IFAQ: August Lightning Round!

As time permits, I like to answer interesting questions posed by my Patreon supporters. Sometimes these are weighty topics—like whaling or medusa reproduction—that require a full article. Others I just answer directly on Patreon. Here’s a few of those short answers from last month!

The warforged colossus Artorok is designated WX-73. Were there seventy three colossuses?

Nope! Every colossus has two names—So you have Artorok (WX-73), Arkus (WX-11), and so on. The name is the name of the BODY of the colossus. The numeric designation is actually the designation of the master docent that serves as the heart of the docent network that drives the colossus. “WX” stands for “Waylon/Xen’drik” and refers to the expedition that recovered the docent. So more than seventy-three docents were recovered from Xen’drik, but only a handful of those docents were intact and capable of maintaining a colossus. Personally, I think that Cannith had time to develop twelve colossuses; they were working on the thirteenth when the Mourning struck.

What is the difference in terms of magic advancement between the Dhakanni and the Dwarves of Sol Udar?

They’re vastly different. As called out in Exploring Eberron, “The dwarves of Sol Udar were an advanced civilization employing arcane science beyond that currently possessed by the Five Nations. The halls were shaped by elemental magic—an improved form of the move earth spell—and reinforced to be stronger than any natural stone. Barring any alien influence, the air is renewed by magic and remarkably fresh; a permanent prestidigitation effect keeps these halls clean after thousands of years and untold conflicts… Widespread magic was a part of daily life in Sol Udar.

By contrast, the Dhakaani are exceptional in many ways but DON’T have a tradition of wide magic. From Exploring Eberron: “Dhakaani daashor are the finest weaponsmiths on Khorvaire. Their traditions blend mundane skill and transmutation to create and manipulate remarkable alloys, including adamantine, mithral, and byeshk. Their skill at metallurgy outstrips even House Cannith, and Dhakaani champions often wield weapons forged from such material. Dhakaani equipment is designed for durability and efficiency, rarely gaudy or bejeweled. Likewise, armor is tough and flexible—often with the properties of mithral or adamantine armor—but not dramatic in style. Dhakaani magic items are either created by the daashor (who specialize in armor and weapons) or by gifted duur’kala. Dhakaani magic rarely focuses on evocation effects, and they have no tradition of elemental binding.”

So the Dhakaani make excellent WEAPONS AND ARMOR, but part of that is tied advances in mundane science. Beyond that, the items they have are created by duur’kala, with the key point being that the duur’kala are BARDS—primarily spiritual leaders and diplomats, NOT devoted to manufacturing. So the Dhakaani HAVE magic, but it’s NOT as widespread as magic in the Five Nations—let alone Sol Adar, which is considerably more advanced than the Five Nations. Essentially, the Dhakaani excel at things that are related to WAR… though even there, the point is that they don’t employ siege staffs, airships, or similar magical tools. The Dhakaani daashor make the finest SWORDS on Khorvaire… but they don’t have a strong tradition of WANDS. Now, the catch is that the ancient Dhakaani could create ARTIFACTS, as could the dwarves of Sol Udar. But these artifacts were extremely rare—the weapons of champions and tools of the Marhu—and they didn’t have a strong tradition of EVERYDAY magic.

The Sol Udar dwarves use air refreshing magic to sustain life in the depths… What do the Dhakaani do?

There’s three factors. The first is that the Dar as a species have adapted to thrive in a subterranean environment. Much as creatures in high altitudes adapt to the lower oxygen content, as creatures who evolved in the depths I’d expect Dar to be better suited to the challenges of a deep environment. I wouldn’t see this as having a strong game effect, but if I was running a long-term subterranean campaign and decided to develop environmental effects for bad air, I might give the Dar a ribbon similar to the Goliath’s Mountain Born—”You are acclimated to deep subterranean environments.” Note that I’m specifically saying the DAR—the Dhakaani who have remained in their deep vaults for thousands of years—as opposed to all goblinoids.

