Dragonmarks: Planar Q&A

I’m working on a post about Phoenix for next week, but today I’m going to address a few more questions about the planes of Eberron. Like much about the planes, most of these topics have no answers in canon material, so what you’re dealing with are my current thoughts and opinions, and NOT canon.

Did the effects of the Mournland bleed into other planes where Cyran manifests zones existed?

In Dragon #408 I said “The devastation of the Mourning had repercussions across the planes. Perhaps the grievous wound to Eberron was felt across her creations.” That article presents Baator as a demiplane where corrupted spirits are imprisoned and asserts that on the Day of Mourning the wards holding the prisoners faltered — so in this version of Eberron, the devils have only been in control of Baator for a few years. Given this, it’s logical to think that other planes could also have felt similar impacts. We haven’t suggested major transformations, but I think it’s interesting to explore pockets of the planes that have been transformed in unpredictable ways.

Is there any connection between Siberys and the Silver Flame? The latter seems too embedded in the material plane.

The Silver Flame is embedded in the material plane, as are the fiends that it holds at bay. The Silver Flame was created by the combined spiritual energy of the couatl — Eberron’s native celestials — in order to bind Eberron’s native fiends. In a way it can be seen as a parallel to the myth of Eberron and Khyber; Eberron couldn’t destroy Khyber, but she could bind her. It’s commonly asserted that just as Khyber is the source of Eberron’s fiends, Siberys was the source of its celestials, so in that way the Silver Flame IS tied to Siberys. This is also something of an explanation for why the celestials of Eberron aren’t as powerful as the Overlords; after all, Khyber killed Siberys, so the balance between celestial and fiend started off poorly.

There’s nothing strange about having a divine power source based in the material plane. The demons it binds are based in the material and the champions it empowers are in the material. The Undying Court is another divine force based entirely in the material.

How do celestials relate to the Sovereigns? Do the celestials associated to the Sovereigns believe in them like the mortal races do? Are they formed from the faith of the mortals? Are there any celestials that don’t believe in any deities other than the Progenitors?

Looking at the last three questions, the answer is “yes.” When a cleric uses planar ally an outsider answers the call. There’s three possible reasons ways this could happen.

  • The ally is manifested on the spot from the energy of the divine power source. Once its job is done it will be absorbed back into the source. This is particularly logical for the Silver Flame, which as described above has no roots in the outer planes. Given that, if I DID have an angel respond to a Silver Flame caster’s spells, I might use angel stats but I’d likely give it couatl features — rainbow wings, feathers instead of hair, etc. Essentially, a celestial of this sort is a pure embodiment of the faith and should have whatever trappings are appropriate for that.
  • The ally is an existing immortal who is devoted to the faith. In Fourth Edition material we suggest that there are angels (which in 4E is a broader class of celestial than in previous editions) who are devoted to the Sovereigns. The account is essentially that the Sovereigns at one point were present in the planes before ascending to a higher level of existence (which lines up with the Draconic Thir view of the Sovereigns). The angels have no direct line of communication with the Sovereigns, but have absolute faith that the Sovereigns exist and are part of the machinery of reality, and that my carrying out their functions the angels are following the plans of the Sovereigns. This is also in line with the idea of Radiant Idols — who are essentially angels who have become jealous of the worship the absent Sovereigns receive and want such worship themselves.  
  • But you could just as easily say that the angel in question doesn’t believe in the faith and that this doesn’t matter. When a cleric of Dol Arrah calls for a planar ally, they might get an angel from Irian who is devoted to protecting life and inspiring hope. Or they might get an archon from Shavarath who embodies combat fought for a just cause. Neither of these celestials cares exactly what the mortal believes; they are responding to the justice of the cause. It’s clear that this is aligned with their purpose… and that’s all that matters.

If I ever get to write a sourcebook on the planes, I’ll have to decide which of those last two answers I’ll run with. But both are plausible.

Can spells call on planar allies from sources like the Path of Light or the Becoming God that haven’t become Sovereign or Planar dominating yet?

Sure: either the first or third options I share above apply to this situation. The Path of Light is divine power source. Therefore the planar ally could be manifested on the spur of the moment from that source. It doesn’t have a truly independent identity and existence; it comes into being to fulfil the needs of the caster and vanishes once it’s done. If you’ve seen Rick & Morty, it’s a Mister Meeseeks. The third option is the idea that you’re just drawing an outsider who supports what you’re trying to do, even if they don’t share your faith.

Where do the fiendish/devil/demons conjured by evil clerics come from? Can you do some examples as you did for celestial creatures?

All the premises given for divine casters summoning celestials apply to fiends as well. They’re either formed directly from the divine power source, immortals devoted to the force in question, or immortals who approve of the general principle of the call. Mabaran fiends are generally happy for an opportunity to cause loss or crush hopes. Demons of Shavarath enjoy savage bloodshed.

We know of Mabar and Irian crystals, and dusk and dawnshards have been mentioned, are there other planar shards or crystals?

Certainly. There are a host of minerals and vegetation infused with planar energies or shaped by exposure to those energies, and this is true of every plane. Such things are most typically found in manifest zones, where they are shaped by long-term exposure to planar energies. In the case of plants, they usually won’t grow outside such zones… or they’ll grow, but will lack their remarkable properties. This is why covadish leaves (ECS 91) are only found in Aerenal; they are specifically found in certain manifest zones tied to Mabar, which are most common in Aerenal.

So: there are many different forms of planetouched minerals and plants. Many of these serve as components for spells and the creation of magic items; we’ve just never called these things out. For example, in the Thorn of Breland books Thorn uses Mabaran nightwater when disarming mystical wards. In my opinion, this wasn’t a special magic item that was giving her extra bonuses; it’s that nightwater is part of a rogue’s basic toolkit when dealing with magical traps. Likewise, while the core PHB might suggest that a fireball requires sulpher or guano as a component, in Eberron wizards might instead use a pinch of Fernian firedust. This is no more difficult to acquire than sulfur would be in another setting; it’s simply that it’s a resource unique to the world.

