Q&A: Player Races, Goblins and Overlords

I’ve collected a lot of questions from my Patreon supporters over the last few months — some related to Eberron, some to Phoenix: Dawn CommandIllimat, or other things. I’ll be working through the list as time permits. Here’s the first installment.

I’d love to see a master list of races you would include in a 5E Eberron campaign.

As a rule, limit the number of races in my campaign. I don’t want Sharn to look like Mos Eisley; I prefer to work with fewer races and to have more room to really delve into their roles in the world and their relationships than to cram as many races into the world as possible. As a result, in my Eberron the Five Nations tend to include the standard Humans, Elves, Halflings, Dwarves, and Gnomes; Shifters, Changelings, Warforged, Kalashtar, Orcs and Goblins; and the various hybrid races, such as Half-Orcs and the Khoravar. On top of this you have the monstrous races (not all of which are available as PCs) that have a place in the world depending where you are… Ogres, Trolls, Minotaurs, Gnolls, Harpies, MedusasLizardfolk, Kobolds, Troglodytes, Dragonborn, SahuaginEladrin are optional if I’m going to work in the Feyspiresand Drow are an option if we’re dealing with Xen’drik.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few. Now right there we’ve got 26 sentient races — 28 once you add in the different Goblin subspecies — and that’s not even touching the options for subcultures and subraces. For me, that’s enough; left entirely on my own I’m not going to add in Tieflings (for example), because I just don’t need more races. On the other hand, if a player comes to me and wants to play a Tiefling or an Aasimar or a Kenku and has an interesting story in mind, I’ll generally embrace that story — as I’ve discussed in this post. So I can’t give you a true master list, because I CAN include anything, and generally I WILL if there’s a compelling story to be told and not just “I want this particular special ability.” And in the case of wanting that racial ability, I’d look at whether it could be reskinned to an existing race — such as the time I played a character that was mechanically a Deva, but in the story was a human from Cyre possessed by spirits of people who died in the Mourning.

And to be clear: this is a list of what I will use, not what’s out there in canon. Canon sources add Tieflings, Skulks, Aasimar, Eneko, Xephs, Eladrin, Yuan-Ti, and goodness knows how many more… because again, Eberron is designed to have room for almost anything. But that list in the first paragraph is what *I* will generally use when I’m creating a cast of characters for an adventure.

I don’t remember Canon sources speaking of kobolds and troglodytes, may you help me?

Kobolds appear in a number of places. This Dragonshard article is the primary canon source, but they appear in asides in many sourcebooks. Kethelrax the Cunning is a kobold warlord in Darguun, while Hassalac Chaar is the most powerful spellcaster in Stormreach. Troglodytes are covered in far less detail, but are mentioned as being present in Q’barra in the 4E Eberron Campaign Guide, and I worked this into the articles I wrote about Q’barra for Dragon.

It appears that in Eberron, Goblin is the name for goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears? 

The Common tongue does have this semantic issue. When using it, I use Goblin to refer to the language or overall species, and goblin for the subsecies. This problem is solved if you use the Goblin language, in which the overall species are the Dar, and the subspecies are golin’dar (goblin), ghaal’dar (hobgoblin) and guul’dar (bugbear).

In 5E would those three be a subraces of goblin rather than listed separately?

If the question is whether I’d mechanically represent “Goblin” as a primary race and have bugbear, hobgoblin and goblin be subraces of that race, no I wouldn’t. There’s significant differences both physically and psychologically and I believe that each of these subspecies deserves it’s own race entry. In fact, since tend to use 5E’s subraces as a form of individual expression and optimization as opposed to true biological divisions (an approach I discuss here) I’d conceivably include subraces FOR each of the Dar.

Does the Church of the Silver Flame have any presence in Darguun?

