What’s Keith Up To?

I’ve been traveling ever since the release of the Wayfinders Guide to Eberron and I’m only just getting caught up on things. Here’s of a few of the things I’m doing…
Beyond that, of course, I’m dealing with all the challenges of everyday life (the pipes burst in my kitchen sink!) and playing in and running a few Eberron games (I’m hoping my envoy didn’t cause the Mourning by killing someone on the dance floor in Metrol, but I won’t know for certain until the next adventure).
All this has slowed down my production speed on the website. I’m working on an article about common magic, as requested by the Inner Circle patrons. But that’s a big thing and it’s going to take a while to really get it right. In the meantime, I want to publish more SHORT posts on the site. Rather than doing two long posts each month, I’d like to be posting a few short posts each week.
So, what is it you’d like to see? I’m looking at topics that can be covered in no more than four paragraphs and don’t require a lot of cross referencing. So I could answer a single interesting question, or a might post a table like Why Do You Need 200 GP or Falling in Sharn.
If you’ve got some short-answer questions or hook requests, post them below! And if you’ll be at DragonCon, Rose City Comic Con, or Level Eater, make sure to say hello!

54 thoughts on “What’s Keith Up To?

  1. I’d kill for some more hook tables, especially ones for character backstories. Other than that, I’m just beating my usual drum for Undersea stuff and excited to see whatever you put out!

    • “Undersea” as a whole is definitely too large for a one-a-day post. If you have a specific aquatic topic you feel could be covered in 2-3 paragraphs, ask away!

      Looking for hook tables, any particular character types or themes you’re interested in?

      • I’ve got a small one, sure; what are the likely points of contact (both locations and factions) for surface-dwellers with the aquatic folks? Any notable embassies, mixed ports, or House overtures? Alternatively, I’d love some brief thoughts on what makes merfolk exciting – sahuagin are, ancient, and tied to a faith we don’t often see, while aquatic elves are a hidden part of a popular, mystical culture. What’s the hook for “humans, but underwater” that makes them pop?

        As for hook tables, I’d love ones tailored to each of the Five Nations, possibly focused on the War. And one for “what brings you to Q’Barra or Stormreach” would be fun.

      • I second the hook tables.

        I’m interested in the sample answers about “what did your character do during the Last War?”. Something what could be given to the Eberron newbie to provide them with the food for imagination.

        On an unrelated note, I’m considering making a “Khyber’s Harvest: 5e Conversion Notes” document. Are you OK with that? Is there something in this adventure you wish you had done differently? (I’m aware of the Living Darkness fiasco.)

  2. OH! I have a small something, actually! Could you talk about how exotic you allow Changelings to look via their natural shapeshifting? I have some ideas in mind for a wild new character.

  3. I guess we all are so excited for these new eberron products. I am buying everything even if i don’t play 5e and sometime it’s not easy to convert.

    Regarding possible topics, old but good question: once you said that WISH spell would need a stand alone post.

    Or: is there anything in Ravnica that you would steal for Eberron?

  4. I’ve heard that Eberron’s scale, both geography and chronology, is a bit larger than your original vision. I’d love to see a few paragraphs on that and the implications of changing the scale.

    • Goblins are normal citizens in the five nations, and even have a country of their own with several different cultures. For them, basically any reason a human would adventure, a goblin would. Plus, Dhakaani specific motivations like intelligence gathering/recovering stolen artifacts.

      Gnolls, harpy, ogres, trolls, medusa, etc actually have their own nation of Droaam, and like goblins, any reason that an adventurer from a demi-human race would have for adventuring, they would too. Plus, they could be sent by their warlord or the daughters of Sora Kell on a specific mission into the outside world, or they could be mercenaries/laborers with contracts negotiated by House Tharashk.

      They’re all seen as regular people, if a bit scary. Think of them as foreigners your country of origin has a lot of horrible racist stereotypes about, and thats how most people in the five nations would act towards them. Not hostile, part of society, but marginalized because of cultural and physical differences.

  5. I’d like to hear your ideas about Eberron’s solar system (and not just because I’m doing a space race game) — are there other planets beyond Eberron? Are the moons inhabited? Is Eberron surrounded by vacuum or by wildspace?

