Dragonmarks: Avassh, the Twister of Roots


You call her the Twister of Roots, for you cannot see the beauty in her works. Open your mind and your body to the Bloody Cornucopia. Let her plant her seeds in your thoughts and your fertile flesh and show you wonders you cannot imagine.

Avassh is the terraformer of the daelkyr. Poisonous blooms unfold at its touch, and fungus spreads in its wake. Dhaakani accounts of the wars against the daelkyr speak of blighted fields where rotting crops rise up to consume the farmers, and jungles where the screaming trees drink goblin blood through barbed roots. The Dhakaani on the western frontier had to burn their dead to ensure that the corpses didn’t rise again, overflowing with fungal blooms. Those Dhakaani facing Avassh were ordered to be extraordinarily vigilant. Terrifying as Dyrrn’s mind flayers may be, when an illithid is slain the threat is over. Avassh’s minions often scatter spores when they are destroyed; unless preventative measures are taken, a single shambling mound could give birth to a new legion. The Gatekeeper druids helped the Dhakaani to contain Avassh’s influence, but there weren’t enough druids to protect the vast empire; in many regions, fields and forests had to be razed to utterly expunge this alien threat.

Today Avassh is bound in Khyber, and mercifully, its influence is severely restricted. Avassh is most active in the Towering Woods of the Eldeen Reaches; the Wardens of the Wood watch for its general influence, while the Children of Winter contain its threats in the Gloaming. However, it’s quite possible it has a foothold in some of the other vast untamed jungles of Khorvaire—or that adventurers could discover an alien oasis beneath the surface. Beyond this, there are seeds that were scattered across Khorvaire thousands of years ago still waiting for the right moment (or cult rituals) to bear deadly fruit. Some sages believe that the Barrens of western Khorvaire—the area now known as Droaam—was brutally defoliated to counter the influence of Avassh, and if so there may be many forgotten seeds there waiting to be recovered and cultivated.

THE TWISTER OF ROOTS

Avassh doesn’t embody mortal fears of nature; rather, it transforms nature to create alien terrors. This transformation appears to be the primary motivation of the daelkyr. Many of Avassh’s creations are deadly threats. Blights will kill creatures of flesh and corrupt natural vegetation. The compelling scent of Avassh’s blooms may be poisonous, or could carry a more insidious threat—psychic spores that take root as powerful psychoses. But some of the things that Avassh has created, while certainly unnatural, are actually quite useful. Brightwort is a faintly luminescent plant that is immensely useful in the creation of potions of healing or vitality. Most casual botanists assume that brightwort is connected to Irian—like Araam’s Crown, another potent medicinal herb. But unlike Araam’s Crown, brightwort doesn’t grow in Irian manifest zones, and there’s nothing natural about the way this herb promotes flesh to knit and blood to clot. Avassh’s creations will be unlike anything that exists in OUR world, but it’s possible these alien resources can be harnessed to serve the greater good. Avassh doesn’t care if its plants help you are harm you. Avassh is reshaping the world in its image, and whether or not you thrive in this new environment is incidental.

Brightwort is a fairly minor and benevolent example of Avassh’s work. Other creations of the Twister of Roots range from dangerous to bizarre. The classic mandrake—a plant with a human-shaped root that screams when it’s dug up—could definitely be in Avassh’s garden. Carnivorous plants, flowers that smell like your most painful memories, angry trees with razor leaves—these are just a few of Avassh’s creations. Consider these possibilities…

