m curious as to what you envision that access method to be. Teleportation chambers at the base of the spires that link to the top of the spire, attended by magewrights schooled in their use? Shuttles akin to small airships? Magical elevators?

    Thanks for a great article! I’m getting ready to run a campaign run in the ruins of Metrol under the pretense that there are those who survived the Mourning but who believe the Mourning killed the whole world, as they have seen no evidence in the year since the Mourning that there is any place not covered in the mists. I’m really excited to put my players through their paces in the post-apocalyptic wasteland of Cyre!

  25. Quick question for you:

    Before the Mourning, how did people get to and from the Palaces of the Vermishards? Magical elevators? Shuttles akin to tiny airships? Teleportation circles located at the base of each manned by magewrights trained in their use?

    Getting ready to run a post-Mourning campaign set in Metrol, where the party is part of the survivors of the Mourning a year after that fateful day, who fully believe that the Mourning overtook the whole world, and that they, and small groups like them, are the only ones left in the world. I’m super excited!

    • Hi Michael!

      Excellent question. Teleportation isn’t a common tool in everyday life, so the logical answer is levitating lifts. House Vadalis also offers a variety of flying mounts, so a noble in a hurry would just fly down on a hippogriff. In general, you don’t have the constant vertical traffic you see in Sharn. People with business in the Vermishards typically live and work there; the Vermishards are in many ways a second city that’s above the common one.

      I hope your campaign goes well. (And when you post for the first time, it needs to be approved; future comments shouldn’t have that delay.)

Leave a Reply to Jeffery Cancel reply

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

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