When it becomes possible to create new Eberron material, I’d love to put together a more substantial list of such things — both those background items like nightwater and firedust and things that are rarer and have more dramatic uses.

Do dragonshards operate differently on other planes?

We’ve never suggested that they behave in unusual ways when taken to other planes, and at least in the novels we have planar travelers who don’t experience any unusual behavior with dragonshards or dragonmarks. 

Eberron has various Ages in its history, are there any planar milestones tracked on other planes?

Sure, but I can’t give you specific examples until there’s an opportunity to develop the planes in more detail. The Turning of the Age in Dal Quor is an example of this established in canon. Perhaps Fernia has a similar cycle — it’s currently mildly evil-aligned and thus dominated by the malevolent aspects of fire, but perhaps at other times it’s been mildly good-aligned and more positive. The Endless Night has cycles of absorption and assimilation. I have thoughts about how milestones might unfold in Shavarath — but it’s something that will have to wait for a longer article. 

I’d love to read about how the gith survive on Kythri. With how chaotic it is, how do permanent establishments exist?

First of all, I think Kythri is more complex than the previous description gives it credit for. Its layers are symbols of chaos, change and uncertainty; that doesn’t necessarily mean that the entire plane is literally formless, churning chaos. The Githzerai might have drifting monastaries that ARE constantly changing and evolving — but they never stop being monastaries, and the change occurs over hours or days, not seconds. The Githzerai are comfortable with this constant change; like a zen garden, they meditate on the shifting form and how it reflects reality. It may well be that it’s the mental discipline of the Githzerai that imposes this relative stability; if the monks were to abandon their monastary (or if they were killed) it would dissolve into the greater chaos.

If you have questions or thoughts about the planes, post them below! And thanks as always to the Patreon supporters who keep the blog going.

35 thoughts on “Dragonmarks: Planar Q&A

  1. This is a bit of a fringe question, and very non-canon since it’s about Pathfinder conversion. Pathfinder has a group of fiends called Asuraa, who were created from divine mistakes. Where would you stick them in Eberron? One thought I’ve had is to have Asuraa be native to Shavarath, as they tend to be LE and war-like. Another possibility is Xoriat, having them fulfil the role of perversions and errors in the natural order. What do you think?

    Thanks as always.

    • It’s a tough call, because once you put them in a plane they are PART of the cosmic design – and even Xoriat is part of that. The wiki description I found states “Most asuras share a cohesive philosophy that culminates in nothing less than the systematic destruction of everything the gods have had a hand in creating“. The Sovereigns DIDN’T create reality; so if you want to keep this story intact, the Asura should be mistakes made by the PROGENITORS. As such, I’d have them live OUTSIDE their creation, in the Astral plane. As per their story, they could establish themselves in other planes – but they’d be there as hostile outsiders, not as part of the natural order of that plane.

      • I hadn’t thought of the Astral, but it is an interesting idea. Eberron’s Astral is starved for outsiders as it is. Thanks!

    • One more Asura question (sorry). If I decided I wanted to tweak the Asura’s flavour to represent atheism and/or the divinity within, what plane would they end up on? I’m having trouble thinking of one, so does that mean they would not all be one plane, but each type of Asura would spring from a thematically appropriate plane? Or since they represent the magic innate to all mortals, would they end up on Thelanis?

      Thanks Keith!

      • If I decided I wanted to tweak the Asura’s flavour to represent atheism and/or the divinity within, what plane would they end up on?

        If they represent the Divinity Within, then they should definitely be part of the MATERIAL plane… because the whole idea of the Divinity Within is that mortals of the material have a divine spark. And if you’re going for atheism I’d STILL make them tied to the material: embodiments of mortal belief that the material IS the ultimate reality and that the planes and the ideas of gods and higher forces are irrelevant.

        Personally, I like the idea that they are hostile manifestations of the Divinity Within of certain mortals – mortals who have, potentially UNKNOWINGLY – come close to unlocking their own divine sparks. To some degree the Asuras would reflect the core beliefs or desires of those mortals, but it could be that neither mortal or Asura is aware of this. But that ultimately the easiest way to defeat the Asura is to destroy the mortal that is its source.

    • Have you considered tying Asuras to Khyber instead? Since they’re representations of divine mistakes, and the greatest divine mistake that has ever been made in Eberron was the laying of Siberys by Khyber, it would make a lot of sense for them to be spawned by that act.
      This could pit them against the rakshasas that serve the Overlords. Rakshasas are tied to the worldly decadence of the material plane, and are driven by greed and lust of power, ultimately seeking to rule it. So even though rakshasas want to release their rajahs from imprisonment, they would object to the asuras’ desire to destroy everything. Both groups being lawful evil immortals, this cosmic struggle of evil vs evil could have been going on since forever, with both races laying down elaborate plots that span thousands of years.
      Of curious note, if this is the route you’re taking, then you’re solidly basing the creation myth and lore of Eberron in Hindu myth — except that the death of Siberys means there is no equivalent to Devas.

      • I’ve contemplated something similar, but it seems to me that putting the Asuras in Kyber would make them aberrations rather than outsiders. Keep in mind that while Aboleths are canonically from Kyber, I’ve also stuck Lovecraftian beasties like Yithians and Elder things there too. Why not Xoriat you ask? Because the horror of Lovecraft’s monsters is that they don’t come from another hellish, insane plane. They are horrifying because they are homegrown on our world and once upon a time they ruled it. Sounds familiar, right? So Lovecraft’s abberations tend come from Kyber in my campaigns while other abberations come from Xoriat and the Daelykr.

        Anyhow… the idea of Kyber’s slaying of Siberys has some merit, but in Pathfinder, the first of each type of Asura was generated by a different type of act. That makes me think that the murder of Siberys would still work best in the original paradigm Keith suggested, where the Asuras dwell in the Astral outside of the dragon’s creation. Kyber’s actions would surely have generated the Asurendras, but I’m not sure it would create the entire race.

