IFAQ: Swearing, Djinn, and Genasi

Every month I ask my Patreon supporters to pose interesting questions about Eberron. Here’s a few lingering questions from October!

Any swear words specific to Khorvaire?

The humans of Khorvaire excrete and reproduce much as we do – so swear words related to those functions are just as applicable on Eberron as Earth. Setting-specifice swears generally invoke things that are unique to the world, whether that’s deities or planes. Looking to my novels, a few examples…

  • Dolurrh! is much like saying Hell! With this in mind, we’ve also seen Damn you to Dolurrh!
  • Thrice-damned invokes the Progenitors, essentially Damned by Eberron, Khyber, and Siberys. So, that thrice-damned dwarf!
  • You can always invoke the Sovereigns. Sovereigns above! is a general invocation, a sort of give me strength! In The Queen of Stone, the Brelish ambassador swears by Boldrei’s bloody feet! — essentially a variant of God’s blood! Any Sovereign could be used in this way. Aureon’s eyes, Kel, what made you think you could get away with that?
  • Olladra is the Sovereign of fortune, and often invoked to acknowledge good or bad luck. Olladra smiles is a polite way to say That was lucky, while Olladra scowls is essentially that didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.
  • Flame! is often used even by people who aren’t devoted to the Silver Flame. Depending on the context and the faith of the speaker, Flame! can be an earnest invocation as opposed to an expression of frustration.

These are curses of the Five Nations, and in the Common tongue. I don’t have time to comb through all the curses we’ve created in other languages, but Maabet is a Dhakaani curse that a city goblin might still use.

Do you have a vision for how Djinni and Marids fit in the planes?

Syrania embodies peace, and all that flourishes in times of peace. Knowledge, commerce, and contemplation are all elements of Syrania. Angels perform the tasks necessary to maintain the Immeasurable Market while Dominions contemplate the concept of commerce, but angels don’t enjoy the luxuries that commerce provides. This is the role of the djinn. The floating towers of the Dominions are serene and often austere; above them are the cloud-palaces of the djinn, wondrous spectacles of crystal and stone. Within, the djinn dwell amid glorious opulence, their needs tended by unseen servants. In this, they reflect the efreet of Fernia—but the efreet are defined by the hunger of the consuming flame, the endless desire for more, while the djinn are more comfortable in their luxury. A djinni may find joy in contemplating a fine work of art, while the efreeti is always concerned that their neighbor has something finer. Essentially, the djinn are more peaceful that the efreet. Rather than representing air itself, think of the djinn as embodying the wonder of the clouds, the idea that there could be castles in the sky. While they lack the fiery temper of the efreet, djinn can be as capricious as the wind; intrigue is also a thing that flourishes in times of peace, and they can take joy in matching wits with clever mortals.

So, the djinn celebrate the fruits of peace—including celebration itself. Djinn regularly hold grand galas in their floating manors; but these focus on the joy of good times with good company as opposed to the ostentatious and competitive displays of the efreet. Nonetheless, a mortal who earns a reputation as an amazing entertainer or artist could potentially be invited to a djinni’s ball. Thus, a warlock with the Genie patron can be seen as an agent for their patron in the material plane, searching for tings that will delight their benefactor. A dao patron may be eager to obtain exotic materials and rare components to use in their works. An efreeti may task their warlock to find the treasures or wonders they need to outshine their rivals. While a djinn patron may want the warlock to find beautiful things, works of art for their mansion or delightful companions for their next feast.

Marids are harder, but I’d personally place them in Thelanis, in a layer that embodies wondrous tales of the seas. This ties to the 5E lore that marids are master storytellers, and consider it a crime for a lesser being to interrupt one of their tales. I could imagine a grand marid who’s both elemental and archfey, who styles themselves as “The Ocean King” and claims dominion over all shipwrecks and things lost in the water (not that they actually ENFORCE this claim, it’s just part of their story…).

Now: having said this, I could imagine placing the djinn in Thelanis as well, in a layer of clouds that incorporates a range of stories about giants in the sky and other cloud palaces. I personally like them in Syrania because it allows them to embody the joys that commerce and peace bring in ways the angels don’t, but I could also see djinn as being primarily tied to stories of wonders in the sky.

Is there a place for genie nobles who can grant wishes?