I don’t believe it’s ever been mentioned in canon. In my Eberron, the Dar are inherently rational and have difficulty accepting things on faith — something I call out in this article. This is stronger with the Dhakaani, which is why Dhakaan is presented as an agnostic civilization that lacks divine magic. It’s something that was likely weakened along with the eusocial bond, and thus you do have goblins pursuing religions after Dhakaan, but I still maintain that it’s not something that has either the width or depth of faith in the Five Nations. So this is why you have the Ghaash’kala among the orcs and no equivalent among the Dar: the Goblin psyche just doesn’t lend itself towards it. And personally, I think you’d need something like the Ghaash’kala. The Church of the Silver Flame as it exists in the Five Nations is based around the sacrifice of a human to save a human nation; I don’t see the concept as being especially appealing to creatures still seen as monsters by many humans, and the CotSF is a militant enough force that I don’t think people looking to establish a local church would be welcomed with open arms in Rhukaan Draal.

Now, if you want to START something — to have a Dar PC (or NPC) who hears the Flame and seeks to start a movement, becoming a new Voice of the Flame — that seems like an excellent thing to drive a campaign. And you could certainly have a friar in Darguun trying to pave the way for something. The fact that it doesn’t exist in canon simply means that it’s a chance for it to be the unique story of one of your characters. But I do think it would be a challenging path to walk.

Worshipping the Silver Flame still requires faith, which the Dar find difficult, but would it be easier for them to have faith in something that can be shown to be real?

Not really, no. Channeling divine magic is about more than simply believing that the power source exists. Note that in Eberron, most priests aren’t divine spellcasters. Those priests believe in their faith, but even they can’t truly touch the divine itself. I talk about transcendental faith in this post and about the question of divine purpose in this one. The net is that it’s more than just believing in a thing. It’s not rational. It’s about having an absolute faith both in the force; in its divine purpose; and that you yourself are a part of that, that YOU have a higher purpose and role to play. The typical Dar can believe that the Silver Flame exists. As established in canon, some among the Ghaal’dar and the Marguul DO worship variants of the Sovereign Host or Dark Six. And yet when it comes down to the ultimate surrender of self — the belief that there is a purpose to the universe and that you and this force are part of it — something in the subconscious of the Dar freezes up. To me, the logical explanation would be that it’s tied to the eusocial bond, which essentially defined a Dar’s place in the universe. Biologically, they weren’t designed to question their place in the universe; they fundamentally knew it. As such, their brains simply aren’t wired for the sort of abstract and transcendental faith that produces divine magic. On the other hand, they have a natural bent towards organization and discipline. Orcs on the other hand are passionate and primal and have a far easier time embracing abstract ideas… in small groups. But this also leads to an independent nature that makes it difficult for them to form large rigid hierarchies. Which is why even though the Ghaash’kala have been around far longer than the Church of the Silver Flame, they are far fewer in number and don’t have anywhere near the degree of hierarchy or ritual that the CotSF has developed.

Of course, none of this should stop YOU from having a Dar character or NPC who has found that transcendental faith. It’s simply an explanation for why the Dar as a whole have few divine casters and few prominent religious institutions.

How much is known, in general, about the demonic overlords? Is it generally accepted fact that the world was once ruled by demons and they’re imprisoned underground or is that considered a fairytale to frighten children or is it something only the most learned of scholars would know?
The Overlords are part of the core creed of the Church of the Silver Flame. The modern Church was founded because of the partial escape of an Overlord, which wreaked havoc on Thrane; so the people of Thrane, at least, take the threat quite seriously and are certain it’s based in fact. Any follower of the Silver Flame will know of the Shadow in the Flame and be aware of the fact that there are many other Overlords bound by the Flame, even if they don’t know deep details about them.
Meanwhile, I’m sure the Sovereign Host has myths about how the Sovereigns fought and defeated demons in the dawn of time. Bear in mind that there were dragons who had names and attributes similar to the Sovereigns; some believe they were the Sovereigns, but it’s just as simple to say that they were avatars for the true Sovereigns. Either way, we’ve already established that their deeds are the basis for myths, and hence you’d definitely have myths of their battles with demons (likely omitting the important role of the Silver Flame). And those myths could certainly include variations of their names and attributes. In Dragons of Eberron we present a battle between Dularahnak and Katashka the Gatekeeper, and there could easily be a related myth about a battle between Dol Arrah and the Lord of Death (though most versions of this might identify Katashka as the Keeper of the Dark Six).
So I think that followers of the Silver Flame consider the Overlords to be fact, and followers of the Sovereigns know them from myth – and the question is whether they believe the myths or just think of them as stories. Either way: common knowledge may include vague and possibly inaccurate details as you’d get from myths, but only a scholar is going to reliably know names and attributes of specific Overlords.