  6. Perhaps this is too much for a short post, but: when you created Eberron, you were largely building the setting around individual elements of D&D, rather than creating a setting and then dropping those elements in (e.g. Elves have really long lifespans per the Player’s Handbook, so you made their culture revolve around a refusal to let go of people and traditions). Many of those elements are still present in 5e, but some aren’t (such as the ease of creating magic items being totally removed), while new elements have been added. If you were creating Eberron today for the first time, and building the setting around 5e, in what ways do you think it would be different?

    • Mechanically, magic items are still pretty easy.

      The CR table in Xanathar’s alternate optional crafting rules explicitly doesn’t require that you *defeat* the challenge physically, simply that you are challenge by it and overcome it.

      That could simply translate to negotiation, owing someone a favor, making a trade, etc, or even just stealing from them!

      In a game that wants more commonality or magical crafting, it could simply mean that you have to spend more time getting the rare ingredients, or pretty much anything you want.

  7. I’d be interested to have some small details about what life in Cyre was like prior to the Mourning. The other nations have well-fleshed out multi-layered things but Cyre’s entire identity seems wrapped up either in a noble but lost cause narrative or in anger and resentment after the Mourning.

    Or if that’s too in-depth for a short post, how about just examples of naming conventions in Cyre?

  8. I may be the lone voice here calling for this, but at some point I’d like to see that Phoenix adventure follow up to Dark Omens you mentioned in a comment a little bit ago. Normally I’m running eberron 24/7 but I recently discovered Phoenix and I’m hooked! Bad timing considering your current focus! Still when you get a chance I’d happily pay for more P:DC content.

    Until then I’m happy with “crunchier” content for Eberron, like items, tables, and adventures. My perspective is that we’ve been reading fluff and lore for years now; let’s see some mechanics we can pick up and use tonight! Give us a short description of one locale in an unexplored corner of a great city with a few NPCs and hooks. Or share a few common magic items. Or how would YOU do siege staves and battle magic?

    • Consider this another “+1” for more on P:DC content as well. My group has been going through the Dark Omens campaign and we’re getting towards the end. Sure we could write our own campaign/session but I’m very curious about what happens next. *Especially* in regards to the “Pyre vision” from Mercy.

  9. I’d love to get your take on explaining Eberron to new players without overwhelming them. There’s so much cool lore, and it’s hard to figure out what to tell them about and what to reveal as the game progresses.

  10. In WGtE, you’ve got bond, flaw and ideal tables for the different backgrounds in Sharn. Could we please have similar tables for other starting points in Khorvaire?

  11. Do you see yourself ever doing an expansion dealing with getting into space and space travel? It seems a natural evolution for magic/tech in Eberron, especially since the world is in a cold war situation.

    • To me personally, I see that as being a story that’d I’d want to tell thirty or forty years down the Eberron timeline. Airships have only been around for eight years and are currently entirely under the control of House Lyrandar, so I wouldn’t personally go straight to the moon race. Beyond which, I feel the race to uncover the cause of the Mourning—or harness its power—is a more immediate focus.

      WITH THAT SAID, I think it’s a fun storyline for anyone who does want to explore it. And I’m tempted to do an “Eberron 1048” scenario that explores it (though I wouldn’t want any sort of official, mainstream advance of the timeline).

  12. I’ve got a topic you could probably talk about in a paragraph or two. Magic Of Eberron – what happened with this book?

    Don’t get me wrong, I adore a good deal of the stuff in that book, but it seems a lot like Faiths of Eberron or Forge Of War, where it doesn’t mesh too well with established stuff. Other than the numerous places where the book flat out makes errors about the rules in 3.5 and spells/other content that don’t work RAW, you’ve got stuff like: all the daeklyr being immobile because they’re encased in dragonshards and feverishly working to break the gatekeeper seals, lesser races worshiping the dragon’s gods, Blood of Vol being card carrying villains and invading Aerenal, and a lot of other weirdness.

    Was this book put together before the main setting book came out, and released at a later date? Conflicting visions? Rushed production? I know you weren’t one of the authors of the book, but I’m curious if you have any insight of what made it so different.

