IFAQ: Talenta Dinosaurs

As time permits, I like to answer interesting questions posed by my Patreon supporters.

In what clever ways do the Talenta halflings utilize their dinosaurs besides using them as beasts of burden?

The halflings of the Talenta Plains are what I call a Wide Primal society. They have never pursued the arcane science that defines the Five Nations, in part because they’ve never felt a need to do so. The Talenta have a path of magic that they use to solve their problems; they work with spirits, employing both druid magic and fey pacts. So while they don’t have arcane magewrights, they do have widespread adepts and gleaners who employ magic as part of everyday life. Like magewrights, Talenta gleaners generally know a few cantrips and can cast a few spells as rituals—typically druid spells, though those that deal with fey spirits often work with enchantment and illusion.

With this in mind, consider that the following spells are “Everyday Magic” in the Talenta Plains: animal friendship, animal messenger, beast bond, beast sense, find familiar and speak with animals. When the Talenta talk about having a bond with the spirits of their mounts, it’s because many of them literally do. Even when you’re dealing with beasts of burden, halflings will usually talk to their beasts. We’re still talking about dinosaurs, so they are limited by their intelligence; but there’s a general sense of partnership between the Talenta and their dinosaurs.

An important thing to keep in mind is that the spells and cantrips used by NPC magewrights (or adepts or gleaners) don’t always work like their PC counterparts! Often they are more limited; when Talenta gleaners use the spells mentioned above, they typically can only cast them on reptiles, which is one reason they work so closely with dinosaurs; their magical traditions have evolved to work with them over time. However, these specialized rituals can be more effective in other ways, such as having a longer duration. The spirit rider is an important form of Talenta gleaner; they employ a ritual that combines the effects of beast bond and beast sense, allowing the gleaner to enter an extended trance in which they perceive the world through the senses of their dinosaur companion and can guide it telepathically. Note that this doesn’t dominate the beast; it simply allows telepathic communication. It takes a long time for a spirit rider to establish a necessary connection to a dinosaur, and they can’t just ride a new beast on the spur of the moment. Spirit riders who work with glidewings and dartwings serve as scouts and couriers; but spirit riders often also work with larger dinosaurs—hammertails, bloodstrikers, threehorns—to guide them while traveling or performing heavy labor. As a random point: most of the everyday magic of the Plains works specifically with reptiles, and one of the reason the Talenta use tribex as livestock is because they don’t talk to the tribex.

So throwing out a few random ways dinosaurs are used…

  • Bloodstrikers are large burrowing herbivores. Many Talenta tribes have a single bloodstriker, which will use its burrowing abilities to help establish camps. In Gatherhold, bloodstrikers are used to maintain latrines, and as living mining tools. The caustic blood of the beast is also harvested.
  • Dartwings, typically just called darts, are small pterosaurs; they use the hawk stat block. Dartwings are the primary messengers of the Talenta, and they are also used by scouts—both full spirit riders who may spend hours watching the world from above, and hunters who may just use speak with animals or beast sense to get information from their companions.
  • Glidewings and soarwings are larger pterosaurs. While often used as flying mounts for hunters and warriors, spirit riders can use them to scout and they are also often used by couriers, swiftly transporting goods between tribes.
  • Many large herbivores are used as beasts of burden, but hammertails (Ankylosaurs) are often used as mobile homes; a family can make its home in howdah tent on the back of the beast. few tribes have thunderherders (diplodocus)—among other things, they require a great deal of food—but those that do often use the herder for their leader’s tent, leading to the phrase that someone important “rides the thunder.”
  • Carvers, clawfeet and swiftclaws (velociraptors) are all used for hunting and for defense. Swiftclaws are used for pest control. Along with the fastieth, clawfeet are often seen as a simple form of mobility enhancement; it’s very common for a hunter to ride their fastieth or clawfoot in situations where most people would dismount; the rider considers themselves to be a single entity with their mount.
  • Scampers or scamps are a tiny form of fastieth, and can use the weasel stat block. they have nimble foreclaws and are often used as assistant animals, fetching small things or performing simple tasks.

These are just a few examples. The main thing to keep in mind is that through spirit riders and general use of speak with animals, the Talenta can get their dinosaurs to perform precision tasks that would otherwise be difficult or impossible. Large dinosaurs are used as beasts of burden, but also perform a wide range of heavy labor—effectively serving as living cranes and bulldozers. Within Gatherhold, you have a few high chambers that can only be reached if a thunderherder lifts you up.

So dinosaurs help with scouting, hunting, transportation, communication, and heavy labor; hammertails serve as housing! Dinosaurs are even used as instruments. Three-horn bellows can be heard across a great distance, and are often used for signaling purposes. Hammertail drums may be used in somber rituals, while dartwing choirs support other musicians. Scale singers blend the talents of spirit rider and bard, riding a dinosaur and singing with its voice. Dinosaurs are worked into sporting events as well; the Talentans play a mounted sport called Dalasci that is somewhat like aggressive polo, and scamp races are a common basis for gambling.

What kind of dinosaur would be the typical livestock of one of the nomad tribes?

Dinosaurs don’t produce milk and generally aren’t raised as food; both of these are the role of the tribex. So most tribes have a herd of tribex. Beyond that, tribes often breed a specific type of dinosaur, which they will then trade with other tribes. So most tribes only have a few hammertails, but there’s a tribe that has a breeding population of hammertails, a tribe that breeds threehorns, a few that breed clawfeet, and so on. The point is that there is no “typical” dinosaur livestock; it’s a choice that shapes the tribe, and a hammertail-breeding tribe will be quite different from the tribe with a host of clawfeet.