  • Mourning Roses. These flowers cry in the darkness, a haunting sob designed to lure people. The thorns on its vines are charged with a powerful venom; those who search for the source of the cries will usually fall prey to the poison, and their corpses will fertilize the roses. The plant only cries when it is in bloom, and it is actually a psychic effect rather that actual sound; the voice feels familiar, even though it’s impossible to identify.
  • Bone Orchards. Bone orchards sprout from humanoid bones. They appear to be dead trees, with closely interlaced, leafless boughs. However, their bark has the texture of bone. The trees feed on the last vestiges of spirit that linger in the bones that spawned them. A bone tree counts as the source corpse for purposes of speak with dead, and even without the spell, the whispers of the dead can often be heard in a bone orchard. These are typically found on ancient Dhakaani battlefields or mass graves, but new orchards can be found in areas with active Avassh cults or places close to the daelkyr’s prison.
  • Tree of Knowledge. Each of these trees is unique—deciduous in appearance, but often strange in color and texture. A tree of knowledge might appear to be made of glass, or it could bleed if its bark is cut. As its name suggests, the fruit of a tree of knowledge imparts information, something the person who consumes the fruit knows to be absolutely true. Each tree holds a particular piece of knowledge, and it’s possible that this information could be entirely useful; a tree of knowledge could grant understanding of the Goblin language, or proficiency with woodcarver’s tools. But a tree could also grant absolute understanding of secrets mortals weren’t meant to know—secrets that might drive someone to start a cult devoted to the Twister of Roots, for example. This is often how Avassh cults spread, and NPCs may be powerless to resist such infection. However, if a player character encounters such fruit, they should be granted a Wisdom save to resist its effects (which are to be charmed by other Avassh cultists), and be able to repeat the saving throw if they are harmed by Avassh cultists and after each long rest.

These are just a few examples. The Twister of Roots also creates many plant monsters, described in the Forces section below.

THE BLOODY CORNUCOPIA

While Avassh creates new foms of plantlife, it also explores the line between animal and vegetable, often creating strange hybrids of the two. This can be reflected by its symbionts (see the Gifts section below), but it often involves an actual transformation rather than the use of a temporary symbiont. Most cultists welcome such transformations, seeing it as ascension to a higher state. Here’s a few examples of cult transformations.

  • Wooden Soldiers. While the cultist appears normal, beneath the skin their muscles become flexible roots and their organs transform into wood. These wooden soldiers use the statistics of warforged. They don’t have the ability to attach armor, but they gain the +1 AC bonus of Integrated Protection while wearing armor and when they are wearing no armor they have an AC of 13 + their Dex Modifier. They are considered to be both plants and aberrations.
  • Rootbound. The cultists become bound to a wooden object—typically a living tree, but there are cases where cultists have been bound to the wooden structure of a building. These cultists cannot venture more than a few miles from the object they are bound to. They use the statistics of dryads, but are considered to be plants and aberrations rather than fey, and speak both the languages they knew in their prior life and Deep Speech. Rootbound dryads can’t cast druidcraft or shillelagh, but they know the primal savagery and acid splash cantrips (spitting the acids from their mouths). The rootbound’s “Fey Charm” can target one humanoid and up to three plants or aberrations at a time; it doesn’t affect beasts.
  • Dolgaunts. While Avassh has servitors with the abilities of dolgaunts, they are quite different from those created by Dyrrn the Corruptor. Avassh’s dolgaunts begin with a seed being implanted in the spine of a cultist. The seed grows and spreads roots throughout the cultist’s body; two of these pierce the skin, becoming the long tentacles of the dolgaunt. The cultist’s eyes turn into dead wood, and are eventually pushed out of their sockets by roots. By this point, the original cultist is dead and what’s left is a dolgaunt servant of Avassh. These dolgaunts are both plant and aberration.
  • Myconids. There have been a few cases of cults that have voluntarily infected themselves with a consuming fungus and become myconids. These cults are often peaceful, interested only in their own fungal communion; however, they may decide to aggressively share this bliss with others. Avassh myconids are discussed further under Forces.

THE FORCES OF AVASSH

Avassh’s cults typically begin with a seed. Sometimes this is a relic of the Dhakaani conflict that suddenly sprouts—perhaps watered by a particular emotion or simply by contact with humanoids. In other cases a cultist might be compelled to perform rituals that create the seed without truly knowing what they are doing. The form of the cult depends on what seed they have sprouted. Cults that know Avassh as the Bloody Cornucopia are similar to Dyrrn’s Transcendent Flesh cults, yearning for an unnatural transformation. Cults that know Avassh as the Twister of Roots may cultivate deadly gardens. It could be that this is all that they do—that they cultivate a garden of mourning roses but have no sinister plans—or it could be that they are tending a blood mother (see below), caring for it until it can unleash a blight.

Transformed cultists have been described above, but here are other creations of the Twister of Roots. These forces could be found working with cults, or could be encountered on their own in regions influenced by Avassh.