Did the Dreambreaker intend to betray Halas Tarkanan during the War of the Mark?

That’s a pretty deep cut. The Dreambreaker is one of the aberrant commanders from the War of the Mark. He first appeared in the module The Delirium Stone, and was further described in places like this Dragonmark.

In my opinion, the Dreambreaker was a true champion and loyal to the cause. However, he was also insane. Along with the Lady of the Plague, the Dreambreaker represents the fact that aberrant marks often come with a terrible price. The Lady of the Plague destroyed her village before she mastered her mark, and had to exercise constant control to keep from harming the people around her. The Dreambreaker had the power to cause madness… but this also affected his mind. The Delirium Stone gives this advice to the DM playing the Dreambreaker: “He sees visions no one else can see, and he believes the true battle is with the gods, with time and space, and that the people around him are merely manifestations of patterns. When playing the Dreambreaker, always act as if you know terrible things others can’t imagine. Take care of the Aberrants in your charge – but treat them as children, because that’s what they are to you.”

So the Dreambreaker wouldn’t intentionally betray Halas… but he’s not entirely predictable.

Thanks as always to my Patreon supporters! Share your thoughts on these or other questions below!

51 thoughts on “Q&A: Player Races, Goblins and Overlords

  1. One follow up on the Silver Flame/Darguun question, and it continues to be a bit of a fringe question. Worshipping the Silver Flame still requires faith, which the Dar find difficult, but would it be easier for them to have faith in something that can be shown to be real? For example, since the Silver Flame is a conglomerate of souls (something that are proven to exist and tangible on Eberron) as opposed to a god, would the Dar have an easier time being part of a hypothetical Silver Flame based religion than they would the Sovereign Host? Would the fact that the Silver Flame can be shown to be empirically real, whereas the Sovereigns are not, influence them at all? Could divine casters among the Dar draw their power from faith in the Draconic Prophecy since the Prophecy is known to exist?

    Thanks!

      • The Silver Flame is the only source of divine power that can be visited by schoolchildren on a field trip.

        Close, but no! As a supporter of the Ghaash’kala I feel obliged to point out that they were channeling the power of the Flame tens of thousands of years before Tira produced the font at Flamekeep; it’s a manifestation of the Flame, not the source of it. On the other hand, the seat of the Undying Court in Shae Mordai can be argued to the the seat of their power… so I’d send the kids to Aerenal for the field trip!

  2. I don’t remember Canon sourses speaking of kobolds and troglodytes, may you help me?
    Do you know if there is any Canon or unofficial map of any single tower of Sharn, just to have a better idea of how they are composed and how every floor is connected? And where and how exactly they “fade” into goblinoid ruins?

    • I’ve worked the kobold answer into the main post, just after the initial question about races. As for Sharn, I don’t know of a highly detailed map of a single tower; the closest would be the map on page 53 of the 4E ECG, but that’s an overview of the city.

    • Not in canon. Bear in mind that the drow were specifically created to FIGHT the ancestors of the Tairnadal. But as with everything, you can EXPAND on canon and say that there was a drow hero/ine who turned on the giants and fought alongside the elves, and that to this day there’s a single line of drow among the Tairnadal who channel this ancestor.

  3. Re: monstrous races, I know I’ve talked your ear off about sahuagin, but do you personally consider them canon at your home table? Ever since your earlier articles on them, I’ve personally integrated them pretty heavily into my own canon, and hope someday we can see some kind of mini-supplement on them if we ever get DM’s Guild support.

    • Re: monstrous races, I know I’ve talked your ear off about sahuagin, but do you personally consider them canon at your home table?