    • I know you weren’t one of the authors of the book…

      That’s pretty much your answer. If I’d been working on these books I’d at least have drawn attention to the contradictions. But I am and was a freelancer and didn’t have much contact with books I didn’t work on.

      You are correct: Magic of Eberron contradicts established canon on multiple occasions. For example, it suggests that Aeren was male; that Aeren was the slave of a giant “shaman” who kept his slaves in a pen outside his house; that the conflict between elf and giant was primarily fought in a single decisive covert stroke; and that Aeren became the first of the deathless.

      Previously established canon asserts that Aeren was female; that the giant civilizations were extremely advanced and had wizards and artificers; that the conflict between elf and giant was a lengthy war that lasted long enough to produce the heroes of the Tairnadal and drive the giants to produce the drow and plan to use epic magic (bringing down the wrath of the dragons); that Aeren died during the exodus and was interred on Aerenal; and that it took thousands of years to master the techniques of producing deathless, which were only possible because of the powerful Irian manifest zones in Aerenal. Beyond this, “Aerenal” itself means “Aeren’s Rest,” BECAUSE SHE DIED AND IS BURIED THERE.

      How does this happen? The same way Forge of War says that Thrane had no archers during the war, when previously established canon establishes that archery is a devotional practice of the Silver Flame and that Thrane had the BEST archers in the war. Somebody works on the book who isn’t familiar with canon; they have what seems like a good idea to them (“Thrane’s a theocracy! It should be crazed mobs with no real martial skill or discipline!”); whoever’s managing the project also isn’t familiar enough with canon to catch the contradiction.

      The short form is that this all happened a decade ago and that Eberron itself wasn’t as well known as it is now—so you had a significant number of writers coming onto books with very little knowledge of what Eberron was, let alone the details of established canon. And I’m personally all for cool ideas taking precedence over canon. IF these books had themselves acknowledged the contradictions and say “This is a different approach, use whichever you prefer” I’d be fine with it. But that’s not what’s going on here—it’s just a writer who hasn’t done enough research to realize they’re contradicting canon.

      So make of it what you will… again, these books were written a decade ago. I personally hold to “Keith canon” and tend to ignore the books I didn’t work on, though some are certainly better than others (I don’t have a lot of issues with Five Nations or Explorer’s Handbook, for example).

      • I really appreciate the thorough answer!

        I did suspect it was something like that, especially after making this post and taking a second look at the monster section in that book, and seeing the various quori in there. One of them is mentioned as being bred by the thousands, and multiple are said to have been around since the giant quori war, which contradicts the “turning of the age” and other stuff.

        You mentioned Thrane in Forge Of War, and ooph, whoever wrote that tried their best to make Thrane more despicable than the rest of the combatants combined. I found myself hating Thrane as I read it over again recently, until I caught myself and remembered that the book doesn’t mesh too well with the rest of the material out.

        Like you said, I like to keep to your “Keith Canon” over the stuff in the books that doesn’t mesh well. I’m pretty happy that a lot of it has made it’s way into WGtE! Again, thank you for the thorugh reply!

      • I would adore a look into Keith Canon, actually. Where written material is especially divergent/wrong, what you do that hasn’t made it into print, and so on.

  13. I think the previous post I typed up poofed, so here’s something else I’d like to hear about – Symbionts: how do you feel about them, and how can their connection to the daelkyr be used in interesting ways?

    I’m pretty fond of them, and I’m hoping they pop up in an official or semi official source. Not so much treading old ground (though I wouldn’t complain about them being ported) but maybe some guidelines on making new ones, and maybe some lore on how they were made or surprising spoopy lore on them. Maybe even some advice on how to make them terrifying in a session, instead of cool goey loot.

      • Thanks!

        And sorry for posting two questions, I wasn’t trying to be greedy, I got a 404 error after making the post about Magic of Eberron and assumed it died. But I really appreciate you responding to both!

  14. If there isn’t an answer already, what would happen if a Khoravar who could trace their lineage back to a member of the Undying Court sought the Right of Counsel?

