Dragonmarks: Monks in Eberron

There is a simple truth in Eberron: people can channel powers that bend the laws of reality. Artificers and wizards use scientific methods to harness powers of arcane magic. Clerics and paladins rely on faith and a connection to a higher power. A psion uses the power of their mind, often enhanced by a connection to Xoriat or Dal Quor. Other creatures in the world are inherently magical. The blink dog doesn’t cast a spell; it simply steps through space, defying physics through instinct and biology. The medusa’s gaze, the harpy’s voice; creatures can be magical. The monk lives in the intersection of these things. Beginning with a foundation of strict mental and physical discipline, the monk learns how to channel a force that lets them perform impossible actions… from moving with superhuman speed to striking with fists of fire. Ki is a power the monk finds within, but it is magic all the same. The wizard shapes the energy that is all around; the monk focuses the power that is already within, combining this with martial discipline.

Other the course of thousands of years, many cultures have developed monastic traditions. It’s not a common path in Khorvaire; while the Silver Flame has multiple monastic traditions, the common templar is an armored warrior. But most people have at least heard of monks, and won’t be entirely mystified when they see one.

Here’s a few of the monastic traditions of Eberron!

THE ORDER OF THE BROKEN BLADE

Traditions: Way of the Kensei

Typical Skills: Athletics, Religion

Dol Dorn stands between the treacherous Mockery and the honorable Dol Arrah. He is the Sovereign of the simple warrior, of anyone who pits their strength and skill against another in a fair fight. Legend says that when a soldier was set upon by three ogres who sundered his sword, he called on Dol Dorn for guidance and miraculously slew his foes using only his hands, feet, and the hilt of his broken blade. He founded the order that continues to this day.

The Order of the Broken Blade is a religious order. Its devotees respect all the Sovereigns and honor them in their moments, but it is Dol Dorn who they look to for inspiration. While a Monk of the Broken Blade trains to become a weapon, they also honor the Sovereign of Strength and Steel through mastery of the longsword, and thus follow the Kensai path. The order teaches that their Sovereign speaks to them in battle, and while they learn the basics of their tradition in a monastery, it is only in true combat that they can learn directly from Dol Dorn. As such, monks of the Broken Blade wander Khorvaire in search of worthy struggles. Some followers of the Sovereigns welcome the presence of one of the Broken Blades and may ask the monk to help overcome a threat to their community. Others—especially followers of the Three Faces of War—see the Broken Blades as dangerous loners who are unwilling to work within the greater structure of an army. Dol Dorn is the Sovereign of Strength, and while the monks certainly recognize the value of speed, they are more prone to hone their Athletics than their acrobatic abilities, and they rarely rely on Stealth (that being more a tool of the Mockery).

THE SILVER FORGE

Traditions: Way of the Sun Soul

Typical Skills: Religion, Acrobatics

The Silver Flame empowers all those who would fight to protect the innocent from supernatural evil. The Silver Forge draws on the flame to transform the devotee into a weapon, striking with both fists and bolts of radiant flame. Few people can master this discipline. Devotees of the order typically serve the Church as templars and are recognized for that rank. However, those followers of the Silver Flame who know of the order (Religion check DC 14) will show respect to a student of the Forge.

The Silver Forge is a religious order and its members are charged to use their power to protect the innocent from supernatural evil and to inspire common folk towards virtuous behavior. While there is only a single Silver Forge monastery in Khorvaire, this was originally developed by the Shulassakar and could be encountered in that way. Certainly, a Shulassakar will be impressed by any human who has mastered this path.

Beyond the Silver Forge, there are some exceptional templars who follow the Kensai tradition, focusing on the use of the Longbow. There is also the Order of the Argent Fist, an elite force comprised of monks who have also been called as paladins.

