Dragonmarks: Gem Dragons, Gem Dragonborn, and Gith!

As time permits, I like to answer interesting questions posed by my Patreon supporters. This month, a number of questions circled around the same topic—how would I integrate gem dragons and gem dragonborn into my Eberron? In adding anything new to the setting, by question is always how it makes the story more interesting. I don’t want to just drop gem dragons into Argonnessen and say they’ve always been there; I want them to change the story in an interesting way, to surprise players or give them something new to think about. So here’s what I would do.

Dragons of Sardior

Eberron as we know it isn’t the first incarnation of the prime material plane. We don’t know how many times reality has fundamentally shifted, jumping to a new rat in the maze of reality. But we know of one previous incarnation because of its survivors. When their reality was on the brink of destruction, a rag-tag fleet of Gith vessels escaped into the astral plane. These survivors split into two cultures, with the Githzerai dwelling in vast monasteries in Kythri and the Githyanki mooring their city-ships in the astral plane. The transition of realities is a difficult thing to map to time. For us, our reality has always existed, going back to the dawn of creation. For the Gith, the loss of their world is still a thing some hold in living memory. They are hardened survivors. Some crave revenge on the daelkyr, while others are solely concerned with the survival of their people. But the Githyanki aren’t the only survivors of their reality. It was an amethyst greatwyrm who helped the Gith fleet break the walls of space, and a small host of dragons accompanied the survivors into their astral exile. But the dragons aren’t like the metallic and chromatic dragons of the world that we know. They are the gem dragons.

The Progenitors are constants across all versions of the material plane. They created the planar structure of reality, and the material plane is the end result of their labors. The Eberron of the Gith—let’s call it “Githberron”—started with the same primordial struggle. In the current Eberron, the dragons are said to have formed when Siberys’s blood fell onto Eberron. In Githberron, Khyber didn’t tear apart Siberys’s body; she shattered his mind. The gem dragons believed that fragments of Siberys’s consciousness were scattered through reality, and they sought to reunite these shards; just as arcane magic is said to be the blood of Siberys in Eberron, in Githberron psionic energy is called the dream of Siberys.

Where the dragons of our Eberron are concentrated in Argonnessen, the dragons of Githberron were spread across their world. However, they were culturally connected through a telepathic construct—a vast metaconcert, which they believed was a step toward reuniting the shattered Siberys. They called this psychic nation Sardior. So rather than Sardior being another Progenitor, Sardior was their answer to Argonnessen—and they believe it is the soul of Siberys. This idea involves a small but crucial chance to the gem stat block, which is that I’d add Trance (as the elf racial trait) to all gem dragons. When trancing, gem dragons would project their consciousness into Sardior. Today the survivors yearn to recreate Sardior, and each gem dragon carries their own piece of it within their mind; however, I’m inclined to say that there just aren’t enough of them to sustain a global (let alone extraplanar) metaconcert. Two gem dragons in the same place might be able to link their minds when they trance, to dwell together in a sliver of Sardior. But to truly restore the dream of Siberys, they need more dragons. But there’s a catch to that…

Reproduction

In modern Eberron, dragons reproduce as other creatures do. My gem dragons of Sardior, on the other hand, use one of the other methods described in Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons:

Enlightened non-dragons (most often Humanoids) are transformed into dragon eggs when they die, when they experience profound enlightenment… Humanoids and dragons alike understand the transformation to be a transition into a higher state of existence.

The gem dragons of Sardior weren’t born in isolation; they are the evolved, transcendent forms of other denizens of Githberron. This means that they have a fundamentally different relationship with humanoids than the dragons of Argonnessen. In the current Eberron, dragons see humanoids much like mice; useful for experiments, but don’t feel bad if you have to exterminate them, and isn’t it cute when they think they’re dragons. By contrast, in the Gith Eberron, dragons all evolved from humanoids, meaning both that they have memories of their humanoid existence and that they rely on humanoids to propagate their species. This is one of the key reasons they work with the Gith, even if they don’t especially like the Githyanki raiding. Not only are the Gith the last survivors of their world, they may be the only species capable of producing new gem dragons.

So, what is this process of reproduction and enlightenment? First, it requires a certain degree of psionic aptitude. The dragons see psionic energy as the dream of Siberys, and to become a dragon you are essentially drawing the essence of Siberys into yourself; what it means to be a dragon is to become a refined shard of the mind of Siberys. This doesn’t requires all pre-dragons to be full psions, but you need to have some degree of psionic ability, even if it’s just one of the psionic feats from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. The second aspect is more ineffable, and it involves unlocking your full potential—becoming the best version of yourself that you can be. In many ways this is similar to the idea of mastering the Divinity Within in the Blood of Vol, or becoming worthy of Ascension to the Undying Court in Aerenal, and it should be just as difficult; it’s usually the work of a lifetime, not something you can rush. And I’d combine the two aspects of the Fizban’s quote—the ascension requires both enlightenment and death, that on death you become a gem dragon egg. So the point is, become enlightened, live your enlightened life, and hope that when you die you’re reborn as a dragon—you don’t want to rush the process unless you’re really sure you’re sufficiently enlightened. It’s definitely something that could happen to a player character, but it would only happen when they die.

A second key aspect of this is the idea that the type of dragon you become reflects the path you walked in life. The reason sapphire dragons are warlike is because they were warriors in their first lives. Amethyst dragons were planar scholars devoted to fighting aberrations before they became dragons; if a Gatekeeper from Eberron became a gem dragon, they’d be amethyst. I’m inclined to say that some of the character’s original memories and skills are lost in the process of draconic ascension, since it would be a significant change to say that every gem wyrmling has the skills of a mortal paragon—but the essence of that first life remains and guides the dragon moving forward. While the wyrmling may not have the full skills of the mortal seed, they have its wisdom and determination, the experience of a life well lived.

Encounters

In my campaign, there are less than a hundred dragons of Sardior in the current reality. They have a single greatwyrm—an amethyst dragon who played a crucual role in helping the Gith escape their doomed reality and who generally resides at and protects Tu’narath in the astral plane. But again, each gem dragons—even the Wyrmlings—has a rich story of a prior life. Some were Gith warriors who fought against the daelkyr. Some were sages or scholars. In building an encounter with a gem dragon, the first question for the DM should be who were they before they became a dragon?