  15. You have the Warforged, Shifters, Changelings, and Kalashtar in Wayfinder’s Guide. Do you have any plans to add the Daelkyr-Half Bloods or the Shulassakar to 5e?

    Either way, love everything Eberron, keep up the great work!

    • The shulassakar are one of my creations and I certainly plan to update them for 5E when time permits. I wasn’t involved with the daelkyr halfbloods, so I’m not as personally invested in doing anything with them, but if I was developing an expanded race book I probably would for sake of completeness.

      • Thanks for the quick reply.

        If I might suggest something for a post, I was hoping you could go more into on the expanded ritual spells, and their utility to players.

        Is it possible for players to learn the ritual versions of traditionally non-ritual spells, perhaps as a downtime activity? Or does the greatly expanded length of time needed for these rituals make that unfeasible?

        • Not Keith, but I can help with balance questions!

          Strictly by existing rules, no you can’t let players do that. But I don’t see anything game breaking (in either direction) with letting players cast non ritual spells as rituals on a individual basis, as long as you establish firm control over when they can do it and what spells they can use in this fashion.

          The long casting time barely affects the feasibility of those spells – most utility spells are super useful no matter how long they take to cast. Id be much more worried about them not bothering to conserve spells slots anymore because they no longer have any limits on how often they can use the more useful utility spells.

          But just do whatever works best for your group. Rule Zero trumps everything else – the rest of em are just guidelines.

          Also, personally I’d be very interested in seeing more of the “common magic” rituals that make the magical economy function. But you already did a patron poll with common magic winning, so I’m content to wait and maybe through my money at you(Keith) when it ends up as a supplement :3

      • Unfortunately half bloods have some of the same issues as some of the other stuff in Magic Of Eberron, right? I do have a serious soft spot for them though. Along with most daelkyr related things.

        Personally I’ve taken to viewing them as a subrace of tieflings because they’re very similar conceptually (humanoid Corruptrd by outsiders with evil subtype) and it’s not too hard to hammer out a subrace for them.

        I can’t really see them being converted to 5th edition until symbionts are too because they revolve around them.

        I bet the “Planes of Eberron” supplement would be the best time to slip them both in though. At the moment there’s a few alright conversions floating around for them on the DM’s Guild.

        Speaking of races, I was thinking about the Eneko recently, and realized that Goliath’s cover their niche fairly well. Work with what you’ve got right?

  16. Here’s something I’d like to know.

    In a lot of sources (and in a lot of posts here), it seems to be implied that there were a bunch of daelkyr in Eberron when they intially invaded ( the 1-5 star generals/marshal leading the mindflayer officers of colonel and lower,and the dolgaunts as NCOs leading dolgrims) but that most of them were killed or banished, with only a few of them actually getting bound to the Khyber and currently in Eberron. This kind makes the most sense intuitively (to my group) because the stats in the ECS are kinda wimpy. We assumed those stats were the generic “level 1 expert” (instead or commoner because they’re artists and scientists :P) daelkyr that make up the majority of their ranks vs the “level 20 archmage” someone like Dyrrn would be comparable to in this analogy. Being powerful and numerous enough to have conquered many world’s before getting to Eberron, but still subservient to the Overlord tier entities that are “part of the landscape” of Xoriat, and still possible to be defeated by a continent spanning empire allied with the Gatekeepers and an epic dragon. Sorta like the range of powerful native fiends in the setting (rakshasa up to demon Lord’s/archdevils) that are still weaker than overlords, or the Quori that nearly toppled the Giants.

    However, in some posts here it seems to be implied that the Daelkyr still on Eberron are the ONLY daelkyr (“what makes you think there are daelkyr in Xoriat” or something like that is what I saw on this blog once) and there’s none off corrupting other worlds. The idea that less than a dozen CR 20 guys.(with a few CR 26 guys) without spellcasting are all of the horrors who warped whole species and took down an extremely powerful and technologically/magically advanced empire, seems like it’d be a bit difficult to accomplish. even factoring in their hundreds of thousands strong armies of aberrations and the madness they spread. It seems to me that in that case they’d ALL be lunch for something like a great wyrm black dragon with druid levels (Vvaraak), if theyre in those numbers and at that power level. Dragons of Eberron has some seriously mighty dragons in it that don’t give two toots about what the rest of the dragons think when it comes to the prophecy/protecting Eberron, they could easily take on 10 daelkyr as printed at once, even with backup and end the whole conflict in a decapitation strike. Vvaraak was concerned enough about Eberron to float the conclave and do everything she could possibly do to stop them, so it seems to me that she’d do that.