SHADOW DANCERS

Traditions: Way of Shadow, Way of the Drunken Master

Typical Skills: Acrobatics, Stealth

House Phiarlan and House Thuranni walk a line between the role of entertainer and covert operative. There is an ancient path among the Phiarlans that brings both of these together, combining physical grace and performance with deadly martial discipline. When the Mark of Shadows evolved, it was incorporated into this tradition; adherents draw more deeply on their marks than their kin, learning to leap between shadows. When playing such a Shadow Dancer, you might work shadow and illusion into descriptions of your mundane techniques. When you deflect missiles, it may be because your enemy is striking at an illusion as opposed to you deflecting the missile with your hand. Your increased unarmed damage could reflect your crafting talons of shadow as opposed to stronger physical blows. Such things don’t change the way that these abilities FUNCTION, but it adds flavor to your descriptions.

Not all heirs of the house possess the Mark of Shadow, and some who do choose not to use it in this way. There is a separate tradition that focuses on disarming foes with performance, a path reflected by the Way of the Drunken Master. This is in many ways a deadly perfection of the art of the clown, a rolling dance that amuses and entertains while allowing a master to outmanuever baffled enemies.

Both of these are traditions as opposed to orders. They are ancient techniques a modern elf might master, but the tradition is all that binds monks of this path together. Some monks may join the Serpentine Table or serve Thuranni as assassins; others simply find their own way in the world.

THE FLAYED HAND

Traditions: Way of Shadow

Typical Skills: Insight, Stealth

The Mockery is the lord of pain and vengeance, the deceiver who destroys. His monks embrace suffering; through ritual torture, they overcome weakness of body and mind. As part of this training, a monk flays strips of her skin, treating the muscle below with an alchemical substance that toughens it. Once an initiate has learned to endure pain, she is taught to inflict it. The monks of the Flayed Hand are master torturers and deadly warriors. A monk of the Mockery seeks communion with her god through violence and treachery. Many members of the order sell their services as mercenaries and assassins. Others cause pain in more subtle ways by destroying hopes and dreams instead of spilling blood.

Monks of the Flayed Hand are most likely to be found as antagonists. However, there is a critical factor here: the Mockery advocates treachery and terror, but nothing says that these tools can’t be deployed for a good cause. A Flayed Hand monk could be a mysterious figure—never seen without her mask and long gloves—who inflicts pain and terror only on vile and evil people. There’s a touch of Dexter or the general idea of “fighting fire with fire.”

OTHER PATHS

There are many other paths a monk can follow in Eberron, and unfortunately I don’t have time to go into such depth for all of them. But here’s a quick overview of some of these traditions.

  • The Path of Shadows is a Kalashtar technique, a martial discipline that helps focus the mind. Despite the name, it is primarily a physical tradition and lends itself first and foremost to the Way of the Open Hand, though practitioners often train in Stealth and Acrobatics.
  • The Quori Nightmare is another Kalashtar technique, which draws on the quori spirit tied to the Kalashtar to strike at an opponent’s mind. If the DM is willing to adjust classes, you can reflect this by adding Intimidate to the list of monk proficiencies and changing the abilities of the Way of the Sun Soul to inflict psychic damage instead of fire or radiant damage. The special attacks of the Quori Nightmare take the form of a ghostly manifestation of the Quori, striking a foe with tendrils of terror.
  • The Shaarat’Khesh goblins are a Dhakaani order of assassins whose techniques transform a goblin into a deadly weapon. The Shaarat’khesh are ascetics devoted to their traditions and their vows. Most follow the Way of the Open Hand, focusing on the physical arts; however, some may have mastered the more mystical technique of the Way of Shadows. Stealth and Acrobatics are also common among this path, as the goblin favors speed over strength.
  • Claws of Eberron. While primarily a shifter technique, this is a path that can be followed by other races; it is known among the shifter communities of the Eldeen Reaches and sometimes used by the Ashbound. A Claw of Eberron draws on primal strength and instinct. When wielded by a shifter, the increasing unarmed damage reflects a minor physical transformation in battle. A monk of another race could still beneift from such a transformation, growing claws or fangs in a shifter-like fashion… or they could just strike with a feral boost to strength or instinctually find vulnerable points. This is most typically reflected by the Way of the Open Hand, and both Acrobatics and Athletics are common skills.
  • The Tairnadal. The Tairnadal elves devote themselves to martial excellence, working to become avatars of their legendary ancestors. Tairnadal techniques often focus on speed, skill, and precision over force, and there are ancestors who have inspired monastic paths. The Way of the Open Hand and the Path of the Kensei are the most common paths, but Shadow, Four Elements, or even Drunken Master could be justified with a logical story about the ancestor in question.