Do Talenta halflings eat dinosaur eggs? Would they raise dinosaurs to harvest their eggs?

There’s no taboo against eating unfertilized dinosaur eggs; these are celebrated as a gift from a friend. However, keep in mind that dinosaurs don’t lay eggs like chickens do. Some species don’t lay unfertilized eggs. Others do, but only at a specific time of year—typically Nymm to Lharvion. These are generally times of feasting, and for celebrating the dinosaurs that share these gifts. But they don’t keep dinosaurs JUST for the eggs; dinosaurs are essentially members of the tribe who perform a useful function, and the eggs are a bonus. In my opinion, the only Talenta dinosaurs that lay unfertilized eggs across the entire year would be scamps; so scamp eggs are certainly part of the Talenta diet.

Are there any Talenta tribes that use necromancy?

Certainly! The Tolashcara (“Keepers of Bones that Rustle and Moan”) tribe guard a manifest zone to Mabar in the Plains and draw on its power to animate the dead. They believe that by using its power as they do, they keep the hungry spirits from venturing further afield to prey on innocents. Some Tolashcara are drawn to pursue undead threats elsewhere in the Plains or in the world, and a small group of Tolashcara halflings patrol the edge of the Boneyard (the graveyard of dragons) hoping to keep the dead quiet. So overall, they are a peaceful and benevolent force; on the other hand, you could always have a new leader rise up among the Tolashcara with a more malevolent agenda.

That’s all I have time for today, but add any interesting ways you’ve used dinosaurs in your campaign in the comments! Thanks as always to my Patreon supporters, who make these articles possible.

83 thoughts on “IFAQ: Talenta Dinosaurs

    • Considering the placement of the Talenta Plains in the rain shadow of several mountain ranges, I don’t see there being many? Maybe in Lake Cyre?

    • If you take a look at the Talenta Plains, you’ll note a distinct lack of large bodies of water. It’s entirely possible that there’s a coastal branch of the Talenta culture (maybe in the Lhazaar Principalities down by Cliffscrape) who ride fintails, but they aren’t common in the Plains.

      • I was more thinking of the tundra halflings mentioned in Players Guide to Eberron. Who live in lhazaar mainland.

        • It’s certainly possible, though I don’t think I’d see fintails in the cold waters around Skairn. I’d be more inclined to place them in the south, closer to Cliffscrape and Tempest Isle. The tundra halflings are, as you say, supposed to live on the mainland rather than to be a factor on the sea. But you could always change that!

          • Stormwreck bay is close enough to the talentan border that a branch of talentans could live there before the border was put there by mror and q’barra.

      • I was going to ask if there were any aquatic Talenta near Lake Cyre but looking it up freshwater prehistoric reptiles seem to be just a mososaur (20 feet long so I guess use the giant crocodile stats?) that would hunt in rivers.

        Did the Talenta have a wider range in ancient times? Are there dinosaurs in the Thunder Sea which might have once had ancestors bonded to halflings?

        • The Dhakaan were… kinda bad at sharing. While the tribes could have gone down that far, the land of Valenar was also an active war zone for a good long while. So a solid maybe, but it’s unlikely.

          Not to say you couldn’t find Talentans on the coast back then, but they’d have been a small subculture. If that makes sense?

          • It could also be marine life from the Stormwreck bay region has migrated to the thunder sea or has been brought over to be magebreed by the dominion.

        • Did the Talenta have a wider range in ancient times? Are there dinosaurs in the Thunder Sea which might have once had ancestors bonded to halflings?

          Not that people KNOW about. But the simple fact is that we know basically nothing about Khorvaire before the Empire of Dhakaan, which leaves a huge blank slate. Was there a goblin progenitor species that created the modern subspecies? Were pre-Talenta halflings spread across the continent? Could the people who claim there was a pre-goblin human civilization on Khorvaire be correct? Anything’s possible. I’d love to explore some of these possibilities sometime, but that’s not a can of wyrms I’d open until I had the time to explore it more deeply.

          In my opinion, Talenta culture is highly localized. They are tied closely to their dinosaurs and to the local manifest zones, and they’ve had no reason to push beyond the Plains. On the other hand, the idea that there are semi-Talenta halflings in Lhazaar shows that it is POSSIBLE. So it’s all a question of what story you want to tell.

  1. I had a Talentan maskweaver for years in a game, Tik Tik and his clawfoot Tak. My favorite aspect of portraying their bond to the party was creating symbolic masks for the others.

    • Certainly; what’s the point of being on a glidewing if you have to close to melee range? But also keep in mind that the Talenta have never organized into large armies; they rely on swift, small unit tactics.

      • Yeah I can easily see them loosing volleys on a charge, and then switching to melee and tooth and claw, and but whipping back out of there before it can become a true “engagement”, and covering their escape with more ranged volleys.

  2. I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but recent discoveries have provided evidence that ankylosaurs could dig ‘basins’ they could rest in or crouch in to present only the hard armour of their backs.

    I now picture a Talentan village looking normal overnight. Until they wake their hammertails, who lift themselves from the ground and carry the tents (and little halflings sitting outside to watch parent do chores) up into the air.