        Good food for thought though! I’ll have to chew on it some more.

        • But Asurendras have the ability to create other Asuras, so creating Asurendras would basically mean creating the entire race.

          And by tying Asuras to Khyber, I don’t quite mean having them all LIVE in Khyber — no reason why they shouldn’t live in the Astral Plane as Keith suggested. It’s just that, Eberron’s progenitors are a lot more deistic in their influence on the material plane than Pathfinder’s more “traditional”, theistic, and personable gods. So it’s difficult to think of any of the progenitors screwing up so much as to unbalance reality and spawn Asuras — baring the single instance of Khyber slaying Siberys.

          As a complete aside, I personally also wouldn’t have Lovecraftian monsters originate from Eberron itself. They could simply be from…space, as hey were written for Golarion lore and as Lovecraft intended them to be. We know absolutely nothing about what lies beyond Eberron in the material plane, after all, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the vastness of space is infinitely MORE strange and dangerous to the average mortal on Eberron, than any of the planes that orbit around it.

          • Ah, good point about Asurendras, I’d forgotten that. If I go with the Asura on the Astral concept for one of my campaigns, I’ll probably end up integrating your ideas. For now, I really like the Asura-Divine Within connection.

            On the Lovecraftian aside, I get where you’re coming from, and its a completely valid way of running your campaign, but my logic diverges a bit. In particular, I’m basing my readings on Rats in the Walls, At the Mountains of Madness, and A Shadow Out of Time. For all three of these stories, particularly A Shadow Out of Time, the horror is derived from the fact that these alien entities are entirely Earthly. For Golarion, my take as always been that many of these Lovecraftian entities are alien to Golarion… because they come from Earth’s distant past. By sticking them in Khyber, I’m trying to recreate that horror.

            Now if we are talking Mi-Go or the Colour out of Space, those I would stick somewhere like Eberron’s Moon (and have before). Right now, I’m more inclined to go with Xoriat though, since it fulfils the “alien invasion” niche so nicely.

            Flame knows that there’s no one right way to go about it though, so whatever works for you in your campaign is awesome!

          • Xoriat fits perfectly well actually. I remember seeing it described that Xoriat isn’t created by the progenitors, but it’s a rogue plane that roams the universe and consumes planets into itself. The gith were originally such aliens transformed by Xoriat’s influence.

            Now, I’m not sure if that’s in line with what Keith intended. I tend to treat his blog posts as canon rather than what comes up in books, with the exception of when it conflicts with the game system I happen to be using (since I currently run in Pathfinder, so it’s pretty tempting to throw a gunslinger in here and there). But regardless — if that’s how you want to use Xoriat, then putting Lovecraftian space abominations in it works perfectly!

          • The gith were originally such aliens transformed by Xoriat’s influence.

            As the guy who started that particular explanation for the Gith, that’s not quite it. The story was that the world of the Gith was destroyed by the Daelkyr prior to their arrival on Eberron; that the Gith are descended from refugees of that destruction; and that the illithids are what the Daelkyr made from the Gith, just as they created Dolgaunts out of Hobgoblins. So the Gith/Illithid vendetta comes from the fact that the illithids were both the weapon used to destroy the Gith and a dark mirror of their race. But that played off the idea that there are other worlds in the material plane, not that Xoriat was drifting through universes. I did a post about Xoriat not long ago on this blog, and as I said there the difference between Xoriat and the Far Realm is that Xoriat IS part of the creation of the Progenitors, even if part of its role is to embody the alien and unknowable.

            With that said, that means you could still HAVE the Far Realm in its traditional role of “outside of everything”. The reality of Eberron – planes and all is within the Astral and Ethereal. What lies beyond that? It’s perfectly reasonable to have the Far Realm for things that truly have no connection to reality as we know it.

          • Forgive me for misunderstanding — but I thought the planes of Eberron are orbiting Eberron alone, rather than other worlds in the material plane (barring the moons of Eberron) — since they’re created by the progenitors who made Eberron. Wouldn’t other worlds in the material plane have their own “native” planes that produces different magical effects? Again, nothing is ever mentioned of material plane worlds other than Eberron itself, not even any other planets in Eberron’s solar system, so the question is mostly irrelevant to actual gaming. It’s still something I’m wondering as a DM, though.

            So what I meant wasn’t so much that Xoriat would drift through universes, as it is that it doesn’t sound logical to me that Xoriat would be simultaneously created as part of Eberron’s “private” planar cosmology, AND have an impact on other worlds… UNLESS it’s able to drift in some way.

          • Forgive me for misunderstanding…

            You’re not misunderstanding; the idea was half-baked when I originally suggested it. When I originally suggested the Gith were survivors of another world destroyed by the Daelkyr, I was thinking that there were multiple planets in the material plane.

            As the cosmology has evolved, I’d take things in a different direction. Eberron is the sole planet in its particular planar constellation. However, it includes demiplanes within it; some of which have their own unique cultures and civilizations. So I’d maintain that the Daelkyr invaded demiplanes before striking Eberron itself… and that the Gith were the dominant culture of such a plane.

            Which incidentally means that the Ghaash’kala might have had contact with the Gith prior to their downfall, and might still forage in the ruins of their demiplane.

          • Thanks for the clarification — it makes a lot more sense now. Personally I still like the gith-as-aliens idea left over from their original incarnation, as demi-planes (in my personal opinion) always felt like the private creations of beings that are powerful, but still limited. Gods alone create true planes, mortals and outsiders create can only hope to make demiplanes.

            I’m unlikely to ever touch upon other material plane planets, save for giving scholars something to gaze at from an astronomical distance and theorize about. As far as I’m concerned, Eberron exists as the sole planet in its solar system.