Blights. Blights are a bioweapon originally unleashed against Dhakaan. Blights kill humanoids and transform the vegetation of their region, spreading poisonous brambles, slimy vines, and other disturbing vegetation. The Dhakaani called the trees that spawn blights khaar’niianu, “blood mothers.” The sphere of influence of a blood mother is based on its size and age. Most ancient blood mothers were destroyed by the Dhakaani. Occasionally a new tree sprouts—a relic of the Dhakaani conflict that never germinated, or the result of cult rituals—but such young trees have a limited range. A new blood mother might destroy Sharn, but a single young tree couldn’t engulf Breland.

Gas Spores and Dolgaunts. Avassh created the first gas spores. Some scholars believe that this is a key to understanding the relationship between daelkyr—that the gas spores are in some way a reflection of the relationship between Avassh and Belashyrra—but there is a continuing debate as to whether this reflects cooperation or if it is a form of mockery or humor. This is also reflected by Avassh’s dolgaunts; as described earlier, they resemble dolgaunts but are actually a fusion of plant and animal; they are considered to be both plants and aberrations.

Myconids. The only known account of a civilization of myconids comes from Boroman ir’Dayne, who describes a subterranean expedition that discovered an ancient Dhakaani vault inhabited by these creatures. Boroman describes the creatures existing in a state of “ecstatic union” and says that they were awaiting the coming of “The Harvester”, who had sown them long ago and would one day harvest them to serve a greater purpose. Boroman theorized that these myconids (a term coined by ir’Dayne and not used by the creatures themselves) were the remnants of a Dhakaani kech that had been targeted by Avassh—possible centuries after the downfall of the empire on the surface. While this is the only account of a myconid civilization, myconids can be encountered in Avassh’s cults—as described above—and as unique creatures spawned by the Mourning or created by Mordain.

Shambling Mounds. The shambling mounds of Avassh form around the bones of dead sentient creatures. Most are just rough shapes, but occasionally a shambler more closely recognizes its original form; there’s at least one case of an Avassh cult leader being restored as a shambling mound and retaining his memories of his mortal life. As with treants and other creatures, these are Avassh’s shambling mounds; shamblers can also be created by primal forces, and such shambling mounds aren’t associated with bones.

Shriekers. Little is known about shriekers. Most sages believe that they are nonsentient fungi that only react to the presence of light and motion. However, Boroman ir’Dayne reports hearing a “haunting choir of shriekers” that seemed to be singing to one another across great distances, though he was unable to make any sense of the song or induce individual shriekers to replicate it or to communicate in any way. There have also been a few examples of “shrieking cults”—a seeming variation of Kyrzin’s gibbering cults—who use the bodies of their dead to fertilize shriekers and claim to be able to hear the voices of their loved ones in the shrieks. It’s possible that Avassh is linked to shriekers, and can speak through any shrieker—if it ever has any reason to speak to adventurers. If this is true, Boroman’s mysterious choir could be the equivalent of Avassh humming to itself…

Treants. During the Xoriat incursion, Dhakaani fortress in what is now Aundair were assaulted by living siege engines they called the Gaa’avassh, the “Children of Avassh.” Since then, these creatures have been encountered in the depths of the Gloaming and the swamps other jungles and forests touched by Avassh. Most gaa’avassh have the broad appearance of classic treants blended with willow trees; however, their bark has a slick texture, they have nothing resembling a human face or head, and the dangling “willow branches” are actually a mass of prehensile tendrils. Mechanically, they grapple any smaller creature they strike with their Slam attack (DC 18 to escape); they can grapple up to six creatures at a time. The only language they all know is Deep Speech; ancient gaa’avash will know Goblin, and may have learned other languages from the creatures around them. The consider animals of all types to be an infestation, and see no difference between humans and squirrels. They are reclusive creatures that largely dwell in the deepest woods. While this describes the traits of the common gaa’avassh, there are certainly more exotic examples. One Dhakaani account speaks of a massive gaa’avassh that also served as the blood mother of a blight infestation, and there is an old Aundairian folk tale that seems to describe a gaa’avassh that falls in love with a parasitical dryad.

Assassin vines, violet fungus, and similar creatures can all be attributed to Avassh, and cults of the Twister of Roots may cultivate such creatures and even have the ability to control them psychically. it’s possible that there are other plants with similar statistics that have other origins, but any dangerous and unnatural plant could be the work of Avassh.

