Dragonmarks: Drow

These… they aren’t the elves you know from Khorvaire. Thousands of years ago, the elves fought the giants that ruled this land. Giant wizards captured elves and experimented on them, created their own soldiers to go places the giants could not. It’s said that they wove dark magic into the elven form, and that these are the result. The first elves call them the drow. 

Lakashtai, The Shattered Land

The conflict with Dal Quor weakened the giants of Xen’drik. In the centuries that followed, the elves rose up against the giants. In the early days of that conflict, the mages of the Sulat League created a new breed of elf. With perfect darkvision and a natural resistance to magic, the Drow were natural predators indoctrinated from birth to prey upon the rebel elves. At first the Drow were myths, spirits of the night that struck without warning and left no survivors. Even after the truth was revealed, the Drow remained a deadly threat throughout the rebellion. When Argonnessen crushed the civilizations of the giants, the Drow were caught in the destruction. Three primary cultures emerged from this time of chaos.

The bulk of the Drow are Vulkoori. Their ancestors took refuge in the deep jungles of Xen’drik and developed their own traditions. They are a primitive tribal culture; many focus their devotion on the scorpion spirit Vulkoor, while others revere a pantheon of primal spirits. Some tribes pursue an endless vendetta against the giants, taking vengeance against their ancient oppressors. Others are simply concerned with survival.

A smaller faction held to the traditions of their creators. These Sulatar held onto some of the techniques and artifacts of the Sulat giants, notably techniques involving the binding of fire elementals.

A third group fled underground, taking refuge in Khyber. There they found a source of dark power and bound their clan to it, drawing strength from this mysterious Umbra. These Umbragen are the most advanced of the Drow cultures, but they are locked in a conflict with the horrors of Khyber and they are slowly losing that war.

All of these cultures tend towards xenophobia and isolation. Explorers and the settlers of Stormreach have encountered the Vulkoori, but they know little about them. Few know the Sulatar or Umbragen exist… though an early encounter with the Sulatar may have provided the Zil with the inspiration that produced their elemental binding techniques.

Each of the Drow cultures serves a different purpose, both for players and gamemasters.

  • Vulkoori Drow can be an ally or a threat for characters exploring Xen’drik. They are resistant to the Traveller’s Curse, which makes them valuable guides for adventuring parties; however, most see the people of Khorvaire as outsiders and looters who have no place in Xen’drik. As a player character, a Vulkoori Drow is an opportunity to play an exotic primitive cast into an alien culture. Xu’sasar in The Dreaming Dark novels is a Vulkoori Drow, though from the pantheistic Qaltiar tradition.
  • The Umbragen are in many ways the closest to the Drow people are familiar with from other settings. They are an advanced subterranean culture centered around a dark power, and they are cruel and ruthless. They are driven by their bitter struggle with the Daelkyr, and this can make them a useful enemy-of-my-enemy; alternately, their quest for the power they need to defeat the Daelkyr could make them a threat to the people of the surface, as the Umbragen will sacrifice anything in pursuit of victory. An Umbragen PC could be an exile who turned on the dark traditions of their people, or a hero seeking the power to save them. Where the Vulkoori is a primitive, for the Umbragen Khorvaire is itself a primitive backwater.
  • The Sulatar aren’t as primitive as the Vulkoori, but neither are they as powerful or malevolent as the Umbragen. They can easily be found as the guardians of giant relics or ruins, and they know secrets about the past that have been forgotten by the others.

What would you like to know about the Drow of Eberron?

How would each of the citizens of the Five Nations see a Drow?

The inhabitants of Stormreach are familiar with Drow, and there are a handful of Drow and half-Drow that have been assimilated into the general population. As a result, people in Sharn and to a lesser extent other Brelish port cities will be somewhat familiar with them; even if they’ve never seen one, they’ve possibly heard stories.

Beyond that, I don’t particularly think the reaction is going to vary by nation; a Drow would be equally unusual anywhere in Khorvaire. With that said, Eberron is a world in which people deal with a wide variety of races (Elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, and even goblins) casually and are aware that they could bump into a lizardfolk or a gnoll; as unusual as a Drow is, it’s hardly the strangest thing you might see on the street. What I think the most likely reaction would be is the assumption that the Drow is some sort of one-off mutation of a normal elf. Consider the origin of planetouched Tieflings I’ve discussed earlier – perhaps this is what happens to an elf conceived when Mabar is coterminous? Or perhaps they were exposed to the Mourning? Or they’re part of a Vadalis magebreeding experiment? So: a curiosity to be sure, and not immediately seen as representative of a foreign culture. But I think less threatening than a hobgoblin or dragonborn — so more intriguing than shocking. But as always, go with what best fits your story.

