The Morgrave Miscellany

I’ve just returned from the JoCo Cruise, where I helped organize a massive Eberron session that involved 400 players and DMs. I’m in the middle of multiple deadlines AND I’ll be at PAX East in a few weeks, but I will do my best to get a new Dark Six article out soon.

In the meantime, the Morgrave Miscellany is available on the DM’s Guild! This 164 page PDF includes a host of ideas for Eberron characters, with material from myself, Ruty Rutenberg, Greg Marks, Shawn Merwin, and Derek Nekritz, along with fantastic art from Kim Van Deun. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Chapter One: Classes in Eberron examines the roles of each of the core character classes in Eberron. This includes additional lore and ideas for tying a character into the setting, delving into the druid sects, warlock patrons, arcane schools of thought, and far more. Is your barbarian a Talenta dinosaur rider or a Vadalis super soldier? Is your druid a Greensinger, or a changeling menagerie? In addition to providing story hooks and lore you can use, it includes new subclasses and player options, including the Bone Knight, the Argent Fist, and the Pact of the Host.
  • Chapter Two: Cultures of Eberron explores races and other character options, including racial feats, alternate approaches to dragonmarks, Siberys Marks, and the Mark of Death. This includes deeper dives into the Talenta Halflings, the role of tieflings in Eberron, aberrant dragonmarks… and a new race, the Dragonforged.
  • Chapter Three: Fantasy Noir offers ideas and options for DMs and players who want to focus on the hard boiled noir aspects of the campaign setting.
  • Chapter Four: The Gumshoe Chronicles provides suggestions and hooks for low-level noir adventures.

The Morgrave Miscellany expands on many ideas presented in the Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron. What IS the Test of Siberys? Are there Greater Aberrant Dragonmarks? Are there other sorts of shifters? If you have questions or feedback about the Morgrave Miscellany, please post them below. I may not have answers to all of the questions, but I’d love to hear about any issues you have with the book.

Why isn’t this content being added to Wayfinders? I thought that wasn’t content complete yet.

The Wayfinder’s Guide is officially sanctioned by WotC, even though it is playtest/UA content. The Miscellany is unofficial content, exploring ideas developed by myself and the other authors. As such, it needs to be a separate product.

Has the Greatwenge Embrisa appeared in previous sources?  

No, she’s something we came up with in developing this book. The Greatpine Oalian is a concrete, established part of the setting, and we liked the idea that if there was one awakened tree with great druidic powers, why couldn’t there be others? Personally, I’d be happy to see a few more revealed over time.

I thought you said you’d never provide statistics for the Mark of Death? 

This is addressed in the book itself.

The Dragonmark of Death is one of the great mysteries of Eberron, and it is unlikely that it will become official content or ever have an official answer. In this section, the designers present rules for using the mark in fifth edition, which intends the Mark of Death to be a useful tool as opposed to a deadly weapon, supporting the sympathetic view of the line of Vol. As always, a DM may decide to use the mark as presented here or introduce a different form of the mark to suit the campaign.

The Mark of Death is a part of the lore of Eberron, and this is a possible interpretation of it. But as a DM you can always choose to use a different approach.

The Mark of Death section says that the mark was “once an accepted member of the known houses.” Wasn’t the Mark of Death eliminated centuries before the Dragonmarked Houses were founded?  

That’s correct. The Line of Vol was wiped out before the dragonmarked houses were established, and there was never a House Vol in Khorvaire. This is something that slipped through editing, but the detailed history that follows it is accurate.

On the Mark of Death thing – could we get some clarification/detail on the whole “The Twelve know there was a Mark of Death and so have left an empty floor in remembrance” bit?

If this is stated in the MM, it may be an error. Can you give me a page reference? As for the original idea, here’s the text from the 3.5 ECS.

The keep (of the Twelve) was built by Alder d’Cannith, a visionary wizard and master fabricator who used his studies of the sky to determine that the keep should possess thirteen towers. “The moons suggest that the perfect number of dragonmarks is thirteen,” Alder cryptically explained, “but we shall call the institution the Twelve, for the thirteenth mark was cast off long ago.” No one argued with him. (While the elves remember the Mark of Death, it is a topic they wish to forget. Aside from the elf leaders, few know the truth behind the lost dragonmark.)