    • They’re beasts; why not? Looking to this article, I could definitely see a strain of threehorn lycanthropes that fill the same broad role as the traditional werebear being produced by Olarune’s blessing; conversely, I could see predatory clawfoot lycanthropes as a form of the Curse of the Wild Heart (though given how far east we are, it would be a different overlord—possibly the Cold Sun, though if I did that I’d also add them to Q’barra!).

      The 5E Clawfoot and 5E Tiger are both CR 1 beasts that Pounce; it would be fairly simple to reflavor a weretiger as a wereclawfoot. Likewise, wolves and velociraptors are both CR 1/4 creatures with pack tactics…

  3. First of all thanks for answering my question. I love the idea that a dinosaur could be used as a lift! Maybe I should watch The Flintstones to get some additional inspiration.
    I just have a single follow up question. What kind of dinosaur would be the typical livestock of one of the nomad tribes?

    • First of all thanks for answering my question.
      Thanks for being a patron!

      I just have a single follow up question. What kind of dinosaur would be the typical livestock of one of the nomad tribes?
      Good question, and I’m adding it to the main article. But here’s the answer…

      Dinosaurs don’t produce milk and generally aren’t raised as food; both of these are the role of the tribex. So most Talenta tribes have a herd of tribex. Beyond that, tribes often breed a specific type of dinosaur, which they will then trade with other tribes. So most tribes only have a few hammertails, but there’s a tribe that has a breeding population of hammertails, a tribe that breeds threehorns, a few that breed clawfeet, and so on. The point is that there is no “typical” dinosaur livestock; it’s a choice that shapes the tribe, and a hammertail-breeding tribe will be quite different from the tribe with a host of clawfeet.

      • Dinosaurs don’t produce milk, but I’m pretty sure that most produce eggs. Would Talenta halflings consider raising a dinosaur to harvest its eggs for consumption?

        • Would Talenta halflings consider raising a dinosaur to harvest its eggs for consumption?
          It’s a good question, and I’ve added the answer to the main article. Short answer: Talenta eat unfertilized dinosaur eggs, but there’s no species who are raised purely for the purpose of laying eggs. Scamps are the only common Talenta dinosaurs that lay frequently enough for their eggs to be part of a regular diet.

      • How, if at all, would this answer change if you were to lean into feathered dinosaurs that are more like birds than reptiles?

        Also, how would you flavor a halfling casting Conjure Animals and summoning a Quetzcoatlus? Like, would it be a spirit of the ancient soarwing?

        Related; do you see any room without major changes to tie the dinosaurs and the Talentan spiritual traditions more to the coatls? Are there any halfling traditions or groups that are tied to the Flame?

        • How, if at all, would this answer change if you were to lean into feathered dinosaurs that are more like birds than reptiles?

          Not much, for me. In the Race of Eight Wings, the halflings support the Glidewing, not the Hawk or the Owl. I don’t really want to make them more diffuse than they currently are; I don’t feel that it strengthens their story for me. I’m fine with the idea of a sister culture that’s gone all in on birds, but I prefer a tight focus, whatever it may be. I realize that I described dinosaurs as “reptilian” which was inaccurate, but for me it’s less about absolute biological precision and more for having a unique focus, and I feel like expanding their focus to more broadly include birds feels like it’s watering things down. But do what feels right to you!

          Also, how would you flavor a halfling casting Conjure Animals and summoning a Quetzcoatlus? Like, would it be a spirit of the ancient soarwing?
          It could be. But also, conjured animals are fey, and fey spirits are part of Talenta’s wide primal sphere. So it could essentially be an incarnation of a legendary soarwing that never actually existed.

          Do you see any room without major changes to tie the dinosaurs and the Talentan spiritual traditions more to the coatls? Are there any halfling traditions or groups that are tied to the Flame?
          This is really the same point as above. It’s an easy thing to do; we’ve already established that there’s a Shulassakar outpost in the Plains. But personally, I don’t particularly WANT to tie the Talenta traditions to the Flame; I like them being something unique and essentially neutral that doesn’t have a strong tie to fiends, dragons, daelkyr, or celestials. But sure, if you wanted to go down this path, it seems easy to do.

  4. When the last war broke out, did any talentans pick up on using karrnathi necromancy for their dinosaurs or would karrns possibly steal the bones of talentan dinos for the war machine?

    • When the last war broke out, did any talentans pick up on using karrnathi necromancy for their dinosaurs
      Definitely not. Karrnathi necromancy is rooted in divine and arcane traditions and Talenta is a primal society; they simply don’t have the common ground to develop those techniques. It’s like a civilization entirely based on wind power seeing a nuclear reactor next door; they can’t just say “Let’s build one of those tomorrow.”

      On the other hand, if your question is “Is there a Talenta tribe that uses necromancy, because skeletal dinosaurs would be awesome!” then there certainly is. The Tolashcara (“Keepers of Bones that Rustle and Moan”) tribe guard a manifest zone to Mabar in the Plains and draw on its power to animate the dead. They believe that by using its power as they do, they keep the hungry spirits from venturing further afield to prey on innocents. Some Tolashcara are drawn to pursue undead threats elsewhere in the Plains or in the world, and a small group of Tolashcara halflings patrol the edge of the Boneyard, hoping to keep the dead quiet. So overally, they are a peaceful and benevolent force; on the other hand, you could always have a new leader rise up among the Tolashcara with a more malevolent agenda.

      or would karrns possibly steal the bones of talentan dinos for the war machine?
      It’s not something they did during the war, but it’s something the Emerald Claw is doing now—shipping swordtooth titan bones into a city, where they can be reassembled and animated to sow terror.