There are many more possibilities. Aereni monks drawing on the power and techniques of Deathless ancestors. Monks devoted to the Blood of Vol, who draw their Ki from their divinity within. Changeling mourners, who adopt the form of their victims for a day, giving the fallen’s spirit time to peacefully transition. Warforged monks who physically transform their body into weaponry. Beyond this, some of the Dark Lanterns learn the based skills of the monk—rarely harnessing the potential of Ki, but learning the skills that provide a deadly unarmed strike.

That’s all I have time for now, but share your thoughts and questions below! My thanks as always to my Patreon supporters, who keep this blog going.

Q&A

What would you say defines the monk mechanically and what sort monks that aren’t MONKS might you pitch with that mechanical chassis?

Physical abilities—Armor class, unarmed strike damage, speed—that build over time; abilities restricted by use of armor. Different traditions can push the class in different directions; a Kensei uses weapons, a Sun Soul has a ranged attack. Over time, you gain immunity to disease, poison, and age.

The focus on unarmed combat is a pretty specific thing, and it would be weird to ignore it. But that doesn’t have to reflect being part of a martial or monastic tradition. I mentioned a few ideas above, and just didn’t call out that they didn’t have to be tied to monastic traditions. Expanding on these….

  • A warforged whose enhanced abilities reflect physical evolution. Increasing unarmed strike damage would be reflected by evolving weaponry. Ki would reflect internal reserves of energy allowing the warforged to push beyond its limits or to activate embedded enchantments (for Element, Sun Soul, Shadow monks).
  • A follower of the Blood of Vol who’s drawing on their own Divinity Within—reflected by their Ki—to boost their physical abilities. This isn’t about monastic tradition; it’s enhanced speed and reflexes combined with skill at unarmed combat.
  • A Vadalis experiment: a magebred human whose class abilities reflect the ongoing manifestation of their physical evolution. If you’re using the lore from 4E, this character could be part of the program that developed the Mournland Magebred.
  • A creation of the Daelkyr or Mordain the Fleshweaver. Your evolving physical abilities could reflect physical mutation. Your Unarmored Defense could be armored skin, and your increased damage some form of symbiont-like grafted weapon.
  • A gladiator who focuses on martial arts, but isn’t part of a monastic tradition.

Essentially you have someone who can kill with their bare hands and possesses exceptional speed and a limited ability to boost their physical abilities or generate supernatural effects. You simply need something that explains those concepts, but as noted with the magebred human, this doesn’t have to be something that someone else could replicate.

Would Sora Maenya be aware of any ancient or primal paths that might be passed on to her war trolls?

In the past I’ve suggested that Sora Maenya might be the master of the Tiger Claw discipline from the Book of Nine Swords. She could thus be a master of a monastic discipline, but I would likely make it AN ENTIRELY UNIQUE TRADITION — not simply saying she’s an Open Hand monk, but designing a new tradition that someone can ONLY LEARN FROM HER. This could also be reflected by a feat that a monk could only get from training with her.

With that said, I personally WOULDN’T have her war trolls know these techniques. The war trolls are exceptionally disciplined for trolls, but to me the point of Sora Maenya knowing a secret technique is that IT’S SECRET AND AWESOME and that most people just don’t have the talent to master it; if you convince her to train you, you might be the first person in centuries to learn this technique. War trolls are heavily armored and talented for trolls, but I don’t think I’d make them THAT special.

I was wondering if you could touch on the Order of the Radiant Flame, the Brotherhood of the Mystic Fist, and the Long Arm school (and why the Long Arms were persecuted). Or is Long Arm one of the Phiarlan/Thuranni traditions mentioned above?

