Dragonmarks: Arcane Industry

Sora (Sahra Syrralan d’Sivis) by Julio Azevedo

Previous articles have discussed the basic principles of Arcane Science, delved into Arcane History and the evolution of the Arcane Arts, and discussed Wizard Circles. But we’re still building a picture of how magic is integrated into everyday life. What is a magewright, and how does someone become one? How widespread are factories in the Five Nations, and what are they like?

The first thing to understand is that Khorvaire is actively and rapidly evolving. My original draft of the setting imagined a world that was more industrial—a world where wands and rods had largely replaced bows, where there were analogues to cars and radio. In developing the setting we made an intentional choice to pull back from that, to ensure that at the end of the day it still felt like D&D. But that world is out there, and it’s not that far away. This is one of the main reasons we’ve never advanced the timeline. In the last century we’ve seen the development of warforged and blast disks, and the rise of the common wandslinger. Lyrandar launched its first airship eight years ago, and within eight years we have docking towers in most major cities. We’ve shown some examples of airship innovation, with double-ring vessels. But again, these are innovations we’ve seen in just eight years. What will we have in another ten years? Flying fortresses? Will we triple the speed of airships, or create skycoaches that don’t rely on manifest zones? Galifar may have been a peaceful, golden age; but stability and stagnation went hand in hand. The Last War forced the nations (and the Houses supplying them) to innovate, to use every resource, to develop new tools and techniques.

Now the war is over, that spirit is part of civilian life. The world is changing. It’s intentional that people in Khorvaire ride horses, that more soldiers use crossbows than do wands. There ARE factories in Breland, but there’s still a place in the world for the independent blacksmith working at their forge. Today Breland is ruled by a king; but who knows what tomorrow will bring. The Arcane Revolution is happening NOW, and it’s up to decide how that manifests in your campaign. So there are arcane factories, but they are still new and expanding. There are still artisans who don’t use magecraft or other cantrips in their work, especially in small communities. But factories are spreading and new magewrights are being trained every day. The world is changing.

As always, the ideas I present in this article are what I do at my table and in my Eberron. This is not canon and may contradict canon material. Where there are contradictions, it’s up to you to decide which path to follow or how best to integrate these ideas.


In considering the development and impact of arcane industry, it’s important to understand that the maps we have of Khorvaire are very high level. In my opinion, they don’t show all the rivers or roads and they only call out the most important or especially interesting settlements. There are hundreds of villages in Breland; Sharn alone is surrounded by a dozen smaller communities which, among other things, produce food and other staples the City of Towers relies on. This absence isn’t an accident. While it may SEEM like a map of Breland should include every community in Breland, the practical fact is that dropping another 400 towns and villages onto the map won’t actually make it better; it would bury the existing locations in a wave of noise. Those locations that are called out are the places where things are most likely to HAPPEN. There’s always an adventure in Sharn—whereas in the Sharn-adjacent hamlet of Dane’s Rest, the most exciting thing to happen in the last century was that time Lyndimae’s sow gave birth to an aberrant-marked piglet (something those fancy Morgrave scholars still say is impossible, but they weren’t there when it burnt down the sty, now, were they?).

So where the existing maps of the Five Nations give the impression of a handful of cities spread across a largely empty landscape, I see the nations as more active and vibrant, with steady traffic on rivers, roads, and rails. There are definitely vast stretches of undeveloped land—regions such as the King’s Forest or the Dragonwood—but where you have a major city like Sharn, Wroat, Flamekeep, or Fairhaven, there’s an active community around it. Even a town like Ardev has some smaller outlying hamlets and thorps. One reason this is important is because it’s these communities that actually produce a lot of the raw materials industry relies on. The cities are where you have house enclaves, universities, and nobles hosting galas—but it’s the villages where you have the fields, quarries, and mines. If you look back to my Q’barra campaign, that was set in a small mining town that wasn’t in any canon material—because they aren’t mining dragonshards in Newthrone! So the main point is that there is more out there—there are fishing villages along the shore of Redcliff Bay and miners living in the foothills of the Blackcaps. If you need one, just call it out and add it to the map—as I’ve done with my current Threshold campaign. Threshold is a mining town that has been largely irrelevant for most of its existence and has now become important with the rise of Droaam; and so, I’ve added it to my map and my story.

So there’s a reason we don’t try to show every village. However, I do have an issue with the limited scope of the lightning rail as depicted on the current maps. While it’s easy to imagine that the rail system suffered a certain amount of damage during the war, the lightning rail has been operating for nearly two centuries; while it may have taken a century to really take root, I see it as being more widespread than is currently shown and a backbone of freight transportation. I’ll note that in my first draft of the adventure Shadows From The Last War the adventurers take the lightning rail from Sharn to Rukhaan Draal—and part of the plot rested on the idea that while Orien doesn’t currently operate other rails in Darguun, the network of conductor stones is still there and independent Orien heirs are running smaller coaches on them. Likewise, in Threshold I’ve established that the lightning rail runs through Ardev and out to Threshold… and Orien is actively negotiating to extend it into Droaam.

Part of the idea of the upcoming Frontiers of Eberron: Threshold book is to look at a smaller region in more detail. But the key point here is to understand that the economy of Khorvaire is more robust than what we’ve called out; that there is an industrial infrastructure that’s deeper than the handful of cities we’ve highlighted on the map. The focus of the existing material is always on adventure, not on establishing a clear model of the industrial economy. But the economy is supposed to be there underneath it.


With that in mind, the next step is to understand the limitations of magic and a few of the key innovations that are driving the current arcane revolution. As the previous articles have established, arcane magic behaves in a scientific manner and it’s more complicated than it appears to be. It’s simplified in play because this is a game, and we don’t WANT it do be complicated for players to use. But player characters are remarkable. The fact that an artificer can potentially create ANY magic item they feel like is an expression of their remarkable talent, and also reflects unorthodox techniques; they’re the genius creating a prototype in their garage, but those same techniques don’t work on an industrial scale. Let’s quickly review some of the historic limitations on arcane magic.

  • Dragonmark Only. Long ago there were many effects that could only be produced by dragonmarked individuals and then, only a few times per day.
  • Exotic Components. Components are a limiting factor in both spellcasting and magic item creation, from the need to carry balls of sulphur and guano to cast fireball to the need to have the poison glands of a wyvern to create a dagger of venom. Looking to the latter example, a need for such exotic components made it unfeasible to produce such items on a large scale.
  • Narrow Skills. Arcane workers specialize in particular materials (cloth, wood, metal, paper) and specific schools of magic (Illusion, evocation). Except for player characters, the person who makes a hat of disguise can’t also create a wand of magic missiles, just as a gunsmith can’t assemble a television; the two items require a completely different subset of Arcana specializations.

Meanwhile, here’s a host of developments which (over a significant period of time) helped to usher in the modern age.

Spellcasting Focuses and V/S Components. The ability to use a wand to focus your fireball instead of having to carry a supply of guano-balls was a key development for the widespread wandslinger, and streamlined spellcasting overall. Likewise, verbal and somatic components are a tool that have evolved over time and allowed a more efficient use of arcane energy.

The Twelve and Dragonmark Focus Items. The Twelve created a forum in which the Dragonmarked Houses could combine their talents and create tools and techniques no single house could create alone. This accelerated the development of dragonmark focus items, which amplify the powers of a mark and can be used repeatedly. A Sivis heir being able to cast whispering wind (a 3.5 spell) once per day is a novelty; the development of the speaking stone is what transformed the communications industry. However, the cost of creating focus items was an early limitation, something that would be offset by…

Eberron Dragonshards. The most common form of dragonshard, Eberron dragonshards were found to be a universal source of arcane power—allowing early artificers to bypass the traditional limitations of rare components. However, even after this discovery was made, Eberron dragonshards weren’t available in significant quantities. When the young House Tharashk realized it could use its mark for prospecting as well as bounty hunting, Eberron dragonshards became available in significant quantities.

Access to larger quantities of Eberron dragonshards was a general boon to the development of magic items. But the match that lit the fuse of the arcane revolution was the development in the mid-ninth century of the techniques for refining Eberron dragonshards into residuum, a powdered form of the shards that concentrates their power, dramatically increasing the amount of energy people could work with. You know how there’s a base cost to creating a magic item? A significant portion of that is residuum, which can be acquired from House Tharashk—and this takes the place of the exotic components (Manticore spines! Irian crystals! Dragon’s blood!) that had been required in the past. Most magic items still do require some exotic components—you can’t make an airship without soarwood—but refined dragonshards provided a universal base material and general source of fuel that dramatically increased the ability to produce magic items and dragonmark focus items on a larger scale. Which in turn led to the following developments…

  • Agriculture. The widespread implementation of storm spires in agricultural regions allows House Lyrandar to ensure optimal weather, minimizing drought and other disasters. Cannith’s improved manufacturing allows the development and distribution of efficient tools, and they’re developing irrigation systems tied to the principles of create water. Combined with Vadalis’s enhanced livestock this created a surge in agricultural productivity in the late ninth century, contributing to the expansion of major cities and an increase in the industrial workforce.
  • Communication. While the first speaking stones were developed at the end of the eighth century, it was only with the discovery of residuum that they could be deployed on a wide scale. Improved communication helps facilitate collaboration in both research and business. The Arcane Congress developed sending stones in the early days of the Last War and continues to improve the tools of arcane communication. In turn, Tasker’s Dream—a think tank in House Sivis—is working to improve Sivis capabilities and services.
  • Manufacturing. House Cannith’s arcane forges (described in more detail below) allow more widespread production of mundane goods and tools. Combined with the development of the guild trade schools, this helped spread the used of both efficient techniques and tools that allow even independent artisans to produce goods more efficiently than in the past. These techniques include the magecraft cantrip, which allows arcane artisans work more efficiently than those using purely mundane techniques.
  • Transportation. As noted above, there are more roads and rivers in Khorvaire than we see on our maps. The elemental galleons of House Lyrandar are important for sea travel, but elemental-bound barges play an important role in river transport—and the development of residuum and improved binding techniques accelerated the production of these vessels. Likewise, it was the development of residuum that allowed the lightning rail to spread. According to canon, by 869 YK there were rail lines connecting the Five Nations all the way out to the Ironroot Mountains and the Talenta Plains, and the scope of the rail network continued to expand over the decades leading to the Last War. All of this aided in the transportation of both food and raw materials, further driving all other levels of the economy.