      • Your description of necromancy halflings seems to be rooted in Externalism, relying on a manifest zone to harness their power. Are these halflings arcane casters ala wizards? Or would they still be primal magic and be more suited to spore druids?

        • I’m suggesting that they’re drawing power from an external, planar source, but I don’t believe they are doing so in a scientific (arcane) manner. In my mind they are the best exorcists in the Plains and are skilled at eliminating undead threats as well as animating the dead. As such, I’d personally model them after Grave clerics. Their power flows from a planar energy source as opposed to a deity, but it is a matter of channeling power from a specific source through faith and tradition.

  5. Are there any Halfling Tribes in arctic environs? If so, what would they ride?
    My personal headcanon says yes with dinosaurs magically adapted to the cold. Magic does weird things.

    • The Player’s Guide to Eberron specifically mentions a tribe of tundra halflings who live on the Lhazaar mainland and that ride dinosaurs naturally adapted to the cold. Apparently, there were a number of dinosaur species that could live in arctic environs in our world.

  6. Of the dinosaurs statted in 5e I’ve noticed only Hadrosaurs don’t have an official Eberron name as far as I can tell. What would Hadrosaurs be called in Eberron?

    • What would Hadrosaurs be called in Eberron?

      Given that we’ve got the clawfoot, the hammertail, and the spineback, I’d be inclined to called hadrosaurs “boneheads.”

        • I agree with the Bard. Even if ducks exist in the world—and there’s no particular reason to think they don’t, though we’ve never mentioned them—as waterfowl, it seems unlikely that they’d be prevalent enough in the Talenta Plains for the Talenta to use them as a name. Hadrosaurs are noteworthy for their beaks and their crests, and we know from names like “Threehorn” that these are the sorts of details that get used. While it’s funny to us, I like “Bonehead”——but if you want to play off the beak, I’d say “Flatbeak” before I’d say “Duckbeak.”

          • “Even if ducks exist in the world—and there’s no particular reason to think they don’t, though we’ve never mentioned them”

            AH, BUT KEITH, you forget Kessler’s satire, “The Battle of the Five Ducks”! In Sharn: City of Towers, it’s called out as one of the best-selling novels of the last century. It’s quackin’ records!

          • I am VERY sad to have forgotten that, since both Kessler and the Battle of the Five Ducks are my creations. So yes, it’s confirmed that there are ducks in Eberron — but I still don’t think they’d have a significant presence in the Talenta Plains.

            Side note: The Battle of the Five Ducks is a personal in-joke that refers to one of my favorite player characters in one of my long-running Over The Edge campaigns; his character concept was “Five Ducks in a Battlesuit.” It’s like Voltron, but with ducks!

  7. What kind of milk does a tribex produce? Creamy? Sweet? Acid or base? What kind of cheeses do they make with it?

      • I’d clock the tribex as being like a yak, and cursory research says “‘semifirm, slightly tangy, with a grassy flavor.”

        Otherwise I’d assume the various different breeds of tribex produce cheeses that follow from their diets and physiology, so the more rugged moutain tribex is more pungent and stronger on the tang and grassiness, while other ones might eat foods that change the flavours

  8. You want interesting ways I’ve used dinosaurs in my campaign? One idea I use for dinosaurs in my Eberron is the idea that the New York sewer gator story happened in Sharn, but with sword tooth titans. They were brought to Sharn as eggs/hatchlings. People found them adorable (look at its big head and cute little arms) and many of them were sold. Then they would start to grow a bit too big and get flushed into the sewers.
    Another dinosaur idea I use for my Sharn is the idea that the Boromar Clan uses a variety of thieves cant that references dinosaurs and is meant to make the conversation sound like a story of a dinosaur hunt. It’s a bit lengthy to put here, but the main bits of it involved the loot being referred to as either eggs if meant to be gotten nonviolently (through picking pockets or sneaking into a place undetected) or meat if meant to be gotten through violence (mugging or a stickup), and that herbivorous dinosaurs would be used to refer to the target, carnivorous ones would be used to refer to criminals, and omnivorous dinosaurs would be used to refer to people protecting the target that have been bribed or could be bribed. If the Talentas don’t eat any dinosaur species, I might have to re-think some parts of it. I can go with things like “thunder-herder-sized tribex”, but then I still have to re-think the egg part. Still, the chance to have a PC try to use their knowledge of dinosaurs to decode Boromar thieves cant seems fun.

    • Boromar deviating from halfling tribal traditions to the point they eat dinosaurs sounds appropriate and justifiable.

    • I don’t have a problem with the idea that Talenta will eat WILD dinosaurs; they just don’t RAISE them for meat, because the dinosaurs that are part of your tribe are part of your tribe. If you kill a Bladetooth that was threatening the tribe, there’s no reason to let it go to waste.

      • Is this given special attention in terms of making sure the dinosaurs they eat don’t eat their own kind? For the curse of Oralasca (ghoul fever, http://keith-baker.com/ghost-stories/), I mean? Or is it generally only a problem with animals that eat their own kind as a matter of habit rather than a bladetooth eating another dead bladetooth because meat?

        • “Bladetooth” was just a name I threw out off the top of my head. I’d say that this is generally something that’s known by species; it may be that wild clawfeet are pack hunters and don’t eat other clawfeet, while the larger carnivores may eat anything they can find. In general, though, I think this is something assumed about species as opposed to the hunters having to do careful detective work to find out if this PARTICULAR bladetooth has eaten others of its kind.