Why did you decide to make Eberron Drow focus on scorpion icons instead of the classic spider icons?

The basic principle is that the traditional Drow association with spiders is tied to a specific culture and to Lolth, a fiend not present by default in the cosmology of Eberron. Vulkoor provides an iconic focus for those who wish it. Beyond this, it does speak to a different culture. The spider is defined by its web, and Lolth’s Drow are subtle and treacherous; the Drow of Vulkoor are more direct predators. It also fits their tribal and often nomadic nature, as the mother scorpion carries her young on her back.

With that said: Personally, I’ve never particularly liked a solitary focus on Vulkoor. My first opportunity to deal with the Drow in depth came when I wrote my novel The Shattered Land. Here I introduced the Qaltiar as a culture who respect the Scorpion, but also revere other primal animistic spirits: the Shifting Panther (displacer beast), the Tlixin Bird, and a host of other totems… and the Sulatar, a Drow culture that has nothing to do with arachnids.  So you it’s up to you whether you run with purely scorpion-focused Vulkoori, or the broader primal Qaltiar.

Where is it in canon that you speak of the Umbragen?

The Umbragen are mentioned in almost all canon sources that deal with Drow. They’re covered in most detail in Dragon 330, which included a detailed look at their culture and racial feats. However, they’re also described on page 52 of Secrets of Xen’drik, page 124 of City of Stormreach, and page 198 of the 4E Eberron Campaign Guide. To be clear, while I’ve said that they are the closest analogue to the Drow of other settings – being a culturally “evil” civilization that lives underground – they are a unique culture and due to their bond to the Umbra, not entirely Drow.

I’m a bit surprised, however, when you say that “for the Umbragen Khorvaire is itself a primitive backwater.” Could you please expend your thoughts about what, according to you, make the Umbragen so superior?

I may have chosen my words poorly, but it’s a difficult concept to distill. There are two things that distinctly distinguish the Umbragen from the civilization of the Five Nations. The Umbragen are less industrial than the Five Nations, to be certain. However, they are distinctly more magical. In my opinion, the typical Umbragen – regardless of whether they’re a soldier, a mystic researcher, a mushroom farmer or a smith – is likely to have at least one level of warlock or soulknife. Half of their government – the Vault of Shadows – is dedicated to mystical research for the benefit of their civilization. Combine this with the fact that they live in the shadow of the Qabalrin, an elvish civilization whose mystic advances matched those of the giants of Xen’drik. So they are used to a far greater degree of casual magic in the world, and the idea that the farmer over there is literally just a farmer – that he can’t conjure a blade of shadows or kill an enemy with a thought – makes him seem pathetic. Add to this the fact that the Umbragen have been at war with Khyber for as long as they can remember: a constant struggle with the terrors of the deep. So again, to them Khorvaire feels soft and weak. They whine about their losses in the Last War? They clearly know nothing of loss or struggle.

Again: taken as a whole, the Five Nations are more advanced as a civilization. The Umbragen have nothing on par with the systems of transit, communication or mass production that are part of daily life in the Five Nations. But the Umbragen are also from a smaller civilization and thus an Umbragen visitor wouldn’t immediately appreciate those things; and besides, if you need to communicate with someone far away, just speak to an Umbral sage who can send a message through the shadows.

With that said, something like Sharn should still be impressive to an Umbragen; the question is whether they’d acknowledge that. The Umbragen also tend to be aggressive and predatory, so a general attitude of “Your civilization is weaker than mine” is good for instilling fear in possible rivals.

How do the different elves view the Xen’Drik Drow and Umbragen and vice versa?

Both sides retain the most basic knowledge of the origins of their people — that they were bitter enemies in the ancient war. The elves of Khorvaire know the Drow as evil servants of the giants, while the Drow know the elves as the rebels whose foolish pride led to the destruction of Xen’drik. With that said, that conflict occurred more than twenty thousand years ago, before the modern civilizations of either elves or Drow existed. The Drow are all isolationists and know next to nothing about the modern elves, and the elves are only aware of the Vulkoori, who they consider to be the savage remnants of their ancient foes. So if a Drow came to Aerenal today, they’d be seen more as a curiosity than a bitter enemy.