So the century leading up to the war saw an increase in the available labor force, while the development of cantrips and ritual magic—disseminated through guild trade schools—enable the rise of the modern magewright. Increasingly efficient techniques for finding and refining Eberron dragonshards made it possible to produce magical items and effects in larger quantities. Most professional magewrights rely on residuum to perform their rituals; it’s not just that people didn’t have the training, it’s that in the past it wouldn’t have been possible to sustain the modern magewright economy.

The Last War diverted much of the labor force, but it also created a burning need that didn’t exist under the unity of Galifar—both to supply the armies of each nation and for constant innovation, each nation eager to find some sort of edge. A century of war strained both resources and infrastructure, which is one reason that the dragonshard deposits of Q’barra and Xen’drik are of such great interest to House Tharashk. Now, in the wake of the war, the systems that evolved to feed that appetite are being turned to civilian needs—both repairing the damage that was done and finding ways to improve everyday life.


So we have a general sense of the forces that are driving the arcane revolution, but how does it actually manifest in the world? When you’re looking for general touchstones, what we’ve said is that Eberron has more in common with Earth in the nineteenth century than the twentieth or beyond. We are starting to see factories, but for the most part these are the sort of factories you’d see during the American Civil War, not modern automation. We have the point-to-point communication of the speaking stone—which fills much the same role as the telegraph—but in canon, we don’t yet have a wide-broadcast analogue to the radio. In general, magic is being used to produce better tools and techniques for artisans and farmers, but with a few notable exceptions work is still done by individuals. A typical smith may have trained at a Cannith trade school and may pay for the license that lets them display the Cannith seal; but such licensed independents still make up a significant part of the labor force. The greater industrial forces of the dragonmarked houses—Vadalis battery farms, Cannith’s creation forges—are expanding, and it’s easy to see have these could soon transform the economy in the days ahead. But again, that’s the point; the world is changing.

Having said that, the broadly-nineteenth-century model is just that—a general yardstick. Part of the point of Eberron is that it uses different tools than our world, and that means there are things that can be done in Eberron that are impossible even in the present day. While it’s not yet an economically viable service, House Orien can teleport you from Sharn to Korth in the blink of an eye. House Phiarlan may not have access to modern special effects, but they can do things with illusion we can only dream of. Prestidigitation can heat or chill food in seconds. This is especially true when we get into eldritch machines. Lyrandar’s storm spires can control the weather, and Cannith creation forges can create life. So the Five Nations don’t have analogues to television or cars, they don’t have the internet, and airships aren’t as advanced or widespread as our airplanes. But aside from the fact that arcane science advances with every day, always keep in mind the ways in which it does differ from our technology.

Let’s look at a few specific manifestations of arcane industry…

A Vadalis riding tribex, by Olie Boldador


House Vadalis and those independents licensed by the Handler’s Guild cover a range of businesses: animal husbandry, teamster services, veterinary medicine. These are generally specialized, generational fields. Redleaf Harriers breeds hounds, raptors, and other hunting beasts, while the Willowhaven Ranch outside Varna is the largest dairy farm in the Five Nations. As with any dragonmarked house, most of the largest and well-supported businesses are run by house heirs, but the Handler’s Guild also licenses countless independent ranchers and breeders. The black hippogriff seal ensures that the people in charge have Vadalis training and that beasts are cared for and raised according to house standards. So there are a few massive ranches like Willowhaven, but there are countless small farms as well.

When most people hear “Vadalis,” they think of magebreeding. This is a term that has many meanings. Let’s start with the earliest description.

The widespread use of magic on Eberron has led to the development of magical enhancements to animal breeding, particularly within House Vadalis. Some experiments in that direction have created new creatures that are actually magical beasts, with unusual intelligence and supernatural or spell-like abilities. In general, however, the aim of these breeding programs is simply to create better animals—ones that are more suited for use in the work of daily life. These magically enhanced animals are called magebred.

Eberron Campaign Setting, page 295

Today, House Vadalis identifies three distinct forms of magebreeding.

Incremental magebreeding is similar to breeders in our world trying to produce a new breed of dog. The result is a slight variation in the standard beast well suited toward a particular role: a hen that lays larger eggs, a tiger that’s easier to train, a hound that thrives in colder climates or has a remarkable sense of smell. One concrete example of this is the riding tribex. For thousands of years, the plains tribex has been bred as a beast of burden and source of food. The riding tribex is smaller and faster—sturdier than a horse and capable of enduring long, sustained trips.

Enhanced magebreeding seeks to strengthen a creature, imbuing it with minor supernatural qualities. The Magebred Animal template in the 3.5 Eberron Campaign Setting suggests the following changes:

  • One of Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution is increased by 4; the other two ability scores are increased by 2.
  • Armor Class is increased by 2, reflecting increased overall durability.
  • Magebred animals are easier to train, can learn more tricks or maneuvers than purely mundane creatures, and the DC of Animal Handling checks involving the beast is reduced by 2.
  • The creature gains either a +10 bonus to one of its movement speeds, an additional +2 bonus to armor class, or a bonus to tracking checks.

These creatures are still considered beasts; in 3.5 D&D terms, they were limited to an Intelligence of 2. A few critical points about this template. It’s intended to reflect BREEDS of magebred animals. So Redleaf hounds all have +4 Dexterity and a bonus to tracking; it’s not as though two pups in the same litter each get to choose whether the +4 goes to Strength or Dexterity, or whether they get the boost to movement or tracking. House Vadalis created the first Redleaf hounds through active enhanced magebreeding; but ever since then, Redleaf Harriers has bred that enhanced line, while the house magebreeders have moved on to other things.

The second point is that this is a simple template that is intended to give a broad example of what can be done. The template only suggests a possible bonus to movement, armor class, or tracking checks. But I could see any of the following as being the sort of features that enhanced magebreeding could produce:

  • Increased fertility; increased laying for egg-laying creatures, along with potentially unusual egg characteristics.
  • Animals used to provide meat or dairy could be magebred to enhance these aspects, whether that’s simply increasing the quantity or adding an unusual quality (flavor, color). This is how you get the cow that produces chocolate milk.
  • Heightened senses; a magebred falcon might have a bonus to Perception instead of Survival.
  • Specific resistances: creating a creature that doesn’t just have thick fur, but that is actually resistant to cold damage.
  • Unnatural appearance. A horse with metallic, silvery fur; a hound with glowing eyes; cats that always have identical markings.

The key points here are that the general goal of enhanced magebreeding is to produce new breeds with hereditary traits and generally requires generations to produce results. They don’t take a horse and GIVE it metallic fur; they easily COULD with cosmetic transmutation, but it wouldn’t last. Instead they work to instill a trait over multiple generations, that will thereafter be passed down to offspring. Typically enhanced breeds are only available to house arms in the Handler’s Guild, and enhanced beasts are sterilized before they are sold to others. Stories say that there are all sorts of safeguards to deal with poachers—that enhanced animals will die if they aren’t feed special Vadalis supplements, that they will frenzy and turn on rustlers, that Vadalis has death squads that sneak around the world hunting for unauthorized breeders—but these are probably just rumors. Probably.

Innovative magebreeding involves the creation of either an entirely new species or imbuing an existing creature with dramatic supernatural characteristics. Popular legend holds that the house’s first act of innovative magebreeding was the production of the hippogriff; skeptics claim that Vadalis simply discovered the first hippogriff after it emerged from a manifest zone tied to Kythri. A more recent and dramatic example is the tressym, first produced just twenty-four years ago. The house is always working on innovative projects, but actual successes are far and few between; innovative creations are often sterile, stillborn, or mentally unstable. Many innovative creatures are monstrosities as opposed to beasts.

While it’s more colorful and exciting than, say, dairy farming, magebreeding is a tiny fraction of the work of House Vadalis. Ranches and kennels tied to the Handler’s Guild may perform iterative magebreeding, but enhanced and innovative magebreeding is performed almost entirely within house enclaves or in conjunction with the Twelve. The tressym was produced through collaboration with House Medani, and there are stories of Vadalis working with House Jorasco on ghastly experiments involving troll’s blood and medusa’s eyes.

So what does a magebreeding facility actually look like? What is the daily work that goes on within? The following tools are used in magebreeding.