Gem dragons work with the Gith—both Githzerai and Githyanki—for many reasons. Many of the dragons were Gith before their ascension (though there were many other humanoid species on their world) and they are the last remnant of their lost world. Beyond that, the dragons yearn to recreate Sardior, and the dragons don’t yet know if it’s possible for humanoids of this reality to undergo draconic ascension; the Gith may be the only source of new gem dragons. The dragons who join Githyanki on their raids are primarily sapphire dragons, many of whom were Gith warriors in their former lives and who want to keep their people sharp; amethyst dragons are typically found in the monasteries of the Githzerai, helping build their dream of striking at Xoriat. But not all gem dragons work with the Gith. Here’s a number of ways that adventurers could encounter a gem dragon in my Eberron.

  • The Guardian. These are the dragons who work with the Gith. Some can be encountered working openly with their Gith charges, fighting alongside Githyanki raiders or protecting a Githzerai monastery. Others could shadow their charges covertly—for example, working as a sort of guardian angel for a Gith adventurer.
  • The Draconic Observer. These gem dragons are studying the native dragons of Eberron. They seek to understand the ways of Argonnessen and to see if there’s any chance that the metallic and chromatic dragons could become part of Sardior—not unlike the Dhakaani dar and the Ghaal’dar.
  • The Mentor. These gem dragons study the humanoids of this reality. Some merely observe, while others try to guide humanoids toward draconic ascension. This could be subtle and covert, but a mentor could be found training humanoids in the psionic arts—seeing this as the first step toward the enlightenment that could produce a gem dragon egg. Alternately, a sapphire or amethyst dragon could take a direct interest in the depredations of the daelkyr in this world, and could be working with Gatekeepers or Mror dwarves—most likely secretly, but anything is possible.
  • The Hedonist. The gem dragons have escaped the utter destruction of their reality. All of the dragon types mentioned above hope to rebuild Sardior, but there are surely some who want to look to the future instead of dwelling in the past, to enjoy the life that they have and to pursue whatever it is that brings them joy. This is the option for a gem dragon who has no ties to the Gith and no grand agenda. They could be dwelling among humanoids and experiencing simple joys; perhaps an undercover gem dragon has become an Aurum concordian! Or they could be found in isolation, gathering a hoard of whatever it is they treasure and enjoying the world around them.
  • The Native. In Githberron, gem dragons are born through a process of ascension. The DM must decide—is it possible for this to occur in the current incarnation of Eberron? If so, it’s reasonable to think that at some point it has occurred even among unguided mortals—that there are people who have become gem dragons on their own. These dragons would know nothing of Githberron or Sardior, and their motives would likely be tied to their own history and culture. Beyond this, the gem dragon stat blocks could also be used with other sorts of spontaneous dragons; moonstone dragons could essentially be draconic changelings, dragons of Argonnessen who’ve spent time in Thelanis and been altered by the experience.

While most of these paths are largely benevolent, there’s certainly room for any of these dragons to go down a sinister path. A guardian may place the survival of the Gith above all else, caring nothing for the damage they do to this cracked mirror in pursuit of their goals. A mentor could eliminate students who fail to live up to expectations—or kill them believing that they will become dragon eggs, only to discover that they weren’t ready.

A key question is how Argonnessen interacts with gem dragons, and whether gem dragons are vulnerable to the influence of the Daughter of Khyber. Given that they are from an alien reality and are so different in how they are formed, I am inclined to say both that gem dragons aren’t affected by the Daughter of Khyber and also that they don’t show up in the Draconic Prophecy. With this in mind, in my campaign, Argonnessen doesn’t know much about gem dragons. Because they can and have spontaneously manifested over the course of history, Argonnessen dismisses isolated encounters with gem dragons as fluke occurrences, thinking they’re much like a draconic version of tieflings or aasimar; they haven’t yet realized that there is a civilization of gem dragons active in the world. This gives player characters the opportunity to have a front row seat for the full first and open contact between Sardior and Argonnessen. The Sardior dragons have been studying Argonnessen via their draconic observers and dealing with a few individual sympathetic dragons, but they haven’t yet dealt with the Conclave or the Chamber—and adventurers could be a part of this event when it occurs. Will the Conclave work with these alien dragons? Or will they view them as a threat that should be eliminated? A second plot thread I might explore is the idea that the gem dragons aren’t as vulnerable to the Daughter of Khyber as native dragons, but that they aren’t immune to her influence… that a gem dragon who remains on Eberron and exercises its power might slowly be corrupted by the overlord, turning a valued ally into an enemy. The main point is that I’d rather have these things occur as part of the story the player characters are involved in than to be something that occurred long ago.

Kalashtar, Adar, and the Dreaming Dark

One important question is how the dragons of Sardior interact with the psi-active forces of the current Eberron, notably Adarans, kalashtar, and the Dreaming Dark. If psionic talent is a cornerstone of the evolution into a gem dragon the kalashtar could be natural allies for Sardior; the Adaran shroud would also make Adar a compelling place to have a secure Gith creche for raising children. On the other hand, it’s possible that because kalashtar psionic talent is tied to an alien spirit that the kalashtar are a spiritual dead end or at least would have MORE trouble ascending than other humanoids. It could be that Adar is already home to one or more native gem dragons; it could be very interesting to reveal that there’s always been a gem greatwyrm hidden beneath Adar, helping to protect its people.

On the other side of things, gem dragons might be more interested in Riedra and the Inspired. Could the Hanbalani be hijacked to create a form of Sardior? On the other hand, once the gem dragons have revealed their presence, I could imagine the Dreaming Dark trying to capture and use them; this could be the source of an obsidian dragon.

The main point to me is that I’m always more interested in having interesting things happen NOW than setting them in the past. I’d rather have Adaran or Kalashtar players be actively involved when a Sardior emissary comes to Adar and asks to build a creche than to say that it happened a century ago… though I do love the idea of the revelation that there have always been a few native gem dragons in Adar who have helped to guide and protect the nation!

What About Gem Dragonborn?