      Oh, definitely and I’ll add them to that list above. But I’ve never had anyone interested in using one as a PC, and even as NPCs, their footprint is very small. There’s a place in Sharn where you can go to find sahuagin, but you aren’t generally going to bump into one walking around Upper Dura. Of course, in the ORIGINAL model of Sharn, there was an entire underwater district for interacting with merfolk and sahuagin.

      • Oh, you’re going to make me weep! I dream of the day any of the aquatic races make their way back into canon; I know that Sharn now has a Flooded District at my table.

      • Is there any way to get more details on what the Flooded District would have been like? I’m asking since that seems to be pretty explicitly non-canon, so talking about it would be a work of fanon, making it fair game to detail, at least with the logic my brain is using at this moment.

        • The district is called Stillwater. It’s in the bay, with a few spires that rise up out of the water, so it has both surface and submerged areas. The entry to Stillwater and a chunk of the district are enchanted with a permanent airy water spell, so a captain could go down to bargain with merfolk in person. With that said, this also incorporated the existence of merfolk, sahuagin, and elven aquatic nations, whose politics could play out in Stillwater.

  4. On the subject of races (PC or NPC) and their roles in Eberron, I wonder if you have any thoughts on the subject of naturalization in the context of the nations of Khorvaire, both in the case of a citizen emigrating to another nation, and particularly in the case of a non-citizen applying for citizenship (e.g. a kobold estranged from their tribe). What are the requirements like? Do they vary much between nations?

    (I apologize for mostly re-posting this question, but my original comment was on an article that was already pretty old by the time I posted, so I figure it was likely to be missed.)

    • I don’t have any particular thoughts on it. A process should exist; it would originally have been tied to the laws of Galifar, likely dating back to when Galifar emancipated the goblins during his war of unification. Since Galifar is fundamentally a feudal civilization, it’s logical that naturalization would require the support of a member of the nobility – someone who is technically your liege. This would definitely have changed in Thrane with the rise of the theocracy, and it’s likely naturalization would be tied to oaths on the Flame; it might also have changed in Breland, which is also moving away from feudal tradition. Meanwhile, Karrnath shifted to the Code of Kaius and is also likely to be more restricted.

      With that said, I also think you have a significant number of people who aren’t citizens of the land where they live. Looking to monstrous races in Sharn, those working with House Tharashk essentially have work permits where Tharashk takes responsibility for them. A typical kobold coming to Sharn would just take up residence in Lower Dura or the Cogs and live off the grid as opposed to pursuing citizenship. But there’d certainly be a path to follow.

      • I’ve been thinking about Zilargo in particular on this subject; perhaps sponsorship by one of the Zil houses is required in such a case? The immediate thought that jumps to mind is that it’s technically the house Patriarch/Matriarch whose authority sponsors someone, but that in practice that’s more of a signing-off; any house member in good standing might be the party actually taking direct interest and dealing with the process on behalf of an applicant.

        I do get the sense that citizenship among characters of monster races would definitely be the exception rather than the rule. Mostly I’m interested in a general sense as to how much or little things would be stacked against those who were seeking it. It sounds like as long as one isn’t without means and/or connections it shouldn’t be a problem, but of course that itself is a pretty high bar.

        • I’ve been thinking about Zilargo in particular on this subject; perhaps sponsorship by one of the Zil houses is required in such a case?

          Family is very important to the Zil. I think that you’d probably have two different statuses. There’s be a sort of “Resident Alien” status – giving you some legal standing, but not the status of a full citizen. To be considered a full citizen, I think you’d have to be essentially adopted by a Zil family and house, which would be held responsible for you actions – so not a trivial commitment for the house to make.

          • Full adoption would probably be the route for the halfling war orphan who was one of the specific characters I’ve been wondering about. The kobold refugee might make more sense as a resident alien; her benefactor might not have the clout to convince her family to go the adoption route over the timeframe in question.

            Would the “Resident Alien” status be sufficient documentation for travel purposes? I know “traveling papers” are mentioned and I get the sense that we’d be talking about something akin to a passport in that case.

            (Kind of edging into specifics of a situation involving about a 2-week trip to Breland in the next story arc of a campaign. Can obviously just gloss over it, but I like to work out the finer details when I can.)