THE GIFTS OF AVASSH

The most common gifts of Avassh are potions—elixirs brewed using the alien properties of Avassh’s creations. Typically cult herbalists are driven by unnatural intuition and don’t really understand the alchemy they are working. While Avassh’s potions are potent, they may well have side effects ranging from minor hallucinations while the potion is in effect (you hear strange music whenever you come close to a living plant) to actual physical transformations. These effects could be very minor on a single dose—so an adventurer can use the potion of giant strength they obtained from a cultist and only have green skin for a few hours—but repeated doses of the same potion will come with more serious side effects, which explains why adventurers won’t want to embrace an Avassh cult as a friendly pharmacy.

Symbionts of Avassh are made of wood or other vegetable matter. As discussed in Exploring Eberron, any existing magic item could be flavored as an Avassh symbiont. A symbiont cloak of protection might be made of interlocked leaves; it feeds off the blood of its host, which can be seen in the veins of the leaves. Avassh cultists may use hungry weapons made of wood and studded with thorns, or a tongueworm that’s a thorn-tipped vine. Nonsymbiont tools of Avassh could include enchanted prosthetics, or a dagger of venom made of an Avassh variant of livewood. If you are using Magic of Eberron, Avassh could definitely be a source of plant grafts.

CHARACTER IDEAS

Avassh cultists aren’t all destructive; some wish to pursue their own vegetative communion or evolution and have no interest in letting you in on the action. On the other hand, a character could be a former cultist who’s broken free from Avassh’s influence but retained the powers they gained in the process. Consider the following ideas…

  • With your DM’s permission, you could play a wooden soldier of Avassh using the statistics of a warforged. You can’t attach armor, but you can wear it normally and gain the +1 bonus of Integrated Protection when you do. To you enjoy your wooden condition, or are you searching for a way to return to your original form?
  • As an alchemist artificer, you could be drawing your magic from the strange herbs of Avassh. Are you a cultist who cultivates your own sacred garden, or are you a scholar who recovered plants grown by an Avassh cult and seeing what you can do with them?
  • As a diviner, you could draw your talent for divination from an elixir made from a tree of knowledge. Do you have ongoing access to the tree, or are you worried what will happen when you run out?
  • With your DM’s permission, you could play a Circle of the Moon druid who wildshapes into plant forms instead of animal forms. You gained your gifts through communion with Avassh; do you still believe that the Bloody Cornucopia is benevolent, or do you now oppose the Cults of the Twister of Roots?

STORY IDEAS

Avassh isn’t hard to work into a story. If adventurers wander into a deep, untamed region—the Towering Woods, the King’s Forest—they could discover that Avassh has influence in the area. Alternately, they could have to deal with a cult or a war-seed that has sprouted in a town or city and needs to be dealt with. Here’s a few other ideas.

  • The adventurers find an ancient Dhakaani ruin that was destroyed long ago in conflict with Avassh. It could be occupied solely by aggressive plants, or it could have myconids or wooden soldiers based on the original inhabitants. One canon example of this is in Five Nations—Yarkuun Draal, a Dhakaani fortress in Breland. Five Nations says that the ruin is held by “the daelkyr Bhodex’av’gr” but I would personally say that Bhodex’av’gr isn’t a daelkyr, but rather an ancient, evolved cultist of Avassh—a powerful lieutenant who may not be a daelkyr, but is something very powerful and inhuman.
  • The adventurers find the ruins of a cult stronghold wiped out sometime during the golden age of Galifar. Texts in the ruin speak of the gifts of the Garden of Knowledge, and the adventurers find that at least one tree of knowledge remains intact. Will anyone taste its fruit?
  • After clashing with wooden soldiers, a PC artificer notices a disturbing similarity between the root-like musculature of the fallen soldiers and the body of a warforged. Is House Cannith drawing on Avassh’s power to create the warforged, and if so, do they know it? Could the warforged be controlled by Avassh?
  • Adventurers stumble upon evidence that proves that Oalian, the Great Druid of the Eldeen Reaches, is a creation of Avassh. Can they determine whether Oalian is a plant—a long, long-term mole waiting to enact an ancient scheme—or if the Great Druid is truly as noble as it seems?

What would you use as a stat block for Avassh?

I don’t have the time to develop a full stat block for her. However, you can cobble something serviceable by combining Zuggtmoy’s block from Out of the Abyss with Dyrrn from Eberron Rising From The Last War. Start with Zuggtmoy’s base block, and make the following changes:

  • Avassh should be a medium aberration as opposed to a large fiend.
  • Add the Alien Mind and Teleport traits from Dyrrn.