In my Eberron, gem dragonborn are like gem dragons, in that they aren’t a species that reproduces with others of their kind; they must be created. For these purposes, I’d consider the half-dragon origins suggested in Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons. True Love’s Gift suggests that a bond of love between a dragon and another creature can produce a dragonborn, while Cradle Favor suggests that some gem dragons can transform an unborn child. How and why this could occur would depend on the nature of the dragon sharing their power. A guardian dragon could cultivate a squad of dragonborn soldiers. Likewise, a mentor could cultivate a small family of dragonborn to help with its mission. On the other hand, a secretive hedonist or mentor could produce a dragonborn through a bond of love, with the child and their mother never knowing the true nature of the draconic godparent. On the other hand, Fizban’s offers other possible paths to becoming a half-dragon… notably, the idea that “A creature that bathes in or drinks the blood of a dragon can sometimes be transformed into a half-dragon.” I wouldn’t make this reliable or easy technique… but it leaves the possibility that some of the Draleus Tairn hunt gem dragons for this reason, or that a dying gem dragon might choose to give the last power of its blood to a humanoid that finds it.

This provides a range of options for a gem dragonborn player character. If you’re tied to a guardian, it means that you have an active connection to the Sardior survivors and a Gith vessel. Why have you left your ship? Have you been exiled for some crime, and seek to clear your name? Do you have a specific mission, whether diplomatic or searching for a particular artifact? If you’re tied to a mentor, you could have a relationship with your draconic benefactor not unlike that of a warlock and their patron; your dragon seeks to gather information and to help elevate humaniodity, and you are their eyes and hands. On the other hand, it could be that you were born as a gem dragonborn but don’t know why—that part of your quest is to discover the dragon who transformed you and to learn why.

Thoughts For Gith…

Given my theory of Githberron, one might ask what this means for Gith player characters. Are all Githyanki survivors of Githberron? Do all Gith have to have a connection to the Astral or to Kythri? A few thoughts…

The timeless nature of the astral plane means that you could play a Githyanki character who’s a survivor of the lost world. Part of the idea of Githberron/Sardior is that psionic energy was more abundant there, so you could justify being a low-level character by saying that you were a more powerful psion in your own world and part of the reason you’re traveling is to learn to work with the lesser energies of this one. With that said, the Githyanki do want to continue to grow their population; in this article I suggest the existence of creche ships that serve this purpose. I imagine adolescent Githyanki having a sort of rumspringa period—they have to be out of the astral until they physically mature, and some ships might encourage their youths to explore the material plane in this time, learning about the wider world, honing their skills, and making potential allies. Meanwhile, Kythri ISN’T timeless—which among other things suggests that the only Githzerai who personally remember Githberron are monks who’ve mastered some form of the Timeless Body technique (which I’d personally allow some Githzerai NPCs to do even if they don’t have all the other powers of a 15th level monk). On the other hand, because we are dealing with events that defy the concept of linear time, if it suits the story a DM could decide that from the perspective of the Gith, it’s only actually been a few decades since Githberron was lost! Either way, I could also see the Githzerai having a wandering period where their adolescents experience life in the material plane, to understand existence beyond Kythri.

In any case, I would say that all Gith have a connection to either a city-ship or a monastery. So as a Gith, why might you be an adventurer? A few ideas…

  • You’re a Gith adolescent in your wandering time, honing your skills and seeing the world; you plan to return to your people in a few years.
  • You’re a Githyanki advance scout studying the people of this world so your ship can decide whether and where to raid in it.
  • You’re the child of a Githyanki who chose not to return after the Wandering, and you know nothing of your ancestors or their customs.
  • You are working with a gem dragon mentor, who’s requested your help in their work studying or attempting to uplift the humanoids of this world.
  • You’re on a personal mission to eliminate the mind flayer Xor’chyllic, who committed horrific war crimes in your reality. Your people refused to support your quest, so you’ve gone rogue and need to cultivate a team of local allies.

That’s all for now! I don’t have time to answer many questions on this article, but feel free to discuss your ideas and ways you’ve used gem dragons or Gith in the comments. If you want to see more of these articles, to have a chance to choose future topics, or to play in my ongoing online Eberron campaign, check out my Patreon!

101 thoughts on “Dragonmarks: Gem Dragons, Gem Dragonborn, and Gith!

  1. The question that arises is how did the first gems come into being? Could they have had Athasian-style spontaneous ascension, and instead of Dark Sun where the reaction of those few was to hoard the power, the Sardioran gems shared the knowledge?

    Also, what do you think of the Sardiorans overall making friendly contact with the Adarans, realising the Shroud also prevents divination and using them as a way to get hold of Riedrans and the hanbalani altas?

    • The question that arises is how did the first gems come into being? Could they have had Athasian-style spontaneous ascension, and instead of Dark Sun where the reaction of those few was to hoard the power, the Sardioran gems shared the knowledge?
      Yes, that’s exactly the idea. I’ve suggested that this spontaneous ascension may have happened in the current Eberron. The point is that it was much easier for it to occur in the Gith Eberron because of the widespread energy of the dream of Siberys—that the Gith reality was fundamentally more psi-active than the current one. So in the Gith Eberron, enlightened and remarkable people ascended to become gem dragons, and over time some figured out that this was something that could be cultivated and worked to guide others.

      Also, what do you think of the Sardiorans overall making friendly contact with the Adarans, realising the Shroud also prevents divination and using them as a way to get hold of Riedrans and the hanbalani altas?
      I think it’s a very reasonable idea. In the vision I’m presenting, the main limitation is that there’s just not very many gem dragons, so the idea is that they are still studying and learning about the world. This ties to the point that I’d rather have that diplomacy be something that happens IN 998 YK — ideally, that involves player characters — rather than to say “Gem dragons and Adarans have been working together for centuries and we’ve just never mentioned it.” BUT ALSO, I could very well see Adar as being a place where one or more people have ascended to become gem dragons “naturally”, and that this could be key part of the diplomacy… with the Adarans revealing the secret native ancient gem dragon (or even a greatwyrm!) that has been helping them from the shadows all this time.