            But the moons of Eberron are something else entirely. I remember an old Dragonshards article about the moons being tied to dragonmarks in some way, but what about lunar environments? Are their planar manifest zones on there? What kind of adventures should I expect, if, for instance, a portal opened that connects Eberron to Zarantyr? And what if the gith came from one of the moons, making them still connected to Eberron’s core cosmology, but are also truly “otherworldly” rather than extraplanar?

          • As demi-planes (in my personal opinion) always felt like the private creations of beings that are powerful, but still limited. Gods alone create true planes, mortals and outsiders create can only hope to make demiplanes.

            Whereas for me, creation is the act of the Progenitors; even the gods and Overlords just live in it. I see demiplanes as either echoes of a vast act of creation or simply a lesser part of a divine plan. In looking to the demiplanes I suggested that the Ghaash’kala deal with, my thought is that these are all part of Khyber. If you accept the myth of the Progenitors as fact, then they are essentially random dreams of Khyber – IDEAS that were never fully formed into planes, but that have still taken on tangible existence within the depths of Khyber. Some of them can simply fill the role of “alternate reality” – think of them as small-scale first drafts of the material plane that were filed away and forgotten.

            In terms of creations, I often suggest that powerful outsiders create layers within a plane, but largely that’s because that’s how the plane itself is designed to function. A mortal creates a dream when they go to Dal Quor, but they don’t consciously design the dream; similarly, an archfey in Thelanis didn’t create their story, it just took shape around them. We HAVE suggested that it’s possible to create a demiplane, specifically with the idea of Baator; but that was still supposed to be an astonishing act requiring the cooperation of multiple beings with godlike power, not something the people of the Five Nations could do… though they’re working on the principles of it, certainly.

            So looking to my suggestion of the Gith as inhabitants of a demiplane… that demiplane would have been part of Eberron (well, more likely Khyber) since the dawn of creation; just more limited in scope and scale than the outer material. Thus making it easier for the Daelkyr to target and perform a cohesive transformation. It’s simply that most denizens of demiplanes never leave them – and here, some of the Gith managed to escape out into the wider reality. I really like the idea of the Ghaash’kala still foraging in whatever the Daelkyr left of the original Gith realm… I’m going to have to find a way to work that into my campaign.

            What about lunar environments?

            We’ve intentionally left details on the moons vague, and I suspect we’ll continue to do so, precisely to keep possibilities open. Making them inhabited planetoids can open up all sorts of interesting pseudo-Spelljammer scenarios, with a Moon race among the Five Nations, an invasion from one of the moons, and so on. On the other hand, it could just as well be the case that the “moons” aren’t planetoids at all, but rather massive portals to the planes… and a moon race would actually turn into a planar commerce scenario.

            So you could certainly go that way with the Gith. I’m happy with Khyber demiplanes, but ultimately, it’s about what works best in your campaign!

          • I haven’t thought of demiplanes that way, as pockets of alternate realities that spontaneously arise due to shifting planar alignments… I think my view of demiplanes largely came from the Myst games; casting Genesis is like writing a descriptive book to create an “age”, so basically, limited, carefully (or not) constructed, ultimately “unnatural” pocket dimensions that always has a chance to become unstable and degrade due to a “lesser” being’s limited understanding of creation (including anything from physics to magic and metaphysics).

            I admit I’ve largely been using Khyber like the Underdark of more “conventional” settings, mostly borrowing from Forgotten Realms and Golarion. Although the idea of having the PCs travel deep underground…only to see and ocean, and the sky, is a fascinatingly fantastic idea. They’ve unknowingly entered a demiplane that they’re not aware of yet….there’s a level in the last Dragon Age game that did exactly that, and it was amazing.

            And instead of ancient dwarves I could put a Gith monastery, the last surviving bastion before they were swept up by Daelkyr. Ideas, ideas…

  2. Thanks for all of the great answers! Gives a lot of food for thought for plane hopping.

    The native outsiders of Eberron are said to be finite and immortal (mostly). If a night hag dies on another plane will she respawn somewhere eventually on Eberron, or it is a Wreck-It-Ralph “Don’t die outside of your game” scenario?

    Would a character who develops a dragonmark (ie acquiring the feat at a new level) while on a different plane have any significance, since the Prophecy is centric to the plane of Eberron?

    Do lycanthropes maintain civilizations in Lammania, or are they closer to their animal counterparts there?

    Are there any planar elements you wanted for Eberron that got left on the cutting floor, or assimilated into Phoenix?

    Do other planes have first-hand knowledge of the Progenitors before the battle between Khyber and Siberys, or have they always been abstract?

  3. Thanks Keith!
    1) There do the fiendish/devil/demons conjured by evil clerics come from? Can you do some examples as you did for celestial creatures?
    Btw technically a bov cleric should conjure fiendish creatures
    2) in my current campaign my pcs are going to Thelanis to recover a weapon in a corrupted zone of thelanis, with fiendish faries, a lich nimph and a gloom Dragon. The most obvious explanation of this zone is that Anbar is going to eat it, but do you see other option that could lead to interesting side stories/characters?
    3) maybe you had no time to answer, maybe you just have lost the question: can you think to any Irish artefact tied to hope that is indeed good and useful
    But nonetheless dangerous?

    • There do the fiendish/devil/demons conjured by evil clerics come from? Can you do some examples as you did for celestial creatures?

      All the premises given for divine casters summoning celestials apply to fiends as well. They’re either formed directly from the divine power source, immortals devoted to the force in question, or immortals who approve of the general principle of the call. Mabaran fiends are often happy for an opportunity to kill mortals or crush hopes. Demons of Shavarath enjoy savage bloodshed.