To be clear: many authors have worked on Eberron and added their own sects and ideas. None of these are things I created, so I can’t tell you what the creator intended. I’m actually embarrassed to say that I DIDN’T think to check the Player’s Guide to Eberron before I wrote this; as I usually say, what I write in these articles is what *I* do, not necessarily canon. I can add a few thoughts:

  • Order of the Radiant Flame. Faiths of Eberron states that the OotRF is a contemplative order that seeks spiritual union with the flame. In mentions that they “ponder the mysteries of the cosmos from their monasteries and shrines” but I don’t feel that this necessarily means they are PC-classed monks; I see “monastaries” in this case as simply being the abode of a community of cloistered faithful. So I would personally say that the Order of the Radiant Flame could involve characters of ANY class — including “classless” NPCs trained in Religion and Arcana, who are contemplating mysteries. I could IMAGINE a PC-class-monk of this order, but I could also see a cleric tied to this order.
  • Brotherhood of the Mystic Fist. The idea of this school is that it focuses on multiclassed sorcerer-monks. It’s mentioned in the PGtE, but they give no indication of its history or location. The idea of a school that seeks to develop “physical skill and arcane potential” suggests Aundair to me, but Aundair leans more towards wizardry than sorcery. So if I were to use this, I might go WAY exotic and say that it’s an old Sarlona technique from pre-Sundering kingdoms, and give them a lone monastery in the Lhazaar Principalities. They’ve preserved their tradition ever since the Sundering; they could be waiting to take vengeance on the Inspired, or for some chosen student to arrive.
  • The Long Arms. Again, this isn’t mine, so I don’t know the original intent. It’s said that they have close ties to Phiarlan, which to me says that it’s either a direct Phiarlan tradition, or that they were licensed performers, which allows this to be a human (or other race) tradition developed more recently. As for why they were persecuted, to me this reads more like a local issue —bandits or a vendetta with a local lord (perhaps a local tyrant being mocked by the troupe) than some sort of massive large-scale persecution. But you can certainly add more depth and scope if you’d like!

In the ECS is there’s is the image of a monk follower of the Mockery… That looks a bit strange thinking that monks have to be lawful. Any thought on that?

We’ve never been too fixated on alignment in Eberron. The order in question is The Flayed Handand I’ve added an entry for them in the main article. But looking to alignment in this case: as I discussed when talking about good and evil, personal alignment is primarily about the manner in which you conduct your affairs, not the end goal. A lawful person can pursue an unlawful act; but they will do so in a disciplined, organized way. Lawful doesn’t mean “obeys the laws” — laws are a cultural construct and one nation’s laws may be abhorrent to someone from another culture. It means that they value structure, tradition, order, discipline, strategy — while a chaotic person is more driven to innovation, personal expression, acting without thinking of the consequences.

In 3.5 monks are lawful because their lives and traditions are extremely structured. They are entirely about mastering an ancient tradition and following an established path. In 5E I’d be happy to abandon this and present a monastic order connected to the Fury that is driven by ecstatic motion and spontaneous action. But I don’t mind the limit on the 3.5 monk. In the case of the Flayed Hand, again, the monks revere a god who encourages treacherous behavior on the battlefield… but that doesn’t mean chaotic behavior. That betrayal will be carefully planned and calculated.. and again, this is tied to tradition and extreme discipline.

What about pacifist monks? I like Mohists and I want to explore moral dilemmas (they are inherent when you teach pacifism during the time of war), counter-siege techniques and the like. Where would you put the Way of Tranquility in Eberron? 

First of all, I do just want to note that when people in Eberron use the term “monk”, they are generally referring to cloistered ascetics associated with a religious or philosophical tradition—but that very few of these individuals actually have levels in the monk class. It’s the same way that the vast majority of priests in Eberron are not clerics. There are surely monasteries tied to every religion in Eberron and every deity in the host. Aureon has monasteries where monks transcribe ancient tomes of law and contemplate mysteries of arcane law. But these monks AREN’T martial artists who can kill people with their bare hands. So my first point is that there are SURELY pacifist monks in Eberron… but most of those pacifist monks, being pacifists, aren’t actually trained in deadly arts of unarmed combat.