  • Manifest Zones. Zones tied to Kythri and Lamannia are both highly prized by House Vadalis, though any zone can have value; a Risian manifest zone could be crucial when trying to breed a creature resistant to cold. Sometimes this is about creating a facility in a manifest zone, but often it involves using secondary materials, such as foodstuffs grown in the relevant manifest zones or harnesses formed from planar materials.
  • Focus Items and Eldritch Machines. Vadalis magebreeders use focus items that help them both to maintain control of beasts through the process of magebreeding, compel necessary behaviors, shape instincts, and monitor the state of their charges. Eldritch machines can serve more dramatic purposes; one that comes to mind is the spire of growth, a monolith that accelerates the aging of any beasts within its radius; these help with generational breeding, though these spires are expensive to create and dangerous to maintain (supposedly they don’t affect humanoids…). In general, eldritch machines that produce truly dramatic effects are likely to be either unique or experimental, and may become unstable or require a steady supply of dragonshards.
  • Rare Components. As noted before, Vadalis has been experimenting with troll’s blood. Innovative and enhanced magebreeding often uses transmutation techniques to imbue a creature with the qualities of another creature; this can require organs, blood, or other elements of the creature with the desired trait. Likewise, planar resources can be important in magebreeding.
  • Transmutation Magic. Magebreeding can involve a wide array of transmutation rituals, most of which have little practical application to adventuring: rituals to enhance fertility, highly specific polymorph effects, rituals that simply increase a beast’s chances of surviving the transfusions and other operations it’s going through. A side effect of this is that there is a corps of specialists within Vadalis who excel at cosmetic transmutation (as described in Exploring Eberron). This is rarely a service they perform for humanoids, but there is at least one Vadalis transmuter who runs a business altering the new pets of rich clients to match the appearance of a deceased pet. As a general rule, polymorph alone doesn’t allow successful breeding; polymorphed creatures are functionally sterile while under the effects of the spell, so while you can turn a cat into a dog for an hour, if it mates with another dog in that time it won’t end up producing either puppies or kittens. This is certainly something Vadalis has and continued to experiment with, but lasting change isn’t as simple as a single 4th level spell.

So the point is that magebreeding facilities often look like farms or vertinary hospitals, with special chambers for performing rituals or imbuing planar energies. But magebreeding is invariably a long-term process, involving both breeding and the careful study of multiple generations. Vadalis is always searching for ways to produce swifter and more dramatic results… And these efforts often end in disaster, or at least adventure!

What about plants? One question that’s frequently come up is whether House Vadalis also magebreeds plants. On consideration, my answer is that they do not. Their expertise is limited to fauna, not flora. We have specifically called out Riedran work magebreeding plants (such as dreamlily and the pommow). We’ve talked about the fact that soarwood is a vital limited resource, suggesting that Vadalis can’t replicate it. I also see magical manipulation of plantlife as something that may end up being a strength of the Eldeen Reaches. So there are lots of interesting possibilities for magebred plants, but it’s not a field monopolized by a dragonmarked house;this is an area of the economy that hasn’t currently been locked down, leaving opportunities for independent forces to fill that gap.


A magewright is someone who uses cantrips and arcane rituals to perform their job. It’s a generic term, like technician. “Magewright” isn’t a job; the job is lamplighter or locksmith or truthteller. A typical blacksmith is a magewright, using magecraft and mending to enhance their work; but if you ask their occupation, they’ll say “blacksmith.” The point is that in the modern age, arcane cantrips and rituals are becoming standard tools of industry. If you go to a small village, you may find a smith who doesn’t know how to cast mending; but they’ll have a hard time competing with the Cannith-trained smiths who can mend a broken object in seconds.

As has been discussed in earlier articles and Exploring Eberron, most magewrights are highly specialized and use cantrips or spells that are more limited than the spells used by player characters—though sometimes limitations are balanced by specific advantages. A magewright launderer may use a form of prestidigitation that can only clean or dry, and that only affects fabric or leather—but it may affect a larger area than the standard cantrip. As noted in Rising From The Last War, most magewrights can only cast leveled spells as rituals (even spells that normally don’t have the ritual tag); these often rituals take longer than usual; and they require an additional material cost of 20 gp x the spell’s level, typically refined Eberron dragonshards. Magewrights can produce their effects over and over, but there is a cost in time and gold. Likewise, Magewrights are often proficient with very narrow slices of Arcana. For a player character, Arcana represents broad knowledge; a magewright might be an expert with Arcana but ONLY regarding illusion effects, because that’s all that they mastered in their studies.

Like the wandslinger, the number of magewrights in the world has increased exponentially over the course of the last century. This is due both to the development of improved training techniques and to the need for more services. Magewrights also highlight a crucial difference between the arcane economy and our technological economy. Arcane magic can produce remarkable effects, but it often requires a living creature to guide it. At the moment, laundry is typically done by a magewright who casts their specialized prestidigitation, not by use of a machine anyone can use. Some of the most important tools are dragonmark focus items that can only be operated by someone who possesses a specific dragonmark. Magic items exist, and as noted below exist in ever-increasing numbers—but at the moment there is a vital human (well, living) component to the economy.

Most magewrights are trained by one of the guilds tied to the dragonmarked houses. These trade schools pass along specific techniques tied to the houses, and ultimately provide the student with the opportunity to work within the guild or to license an independent business. The Arcane Congress has its own training programs, and other nations are working on their own programs, but these are typically limited to a few specific fields that until recently were critical to the war effort; again, you don’t go to “magewright school”, you train to be a tinker or a lamplighter. Aside from having the greatest expertise and deep pockets, the trade schools of the guild have the public trust; everyone KNOWS that if you want to be the best smith you can be, you should get Cannith training, not study with some Morgrave outreach program. With that said, not all Magewrights learn from schools. Especially in smaller communities, a magewright may learn their trade through a local apprenticeship. It’s also possible that a magewright could stumble onto their own unique techniques (for example, an Aundairian shoemaker who learns fey techniques for mending shoes).


House Cannith dominates industrial manufacturing, but isn’t particularly involved in the harvesting or development of raw materials. Likewise, House Cannith is known for two things: the development and maintenance of durable tools and weapons and the creation of magic items (common and otherwise). A key example of this is clothing. Cannith produces and sells looms and weaver’s tools, and it creates enchanted clothing—but it largely performs the latter function by purchasing clothing from weavers and then adding the enchantments. In the case of some of the new factories, Cannith is employing weavers to produce those clothes onsite—but it doesn’t dominate the production of clothing or the fashion industry in the same way that it dominates the creation of swords or constructs. Many expert artisans in all fields still receive Cannith magewright training, but Cannith on the whole is focused on function; fashion is another cottage industry, where independent forces like Clebdecher, Davandi, and a host of Aundairians can shine. 

This ties to the general point that a great deal of modern manufacturing is still the province of individuals or small businesses. The local blacksmith may be Cannith-trained, but you still go and deal with the local blacksmith.

With that said, that is changing. Eldritch machines like creation forges and the legendary genesis forge are amazing arcane factories that allow heirs to channel the forces of conjuration and transmutation and reshape matter through magic alone. However, most Cannith factories aren’t that advanced. They employ assembly lines, with workers having focused tasks that contribute to a greater whole. They use arcane principles—using forms of prestidigitation and mending to polish and shape elements, for example—but they are still more akin to nineteenth century factories than those of the modern day. The simple fact of the matter is that I’m not an expert on manufacturing techniques, and I can’t give you a precise breakdown of what goes on in a Cannith arms factory. But I can say that if that factory is producing swords, every sword in a particular model is nearly identical in quality and appearance—and that it’s produced by an assembly line as opposed to the work of a single smith. It is also the case that a Cannith workshop is generally tightly focused and uses tools that effectively provide advantage to the production of a specific type of thing. That Cannith arms factory is able to churn out swords and halberds, but they can’t suddenly turn around and start producing wagons tomorrow; they’re metalworks, and while they might be able to shift to producing maces by changing out molds, they can’t suddenly start producing leather armor.

Cannith is also the source of the bulk of the magic items that are found in the present day. As a general rule, even common items aren’t yet MASS produced, though Cannith is working on it. Let’s consider a cloak of many fashions. First they need the base, physical cloak, which has to be produced to certain specifications (a particular material, specific total mass; given the esoteric nature of arcane magic, it’s even possible that it has to be a specific color). Assembly line workers can perform preparatory work—imbuing the material with residuum and a certain elixir; attaching a brooch, itself specially prepared—but ultimately it is a specialized magewright who performs a lengthy ritual that draws on arcane forces and binds them to the cloth. The Cannith facility is designed to help this process; the chamber that magewright works in is engraved with arcane patterns that allow them to channel the energies involved in illusion-into-cloth rituals more efficiently. This ties to the basic difference between Cannith artisans and player characters creating magic items. Cannith facilities are geared to create specific items and they can do so quicker and more cheaply than an artificer. But that workshop is entirely geared toward binding illusion into clothes—producing a specific version of cloak of many fashions, perhaps a form of cloaks of elvenkind, maybe a specific type of glamoured armor. They can’t just decide to produce a wand of magic missiles tomorrow; their speed and efficiency is tied to following a clearly established pattern.

Cannith dominates manufacturing and sets the standards of the industry, but that doesn’t mean all goods are manufactured by Cannith. We’ve always called out that Breland has the greatest industrial capacity of the Five Nations, while through the Arcane Congress Aundair has the most sophisticated facilities for producing magic items. The Cogs of Sharn are an important center for metalworking. Cannith facilities are simply better, because dragonmark focus items are cheaper and more effective than other tools and because Cannith artisans have Artisan’s Intuition; but Brelish facilities are still effective and capable of producing mundane equipment on par with Cannith’s basic goods.

What About Automation?