That will WORK. It’s not ideal; personally, I’d be inclined to give Avassh more transformation or summoning powers. Zuggtmoy is heavily infested in the fungal/spore theme, which is fine; the mind control abilities aren’t INappropriate for a daelkyr. But I’d like to see Avassh invest more strongly in the idea of CHANGING or CREATING things.

That’s all I have time for now, but I’m including a table of trinkets tied to Avassh as a bonus for the inner Circle on my Patreon! Thanks to my Patreon supporters for choosing this topic and for making these articles possible. Feel free to discuss the topic in the comments, but I am dealing with major deadlines at the moment and most likely won’t have time to address complex questions.

43 thoughts on “Dragonmarks: Avassh, the Twister of Roots

  1. Would Avassh be a good basis for a new dragonmark to manifest in the world, the Mark of Leaves?

    How would Oalian being a creation of Avassh actually make sense? Does he not have an entirely separate history?

    • How would Oalian being a creation of Avassh actually make sense? Does he not have an entirely separate history?
      Oalian is thousands of years old and no living creature knows his actual history. He’s believed to have been awakened by ancient druids. The story hook is a POSSIBILITY; if you decide to use it, it means that the adventurers discover evidence that what people believe is untrue.

      • Nothing to say the idea that Oalian is a monstrous creation of Avassh is not its own delusional idea implanted in the PC’s heads by other nefarious forces as well! Ideas like that would seem to be the unifying idea behind nascent Cults of the Dragon Below.

        • Exactly right! Part of the idea of the hook is first of all whether the adventurers actually BELIEVE it—and even if they do, a sinister origin doesn’t prevent Oalian from having evolved into a champion of the light.

  2. This fits quite well with the vegepygmy from Volo p196 who are spawned from russet mold. Would Avassh make such a mold and mayhaps other kinds of mold as seen in the DMG p105.

    • Would Avassh make such a mold and mayhaps other kinds of mold as seen in the DMG p105.

      Certainly, unless a particular mold seems more appropriate for Kyrzin (it’s the line between fungus and slime).

  3. I don’t think you are credited for the plant daelkyr Bhodex’av’gr beneath Yarkuun Draal in Five Nations, but would you make these daelkyr separate or just variations of the same entity?

    • I’ve added a note about this to the story hooks. Personally, I’d make Bhodex’av’gr a separate entity—not actually a daelkyr, but rather an ancient, highly evolved cultist of Avassh who many now mistake for a daelkyr. This also allows them to act more freely on the surface.

  4. Staff of the Woodlands can now be a symbiont or quite the cursed item 😀

    While blight the spell is a fourth level, could it’s origins be to counter Avassh? Be it with the dhakaan or a necrotic group like the blood of vol?

  5. This is likely a broader Daelkyr question but did/do the Daelkyr have a presense in Sarlona? Were some of the current crop of super crops adapted from these weird twisted plants?

    Does Avassh extend down into the sea with aquatic versions of her children made of kelp and other aquatic plants?

    Cool hooks about Oalian (especially considering his position as leader of the groups fighting the aberrations in the Towering Wood) and the warforged, will have to think on those.

    • This is likely a broader Daelkyr question but did/do the Daelkyr have a presense in Sarlona? Were some of the current crop of super crops adapted from these weird twisted plants?
      Personally I’ve always seen the weird super plants of the Inspired as being tied to psychometabolic techniques and planar influences. I think that the daelkyr COULD appear in Riedra if there’s a pathway through Khyber, but they definitely don’t have a STRONG presence there and the Edgewalkers will do everything they can to seal any passages they discover.

      Does Avassh extend down into the sea with aquatic versions of her children made of kelp and other aquatic plants?

      It certainly could. The daelkyr are still individuals, so it’s mainly a question of whether you want to establish a connection to Avassh’s prison that lies underwater.

  6. Oh, excellent article Keith!

    I can imagine a good plot about Mordain, Healing Potion creation and secrets of House Jorasco reading this article. Would be a fun story House Jorasco trying cover that the healing potion they use and sell, that came from a formula of Mordain the Flashweaver, have actually a aberrant origin.