  9. In one campaign I have run we have a Halfling of the Mark of Healing who was a foundling in the Plains tribes who was sent to the city to be raised and trained with his ‘new’ family. He choose to be a Artificer (Battle Smith) aka Combat Medic in the Last War. His Steel Defender was built to look like a Clawfoot and was his mount.

  10. Do the maskweavers have a representative at Greenheart? How much do the various other Druidic Sects know about the ways of the Talenta?

    • There is no halfling representative at Greenheart, just as there’s no Siyal Marrain elves. Most Talenta have no interest in leaving the Plains and no knowledge of what lies beyond it, and the druids of the Eldeen Reaches are first and foremost concerned with the Eldeen Reaches. They may have learned about the Talenta traditions from Wardens who have travel to distant lands, but there’s no strong contact; keep in mind that Eberron is significantly more restricted in long-distance communication and travel than our world.

      Beyond this, this hits a point I always like to consider. What makes a better STORY: saying that the Eldeen druids already have strong ties to every other existing community? Or having a PLAYER CHARACTER who’s an Eldeen druid have the opportunity to try to FORGE ties between Gatherhold and Greenheart, and to make a difference in the world?

  11. Are the dinosaurs of the Talenta Plains connected to the dragons and/or couatl in any special way, or do they all just happen to be reptilian creatures? On a more meta level, did either the choice of couatls as the setting’s native celestials or of dinosaurs as the halflings’ mounts influence the other when developing the setting?

    Do most places have at least some dinosaurs, or are they mostly concentrated to the Plains, Q’barra, and other nearby regions? Does Sharn have flocks of feral darts instead of pigeons?

    • Sharn has spiretop dragons (basically pseudodragons without stingers) that act like sea gulls per Sharn: City of Towers.

    • Are the dinosaurs of the Talenta Plains connected to the dragons and/or couatl in any special way, or do they all just happen to be reptilian creatures?
      They all just happen to be reptilian in appearance. But dinosaurs are beasts, dragons are dragons, and couatl are celestials—fundamentally different down to the level of what sorts of magic affects them.

      Mythologically that distinction is made quite clear. As beasts, dinosaurs are children of Eberron. As native celestials, couatl are children of Siberys. Dragons were said to be formed when the blood of Siberys fell upon Eberron—they are children of BOTH Siberys and Eberron, which is why they are fundamentally magical beings.

      • Since Siberys’s bleeding was caused by Khyber, in a roundabout sense, doesn’t that also (on a technicality) make dragons children of Khyber too?

        • I suppose. Dragons of Eberron notes “Khyber and Siberys were siblings, and the taint of Khyber lies hidden in every dragon. Tiamat has the power to draw that out, corrupting and commanding the children of Eberron and Siberys.

  12. I have a few questions:

    1. How do the Talentan Halflings feel about Birds? Granted that birds are dinosaurs, would they have a similar relationship with them that they do to most other Dinosaurs, or would they not realize any sort of relationship between them (like we didn’t for a long time)? (Maybe there could be a sub-culture of Talentan Halflings that rides Cassowaries, Emus, Giant Eagles/Owls, and other birds?)

    2. Would the Talentan Halflings sell their dinosaurs’ young, or is their bond with the species too deep for them to give them away for selfish purposes?

    3. What about non-“true” dragons, like Wyverns and Drakes? In other D&D worlds (the Forgotten Realms), Dragons evolved from dinosaurs. Is this true for Eberron (or, at least, are they related?), and would the Talentan Halflings be opposed to riding/taming non-sentient dragons?

    4. This one isn’t related to the Talentan Halflings and is a multifaceted question, but is related to question #3 and the upcoming Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons book. In Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons, it is revealed that there used to be a “First World” that was created by Tiamat and Bahamut (and they also created Sardior, the god of Gem Dragons and Psionics), before it was shattered into the many different Material Planes of the D&D multiverse (Athas, Oerth, Toril, Exandria, and presumably Eberron as well). How would you use/relate this lore about the creation of the Multiverse to the Progenitor Dragons of Eberron? It strikes me that there is a parallel between 3 Dragon Gods (Bahamut, Sardior, and Tiamat) being involved in the creation of the Multiverse and three god-like Draconic entities (Siberys, Khyber, and Eberron) creating the world of Eberron. Would you have the story of the 3 Progenitor Dragons be a reflection of this lore (like having the Progenitor Dragons being created by the dragons and sages of Eberron to explain the creation of Eberron/the multiverse), or possibly have Eberron, Siberys, and Khyber be Aspects/Avatars of Bahamut, Sardior, and Tiamat?

    I ask because Tiamat and Khyber have some striking similarities, being fiendish god-like queens of dragons that are imprisoned in a hellscape, and there are some similarities between Bahamut and Sardior with the other two Progenitor Dragons. If you were to have the Progenitor Dragons be the same as the 3 main Dragon Gods (Tiamat, Bahamut, and Sardior), would you make Siberys be Sardior or Eberron?

    • How do the Talentan Halflings feel about Birds?
      They have no special relationship with birds. We’ve called out that they ride glidewings and soarwings; we’ve never discussed them as having a relationship with giant hawks or owls. You could certainly introduce a splinter culture elsewhere (say, Xen’drik) that rides emus, or have a player character who pursues this, but birds don’t have a special role in Talenta culture.