  2. This makes me think of Animorphs. A dying gem dragon, pursued by a cult of the dragon below lead by mind flayers, is found by a group of teenagers. The gem dragon imbues each of the PCs with psionic power, giving them their class abilities.

  3. Okay that’s awesome. Very much sold on how these fit into existing Eberron canon.

    Obviously they aren’t in Fizban’s so it might not factor but the gem dragons also had the usually neutral evil Obsidian Dragon. Previously in my own games I’d run one as an “Inspired Gem Dragon”, a quori corrupted dragon used as an experiment by the Dreaming Dark, but that might not fit the image anymore

    Are Obsidian Dragons part of the Sardior dragons or are they nonexistent/a weird aberration?

    • Previously in my own games I’d run one as an “Inspired Gem Dragon”, a quori corrupted dragon used as an experiment by the Dreaming Dark, but that might not fit the image anymore… Are Obsidian Dragons part of the Sardior dragons or are they nonexistent/a weird aberration?
      Personally, I think it’s much more interesting to do exactly what you’ve described. What’s more interesting—to say that there’s always been obsidian dragons, or to say that the obsidian dragon that the adventurers encounter in your campaign IS THE VERY FIRST ONE and that the Sardior dragons are horrified by this corruption? I think it’s an intriguing way to drive the Dreaming Dark/Sardior interaction I discussed above, with one or more gems wanting to experiment with the Hanbalani but ending up being transformed by the Dreaming Dark.

  4. A second comment to note something that came up in discussion:

    The Dreamscape, otherwise mysterious, could be the first efforts of the Sardiorans and the gem dragons to subvert (or ‘hack’ if you will) the hanbalani altas network, creating a “sublayer” that the Inspired and Quori can’t see.

    • Gith rumspringa is the content we need.
      Actually, I think GIFF rumspringa is the content we need, but Gith will have to do.

  5. Damn, this is pretty cool. I like “the Fream of Siberys” vs “Blood Of Siberys”, how the timeline diverged at the start of creation. I can also see how this might change the Overlords too.

    My question is-do you think Dragonmarks developed on Githberron, and if so were they same as on the main timeline?

    • IF dragonmarks evolved on Gith Eberron, they definitely wouldn’t be the same as those on the current Eberron. The Blood/Dream of Siberys is already a key point here; the realities were quite different. If I were to created a Githberron equivalent of Dragonmarks, I’d probably do something like the Illumians, with marks that actually float ABOVE the skin.

  6. If obyriths were the fiends of the previous reality, as you have suggested in a previous article, did gem dragons regularly fight obyriths?

    • I can answer in the previous Sardior fan-canon.

      Yes, they did. But there’s a few obyrinths now who play nice in exchange for being allowed to remain on the city-ships, while others broke through Xoriat and came out… Not.

    • Probably! Although part of the idea of the obyriths is that they’ve been altered by their time in Xoriat so they may not be the same as they were when they dealt with dragons. It could also be that the obyriths came from an even earlier discarded reality; as the article suggests, Gith Eberron is the most recent, but not the only one.

  7. Do you see any significance to the power hierarchy of “gem greatwyrm < chromatic greatwyrm < metallic greatwyrm," which crops up only when dragons reach greatwyrm status (i.e. terribly close to full-fledged divinity)? Notably, gem greatwyrms are the weakest, suggesting that they are the furthest from a hypothetical apotheosis into full-fledged divinity.

    • I’d personally explore that with the idea that gem dragons are fundamentally different from the metallic and chromatic native dragons of this reality. I’ll also say that in this case, since I was interacting with Fizban’s specifically, in saying that there’s only one Sardior greatwyrm (and perhaps an Adaran one?) I was specifically using Greatwyrm in the Fizban’s context—as an ascended form of dragon, not simply an old one.

        • Calm down on the interrogation. I know this is a cool article, but you can really make your own decisions on a lot of the questions you’ve spouted off here. Respect Keith’s time and goodwill, OK?

  8. My general understanding is that the various exotic races are nominally populous enough that people wouldn’t necessarily gawk with a ‘oh my gods what is that?!’ if they spotted a Gith walking down the street in somewhere as diverse as Sharn, but what is the common knowledge of the Gith? Or common knowledge by the standards of someone mire educated, if they are that sufficiently rare?

    • The gith are timeline aliens, so basically the same reaction you’d get if you saw Greys walking down the street of NYC

      • I imagine the reaction to a gith would be more like “Good god, get that elf some FOOD!”

        They’re not THAT weird at first glance in an Eberron context until you know their backstory.

    • Keep in mind that THERE’S SO MANY HUMANOIDS IN THE WORLD that people tend not to be too shocked when they see something they’ve never seen before. Medusas, lizardfolk, dragonborn, gnolls, harpies, gargoyles, drow, countless variations of tiefling, genasi, aasimar, harengons, kenku… in comparison to a medusa or a gargoyle, is a Gith really that noteworthy? Most people of Khorvaire have never seen a Gith before and will have no idea what they are, but also, most people will react more with a “Huh, never seen one of those before” than the way WE would react if we saw an alien humanoid walking down the street.

  9. I am a little unclear on your point about people reincarnating as gem dragons. Are you saying that in the current Eberron, there may have already been cases of people reincarnating as gem dragons, potentially allowing scenarios such as Galifar or Karrn (or even more obscure figures, like Hayne Kasar and Sharaea of Prince of Frost fame) having reincarnated as now-ancient gem dragons?

    • I think it’s fairly clear that Keith is saying it could have happened, if it makes your Eberron more exciting. Personally, I’d say it never happened ion Khorvaire and might have happened one-off several centuries apart in Sarlona or other regions of high psionic potential.

  10. If you didn’t go with Gem Dragons coming from githeron. How would you place them in the setting I don’t have high in my Eberron and I’m unsure where I would put gem dragons. I thinking that they might have been magebred by the chamber to keep an eye on the inspired but idk

    • A canon sidebar in the 3.5e book Secrets of Sarlona suggests that gem dragons may be the Inspired using rogue/exiled dragons to create draconic Inspired for an unspecified purpose.

    • I don’t particularly have another suggestion, but I’m sure if you take it to r/Eberron on Reddit or the associated Discord server that people will have lots of ideas.