With that said, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the idea that some ARE. Eberron has been through a century of war, and I think it’s highly plausible to have an order that uses the traditions of the Way of Tranquility to try to intervene and bring an end to conflict when they can. Boldrei is an option for this, as suggested online. But I’d personally call them Syraniansan order that has long contemplated the mysteries of Syrania, which as I note in this article is fundamentally the Plane of Peace. Rather than acting on behalf of a deity, they draw on the power of Syrania (reflected by their supernatural abilities) to enhance their efforts at mediation and conflict resolution.

 My players are about to pass Angwar Keep, which Five Nations (I know you didn’t write it) suggests is inhabited by warforged monks who defected from Cyre, and now serve the Church of the Silver Flame. Any thoughts on what a big group of war-veteran warforged monks would do close to the border of the Mournland?

They’re defending Thrane from threats that emerge from the Mournland, for starters. I’d imagine that they patrol the border of the mists, as well as occupying the fort.

Beyond that, they are contemplating the Flame and their connection. Do they have souls as mortals do? If not, does serving as a vessel of the Flame essentially fill them with a soul? Could they become vessels for couatl spirits or other spirits that have joined with the Flame? Plus, given the whole “no sleep” thing you’ve got 24 hour chants, etc.

How would you deal with a small town in Q’barra where a monk of the Mockery is the spiritual leader of the community? 

This is tied to my idea for a Q’barra Campaign. The point of having a character as the Faith of a town is that the majority of the people in the town share that faith and look to the spiritual leader for guidance. So this is a town founded by people who revere the Mockery. Which means they don’t have to hide their faith… but also, that the way the faith is enacted needs to take the overall good of the community into consideration. So, something like this.

Betrayal is a small mining town on the edge of Hope. It was founded by followers of the Mockery disgusted with the Last War; had one of Jarot’s children simply assassinated the others, Galifar would still stand and innocents would have been spared the losses of the war. This is a faith that has lingered in the shadows in the Five Nations, but in founded their own community in Q’barra the faithful finally had a chance to build a town openly driven by their faith. While many assume that Betrayal is a chaotic place where the strong dominate the weak, Dol Dorn is the Sovereign of Strength; the Mockery teaches how cunning and terror can overcome strength. The leaders of Betrayal have to earn the respect and fear of the community. The Sheriff of Betrayal is there to enforce order… and if anyone thinks they could do a better job, they’re welcome to assassinate the sheriff and take his place. But with that said, the sheriff DOES enforce order. The principle the town was founded on is that *assassination could have prevented the needless death of innocents* in the Last War. This isn’t a place where random violence is encouraged or accepted; if someone does get rowdy in the bar, the bartender will poison their next drink. It’s a place where people are expected to use their cunning to succeed — but to also consider the overall strength of the community. If a miner can salt a claim and trick someone else into paying a foolish price for it, so be it: that’s a legitimately victory of cunning, a lesson taught to the loser. And it can be expected that the loser will take vengeance on the person who tricked them, if they can find a way to do it; but that vengeance should only target the person who harmed them, not bring harm to innocents.

It’s understood that a wronged party will seek vengeance in Betrayal, and as long as that vengeance only targets the wrongdoer that’s accepted. So deception and trickery is accepted, and if you’re smart enough to get away with something, congratulations; if you’re not smart enough to pull it off without the other person realizing what you’ve done, now they are entitled to pursue vengeance. So haggling is a fine art in Betrayal, but no one will BLATANTLY take advantage of others… because such obvious predatory behavior invites retaliation from those who’ve been wronged, and as long as it’s legitimate vengeance, the sheriff will allow it.

34 thoughts on “Dragonmarks: Monks in Eberron

  1. Interesting stuff, for sure. I’ve got a Drunken Master monk who has been an arena fighter, and uses his unpredictable movements and loose desert clothing to make it hard to know where to hit, or where his attacks will come from, leading to missed attacks, prat falls, combatants running headlong into allies, etc.

    The crowd loves it, especially now that he is fighting in non-lethal pit fights.

  2. “A psion uses the power of their mind, enhanced by a connection to Xoriat or Dal Quor.”

    Have you developed this elsewhere? How dependent are psions on such connections? Can a psion exist without one?

    • Have you developed this elsewhere? How dependent are psions on such connections? Can a psion exist without one?