      Would the Talentan Halflings sell their dinosaurs’ young…
      I mentioned before that most tribes specialize in the breeding of a particular type of dinosaur. All tribes rely on trade with one another to maintain the functional balance they need. A tribe that breeds hammertails will certainly trade a hammertail to another tribe in exchange for a brace of fastieth. But the key points there are that it’s TRADE, not selling into slavery. Beyond this, because we’re talking about a wide primal culture, you aren’t just going to hand a hammertail over sight unseen; a beast-speaker from the other tribe will show up and have a conversation with your hammertails, and the “seller” will make sure the chosen hammertail is comfortable leaving. It’s not about selling for profit, it’s more like fostering a child with another family; you only do it if you’re confident they’ll take good care of your child.

      So with this in mind, traditionally Talenta would never SELL a dinosaur, especially not to a stranger. They might GIVE a dinosaur to an outsider who provides aid to the tribe, because again, that’s a form of trade and fostering; if they give you a clawfoot, it’s a statement that they believe you’ll care for it. However, note that I said TRADITIONALLY. In these dark times, there’s surely at least one tribe that has been selling dinosaurs to Vadalis—likely either capturing wild dinosaurs for this purpose, or potentially stealing them from other tribes. But this would be seen as vile behavior.

      It’s also possible that this rule is somewhat relaxed in Gatherhold——that the people of the sole city of the Plains have drifted a little from the nomad traditions and are more comfortable engaging in direct commerce.

      What about non-“true” dragons, like Wyverns and Drakes?
      The primal abilities I described above work on BEASTS. Dinosaurs are beasts. Drakes and wyverns are not. Whatever their heritage, they are distinct enough on some fundamental, magical level that a spirit rider can’t bond with one. In my opinion, that answers the question; there are outside the primal bond that underlies the culture and thus wouldn’t be part of it. That’s not to say that some bold adventuring halfling couldn’t return to the Plains astride a wyvern and amaze everyone, but they aren’t part of Talenta culture.

      • Thanks for the replies, Keith!

        Okay. I like the idea of a colony of Talentan Halflings that emigrated to Xen’drik and have bonded with birds. That’s quite interesting. I’ll have to come up with an idea on how and why that specific subculture of Talentan Halflings moved to Xen’drik.

        Thanks for the explanation on the “selling vs. trading” of dinosaurs. I like the ideas that come from that, too. I’m assuming that Talentan Halflings would have a similar reaction to an outsider with a Talentan-dinosaur that a Valenar elf would have to seeing an outsider with a Double-Bladed Scimitar (that is, quickly become hostile/angry with the outsider), especially if the outsider was being cruel to the dinosaur(s).

        Okay, so you would assume that the bond that Talentan halflings or the Dragon Creature works fundamentally differently from how House Vadalis works with beasts and monstrosities, then? Because, as of 5e at least, the Mark of Handling can at least partially ignore the creature-type differences that causes beast-specific magic to not work on Monstrosities (through “The Bigger they Are” feature). However, I do understand your reasoning as well.

        Thanks again.

    • I was in a hurry when I initially approached the Tiamat/Bahamut question, and on reflection I have an entirely different answer.

      While there may be three of them on both sides, I WOULD NOT EQUATE THE PROGENITORS TO BAHAMUT/TIAMAT/SARDIOR. There’s two reasons for this.

      1. The Progenitors fill a completely different role in the story than Bahamut and Tiamat do. Part of the point of Bahamut and Tiamat is that they are active forces. You can MEET Bahamut and Tiamat can drive a whole campaign with the Tyranny of Dragons. That’s not the role of the Progenitors. No one deals with the Progenitors directly. Eberron is THE PLANET, and Siberys is DEAD. If you say Bahamut is Siberys, are you also keeping the idea that he’s dead? Likewise, Khyber is the underworld; we fight her children, but there’s no real idea that Khyber herself could physically rise; she’s a constellation of demiplanes. The Progenitors are ultimately metaphysical, cosmic entities while the point of Tiamat is that you COULD at some point fight her—which brings us to the next point.

      2. Tiamat and Bahamut HAVE canon roles in Eberron. Tiamat is an overlord—the Daughter of Khyber—precisely because this allows her to BE an active force and something you could actually fight. Bahamut is one of the gods of Thir. Which comes to the second point. THIR SUPPORTS THE FIRST WORLD. The whole idea of Thir is that there was a pantheon of dragon gods who ascended to a higher level of reality after appointing the Sovereigns. SO, if I wanted to incorporate the idea of the First World into Eberron, it’s simple—the First World came before the Age of Demons, and the gods of the Dragon pantheon were active figures at that time. The first world came to an end when the overlords were unleashed upon the world. I’d just add Sardior to the existing pantheon of Thir, along with Bahamut, Io, Chronepsis, etc.

      So the point is that I wouldn’t CHANGE anything. The Progenitors came first. They spawned the first world, in which Bahamut and the Dragon Gods contended with Tiamat, and which came to an end with the ascension of the Dragon Gods and the freedom of the Overlords. The main thing I would change is to come up with a way for Bahamut to be an active force if that’s something the DM wants to have in the story. One option is that certain dragons can temporarily become avatars of the Dragon Gods—so Bahamut isn’t casually hanging out in Argonnessen, but he can manifest for a short time if needed (I’d probably say it kills the host, to explain why he’s not hanging around all the time).