The Keep of the Twelve has thirteen towers, but one of them isn’t set aside in remembrance; it’s actively used. Most people don’t know why there’s thirteen towers; it’s generally accepted that Alder d’Cannith was eccentric. Scholars who know better believe that he may have had insight into the Prophecy.

What’s the inspiration behind the dragonforged? … It’s a bit odd to drop a brand new race into the setting.

The Miscellany isn’t canon. It presents alternate ideas you can use if you find them to be interesting. I expect some people will like the idea of the Dragonforged, and others will ignore them. Beyond that, they follow the same principle I suggest in this article for adding any other exotic race into the setting. There’s only a few of them and they have only existed for a very short time. Primarily, they are an unusual offshoot of the warforged, similar to the Psiforged from 3.5.

Have you read the Morgrave Miscellany? Let me know what you think!

46 thoughts on “The Morgrave Miscellany

  1. I’d like to let you know that you’ve inspired the underwater version of Oalian in the Seas supplement being written on the server. Preliminary concepts include the “Greatkelp” or “Greatreef”, but this is subject to revisions as i research large water plants.

    • I think that’s great! The idea of an awakened reef or a sentient sargasso is a lot of fun. In my Complete Guide to Doppelgangers, the rustic doppelstadt can work like aspen groves—vast forests that are one single organism.

      • Another real-world concept that might have an intereting Eberronian application are the giant forest-sized fungal communities discovered in Oregon in 1998. See https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/strange-but-true-largest-organism-is-fungus/ Not only does it dwarf any other lifeform on Earth, it’s longevity rivals Oalian’s.

        An awakened mega-fungus could be the defender of an entire ecosystem, litarally omnipresent in a region. It could grow fruiting bodies (i.e. giant mushrooms) to interact with more conventional sentients as needed. Alternatively, I could see an awakened mega-fungus as serving druidict functions to the Drow communities of Xen’drik.

        • I’d love to present an adventuring party with an ancient sporefilled forest guarded by wandering myconids who are all the children of an overwhelmingly large sentient fungus orchard. I’m imagining the forest being capable of some verbal or visual communication in a distributed fashion, so that as a character walks they could carry on a conversation with the one entity through whatever parts to which they are near, like when Rick talks to Unity in season 2 of Rick & Morty.

        • Strangely, I had the exact same idea! Except my idea was more character-focused… Specifically, the backstory of a near-dead Warforged soldier who had become “saved” and became the willing voice of the forest above and below. Spore Druid/Primeval Guardian, naturally, able to channel the thinking mindlessness into mighty plants and pervasive fungi… I may have overdone it a bit, but I really can’t wait to get the chance to play the character.

          One thing I did change was more of a weakness; they cannot transform into beasts, only able to use the Wild Shape option provided by the Spore Druid.

  2. On the Mark of Death thing – could we get some clarification/detail on the whole “The Twelve know there was a Mark of Death and so have left an empty floor in remembrance” bit?

    • Is there a specific page reference in the MM that suggests the floor is set aside empty? If so, let me know. Beyond that, the question is answered above.

  3. What’s the inspiration behind the dragonforged? They seem a little out of left field, and haven’t really been hinted at before; it’s a bit odd to drop a brand new race into the setting.

  4. Wow, what a great supplement! There’s a lot of useful lore and mechanics here for Eberron enthusiasts.

    Among other things, I really liked the Sovereign Domain which was something really lacking in the Player’s Handbook. My Light Domain cleric felt like he was cheating on the rest of the Host. I also like how convertible it is for a priest of the Dark Six, with a little re-flavouring.

    I was also surprised and delighted that the Bone Knight was included.

    There’s so much I could say about the book but one point does spring to mind… why the Vigilante? We’ve already got Inquisitives. Is the Vigilante a shoutout to Paizo’s Pathfinder class, which was heavily inspired by comic book superheroes? Do you feel that superheroes are a part of your vision of city life in Eberron? Were you including it for the noir section – to give martial-minded players a thematic option?