          • Did the extra digging into real-world travel documentation that I should have done in the first place, and I’m basically thinking about something along the lines of a Nansen Passport. This seems like it might not be a standardized thing at the point where the nations of Khorvaire seem to be; maybe a notarized government document asserting residence and possibly permission to reenter the country. The bearer might be in for a little more scrutiny at the border than typical holders of traveling papers would be, but for a Zilargo-Breland border crossing it probably wouldn’t be that much of a problem.

            (I feel like I’m putting way too much thought and effort into this by now, but this is a campaign that tends to be a little more focused on mundane detail than most. I realize this is getting pretty far out into the weeds vis-a-vis the article topic, so please don’t feel obligated to respond.)

  5. If I am not wrong, dwarves live in mror holds since the age of goblins. Do we know something about that society? Was it essentially underdeveloped and barbaric or they had peculiar arcane/clerical/druidic traditions?
    And, given that in Eberron dwarves has no special contact with giants and goblinoids, would you modify their bonuses in some way?

    • Have you read this article? The dwarves had a civilization that was largely BENEATH the Mror Holds. They DID fight the Dhakaani. And like Dhakaan, this civilization was largely destroyed by the Daelkyr.

      As for racial bonuses, if you’re playing 5E this isn’t a concern. In 3.5 I never felt a need to make a change. Once you start trying to equate those racial bonuses to culture and history you’re opening a huge can of worms. Shouldn’t a dwarf raised in the Five Nations have different proficiencies? If my dwarf grew up on Aerenal, shouldn’t he have elven weapon proficiencies? I found it easier to just say “these bonuses are in the blood” and not try to justify them directly.

    • Worth pointing out as well is that Mror Holds (I believe in canon) has trolls. That justifies the racial bonus vs Giants.

  6. Really random question: If each of the original Five Nations were to be assigned elements (ala Avatar the Last Airbender) which Nations would you say would be which elements?

    • Aundair is Aundair is Fire, with their passion and ferocity close to the surface, especially after losing most of their land during the Last War
      Breland is (now) Water, with their flexibility and community focus. What they were before was probably plant or metal.
      Cyre is (now) Void, but probably had a strong case for Water when it was around, with their spectacular style and culture.
      Karrnath is fairly easily earth; being stubborn and rigid in their thinking with a solid hierarchy
      Thrane is Air, with their faith in the intangible and archers. Thrane believes, as their core identity.

      • Interesting thoughts. I’ve actually come up with several recently, here is my most recent take.

        Karrnath is Water, which goes with its frigid environments and water is the closest to blood.
        Cyre is Earth, the element of engineering and gold.
        Thrane is Fire, drawing on inspiration from the Silver Flame.
        Aundair is Aether, the most ephemeral and magical of elements.
        Breland is Air, the symbol of their iconic towers reaching to the sky (and not just Sharn either) and the most reclusive of the elements.

  7. In Sharn: city of towers there are several interesting characters. A few of them of considerable power. I’d like to ask you how would you use them in a campaign, just the first thing that comes to your mind:
    – Chance, the changeling that runs the casino and is even a high level adept of the traveller. It is said to take care of the spiritual duties of the the tyrants, but he has his own agenda;
    – The lich that stays in the cemetery and has a feud with a 5 level paladin of the flame, but respect her so much that doesn’t want to kill her. Basically I love the character that can be both mortal enemies and unlikely allied;
    – Luka Syara, the angel that was so discombobuled adn deprimited by the war that turned neutral and writes drama; I love her tragic figure, but by the way I wonder if turning neutral shouldn’t change her in something different from an angel and why should her superiors come to material plane to punish her if they detect her, since as far as you tell us the war in their plane is far more importal then anything happening in Eberron.

    Another interesting thing I noticed is that at least two Lord of Dusts plots are acrive in Sharn: in Aundarian ambassy and the Silver Flame archyeroophant. Bot as far as I remember, no dragon of the chamber is told to be in town. Was it intentional?

    Finally, going really off topic: are you familiar with Iron Kingdoms? Is there anything from that setting that you’d like to include in Eberron?