Even before House Cannith created the fully sentient warforged, it developed the semi-sentient warforged titans. Homunculi have been around for quite some time, and I’ll talk about both homunculi and familiars in more detail in a future IFAQ. The principles of arcane automation are clearly on the table, and already one of the primary concerns meatbags—I mean, people—have raised about the warforged is that these tireless constructs might steal the jobs of honest folk. As it stands, the general concept is that the science just isn’t there yet. There may certainly be prototype factories where animated metal limbs perform the work that once required human hands, or where docents perform the work of enchantment. But again, this ties to the point that the world is changing. Currently, the magewright is a crucial living component of modern manufacturing; but perhaps the next decade will bring dramatic change.


This is always the key question with this type of article. Ultimately, why does any of this matter? How does any of this actually affect your adventure or your adventurer? Here’s a few things to consider.

  • Independent artisans are still common. Most are trained or licensed by the dragonmarked houses, and people value a house license because it promises a standardized level of quality. If you have the Guild Artisan background, odds are good you’re tied to one of the house guilds… But if you’re proficient with Smith’s Tools, you could have been a soldier trained to maintain equipment in the Last War, you could have worked in the Cogs, or you could simply have learned the trade from the village smith.
  • Manifest zones are often an important aspect of industry. It’s Syrania that makes the City of Towers possible. As a DM developing an interesting industrial site, consider if there’s a manifest zone that could be relevant—and if so, what unforeseen consequences it could have. Sharn has its radiant idols. If Cannith has built a massive forgehold in a Fernian manifest zone to take advantage of its Fires of Industry trait, they might run into problems when an exiled dao decides to lay claim to the facility…
  • Consider the practical applications of cantrips. Within seconds, a magewright can heat, chill, clean, flavor, or mend. That’s a tool; prestidigitation lets you heat and flavor food, but unless you’re proficient with cook’s utensils there’s no assurance you’ll do it well.
  • Factories exist, and employ assembly lines and specialized facilities, but are not as advanced—or automated—as what we’re used to.
  • On the other hand, eldritch machines can produce effects that are beyond what we can do today. However, these often either require a dragonmarked heir (as with the storm spire or creation forge) or are either unique or prototype facilities that could easily have unexpected problems.
  • Tied to this, arcane science is constantly advancing. Both the houses and independent forces are trying to push the envelope. Risky experiments can have unsafe consequences or require questionable actions—whether that’s about Vadalis kidnapping trolls to harvest their blood, or Cannith making a new generation of warforged that channel the essence of fiends from Shavarath.


As we start moving into the late Victorian period the first department stores begin showing up and textiles are by and large one of the most industrious industries… The smaller tailors will buy the newest patterns from France or Italy, then you’d go in and be fitted and pick out your fabrics. In larger department stores it is much the same, but instead of a dress made in your hometown it is shipped in from a more manufacture savvy city or country. I’m assuming that one could say that Cannith acts as these large department stores, and these dresses (still made to order and fit) are then brought in so that Cannith artificers can enchant them. Or would it be more of a service that Cannith does, that one can order a gown in a fine silk, and the tailor can have it sent off to Cannith to have a glamour put upon it?

There’s a few factors here. The first is that so far in canon I don’t believe we’ve discussed the existence of a classic department store in the model of Selfridge’s or Le Bon Marche. I believe that there’s a lot of room for just such a business to exist in Fairhaven or Sharn, but the point is that it doesn’t exist yet. MY inclination would be to highlight this as a key development of the world moving forward from the war—to tell a Selfridge-like story of the entrepreneur who’s trying to introduce the department store to the Five Nations. The question then comes as to whether that store would be Cannith, or whether it would be an independent—who could, therefore, be an Aurum member. Essentially, Cannith specializes in MAKING things; we’ve never said they specialize in SELLING them, and that could be a crucial distinction here.

This ties to the key question of where the dragonmarked monopolies lie. What businesses do you want to be utterly dominated by the houses, and where are the opportunities for independents and the Aurum to get a foothold? Just as I suggest above that Vadalis isn’t involved in magebreeding plants, I’m inclined to say that Cannith is focused on function over fashion. I DO think it’s reasonable to say that they enchant bolts of fabric with relevant enchantments (self-cleaning, simple glamerweave effects) and then sell them to tailors. But I don’t think that most dressmakers are Cannith. In Sharn: City of Towers, the two most celebrated tailors are Hellien Clamas Clebdecher and Thurik Davandi—both independent gnomes. In Threshold, the Cannith heir runs the smithy while Littlehand Haberdashers is independent. Personally, I like having those spaces in the world that fall in the cracks between houses. I think it IS reasonable to say that Cannith produces bolts of cloth—that tailors buy their materials from Cannith—but I’m OK with the idea that fashion is outside of Cannith, and that the department store could be a new development.

But also tied to that, in general I tend to think that fine glamerweave is often custom work. I think it’s reasonable to say that there are basic glamerweave effects that can be bound to bolts of cloth and that are seen in bulk—field of stars, flowing water, embers—but I tend to think that more dramatic glamerweave effects are usually custom work. So it could be that a tailor would make a dress and then you’d take it to a glamerweave artisan, but I don’t think that artisan would necessarily be Cannith.

Would it be House Cannith that has magewright plumbers?

Yes and no. Rather than “plumber,” I’d call this magewright trade custodian. Prestidigitation to clean; a form of mending that can be used to repair damaged masonry and wood; and potentially a speciality spell like create or destroy water, floating disk, or even some form of generating fire to dispose of refuse. Custodians could serve as plumbers in cities that have plumbing, but would also deal with general maintenance of infrastructure, remove refuse and graffiti, and so on. Again, I could definitely see that the Cannith Tinker’s Guild would TRAIN custodians, but I’m not sure that it would actually broker their services; I think custodians would probably work directly for the civic authority. However, the Tinker’s Guild might license itinerant custodians who travel between smaller villages.

What’s the role of the city of Making, which now resides on the Glass Plateau, in this? Were there any particular innovations or was it “just” a major industrial center? Was it the original home of one or more Cannith families?

The city of Making is a source of contradictory canon. In some places it’s described as “the birthplace of House Cannith.” Yet Rising From The Last War and earlier canon sources clearly establish Eston as the seat of House Cannith and the focus of its greatest works. Likewise, Rising says “A secret Cannith facility is supposed to hide in the city’s subterranean depths“—which implies that the city overall isn’t dominated by Cannith.

My answer lies in the final question—Was it the original home of one or more Cannith families? As this article notes, Cannith was formed from multiple families. The Vown family—which we’ve called out as one of the more powerful families today—was definitely associated with Eston. I’d say that the region around making was associated with both the Harn and Juran families (though the Jurans were always travelers and didn’t settle in one city). While Eston became the seat of the united house, Making remained a center of GENERAL industry within Cyre, both Cannith and other cottage industries. To tie it to the preceding questions, I’d take it a step further and say that Making might have been the center for Cannith’s textile production—so yes, Cannith had facilities in Making, but they largely produced bolts of cloth and other basic goods, whereas in Eston they have the clockwork menagerie and three creation forges. This ties to the statement that Cannith had a SECRET facility beneath Making; the point is that they had factories and facilities on the surface but that they were all devoted to peaceful production, while if there was some sort of weapons research going on in Making, it was in this hidden outpost.

As with all of these articles, there’s many more aspects of this I’d like to cover. Future IFAQs may deal with questions about the lightning rail, airships, and familiars. As always, thanks to by Patreon supporters, who chose this topic and who make these articles possible!

105 thoughts on “Dragonmarks: Arcane Industry

  1. One factory I enjoyed as a dramatic fight location was a Brick factory in lower dura – Boromars and Daask both wanted control of the factory’s profits, and the catwalks were appropriately precarious.

  2. Regarding magebreeding and Vadalis, where do 1-2 Int monstrosities fit into this? Are they still part of the Handler’s Guild’s purview, or is there a totally separate branch of House Vadalis that deals with them?

    • Hippogriffs and other monstrosities are still under the Handler’s Guild. The main thing is that they tend to be limited to house arms, because people without the Mark of Handling have a harder time controlling them. So generally, the hippogriff ranch will be run by marked Vadalis heirs.

  3. Are dragonmark focus items arcane in nature? Are dragonmarks, themselves, arcane (or even divine) in nature? Or do all of these represent an entirely different form of “pure magic”?

    • Dragonmark Focus Items are Siberys items. They enhance innate magic.

      Dragonmarks provide arcane magic. Just looking at the spell selection and that when you flavour a cleric or druid to be using their mark, they’re not getting magic from faith or nature anymore, but from their mark. This makes it fairly clear to me that the dragonmarks are arcane magic.

    • Are dragonmark focus items arcane in nature? Are dragonmarks, themselves, arcane (or even divine) in nature?
      Dragonmarks are generally seen to be manipulating the power of Siberys, which Siberyan Theory asserts is the fundamental force manipulated by arcane magic. Dragonmark focus items are tools designed to focus and enhance that power and to do so in a scientific manner, so yes, they can be considered arcane items. This ties to the idea that many wizard spells were developed by emulating dragonmark effects.

  4. What does a non-Cannith manufactory (e.g. in Breland) actually look like, without the benefits afforded by the Mark of Making? What makes Breland so renowned for its manufactories, and what makes this different from Aundair’s nationalized Arcane Congress?

  5. The big takeaway here is that aberrant marks can give us self-cooking bacon.

    • Pork of the mark, with ham tarkanan burning down dora-spam, barn of towers.