    It’s great to see all the ideas you’ve put into your Dragonmarks articles and Manifest Zone have a place nestled together in MM. The new lore was appreciated too, making MM a very worthwhile purchase.

    • Why the Vigilante?

      Ruty Rutenberg proposed and developed the vigilante, and yes, it’s tied to the flavor of Chapters 3 and 4. I see it as being inspired by pulp characters like The Shadow and The Spider. While these aren’t commonly featured in Eberron, they can certainly fit with the idea. My original outline of Eberron included a masked mystery woman called The Beholder, who used a network of agents to fight crime in Sharn, similar to the Shadow.

      • [i]Crime Is In The Eye…Of The Beholder![/i]
        Another thrilling tale of Justice, in the cold dark streets of Sharn!

      • This is completely thrilling. The second I started reading about Sharn I knew I wanted to have a vigilante from there. Leaping from bridge to owl to sky-taxi to rooftop, committing daring crimes for the good of the downtrodden and saving the citizenry from dastardly plots and violent gangs, all while quipping and flipping… I just need to work out how to pull it off. But I have a few ideas…

  5. I am a bit late with new eberrom material since I am still playing 3.5 and until summer I won’t have time for studying 5e 🙁
    I’d just like to ask
    1) you if in noir you go deeper into Zilargo culture and karrnath conflicts;
    2) if in the book you explore the everyday life in Eldeen Reaches (I know It’s a topic you are interested into going deeper)

  6. Conceptually, I had expected a Bone Knight to be a Paladin. Am I just on the travel channel on this one, or was this more a mechanical decision?

    • It was a mechanical decision. With that said, part of the idea was that the Oathbreaker paladin already has a number of aspects of the Bone Knight… so a fighter subclass would be a way to provide a different approach.

        • So would the Bone Knight (a personal favourite class of mine) see both Oathbreaker Paladin and Fighter subclass as equally valid entries to being a Bone Knight, or are the two distinguishable in world, with the Paladin representing a different ethos (Oathbreaker is pretty hardcore and antisocial I find) that might be the more extreme Seeker aspects?

          • In my Eberron, yes, I think you could use EITHER the MM Fighter Subclass or Oathbreaker paladin to represent a bone knight character. Note that in such a case, the “Oathbreaker” hasn’t actually broken their oath; it’s the mechanics that apply.

            I’m old fashioned, and I like to embrace the idea that paladins are CALLED—that you don’t choose to be a paladin, but rather you follow a divine calling. So in my Eberron, the fighter Bone Knight is someone who chose the path—beginning as a mundane soldier and then devoting themselves to the arts of the Bone Knight—while the paladin felt a divine calling. Strangely, with the Blood of Vol, that calling would come from within them! “The call is coming from inside the paladin!”

  7. For the Pact of the Host: I wasn’t sure based on how it was written, but is this pact analagous to being a Chosen host for the Quori and/or the host of a Daelkyr symbiont, or is it something else entirely?

    • It’s a reasonable model for a character with a symbiont. I don’t see it as being comparable to being a Chosen host for one of the quori. Chosen don’t have a symbiotic relationship with their quori and there’s no physical manifestation of it; being Chosen simply means that there is a quori that can take full possession of your body whenever it feels like it. I could see flavoring Pact of the Host as being a symbiont from Dal Quor granted to you BY a quori — a chunk of pure nightmare bound to your body. But the symbiont wouldn’t be a full quori.

  8. Hry Keith, bought the new book the moment I saw it, Bone Knight is my new favorite fighter and host is my new favorite pact.
    A while ago you said you’d get back to me on heist locations in Eberron, (players are fighting against Dragonmarked monopolies). Got any ideas?

  9. Nice book so far!

    I’d like one book about warforged. Components subraces etc.

    Btw. A earforged with the feat to assimilate magic armor…can he get the +1, +2, etc bonus from armor?

    • Obviously not Keith, but I will say that the proficiency-to-armour thing that they get is supposed to be their own magical enhancements developing over time. So by flavour it wouldn’t be appropriate, and would be very very powerful.