That’s part of the point to placing djinn on Syrania; they are, on one level, spirits of commerce. Some love to bargain and have the power to grant wonders if their terms are upheld (but can be capricious about terms). Even lesser djinn who don’t have the actual power of wish could still make such bargains, granting things that are within their power. It can also fit with marids on Thelanis, with that idea that it’s fueled by the stories of mighty genies granting wishes (and the often negative consequences of foolish wishes).

How do genasi fit into Eberron? And how would a fire genasi influenced by Lamannia differ from one influenced by Fernia?

Exploring Eberron has this to say about genasi…

Genasi aren’t innately fiendish or celestial; they’re purely elemental. While quite rare, when recognized, a genasi is generally understood to be neutral in nature —a remarkable mutation, but not something to be feared or celebrated.

Following this principle, genasi aren’t true-breeding and don’t have a recognized culture in Eberron; each genasi is a unique manifestation. As for the difference between the Lamannian genasi and the Fernian genasi, it’s not dramatic; they do both represent the neutral fore of fire. However, I could see saying that the Fernian genasi is inspired by the industrial fires of Fernia, and has a natural instinct for industry and artifce, while the Lamannian genasi is more inspired by the pure elemental force.

For other ways to use genasi in a campaign, consider the options in this article. Previously we suggested that another source of genasi (water or earth) could be Lorghalen gnomes bound to elemental forces.

To which degree are people aware of planar manifest zones and their influence on daily life?

People are very aware of manifest zones and their effects. They don’t know the locations of every zone — it’s not always easy to spot a zone at a glance — but it’s common knowledge that it’s a manifest zone that allows Sharn’s towers to rise so high, and why you don’t have skycoaches everywhere. People know that a blighted region might be a Mabaran manifest zone, and that a fertile one could be tied to Lamannia or Irian. Dragonmarked houses actively search for manifest zones that are beneficial to their operations, and I’d expect that there’s an occupation not unlike feng shui consultants, who evaluate the planar balances of a particular region.

With that said, most common people can’t tell you the PRECISE effects of each type of manifest zone; that’s the sort of thing that requires an Arcana check. But the common people are very much aware of the existence of manifest zones and their importance, and if something strange happens someone can reasonable say “Could this be a manifest zone?

If a Brelish war criminal escapes to Graywall, how likely are the Daughters or Xor’chylic to agree to a Brelish request for extradition? In general, how do extradition requests function with non-Treaty nations?

Generally, not at all. Given that Breland refuses to recognize Droaam as a nation, it’s hard for them to make a request based on international law. Beyond that, what’s more interesting for story purposes—that Droaam just turns over the criminal because Breland asks, or that Breland needs to turn to Sentinel Marshals, bounty hunters, or PLAYER CHARACTERS to apprehend the war criminal? Part of the point of having non-Treaty nations is to create situations like this.

It’s been stated that dragons became expansionist and begun colonizing eberron until this expansion brought about the release (or partial release) of the overlord tiamat, and subsequent retreat to Argonessen. What was the nature of this expansion? Empire or rival fiefdoms, did it expand to the planes of the cosmos? What were the buildings, technology and treasures like? Do remnants remain would some dragons seek to restore this age?

First of all, if you haven’t read the 3.5 sourcebook Dragons of Eberron, that’s the primary source on draconic culture, architecture, and history. The Thousand, the Tapestry, and the Vast aren’t the civilizations that drove that expansion, but they are what they became, and it also discusses the impact of the Daughter of Khyber.

With that in mind, consider that you’re talking about events that occurred eighty thousand years ago. Even among the long-lived dragons, you’re talking about dozens of generations ago. It’s likely that very few remnants of that expansion have survived the passage of time—and those that did may have been repurposed and reused by multiple civilizations since then. Perhaps Stormreach or Sharn are built on ancient draconic foundations, whose origins were long forgotten even before the Cul’sir Dominion or Dhakaani Empire came to power. There may well have been competing draconic fiefdoms or even warring empires; but whatever these civilizations were, they were forgotten tens of thousands of years ago, in part because the dragons had to banish imperialistic urges from their hearts to resist the Daughter of Khyber. There could possibly be some dragons who yearn to restore draconic dominion over the world—and it would be such dragons who would fall prey to the influence of the Daughter of Khyber and become her cultists.