      Keep in mind that one of the intentional choices of Eberron was NOT to have powerful forces of good that can manifest on the world, precisely to avoid the question of why Bahamut doesn’t solve all of our problems. The Sovereigns can’t smite evil on their own; they can only act through YOU. So in adding a Bahamut-level force to the world, I’d want to think very carefully about how he fits into the balance of power, what role he’s played in the events of the last hundred thousand years, and why. This ties to the fact that Argonnessen, taken as a whole, isn’t especially GOOD — so a weird twist would be to say that Bahamut is actually acting INDEPENDENTLY of Argonnessen.

      But the short form is that I definitely would not just swap the Progenitors for B/T/S.

      I ask because Tiamat and Khyber have some striking similarities, being fiendish god-like queens of dragons that are imprisoned in a hellscape,
      But NOT REALLY. Tiamat is similar to the Daughter of Khyber, an overlord queen of dragons imprisoned in a hellscape. Khyber IS the hellscape. Khyber isn’t a being you can fight with a sword; Khyber is the source of all overlords and also the prison that contains them. Eberron is THE WORLD. The Progenitors are just on a cosmic level above beings like Tiamat.

      In other D&D worlds (the Forgotten Realms), Dragons evolved from dinosaurs. Is this true for Eberron?
      No, it’s not. Dragons are said to have been born when the blood of Siberys fell upon Eberron. It’s harder to say with the lesser dragons like wyverns, but the mere fact that they are dragons rather than beasts is sufficient for me to say that there are fundamental difference between them, and it’s more than just that they’re dinos who grew wings and stingers.

      • As a quick further thought, refer to the description of Thir on page 29 of Dragons of Eberron. The basic principle of Thir is that reality goes in cycles, and that in the next age everyone gets a promotion — the Sovereigns of this age become the Dragon Gods of the next. So essentially, the whole idea of the “First World” directly works with Thir—that Bahamut and Sardior were the Sovereign equivalents of the First World, and ascended to become Dragon Gods in the second incarnation, appointing a new host of Sovereigns.

        • Before I respond to the rest of your answer to Question #4, I do feel the need to point out that Thir, the Dragon Pantheon, the Dragon Constellations, Tiamat being the Daughter of Khyber, and the rest of the Dragons of Eberron and similar pre-5e books are no longer considered canon in 5e. Here’s a recent quote from Jeremy Crawford about it:

          “Basically, our stance is that if it has not appeared in a book since 2014, we don’t consider it canonical for the games.”

          And a link discussing this in more detail:
          https://www.enworld.org/threads/wotc-novels-non-5e-lore-are-officially-not-canon.681553/

          • Before I respond to the rest of your answer to Question #4, I do feel the need to point out that Thir, the Dragon Pantheon, the Dragon Constellations, Tiamat being the Daughter of Khyber, and the rest of the Dragons of Eberron and similar pre-5e books are no longer considered canon in 5e.

            Sure, but also… So what? In Eberron, canon has never been anything more than a suggestion, and Eberron novels were never even considered canon. I myself frequently deviate from canon content in my articles and games. My point in saying that there’s a canon explanation for something isn’t to say that YOU MUST FOLLOW THIS PATH; again, it is a concrete principle of Eberron that you can do whatever you want and that you should make it your own world. If YOU want to swap out Eberron for Sardior you should do it. It’s not that canon is holy, it’s simply that it EXISTS—that we already considered a way to approach Bahamut and Tiamat in Eberron, and that *I* don’t see a reason to change that.

            If it sounded like I was telling YOU what you can and can’t do in YOUR campaign, I apologize. I was expressing my feelings about what I will do in MY campaign. I have never allowed canon material to stop me from telling the story I want to tell. But I’m also not going to burn all of my 3.5 sourcebooks just because they are no longer supported by WotC. Canon material was always there to inspire, and *I* have no need to create an entirely new version of Argonnessen when I already have Dragons of Eberron.

      • Okay, I can understand not wanting to equate B/T/S (*smirk*) with the Progenitor Dragons, especially since you’re the creator of Eberron, but I do have to disagree with some of your reasoning.

        Firstly, the information about Tiamat, Bahamut, Thir, the Dragon Gods, and similar pre-5e aspects of Eberron aren’t considered canon anymore. I addressed this in a response below this one, in case you missed it. That is not to say that WotC can’t/won’t use that lore in the future, it’s just not considered the “canon” anymore (although “canon” is an interesting concept for D&D, where the only real canon for the purpose of the game is the DM’s canon for their own table).

        Secondly, if Tiamat, Bahamut, and Sardior were established to be the Progenitor Dragons (either in the base lore of the setting, or a specific table), I don’t see any reason why they’d have to fill the same roles as Tiamat, Bahamut, and Sardior in different worlds. Takhisis from Krynn, the world of Dragonlance, is Tiamat (according to 5e lore established in the DMG), but she fills a very different role from Tiamat in the Forgotten Realms or Tiamat from Exandria. If Tiamat (or some aspect/avatar of her) were established to be Khyber (which could happen due to Tiamat’s role in Eberron no longer being considered canon), IMO, that wouldn’t necessarily change the role of Khyber in the world of Eberron. The same would apply for Bahamut/Sardior and Eberron/Siberys. They could simply have different lore on different worlds, like the many different deities/god-like entities do throughout the D&D multiverse. They could be cosmic, metaphysical or purely prehistorical beings in one world (Eberron), but involved deities in another (Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Exandria, etc), due to the way that the First World concept works.