  10. Hey Keith!
    Loving the book. I have a question regarding the Dragonforged and the Mark of Death. I wonder if since Dragonforged count as dragonborn, and dragonborn have the capacity to have the Mark of Death, would it be possible for a Dragonforged character to have the Mark too? And if so how would that react with the draconic prophecies, and the story of Erandis Vol?

  11. Regarding the Bone Knight, isn’t it a bit weird that their ability to marshal a large force of undead doesn’t really come online until the end of that characters “leveling” career?

    I could be wrong but I remember it being mentioned somewhere that the highest level most NPCs in Eberron get is around 14th level – if what’s been established in the lore regarding Bone Knights is true, that would mean most of them would have to be 18 in order for them to be effective battlefield commanders of the undead..

    Grim Conscription being a level 18 ability sort of goes counter to the idea of them being this elite force leading a host of undead Karnathi forces.. there would only be a small handful of them capable of doing this, whereas the mass use of undead by the Karns during the last war (thanks to the Blood of Vol) would have us believe that the Bone Knights would have this ability closer to the beginning of their careers and would grow in power early on as they become veterans.. thoughts?

    • I could be wrong but I remember it being mentioned somewhere that the highest level most NPCs in Eberron get is around 14th level – if what’s been established in the lore regarding Bone Knights is true, that would mean most of them would have to be 18 in order for them to be effective battlefield commanders of the undead…

      In 5E, NPCs don’t generally have class levels… and meanwhile, PCs are generally intended to deal with squad level combat as opposed to leading armies. So the Bone Knight is a path for PCs to follow, but you could have an NPC who has undead-leading powers without all of the other power that comes with 18 levels of PC power.

      It’s the same way that you can have a professor at Arcanix perform a ritual that a PC can’t perform even though the PC can do all sorts of combat magic the Professor can’t perform. The Professor isn’t a “9th level wizard”; he’s an “Arcane Professor.” PC classes are for PCs; NPCs don’t have to follow the same paths.

      It’s certainly valid to adjust it if you want to have a PC leading armies at lower levels, but again, managing a lot of followers can be a logistic slowdown, especially at low levels.

    • As far as I know, the NPC Bone Knights aren’t the ones that raise the dead themselves – the necromancers back at Fort Bones and Zombie do it, then the Bone Knights lead the dead into battle.
      So it makes sense to have BK NPCs that do what they do at lower levels even though they aren’t high enough level to raise dead.

  12. Howdy Keith!
    I was a bit interested in your thoughts on improving the Pact of the Host, just a tad. I actually really love this pact, and I could see it being my favorite of the whole bunch, however, there’s just one thing I think holding it back: The damage.

    1d10 magical choice of piercing, slashing, or bludgeoning is fantastic, however it’s quickly outperformed by Eldritch Blast, which the warlock gets an upgrade for just two levels after the character would earn Pact of the Host. I suppose the idea would be to trade off some damage for the resistances, tank stats, and cool factor, however, just a slight bump in damage wouldn’t be too gamebreaking, and I’d believe it’d still be beaten out by Eldritch Blast, but it at least allows the player some way to keep up with his friends, and provides him with a choice of the two.

    My thought is to add an Eldritch Invocation similar to the one existing for Pact of the Blade, that allows the character a second attack when taking the attack action, they’d have this option at level 5. Then at level 5 it’d be 2d10, which is what Eldritch blast is at level 5, and at max level you’d have a proper sort of choice between the 2d10 + tank stats or 4d10 (plus whatever invocations you’d like) for eldritch blast high damage spam.

    I’d love to know your thoughts on this potential addition, also, wanted to say that this supplement was just fantastic, it provided so much more than I could have ever expected, and really enriched Eberron as a whole. I cannot wait to see what more you have prepared for us!

  13. For the Silverbow variant of the Arcane Archer, why does Radiant Shot deal extra damage to undead, but not fiends? Isn’t holding demons at bay the Silver Flame’s thing?

    • It’s a good question. We’ll be doing a review pass on the MM soon. With that said, the Templars of the Silver Flame are supposed to defend the innocent from all supernatural threats, including fiends, undead, aberrations, and lycanthropes.

  14. Why do aberrant dragonmarked characters speak Goblin instead of their ‘native’ tongue? Are they meant to have been adopted by Goblins after being abandoned by their family? Are aberrant dragonmarks inherently goblinish in some way?