I wish I had time to develop some examples of long-forgotten draconic civilizations and to chart the evolution of their arcane science, but I’m afraid that’s beyond the scope of an IFAQ. But if you aren’t familiar with Dragons of Eberron, that’s the deepest canon source on this.

That’s all for now! Thanks as always to my Patreon supporters for making these articles possible.

43 thoughts on “IFAQ: Swearing, Djinn, and Genasi

    • When people die, their souls go to Dolurrh and fade away. Dolurrh is thus a place no one wants to go to, but everyone DOES eventually (barring vampires, etc). Khyber is a place where monsters come FROM, but not a place that people generally go TO.

      But you could certainly say “Khyber!” if you wanted; that’s in the same category as “Thrice-damned.”

    • I used the phrase “like a bat out of Khyber!” once, which while normally it would use Hell, Khbyer makes more sense in the particular phrase than Dolurrh does, not to mention in Eberron you literally have bats flying out of Khyber.

  1. What concept do the genies as a whole represent, out in the planes?

    The dao of Fernia seem perfectly fine with the concept of elemental binding, going by Naja Ash as an example. Are genies other than the dao of Fernia fine with elemental binding, considering that they are elementals themselves?

    Do bound genies (e.g. in a magic ring or a magic lamp) make more powerful elemental power sources than more generic elementals?

    • What concept do the genies as a whole represent, out in the planes?

      The different types of genies aren’t as tightly bound to one another as they are in other settings; the genies of Fernia are more concerned with one another than with the genies of Syrania, just as the angels of Shavarath and Syrania don’t interact much. With that said, celestials embody the positive aspects of a plane; fiends embody the negative aspects of a plane; and genies are more tied to abstract aspects that are neither inherently good nor evil.

      Do bound genies (e.g. in a magic ring or a magic lamp) make more powerful elemental power sources than more generic elementals?
      They’re so different from the “raw” elementals typically used in elemental binding that I don’t think you COULD bind an efreet to a standard airship. The typical “genie’s lamp” isn’t designed to channel the creature’s power, just to imprison it. If you created a vessel that could channel the power of a genie, they might be more powerful than a standard elemental—but there’s also no question that genies are sentient, anthropomorphic beings who would strenuously object to such imprisonment, while it’s open to debate as to whether raw elementals care about being bound.

    • Are genies other than the dao of Fernia fine with elemental binding, considering that they are elementals themselves?

      I don’t think most genies feel any kinship with Lamannian elementals, which are the primary subject of Zil binding. Yes, they’re both elementals, but humans and horses are both mammals and most humans are fine with horses being bound to service.

    • Or genie nobles who can grant wishes?

      That’s part of the point to placing djinn on Syrania; they are, on one level, spirits of commerce. They can make bargain and have the power to grant wonders if their terms are upheld (but can be capricious about terms). Even lesser djinn who don’t have the actual power of wish could still make such bargains, granting things that are within their power. It can also fit with marids on Thelanis, with that idea that it’s fueled by the stories of mighty genies granting wishes (and the often negative consequences of foolish wishes).

      Do you see a place in Eberron for the whole trapping genies in containers idea?

      I don’t see it as having a major role in Eberron, but my immediate thought is that it’s a path that was pursued by a particular maze in Ohr Kaluun. These binders were destroyed long ago, and the vessels scattered across Eberron. I don’t see it being a path the Zil binders would follow, as their focus is Lamannian elementals, but you could certainly have a crazed Zil binder who starts binding other spirits.

  2. What would a partial release of Tiamat actually do to dragonkind? What of a full release? Would dragonborn be affected in any way?

    On the topic of draconic expansion, would the lizardfolk of the Ring of Siberys instead be dragonborn as of the 4e and 5e canon? If so, would they still be pushed out from bolatashi?

    How would bolatashi fit into the concept of dragonborn to begin with?

    • What would a partial release of Tiamat actually do to dragonkind? What of a full release?

      A partial release would cause some dragons to fall under Tiamat’s direct control, while others would simply become crueler and more driven to tyranny. A full release would amplify this effect, causing far more dragons to be directly bound to her will and all dragons to have to fight to resist her cruel impulses. I don’t think dragonborn are affected; they’re humanoids, not dragons, and not that dragonborn were left behind in Khorvaire even when the dragons returned to Argonnessen.