    • In secrets to Sarlona I believe they’re mentioned as being magebred as vessels for the dreaming dark

      Alternatively you could go with the Mordain trying to create the perfect race option or manifest zone dragon egg corruption

  11. Is it possible that some gem dragons are trying to make the Path of Inspiration real, by guiding Riedran citizens towards the steps necessary to achieve reincarnation into enlightened (gem dragon) forms?

    • If you can make a good campaign story out of it, why not?

      Personally, I think the gem dragons might not want to attract the sort of attention mass-converting the Riedrans would attract.

  12. Thanks for answering my question keith, this was a burning debate in Discord.

    On the note of Draconic Ascension. Its assumed dragons of Eberron reproduce normally, but is Ascension something that they can teach mortals to do?

    Also if you need psionic powers to become a gem, and psionics in Sardior are just the broken mind shards of Siberys, is Draconic Ascension more about being Psionic or is it about being con cetec to Siberys? And if so would Draconic Ascension be possible through mastering the Arcane?

    Is this why the Thir and Vassal Faith talks about ascending to higher forms? Are the dragons just practicing their own version of Ascension to become gods while mortals can Ascend to become Draconic Sovereigns?

    • I think that it’s entirely possible that draconic ascension is possible in the current reality and that it could be the basis for the myths of the Church of the Wyrm Ascendant or the story of Dorius ir’Korran trying to become Aureon. But I wouldn’t make it something that is an established, solid part of the world. Part of the point is that it’s something that makes the Sardior dragons fundamentally different from Argonnessen and that causes them to have a vastly different attitude toward humanoids. I can see two places where I’d say it occurs in my Eberron. I love the idea that it’s part of the beliefs of the Draleus Tairn and that their ultimate goal is to die in battle after living a worthy life because they believe they may be reborn as dragons… again, I wouldn’t make it reliable, but I’d make it something that HAS HAPPENED. On the other side of things, I like the idea that it’s happened among the Serena, and that in fact, Seren civilization is a long-term experiment by dragons studying this phenomenon. But that again, rather than trying to guide and elevate the Serens, they’re basically rats in a maze… and there’s a faction in the Conclave that thinks the whole thing is dangerous and that the Serens should be exterminated. Again, the point is that the Sardior dragons value humanoids and want to guide them, while Argonnessen dragons mostly consider humans to be lesser creatures to be used or ignored, and when necessary, exterminated. Having said that, I do think it makes sense that Chromatic or Metallic ascension would require some degree of arcane talent (further supporting the idea that Dorius Alyre ir’Korran could have done it), and it’s interesting to think that this could have been part of Aureon’s Folly—that long ago some dragons may have tried to show giants the path of draconic ascension, but that this was condemned and all knowledge of it wiped out (as some now feel should happen with the Serens).

      • Do dragonmarks and/or aberrant dragonmarks have any correlation with draconic ascension? House Lyrandar believes in reincarnation as krakens, which seems similar.

        • Do you want there to be? I believe would be the rough answer. Keith not calling them out in his reply seems to indicate no, in his Eberron.

  13. Are gem dragons reluctant to leave the Astral Plane because doing so would age them? Is that why the hundred or so gem dragons are not, in fact, all ancients dying of old age?

    • Actually, I’d say the reverse; I think dwelling in the astral plane is awkward for gem wyrmlings as it keeps them from growing into their greater power. But also, one of the points I call out is that in my campaign, from the perspective of the Gith it hasn’t actually been that long since their reality was destroyed—perhaps a century or two. A long time for Gith, who live about a century, but not long at all for a dragon.

      • Do they linger in the mortal world until they hit ancient, then return to the Astral Plane to prevent themselves from dying from old age? It has been a long time since reality reset itself.

        • How do you know it’s been a long time? Most of the article above emphasizes the Sardiorans being a recent presence on Eberron. Maybe their world ended in the equivalent year of 997, and they escaped into Eberron’s 998 (current) year.

        • In my campaign it’s been between one to two centuries of relative time on Eberron since the Gith arrived. The article notes “For us, our reality has always existed, going back to the dawn of creation. For the Gith, the loss of their world is still a thing some hold in living memory.” This ties to the point that I suggest a lot of first contact situations—that Sardior may only just be entering negotiations with Adar and may not have dealt with the Dreaming Dark or felt the full power of the Daughter of Khyber. I’m always more interested in stories where critical events are happening NOW when player characters can be involved instead of having the key events have occurred thousands or millions of years ago. But as always, that’s what I’d do in my campaign.

          It’s OK to ask questions. However, keep in mind that I don’t have time to answer every question and that on IFAQs I may not answer any at all. As such, it’s better to address questions to general discussion than to rely on getting an answer from me. And I’m moving this reply up, since it looks like my previous reply was buried in the chain.

          • If they arrived in the current reality’s Astral Plane merely a century or two ago, and the Astral Plane distorts perceptions of time over a long-term period (as established in the Astral Plane article), then does that mean that the gem dragons and the gith in the Astral Plane feel as if it has been an even shorter period of time? Or do they still have a reasonably “correct” sense of time, loosely pinpointing their arrival time at roughly a century or two ago?

            • In suggesting that denizens of the astral plane may lose track of time, the key drive in my mind is ISOLATION. In the original article, I say “a hermit who’s been isolated in the astral plane for thousands of years might believe it’s been a single year.” What helps to keep track of time is interaction with others and especially contact with other planes. So adventurers who pass through the astral aren’t at risk of losing a century, but if they go and camp out in a hermitage and just decide to sit and ponder philosophy for a while I might say that more time passes than they realize. Because the Githyanki are INDUSTRIOUS—even those who don’t travel to other planes regularly interact with those who do—they aren’t at risk of having a century slip away unnoticed.

              • That seems sound: communities in the Astral are how gem dragons, gith, and other creatures maintain their sense of time.

    • There are some gem dragons on Kythri, where time still passes. I’d say that’d be more of an individual motivation for one or two of the gems, with others having more varied opinions on aging. Remember, aging for dragons is a good thing, and Sardior was more recent for them than the history of Eberron; Sardior was a simultaneous timeline that now never happened.