        My point here is simply that drawing a connection between the Progenitor Dragons and B/T/S doesn’t necessarily change any part of how the Progenitor Dragons function in Eberron (and I agree with you, it shouldn’t, even if such a change were made), and Tiamat and Bahamut’s roles in Eberron are no longer canon. However, I am intrigued by the idea of a Dragon-God possessing a Dragon of Argonnessen (or a dragon claims/believes that that is what’s happening), and the Dragon dying as a result.

        Thanks again for the answers to the questions and your thoughts. It helps.

        • All fair enough, and again, you can always do as you wish in your campaign! But just to elaborate on my thoughts…

          I ask because Tiamat and Khyber have some striking similarities, being fiendish god-like queens of dragons that are imprisoned in a hellscape…
          I just wanted to call this out again. Because to me, Khyber is a dragon who’s a queen, but she isn’t a queen of dragons. She’s the queen of ALL THAT IS EVIL, and her children include the Killing Cold, the Rage of War, and the undead hordes of Katashka the Gatekeeper. Lycanthropes, gnolls, rakshasa, aboleths — these things can all be traced to Khyber. As you say, you can change Tiamat’s lore for this purpose… but I don’t really see the NEED to change Tiamat’s scope so dramatically instead of just saying that Tiamat is Khyber’s Daughter, one of the greatest forces of evil in the world and, specifically, the Queen of Evil in Dragons. Likewise, Eberron is the source of all natural creatures. Eberron is THE WORLD. To me, slapping that onto Sardior if Sardior has no attributes that have anything to do with nature just feels weird. Again, you could definitely DO it, but do you have to? Setting Bahamut and the First World as the first children of the Progenitors in Eberron fits within the (now non-canon) lore of the setting and lets Bahamut and Tiamat keep their lore—with Bahamut as a force for good that oversaw a world of dragons, and Tiamat as the first overlord who unleashed an Age of Demons.

          For me, the Progenitors are very much like the giant Ymir in norse mythology. They are the foundation of the world, but not the active forces people tell myths about; Norse mythology focuses on the Aesir, and the story begins with them building the world from Ymir’s bones. It is because of Siberys that we have magic. Eberron is the world we walk on and the source of all natural life. Khyber is the source of all that is evil and unnatural. But Eberron isn’t going to get up and start having adventures; she’s the world. It’s the Sovereigns and the Overlords who have cults and followers—overlords who could actually manifest to threaten the world. And to me, part of the defining aspect of Tiamat is that she could leave that hellscape someday—that it is possible that one day, a hero with a lance could fight her. We wanted that to be possible in Eberron, and that’s why we made her an overlord—because you can FIGHT an overlord. The idea of fighting a Progenitor is like fighting the earth itself. They’re the foundations of reality. If Khyber somehow broke free of Eberron’s coils, it would be catastrophic; Khyber is the prison for all the overlords and daelkyr, and Khyber’s demiplanes have all sorts of other vital roles. Now, you could say “It’s just an aspect of Khyber/Tiamat” that manifests, but that’s what the overlords are—so at that point, why not have Tiamat be the Daughter of Khyber?

          Again, YOU SHOULD DO WHAT YOU WANT —— I’m not trying to tell YOU what to do, just to explain why the idea doesn’t appeal to me. But if YOU like it, that’s all that matters!

    • Btw I have to add, Dragons did NOT evolve from reptiles in the Forgotten Realms. Dragons arrived during the Dawn Ages in a catastrophic event called the Tearfall, their eggs raining across Toril

  13. Since the Boneyard is a graveyard for dragons do you imagine the Tolashcara would have been charged by dragons in ages past to act as guardians (perhaps in disguise as a figure like Bally-nur or the equivalent)?

    • Personally, no. I think there’s enough places where Argonessen or the Couatl have an interest, and I DON’T want the Tolashcara to be just another twist on the Gatekeepers or the Cold Sun Federation. I like that they are their own, small tradition and that they patrol the Boneyard because it’s known to be a cursed, haunted graveyard, and thats what they do. There may be draconic security measures, but they are ancient and the Tolashcara have no control over them nor full knowledge of what they are.

      However, I definitely like the idea that there is a rogue dragon who dwells in the Boneyard—perhaps a scholar cataloguing the history of the place, perhaps persuing their own necromantic research. They’re aware of the Tolashcara and have interacted with them in various guises, but they aren’t in any way in charge of them. This allows for an interesting and entirely independent dragon that adventurers can deal with—a wyrm that protects the Boneyard, but who isn’t part of the grand machinations of the Chamber or Argonnessen.

  14. So you mentioned the most common place spells, but what is the full extent of a mask weaver? What are the highest level spells they could utilize? Can they Conjure Animals?

    • So you mentioned the most common place spells, but what is the full extent of a mask weaver? What are the highest level spells they could utilize? Can they Conjure Animals?

      There’s a range, just like spellcasters in the Five Nations. Some mask weavers have minimal spellcasting ability, but it’s not unusual for a respected mask weaver to be able to conjure dinosaurs. Keep in mind that “(a summoned) beast is also considered fey, and it disappears when it drops to 0 hit points or when the spell ends.” They aren’t pulling in actual dinosaurs, they’re calling on the spirits of dinosaurs who have been part of the tribe (or so they believe).

      So 1st-3rd level spells are reasonably well known. 4th-5th level spells are possible, but rare; Holy Uldra is described as being one of the most influential figures in the Plains, and in 3.5 she’s a 7th level spellcaster. So it’s possible that there’s a mask weaver who can cast reincarnate, but they would be a remarkable, celebrated individual.

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