      My pcs are going to Thelanis to recover a weapon in a corrupted zone of thelanis, with fiendish faries, a lich nymph and a gloom Dragon. The most obvious explanation of this zone is that Mabar is going to eat it, but do you see other option…

      Mabar is certainly an option. But the idea of Thelanis is that each layer reflects a particular story… so you can also come up with the story that ties these things together. First I’d look to who the archfey of the region is. Is it the nymph lich or the gloom dragon? If it’s the nymph, then the story can be about the tragedy that transformed her into a lich. Perhaps she fell in love with death and yet, being immortal, could never truly embrace it – and so she became a lich as a way of becoming as close to death as possible. Her love of death infected all those around her, leaching the life from her realm and making everything a dark shadow of what it had once been. And yet the story maintains that if she could only find love in life, all of the realm could be restored. A twist on this would be to say that she loved a mortal and that her “love of death” came about when her mortal lover died and she couldn’t join him in death. This allows you to have the tomb of the mortal lover, and the possibility for a PC to have some connection to the mortal (ancestor, similar appearance, whatever).

      Can you think to any Irish artefact tied to hope that is indeed good and useful but nonetheless dangerous?

      I assume you mean “artifact of Irian” and not “artifact of Ireland”. A few quick ideas…
      – A Phoenix Seed: Wherever it is planted, a tree will spring up within a day. The tree produces fruit with restorative properties. The tree can be destroyed, but the seed will remain and can be planted again.
      – The Light of Irian: A floating crystaline globe that radiates positive energy. It creates the effects of both an Irian manifest zone and the consecrate spell within a particular region.
      – The Deathless Heart: A pendant that sustains whoever wears it beyond death; when the wearer dies they are revived as a deathless (power level perhaps reflecting the power they had in life). As long as they are attuned to the pendant it functions like a lich’s phylactery, restoring their deathless life; but if the attunement is broken they die instantly.

      • The nymph in love for death is such a great story that I can’t find words for thank you enough. This will make their trip to Thelanis unique and awesome.

        I am thinking to an Irian artefact that creates a zone of 1 mile in which all good creatures are under the effect of heroism. But it works like a drug, so if they leave the area they fell under a permanent effect of crushing despair or something like that.

  4. Thanks as always, Keith! I had a couple of questions

    1. Are demiplanes able to be created through mortal magic, or is there some other mechanism at work? If there is an answer to this question somewhere else, I apologize.

    2. If a demiplane occupied a conceptual niche very similar to one of the existing planes, would that demiplane “merge” or be absorbed by it, or even supplant it as a better representative of the plane’s foundational principle? I assume the last would be impossible given how comprehensive the planes seem to be to their own essential idea, as it were. Before I read your Dragonmark on Diaanvi, I was under the impression that the plane was strictly an organic, lawful neutral kind of order and had an idea of Mechanus as a demiplane created by a powerful Xen’drik wizard which latched onto Diaanvi, leading to conflict between the modrons and formians. But I see now that Diaanvi probably already incorporated the idea of mechanistic, inorganic order.

    3. Is it possible for a native of one plane to become a native of another, other than Radiant Idols? In particular, have mortals of the Material Plane ever sought or obtained immortality by becoming a native of another plane?

    4. This be stated somewhere that I have missed, but are elementals generally products of the Material Plane? I remember the 3.5 ECS listed some among the planes, but it never seemed a perfect fit as their planes of origin, and I thought they were merely places where they might be found. Then again, what about genies? They don’t strike me as native to the Material Plane.

    Finally, I am curious about Lammania. You might be limited in what you can discuss, but your description of the “Lost adventure” on the Manifest Zone podcast piqued my interest. I envisioned Lammania as a hyperactive nature preserve, but your description of city-sized cats being consumed by carnivorous mountains made me think something else was going on. Which is well and good because a Irian manifest zone could probably handle the overabundant natural setting niche.

    • Are demiplanes able to be created through mortal magic, or is there some other mechanism at work?

      That depends how you define “demiplane.” Mortal magic can create extradimensional spaces such as a bag of holding or a portable hole. This is the extent of what the Five Nations can currently produce. With a breakthrough someone might produce a larger space — an extradimensional castle or the like. Most demiplanes were part of the original creation; the one that we’ve mentioned as being created is Baator, and that’s described as the collective work of the Sovereigns (prior to their final ascension) with the force of a host of celestials behind them… so definitely epic level magic at work.

      If a demiplane occupied a conceptual niche very similar to one of the existing planes, would that demiplane “merge” or be absorbed by it, or even supplant it as a better representative of the plane’s foundational principle?

      This falls into “what do you want to do in your campaign.” However, in my opinion this isn’t a concern. The planes occupy a particular place in the machinery of reality. They shape the material. Mortal creatures are inherently connected to them. Demiplanes are isolated pockets of reality. The eternal war in Shavarath may actually reflect the balance between tyranny and justice throughout the universe; whereas the devils fighting in the Ironlands of Khyber don’t MEAN anything, and the outcome of their battles won’t affect Eberron (or be affected by it).

      Is it possible for a native of one plane to become a native of another, other than Radiant Idols? In particular, have mortals of the Material Plane ever sought or obtained immortality by becoming a native of another plane?

      It’s POSSIBLE. Spirits assimilated by Mabar become natives of Mabar, while those generated by Irian to fill a void become natives of the realm they are planted in. But neither of these things occur by choice, and it’s not as simple as a spirit just going to live in another plane. So the principle shows that it can be done. However, I’d argue that it may be that no one knows HOW to do it voluntarily. Which means someone trying to find this answer could be a fine plot for your campaign. I have suggested that Vestiges are mortal spirits that have essentially taken root in Dal Quor… but this isn’t quite as simple as just “becoming a native.”

      This be stated somewhere that I have missed, but are elementals generally products of the Material Plane?

      No. PURE Elementals of all manner can be found in Lamannia; fire and water can also be found in Fernia and Risia. Sentient elementals such as efreeti should be assigned to the planes where they most logically fit.

      • Great replies! Thanks a bunch. I’m thinking efreeti are in Fernia, djinni are in Syriana (admittedly a strange fit), and dao and marids are in Lamannia. Or I might do something else with genies entirely, like make them more like their smokeless fire counterparts from folklore and stick them in the Ethereal.