With that said, the Tairnadal are deeply concerned with the history of their patron ancestors. Many of those ancestors were champions in the uprising against the giants — meaning that they fought the Drow. Such a Tairnadal might be quite excited to have an opportunity to fight one of these ancient foes.

It’s worth noting that the Qaltiar — a Vulkoori subculture — are Drow who themselves rebelled against the giants. They may still blame the elves for starting the apocalypse that destroyed Xen’drik, but they would be less hostile than others.

Are there any undying Drow or Umbragen? COULD there be? 
Are there any? None that we’ve established in canon. Could there be? Sure. Becoming Deathless has nothing to do with being an elf; it requires specific rituals and access to enormous amounts of positive energy, drawn both directly through Irian manifest zones and indirectly through the reverence of descendants. So it’s unlikely that there are any Deathless Drow in Xen’drik, because they don’t have the manifest zones or knowledge of the rituals (which took thousands of years of work in Aerenal to perfect). But if you wanted some renegade Drow (perhaps some of the original progenitors of the Qaltiar) to have joined the Aereni in the exodus, sure, there could be Deathless Drow.

41 thoughts on “Dragonmarks: Drow

  1. Where is in canon that you speak of umbragen? Is that something related to Mabar? I admit that I feel drows as a “forgotten realm thing” that doesn’t fit so well in Eberron

    • Where is in canon that you speak of umbragen?

      The Umbragen are mentioned in almost all canon sources that deal with Drow. They’re covered in most detail in Dragon 330, which included a detailed look at their culture and racial feats. However, they’re also described on page 52 of Secrets of Xen’drik, page 124 of City of Stormreach, and page 198 of the 4E Eberron Campaign Guide. To be clear, while I’ve said that they are the closest analogue to the Drow of other settings – being a culturally “evil” civilization that lives underground – they are an entirely unique culture and due to their bond to the Umbra, not entirely Drow.

  2. I’ve been asking myself for years now, but why did you decided to make Eberron Drow focus on scorpion icons instead of the classic spider icons? Was that mostly a manner to visually distinguish “FR/generic drow” from “Eberron drow”, or is there any other reason behind it?

    I love the Vulkoori, and IMO, the Scorrow is much more terrifying than the Drider, both as a monster (visual and mechanics) and lore-wise. However, some images and descriptions of the Scorrow don’t really match up. Some of them have two fully-functional arms and a pair of scorpion pincers on the lower body, while some other sources (including DDO) makes them have pincers instead of hands. Which one is the true form, or are they simply variants?

    • why did you decided to make Eberron Drow focus on scorpion icons instead of the classic spider icons?

      Good question. Answered in the main post at the start of the Q&A.

      Some of them have two fully-functional arms and a pair of scorpion pincers on the lower body, while some other sources (including DDO) makes them have pincers instead of hands. Which one is the true form, or are they simply variants?

      It’s actually covered on page 82 of Secrets of Xen’drik. The typical scorrow has hands, but the pincer-handed form is a rare but known variant. The description of the scorrow in SoX says that it has the form of a scorpion with the drow torso rising up where the head should be; this, along with the picture that accompanies it, indicates that the standard version has primary claws and humanoid arms.

  3. Hey Keith, I had a question about drow language. The 4E book says that drow speak Giant instead of Elven, but I seem to recall in The Shattered Land that the Qaltiar spoke Elven. I could certainly see drow speaking both languages, but what do you see as the usual lingua franca among drow? Or is it dependent on culture?

    • what do you see as the usual lingua franca among drow? Or is it dependent on culture?

      There’s a basis for both. The Drow served the giants, but their primary function involved close interaction with elves and it would be useful for them to know the language. So I’d say that it is common for Drow to know both languages, and the question of which is primary would vary by culture. The Sulatar would tend to speak both, but Giant would be primary. The Qaltiar broke with the giants, and it makes sense that they would have Elvish as their primary language.

  4. Is the Promised Land of the Sulatar meant to be Fernia, or is that merely the connection that modern Khorvaire scholars have drawn in attempting to understand their culture?

    Are the giants said to reach this land of fire as well, or was this a reward purely for their servants?

    • Is the Promised Land of the Sulatar meant to be Fernia, or is that merely the connection that modern Khorvaire scholars have drawn in attempting to understand their culture?