With that said, just because the Dar are more capable of surviving in such environments doesn’t mean they don’t need oxygen. I have always assumed that they engineer solutions that can bring fresh air to the depths—that just like creating aqueducts and mundane systems for channeling water, they use mundane (but remarkable) solutions to channel air to the depths. Thinking further, however, there’s a third factor: certain manifest zones and demiplane portals could well serve as oxygen sources in the deeps—and Dhakaani might build around these just as they would build around good sources of water. But the general principle is that while the Dhakaani aren’t as magically adept as some cultures, they are better at many forms of mundane science… which is also why I’ve said that if I was to add traditional firearms to Eberron, I’d start by giving them to the Dhakaani.

How does the Cazhaak Creed view the aberrant creations of the daelkyr, such as the illithid Xorchylic of Graywall? Are they considered children of the Shadow as much as any other aberration?

Through the sourcebooks, we have access to a lot of specific knowledge that people in world don’t have. WE know mind flayers are creations of Dyrrn the Corruptor. But most people—in Breland and Droaam alike—know nothing about mind flayers. For most of the people of Graywall, Xorchyllic is an entirely unique terror. Followers of the Cazhaak faith would likely say “Does it possess awesome powers? Are humans terrified of it? Check, check—seems like a child of the Shadow.”

This ties to the point that the Cazhaak traditions are about FAITH, not fact. If you presented a Cazhaak medusa with absolute proof that they were created by Orlassk, they would say “So what? This Orlassk may have sculpted our bodies, but it was surely the Shadow who guided its hands and who gave it the inspiration; thus, it is the Shadow who is our TRUE creator and who deserves our devotion.” Having said that, knowledge of the daelkyr is certainly present in Droaam. As will be called out in FRAG, the sages of Cazhaak Draal DO know of Orlassk, but they consider it a tyrant they broke free from, not a being they should worship. Again, their point is that it doesn’t matter if Orlassk physically created the first medusa; in doing so, it was merely a tool of the Shadow, and they owe nothing to Orlassk.

Back to the original question, Cazhaak sages who know of the daelkyr will generally extend the same understanding they have of themselves to others. THEY believe that they are children of the Shadow, regardless of any ties they might have to Orlassk. They embrace gargoyles as children of the Shadow, in spite of their ties to Orlassk. Mind flayers, dolgrims—they too are children of the Shadow. But if they choose to serve the daelkyr and seek to destroy other children of the Shadow, then that’s sufficient reason to consider them enemies and destroy them.

What does the release of an overlord due to the Prophecy actually look like? Does it just spontaneously happen, or does it trigger some sort of cascade of events leading up to the release?

The release of an Overlord isn’t instantaneous; it’s simply that once set in motion by the breaking of bonds, it is usually inevitable. So if we imagine the final stage of releasing Sul Khatesh is for the Broken Hero (a PC) to murder Queen Aurala at Arcanix with the Blade of Sorrows, first we’ve had a chain of events to get there. When the event finally occurs and the bonds are broken, SOMETHING will happen immediately—it’s clear that we’re in trouble. In this case, the towers of Arcanix might fall, or the region around Arcanix could be shrouded in supernatural darkness, which spreads over the next few days and weeks as Sul Khatesh regains her power. A concrete example of this comes in the 4E Eberron Campaign Guide regarding Bel Shalor:

If the Shadow in the Flame is freed, his influence will begin to extend out over the land around him, first covering a few miles, and ultimately spreading out across an entire nation. People who fall under his sway become selfish and cruel, turning on one another instead of standing against him. PCs are immune to this passive effect, but it might affect their ability to find allies. Within this sphere of influence, people grow pale and their shadows become clearer and more vivid even in poor lighting, often seeming to move of their own accord. It is said that the shadows conspire against their owners, telling Bel Shalor of their secret plans; you must decide if this claim is true.

The point is that it’s not just “A hole opens up and a big monster hops out!” The physical form of the overlord is just one aspect of it (which comes back to the point that destroying that physical form doesn’t permanently destroy the overlord). The first thing that will be felt is its INFLUENCE. If the bonds of Rak Tulkhesh are broken, the FIRST thing that will happen is that people in his sphere of influence will begin fighting one another. Eventually the Rage of War will physically manifest, but its PRESENCE will be felt before that happens.