      On the topic of draconic expansion, would the lizardfolk of the Ring of Siberys instead be dragonborn as of the 4e and 5e canon? If so, would they still be pushed out from bolatashi?
      I could see it either way. What’s stated about the Ring of Storms and the Bolatashi is that the dragons created the Bolatashi as living cornucopias that could repopulate the region. So they didn’t just send troops into the region (in which case I’d expect them to use dragonborn), they just seeded it to restore life; as such, I think it’s fine to leave those as lizardfolk. The bolatashi aren’t supposed to be the MAIN way you get lizardfolk or dragonborn; they were created as a tool to seed a region. And, of course, it’s worth noting that they specifically exist as a translation of a concept created for an RTS computer game. They’re an example of something dragons could do using the epic magic at their disposal, but they aren’t supposed to be a primary tool. With that said, I could definitely see Bolatashi in the Vast, keeping the region filled with prey for the predators.

      • What is the in-universe purpose of dragons creating both dragonborn and lizardfolk as separate races?

        Where do kobolds fit into all this?

      • What is the in-universe reason for there being no bolatashi in, say, Q’barra? Or, to flip things around, would bolatashi fit into Q’barra?

        • There’s two ways I’d look at it. One is that the dragons specifically CREATED lizardfolk using the bolatashi, in which case there could be bolatashi somewhere in Q’barra that humans simply haven’t found. Another is that lizardfolk were already dwelling in the Ring of Storms when the Heart of Siberys fell. It’s not that the dragons CREATED lizardfolk, it’s that they were restoring the original denizens of the region, and created a creature that could do it. When I suggested that they had bolatashi in the Vast, I wouldn’t have them producing LIZARDFOLK; I’d just say that they were capable of producing specific types of living creatures.

  3. Why have dragons expanded into Sarlona only in the form of the Storm Guardians? Are dragons afraid of Sarlona’s absence from the Draconic Prophecy? Do the Storm Guardians care about Tiamat at all, or are they solely focused on Ran Iishiv? What mortal fear does Ran Iishiv even represent (destruction?), and why are the Storm Guardians squarely concerned about that? Are there dragonborn created by the Storm Guardians?

  4. In your idea of Eberron, what portion of Genasi are born under the influence of a plane versus being directly descended from an elemental? Are all genasi that are the result of congress between a humanoid and elemental descended from genies, or is there room for something like a mephit or an azer in there?

    • In your idea of Eberron, what portion of Genasi are born under the influence of a plane versus being directly descended from an elemental?
      In MY Eberron, 100% are born from the influence of a plane or some sort of binding effect like that discussed with Lorghalen. I define genies as immortals, and as such they don’t reproduce naturally. Mephits and azers are both in Fernia, as different manifestations of the concept of the plane.

      But if a player character came to me and said “I REALLY REALLY want to play a genasi who’s the son of a djinni!” I’d probably come up with a story that made it possible (perhaps they literally created the child using a wish); player characters are supposed to be remarkable. But it’s not a typical thing.

  5. In the ghost story of Illmarrow there is a mention of “the Forgotten People” could it be that humans found draconic ruins and believe them to be human as a sort of claim to the former goblin land?

    Is it possible for there be a underwater feyspires for a marrid to govern or inhabit? With stories of shipwrecks like Titanic or sunken city like Atlantis. Or maybe a phantom island like risings portrayal of Trebez Sinara.

    • In the ghost story of Illmarrow there is a mention of “the Forgotten People” could it be that humans found draconic ruins and believe them to be human as a sort of claim to the former goblin land?

      Certainly.

      Is it possible for there be an underwater feyspires for a marid to govern or inhabit?

      Why not?

  6. Why did dragons opt to completely torch down the giant nations and use the both the Traveler’s Curse and the Du’rashka Tul to hex all of Xen’drik, rather than conquer Xen’drik conventionally? The dragons clearly put plenty of effort into the Du’rashka Tul, if we look at its testing ground in Argonnessen, the Caged City of Vreen in Dragon Magazine #360.

    • I’m not Keith, but I’d think the answer was fairly clear when you take a moment. They didn’t conquer Xen’drik “conventionally” because that would have empowered the Daughter of Khyber.