      • Aging for dragons is not always a good thing when they can die of old age, and it has been some ten million years since the previous reality.

        • Again, where does anything say it has been ten million years? You can’t really put the destruction of a different timeline on the same temporal measurement as the current one. Sardior was happening until it wasn’t, and the only reason we use the past to describe that is because it was the Sardioran refugee’s past. Sardior never happened in Eberron’s timeline, so you can’t say it happened ten million years ago, or ten days ago.

          It’s a big ball of timey wimey stuff that makes perfect sense if you get it and will never if you can’t.

          • Keith Baker says, “from the perspective of the Gith it hasn’t actually been that long since their reality was destroyed—perhaps a century or two.”

            That seems to line up with Keith Baker’s Astral Plane article, suggesting that it really has been some ten million years. It is just that the Astral Plane severely distorts time perception in the long term.

            • The current idea seems to be it has only been a century or two. The rats run concurrently through the maze.

              The problem of millions of years of aging is one you’re creating in your own mind here. As you’re its creator, I’d say it’s up to you to answer how draconic aging works in your own world

            • Some of them are on Kythri, you know, which has more reliable timekeeping. But you really are just making up the “few centuries > ten million years” conversion rate here.

              • I was under the impression that they started off in the Astral Plane (because the Astral Plane and Xoriat are both “above the maze,” while Kythri is not), but some of them moved on to Kythri later.

              • And you still haven’t explained why you think they’ve been there for ten million years real time.

              • I would like to ask Keith Baker to clarify the matter of whether or not there have been gem dragons and gith in the Astral Plane for ten million years, then.

  14. Pardon my ignorance, somewhat new to Eberron, but does this confirm the progenitors? Or were they already canon or kanon, and it’s just the modern people of Khorvaire that call them a myth?

    • That has always been up for debate, but it’s useful to refer to them as entities to explain creation. The Progenitors being in a different state in Githberron means creation looks different.

      • Matthew is correct. The world exists. The Progenitor myth is a way to explain the form it takes. The current Eberron has a shattered ring that radiates magical energy over a natural world with fiends and aberrations within it, so people tell the story of broken Siberys and Eberron binding Khyber. The people of Githberron have a different myth to reflect a different reality. Perhaps in Githberron, Eberron was able to tear Khyber to pieces after the attack on Siberys; she enfolded the crippled Siberys and became the world to protect them. In which case Githberron might have had a Ring of Khyber, and it’s Siberys shards that are found below ground.

        So when I talk about the Progenitors, I’m generally describing the myths that are told in world; it’s still up to each DM to decide if those myths are true or not. But the idea of the “Maze of Reality” is that it’s only the material plane that shifts—which supports the mythological concept that the outer planes were created as a framework that supports the material.

  15. The fact that Siberys wasn’t shattered bodily in Githberron has some very interesting implications and ties into something I’ve been thinking about for some time.
    What might an unshattered Siberys have looked like in the skies of Githberron?

    • Assuming Siberys was in the sky at all… I suggested a celestial sphere beyond the orbit of the moons, as in the old geocentric models of the solar system.

      • My Githberron just crystalized: Siberys and Khyber’s conflict was more aggressive, explosive, and equal. Eberron tried to mediate, but she was shattered by their warring. Khyber expanded to a choking, deadly phlogiston, and Siberys encircled the shattered remnants of Eberron with crystal spheres to protect them from the Khyber, the Dragon Beyond.

        The gith (and giff, and mechagnomes, and hamsters) on one of these small planetoids eventually developed spelljamming technology to flit about to all the shards in the Eberron System.

  16. One player in my current campaign is a gem dragonborn, so I had to come up with an idea of my own when he asked.

    In my Eberron, gem dragons were created from the blood of Siberys touching Eberron as well, but under circumstances that made those dragons much more connected to the Eberron heritage than the Siberys heritage (maybe the blood fell on parts of the world that were still pulsing with the energy of creation). They are psionic beings instead of magical beings because their great power originates from their own lifeforce, and not from the magic of Siberys. They are very rare and very few, and the other dragons call them “great children of Eberron” and respect them. They reproduce as the other dragons, but very rarely. Also, they can be created when the egg of a chromatic or metallic dragon is blessed with the power of Eberron by a powerful gem dragon of by being left in an Eberron power place.

    Gem dragonborns are created by: a) a trasformed humanoid blessed by a gem dragon; b) a regular dragonborn egg blessed by a gem dragon or left in an Eberron power place. The children of a gem dragonborn will be a second generation gem dragonborn, but the lineage ends there. The next generation will be chromatic or metallic as the extra Eberron power fades away.

  17. Would the Draconic Prophecy be an object of curiousity or interest for gem dragons (crystal dragons maybe)?

    • Possibly, but in my campaign they don’t the context or resources needed to interact with it in the same way as the dragons of Argonnessen. The idea of the Prophecy is that its pieces are spread all over the world and in countless subtle interactions. In my interpretations, the gems have only effectively been in this reality for a few centuries at most and there aren’t very many of them. Crystal dragons may be intensely CURIOUS about the Prophecy, but they don’t yet understand it as the Chamber does.

  18. Honestly, I wasn’t thinking of how to fit Gem Dragons in Eberron until this article. Of course, some things I don’t agree with. But it’s a great article, nonetheless. Thanks, Keith.

    • You’re welcome! And definitely, this is what *I* would do with them in my personal campaign. I don’t expect others to agree with every choice, but I hope people will find ideas here they can adapt and use in their own way.

      • I finally have a place to introduce “gem dragonborn” in my campaign. In Xen’drik. My players are looking for twelve artifacts linked to the elemental planes, or in this case, maybe the outer planes (except Dal Quor).

        Just the gem dragonborn. I still have to find a place to work in the gem dragons.

  19. In Exploring Eberron, you suggested there might be a community of disembodied Argonnsen dragons linked to an anchor called the Draconic Eidolon. Since areas in Dal Quor are shaped by dreamers and Sardior is described as the Dream of Siberys, do you think there might be Gem Dragons and Gith trying/have accomplished/failed something similar?

    As a side question, could it possibly be that some Gem Dragons exist as long forgotten dreams of Siberys, similar to the Quori being Figments of Dal Quor?