  6. Are there any traits of the Syranian manifest zone in Sharn that make the factories in the Cogs more efficient or is that more thanks to the lava pools below the city?

    • I would also like to ask about wind energy in Sharn. Does the City of Towers employ some form of windmills or windcatchers (wind scoops) to harvest wind power and/or Syranian planar energy?

  7. Does Vadalis magebreeding have any uses for the daelkyr’s husks of infinite worlds?

    • The DC 45 check to use the husk properly would seem to guarantee a disaster if someone were to attempt using it. Probably a good basis for a cult of the dragon below, or as an artifact that Mordain is attempting to replicate the effects of in Blackroot.

      • Agreed. The husk is a plot device and not made for mortals to use. The Feral Heart is a force within House Vadalis that is specifically trying to uncover daelkyr techniques, but if they got ahold of a husk I’d expect it to go very, very poorly.

        • Would you say the Feral Heart (or any other force withing House Vadalis) would likely be interested in symbionts as well, or would it mostly likely be the domain of Cannith? Jorasco maybe? Are these good candidates to try and produce symbionts if they could get their hands on any?

          • I think the Feral Heart would be MORE interested in symbionts than Cannith. I don’t think Cannith is especially well placed to work with symbionts; they understand steel and wood, not how to work with flesh; I think they’re more likely to stick with what they know. Yes, they made warforged, which are alive, but they don’t really UNDERSTAND warforged… and warforged are still made of wood and metal. Beyond that, MOST people are typically repulsed by symbionts and aren’t immediately jumping on them as the hot new technology we all want to try. Looking to the Mror Holds, Narathun and Soldorak are in the minority; and the example of both the Closed Circle and Mordain shows that most people shun research into daelkyr techniques. So the Feral Heart certainly would, and it could be nosomantic chiurgeons would try to work with symbionts. I could see a Jorasco heir struggling to get the house to ignore their prejudices and explore the potential of symbionts. But the precedent is that most sensible people want nothing to do with them.

        • I do not think it is particularly fair to say, “Oh, look, it has a DC 45 Knowledge (arcana) check to use properly. Surely, it is not meant for mortals.”

          Consider that daelkyr in 3.5 have Knowledge (arcana) +22, which means that by RAW, a 3.5 daelkyr simply could not use a husk of infinite worlds properly.

          As far as I can tell, daelkyr and mortals alike are supposed to use husks of infinite worlds in organized teams, aiding one another on the check. Would this not make a husk of infinite worlds decidedly easier for people to use?

          • Keep in mind that we’re discussing an artifact from a book I didn’t work on and wasn’t consulted on; and that I have never used in a campaign nor have any plans to (it’s not how I imagine things like to dolgaunts being created). So I’m not sure my opinion on the topic matters.

            With that said, I’m not saying it’s not meant for mortals because of the DC to use it; I’m saying it’s not meant for mortals because IT’S NOT MEANT FOR MORTALS. It’s a tool made by the daelkyr, for the daelkyr; and to me, the reason that DC is so ridiculously high is because humanoid brains can’t comprehend a mystic interface designed for the daelkyr. Personally, I wouldn’t even require daelkyr to make a check to use it; to them, it’s like using a hammer. But it’s a tool made by the most alien beings in Eberron to break the laws of reality, and I don’t think they designed it with the needs of House Vadalis in mind.

          • These daelkyr with the +22 bonus are the standard ones, not Dyrnn who made the dolgaunts, right? So the guy who can work them solo likely has a higher knowledge bonus

            I’d doubt it’s “easier” for people rather than daelkyr either

          • “(it’s not how I imagine things like to dolgaunts being created)”

            Which begs the question, how **do** you imagine things like dolgaunts being created?

  8. You mention the clothing industry in this article; where do Houses Phiarlan and Thuranni enter the equation, if many of their scions are expert fashion designers?

    • where do Houses Phiarlan and Thuranni enter the equation, if many of their scions are expert fashion designers?
      What makes you say that “many” Shadow heirs are expert fashion designers? I’ve done a quick scan of Dragonmarked, Rising, and my own article on aesthetics and I don’t see where we’ve suggested that lots of designers have ties to either house. We’ve called out Aundair and Cyre as being the centers for fashion in the Five Nations, and as far as I know the most notable designer we’ve mentioned in canon is Hellien Clamas Clebdecher, a Zil gnome living in Sharn. The Phiarlan dragonshard says that the those who study at the Demesne of Shape learn to make COSTUMES, but doesn’t suggest that they dominate the fashion industry.

      Is there some mention I’ve overlooked?

      • To be fair while I also never remember you saying something like this, it could be that the Dragonmark of Shadow’s aptitude for Illusion could have applications in fashion if anyone wanted it to be so.
        It’s just that it is always more interesting to showcase industries that the Houses DO NOT dominate instead of the opposite so imo it makes a better story not to have the Phiarlans dominate fashion.

        • To be fair while I also never remember you saying something like this, it could be that the Dragonmark of Shadow’s aptitude for Illusion could have applications in fashion if anyone wanted it to be so.

          Oh, certainly. And that’s where we have called out that students of the Demesne of Shape excel at the creation of costumes. But we’ve never to my knowledge said that they’ve put that expertise to use in the fashion industry, and as you say it’s interesting to have some trades that aren’t dominated by the houses. Instead, I’ve always leaned toward the Zil as a primary source of glamerweave (tying in the 3.5 gnomes’ aptitude for illusion), hence Hellien Clamas Clebdecher—with a secondary center in Aundair, the nation with the greatest degree of everyday magic and noted for its love of fashion.

          • I am looking at the mentions of costumes in page 68 and 86 of 3.5 Dragonmarked, and in page 233 of the 4e Eberron Campaign Guide. Glamerweave is also illusion-based, right in the metaphorical alley for the Mark of Shadow.

            It seems like a highly specific omission to say that they study all sorts of crafting-based arts, including costumes and illusions, but glamerweave fashion simply is not in their metaphorical wheelhouse.

            • And yet we made that omission, and not by accident. Just because someone is capable of doing something doesn’t mean they have the desire to do so, and we intentionally chose not to make Phiarlan the driving force of the fashion industry. Per 3.5, gnomes also had an affinity for illusion, and we decided that it was the Zil, and to a lesser extent the mystically adept and fashion conscious Aundairians, who are more of the driving force behind the fashion industry. Setting aside the fact that the Shadow houses have enough going on with entertainment and their covert operations, I’d also point to the general principle that elves aren’t culturally driven to constantly innovate, which to me is part of the driving force OF fashion. A typical Phiarlan costumer is likely more interested in making a perfect replica of the costume associated with an heirloom performance — following a pattern that’s three thousand years old — than in coming up with an entirely new form of glamerweave fascinator.

              It IS an entirely valid question. The Mark of Shadow is unquestionably a useful tool in the creation of glamerweave. But I don’t believe canon or kanon has suggested that either house has TRIED to dominate the fashion industry. They aren’t the only illusionists in town, and the houses have other things they care about.

              • Side note: I don’t mean to sound harsh in my response. Edna, if YOU want Phiarlan to dominate fashion in your campaign, there’s nothing wrong with that; go ahead and explore it. But it’s not the path we chose for the Shadow houses in canon or kanon, and not something I’m inclined to do in my campaign.

          • I could imagine that if a particular play were very popular, the Phiarlan costume designers might license their desings to a particular clothier to make versions for the popular market, just as designers for movies andTV in our world, like Bob Mackie may also market to the genral consumer

  9. ON the vein of the clothing and textile industry:
    AS we start moving into the late Victorian period and the first department stores begin showing up and textiles are by and large one of the most industrious industries, We get a pretty solid supply chain. Cotton is bought from Egypt or America, then it is spun into threads, then woven into textile, then dyed, then sold to department stores and smaller tailors. The smaller tailors will buy the newest patterns from France or Italy, then you’d go in and be fitted and pick out your fabrics, IN larger department stores it is much the same, but instead of a dress made in your hometown it is shipped in from a more manufacture savvy city or country.

    I’m assuming that one could say that Cannith acts as these large department stores, and these dresses (still made to order and fit) are then brought in so that Cannith artificers can enchant them. Or would it be more of a service that Cannith does, that one can order a gown in a fine silk, and the tailor can have it sent off to Cannith to have a glamour put upon it?

    I personally would have thought that Cannith would be in much sooner in the supply-chain, supplying pre-enchanted textiles. You can buy big rolls of blue taffeta that is glamour-woven to look like crashing waves from Cannith much cheaper than re-creating the same effect after the dress is made.

    • This is an interesting question on a few levels, so I’ve added it and my answer to the end of the main article.

    • Given Eberron 1: Has pretty widespread magic communication to the point at least one publication that is distributed across most of a continent for release on the same day 2: Is still mostly rural 3: has continent wide guilds that are trained in the same schools, I think mail order would be far bigger than department stores in this scenario. Instead of going to a department store, you’d go to a seal holder and get your measurements taken, which Sivis sends via Sending Stone to have manufactured by a Cannith affiliate after Kundarak transfers payment from your account, then delivered to you by Orien.

      Who licensed the seal holder that takes your measurements is actually an interesting question. It could be Cannith, but it could also be Medani (accurate measurement seem within their broad portfolio), Jorasco (anatomy), one of the Shadow houses (entertainers and artisans/artists), or even Deneith (armor has to be fit to the wearer even more closely than clothing, and with their licensing of mercenaries and training of soldiers, I’m sure they’ve devised a system to quickly match recruits with issued gear that actually fits)

      • I think, like its said in the article above, the Seal Holder would/could just be a local merchant/tailor who runs their own shop and uses the Dragonmarked Houses.