Where is House Phiarlan’s Demesne of Shape? Some sources suggest it’s in Thaliost, while others say it’s in Wroat.

Even writers make mistakes, and that’s likely what happened here. However, my answer is “Both.” Thaliost is a crazy place to establish an important facility in the wake of the war. It’s deeply contested occupied territory. Wroat, on the other hand, is a very secure national capital. In my opinion, Viceroy Idal chose Thaliost specifically because they believe that a Phiarlan presence could help maintain peace and understanding in the city and because the Serpentine Table wants a strong Phiarlan enclave in this hotspot. So the Thaliost enclave is the official Demense of Shape. However, a rival within the house has also established an “understudy” Shape facility in Wroat, because they believe that the Thaliost demesne could get burnt down any day now.

How would you make the Kech Draguus distinct from the Draelaes Tairn?

The Kech Draguus is a very deep cut. They weren’t mentioned in Exploring Eberron, and I believe the only canon source for them is a Dragonshard article I wrote, which states “Long ago, a rogue gold dragon formed an alliance with a clan of Dhakaani hobgoblins. Now this Kech Draguus has emerged from hiding. With a corps of half-dragon goblinoids and a few full-blooded dragons at its disposal, the Kech Draguus are poised to reshape Darguun.” The Draleus Tairn, on the other hand, are dragon SLAYERS. Dragons of Eberron has this to say: “The Draleus faith holds that the warrior draws strength from victory, and passes this energy to his ancestors . . . and no victory is greater than the defeat of a dragon.” There are RUMORS that Draleus dragon slayers can gain draconic powers and could become half-dragons, dragon shamans, etc, but those are of course rumors.

So, the two are VERY different. The Draguus are a Dhakaani Kech, which is to say, a tightly disciplined military force. They work WITH dragons, and essentially, they’re the Dhakaani answer to the Targaryens; they are going to employ dragons as living siege engines on the battlefield. Their champions may be half-dragons, but if so they were created with the blessing of their dragon patron, who in all likelihood counsels the leaders of the Kech. As the Dragonshard says, they have an ALLIANCE with dragons. By contrast, if there’s a half-dragon Draleus warrior, they gained that power by killing a dragon and ritually bathing in its blood. There’s no alliance between the Draleus and dragons; rather, they are bitter enemies. Beyond that, as Dragons of Eberron calls out, “The Draleus Tairn rarely socialize with outlanders, or even other elves… due to their isolation and reputation, few elves trouble the dragon slayers.” So the Draleus Tairn are at best isolated warbands, and often LONE INDIVIDUALS pursuing their personal quests… while the Kech Draguus are a militaristic, disciplined city-state.

That’s all for now! If you have infrequently asked questions of your own, you might be able to find the answer on my Patreon. Thanks to my patrons for making these articles possible!

15 thoughts on “IFAQ: August Lightning Round!

  1. Whereas the Sol Udar dwarves use air refreshing magic, I would imagine keeping the Dhakaani kechs resupplied with air would be due to artifacts designed by Kech Aar’ar mentioned in Flight in Eberron, even if they use the same spellwork as the foundation it would look different than the dwarvish utility.

    • Honestly I think having ways to refresh air through complex feats of engineering would be both more impressive and more in tune with the Dhakaani than any form of magic.

      • Honestly I think having ways to refresh air through complex feats of engineering would be both more impressive and more in tune with the Dhakaani than any form of magic.

        I agree. I’d be inclined to say that there’s three factors. The first is that the Dar as a species have adapted to thrive in a subterranean environment. Much as creatures in high altitudes adapt to the lower oxygen content, as creatures who evolved in the depths I’d expect Dar to be better suited to the challenges of a deep environment. I wouldn’t see this as having a strong game effect, but if I was running a long-term subterranean campaign and decided to develop environmental effects for bad air, I’d likely give the Dar a ribbon similar to the Goliath’s Mountain Born—”You are acclimated to deep subterranean environments.”