    • I’d like to think that some Gem Dragons made the cross over to Eberron. I agree with the dream of Syberys. Just some other stuff I don’t agree with. I’ll have to think of a way to bring gem dragons (and gem dragonborn) into my Eberron.

    • To the first question, quite the reverse. In this article I suggest that gem dragons should have the Trance trait—that the mental construct of Sardior exists outside of Dal Quor, and that as a result gem dragons don’t dream. Sardior might have been the dream of Siberys, but it was part of the material plane—and that’s the construct they’d like to recreate.

      As for the side question… sure, why not? The idea presented here is just one way to introduce gem dragons to the world.

  20. I wonder if a gem greatwyrm could revoke or revert an ancesion into a gem dragon, or is it a one-way apotheosis…

    The genies nobles of the planes might, but mostly musing on if the reward can be taken away by their own.

    • As I’ve presented it, I’d say no. The idea is that when the ascendant creature dies it creates a dragon’s egg which then hatches and grows. It’s not a transformation that can be undone; it’s the creation of a dragon from the essence of the humanoid.

      I like this even with the Draleus Tairn… that the final step is DEATH, and you can’t know with certainty if you’ll be reborn; it’s a leap of faith.

  21. I wonder, would the Prophecy be a multiversal constant, i.e. some version of it would exist in all forms of Eberron? Would the Gem Dragons have a form of the Prophecy that is obviously defunct in the current iteration? Would be interesting to see if their Prophecy showed a path to that universe being aborted (because it would mean that the Prophecy is finite or at least a bounded infinity).

    A gem greatwyrm could probably serve as a vessel for the Devourer of Dreams to be able to manifest on Eberron. Which both would allow for a true climactic encounter but also for the interesting campaign end of trapping him, possibly with Sharadhuna’s help (that way she could lead the quori without having to risk the transformation).

    An interesting campaign idea would be to find out what happened to the conscience of Siberys in this version of the world. The dragons’ allergy to psionic energy could be explained this way. Maybe the conscience of Siberys exists still in this universe and when Dragons become psionic they go mad by connecting to the Progenitor. Maybe Siberis’ mind exists in some form; perhaps it drives the local dragons insane because they are not made to handle the psionic contact with something this vast (maybe it exists whole buried deep within Khyber who could have swallowed it) or maybe it is either corrupted by Khyber or just driven mad by the pain of its physical death.
    Maybe Dal Quor is the shared Dream of the Progenitors and Siberys’ conscience lies there; turn the Age and the Gem Dragons might be able to connect to it.

    It’s just an interesting idea; Siberis is dead and does not possess the power of a progenitor but its physical body and some part of its constitution still exists in the form of dragon shards and arcane energy. But there is the philosophical conundrum of whether the mind can transcend death (indeed it is focal to transhumanism).

  22. I noticed you mentioned githyanki city ships a few times but also mentioned the traditional githyanki capital of Tu’narath. In most settings, Tu’narath is made from the corpse of a petrified god, because gods are much more common in other settings.

    In Eberron, the existence of the gods is up for debate… Normally. Is Tu’narath definitively still the corpse of a god in Eberron, or is there debate (among the Githyanki or planar travelers to Tu’narath) about it’s former divinity?

    • I can answer in the server fanon, again; it’s one of the larger city-ships, more or less “anchored” for the other city-ships to connect to.

    • This is addressed in this article. “In their early days in the astral plane, the Githyanki discovered an immense six-fingered hand floating in the void. This severed hand is charged with arcane power, not unlike Eberron dragonshards. The origins of the hand remain a mystery, but the Githyanki recognized it as a useful resource and a suitable foundation for an anchorage.

      In Eberron, the defining feature of a god is omnipresence. What makes Dol Dorn Dol Dorn is that he’s present in EVERY battle, that he’s there in the heart of every soldier. They don’t expect him to show up in a form where you can punch him in the nose. This giant hand is certainly a curiosity, but it doesn’t have any bearing on the existence of the divine.

  23. Could you please clarify which of the following is the case?

    A. Gem dragons and githyanki have been in the Astral Plane for some ten million years, in real time. However, due to the way the Astral Plane halts aging and distorts perception of time, to them, it appears to have been merely a century or two.

    B. Gem dragons and githyanki arrived in the current reality’s Astral Plane merely a century or two ago.

    C. A mix of the above two. Gem dragons and githyanki arrived in the current reality’s Astral Plane many centuries or even millennia ago, but due to the Astral Plane’s twisting of time perception, to them, it seems to have merely been a century or two.

    D. Something else entirely?

    • I think you know the answer. Whatever tells a better story for your campaign. Not everything is meant to be set in stone.

      • Other people in this comments section are asking Keith Baker for his opinion on X, Y, and Z topics, presumably because they want to know how Keith would handle a certain topic in his campaigns. I am merely doing the same.

        • True! And you’ve asked this question and had it answered already even

          “Actually, I’d say the reverse; I think dwelling in the astral plane is awkward for gem wyrmlings as it keeps them from growing into their greater power. But also, one of the points I call out is that in my campaign, from the perspective of the Gith it hasn’t actually been that long since their reality was destroyed—perhaps a century or two. A long time for Gith, who live about a century, but not long at all for a dragon.”

          Which suggests that the answer comes down on “it’s been a relatively shorter time”. So if you want it to be millions of years, deviate from what’s been said in this article and the Astral plane one by all means.

          Especially as nothing seems to suggest they do deteriorate and die, they’re not massively knowledgeable of the passage of time on this Eberron and the gith who live with them haven’t shown up throughout Khorvaire’s history . . . simplest answer.

    • It’s not the Astral’s distortion, it’s Xoriat’s. The maze of reality is tied closely to the Plane of Revelations, and only there does time kinda fold back on itself; in every other plane, including the Astral, time moves forward at a speed that’s greater than or equal to 0 seconds per second.

      So to answer your question, it’s C, sort of, but more D: Gem dragons and gith arrived in Kythri/Astral Plane centuries ago, AND the current material plane has been there for ten million years. It’s an intentional paradox.