        Not everyone HAS to work for the Dragonmarked Houses, but a lot of people use their services.

  10. Would it be house cannith that has magewright plumbers? (Mending for corrosion and prestigitation to clean it and maybe destroy/create water?)

    Or would it be Kobolds (I think it’s mentioned in stormreach) or Minotaurs (like in the isle of Minos according to myth)

    It sounds like vadalis ranchers nights have a Red Bovine that can be milked for a energy drink.

  11. Now I’m imagining a scenario where a hucksterish (and possibly suicidal) artificer collective tries to spread rumours to undermine confidence in industrialised magic products in favour of their “organic/artisanal” creations.

    “Fernian ash wands? Well, if you want to risk the whims of Ifrit-lords influencing your pyromancy, that’s your perogative I suppose. Me? I’ll stick with good old fashioned guano-and-sulphur balls, handcrafted by Firebelcher and Sons since 756YK! Remember: Firebelcher means reliability!”

    “I’m telling you, overuse of residuum in modern arcane operations is sure to produce monothaumic fields which will negatively impact interplanar connectivity, deadening manifest zones, creating dead-magic areas, why at this rate I daresay Sharn will collapse under its own weight within a decade!”

  12. What would be the regular, non-magical science in Eberron? Now, I know that’s a world where something like hippogriff seems nonmagical and yet is able to fly, a world where you can smith swords of essence of pain… but does it have things like calculus or germ theory? Crop rotation? Crucible steel? Painkillers? Rubber? Contraceptives?

    I’ve introduced a medic who was a Vol disciple and a hobbyist necromancer who had his own theory of blood types

    • To a certain degree this falls into the same category as not needing to know the names of every village in Breland. The more questions you ask, the more questions will be raised (If they have calculus, then how could they not also have X? If they don’t have calculus, how could they possibly have Y?) This ties further to the point that I’m not an expert in the history of mathematics, so I don’t know those answers. Thus, I don’t want to answer these sort of questions unless I HAVE to for a specific reason in the story.

      As I say, my GENERAL yardstick is that the Five Nations are broadly equivalent to Earth in the mid-nineteenth century, though as a general rule they have pursued magical solutions rather than technological ones. Medical science will be quite different, because they have lesser restoration, which is a remarkably powerful and efficient tool… and spare the dying, which is essentially a magical defibrillator. We know they do have painkillers; dreamlily specifically fills the same role as morphine in our world. To the others, part of the question is whether the magical tools they have at their disposal change the world in ways that would create a different answer to the question. Do they have crop rotation? Probably, since it was popularized in the 18th century on Earth, and Eberron is roughly 19th century—UNLESS the use of storm spires and druidic magic actually means that it’s not necessary. Do they have contraception? I’m certain they do, but it might be a transmutation ritual.

      So where there’s not a specific answer I’d start by doing a quick comparison to mid-nineteenth century Earth; if that suggests that something should exist, I’d think about if there’s an interesting way that the existence of arcane science would affect the answer, rather than just replicating our techniques.

      • I’ve always felt that druidic magic and weather control should be a replacement for things like mechanical irrigation and crop rotation. If only because the the combination of druidic magic/weather control AND irrigation/crop rotation would likely produce yields too large for a faux-19th century setting. The famines in Karrnath during the Last War, for example, would be hard for me to justify in my own mind.

        I bet the Dhakaani had crop rotation, though, and alchemical pesticides, and mechanical irrigation systems, to feed that empire. Although while they may still have the book knowledge, centuries underground in smaller groups would have robbed them of any experience with it..

  13. What’s the role of the city of Making, which now resides on the Glass Plateau, in this? Were there any particular innovations or was it “just” a major industrial center? Was it the original home of one or more Cannith families?

    • I’m a touch curious if the Juras who made up part of the House Cannith crowded out other traveling tinker groups or if they transitioned into Cannith homogeneity alongside families like the Vowns and left the tinkering behind. Making might have been the southern Juras domain if they managed to move up in respectability or it might have been the hub of all Cannith equally?

      • In The Fading Dream, Marudrix d’Cannith says “My mother took me back to Making once, to meet my grandparents. To go to school there, I think. They didn’t want me. The Jurans are tinkers, and that’s all we’ll ever be.” Keep in mind that Cannith has TWO major guilds; the Fabricators Guild and the Tinkers Guild. The Fabricator’s Guild is the more powerful and respected arm of the house; the Tinker’s Guild is smaller and less profitable, and thus less respected. So no, the Jurans certainly didn’t leave the tinkering behind, but it also never gained the respect or power wielded by the Vowns.

        You’re on the right track here, but I’m going to add my answer to the main article.

  14. I really want to thank you for this series. This particular aspect of Eberron’s world building was what first got me interested in it, and continues to remain one of my favorite elements.

  15. Thank you so much for this great article. Can you please tell us if there is an analogue of a Jacquard machine in Eberron?

    • There are certainly forms of looms in Eberron; we’ve mentioned them a few times (Sora Katra “weaves curses on her loom”). The main question is whether the looms of Khorvaire use Jacquard techniques, or if there is actually a magical element—if it’s possible that the basic principles of the mending cantrip could somehow be adapted to textile production. But overall, there are definitely looms.

      • Weaving is pretty repetitive once the loom is warped. I would think a large regular loom with a dedicated wright working 24/7, or an even simpler construct, would be an obvious early solution. Or magehand to move the shuttle through the shed across a wide warp.

        With the use of glamerweave, there may be less call for a significant variety of complex mundane pattern, and might be a focus instead on developing materials or carding/spinning/weaving methods that were more conducive to accepting illusion magic.

  16. The tribex is unique to Eberron, is there something unique about the tribex that makes it particularly useful or receptive to magebreeding? Would/have you run games where new forms of tribex are beginning to supplant draft horses, pack mules, guard llamas, millstone donkeys, weed suppression goats, truffle pigs (shard pigs?), seeing eye dogs, St. Bernards, bloodhounds?

  17. Does the manufacturing and creation of magic and mundane items in Eberron have similar impacts on the environment as it did during the industrial revolution? Are there cases of dragonshard strip-mining or Cannith factories creating water or air pollution?

    • This is a good question that could be addressed in more detail in an IFAQ, but in brief, yes, Arcane Industry definitely has an impact on the environment. Mining dragonshards is just as disruptive to the environment as any other form of mining. The Aereni has specifically called out that Mabaran necromancy may be destroying the environment, and one common theory of the Mourning is that it was caused by overuse of war magic—a catastrophic environmental effect triggered by overuse of magic.

      So yes, arcane magic SHOULD have consequences. We haven’t yet given concrete examples of what “arcane pollution” actually LOOKS like, but I certainly think it may become an increasing threat in days to come.

      • The “If Winter Falls” scenario presented in the Dragon Magazine #418 article on the Children of Winter suggests that if Eberron, the Progenitor Dragon, had her way, then all arcane and divine magic would be stripped from the world, and cities would be torn down at their foundations.

        Is there something about the cities of Eberron themselves, even once arcane and divine magic are removed from the equation, that proves harmful to the environment?

        • That’s the Children of Winter, though, who are repeatedly called out in multiple sources as being on the extreme end of druidic belief even at their most moderate. They’re very likely full of rhetorical nonsense regarding what they think will happen in “Winter”.

          • No, I am not referring to the Children of Winter. I am referring to the “If Winter Falls” scenario, which has the Dragon Between itself tear down the foundations of cities. This comes *after* the eradication of arcane and divine magic, which suggests that the very cities themselves are harmful to the environment even discounting arcane and divine magic.

            “Amid this chaos, awakened plants tear down the foundations of cities, newborn primal predators hunt survivors, and plagues ravage the land.”

            • It’s an extreme hypothetical. The article initially notes:
              As a Dungeon Master, you must decide if the Children are correct. If their beliefs are mistaken, then they are misguided villains whose actions threaten civilization.

              As others have said, the Children of Winter are extremists, and they BELIEVE that any city is unnatural. The If Winter Falls scenario poses the hypothetical question “What if the Children of Winter are entirely correct?” Therefore, if you embrace that scenario, it presents the idea that the world itself wants to utterly eliminate civilization—not just removing magic but also destroying cities. But it’s only true if that’s the story you want to tell. It’s an OPTION, and if you take it, then yes, Eberron Hates Cities. But that’s not a fundamental truth unless you decide that it is.

  18. Nice article, though having an interest in this area of history, I’ve got a lot of questions.

    On clothing: Does Cannith produce new “mundane” materials or dyes used in clothes, akin to the introduction of vulcanized rubber, various synthetic fabrics (nylon, rayon ect.), and the synthetic dye craze that started with Mauveine?

    “if that factory is producing swords, every sword in a particular model is nearly identical in quality and appearance”
    When you say nearly identical, would this mean the individual pieces be interchangeable instead of needing a final hand-fit?
    Background: That’s actually something that’s only just beginning in the 1800s. John Hall’s rifle did it by the 1820s, but it was the exception and didn’t really take off that far, and it hadn’t become truely universal till at least the last part of the century. (note: cross factory parts compatibility is a whole nother beast entirely and a product of the 20th century, as the 1942 M1 Carbine was the first major thing I’m aware of where all parts were interchangeable between different factories)

    On arcane farming: Is there some kind of artificial insemination spell/ritual? Besides allowing modern understanding of genetics to be applied to animals (a level of selective breeding that I’m sure magebreeding would welcome), artificial insemination on its own, regardless of offspring, is pretty critical for dairy production, since cows only produce milk after pregnancy and on modern farms they’re kept almost constantly pregnant to keep milk flowing.