        With that said, just because the Dar are more capable of surviving in such environments doesn’t mean they don’t need oxygen. I have always assumed that the answer is what Nym suggests—that they engineer solutions that can bring fresh air to the depths, just as they engineer aqueducts. Thinking further, however, there’s a third factor: certain manifest zones and demiplane portals could well serve as oxygen sources in the deeps—and Dhakaani might build around these just as they would build around good sources of water.

  2. Keith, drawing from the “So more than seventy-three docents were recovered from Xen’drik, but only a handful of those docents were intact and capable of maintaining a colossus.” How many of those docents would have personalities, whether limited (‘robotic’) or full, like a more subtle Shira?

    • According the the ECS, the standard Xen’drik docent is an intelligent magic item with an Ego score, implying self-awareness and personality. Secrets of Xen’drik expands on this, first saying “Docents are intelligent, but they are not human, and one might not have the curiosity of a human” and then adding…
      Both warforged and docents went through many different designs. It is possible that the quori created the first warforged and docents alike, and that five thousand years later, giant wizards created variations on those quori designs to serve their own purposes.
      So I’d say that ALL docents have personalities, as reflected by their sentience and Ego score. Beyond that, there’s room for a vast range of options: Docents created by the quori to serve a specific purpose, docents created by the quori as a test of the item’s ability to contain a conscious entity, docents that hold an actual quori spirit, simple docents designed by giants, and potentially giant-made docents that hold the spirits of dead giants or of other planar entities bound by the giants.

      So ALL intact WX docents have personalities. How many have the personalities of beings who once existed outside a docent? I don’t know, and it may be Cannith doesn’t either. But it’s quite possible that these docents are the only ones that can serve as master docents, as they are capable of adapting to a new function–in which case, the question is if all of the colossus-docents can be trusted or even if they’re on the same side. It could be interesting if two colossuses suddenly start refighting the Giant-Quori War…

      • That’s exactly the plotline I was starting to think of. A colossus with a Shira-level personality being a “master’s call” eldritch machine, interpreted by free warforged in the Mournland as a parental figure calling them to rebuild it… the Becoming God may well have been a figure of great power…

        Thanks, Keith!

  3. Out of sheer curiosity, what do you think would happen if the docent containing Shira was used as the master docent for a Colossus?

  4. Being that Sol Udar is a place all the clans mine for resources, are Londurak and Lanarak down there mining for ancient recipes and alcohols?

    • This is specifically addressed in Exploring Eberron.
      Londurak quickly pulled out of the war; they have sealed all passages and forbidden anyone from venturing into Sol Udar. Lanarak still tends its gardens on the upper levels. This has given Lanarak an edge over its rivals, especially as traditional Mror spirits are made with mushrooms.

      • “An edge? Bah, look at the depths they dig to match Londurak!” – My Londurak dwarf monk, porbably

        Alright, that makes sense and I did recall that was there but I wondered if there was more. Makes sense it’s mainly materials to make their products though!

  5. In my Eberron, the release of an Overlord results in it gaining a physical form created in the fullfillment of its prophecy in some way. For instance, Sul Khatesh can’t take physical form because her spirit is separated from the heart demiplane it would form in, but there are ways to artificially build something similar enough to her true vessel that her spirit can escape into it. And this is done by stabbing Aurala with the Blade of Sorrows. After that, the Overlord enters her corpse and uses it to take physical form.

  6. On the topic of magical air, does anyone do anything with the Syranian air of Sharn? Are there windmills and/or windcatchers in Sharn that capture Syranian energy from the air?

    • What use would there be for wind power in Sharn? The setting isn’t exactly one with applied electricity (at least not in that sense), and it’s a little far from the fields to be used for grinding/cutting. All I can think of is trip hammers, which is a relatively niche application (only craftsmen) that wouldn’t make them particularly common, and water pumping (which seems useful but overly mundane).

      There’s also the issue that Sharn is supposed to be a fairly humid and rainy place, which seems like it would limit the materials a windmill could even be made of without massive maintenance requirements (but what do I know).

      • (Reading that again, I point out that last bit is literal, not sarcastic. I genuinely know very little about historic wind power maintenance so anyone that does can chime in)

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