    • Goblin is commonly spoken in the rougher areas of Khorvaire, and reflects an upbringing in the bad parts of town. If the character is supposed to have been raised ina culture associated with a racial language, it could use that instead.

  15. Very interesting and wonderful book.

    But, I have some questions about Venomous Demesne.
    How advanced their city/civilization is?
    I know it is an isolated and almost hidden city state in Droaam.
    The city is on the shore of a river/lake, and it is ruled by Venomous Lords.
    And the Lords and other nobles of the city are tieflings from ancient Ohr Kaluun.
    These facts seem not so related their “advanced” civilization.
    Unlike Aerenal, VD has few description of their magical/technological achievement, I think.
    Could you kindly explain some facets of daily life in VD?

    • The primary point is that the base “magic level” of the city is higher than the rest of Khorvaire. There are more wizards and warlocks among the population (as opposed to most casters in the Five Nations being magewrights or adepts). They make use of spells up to 5th level, so they see teleportation and raising the dead as reliable services, while in the Five Nations these things are still rare and remarkable. They don’t have the scale of industry of the Five Nation or the scope of resources, but in short, their technology is more advanced.

      • Thank you for your quick reply.
        So, spells up to 5th level is reliable in Venomous Demesne!?
        For those who are accessible those spells, most tiefling nobles and some middle-class members I think, its city life is surely more comfortable and enjoyable than Aundairian nobles of Fairhaven.

  16. Just purchased both Eberron Wayfinder and Morgrave misc.
    * It would be nice to see all the stages, illustrated, of each DragonMark available.
    From what I saw on first glance – it seems to only show a few, but in the index, of WayFinders, it does show the different house sigils, I believe it is. (So something similar could be done with marks)

    * Also, Map of Korhivaire – would be nice to see the areas that are controlled by the various houses – (swear Ive seen a map in one of the old 3.5 manuals)
    Though in theory, I suppose the houses are evenly spread out, and don’t necessarily have a full area they represent, so to speak?

    Love the artwork in Morgrave’s over that of the Wayfinders – don’t get me wrong, I love 3..5s covers, but it feels ‘lifted’ for the Wayfinders and not compatible with the art in 5e. (Though to be fair – the art is consistently inconsistent… ie., clip-art wizards tower in StormKingsThunder – not to go to far off the rabbit trail, as I get they were trying to have fun and throw back to the old module – but there is a more consistent way to do it artistically… and Im hoping WotC brings the level of Wayfinders art up a bit – again, enjoying the more consistent feel and tone of Morgraves)

    Aside from that, really enjoying Morgraves a lot – better than Wayfinders at the moment… like the Dragonforged. Did Ruty come up with the idea, and you created lore around it, Keith?

    Aside from that – looking forward to more of your material on the DMG… anything else you working on you can tell us about – or are you still hard at work on that Eberron splat coming out this fall. 😉

  17. Perhaps I deleted the previous comment 🙁 cuz I’m not used to Subscription/Comment process of WordPress.com… I’m so sorry to bother you.

    It was about the 3rd benefit of Siberys Mark of Warding. (cast alarm + glyph of warding). Can I cast glyph of warding spell without expending a spell slot, OR must expand a 3+ Lv spell slot?

    And I heard that Eberron hardcover will be released. Does the hardcover include the interesting contents of MM?

    • The Siberys Mark allows you to cast Glyph of Warding once without expending a spell slot, after which you must complete a long rest before you can do it again. I’m afraid I can’t comment on the contents of the upcoming Eberron hardcover!

  18. I’m reading through the Miscellany, and it’s absolutely fantastic! Don’t think I don’t see what you did with the College of Keys, however. Let’s see. You can “perform” through your “Thurimbar rod” to produce a “Timbre Illuminous” that can open doors, mess with machinery, scan for magic, “cast” the “repair” “spell” or even “flirt with a door”.

    Now, I don’t know about you, but the words “sonic” and “screwdriver” seem missing from that description. I’ll be checking all of House Kundarak for unusual pocket watches effective immediately; I have a renegade Gallifreyan to track down.

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