    • I generally compare Eberron to mid-to-late nineteenth century. We’ve got reliable air travel and a well-established telegraph analogue, after all.

      Having said that, I usually try to avoid going too deeply into questions like these. In part this is for the same reasons I don’t need a list of 300 Brelish villages where nothing ever happens; I don’t want to get too deep into the weeds if I don’t have a reason to. The second reason is because I don’t like answering questions when I don’t understand the consequences of the answer. *I* don’t know anything about the history and impact of synthetic fabrics, and I wouldn’t want to answer the nylon question without doing the research to understand the consequences of the answer. So generally I’d work backwards. We know there IS a dairy industry in Khorvaire. This could mean that they have an insemination ritual, or it could be that they’ve found a way to magebreed cattle that always lactate; I don’t need to decide that until I have a story that depends on the answer, and at that point I’d do the research to understand the consequences of that choice and the other ways it could affect the story.

      Essentially, YOU know more about the farming industry than I do, so you have a better idea of what the logical answer would be. What are the other consequences of them having an insemination ritual? What answer makes the most sense?

      • To be clear, I’m not suggesting that it’s not useful or interesting to discuss questions like this. I’m just saying that I don’t have all the answers, and unless there’s a reason I don’t like answering questions that likely have wider ramifications without exploring that impact. If I were to write an article on the fashion industry in Khorvaire, the first thing I’d do is to study the history of fashion and textiles in our world—and then think about how the existence of arcane science and supernatural materials might impact it. Right now, I don’t have that knowledge, or the time to explore it properly. So I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts on the topic; I just haven’t done enough research and explored the idea sufficiently to have an answer of my own.

  19. An idea on magebreeding plants being a product of the Eldeen Reaches: Aundair is said to be famous for wine production, yet is pretty far north for that; France, the northernmost country famous for wine, has most of its production in the far south and the exception, Champagne, gets the qualities famous of Champagne precisely because of the freeze cycle of how far north it is. Given the Eldeen Reaches were part of Aundair until recently, perhaps Aundair’s famous wine is a result of magebred grapes?

    • Given the Eldeen Reaches were part of Aundair until recently, perhaps Aundair’s famous wine is a result of magebred grapes?

      In a sense. In my opinion, their finest wines are most likely tied to MANIFEST ZONES—thus giving a concrete reason why particular wines are tied to particular regions. Aundair is noted for having a significant number of Thelanian manifest zones, and I think you definitely have a touch of the fey in its most beloved vintages. With that said, use of manifest zones is a basic tool of magebreeding — and it’s quite plausible that Aundairian farmers have developed additional arcane techniques they work into their vines.

    • Based on the world map of Eberron, I think Aundair goes as far south as 35 degrees North, which is farther south than any of France and the same latitude as southern California.

      Khorvaire overall is considerably south of Europe; it doesn’t even reach 60 degrees North. However, comparable latitudes in Khorvaire are probably colder than Europe, due to the lack of a Gulf Stream and the rings blocking sunlight in winter.

    • I put lines of latitude on that azimuthal projection of Eberron (p. 9 of the 4e ECG); the farm belt of Aundair (basically from the mouth of the Wynarn south to the Starpeaks) runs from about 35 degrees N to about 50 degrees N. France mostly lies in the northern part of that range.

  20. Hello Keith, great article I loved it, specially the way you explain how maps are made.
    Do you feel that Ghallanda could compete in the food industry with Vadalis if they developed eldritch machines or specific focus items?
    I’ve always liked imagining how minor houses like Ghallanda or Medani could actually develop into stronger economic actors, and getting the rare materials they need to do so could be an interesting adventure.

  21. We’ve seen mentions of “animated farming equipment” before, like in Rising from the Last War’s section on Aundar, how big of a presence is that?
    At 5th level Animate Objects seems a bit out of reach for Khorvaire, and too short a duration anyways, but it could be more comparable to low CR monsters like an Animated Armor or a Flying Sword, just instead of a sword or a suit of plate it’s a hoe or a plough.

    • Animated farming equipment wouldn’t be the product of Animate Objects, they’d be a form of homunculi (like the Iron Defender or Expeditious Messenger). I’m planning to do a follow-up IFAQ on Familiars and Homunculi, and I’ll address this when/if I write that. Short form: They’re used primarily in Aundair, still rare but are spreading. Karrnath has its own form of this with undead labor…

  22. Could magebred animals escape into the wild, establish a “stable” breeding population (possibly hybridize with native species) and become a menace to people and agriculture, akin to America’s problem with feral boar?

    • Yes, I definitely think that’s a risk with magebreeding. This is something Vadalis tries to keep in check in various ways, as discussed at the end of the magebreeding section, but it’s certainly a risk.

  23. Do the Five Nations have the equivalent of Luddites? (Not counting the Ashbound, that is.) Or were the Khorvairean Luddites a thing of the past, perhaps fading out as a movement when the Last War started? Or, alternatively, is it too early in Khorvaire’s industrial history for that kind of reaction, and it lies somewhere in the future?

    • Well in certain ways many of the Talenta halflings and the Lorghalen gnomes reject the current state of things in Khorvaire. There’s likely Seeker communities who live strongly agrarian lifestyles too in Karrnath. The elves are SLOW to accept change, but that’s not really luddites so much as having their own glacial progress.

      When you discount the Ashbound is that also the other druidic sects as well? The Children of Winter and their anti-civilization crusade, or the Wardens and their general “keeping Eldeen safe from the outside world” preference?

      If it’s more the “destroying industry and machinery that threatens their livelihoods” several of the dwarven clans lost their roles in Mror society when the Dragonmarked houses were allowed into the holds. Though generally pro-industry now, there might have been groups in the past or be groups now in Clans Droranath (Deneith), Laranak, Londurak (both Ghallanda), Toldorath and Tordannon (Jorasco) who oppose the replacement of their historical roles. Keep in mind Galifar’s involvement in the Mror Holds only spans ~20 dwarven generations.

      And you know, also do what makes a good story for you

      • I generally agree with Matthew’s analysis. I’d argue that the Eldeen Reaches as a whole is moving in a direction of rejecting arcane magic in favor of primal magic; the Ashbound represent the extreme, but we’ve called out the Wardens working with the villages to integrate primal techniques. The Eldeen still has the major legacy cities around, but in general they are shifting their society away from such things. You could certainly choose to play up that divide and exacerbate the Eldeen rejection of the arcane (leading to tension with the eastern cities).

        One point I’d make is that Aureon is the Sovereign of arcane magic, and as such the fundamental belief that underlies the Five Nations is that magic is a tool that should be harnessed for the good of civilization. Arcane magic is rapidly improving, but at a basic level it has been around since the beginning of Galifar. The Dragonmarked services hare evolving, but they’ve been around as well. As such, if I were to create a Luddite parallel I would be inclined to make it a new movement that is responding to something VERY SPECIFIC—a town where the labor force has suddenly been displaced by warforged workers, or the introduction of a homunculus tool that is likewise destroying jobs—and then focus on how that specific thing begins to snowball into a wider movement. It’s not just “Magic Bad,” it’s “Magic had this clear and absolute negative impact on our people and what are you going to do about it?”

  24. Thank you for addressing the question of magebreeding & plants in your article, I know a lot of people have brought it up on the Patreon and I was curious about it myself.

    This still leaves me wondering though, you mention that manipulation of plantlife is the realm of the Eldeen Reaches, yet many of the druidic sects see magebreeding as twisting nature (making Vadalis a frequent target for the Ashbound). How do you reconcile the two? If plants is not the domain of Vadalis yet druids will not pioneer the “magebreeding” of plants, I’m not sure what are the other options (the fey? wouldn’t that be too anecdotical?). Of course isolated individuals coud work on plants, but I’m just not seeing a good contestant for a power group trying to assert their dominion over “magebred” plants as force of industry in the future.

    This may be relevant in my current campaign, so maybe I’ll decide that Vadalis’ expertise hasn’t been plantlife in the past, but some recent discovery is changing that. But I would sure like to read about your kanon idea seeds if you have contestants I have not thought of?

    • This still leaves me wondering though, you mention that manipulation of plantlife is the realm of the Eldeen Reaches, yet many of the druidic sects see magebreeding as twisting nature (making Vadalis a frequent target for the Ashbound). How do you reconcile the two?

      First, it depends on the techniques that are used and the results that are produced. Some druids will assert that because they are using druidic magic, what they are doing is natural. Second, the druids are not monolithic! Already, the Wardens of the Wood work closely with the farmers of the Reaches to enhance their agrarian traditions with druidic magic—while both the Ashbound and Children of Winter don’t like there being towns in the reaches at all.

      A clear, concrete canon example of this is the horrid animals of 3.5, which were magebred by the ancient Gatekeepers during the Xoriat incursion. To many, horrid animals seem MORE horrifying than any Vadalis creation… and yet, the Gatekeepers will say that because they were created using primal techniques rather than arcane techniques, they ARE natural creatures. So looking to the Ashbound, they don’t like ARCANE experimentation because they assert that arcane science defies nature—while if you produce the exact same effects using primal magic, you’re working within nature.

      • Right, I had forgotten about that nuance in techniques (as well as the horrid animals example). Thanks for bringing that up!