  24. Hmm checking on the question above I think you are effectively asking if when Githberron ended and the universe effectively reset, the Gith were in the Astral for the entire history of the world.

    That’s not really how the multiverse that Xoriat reveals works though, or at least not how it is presented. All realities run in parallel. One is a prime reality, any one of them can even die if things go horribly wrong. So the Gith don’t come from a previous reality as much as they come from an Otherwhen. If they all have the same start then the Gith escaped at some point well past the origins of the world.
    Keith did suggest that he’d only have them around for a century or so, suggesting Githberron failed just a few decades before the Last War started on this version of Eberron which means you question has been answered.

    Moving them much further behind would imo break certain things. For one, if they have been around for thousands of years, Argonessen not having actual interactions with Sardior becomes increasingly untenable. Ofc if that’s a story you’d like to tell, its your campaign. It really depends on how anyone would use them; if you’d have them playing an important role in a campaign I think having them be around for a couple of centuries helps the most since then they are the least established and would need the adventurers as much as they need them (and also would not have a power base that adventurers would be tempted to fall back so it could solve their problems). If they’d be background psionic faction for one to use, you could have them be around for much longer I guess (perhaps long enough that they predate Riedra and have established themselves in Adar but stay hidden).

  25. If they arrived in the current reality’s Astral Plane merely a century or two ago, and the Astral Plane distorts perceptions of time over a long-term period (as established in the Astral Plane article), then does that mean that the gem dragons and the gith in the Astral Plane feel as if it has been an even shorter period of time? Or do they still have a reasonably “correct” sense of time, loosely pinpointing their arrival time at roughly a century or two ago?

    • I think being in a timeless plane will distort your sense of time even without that being a specific element of the plane. There is no day or night cycle, seasons do not pass, you never age, you don’t even feel hungry. If you want to be technical, you don’t age, your hair and nails will not naturally grow. Long term living in the Astral has always been described as disorienting in D&D (if you could get your hands on the Planescape book on The Astral Plane, you could see some solid ideas on what it means to live there). Just think that in canon when a Gith gets pregnant, her pregnancy will never develop if she does not leave the astral. That is why the Githyanki have creches in the material; so that they can move there and raise young to adulthood before they can return to the timeless Astral. I’d say even Dragons would not be immune to the effect.

      Now they can probably measure time to an extent, even if only through psionics or magic. While Clairsentience allows for very different divinatory skills than DIvination, it should still be able to track the passage of time.

    • (My apologies for the double post. I did not mean to create a duplicate comment, but it seems I accidentally did so while trying to reply to a post that Keith Baker had deleted.)

  26. So you mention the kinds of beings that give rise to amethyst and sapphire dragons, scholars and warriors respectively, but what kind of beings give rise to the other kinds? Topaz dragons especially, as it’s hard to find a clear analogue to a mortal with the kind of perspective they have.

    • On the discord on user offered said “I would argue that Topaz are just great philosophers in life. like, amethysts are sages – they KNOW a lot. but Topaz think a lot”

      Another option is that Topaz mastered the arts of psionic necromancy, and are key to Vlaakith’s status as a lich. You could even make them more distinct as a breakaway group and that they represent the death of Sardior as a world.

  27. Okay now this is FASCINATING.

    Ah, your “astral plane” link in the article didn’t work, because I think there was something in the link that said “opens in a new tab”.

  28. So do the Gith call themselves Gith? Does Eberron have the equivalent of “famous” Gith that saved their people like Zerthimon, the Lich Vlaakith, and of course Gith themself?

  29. Wow. There is an implication here that I haven’t seen yet among it all. That the Gith and the Gem Dragons may want to remove the seals on Xoriat to gain access to it once more. They can only go into the maze of Xoriat if the portals are open, which means that they are working against both the Daelkyr and the Druids of the grove to open the portals in this reality, to go into Xoriat and rewrite history. Of course, to do this they would have to learn such information, possibly from the many spires of Syrania, or perhaps in the Panopticon. The task would be monumentally high, and perhaps its’ a story worth exploring more than anything.
    It would give the Gith the chance to rewrite reality, should they learn of it. But the consequences of their actions would be extremely detrimental to the current Eberron should they succeed or fail. Should they fail, the Daelkyr would be free to invade the world once more, though 6 of them are imprisoned, who knows what will happen if the seals are released, more Daelkyr could come forth to ravage the world, reincarnations of the previous Daelkyr, the same, but different. More importantly, if the Gith succeeded in changing the world, it wouldn’t be THERE world specifically, it would be a different Githberron, an aberration of the same world, the chances of them restoring their planet to its’ former state in perfect nature are nearly impossible.

  30. Probably a silly question to ask because it isn’t important but… What sort of classes do the two Gith offshoots use? Like they came from a heavily psionic based reality into one that doesn’t really have that…. Did all their psychics and telepaths manage to work here or did they suddenly show up in the new universe with nothing? And now some that didn’t have anything suddenly start manifesting new powers like say… Suddenly they’ve got clerics. A thing that didn’t exist in their reality?

    This sounds like a stupid question.

    • Going off 3.5’s monster manual (and keeping in mind obviously this is not necessarily true for Eberron) most githyanki are fighters with a few being warlocks (their name for wizards) and gishes (eldritch knights) or blackguards (paladins of tyranny/oathbreakers?) and almost none ever being clerics (which is because of their lich queen mind you so take that with a grain of salt) while githzerai are usually monks with a few sorcerers, rogues and zerths (monk/arcane multiclasses). None of these details change in the Expanded Psionics Handbook so we can assume it’s not dependent on psionics being available.

      So yeah, not a stupid question at all. It’s worth asking.

    • As Matthew notes, Githzerai are often monks (which can be presented with a psionic flavor) while Githyanki are often fighters, gishes, or wizards. Keep in mind that just as current Eberron has both psionics and arcane magic, Gith Eberron had all forms of magic as well; it’s just that the balance of power was different. So there were Gith wizards in Githberron; they were just as uncommon as psions are in Khorvaire. In modern Eberron, you could keep them using psionics using the various forms of reflavoring and other options that have been presented — but it’s a way to say “My Gith PC WAS more powerful back home, but I’m still getting used to the balance of powers here.”

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