      Certainly. This isn’t supposed to be a thing most psions are even aware of. It’s based on the idea that all mortal creatures are tied to the planes. Xoriat and Dal Quor are wells of powerful emotion and imagination; so in the same way that a cleric draws magical energy from a divine power source, we’ve suggested that psionics are channeling power from Dal Quor and Xoriat. But it’s entirely a background concept.

  3. I like the traditions mentioned. A couple others I’ve used in games I ran were BoV groups that focused on their divine spark in different ways. One was mostly sun soul monks who worked to manipulate & focus their inner spark of divinity with the eventual intent of breaking the curse of mortality. The other side were long death monks who focused on the meaning & mechanics of dying in order to steal a portion of other creature’s spark & shield their own in unsettling ways with an eventual goal of breaking the curse of mortality through a different route than the other side.

  4. I was wondering if you could touch on the Order of the Radiant Flame, the Brotherhood of the Mystic Fist, and the Long Arm school (and why the Long Arms were persecuted). Or is Long Arm one of the Phiarlan/Thuranni traditions mentioned above?

    Also, any thoughts/hooks in relation to the Xen’drik techniques hinted at in the Player’s Guide to Eberron at page 109.

    • I’ve added some of this to the end of the main article.

      I don’t have specific thoughts on the Xen’drik thoughts other than that now you mention it, I believe that I considered Xu’sasar (from the Dreaming Dark novels) to have both monk and rogue levels, with the idea that she was following a drow tradition tied to channeling the primal spirits.

      • not to mention tossing missiles back at anyone smart enough to avoid being near them 😛
        In all honesty though, I think that being clad in heavy armor is an important part of the war trolls that makes players thunk their jaw against the table & whimper so it would be tough to match

  5. One of the most interesting things to me that you’ve done with these Dragonmarks is break down what defines the class mechanically and how those mechanics might take on a different flavor. With this in mind, what would you say defines the monk mechanically and what sort monks that aren’t MONKS might you pitch with that mechanical chassis?

  6. The relationship between a monk and their monastery is always one I like to explore, was wondering where you might locate monasteries for each of these traditions? Are there any monasteries in established cannon?

    • For the Shadow Dancers, the Demesne of Motion is in Korth and the Demesne of Shadows is in Sharn. The Broken Blade is noted as having its primary monasteries in Starilaskur, Karrlakton, and Rekkenmark. The Silver Forge would be in Thrane, and I’d see it as being isolated as opposed to being part of a major city. Adar has many monasteries. The Path of Light doesn’t have many full monasteries in Khorvaire, but you have places like the Gathering Light in Sharn that would serve the same purposes for a monk on the Path of Shadows.

  7. Hi Keith! In ECS is told there is the image of a monk follower of the Mockery and, if I remember properly, it’s even told that the Mockery himself is rapresented as a monk. That looks a bit strange thinking that monks have to be legal. Any tough on that?
    Second question is very 3.5 related. It’s common tough that monk is a very underpowered class. Did you ever think any eberron-flavour homebrewed rule, prestige class or feat for balancing it?

    • I’ve answered the first question in the article, and added a full entry for the Flayed Hand. As to the second, not really. Races of Eberron, the ECS, the PGtE all include feats or options for monks; I’ve never personally made any changes beyond that.

  8. Back in 3.5 Eberron there were the feats Double Steel Strike, Serpent Strike and Whirling Steel Strike, which allowed Monks to treat specific weapons (two-bladed sword, longspear and longsword) as “monkish” for the Flurry of Blows feature.

    Were there specific monasteries or schools associated with those Feats?

    [Flensing Strike was explicitly tied to Monks of The Mockery, which you already covered.]

    • Whirling Steel Strike was tied to the Broken Blade, the monks of Dol Dorn mentioned above (and in previous Dragonshards); the longsword is the weapon of Dol Dorn.

      If you switch Double Steel Strike to work with the Double Scimitar, it’s a logical Valenar tradition. But no, no specific traditions were in mind for those two feats.

  9. I’ve got a Shadar-kai monk, which in my game means he is from a dark, tragic, inspired by a weird mix of Dark Crystal and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, area of Thelanis. They are just as Fey as Eladrin in their Feyspires, but the dark mirror to the brightness of the Feyspires.