  7. Would any of the individual druidic sects have a singular relationship with Avassh since both often operate in the medium of blending plants and animals? Would she elicit any unique revulsion or misplaced sympathy among denizens of the Eldeen Reaches, or offer more incentives to corrupt druids than say a Dyrrn would?

    • Would any of the individual druidic sects have a singular relationship with Avassh since both often operate in the medium of blending plants and animals?
      I don’t see any of the established druidic sects embracing Avassh, no. The Eldeen sects are champions of the natural order, while Avassh and all the daelkyr fundamentally seek to BREAK nature; the defining trait all of their creations share is that they are UNnatural. Note that in most of my examples I called out that Avassh’s servants would be considered to be both plants AND aberrations. I’m also not sure I would say that any of the sects “often blend plants and animals”—did you have a specific example in mind? Sure, a druid might temporarily use barkskin as protection, but I don’t think we’ve suggested that any actually permanently turn their skin into bark. And sure, awaken can give a plant a humanoid form of sentience, but that’s still different than implanting a plant in a humanoid and creating a dolgaunt. And while the Children of Winter embrace survival of the fittest, we’ve also called out that they hate things that violate the natural order, such as undead; I think they’d see Avassh’s creations in the same light. The plant-human dolgaunt may be strong, but it’s an alien intrusion that has no place in Eberron… not one of Eberron’s creations reaching its natural potential.

      Having said that, the people of the Eldeen Reaches and even the druids are just as vulnerable to the delusions of the Cults of the Dragon Below as anyone else. There surely have been and likely are Avassh cults in the Eldeen Reaches whose members include druids, who are convinced that they are pursuing the next stage of natural evolution. But the key word there is delusions, and I don’t expect any of the core cults to rationally accept these arguments.

      • I made a poor choice of words in saying “both often operate in the medium of blending plants and animals.” I meant more that Avassh and various druidic sects often seem to operate in the same medium as one another—plants. Plant grafts from Magic of Eberron as a druidic creation as totally different from daelkyr as the main example.

        However on reflection that is true of all the daelkyr and druids really. Kyrzin and the Children of Winter both overlap in disease with their methods and outcome being very different—even if not necessarily mechanically—as the most obvious one I can think of right now.

        • Kyrzin and the Children of Winter both overlap in disease with their methods and outcome being very different—even if not necessarily mechanically—as the most obvious one I can think of right now.

          Even there, there’s some interesting differences. Both traffic in disease. But while they may magically induce diseases, part of the point of the Children of Winter is to use NATURAL diseases. Their basic philosophy is that civilization is interfering with the natural cycle and allowing the weak to survive when they’d die in the wild. They see themselves as champions who are restoring the balance. Whereas by creating entirely alien and unnatural diseases, Kyrzin is actually a dangerous unbalancing force. If anything I’d see the Children of Winter as being the most likely to oppose Kyrzin; precisely BECAUSE they understand disease, they’re among the best suited of the sects to combat an unnatural plague.

          • While you’re on the subject of the Children of Winter and disease, I’ve had this idea inspired by recent events involving a druid trying to introduce a disease from a Mabar manifest zone to a village under ideal conditions so that the villagers can develop immunity to it. His introduction of it involves giving it to some of the stronger/healthier villagers after the local harvests so that they can hopefully recover before it spreads to the more vulnerable ones and so that their sickness doesn’t get in the way of gathering food. When someone takes it to Sharn and it spreads like crazy, this druid is pretty much “Why aren’t you idiots isolating yourselves! Don’t you know how to defend yourselves from plagues?!”
            Is this kind of approach to disease in line with the Children of Winter’s philosophy?

  8. Thank you so much for this- my game has been focused on a cult of Avassh called SMOTHER for the first arc (been going slow due to COVID unfortunately) and I was having trouble coming up with some of the more granular details.

    Something I’ve been trying to work into my presentation of the Twister of Roots was the idea that it represents not just plants, but growth in general, unthinking growth that only stops when the creature grows too large to support itself or is felled. In that way, plants are the epitome of Avassh’s philosophy, doing literally nothing but grow and grow and smother the land around them until they can’t anymore, from the smallest flower to the greatest tree. In a way, Avassh is like a cancer.

    I’ve currently got the players racing to save a Myconid NPC they adopted (named Darren) from being kidnapped by a Dwarf corrupted by Avassh, who I gave shoulder tentacles without even thinking- so with this article, I can just say he’s turning slowly into a Dolgaunt and wants to use the Myconid to offset the process and become a more powerful servant of Avassh!