      If you think about the dragons dealing with the ancient titans as “pest control”, their actions make more sense. They didn’t see the continent as something full of people and cultures, it was a source of a problem, and they solved that problem the most direct way they could.

      Instead of conquering, they levelled the continent then put measures in place to make sure civilisation would never rise again. Like humans fumigating a building and then poisoning the soil and foundation to make sure the pests don’t come back.

  7. Would calling someone a female canine be something appropriate for eberron as it has semi canine people? Or calling someone a witch or hag? Given the former is a warlock and the latter a fey.

    • Yeah, I think “You witch!” might be like saying “You plumber!” It’s an occupation some people have. Unless it’s specifically intended as an insult to an actual wizard, implying that you couldn’t perform magic without getting help from a higher power.

    • I think it’s VERY uncommon to find more than one overlapping. We’ve called it out once or twice in canon, but it’s unusual; the more you have, the rarer it would be. So a triple manifest zone would be incredibly exotic.

  8. I can think of at least three people whose names have become synonymous with treason, and at least one of the two got that connotation pretty quickly. How about “Wroann” and/or “Thalin” (Kaius has obvious problems of ambiguity with future monarchs) as a Cyran (and perhaps Aundairan?) term for traitor? I could even see the Swords of Liberty adopting “Wroann” this way to question the legitimacy of the Brelish monarchy, ala Thomas Payne’s point that the King of England is merely the descendant of a “French bastard […] with an armed banditti”.

  9. What were Dal Quor manifest zones like before the Moonbreaker severed ties, were there any settlements devastated or destroyed by the loss of a zone they might have been founded around?

  10. Would genie pact warlocks find themselves interacting more frequently with the Aurum as an organization? It seems that at least the efreeti, dao and djinni all have interests which align with the fraternity of influence and business that is the Aurum, but would extraplanar influence (and capricious natured ones at that) cause friction with such a controlling group?

    • In my Eberron, I wouldn’t say that genie pact warlocks exist in great numbers; I’m more inclined to make it a story that makes such a PC a relatively unique thing. With that said, a) I could definitely see the fun of a genie pact warlock having a warlock tied to a different genie as a professional rival, and b) I could definitely see *A* genie pact warlock as an interesting Aurum concordian, even if they might be the only one.

  11. Where would the more obscure types of genies fit in, such as jann, khayal, and qorrash? Khayal are an easy fit for Mabar, while qorrash slot into Risia easily enough, but where would jann go?

    • I think that tethers to, if you Need every monster or race to be in Eberron. Personally I would just have the jann be native genie just as night hags are native fey and rakshasa are native fiends.

  12. What’s the role of mephits in eberron? Exploring Eberron puts them in fernia, something that fits smoke, magma and steam. But what for mud, dust and Ice?

    And can they be in service of other genies? Or humanoids? Can they be bound for magical items (such as a steam mephit for cooking hamburgers).

    • As described in Exploring Eberron, the mephits of Fernia are capricious spirits that essentially embody the chaotic and uncontrollable nature of fire… the steam that scalds you, the stray spark that burns down your barn. It’s noted that they can be forced into service by the efreet and are generally cowed into reliably serving, but that they can still get up to mischief.

      Beyond Fernia, I’d argue that what a mephit IS is essentially a capricious spirit that forms a body from the matter at hand. So mud mephits aren’t found in the planes, but if a binder summons a mephit spirit, it could inhabit a mud body.

      I don’t see a particular reason a djinn would use mephit servants. There’s no universal alliance between all elementals, any more than all fiends in Eberron feel a kinship to one another. And the innately capricious nature of a mephit doesn’t make it an ideal choice for a servant if you have other options. As for using steam mephits to cook hamburgers, that’s possible in a wide elemental scenario; maybe in Zilargo. But given that they are innately capricious and would likely be searching for ways to escape and cause trouble, it might be wiser to use a minor “raw” fire elemental.

      • Expanding on your argument the spirit might be a native of kyrthi, while there it’s a chaotic form, changing on a fickle or a pure spirit. Conjurers summon and bind them to material, a method not unlike golems.

  13. Since Eberron is heavily based in national divides, I’d think the most important swear words to know would be slurs for the various states. Alas, all I can think of is “stray” for post DoM Cyrans.

    • Yes, I specifically didn’t address slurs here and focused more on swears that are general expressions of frustration or anger.

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