      Per page 51 of Secrets of Xen’drik, “Scholars speculate that the promised land is the plane of Fernia, but so far the legends remain just that.”

      Are the giants said to reach this land of fire as well, or was this a reward purely for their servants?

      The culture of the Sulat League has never been explored in depth, so it’s hard to say. Bear in mind that the Promise of Fire isn’t an afterlife; it is a foretold event similar to Judgment Day, when the promise will be fulfilled. So the Sulatar believe that the giants were working to fulfill the promise, but did not succeed – and the task and its reward remain in the hands of the Sulatar.

  5. Hi Keith, and thanks for all the insight you continue to provide again and again about Eberron. I’m in the middle of the launching of a campaign, due to start in Xen’drik, with one of the players interested in playing an Umbragen, and I cheered when I saw the title of this post.

    I’m a bit surprised, however, when you say that “for the Umbragen Khorvaire is itself a primitive backwater”. I fail to see in the sourcebooks or Dragon article what would support such a view. I confess I tend to picture Umbragen cities as something as an underground, fantasy version of Aztec cities. So, as much as I can imagine an Umbragen going to the surface feeling more “civilized” than the tribes of Vulkoori Drows, I don’t see what would support such a sentiment toward modern, industrialized Khorvaire. Could you please expend your thoughts about what, according to you, make the Umbragen so superior?

    On another topic, considering the impact of the Qabalrin on both cultures, what do you think would be the reaction of an Umbragen if he was confronted to the modern cult of the Blood of Vol (be it a cultist, a temple, or even a ceremony)? Could he recognize some similarities here and there, some bits of symbols, designs and imageries, some parts of rituals, only reassembled differently and mixed with foreign materials? Would the resemblances even go beyond that, or, on the contrary, would it be so tenuous that neither the Drow nor the cultist could acknowledge any significant likeness?

    Thanks again, by advance, for your replies.

    • Could you please expend your thoughts about what, according to you, make the Umbragen so superior?

      Good question. I’ve added an extended answer to the middle of the main post. Short form: Umbragen civilization is distinctly less industrial, but more magical. There is also a far greater degree of mystical skill among the common populace, among other things because they are all touched by the Umbra.

      Would the resemblances even go beyond that, or, on the contrary, would it be so tenuous that neither the Drow nor the cultist could acknowledge any significant likeness?

      PERSONALLY, I think it’s pretty tenuous. The Line of Vol inherited some traditions from the Qabalrin, but they developed and altered those traditions, and their religious beliefs were developed independently. The Blood of Vol further altered those traditions; the line of Vol didn’t beleive in the Divinity Within. So the BoV cultist is dealing with a second-second-hand tradition, and meanwhile, while the Umbragen inherited from the Qabalrin they don’t have a particular focus on necromancy. If I wanted to work this into a story, I think what I’d probably do is use a specific relic: a Priest of Vol has an artifact that was handed down from the elves who first brought the Blood of Vol to Khorvaire, which unbeknownst to him can be traced all the way back to the Qabalrin. And it may be that the Umbragen knows how to unlock some hidden power or secret of the relic that its previous owners know nothing about, precisely because they know nothing about its origins or the Qabalrin.

      On the other hand, you could also say that an Umbragen looks at BoV rituals and says “Ah! This ‘Divinity Within’ you speak of, surely this must be the Umbra. You’re doing this all wrong!”

      • Thanks again. The second question was purely “academical”, not related to any plan for a campaign for now. Nonetheless, you managed to more or less crush my idea *but* to propose another pretty terrific one instead. Kudos!

        • In retrospect I really like the idea of the scattered relics. Imagine that the Qabalrin had a number of powerful Eldritch machines, but that these required specific objects to activate their power… essentially, you’ve got nuclear weapons, but you need the two commanders’ keys to launch them. Now imagine the commanders for whatever reason fleeing the Ring of Storms and taking their keys with them – choosing to abandon the terrifying weapon instead of using it – and over the course of thousands of years those keys being passed on as symbolic relics with no real idea of their original purpose. So the Umbragen find powerful Eldritch Machines in the depths but realize they are missing the critical relics needed to activate them or access their power. Those relics went from Xen’drik to the Line of Vol in Aerenal. From Aerenal they could have gone any number of places: to Khorvaire, where they’re ceremonial relics in the hands of Blood of Vol priests; to Argonnessen, in the hoard of a dragon who fought the Emerald Claw; to Aerenal itself, in the vaults of one of the lines that fought Vol. These relics wouldn’t have obvious power of their own, and the people who currently possess them wouldn’t have any idea of what they could be used for.

