Dragonmarks 5/9: Lightning Round 2

It’s time for more quick questions. Let’s jump right in.

This may be a bit of a personal question, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on the effect of winning the setting contest on your life. From the outside, it looks like your life took a major turn at that point. Do you think so as well? What do you think you would have done if you had not won that contest? Do you think you would have been on the same path, just slower and more fraught, or do you think you would be doing something completely different?

I knew I wanted to make games for a living when I was in high school. I just didn’t know how to get the job. When I came out of college I ended up working in computer games, and I slowly made contacts as a freelancer. My first paying RPG work was “Dreaming On The Verge Of Strife” in Atlas Games’ Forgotten Lives, published in 1997. I continued to work with Atlas, and branched out to Green Ronin and Goodman Games. In 2002 I quit the computer game industry to see if I could make it as a full-time freelancer. And in 2002 WotC held the Fantasy Setting Search. Which worked out pretty well for me.

So needless to say, I certainly believe I’d be on the same path today, because I’d been on that path for years when the FSS happened. But it certainly would have been a much longer and harder road, and there’s no telling where I’d be today. Eberron has been an amazing experience for me, and the international scope of it has made things like Have Dice Will Travel possible; the fact that there’s people in, say, Slovakia who like what I do still kind of amazes me.

Do you tend to run more sandbox games or pre-planned adventures (either your own creations or published stuff)?

I prefer sandbox style. I’ve written a longer piece about it here.

Who is your favorite canon NPC and why?

That’s a very tough question for me; I like anyone I create. And as shown by the previous discussion on Erandis Vol, I generally have more backstory for NPCs than ever gets into the books. But if I had to pick one… I’d cheat and pick three: the Daughters of Sora Kell. I’m fond of the mythic archetype and their role in the world. And I enjoy running them in scenes, even if it’s not an opportunity that arises often. One of the things I like about Eberron is that the monsters aren’t always the villains, and I enjoy the range of stories you can tell with them.

Where would you place the Tarrasque on Eberron?

Tough choice. You could drop it in the Thunder Sea or Xen’drik, make it a creation of the Daelkyr or a living weapon from the Age of Demons. But personally, I’d shift its abilities a little and make it a physical embodiment of the Mourning. Have it come stomping out of the Mournland, and in addition to the standard trail of devastation, it transforms the land in its wake into more Mournland. No one knows exactly what it is, because the dead-gray mists surround it at a distance; its only when you pierce the mists that you discover the source of the devastation.

Is the d’ only added for marked members of a house? I thought it was, but I keep getting confused about it.

Per canon (Player’s Guide to Eberron), no. It’s something any member of a Dragonmarked house can use. In which case it’s more relevant when they are using their family names instead of their house name. For example, an elf might call herself Tian d’Shol – which reminds people that Shol is a Phiarlan line.

With that said, in my home campaign, I reserve d’ for dragonmarked members of the house, because I feel it gives it a little more meaning. When someone introduces themselves as “Adron d’Cannith”, you know something about them beyond what you’d get from Cannith alone.

So officially no, but it’s up to you!

If you were to make an alternate-universe trope Eberron setting, what would change?

Not to dodge the question, but rather than create an alternate present day, what I’d want to do is to explore the past. There’s so many interesting eras that provide a different flavor of Eberron – the Empire of Dhakaan, pre-Sundering Riedra, the Silver Purge – that I’d rather dig into one of those than mess around with the present.

Can warforged feel emotion? My DM says they can’t.

Your DM is the final authority in his or her Eberron campaign. If the DM has chosen to make this decision in spite of canon material that states otherwise (such as this Dragonshard, which specifically states that warforged are capable of emotional behavior), then in HIS Eberron they can’t.But in case it’s simply a misunderstanding, let me elaborate on the canon position.

Warforged aren’t robots. Their behavior isn’t programmed into them. They possess many traits that Cannith artificers would be just as happy to eliminate from them if it was possible to do so. Warforged are living constructs created using tools most artificers can’t fully understand; the creation forge allows modern artificers to repeat Aaren d’Cannith’s miracle, but very few truly understand it or are capable of innovating on it (Merrix and Aleisa being two canon examples… though Aleisa is only pseudo-canon, being from a novel). Warforged possess souls, though the origin of those souls remains a mystery. The net result of this is that warforged are capable of experiencing emotions, but they have little context for emotion. The basic training Cannith gave them when they emerged from the forge was designed to focus them on their purpose and to suppress distractions. In the wake of the war, some have pushed beyond that and explored their own emotions; others have clung to it and suppressed all feelings.

So your DM is partially correct, in that Cannith sought to suppress emotion in the warforged. However, in the canon universe warforged are capable of emotional behavior.

If the warforged have “reincarnated” souls of the dead and the ghulra were their dewey decimal system ID…. where would the card catalog be?

Obviously that first one is a big “if.” But assuming it’s true, I’ll give you two possibilities.

* The Infinite Vault of Daanvi. Supposedly crafted by Aureon and Asmodeus before Aureon ascended to the unknown, it is the greatest source of lore in all reality.

* Eston. If House Cannith was aware that this was the source of warforged souls (again, big if, but work with me) clearly they would have their records in the central enclave of the house. Of course, now it’s been lost in the Mourning. If some adventurous salvagers run across it, what will they do with the information? And was Cannith able to choose what souls they harvested, or was it luck of the draw? Might they have secretly been selling a variation of Keeper’s Fang weapons to their many clients – weapons enchanted to capture souls and direct them to the vaults in Eston?

Speaking of Eston, the city is covered in the new Eye on Eberron article posted today. And just for due diligence, all material in these Dragonmark is my personal opinion and may be contradicted by canon material!