      • In MM3 (which I think you have a credit for) there was the Battlebriar which was essentially a plant magebred by the Wardens of the Wood into a siege engine.

        • Certainly. Also, awaken is an accepted druidic tool—just look at Oalian—and considered perfectly acceptable when done using druidic magic.

  25. Amazing article! The entire Arcane Series has been fantastic.

    The only problem is that I now have about 15 new Artificer/Wizard characters I have designed based on these articles that I’ll never be able to play. 🙁 (Curse of the Forever DM)

    • I think that when you keep getting ideas for characters, it’s better to be a DM that can make them into NPCs and toss them all into a campaign than to be a player that can only play one of them.

  26. I’d love to run/participate in an Eberron campaign where cutting edge Arcane Technology is the theme. The players function as agents of the Twelve or some magic school, and their adventures would involve dealing with haywire inventions, recovering inventions stolen by field testing them on adventures, and possibly designing their own.

    Immediate ideas off the top of my head:

    A “horseless carriage” prototype (using the stats of a defanged Tormenter from BG:DiA and powered by Eberron dragonshards instead of soul coins) designed by House Orien, being sabotaged/stolen by House Vadalis for the threat it poses to their driving animals.

    • Of course I accidentally posted this before I could put down the other ideas.

      A prototype radar made by the House of Finding, but it keeps showing threats were there aren’t obviously there.

      An experimental sending stone service that operates like a cell phone, but with Sivis operators. The adventure hook is when players become “witnesses” to an assassination on their Sivis operator and need to investigate.

      An elemental submarine for exploring the ocean floor, starting a 20,000 leagues style adventure that puts them in conflict with the Sahuagin Dominion. Maybe using it to recover something from an earlier prototype.

      • Note: One of the 3.5 modules had a submarine prototype.

        I’ve previous thought of better eternal wands being a major treat to Jorasco.

  27. Maybe a little late to make a question, but I will try.

    Beyond the house’s monopolies, is there other possible monopolies? For instance, elemental binding from Zilargo is only based in they being the only country that know how do it, or is there some protection to certain national “technologies”? Or is it just a service, when some Cannith Artificer , for instance, need that some elemental be binding for create something, he hire someone that knows how to do, what in Khorvaire usually is a zil gnome…but if he find some other person that knows or discover how to do, he could hire without problems?

  28. How would cursed items emerge (if they do) with modern manufacturing and industry? A defect in the construction, perhaps a risk of non-cannith aligned crafters? Or a random risk of a manifest zone? Or special magical rituals to improve the power beyond what would be in the crafters skill set?

    • I can’t recall cursed items, in any setting where they have lore (instead of just random drops), existing beyond intentionally made traps, failed creations/experiments, and altered by evil being. I guess manifest zone could do it, but that’s pretty close to the evil being thing thing.

      I could see Eberron’s story adding some wrinkles, like Sivis publications playing up failures of independent tinkerers to hurt anyone who would challenge Cannith, but nothing that fundamentally changes beyond that.

  29. Re: magebreeding. From various places, I recall mention of the possibility that House Vadalis (or some faction thereof) may have experimented with magebreeding humanoids for various purposes. I presume that this falls in the category of “Is it a story you want to tell?” But, if it were happening, would it be considered an abomination by the general public and kept a deep, dark secret? Would it be so controversial as to be kept secret from the Twelve? From most of House Vadlis? Do even the more radical members of the House consider this something better left to the likes of Mordain?

    • I think this is answered in the Eberron Campaign Guide from 4th edition: when a branch within House Vadalis was working on living weapons and it got uncovered, all records were suppressed, their creations destroyed, and these practices outlawed by the Twelve. I presume this would happen again if the Feral Heart or any other present-day cabal were found out.

  30. Could their be magebreeds with extreme drawbacks to areas outside the focus? Like a cow that produces milk instead of body mass (akin to what modern animal breeding has done with the holstein cow) and is thus of diminished value as a draft or meat animal? What about more extreme example, a violent beast that has to be kept in an oubliette till it’s slaughtered magically so its special hide/meat/horns/whatever are harvested?

  31. I’m kind of curious about how much effort Cannith and other dragonmark houses might put into making the products they sell easily identifiable. Would a factory-made Cannith wand be sold with a user manual that gives information like the default command word, instructions on how to change that command word, and cleaning instructions? Would they have marks that could potentially be scanned with a special magic item to retrieve production information?

    • Makers’ Marks are a well established practice that’s been around for well over 1000 years in the real world. I see no reason Cannith, which is closer to a modern brand name than a single master artisan, wouldn’t have them. Also not sure what really needs cleaning instructions in a world of Cleansing Stones.

      Now what Cannith puts on items to identify the owner for bulk orderers or special high end stuff? THAT has some interesting answers. Beyond standard serial number marks, a lot of wood stocked rifles had either metal discs or wooden plugs with identifying marks. These could easily be removed, but would leave a hole that obviously marked the rifle as stolen from the government. Faking either is hard. You could go all the way and have a Sivis triple overlapping arcane mark over identifying marks, but that’s expensive and something I’d see reserved for high end stuff.

  32. “What will we have in another ten years? Flying fortresses?”

    Don’t these already exist? I may be mistaken, but isn’t that what Argonth is?

    • Might seem pedantic, but floating is not flying. A flying fortress suggests it can freely move. Arcanix stays in place and Argonth and its lesser siblings move along the ground and by all accounts along certain determined paths (manifest zones, artificer beacons like lightning stones?)

      A truly mobile in three dimensions fortress would change everything in Khorvaire

      • Matthew is exactly correct. The Argonth floats above the ground; it can’t fly at any significant height, and it moves slowly. We’ve suggested that Arcanix was moved, but not that it is capable of moving under its own power. So by “Flying Fortress”, we’d be talking about a version of Argonth capable of achieving significant altitude and moving swiftly, and allowing aerial bombardment; the current Argonth can’t do any of these things.

  33. Would the Dread Blossom Swarm from monster Manual III (dnd 3.5) be evidence to suggest the elves of aerenal magebreed plants, as weapons and industry?

    • Yes and no. It’s definitely the case that the Aereni magebreed plants. It’s a clear cornerstone of their exotic lumber industry (soarwood, livewood, bronzewood, densewood); the fact that these lumbers still aren’t produced in the Five Nations suggests that they require both manifest zones and arcane cultivation, otherwise the Zil would have their own soarwood groves by now. We’ve talked about the use of livewood ballistas, and densewood is a key element of Aereni industry.

      At the same time, in descriptions of Aerenal we’ve never talked about the extensive use of awakened plants or similar things. The primary focus has always been on WOOD. Essentially, they aren’t very PRIMAL; they may be using arcane techniques to create exotic strains of lumber, but they’re focused on creating raw material for their industry, not on using primal magic to integrate LIVING plants into their society (with the notable exception of livewood). This is notably in contrast to the Tairnadal, who have a strong primal tradition. Crucially, note that Taer Valaestas is the City of Thorns, a city with living walls raised by Tairnadal druids—but we’ve never discussed the existence of such living cities among the Aereni proper.

      Beyond that, I would call out the line of Tolaen as the botanical magebreeders of Aerenal; they are already called out in Exploring Eberron as the backbone of the lumber industry and the finest woodsmiths of Aerenal. So it’s not that ALL Aereni are tied to the practice, but it’s the defining tradition of one of the powerful lines.

      • I had always assumed those plants were natural occurrences of the world/MZs. I had not considered they might have been magebred into existence instead.

        • Most likely both are true! Manifest zones are an important tool in magebreeding, and I would say that most of Aereni’s lumbers are grown in manifest zones. But it’s also quite possible that they used arcane techniques to refine the original plants into the forms we know, and it could be additional rituals are required in the process of felling the tree and treating the lumber to produce densewood and bronzewood. The key point is that by canon, these lumbers are unique to Aerenal — and given their obvious value, SOMETHING has to prevent them from simply being grown elsewhere. Since manifest zones are found across Eberron, it seems logical to assume that it’s not just a zone that produces them — that there’s a secondary factor that limits them to Aerenal.

          With that said, I’m not adverse to the idea that these woods COULD be found elsewhere; there was a previous discussion as to whether any of these lumbers could be found in the Shadow Marches, or produced in the Eldeen Reaches. The main thing to me is that we’ve established them as a central part of the economy of Aerenal. I might be willing to say that the Wardens of the Wood have produced the equivalent of bronzewood, and that there are some (super)naturally occurring densewood trees in manifest zones in the Shadow Marches. But in both cases these don’t exist in large enough quantities to undermine the Aereni trade — and soarwood is definitely unique to Aerenal.

  34. Hi, I am curious to see how you handle the impact of Cannith manofacture on prices of items for adventures. So, if a longsword costs 15gp in a Cannith shop, how much does it cost a smith to forge one?Cannith has raised his price to match the smith’s costs? How about used items (also known as loot)? Will it be purchased for his iron weight, or will there be some thrift stores for adventures?

    • In general, Eberron follows the standard rules of the PHB. What we’ve said is that the pricing of items in the PHB is basic on the existence of Cannith techniques; that Cannith is the industry standard, and that the lone smith in the small village might have to charge more to be successful. However, the point is that it isn’t our intention to change the standard rules for the costs of item creation or for selling items — per the PHB, “As a general rule, undamaged weapons, armor, and other equipment fetch half their cost when sold in a market. Weapons and armor used by monsters are rarely in good enough condition to sell.” Whether that’s based on people buy equipment as scarp or reselling it as thrift is up to you.

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