  6. I once described to a player of mine a drow in Khorvaire as a Zulu in Colonial England; basically an outsider whose culture is based an ocean and a continent away, and therefore more likely to be an anthropological curiosity than a free person. Would you agree with the sentiment?

    How would each of the citizens of the Five Nations see a drow? I imagine soomeone from Sharn might be passingly familiar with them, but even the most cosmopolitan Karrnathi would be very surprised.

    • I once described to a player of mine a drow in Khorvaire as a Zulu in Colonial England; basically an outsider whose culture is based an ocean and a continent away, and therefore more likely to be an anthropological curiosity than a free person. Would you agree with the sentiment?

      As noted in my answer above, all people of Khorvaire are familiar with the concept that they share the world with a vast range of exotic creatures; lizardfolk, gnolls, and even goblins are more fundamentally inhuman and strange than a dark-skinned elf. With that said, having never seen something like it, I think they’d be more likely to think that it could be a result of some sort of magebreeding experiment, exposure to the Mourning, or even some sort of unnatural birth as I’ve previously discussed with planetouched tieflings. So the main thing is that they’d be more likely to assume they are a freak than a representative of a foreign culture.

      How would each of the citizens of the Five Nations see a drow?

      Answered in the main post near the start of the Q&A, but same idea.

      • Thank you, Keith! It was mostly an excuse to get a powergamer to roleplay, but I can agree with your general summary.

        So they wouldn’t identify the race as “drow”, but they wouldn’t be overtly threatened either. Perhaps the appellation “dark elf” might find more use on mainland Khorvaire for those characters than “drow”.

    • A separate question: drow are dissimilar enough to High/Wood elves that they wouldn’t gain a true dragonmark, but what about the child of (say) a Phiarlan heir and a drow? A “grey elf”, if I can use that.

      • What about the child of (say) a Phiarlan heir and a drow?

        That’s an elf with a blood tie to Phiarlan, and they could certainly have the mark of Shadow. Provided they have a direct blood tie to a Phiarlan line, I have no issue with them being mechanically considered to be Drow.

  7. So, if the Sulatar Culture is syncretic with that of the giants, could a group of Sulatar worshiping the Faiths of Rusheme be hypothetically possible? Or would their ties to the Sulat giants be too strong?

    If you had a group of Vulkoori Culture in Shargon’s Teeth, could they have adopted the worship of Shargon as an ocean or shark spirit in addition to Vulkoor as a scorpion spirit?

    Thanks as always!

    • So, if the Sulatar Culture is syncretic with that of the giants, could a group of Sulatar worshiping the Faiths of Rusheme be hypothetically possible? Or would their ties to the Sulat giants be too strong?

      A group of DROW following the faiths of Rusheme seems possible. But they wouldn’t be Sulatar, as Sulatar culture is specifically tied to the Sulat League. I wouldn’t expect Rusheme Drow to be running around binding fire elementals, for example; if anything they might oppose the Firebinders as upsetting the natural balance.

      If you had a group of Vulkoori Culture in Shargon’s Teeth, could they have adopted the worship of Shargon as an ocean or shark spirit in addition to Vulkoor as a scorpion spirit?

      Absolutely.

  8. In your novel Gates of Night, Xusasar had a fairly faithful knowledge of the workings of Thelanis, and its denizens. Was her experience tailor made to her by the plane itself, or was is as was mentioned a bit, that these zones are often overlapped with the world when their conjunction is nigh? I ask in the interest of wondering if an Umbragen could be exposed to a likewise type of experience.
    It is my hope in imaginative wondering if a Umbrage could make both the connection of byshek to affect the Daelkyr Belashirra(sp), and the long pilgrimage to try and broker some from the overrun mines under Queen Sheshka’s realm. I know she closed the Khyber entrance, but it would make quite the adventure of an Umbragen(with requisite party help, perhaps monster humanoid) to entreat Sheshka to allow them to mine some byshek to give them at least a fighting chance.

    • First of all: there are definitely manifest zones to Thelanis in Xen’drik. And where there are manifest zones, it’s always possible for there to be traffic to and from Thelanis (as shown by the presence of Feyspires in Xen’drik). So the idea of an Umbragen using Thelanis as a conduit to get from Xen’drik to Droaam is quite plausible.