        Incidentally, I am idly curious what your thoughts were on Princes of the Apocalypse’s placement of the Elemental Evil princes in Eberron. I don’t have the book handy and don’t remember exactly which prince went to which plane, but I recall the authors themselves even admitting they found their choices imperfect. I probably would have just stuck them imprisoned in Khyber.

        • I am idly curious what your thoughts were on Princes of the Apocalypse’s placement of the Elemental Evil princes in Eberron.

          I’d make them lords of demiplanes in Khyber, and make the Elder Elemental Eye an Overlord (embodying the destructive power of the natural world). The basic plot is “cults trying to release an ancient evil that will cause an apocalypse”, which is basically the point of the Overlords.

  5. Just an addendum, about how Dragonshard works in extraplanar territories, in DDO the Eberron-native player characters go to Forgotten Realms, and the event that tied both world involves a plan where Lolth wants to use Eberron dragonshards to harness their power and become the new Goddess of Magic. Since DDO is vaguely canon, this might be proof that dragonshards retain their magic properties in other worlds.

  6. Does the Mourning having planar repercussions suggest that Eberron also has a place in the “machinery of reality” or was it the special qualities of the event that caused such knockoff effects?

    Do the conditions on the planes effect other planes? For example, can Mabar have gotten “clogged” from taking such a huge bite of Cyre and caused a reduction in entropy on Dal Quor? Would that happen in Eberron?

    Can spells call on planar allies from sources like the Path of Light or the Becoming God that haven’t become Sovereign or Planar dominating yet? What about from other modes of being for a plane like the coming Age of Light in Dal Quor?

    Can manifest zones overlap? I don’t recall seeing anything about it, but if they can, would the effects tend to blend together or remain distinct? For example, would an Irian and Syrania overlap produce something like a tendency toward happily ever after story logic prevailing or two effects that just happen to both be in the same place?

    • Does the Mourning having planar repercussions suggest that Eberron also has a place in the “machinery of reality” or was it the special qualities of the event that caused such knockoff effects?

      Both, certainly. Eberron IS part of the machinery of reality. It’s where the planes meet, and we’ve already established that just as the planes shape Eberron, it can affect them. The whole point of the Dreaming Dark is the premise that they can stall change in Dal Quor by controlling people in Eberron. Thelanis is definitely a chicken and egg “Do we know this story because it exists in Thelanis, or does it exist in Thelanis because we know the story?” The soldiers of Shavarath say that their victories and defeats are reflected across reality, but others could say that the reverse is true.

      Do the conditions on the planes effect other planes?

      Mabar aside, the general theory is that the planes are largely isolated and that Eberron is where they come together. But if you want to explore this idea in your campaign, I’m not going to show up at your house and stop you!

      Manifest zones can in theory overlap, though I’m not sure there’s a canon example of it.

      I’ll answer the planar ally question in the main text.

  7. Concerning the question of planar allies’ origins, I’m inclined to think pinning down only one official answer would diminish the nature of the divine as a point of canon uncertainty and doubt. I’d rather that that question lean more in the direction of a range of suggestions than firm answers.

    But then, I’m also someone who facepalms whenever someone asks “Is there a canon explanation for the Mourning yet?”, and thinks a book or series of PDFs about ways to vary things from canon or go in different directions with canon mysteries (call it Forks of the Prophecy, perhaps) would do a lot for Eberron.

    • Concerning the question of planar allies’ origins, I’m inclined to think pinning down only one official answer would diminish the nature of the divine as a point of canon uncertainty and doubt.

      Certainly. What I’ve suggested here are different possible choices. If a particular DM wants to emphasize the Sovereigns and reduce doubt about their existence, they can have celestials who proudly act in their name. If they want to diminish their role, the angel of Irian can be fighting for life and hope even though it doesn’t share the beliefs of the cleric. Or if you want to keep it simple, the celestial is generated on the spot from the divine power source and has no independent existence.

      But yes, the purpose here is to provide options, not a single concrete answer. With that said, note that even with the idea of celestials devoted to the Sovereigns, the story is that they “interacted with the Sovereigns prior to their full ascension”. It’s established (though not common knowledge) that there were dragons whose identities may have served as inspiration for the Sovereign myths, such as Ourelonastrix. If you believe the Sovereigns exist, then these dragons first attained epic power and then ascended to truly become the Sovereigns as people believe them to be, which is the doctrine of the religion of Thir. If you are a skeptic, then the “ascension” was simply that these dragons — impressive as they were — were still mortal and died, and the celestials continue to honor their memory.

  8. I actually have done a lot of work figuring out how Outsiders work in my Eberron. I love exploring this lack of humanity that makes them outsiders – here’s what I’ve done.

    First, when Outsiders die, their bodies disintegrate. When it does, that outsiders ‘essence’ flows back into their plane of origin and becomes recycled into the birth of new outsiders. Maybe that essence gets split up into multiple new outsiders, maybe it comes together with others to form a big one. An interesting effect this has is that if an Outsider is resurrected (If Jaela Duran wants to for some reason, since she’d be the only person able to) they don’t exactly come back the same, even still. Because the Magic has to rip away what used to be that particular outsider out of living ones, and stitch it back together – when the outsider comes back, they tend to suffer from a very severe identity crisis, disassociating and flashing back to their other ‘life’. This can be worked through, but only with much time and care.

    Another thing about Outsiders is that some are born with a ‘Spark’ of sorts. It’s sort of like the Magic the Gathering explanation of Planeswalkers. It’s a latent spark in a beings soul that manifests only in a minuscule portion of the population. In Eberron, these may be related to the Prophecy or something else entirely, but the rules are thus – Everyone with a Spark is someone special. You don’t need a Spark to be great, but those who do have Sparks are ALWAYS great. Tira Miron most likely had a spark. Erandis Vol most likely has a Spark. The creator of the Warforged probably has a Spark. Jaela Duran might have a Spark. PC’s always have Sparks.