    • This is pretty far off topic; given that I have limited time, I don’t like answering off-topic questions since people who in the future are looking for information about Sharn NPCs won’t think to look on a post about races and overlords. So I’ll add it to the Q&A list for a future post about Sharn – until then, perhaps others here will have good answers for you! As for Iron Kingdoms, I’m aware of it but have never actually read it; my impression is that it’s more concretely steampunk than Eberron.

      One quick thought on the NPCs, though:

      Chance, the changeling that runs the casino and is even a high level adept of the traveller. It is said to take care of the spiritual duties of the the tyrants, but he has his own agenda…

      Not exactly. You say “He has his own agenda”; The Sharn sourcebook says “it serves the Traveler in its own way and stands above the guilds and politics of the city.” Chance is a powerful adept and their actions aren’t driven by their own desires or goals; it’s here to serve the Traveler. And the Traveler is chaos, transformation and change. Chance doesn’t want anything for itself; it wants to set change in motion, in ways that will sometimes be dangerous for players, sometimes beneficial, and always interesting. As depicted in Sharn, Chance sets these things in motion through interaction with individuals. Through wagers, Chance may set any number of things in motion, be it based on the nature of the wager or the reward. Take the example of “Can you seduce the Aereni ambassador” – what happens if you succeed? Will this end up being the start of a star-crossed romance that will throw the Aereni embassy into chaos? If you FAIL, will the angry ambassador lay a curse of you that will cause you trouble in the future? If you win the wager, will you gain an artifact that grants you power but will also get you in trouble?

      The point is that Chance’s actions don’t necessarily benefit CHANCE in any way. That’s not its goal. It serves the Traveler, and the Traveler brings chaos, challenge and change; that’s what Chance will do.

  8. I can’t pretend taking the place of our host here, but let me give you my answer to your first question.

    First, Chance is a spiritual leader and a level 14 NPC. Just in the spirit of comparison, let’s remind that such a level of power places him not so far below Jaela Daran (without being restrained to a specific place as she is) and significantly above Malevanor. I don’t think, on the other hand, that there is any other spiritual leader canonically described for any other god or goddess from the Sovereigns or the Sextumvirat. So… my guess is that the guy has to be *the* most preeminent high priest of the Traveler in all Khorvaire. Only the Cabinet of Faces could maybe compete with that. Tyrants or no Tyrants, that’s something that will bring him the respect of most changelings. And for those who aren’t changelings and don’t understand what motivates his actions… he’s just A/ immensely powerful and B/ apparently batsh*t crazy, which is the kind of combination that tend to keep people at bay.

    Now, if you’ve ever seen David Fincher’s movie “The Game”, you may have a first hint as how I understand the insane wagers mentioned in the sourcebook (“Can you survive for two days with House Tarkanan trying to assassinate you? Can you seduce the ambassador from Aerenal in the next 24 hours?”). In my Eberron, Chance organizes all that as a tool for people to push their limits, to force them to dramatically outgrow their current situation. Or potentially lose everything trying. Chance’s philosophy (again: as I see it) revolves around the notion of the “gifts of the Traveler”, which notoriously are double-edged swords. If you only seek immediate satisfaction, well, there’s the Velvet nearby, it’s a very fine establishment, you won’t regret your night there; but it won’t change your life. In the long run, satisfaction only equals to stagnation. This is not the way of the Traveler: for things to advance, for progress to be made, you must accept to take risks.

    I can imagine Chance either being at odds with the Cabinet of Faces or being in league with it, depending of your scenario. But outside of that, I wouldn’t guess he has any particular “secret agenda”. In my Eberron, he genuinely wants to help people. Only thing is, his conceptions about helping people may very well mean for you to be stranded to face an almost certain death.

    • I agree in principle. Chance believes that change is good – that it is by facing unexpected challenges and opportunities that we grow. On the other hand, in my Eberron Chance itself doesn’t KNOW the full impact of the situations it sets in motion. It is acting for the Traveler, and it follows divine inspiration.