    I understand that their power individually wasn’t the only, or even main reason they were a threat to the natural world in either scenario, but it’s still a bit tough for me to digest that less than a dozen of these guys could’ve took on an empire much more powerful than galifar allied with gatekeepers and an epic dragon, vs the other scenario where lots of the “average” daelkyr functioning as generals/scientists and a few daelkyr Lord’s functioning as top dogs/scientists took on the Dhakaani gaterkeepers and Vvaraak, but still lost.

    Which intrepretation is more likely, or at least the standard in “Keith’s table”? If I’m being honest id really prefer the one with more daelkyr, but I’d probably learn to love the second, over time. The Daelkyr are my groups favorite villians in the setting, especially after reading the article you posted about the “Daelkyr and Their Cults”. We love their inexplicable actions, and their unfathomable motives, and the fact that just one of them paying attention to you breaks your brain.

    Thank you so much in advance. I hope this wasn’t too confusing of a post!

    • Short answer to a long question: My opinion is that the stats in the ECS are for the weakest of the daelkyr, and that those we have named—The Corruptor, the Lord of Eyes, the Prince of Slime—would be more unique and considerably more powerful. The ECS stats are a base foundation to build on, but Belashyrra or Kyrzin have a lot more going on… and in particular, Belashyrra should have abilities reflecting vision, beholders, etc while Kyrzin should have abilities tied to ooze and disease. And personally I do think that there are other daelkyr still in Xoriat. I don’t recall saying “What makes you think there are daelkyr in Xoriat?”—in my 8-17 post on Xoriat I talked about daelkyr domains and illithid cities, so I don’t see it as all the aberrations clearing out to come to Eberron and leaving Xoriat empty. With that said, something I often say is that the daelkyr aren’t the most powerful beings in Xoriat; they’re simply the most powerful beings that have an interest in Eberron.

  17. I came up with a (possible) short-answer question after my initial post above:

    What made you decide to use dragonmarks as a subrace that can be enhanced by feats rather than a class where the dragonmark “grows” with the character or leave it as a “tree” of feats like it was originally?

    • I might be able to help here

      He wanted a way to let players get true dragonmarks at first level if they’re playing strictly by the book no matter what if they want them – remember, feats are a variant rule

      It also make sense from a fluff angle because true dragonmarks are restricted by race, so subrace is right up that alley. Plus, it allows him to give a lot of abilities to the dragonmarks that just aren’t suitable for feats, and allows him to introduce new systems.

      Also, feat chains are not a thing in 5th edition. Individual feats are the equivalent of feat trees from older editions. Feats are much more powerful in this edition, and a least or lesser dragonmark just isn’t worth picking up a feat for, and it drastically simplifies advancement because he can have it so that ONLY greater dragon marks require a feat, because they’re quite potent

      The only one that is more troublesome is the aberrant dragonmark. Unfortunately the feat approach makes it so that the aberrant dragonmark feat isn’t available to everyone at first level. The benefit however, is that any race can pick it up. Aberrant dragonmarks are my only gripe out of the whole system – I think they’re a bit meh for what you get (magic initiate is slightly superior in my opinion, you get more cantrips even though you lose out on boosting the caster level), and there’s no way for first level characters to get it if you aren’t variant human. Personally, I think aberrant dragonmark would’ve been better as a variant background, maybe you swap out your background benefit and flaw for the aberrant dragonmark, then you use the aberrant dragonmark feat to upgrade it to the equivalent of a greater dragonmark. Who knows?

  18. Hi Keith,

    Here’s a hopefully not too long question: what kind of economic sectors are not monopolized enough by Dragonmarked Houses (and the feudal nobility) to justify an Aurum concordian’s wealth?