      As for Xu’sasar the idea is definitely both. She certainly interprets the things she encounters in a manner consistent with her beliefs and stories, and in at least one case you have an inhabitant of Thelanis that has likely changed its appearance to better suit her expectations. However, as is generally true with Thelanis, it’s reasonable to say that while elements of Thelanis may shift to match Drow stories, some Drow stories may be inspired by Thelanis.

  9. Keith, you mention in the main text above: “The inhabitants of Stormreach are familiar with Drow, and there are a handful of Drow and half-Drow that have been assimilated into the general population.”

    Are the half-Drow a race that breeds true, like the half-elves of Khorvaire? If not, is it not possible, or simply the case that there are so few helf-Drow that theyhaven’t had a chance to form a genetically stable community?

    On a tangentially related topic, are all of the sentient races of Eberron capable of inter-breeding? (We know humans and orcs, and humans and elves can interbreed, but others?_ If they do, do all combinations produce fertile offspring, or whould some combinations produce “mules” only?

    And, still further afield, clearly interbreeding does not appley to Warforged. But what about the Reforged? If a being has been fully reforged, are they capable of conceiving or bearing children? with other Reforged? With other races?

    • Are the half-Drow a race that breeds true, like the half-elves of Khorvaire?

      Since Drow are fundamentally elves, I think it’s reasonable to think that they can reproduce with any race that elves could breed with and that half-drow could be a true-breeding race. However, I think there are so few of them in existence that the question is entirely academic.

      On a tangentially related topic, are all of the sentient races of Eberron capable of inter-breeding?

      No, I don’t think so. We’ve never mentioned half-gnolls or for that matter half-goblins, not to mention half-lizardfolk. We’ve noted that the parents of the first Khoravar were shocked to have produced viable offspring, and that in the Marches half-orcs are celebrated as “proof that human and orcs are kin” – a distinction that has more meaning if orcs CAN’T reproduce with other common races.

      One idea that’s been put forward in the past is that this is an unusual trait of humanity – that the humans of Eberron can reproduce with almost everything, and that’s why when someone says “half-something” the other half is almost always human. If so, this could be a remarkable coincidence, or it could be something decidedly mysterious about humanity. Perhaps there is something to the idea that Daelkyr appear to be human in their natural state…

      • I remember that in another post you suggested the opposite: that ORCS can breed with different races. So not all the half-orcs are even half humans. Thar orcs are tied to natural world and its adaptation.

        In a comment you speak of “the day of fire” and its rewards. The first idea popping in my mind is EFREETI. If creatures of Fernia need to consume something, and Fernia can’t burn, maybe the giants were ready to sacrifice somethin BIG (like khorvarie or the entire race of elves or whatever) to Fernia, beeing granted in change of a HUGE ammounto of whishes. What can you do in a single day setting free 200 efreetis and having 3 wishes from any of them? I guess 600 wishes would be a threat even for Argonassen

        • I remember that in another post you suggested the opposite: that ORCS can breed with different races.

          Yes, that was a concept I explored with half-orcs – that orc + anything else = half-orc. However, we know that humans can interbreed with elves as well, so that’s at least two options open for humans.

          In a comment you speak of “the day of fire” and its rewards. The first idea popping in my mind is EFREETI.

          Interesting idea!

          • It brings to a question: why Efreeti can grant wishes? I mean: we know it comes from oriental tradition on OUR world. But why some spirits of Fernia should have such a great power for helping mortals that they almost never meet? When the core of fernia is more consuming and destroying, by the way.

          • Definitely a good question – though I’d say that’s a topic to be addressed in a post about Fernia as opposed to one about Drow!

          • Wishes are themselves an interesting topic. I might address them as part of a future post.

        • Perhaps the notable thing about orcs is that they always get a slightly different orc by breeding with something else, but with humans they get a true, fertile hybrid. An ogrillon could be a mule, but a jhorgun’taal is a fertile race with the best of human and orc traits. At least from the view of Shadow Marches culture.

          • In my main campaign, my party just rescued a waif, she was a Droaam pit-fighter. She appears as a grey-furred bugbear with prominent tusks, in truth she is the result of a tryst between a Gatekeeper orc and gladiator bugbear. She wants to learn about both her cultures from the party (an orc gatekeeper and goblin ex-slave). Korrazah sure would be devastated to find out she couldn’t exist…

          • Well, it’s your game and I can’t prove you wrong in your own world.