      The main point to me is that “seduce the Aereni ambassador” wager. On the surface it’s about you trying to accomplish the task. But it’s possible that success or failure could have wider-ranging consequences for you, the ambassador, the Aereni embassy, possibly Aerenal as a whole. Say you wildly succeed, the ambassador is enthralled by you, and breaks off a betrothal that had been arranged decades ago to ally two feuding lines in Aerenal, and before you know it you’re being targeted by Deathless assassins. This is about you, but it’s also introducing change and challenge to the ambassador, to those noble lines, and so on. Now, my point is that CHANCE didn’t PLAN this. Chance was simply inspired to set the wager, and would say that inspiration came from the Traveler. That’s the point to me of Chance being that high-level adept. It’s a little like Sora Teraza. Chance isn’t pursuing its own agenda; it is acting as an agent of the Traveler, setting change in motion. Chance shares the gifts of the Traveler; what happens once the gift is given is no longer their concern.

  9. That’s very clear to me, thanks. I was wondering if tyrants share his beliefs and/or if they can rely on him.
    I really love how you picture him. I’d love to know more on his past and how he became such an adept and how he behaves with people he really like or love

    • I was wondering if tyrants share his beliefs and/or if they can rely on him.

      They do share the same faith, but just like followers of the Silver Flame or Sovereign Host, not everyone who believes a thing believes it with the same intensity. Chance is a holy adept who’s devoted its life to doing the work of the Traveler. The Tyrants are career criminals and information brokers. They generally follow the Traveler and believe he blesses their actions, but they aren’t a religious order; they are a crime syndicate.

      They respect Chance as a powerful priest of the Traveler, and they call on Chance for the same services that any parishioner would ask of a priest – primarily spiritual guidance. They also may approach Chance when they have need of adept spells, and Chance may oblige. But can they RELY on Chance? NO. Chance’s entry specifies that it MAY provide magical assistance to the Tyrants, but “it serves the Traveler in its own way and stands above the guilds and politics of the city.”

  10. I’ve been thinking a lot about goblins recently, for Eberron and elsewhere, and was wondering if you’re aware of Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell’s Edge Chronicles, and if their goblins might be a good model for Eberronian goblinoid subraces.

    • The 4e Eberron Campaign Guide has a p. good list starting on page 123.
      – Sheshka, the Queen of Stone, who rules the medusa of Cazhaak Draal by word and loyalty
      – Drul Kantar, an ogre mage seated in Thrakelorn, agent of the Lords of Dust
      – Callain of the Bloody Word, leader of the Wind Howler harpies and enemy of the hags
      – Kethelrax the Cunning, kobold lord of Shaarat Kol, mentioned above
      – The Prince of Bones, an ancient troll seated in Suthar Draal and a loyal ally of the hags
      – Cairngorm, the lord of the Grimstone Keep gargoyles
      – Bal Molesh, leader of the Venomous Demesne
      – Gorodan Ashlord, fire giant scholar exiled from Xen’drik for his ambitions; ruler of Vralkek, the only port in Droaam
      – Rhesh Turakbar, minotaur warlord of Turakbar’s Fist, servant of Baphomet (Overlord of bestial fury I’m guessing?)
      – Tzaryan Rrac, ogre mage and arcane scholar, ambitious ruler of Tzaryan Keep
      The 3.5 Eberron Campaign Setting also mentions Zaeurl, a semi-warlord and leader of the Dark Pack, a troupe of surviving werewolves.
      (I wanna say the demonym is Droaamite, but I’m not sure why.)

      • I think the list from the 4E ECG is the most extensive, though the fact that it doesn’t include Zaeurl is a significant oversight; I certainly consider Zaeurl to be an important warlord.

        • I Think a couple of gnoll packs are Canon too, even if I don’t remember if the warlords are named. There is even a group of gnoll druids. Btw I remember that you wrote an amazing dragon article on gnolls. Would you use more or less the same guidelines for Eberron gnolls?

          • I Think a couple of gnoll packs are Canon too, even if I don’t remember if the warlords are named.

            The Znir Pact is a power group within Droaam, but they’ve worked as mercenaries since long before the Daughters came to power. The Znir currently work for the Daughters, but they aren’t part of the structure of warlords.

            I remember that you wrote an amazing dragon article on gnolls.