    Out of how few there are, most Sparks manifest on the Material Plane, but a faction of those are born in other Planes, in planar Outsiders, which makes them work a little different. In a Material Sapient, the Spark marks you as a major Character in the world. In an Outsider, it gives them a fraction of the Material Planes free will. It lets them be more human.

    Outsiders that are able to rebel against their latent nature are able to do so because of Sparks. The Wizards of the Coast story about the Succubus that became a Paladin has a spark. That one LG Pit Fiend in that one published adventure has a Spark. They have free will, and then chose to be something different. Other outsiders literally cannot do this, which is why we never hear of it. Sparks are not common knowledge, no one really knows of them, except MAYBE a couple dragons, but they are the in-universe reason for this phenomena.

    With those rules in mind, I’ve done a couple cool stories involving Outsiders. The first is about a Solar Angel who became the Queen of Thrane. I took a lot of liberties with Thrane’s history when designing my campaign, and in MY Eberron, one of the things they did about 10 or so years before the Mourning was they were able to summon a Solar Angel from Shavarath and handed over control of the Nation to her. By sheer luck, this Solar Angel had a Spark, but up until now she had not decided to do anything out of the ordinary for her kind. She wasn’t even aware of what Sparks were or that she has one, she was simply a particularly powerful Solar Angel.

    But since she had that Spark, she was able to consider that offer. Any other Solar would have dismissed the offer, feeling inherently that the battle of Shavarath is the most important thing. But this Solar wasn’t bound by that compulsion, and weighed the options, deciding she would lead Thrane to victory in this war and transform it into a nation of her own image, embodying a Solar Angels ideals.

    The thing about this is that staying in a Plane outside your own has strange effects on Outsiders. And especially those with Sparks. In the coming decade she started as just a cookie cutter Solar, applying the one thing she knew to the task at hand, but as time went on she began to feel other things. Suddenly she was introduced to the concept of ‘Down Time’, where you could do something other than fight or plan for the next fight. Her conversational skills improved, and she began to develop a fondness for Humans. She was introduced to Human pastimes, games, arts, and even sex. She was gaining more and more humanity herself, developing her own characteristics and personality, so much so that when the Mourning finally happened, and a truce was proposed, she was able to see it from the view of what was best for her people, and not be blinded by what any other Solar would – to keep fighting until you win or die, no matter what.

    This one Sparked Solar was transformed by staying on the Material Plane and with it’s Sapient life, and also having an inherent free will that was able to allow her to do so. So in my Eberron, Thrane has a Queen and it is this utterly unique Solar Angel, who represents everything good in Thrane, and who could not be replaced – as another Solar Angel would need a Spark, and even then a lot of time, to morph into a fit leader for a human nation. And if she were to be resurrected, there is no telling how much damage she would have mentally, or if she would be able to regain who she was before hypothetically dying. And I think that’s a cool set up for a story, and specifically this character.

    Another interesting thing I did involved the Quori. Out of the 62 original Quori that fled, only 1 has ever had their Kalastar bloodline destroyed completely – Taratai. The source books tell the DM to decide the fate of a destroyed line of Kalastar for yourself. Well I decided thus – Taratai is dead. Dead dead dead. She died with the last Kalastar of her line, and was assimilated back into her plane and reborn without that Spark that gives an Outsider enough free will to rebel against their nature. (Out of all of the Plane of Dreams, only about 100 or so Quori were born with Sparks. Roughly 70 or so choose for themselves to rebel against the current state of the Plane, a Nightmare, and out of those 70 or so only 62 escaped. The rest were killed. That’s my own canon anyway.)

    So Taratai’s essence was recycled into new Quori, and her odds of having that same spark again were 1 in millions, so this time she was born without it, meaning that this new outsider, who was in no way Taratai anymore, was just another evil Quori serving the Dreaming Dark.

    Until one of her Kalastar was raised. I wrote a plot where mid way into the Last War, a small band of Kalastar were able to recover a frozen corpse that was a Kalastar of Taratai, named Astertai. They brought this body to the one person that would be able to Ressurect Astertai, the Keeper of the Flame in Thrane.

    I haven’t fleshed this bit out yet, but they are able to convince the Keeper before Jaela to Resurrect Astertai, and they found out what happened to Taratai. See, Taratai was dead as dirt. But that essence of her that was currently in other Quori, was still part of the material plane. It was only in Dal Quor because it lacked a conduit for being in the Material, but with the resurrection of this Kalashtar, the contract kicked back in. Taratai was a Kalaraq Quori, but her essence in death was formed into a single Hashalaq Quori, and what was left was scattered into other gestalts of essence to make other Quori. So this single, evil Hashalaq Quori that was made from Taratai’s essence – but wasn’t Taratai – was ripped out of Dal Quor along with fragments of some other Quori, and bound into this Kalashtar woman. The Hashalaq Quori remained dominant once Taratai’s bits were collected together, and Astertai became this tragic figure who had a key part of her soul, her Quori, twisted into an evil servant of the Dreaming Dark. The Hashalaq could not go back to Dal Quor to tell the others, and could not control Astertai in any way, just like the original 62 monks that became the first Kalashtar, so it was truly bound.

    Astertai and the small band that found her, along with the Church of the Silver Flame, decided to try and find a way to turn this Evil Quori back into Taratai, using the magic of the Silver Flame to try and ‘purify’ this evil Outsider, and turn it good. The problem was that this Hashalq did not have a Spark, and neither did Astertai, making it literally impossible to change her nature.

    Nothing changed and Astertai lived out the rest of her days in secret in Flamekeep, fruitlessly researching a way to bring Taratai back. Astertai had been a talented Psion in her day, and was trying to apply that in combination with the Flame. Meanwhile the Hashalaq interfered in any way it could, not letting Astertai sleep or interfering with her thoughts, distracting her or attacking her mentally. Astertai became a wreck, and ended up dying once more during childbirth, which she had done to ensure this Quori never escaped back to Dal Quor to tattle about the Kalashtar’s plans. When Astertai died, she was also unable to be resurrected again – the Hashalaq saw to that. When Astertai was at her weakest, right before death, the Quori was able to turn the tables of control on Astertai, and used it’s own considerable magic to destroy Astertai’s soul. She couldn’t be resurrected because there was no longer anything to resurrect.