    Anyway, what thoughts do you have on Fey monks, what traditions might exist in the Feyspires, how different they might be with more nocturnal/shadowy Fey vs more bright Summer Fey, etc?

    Do you think there are monks among the Greensingers or other Druidic traditions?

    Could you, if I’m not asking too many things, expand on monks as part of the Houses?

  10. What about pacifist monks? I like Mohists and I want to explore moral dilemmas (they are inherent when you teach pacifism during the time of war), counter-siege techniques and the like.

    In my headcanon, some mysteries and inconsistencies from the *Forge of War* are explained by the Mohist intervention, who indiscriminately try to stop any conflict, anywhere.

    I know where the guy running Wayfinder Foundation Of Khorvaire site places Way of Tranquility ( https://sites.google.com/site/wayfinderfoundationofkhorvaire/5th-edition/classes/unearthed-arcana-options/monk ), but what do you think about it?

  11. I have several unrelated questions about your *Khyber’s Harvest* module.

    1) What was the intent behind the Encounter 4? There’s an alcove shrine containing three statues and guarded by Glyphs of Madness. PCs can ignore the magical trap, go around and enter the next room. Or, alternatively, they can try to disable the trap, which allows them to enter the alcove (which is empty).

    What was the cult’s motivation to guard the shrine in this way? Why hadn’t they inscribed the glyph at the entrance to the praying chamber instead?

    2) The soul prison is “a horrid eldritch machine transforming the villagers of Blackroot into servants of the daelkyr” which “is drawing out the villagers’
    souls”. What does that mean, exactly? I’m assuming that the eldritch machine overwrites the villagers’ personalities, turning them into living zombies. This doesn’t quite fit: when I hear about “drawing out the soul” during a ceremony called “Harvest”, I picture someone in a catatonic state, not a cult fanatic fighting intruders.

    What am I missing here?

    3) The Coat of Eyes grants a bonus to the Perception checks (makes sense) but gives penalty to Insight checks (why?). What’s the in-game justification for this? Does the contact with the alien mind of Belashyrra damage the ability to understand normal people?

    • What was the cult’s motivation to guard the shrine in this way? Why hadn’t they inscribed the glyph at the entrance to the praying chamber instead?

      There’s a few factors here. The critical thing to bear in mind is that this is a TEMPLE. It’s not actually designed with adventurers in mind. It’s further, a temple to a religion that the players don’t understand, and that if they DID understand it, they might become insane. So applying standard logic isn’t the right tool here. BUT: the alcove contains idols to the Sovereign Host. Presumably at one time, this was a sanctified shrine. The Glyph of Madness isn’t there to deal with intruders; it’s containing the SPIRITUAL influence of the Sovereigns. What it does to PCs that touch it is a side effect, not its primary function. So it ACTS as a trap, but that’s not why it was put there.

      The soul prison is “a horrid eldritch machine transforming the villagers of Blackroot into servants of the daelkyr” which “is drawing out the villagers’
      souls”. What does that mean, exactly? I’m assuming that the eldritch machine overwrites the villagers’ personalities, turning them into living zombies.

      “Zombie” is a bad word here. “Soul” is problematic as well. We’re not talking about “soul” in the same sense as the-thing-you-return-to-the-body-with-resurrection, we’re talking about “the mental and moral essence of the creature.” If you’ve read Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, it’s what he called “the shade.” The cultists would say that removing this allows you to “see the world with new eyes.” So the removal of this “soul” turns a creature into a cultist of Belashyrra, devoted to the cause, possessed of an alien mindset and morality, and likely to start growing new eyes on their body. But it doesn’t simply make them a mindless zombie. Toraash and all of the other cultists in the story have been through this already themselves.

      The Coat of Eyes grants a bonus to the Perception checks (makes sense) but gives penalty to Insight checks (why?). What’s the in-game justification for this? Does the contact with the alien mind of Belashyrra damage the ability to understand normal people?

      That’s exactly right. It makes you more perceptive, but the influence of its alien thoughts makes it more difficult for you to understand others; in wearing it you become more alien.