    An idea I’m working on for the Demiplane prison of Avassh is gonna be the Fertile Soil- at first it looks like a jungle of bizarre trees, until players realise that if they stop for even a short rest, they begin to slowly take root into the ground beneath them- the forest around them is all creatures who found there way there, fell asleep, and were unable to move afterwards, slowly turning into hideous living trees to fill the forest with over time. Avassh moves slowly through this forest, the trees parting with shrieking screams before it.

    on that topic, do you have any ideas on what Avassh might look like? Does it stick to the parameters of ‘humanoid with some slightly strange effects around it’ or is it altogether more monstrous?

    • on that topic, do you have any ideas on what Avassh might look like? Does it stick to the parameters of ‘humanoid with some slightly strange effects around it’ or is it altogether more monstrous?

      This is one of the key things that differentiates the daelkyr and fiends. Overlords and other fiends embody evil ides, and they can assume any form that suits that core concept—and as seen with Rak Tulkhesh, those forms can be quite bizarre. Daelkyr AREN’T embodiments of ideas in the same way. Avassh isn’t a spirit of nature in the same way as, say, the Wild Heart; it is ultimately an alien scientist who has chosen vegetation as its medium and field of exploration. So like the other daelkyr, I’d expect Avassh to generally be perceived as an enhanced humanoid. One option would be to have a humanoid form embedded and merged into the trunk of a tree, with sinew entwined with the fibers of the wood; the question then is whether the tree itself would animate—so, a treant with a body embedded in its torso—or if it’s stationary, acting through its plant minions. On the otherhand, I could also see a humanoid with unnaturally long forearms carved from wood. With that said, part of the point of the daelkyr is that only the general idea is consistent; as I first discussed in this article, I usually follow the idea that different creatures may see different things when they look at a daelkyr. The core idea is the same—humanoid embedded in tree or humanoid with wooden limbs—but the specifics vary.

  9. Would Zuggtmoy (and her 5e stat block) be a good stand in for Avassh, or would she better serve as an avatar or general.

      • Along the lines of Zuggtmoy would the Sibriex’s Warp Creature ability (including the variant flesh warping) make sense for an ability for Avassh to have?

  10. Would the blights be a mechanism for spreading more blood mothers or perhaps just extending the parent one more?

    • Would the blights be a mechanism for spreading more blood mothers or perhaps just extending the parent one more?

      This is 100% a question where the answer is “What do you need for the story you want to tell?” The general point is that no, the blights can’t spread more blood mothers, because that’s what allows you to tell a story where a blight exists but is limited in the threat it poses because it reaches the end of its blood mother’s influence. If every blight has the ability to infinitely and exponentially expand, it’s harder to actually USE it; you can’t just say it’s been sitting in an unexplored part of the Towering Woods unnoticed for centuries, because if that is the case, it would have continued to expand until it became a threat that someone had to deal with. Likewise, I WANT the ability to say that a blight can threaten Sharn, and that Sharn could even be lost to that blight, without it actually posing a threat to all of Breland.

      With that said, I also want to have the ability to tell a story in which that Blight DOES affect all of Breland. So, the answer is “What story to you want to tell?” If I want to tell the threatens-all-of-Breland story than THIS blight is fully fertilized and capable of spawning new mothers. If not, it’s a flawed or young blight that doesn’t have that capability.

  11. Would termites be a issue for Avassh and her creations? As well as the need for water and sunlight?

    Could the plantlife of Avassh survive even in hostile environments like the mournlands? Or more mundane but still nasty blade desert? Like a oasis luring it’s prey?

    • There’s no single answer to these questions. Avassh is, essentially, a scientist conducting experiments. Everything it creates will be different. COULD it create vegetation that could survive in the Mournland? Certainly, and it might consider that an interesting challenge,. But that doesn’t mean that’s true of all of its creations.

      • Would a particular Avasshi plantlife that survived the mourning have been altered like many other things did in the mourning? Or would it have resistance to it should it have survived?

  12. Does Avash or her creations have the power to twist plants and creatures in Lamannia? Or does the power of Lamannia trump Avassh, in a similar way to how lycanthropes become able to distance themselves from evil influence while in Lamannia?