    I’m asking because I’m having trouble designing Aurum characters. Indeed, the Aurum is opposed to the economic establishment, namely the Houses and the traditional nobility. Meanwhile, Aurum characters must be wealthy. But, how can you get rich in an economy so dominated by the Twelve? Together, they seem to dominate the manufacturing (Cannith) and service (all the other) economy to the point that, when you’re rich, you pretty much have to have joined one of the established guilds at some point – otherwise, the relevant Dragonmarked house would have (possibly literally) broken your back the moment you expanded beyond SME size.

    The only sectors that come to my mind are:
    -anything that has to do with land: agriculture, mining, and so on. Houses don’t own land. However, you’re likely on the turf of the landed nobility, which the Aurum also opposes. How, then, can you get rich without belonging to either the Houses (or their guilds) or the nobility? The obvious answer is:
    -crime: smuggling, extortion, you name it. There are Aurum concordians from the Boromar clan I guess. Although Phiarlan and Thuranni provide their own kind of services, they don’t really compete with crime syndicates. So, crime is an option. Then, can you get rich without belonging to one of the Houses, to the nobility, or the underworld? To me there’s very little room left. Aside from:
    -ancient lore and Xen’drik exploration: you could imagine a university professor leveraging his knowledge of Giant civilization or whatever else can aid Xen’drik expeditions (or to other areas), for example. Or a freelance explorer.
    -religion: the corrupt prelate. A good fit.

    Did I summarize it? Must an Aurum character either be a “traitor” from the Dragonmarked or landed nobility unhappy with her advancement pace, or someone who fits any of the aforementioned occupations? If you could point to a few sectors or kinds of businesses where you can thrive unhindered by the cartel of the Twelve, that would help.

    As a side note: why are Aurum members always depicted as villains? They’re no more domineering than the establishment they oppose, and they may actually form the most meritocratic organization in the world…

  19. i have a topic that could be answered quick

    i know that a large number of aberrations are evil, but is Xoriat really an “evil” place, like dal quor at the moment or fernia? i always thought of it of a more “neutral” plane, that madness and revelations are usually beyond good and evil the same way the law can be.

    am I totally off base, or is Xoriat a place that is neither good nor evil in a metaphysical way, more “unaligned” or “neutral”?

  20. There’s one city it’s kind of bugged me that there’s not even a short blurb written about that I can find: Starilaskur. A high-level overview of what it’s like would be appreciated.

    • Isn’t that the city in Thrane destroyed in the last war?

      If that’s what it is, I’d imagine there’s a good reason you can’t find any info on it – it’s gone.

  21. I, too, would absolutely love more hook tables.

    I would also like some “Eberron Mystery” answer tables. Something like a d12 possibilities for what could have caused the Mourning. Or d12 ideas of the true nature of warforged. Or d12 true intentions of the Inspired in Khorvaire.

    Of course, one of the rolls on a d12 would always allude to another unwritten option…

  22. I second the idea of background tables for other locations aside from Sharn. And more hook tables.

    I’d also love to see some lists of names and info about naming conventions for other races / nations like the ones for the Zil gnomes in the Wayfinder’s Guide.

    And, if this is suitable for a short write-up, it would be great to get some clarity on the relationship between changelings and doppelgangers. If a Doppelganger has a child with a non-doppelganger, is that where Changelings originate still? Can Changelings eventually develop the thought-reading powers of their Doppelganger ancestors?

  23. I don’t know if this is a short answer, a short topic, or a topic or two of its own, but I was reading the Origin of the Planes, and I was wondering why you chose the planes you did. Why have a plane of fire and ice, but not water or earth? Though primarily a plane of peace, why does Syrania have traits like a plane of air? Why have a plane of fire and ice when Lamannia and Kythri kind of cover elemental forces? And more broadly, why were these 13 planes the fundamental aspects of Eberron’s reality?

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the Eberron planes and how they feel reminiscent but distinct from the other settings’ planes, I was just wondering on the logic of splitting up the cosmology they way you did?

    • Short form is that in MY mind there’s more to Fernia and Irian than simply “fire” and “ice.” It’s certainly something I’ll cover in my Planes book… which won’t be for a while yet, but it is definitely going to happen.

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