  12. I love how you painted the flayed hand. How would you use them as villains? What long term plan could they have?

    I’d like to explore them as unlikely allies, as an order punishing people that can’t be punished. Dragonmarked hiers, nobles, generals. Maybe a thuranni won’t kill you… but flayed hand will.

    • How would you use them as villains? What long term plan could they have?

      I see them as being less driven by long-term plans as an ORDER and more as being driven by individual actions. The function of the Order is to train monks. It teaches the traditions and techniques and imparts the skills. What the individual does with this is up to them. So some monks will use their skills to punish the people who can’t be punished, as you suggest; while others may simply delight in any opportunity to cause pain.

      Looking to the fact that the Mockery is a deceiver, I could imagine a Flayed Hand monk who works as an enforcer/assassin for a bad guy, slowly working her way up until she’s absolutely indispensable, and ONLY THEN turning on the villain and helping the players, taking satisfaction both in the drawn-out act of deception and pain of betrayal (on top of the literal pain of maybe killing the bad guy). Essentially, any smart person KNOWS you shouldn’t trust a Flayed Hand monk, so they might work that much hard to get you to the point where you finally DO think you’re in this together… and only then do they stab you in the back.

  13. I played a warforged monk in a non-Eberron game, going through Tomb of Annihilation. His name was Book, and he was a librarian (I used the Sage background for more knowledge skills and languages), accounting for his stealth, acrobatics (think the ladder bit in the opening number of Beauty and the Beast), and immense knowledge of Religion, History, and all things Arcane. He took great offense at loud behavior, and punished it with his staff and headbutts.

  14. Hi Keith and others!

    Now, I know you didn’t write Five Nations, but I’m using it and the Setting Guide to run my first ever campaign as a DM, a 5e Eberron campaign. My players are about to pass Angwar Keep, which Five Nations (I know you didn’t write it) suggests is inhabited by warforged monks who defected from Cyre, and now serve the Church of the Silver Flame.

    Any thoughts on what a big group of war-veteran warforged monks would do close to the border of the Mournland?

  15. This is a question that should be under the warlock post, but given that gods may not exist, how would you play a warlock who wants to be tied to one of the six? Would you reskin him as a “strange” cleric? And would you agree with him being the religious power in a Q’barra campaign?

    • The main thing is that the gods of Eberron don’t interact DIRECTLY the way an Archfey might. So you don’t have a casual conversation with one of the Six. But there’s a few possibilities. The Warlock could be a sort of strange cleric who receives visions from one of the Six. The Devourer might speak through storms; the Fury would fill them with wild emotions during which they’d have ecstatic visions. Or, the warlock’s patron could be an outsider who claims to be an emissary of the deity… so you have a concrete patron you can chat with, but you don’t know for sure if they’re talking to the boss.

      And would you agree with him being the religious power in a Q’barra campaign?

      If you mean what I call the Faith of the town — the local spiritual guide — that’s up to the character. The point of being the Faith isn’t that you happen to be a divine character. It’s that you take on the responsibility of providing spiritual guidance to the people… and that a significant percentage of the population share your faith and look to you for guidance. If this warlock is just interested in blowing things up and having adventures, I wouldn’t make them the Faith. If they are devoted to the Six and are going to be leading rituals, acting as the voice of the deity in the community, then absolutely, I’m all for it.

      Again, it’s also about the idea that a significant number of villagers share that faith. Are YOU happy with that people the primary religion in your town? A town dedicated to the Mockery is going to be a very interesting place to live.

      • Maybe, since they are in Q’Barra, they think the big war it’s a fault of kings and queens that didn’t use the arts of the Mockery. If any of them used more spies and assassins for killing the others, no mourning would happen. The mockery is killer but has a place in the society: minimize killings of civilians, minimize losts in the army.

        • Bear in mind that the Mockery is ALSO a war god… however, in many ways operating on the same principle: use of “dishonorable” tactics is the most efficient way to achieve victory. So sure, I could see followers of the Mockery saying that if one of Jarrot’s children had just assassinated the others Khorvaire could have been spared from war.

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