    The child lived, however. The Church in Flamekeep named her Tara in dedication of their continued goal. So they raised this infant with an Evil Quori bound to her into adolescence.

    Tara had been born with a Spark, though. Through sheer luck, or maybe prophecy or destiny, Tara was marked to be a major shaker in the world. And as she grew into her teenage years, having been living with this Quori for her whole live, she decided to continue her mothers work to change Taratai’s pieces back into Taratai. And unlike before, the Hashalaq was unable to do anything about it – Tara’s Spark and raw charisma were unshakable. Not only that, Tara’s spark began to have residual effects on this Hashalaq Quori, since their souls were mixed but not blended together. Tara convinced the Hashalaq to give itself the opportunity to choose on its own what it wanted to be, and the Hashalaq, influenced by Tara’s Spark, agreed to at least that much.

    Together they made leaps and bounds towards discovering and manipulating the nature of Outsiders, and also discovering about the nature of Sparks, which had been unheard of before. It was also about this time that the Solar Angel I mentioned before came into power, and she served as an excellent example towards this research. But in their direction towards what was basically the warping of the natural order, this experimentation eventually turned more and more Daelkyr in nature.

    What ended up happening was an accident, in which the combination of raw Arcane Power and Psionic ability torn open the Meta of reality in a destructive and cataclysmic way. The ritual that went wrong had been in Cyre. And in experimenting with Daelkyr magic and poking and proding into Xoriat to discover more about the secrets of warping and shaping and changing auras and souls and natures, they ripped open the fabric of reality in a chaotic and destructive explosion. The Mourning.

    Cyre was lost, the ritual having been there secretly because it was taking advantage of a Manifest Zone to Xoriat located there (Or perhaps a physical Gatekeep seal. Honestly not sure yet.) But what happened to Tara and the Hashalaq was worse – they were torn apart and put back together, colliding with alternate realitys of Eberron and gazing into the eyes of the heart of Xoriat itself. They became fragile in their existence, glitching out like a bad computer program. Very ‘Matrix’ like. Tara was simply damaged, only her innate charisma and Spark kept her from being destroyed in the way Call of Cthulu drives you to be. The Quori… well, the experiment was a partial success in that regard. The Quori was torn across multiple versions of Eberron and Multiple versions of itself, and all its part selves, all at the same time. Every Outsider that had been built with Taratai’s basic building blocks, both before and in the future, collided in a violent maelstrom that transcended the nature of existence. Tara’s spark was fractured. The Quori became more like a Daelkyr than anything else, fractures of multiple Sparks phasing in and out of her essence at random as both it and it’s host became Eberron’s worst glitch in the system. The Quori decided to take the name ‘Tai’, simply because that was the only constant in its many versions of itself it had become.

    The ritual itself was not performed alone, it was performed with the help of 5 Warforged, who in the ritual that became the Mourning had their souls glitch out as well – only the fact that they were Warforged keeping them together. Everyone else was erased from reality. Those 5 Warforged became the Progenitor Psiforged mentioned on p. 26 of Magic of Eberron, growing strange (unknowingly) Daelkyr-based Psionic crystals on their bodies.

    I ran a Call of Cthulu game with that premise. I made the players play as the progenitor Psiforged, dealing with the Mourning and shifting reality around them, and how they were displaced from how the world worked. I started them with total amnesia, and I had so much fun screwing with their meta perceptions of the game. I used Pathfinder Stat blocks to fight them, because that’s what my Eberron ran in. I would tell the players to make fortitude saves, and when they’d look at me in confusion I would say that they feel the world shift, everything turns inverted for a moment, and both them and the caster of the spell take psychic damage from reality rejecting the fact that these Psiforged existed. The NPC’s of the world (what few they found) would refer in-universe to things like Will saves, Vancian spell casting, comment on one of the Psiforged new haircut when /his player got a haircut/, things like that.

    They had to to deal with Tara and Tai phasing in and out of realities and trying to fix their mistake. There was a Daelkyr attracted by ‘all the noise’ and playing the detached villain, mucking with the players personally and trying the turn them against Tara, who was… their friend? Maybe? I never explained it to them. The first time the players met this Daelkyr in person, one of them wanted to roll the equivalent of a sense motive check to see if the Daelkyr was lying. I told him to go for it, and then he rolled the die I reached out, grabbed it, and slammed it down on the table as a 1. Then the Daelkyr, in universe, laughed at him even though nothing had happened in the game world, and I told him as the DM “Since it was a 1 it was an auto fail.” He then pointed out that that wasn’t how the skill worked, which I had planned on him saying, and then told him that the Daelkyr says “oh. my bad. one second.” even though again, in-universe nothing had happened. I then pulled out the Core Rulebook I had hidden away and opened to my bookmarked page, where I had written in marker over the actual rules “Rolling a 1 on skill checks is an auto fail.” in broken letters.

    It was alien and frusterating, leading up to an eventual stabilization of the damage from realities and Planes colliding and their eventual exile. Multiple Outsiders got involved, all being warped into other versions of themselves, or concepts from other campaign settings. It was a blast to run and so satisfying to conclude, once the players figured out the solution to not running around in circles anymore was to start actually rejecting my rulings and editing the rulebook and the campaign notes themselves. I had a binder with the campaign notes in it, and I specifically had some pages typed and laminated, and some hand written. The hand written pages were in pencil and could be erased. I abused that blatantly in front of my players, and after a while they started editing it away from the table, and I would run with it. That’s how Meta it got. All because someone wanted to bring Taratai back.

    So yeah. That’s how I like to play with outsiders.

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