            That’s “Playing Gnolls” in Dragon 367. Much of it applies to the Znir, though the section on “The Butcher’s Brood” generally doesn’t apply; the basic principle of the Znir is that they turned away from demon worship.

  11. Ah a little question that is tied to what you answered on goblin faith: do you think a druid can even believe in one of the sovereign hosts? In case, what is the difference between a druid priest of Arawei and a cleric one?

    • As I call out in this post – http://keith-baker.com/dragonmarks-61816-faith-and-wisdom/ – in my opinion druidic magic isn’t driven by faith. It’s about learning to connect to and manipulate the primal power of the world, as opposed to reaching out to a power BEYOND the world.

      Do you think a druid can even believe in one of the sovereign hosts? In case, what is the difference between a druid priest of Arawei and a cleric one?

      Of course it’s POSSIBLE. You can make a character who’s a multiclass cleric/druid, so clearly you can do both. But the simple mechanical fact is that clerics and druids choose spells from different spell lists. Even if they can both cast THE SAME SPELLS – a nature cleric can cast Animal Friendship – they cast them in different ways. Short form: If you have a cleric/druid, when they cast animal friendship as a cleric spell they are invoking Arawai and channeling HER power; when they cast it as a druid, they are drawing on the power of the natural world. It looks different to an observer and it’s a different process for the caster.

      So a druid COULD believe in Arawai and believe that it’s Arawai and the Devourer who guide the natural world, but while performing druidic magic they are still interacting with nature, not calling directly on the Sovereign. Most druids are more pragmatic. The Greensingers are aware of the planes and generally view clerics as interacting with extraplanar forces. The Ashbound are often just as hostile to divine casters as they are to arcane – in their eyes, divine magic is still unnatural. Wardens, Children of Winter and Gatekeepers generally aren’t opposed to divine magic, but they aren’t predisposed to have an interest in gods; their focus is on the world around them, and they don’t need to pray to a deity to work with nature.

  12. I see what you mean… but would you agree if a player wants to play a character that mechanically is a druid, but cosmetically, as you say, is a priest of Arawai?

    • I’m always happy to reskin mechanics to suit a story. If the idea is that the character wants to be a priest of Arawai but wants the class abilities of a druid, I’d allow it. But if the idea is that the character’s powers come from Arawai and the character’s faith in her, then I would call out that they are divine, not primal in nature; they would respond to magic items, manifest zones, etc as if they were cleric spells, not druid spells. A cleric of Arawai would recognize the character as a fellow priest, even if they have unusual abilities; while an Ashbound druid would consider the character to be bargaining with alien spirits, not drawing on the natural power of the world.

      At least, that’s how *I* would handle it.

    • Aquatic elves don’t have a place in canon Eberron, as far as I’m aware. That post is about my original approach to aquatic cultures in Eberron, but it wasn’t embraced in canon.

      Following that approach, the Aquatic elves are a magebred offshoot of the Aereni. They are physically distinct, but are culturally Aereni and are devoted to the Undying Court. They trace their roots back to the surface, and as such have ancestors in Shae Mordai. But they are supposed to be few in number and almost entirely unknown on the surface; most citizens of the Five Nations don’t even know they exist, and unlike the drow there’s not a lot of stories about them.

      Furthermore, can a Malenti pass for Aereni?

      Traditional Malenti are aquatic elves. They can pass as Aereni aquatic elves – that’s their purpose – but they can’t pass as surface elves.

      With that said, the whole idea of the Malenti in Eberron – called out in canon sources such as City of Stormreach – is that the Malenti are the result of a divine ritual that allows a sahuagin to assume a creature’s form by ritually consuming it. Malenti are typically known as aquatic elves because they are traditionally enemies of the Sahuagin and they create the Malenti to infiltrate Aereni aquatic territories. But they could create Malenti that can pass as surface dwellers… if they have a reason to and have surface dwellers to consume.

      With that said, bear in mind that the ritual is difficult, expensive, and physically and mentally risky for the participant; the transformation can easily drive a weak-willed sahuagin insane. So it’s not something they do casually.

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