          • Korrazah sure would be devastated to find out she couldn’t exist…

            Nothing I say rules out options for your own campaign!

            For me, it’s like most details in worldbuilding: what does it add to the story? In general, I dislike adding new races because it reduces focus on the existing races, who already don’t get enough attention. People want to know how folks in the Five Nations would react to a Drow or Tiefling; if you add another hundred hybrid races into the mix (how do people feel about gnome/dwarves? What about Goliath/dwarves?) it quickly reaches a point where there’s so many option that it’s hard to imagine people attaching much weight to any of them.

            Half-Elves and Half-Orcs are specifically called out in all sources, while Half-Dwarves and Half-Goblins are not; to me the simplest answer is to say that it’s because Half-Elves and Half-Orcs are the hybrid races that exist in significant enough numbers to be recognized, while other hybrids are either impossible or simply so rare as to be unknown. So I have nothing against Korrazah; I’d just say she’s a remarkable miracle birth, not something where people would say “Duh, she’s a half-orc/Bugbear, haven’t you seen one before?”

            With that said, while it clashes somewhat with the canon idea that half-orcs are culturally significant bond between humans and orcs, I do still like the idea that half-orcs are the result of an orc and any other race. Which is the simplest answer for Korrazah, as well.

          • Oh I was merely being cheeky, but I absolutely appreciate the insight. I stressed to the party how rare of a creature she must be, and alluded to the fact that (disguised) Sora Teraza patroned her in the arena, she may have had a hand in helping Korrazah’s star-crossed parents bring her into the world.

  10. “though an early encounter with the Umbragen may have provided the Zil with the inspiration that produced their elemental binding techniques.”

    You mean the Sulatar, yes?

    Anyhow, when it comes to the Umbragen, the natural class that jumps out to me is the shadowcaster. Is there a reason that you don’t mention this class specifically? Is it merely lack of familiarity with Tome of Magic? I would think the classes there would fit into Eberron fairly well.

    • You mean the Sulatar, yes?

      Yes, and I’ve fixed this in the main text.

      Anyhow, when it comes to the Umbragen, the natural class that jumps out to me is the shadowcaster. Is there a reason that you don’t mention this class specifically?

      The Dragon article focused on the Umbragen was published a year before The Tome of Magic, so that’s why the article doesn’t mention it. I’ve personally never used the Tome of Magic, and don’t seem to have a copy. But what from what I can gather online, it does seem like a good choice for the Umbragen.

  11. One thing i had been thinking of incorporating into an Eberron campaign was that there was a giant group that didn’t treat the elves as crappy as their fellows and that while the giants have lost a lot they and the local drow still co-exist relatively peacefully does that seem like a realistic possibility ?

    • Sure! It’s certainly plausible to have Drow who would work with giants. The Sulatar still maintain the Sulat traditions, though they don’t consider the primitive giants of the modern age to be their rightful rulers. But you could certainly present a situation where the two races are working together.

      The main issue here is that the giants weren’t destroyed because they were mean to the elves; the giants were destroyed because the dragons were brutally thorough and took steps to ensure that they could never regain the power they once had. The Traveler’s Curse, the Du’rashka Tul, and the general idea that the giants are physically devolving – that hill giants didn’t even exist in the Age of Giants, and now they are the most common giant species – these were all deployed by the dragons to completely eradicate the civilizations of Xen’drik. So if your goal is to have a group of giants who have survived and retained their civilization, you’d need to account for how they’ve avoided the curses and the wrath of Argonnessen.

      • well the idea i was toying with was that when the dragons unleashed the pain on Xendrik that the spirit of one of the Titans (i vaguely remember they were progenitors of the giant race, i could be wrong) protected a bunch of giants and drow, they are no longer what they were but they managed to keep bit more of their knowledge than most.

        • Something like that is certainly plausible. If I were doing the story I’d tie the effect to a specific region, which also explains why they haven’t had more of an impact on the history of Xen’drik; they’ve preserved their culture in a hidden citadel, but they couldn’t reclaim the continent (unless that’s what you want the story to be about, in which case they couldn’t do it UNTIL NOW).

          Titans were part of the original giant culture. The Emperor Cul’sir was a titan. The lack of titans in the present day is another aspect of Argonnessen’s judgment: where Xen’drik was once a land of Storm Giants and Titans, now you see more hill giants.

          • cool, i spend way to much time thinking of Eberron story ideas XD well at least for those short stories i always mean to type up.

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