    • It’s not simple a question of if it could, but if it would, and I don’t think it would. Eberron is, essentially DESIGNED TO BE MESSED WITH. It is the world that experiences change and evolution. It is MORTAL. And it is a place where all the planes have influence. If Avassh COULD tamper with Lamannia, the immediate question is why they haven’t done it in the tens of thousands of years of history? In my opinion it’s both because Lamannia resists change, and because if the daelkyr could override that they would potentially unbalance the entire multiverse. Because if they changed Lamannia, they aren’t just altering a few plants or animals, they are CORRUPTING THE PRIMAL IDEA OF NATURE. Lammania isn’t an alien planet. It’s a CONCEPT: it essentially defines nature. Xoriat defines the unnatural. If you break Lamannia, either that will break nature everywhere else because the idea of nature is no longer what it was… or, it will mean Lamannia no longer represents nature, which could unbalance the entirely planar orrery and cause the entire cosmology of Eberron to come unraveled. And I don’t think the daelkyr want either of those things. They mess with Eberron because it’s made to be messed with; it is the plane where all planes are expressed. But I don’t think Avassh would WANT to unbalance Lamannia itself.

      With that said, could creations of Avassh entire Lamannia? Sure. But I don’t think they’d spread or thrive the way they could in Eberron. Again, Lamannia isn’t a mortal ecosystem; it’s the IDEA of nature. Avassh’s corruption might linger as a tiny cursed spot, but it wouldn’t be able to dominate the plane.

      • Thank you for your reply. That makes a lot of sense, and I had forgotten and overlooked the part where other planes represent concepts more than natural places, even though I knew the fact. On a related topic, thanks for expanding the information on planes in Exploring Eberron, the whole book was a pleasure to read and exactly the kind of content I love to see!

  13. Would the jungles of Lorghalen be a logical place for some of Avassh’s seeds to reside? Or might the connection to Lamannia deter it somehow?

    • Honestly, it seems kind of remote to me. The daelkyr like messing with people. A lot of places where Avassh has influence were once Dhakaani cities that are now forgotten and lost in vast forests. Yes, a lot of those seeds are in places that people no longer dwell in, but I’m inclined to say that ONCE they did; the daelkyr don’t really want to be in the absolute middle of nowhere.

  14. Would Avassh have grown Xorian Wenge (that is used for psycic wands) or grown magic lumber or altered other magic woods like soarwood? Maybe Cannith would experiment with this altered lumber?

    • Xorian wenge is just supposed to be tied to Xorian manifest zones, not the product of Avassh.

      As for others, I’d more be inclined to say that Avassh may have created KNOCK-OFFS of the Aereni lumbers than that it is responsible for those Aereni lumbers (we know Avassh is active in Khorvaire, if it created soarwood, why won’t soarwood grow in Khorvaire?). So I wouldn’t say that it made AERENI soarwood, but I’d be happy to say that Cannith has discovered a forest within the King’s Wood that is clearly a different plant but that has the same PROPERTIES as soarwood and they are eager to start harvesting it… without understanding the Xoriat aspects that make it NOT Aereni soarwood.

      With that said, if I DID want to make Avassh responsible for soarwood, I would want to make it a huge campaign point in which it’s revealed that the daelkyr DID target Aerenal during the Xoriat incursion; that the elves contained it and never spoke of it; but that there are lingering corruptions that remain. Perhaps, like the Kapaa’vola, Dyrrn planted a deep corruption in the Undying Court that has been festering for seven thousand years…

  15. Whilst this question is more about daelkyr in general but in the cases of corrupted humanoids like Rootbound and Mind Flayer. What would your eberron say happens should the human in question have a dragonmark? Would it go dormant as the humanoid is no longer a humanoid not unlike Erandis Vol?

  16. I was looking for information about the denizens of Khyber, I asumed that myconids lived underground. The group I’m DMing is about to make a small trip to Khyber, run with some kobolds but mostly aberrations.
    I think you could also use ropers/piercer as “spawns of Avassh”, maybe even ad an ability like the red slaads to plant seeds on those it attacks.

  17. Would the Tree of Knowledge have the ability to store knowledge of draconic prophecy? Possibly like a parasite latch onto the trees of a forest to keep a eye out for prophecy marks.

  18. This is way out there for this Dragonmarks article. But . . . I finally purchased [i]Exploring Eberron[/i] today. I thought you might like to know that.

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